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I couldn’t afford two babies so I gave up one of my twins, I never told a soul – neither of them knew the other existed

  • Kate Graham

  • Martha Cliff

MOST parents will agree that there is no way they could choose between their children.

But one mum has revealed how she felt forced to do exactly that.

Dawn Voris, 60, from Indiana, was faced with an agonising decisionCredit: Dawn Voris

Dawn (left) when she was pregnant with her twinsCredit: Dawn Voris

Dawn's daughter Mikayla as a babyCredit: Dawn Voris

Two decades ago Dawn Voris, 60, from Indiana, made an agonising choice that she has lived with every day since.

Faced with financial woes, discovering that she was expecting twins was not an entirely joyful experience for healthcare fraud investigator Dawn.

Speaking exclusively to Fabulous, she says: “Hearing the sonographer say, ‘you’re expecting twins’ I went into shock - panic flooding through me.

“Looking at my husband Clint I knew the same thought was running through his mind. How could we possibly afford two babies?”

Money was incredibly tight in early 2000 for Dawn, and husband Clint, both then 37.

“We were struggling to pay our bills,” she says.

“Both of our jobs were at risk of redundancy and our families were already helping us out with money.

“We were keeping our heads above water, but it was a very hard time.” Discovering she was pregnant in June 2000 the couple were happy, but the financial reality of becoming parents was never far from their minds.

“I was struggling with anxiety even before the sonographer began my 12-week scan,” Dawn recalls.

“Hearing that there were two babies on the way was completely overwhelming. What on what on earth were we going to do?”

As the days turned into weeks Dawn and Clint talked of little else.

“I felt such a lot of love for the babies but knew I couldn’t give them the life that they deserved,” she admits.

“I couldn’t eat properly, sleep or focus on work, all the while these two babies were growing inside me.

“We didn’t tell anyone that I was expecting twins, not even my mum. All the while fears about the future spinning around my head.”

At the 20-week scan Dawn saw the two healthy girls and felt a huge rush of love.

She says: “I wanted each of them to have every chance in life. That’s when I knew we couldn’t keep them both.”

A month later Clint and Dawn visited a private adoption agency.

“We spent hours reading about different couples, families who were desperate to give a loving home to a baby,” she says.

“We wanted to choose a couple who we felt were similar to us, who lived in the countryside and loved horses like we did.

“Finally, we made our choice, my heart breaking all the while.”

But deciding on which baby they would give away for ever was an agonising decision.

“It was an impossible choice, and I knew I couldn’t wait until they were born to make it,” Dawn says.

“So, I decided that the second baby to be born would go to the new family.”

I knew that it had to be a secret, that I’d be judged for what we’d decided to do.

Hiding the fact that she was carrying two babies rather than one also proved to be a challenge.

“Physically my bump remained small, as I suffered with awful morning sickness. But not being open with the people I loved was awful,” says Dawn.

“I knew that it had to be a secret, that I’d be judged for what we’d decided to do.

“I couldn’t take that on top of the pain and guilt I was already feeling.”

In February 2001, Dawn gave birth to Mikayla and Becky* by Caesarean.

“Despite all the rushing hormones from giving birth I had to keep my emotions in check when I saw Becky,” recalls the mum.

“I only let myself hold her hand for a moment before she was taken to her incubator.”

Later that week Dawn watched as the adoptive parents came to collect their new daughter.

She says: “That’s when I broke down. I wanted so much to keep her, to have both of my babies.

“But the papers had been signed and it was too late. My heart felt like it was breaking.”

Back home and a new mum, Dawn struggled with the reality of her decision.

“I had a beautiful daughter but couldn’t stop thinking about Becky, my baby who wasn’t in my arms, who wasn’t by her sister’s side.

“All the while the only person who knew the truth was Clint.

“I was so low that my doctor prescribed medication for postnatal depression. It took a year before the sadness began to lift.”

Times continued to be hard for the family. Dawn and Clint both lost their jobs and, when Mikayla was four, they filed for bankruptcy.

“Through it all Mikayla brought so much joy to my life”, Dawn says.

“But Becky was never far from my mind.

“When Mikayla started school or celebrated her birthday, I’d think longingly of her sister and wonder what she was doing.”

The heartbreak was strongest when Mikayla began asking for a sibling.

“I wanted to tell her the truth so much, but how could I? She was so young, and I knew that she wouldn’t understand.

“As for another baby, how could we possibly do that? Even once our financial situation was more stable it would never have felt right, after giving up Becky.”

I only let myself hold her hand for a moment before she was taken to her incubator.

Dawn kept the secret of Becky’s birth from everyone, unsure if she’d ever reveal it.

