Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mystery Monday - Help Us Find Our Siblings

Today I am going to do something a little different. As a follow up to my previous posts Surname Saturday - Huffman and Thankful Thursday - Meeting My Biological Family, my new found biological family has made it clear that they want to find our other siblings who were adopted into other families. By my biological family, I mean all of them, not just my brother and sister. This is an open letter to our missing siblings. If you were adopted, please read on. If you know someone who was adopted, please share this with them. If you are a member of the genealogy community, please, please share this post and help us to get the word out in the hopes that it will help us find our missing family members.
We are looking for children born sometime between July, 1955 through early 1963. One of our missing siblings was born in Chicago probably at Cook County Hospital. I was left at the Chicago Foundling Home, however, my brother or sister could have been left at a different orphanage. The other sibling(s) would have been born in Louisville, Kentucky, and may have been adopted into a family in either Kentucky or Southern Indiana. If the children have obtained a copy of their non-identifying information that they are entitled to by law, their mother's age would match a birth date of 9 November 1935, she was a waitress and listed her ethnicity as German and Irish and German and Dutch (although that is not entirely accurate so your information may be different but should contain German) on my paperwork.
Please help us by sharing this post. Below is our open letter to our missing siblings.

Dearest brother and/or sister,

Our family is incomplete without you and we want to find you so very much, but, due to privacy laws we cannot. Because of this, you have to find us. We will try our best to help you find us. Please know, we love you and all we want is the chance to know you. There is a hole in our hearts and souls that only you can fill. We have missed so many years already, so please hurry because we miss you in our lives. Help us make our family circle complete. You may be wondering how to do this now so we will tell you. Illinois opened up adoption records to adoptees in November, 2011. That is how our sister found us. To our sibling born in Chicago, you can obtain a copy of your original birth certificate that will have the name of your biological mother on it. If her name was Shirley Huffman, born in Rossville, Illinois, the you will know you are our sibling. Go to this website, download the PDF form linked at the bottom of the page, complete the form and mail it along with a check to the address on the website. To our siblings in Kentucky, you will not have the option to do this, however, our sister Cathy's adoption was not sealed by our mother, so maybe your records were not sealed either. Kentucky law and your options to find us can be located here. You have an option to obtain your original adoption records so all you have to do is write them. Another option to find us is a DNA test. Our sister Cathy has her DNA on 23and Me or Family Tree DNA but you can have your DNA tested anywhere and upload your raw data to Gedmatch free. If you are our sibling you will show up as a family match with our sister Cathy and will be able to contact her at any of the 3 sites. We are doing all we can to find you. The rest is up to you. Here is a picture from our joyful reunion with our sister. Do not be afraid because there is nothing to fear - the entire family wants to welcome you with open arms. Please find us! You can email us at

Love, Your brother Barry and sisters Cathy and Michele

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11, 2012

Today we remember the saddest day in this young country's existence. That fateful morning, it was a beautiful sunny day in New York, as well as Chicago where I live. I was driving to work that day and had my car radio on to Howard Stern who I did not normally listen to. When I heard him talking about a plane that hit the World Trade Center, I became agitated and thought how he went too far and that was so not funny. I thought it was another bad Howard Stern prank and it never even occurred to me that it could be real. I changed the channel and that channel also talked about a plane hitting the Tower. I was stopped at a red traffic light when it hit me - this was real. Without thinking, I looked at the man in the car next to me, shocked. He was already looking at me, his jaw had dropped open - I think mine was also. We looked at each other in shock for a moment - eleven years later, I still remember his face. I arrived at work and did not want to leave my car radio. I rushed up to my 4th floor office, unlocked my desk and pulled out a small battery operated combination radio and flashlight I kept there in case of emergency. Co-workers already had their own radios turned on. As I was rifling through my desk, I heard a co-worker yell "oh my God, it's a terrorist attack - another plane hit the second tower!" As the day went on, our Vice President put a portable television in a small conference room so we could watch the news coverage as our time permitted. The phones were quiet that day...the sound of multiple ringing phones that were heard every day were silent that day. We all know what happened that day and the days and weeks that followed. Every year all Americans have paused to remember every September 11th since. We remember those that died, those that survived, and those brave heroes that helped this nation make it through. Every year since I have paused to pray, to remember and to be grateful for all I have. That is until, September 11, 2010. That day I spent holding my mother's hand until she took her last breath. That day, I forgot, until I got home after my mother died. Now, on September 11th, I remember the attacks that day and I still pray for the lost souls that day and for the survivors and the heroes. And I also remember the most beautiful woman I have ever known, my mother, who died 2 years ago on this solemn day.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Thankful Thursday - Meeting My Biological Family

It has been a few weeks since I received my original birth certificate. As I announced in a previous post Surname Saturday - Huffman I was adopted and just received my original birth certificate in August. Before I tell my story, there is something I have to explain. My life has been like a puzzle with missing pieces. There are pieces of me that never quite fit anywhere. I did not look like anyone and often heard people casually state they had grandma's eyes or their mother's bone structure. These comments happen more often than you think. But many of the missing pieces had nothing to do with appearance. It was also my personality - the essence of who I am. Things like morals and ethics are all taught and my parents taught me well. And part of who a person's personality is molded by their environment and experiences in life. We are, after all, constantly changing and it is our life's experiences that help change us. But a part of each person's personality comes from somewhere deep within their genetic make up. I have always known this because a huge part of the person I am had no explanation and I never understood that part of me. As time went on I realized I was trying very hard to fit into a mold but I never quite fit. I have tried all my life to fit that mold and because it never quite fit me, I was not comfortable in my own skin.

