Sunday, March 4, 2012
My father was born November 29, 1953 and he wasn't born who he thought he was.
My dad's father died Nov 28, 2004. November 28th is the day before my dad's birthday.
My dad grew up as an only child. He had a pretty normal childhood. He played football and baseball in school. Shortly after he graduated he some how convinced my mom to marry him.. Even though she repeatedly told him no.. (She didn't think he was serious.)
Flash forward a few years and 2 children later. His mother Helen passes away.
His father Tom and Helen had been divorced for a number of years already when she died. Tom had remarried and had been living in Oklahoma.
Then I was born.
19 years later my dad's father died. That's when things changed.
My mom and dad went out to Oklahoma after my grandfathers passing. They needed to help make arrangements. After they arrived, they found out something very interesting while reading some legal documents. My dad had been adopted.
Suddenly, the little things that no one really noticed before, like the fact that my father is significantly taller than his father and mother.. or his naturally olive-like complexion and dark hair seemed to make more sense. He had always been told that he "had indian in him".. So, dad grew up thinking that there was Native American in their family tree somewhere.
After my parents got back from Oklahoma they sat us all down and told us what they had found out. I'm not really sure how dad felt about it. He seemed to think that it doesn't change who he is, but part of me thinks that it must of hurt him to know the truth.
I think my brother took it harder than me or my sister did. He of course being the oldest had more memories of our grandparents. I on the other hand never knew Helen and had only met Tom a couple of times when I was young. He lived half way across the US when he was alive and I never really had a relationship with him.
I suddenly became obsessed with the thought of my dad having biological parents out there and not knowing who they were. It didn't bother me not *knowing* them as it did not knowing where they came from.
So, armed with only dad's birthdate and knowing where he was born.. I got no where. Absolutely no where. Do you know how hard it is to look into adoption records? I didn't even know where to begin.
In 2005 my mom was cleaning out our back shed. She had grabbed a box that contained my grandmother Helen's things and sat it aside. I decided to rummage through it. It was mostly filled with random paperwork, medical bills, and old pay stubs. One envelope I grabbed was falling apart and I set it to the side.. I went through the rest of the box and started to put everything back. The last thing left out was that old envelope. I wasn't even going to look at it's contents because it was old and gross. I thought to myself that I had looked at EVERYTHING else.. I might as well open it. What appeared before me... Was the answer. The contents included an almost itemized listing of my fathers biological parents. Including their appearances, birth dates, occupations, and family members. This envelope had been sitting in my parents shed for 20 years. The name of the "baby" was different than my fathers name, but only slightly.. and his birthdate was written as clear as day. 11-29-53.
Armed with this new information I went to the internet. I posted on various genealogy sites looking for information on these mystery names I had. I was lucky enough to come into contact with someone who had been doing research on one of the particular surnames I had along with the location in which they were from. We still couldn't place where exactly she fit in to with his family tree. I took to the internet searching for distant relatives and stumbled across some obituaries.. Eventually leading us to what would be my great grandmothers family. With this information my research partner was able to not only place my new found grandmother in his line, but he was able to find her alive and living in the same state as us. This research partner turned out to be my 5th cousin.
My 5th cousin contacted my father's biological mother Betty and he talked to her about his research and eventually about me. She was shocked to hear it. She had promised Helen all those years ago that she would never look for that baby boy. My cousin told her that she was not breaking that promise. It was us who had found her. She in return told him some interesting information about my father's biological father. The name we had found on the papers inside the envelope was not the name of his father at all. She had no idea where the name had come from.. and that my father's biological father's last name was Patel. An Indian last name.
My cousin left Betty with our contact information. He also told her he would be sending her some genealogy paper work on her ancestors. In this paperwork we included a letter my dad decided to write to her. Letting her know a little bit about us and that he understood her decision. He told her that if she wanted to contact us we would love to know her.
Betty had never told her family about the baby boy she once given up all those years prior and we have never heard from her.
Today, I found out Betty passed away on November 29, 2011.
My father's birthday.