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Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

N.J. woman relives painful past after child she gave up for adoption reaches out

Posted by on Mar. 10, 2013 at 4:20 PM
  • 302 Replies


Kathleen Hoy Foley was 16, alone and pregnant from a rape in 1964 when she decided to put the baby up for adoption, intending to forever close that chapter of her life.

“The day I walked out of that hospital, it was the day it ended for me,” Foley, now 65, told the Daily News. “I was emancipated. I truly believed I was free.”

She wasn’t.

More than 30 years later, the child defied the odds and found her, shattering the life Foley had created and forcing her to reveal a dark piece of her past that she had wanted to keep hidden from her grown daughters and husband.

“It was beyond devastating,” said Foley. “My life before that and after that are two different things.”

Abortion was illegal in the early 1960s so Foley had settled on a closed adoption with Catholic Charities — the only feasible way she could relinquish ties to the rapist, a senior at her high school.

“I was just trapped,” said Foley, who did not report the abuse. “This was before rape was invented. I had no way of identifying the violence.”

A closed adoption, which seals birth certificates to prevent adoptees from learning the names of their birth parents, seemed like the best option. But the adoptee found Foley anyway and repeatedly reached out, despite Foley’s efforts to make it clear that she didn't want any form of relationship.

Foley, who is currently writing a follow-up to her book “Woman in Hiding: A True Tale of Backdoor Abuse, Dark Secrets and Other Evil Deeds,” said the adoptee “stalked” her by obtaining information from a private investigator — and reaching out to Catholic Charities, where Foley said an employee unlawfully released a great deal of private details regarding the adoption.

Catholic Charities did not return The News’ request for comment.

The adoptee, Foley said, then went even further and began contacting her family.

The most hurtful offense, she said, came when the woman reached out to her son-in-law, a lawyer, who then revealed Foley’s past to his wife, Foley’s daughter.

“It was horrible,” Foley said. “It was humiliating, degrading, dehumanizing.”

Elaine Penn, the adoptee, acknowledged she made contact with Foley’s son-in-law. Penn said at the time she simply thought he was Foley’s attorney.

“I found an old, public deed of hers,” Penn, of Howell, N.J., told The News. “I said to myself, you know what, I’ll contact the attorney. I had zero idea that he would end up being her son-in-law.”

Penn, 48, contacted many people in her quest to learn more about her ancestry, a search she started after having her own daughter in 1996.

Giving birth “smacks a lot of adoptees right in the face because it’s the first time you see anyone who is biologically connected to you,” Penn said.

Penn said she never used a private investigator and only found Foley and her now-deceased birth father after poring over library documents and public records.

She also challenged Foley’s assertion that she had gotten her personal information from Catholic Charities.

Despite Foley’s repeated refusals to meet with her, Penn said she doesn’t regret seeking out her past — but added that Foley’s reaction to her attempts at contact “were a knife to my heart.”

“It’s really sad,” Penn said. “It is very hard for somebody in this time to put their brain back in 1964 in that society. I’ve never experienced it. But I would hope that whatever happens in that situation that at this point, I would get myself help and I wouldn’t take it out on the person I gave birth to.”

Foley and Penn have never met. They do not speak.

Donald Cofsky, president-elect of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, said their case is one of the many sad ripple effects of closed adoptions.

“It’s just a bad situation,” Cofsky, who has presided over more than 1,500 adoption cases, told The News. “It was probably upsetting for the birth mother who didn’t want anything to do with this because of the way in which the child was conceived. And was probably just as upsetting for the child who then finds out that her birth mother doesn’t want to create a relationship.”

“There’s no way to fix it.”

There may be no solution for Foley or Penn, but Foley said she is instead focused on helping others in similar situations realize that there is life after pregnancy from rape.

