- Associated Press - Monday, April 16, 2018

HAVELOCK, N.C. (AP) - When Cindy Springston looks into the faces of the young, often frightened mothers she works with each week, she sees the features of another young woman from decades past, one contemplating a decision that would remain hidden from her family for over 50 years, one with eyes remarkably like Springston’s own.

“I have a story to tell,” says the West Virginia native, relaxing in her office at the Havelock Pregnancy Resource Center. And indeed she does. Having taken over as the HPRC director in 2013, Springston has worked with hundreds of women seeking free, confidential help with pregnancy issues.The clinic offers pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, Medicaid verification and essentials such as diapers, baby clothes and strollers, all at no cost.

Springston said her chosen profession - including over two decades working in pregnancy centers across the region prior to coming to HPRC - is one she felt drawn to at an early age. But to understand that calling, said Springston, you have to listen to her story.

“I was born on October 14, 1959 in Fairmont, West Virginia. I was in foster care until I was six months old and then placed in a loving home. I had wonderful parents. During that time when I was a teenager my mom had by biological mother’s name. She said she had three older children, but she said ‘I can tell you right now, they don’t know anything about you.’”

At the time, says Springston, she had an unusually strong bond with her older brother Jeff, who was also adopted.

“We were inseparable, we just had a great life together. He actually named me when my mom and dad adopted me,” she recalls.

In 2005, Springston’s life took what she describes as a dark turn when Jeff fell sick. After visiting him in Wilmington, she discovered that he had stage four colon cancer. He died two years later, in November 2007.

“I went through a really dark time time, just grieving. I kind of closed out everybody. And one day my husband came to me and said, ‘You know, you’ve got three other siblings out there.’”

In an effort to rescue her from a spiral of grief, Springston’s husband encouraged her to track down the biological siblings that she had never met.

“My husband said ‘I’m going to find your family’ and I said I don’t know if I really want to do this or not, because they know nothing about me,” Springston remembers.

After three weeks work searching the Internet, Springston’s husband located information about her mother, Ruth Hadox. Unfortunately, she had passed away almost a decade earlier.

“She lived with that all her life, knowing that she had placed me for adoption,” says Springston.

After locating her siblings from the Hadox family, two brothers and three sisters, Springston says she decided to reach out to each of them separately.

“I went to see them one at a time, because I knew if we got together as a group it would just be too overwhelming,” says Springston.

In March 2009 she contacted Nelson, her oldest brother, who was living in Florida.

“We got together and had dinner and he kind of filled me in about how they grew up.”

Springston learned that her mother and father separated sometime before she was put up for adoption. Her father, who was not named on the birth certificate, returned to the family just long enough to father another girl, Lisa, before leaving for good, says Springston.

Springston says she is grateful she was able to meet Lisa before she died suddenly last November.

Ruth would eventually remarry, and give birth to Springston’s youngest sister, Robin.

Springston also has a brother, Chuck, who currently lives in Buford, Georgia.

Though she’s since been embraced with open arms, Springston admits her siblings were more than surprised to learn they had another sister.

“We get together all the time now, and they love me as their sister, but at that point they were so shocked,” she says

Piecing together her family’s history, Springston says she was amazed to discover that their lives had nearly intersected with her own. After Springston was put up for adoption, her family moved to Daytona Beach, Fla. Years later, her older sister Charlotte brought her mother to North Carolina, taking up residence in Aurora for several years. Eventually they made their way to the mountains just outside of Asheville, where Ruth died.

“Look how close she was to me and I didn’t even know,” says Springston, shaking her head.

Springston’s says her adopted parents were supportive of her efforts to locate her siblings. Her mother passed away in 2013, shortly after Springston came to work at the HPRC.

“She told me how glad she was I found my biological family. So it’s like my life has been brought around full circle,” she says.

Meeting the family that was lost to her for so many years, that knew nothing of her existence before 2009, has given Springston new insight into the path she’s chosen in life, she says.

“I couldn’t be in this pregnancy center helping mothers who are in an unplanned pregnancy without sitting and thinking what went through my mother’s mind and that decision she made for me…I know she wasn’t in a good place in her life but I know that she made the right decision for me at the time.”

Springston says she’s also gained a new appreciation for her mother through reading the interviews Ruth gave to social services workers prior to putting her up for adoption.

“In reading through these interviews, my mother was trying to do the right thing for her family. She kind of felt like a hypocrite, because she was trying to raise them in a Christian home. She didn’t want them to know that she had placed me.”

Today, mothers facing an unwanted pregnancy have far more options than Ruth Hadox did, says Springston.

“My adoption was a very closed adoption. But now they can be open, semi-open, there’s so many things available to these young women.”

___

Information from: The Sun Journal, http://www.newbernsunjournal.com


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