Everything changed for me in the single moment when I finally met my birth mother face to face.
I’ve often heard the phrase that sometimes your whole life can change for the better in just an instant. A split second. The amount of time it takes to snap your fingers. But I never really believed it until it actually happened to me. Everything changed for me in the single moment when I finally met my birth mother face to face.
That precious moment would not have happened without the guidance and expertise of John Suggs. After nearly twenty years of on and off searching on my own, I contacted Catholic Charities and initiated an official search by the agency through which I was adopted. I waited a year and a half, only to be told that they had no luck and that they wished me well.
But by this time, I was not about to give up and came across John’s Family Orchard website. I was impressed by the testimonials, but even those couldn’t fully prepare me for who I was about to meet. Mr. Suggs is nothing short of a miracle to me. From the moment I met him, it was clear that he took this process seriously, and firmly believed in the premise that ALL adoptees have a right to know who they are. John then proceeded to actually find my birth mother’s name in a matter of hours. That is right. He had her name that fast! He then spent the next few days searching and searching for her. Although that part took longer – she had moved around quite a bit – he was always confident and reassuring. His empathetic demeanor made this highly emotionally charged time much easier to bear. For the first time in this process, I was not alone – I had an ally!
Once we finally found where she was living we were still stuck because we could not locate a working phone number for her. This meant that I could not reach out and call her which was my preferred way of initiating contact. So what do I do now, without a phone number? I was absolutely terrified of the idea of just showing up on her doorstep. That was something that I simply could not bring myself to do. She already gave me away once, I thought. What would I do if she rejected me again? That I could not handle. So, after calmly listening to me express all my fears and worries, John gently said that, while he makes a point of not doing this because he doesn’t believe that he – or anyone else – has the right to interject themselves into this critical moment, if I wished he would go to see her personally first. Yes, please! Go talk to her and find out if she wants to meet me! If it was to be bad news I would much rather hear it from John.
So, with my permission, he went to her home. And that afternoon, he called me with the best news ever…my mother wanted to meet me! She had never stopped thinking about me. She was thrilled that I had finally found her and was contacting her! Twenty-four hours later, there I was, standing before her, feeling complete for the first time in my 48 years!! We had a wonderful visit – and have continued to talk (and talk, and talk!) and have had continued visits. I look forward to meeting my half-siblings next!
While it is easy to explain that John is efficient and determined in the technical aspects of his work, it is harder to explain his compassion and deep empathy for the situations of adoptees and birth mothers alike. Needless to say this is a situation fraught with a whirlwind of emotions. At times, I thought the stress might kill me, but John was there to hold me up and encourage me every step of the way. He always kept in close contact and never left me to deal with any aspect of this journey unsupported. I owe him a debt of gratitude that I could never repay – he filled in my blanks, he reunited me with a loving and wonderful birth mom – I now live with a contentment that I’ve never known…how do you possibly thank someone for that? So please…if you are in the beginning stages of this journey, or if you’ve tried for years and exhausted all your options….call John Suggs – you won’t regret it!
With Deepest gratitude,
Due to John’s skill and expertise a dream that I had for most of my life has come true.
I am writing this after having met my birth mother for the first time this morning and I need to thank and commend John Suggs for all of his work and dedication that made it possible.
Being adopted, it seems as if there is something (missing) inside that drives you to find out who your birth parents are – like a search for treasure or the holy grail – but much more personal. After years of on again/off again searching with no results I contacted John and almost immediately had the name and contact information of my birthmother.
With John’s care-filled coaching and counseling I spoke with her several times over the past months by phone and was able to successfully move the conversation from her initial outright denial of our relationship to our finally meeting in person this morning. She brought me photos of my extended birth family and shared with me who my birth father was along with the circumstances that led up to my birth!
Due to John’s skill and expertise a dream that I had for most of my life has come true. I cannot thank him or recommend him highly enough.
I wanted the potential of making real and lasting family connections, and John helped me do that with the utmost care and compassion for my feelings and the feelings of others involved in my search.
If you’re reading this you have arrived at the right place. My experience with John at Family Orchard was extraordinary!
I had been looking for my birth family for years and had not been successful until I was introduced to Family Orchard and into the caring hands of John Suggs.
I wanted to discover who I was, but also to discover what made my parents who they were and what kind of life they lived. I was also interested in an introduction and connection with any family members and brothers and sisters. John was resourceful, tireless and compassionate at every level.
E.E. Cummings once said “The hardest thing you ever do is to become who you really are.”
And you can’t know that unless you know where you came from and all the components that contribute to making you, you.