“I was always taught that it was my fault,” she said. “It’s a long process of acknowledging, understanding — but you can liberate yourself.”


by on Mar. 10, 2013 at 4:20 PM
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Replies (1-10):
sweet-a-kins
by Emerald Member on Mar. 10, 2013 at 4:29 PM
11 moms liked this
What a horrible story

I'm sorry but mrs Foley is being a bit horrible. 1) by making ales allegations 2) by treating Ms Penn as if she is the rapist himself

I understand its a very painful experience but at this point meeting your bio child and just speaking even of its only one time could bring some healing for both women

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LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Mar. 10, 2013 at 4:32 PM
6 moms liked this

I think this says it all:

"forcing her to reveal a dark piece of her past"

The 'dark secret' of her past is that she was violated by an attacker? That's 'her shame'??!?!

OMG.

Jcothrine
by Member on Mar. 10, 2013 at 4:34 PM
17 moms liked this

it is a horrible story... but i don't think a person who has been raped should have

to meet or have anything to do with a child they concieved from rape....

it would probably be incredbily painful and her rights were totally violated

by people giving out information that weren't supposed to, etc.


in my opinion the daughter should have stopped when the mother

said no... i think it was almost like a second rape ..her life being

destroyed like that..her other children and husband finding out like that!


maybe i am wrong...but when a person wants a closed adoption..i think it should

stay CLOSED!

JC

Jcothrine
by Member on Mar. 10, 2013 at 4:37 PM

maybe you have never noticed the tendenacy to blame a rape victim and act like it is her fault it happened?


hmm...?


JC


Quoting LindaClement:

I think this says it all:

"forcing her to reveal a dark piece of her past"

The 'dark secret' of her past is that she was violated by an attacker? That's 'her shame'??!?!

OMG.



FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Mar. 10, 2013 at 4:38 PM
2 moms liked this

I do not have to completely understand the birth mother's position on this, emotionally.  She had every right to expect that the child she gave up for adoption would remain in her past.  However, in all reality, in today's world, not much stays secret, legally or otherwise.

It's a sad situation all the way around.  

xoch86
by Member on Mar. 10, 2013 at 4:38 PM

This is just sad all over...

FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Mar. 10, 2013 at 4:39 PM
3 moms liked this


Quoting Jcothrine:

it is a horrible story... but i don't think a person who has been raped should have

to meet or have anything to do with a child they concieved from rape....

it would probably be incredbily painful and her rights were totally violated

by people giving out information that weren't supposed to, etc.


in my opinion the daughter should have stopped when the mother

said no... i think it was almost like a second rape ..her life being

destroyed like that..her other children and husband finding out like that!


maybe i am wrong...but when a person wants a closed adoption..i think it should

stay CLOSED!

JC

I agree with you.

Ms.KitKat
by Platinum Member on Mar. 10, 2013 at 4:46 PM
1 mom liked this

 In 1964 yes. it was shameful. and even today, women who place their babies for adoption expreience not only shame but guilt as well/. You should try and read her book. It is very powerful. But I have to admit, I was nto able to get past the first few chapters.

Reading this birth mothers book will give you much compassion for this woman. She is not the horrible person she comes across as in this article.

 

Quoting LindaClement:

I think this says it all:

"forcing her to reveal a dark piece of her past"

The 'dark secret' of her past is that she was violated by an attacker? That's 'her shame'??!?!

OMG.

 

Ms.KitKat
by Platinum Member on Mar. 10, 2013 at 4:47 PM
3 moms liked this

 although I have issue with the whole closed adoption- part of me has t agree. If a woman wants her placement to be closed and it is done so without force and coercion, then her wishes should be upheld.

 

Quoting Jcothrine:

it is a horrible story... but i don't think a person who has been raped should have

to meet or have anything to do with a child they concieved from rape....

it would probably be incredbily painful and her rights were totally violated

by people giving out information that weren't supposed to, etc.

 

in my opinion the daughter should have stopped when the mother

said no... i think it was almost like a second rape ..her life being

destroyed like that..her other children and husband finding out like that!

 

maybe i am wrong...but when a person wants a closed adoption..i think it should

stay CLOSED!

JC

 

Ms.KitKat
by Platinum Member on Mar. 10, 2013 at 4:51 PM
3 moms liked this

 As one adult adoptee put it and others agreed:

"sometimes the knowing is more devasting than the not knowing."

when speaking of search and reunion with their first family(s)

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