Secrets and Lies
One moment changed my life! In the middle of May 2016, I was talking to my brother-in-law about things we enjoy doing in our retirement years. It was just prior to my 70th birthday. I explained that I love working on genealogy and was building family trees for my family and for my husband’s. I told him I had submitted my DNA to Ancestry.com, and he turned white and blurted out, “But you were adopted!”
I laughed, and he didn’t—and I knew he was telling the truth! That secret had been kept for nearly 70 years with no hints! I found from Ancestry.com that I had a close DNA match to a guy in Arizona, but not enough info to know how we were connected. A dead end! I kept searching but just couldn’t get very far.
That dead end lasted until March 8, 2017, when I received notice from Ancestry.com of another very close match: this time, to a woman in Canada. I sent her a message and she responded quickly. After a few messages back and forth, she stated that her great-grandmother had to give up two children back in the 1940s and bet me that I was one of them. She said that she would speak to her grandmother and her great aunt and have them contact me if they had further information. I thought it was a stretch, but OK.
To my shock, the next day I received an email from her great-aunt Lynn telling me that I was their long-lost half-sister and they had been trying to find me for decades! She also said we had a half-brother who also lived in Iowa—and it turned out he lived 20 minutes from me! I met him for lunch the next day, and about ten days later, I drove to Montana to meet my two half-sisters, Becky and Lynn, and their families. What an amazing feeling! I looked into eyes that looked just like mine!
My birth mother had been married to a Navy man, Max, from Iowa in 1936. They had Lynn in 1939, and then Becky was born in July 1941. Max was killed aboard the Arizona when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor—and my mother went a bit off the rails after that. She remarried two years later and had a son. That husband left her after his birth, so the child was given to her best friend to raise. He had reached out to our birth family several years ago and reconnected.
Mom began working at a shipyard in Washington State and met a young man, resulting in her expecting again. It turned out he was married, so now she was alone again with two little girls and another child on the way. She was told of a couple who wanted to adopt a child, so she traveled to the San Francisco area and stayed until I was born in 1946. When she checked into the hospital, she used my adoptive mother’s name, so it was not a legal adoption.
What a wonderful journey this has been! So many new family members! I went from having one sister for 70 years to finding that I actually had seven siblings! The man I originally matched DNA with from Arizona is my half-brother on my paternal side and there were also two half-sisters, who are deceased. On my maternal side, there were four: Becky, Lynn, Dennis, and David. David is also deceased.
My birth parents are, of course, deceased—as are my adoptive mom and sister, but the more I talk with my half-siblings, the better I get to know them! My brother in Arizona sent me photos of our dad, and I was stunned! My oldest son looks almost exactly like him, except Dad had red hair and my son does not. I do, however, and always wondered where that came from!
I had wondered about things on my birth certificate for a long time. It stated that my mother was born in Montana in 1918 and had three other living children. I know that none of that is true! However, the information does match that of my birth mother. She even left a pretty big hint: When she filled in “Birth Mother’s Name,” she entered Hazel as the middle name. The mother that raised me had the middle name Chloe. Here’s another cool thing: My sisters’ names are Rebecca and Lynn, and we named our daughter Rebecca Lynn in 1980. Isn’t that incredible?
Secrets have a way of surfacing over time, and I’m so grateful that I get to enjoy the expansion of my family and connect with new family members after so many years of not fully knowing the truth. I love my story and hope you enjoy it, as well!