The late afternoon quiet of a D.C. Superior Court judge's chambers was shattered when a door opened and a middle-aged woman with brown hair and sunburned cheeks rushed in. Without words, she embraced a younger woman, and together they stood and cried.
After a three-year search that took her throught battles in the D.C. Superior Court and the D.C. court of Appeals, Carolyn Brinker, 22, who was adopted when she was 16 months old, had met her natural mother.
Their meeting was carefully arranged by Judge Joyce Hens Green, who two months ago ordered the D.C. Department of Human Resources to allow Brinker to see her adoption records and attempt to locate her natural parents.
Brinker, now married and living with her tow children in Takoma Park, had been sitting in Green's chambers Tuesday for several minutes discussing her birth, medical and adoption files when the judge told her that DHR had located her natural mother.
Then in a suspense-filled moment, the judge walked over and opened her office door. In rushed Gail Patricia Washington, of Colonial Beach, Va., now 43 years old, who in the face of an unhappy marriage and financial pressures gave up her daughter for adoption more than two decades ago.
Washington and Brinker, without exchanging words, met in a flurry of hugs, kisses and tears. The judge left the mother and daughter alone.
In the years since her adoption Brinker knew little about her na- tural family, except that her parents were married, that she had several unidentified, brothers and sisters, and a twin sister, Kathy, who lives in Norforlk, va. The twins were adopted as infants by Albert and Edna Musgrove of Burtonsville, Md.
But after her reunion with her natural mother, Brinker learned that she has two older sisters and three young brothers. She was told that her name at birth was Virginia Fletcher, and that her twin sister's name was Jacequeline. Her father, Chrles Fletcher-who has not yet been located-is a cousin of the owner of Fletcher's Boat House in Washington. And she has a maternal grandfather who lives on Connecticut Avenue NW.
Access to her birth records also told Brinker that there are no unusual illnesses in her natural family that might affect the health of her own children.
It was Brinker's need to learn her family's medical history, and her desire to know the identity of her natural parents and sisters and brothers, that led Judge Green to a decision unprecendented in the District of Columbia-to grant Brinker access to those records.
After a search by DHR, Gail Washington received a registered letter in the mail Monday. The letter asked her to telephone D.C. adoption officials if she wanted to meet her daughter. She made the call immediately.
"I almost fainted . . . I dropped the telephone and threw my hands up in the air," Washington said yesterday. Then she set out for the 82-mile drive here.
"I've lived in Washington, Maryland, Virginia, and Florida," Washington continued. "Wherever I've gone, I've been constantly looking into the faces of girls who would be about the age of my twins, wondering if maybe they could be my daughters."
Washington said she was living at 3519 T St. NW in Georgetown when the twins were born. She had two children before the twins were born and had three other children after she gave the twins for adoption.
"At the time I let the girls go for adoption. I was living with my parents," Washington said in an interview. "My husband didn't want to work, and I was just a young girl without any money to take care of the children."
In the hope that her youngest children would find a better home with adoptive parents, Washington said she reluctantly placed the twins for adoption. "It was a painful and hurting decision," she said. "But I knew thy'd be better off with someone else than with me.I let them go, but I prayed everynight that I could someday get them back."
"I've wondered (about) my twin daughters from the day I put them up for adoption," Washington said. "I wondered if they were put into a good home and how they looked and what it would be like to see them again."
The Musgroves, who adopted the twin girls, had told them that when they grew up, they would heop them locate their natural parents-if the girls wanted to.
"We thought it was important that the girls know the identity of their biological parents. We have always encouraged their search. Now that they ahve found their mother, we have no concern about being left out of their lives," Edna Musgrove said in a telephone interview yesterday.
It was Carolyn Brinker who decided, three years ago, to pursue her search through the courts.
"It was an unbelieveable reunion," Brinker said. She and her mother went to a small cafe near the courthouse, after they met in the judge's chambers Tuesday. They talked, and Brinker learned about her natural family.
"I had fought hard to see my adoption records and to get the court to help me find my natural parents," Brinker said, "but when it actually happened, I just couldn't believe it."
Meanwhile, the family reunion is not yet over for Gail Washington. On Saturday, Washington Said, she expects to meet her other daughter-Carolyn's twin, Kathy.
Now, Washington said, she would like to locate a third child-her son William Charles, 18, whom she put up for adoption shortly after his birth. CAPTION: Picture, Gail Washington, left, with her daughter Carolyn Brinker, and grandchildren, James, 3, Christina Marie, 5. By Ellsworth Davis-The Washington Post