The Waiting: The True Story of a Lost Child, a Lifetime of Longing, and a Miracle for a Mother Who Never Gave Up is a true story about rape and redemption. Her life as a mother has required miracle-sized faith. At the age of 16, Minka was picnicking with a friend in the woods when, in a moment, she was assaulted and raped. The year was 1928, when young girls were still very innocent. She did not understand what had happened to her; therefore, she told no one…until it was apparent that something was wrong. Minka was whisked away to the Lutheran House of Mercy in Souix Falls, S.D., for pregnant girls. There, she gave birth to a blond-haired baby girl with a deep dimple in her chin that she named Betty Jane. Now a teen mother, the only thing she had to cling to was a black and white photo of the tiny bundle and her faith in God; thus, the redemption is in “the waiting.”
Born to Dutch immigrants, Minka was raised in South Dakota. Life was difficult. She became skilled at milking cows at a very young age. Minka and her friend Elizabeth had been taking a sewing class together the day they went into the woods, where the unthinkable happened. They were confronted by three men whom they had never seen before and were raped. Since the girls had no clue as to what had just happened, they decided to remain silent. It was not even a thought that one could get pregnant; after all, these girls thought babies came from storks. Little did she know the way she would become a mother and what life would hold in store for her afterwards.
Once apparent that something was wrong, her parents felt it would be best that she go away quietly to have the baby. Minka commented that she loved that baby so much, but her parents were not willing to let her bring the baby back to the farm. Fortunately, there was a pastor and his wife who were looking to adopt a child. It was out of the deep love that Minka had for this little one that she hoped her Betty Jane would have a good home and a good life—one that she could not give her.
Although Minka never did meet the people who raised her little Betty Jane, she was persistent throughout the years to send dozens of letters to the adoption agency because she still considered herself the baby’s mother. Minka did receive occasional updates until the adoption agency had a change in management. From that time forth, she did not hear anything more.
Minka had two children with her husband who was a fruit salesman. Minka’s life was busy raising her two children while she sold silk, worked as a dressmaker, and managed a school cafeteria. San Clemente, a beautiful seaside town in southern CA, is where Minka currently resides.
Yearly, on May 22, Minka would reminiscence of the day Betty Jane was born. It was five years ago, on May 22, that Minka prayed to God, asking Him to, before she dies, let her see Betty Jane just one time. Minka promised God to never bother Betty Jane; she just wanted to see her once so Betty Jane could know her biological mother. Minka prayed that prayer on May 22, 2006, and received a phone call on July 2, 2006, from a man in Alabama, who turned out to be her grandson, asking Minka if she would like to speak with her daughter Betty Jane. Needless to say, the rest is history. The Waiting truly is about rape and redemption; a mother’s miracle, 77 years in the making.
Betty Jane, whose name is now Ruth Lee, had six children of her own. Ruth was raised by a Norwegian pastor and his wife. Ruth had always known that she was adopted and grew up with a happy childhood. In her 70’s, Ruth began the search for her biological parents. When Ruth began having some heart problems, her son Brian petitioned the court in South Dakota for the release of his mother’s adoption records. What he received was 270 pages of data which included the information about his grandmother’s rape, along with the many handwritten letters from Minka Disbrow, inquiring as to how her baby was doing. Brian never expected to find this Mrs. Disbrow alive, but he did find her name through a web directory and was stunned.
The day the records were released was the same day Minka had prayed and asked God that He would allow her to see Betty Jane just one time. This perhaps is the lengthiest separation ever between a parent and child; 77 years.
The next person to be stunned was Minka. The grandson who had placed the initial call to Minka was Mark Lee. No biggie, he is just an astronaut who had circled the earth 517 times! Minka is so proud of all six of these grandchildren that were birthed by her Betty Jane (Ruth), as all six are very well-established and have accomplished much. One month after that initial meeting on the phone, Ruth Lee flew with her son Brian to meet Minka for the first time. They were flooded with tears of joy, and amazed at all of their similarities from good strong hands to the same taste in clothing. Absolute joy filled Minka’s heart as she took in every picture from the family photo albums. It was if they had never been apart. For Minka, Betty Jane had always been in her heart.
Once Minka’s story got out, an Associated Press story went around the world. Brian Lee and his new cousin Cathy LaGrow thought this true life story would make an exceptional book, so Cathy authored it. On Easter Sunday, Jenna Bush Hager, came to CA to interview Minka for the Today Show. The entire crew involved in the shoot were amazed at Minka’s recall of names and dates. Minka was actually walking so fast, that they had to do a re-shoot! This feature story is scheduled to air on the Today Show, Friday, May 9, just in time for Mother’s Day.
Minka’s story is one of an unforgettable love for her baby girl, forgiveness for the perpetrators who raped her, and sustained hope for a miracle from God. Minka is not angry or bitter for what happened to her. She is elated that God has given her a second family.
Her walk of courage and absolute faith in God has sustained her through the years. What began in horror culminated in a glorious reunion, which continues…this is not the end of her story. As far as she is concerned it is just beginning.
Today, at 102 years young, Minka lives alone. She does all of her own cooking, cleaning and household chores. To stay fit, she gardens and happily pedals on a stationary bike. Weekly, she holds a Bible study in her home, volunteers at her church to fold bulletins, and helps out at a home for pregnant girls. She also manages an apartment building. When asked if she still drove, she commented that she would if her car had not blown up. A new adventure will be her book tour at 102! You go girl!!
Minka also has a cute sense of humor. When asked if all of this media attention was making her nervous, she responded, “No way.” She made the point that with all she had lived through and to be 102 years of age, there was not a whole lot she had to do to impress anyone. She also commented that through the years she kept asking God how long she was going to have to wait…she asked Him if He did not realize that she was getting old!
Mink’a book, The Waiting: The True Story of a Lost Child, a Lifetime of Longing, and a Miracle for a Mother Who Never Gave Up, was released into book stores and online, on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 and her movie of the same name will soon hit the box office. Minka’s feature story on the Today Show will air Friday, May 9, 2014.
The Waiting is a true story about rape and redemption. This is a mother’s miraculous story of faith which triumphed, and her forgiveness which set her free. Free to love her Betty Jane…never forgetting, but holding her in her heart. And even more than the love, was her choosing to forgive and accept what had happened so that she could move forward. Minka steadfastly stood in faith, believing that her God would bring redemption, and He did.
This mother’s miracle can bring hope and encouragement to all mothers around the world.
By Jill Boyer-Adriance
National Right to Life News
The Tyndale Blog