I Was the Big Secret of the Family

By Natalie Webster

Throughout her life Kelly Webster had always wondered who her birth mother was and what she was like. Unlike a lot of the children that are adopted, Webster was blessed and reunited forty-five years later with her birth mother.

“Periodically my husband would ask me if I wanted to search for my birth mother and I would almost always say no. And I think deep inside I was afraid to find her and then have her tell me that she didn’t want me to be part of the family. Or that no one knew about me that I was a big secret and she wanted to keep me a secret and I guess just the rejection,” said Webster.

 

Even though Webster at the time had no interest in finding her birth mother her husband continued to ask every once and awhile.

“I just thought that it would be good for her and that it would be a positive part of her life if she was able to find her birth mother and reunite with her,” said Joe Webster, Webster’s husband.  “I thought that because she had not had contact with her adopted mother for many years that it would help heal her heart.”

Three years ago in August, Webster had a change of heart and decided to start the search to find her birth mother.

“When Joe asked me I didn’t feel any fear. I didn’t feel any hesitation. I just said okay. Sure,” said Webster.

Webster and her husband then hired someone that had the qualifications to be able to access court records from the 1960s that had been sealed. In some cases it takes a year or longer to find a match but in Webster’s case she only had to wait one month. The detective called her back and Webster was told that her birth mother had been found and was alive.

Webster’s mother had given her up for adoption due to her circumstances. She was seventeen years old when she was date raped by Webster’s birth father. In the 1960’s families did not commonly raise illegitimate children.

“So I decided that I would write a letter and put in a picture, and that way I wouldn’t lose my nerve,” said Webster.

Two weeks after the letter was mailed in early November, Webster’s birth mother decided that she indeed wanted to contact her daughter. When the call came Webster was not home and her daughter answered the phone.

“So Natalie got her phone number and her name and immediately called me. And it took me probably about an hour for me to get my courage up to called her back,” said Webster.

After getting over the nerves of placing a call to her birth mother for the first time in forty-five years, Webster then connected with her birth mother, Phyllis Hedgepeth. Hedgepeth told Webster how happy she was to meet her and finally be able to talk on the phone together. Webster and her birth mother were at that time able to communicate almost daily and grow their relationship over the phone. Along with her mother, Webster has been able to connect with her stepfather, Stewart Hedgepeth.

The first time that Webster got the chance to meet her birth mother in person was four months later. Hedgepeth and her two sisters met Webster and her two daughters for lunch at a Dave and Busters in North Carolina.

“It was a day I have stored in my heart forever. To see, to hug, to touch, to share several hours sitting side by side with my Mom is hard to describe. I was so excited and joyful and nervous. I wanted time to stop so I could hold her hand and weep. I did not realize how desperately I needed her and missed her my whole life until that afternoon we first met. She is a blessing I cherish,” said Webster.

 

Webster’s mother also had an emotional experience when she first got to see her daughter.

“I was thrilled to meet my new daughter and my new granddaughters. It was a feeling of pure joy. As I looked at my daughter I was seeing myself and I thanked God she had reached out to me. Kelly continues to be the most inspirational, supportive, caring person in my life,” said Hedgepeth.

 

Webster’s experience of finding her mother will live in her heart forever and has completely changed her life.

“For me I think that the most significant part of the story is that a lot of adopted children feel like for some reason that they were unwanted or that they were a mistake. And I think that God has made it very clear that I was not.”

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