In 1975, a 16-year-old girl in Fort Worth, Texas out her child up for adoption with hopes that another family would be able to take care of her son in a way she couldn’t offer.
It wasn’t an easy decision for Brenda Van Sickle, who is now in her 50s. However, she knew she didn’t have the resources available to give her son a stable childhood and did what she thought was best for her baby.
“I did see him for about 15 minutes before the nurse took him away,” Van Sickle said in an interview. “It was very hard. If I could have taken care of him, I would have. But it just wasn’t right to do that to him.”
Forty-five years after making the most difficult decision a mother could make, Van Sickle received a phone call from what she thought was a stranger. The called ID showed a Wes Fenner with a New Orleans number. She answered the call while at work and was not expecting to hear the words on the other end.
“Hi, did you put a child up for adoption in 1975?”
Her son had found his birth mother.
Van Sickle had done her own searching years prior, but was not able to locate her son due to only having his birthdate and birth location to guide her. Luckily, Fenner had been thinking of reaching out for more than a decade.
While Van Sickle admitted the phone call was awkward, their eventual meeting was full of love and emotion. The two met up at a Terrell, Texas. Van Sickle was waiting in the parking lot when she heard “Mom, it’s me” from behind.
They embraced for about 20 minutes, with Fenner calling the meeting “overwhelming.”
“I’m not a huge crier,” he said. “But it was definitely one of those moments. It was kind of like looking at myself, a slightly older version of myself, in the mirror.”
The two have been building a relationship since, with Van Sickle meeting Fenner’s family, which includes a nine-year-old grandson.
“You know you wonder about nature versus nurture,” Van Sickle said. “We send each other song lyrics back and forth and he listens to the same music I do. We like the same movies. We have the same snarky sense of humor. I’m going, ‘Yeah, this is my kid.'”