I have always wanted to know who my birth parents were, where did I come from, how much did I weigh at birth, what was my name etc. The usual things that everybody knows and take for granted. But, as an adoptee, I didn’t know. I always hated going places where I had to answer questions regarding “family” history because I didn’t know the answer and had to say why.
In my late 20’s and 30’s I used to watch all the TV talk shows on adoption. I used to cry whether it was a reunification or rejection. I used to wonder what it would be like if I could find my birth parents. Would the accept me or reject me? Because I did not know the answer, I would always get got cold feet when I thought about searching and simply refocused on my immediate family and my business. I knew that I couldn’t stand to be rejected again and that is what I feared would happen.
In my 40’s I met an older woman who was also adopted. We got very close. I thought of her as a Mother figure. I am able to talk to her about anything and get complete honesty. We have had long discussions about my desire to find my birth parents. At the end of these conversations I always would say “some day”.
I then met another adoptee and she had actually done it! She had found her birth family with the assistance of John Suggs. After hearing her amazing story, I knew that I could no longer attempt to do this on my own “some day”. It was too difficult, the language barrier alone seemed insurmountable because I was born in Quebec to French Speaking Canadians but adopted by English Speaking US Citizens and raised in CT. Learning about John, I knew I had to call him. I so remember the day I screwed up my courage and called him. Hoping to sound confident – which I wasn’t – the message I left on John’s machine was “Hi, my name is Kathy, I got your # from JM. Let’s go find my parents!”
John returned my call, listened to my whole story and my situation and then confidently accepted my case. The search had begun!
Once the DNA results was received, John uploaded them into several DNA databases (“With your permission Kathy.” Because as you will learn, this is “your search” – “it is your life” – and you always call the shots throughout the search process.) Then he began building family trees of all my closest matches from the databases. This is quite detailed, time intensive and tedious work – I know that I would never have had the patience for it. But John does and, over time, we began to see emerge some hopeful signs. We tentatively reached out to some of my matches – be warned, some matches were lovely, just lovely, but others, well… not so much. John walked with me through that whole challenging phase.
At one point we thought we had found a strong candidate for my birth mother in a group of untested Cousins to one of my 3rd Cousin matches. Everything seemed to be in alignment. She was the right age, right place etc. But she was untested and because we had a language barrier the first thing we had to do was find a person to translate for us. So there we were: me, John on the phone, my husband sitting next to me at the kitchen table offering his support and the translator also on the phone calling this elderly woman in Canada! As I spoke to her via the translator she quickly said that she knew nothing about any baby being given up for adoption and ended the call.
That hang up just destroyed me and I wanted to stop. I texted John saying that it was too much and I wanted to stop. He called me immediately and gently consoled me as I cried. He was wonderful! Long story short, he simply would not let me quit. He reminded me that these searches are always emotional roller coasters with big highs and big lows. He promised me it was going to be okay. I trusted him and said okay.
Exactly one week later, my mother was found!!! I have a half-sister and I learned that my father and half-brother have passed away. This baby photo – at the top of my story here – is the only photo that my birth mom ever had of me to remember me. She had so carefully kept it for over 50 years now and she tearfully shared it with me when I found her. We email each other using google translate daily and I am going up to meet them just as soon as my passport arrives. I can’t wait to meet them!
John, I can’t even begin to thank you for all the time, energy, thoughtfulness, expertise, persistence, compassion etc that you put into helping me locate my birth parents!! I was ready to give up and YOU wouldn’t let me! You have been my rock through all this and there are no words that could truly express how thankful I am & how truly lucky I am to have found you! I NEVER could have done it without you!!
I thank you from the very bottom of my heart! ♥️
Such a beautiful story! John Suggs, Master forensic genealogist, also made a powerful impact on my life by finding my biological father. Blessings to John & all those to whom he has brought peace, self understanding, and loving closure.