As an adoptee, I’ve been on a journey to uncover the truth about my original family. As I look back on 2015, meeting my sister, Michelle, and niece, Chrissy, stand out as high points.
Meeting a Newly-Discovered Half Sister
The reunion came about after many phone calls. During those calls, Michelle spoke candidly about her childhood, revealing the unvarnished truth about growing up as the only girl, with three brothers, a beloved father, Dick, and Lillian, our hard drinking, hard living bipolar mother who struggled to keep everything together. They all lived in a modest house in Northbrook, a leafy suburb 35 miles north of the bungalow where I grew up on the southwest side of Chicago. Without going into all the details, Michelle survived a lot of hard knocks.
Remember I told you about my search for biological family on Facebook? Well, it fizzled. But I have good news. Working with an excellent search angel, who found me here, I have connected with five family members on my mother’s side.
Talking to these people over the phone, I’ve learned quite a bit about my late mother’s life. (I will tell you more about it later. It made me cry.) My family members promised to send photos of my mother. I can’t wait to see them.
Thank you, Marilyn Waugh, for digging up the official records for me. Waugh, past president of the American Adoption Congress, conducts adoption searches for the Kansas state government. She also directs Adoption Concerns Triangle of Topeka, a search and support group.
“I became a search angel after searching and connecting with my birth son, Michael, 24 years ago,” Marilyn says. “People helped me on my journey and, as a ‘thank you,’ I help others.”
I never would have been able to find the records without Marilyn. Believe me I tried. I got lost in the weeds trying to navigate the online directories. For amateur searchers like me, piecing together family history gets tricky when you’re trying to track down your mother. My mother was married twice so she had three names during her life.
Marilyn uncovered a census record from 1940 and that pushed our search in the right direction. I wanted to make sure the woman we found on public records was my birth mother. Marilyn dug up an address for her on Ancestry.com and it matched her address as it appears on my birth certificate. That plus the conversations with relatives connected the dots for me.
I don’t have all the answers to my questions. I would like to find out who my father was and would love more details about my mother’s life. My ethnic background is still unclear. I also want to know how my adoptive parents got connected with my birth mother in the 1960s.
If you want to track down your family, find a search angel. These search experts do not charge for their services or, if there is a small fee, it covers the cost of database access. You can find a search angel by visiting G’s Adoption Registry or by contacting a representative from your state at the American Adoption Congress. Word-of-mouth recommendations are another good source.
I would love to hear about your search for family. What was it like?