Aunt Helga Saw the Truth Written on My Face

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Aunt Helga Saw the Truth Written on My Face

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Posted: 10/7/2011
Note: Names, Identifying informaiton and details may have been altered to protect personal identities.

I have been searching for my birth mother for approximately 20 years. I have heard many interesting stories concerning the circumstances surrounding my adoption and would love to learn the truth. Here's the information I have: I was born in New York, New York on June 13, 1967. Supposedly my birth mother's name was Erika Hedi Ahrens. Erika was Catholic and the adoption was handled by Catholic Charities. She may have been a German native, as I have a previous address for where she lived in Germany, and her name is German. However, I hired a private investigator 10 years ago to start with that address and find her, but he ran out of leads and dropped the case. However, he did narrow down the year of her birth to 1941 or 1942. Finally, I also have my sealed original Birth Certificate, but even with this information I have unsuccessful in my attempts to locate my birth mother.

Julie Jones worked wonders! First, she found the immigration record for Erica's family. They entered the US on 9/7/1955 from Bremerhaven, Germany. The head of household was William Ahrens, Sr. with his wife Elizabeth Ahrens. Their children were Erika, Helga, and William Ahrens Jr. Their intended address was 241-11 85th Avenue, Queens Village, Long Island, NY.

This was the missing puzzle piece I had been lacking all along. Now that we knew the names of her parents and siblings, we could track the family through the years and locate Erika's current whereabouts. The fact that we had an address also provided another checking point to narrow down the list of possibilities of Erika's that were born in 1941 and 1942.

First, Julie located William Ahren , who graduated from Dobbs Ferry High School. Julie sent him an email and left him a voicemail. He responded 7 days later. He said Erika "Rikki" Ahrens has been living in Europe for the past 36 years or so, and to his knowledge she never have a baby up for adoption. However, he agreed to contact Erika and forward my information to her.

Meanwhile, Julie she contacted Helga Ahren. She responded very guardedly, just as William had. The family had been talking about nothing else during the weeks following Julie's initial contact to William. He did call Erika in Europe to ask of there was any validity to this claim. Her response was "I don't want to talk about this and I don't want anyone calling me to talk about this..."

Julie didn't give up. She continued to write emails and leave voicemails for Helga and William. Then, she received this email response:

"Hi Julie, after consulting with more relatives from my family who were there in 1967, the likelihood of my sister giving birth at that time is nil. Someone who knew my sister might have used her information.

As you can appreciate, I will proceed with caution, as I've discovered a number of scams on the internet. I'd like more information from you. I would like to give this issue a bit of rest at the moment. Perhaps next weekend we can be in touch. Thank you, Helga."

Skepticism and fear of fraud are two very common responses from members of a birth family. This is especially true when a birth mother gave birth in secret and members of the family simply didn't know about the adoption. In today's day and age when internet fraud is so prevalent, it is important to be cautious with one's associates. Understanding their concerns, Julie responded:

"Hello Helga, I wanted to send you an e-mail from the firm's e-mail server so you have additional background on our company. Rest assured that this is not an Internet scam. I work for SQA and am representing my client, who was given up for adoption by a woman named Erika Hedi Ahrens in June of 1967. I believe my client is your biological niece.

A question I have is do you know what blood type Erika is? The paperwork we have from the hospital indicates the mother's blood type. Also, you had mentioned that you wondered if any of Erika's friends had possibly used her identity. If this is a possibility, do you know which friend it may have been?

As of now, all of the information we have from the hospital, court and historical records of New York point to your sister. As I'm sure you can understand, I need to follow up every possible lead until I am satisfied that I have exercised due diligence on behalf of my client, Pam, and have exhausted all leads and avenues.

I look forward to talking to you this weekend. Working together, I am confident we can answer all of your questions. Take care, Julie Jones"

I have never been one to sit by on the sidelines while others fight my battles. I asked Julie for Helga's address, which was only a few hours from my home. On a Sunday morning, I got in my car and drove to Helga's house with my husband. I parked across the street and just stared up the driveway to the front door. Could I really just knock on the door and demand to be heard? Somehow my feet did the walking, my fist rapped loudly on the door, and my mind went completely blank when Helga opened the door. She was a tall, strong blond woman with angular features, eerily similar to my own. We stood staring at each other silently until she saw the truth written on my face. She opened the screen door and said, "Well, come in then."

While we made ourselves comfortable in the sitting room, Helga went to the other room and returned with a picture of Erika, Helga, and William in their forties. The resemblance between Erika and I was striking! Helga sank down in an arm chair across from us and began to tell us about Erika, who adamantly refused to talk about me, but had never directly denied giving a child up for adoption. She is not one to get her feathers ruffled, but on this subject she was out of control, threatening to hire a lawyer against me. This overreaction, combined with our resemblance, convinced Helga that I was indeed a member of the family. We talked that day for an hour and made plans to meet with Uncle William the next week. We made arrangements for a DNA test; though we were both satisfied the connection was there.

Months later the DNA results came back, confirming that Erika IS my birth mother. In the 2 years since my reunion, we still have not spoken. I can only assume the circumstances behind my birth must be negative ones. I may have been the product of rape, or infidelity during marriage. My half-sister was born exactly one year before me and shares my birth mother's married name, so I believe I was the product of an affair. I may never know who my birth father is.

I have no regrets. The best part of my reunion was learning that I have a half-sister named Livia, who lives in Vancouver, Washington. We aren't best friends yet, but we're getting to know each other. Most importantly, I'm so grateful Aunt Helga didn't let skepticism or fear of internet fraud stand in her way. I'm glad she opened her door and welcomed me inside. I hope someday I'll make it past the sitting room and into the heart of the home and my birth mother's heart too.

Written by Mica Burton on Pam's behalf.

(Client ID# 234654)
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