THEN AND NOW: FRAN HAMPTON
Jan 18, 2018 09:10AM
● By Caitlin Marshall
Few cover stories have touched the hearts of our readers like that of Fran Hampton’s.
As she recounted, she was 15 years old and ready to start her Junior year in high school, when she learned she was pregnant. The year was 1974 and in those days teen pregnancy was not publically discussed and the options for a young mother were limited. Faced with the reality that she did not have the wherewithal to properly raise her soon to be born son, Fran was forced with making one of the hardest, most selfless decision a young mother could make, deciding if she should give up her baby for adoption. Making such a task perhaps more heart-rending was the policy that if Fran chose adoption she would not be allowed to hold her baby nor have any contact with him in the future. Although agonizing, it was a decision she felt she had to make.
On February 11, 1975, Fran gave birth to a beautiful baby boy she named Michael Frances and although it was forbidden, Fran knew in her heart that she had to hold Michael no matter what the consequences. Fran recalled, “I held him and I told him ‘You have to find me one day. I love you dearly,’”
As the years passed, Fran wondered, hoped, and prayed that she would see him again one day. She had always wanted to search for him but did not as she felt it was her place to interrupt his life.
Fast forward 35 years when Fran receives a certified letter from Catholic Charities asking her to contact a case-worker with the organization. Knowing that Catholic Charities had handled the adoption process, she contacted them immediately. To her astonishment, she learned that her son (now named Stephen) had been searching for her for years, and in April 2010 they met in Baton Rouge for what can only be described as a life-changing moment.
Now, nearly 8 years after the reunion, Fran says her relationship with Stephen is stronger and healthier than ever. Her feelings of guilt and sorrow have eased and she great comfort in knowing Stephen has grown up as a fine man as well as knowing that he was raised by two wonderful adoptive parents with whom she was able to connect with over the years. Sadly, both of Stephen’s adoptive parents have passed since our original article, but Fran said she was lucky enough to be there for them in the end and help Stephen and his adoptive sister, Amy, through it all. Over the years, Fran has also been able to connect and bond with Stephen’s sister in a familial way. The two both lovingly refer to her as “Momma Fran” and they know they can go to her with anything.
Stephen, now married, has a 1-year-old son named Covey. Sporting a large curl on top of his head like his grandmother, Covey looks just like Fran as a baby.
Fran had kept a box of trinkets and memories in hopes that one day she could share them with Stephen. Now, each year on his birthday she gifts him a few of these cards and journals that she’s accumulated over the years to give him a deeper look into her life.
Fran credits her 2010 Cover Story in FACE Magazine for providing a platform to share her story. Since that time, she has had the privilege of speaking in front of various organizations such as America Adopts and the Catholic Life Center.
Adoptions are more common than most people think; unfortunately, situations like Fran and Stephen’s are a rarity in the adoption community. Fran believes knowing the circumstances of one's adoption might help the child in the long run, as some children harbor feelings of abandonment by their birth family.
“Everywhere I go, I meet someone who has a connection to adoption in one way or another—what I do find of importance is adopted children knowing their birth parents,” says Fran. “It provides them a sense of closure they might not have known they needed—sometimes, these children are conceived in traumatic ways and the mothers just can’t raise them. But that doesn’t mean the mother didn’t want or love them. The age at which a person who was adopted should be allowed to search and contact their birth parent(s) is a bit of a controversy. In my opinion, the older they are, the more they understand and the less angry they tend to be.”
There are those in the adoption community that completely disagreed with Fran’s assessment and after her 2010 article was published in FACE, several families reached out to her telling her she was wrong.
She explains, “They didn’t agree with me. They don’t think the birth parents have the right to reconnect with the kids they had given up.”
Each adoption case is different and not everyone will feel the same because adoption is a very emotional process for all parties involved. Fran and Stephen’s relationship is unique.
“It’s very rare,” said Fran, “Rare in the sense that we’ve become this close, this fast… It’s almost like we’re brother and sister.”
Fran believes her and Stephen’s relationship came about through divine intervention. “There have been too many coincidences in both of our lives for this to have not been planned the way God wanted it,” says Fran. She realizes how lucky the two of them are, how rare and special their reconnection and meeting really is. She wants others to have the chance to experience the same type of love though.
It is Fran’s belief, that thanks to her years of growing with Stephen and his family, that children who have been placed for adoption, should always try and reach out to their birth parents. The road might be bumpy, and hearts might ache, but at the end of the day, you just need to trust your instinct and heart and hope for the best. You might just get lucky and find a love like theirs.
Read Fran's original cover story at https://issuu.com/faceacadiana/docs/face.november.2010