Since I was a little girl, I have always loved to read. I used to go to the library and check out stacks of mystery books. There is just nothing better than following the clues to discover the truth. So to be able to discover the truth to my own mystery was very fun and rewarding.
When I read on the pages that my birthmother had a sister who died in a car accident at age 17 shortly before I was born, I knew I couldn’t ask for a better clue. Certainly, a story like this would make the news and we could find an obituary, one of the greatest pieces of information when you are trying to find someone. Since it happened before the news was all over the internet, I asked a friend to seek out the microfiche to help me find the information.
My search friend sent me a link to the public state death index which allows you to search death certificates. If you have a last name and a date range you can see anyone who matches those criteria. It shows their name, date of birth, date they died, and the county they lived. Since I had already found the animal science club photo with first and last names, I pulled it out and just decided to start in the front row. I started entering in the last names of the women from the picture and after about ten minutes I found a match.
And the name of the girl who had died was Connie Ann. I knew that this could not be a coincidence. My birthmother had named me after her sister. I was overwhelmed and honored.
Had I really found her so quickly? I spent hours the next day searching the name that was a match, Denise, with not much luck. No address, phone number, Facebook, nothing. So I figured she must be married. I needed that obituary or my DNA results, which I estimated I had about 4-6 more weeks of waiting. I gave up for the night and went to bed.
The next morning my DNA results were waiting in my inbox! I was so surprised! Unfortunately they were of little to no help at this point.
Later in the afternoon I received an email from my search friend that would change everything. She had found a tribute to Connie in her high school yearbook, and had not found a Denise, but she had found a Sandy. She sent me a picture of both of them and there was no denying they were sisters. She had also found an update Sandy had written on classmates.com. Everything matched, the college she attended, the career I knew she was planning to pursue, she even shared her birthdate and age. It had to be her!
Again I found a dead end without having a married name. Her update said she had married and where she had moved to, but not who she married. There was no way I was giving up now! I found a Facebook page from her high school graduating class-they had planned a reunion. There was no sign of Sandy on that page, but there was a link to the class reunion website. This site had a list of everyone already planning to attend the reunion, and a list of people they had no contact information for- asking for help from others. That is where I found it: her married name.
With that information, my search friend took to her internet resources and found a current address which also listed all previous names, a match. And with that information I took to Facebook and found the proof I needed. Call me crazy, but I always had a feeling she would be a lover of Facebook- like me! (I’ve since learned that nature is strong and I’m not so crazy..well nevermind 😉 )
After I found Sandy on Facebook I was trying to figure out who her sisters were to make sure it was a match. And that is when I found the final piece of the puzzle. Five years ago she had posted a letter and probably forgotten about it by now. The caption said it was a letter from Connie from her first year of college. The letter confirmed Connnie’s respiratory health issues that I knew of, and the comments confirmed that there was a little sister, Lenore- age 10, age 11 when I was born, and that Connie was now greatly missed. I would also soon discover that the original match, Denise, was her older sister, and that Sandy was NEVER in that science club. NEVER. That means I should have never received that information and that I wouldn’t have had a last name to search.
This was it. This was her. Now what? It was late Sunday night, and I needed to get to bed, but I couldn’t sleep. There was too much excitement and the next step was contacting her- but how and when and what would she say? What would I say? I wrote a letter before I went to bed to get it out of my head so I could sleep.
The next day I debated when and how I would contact her. Thought about what I would say. I was so nervous and anxious. My paperwork stated that she would like to hear from me when I was an adult- hopefully she hadn’t changed her mind. By five o’clock I couldn’t wait anymore. I had to take a chance. My search friend said she actually preferred using Facebook because you can be sure they’ve seen it, unlike a letter. The phone was not an option for me, I would chicken out for sure.
I drafted a Facebook message introducing myself and the information that I knew and told her I thought she might be my birthmother. Since we weren’t friends, I couldn’t take the chance of the message going to her other box and her never seeing it. I spent the best dollar of my life so it would go to her inbox, and then I waited.
An hour passed and she had not read my message yet. I had dinner plans with a friend (also an adoptee) and did my best to focus on my meal and the conversation. I tried to ignore every time I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. When I told my friend my story she couldn’t believe how calm I was and forced me to take my phone out of my pocket! 😀
There was still no response so I laid my phone on the table. Five minutes later it came.
She confirmed that the information I had was accurate, that she was my birthmother and told me she had named me after the sister who died. Connie Ann. Then she told me the words that would take my breath away and bring me to tears.
Today is Connie’s birthday!
Connie’s Senior picture, age 17 My senior picture, age 17