Besides a healthy curiosity, I wanted the potential of making real and lasting family connections, and John helped me do that with the utmost care and compassion for my feelings and the feelings of others involved in my search.
I had previously ventured forth on a search of my own six years ago, and although I was successful in locating my brother and niece, I was not successful in getting my communication through to them and my attempts failed at any real response. I suffered through numerous rejections and was assured when I met John that he would be there through it all and have my back.
John kept all of his promises to me.
And when the time came to make the call to my half sister, the fear associated with the past, reared its head again. It was John who came to my rescue. When the time came for me to make the phone call to my half sister, I was afraid and John coached me and made the first call for me before my own was made and smoothed the path for us both.
The result, success and such joy for my new sister and myself. We are so incredibly happy about finding each other that words cannot clearly express my gratitude for Johns expertise and compassion.
So, if you’re reading this, don’t hesitate, in starting your own journey. Give John a call. It will be life changing!
Affectionately and respectfully yours,
48 Year Old Mystery is Now Solved – My Advice is Don’t Wait!
I want to whole heartedly recommend John Suggs to help with adoption searches! My husband is an adoptee who only possessed some detailed non-identifying information and a couple of 2nd-3rd cousin DNA matches from Ancestry.DNA. After spinning my wheels (and straining my eyes) trying to aimlessly piece together this puzzle by myself, I finally heard about John. John is a compassionate, kind and truly dedicated professional who tirelessly worked to connect the dots. John would call, email, and text us with updates as he had them – and also call just to check in – to see how we were holding up.
Amazingly, John was able to find the identity of my husband’s birth mother in less than a week. But when she initially refused to reveal the name of his birth father – John’s active support was vital. With John’s gentle assistance and encouragement – my husband’s birth mother finally shared the name of my husband’s birth father so now we have both sides of the biological family tree…Sadly, his birth father passed away only 1 year ago but we have connected with the surviving members of his family.
We are excited to research my husband’s family history with John’s expert help. So a 48 year old mystery is now solved – my advice is don’t wait!
Your tenacity and big heart are an extraordinary combination.
John, you are phenomenally competent. I am so impressed at your resourcefulness and how you were able to put things together. Your tenacity and big heart are an extraordinary combination. Thank you for helping our family.
With his guidance I found my birth father. Because you will learn, once you start working with Mr. Suggs, he won’t take the credit. It has been my search: my journey.
I could not move on with my life. I have a successful career and have grown up in a nice family with loving parents. But I have not married and I do not have children. This is no accident and I knew that my past, the unknown, was keeping me from moving on.
Family Orchard was referred to me by a legal source in the adoption community. I admit I had this card for over a year before I used it. And it is funny that some things really do happen timely.
Mr. Suggs, founder of Family Orchard, was efficient, supportive, and has a sensitivity and wisdom that was reassuring. Honestly, they were traits I rarely have found in someone outside the adoption triad. I felt understood!
His interesting and impressive background makes him beyond equipped to do this kind of work. My adoption journey has been an emotional and frustrating one, a journey of regret and of lost love found again. Mr. Suggs was patient and sensitive along the way and has provided insight that only a professional could.
When others had failed, when I had tried and backed down so many times and for so many reasons (excuses), Mr. Suggs gently led me down a path I was afraid to travel alone. And it was so worth it! With his guidance I found my birth father. Because you will learn, once you start working with Mr. Suggs, he won’t take the credit. It has been my search: my journey.
We discussed community resources, books, and documentaries. He opened up a door I had long forgotten I closed! And I remembered a time when I was more involved in the adoption community and utilized resources. It was a refreshing reminder that this journey doesn’t have to be done alone; there are always ways to self-growth and ways to connect to others if you want it!
It has taken ten years but I found both my biological parents and reunited them with each other. (And it is quite a story.) What this reunion may turn into is still unknown. For me, the search was never about a relationship, although this has been a nice residual effect. My adoption journey has been about finding truths and about letting go, letting go of the past, letting go of regret, and letting go of the burden of wonder.
The most surprising feeling I still have is empowerment. I set a goal and it wasn’t easy but I did it. I did it! AND YOU CAN TOO. The time is now.
Family Orchard is a resource you can trust. It is a professional service that will deliver. Words cannot express my gratitude.
If your journey brings you to John, please know that you are in the best hands possible.
My Journey did not turn out as I had hoped or expected. My birth mother, once John succeeded in finding her, quite unexpectedly refused to have any contact with me or to even meet me. Through the entire search process followed by the pain of my unsuccessful attempt for a basic, simple reunion with her, John was always by my side, with caring, compassion and kindness. If your journey brings you to John, please know that you are in the best hands possible.
