Son searches for biological mother: Finds her in Elizabeth City

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Jane Ponder and her son, Michael Tabb, see each other for the first time since his birth in 1986, as Tabb and his wife Jessica and daughter Mailee arrive at the Ponder home in Elizabeth City on the morning of Saturday, July 21.


Anna Goodwin McCarthy

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A mother and son, separated by almost 32 years, are looking at a new future.

Last Saturday Jane Ponder was reunited with the son she gave up for adoption in September 1986.

“I hugged him, and I didn’t want to let go,” said Ponder. “It was like any dream coming true all at once. I was ecstatic.”

Michael Hunter Tabb, 31, met Ponder, his biological mother, in person, at her home in Elizabeth City.

“It was one of the best days of my life,” said Tabb.

Ponder was 22 years old and living in Rocky Mount, when she decided to give her child up for adoption through the Children’s Home Society of North Carolina. Jane had married her husband Reggie in June 1986; she gave birth to Tabb the following September.

“Reggie and I just got married, and I did not have the financial capabilities to give my son what he needed,” said Ponder.

Tabb grew up with his adoptive family in Signal Mountain, Tenn., a suburb of Chattanooga.

“My adoptive parents have always been very open with me,” said Tabb.

Tabb said his adoptive parents shared with him a photograph of the social worker who was involved with his adoption, but he did not know his biological parents.

Tabb wanted to know more about his biological mother.

“I wanted to know what she is like as a human being,” said Tabb.

Tabb’s wife Jessica assisted him with the task of locating his biological mother. Tabb said he is currently not pursuing the location of his biological father.

The process to discover his mother’s identity commenced with Tabb contacting the Children’s Home Society of North Carolina.

Tabb said one of the most difficult aspects of the process was the waiting period. Tabb had to complete paperwork and pay a fee for investigators to locate his biological mother.

Tabb was finally notified that his biological mother had been found.

“I still did not know her name. She did not know my name,” said Tabb.

When his mother was located, both Tabb and Ponder had to complete paperwork and signed notarized affidavits before their identities were released to each other.

“There was a lot of doubt,” said Tabb. “Does she want anything to do with me?”

Tabb said when he was first informed of his mother’s name, he completed a Facebook search and he was immediately struck by her profile picture of a man who had a similar physical appearance to him. Tabb said he learned that the photo was of his biological half-brother, Ponder’s 30-year-old son, Nathan.

“That was awesome,” said Tabb.

Tabb said he friended Ponder on Facebook and began to communicate with her through Messenger. They also began to talk on the phone.

When Tabb learned that Ponder’s 54th birthday was Sunday, July 22, he decided to visit his mother in Elizabeth City.

Tabb, who works as an office assistant with an electrical contractor, said he traveled to Elizabeth City Saturday and met Ponder, Reggie and Nathan.

Tabb said Jessica was encouraging, giving him “good positive affirmations.”

Tabb and Ponder exchanged photo albums.

“I have waited for this to happen for 30 some years,” said Ponder.

Ponder said they all talked over breakfast and took a day trip to the Outer Banks. They learned they both have a fondness for the beach and the same types of food.

They watched the movie, “Mama Mia! Here We Go Again” and ate at Popeyes.

Tabb visited Cedar Grove United Methodist Church on Sunday where Reggie serves as pastor, and he discovered that in the church bulletin, they would be singing his favorite hymn, “Be Thou My Vision.”

Tabb was surprised when he learned that this was also his mother’s favorite hymn.

Tabb laughed, saying he noticed their common physical attributes like the fact that they both had similar knees.

“It was nice to see the similarities between me and her,” said Tabb.

“My biological mom is extremely loving, caring and a great human being,” said Tabb.

“I was proud of the man he has become,” said Ponder.

Tabb said his birthday present for Ponder was a phone with unlimited minutes so they would be able to continue their conversations.

“It has been the best birthday ever,” said Ponder.

Ponder’s advice for people wanting to reconnect with loved ones is, “Don’t give up.”

“I am full of love,” said Ponder. “It is amazing.”

Ponder said she plans to travel to Tennessee to visit Tabb for his 32nd birthday in September.