Lost Boy

August 20, 2008

His name was William Frederick Hunter, and she only saw him once.

Once, from behind the window of the nursery. He was wrapped in a blue blanket, and he was oh so small. They asked her if she wanted to hold him, and she said no. Just as she had in the delivery room, right after he was born, when she had squeezed her eyes shut so that she wouldn’t see him, her heart, the heart that she was giving away. She said no.


It would have killed me, she said. It would have killed me. I couldn’t have gone on. I loved him.

She had loved his father. They had planned to marry, as soon as he divorced his wife. Nobody had believed her, but it was true. It seemed true. They’d run off together twice. They both went AWOL from the Air Force, running off into the night to be together. Her family pursued them, his wife’s family sent private detectives after them, the Air Force searched for them. They were wanted. They ran. They were found, and they ran again. He left his family for her, risked his career for her. He was happy that they were going to have a baby. They hid out in motels.

At the time, she said, I thought it was romantic. She shakes her head.

She was nineteen years old. He was nearly twice her age. When her family found her the second time, they didn’t bother to reason with her. They just took her. They took her and put her in a home for unwed mothers. She stayed there. She doesn’t know what happened to her lover. She never saw or heard from him again. She thinks that he probably went back to the Air Force, and to his wife.

I would have liked for him to know that he had a son, she said. I think that would have made him happy. She paused. Or maybe not.

When she went into labor, the nurses at the home for unwed mothers gave her some money and put her in a taxi. She arrived at the hospital alone, labored alone, gave birth alone. Gave up her child alone.

She was alone when the social worker came into her room and asked her if she knew anything about the parents who would adopt her child. It’s a private adoption, she told the worker. My doctor arranged it. The social worker nodded. But did she know that those parents were in their 60′s? That they were old? That the province would never approve it if it were a public adoption? She didn’t know. She didn’t want that. She wasn’t giving up her son to new parents, only for him to lose them in a few years. Like he was losing her, now. She wanted the best for him. That was the only way she could do this. She had to know that she was giving him a better life.

She called her doctor in. She told her that she wouldn’t do it. She wanted her son to go to a young family, to parents who had their whole lives ahead of them, to parents who had years and years and years to love him. Her doctor was furious.

I was terrified, she said. I’d never spoken up to anyone older than me, not to anyone with any authority. But I had to do it. For him.

Her baby went into foster care while adoption services sought new parents. She didn’t go to see him.

My parents went to see him, I think, she said. They never talked about it, but I’m sure they did. My mother put him in her will, and kept him there. Through revisions and revisions until the end of her life, she kept him there, always a member of the family, in her heart.

The man that she would some day marry came to her side during that time. They were friends. He held her hand, a lot. She grieved for her lost love and her lost baby, and he held her hand. He said, I’ll marry you. We can get your baby back. I will love that baby. With you. We will love that baby, together.

But it was too late.

William Frederick Hunter was adopted by a Vancouver couple. Professors at UBC, I think, she said. It was too late for me, she said. For us. Or so we thought. We didn’t know any better. We were so young. We might have been able to get him back. But we didn’t try. We didn’t know to try. We thought he was gone.

She grieved for years. Her husband held her hand. She couldn’t bear the idea of having children. Just the thought of seeing another baby in another blanket it was too much.

The grief became less acute, as time passed. One day, she realized that she could have another baby, and bear the pain. She could imagine not transposing her lost boy upon a new child. She could love again.

It took seven years, she said. Seven years before I knew that I would be okay. And then I had – then we had – you.

And I loved again.

I squeeze my own baby boy, pulling him tightly against my chest, wondering how it would feel to let him go. Even if I thought it best, for him – could I let him go? My heart screams.

I understand why she couldn’t hold him, her lost boy.

I’ve thought about him every single day of my life, she says. Every single day. Every single day I see that little baby in that blue blanket, and I wonder.

I wonder.

She pauses. I imagine that her hand trembles as she lifts her wine to her lips, but I can’t see in the dim light of the late summer evening. I’m glad that I can’t see, and that she can’t see me. Tears are streaming down my face and wetting my baby’s head.

I’ve never looked for him. I couldn’t. What if something had happened to him? What if he hated me? What if he didn’t want to know anything of me? What if he never forgave me? Her voice cracks. I couldn’t stand knowing.

We sit quietly. I reach for the wine bottle between us and fill her emptied glass.

Still, she says. Still. I’ve often wondered whether you or your sister would ever look for him.

Would you want me to?

She takes a sip of her wine. She doesn’t look at me.


Then I will.

Thank you.

We sit.

I just want him to know how much I loved him. How much I love him still.

I know.

