Sixty-five years ago a teenage girl in small town Oklahoma gave birth to a baby boy and gave him up for adoption. In 2010, 1,500 miles away in Colfax, Wash., that mother and son reunited.
There are moments in life that define life and this reunion is one of those moments. The story begins in 1944, when something happened that back then you just didn?t talk about.
?It was just taboo, absolutely not, absolutely not,? said Fred Kiser, the baby born Jan. 1, 1945.
On January 1st 1944, a teenage girl gave birth to a baby boy and promptly gave that baby up for adoption.
?I couldn?t fault her for it, I knew the times that this was happening, it was taboo, you didn?t speak about it,? Kiser said.
Within weeks, that teenage girl?s family moved from Muskogee, Okla. to California. In 1946, that teenage girl got married, had two children and she never spoke about her baby to anyone.
?It was a secret; no one in the family knew,? daughter Carolyn Haner said.
That teenage girl, Tawana Jo Yaden, is now 83 years old. She lives in a retirement home in Colfax, suffering from Alzheimer?s, with her memories slowly slipping away.
?I called every aunt and uncle, they didn?t have a clue, not a one of them,? Haner said.
In September, Haner?s grandson was online researching family history and stumbled upon a posting at an adoption website by a man named Fred Kiser. He was trying desperately to find his birth mother.
The post said he was born in 1945 in Muskogee and the birth mother he was seeking was named Tawana Jo Yaden.
?It listed his name and where he was from. Had to be my mother, there aren?t, I cannot imagine, two Tawana Jo Yaden?s on this planet,? Haner said.
Haner was dumbfounded. She thought, was it possible for her mother to have another child she had never spoken about? She then decided she would contact Kiser.
?I fretted for a couple of days, and then I tried the phone number and it had been disconnected,? Haner said. ?So that?s when I thought? Facebook!?
After a quick Facebook search, Carolyn located a Fred Kiser in Muskogee and sent him a message.
?I said my name?s Carolyn Haner, trying to find Fred E. Kiser, concerning a Tawana Jo Yaden.?
It was Kiser?s turn to be dumbfounded.
?Man, my heart stopped and I said ?how many people in the world have that name, you know?? Just one person, has to be and said that?s got to be my mother, all these years I?ve looked for her and I said, ?this is my mother,?? Kiser said.
After phone calls and e-mails Haner became convinced Kiser was her brother. She then decided it was time to ask her mother an almost unbelievable question: Did you give birth to a baby boy you gave up for adoption?
?She said no, and she started making excuses about family and I said ?no mom, isn?t that the name you gave a little boy you had to give up for adoption? and she said momma wouldn?t let me keep him and she cried and cried and cried,? Haner said.
A 65-year secret had been revealed. But there was another secret. In 1944, Yaden, had been raped.
?My grandmother was very staunch Baptist and was very proud and I simply didn?t think she could handle it,? Haner said.
?My heart just broke then because, after hearing the whole story, I knew just how strong she must have been,? Kiser said.
With emotions near the surface, Kiser called the retirement home in Colfax and heard his mother?s voice for the first time.
?Right off the bat I introduced myself and she said ?oh honey I?ve wondered what?s happened to you all these years. All these years I?ve thought about you lots of times,?? Kiser said.
Just days old, Kiser was adopted by a couple in Oklahoma, raised in a good home. He eventually married, settled in Muskogee and had children of his own.
Kiser always knew he was adopted and began actively looking for his mother in 1971.
?I kept hitting brick wall after brick wall,? Kiser said.
After 40 years of searching, after an improbable chain of events, after phone calls and e-mails and planning, the reunion day finally arrived.
Kiser and his family, all the way from Oklahoma, arrived at Tawana Joe Yaden?s retirement home in Colfax. Kiser prepared to meet a woman he?d thought about every day of his life, but never thought he?d meet.
During their reunion, the two embraced and Yaden gave him a kiss. She told him that her family wouldn?t let her see him and was happy to see he had been well taken care of.
?I knew that she loved me, that was never a question, it was? just to be able to meet her and tell her myself one time, how much I loved her, and I got to do that,? Kiser said. ?I am the luckiest guy in the world.?
After 65 years, a mother and her secret son bound by an unbreakable love are together again. It was a reunion born of tragedy, culminating in pure joy.
?My life has made a full circle, and it has, I could die right now and be a happy man,? Kiser said.