In Her Own Words: Alora's Story

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In Her Own Words: Alora's Story

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Posted: 3/7/2009
Note: Names, Identifying informaiton and details may have been altered to protect personal identities.

/images/stories.asp?i=20110523133053.0.jpgAlora first contacted Search Quest America on October 7th. She spoke with her siblings for the first time October 11th. This is her story:

"I was born in the summer of 1963. Ever since I can remember, I knew I was adopted. I really felt very lucky. My adoptive parents took me home when I was just a day old. They named me and told me how special I was because they got to pick me. Out of all the kids available for adoption, they picked me. I had a great home, with great parents. They gave me everything I needed and never treated me like I didn't belong. Even though I had a full life, there was always a part of me missing. I asked questions about my adoption and was met with "I don't know who your mom is." I wanted to know my nationality and where I came from, but no one could answer my questions.

My adoption was privately arranged between my parents, my mom's gynecologist and an attorney who sang in my dad's choir. During the time I was adopted, Orange County sealed all adoptions. When I turned eighteen, I made an appointment with my mom's gynecologist, Dr. Stout to try to get some information. He told me that my mom had an affair and that I was the product of that affair. He also told me my birth mother had three other children older than me and that she was going to try to make it work with her husband, so she had to give me up for adoption. He didn't remember my birth mother's name, but said he had the records in storage and would get them and let me look at them in a week.

Four days after my appointment, Dr. Stout dropped dead of a brain aneurism. I made an appointment with the doctor that took over his practice. She refused to give me any information unless I had a court order. I didn't know how to get a court order so that basically ended my search at that time.

When I turned 21, I started working for the County of Orange as a Legal Secretary for the County Counsel. One of the attorneys helped me draft a court order and I petitioned the Orange County Superior Court to unseal my adoption. During my hearing, the judge told me that I didn't have a medical reason to unseal the adoption, so he denied my petition. I called the attorney that arranged the adoption. She told me that she would have given me the information, but she had destroyed it several years earlier. Again, this ended my search at that time.

A couple of years after I started at the police department, around 1990, I hired a private investigator to try to find my birth mother. I paid $500, but never got any results because the investigator could never get past the sealed adoption. In 1994, I found another agency that specialized in family searching. I again paid approximately $600 and gave them all the information I had. This investigator kept in touch for about six months. He kept telling me he had some leads but nothing came of those leads. I kept thinking if I just had my birth mother's name, I could find her myself. The Investigator said he didn't have her name. My case went inactive and I received a call about a year later saying they were going out of business and I was their only unsolved case. Getting this news devastated me. Up until that point I thought there was always a chance of finding my birth mother. At this point, I felt my search was hopeless.

Between 1996 and now, I have talked to a couple of investigators about my situation but never took another step to hire anyone because I was so devastated after the last time. In October of 2008, my co-worker said she saw a Dr. Phil episode where they featured Troy the Locator. The story featured a lady that found her birth family. My co-worker felt Troy the Locator could help me find my birth family. I told her there would be no way I would try again. I wasn't going to spend any more time or money just to be devastated again. The whole office joined in with my co-worker and they convinced me to fill out the form on Dr. Phils web site.

I filled out the form on a Thursday afternoon. On Friday morning (the next day), I was at home when I received a phone call from Chris at Search Quest America. Chris explained who he was and that Search Quest America is one of the trusted search providers for Troy Dunn. I explained that I had extreme reservations about this process and told him what I had experienced before. Chris understood but said that Search Quest America had a lot of databases from all over the United States and that they could probably at least locate a living relative of mine. He explained the process to me and told me how much it would cost. I talked to him a few times that day. He spent at least an hour just to reassure me that things had changed since 1994. I told him I would think about it.

During the next week, I researched Search Quest America and found they were a legitimate company. On October 7, 2008, I decided to pay the $695 and take a chance. At this point, Chris turned me over to Susan to finish the contract. She said I had to wait four days before she could give me any information. That was the longest four days of my life! I knew there would be information coming to me at the end of the waiting period, I just didnt know what it would be.

Monday, October 11th I had just taken my kids to school when Susan called and asked me if I had a piece of paper to write some information down. I was shaking so bad I had to ask her to repeat some information because I couldn't focus. It was the information I had been waiting for my whole life!