Thank you.

His name was William Frederick Hunter, and he’s my brother. I’m going to find him.


PS: Because you are asking: he was born in July of 1963, at Grace Hospital in Vancouver. William Frederick Hunter was the name given to him to at birth. One or both of his parents were – we think – professors at UBC. That’s all I know.

PPS: Those of you who are offering to help – oh god the tears – your generosity makes my heart ache – please e-mail me, if you haven’t already. And, all of you, with all of your tremendous words of support: THANK YOU. Going off to weep now.

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    Busy Mom August 23, 2008 at 12:37 am

    Another adoptee here.

    I would love to be found, too.

    As an only child, I didn’t know anyone biologically related to me until my oldest child was born.

    You do wonder what it was like, where you came from.

    All Adither August 23, 2008 at 10:54 am

    I don’t have any experience being on either end of adoption, but as a mom, I can sort of imagine the gutting of your soul that such a process would entail. I truly hope that you find your brother and that it brings some measure of peace to everyone involved. I’m sure he’s always wondered too. How could he not.

    Sending positive, comforting vibes from Seattle.

    Kat August 23, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    I have a brother too. I can’t quite deal with this post right now, but I’ll be back. My mom decided to try to find him, but she gave up a while ago. I’ve been hesitant to ask her about it, because the subject just makes her weep. But I’d really…really like to find him.I have no idea how to do that, it’ll require me to ask my mom about all this stuff that makes her weep, but I’ll do it. I’m inspired.

    Marianne Thomas August 24, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    I clicked over here from Fussypant’s sunday links.

    I am blown away by your story – by your mother’s story.

    Prayers for all of you.

    Sab August 24, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    I am in tears.

    I honestly dont know what to say except that your story touched me.

    God bless.

    Homemom3 August 24, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    (((HUGS))) I hope you find your brother, I bet your mom would be so excited to hear. I do hope it comes to be a happy ending that ya’ll can gather and meet and have no hard feelings.

    Crazy Mommy August 24, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    My dad was adopted. I have often wondered about my grandmother…is she sitting out there some where wondering about her baby boy. Why did she give him up. Is she still alive. I pray that all goes well for you as you look for your brother.

    And Marie, I pray that you find the answers that you are searching for.

    Glennia August 25, 2008 at 3:11 am

    Catherine, I believe with everything in me that you will find him. I know two people who found their adopted out siblings, through hard research and serendipity. You will find him.


    karrie August 25, 2008 at 6:45 am

    I hope for you and your mother, that he is out there reading.

    Alex August 25, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Best of luck, Catherine.

    Marla August 25, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Well, good luck. First stop, ISRR http://www.isrr.net/ ; and registries here: http://www.familyhelper.net/ft/ftsup.html

    I’m on my own search, and wish you well.

    Ungrateful Little Bastard August 25, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    I came here via a comment left on my blog by a friend of yours. Your post is beautiful and I wish you all the luck in the world. I’m going to skip all of the preceding comments for time’s sake, so apologies in advance if you’ve had these steps given to you already

    If you haven’t already registered with Soundex, that should be a first start:


    BC does have a reunion registry. Those are insulting and demeaning, but it’s worth a shot. I don’t believe you as a sibling can register with them, but your mother can


    Those are a start. Other than that, getting to know adoptees might help. I’m not trying to drum up a visit to my site or anything, but in my links list I have tons of adoptee blogs.

    Good luck, and don’t ever hesitate to give me a shout if you need a hand or would like to join a BC-based search group.

    Take care. I’d give anything if my siblings were looking for me.

    Mary August 25, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    I hope you find him. Best to you, your mom and your brother.

    Izzy August 25, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    I searched and I found but, unfortunately, after six years, my four half siblings still don’t know that I exist. Someday they will. Best of luck and if you ever need any help or advice, feel free to ask. I learned a lot during my year-long search.

    MadWoman August 26, 2008 at 1:21 am

    Wow. I wish I knew how to begin helping you find your brother. What a beautiful, yet tear filled (for me) story. I wish you all the best.

    Karen MEG August 26, 2008 at 8:15 am

    This was a beautiful, heartbreaking post. I so hope you find him Catherine. And I hope that when you do, your mother will never have to cry again for her lost baby.

    Good luck to you on this journey.

    Anonymous August 26, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    So beautifully written. I have more to say, but it would be about me, not this incredible story.

    Tootsie Farklepants August 26, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    You have no idea how bad I want to hug your mom right now.

    antiadoption August 26, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Wow, what a place to start. First of all, here is a link for you…

    The first step I would do for your family is get the non identifying information available to you through the state of washington.

