A man adopted a girl that nobody wanted and it took him 28 years to find out why

At the age of 44, Dale Jefferson from St. Cloud, Minnesota was given the opportunity to adopt 6-year-old Lise Barber, a foster kid that no one else seemed to want. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the situation, Dale didn’t think twice and seized the opportunity, believing it to be his only chance to have a child. 

However, it would take him almost three decades to unravel the heartbreaking circumstances that led to her arrival in his life.

What’s Going On Here?

The police were the ones who ultimately let Dale know about the situation. When they arrived at his door, he was completely oblivious as to what was going on. He hadn’t even considered the possibility that it had anything to do with his adopted daughter. 

When the police made him aware that their visit was in relation to Lise, Dale was taken aback; he hadn’t heard from her in 16 years, so it was a shock to be informed by the authorities that she was the reason for their visit.

The Painful Truth

The police took a seat with Dale and began to explain the strange circumstances. After only being given a brief overview of the situation, the elderly man was filled with tears and was unable to speak. 

His feelings of sorrow and shock were evident, as he suddenly realized what had been hidden from him concerning his adopted daughter. It was an upsetting revelation, one that he would have rather remained secret.

One Last Chance

Dale was crushed by the news he received–so he decided to ask to speak with Lise one final time. The authorities were understanding and accommodating, and they agreed to arrange a meeting between Dale and Lise so they could communicate, get some closure, and find out the truth. Dale believed that he deserved that much.

What had Lise been keeping from Dale? Was it related to the reason why no one wanted to adopt her? And why did it take nearly 30 years for all of the information to eventually be revealed? 

Dream Come True

When Dale’s dream of being a father was eventually fulfilled, it was a momentous occasion that he had been longing for since he was young. Despite the difficulties of being a parent, he was eager to jump into the role, as he was aware that a family was something he had been missing.

Single Parent

Unfortunately, Dale hadn’t been in a romantic relationship for many years, and was living his adult life without a partner. Although he was disappointed that he had never found the love of his life, he was content to accept it. 

He decided that he still wanted to pursue his goal of having a child and raising them, and looked into adoption as a potentially viable option. He was aware that raising a child on his own would be a challenge, but he was willing to take it on nonetheless.

She Was Already Six

When Dale decided to adopt a child, Lise was already 6 years old. Lise had lived a fairly difficult life, moving throughout the adoption system all her life. Lisa never thought that she was going to be adopted when Dale entered her life.

In every orphanage, Lise saw fellow orphans who had become friends get chosen and get adopted. Lise on the other hand kept getting rejected and as she got older, she truly felt like she was never going to find a permanent home.

Her Only Chance

It was unusual for a child to get placed in a new home at 6 years old. At the orphanage, everyone felt like Lise getting adopted so late was likely going to be her last chance. This is probably why a lot of information about Lise’s background was withheld from him when he chose Lise.

They were worried that knowing more about Lise’s background would make him change his mind. Eventually, they were confident that Dale would come to know the details about Lise’s past, but until then, they were happy to keep it all secret if it meant Lise would be successfully adopted.

The Best Fit

As expected, Lise and Dale seemed to hit it off. Dale, who had dreams of becoming a father, even though he was single, was finally enjoying his life. And Lise, happy to have finally been chosen for adoption, was on her best behavior.

Dale was a good man. Unusual as it was to have a single dad adopt a young girl, Dale was overjoyed to have a new addition to his household who could fulfill his dreams of becoming a proud and kind father.

They Got Along Well

One of the things that made Dale’s life easier was the fact that Lise was already 6 years old when she was adopted. He didn’t have to go through the challenges of raising a newborn because didn’t have to do a lot to raise her. Lise was behaved and independent.

Lise knew discipline from the orphanage. Dale’s only problem was establishing a genuine connection with her adoptive daughter and to show her compassion, kindness and support. A family was what Lise needed, and he was willing to give that to her.

Years Went By

As the years went by, Dale tried his hardest to build a real relationship with Lise. He made it a point to spend time together when they were younger and objectively, he really felt like he raised her well. But he felt like Lise was holding back somehow.

