Good News

53-year-old woman spends first Christmas with her birth mother

Sandra Hicks Weeden surrendered her daughter for adoption 53 years ago. They just spent their first Christmas together.

53-year-old woman spends first Christmas with her birth mother
Sandra Hicks Weeden and Heidi Lynn Wallace meet face-to-face for the first time.
Heidi Lynn Wallace
SMS

This Christmas story is about a young woman blessed with a baby.

“I was 17. I was going into my senior year and I got pregnant,” said 71-year-old Sandra Hicks.

In 1970, that meant a difficult decision had to be made.

“I didn't feel like I had a choice back then,” Hicks said.

Hicks moved from her home in Alaska to a maternity home in Washington. It was there that she turned 18 and gave birth to a baby girl.

“I got to hold her for just 30 minutes,” Hicks recalled. “I got to count her fingers and her toes and then they took her away.”

Hicks chose to give up the baby for adoption. A year later, she got married and became Sandra Hicks Weeden. She’s now been married for 52 years, but that baby girl never left Hicks' heart.

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“Never ever. This time of year, around Thanksgiving time, I would go through a sadness. I can’t explain it, but my heart would be so sad,” Hicks said.

Closed adoptions meant Hicks had no way of knowing where her daughter lived. But earlier this year, she got a notification on her ancestry.com account. Unbeknownst to Hicks, a young woman across the country, a granddaughter Hicks didn’t know existed, had been doing some research.

“I was at a loss for words because I couldn't believe I actually located my mom’s biological mother,” Azhia-Lin Thompson, Hicks' granddaughter, said.

Thompson had found her grandmother, but she still had to tell that baby girl, born in 1970.

“I was in the middle of crying. My mom came in the house and was like, 'Who do I need to beat up?'" Azhia-Lin said.

Heidi Lynn Wallace remembers the day too.

“I was like, ‘Who do I need to beat up?’ and she’s like, ‘I think I found your birth mother,’ and I said, 'Um, what?!” Wallace said.

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Wallace and Hicks first connected on FaceTime.

“I ended up crying for the next three days,” Wallace told Scripps News Phoenix.

That all led to a face-to-face meeting over Christmas weekend in Mesa, Arizona. It was a meeting 53 years in the making.

"Pulling up to her house, I was hyperventilating," said Wallace.

The family has already bonded over their love for music, even working on their own rendition of the song “This Christmas” for next year.

“I’m putting it together where I’m going to have all the family members sing parts of the song and then instruments in between,” Wallace's “new” brother, Marcus, said.

It’s a remarkable Christmas story.

“I don’t have a new chapter; I’ve got a whole new book now,” Wallace said. “This is the ultimate Christmas gift.”

This article was originally published by Ford Hatchett for Scripps News Phoenix.