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A Whole Person For the First Time

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Posted: 6/17/2011
Note: Names, Identifying informaiton and details may have been altered to protect personal identities.

Sometimes you just want to hear the 'whole' story, so we are happy to present both sides of Robert's search and reunion.

Robert:

My name is Robert Simmons in San Antonio, Texas. I just wanted to give a quick update and another big thank you. I want to share my story as a sort of recommendation for your company. I have been so pleased with the service I received and I just took a trip this past weekend to meet my mother for the first time. If there's anything I can do to support your company, I'm glad to do it. This is my story.

I searched for my birth mother for over a decade. Finally after 10 years of persistence, a Texas judge opened my adoption records, and I received my original birth certificate. This gave me the name of my mother, and I found out that I have a half brother, and possibly other siblings. I have no extended family and desperately wanted to make a connection with my birth family, but I did not know where to turn. I contacted SQA in December of 2010 and gave all the information I had.

I knew my birthmother was named Betty Lavern, had a son named Leon, who was 2-3 years old when I was born. I believed she was from California, and she was 22 when I was born in 1958. My birth mother actually lived with my adoptive parents for the entire pregnancy with me. She called my brother "Little Leon." After I was born, she let to go to California with a military man. My adoptive parents wanted to adopt Leon also, but she said no. She stayed in contact with my family for a few years through letters. But then one day, the letters just stopped, and my parents lost all contact with my birth mother.

I turned all of this information over to SQA and was connected with Susan Friel-Williams. She has years of experience, lots of resources, and most importantly an intuitive mind. This is her side of the story.

SUSAN:

When I was interviewing Robert via phone before starting his case, I asked him to go get his original birth certificate so that we could go over a few things on the certificate.

Robert's parents actually met Betty Lavern, which was a great advantage. Betty and Leon had stayed with them while Robert's birth was pending. They told Robert that Leon was about 2 and 1/2 years old, and that Betty was from California, and that some gentleman had come to get her and take her back to California after the birth. These are all seemingly unimportant details, but were essential to putting together the pieces of the puzzle.

The original birth certificate indicated that Gallagher was Betty's 'maiden' name, but given our experience with Texas birth certificates, I highly doubted it.

Research Documentation:

First, I checked the California birth index and discovered a record of a birth of a Leon Gallagher born in 1955. Right surname, right county, but mother's maiden name was Chadwick. But it fit. So I checked the CA index for females by that surname even though the OBC said that Betty had been born in TX. I found an Iris Laverne Chadwick born in 1936.

Right middle name, right surname, (maiden name) and the right age. In following Iris through the years, I located a marriage for her which listed her giving birth in California to THREE children, but what made me decide that she was not Rob's birth mother is that one of Iris's daughter was born 2 months before Robert, time wise, so she could not be his birth mother.

Since Iris Chadwick could not have been Robert's birth mother, I then turned my research back to a different Texas Birth Index available to research professionals and found three other entries.

These records indicate that there was a Betty Laverne Chadwick born on 07/17/1936 to Thelma Louisa and Charles Chadwick. It also indicates that Betty had two older siblings born to the same parents, James Harall Chadwick and Avis Chadwick.

Now we knew that somehow Robert's Betty Laverne ended up in California. On his OBC it listed the mailing address on Walnut Street in Yuba City, CA.

I called the library in Yuba City and asked if they had a 1958 Yuba City directory, which is an annual volume of city residents listing names and addresses. I actually had to teach the little new research librarian who answered the phone 'how' to use the directory. First we checked for Gallaghers, and while there were some listed, none lived on Walnut Street.

Then I asked her to do a reverse search by address to find out who did live at that address on Walnut Street, and she replied a Mr. Robert Boies. That did not seem to tie in at all with Robert's search, so after we spoke and I gave Robert that name, I went to another line of research, tracking the TX Betty's siblings down in an investigative database.

Remember that address in Yuba City, CA on Walnut Street? Yes well, being the curious sort of investigator that I am (translate that to I love family search puzzles) I found a 1950 Yuba City and Marysville (neighboring towns) city directory on Ancestry.com which is a genealogical resource that anyone can use. I checked for a Robert Boies and came up with a match: Boies, Robert O (Thelma) Forman at SP Company - address in 1950 was R 1036 Hammonton Rd. in Yuba City.

Figuring that neither of them could possibly still be alive at this point, I checked the Social Security Death Index and I found something that tied everything together.

Name: Robert Otis Boies
(Identifying information has been removed)
Mother's Maiden Name: Jolley

Name: Thelma Louisa Boies
(Identifying information has been removed)
Father's Surname: Walden

Apparently after Betty Laverne Chadwick was born, Thelma was either widowed or divorced her husband, and remarried a Robert O Boies, either in CA or TX. I show these subsequent births in California:

BOIES EARL RAY, 1953
BOIES ORA A, 1956
BOIES OTIS LEE, 1951

Although I checked for children born in Texas to Robert and Thelma, after 1949 they do not list the parents full names on the index, so I could not narrow down any additional births.

As I said, I tried to find Betty's siblings and unfortunately located death records for them both in the Social Security Death Index. Their names were Avis (died 1995) and James (died 2002).

It appears that both Avis and James either stayed in Texas with their father, or they were old enough to stay after they got out of high school. They also could have gone to California with Thelma and Betty and then returned to Texas later but it DID give Betty somewhere to go to while she was trying to hide her pregnancy with Robert.

The next step was to contact Betty directly and verify the essential details of Robert's birth. Robert gave me his parents' names at the time of his birth, so that I could ask Betty if she remembered them. I made the initial contact with Betty, who was quite surprised to be found after all this time, but nonetheless eager to meet Robert. Then, I called Robert with the good news, and passed along the contact information for his birth mother and two half-siblings, a brother and a sister.

Robert, all of us here at SQA wish you the very best of luck. Keep us posted and let us know how your reunion goes! It has been our pleasure to work with you and witness your happy reunion with your birth family. We hope this reunion brings you joy!

Robert:

I'm so glad I decided to take the plunge and start this search, and that I found such a trustworthy company to facilitate this process. You really did a great job and I recommend your services one hundred percent.

This reunion has been surreal in many ways. I made a trip to see and meet my mother this past weekend. I met a brother and a sister and for the first time couldn't get enough of the resemblance between us, the shared mannerisms, and the sense of belonging I felt immediately. We are still putting together the pieces and answering endless questions about one another. I feel like a complete person, maybe for the first time ever. Thank you so much for all you have done for me and my family!

(Written by Mica Burton on Robert's behalf.)

Client ID#284670
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