Family reunited through adoption reunion registry

Names & Notes09/15/04
Messenger-Inquirer - Owensboro

Joyce Wathen, 54, has never observed her daughter's birthday without tears. Every New Year's Eve she would light a candle and cry silently for the daughter she gave up for adoption two days after she was born on Dec. 31, 1970.

Wathen will probably observe the holiday again this year with tears, but this time, the crying will be joyful.

In July she got a phone call from Leslie Smith Adcock, 33, of Siler City, N.C. "She told me that I could be her biological mother," Wathen said.

Both were registered with the Kentucky Adoption Reunion Registry. Wathen had registered about six months ago, and her daughter had been with the registry for two years.

After spending hours on the phone with Wathen, Adcock came to Owensboro for a two-week visit, which ended Tuesday.

When the women met at the airport they were immediately comfortable with each other. Through their many conversations they found that they were a lot alike.

"We have each other's feet," Adcock said. And when they met at the airport, they were wearing the same kind of shoes.

Adcock also was interested in finding her biological father, who she had no information on. But that was not a problem because her biological father, Robert Greathouse, 58, lives just five blocks from Wathen.

"She looks so much like Joyce," Greathouse said.


Joyce Wathen, left, and Robert Greathouse have reunited with their daughter, Leslie Smith Adcock, who was given up for adoption at birth. Photo by Robert Bruck, M-I


When Wathen got pregnant, most girls didn't keep their babies if they weren't married, she said. Her mother was adamant that she not keep her baby. "I came from a Catholic family," she said. "I was sent to the Florence Crittenden Home in Lexington."

After the adoption, Wathen thought that if she married Greathouse somehow that would help in coping with the loss of their child. After four years, they divorced but have remained friends.

"She even found me a house to buy in the neighborhood," he said.

Greathouse said that his family and friends are surprised that he has another daughter. He is a divorced father with two grown sons and a daughter.

"I didn't think we would ever find her (Adcock), even though I hoped we would, so I never advertised that we had a daughter," Greathouse said. Wathen was unable to have more children.

Adcock said that finding her biological parents turned out much better than she could ever have hoped.

"When I was about 7-8 years old I would read the information my mother had put in our family Bible about Joyce. I knew her height, weight and that she was from a large Catholic family." That's all the social worker gave her parents, she said.

When Adcock was around 15 years old she began thinking about finding Wathen, but it was years later before she started looking for her. A friend told her about the adoption registry. "He said I'm going to do it if you don't," she said.

Wathen registered at the urging of co-workers. She's a bus driver for the Daviess County Public Schools.

Both women were afraid they could be rejected by the other. "I was afraid she would hate me for giving her up," Wathen said. "But she's never asked me why, she said it didn't matter. She had a good family."

Wathen and Greathouse readily agree that her parents have raised her well. Adcock's parents are Jo Ann and the Rev. Tommy Smith of Siler City. She also has an adoptive brother seven years younger.

"I went to church three times a week," Adcock said. "My parents are angels," she said. "They're a light for everyone around them."

Wathen and Jo Ann Smith have talked on the phone, and Wathen agrees with Adcock's assessment of her mother.

"No matter how tired she was she had limitless energy for my brother and me," Adcock said.

"I have the best of all worlds," said the newly married Adcock. "I have two loving moms and two loving dads."

"This has brought us all a lot of closure and a lot of love," Wathen said.

"Life is complete, and I have peace," she said. "I feel like I can do anything now."


To Learn More

For information on the Kentucky Adoption Reunion Registry, go to or call (800) 455-5574.