Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Story of Regina Louise and Jeanne Kerr: A Hopeful story going into the Month of Mothers

People who read this blog know that I have mentioned, in the course of telling stories, that my mother died when I was ten. Even when things in such situations, death or abandonment, go well...there is something always there. Or not there, as the case may be.

Photos of graduations, birthdays and weddings have a perceived shadow. You try to wedge an image from your mind into a space in the photo or memory. Someone is missing.

If you deal with the feeling, if people are there for you and you put your faith in isn't there all the time and it does not dominate you. It may even deepen your love for family (both birth and by marriage) and give you a view of how important it all is in life, as it has for me. But it isn't ever really gone.

At this point people are probably questioning the post title that mentions hope. I'm getting there.

As a result of what I have said above, some stories have an effect on me. When I was reading my Catholic Digest for this month, there was one such story.

A woman, named Regina Louise was adopted by a woman named Jeanne Kerr. It Seems standard. It's nice, you think, but far from normal. The thing about this adoption is that Regina was 40 when it happened.

Regina Louise had met Miss Kerr about 25 years earlier, and at that point they wanted to be a family. Regina had a hard life. She was abandoned as an infant and ran away from an abusive foster home. She wound up at Edgar Children's home in Martinez California. It was there that she met Jeanne Kerr, a counselor at the shelter.

It was difficult for Regina to trust people. She had always been told that she was a loud and difficult and believed that was why her parents had rejected her. But the love and support that Miss Kerr showed her gain her trust and love.

Regina went through 30 foster placements in three years. None of them worked. She always wound up back at the shelter with the only person who had ever called her "sweetheart".

in 1978 Jeanne Kerr petitioned to adopt Regina. The judge immediately denied the application.

At this point you might be confused. There is no reason for such a refusal given the facts.

I have an advantage; I'm looking at the picture with the article. I think of 1978 and see an older white woman embracing a younger black woman. The adoption was refused because they were not the same race.

After the failed petition Regina was separated from Jeanne and moved to a different part of the home. She eventually "aged out" of the foster system and went to college. She "aged out" without a mother. Really, she was denied the mother who she wanted and wanted her.

When asked for a parents name at college she wrote Jeanne's name and a fake address, since she didn't know where she was. Why did they lose contact? Because as Regina was being moved and Jeanne sent letters...not one gave them to the girl.

Life moved on. Regina went through alot and wrote a book, Somebody's Someone, about her life. Because of the book, she got an email one day:

"I'm so proud of you sweetheart"

The email had a phone number. Regina was divorced with a 19 year old son. Jeanne was married with a grown child. They talked for hours and the next day Jeanne called back:

"I want to do what I wasn't allowed to do 25 years ago, adopt you. In my heart you were always my first child, and now there is nothing preventing us from legally becoming mother and daughter."

Today they live near each other, work out together and are legally mother and daughter.

My Lord and my God, we rejoice for the family we have. Pray for the family we have lost, and seek to be One Family, One Body in Christ the Lord. May Your love and mercy guide those who seek a mother and a father to those who Love them. As with Regina and Jeanne, may the bond of love between them lead them back to each other.

Here is an article on the story (link).
Here is a link to an NPR interview with Regina (link).

1 comment:

Viviilouise said...

Thank you, whoever you are, for reading my story and taking the time to post it in your blog. Time is life, effort is always courageous when it is motivated by choice. Out of all the things you could have read, and not to mention written about you chose my little story of the indomitable power of faith, hope and love. Let's stay in touch!

Regina Louise