30 Years of Waiting for My Mom's Birth Parents - Part 1
Why Am I Looking for My Mom's Birth Parents?
I am not your usual adoption story; in fact, I wasn't adopted at all.
My mom was adopted out of Catholic Charities in East Chicago, Indiana in 1962. She was allegedly born on October 14, 1962, location currently unknown, though I've never seen a birth certificate for her. The whole story is basically one huge unknown for my family and ended in one huge unknown for my mom. You see, she died in 1999 before Ancestry DNA and 23andme and other DNA testing companies were regular consumer goods, before the State of Indiana released adoption records prior to 1993, and before she could discover the identities of her birth parents.
Now that I'm a mother myself, it has reignited my passion for discovering my ancestry and developing a robust family tree to pass on to my son one day. I started on this journey back in 2009 and I am closer now than I have ever been before. Hopefully in a few short days I will have all the answers she had ever dreamed of and more. But first things first...
A Photo of My Mom and Me, circa 1991
What My Mom Knew
I'll never know for sure what my mom knew before she passed in 1999. I personally have known that she was adopted as far back as my memory goes, but that's because she found out she was adopted when I was 1 year old. She was 27 years old and her adoptive father had just passed away. Because he died of a genetic disease, the doctors recommended that she and my uncle (also adopted) get tested for the disease. My grandmother said that wouldn't be necessary, my mom pushed the issue, and that's how my mom found out. Yep, not cool.
Below is what I have been able to piece together either through memories that I have of my mom or from talking to family members:
- My mom contacted Catholic Charities and requested non-identifying information regarding her birth parents. They responded (see below). I remember sitting on the floor in the kitchen the day my mom received this piece of paper in the mail.
- She submitted her information to the Indiana Adoption Registry in hopes that her biological parents were looking for her or would decide to look for her later.
- She was upset with her older family members who were aware of the adoption. She was hurt that no one ever told her the truth. Older family members stated that they recall my grandparents just showing up with 2 kids one day, no questions asked.
- Supposedly she was adopted when she was about 3 months old and she came from somewhere else in Indiana, maybe near Indianapolis.
- My father suspected that perhaps her adoption wasn't legal, but I was able to later discredit this theory based on the copies of the documents I received from Catholic Charities (pictured below), plus additional information I received. The reason that he thought it was not legal was because of how little my grandmother knew about it and because of the conversations he witnessed or heard about when the truth came out in 1989.
Information My Mom Received from Catholic Charities
My Mother's Passing
My mother passed away on November 10, 1999. I remember the day well and it still feels like a dream. Without getting into the sad and tragic memories from that day, all I can say that it has affected me my entire life since then.
We are just days away from the 19th anniversary of her death and what would have been her 56th birthday just passed. This means almost 56 years of her birth being a secret to the world, with the exception of 2 (or maybe a few more) people. I am hopeful that this will change soon.
Last year I tested with Ancestry DNA and 23andme to try and find my mom's biological family. I got closer to some answers, but not the final answer she was searching for.
The Ancestry results came back first and while the results were really neat, they were also overwhelming. I guess I thought that I would open my matches and see some grandparents or aunts and uncles, but that was not the case. The closest match I had that I did not recognize as an existing family member was a 2nd cousin. Looking at the information of that person, I quickly discovered that it was a match on my paternal side. So that made my closest match through Ancestry a projected 3rd cousin at 104 cM across 8 segments. (More information on DNA testing and what that means in a later article.) I started contacting my matches trying to find out if they could help me. Most people did not respond or did but didn't have information. I was lucky to find a distant cousin who pointed me in the right direction on analyzing my results and some suggested some next steps in my search.
I received my 23andme results a few weeks later. 23andme does their results very differently than Ancestry and I was very interested in reading all of the medical and personality information. I had almost 1,000 matches on 23andme but the closest match that wasn't someone I already knew from my father's side was rated as a "Third to Fifth Cousin." I haven't had a lot of luck using 23andme to find answers that I am looking for but it definitely has some neat information and has helped my search as a whole.
What else have I done? I have uploaded my results to other free sites like My Heritage, GEDmatch, and FamilyTreeDNA. Each upload has helped me obtain different information. (I will discuss these options in greater detail in a later article.) My father also tested on AncestryDNA and 23andme in an attempt to help me narrow down my search for those who are not our mutual matches. I was also able to upload his DNA information to the other free sites mentioned above.
The Long Wait
I filed paperwork on June 15, 2018 to receive my mom's original birth certificate and any other available information when the law opened the records on July 1, 2018. Today's date is October 30, 2018 and I still have not received a response.
According to the Indiana Adoptee Network Facebook group that I am in, the registry is currently processing submissions from June 19, 2018 or later; however, I am still waiting despite my date having passed. I emailed the Registry yesterday to understand if there is a delay or if they did not receive my paperwork. Hopefully I will hear back from them soon or, even better, receive my information tomorrow!
If you are interested in reading Part 2 of my story, you can find it here!
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Kasey Kolosh