The true story of a lost child, a lifetime of longing, and a miracle for a mother who never gave up.
By Cathy Lagrow
with Cindy Coloma
Minka, a young girl of sixteen has lived a sheltered life. Although she lives on a farm she is unaware of where babies come from. She has always believed that "the stork" brings babies to married women. On the day of Minka's sewing class picnic her world is flipped upside down. Cornered in the woods and assaulted by a stranger, Minka is left feeling scared and alone. She decides to never tell anyone what has happened...then three months later she discovers she is pregnant. Her mother and stepfather along with the families pastor decide that the best course of action will be to send Minka away to a distant relative until her confinement time at which time she will then go to the House of Mercy, a place that helps young girls in "delicate" conditions. The plan is for her to have the baby and give it up for adoption.
At the House of Mercy a young girl has her baby and then cares for the baby for 6 weeks before giving it up for adoption or leaving with the baby and having a fresh start. When Minka has her baby she calls her Betty Jane and instantly loves her. She cherishes every moment of the next few weeks and does not want to give her up. She struggles with knowing that both her and her daughter will be "marked" as bad and that her daughter will live a rough life. After much consideration she makes the sacrifice to give her daughter a chance for a better life and gives her up for adoption. When her mom and step father come to pick up Minka they take a picture of Minka and Betty Jane. Minka will cherish this picture for the rest of her life.
Minka never stops loving her daughter. She continues to write letters to the House of Mercy inquiring about the baby. It is against policy for them to give any information, but Minka writes anyway. It is her only link to her baby. She prays for her daughter every year and never forgets Betty Jane. Now an elderly woman in her 90's she finds herself praying a new prayer...that God will let her see her daughter before she dies. Little does she know that two thousand miles away Ruth Lee (Betty Jane) just got word that the court has authorized release of her adoption records.
This book is so good. I couldn't put it down and read it from cover to cover in 24 hours. It is a story of love, a mother's love that runs so deep that no adoption, miles or even years gone by could stop it. I felt like I was sitting down with this family and hearing them recount the story to me first hand. The fact that Minka did not let the circumstances of her life turn her into a bitter woman was inspirational. She continued to love and she made and donated clothes and turkeys to the the home where she stayed. What a remarkable woman! The miracle of them being reunited is a story of faith and God's love as well. In the middle of the book there are pictures of the family and included is the picture of Minka and Betty Jane, the very same picture that Minka treasured all those years. I love that these pictures were included and found myself pausing from reading and flipping the pages to look at the pictures again and again. It helped me to connect even more to the characters. I would normally say that I would love to sit down with Minka and have a cup of coffee and hear her story, but that is exactly what I felt like I did. Very well written!
***This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my review.