A woman who was sold by a baby sitter for $200 has been reunited with a half-brother and talked for the first time with her natural mother.
Linda Gayle Atteberry Caban was 8 months old in 1963 when the drunken baby sitter sold her to an unmarried couple in a Lawton, Okla., beer joint.Now married with children of her own and living at Hill Air Force Base, Caban talked to her mother by telephone for the first time recently, learning the circumstances that led to her being sold, recovered and then adopted.
A week ago, Caban met her half-brother, one of seven half-brothers and sisters she had no idea existed until 24 hours before.
Before talking to her birth mother, Joyce Pickens, and half-brother Randy Pickens, Caban only knew bits and pieces of her odyssey.
"When I was 13, I found my adoption papers. My mom showed me this story," Caban said, holding a photocopy of a Lawton Constitution news article dated Sept. 4, 1963. "The man who adopted me is the man who wrote this story."
Ray Atteberry was a reporter at the Constitution covering a story about the sale of an 8-month-old girl.
About two weeks after the illegal transaction, an Oklahoma juvenile court officer located the couple in Lawton. They had just returned from a trip to Mexico with the child. The blue-eyed baby with curly hair was taken from the couple and placed in a children's shelter.
In May 1964, Ray Atteberry and his wife, Mary Jane, adopted the child and renamed her Linda Gayle Atteberry.
Caban said she was told that her birth mother had abandoned her. But unbeknownst to Caban, her half-sister, Helen Murphy, began searching for her in 1986.
That's when Joyce Pickens, Caban's birth mother, told Murphy and her other children that she had given up a baby girl 24 years earlier because she couldn't care for her during a difficult period in her life.
Murphy went through old news reports in Lawton and called Atteberry, the reporter.
Randy Pickens said the Atteberrys were reluctant to share much information, but Murphy was able to get enough to finally track Caban down at Hill AFB, where she lives with her husband, Staff Sgt. Ruben Caban, and their two boys.
"Hi, my name is Randy Pickens and I think I'm your brother," the caller told Caban.
Pickens then arranged for Caban to talk with her mother and brothers and sisters, most of whom live in Dickson, Tenn.
Pickens, a California highway patrolman, flew from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City and had no trouble identifying Caban. "`She looks like my mother and sister," he said.
Now Caban is planning a trip to Tennessee to see her mother, "to see what she looks like."
During their phone conversation, Joyce Pickens told Caban she already had three children when her daughter was born Dec. 14, 1962.
Pickens said she was leaving an abusive husband and one of her children recently had died. The children were being cared for by Inez Prock while Pickens worked as a waitress.
Pickens became pregnant and, when it came time to deliver the child, she checked into the hospital using the last name of Prock.
Pickens left the infant in Prock's care before departing Lawton with the other children to start a new life, telling Prock she would return for the child. When she did, Prock told her that welfare authorities had taken the baby because Prock was a drunkard.
Joyce Pickens later remarried in Tennessee and had three more children.
"I was raised (believing she had) abandoned me. Now she tells me she didn't. She's the only one who knows the truth. I have to believe her," Caban said.