In 1928, Minka Disbrow was viciously raped in the woods while on her way to a picnic. After getting pregnant by her rapist, 16-year-old Disbrow decided to give her baby up for adoption, and 77 years later, at the age of 94, she decided she really needed to find her daughter.
Disbrow’s story is chronicled in a new book called “The Waiting.” The book was written by Disbrow’s granddaughter, Cathy LaGrow, after her grandmother met her daughter for the first time 77 years after giving her up.
When Disbrow was raped, she had no idea what was happening to her. Up until that point, she still believed that babies came from the stork, so when she discovered she was pregnant, her mother had to explain to her what had happened. She was then sent to live at a young women’s home to hide her pregnancy from others, including her own sister, and while she was there, she gave birth to the baby girl. After naming the girl Betty Jane, she gave her up for adoption at the encouragement of her family and religious leaders.
For years, Disbrow kept the adoption a secret from everyone she knew. But in 2006, she finally decided to talk about what had happened to her. At 94 years of age, Disbrow’s secret was revealed, and her children and grandchildren were all stunned.
“It completely shocked us,” said LaGrow. “We never would have imaged anything like that about our grandma. She’s a very dignified, hardworking person … we never imagined that she had this monumental secret.”
It was discovered that even though Disbrow didn’t talk about the adoption, she had written numerous letters to the adoption agency over the years in the hopes of finding out how her child was doing.
Unbeknownst to Disbrow, her daughter, who was renamed Ruth Lee after the adoption, began the process of searching for her birth mother. Lee was facing some health issues right around her 77th birthday, and she wanted to find out more about her family history.
“I started having a lot of surgeries, and so the first thing they want to know is about family history,” said Lee to TheBlaze, recalling that the adoption agency gave her letters sent by her birth mother. “I said I was adopted and I don’t know anything about my family medical history. I was just overwhelmed with looking at all the letters, asking about her little girl and so I tell you, the love that flowed from those letters was like a waterfall of love.”
Around the same time, Disbrow began to pray that she would find her daughter before she died, and suddenly, she received a life-changing phone call.
“Less than six weeks later, she got the call from [Lee],” said LaGrow.
Since their reunion eight years ago, Disbrow and Lee have had the chance to form a relationship. Disbrow died at the age of 102 earlier this year, but the story lives on in LaGrow’s new book.
Sources: The Blaze, NY Post