The Baby Abandoned at a Burger King Sets Out to Find Her Mom 27 Years Later
On September 15, 1986, a newborn baby girl was abandoned in the bathroom of a local Burger King. Her mother placed the baby girl under one of the bathroom sinks, and she later was discovered by a Burger King employee. The child quickly became known as the “Burger King Baby” throughout the nation. Not knowing where to start looking, “Burger King Baby” never thought she would find out who her mother was or why her mother left her behind. She was in for a surprise 27 years later!
Thinking back, the fast food worker remembers heading off to work that day thinking nothing out of the ordinary was likely to happen, and boy was he wrong! During his shift in the Allentown, Pennsylvania Burger King, he heard a noise coming from the women’s bathroom. As the worker moved closer to the door, he realized it was the sound of a baby crying. The cry prompted him to rush in and find the tiny baby under the sink bundled in a red sweater with no mother around.
The Burger King worker looked for the owner of the newborn but was unable to locate anyone in or around the restaurant. Not knowing what to do, he called emergency services. An ambulance rushed to the scene, checked the infant for medical problems, and then turned her over to the authorities. Police publically appealed to the mother to come forward or anyone who might have information about the “Burger King Baby.” Alas, no one came.
At the Burger King, the worker took police to inspect the site where the infant was found. By this time, a camera crew had arrived on scene, and the employee was questioned about what took place. He explained how he came to locate the baby and showed the site under the sink where she was located. A police officer chimed in to refocus the issue to finding the child’s mother.
Emergency medical responders at the scene voiced their surprise and relief that the infant was found alive and well. The two responders that took care of her reported to the news crew that the baby was beautiful and the mother must have had a rough time leaving her this way. They were certain the mother must be suffering the loss of this child.
Police went to work fingerprinting the bathroom looking for clues to the identity of the person who left the “Burger King Baby” behind. They questioned locals for weeks in search of any information on the infant but came up empty handed. The story was shared through the media across the nation without results. Everyone was at a loss of where the baby belonged.
The trail grew cold, and the police realized they were not going to locate the infant’s parents anytime soon. The child was put up for adoption. Brenda and Carl Hollis, a loving local couple, decided to make her the new addition to their family. Lucky for her, they changed her name to Katheryn and raised her with all the love and care they could.
When Katheryn was 12, her adopted parents decided to share what they knew about her early years. It was 1998, and the information changed Katheryn’s life forever. While it was no household secret that Katheryn was adopted, she never knew she had been abandoned in the local Burger King, or that her name had been “Burger King Baby” for the first months of her life. Brenda had kept a scrapbook of articles and pictures from the newspapers to share with Katheryn.
Katheryn’s focus moved to finding her birth mother. Like many adopted children, Katheryn always knew something in her life was missing. Katheryn express her desire to know where she came from during an interview on the Today Show. She did not want to replace her adoptive family, but she wanted to know her birth mother.
Katheryn continued to grow and flourish in her life. She attended school, became an EMT, married, and gave birth to three children of her own. Katheryn and her family ended up living close to the Burger King where she was found, just outside Allentown in South Whitehall Township. As Katheryn grew, her desire to locate her birth mother only grew, and at 27 years old, she decided to do something to find her mother.
Katheryn decided to start searching through social media and settled on Facebook as a place to start. Katheryn had a photo taken with her holding a handwritten sign with the details of the abandonment. She requested her fellow Facebooker’s to share her post so it could go viral and asked her mother or anyone who had information to contact her.
Katheryn’s post did exactly what she wanted and went viral being shared over 30,000 times! Katheryn’s tale was picked up by the media to expand her efforts to locate her mother. After two weeks, her mother was found! Cathy Pochek, her birth mother, emerged from the crowd. Cathy’s story that led up to her abandoning her infant was as traumatic as the emergency medical responders predicted so many years before.
Cathy Pochek gave birth to Katheryn at 16 years old, and her pregnancy was a result of rape. Cathy was too afraid to share the pregnancy news with her parents, so she kept it hidden. When Cathy went into labor, she was too frightened to go to the hospital, who would have questions she did not want to answer, so she birthed Katheryn in her bedroom alone. She then went to a business that was close by, the Burger King, to leave her infant in hopes someone would take care of her.
By the time Katheryn located her mother, she was open to hearing what happened that made her mother leave her behind. After her mother told her the story, Katheryn forgave her immediately and understood her decision. Cathy left her where she would be found and cared for, and did not want to throw her away at all.
Katheryn and Cathy’s first reunion was full of tears and joy. They were able to have their first mother-daughter hug. They were brought together on the Today Show where they could talk about their first meeting. They both were nervous, and yet so overjoyed to find each other after so many years. In looking at the two, it’s obvious they are related because the resemblance is uncanny. The two are grateful to have the opportunity to share in each other’s lives from here out.