    Your mother will have to sign for it though, its only available to surrendering parents, adoptees and adoptive parents. Not siblings. You COULD get the paperwork though, and have her sign it, and mail it in for her.

    Have your mother also put a waiver to release yours and her identifying information should he come looking. This would go into his adoption file through the state.

    There is also the option of a confidential intermediary, i don’t agree with these, i feel that tehese are a violation of our rights. We dont need the state to go in between us to mediate relationships which they often screw up, but if you believe in them, the option is availalbe to you guys. Read about it here:


    Not sure if that link is going to come up or not, bloggers kinda fishy like that. If it doesn’t come to my blog through the link and contact me there, I will help you.

    antiadoption August 26, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    dude! why was I thinking this was washington!! grrr, sometimes I’m such a space!!

    Here are BC’s laws…


    (smacking my head against the wall)

    Jane August 26, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    I too am weeping. It strikes a very hard chord with me. I am the Adoptee. I too have a sister. But one that is older than me. 2.5 years older. I was a 60′s baby, given up, the result too of an affair. But not the affair itself that was my sister, But the after shock of the devastation as he left my mother and she turned to another, and another.
    I did find my Mother and Sister, it took time..patience and heartache..
    We are not in reunion currently, I hope one day we will be..I am a reminder of that pain..For both of them..
    Tread carefully and slowly, take your time..There are some fantastic people in adoption BLOGS VILLE That will be able to help you in your search..If you contact me (I have a email on my blog – the mail box)I will point you in the right direction to reach out to those people who may be able to set you on the right path..
    Im so sorry *cry* that you were forced to give your baby away…Im so sorry that it hurt you so much. Im so sorry that you still hurt so much..Its so wrong to take a child from their mother.*cry*

    ((((((hugs to both of you)))))

    Deb@Bird On A Wire August 27, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    As an adoptee, I read your article with great empathy and a twinge of sadness. I am glad you could share this story, I am sorry your mom went through it. Finding your brother, if he wants to be found will be glorious for all. I wish you all god speed. Thanks for pouring your heart and soul out!

    Kat August 29, 2008 at 1:45 am

    I’ve scoured the comments and can’t find the one I left the other day. Weird. I’ve been thinking a lot about this and just came back to read everything here again. I love all the comments. Its helpful to hear all the different experiences people have had with this.

    I have a brother. My mom is finally willing to find him. She will hardly talk about it, so it hasn’t been possible to find him myself. This has inspired me to get her to tell me all the detail she has and get us signed up wherever we need to sign up to start the process.

    I’ve missed him my whole life. For my mom, its the most painful thing she’s ever been through. I’m amazed that she feels ready for that. She was afraid to know before. I want to know – even if it doesn’t go well, I want to know him. I want to see what he looks like. I want to tell him he has a sister, and that if he ever wants me, I’m here.

    thedailysnark August 31, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Wow! I just wrote a post about not wanting to find my birth mother. I appreciate your mother’s story though. I can’t even imagine how hard it was to give up a child, and I’m not sure that I’d be able to do it if I had to.

    Like your commenter Natalie, I appreciate everything that my birth mother has done, but I’m just not ready for a relationship. I’m not sure I ever would be. I don’t know if it’s because my parents have been wonderful, selfless, loving people or if there’s something else.

    But I truly do hope it works out for your mother.

    Reinadeer September 4, 2008 at 11:25 am

    My husband has the name of my biological father on a scrap of paper somewhere.
    He told me he would look for him. That was over 7 years ago. Sometimes I wonder. mostly, I forget. The man that raised me until he died when I was 13 was a bad man. In many ways.
    So I feel I never had a father.
    I cried when I read this, maybe your brother is waiting and hoping that someone will find him someday? Please at least give it a try. At least you’ll know.

    Adoptee24 September 18, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    I began a search for my birth-family in 2001–it seemed to take forever! Here is a site that might help


    Also: file with the department of women and children’s services in BC…they will help–tremendously!

    Here is a site for this: http://www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/adoption/reunion/index.htm

    Here is another one: http://adoptionrecords.org/add.php3

    It might seem like searching for a needle in a needle stack, but patience and persistence might just be what it takes to get your brother to turn up some day!!!

    I wish you the very best of luck…and you will have it as love is on your side…:-)

    Jessica September 21, 2008 at 7:03 am

    I was adopted at birth and when I was in my 30s, I decided to search for my birth family. I looked on the aol adoption search boards & miraculously found a sister who had also been given up… we weren't certain at first & temporarily lost contact… I later found out that my birthname was the same as hers & contacted her again. From there, we got to know each other & contacted our birth mother & found out that we have 2 other sisters & a brother. We stay in touch on a semi-regular basis, thanks to email! :)

    I hope you can find your brother & it works out well!

