Monday, February 8, 2016

How My Adopted Sister Found Her Biological Father--And A Missing Part Of Herself

John Hite, united with his daughter, my adopted sister, in '99 
My dear younger sister Mary Beth came into our home as a foster child at four months of age. At age 69 she and her husband Harven, 77, died in a tragic fire that destroyed their mobile home in Greene County on the night of December 12. The following is a touching letter she wrote to members of our family over 16 years ago:

March 13, 1999

Dear family,

Well I want to sit here tonight and write a story for all of you so you will get it first hand.

I was born in 1946. In February, 1947, I was taken to a house so full of love. I was a happy little girl living there, at least as long as I knew I belonged there.

When I got older there was an empty place in my heart because I knew that out there in this big world was somebody I belonged to, someone whose heart missed me like I did them. Oh I was very special to this big family that gave me so much love. But outside of this loving family were people who couldn't understand how Ben Yoders could take into their home some child who was not born to them.

At the time I didn't realize that it was because Ben and Mary Yoder had a bigger and broader heart and had opened it up to more than just their offspring. They had love for all of God's creation, but for me it was a big empty hole because I felt that I was so bad even my Mama couldn't love me, and Mamas were supposed to love everybody. Where had I gone wrong to be so little and not be loved by a Mama?

I overheard some of the older women of the church telling each other that Mary Beth had bad blood in her because of her mother. So every Sunday for a long time at church I'd pick my nose to get the bad blood out. Oh it sounds so stupid now, but to a little girl I thought people would like me if I got the bad blood out of me.

There were times I thought people would see me coming and turn away and act like they didn't see me. Or if in Sunday School they would always run for the chair farthest away from me. Maybe no one else even noticed it, but I did.

Many a night I fell asleep crying because I felt no one wanted out there wanted me, and that I must have been no good. So I decided to do everything I could to get people to like me, since I was so different from everybody. The "English" [a term used by the Amish for "outsiders"] didn't want me either because I was different. So which way do you go?

My sister as a teen
Some of the mistakes I made in life were made just to get people to notice me and like me. Well, I know I'm loved by lots of people and I feel whole for once in my life.

Four weeks ago I had the best surprise I could have asked for. It was on a late Monday afternoon and I felt like I wanted to talk to my [biological] half-sister, so I called her. She said she had some very exciting news for me. Her husband, the overseer of the Augusta Memorial Cemetery, said he had buried three people that day, including a Raymond Knight, and my Mom spoke up and said, "Not Knight, but Hite." She [my mother] said Raymond was my uncle and Johnny Hite was my father. Then she quickly said, "Oh, but he's dead."

My sister Beda waited until Mom left then looked in the "Obits" and saw that Raymond was survived by Ella of Staunton, Kenneth of Staunton, Johnny of Waynesboro and Marie of Indiana, and Beda said we needed to take a day and hunt for them. So Friday morning we went to the funeral home, but had no success, then went to the church where Raymond was a member to talk to the minister, but he wasn't at home. Then we went to where the preacher worked and they gave us Ella's phone number, but she didn't answer her phone. They told us she might be at Raymond's house cleaning it out, but she wasn't there, either.

I was about ready to cry, but decided to go to the next door neighbor's house. The lady there was friendly, and said Ella used to work at the District Home in Waynesboro and that Johnny Hite was a resident there. So off we went to the District Home.

When I got there I froze. My sister told me I had come this far and to not give up, so I got out of the car and went in. I asked the lady there if there was a John Hite there, and she said I had to talk to the head nurse. When the nurse came down the hall she asked me did I need help, and before I could tell her what I wanted she asked me if I was John Hite's daughter.

I almost hit the floor. I asked her why and she said I looked like him across the eyes and nose. I told her I had always been told my father was dead, but had learned on Monday he was still alive. She said, "Oh yes, Oh yes," and she showed me his whole record

When she asked me if I wanted her to go with me to see him, I was so glad, because at that time I was scared to pieces. When we knocked on his door and came in, he seemed surprised to have anyone come see him. He was lying down, and when he got up and looked at these two strangers who walked in his room he looked at me and said, "You're my daughter." [Beda is not his]

All the nurses cried, and so did I. He was so happy he cried, too. Since then I've seen him two to three times a  week. The nurses and even the administrator told me that before I came into his life he never smiled or talked much, now it's all he talks about.

He's been moved to Staunton to a much nicer place, but he hates it there and wants to be out on his own. So soon I might see if I can find a place for him.

Finding him I now feel like I know me. All the parts of me feeling so empty are now filled. I have a mother and half sister [that she had found earlier], now a new step brother, two aunts and an uncle I didn't know anything about. My uncle and aunts are just amazed at my finding them. They seem to not believe that such good luck could have befallen them.

I'm happy, too. But I'm also glad I have a family like the Yoders, and I'm glad I got my start in life in the Yoder family. I don't believe I'd be as whole in finding my blood family if I hadn't had that upbringing.

I thank God and all of you for that.

Aunt Beth and sister Beth

Here's a link to a tribute to my sister's life
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