Twenty-three years after being left for dead as a newborn, a Maryland woman says she forgives her birth family.
With her umbilical cord still attached, Rachel Clark was found in a sealed garbage bag in a Temple Hills, Md., dumpster the night of Sept. 27, 1989.
It was pure luck that she was found safely.
The husband of a local florist was taking out the trash when he realized there was a baby inside the bin. He told news outlets at the time that the garbage was due to be picked up the following morning. By that time, the baby would have run out of oxygen.
“It scares me, actually,” said Clark, now 23, as she looked at a photo of the dumper. “That’s the only time I ever have negative reactions about my birth story, is around dumpsters.”
While she used to struggle with her past, she said these days she has “more questions than anger” for those who left her behind.
“I felt like I couldn’t really love myself because they couldn’t,” she said. “It really hurt that my blood relatives didn't want to love me, and so they decided to throw me away.”
The discovery of the newborn made headlines, and hundreds of families quickly applied to adopt her. Among them were the Clarks, Jennifer and Dane. Several weeks later, they got the call they’d been praying for.
"As soon as I saw her, I felt like she was flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone,” said Jennifer Clark.
"And that foster mother said, ‘That’s the smartest baby I’ve ever seen in my life,’” recalled Dane Clark. “I said, ‘Well, how do you know this is the smartest baby?’ She said, ‘I've fostered 43 babies, and that was the smartest baby I've ever seen in my life.’"
Their new daughter, who’d been found in that tightly closed garbage bag, had survived in dwindling oxygen and emerged unscathed. Rachel Clark grew up to be both talented and a brilliant student.
She's now about to graduate from the University of Maryland with a degree in family science, and plans to go on for a Masters degree in marriage and family therapy. And on Wednesday night, she received a "Star of Adoption" award at a ceremony in Bethesda.
Rachel Clark is also getting married this summer -- and while she’s looking forward to a wonderful future, she’s still hoping to know who left her, and why.
Clark assumes her birth mother was young and didn’t have many other options.
“I definitely would want to tell them that I forgive them, and that my life has been great without them,” she said.