‘Are You Out There Mom?’ After 62 Years, Woman Searches for Birth Mother

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AUBURN—

“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.

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2 comments

  • marriedforlife

    At the death of my friends mom, she found an envelope with articles about her biological mom. Did research and found her. The contact was not loving to say the least. Many, especially from the 50's, just don't want to be found. Still to much shame.

  • fauxclaud

    Actually many more mothers who relinquished WANT to be found! The research form both the US states that have restored Adoptees rights to access their original birth certificates and the other countries in the world that have open records for decades show that it is less than 1% of mothers that rejected the adoptee.
    But you are right about the shame. Often there is so much shame and horrible grief that was never expressed, that the older moms do have issues coming to terms with it. However, it would be better of folks understood that and could help the relinquishing mothers reunited with their children. It's much healthier that way.

    Claudia Corrigan D''Arcy
    Birthmother circa 1987 http://www.MusingsoftheLame.com