    Nicole January 14, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Have you tried making a facebook group?
    I’ve seen similar things out there — that’s how my mom found her husband’s son.

    Good luck with everything :)

    I know it’s a long shot but my Aunt worked at a hospital in Vancouver around that time and I’m going to ask her if it could have possibly been that one.. maybe she would have some ideas for you.

    All the best :)

    Al_Pal March 23, 2009 at 2:41 am

    Oh, goodness! A friend of mine gave up her first child when we were teenagers. She wasn’t with the father anymore and found a nice couple to adopt the child. We’ve mentioned the birth date to one another occasionally, but I think she is mostly focused on her husband and family. It was an open adoption but the adopting couple really wanted to feel the child was just theirs.

    Good luck in your search!

    St March 25, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    My mom wants me to find her son. We talked about it once some eight years ago. I have NO IDEA how to find him. I’m going to read all these comments in hopes someone has left you some hints…

    Jaden Paige March 26, 2009 at 8:58 am

    Wow… this story is so touching, so powerful… Whatever happened? Did you find him yet?

    I hope so. I pray for your mother to know, from his mouth, that she made the right choice… And that he understands.

    Maura March 27, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    I found this post through a link at Bitch PhD today. Just wanted to let you know that my mother, too, relinquished a child for adoption. A girl, in 1961.

    I always wanted to look for her, but my mom said it might kill her to meet her and find that she hated her for giving her up. It was pain enough to lose her.

    Thankfully, joyfully, she found us. She had hired a detective who got access to records he had no legal right to have, and I’m so grateful he did. She brought great joy to my mother and we have a good, though tentative relationship.

    I wish you luck in your search.

    chermonblie April 8, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Oh Catherine… this is such a touching story. I will send tons of good thoughts out that you find your long lost brother. Please keep us posted so that we can share in the good news!

    Smiling, Beguiling April 13, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story here C, it's VERY nice to read an adoption story from a siblings point of view … I got to read your mom's story too, which was equally beautiful.

    I was relinquished in 1967, the fourth & last child of my birthmother, the third that she'd given away for adoption. I've found her, my two relinquished brothers, and the sister that she kept. I ALWAYS wanted to know where I came from, who I looked like, what my medical history was(is). For me, search was a necessity. It isn't for all adoptees.

    I'm lucky to have a good relationship w/ my siblings. I think it was easier for us b/c A) we instantly LIKED each other and B) there wasn't any mother-child weirdness. My birthmother is complicated, but I do love her and I'm grateful to her every day for bringing into this world so I could be w/ my adoptive mom.

    I wish you all the best in finding your brother, and whatever the final outcome is when you do, just know that there WILL be peace in it.


    Goodson Family April 21, 2009 at 1:22 am

    Best of luck in your search.

    I was adopted at birth. I am now re-connected with my birthmom. In fact, we just went to a yoga class together this evening. She’s not my best friend, but we get along just fine.

    I also met my birthdad in person once, and conversed with him lots over the internet before he passed away.

    And I have just recently began building a relationship with my bio-half-brother.

    The main thing I want to say is: growing up, even though I didn’t know much about my birthmom and didn’t have any desire to find her, I never had ill feelings towards her. I never had hate or rage.

    May your mom have hope in her heart. And may you find that sweet baby wrapped in the blanket, all grown up and ready for a mature re-connection.

    Cindy May 6, 2009 at 12:54 am

    I just found your blog through amalah, and wanted to add a quick comment …

    Sometimes it all works out perfect.

    I was adopted at 3 months … my adoptive parents are the most wonderful, nurturing people, and almost 10 years ago (age 23) I had the fantastic good fortune of reuniting with my birthmother and her family.

    I can never thank her enough for her sacrifice … I realize that of all the choices to be make, she made the hardest.

    She is a wonderful person, with a wonderful family — who have all been incredibly accepting of both me and my whole family.

    This has truely been a story of everything working out perfectly!! And although she’ll never be ‘Mom’ — she is “Grandma” to my Daughter and Son — and more special to me than I can express.

    I don’t mean to sound either simplistic or sappy about it, but just wanted you to know that sometimes it all really does work out!!

    Good luck in your search! I hope you find everything you’re looking for!

    OneHotMama May 6, 2009 at 10:32 am

    I cannot emphasize enough that you should fill out search forms with the BC Department of Women & Children's Services–give them all the information you have–they will search. It might take time, it took 6 years to fine my bio-fam…and I am so glad I did, my birth mom had wanted to search but was afraid to…DO IT!!!

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