I wanted her to know how respected her family was, that our grandmothers were good friends and that both her birth mother and grandmother were very talented. Mostly I wanted to assure her that she was given up because her birth mother and grandmother knew it was best for her.
This situation is a little different than many adult adoptee/birth family searches. I had in my possession a sterling silver baby cup that had belonged to a little girl that my family helped care for. She was the granddaughter of a close friend of my own grandmother. I knew she was loved, that her birth mother was disabled, her father wasn’t in the picture and her maternal grandmother couldn’t care for both a disabled daughter and a toddler. I knew she was eventually adopted and when the birth mother died I was given the little girls baby cup. For at least 55 years I dreamed of returning the cup and becoming reacquainted with the person I knew, even though I am several years older. I wanted her to know how respected her family was, that our grandmothers were good friends and that both her birth mother and grandmother were very talented. Mostly I wanted to assure her that she was given up because her birth mother and grandmother knew it was best for her. They sacrificed their own happiness to do the best thing they could for her.
I learned of John Suggs and his remarkable work and contacted him. From my first telephone conversation with John to sitting with him and talking to him I felt totally at ease. Although I am decades older, I felt as if I was talking to my nurturing and protective older brother. John’s work is skillful, thorough, detailed and totally amazing.
I had only the smallest of clues and a few facts that turned out not to be fact but be totally inaccurate and yet he still found the person I was looking for and a reunion was arranged.
I cannot say enough wonderful things about John personally or his amazing skill.
If you are looking for answers to your past, don’t wait. Start today. I suspect that the reunion John arranged will turn into a long relationship between the owner of that sterling silver baby cup, myself and our families.
John…helped us track down the widow and cousin, which led to a family reunion and finally provided us with answers to all of the questions that we’ve had for many years.
For decades my father and his two sisters had long wondered what happened to their grandmother. Over the years they tried many times to find the answer, but their efforts were to no avail. It took John Suggs only a few days to solve this family mystery.
After his grandfather’s wife died when he was a schoolchild, my father was surprised to be told that she was not actually his biological grandmother. He learned his grandmother and grandfather were divorced soon after his father’s birth, but nobody told him why or whatever happened to his grandmother. His father and grandfather also died before he was out of high school, so there was nobody left to help answer all of his questions. Eventually he obtained the records of the divorce, which merely provided his grandmother’s name and thus only added to the mystery. My father was never was able to track down anything more on her. Why had she left? Why did she abandon his father? She was very young — did she remarry? Did she die? Did she have another family? Was his father really an only child? Why did she never again contact her son before he died?
John was able to track down her records, establish that she indeed did get remarried, tell us her new married name, and — most importantly — give us the name of her son from her second marriage (who unfortunately had recently passed away himself), his widow, and their daughter — who would be my father’s long-lost first cousin. John also helped us track down the widow and cousin, which led to a family reunion and finally provided us with answers to all of the questions that we’ve had for many years.
None of this would have ever been possible without John, whose accurate work and warm personality made this whole process so much easier. I strongly recommend him to anyone who is looking to solve their own family mysteries.
With deepest gratitude,
Thanks from the bottom of our hearts
In 2006, I asked John Suggs if he would attempt to locate my long-time friend’s birth mother. My friend had been adopted at birth in 1967 in San Francisco. The only information he had was her name at the time of his birth and the city in England from where she hailed. He’d had a very strong yearning to reunite with her his entire life and spoke of her frequently. He had been able to locate the home where she lived in San Francisco at the time of his birth and had driven past it from time-to-time, drawn to it because it was his only connection with his birth mother. But that was where his trail ended.
John researched a lot of different avenues both in the US and in England in order to find her. The turning point came when he located the woman’s marriage records and married name and discovered that she was still living in San Francisco. Armed with that information my friend immediately opened the San Francisco telephone book. Unbelievably, there she was listed using her married last name, first name spelled out in full (an unusual spelling of an otherwise common name), and her maiden name’s initial. She had intentionally listed herself in the telephone directory in a way that he could easily locate her once he had her married name. It seems she was now widowed but had remained in San Francisco rather than return to her native England in the hope that he would one day come searching for her. Incredibly, for over 20 of those many years apart the two had been living within 1 mile of each other. They had regularly walked the same neighborhood sidewalks, shopped in the same neighborhood stores and ate in the same neighborhood restaurants.
