Woman reunites with birth mother, sister after 34 years

Posted: Monday, May 07, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Everyone tends to get a little excited and a little nervous when parents and relatives arrive for a visit. When her mother and sister stepped off a plane early Saturday morning at Fairbanks International Airport, though, Mary Billadeaux was understandably more excited then most: Billadeaux, who had been put up for adoption at birth, was about to meet her biological kin for the first time.

Billadeaux, 34, of Fort Wainwright, had known she was adopted for almost three decades. But it wasn't until less than two months ago that she had the will and the means to look up her birth mother.

Her mother, Betty Britton, explained that she was 20 years old at the time of Mary's birth. She already had one small child and was also caring for an ailing mother and helping take care of four siblings.

''I just didn't feel I could take care of another one,'' she said.

Britton decided to put the child up for adoption, and actually concealed the pregnancy from everyone but her mother and a friend. Even the father didn't know about it.

''It was nobody else's business,'' noted Britton's daughter Lori McKay, 31, who made the trip to Fairbanks along with her mother.

Billadeaux, who was born in the small town of Harrisburg, Ore. -- where Britton still lives -- was adopted by a family in Salem, 50 miles away. She said her parents were honest with her about her origins, and told her of her adoption when she was around six years old.

Billadeaux eventually married Travis Billadeaux, a sergeant with the U.S. Army. The couple, who have two children ages 10 and 12, have been stationed on Fort Wainwright since August. Billadeaux said she always had a natural curiosity about her birth parents, and a recent decision by the state of Oregon made her decide to take action.

''I'm not getting any younger, and Oregon just unsealed its adoption records,'' she said. She was able to quickly find the identity of her birth mother on the Internet.

Billadeaux reached a sister-in-law, and soon she was put in touch with her long-lost mother, who by now was a married mother of five.

Britton said she was went through a range of emotions upon learning about her daughter. She decided to tell all of her family members, one by one, about their sibling, who had remained a secret their entire lives. She said everyone was understanding and supportive.

The trio have spent their time visiting Fairbanks-area attractions and playing catch-up after more than three decades apart.

The three expressed amazement at the similarities Billadeaux shares with her biological family. ''We do a lot of the same things, we have a lot of the same hobbies,'' said McKay. ''(There's) just a lot of little things about our tendencies.''



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