Listens: Paul Simon - Shining Like A National Guitar - 03 - Mother And Child Reunion
The Hunt For My Biological Parents
As some of you may know, others might not, when I was born in the 60s, I was adopted as an infant by a very loving family (the three of us are in the photo on the right).
I've always known them as my Mom and Dad; however, they were honest with me and let me know that I was adopted and not related by blood.
I had enquired various ways to try to locate my birth parents over the years, not because I wanted to replace my adoptive parents, but because I was curious — and I suspect that my birth mother would be too... How did things work out for me? Did I have a happy childhood? Etc. On my side, I was interested in knowing about the family I wasn't a part of, and family health history — as that is a good indicator of how mine would be too!
I wrote to the state capital to get any information they had on my birth parents. They sent me to the agency that managed the adoption. That agency provided me with a 8-1/2" x 11" paper with some vital birth information, but nothing that was truly personally identifiable. I learned some new things, such as:
The time I was born (13:00), the age of my birth parents (Mom was 16, Dad was 19), the ethnic background of my birth parents (Mom was German/French and Dad was Scottish/Irish), my birth parents' heights, weights, hair, skin & eye colour, and occupations. It also had talents and interests, although there was no information for my Dad, my Mom said she liked art and English and that she made her own clothing (something which was popular before the 80s). My birth weight was 7lbs, 1oz (3.20kg). I was also able to register with Albany (the State Capital) that I was interested in meeting my birth mother — if she were to send a letter to Albany, they should have paired us up.
In the late-2000s came 23andMe and other DNA testing services. I jumped at the possibility of finding relatives and perhaps the solution to the mystery of my birth parents.
I submitted my DNA sample about seven years ago and had to wait as they analysed my DNA. I was so excited! Sadly, I had no close relatives, the closest being a 3rd cousin (which isn't very close at all!)
Then suddenly, five years ago I got an automated e-mail from indicating that a half-brother of mine had joined 23andMe. I was so excited! He was a match on the paternal side, which meant that he and I shared the same father. I immediately reached out to him, only to discover that he too was adopted and searching for his birth parents. He was born five years after I was at the same hospital, Rochester General Hospital. This was interesting to me as I had assumed that due to the age of my mother, she was a "girl in trouble" (a/k/a unwed mother). In the 60s, they would send these girls away to a foreign city/town to complete their pregnancy, handle an adoption and send them home 9 months later. I has assumed she came from New York City or elsewhere. The fact that the father obviously remained in Rochester to give birth to my half-brother, it led me to believe that both my parents were still in Rochester, NY.
I met my half-brother, Mike Berns, and I met face-to-face in Rochester a few months after we found each other on 23andMe. It was quite interesting as there were a lot of similarities between our appearances, but not quite as much as the "twins" I had found in the wild over the years. He was handsome, intelligent and heterosexual, married with children and having a great life! We bonded immediately. Both of us continued to await further information — but no new information came forth... until last week...
On 24 February 2020, I got an automated e-mail indicating that a 2nd cousin and a 1st cousin had joined the 23andMe service. I am no genius when it comes to ancestry and genealogy but I know that a 1st cousin meant that
one of their aunts is my biological mother!! I immediately sent a message to them, and it's a good thing I sent messages to both, as my 1st cousin wasn't monitoring her in box. My 2nd cousin prodded her via e-mail to login to 23andMe and check her messages.
I shared some information that I had about my birth mother and she instantly knew it was her aunt and put us in touch with each other!
We've exchanged some information to confirm that we are indeed mother and son. We're now e-mailing back and forth, but being cautiously, as it's not confirmed genetically just yet — she sent her DNA into 23andMe to seal the deal.
Her name is Pegi and she has since left Rochester and now lives in Mobile, AL. She is 70 years young and her mother (my biological grandmother) is still alive at 94 years old — she's doing so well, she still drives!
This is very exciting stuff for me and although we're moving forward slowly, we're very excited to share stories and reunite soon!
I find it quite interesting that this revelation came about just one month to the day that my adoptive mother passed away. One can't help wonder that she had something to do with this from beyond the grave...