In an almost unfathomable scenario, three babies during the 1980s were abandoned in California, with the children knowing nothing about their birth parents for years. In their quest to find out their identities, the three of them ended up meeting each other and then their birth mother. ABC’s ‘20/20: Since the Day I Was Born’ chronicles a fascinating story of how Joann Hauser let three of her children go. So, let’s find out more about their reunion and where Joann might be today, shall we?
Who is Joann Hauser?
Joann lived in Los Angeles, California, during the 1960s, and back then, she had immersed herself in the local party scene after dropping out of college. She talked about drinking and smoking marijuana all the time. At 22, Joann got married and had two sons, but that ended in a divorce, leaving her to care for the two boys. Soon after that, Joann picked up where she left off and went back to partying. Joann got pregnant with her first daughter at one such party, an infant she would later abandon. She said at the time, “I was extremely fearful when I got pregnant. I just never felt like I could tell anybody.”
In an astonishing turn of events, Joann gave birth to the little girl, who would later be known as Janet Barnicoat, in her bathroom while her sons slept in the other room. At that point, Joann was unemployed and was living on welfare with her two sons. Knowing that she could not take on the responsibility of caring for another child, Joann decided to do the unthinkable. She went up to the local police station and claimed to have found Janet in a paper bag near a dumpster.
However, in a difficult situation and finding herself in a similar scenario, Joann decided to do the same thing later on. Joann was pregnant with her second daughter, Julie Hutchison, about five years later. She dropped the infant off outside a convenience store, believing someone would notice and pick her up. Soon after that, Joann returned to attend her son’s birthday party. Regarding that evening, she said, “That was very difficult. I felt like I was the biggest hypocrite in the world, you know? How could I be celebrating one birth and just do what I just did to another precious child? How could I do that?”
Then, about a year or so later, Joann got pregnant yet again and gave birth to her third son, Dean Hundorf, whom she left on the porch of a neighbor who lived around the corner. While all three children were later adopted and raised by loving families, their curiosity to find out more about their birth parents led them to Joann. The three half-siblings found each other through public DNA databases, and a genealogist helped track Joann down for them.
Where is Joann Hauser Now?
Joann dealt with a lot of guilt over the years for abandoning the children and wondered all the while how her children turned out. In an emotional reunion, the three half-siblings, fully grown, met their mother in 2016. Regarding abandoning Janet, her first daughter, she said, “I felt if someone else had her, they could give her a better life than I could.”
That was something Janet, who forgave her mother, agreed, and stated, “She did us a favor. All three of us had amazing families.” It was mentioned on the show that Joann had dealt with a heart attack and a stroke sometime before the meeting. While an earlier report said Joann was living in Torrance, California, she has since maintained a low profile, and not much is known about her current whereabouts.