Minka Disbrow has lived for most of her live not knowing what happened to the daughter she placed for adoption after becoming a rape victim in 1928 and refusing to have an illegal abortion.
Now, she has been reunited with her daughter in a heartwarming story that touches on how the birth of a child after rape can be a loving experience that restores a woman who has become a victim of sexual abuse or assault.
As the Associated Press reports today:
For most of her 100 years, Minka Disbrow tried to find out what became of the precious baby girl she gave up for adoption after being raped as a teen. She hoped, but never imagined, she’d see her Betty Jane again.
The cruel act of violence bore in Disbrow an enduring love for the child. She kept a black and white photograph of the baby bundled in blankets and tucked inside a basket. It was the last she saw of the girl — until the phone rang in her California apartment in 2006 with the voice of an Alabama man and a story she could have only dreamed.
Disbrow, the daughter of Dutch immigrants, weathered a harsh childhood milking cows on South Dakota dairy farms. Her stepfather thought high school was for city kids who had nothing else to do. She finished eighth grade in a country schoolhouse with just one teacher and worked long hours at the dairy.
On a summer day in 1928 while picnicking with girls from a sewing class, Disbrow and her friend Elizabeth were jumped by three men as they went for a walk in their long dresses. Both were raped.
“We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t know what to say. So when we went back, nothing was said,” Disbrow recalled.
Months passed. Her body began to change. Disbrow, who had been told babies were brought by storks, didn’t know what was happening.
Her mother and stepfather sent her to a Lutheran home for pregnant girls. At 17, she gave birth to a blond-haired baby with a deep dimple in her chin and named her Betty Jane. In her heart, Disbrow longed to keep her. But her head and her mother told her she couldn’t bring an infant back to the farm. A pastor and his wife were looking to adopt a child. She hoped they could give Betty Jane the home she couldn’t.
“I loved that baby so much. I wanted what was best,” Disbrow said.
Read the rest here.