Soon after I obtained my birth certificate, I discovered I had a biological brother. I wrote my brother and waited to see if he would respond. I waited over a week and when I heard nothing, I began the process of accepting the fact I never would receive a response. I was sad, but I understood and had hope he would change his mind. I woke up on my birthday and made my coffee as usual. As I was sipping my coffee, my phone rang. I answered it and heard "Happy birthday Sis!". I was speechless - and trust me, that NEVER happens! We talked for about a half hour and one thing was clear. He was just as happy as I was! After I hung up the phone, I cried - very happy tears. It was the best birthday I ever had. He called me back a few days later (as promised) to arrange our meeting. It was during this phone call I learned I also had a sister! A sister and a brother! My head was spinning! And, the best part was they seemed as anxious as I was to meet. I was overjoyed! After 50 some years of separation, I was about to meet the siblings I never knew I had. The first time I would come face to face with a biological family member. During my initial phone conversations with my brother, he seemed so excited and happy which instantly quelled all my fears. I will forever be grateful for his obvious enthusiasm.

As I drove the 3 hours to meet them, I felt every emotion you can think of. And I wondered...would they like me, would this be our only meeting, what were they thinking and so much more. I worried I would get too emotional and make a fool of myself. I decided I was thinking too much and turned up the car stereo and tried to relax. As I pulled my car into our meeting place, I took a deep breath and got out of the car. Lots of hugs ensued. Except for the birth of my daughter it was the happiest day of my life. I never expected the warm welcome I received. And it just got better as the day progressed. It was still a shock but my brother's happiness was contagious. Considering they never knew I existed, I am sure they were in more shock than I. By the end of the day, I would learn all my fears were for nothing, but was glad I expected the worst because it just enhanced my joy that day. The day began meeting my new found brother, his wife, my sister and her daughter (my niece!). The day ended meeting a few cousins and the sister of my biological mother, my aunt. The day was overwhelming (in a good way). I had so much to absorb. Seeing people who looked like me for the first time was so surreal and so amazing. I saw so much of myself in my brother, but not just our faces, but also in his personality. I thought I must be wrong. What made it more amazing was each one of their reactions to me. Every person I met made it clear I was very welcome - as a member of the family. That was something that I had not expected and honestly a scenario that never occurred to me. I never looked past the moment, it was way too scarey for me. All that fear is gone now, replaced with joy. As I met a cousin and my aunt, I felt this strange feeling that I can only describe as a familiarity like I had met them somewhere before...but I knew that was not possible. They lived over 100 miles from me. It was a wonderful day I was told the annual Huffman family reunion was the following weekend and was asked to come and of course I agreed. During the week, I talked to both my brother and sister on the phone and chatted online with my brother's wife almost every day. It occurred to me that I genuinely liked my brother, his wife and my sister so much that if we had not been related, I still would have liked them as friends. The day of the reunion came and the day began badly - I was running late due to many reasons I arrived and met my brother in a parking lot so he could show me the way to the park and of course, so I would not have to walk in alone. I will not go into detail about the day but it was amazing. And as I met and talked to each member of this large and beautiful family, I began to see so much of myself in them both visually and in their personalities. I was not nervous but was completely at ease and I was myself. I recognized much of my own personality in so many of these people. The day ended too soon and I left wanting more time. I got in my car and began the 2-3 hour drive home. As I drove, I thought about the day and the conversations. My first visit to Rossville (before I wrote my brother) ended at the grave of my biological mother. I knew I was a secret (she left Rossville for the orphanage in Chicago when she was 3 months pregnant) and I asked her what would she think if I broke her secret and wrote my brother. As I began to cry, I looked up and saw a sliver of a rainbow. About an hour into my drive home from the reunion, I was thinking about what my new uncle had told me. He told me he asked my mother if she ever thought about those babies she left at the orphanage shortly before she died. She told him, every night before she went to bed. As I drove, I thought about that statement and how very sad it was. It must have been such a heavy burden for her to carry. I began to cry and as I looked in the rear view mirror, I was shocked to see a rainbow. I had to pull off at the exit. I pulled into a parking lot and cried. And I thought about everyone I met. I was thinking about all the similarities I saw in my own personality. And for the first time it occurred to me, I fit in. I was myself completely and never once tried to fit a mold - I did not have to. It was then I realized, all the pieces to the puzzle that was me, fit perfectly together. I am part Huffman, part Napolitano, part Dewey and part me. I now know who I look like and finally understand why I am the person I am. I can at last be comfortable in my own skin. I have been truly blessed with not one, but two awesome families. I would be remiss if I did not thank my friend Jim Bianco, who gave me the push and support I needed to find my family and in that process, myself. I now feel complete. If you were adopted and hesitating to find your family, my advice is this. Do it! Even if your story does not have the happy ending mine did, it is worth the risk. Unless you try, you will never know.
But, this story is far from over. If you read this well, you may have caught what my uncle asked my mother...those babies...plural. I was not the only baby my mother gave birth to and had to leave at an orphanage. There are more missing siblings! Another child was born in Chicago and we believe 2 were born in Louisville, Kentucky. And this warm and wonderful family wants to be reunited with them too. And so a new journey begins, to complete our family. My next blog post will give all the information I know regarding my other adopted siblings. I hope you will share it and help us find them.