Part of My Past, Part of My Future

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Part of My Past, Part of My Future

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Posted: 6/24/2009
Note: Names, Identifying informaiton and details may have been altered to protect personal identities.

My birth parents Maria and Jewell lived together in Germany in the early fifties while he was in the service. When the time came for him to return to the United States, she stayed in Germany and they never met again. I was born a few months later and adopted by a military family who later returned to the States. Growing up, I always knew I was adopted, but I was unprepared for the phone call I received in 1999 when my birth mother, who still lived in Germany, located me. I traveled to Germany that same year and we were happily reunited. She gave me all the information I could have hoped for, and even took me to the German hall of records where I learned important facts about my birth father. His name was Jewell Stiell and he was born in January of 1928. The hall of records listed his home address while he was in the service, and other information written in German. I decided that day that this man is a part of my past and I want him to be a part of my future. Unfortunately the information we retrieved was limited and we were not sure how accurate it was.

That day, my husband Chuck and I set out on a quest to discover this man's identity and in doing so, to understand my past. It turned out to be a ten-year journey and each time we found another piece of the puzzle we drew one step closer to the truth, but never quite found what we were looking for. At one point Chuck even called the police department in Sacramento, California and asked them to track down the old address. An officer was sent to the home, but the family who lives there now has no information about the previous owners. We pored over old directories, performed internet searches, and wrote letters to several people by the name Jewell Stiell--all to no avail.

Finally, we decided to contact Search Quest America. Our case was assigned to Cindy, SQA researcher, and she has been absolutely fantastic through the whole process. We talked on the phone almost constantly and after just a few months Cindy found the man she believes to be my birth father living only 25 miles away from her home in Washington. She asked me to FedEx photographs of myself, my birth mother, and even the old apartment in Germany where my mother used to live. She called Jewell on the phone prior to visiting him in person. When she saw him for the first time, she could already see a resemblance in our features. At 82 years old, Jewell's reaction was total shock.

"Why couldn't this have happened 50 years ago?" he asked. "I don't remember his woman, but how many Jewell Stills born in January of 1928 would have been in Heidelburg, Germany in 1952?"

Jewell accepts that I am probably his daughter, but he is having trouble figuring out what to do now. "I have several children who are grown now with families of their own. Should I tell them I have another child?" Cindy was wonderful and reassured him that everything will turn out alright. He requested my phone number and asked to keep the pictures I had sent, but so far I have not heard from him.

I agree that this case is probably solved, but I don't feel the emotions I expected to feel when the case was solved. I want to believe that this 10-year quest is finally over, but there is a part of me that still has doubts. I understand that Jewell is 82 years old and that his memory is probably faulty, but I would have felt better if he had remembered my birth mother. Unfortunately she passed away several years ago. We have decided to use the resources at our disposal and perform a DNA test to confirm that he is indeed my father.

I put his picture up on my computer at home and I find myself staring at it from time to time. I think he's the right man, but I have decided to reserve my joy and excitement and relief for the day I get the positive test results back. When that happens, we will meet in person and I will put my arms around him and thank him for giving me life. We will discover the similarities between us and joke about our big noses and maybe I will even get to meet my half-siblings. For today, I'm just grateful to Cindy and Search Quest America for helping bring peace to our family by solving this decades-old mystery.

(Written by Mica Burton on Susan's behalf)

Client ID#240872
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