Finding My Birth Family
I was told as a small child that I was adopted. My mother said my birth mother died when I was born and my father died in WW II.
I never thought much about finding my birth parents. My adoptive parents seemed like my ŇrealÓ parents.
After my mother died in 1990, my dad gave Roger a copy of my adoption papers that said my birth name was Kathleen Colburn. Why my dad had this official record of name change we will never know.
Roger convinced me to contact Lutheran Social Service who then sent me a letter with basic family information – ages of siblings, a description on my mother and some information of the family background of my mother and father. They also said that she hadnŐt requested contact with me. This led me to wait, thinking I might cause a problem for her if I tried to contact her.
In 2010 at a family reunion, RogerŐs cousin, Sharron Erickson did an Ancestry.com search based on the name Colburn and the ages of my mother and siblings, and found a family from Isanti County that she thought might match using the 1930 census. My birth mother was listed as Ňbaby girlÓ so she couldnŐt find out more.
In 2014 on a trip with us to see RogerŐs aunt and uncle, Pat & Ray in Ohio, Sharron started searching again and could use the information from the 1940 census to learn more about the family and my birth mother by using the information from Lutheran Social Services to compare. She became about 95% sure that my birth mother was Corrine Colburn who lived in Isanti County, then moved to North St. Paul.
She found a photo of her in 8th grade (the year I was born. When we got home, Roger put a photo of me at Confirmation, when I was about the same age).
Using the ŇAncestry.comÓ site, Sharron then tried to locate the aunts, nieces, nephews, and siblings, many of which are still in Isanti County.
Interestingly, I was born in St. Paul, and adopted at six months old. I lived in Waseca my entire life until Roger and I got married and we moved to Cambridge. Waseca is probably 120 miles south of Cambridge. To find that I might have relatives within just a few miles of where we had lived for the last 48 years was pretty amazing.
I tried calling my B***** cousins with no luck. This would have been the children of my motherŐs sister, Patricia.
Sharron had found a number for a Patricia L B*****, so I tried calling her. Right name, wrong person. She was very sweet, calling her mother-in-law to see if they knew of any relatives in Isanti. No luck.
I looked on Facebook and found a Patricia B***** who Sharron thought probably wasnŐt my aunt and a Kathy J***** B***** who would be my cousinŐs wife. There was no phone number in the directory, but later on her Facebook page I found a phone number for Bob as he was selling a house in Big Fork.
I called him and he was very understanding and helpful. He contacted his mother, Patricia, who agreed to let me see her family photos. Pat also said she would do the Ň23 & MeÓ genetic test which would provide proof one way or the other.
I became Facebook friends with BobŐs wife, Kathy and when Bob and his mother saw my photos they were sure I was a relative – the resemblance to Diane and Corrine was amazing to them. Soon two of BobŐs cousins (Denise and Pam) then became Facebook friends with me.
Roger put some of my baby and childhood photos on Facebook. PamŐs mother also said the resemblance to Denise and Corrine made her think we had to be from the same family.
On November 17th I called my sister Diane. This was a hard call to make. She seemed overwhelmed with the idea and didnŐt seem to really believe I could be her sister. You can only imagine what a shock this would be to have a call out of the blue telling you that you might have a sister you never knew about. I suggested meeting at WintergreenŐs to share photos and meet each other, and gave her my number to call if she wanted to do that. I told her about the Ň23 & MeÓ genetic test that would prove whether or not we were related, and she suggested I call her brother Gary in Cambridge, which I tried to do, but he wasnŐt home.
On November 18 Pam e-mailed me inviting me to have lunch with her and her sister Denise and BobŐs wife Kathy.
On November 18th, I talked to my half brother Gary for quite a while. They live a short distance out of Cambridge to the north. Diane had called him, so he was not as shocked to hear from me. He suggested meeting for lunch to share photos. He asked his stepdad (My motherŐs second husband) and he didnŐt know about me either. He said his mother liked to do projects and kept making her lawn bigger to plant more flowers. I gave him my phone number and ŇfriendedÓ him on Facebook.
On November 21, I had lunch with three of my "cousins" (they are 3 sisters – Pam, Denise, and Debbie , one from Isanti, one north of Cambridge, and one from the cities. Debbie brought along some old photos, some of my "biological mother" and of them and their cousins.
They also think I look and sound like their aunt Corrine (my "mother") and resemble my half sister. They were really welcoming and we had a nice two-hour lunch. I'm Facebook friends now with all three of them. One of my "aunts" has sent for the 23 & Me kit to do the genetic testing.
November 22: While we were at DerekŐs my sister Diane called and said she had talked to Gary and that they would like to get together. He asked to be included when we met the week after Thanksgiving.
December 2: Met with Diane and Gary for lunch. We talked and looked at photos for nearly 3 hours. Both brought old photos of themselves and their mother. Diane even copied off some of them for me to have.
They both seemed open to the idea of me really being their sister. We talked about getting together again with our spouses. I learned that my mother had a heart attack in her 60Ős, Diane had an angioplasty in her 60Ős, my uncle and grandfather both died young from heart attacks.
Got a call tonight from Pat who is in Texas. She got the 23 & Me kit and is ready to send it back. Asked about registering it online.
December 7: Had an hour long phone call from Jan with lots of information on the family. Corrine had two heart attacks and lost her husband, aunt, and baby boy within 6 months.
December 23: Roger and I met with Diane and Herman (Hermie) at Wintergreens for a 2 hour supper and gave her the kit. Good conversation. Got a Facebook message from Gary asking about the DNA progress and sending holiday greetings.
January 8: Discovered that my cousins lived near Darrel Bieder in Belle Plaine and one would have graduated with Rodney.
January 10: Checked on 23 & M3 and saw that Diane had info on the Maternal Haplogroup. Hers matched with Kent, Derek, and I. When I put in her name and mine to compare at Family Traits, we matched partially in every chromosome which confirms we are related. Called Gary and Diane to let them know and sent messages to each of the cousins I contact on Facebook.
Feb. 12: I got a call last night from Pat. Her 23 & Me had just come out and showed us as half-sisters. I found a chart that showed that half-silbings share the same amount of DNA as aunts/nieces or nephews, so because of our close age we were put down as half-sisters. I asked 23 & Me what to do and they sent me directions to correct it for both Diane and me. I also changed Derek and Kent to being nephews of Diane.
May 9: Found my birth motherŐs grave in the Mahtomedi cemetery, which we drive by almost every weekend when we go out to eat with Derek and his family.
This is a photo of my brother, sister, cousins, and me.