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

The first shock I received when I spoke with my brother Richard for the first time was his voice--it is almost identical to my own. I am 57 years old and until a few weeks ago, I thought I was an only child. This is my story.

My parents told me I was adopted when I was very young. They tried to communicate that I was special and chosen, but I always wondered why my "real" mom didn't want me. I learned early on to keep these questions to myself, however. The few times I mentioned wanting to find my birth mother, my mom made it clear that she would not support me in that decision. So I left it alone.

But the void I felt as a youngster has only grown with time. A few months ago my wife and I were watching an episode of The Locator and we decided to pursue the search for my birth mother in secret. It was a challenge to keep it from my mom. She is 93 years old and since her health is failing, we have been caring for her in our home for several years now.

I provided Search Quest America with all the information I had. I knew I was born in Pennsylvania in August of 1951, and that my birth parents were Jelen Mae Frayer and Earl Elrich. I knew nothing about the circumstances that led to my adoption, and could only infer that my mother was unmarried at the time of my birth. I was still trying to figure out how to break the news of my search to my mother when I received a call back from my researcher, Julie Jones. She had already located my birth family!

Unfortunately my birth mother Jelen Mae passed away from a heart attack several years ago. Julie did find out that I have a half-brother named Richard. With my permission, she contacted him on my behalf. Richard had no idea his mother had another child. He was so convinced to the contrary that he hung up on Julie when she first called him. When she called back he said, "I don't know what kind of scam you are trying to pull, but I am an only child."

Julie calmly outlined the facts. She described my birth mother in detail, using names and dates and facts that Richard could not deny. He agreed to discuss the matter with his family and then get back to her. In the meantime, Julie contacted Jelen's sister, my aunt Martha. For several years Martha has worked at a Walmart just a few minutes from my home. Coincidentally my wife also works there, and they have spoken on more than one occasion. She was also shocked to learn that her sister had had another child, but after speaking with Julie she was eager to meet me.

I called my wife right after I got off the phone with Julie, and she approached Martha. They cried together right there in the store. Since that day we have gotten together many times and I was able to talk to Richard on the phone. Seeing photographs of my mother is unlike anything I have ever experienced. I look just like her, and for the first time in my life, my void has been filled to know where I came from. I can't believe we have all lived so close together for all these years and never knew we were related! I wonder if I ever met my brother, passed him on the street, or ate in the same restaurant at the same time.

Unfortunately, there are still several mysteries that will remain unsolved. My birth mother hid her pregnancy from the world. She must have given birth alone and although she was very close to Martha she never confided in her or discussed her decision to place me up for adoption. Richard was six when I was born, and since Jelen was unmarried, she may have felt that she did not have the resources to raise another child. No one knows who my birth father was or if he knew about me. I will continue searching for him and hopefully find a few more answers.

For now I am content to get to know my brother and make up for lost time. Thank you Search Quest America for making this reunion possible. Your services have by far exceeded my expectations and I wholeheartedly recommend your company to other adoptees who are searching for answers as I was.

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

Client ID# 224216
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