“I got the goose pimples,” says 83-year-old Jan Hungerford as she remembers a cold and misty night at the end of April, 1951.
Hungerford was only 22 at the time, recently married and a swing dance lover with one baby – and another – on the way.
That night, her neighbor knocked on the door to tell her there was a cat in her car.
“I said I don’t have a cat or car. Let’s go out and look.”
Curious, Hungerford says the two stepped outside.
“I opened the door, no kitty cat came out. Instead, there was a bundle on the front seat.”
That bundle was a baby.
Who was she? And, where did she come from?
“Well, I carried the baby inside the house and called the sheriff’s office immediately,” she says. Contra Costa Sheriff’s Deputy Earl Remington came to her door and that was the last time Hungerford saw the baby.
Until this week, 62 years later. Not such a baby anymore, a woman showed up on her doorstep in Auburn.
“There’s a lot of questions I have. My ethnicity,” says Kira Derhgawen. “I was that baby abandoned. I always had dreams about abandoned babies.”
Derhgawen says she grew up happy, in a foster home. But, to this day, she has no idea who her birth mother is.
In fact, the only communication Derhgawen has had with her mother was a letter. After seeing an article in the May 1, 1951 edition of the Oakland Tribune, Kira’s mother – only 16 at the time – sent a long note, explaining she had hidden her pregnancy and was forced to give up her baby.
The letter reads: “I cut her picture out of the paper and carry it in my wallet. I cry when I think of her. Oh I love her so much. Sincerely…”
Signed, no name.
To this day, the case remains open. Now an adoption counselor, Kira wants to find her mother.
“Mother, I received the letter. I now know I was forcefully taken from you. I know you loved and wanted me and named me Neldajean,” Derhgawen says.
If you think you may have information on who Kira’s birth mother might be, call the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department.