Friday, September 07, 2007

Mom, son reunited after 45 years

Mom, son reunited after 45 years

Alan Sorensen Havre Daily News

A Havre woman was recently reunited with a son she hadn’t seen since shortly after giving birth to him 45 years ago.

On Aug. 11, Flo Washman and her husband, Ken, met and had dinner with Chuck Walters and his girlfriend, Wynnde, at Walters’ home in Pevely, Mo. “We were there until almost 11 o’clock in the evening,” Flo Washman said. “We just kept exchanging stories back and forth. There were so many things that just came up that blew my mind, certain things that he likes and I like. He loves bread and I loved it all my life. It must be hereditary, because my mother loved it, too. He’s a diehard St. Louis Cardinal fan and I am, too.” Ken Washman was equally enthused. “It’s been really neat the way it’s worked together and the way they got to meet,” he said.

Flo Washman was 16 years old in February 1962 when she delivered Walters, who was conceived during a sexual assault in her hometown of Webster Grove, Mo. Washman said there was never any doubt that she would have the baby and give it up for adoption. “Abortion was not one of my things,” she said. “There were others that I knew of that were, but my mom and my sister and I lived with my grandma. And because of that, back then, you just didn’t do that.”

Washman was issued a birthing card with the time and date of the birth and the boy’s weight, which she has kept all these years. It contained a handwritten red letter inscription at the top: Do not show.

“I did not see him until five days later,” Washman said, “when they were dressing him to leave the hospital. And I didn’t leave the hospital until he was gone. I just saw him for those 10 or 15 minutes while They were dressing him and that was it.”

Washman said she kept her pregnancy secret from everyone up until the day of the delivery. “My mom didn’t even know until the night I delivered,” she said. “I shared it with my cat and that was all — somebody who couldn’t talk.”

When she could keep the secret no longer, whatever decision she might have made alone was removed. “I was told that I was going to give him up, that was all there was to it,” Washman said. “And you know that you’re not just going to walk out on the street. What are you going to do? It wasn’t that they didn’t love me, but they knew that it was what was best for him and best for all of us at the time.”

The baby was born in the county hospital in Webster Grove and the Family Court of St. Louis County handled the adoption, she said. Because of Missouri state law, she was told that even when he turned 21 she would not be allowed to look for him, let alone contact him.

Washman moved with her family to Los Angeles in June 1962. In the end of June 1962, she met Ken Washman at South Hollywood Presbyterian Church. They began dating in August and were married in December. “I told him about the adoption when we started dating,” Washman said. “He’s known all along.”

The couple, who will be celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary this December, have three daughters, all of whom have known about their half-brother for years. “They’ve all known when they were 10 years old,” Washman said. “The two oldest were just a year or two younger than him. I didn’t want them, not knowing where he might be, maybe dating him later in life. The two older ones knew, so I wasn’t about to hide it from (the youngest).”

Two of her daughters live in California and the third is Virginia. She has told all three that he has been found.

The process of being reuinted with Walters was an extremely slow one and took several years. “I found out that (St. Louis County Family Court) were the ones that had his paper, and I gave them all my explanation, name, address and phone number and all that stuff,” Washman said. “They kept it on file. They didn’t go looking for him, either.”

She said Missouri law was changed last year to allow adoptees to get permission to look for their birth parents with the permission of their adoptive parents. Until last year, the law said an adoptee couldn’t get permission to look for their birth parents with the permission of their adoptive parents.

In October, her son, Chuck Walters of Pevely, Mo., took advantage of the new law. “All he was doing was trying to find out medical information,” Washman said, “because he was under the impression that I was killed and that was why he was given up for adoption.”

In early December, Washman received a phone call from the St. Louis County Family Court. The caller asked her why she had not sent in a notarized statement saying that her information could be released. She told the caller that she had requested the release form in March 2005 but had never received it. “She said, ‘OK, I’ll send you another one.’ I was really confused, wondering why they would call me and ask,” she said.

Washman said that upon receiving the form on Dec. 20, she immediately went to her bank in Havre, had the form notarized and mailed it right back to Missouri. “They actually called me on the phone on Jan. 22 saying that they were releasing my information to him.” The information, of course, provided Walters with Washman’s current address in Evergreen, about four miles southwest of Havre along U.S. Highway 87.

“That shocked him to death,” she said, “to find his mom was alive.” Washman had never given up hope of finding her son. “From the time I conceived him, I prayed for him every day, and had just about given up any thought I would ever see him,” she said. “But one thing that kept me going, one of the pastors we had in Tulare, Calif., was an adoptee and he finally found his biological parents when he was in his 40s.

“So on April 3, when I got the phone call from my son, I was out at the computer, my husband was asleep in his chair and started talking because he thought I was gone. He said, ‘She’s not here right now,’ and I heard and walked through the doorway as he said, ‘Oh, you’re her son. She’s been waiting for your phone call.’

And we talked for over an hour that first call.” Washman asked Walters where he was living and learned that his home was in a town about 25 miles south of St. Louis. “I said, ‘We have tickets that we got to the Dodger-Cardinal game in August. Are you going to be around then? Maybe we could meet.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, maybe we could,’ and we kept talking and stuff. And later in the year, we ended up talking with each other a couple other times, and he called me for Mother’s Day. I wasn’t home, but he called and left me a message.” The two made a phone connection a short time later. “He said, ‘Now, my mother is the woman who raised me,’ and I said, ‘Fine, call me Flo, that will make me happy.’ But I thought that was cool that he called me on Mother’s Day.”

The reunion took place early last month. “We got to St. Louis Aug. 8, and on Aug. 9, I talk to him and we set up where we would ride out to his place and he would fix us dinner on Saturday, Aug. 11. We got out there just before 5 (p.m.) and we met him and his girlfriend, Wynnde.” Washman has no doubt her prayers were answered.

“It’s just amazing what God has done,” she said. “He’s blessed me with such a neat guy after 45 years.” Washman’s mother died in 2004, but her sister is still alive and living in Ramona, Calif. “My sister was really happy for me,” Washman said.

So is her birth son, both for her and himself. “I’m still in a little bit of shock,” Walters said in a telephone interview Thursday. “I was told my entire life that my parents were killed in an automobile accident. I was told that when I was 10 years old and I lived with that my entire life.”

Walters said that he contacted the adopting agency to try to track down his parents’ medical histories and was asked if he would like to inquire if there were an living family members. He said yes. He said he was “pretty much floored” a couple months later when he was told by the family court that he had living relatives.

“Several months later, I received a call back from the secretary of the court” about living relatives, Walter said. “She said, ‘Well, your mom is,’ and I about fell out of my chair. “It’s kind of different from my end, I never knew I had a mother, sisters. They knew all along.”

Walters said he enjoyed his time with the Washmans and hopes to have time with them down the road. “The time I spent with Flo was marvelous time,” he said. “I look forward to years of inquisitiveness. There’s all kinds of questions. I spoke with her youngest daughter, Kendra, a couple of times. So it’s really amazing, just amazing.”

Walters gave advice to others in situations similar to his. “If you have a feeling that there is a family member out there,” he said, “don’t stop looking.”

3 complaints from ingrates:

Anonymous,  September 9, 2007 at 9:02 AM  

It is amazing the number of adoptees who are told that their mother is dead so that they will not look for them.


For Sale By Owner FISBO September 15, 2007 at 3:58 PM  






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