The fast food worker couldn’t believe the sounds he was hearing from the restroom of his Burger King restaurant in Allentown, Pennsylvania, for they were the distinctive cries of a newborn baby. So he rushed into the bathroom. There, he found a tiny bundle, just three hours old, wrapped in a sweater and all alone in the world.
Of course, he immediately called emergency services, who rushed to the scene to find the little girl alive and well. She was then taken into care as a fruitless hunt to find her mom began. In fact, one child development officer remarked, “Right now, we’re the only thing this kid’s got in terms of a family.”
The bemused worker who found the baby took TV crews into the restroom to re-enact his discovery. He recalled, “I heard a kid was crying in the bathroom so I went in… you know you don’t expect nothing like that… I don’t know what to say.”
Meanwhile, the pair of paramedics who took the baby into hospital were also captivated by her. One ambulance officer said, “She is a beautiful baby. She really is.” Then, her colleague summed up the all-too-tragic backdrop to her start in life, adding, “The only sure thing was the baby was alive when we were en route. I’m sure whoever gave her up is having a very hard time right now.”
All this happened more than 30 years ago, back on September 15, 1986. The child attained nationwide fame as the “Burger King Baby.” Cops interviewed locals, checked the surroundings for fingerprints and searched the local area – but they never did find her mom.
While hopes of reuniting the girl with her biological mom faded, the baby was adopted by a local couple, Brenda and Carl Hollis. They cherished her and brought her up as their own daughter. But Brenda knew that little Katheryn, as she was named, would one day need to find her real mom. And she was determined not to stand in the way.
So in 1998, when Katheryn was 12, her adoptive parents finally broke the news to her about her real mom. They showed her a scrapbook of pictures and newspaper articles that they had collected from the time. The clippings detailed the story of Katheryn’s discovery.
From that moment, as they knew, Katheryn felt the need to find her real mom. As she subsequently explained on the Today show, “You just wonder where you come from. I would never want to replace my adopted family, but being adopted, a part of you is missing and unless you’ve been adopted, you really just don’t understand that.”
As she outgrew her teens, going on to start a career in medicine as a technician, marry and have three kids herself, the nagging desire to find her mom never left Katheryn. So finally, in 2014, at the age of 27, she gave into it. In fact, she sought the help of the world’s greatest detective since Sherlock Holmes – social media.
Armed with a picture of herself and her history – written in felt pen on two sheets of paper, she took to Facebook. Her message began, “Looking for my birth mother…” and it ended, “Maybe she will see this. Thank you.”
And, after a staggering 30,000 Facebook shares around the world, mom eventually did see it. In fact, it took just two weeks before Cathy Pochek got in touch with the daughter she had left in desperation 27 years earlier. And her own backstory turned out to have been every bit as traumatic as that perceptive paramedic had guessed.
Cathy was really just a child herself when, aged 16, she was raped while traveling in another country with her family. Filled with shame, she had her baby girl in her bedroom before smuggling her to the nearby Burger King and abandoning her.
By her late 20s, Katheryn was mature enough to understand the desperation behind her mom’s teenage actions. Indeed, she told the Today show, “She left me somewhere she knew I’d be found. She did not want to throw me away.”
Finally, in a tear-filled reunion on the Today show, Katheryn met the mom she never knew. And she instantly found that the foundling baby with no kin now had two families to turn to. In a TV studio, with her adoptive mom Brenda on one side and real mom Cathy in the middle, her life was completed.
And the amazing coincidences that somehow hid the pair from each other for all those years were revealed. Perhaps the most bizarre was that Cathy was the babysitter for the man who eventually became Katheryn’s husband. So she had known her son-in-law for considerably longer than her daughter had.
Aside from that, the pair ended up with similar names – mom being called Catherine Anne, while her daughter was christened Katheryn Ann by her unknowing adoptive parents. Furthermore, it was revealed that they both drive the identical make and color of car, while both work as emergency medical technicians.
So did Katheryn’s quest end happily ever after? Katheryn was emphatic. “I got the hug that I had wanted for the last 27 years, and that broke the ice,” she said. “I asked if I could have it, and she said, ‘absolutely,’ and just held her arms open, and the rest is history! It looked like I was looking in a mirror.”
The pair exchanged stories for four hours on that meeting and Katheryn said, “We are definitely going to have a relationship.” Her new mom added, “I’m really glad you came looking for me.” They have continued to meet since.
Meanwhile, adoptive mom Brenda was not feeling put out at all. Indeed, she was delighted by Katheryn’s good fortune. Smiling, she said, “She had been talking about it for a long time. Never in a million years did we expect this to happen.”