“At the ITS, I read for the first time my father's name”
BettyAnn Prewitt was born in Wiesbaden on 23 September, 1948, as Josefa Yakovleva. She was the daughter of a former Ukrainian forced laborer who was living as a Displaced Person in Germany at that time and had to give her child up for adoption. The little girl was taken care of by an American couple, Winford and Eddie Kincaid. Under the name BettyAnn, she immigrated with her new family to the United States. Now she has come to the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen, to investigate the children’s records of that time.
"Very early on my adoptive parents told me that they had adopted me in Germany after the war," says BettyAnn. "But only when I needed my birth certificate at the age of thirty for my training as a nurse, did I learn the name of my birth mother. The father's name was not registered." Because she had a good and loving childhood with her adoptive parents, she respected the wish of the Kincaids not to look for her birth mother Mary Wladislawskaja. "Even when I lived in Germany for twelve years, I did not have the notion of making inquiries."
Wladislawskaja was deported in 1942 by the Nazis, together with her mother, for forced labor to Frankfurt/Main. She met Peter Yakovlev, whom she married in February 1944, and in 1945 they had a son, George. But Maria’s husband and her mother died that same year, and now the young woman had to care on her own for little George. She worked in the Air Force Camp Linsee near Wiesbaden, where she had a relationship with the American Joseph Hendrzak, the biological father of BettyAnn. "In the records of the ITS, for the first time I read the name of my father," says BettyAnn very pleased. "He has acknowledged paternity and promised to divorce and to marry my mother. However, since his return to the States on 3 June, 1949, she has heard nothing more from him."
The widowed and abandoned Mary decided to give Josefa up for adoption. In one letter that can be found in the children’s records at the ITS archives she wrote at the time: “After serious consideration, I am determined to give my daughter Josefa up for adoption, for a better and secure future." For BettyAnn this is proof that she was loved by her birth mother. "This letter really means a lot," she describes her feelings during the visit at ITS. The childless couple, the Kincaids from Texas/USA, adopted Josefa on 3 October, 1949. Winford Kincaid was stationed as an Air Force officer in Frankfurt/Main.
"When I first heard the name of my mother, I was very moved," recalls BettyAnn. "All these years, I thought that one day I would look for her. But I did not expect so many documents.” In the ITS archives there is a hint that Mary wanted to immigrate with her son George to the United States. Together with the American Red Cross, the ITS will now investigate whether and where Mary and George are still living. "I have not lost the hope of meeting my mother," says BettyAnn. "I can also well imagine a meeting with my half-brother." She now wants to calmly study the documents from the ITS. "I did not expect so much information."