Burger King Baby
When a fast food worker went to work his shift at Burger King, he thought it was going to be a normal day of serving food to customers and cleaning up after people. As he was working in his Burger King restaurant in Allentown Pennsylvania, he heard a strange sound coming from the bathroom. As he got closer, he realized it sounded like a crying baby. Once he rushed into the bathroom, he found a tiny baby bundled up in a red sweater. The baby was completely alone.
The shocked Burger King worker immediately called emergency services. An ambulance rushed to the scene to find the newborn baby girl alive and healthy. The baby girl was taken by the authorities to begin the search for her mother. Back in 1986, Allentown police put out an urgent appeal to encourage anyone who knew anything about the baby to come forward with information. One of the police officers said on the news, “It’s very important. We have a baby right now who has nobody.”
Under the Sink
The Burger King worker took the police to the scene of the crime. The employee showed the police exactly where he found the newborn under the sink. He told the camera crew at the time, “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.” Another officer chimed in, “Right now, we’re the only thing this kid’s got in terms of a family.”
When the ambulance first arrived, the paramedics did not even know if the child was alive! Once she was found alive and taken by the pair of paramedics, they were completely enamored with the baby girl. They were so relieved she was found healthy. One of the paramedics shared with the news crew, “She is a beautiful baby. She really is.” Another paramedic stated the sad truth and said, “I’m sure whoever gave her up is having a very hard time right now.”
27 Years Later
The Burger King baby trauma happened almost 30 years ago back on September 15, 1986. The newborn baby girl became known as the “Burger King Baby.”Allentown police searched everywhere to try and find the baby’s mother or anyone who had information about the abandoned child. The cops spent weeks interviewing locals and checking the Burger King for finger prints. Unfortunately, even though the story was shared in news outlets all over the nation, the birth mother was never found.
Once the police realized they could not find the baby’s mother, the “Burger King baby” was put up for adoption. A loving local couple, Brenda and Carl Hollis, decided to adopt the tiny newborn. The sweet couple named their new daughter, Katheryn. Brenda and Carl raised Katheryn and cherished her fully. They were wonderful parents and took care of Katheryn’s every need. Still, Brenda knew that little baby Katheryn would want to know where she came from. She would want to know her birth mother.
Then in 1998, Katheryn’s life changed again. Brenda decided to finally share with Katheryn where she came from. Katheryn was 12 years old at the time and Brenda thought she was old enough to know the truth. Katheryn always knew she had been adopted, but she never knew that she was the “Burger King baby.” Brenda broke the news to her daughter and gave her a scrapbook explaining how she was found. The scrapbook included clippings of pictures and newspaper articles of her story.
Where’s My Mom?
Once the truth was revealed to Katheryn, she had a burning desire to find her birth mother. She always felt like something was missing, just as many adopted kids experience. Later on, she 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.”
The Hunt For Mom
As Katheryn grew older, she started a career in medicine and became an EMT. She got married and had three kids of her own. She still lived close by the Burger King where she was discovered just outside of Allentown in South Whitehall Township. As she got older, the burning desire to find her birth mother grew. By 2014, Katheryn was 27 years old and she decided it was time to do something about her curiosity. The mom of three started her detective work on social media.
Katheryn decided that Facebook would be the best place to start the search for her birth mother. She took a picture of herself holding a sign narrating the history of how she was abandoned and then found. The post read, “Looking for my birth mother. She gave birth to me September 15th 1986. She abandoned me in the Burger King bathroom only hours old, Allentown PA. Please help me find her by sharing my post. Maybe she will see this. Thank you.”
Katheryn’s post spread all over Facebook like wildfire. The photo was shared more than 30,000 times on Facebook. The story was also shared on many media outlets. It seemed like everyone was helping Katheryn find her birth mom. And then, her mom was finally found! Actually, it only took two weeks of Facebook shares to find Cathy Pochek, Katheryn’s birth mom. It turns out that Cathy Pochek’s backstory was just as traumatic as the paramedics from 1986 had predicted.
Cathy Pochek, Katheryn’s birth mom, was only 16 years old when she gave birth to Katheryn. 16-year-old Cathy had been raped while she was traveling abroad and as a result became pregnant. After hiding her pregnancy from her parents, she gave birth in her bedroom all by herself. At the time, she felt she couldn’t go to the hospital because she didn’t know how to answer questions about the pregnancy. Instead, she found her way to a nearby Burger King and left baby Katheryn there.
Why She Left Her
By the time Katheryn met her birth mom when she was in her late 20s, she was ready to understand her reasons behind leaving her at the fast food restaurant. Katheryn told the Today Show, “She left me somewhere she knew I’d be found. She did not want to throw me away.” After she learned of her birth mom’s tragic and traumatic experience, she said she understood Cathy Pochek’s decision. She also said she forgave her “110 percent, absolutely.”
