Becky Babcock: A Girl's Fight to Escape her Mother's Crimes

Daughter given up for adoption talks about uncovering secret of mom's identity.

ByABC News
May 13, 2010, 10:54 AM

May 14, 2010 — -- On June 17, 1984, Diane Downs was found guilty of shooting her three children, killing one. She was sentenced to life plus 50 years for the crimes.

But as Downs was about to begin her new life behind bars, she brought new life into the world.

Just days after her conviction, Diane gave birth to a daughter. The baby girl was whisked away hours after delivery.

The baby was secretly driven to a hotel room and given to her adoptive parents, Jackie and Chris Babcock.

"Oh, gosh, she was adorable," Jackie Babcock told "20/20" in a recent interview. She was the typical little perfect baby."

The Babcocks knew the child they were to adopt was Diane Downs'. They followed the mother's murder trial carefully. When their new daughter arrived -- it was their second adoption -- they named her Rebecca.

The couple watched their new daughter for signs of emotional disturbance, they said. "I think we kind of maybe subconsciously watched for any signs of anything unusual," said Jackie Babcock.

Becky Babcock grew up in a beautiful house in Bend, Ore., only 100 miles -- but a world away -- from the legacy of her birth mother. It was a childhood straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

"We were always hiking, biking, traveling," Becky Babcock said in a recent interview. "It was very family-oriented as we were growing up. I was taught right from wrong."

Becky always knew she was adopted, and at an early age, she began to ask about her parentage.

"I was about 8 years old when I started probing my mother for information," said Babcock, whose story appears in this month's Glamour magazine.

CLICK HERE to see photos of Becky through the years

Becky Babcock's Hunt for Identity

Jackie Babcock thought it best to give her daughter vague answers. "I told her that her mom was in jail," said the adoptive mother. "I didn't give her any details as to why. That's too much for an 8-year-old to take on."

The Babcocks were determined to keep Becky's parentage a secret from her. But when she was still in preschool, the unthinkable happened. Authorities called to say Diane Downs had escaped from prison.

Jackie Babcock said she was forced to reveal Becky's secret to a small group of people. "We didn't know what [Downs] would do," she said. "The precautions that we took were to let people know... that were coming in contact with Becky, her daycare person, her babysitter... for Becky's own safety."

Diane Downs had vowed for years that she would get her children back. In fact she seems never to have gone after them. After a 10-day manhunt, police arrested her in a small apartment where she was staying with a fellow inmate's husband, less than a mile from the prison.

The secret was out, but Becky didn't know -- yet. Then, when she was 11 years old, Becky tricked her babysitter into telling her details about her birth mother.

"I asked the babysitter and I made it sound as if I knew," Babcock said. "And so my babysitter's like, 'Oh, you know about Diane Downs?' And that's how I found out."

Years later, a boyfriend whom Becky had let in on her secret invited her over to watch a movie, "Small Sacrifices." The film was based on her mother's life.

Becky had no idea what she was about to watch. She recently recalled the waves of emotion.

"Disgust, sadness," Babcock said. "It became real at that point. The part that shows when I was born, it's as close as I'd ever come to witnessing my own birth. And to be born of a monster is... not something I'm proud of."