Adoption—I found my “foster parents!”

Monument Valley |Judith Land | Adoption Detective

Driving through Monument Valley at night on our way to Tucson, Arizona, to meet my foster family. My foster parents were a perfect couple with four lovely daughters. Reuniting with them after thirty years was a highly memorable event—much greater than I had ever imagined.

The quest to discover the identity of my birth parents had consumed three long years. The journey had been emotionally exhausting—but highly rewarding. Finding them was the highlight of my life. I was much happier and contented knowing my true identity, cultural heritage, and thankful for the positive connections I had made with my birth family. The mystery of my origin was solved; I was comforted knowing the reasons why my life’s trajectory had been so significantly altered. It was time to relax and pursue other life goals. As my husband and I soaked in the world’s largest hot springs pool under a quiet starlit sky, I whispered in his ear through the warm vapors, “There is just one more thing I want to know. Who are William and Priscilla Engelmann? Their names appear on my baptismal certificate. Yet, I have no idea who they are.” My words hung in the foggy mist of the cold night air. “Just help me with this one little thing,” I demurely pleaded with a coy smile that I knew he couldn’t resist…

I scanned telephone books from across the country and began cold-calling every person named Engelmann to inquire if they knew anyone named William or Priscilla—no luck. My long distance telephone bills had grown as large as our monthly car payment. After several months had passed, I finally gave up and sat down to watch the evening news. I noticed the name of the anchorman was Engelmann. I called the station immediately to ask if he knew William. “Sure! He is my brother. He used to live in Wisconsin but he lives in Tucson, Arizona, with his wife Priscilla. Would you like his telephone number?”

Was it was fate or good luck? I dialed the number. Priscilla picked up the receiver. Without preparation or forethought, I peppered her with a stream of questions. “Hi! Priscilla? Did you ever live in Milwaukee? Are you Catholic? Were you ever a foster parent? Did you ever baptize a child named Judith Ann? This is Judy.” The response I received was beyond anticipation. “You must be our missing foster child Judy. You were one year old when they took you from us. We were always hoping we could see you again some day.” “How about tomorrow?” “Okay!”

I hung up the telephone and ordered my husband to pack an overnight bag. We jumped into the car, took turns sleeping, and drove straight through the night to Tucson, Arizona, arriving on a Saturday morning. The heartfelt welcome I received was beyond anything I ever imagined. There were tears and hugs and much reminiscing about my early childhood—we had three decades of catching up to do. The experience was priceless. They made me feel like a celebrity. It was amazing to meet the “foster family” that had opened their hearts and home to a wee baby urgently in need of natal care so many years ago. They were a loving couple with four very sweet daughters. The girls had treated me as their sister; pushing me in a baby stroller, dressing, feeding, playing, reading to me every day for the first year of my life. Priscilla presented me with a baby book filled with baby pictures and photographs I had never seen, as well as, my hospital baby bracelet, and several childhood mementos. I was overwhelmed with emotion when my foster sister Barbara said; “I carried this picture of you in my wallet for thirty years, always hoping that I might see you again someday.” I hugged her and expressed my joy with tears. Speaking for everyone, Priscilla said, “The separation from you was very traumatic for all of us. It was the only time the girls ever saw their father cry. He even hired a detective to try to find you. We had applied to adopt you, but they said we already had four girls of our own. We thought of you as a member of our own family, and in honor of your memory, we set an empty place setting at the table and prayed for you every Christmas. We are so glad you found us again.”

The warm response I received raised my spirits and enlightened my faith in humanity. It was the loveliest reunion any foster child could ever receive. We have remained friends until this day. Thank you William and Priscilla, and foster parents everywhere in the world, who strive to enhance the lives of innocent children and make the world a better and safer place. Without their kind generosity and unselfish efforts there would be far more trouble in the world.

Judith Land



Adoption Detective



adozione | adopsjon | vedtagelse | usvojenje | принятие | przyjęcie | Verabschiedung


About Judith Land

Judith Land lives in Colorado and Arizona with husband and coauthor Martin Land. Judith is a former nurse, retail shop owner, college instructor and avid outdoor person. Her book "Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child" is a true story detailing the journey of Judith Romano, foster child and adoptee, as she discovers fragments of her background, and then sets out to solve the mystery as an adult. She has reached readers in 192 countries. "Mothers and fathers everywhere in the world need to understand that children are forever and always." --Judith Land
This entry was posted in Adoption, Children, Parenting and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Adoption—I found my “foster parents!”

  1. LoveForGrace says:

    Hi Mrs. Land! .. This is one of my favorites! I enjoy your writing so much but there are those pieces that I am compelled to share on my own blog because not only can I relate, but I want to share your amazing stories in my personal writing space as well. I wanted to respect your writing rights by formally asking for your permission to occasionally repost your articles on my blog. I am so moved by your sharing and I know the readers that visit my blog will be as well. I will of course be sure to credit your name and blog for your writing that I repost. Again, I thank you for sharing your unique and inspiring stories !

    • Judith Land says:

      Dear “Amazing Grace”—The adoption community thrives on sharing and communication. Every adoption story has value for readers on all sides of the adoption triangle, but the individual who doesn’t read has no advantage over those who can’t. Many adoption stories are timeless, with some of the oldest and most historic characters being the most enduring. Every new generation seems to have to relearn the lessons of love and risk and can find benefit from reading about the experiences and knowledge of those who came before them. I wish you much success with your blog and hope you help many people find the answers they are seeking. Please use any material you think appropriate. Judith

  2. Pingback: A radio Interview with Judith Land | Adoption Detective | A True Story by Judith Land

  3. Nice story and glad you got to meet up with your foster parents. Amazing that you have such vivid memories from your first year of life. I wish I could remember more from when I was very young. I mean I do have some memories but very very few. Maybe I need a new hard drive to replace my brain.

  4. Judith Land says:

    My brain is like an old computer—good memory but slow recall. Most memories don’t stick with us before age three but current research suggests that children remember far more and at earlier ages than previously thought. Some of our most poignant early recollections are a combination of memories and dreams reinforced by what we are told by significant others who were there, especially when the stories they weave are reinforced with photographs and mementos, in which case our visions of past events linger longer than our conscious powers of recall. I interviewed dozens of witness and family member who participated in my adoption and early life. The significant feedback I received from them and the retelling of stories that were consistent reinforced and solidified ancient primal memories, dreams, and reminiscences. Unfortunately for some adoptees, remembering is easier than trying to forget.

  5. Judith Land, I’m so glad for you that you got to meet your foster parents!! I’m a first mom, found my son 24 yrs ago, he was just 20, (great reunion) He wanted to find out who took care of him from birth to 3 months, we cannot find out, (this is typical) My parents took in foster children before I was born, starting from 1950 to 1980, I have wanted so much to connect with some of the foster kids, but am having difficulty, my parents are no longer alive. I know two sets of siblings that lived with us, but have had no luck yet. I know it would be great to re connect and to also give them pictures!

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