fter seven years the truth came out

Kris Smith's life started out tough. Throughout her childhood she went from one foster family to another, moving again and again. Abuse and neglect were the rule, not the exception. It was no surprise that she left home at 14 to make her own way in the world.

Life as a runaway wasn't any easier though. She went from difficult relationships to begging and sleeping on the street. When she was just 17 she gave birth to her son Matthew. After he was born she moved in with an alcoholic man and despite the constant conflict, she tried for several years to keep her little family together.

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Then she got pregnant a second time. But this time her daughter died within a few days of the birth. Her burial took place on Matthew's third birthday. For Kris it was too much: "I had to celebrate the life of one child and grieve the life of another on the same day. And I fell apart."

But the tragedy made something clear, something that broke her heart. She simply wasn't able to offer Matthew the life that she wanted for him. And so she put him up for adoption. He was three and a half, she was 21. But she felt at the time that it was the right decision for him.

By this time she had separated from her partner. The next seven years were restless ones: she had no clear direction and wasn't able to find her place in the world. She was homeless sometimes, and hopeless often.

Then one day everything changed. Kris walked into a restaurant and got up her courage to ask for work. The owner recognized something in Kris and wanted to give her a chance. Her whole life made a U-turn. Now that she was working she managed to get an apartment and started to get her life in order.

Soon after that she met a new man, Joe, who treated her respectfully. It was a completely new experience for her. Until then she had only had bad experiences. Now she was getting to know real love.

Eventually Kris and Joe got married. He was a great father himself and Kris got to know what it was like to be part of a loving family.

But her own child? She thought about him all the time. Finally, inspired by Joe and strengthened by her newfound support, she decided to contact youth welfare services and ask what had happened to Matthew. What she learned was not at all what she expected: in all those seven years since she had given him up, no one had adopted Matthew. In all the years that she had cried over pictures of him and wondered how he was, he had been down the road at an institution.