In 2006, Disbrow reunited with her daughter, Ruth Lee, whom she had placed for adoption 77 years earlier.
Carol Stream, Ill.—Tyndale House Publishers has learned that Minka Disbrow passed away early in the morning on Monday, June 16, in Southern California. One-hundred-two-years-old at her passing, Disbrow is the subject of the acclaimed and remarkably moving memoir, The Waiting (May 2014), which released just a month before her passing.
“I think she waited until she could see the book,” said Cathy LaGrow, Disbrow’s granddaughter and author of the book in collaboration with Cindy Coloma. “She loved it.”
Disbrow garnered international attention following her emotional reunion with Ruth Lee, the daughter she had placed for adoption 77 years earlier after being raped in 1928 while on a walk at a sewing class picnic. Ruth, who is 85 years old and lives in Viroqua, Wis., is the mother of NASA astronaut Mark Lee. Mark’s brother, Brian, a graduate of West Point, was instrumental in arranging the reunion after adoption records were finally opened.
Disbrow’s story was first reported by Tom Berg of the Orange County Register in 2011 (http://www.ocregister.com/articles/disbrow-332476-says-betty.html) and received international attention when the heartwarming account was later picked up by the Associated Press. The story was reignited again this past spring with the release of The Waiting: On Friday, May 9—two days before Mother’s Day—Minka and Ruth appeared in a touching feature on NBC’s Today (http://www.today.com/books/waiting-birth-mothers-quest-meet-her-daughter-2D79627749) . Reader’s Digest posted an online excerpt from the book (http://www.rd.com/true-stories/inspiring/77-year-reunion/) , which has become one of the most-read articles in the history of the website. And the New York Post covered Minka’s story in a wonderfully written feature by Susannah Cahalan (http://nypost.com/2014/05/11/mom-and-daughter-reunited-77-years-after-adoption/). The book was reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly (http://reg.publishersweekly.com/978-1-4143-9190-8) and PW also featured the author, Cathy LaGrow, in an article titled: Cathy LaGrow: Worth the Waiting (http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/religion/article/62192-cathy-lagrow-worth-the-waiting.html).
The story began in 1928, when 16-year-old Minka and a friend were assaulted and raped while taking a walk through the woods during a class picnic. Suddenly, this innocent farm girl—who still thought the stork brought babies—was pregnant. The baby, whom she named Betty Jane, was given up for adoption. For decades, Minka wrote letters trying to get news of her daughter; she kept loving and praying for her, even though she never dared to believe they would meet again . . . until nearly eighty years later, when Minka whispered her secret, impossible prayer for the first time: Lord, I’d like to see Betty Jane again before I die. I promise I won’t bother her or interrupt her life. I just want to see what she looks like. That very same day, unbeknownst to Minka, a judge was releasing the sealed adoption records for her 77-year-old daughter. And soon, Minka’s phone would ring.
Written by Cathy LaGrow (Minka’s granddaughter), The Waiting brings three generations of this most unusual family together over the course of a century to tell a story of faith that triumphs, forgiveness that sets us free, and love that never forgets. The book, which released May 6, 2014, currently has 81 five-star reviews and 4 four-star reviews on Amazon.com.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Tyndale House Publishers, founded in 1962, is the world’s largest privately held Christian publishers of books, Bibles, and digital media. Tyndale Momentum, a nonfiction imprint of Tyndale House, is the publisher of many New York Times bestsellers, including Quiet Strength and Uncommon by Tony Dungy with Nathan Whitaker, and Winning Balance by Shawn Johnson. The largest portion of Tyndale’s profit goes to the nonprofit Tyndale House Foundation, which makes grants to help meet the physical and spiritual needs of people around the world. Tyndale was founded to publish Living Letters, which later comprised part of The Living Bible, a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible that became a global publishing phenomenon. Tyndale now publishes the Holy Bible, New Living Translation (NLT), the translation of choice for millions of people.
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