Through her childhood and teenage years, he tried to be the best father that he could ever be, he wanted to make her trust him and make her comfortable to share with him whatever worried her. Even if he tried his best, he always felt like not everything was perfect.

She Was Quiet And Distant

Despite the years that they spent together, Dale felt that Lise was still distant and disconnected from him. After all this time, Lise was still very reclusive. He didn’t see Lise spend time with a lot of friends her age but he tried not to think much of it. Maybe she just really preferred to be alone with her thoughts. She didn’t try to talk to him about it either.

Often, Lise spent most of the day in her bedroom without Dale hearing a peep out of her. Eventually, Dale noticed that she also spent many hours away from home after school without any explanation. He was feeling like she didn’t want to spend any time with him.

He Wanted Her To Make Her Own Choices

Dale was confused and didn’t know what to do. On one hand, he thought it was best to speak to his daughter and try to talk to her about making an effort to be more outgoing and sociable. It wasn’t normal for a teenager to spend so much time alone without friends.

On the other hand, he wanted to give Lise the freedom and independence that she seemed to prefer. He wanted her to make her own choices and her own mistakes. So he decided that the best thing he would do for now was to go with the latter.

Nothing Changed

As Lise grew older, nothing really changed. What Dale thought was a teenage phase seemed to last until Lise turned 18 years old. And before long, Lise already had to move out of the house to go to college.

At this point, Dale truly thought that Lise would make a bigger effort to bond with him as she was already leaving home. But it seems things took a turn for the worse and it was something that Dale really couldn’t have anticipated when he first decided to adopt the 6 year old child.

Losing Contact

In the first weeks, Dale was trying to keep in contact with her daughter but it was even harder to do so when she was so far away from home. It was already hard enough keeping Lise engaged and connected when she was at home. What more could he do when they were apart?

Of course, this was something that made Dale feel really sad. Lise had chosen to study at a college that was very far away from their home. It was difficult to go and see her and visit to simply check in.

He Tried To Visit Her

One day, Dale eventually decided to travel to the university to surprise his daughter. He had been planning it for weeks and was looking forward to seeing Lise after such a long time.

When he arrived at the campus he asked the reception in which room Lise was in. But they came back with some very concerning news. He couldn’t believe what he just heard, he expected anything from that visit but this.

She Had Lied To Him

Apparently, Lise had dropped out of the university months ago without telling him anything about that decision. She did not make it through her first semester and instead of telling him, she ended up lying to him all this time.

She was keeping it from him all these months. Even worse, Lise didn’t bother telling him where she was staying at this point. Dale was overcome with worry and concern. He was saddened by Lise keeping this a secret, but he was even more worried about her safety.

He Couldn’t Reach Her

The first thing that he did was to call her and text her countless times. But he was always hung up on within 2 rings. While that can certainly be expected, it didn’t change the fact the he was incredibly worried and concerned.

She did not want to speak to him and this was something that broke his heart. He didn’t know what to do now. He thought of calling the police but he was afraid that it might scare her more.

Was He A Good Father?

Dale felt like he failed a parent. All his life, he just wanted to have a child and raise her. He found Lise and thought this was his dream coming true. But clearly he didn’t do a good job if his daughter wouldn’t even talk to him.

He wanted his daughter back but if she didn’t want to see him, why would he force her? The only thing that he really wanted was to know if she was okay. He wouldn’t ask many more questions just to be sure that she was safe.

His Last Try

Finally, he decided to give it one last shot. He was going to send Lise one message—just one—asking her to let him know that she was OK and if she was, he would leave her alone.

It saddened him to think that after all the years he spent raising her this was how their relationship as a father and daughter would end, but he wanted to know that Lise was alright. After a few minutes, he got the confirmation.

She Was Fine

Lise replied that she was OK. No other details were given by his adopted daughter. She didn’t explain why she dropped out of school, or where she was, or whether she was going to make the effort to see him soon or even just call him.

The message was cold and succinct, not even a thank you for everything that Dale had done for her.

He Thought He Lost Her

At this very moment, Dale felt in his gut that he had lost his daughter. He had tried his hardest through the years to reach out and build a connection with her, but this time, he knew that this was it. He had lost Lise forever—and would probably never know why.

