When Julie Mannix refused to get an abortion, her parents had her locked up in a mental hospital. This is the story of the child she fought to save — and how they made their way back to each other
17 Jan 2018
Back in November of 1963, Julie Mannix was a beautiful 19-year-old debutante from Philadelphia. She had fallen in love with a man named Frank… a man who did not meet the approval of her wealthy family.
During a checkup, the Mannix family gynecologist discovered Julie was pregnant, but told Julie’s mother rather than telling her! Giving birth out of wedlock was unacceptable to Julie’s family, but abortions were illegal at the time.
Julie’s parents resorted to extreme measures and created hurtful lies to conceal their daughter’s pregnancy. Branding her “severely depressed,” they committed her to a psychiatric facility, where an abortion could be performed legally.
But when Julie refused an abortion, her parents locked her up in a mental hospital for six months — until her water broke. On April 19, 1964, Julie gave birth to baby Aimee. She was allowed to see her for a few brief moments before having to sign adoption papers and leave Aimee behind.
Julie tried contacting Catholic Charities for updates on Aimee over the years, but was told her records were sealed. All she could do was pray Aimee had been adopted by a good family.
Betrayed and traumatized by her family’s treatment, Julie left the mental hospital and continued to defy their wishes. She moved to New York City and became an actress. She and Frank fell back in love and got married in 1965.
The reunited couple celebrated Aimee’s birthday every year on April 19 and have been together ever since.
Aimee, meanwhile, had been adopted by a loving family and became Kathleen Marie Wisler. Her adoptive mother died when she was just 6. Her adoptive father passed years later.
But it wasn’t until Kathleen gave birth to her own kids that she decided to find her birth mom. She was able to receive background information from the Catholic Social Services of Philadelphia, which led her to Julie Mannix’s page on the Internet Movie Database.
Kathleen was suddenly staring at a blonde-haired, blue-eyed actress with an acting career dating back to the 1960s. The page also revealed that Julie married a TV producer named Frank the year after she was born.
In a bold move that changed the course of their lives forever, Kathleen wrote Frank and Julie a letter — which led to weekly Skype conversations between the reconnected family.
“I never imagined I would feel like a daughter again, and yet here I am, cherished by two strong and thoughtful parents who worry when my kids are sick and who call for no reason,” Kathleen wrote in an article for Redbook Magazine.
Despite her parents’ cruel efforts to keep them separated over 40 years ago, Julie, Frank, and Kathleen feel like they’ve never been apart.