Real Name: Unrevealed, possibly Mary Carson
Case: Lost Family
Location: Richmond, Virginia
Date: February 9, 1965
Details: On February 9, 1965, a tall, slender woman walked into Grace Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, cradling a tiny baby in need of eye surgery. Moments later, the woman dropped off the child and then disappeared. Today, that baby is grown up: her name is Kimberly Smith. She is determined to find her birth parents. She feels that she is on an “emotional rollercoaster” with a lot of ups and downs, a lot of disappointments, and a lot of emotions (both good and bad).
On that day in 1965, the young woman holding her tiny infant slipped silently down the hall. The child had been diagnosed with congenital glaucoma, a rare condition present at birth that leads to complete blindness unless a series of operations are performed within the first few months of life. She admitted the baby for the first operation that morning. Since this case was a referral from a nearby clinic at the Medical College of Virginia, the admissions staff asked few questions, assuming the records would soon come to fill in the gaps. The woman called herself Mary Carson, said the baby's name was Kim, and that she was 2 1/2 months old. Nurse supervisor Billie Updike held the baby while Mary completed admission papers.
However, Billie was stunned by what she heard next. Mary said that she had to leave the hospital and would be back tomorrow. She said that she had two older children at home that could not be left alone. She said she would return first thing in the morning. Billie noticed that Mary seemed very calm and did not display any emotion at all, despite the fact that she was leaving her baby behind.
Perhaps it affected Mary far more than she let on. But Billie would never know. When she returned to work the next day, she was shocked to learn that Mary had failed to show up for her baby’s operation. Without her, doctors could not perform the surgery. They called the phone number that was on the form, but it was not in service. Desperate, hospital administrator Douglas Pace attempted to track Mary down himself. He went out to her address, only to discover that it was a vacant lot used for public parking. All the houses had been demolished and the block was completely vacant. He was stunned and shocked, and also saddened because he realized that they had a baby at the hospital without a parent.
They checked the records from the Medical College and found that it had the same fraudulent phone number and address. With time running out, Douglas convinced a judge to issue a court order, allowing doctors to perform the surgery. The operation was considered a success, but Kim’s eyesight would never be normal. An article in the February 11, 1965, edition of the Richmond Times generated an outpouring of sympathy, donations, and adoption inquiries. But the coverage failed to turn up one solid clue as to who had abandoned baby Kim. A police investigation also led nowhere.
Eighteen months, numerous operations, and several foster homes later, another report in the Richmond Times caught the eye of local residents Richard and Sandra Butler. He was especially taken by the heart-wrenching story. He told Sandra, “This is going to be my baby.” The two decided that they wanted Kim and called social services. The Butlers opened their home and their hearts to the toddler they named “Kimberly Dawn.” She was treated exactly like the Butler’s two biological children. But her poor eyesight made life a constant struggle.
Kimberly remembers being very angry and frustrated about not being able to do a lot of things that other children were able to do. It was hard for the Butlers because they wanted her to grow up normally, but she was not able to a lot of the “normal” things that children do. Despite her disability, she graduated from high school, attended college, and went to work as a teacher.
In 1989, Kimberly married Michael Smith, a deputy sheriff. Over the years, she showed little interest in learning about her birth parents, until she became a parent herself. She realized that everything she knew about her children's births (such as their date of birth, time of birth, and birth weight) she did not know about herself.
But it was more than curiosity that led Kimberly to search for her identity. As a baby, her son Tyler had suffered from repeated bouts of respiratory infections. Doctors feared the cause was genetic. For her, that was the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” She and Michael were able to tell doctors everything about his side of the family, but nothing about hers. At that point, she decided to start a search for her birth parents. She hopes to learn about her past and her medical history.
Kimberly is understandably concerned for the health of her children. Yet, she harbors no anger against her birth mother. She believes that her mother abandoned her because she was unable to afford the medical treatment for her. She is not angry at her mother; she notes that her mother took her to the hospital and registered her for the surgery. If she had not done that, Kimberly might not have any sight today.
Kimberly was dropped off at Grace Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, on February 9, 1965. She is anxious to find her birth parents, who need to know they will not be prosecuted if they come forward. Her birth mother used the name "Mary Carson" and was described as "tall, strikingly beautiful". At the time, she appeared to be in her early to mid-thirties. If still alive, she would now be in her eighties.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the July 19, 2002 episode, along with that of The Parents of Elizabeth Bagwell.
Results: Unsolved. In 2011, Billie Updike passed away.