Ever since High School, Shawn Higley wanted to find his birth mother to thank her for giving him life. Over the years, he collected bits of information from his adoptive parents, a private investigator and even the local phone book in an attempt to locate her. Even though he grew up in a loving adoptive family, Shawn felt compelled to reach her and let her know that he had a good life.
After years of searching, Shawn began to wonder if he would ever get to meet her face to face. He knew her name and where she lived, but was reluctant to intrude on her world. The last thing he wanted was to make things difficult for her. He trusted God’s plan for him, so he continued on with his life.
A Senior Vice President at Wells Fargo Bank, Shawn decided to offer his thanks through community service. In 2001, he took his boss’ recommendation and joined The Salvation Army Advisory Board in Portland.
On a routine tour of local programs, Shawn visited The Salvation Army’s White Shield Center in Northwest Portland. The White Shield was opened in 1914 as a maternity home and hospital and still continues to serve the needs of pregnant and parenting teens today.
Once Shawn stepped in the door and learned the history of the program, he says he knew that he was born at the White Shield Center. His service on The Salvation Army board had given him another piece of the puzzle.
Shawn told his story to a colleague who made a note of his birth mother’s name and left it on his desk. Later that same day, the colleague’s assistant called Shawn to tell him that she knew his mother: she was a friend who also worked in the banking industry.
He wrote to his mother directly and she responded on Christmas Day, 2001. They corresponded for two years before they met in person and Shawn could finally deliver the “thank you” he had carried in his heart for decades.
To read Shawn’s whole story online, click here. Or, better yet, buy a ticket for The Salvation Army’s “All About Kids” event at the Portland Zoo on October 22nd and hear Shawn tell the story in his keynote address. His birth-mother, Linda Coulter, will be in the audience that night too.