Most ordinary adoptees visit an agency or a private detective to locate their birth parents. But Katheryn Deprill's story is anything but ordinary, so she turned to Facebook in search of her mother.
By crowdsourcing her hunt, Deprill, 27, was able to find and reunite with her real mother, who abandoned Deprill when she was only a few hours old at an American Burger King restaurant.
Earlier this month, Deprill, now known as the Burger King Baby, posted to the social network a photo of herself, holding a pieced-together sign.
"Looking for my birth mother. She gave birth to me September 15th, 1986," it read. "She abandoned me in the Burger King bathroom only hours old [in] Allentown, PA. Please help me find her by sharing my post. Maybe she will see this. Thank you."
Shared on Facebook more than 32,000 times, the picture seemed to do the trick. Well, the local and national press may have also helped — Deprill posted a link to the Parkland News article about her search, as well as messages regarding interviews with Nancy Grace and Good Morning America.
And it worked: The media storm caught the attention of Deprill's biological mother, who had apparently launched her own search about six months ago for the baby she left almost three decades ago. According to the Associated Press, the unnamed woman contacted attorney John Waldron and arranged to meet her now-adult daughter.
The emotional reunion was one of "pure joy" for Deprill, who learned directly from her birth mom the details of her surrender.
"I got the hug that I had wanted for the last 27 years, and that broke the ice," she told the AP. "I asked if I could have it, and she said, 'absolutely,' and just held her arms open, and the rest is history."
Of the woman to whom she bears a striking resemblance, Deprill said she "is so sweet and amazing."
Though the Burger King Baby herself declined to discuss the details of her abandonment, Waldron filled in the missing pieces: While traveling abroad at age 16, the woman was raped and impregnated. She hid the pregnancy from her parents, and after giving birth in her bedroom, wanted to avoid the scrutiny of taking the newborn to the hospital. Instead, she dropped her at the local fast food chain.
Now 27, Deprill is married with three sons and works as an emergency medical technician. She launched her Facebook-based search with the encouragement of her adoptive parents, and brought her adoptive mother and seven-month-old son to the meeting.
This isn't the first heartwarming tale of Facebook crowdsourcing. Last month, Jennifer Cunningham called on the social network's users to give her son the gift of virtual friends for his 11th birthday. The Michigan boy, Colin, suffers from Asperger syndrome—a highly functioning form of autism—and spends most of his days eating lunch alone and being picked on by classmates.
But thanks to his mom's efforts, and millions of kind people across the world, the "Happy Birthday Colin" Facebook page earned 2 million "likes" and encouraging words from users around the globe.
For more, see Big data vs. crowdsourcing: The battle for the future.