She Had the Answer All Along

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She Had the Answer All Along

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Posted: 11/28/2009
Note: Names, Identifying informaiton and details may have been altered to protect personal identities.

My name is Linda and I am writing today for all the individuals out there whose searches are long and difficult, like ours. They dont always end the way we want them to, but they take us on a journey of self-discovery and we learn about ourselves in the process.

I first contacted Search Quest America in September looking for my sisters birth family. I was the oldest daughter in our family, and when my parents were unable to have more children, they adopted my sister, Susan. I have always seen our family as a close-knit, happy bunch, but Susan has always felt a little out of place. As a teenager she used to lament the fact that in a family of fair-eyed, fair-skinned people, she was the only one with dark hair and eyes. She used to hate the shape of her nose and wonder about her nationality. As she grew into adulthood, she worried what might lurk in her medical history that could cause complications for her children and grandchildren. Today, she is about to turn 60 and she has never had any contact with any of her birth relatives. We have thought about searching for them many times over the years, but we never knew where to start, except with her birth name, Jo Ann Howard.

Once we decided to pursue the search, we followed the advice of a friend and contacted Search Quest America. I was contacted a few days later by my researcher, Julie Jones. She walked us through the process of requesting additional information from the state of California, including Susans original birth certificate. This gave us her original birth date, October 9, 1048. This also gave us her birth mothers name, and we were excited to learn that Susan's birth mother's surname is very unusual. After all, how hard could it be to find someone with an uncommon last name?

Julie was able to find short list of individuals by the same name and age in our country. From there, it was an arduous process of elimination to track down Susans birth mother. Julie wrote letter after letter, sent email after email, made phone call after phone call methodically until she crossed off all the names on the list except one. Through the whole process we held our breaths and followed Julies instructions.

As we got closer and closer to the end of the list, Susan surprised me by getting cold feet. She started to think about what would happen when she actually found her birth mother. She was worried that she might be deceased, or worse not have any desire to make contact with Susan, even by phone. She worried that she might not want to know the circumstances behind her birth. What if the pregnancy resulted from rape or abuse? What if her birth mother was a felon, a con-artist, or just a bad person? It took some convincing, but I persuaded Susan to press on for just a little while longerwe had not come all this way to quit just before the finish line.

Finally, on a Tuesday morning, we received a phone call from Julie. She had discovered the whereabouts of Susans birth mothera cemetery in Victoria, Texas. Susans birth mother died at an early age from unknown causes, and without even an obituary in the paper. The trail goes cold at this point with no records of living relatives, no evidence that she ever married or had other children, not even a cause of death.

When Susan received the news she let out a deep sigh and I saw the emotions run across her facedisappointment, relief, curiosity, sadness, tears, and finally peace. Julie assured us that the search wasnt overshe would continue searching for a blood relative who could provide more information and she would not rest until Susan had the answers she was looking for. We talked about it for hours and in the end, Susan actually decided to end the search. She had the most important piece of the puzzle. She knew her mothers name, knew that she had no siblings, and she knew that her birth mother was deceased without a close living relative. For Susan, this was enough.

After the disappointment passed she realized that she already knows who she is--she is a daughter, sister, wife, mother, and friend to tangible people who have been by her side every day of her life. She doesnt need to meet her birth mother or father to define her personality or identity. At the end of the day she is happy with who she is. I could not possibly be more proud of her. This journey took many twists and turns, but Susan came out on top a stronger person for all of it. Thank you SQA for walking us through every step of the way and helping us search out the answers to Susans life-long questions. In the end, she discovered that everything she needed was already inside her, and that is a lesson all of us can learn.

(Written by Mica Burton on Lindas behalf.)

Client ID# 225599
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