Adoption Reunites Birth Mother and Teen Daughter

Overholt recalled the phone call that caught her off guard. "I picked up the phone and there was silence for a minute, just a couple seconds. And I heard, 'Tammy?' " Overholt said. "I thought something bad had actually happened, because I had this shaking voice on the other end of the phone. And all I heard her say was, 'Hi, Mom, it's your daughter Candace.'

"That made everything … all of the guilt, all of the second opinions you have of yourself go away, because in that conversation she told me how happy she was. Then she told me I was going to be a grandma," Overholt said.

When they finally met, Candace was more than eight months pregnant. From photographs, they recognized each other instantly, and saw themselves in each other.

An Extraordinary Proposal

The next few days were agony for Candace. She had found her birth mother, but she still had to make a gut-wrenching choice. Would she give up the baby? Every hour, it seemed, she changed her mind.

Then Overholt made a phone call to Candace's adoptive parents that would change all their lives. She had a proposal. "If Candace just needs to see her grow up and be part of her life," Overholt said, "John and I would adopt that baby in a heartbeat."

Candace was ecstatic. And so, as the legal adoption proceedings began, the entire family gathered at the hospital for the birth of Candace's baby girl, Anabella.

Overholt, Candace's biological mother, was now the adoptive mother to her own granddaughter. Candace's newborn daughter would now become, in a sense, her own sister. But while Candace knew that baby Anabella would be in good hands, her new mother, speaking from years of experience, warned her that letting her go would be profoundly painful.

"When I come and bring the baby home and you say it's OK," Overholt told Candace, "that's going to be the worst day of your life."

Candace took Anabella home for four days then packed her up for her new life with Tammy and John Overholt.

Overholt's warning to Candace about the pain associated with giving up a child proved true. Candace said she went "numb" when she let go of Anabella. "I just went outside and just sat there and stared ... It just hurt so bad. ... Worst day in my life. And I'm sure it'll always be the worst," she said.

And it was a painful day for Overholt as well. "I could hear her crying when I took 'Bella out of the house," Overholt said. "I cried the whole way home."

Overholt said, "I almost wanted to give her back but I knew that one more day wasn't going to make it any easier. … No matter who had the baby, it was going to be hard."

As tough as she knew that day would be, Overholt also knew just how joyful the days ahead could be for Candace.

And indeed, this fractured family has come together in an unlikely win-win scenario. Candace gets to see Anabella at least once a week and is doing well in college. Tammy and John Overholt are delighted to have two daughters, Alexis and Anabella, who have become inseparable companions.

While outsiders are sometimes mystified about the family relationships, it doesn't faze anyone on the inside.

Candace says she is deeply grateful everything Overholt has done for her. "She gave me a great life like two times now. How do you thank somebody for that, you know? It's just kind of like 'I love you' just doesn't quite cut it anymore."

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