“Burger King Baby” and Assumptions About Birthmothers

When I first read the story about Katheryn Deprill trying to find her mother I was shocked and disgusted to read some of the comments at the end of the article. Most were hateful towards her mother. As the story public unfolds, many wrong assumptions were made about what kind of woman would leave a baby in a fast food restaurant bathroom.

The more I learn about adoption the more I learn that those wrong assumptions about birthmothers seem to be universal. A few weeks ago, after sharing that I had recently met my mother for the first time, I had a conversation with a intelligent, educated and cosmopolitan friend:

Iris: What an interesting story! I don’t know if you knew this, but I’m a grandmother of two adopted grandchildren. One of them will probably never know her mother because she was left in a town square in China with her umbilical cord still attached. She spent her first ten months in an orphanage. [said with a disapproving shake of her head]

Giant Petunia: I know it is hard to understand why someone would leave your sweet, little granddaughter all alone. I’m sure that breaks your heart to even think about it.

Since I’ve found my mom I’ve thought a lot about when I taught school in China. I watched as many excited American parents pick up their newly adopted children and wait for their official paperwork in the lobby of the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou. I really loved seeing how nervous those parents were and yet at the same time how much love the already had for those children.

I’ve also thought a lot about the little family that ran the supply hut next my school compound. They had two sons. One son went to school. The other stayed at home and worked in the “store” because the government would only allow one son to go to school and the couple didn’t have enough money to pay for the other son’s education. The western teachers at the school thought this was a tragedy but the Chinese teachers had no sympathy for the boy and thought it was shameful that the store owners had dared to have two children.

I don’t know your granddaughter’s situation, but I’m sure your granddaughter’s biological mother felt like she didn’t have the option to keep her much like how my mother felt. I want to believe that her mother was putting her in a public area where she would be found. If she didn’t want her to be found she could have left her somewhere else. Maybe her mother was hiding in a place with her baby in view to make sure that someone would help her daughter. As I’ve come to understand my mother’s intentions, your granddaughter’s mother wasn’t giving her away but giving her a gift of a life with all the opportunities that she wanted her to have.

Iris: I’ve always thought that was an act of cowardice to leave a little baby all alone in a town square. This gives me a little different perspective…



After a 24 year search and 42 year separation I have reunited with my natural family. I share my thoughts, experiences, discoveries here so that others can understand what it means to be adopted -- from my perspective.

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