Margaret Bloebaum of Nevada City spent nearly a half century dreaming of the day she would meet the daughter she gave up for adoption in 1967.
That day finally came last summer.
After years of searching, Bloebaum found the daughter she offered for adoption in Houston so many years ago. She sent a letter to her and waited.
“Once I wrote to her, nothing happened. For two weeks, three weeks. I was cycling deeper into despair,” Bloebaum said. “If she ignored it, I knew there would be no hope.”
In 1967, single mothers were dealt a difficult hand. Society shunned them and jobs were hard to manage - the world was a different, colder place to raise a child alone.
In those days, adoption was usually private. No information on the child was available, due to privacy laws.
The agency told Bloebaum that once she signed the paper she would never hear another word about the adoption. “They said, ‘go home and forget this ever happened.’ ”
The baby went to her new family; Bloebaum went home to Washington. But the mother never stopped thinking about her only child.
“On the day she turned 18, I sat down with a bottle of wine and went searching for agencies. I had stayed and worked in one place just in case, so I was findable,” Bloebaum said.
After she married Mike Bloebaum in 1997, she wrote to the original agency.
“I said I know about the privacy issues but it’s hard to think about someone without a name. I need to have some way to think about her, which I do daily. They said, ‘we understand, but it’s our job to stand as an unmovable barrier to privacy.’ “
As it turned out, there would be many more seemingly unmovable barriers to come.
At one point, Bloebaum hired a woman who said she would find her daughter for $250.
“She squeezed another $150 from me,” she said. “Then she disappeared. That was 11 years ago.”
More years went by and Bloebaum posted an item on an adoption website. She received a reply from a volunteer “search angel,” saying, “I understand. My goal is to reunite people” and if you share your information, I can find her. “I thought I had nothing to lose.”
The volunteer came up with 39 girls who were born “at the right place and the right time.” Bloebaum said they eliminated many and got down to about four.
“The one clue I had was that I remembered the couple wanted to adopt again,” she said. “We started looking at people who adopted again.”
Finally, she hit pay dirt. Bloebaum found out her name, ironically, is Margaret, known as Molly. “That was a total fluke, but I had her name.”
With that information, Bloebaum continued to search more fervently to find where she lived.
“I’m all over the place, gathering as much information as I can. I discovered the agency went out of business.
“If the agency is gone, she will never find me, I thought.”
Finally Bloebaum was able to find her location.
“I knew where she grew up and her children’s names, but I couldn’t do anything about any of it,” she said. “I was so protective of her identity, like a momma lion. I wanted to make sure no one knew anything about her” for her privacy.
In time, Bloebaum summoned the courage to send a letter. Her daughter finally responded.
“Within the first 10 days to two weeks there were probably 100 emails,” she said. “We were off and running.”
Family history was important to convey. The daughter was told that her father was Irish Catholic. Her maternal relatives were Jewish German.
Molly agreed to see her birth mother. At long last, they met on July 29, 2016, in Dallas.
“I was frozen when I first met her,” she said. “I had been thinking of this day for 49 years. There was an unreal quality to it … and a sense of familiarity at the same time. She doesn’t have my mannerisms, but looks exactly like me. She has my mother’s hands. My father’s nose. She has all my features but like they had been shaken up in a mason jar.”
Bloebaum and her husband spent five days with Molly’s family.
“Then we went to her (adoptive) father’s house; he had tears streaming down his face. He said, ‘I was always afraid I’d die before she would know you.’ “
“He leaned over and said ‘I love you. ‘We never failed to include you in our family prayers.’ “
The reunion answered so many questions Bloebaum had about the family who raised her. It also eased many doubts she had about Molly’s upbringing.
Later, Molly wrote to Bloebaum that she had had a “Norman Rockwell Family… My life is far better than anything I could imagine. I wanted to thank you for the fabulous life I’ve had and we owe you for that.”
That told Bloebaum much of what she questioned about Molly’s life.
The reunion has provided joy that the family never thought they would have. Each family member seems to have basked in the glow of a much larger brood.
“All of my family – my sister and my nieces – everyone is friending everyone.”
Right now it seems the extended family is intact. Bloebaum’s husband “is over the moon” and telling everyone about the reunification of mother and child. But much is unknown about what lies ahead.
“For 49 years, the thought in the back of my brain was that I may not ever know the only child I ever had. The next question is, would I have done the same thing, and the answer is yes. I didn’t think I had anything to give.”
“I don’t know what will happen in the future,” Bloebaum said. “But she looks exactly like me.”