AUDIO STORY TRANSCRIPTION
My name’s Trina Wilcox. We’re chatting today with Sharon Fieker for 7 Billion Ones, and you have a story that is near and dear to your heart, and that you are sharing with other people to inspire and encourage them. So where would you like to start? Do you wanna start at the beginning?
Sharon: At the beginning, I would think.
Trina: Alright, let’s go for it. Tell me about this journey that you’ve been on.
Sharon: Well, the journey started in 1969 when I gave birth to my daughter and I placed her for adoption without even seeing her, which is what was pretty much expected when you were unmarried at the time. And in the 60's, that’s the way it was. I did place her for adoption, signed the adoption papers, without even seeing her. And it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life.
Trina: And from there you just continued to try to continue with life and go on as if things were normal?
Sharon: Yes. I was told by the social worker at the hospital to go on with my life as if this did not happen. And I thought she was the professional, so I would try to do that. So for 25 years my family and one girlfriend and the birth father knew. We never talked about it again, for 25 years.
Trina: So was it something you thought about every single day?
Sharon: Oh yes.
Trina: And in those thoughts, those private thoughts in your head that you didn’t talk about, what were you thinking?
Sharon: I was thinking, wondering what she was like. I always felt she had—that I made the right decision.
Trina: So you did know it was a daughter?
Sharon: I did know it was a daughter. That’s the only thing I knew.
Trina: Did you know anything about the adoptive parents at the time?
Sharon: I knew that they had adopted another boy, two years before that, and they wanted another child two years later. That’s all I knew—that they had another boy. And that’s it. I did not know anything more about them.
Trina: If you don’t mind, we back up a little bit… when you were young and you were in this situation where you found out that you were going to have a baby, what kind of thoughts and fears went through your mind?
Sharon: I was pretty much in denial at first. My boyfriend and I had dated about six months but not a continuous dating. But still, when I told him I was pregnant, he told me it was my problem. He didn’t care what I did. And I had just always, like most girls, you grow up expecting to get married and have children. And that was pretty much what I wanted to do. But that wasn’t what was set out to be for me.
Trina: So not only are you faced with this situation, everything’s out of sequence for you, and then you’re faced with it all being put on your shoulders, did you feel like you could go to your family with this and share with them what you were going through?
Sharon: When I did call my parents and tell them, before that I had already made up my mind that adoption was my best option. So I just called them and told them. And they agreed that adoption was my best option. But, I feel that had I chosen to raise my daughter at home, I don’t think that they would have kicked me out. I think they would have let me come back home.
Trina: So they pretty much felt like you were ready to be an adult and go on with your life. How did you feel about that? Did you feel like you respected that or were you kind of sad and felt alone in that process?
Sharon: Oh, I felt very alone because I did not feel like I could share it with anybody. I felt too ashamed and unworthy that I just could not imagine anybody could respect me for doing that. So I just kept it quiet.
Trina: When did you realize that you were worthy, and you did deserve respect, and you were ready to share?
Sharon: Well, I was raised in a Christian home. But I stayed out of church for almost 25 years, because I did feel so unworthy. But two years before my daughter found me, I got back in church and I established a good relationship with Jesus Christ and things started getting better from that point on.
Trina: So you guys got in touch because she reached out to you?
Sharon: She did reach out to me. Two years before she found me I had seen a movie where the child needed a bone marrow transplant. And at that point, I thought, what if my daughter needs me? I had always just thought that she could find me at any time she wanted. And it just hit me, so then I looked into trying to find her. And then found out—I did not know until that point – that she was actually born across the line in Kansas, instead of Missouri. I knew she was born in Kansas City, but I did not realize it was Kansas City, Kansas, and their records are open. So she was able to find me as soon as she was old enough.
Trina: That moment, when she has contacted you—Oh my goodness. Explain that. Share that feeling.
Sharon: Oh, it’s the best feeling in the world. I couldn’t believe it. I was crying so hard. Her supervisor was the one that called me and made the first contact. And she said, ‘cause I was crying so hard, she said, “I’ll call back when you’ve had time to adjust.” And I said “no, I want to hear everything right now.” I was afraid she would never call back if I hung up. So I got control of myself and talked, and then cried a little bit more, and then talked, and then cried a little bit more. And that’s the way it was for quite some time.
Trina: So how long after that did you get to have until you actually met her face to face?
Sharon: Nine days.
Trina: Wow. That went fast. Fantastic. So tell us about that day. What was it like?
Sharon: Oh, it was the most wonderful day of my life. I was so excited. She came to my house at nine o’clock in the morning and when she drove up I saw her for the first time. And I thought, oh you are beautiful. And it was just like her supervisor had told me that she was beautiful. And I could not believe how beautiful she was.