When he made the first telephone call to his birth mother, he got her answering machine. Not knowing for certain if this was indeed his birth mother, he was truly very, very excited that the voice on the recording sounded like a woman of her approximate age with a British accent. He called again. This time she answered. After confirming that she was indeed the same woman whose name he had, he said to her “I may be your son” to which she replied “You may be. Is this John?” She had named him John before the adoption, but his adoptive parents had changed his first name. Not knowing that, she had been looking for a man named “John”. They immediately made plans to meet, after which they grew very close and involved in each other’s lives. The birth mother is now included as a member of his family. Both birth mother and adoptive mother are “Mom” with a special love for each for the unique roles that each has played in his life.
Nearly 40 years of wanting to know each other had passed. Two things kept them from finding each other: her last name changed due to her marriage and his first name was changed at adoption. It is mind-boggling to think that these seemingly very minor things kept these two apart for decades.
Thanks from the bottom of our hearts to John Suggs for locating the information that reunited this mother and son, who are now very happy sharing in each other’s lives.
With deepest gratitude,
San Francisco, California
…he continued searching and within another month, he found her! He actually found her!
I am an adoptive parent of adults as well as an adoption professional who founded and directed a licensed CT agency for almost 30 years,. I have been a part of adoption reunifications in the past and presently serve as a Certified Professional Life Coach specializing in loss, tough life changes, and all things related to the Adoption Community. Because I assist people to connect the dots from their unknown pasts and family histories, to their present lives, I know how important it is for people who are delving into their family backgrounds, and who might be contacting lost-lost relatives, or learning potentially life-changing facts to have someone in their corner who is ethical, sensitive and understanding of different points of view.
In that context, I am pleased to be able to share my experience working with John Suggs and to give him my strongest recommendation.I brought to John the story of my mother-in-law, who had died, and about our feelings that she might have had a child out of wedlock and placed for adoption back in the late 1940’s. I wondered if John could help me and my husband search this out to see if we could learn more, and possibly find this long lost sibling.
John impressed me enormously. He eagerly and tirelessly sought out all leads, gathered information from us and from other sources, with passion, imagination, and thoroughness. All of this was done discreetly and it is clear that John is a very caring and dedicated individual. He explored a variety of avenues we would not have thought of doing, and kept in regular contact to inform us of his progress. Within a week he found the proof documenting that my husband had, in fact, an older sister that was adopted at birth! Needless to say, we were thrilled. Armed with that proof, he continued searching and within another month, he found her! He actually found her! We are beyond thrilled. Thank you John!
I now happily refer all adult adoptees and/or birth families that I work with and who are interested in searching and/or reunification to John.
Please feel free to contact me if you have questions.
Iris Arenson-Fuller, CPC, ACC
Life Stage, Family, Relationship Changes Specialist,
Expert in Adoption Loss & All Things Adoption
Profound Thanks to John Suggs
I will turn 70 this coming November. Adopted just before my 5th birthday, I have sought out information about my birth parents since I was high school. I continue my search, and I have finally found a wonderful companion, John Suggs, who is walking by my side in my quest.
Throughout my adult years, I was told several times that I must wait until my adoptive parents died and my natural parents likewise died that I could at that time be given some identifying information. Despite petitioning the courts, I did have to wait until the deaths of my adoptive parents and birth mother before receiving some concrete knowledge about the circumstances of my birth and adoption. In 2005 I was able to get my mother’s identifying information from the Department of Children and Families in the state where I was adopted. It was a great joy to discover my mother’s name and nationality and learn about some important occurrences in her life. Unfortunately, the Department of Children and Families was unable to provide me with my birth father’s name. I petitioned the court for access to my original birth certificate, but was denied on several occasions. “Your original birth certificate is forever sealed.” I feel this is a violation of my human rights, but now connecting with John Suggs, who is adept at helping seekers like me, I have renewed hope.
Not only did John find new and important information about my birth mother, he found leads which may result in my knowing the identity of my birth father. John is an expert researcher and a person who cares. He is sensitive and open to hear the needs of his clients. He has the practical skills to do a thorough search.
John has stayed in close contact with me by telephone, e-mail, and texting. He seems to discover more valuable pieces to the puzzle each day. His combination of compassion, know-how, and wisdom is inspiring to me. I am confident that searchers such as me will find John to be a valuable and trustworthy guide to finding one’s birth parents.
Temple City, CA
Thank you John! [For locating her mother’s birthfather and birthsiblings]
Ana Marie S.
John Suggs was so efficient and thorough when he successfully researched my family all the way back to a shtetl in Lithuania in the 1700’s! He did an amazing job unearthing a host of vital records of my family and even found the original ships manifest list of my grandparents fleeing Europe in the 1920’s which was housed, but not yet catalogued, at the Center for Jewish History in NYC!
