Friday, June 8, 2018

Finding a Birth Mother - The Rest of the Story

Nearly a year ago I posted the story of how I found the birth family of my cousin’s husband. If you haven’t read that, please read it here ( before reading the rest of the story below.

Last week I was in Florida visiting my son’s family and took the opportunity to drive to my cousin’s house an hour or so away. I wanted to find out how things turned out and get “the rest of the story”.

Laura is my 2nd cousin, once removed. We are both descended from Walter James Russell. I am the oldest son of the oldest son of the oldest son of Walter (Louis Russell). Laura is the youngest daughter of the oldest son of the youngest son of Walter (James Walter Russell). There was a 22 year difference between Louis and James and a 17 year difference between Laura and her oldest sister, so even though Laura is a 2nd cousin of my father, she is 15 years younger than me. Her husband, Alan, is the person for whom I did the research (we Alans have to stick together!)

Alan’s mother, Miriam, was born in Georgia, but she ran away from her family when she was fairly young and went to live with her older sister in Miami. Thus it was that I found her in the 1940 census in Georgia, but also in a high school yearbook from Miami Beach in 1954 when she was in 10th grade. Miriam became pregnant through her brother-in-law, her sister’s husband. After finding out that he had gotten Miriam pregnant, he suddenly died. With her sister grieving the loss of her husband, and Miriam still being a teenager, she had no choice but to give Alan up for adoption.

Miriam did later marry and went on to have three more children. The family eventually ended up in the state of Washington, where his half-siblings grew up knowing about their older brother, but never expecting to find him.

When I initially told Laura and Alan that I had found his birth family and passed along the high school yearbook picture of his mother, Alan said that he just stared at the picture for several hours, amazed that I had found it. His adoptive parents had always hidden the facts of his birth and adoption from him and it wasn’t until they were both being treated for Alzheimer’s that Alan had found the information about his adoption that his mother had been hiding from him.

The contact information that I had provided was for the children of one of Miriam’s sisters, i.e. his cousin, but when they called her it wasn’t too long before he was able to get in touch with his half-siblings in Washington. They were delighted to hear from him. Both Alan and one of his half-siblings took a DNA test which confirmed the relationship.

Laura and Alan flew to Washington a few months later where they had a family reunion. This picture is of Alan and his siblings. Do you see a family resemblance?

As you can see, this is one happy group. And the fact that the three guys have the same smooth heads and facial hair is just amazing. Alan’s mother had, unfortunately, passed away a few years ago. But she had been cared for by Alan’s sister (pictured above) for the last few years of her life and so his sister was able to share with him some of the facts about his birth that his mother had revealed at the time.

When you hear about these stories happening, it is not always a happy ending. Sometimes the revealing of the story can open up some painful wounds and cause considerable hurt, especially if the family of the birth mother did not know about the situation. But you can see from this picture, everyone is extremely pleased about the outcome.

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