Dubuque woman to meet daughter she gave up for adoption - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque woman to meet daughter she gave up for adoption


After 24 years, a Dubuque woman will finally meet the daughter she gave up for adoption. Jody James is originally from Dubuque. She found out she was pregnant when she was 15 years old. James and the baby's father, Jimmy Hill, decided adoption would be the best option for their child.

"It was the most difficult choice of my life," James said Wednesday afternoon.

The couple worked with an adoption agency and was given a set of binders containing different profiles of families hoping to adopt a child.

"It was an open adoption back in '89 but it was a little bit different back then though," James said. "You didn't get to know names, locations, but I did know profile information. She had an older brother that was also adopted."

After giving birth to a girl, James and Hill spent five days in an Oklahoma hospital with the newborn they named "Jessica Dawn". The couple took dozens of photos with their newborn before leaving her in the hospital for her new family.

"I thank God for those moments because it's what I had to carry throughout all the years without her and it's very difficult. It's like a piece of your heart being torn away." James said.

As time passed, letters and pictures of her daughter were shared with James through the adoption agency until the agency had closed.

"I think she was around 15 years old when the adoption agency, the mediator between us, closed. So from that time until now there was no correspondence." James said.

That was until James' daughter, Sarah Kernen, began searching for her birth parents. On November 14th, 2013 James received a letter from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services asking if she wanted to be reconnected with her daughter.

"My knees buckled," James said. "I think I probably did go into shock mode because it was an over-whelming feeling."

The letter helped reconnect the two women. James says since receiving the letter, she has been talking to her biological daughter almost every day through phone calls, text messages, and video chatting.

On Thursday, Jody James and Jimmy Hill will be traveling to Oklahoma to meet Sarah Kernen.

"I can't tell you exactly what I am going to do," James said about meeting her biological daughter. "But I believe their are no words to express just my embrace. I will be able to hold her, it's going to be super exciting. That's probably what I will do, I will hold her and won't let go."

James says Kernen plans on coming to Dubuque to visit in the spring.

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