91 Year Old Mystery Solved!
John did the seemingly impossible. He solved a 91 year old family mystery and successfully found my birth grandmother’s next of kin – an 85 year old nephew – who was able to finally tell us about my birth grandmother who would have been 111 years old if she had still been alive!
When it was finally solved, John shared with me that my family’s case was the hardest case he has ever tackled. He ended up working on it for over 9 years. Over all those long years, he showed a remarkable resiliency and dedication to both my mother and me. He faithfully and regularly checked in with us, giving us search status reports even when there was nothing new he had to report and he never, ever gave up.
My mother is now 91 years old and ailing. She does not have a lot of time left and we had begun to believe that we would never find out what happened to her Birth Mother after all these years. John always understood how important it was for me that we find the answers about her birth mother before she passes on. And John did it! I was able to share the news of his discovery with my mom was just a week before her 91st Birthday.
We were both in shock. All we ever knew was that my mom had been abandoned by her birth mom at 3 months old in 1923 and was raised by her birth father and paternal birth grandparents. Since there was no formal relinquishment of parental rights or adoption involved there were no legal records for us to attempt to access. The only thing I ever had was the name of my Grandmother. Nothing else. And, unfortunately, it was a fairly common name.
The “official story” told by her father and paternal grandmother was that, one morning, she simply got up, said that she couldn’t do this anymore and walked out on her baby and husband and never looked back. As you might imagine after being told this, my mom has lived her whole life angry at her mother for abandoning her and with very little desire to find out what ever happened to her as a result. She simply believed the story and never felt the need to know any more. It was my sister and I who always felt that there was more to this story than she was told. There simply had to be. And, thanks to John, we now know that my mom’s father and her paternal grandmother had repeatedly lied to her about the circumstances of her mothers leaving.
I first approached John over 9 years ago and asked him for his help. After years of painstakingly considering and then eliminating virtually every other person who had a similar name and who was alive at the same time and who had ever lived in the large metropolitan area where my mom was born, basically going down one dead end after another, John finally found and spoke to my birth grandmother’s 85 year old nephew – her “next-of-kin”.
This nephew confirmed that my birth grandmother was his Aunt but even more importantly he told us that back in 1923 – before he was even born but just months after my mom was born – his Aunt suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. Both my birth grandmother’s younger brother (his father) and my birth grandmother’s father had filed a missing persons report with the police and had spent years searching for her but to no avail. They eventually and regretfully came to the conclusion that she must have met with foul play. For there had never been any “falling out” between them and it was the only logical reason why she would have disappeared without a trace.
After John shared this news with me, I drove over to my mom’s and shared it with her. At first, she couldn’t wrap her mind around it. All her life she had believed what she had been told – that her birth mother had simply just walked away – abandoning her – never once coming back or attempting to contact her.
Thanks to John finding her next-of-kin, we now know that she not only left my mom as a 3 month old baby and her husband, but, at the same time, she also went missing from her own family. If she had just walked away from a bad marriage and/or was suffering from post-partum depression following the birth of her baby daughter – like we always thought – then her family would most likely still have known what had become of her. But she disappeared at the exact same time from her own parents and brother as well. And they spent years trying to find out what had happened to her.
So my 91 year old mom now knows, for the very first time in her life, that she was not abandoned by her birth mother but, instead, that her birth mother was taken from her just as she was taken from her own family. And she knows that her mother’s family had searched and grieved for her.
I have since spoken at length to my newly found 85 year old cousin and have delighted in getting to know him and learning more about that side of my family. I suspect that we will never know the specific circumstances of her death but the fact that she did die is now beyond doubt.
I understood when John told me, at the end of this long search, that it has been the most difficult case he has ever undertaken. Because she disappeared at the young age of 20 she never left much of a record or trail behind for any of us to be able to follow. The fact that he eventually managed to find her 83 year old nephew still alive and who could verified the story of her disappearance – when virtually everyone else involved were long gone – well, it is nothing short of miraculous.
I can’t say enough good things about John. He is absolutely tenacious in his efforts. He never gave up and he always, faithfully, kept in touch with us over the years. Even when he had no news to share – he would check in. I can’t recommend him any higher that this: Should you find yourself in the midst of a difficult family search John Suggs is the person you want to have in your corner.
Thank you John! You gave my mother the most priceless gift anyone could have ever given her. You gave her back her mother.
Long Beach, California
What a great service this is and provided by a man for whom this is clearly an avocation. As a therapist who treats many adoptees, services like this play such an important role, especially for those whose adoptions were not open. These people have found a dedicated, relentless ally in Mr. Suggs.
Best, Bob W.