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