6 New Siblings for Lany, Elizabeth and Sarah

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Updated: October 15, 2018 

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6 New Siblings for Lany, Elizabeth and Sarah

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Posted: 6/22/2011
Note: Names, Identifying informaiton and details may have been altered to protect personal identities.

I spent the first 17 days of my life in foster care. Then, I was adopted by a loving family who raised me well, but could never give me what I was searching for: a personal identity. I always knew I was adopted, and I knew that my birth mother had several children, and she had kept a few, and given the rest up for adoption. No matter how much love and affection my parents showered on me, I always wondered what was wrong with me that my first mother had given me away.

When I was 9 years old, I met my sister Elizabeth for the first time, and then met another sister, Sarah Jane, when I was 12. Both were younger than me, and had been given up for adoption at birth. After each meeting I was filled with more questions than answers, but kept getting conflicting information from my adoptive parents.

In my early adulthood, I contacted the adoption agency and social worker for answers, but the information provided just didn't add up. My non-ID gave a few pieces of the puzzle and the image of my birth mother began to take shape in my mind. I learned that she was 5 foot 3 inches tall, weighed 100 pounds, had brown hair, green eyes, and was listed as "small boned." Her name was Susan, and she was 27 years old when I was given up for adoption. It was rumored that she was a graduate of Texas A & M University and had studied law. She was divorced. Her mother was from Mississippi and her father was from Texas. She had not provided any information about my birth father.

Prior to my birth, she had either 2 or 4 children, the oldest being 10 years old. She named me Johanna when I was born at Hermann Memorial Hospital in Houston. The reason she gave me up for adoption was listed as "she already had 2 children she was supporting and didn't feel that she could comfortably support another on her income."

Through the years, I wavered between wanting to find her and be reunited, and telling myself that I could not survive the rejection if it went badly, so I shouldn't search. My sisters and I often discussed the pros and cons. Recently, I was diagnosed with a genetic disease, and the doctors requested family medical information that I was unable to provide. That's when my sisters and I decided it was time to put the questions to rest and search for answers.

We contacted Search Quest America for the first time in September of 2009. We expected the case to be solved or closed within 12 months. Our case was assigned to Julie, who attacked the case like a pit bull, determined to get to the bottom of it. She sorted through information, made phone calls, requested records, contacted possible candidates, all to no avail. My sisters and I all requested our Non-ID, hoping that between the three adoption records, there might be more clues to go on. We learned that our mother had been living in Oklahoma with her birth father, Michael, and her two SONS. That told us we had two older brothers. We also learned that her relationship with her father was short lived, and she came to Houston to stay with friends for my birth and placement. We still did not have enough information to find her. Our 12 month time period was coming to an end, but Julie reassured us that she wasn't going to give up yet.

That's when we approached our adoptive parents for the first time. My parents were understanding and agreed to help in any way they could. However, my sisters' parents did not wish to participate. However, Sarah's adoptive mother remembered that our birth mother had a son between my two sisters named Hans. We could not guarantee the accuracy of the information, but for the first time, we considered that there may have been other siblings given up for adoption other than us girls. Elizabeth's father remembered that our birth mother was named Susan, and he thought we had other siblings named Shannon, Brandy, James, and Daniel. These were clues that helped narrow down Julie's list of possibilities. At this point in the search, I was beginning to wonder if we would ever find the information we were seeking.

In January of 2011, we received our adoption records, which my parents had requested from the county (Thank God for open records!!) This was the missing piece of the puzzle we needed. We learned that when I was born, my birth mother used an assumed name. I was actually born in Pasadena, Texas. My birth father was listed as one Carl Howard. The adoption records provided her real name and birth date, which Julie used to find her social security number.
At this point in the search, we were celebrating! We could feel that the search was drawing to a close, and soon enough we would have the answers we were seeking. A few days later, Julie called with surprising news. Now that we had her social security number, Julie ran a search for criminal records and low and behold, our mother has a record! She was arrested in 1996 for using a fake ID to obtain a controlled substance, and again in 2006 for possession. The physical description on the criminal record matches our non-ID perfectly. To me, that was a confirmation that Julie had definitely found the right person, criminal record or not.

By the end of the long search, Julie supplied me with a plethora of information about my birth mother. I now know her full name, nicknames, the dates of her birth and death, her social security number, where she was born, and the names of my grandparents as well. Julie even provided us with names and information for both my birth mother's siblings, and records of her marriages. I found out that she was married once when she was 16 years old and again when she was 20. Julie even found a photograph that was published in a newspaper in 2005. Sadly, our birth mother passed away on Valentine's Day in 2009, so we will never be able to talk to her face to face or hear her version of the story. I find it very ironic that we started the search in November of 2009, and she was already gone.

We know now that she had 9 children total, and gave the three of us up for adoption between kids #5 and #8. Somehow, she managed to give birth while staying with friends, so no one in the family even knew that we existed. The most valuable information I found through this search is the information for my siblings. Julie helped me take the first step by contacting my brother Daniel. I was relieved and excited when he was receptive to the call. He was the first sibling we called. It was definitely an emotional experience talking to Shannon, Debra, James, Daniel, and Hollis for the first time. They range from ages 38 to 19. Three of them have photos posted to Facebook, and I spent hours poring over their faces looking for similarities between us.
I just wanted to write and thank you for all of your hard work. When I first got SQA on the case I always hoped we would find something but I never let myself actually believe it was possible. I am amazed with all of the information and all of the brothers and sisters! Thank you so much for everything you do. I am planning on getting together with Dan, Shannon, and Hollis in a couple of weeks. I will keep you updated. Thanks again for everything.

Written by Mica Burton on Lany's behalf.

(Client ID# 255871)
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