As a young child, Donna Williams Odum says she had a great life that included a set of loving parents, siblings and other extended family members who shared much love and affection with the young girl.
Odum wasn’t born into this family, she was adopted just three months after she was born.
“I grew up knowing I was adopted,” Odum said. “My mother always told me that I had been hand picked and that I was special.”
Now, more than 50 years after the adoption, Odum is looking for more information about her birth parents and family.
Born Sept. 2, 1963, Odum weighed 8 pounds 4 ounces and was 21.5 inches long. According to the little bit of information she was able to obtain through paperwork, she knows her mother had a full term pregnancy and a normal delivery.
About 14 years ago, Odum said she began looking for her birth parents. As soon as she was born, the now mother of four, says she was placed into the foster care system. Five days after her birth, Odum says she was flown on a plane, but doesn’t know which airport she was flown from or to.
At just three months old, Odum was adopted by Sampson County residents Joseph Allen and Mildred H. Williams. According to Odum, the adoption process was handled through the Onslow County Department of Social Services in Jacksonville. Prior to being adopted, she lived with a foster family who began keeping track of many of her milestones and daily activities to share with her adoptive family. That’s where Odum says she has learned a lot of information.
“My adoptive mother died several years ago and I just became curious about where I came from,” Odum said. “It’s important for me to know my family history, especially now that I am getting older and need to know more about my family’s medical past.”
According to adoption records, Odum’s mother was just 15 years old at the time of her birth. The records do not include any information about where the teenage mother was from or who her family is. In fact, Odum says the released information doesn’t even state where she was born, but Odum believes she was born at the Florence Crittenton Home located in Charlotte.
“I have called there and they can tell me that a girl was born on my exact birthday, but they can’t get any further information about the birth or the mother,” Odum explained.
Odum’s birth mother was 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighed approximately 110-115 pounds. She had hazel eyes, reddish brown hair and was medium complected. She was in the 11th grade in school and had a brother who was one year older.
“She placed me up for adoption because she felt she was not ready to parent a child at that time in her life,” Odum said. “She realized the importance of an education and wanted to complete her schooling.”
The birth father, Odum said, was a casual acquaintance of her mother’s and was 25 years old at the time of her birth. He had hazel eyes, blonde hair and was dark complected. He was married, but separated at the time Odum was born.
While Odum has a theory about her birth family and her adoption, she doesn’t have many solid facts about her past. After putting what little bit of information she does have together, she says she thinks her mother was from Onslow County, but gave birth and the home in Charlotte to keep the birth private. She thinks her father may have been in the military.
“When I contacted the Onslow County Department of Social Services, they said they had limited records because of the time,” Odum said. “They didn’t keep records like they do now.”
Today, Odum is a retired school teacher, who is working part time with Sampson County Schools to fill in where needed. She is married to Michael Odum and they have four children, Michael, Morgan, Ashton and Taylor. Odum has submitted information for DNA testing through Ancestry.com and is currently waiting for the results.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.