Decades Later, An Iowa Father Meets with Daughter He Does not Know Is Alive

Families are full of stories, some of which are funny, some of which are sad, and some of which are never told.  Tom Taylor recalled, “It was 1969.” “On New Year’s Eve, I asked my girlfriend if she’d marry me someday, and in February, she called and said, ‘Guess what? “I’m pregnant,” Taylor and his fiancée, Barb, kept quiet. They decided to place the baby for adoption a few weeks before her due date. “It was terrible,” Taylor said as she sobbed. “We cried the whole way there. It was extremely difficult.”

The doctors said that on the day their child was born, they were informed that she had died. “It was awful,” he recalled. “Not only did we have this secret that she was pregnant and had this baby, but we’ve now lost it and can’t tell anyone.” But she hadn’t passed away. Peggy Jacobson was longing for another child after years of miscarriages around the same time. “When my husband told me they had called and had a baby for us, I exclaimed, ‘What?!’ ‘” she explained, surprised.

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“I always knew,” said Cheryl Stillman. “There wasn’t a moment they sat me down and told me. I just always knew.” They were overjoyed to learn that there was a baby available for adoption, and as that baby girl grew, they made sure she knew the truth about how she came to be a part of their family. Her birth parents, on the other hand, kept the secret, went on with their lives, and had two more children.

“A girlfriend of mine, who is also adopted, made a post: ‘My sister made history in Iowa today,’” Stillman said. “It was all about this group of women who pushed for legislation for Iowa adoptees to get their original birth certificates.”

Find a Grave
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“When we opened our documents and that’s when it all began,” she said about that day. “When you open that envelope and see the names, and to see two names of mine, it was very emotional. We both cried.”

“He found my birth mother’s obituary. I knew, the minute he turned his phone and I saw her picture. I just knew. I saw myself in her,” Stillman said. “The husband’s name was that name that was on my birth certificate. That absolutely took my breath away. They stayed together. I have a full brother and a full sister.”

Stillman was able to see photos of her biological family in a matter of seconds. Her mind was racing. Her heart was pounding. After a few days, she began contacting her birth father, Tom Taylor. “I thought, ‘Who is Cheryl Stillman?’” he said. “I thought someone was really messing with me because I had no knowledge of her being alive.” Taylor, convinced he was being duped, did not respond to any of Stillman’s messages or those from the search angel she had contacted.

His sister, Jennifer Freking, felt the same way after hearing they had an older biological sibling.It was very emotional. I didn’t believe it. I was very defensive of Dad,” Freking said. Then on their mother’s birthday, Tom Taylor received a photo of flowers on their mother’s grave.

Attached was a message that said, “I found mom’s grave. I’m here talking to mom and praying with her and asking God to give you a nudge to accept me.” And that’s what did it,” he said. “I knew. That was the turning point.”

Stillman’s biological siblings had seen photos of her and the birth certificate. They were aware that they were staring at their older sister. They called their father’s number to talk about a reunion. 

When they met, it was all tears of joy. The reunion was very emotional and touching. “I cried and cried and cried,” the father said. “To have that physical person in front of me was amazing. I saw my wife in her.”

At the end of time, we will be part of a great reunion. Those whom God predestined for adoption shall see our Father in Heaven and celebrate with Him for all eternity.

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