No longer cloaked in secrecy, today’s adoptions involve just about everyone.

The plan was for mother to meet daughter at the Brookfield Zoo on Chicago’s west side but the thought of this encounter filled Stephanie Austin with anxiety. It was to be the first time she would see her child since 1992 when Austin, then just 16, had relinquished her three-day-old infant because she knew she couldn’t care for the girl.

Five years later Maggie Kealy had grown into a sweet — and inquisitive — kindergartner. Her adoptive parents, Rita and Michael Kealy, provided a loving home as well as a little sister for Maggie whom they adopted from another family. 

There were no secrets in their household; both Kealy children knew they had been adopted. Maura, Maggie’s sister, not only had met her own birth parents, she saw them regularly. Maggie desperately wanted that, too.

So the Kealys tried to make it happen. Finally, after years of them sending photos and updates of Maggie to Austin, it seemed the time had come for the birth mother to meet the daughter she never really knew.

By Danielle Shaprio

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