Trina: What was the first thing you said to each other?
Sharon: I said, “Oh you are beautiful.” And she said “You are too.” And we just had an immediate bonding.
Trina: So you have the meeting and what’s going through your mind as you’re talking? Are you excited, are you afraid of what’s going to happen next? You’re probably having so many thoughts and emotions in that moment. Can you share some of those?
Sharon: We both were just trying to learn about each other, the details, and of course we had emailed each other, and phone calls, during those nine days, but still, just seeing each other. We sat down and I had asked her to bring her photo albums. Photography was my favorite thing, my hobby, so I was wanting to see every photo of her she’d ever had made. Only I didn’t expect to see so many photos of concerts that she had gone to. But that’s exactly what she loves to do, and still does. She goes to concerts all the time. Which I could appreciate, because after she showed me her albums of concerts, I got out my albums of concerts where I had done the same thing.
Trina: What do you want other young women to know, that are faced with a situation where their first thought is, I’m embarrassed by this?
Sharon: I want them not to be embarrassed, because I know that that is your first feeling. But times have changed. And over the years I had enough guilt, for 25 years, that I’m a different person now. And I know that they can be too if they just trust. And I know that there are some birth moms that do not want to meet their children. And that is their privilege. But I don’t want it to be because they’re still feeling like I did for 25 years. If that’s the case, it’s worth it to meet their children. They don’t have to have a relationship if they don’t want to. But at least meet them and know that they’re okay. Because that’s what I had always wondered. You know, you want to know that they’re okay, for sure.
Trina: You made an excellent point. Times have changed, communication is a little more open than it used to be. But what about the woman, or man and woman, that are about your age, that are still harboring guilt, and needing to get over that, so that they can have peace in their lives? What would you suggest they do right now?
Sharon: Right now, I think they need to forgive themselves and others. And I know their first thought will be, forgive? Why do I need to forgive myself? But you have to forgive yourself. And you have to forgive others. That is so important. I had to forgive the birth father. And it wasn’t to forgive him personally, because I have not seen him since the night I told him I was pregnant. But I had to forgive him in my heart. It’s just the best feeling when you’re able to forgive. And you don’t have to see them in person or face-to-face. You can forgive them in your heart and there is such a burden lifted when you can forgive.
And you have to forgive yourself. For all those bitter feelings. Because I was making such a bitter person out of myself by having those bitter feelings. You don’t realize how bad they are affecting you, but they do.
Trina: You’ve written a book, I Choose This Day, and that’s a fabulous resource. What other things/information would you suggest for people, in every aspect of a situation like this?
Sharon: I am the co-founder of The Adoption Triad of the Ozarks. We are a support group that meets once a month at Mercy Hospital in the PDR (private dining room) and we talk about adoption and it’s for all groups of adoption. It’s for the birth parents, it’s for the adoptive parents, and for the adoptee. It is so rewarding for me to help others. I am also board member of the Missouri Adoptive Rights Movement, which we’ve recently got a bill passed in this legislature. So that adult adoptees can, almost like Kansas, it’s not completely open like Kansas, but at least it’s a start. And for those that were born prior to 1941, they can request their original birth certificate in Jefferson City now. But for those that were born after 1940, they will have to wait until January 2nd, 2018. I have worked on that since my first trip to Jefferson City, in 2000. So it’s taken 16 years for us to see this. It’s been so many trips back and forth, but I really believe the adult adoptee has that right, should have that right, to get their original birth certificate.
Trina: So if someone wants to come to that meeting, where could they go online to find information?
Sharon: They can look up my website www.ichoosethisday.org.
Trina: Alright, anything else you want to share?
Sharon: It’s just such a blessing, that friendship from all these groups that I’m involved in. I feel like that’s what my goal in life should be, is to help others, and I’m the one that’s rewarded by it so much more than any help I can do.
Trina: And you’re doing a great job. Thank you so much. Sharon Feiker, author of "I Choose This Day".
About The Interviewer
"Trina Wilcox has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems from Missouri State University. After a career as an applications analyst, working with non-profits and other charities became more compelling. Her interest in media led her to becoming an on-air radio host/personality. She has been certified as a fitness professional through FiTour and the Arthritis Foundation, taught aerobics and created the JRA 5K charity race. She has run in the infamous Boston Marathon two times and just qualified for her third. Trina hopes to use her life to encourage and inspire other lives. The community and organizations, like 7 Billion Ones and Arthritis Introspective, have inspired Trina's passion for writing, creating, communicating, and even running. She references her childhood diagnosis of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis as her “twisted gift”. Trina says, "It has forced me to persevere and overcome challenges that I may have otherwise never faced, making motivation a priority in much of my work."