Hear Jerry’s emotional birth mother reunion story and how, after nearly three decades, they made an instant and emotional connection.
When Jerry Janes walked through the doors of The Cradle in May 1994 — for the first time since his adoption placement 27 years earlier — he instantly felt a sense of recognition.
“The pine closets. The smell. I know I was only a few weeks old [when I was placed], but it was a very strong experience — I knew I’d been there before,” he says.
Jerry, who was raised in a closed adoption, had come back to meet his birth mother.
His adoptive parents, John and Sharon Janes, first came to The Cradle in 1966 to adopt Jerry’s older sister, Mary Ann. A year later, they returned to adopt Jerry, who had spent two months in the Nursery. Sharon and John were always open with Jerry about his adoption, but there was very little information available about his birth parents.
After Mary Ann reconnected with her birth family in 1994, she encouraged Jerry to search for his birth family too.
Contacting The Cradle to Search for His Birth Mother
After some searching, Jerry discovered a document with his birth mother’s name on it, and he decided to reach out to The Cradle to see if he could find her. Within an hour of calling The Cradle, Jerry had shared his story and his birth mother’s name with a counselor, and he was faced with a decision: If his counselor could find contact information for his birth mother, would he like to meet her?
Cradle staff were able to locate Jerry’s birth mother within The Cradle’s mutual consent registry (a registry maintained by the agency where birth mothers and adopted individuals can leave their information to be released if the other party ever decides they want to connect). Jerry’s birth mother had up-to-date information in her file, which enabled the counselor to locate and reach out to her right away.
“It progressed really quickly,” Jerry says. “To say I had butterflies in my stomach is an understatement.”
An Emotional Birth Mother Reunion and Instant Connection
Through his Cradle counselor, Jerry and his birth mother made plans to meet the following weekend at The Cradle. When he arrived that Saturday morning, he was overwhelmed with emotion but also a sense of comfort. After taking a tour of The Cradle, he waited for his birth mother to arrive.
“The few minutes I waited to be introduced to my birth mother were extraordinary,” Jerry says. “To this day I cannot explain it, but I felt completely at peace — at home in a strange way.”
When she arrived, it was as if the world paused for both of them.
“I wouldn’t let go of her. Physically, I didn’t let go,” Jerry says. “I didn’t recognize her visually, but when she spoke to me, it resonated deep down inside.”
The two went for coffee and talked for three hours, catching up on the past 27 years of their lives. “I could not withdraw from [her],” Jerry says. “It was so difficult to part with her that day.”
Being Thankful for Adoption and Starting His Own Family
A few weeks later, Jerry’s birth mother came to visit the home where he was raised. “I wanted her to see where I grew up and to know she made a good decision,” Jerry says. “This was the proof.”
The two eventually fell out of contact, after plans to see each other again repeatedly fell through. Despite this, Jerry never blamed her.
“I am glad she made the decision to place me for adoption for many reasons. My struggles don’t compare to her struggles,” Jerry says. “She’s probably wrestling with this much more than I am, and I have to give her space.”
Now happily married, Jerry lives in Nebraska with his family. He hopes to one day reconnect with his birth mother and introduce her to his son.
“I owe The Cradle my life,” he says. “I’m so happy that things turned out the way they did for me.”
For 100 years and counting, The Cradle has built nurturing families and provided lifelong support to people whose lives have been touched by adoption. Faces of The Cradle is a celebration of their stories. Meet more of the people who make what we do possible and all the more meaningful.