Eventually, Dale would realize that he was wrong about that. But it would take another 16 years before he would hear from Lise again.

Finding Peace

There hasn’t been a day since he sent that final text to Lise that he didn’t think about his adopted daughter. He wanted to find her to talk and find out where he went wrong.

He had not heard from her for years so it was incredibly surprising when he finally did.

Clearing His Mind

One day, Dale was out doing work in his yard. He loved having enough time to take care of it after retiring. It helped him focus his thoughts.

He was trimming his flowers lost in his thoughts when his phone started ringing. But before he could answer it, the ringing stopped. Hardly anyone ever called him, so naturally, Dale was suddenly curious about who it could have been.

No Messages

When Dale checked his phone, all he saw was the missed call. There wasn’t a message or a voicemail or a text.

Most people who needed him called on the house phone. He went inside to check, but that phone didn’t show anything either. Maybe the whole thing was just a silly misunderstanding.

Asking Around

At that point, Dale had already met Hannah—a woman who he eventually married—who enjoyed the same quiet life that Dale did. He found Hannah outside and asked if she knew anything about the mysterious phone call.

Hannah said no. But Hannah, despite being married to Dale for a decade at this point, shared a tragic past that ultimately brought the couple together.

Another Tragedy

Hanna’s two sons had died in a car crash almost 20 years before. When Dale first met her, they instantly connected and bonded over the loss of their children.

Both of them could understand the other’s past and sympathize with the pain and loss. But there was something else that had brought them together as well.

They Completed Each Other

Soon after they met, Hanna realized that Dale was adorable and loving. He stopped at nothing to make her happy and wanted to give her a wonderful life.

Because of him, she started to hope for the future again. There seemed to be nothing that could keep him down. But Dale felt very differently.

His Side Of Things

Dale didn’t believe that he’d saved Hanna at all. In fact, he thought that his wife’s love had brought him out of the sadness he felt about Lise.

It had been 16 years already, and he’d finally resolved to let her go. Dale would never have been able to do that without Hanna’s help.

No Clue

Hanna told her husband that she didn’t know anything about a phone call. She hadn’t given his number out to anyone new.

She asked him if he’d called the number back, but Dale hadn’t tried it yet because he occasionally got bogus calls that were a waste of time. But it couldn’t hurt to check just this once.

He Tried To Forget It

Dale tried the number once, but no one picked up on the other end. He figured if it was really important, they would call back.

He wrapped up his work outside with his flower garden and then headed inside for a glass of wine. He hadn’t even taken a sip when his phone rang again.

Who Is It?

The call was from the same person as before. Dale stared at the screen and wondered who it could be. He always gave out his house phone when asked.

But he always kept his cell phone on just in case Lise ever tried to get back in touch with him again. Dale took a deep breath and answered the call.

He Couldn’t Hang Up

Dale hadn’t thought about Lise in ages. Yet as he held the phone to his ear, he was suddenly nervous.

He said hello several times. Nothing. Yet he didn’t want to hang up.  No one was saying anything. Then, out of nowhere, he heard an unusual voice. Dale wasn’t sure what to make of it.

It Wasn’t Her

It obviously wasn’t Lise. It was a man calling, and Dale couldn’t hide his disappointment. There were voices in the background, though, and Dale thought he heard a woman speaking.

Dale asked who the man was and got no response. This confused Dale even more.


The man was asking the woman what to say. His voice was muffled, as if he had his hand over the receiver of the phone.

Dale was uncertain about what was happening, but then the man asked for him by name. He cleared his throat. “Yes, this is Dale. May I ask who’s calling?”

An Important Call

The caller told Dale that he had something he needed to say. Dale wasn’t sure what it was about or whether it was another bogus phone call from a scammer.

Just as Dale was about to hang up, the man on the other end of the line said Lise’s name. Dale gasped in shock. His sense of intuition had been right. This did have to do with her after all!

He Was So Nervous

Dale worried that maybe something terrible had happened to Lise. Was he her emergency contact? But then the man said that Lise was right next to him and wanted to speak to Dale.

She was afraid that Dale wouldn’t want to talk to her. “I’d never do that,” Dale insisted. “I’d love to talk to Lise.” There was one question he was dying to ask.


