Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Mom, Daughter Reunite for Race after Learning What Runs in Families

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Mom, Daughter Reunite for Race after Learning What Runs in Families

Article excerpt

When Karen McGuire's daughter was born in 1967, she never got to hold her, but this morning they'll be running around together in the Great Race.

Both Ms. McGuire and daughter, Kelly Allen, are avid runners. That's just one of the things they learned when, 46 years into the daughter's life, they hugged for the first time.

Ms. McGuire, still slim at 70, was 23 and a single nursing student at the University of Pittsburgh when she learned she was pregnant. She stayed in the dorm until April 1967 and then moved to Irwin to live with her oldest sister, Kathleen.

She told the rest of her family - she's the fourth of eight children, six of them girls - that she was studying cardiology in Texas. The ruse was so elaborate, she wrote letters home and had them mailed to Texas so they might be mailed back to her parents in Brighton Heights.

On Aug. 4, 1967, in Washington Hospital, chosen because it was far enough away from any neighbors' eyes, she gave birth to a daughter who was immediately given up to adoptive parents.

"I only got to see her one time through a glass window," Ms. McGuire recalled, sadness still in her voice almost five decades on. "I couldn't hold her."

No one else in her family knew but her sister Kathleen. She went back to school, graduated in 1971, and was working for the Allegheny County Health Department in 1977 when she helped organize the first Great Race and ran in it, too.

We'll have to hit fast forward here because that's the way Ms. McGuire has lived her life. Late in 1977, she joined the foreign service and soon flew off to Ouagadougou in what is now Burkina Faso in west Africa. She married a fellow foreign service officer, and their son, Peter, was born in 1984.

In 1991, she and her husband were posted in Mogadishu, Somalia, and they adopted an abandoned Somali infant girl as the city was falling. As heavily armed rebels circled the U.S. Embassy, they were helicoptered out.

That daughter, Mary, 23, now lives in Chicago. Meantime, the daughter she never knew had grown up in a loving family in Peters and then Atlanta. Ms. Allen became a teacher and wondered every day about her birth mother. …

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