Then, in December 2020, when Mikayla was 19, Dawn received a text that changed everything.

“It was from Birth Parent Finder, an agency that helps people find biological relatives. My heart was beating hard as I read that, after almost 20 years, Becky wanted to meet us!

“Joy was quickly followed by worry. What would Mikayla say when she learned the truth?

“I couldn’t bear the thought of her feeling hurt and angry that we’d hidden this from her for so long.”

So, Dawn and Clint decided to keep the secret for a little longer.

“We arranged to meet Becky at a café that was halfway between our two homes,” says Dawn.

“I was a bundle of nerves as we arrived and sat waiting for her.

“Then I looked up and saw her walk in the door, looking exactly like Mikayla. It was incredible.

“I had to stop myself hugging her, even though I longed to. Instead, we just sat and talked.

“We answered the list of questions that Becky had prepared, all about us, our family health and why we had put her up for adoption.”

Becky’s calm reaction to the meeting came as a huge relief to Dawn, as did learning that Becky had had a happy childhood.

“As she spoke, I sat and marvelled at the similarities with Mikayla,” she says.

“The way Becky moved her hands and brushed her hair from her face, even the drink she ordered, it was all the same!”

Dawn left that day hopeful that this was the start of a relationship. But there was one important step still to do.

“My heart was beating as I sat down with Mikayla that afternoon. I said ‘Do you remember how you wished that you had a sibling? Well, you do'.”

Mikayla, now a 21-year-old dog groomer, remembers that afternoon vividly.

She recalls: “I’d longed for a sister when I was growing up. I remember asking mum and dad about it so many times. So, sitting there and hearing about Becky was just incredible.

“Discovering I had a twin all I felt was excitement.

“I didn’t feel any anger towards mum and dad for keeping this from me. In fact, listening to mum talk about it through the tears, I only felt sorry that she’d been through it.”

Dawn kept the secret of Becky’s birth from everyone, unsure if she’d ever reveal itCredit: Dawn Voris

Mikayla revealed that she didn’t feel any anger towards her parents for keeping her twin sister a secretCredit: Dawn Voris

Hugging Mikayla close, Dawn felt the weight of the terrible decades-long secret start to lift.

“Having it out in the open after all these years was such a wonderful feeling,” Dawn says.

When the two sisters were finally reunited in a pizza restaurant, two decades after they had been separated at their birth, it was joyful for everyone.

“Watching them both talk and laugh together and look like two-peas-in-a-pod, was amazing,” remembers Dawn.

“It really was like a dream come true,” agrees Mikayla. “Sitting beside my twin and seeing how much we had in common was amazing.”

The sisters began texting in the days that followed, and hopes were high that this was the start of a joyful new chapter in their family.

But when Dawn began opening up to friends and family she wasn’t met with the same understanding she’d had from her daughters.

The mum says: “They asked ‘How could this possibly be true? And why didn’t you reach out to us for help?”

Focusing on the future, Dawn decided to plan a 20th birthday party for the girls.

“I bought decorations and ordered a cake. It looked like two jigsaw pieces joined together and was in their favourite colours, blue and yellow.”

Then, just days before the party, Becky started to become distant.

“She didn’t respond to my messages, didn’t come to the party, and finally said that she didn’t want to stay in touch. I was heartbroken,” says Dawn.

Dawn didn’t know why Becky had changed her mind, but the possibilities whirled around her head.

She says: “Maybe she believed that we had lied to her, and that money wasn’t the real reason she had been adopted.

“It was terrible to think that she felt rejected, when I’d thought about her for twenty years.”

While Dawn struggled, Mikayla was devastated.

“I really thought that Becky and I would be friends forever, that we had this amazing connection as twins,” Mikayla says.

“To learn that she didn’t want to know us at all felt like such a betrayal.”

In the months since, both Dawn and Mikayla have tried their best to process what has happened.

“I’ve had therapy, which has helped,” says Mikayla. “But I’m still heartbroken at how everything turned out.”

Dawn still thinks of Becky every day.

“I feel like I have lost her twice,” she says. “But all I can do is respect her wish for me not to contact her. And to hold onto the hope that one day we can all be together again.”

In December 2020, when Mikayla was 19, Dawn received a text that changed everything - she wanted to meet her and the two sisters were finally reunited in a pizza restaurant, two decades after they had been separated at their birthCredit: Dawn Voris

Dawn threw a birthday party for the twins but her and Mikayla were left devastated when Becky became distant and said that she didn’t want to stay in touchCredit: Dawn Voris

Mikayla felt betrayed that her sister didn't want to stay in touchCredit: Dawn Voris

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