On October 10, 2007, Anne-Marie Durham answered the phone in her real estate office. "This sweet young woman said, 'I'm a little nervous,'" Anne-Marie remembers. "She said 'I'm making this call for my husband. My name is Katie and my husband is Brian Kurowski.' I said, 'Of course Katie, take your time...how can I help you?' I thought she was calling about real estate." What Katie told her was that a 10-year search was over.
In 1979, Anne-Marie DeSimone was 15 years old and pregnant. "I was the cheerleader, Miss Popular," recalls Anne-Marie. "And I was in denial until the school nurse said, 'Either you go tell your mom or I will because you are five months pregnant.'" After the initial shock, her mom's advice was to make a list of pros and cons of having a baby at that age. "With a lot of soul searching and support from my mom I decided to give my gift away to a family that could not have children."
Anne-Marie gave birth April 19, 1979 and named her son John Steven DeSimone, although his full name never made it onto his birth certificate. "After signing the papers I came home and laid on my bed and wrote my son his goodbye note," remembers Anne-Marie. "I carried it with me for 28 years ... always hoping that someday I could give him this letter to explain my love for him and why I had to go."
For years, Anne-Marie thought often about her son. Was he alive? What did he get for his birthday? Would he look for her? The year he turned 18, says Anne-Marie "I saturated the Internet, not even knowing if he knew he was adopted or not."
Brian Kurowski had always known he was adopted, but it wasn't until last year that he decided to look for his birth mother. He credits his wife, Katie, with the timing. "If it wasn't for her, I might have waited." The possibility of rejection and the fear of not finding her were very real. They began online and almost immediately received five e-mail responses connecting his birth record with Anne-Marie Durham. Their first reaction? "Disbelief," he says. "It was hard to believe that it was that easy." But the information made it clear that this was the right woman.
After Katie's call, Anne-Marie's home filled with cards, flowers and balloons reading, "It's a boy" as she waited for Brian to contact her. "He's never been a secret to anyone in my family," she smiles. But after five days of silence, Anne-Marie couldn't wait any longer. Katie had told her they lived in Silverton, only three hours away. "Before my husband left to take the girls to school the following morning I told him I was going on a road trip to find my son!" says Anne-Marie. "He hands me some money, says 'be safe and don't come home until you find your son, we love you.' I gathered all my favorite songs, an overnight bag, plenty of hankies and the most important thing .... my letter."
Anne-Marie met Katie at their skateboard shop where she learned Brian was working in Lincoln City. After learning she was coming, Brian waited for Anne-Marie at his hotel where he admits, "The anxiety was pretty high." Then came the knock on his door. "He opened the door," says Anne-Marie, "and I saw this man standing there."
Brian recalls, "It was very surreal — the first time I looked into my mom's eyes."
Since that day, there have been many more firsts — first birthday presents, first family get-togethers (the first time he'd been in a room full of people that he looked like, laughs Anne-Marie), the first morning she woke up knowing where her son was, and a first time to meet Brian's adoptive mother. "How do you say thank you?" says Anne-Marie. "There's not a card, there's not a gift. There is not another woman in this world that I respect more than her."
"I count the weeks until we can see each other and talk," Anne-Marie had written to her newborn son 28 years ago. And now her wait is over. "God blessed me by giving my gift back to me."
Anne-Marie's Poem to Brian
I KNEW SOMEDAY THAT DAY WOULD COME I'D SEE THAT PRECIOUS FACE,
A QUESTION OF WHEN NOT KNOWING HOW, THE TIME OR SPECIFIC PLACE.
REMEMBERING THE LOVE I FELT INSIDE WHEN IT WAS YOU AND I,
SO LOVING THE MOMENT I GAVE YOU LIFE, BUT SO TERRIFIED TO SAY GOODBYE.
DO YOU FEEL LOVED, CAN YOU SMILE WITH YOUR HEART, DO YOU QUESTION THE WHERE AND WHY?
DO YOU LAY AWAKE AND THINK OF ME AS YOU GROW AND YEARS PASS BY?
WILL YOU FORGIVE ME? WILL YOU LOVE ME? WILL YOU EVER HOLD ME TIGHT?
TIME GOES BY AND THESE QUESTIONS COME AS I LAY MY HEAD AT NIGHT.
LONGING FOR THAT GENTLE TOUCH ...OR FIRST KISS.COUNTING OF FINGERS AND TOES.
DO YOU SEE THE WORLD THROUGH THE SAME EYES AS ME? MY SMILE? MY HAIR? MY NOSE?
A LITTLE GIRL WITH LOVE IN HER HEART... GAVE HER GIFT AWAY....
A TEAR STAINED NOTE SHE CARRIES WITH TIME.... WILL SOON BE HIS SOMEDAY.
MY DEAR SWEET JOHNNIE AS YOU GROW UP IN THIS WORLD I HOPE YOU WILL UNDERSTAND.
THIS LITTLE GIRL'S WISH, HER HEART'S DESIRE, IS TO SOMEDAY HOLD YOUR HAND.
MY PRECIOUS BRIAN, WE'VE LOST SOME TIME BUT THE JOURNEY'S JUST BEGUN.
NO LONGER A BOY WITH A QUESTION OF WHY...NOW A MAN ...COMPLETE ...MY SON.
SO NOW I'M ASSURED OF THE PEACE IN YOUR HEART AND IN THE SOUND OF YOUR VOICE SO CALM.
FOUR WORDS FROM A MAN.... NO LONGER A BOY...SAYING...
" I LOVE YOU MOM. "
Anne-Marie's Letter to Brian
June 1st, 1979
Well, you are my son. But it's time for me to leave now so you can live a beautiful and happy life. I hope when you are older you will understand my reasons. I love you more than anything on this entire earth. I hope you will grow to love me also. Yes, I will think of you always. I count the weeks until we can see each other and talk. You will be happy with your adoptive parents and love them dearly. Someday soon you will be a very important person in this world. You are mine and you are already important to me.
Well, son it's time for me to go now but I want you to remember that the reason I did this is because I love you so much. And yes that day will come.
I love you dearly,