Birth mother, son meet again after 44 years
BURLINGTON – When her son was born, and for the next 44 years, Barbara Berry called him Jeremy.
She would think of him every year on his birthday, would remember the three days she held him at the Elizabeth Lund Home in South Burlington, before she placed him for adoption.
They finally met again Friday in a Burlington hotel. His name, after all these years, is Jason Sargent.
“There’s something inside of you that just, it’s not settled. It’s just not,” Berry said in an interview, her eyes welling with tears, just minutes before she would meet her son.
Sargent grew up in Underhill, attended Mount Mansfield Union High School and graduated from Saint Michael’s College.
He always knew he was adopted but had not begun to search for his birth mother until his niece died last year. He wanted to tell his birth mother that he was OK, and that she made the right decision.
The state of Vermont shares information about birth parents with their children if both generations want a connection. Sargent, who now lives in New Hampshire, began the process in March but delayed mailing the paperwork.
In August, Berry was on the phone with her mother, reviewing the results of her DNA test through the company 23andMe.
“I hit the button, and it said ‘Jason Sargent. Jason Sargent shares 50% of your DNA,’ ” Berry recalled. “And then it said, ‘Jason Sargent is your son.’”
Berry had always been convinced, and told her husband and three children, that one day she would see the son she placed for adoption when she was 19 years old. Still, the news was hard to digest.
“It was a little unnerving to find out that way at first,” Sargent said. “I was really skeptical about it until I got the paperwork back from the state confirming it.”
When the confirmation came, Berry and Sargent exchanged messages and photos and set up phone and video calls.
“Every year on my birthday she takes a minute and thinks about me,” Sargent said. “To me, that was really when the gravity of how much this has affected her kind of hit me.”
After their initial meeting Friday, which was also Berry’s birthday, it was obvious that Berry and Sargent had similar smiles.
“If I could have made a decision to have a happy ever ending story, this is it,” Berry said. “Seriously.”
Jason Sargent and Barbara Berry had a private reunion Friday at the Courtyard Marriott in Burlington. RYAN MERCER/USA TODAY NETWORK