After 52 years, woman meets daughter she gave up for adoption | KOB 4

After 52 years, woman meets daughter she gave up for adoption

Caleb James
September 04, 2017 10:13 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- It is a story five decades in the making.


From her death bed, an Albuquerque woman says she's held on to life for one reason: the hope she would one day meet the daughter she gave up for adoption at 17. About three weeks ago, she heard from the daughter she gave up for adoption in 1965.

On this Labor Day, the moment finally came.

That woman, 70-year-old Sally Vandenburg, said doctors have been clear she will die soon. She has terminal COPD and emphysema from a life of smoking. She's surrounded by dozens of pills, morphine in syringes and breathing machine.

Doctors told Vandenburg she had until May to live. She was done, or so it would seem.

"Then all of a sudden, I wasn't weak anymore when I heard about Sharon," she said.

On Mother's Day, Vandenburg found a new strength. It turns out the daughter she had given up for adoption was looking for her. Then came the phone calls from the child she'd never met. Plans and the plane tickets shortly followed.

They finally met on Monday.

"Oh, my God. My heart's beating out of my chest," Vandenburg said moments before meeting her daughter.

In 1965, Vandenburg named her newborn daughter Sharon. But that was a formality, never official. Her adoptive parents named her Karen.

Karen Williams is now 52 years old. It was like looking in a mirror for the very first time.

"Your great-grandmother, I look just like her without makeup," Vandenburg told Williams. "She was a character."

After all these years, there was some reassurance. Williams brought Vandenburg a gift: a newspaper clipping from a Florida newspaper in 1965 urging adoptions.

"There were a lot of people probably in your same circumstances," Williams said.

Williams also brought a letter from Karen's adoptive mom. It said thank you.

"It's good for me to finally have that closure as well, a trip out here bringing all my scrapbooks out here with me so I can share them with Sally," Williams said. "Spend a few days, get to know each other, face to face. Give her some closure. It seemed the right thing to do."

No more need to wait, Vandenberg said. No more loose ends.

"I obviously am going to go very happy," she said. "I'm kind of looking forward to it to tell you the truth."

Family Tree Magazine's website has a list of the top 25 genealogy websites. To see that list, click here


Caleb James

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