Filling the Family Tree

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Filling the Family Tree

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Posted: 11/25/2009
Note: Names, Identifying informaiton and details may have been altered to protect personal identities.

When I was in 4th grade, I had a history teacher that inspired me. He told our class that we were all historians in the process of making our own personal history. He made us write a report about our family backgrounds, complete with a family tree on a large poster-board that we held up in front of the class for an oral presentation. I came home with the assignment and asked my mom to help me figure out my family tree, but instead of helping, she got angry. That was my first clue that talking about my dad was a bad idea. She had been raising me and my siblings as a single mother, and never wanted to be bothered with questions about our father.

Over the years she told us all kinds of stories about him. She had me believing that he was an ex-con, a bigamist, a liar, and a cheat. She told us we were better off without him and that he would only hurt us if he found out where we lived. For a few years, I was actually afraid of him and thought of him more as the bogey man than my dad.

As an adult I can understand that her purpose in telling these stories was to put our questions to rest and discourage us from idealizing him or seeking him out as we grew older. In fact, as I matured I began to question her version of my history and I wondered if any of the things she told me about him were true. I never received a birthday card or Christmas gift, but I wondered if she kept them from us out of spite. She refused to tell us anything about him or provide solid names or old addresses. I thought about finding him many times over the years, but did not want to be disloyal to her in any way or risk tarnishing our relationship to chase a ghost. I decided to respect her wishes for the time being, but in the back of my mind I planned to search for him when she passed away.

My mother has been gone for about a year now, and my siblings and I feel that the time has come to seek out our father. I hired Search Quest America after thoroughly researching the companys background. I asked hard questions about success rates, contacted the Better Business Bureau, and did all my homework before taking the plunge.

My case was assigned to Julie Jones, and to my disbelief, I received a call back only 19 days after the search began. The news was bittersweet--Julie found my father, but he died of cancer in 2002. She contacted every known relative and associate and was able to put me in touch with my father's brother, my uncle Charles. Of course, we are all disappointed that we did not have the opportunity to meet our father in person, but we are grateful for the opportunity to get to know him vicariously through the riotous stories our Uncle Charles tells about him.

It turns out that my father was a good man. He served in the navy for many years and though he certainly had a temper, he was never involved in any of the crimes or schemes our mother mentioned over the years. He and my mother had a falling out and she picked up and left one day with us kids and never returned. They were never married and he did not have the resources to find her. He thought she would simply come back when she was ready, and he eventually moved on with his life, was remarried, and had 4 more sons of his own. Uncle Charles tells us that he thought about us throughout our lives, especially on our birthdays. To his dying day, his biggest regret in life was losing touch with us, and he would be so happy to know that we found our way back to the family after all was said and done.

Do I have regrets? Sure I do. I wish I had searched sooner or pressed my mother for her blessing while she was alive. I would have loved to meet my dad, but I am content with having photographs and finally knowing that I look like someone. Meeting my brothers is an obvious perk, and whats more, I can finally fill in my family tree with names and faces. My siblings and I want to thank the people at SQA for keeping their promises and helping us find the answers we have needed for so long! We will definitely refer your services to our friends and neighbors--even complete strangers if need be--to help others on their own paths of self-discovery. Just send them our way and we will tell them our story. In the mean time, best of luck to you and yours this Holiday Season and may the coming year be filled with lots more cases solved and families reunited!

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

Client ID# 261478
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