CLINTON — Jean King's heart aches for a daughter she never knew. Christmas time especially brings sorrow and speculation about the daughter she gave up for adoption 36 years ago.
"I wonder what she's doing. I wonder if she's successful. I wonder how many other grandchildren I might have or could have had,” King, 56, of Clinton, said.
After years of wondering where her baby girl could be, King and her daughter, Jenny Huizenga, have started an aggressive search for the family member they desperately want to know.
King had her child when she was 19 on Dec. 29, 1976, at Mercy Medical Center North in Clinton. The delivering doctor was Dr. Marme. She was known at birth as baby girl Grell and was to be adopted to a Catholic farm family outside of Clinton County.
Other than that, King doesn't know anything about the daughter she gave up for personal reasons, including what her name is now. Even the touch of her baby girl's skin is unknown to King as she never had the chance to hold her.
King didn't even know the child she gave birth to was a girl until she got a letter in the mail about her parental rights being terminated.
Since parting ways with her first daughter, King has had three more children. Through each birth, she was reminded of 1976.
"I felt like it was unfair to her," she said. "She's part of me."
With the birth of every grandchild, Christmas and other celebrations also came a pang for baby girl Grell.
"I think about it all the time. Especially when her birthday comes around," King said.
Huizenga also spends hours thinking about the relationship she might have with an older sister, where she might be and what she might be doing.
"I wonder if she thinks about my mom. I wonder would I recognize her if I saw her? Does she look like me? In the back of my mind I wonder if she's someone I know. Have I met her before?" Huizenga said. “I just want to know her. I want my kids to know their aunt.”