Susan told me that my birth mother and birth father, who were listed on my original birth certificate, were both deceased. However, she did tell me that I had five brothers and sisters! By the time I was done talking to her, I had 2 pages of information, including phone numbers for my two brothers. She assured me they were the correct phone numbers. She suggested that I wait a day or so before contacting them to give me time to think about everything. I got off the phone and just cried! I was so happy and nervous all at the same time.

As much as I wanted to follow Susan's advice, I couldn't wait. I tried both numbers and reached answering machines. I didn't want to leave a message because I really didn't know what to say. So I did some further research on Reunion.com and found another sibling's e-mail address. I immediately sent an e-mail and sat back to wait. About an hour later, I tried the phone numbers I had again. No one answered at the first number, but when I called the second number a lady named Jackie answered. All of a sudden I got tongue tied! I didnt know what to say. I was stuttering and stammering so much that Jackie must have thought I was crazy. I finally got enough out to verify who she was and that her husband was one of my brothers listed on the paper I had. I finally told Jackie that I believed I was her husbands sister. To my surprise, she knew that I existed! She immediately asked if I was Geri's daughter. I told her that from the information I had, that I was, in fact, Geri's daughter. She was so excited and told me that they had been looking for me for quite some time. It relieved me so much to hear that. We talked for approximately 30 minutes before she hung up to call her husband and tell him the news. She said he would probably call me back but she had to leave it up to him.

Only 5 minutes later, I received the first phone call from my half brother, Gary! I had tears streaming down my face. He told me a little about himself and about our siblings. I found out that I had a grandmother who was still alive at 93 years old. He asked about me and my family and my life. He also told me that our sister Suzanne had done a lot of research and hired an investigator to find me. He also told me that my older sister had passed away at the beginning of 2008. He was at work so we couldn't talk too long, but we exchanged e-mail addresses. I asked for everyone's phone numbers but he wanted them to contact me if they wanted. He assured me that he would pass my information to all of our siblings.

Approximately five minutes after hanging up from Gary, my sister Suzanne called me. Again, the tears were streaming down my face. She explained to me how the family came to know about me.

It seemed that my birth mother had a lot of issues going on when she gave me up for adoption. She was divorcing her first husband--who was the father listed on my birth certificate. Her own father died five months before I was born. After she gave me up for adoption, she started drinking. She met Suzanne's father and married him in early 1964. My birth mother had twin girls, my sisters Suzanne and Dianne, in January of 1966. She was very much in love with her second husband Stan. They were inseparable. However, in 1994, he died of skin cancer. This again devastated my birth mother. One night after Stan's death, my birth mother had a little too much to drink and she blurted out to Suzanne that she had given a daughter up for adoption. Suzanne tried to get as much information out of her as possible that night. The next day, my birth mother denied she ever had another baby.
My birth mother passed away in 1998 due to Tylenol poisoning. I was never fortunate enough to meet my her. I wish I had, but I know I did my best to look for her.

I met my siblings for the first time on Saturday, October 26, 2008 at Suzanne's house. I was so excited and nervous, but I knew everything would be okay. I brought pictures of me from when I was growing up. I wrapped up pictures of my family to bring to my brother and sisters. When Saturday came, I was so excited that I couldn't think straight. My son and daughter went with me to meet everyone. I left on time to get to San Dimas, but traffic made me a little late. As I turned down Suzanne's street, my palms broke out in a sweat. I felt like my world was changing forever and it did!

I really didn't know what to expect when I rang the door bell. Both my sisters met me at the door! I couldn't believe that they were actually there. We hugged and hugged and went into the house.

That day was the first day of my life as a whole person. I didn't know how much of me was actually missing until that Saturday in October. I felt so comfortable and welcome. I met three of my four living siblings there. My oldest brother Scott came after I did. He was very skeptical about me and he still is. My next oldest brother, Gary, lives in Reno and he couldn't come down to meet me.

Since then, I have spent my first holiday season with my siblings. My sisters have met my mother. I have gone up to Reno and met my brother, Gary. And, I have also met my grandmother. I have been to my birth mother's memorial plaque. I have also learned a lot about my birth mother. I have a lot of things in common with my birth family--things that I didn't even know could be genetic. While there is still some skepticism with Scott, I am so thankful I finally feel complete!

Thank you Search Quest America for making my life-long dream come true!"

(Written by Alora)
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