Scared and alone, pregnant after being raped, Katheryn Deprill’s birth mother left her infant daughter in a Pennsylvania Burger King 27 years ago. Deprill didn’t know why her mother chose to give her up, but she longed to meet her and thank her in person for not having an abortion.
The story of their recent reunion, thanks to Facebook, has gone viral, capturing media attention and underscoring the value of life, even for babies conceived under the most difficult circumstances.
Deprill, now 27, is an EMT and the married mother of three boys who lives in South Whitehall, Penn., just 10 miles from the Allentown restaurant where her mother left her in 1986. A Burger King employee alerted authorities after finding the crying baby wrapped in a red sweater, with her umbilical cord still attached, laying on the bathroom floor. The press dubbed her the “Burger King Baby,” and police searched unsuccessfully for her mother for months.
Deprill’s foster parents eventually adopted her, giving her “the best childhood anyone could ask for,” Deprill said in a November Facebook post. Although she knew she was adopted, Deprill didn’t learn the circumstances surrounding her birth until she was in sixth grade and a teacher asked the students to bring in food representing their ethnic heritage. When Deprill said she didn’t know her ethnicity, the teacher encouraged her to ask her parents. That evening, Deprill’s parents showed her a baby book, which included newspaper articles detailing her birth story.
“Inside I was eaten up, torn apart, broken down, and devastated!” Deprill wrote. “I thought to myself, wow, my own biological parents didn’t even want me!”
But the smiling photo of herself Deprill posted on Facebook March 5 showed a woman who looked hopeful and happy, rather than dejected or angry. She held a sign that read, “Looking for my birth mother. … She abandoned me in the Burger King bathroom. … Please help me find her by sharing my post.”
Within days, Deprill’s photo was re-posted more than 30,000 times and led to multiple media interviews. On Inside Edition, Deprill said she recently told her adoptive mother, Brenda Hollis, she wished she had an easy way to find her birth mother. Hollis suggested she make a sign and put it on Facebook.
“I would really like to say, ‘Thank you for not throwing me away, thank you for giving me the gift of life, and look what I’ve become,’” Deprill said.
Deprill’s birth mother saw the post and came forward to attorney John Waldron, who arranged for the two to meet. According to Waldron, Deprill’s birthmother said she was raped while traveling abroad and became pregnant, giving birth to Deprill when she was just 16. The woman, whose name is not being released, said she hid the pregnancy from her parents and after giving birth in her bedroom, felt she could not take her newborn to the hospital because she would be required to answer questions.
“I’m so happy,” Deprill said after the meeting was announced on Tuesday. “I got the hug that I had wanted for the last 27 years. … I asked if I could have it, and she said, ‘absolutely,’ and just held her arms open.”
Deprill said her birth mother expressed regret during their tear-filled meeting, but Deprill forgave her “110 percent, absolutely.”