PASO ROBLES (AP) — Brooke Mayo never stopped thinking of the rosy-cheeked little girl she gave up for adoption nearly three-quarters of a century ago.
She was certain, though, that she’d never again see the child she had named Delphine. After all, she’d been told in 1945 that the girl had died.
Indeed, it wasn’t until this past July that the little girl, whose adoptive parents had renamed her Patricia, walked through the door of Mayo’s Paso Robles home.
“I was in a daze,” the 89-year-old woman told the San Luis Obispo Tribune, which reported on the reunion Sunday. “I’m still in a daze. I can’t believe this. The people I talk to say it’s like a book or a movie or something, it’s just so amazing.”
Mayo and her 71-year-old daughter now talk on the phone at least twice a week and marvel at how much they look and act like each other.
“I’ve got fine hair just like she does,” Patricia told the Tribune. “I’m left-handed just like she is.”
Patricia, who is retired and lives in Kansas with her husband, is planning to get together again with her mother soon. Mayo asked the newspaper to withhold her daughter’s last name for privacy reasons.
Mayo was 17 when she gave birth to her daughter, who was conceived after the teenager was raped on her way home from a party in Los Angeles.
“In those days, having a baby as a single person, I just decided (adoption) was better for her,” said Mayo, who later married and had two other children.
Before giving the baby up, she named her Delphine after a character in the popular 1940 film “Kitty Foyle.”
“They aren’t supposed to let you see the child, but I had a night nurse who was the nicest lady,” Mayo recalled. “And she let me hold the baby, who had the cutest, round rosy cheeks. I remembered those always.”
With the outbreak of World War II, Mayo went to work for the Army in London as a civilian administrator, arranging overseas housing for U.S. citizens. Upon her return, she tried to find her child.
“I just wanted to let her know she wasn’t adopted because I didn’t care about her. Because I did,” Mayo said.
But a woman at the hospital where she’d given birth told her the baby had died. Mayo’s friend and caregiver, Robin Barris, speculates that the woman didn’t want her to keep looking for the girl, who was actually living just a few minutes away, in the Los Angeles suburb of Burbank.
Patricia’s parents never told her or her brother they were adopted. She was in her 50s when she accidentally learned the news while trying to help her brother secure a copy of his birth certificate. Her sibling is still trying to identify his birth mother.
“I don’t know why,” she said of her parents’ decision. “I just wish (they) would have told us the truth.”
She spent the better part of 20 years trying to learn that truth, and having little success, until a friend’s daughter with an interest in genealogy offered to lend a hand. The woman not only learned Mayo’s name but discovered she was living in Paso Robles.
Soon Patricia’s friend sent Mayo a package with copies of the adoption documents and a letter saying Patricia wanted to meet her.
After 68 years of thinking her daughter had died, Mayo was skeptical. Until she read the letter describing her.
“She has a sarcastic wit and doesn’t have a problem voicing her opinion,” it said.
“And that’s me,” Mayo said.