A planned adoption delayed — by nearly three decades
"Having her lower herself down to my level, having her call me by my name ... it was indelible for me. I knew, instinctively, that she was different.... I could trust her."
Regina Louise is describing the first time she met Jeanne Kerr, the woman she would eventually call Mom.
It was the 70s; Regina was just 13 at the time. She'd escaped a violent foster family two years earlier and had been checked in to a centre for abandoned and abused children, where Jeanne worked as a group counsellor.
"At the time it was not popular for a white woman to adopt a black girl," Regina says.
Jeanne's petition to adopt was denied. The impact was devastating. Hurt and angry, Regina lashed out. In the end, she would spend the rest of her teen years institutionalized and heavily medicated.
Regina says she learned from Jeanne that she deserved to be loved, something that shaped her deeply. She never lost hope they would one day reconnect.
"I knew that one day I would grow myself up to find her. I knew I would find her," says Regina.
When she finally did, it was nearly thirty years later, and their bond was as strong as ever. So much so that Jeanne asked if they could go ahead with that long-ago plan.
Regina, 41 at the time, happily agreed.