Katheryn and Cathy got to finally meet each other in a tearful reunion. It was a moment the women had been waiting for since the beginning of their journey. The two women were able to embrace after 27 years. Deprill told People magazine, “She is better than anything I could’ve ever imagined. She is so sweet and amazing. I’m so happy.” After years of struggling with abandonment issues, Katheryn got to sit beside her mom and her birth mom. She was filled with love and gratitude and very overcome by emotion.
Once Katheryn and Cathy got to know each other better, they both had the opportunity to hear each other’s stories. Shockingly, there were some crazy coincidences between them that were finally revealed after all of these years apart. One of the coincidences was especially strange. It was discovered that Cathy, Katheryn’s birth mom, was actually the babysitter for Katheryn’s husband when he was a young child. So technically, Cathy knew Katheryn’s husband long before Katheryn met and married him.
The First Hug
Most people cannot imagine what it is like to wait for a hug for 27 years. Katheryn and Cathy had been waiting for that moment for a long time and the anticipation was overwhelming. During the reunion, Katheryn could not wait for one more second to embrace her birth mom. She told People magazine, “I got the hug that I had wanted for the last 27 years, and that broke the ice.” She continued, “I asked if I could have it, and she said, ‘absolutely,’ and just held her arms open, and the rest is history.”
Once Katheryn and Cathy and Brenda got to all sit down together on the Today Show, they could reflect on their first reactions to meeting each other. Katheryn divulged, “I was extremely nervous and I knew that I was at the advantage because I had seen interviews that she had done. I was just so proud of her and how articulate she was in expressing feelings. [And I was} grateful for her mom for a beautiful childhood that she gave her.”
So, was Katheryn ultimately pleased with the end result of her search for her mother? Absolutely! The family’s attorney said, “It was one of the most emotional, joyful, dramatic, exciting things I’ve ever seen.” Also, the resemblance between the two women was uncanny! Katheryn even admitted to People magazine, “It looked like I was looking in a mirror.” The two women looked so much alike that there was no question that they shared DNA. They even have the same smile!
There were some other strange parallels between Katheryn and Cathy. First of all, both women basically had the same name. Katheryn’s birth mom’s full name is Catherine Anne, while Katheryn’s adoptive parents also named her Katheryn Ann! They basically have the exact same name! At the time that the “Burger King baby” was named, her adoptive parents had no clue who her birth mom was, let alone what her name was. Another shocking discovery was that they both drive the same car in the same color. They also have the same job! Both work as emergency medical technicians.
When Katheryn and Cathy finally got to sit down together and connect for the first time, they both could not get enough of each other. Both had been missing each other more than words could express. They exchanged stories for four hours on that very first meeting. Katheryn was sure the relationship would grow from there. She 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.
Mom vs. Birth Mom
Many people wonder what this whole experience was like for adoptive mom, Brenda. Brenda was never surprised by Katheryn’s yearning to find her birth mom. In fact, Brenda was happy to help her in any way she could. She was even instrumental in helping Katheryn find her and was fully supportive the entire time. Brenda could not have been happier that Cathy and Katheryn got to meet and connect. Brenda told the Today Show, “She had been talking about it for a long time. Never in a million years did we expect this to happen.”
The reunion day was hard for Cathy, Katheryn, and Brenda. It brought up many different kinds of feelings and was a lot to take in. The family’s attorney, Waldron, reflected on the first meetup. Waldron shared, “It was one of the most emotional, joyful, dramatic, exciting things I’ve ever seen.” He also added that there was no doubt in his mind that his client was the “Burger King baby’s” mother. He said, “If you sat there for five minutes and heard them and watched them and observed them and looked at them, you would know.”
So many feelings erupted on the day of the reunion. Both Katheryn and Cathy were incredibly nervous to meet each other for the first time. At the same time, the anxiety they felt was also blanketed by years of anticipation and curiosity. At the tear-filled meetup, Katheryn said that Cathy expressed regret over her decision to give up her baby. Cathy had been holding on to her traumatic story for years and now she was finally able to live in her truth.
So how did the two women feel after the reunion? In an interview on the Today Show, Katheryn and Cathy got the opportunity to reflect after the first meet-up. Cathy shared, “I’m grateful that you are letting me be a part of your life.” Katheryn also reflected, “everyone keeps asking me, ‘how do you feel’ and I’m like, ‘well I don’t know because I didn’t think it was going to happen, especially this fast! Cathy continued, “I’m just so happy and thrilled that you came looking for me.”
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What Does The Future Hold
Now Katheryn and Cathy want to make up for lost time. As you can see from the photo below, Katheryn is trying hard to catch Cathy up on all the years that they missed out on together. Katheryn takes her time going through photo albums with Cathy to show her every stage of her life. Katheryn would also love for her birth mom to get to know her children better. They have a lot to learn about each other, but they are very excited for the future.