I Was Raped!
I was just 17 years old when I left our grim, inner-city
slum home in Philadelphia, in flight from two alcoholic parents, and moved
across the country to San Francisco.
I got a job in an office there and was certain that
my future was going to be very different from my past. But I was naive;
I’d rarely date and I knew very few people, so when a bunch of people at
work told me they’d been invited to a pizza party, I decided to go along.
When I arrived, there was just me and the host, who
worked in another department of my office. I later learned he told everyone
else the party was off. He was 30 years older than I was and physically
powerful. He was tall, bearded and obese. Within minutes of my arrival,
he raped me.
I’d never been sexually intimate with any man before,
and afterwards, I crawled back home, terrified, hurting and ashamed. There
was no crisis center or hotline to help deal with the trauma, and out of
my sense of shame and terror, I didn’t even report him to the police.
When I discovered I was pregnant, I moved to Los
Angeles without telling anyone about my condition. I moved in with an elderly
couple until my baby was born.
In those days, it was thought to be better if a baby
being given up for adoption was taken away from its mother immediately
after birth. I suppose they felt what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t
grieve for. I’ll never forget coming out of the anesthetic and being told
I’d had a healthy baby girl. I was never given a chance to see her, to
I was overcome by the finality of it all and by a
desperate sense of loss. I was just 19 years old. I was 28 years old before
I trusted another man again. My husband, Harold, was the only person I
ever told about that terrible night and the baby born as a result.
Not a day passed that I didn’t think of the baby
girl I’d brought into the world. But I didn’t for a minute consider tracking
her down. I did not want to disrupt her life, but I admit I did think someday
God’s radar would lead my birth child back to me
again. And it finally did.
My Daughter Found Me!
I’ll never forget that first phone call. She told
me her name was Julie Makimaa and she’d been searching for me since she
was 17. She told me her parents had given her copies of her adoption papers.
Julie then said that once she knew my maiden name she’d made hundreds of
phone calls from her home in Michigan to track me down. A friend of Julie’s
noticed that pencilled very faintly on one of the papers was the name “Prospect”
followed by four numbers. Julie had assumed it was a street address
in Los Angeles but her efforts to connect me with it had been fruitless.
Then her friend had a great idea. “Julie,” she said,
“it’s not an address. It’s a phone number. Let’s try it to see if it’s
It was. It belonged to the old couple who’d given
me shelter during the last months of my pregnancy and with whom I’d kept
in touch over the years. They put Julie and I in touch right away.
Meeting My Daughter
Julie said she was now 20 and was married with a
child of her own. My heart was racing as we agreed to meet, and I remember
thinking, “what will I say if she asks me about her father? How can
I tell her he’s a rapist?”
It was my husband who convinced me that Julie had
to be told of the circumstances surrounding her birth. He phoned Julie’s
husband, Bob, and told him the truth. Bob was the one who broke the news
We met for the first time just a month after our
first phone conversation. There are no words to describe my exact feelings
as Julie walked into my hotel room.
Here was the child whose memory I’d hidden in my
heart for so many years, the child who has given me my first grandchildren
– Casey, now 3, and Herb, 1. She embraced me. We cried. Bob said with all
the love in the world in his voice: “Thank you for
not aborting Julie. What would my life be like without her?”
It was Bob who persuaded me to write my book, The
Missing Piece, about Julie’s birth, my years without her and the joy of
our reunion. Finding my daughter has enriched my life beyond measure. The
couple, who adopted her, Eileen and Harold Anderson, are beautiful people.
Julie, Eileen and I have been speaking to various
groups about what has happened to us. I guess our message is that just
as bad things can happen to good people, so can something beautiful come
from a wicked act. Julie is living proof of it.
Adapted from The Missing Piece by Lee Ezell, Servant Publishing