In March of 2014, a woman known by the media as the “Burger King Baby” was remarkably reunited with her biological mother after more than two decades of separation. Katheryn Deprill’s mother had abandoned her baby in the bathroom of a junk food restaurant 27 years previously when the newborn was only a few hours old. Thanks to the high-speed information conduit that is social media, Deprill, was able to reach out to her networks and let everyone know she was searching for her birth mother. Social media users took up the cause with great enthusiasm. Now, another baby abandoned at birth in a junk food restaurant is following Deprill’s lead and searching for his biological mother.
David Volk, a 36-year-old man from Pennsylvania was abandoned inside a New Jersey McDonald’s restaurant just a few hours after he was born on December 20, 1977. According to Volk, he was put “inside a brown plastic bag” and left in the sink of the women’s bathroom. Luckily, the manager of the McDonalds discovered the newborn, so “new” that his umbilical cord was still attached, and Volk, whose fate in the junk food restaurant could have been dire, instead had his life saved. The baby was given the temporary name of “Christopher” because he was abandoned so close to Christmas and the last name “McDonald” because of where he was found. Once he was adopted, his name was changed to David Volk.
It is likely that many abandoned or adopted children who would like to know who their biological mothers are were inspired by Deprill’s story. After hearing about Deprill’s success at finding her mother using social media, Volk has decided to try the same tactic. Deprill initially posted a photo on Facebook in which she is holding a sign that let her friends and networks know of her quest. That one post resulted in that photo being shared in excess of 30,000 times, not just nationally, but on a global scope. Her story was picked up by the media and in less than three weeks, her biological mother realized that Deprill was the baby she had abandoned in the junk food restaurant. When mother and child were reunited, Deprill learned details about her mother’s sad story and the two have continued to develop a relationship.
Volk posted his own photo on Facebook in April and through media outlets has also been able to convey a message to his mother. He wants her to know that he has “forgiven her” for abandoning him and that he understands that difficult circumstances must have prompted her actions that day. In a television interview, he said to her, “I just want to get to know you.” Further, he says he wants to be a part of her life. As of yet, Volk has not received a response and it is impossible to know whether this is because his biological mother has not received his message, has passed on, or perhaps, does not reciprocate his desire to reconnect.
While junk food restaurants may seem like a safe place for biological mothers to abandon their newborns because they are so highly trafficked, in reality there are places where babies can be dropped off with impunity. A simple search of the internet will reveal numerous organization promising to provide a safe haven for unwanted newborns who otherwise might be left in dumpsters, sinks, on doorsteps or even, as has been the sad case, buried alive. In fact, there are now abandoned baby ‘safe haven” laws that allow biological mothers to drop off their infants at police stations and some hospitals, no questions asked.
However, no matter if babies are left in sinks, dumpsters or “donated” to a safe haven, people who were abandoned at birth may not be as successful as Deprill in finding their biological mothers. Although adults who were once abandoned as babies may want to find their mothers, the interest in developing that relationship may not be reciprocal – a sad factor that even the largest social media network cannot ameliorate.
By Alana Marie Burke
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