Dale heard some static as the man passed the phone over to Lise. There was no sound on the other end of the line for just a few moments.

He was worried that she’d changed her mind and hung up. But then she spoke, and he heard his daughter’s voice after almost two decades of nothing. “Hi, Dad.”


Dale had no idea how to react. He was so overwhelmed with emotions that he just concentrated on staying calm. He wanted to hear what Lise had to say without breaking down or getting dramatic about the situation.

There was so much to learn about her. Where had she been all that time?

Listen Closely

Lise said that she’d been doing well, but she had something that she needed to get off her chest. That’s why she was calling.

She just needed Dale to really listen to her and let her finish what she had to say. Dale promised that he would. He knew that it must have been important if she’d called after so long.

Looking Back

Lise began by telling her father how much she regretted her actions and leaving him behind. When she was younger, she’d felt so conflicted about where she belonged.

She wasn’t sure that staying with Dale was the right thing to do. But that was only part of it. There was another reason too.

She Wanted Answers

Dale wanted to know why Lise had ignored him and hadn’t tried to get in touch. He had tried to stay in touch and reach out and build a relationship with Lise.

Lise was crying, and Dale hated causing her pain, but he needed to know. The question had been stuck in his head for years. Lise pulled herself together and started to tell her father the truth of the whole situation.

Her College Classmate

Lise told Dale about a girl she’d met in college who was also adopted. They were both interested in finding out more about their biological parents.

It just felt like a journey they had to make. Lise’s friend convinced her to avoid getting back in touch with Dale until her feelings about her parents were resolved. But that wasn’t all. Lise had another confession to make.

Always There For Her

Lise explained that she’d been too nervous to get back in touch again. She knew that she’d hurt Dale by leaving and didn’t think he would want to reconnect with her.

Dale reassured her that he still thought of her constantly and that nothing she did would change the way he felt about her. But he also wanted to know whether Lise had found her biological parents.

An Unexpected Visit

Lise had found some records about her birth parents years before and decided to track them down. She looked up the address and went to visit the house.

Before she could arrive, she was robbed as she was walking through the neighborhood. She lost everything she had. But Lise kept going, determined to find out more about her background.

Helping Hand

Lise had no money and no phone, but she kept trying to find the house. Finally, she recognized it from pictures she’d seen online. Her biological parents didn’t live there anymore.

But one of the neighbors told her that they’d gone to rehab for drug addiction. Things got even more complicated for Lise after that.

No Direction In Life

Lise didn’t know what else to do, so she went to stay with a friend as she returned to work on her degree. After she graduated, she wasn’t sure where she wanted to live.

Finding an affordable apartment was tough, and many of her college friends were moving away. How was she going to get ahead?

Lucky Break

Eventually, Lise met the love of her life and Lise decided to accept his offer to move in together. They were still together today, and he’d supported her when she’d mentioned wanting to get back in touch with Dale. But she hadn’t acted on it right away.

Holding Her Back

Lise couldn’t stop panicking that Dale would reject her and be too upset to let her back in his life. She was terrified that Dale wouldn’t think of her as his daughter anymore, even though he’d never truly given her a reason to believe so little of him.

Once she realized that he loved her unconditionally, she started looking into where Dale had ended up. It was harder than she thought.


Dale hadn’t left much of a trail behind for Lise to follow. After that many years, he didn’t seriously believe that she’d ever return.

Lise went to their old house and got Dale’s last known phone number from them. It was up to her to take the leap and make the call. And still, she waited. And waited. But why?

No Good Answer

When Dale asked why she hadn’t called him right away, Lise didn’t have a reason. She needed to work on herself and get up the courage to face her choices in the past.

But now that she had, Dale and Lise could be a family again. They were finally talking. Dale, however, had one important request.


Dale wanted to see her in person. Two weeks later, they met up and introduced Hanna and Lise’s boyfriend as well. Eventually, Dale and Hanna moved closer to be with her, and they were able to visit as often as they liked. It was happy ending many, many years in the making, but to Dale, it was better late than never.

The events of this story are entirely fictional and are products of the author’s imagination. Images included are meant for illustration purposes only. Any resemblance to actual events, places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.  

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