Teen Is Forced to Give Birth in Hiding and Give Daughter Up, Secretly Promises to Find Her

Stephen Thompson
Mar 10, 2022
01:40 P.M.
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A woman who made a vow as a teenager to find the child she was forced to give up at birth was finally given a chance to fulfill that promise — her child was never far from her. 


Candy Wagner is a successful woman, and anyone who saw her credentials would probably think her life was an easy one. The woman graduated from high school second in her class, went to college, and started working as a physical therapist. Then she got married and adopted a child.

A lovely life in all regards; however, she would feel heartache for a child she was forced to give up every April. When was this? Keep reading to find out. 

Candy Wagner reuniting with her daughter, Barbara Jo Gowan, for the first time in 47 years | Source:



Candy Wagner is retired now and lives happily with her family; however, she was once a wreck lying in a hospital bed watching her kid gets taken away. It was 1967.

It all began when she was about 14 years old; Her father had just abandoned the family, and her heartbroken mother was in no shape to be there for her as a parent. 



Wagner had started dating one of her seniors from high school, and she quickly developed an insane amount of affection for him, describing him as her "rock."

Incidentally, she got pregnant, and when it became evident, her mom took her to a Salvation Army home for single mothers. Babies from the home were put up for adoption immediately, and the mother had no say in it. Wagner was different, though, as she told ABC News:

"I would take very long showers at the home, and because the water [was] running, I could talk out loud to her, and I made promises, I promised I would find her."


She delivered the child, a girl, on April 17, 1967. However, when she requested to see her, the nurses discouraged her. Of course, she wasn't having it, and after a quick meltdown, one nurse caved.

The nurse took her to the nursery, and when Wagner laid eyes on her child, she cried. She begged to be allowed to hold her, but the nurse was clear on that — it wasn't a "good idea."

Wagner spied a red mark on her child's cheek, and not knowing it was a temporary burn mark, she vowed to watch out for a girl with such a scar in the future. 




Two weeks after the affair, Wagner resumed school and expected to live life as usual. In 1970 she graduated and built a life with an almost dogged determination.

She never stopped thinking about her daughter, but it wasn't until 1996 that she summoned the courage to look for her child intentionally.

In police terms, many would call it a cold case, and about almost two decades after the deed, the trail had gone cold. It only led to dead ends and annoying run-ins with the adoption court system in New York. Wagner almost gave up — then she met Pam Slaton. 



Pam Slaton also had to track down a family member once so she could understand Wagner's desire even though hers ended in a negative experience. Slaton has built a career out of helping adopted kids locate their biological families and is pretty popular among celebrities.

She located Wagner's daughter within 24 hours, and it turned out the girl was living in the same community her mother was in upstate New York! They were practically neighbors. 



When Wagner and her daughter Barbara Jo Gowan finally got reunited, she defined the moment as "absolutely surreal," and the first words she said were, "You're beautiful." Her daughter also told her, "Thank you for finding me," as they hugged each other. There were torrents of tears.

Wagner no longer feels ashamed about what happened since she now knows her daughter was well taken care of and loved. They can easily catch up too!