When Susan asked me to share my entire story, I tried to think of how to start. 

I guess it starts with the earliest time I can remember feeling like a square peg in a round hole. I just always knew I didn't belong where I was. I looked different and acted different than my adoptive parents. I believe I was around 10 or 11 when I started asking questions. I was always poo pooed and made to feel like I was doing something wrong for asking. I can remember rummaging through a desk in the house where all the important papers were kept, trying to find some basis or evidence for my intuition. I searched everywhere without success. 

I always knew that my relationship with my mother was not like the relationships my friends had with their moms. I would tell myself that it was because there was such a big age difference (40 years) but I knew that wasn't the case. 

Over the years, I just pushed my gut feelings away. I got married, raised a family but I always knew that one day I would search and I would find out the truth. Even my children would ask my parents if I was adopted because I was just so different from them, they would just ignore the questions and change the subject. 

My dad passed in 1999 and my mom in 2010.  Even given a chance on her deathbed to tell me the truth, she still denied it. About a month after she died I started searching, going through everything in her house and everything she had stored at my house but still found nothing.

I researched on Google, looking up family traits and hospital records.  Asked cousins who I still kept in touch with about hospitals they were born in. 

You see, for an adult I have fairly small hands with long slim fingers, a size 9 foot and prominent nose. All of which neither of my adoptive parents had, traits that would be passed down in a family. I didn't tell anyone that I was searching for about a month then I told my daughter who made the trip with me to NYC to peruse the birth index. 

Of course my name wasn't there which I knew would be the case. This only confirmed what I had already suspected. I was, indeed, adopted. 

Long story short, I came to find out that everyone except me was in on the secret. Immediate and extended family, my husband; in a split second my whole life and the relationships I had changed. Being adopted wasn't the issue, being lied to about it was. My parents had left some papers that contained my adoption decree and a lawyer’s “bill of sale” and I had a name…Female Frazier. 

I thought, great I didn't even have a first name. It was hard for me to grasp it all. I am so very maternal, the thought that I came from someone who didn't want me … well it was hard.

It seems everyone felt it wasn't their place to tell me. Not when I had my first child, or my twins, or when my kids were sick in the hospital. I just didn't understand how anyone looked me in the face.

Somehow I felt like it was my fault. How did I let any signs pass me by over the years?

Were there signs? So many of the choices I made would have been different had I really known the truth. So many years that I could have been searching were lost. Here I was at 49 years old with the prospect of searching for the next 30 years. This is not what I wanted, at a time when I should be enjoying my adult children and the events that would be happening in their lives. 

I embarked on a journey that would ultimately take me 5 years. Searching everywhere, signing up with every online adoption search related organization. I completed DNA with the big 3, Ancestry, FTDNA and 23andMe. After about 4 years I connected with a second paternal cousin from 23andMe and that connection led me to Search Quest America. 

We had already started a tree on Ancestry and had been researching both paternal and maternal family names, but I was at the point that I needed help putting all the pieces together. The free Search Angels had only gotten me so far. I inquired with other paid searchers but the prices were outrageous. 

Search Quest America had actually contacted me first, through information that I had on a site for ‘The Locator’. Of course I was suspicious and I knew it wouldn't happen as easily as I was told but in the end I did sign a reasonably priced contract and was put in touch with David Guentner, the “New York guy.” In one day David completed what took me all summer to do. We emailed just about everyday, I even emailed him my thoughts as they popped into my head, my “thinking out loud“. 

Within months we had identified my birthparents. My mother was 33 years old at my birth and the mistress of my birthfather who was 62.  My birthfather was deceased but I did contact his family. They helped definitively prove my parentage with DNA. My birthparents were together over 30 years and briefly married in the 1980s only to divorce after a few years. 

Unfortunately my birthmother refuses to acknowledge me. I had hoped that at the age of 87 she would have been able to accept the truth, especially when faced with irrefutable evidence, but that is not the case. I am sad for both of us but I must accept her choice. 

On a happier note, I plan on meeting my paternal birth family very soon. I have an 87 year old half sister and nieces and a nephew with extended family. In the end, I found my answers with the help of Search Quest America; the missing pieces to help me find peace.

JoAnn DeVita

Shared with permission of the author