The “Burger King Baby,” 27-year-old Katheryn Deprill, was left as an infant at a BK fast food restaurant nearly three decades ago, before social media sites were even invented. Now, the Pennsylvania woman is thanking networking sites like Facebook, which shared her viral plea tens of thousands of times, until her birth mother found her.
The two shared a tearful reunion last week, as carried yesterday on Today.com. Deprill’s emotional Facebook plea caught the attention of news outlets, and three weeks after Katheryn snapped a photo of herself holding a sign, she was reunited with the woman who left her swaddled in a blanket on the floor of a Burger King bathroom in September, 1986.
Last month, Deprill posted a picture on her Facebook page holding a sign and reaching out for assistance. Katheryn’s sign 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 (in) Allentown, Pa. Please help me find her by sharing my post. Maybe she will see this. Thank you.”
Employees at the Burger King on South 4th Street in Allentown, Pa. found Katheryn with her umbilical cord still attached. Deprill, who is married with three boys of her own, said that she had no legal concerns, and was not searching for her mother to chastise her or seek needed emotional closure. She simply wanted to know her story, and who her real mom was.
“Someone had heard me crying and they notified the staff and they came in. I was laying there on the floor,” Deprill explained in early March, adding that she has had a happy childhood. “I'm not looking to replace my brothers and sisters now or my family, my mom and dad, 'cause it was great, we had the best childhood,” she said.
Her adoptive mother, Brenda Hollis, was fully supportive of her daughter’s plea. “I think it's just kind of fun, like there's so many questions to be asked and it's just, I am so excited about it,” Hollis said.
“I really want to see her and just ask her why and see if I have any brothers and sisters and anyone that looks like me,” Katheryn said. “We're not coming after you for anything. We're not angry. I just want to see you. I want to say thank you for not throwing me away, literally.”
Being a mother, Deprill can relate to the pressures of raising a child, and conceded that some young moms simply cannot take the strain.
“I came to realize, especially now being a mother, it's very hard, things are very expensive and I would guess she just couldn't give me the life that she wanted, which is why she left me in a warm, public place,” Deprill speculated. “If she's a young girl, was a young girl, I would hope that we could be friends, that she could be a friend to her.”
Katheryn, her adoptive mother Brenda, and her real mother – Cathy Pochek – were reunited 27-years later. The reunion was one of tears, joy and a time to for Pochek to end the anguish of the decision she made to abandon her infant daughter.
“I was extremely nervous,” Pochek said of the reunion. “I knew I was at the advantage, because I had seen interviews that she had done, and I was just so proud of her, and how articulate she was in expressing her feelings, and grateful for her mom for a beautiful childhood that she gave her.”
Jim Waldron, an attorney who arranged the meeting at the request of Pochek, said the two “immediately hugged,” Waldron told CNN affiliate WFMZ. “It was exciting, emotional, dramatic.”
“She left the baby in a location where the baby would be found and cared for,” Waldron said. “She kissed the baby on the forehead ... and left.”
The 44-year-old Pochek says that she was only 16 years old when she became pregnant with Katheryn; she was raped while on a spring break trip but never informed the police and kept the pregnancy secret from her parents. After giving birth in her bedroom, alone, she feared that her parents would find out if she went to the hospital, so she wrapped Katheryn up and left her at a nearby Burger King.
Pochek, who is married with a 23-year-old stepson, told Today that she understands and expects to receive criticism for her regretful actions, but at the same time wanted to now share her story, both for Katheryn, but more importantly, for other frightened young teenage girls who may be in a similar situation.
“If we can help some other girl who is in the situation that I was in, it’s worth a little bit of judgment that people might bring upon us. If it’s just one girl that we can help, it’s worth it,” Pochek said.
Today.com says both mom and daughter have many things in common:
They marveled at several coincidences in their lives. They're both emergency medical technicians, drive the same make and color car, and have almost the same name: Catherine Anne and Katheryn Ann. And perhaps the oddest coincidence? Pochek babysat Deprill's husband when he was young.