On April 5, 1990, Bill Kotch of Jones, Oklahoma, found himself in an unbelievable situation. Why it happened to him is unclear. Most likely, it was fate. But for the last 18 years of his life it’s felt like a lifetime of wonder.
"He gave her a gift. He gave her something that no one else could give her, and I think in return, she kind of gave him something.”
A cold April morning 18 years ago, a man holds in his arms an infant, later known as baby girl doe. Two lives intertwined for a brief moment, but a lifetime of wonder and worry follow.
Bill Kotch has spent most of his life driving across America from one state to another. On his last trip home, he got call he wouldn't forget. “Coming home, they called me and told me I was on layoff.” This news was nothing compared to a letter he'd receive the next day from a young girl in Gunter, Texas.
“Dear Mr. Kotch, My name is Bethany LaRoche. You don't know me, but you know of me. It has been almost 18years since we last met. I'd like to thank you for helping save my life. You see, I was the tiny baby girl you found in the back of your truck on April 5, 1990.”
On that April morning, Kotch was headed home on I35, when he decided to take a nap. He pulled into what was then a Denny’s restaurant in Gainesville, TX. He closed his eyes, but was awaken a short time later. “I rolled the window town, trying to wake up. I heard this noise in the back of my pick-up. At first I thought someone left a litter of pups on the back of my truck.” It wasn’t puppies, instead a baby girl.
“She had been abandoned; her mother I guess didn't just want to throw her away. Her mother put her in the backend of the pickup and later called the place to make sure someone found the baby.” Joe LaRoche is thankful for what Bill Kotch did next; wrapping the baby in a dish rag, then running into the restaurant to call for help. Police and paramedics arrived shortly after and within minutes, baby girl doe was taken away and Kotch never saw her again.
“This man has spent the last 18 years worrying about her, thinking about her. He has an entire community that knows about her and has talked about her.” Baby girl doe, now known as Bethany LaRoche was adopted by Patty and Joe LaRoche just four days after that fateful April day.
Bethany is now a senior at Gunter High School and has high hopes of one day working with animals. While she couldn't be a happier, more normal teenager, there are still questions about her past she needs answers to. “At first I was thinking, why did she do this to me? Was I not wanted? But then my mom and I started talking and I had to write down my feelings. She wanted me to do that. She said think of it as she wanted you found, because she couldn't take care of you.”
That's what led up to the defining moment, when Bethany got the courage to find the man that saved her life. “My little sister found out that one of my friends of two years is her older biological sister. My mom showed me documents so I could reconnect with my past. I saw his name, wanted to write a letter because he must be wondering what happened to that baby in my truck.”
Hundreds of miles away, Bill Kotch lives at the same address. He still has questions of what happened to the little girl he held in his arms for a brief moment so many years ago. “I'm just so overwhelmed this happened and heard from this little girl. The mystery has been solved.”
On April 5th 2008-- a reunion so many years in the making. A young girl became a woman and the man partly responsible was able to share that special moment.
The LaRoche family knows all to well, the perks of foster parenting and adoption. Joe LaRoche says, “My wife and I got into foster parenting primarily because we couldn't have any more children.” With one child already in the family, the love for children continued to grow, so they adopted Bethany and Christina.
The girls biological mothers were unable to properly care for them, so each were put into the hands of someone who could. Christina says, “Adoption changed my life. I probably would be a lot more uncomfortable and had to move a lot.”
At an early age, Christina was adopted by the LaRoche family. She'd never met her mother, but had some details as to who she was. Little did Christina know, last January at church youth group, she'd meet someone who would change her life forever.
“We were sitting there talking; my friend Ashley had brought a friend and everyone said you two look alike. I was looking at her and she looked like someone I knew, but couldn't connect the dots.”
Turns out, this was Christina's biological sister. Both had been abandoned by their mother, but both grew up with a loving family. That's the good thing about foster parenting and adoption. Christina’s adopted mother, Patty, says, “If you never jump out and take a risk, you'll never know what type of joy is on the outside of it.”
In Texas and Oklahoma, more children are in the foster care system, than those willing to take them in. That's partly due to myths about the system.
Starla Abrahams is with the Texas Department of Child Protective Services. “We have to find them a family. We have to give them the opportunity to grow up in a family. We have to do that. It’s not fair, it’s not fair for children to be raised by a system.”
It's important to remember, the main focus and goal is to send these kids back to their own families. One of the biggest concerns we've heard is that when the child leaves, it’s hard to cope. “Everyone goes through separation issues. That's what makes us human.”
Financially, you don't have to have a lot of money, just a lot of love. In fact, as long as you can meet ends meet, you’re a candidate. “Someone who makes $100,000 dollars a year and spends $110,000 year is not financially stable. Someone that makes $10,000 a year and only spends $5,000 is financially stable.” Of course the agency will also help you out.
Next, even if you are single, you are still eligible. “It’s your ability to parent. That's what we'll look at, the overall dynamic of your family.”
Then there is concern over the child's behavior. Abraham says, “Their bodies and minds have been in fight of flight mode for months, maybe even years; which is normal. With fostering all you are doing is looking at this person and noticing their behaviors and issues are all separate from them.”
It’s about being there when no one else is. Giving a child a life of hope and love, when the world has turned its back. For people like the LaRoche family, that's what life is about. Patty says, “I think we are more rounded because we went through and have seen what a difference one or two people can make, if even for a few hours overnight."
The need for Foster Parenting is well needed in the Texoma area. For more information the Texas Child and Protective Services has arranged an informational meeting.
Presenter: Zeke Sanchez
|Sherman Public Library|
THIS EVENT IS NOT IN ANY WAY AFFILIATED WITH OR SPONSORED BY THE SHERMAN PUBLIC LIBRARY.
|421 N Travis St |
|From Dallas: Take US 75 North to Sherman. |
Take EXIT 59 toward Washington Street.
Turn Slight Left onto N Sam Rayburn Fwy.
Turn Right onto W Washington Street.
Turn Right onto N Travis Street
Presenter: Zeke Sanchez
|Family & Protective Services, Child Protective Services Office||902 Cottonwood|
|From Dallas: Take US 75 North to Sherman. Take Exit #61 /TX91 onto Texoma Pkwy (US 75 Business). Turn Left on N. Loy Lake Road go .4 mile. Turn Right onto Cottonwood, CPS Office is on the right.|