In the year of 2017 my deceased father would have been 100 years old. He was an abandoned baby found by a policeman who brought him to the New York Foundling home where he stayed for two years and then they transferred him to the Children’s Village in Dobb’s Ferry until he ran away at the age of fifteen, he was never adopted. That was the information he was given and we as his family grew up knowing. I decided to take a DNA test in 2017 only wanting to know what percentage his ethnicity was. On my mother’s side we are German.
I never dreamed of finding his family, but his family found me. I received a short but detailed email response on March 16, 2018 from a woman stating that she administers 17 kits and I “closely match 8 others” one of which is her husband and her two grandsons. I sat there stunned. The probability of this was enormous, the proverbial needle in a haystack. Steadman, is my family name, of no origin, no ethnicity, and no clue.
I was told my father’s mother was eighteen, pregnant and unmarried; she was kept at home and told the baby would be given up for adoption by her father. Her father gave the baby to a police officer he knew, who delivered him to the orphanage. One of the last surviving older cousins divulged the story and stated “that my grandmother always regretted having to give up your father and she never did have any more children.”
In March and April of 2018 many emails and pictures flew back and forth between the family administrator and me. The last email was dated April 13th “Just a quick note, I have been having a bad round of migraines the past week or so… Apologize for the delay in getting back, working on it. I will also be sending you some pics, too. I checked my emails every day and no response, I knew she had a lot on her plate and I certainly didn’t want to offend her or come on aggressively but I was dying here, she had the answers to my family and I was now invested in this venture. So each day I went to the library and with the little information I was sent I started researching in Ancestry for more documentation, clues to make connections, putting names and dates of birth and death to the pictures, estimating ages and reading and re-reading between the lines of what I knew and what I eventually surmised. I sent a short email on April 30th to test the waters, would she respond, would there be more information, more pictures, come on your killing me in silence.
An email response on April 30th, “Have been on the go constantly, including non-ending high school baseball games at least through this week… also dealing with continuing issues with my mother in the nursing facility in SC. Probably heading down in a few weeks. I haven’t forgotten…I am working on some Richmond info & will send you more pictures. Hope all is well…be back in touch soon.”
I sit here now and wait. No one knows what a range of emotions I have gone through in the past ten weeks. Ecstatic in the possibility of finding out who my father’s family was, great sorrow for my father never finding out the circumstances of his birth, revelation in the astonishing resemblance of my father and the man who would be his grandfather and the one who gave him away. I’ve been giddy with anticipation, crying with grief, a wrath of anger and now a period of solace to sort all of this out.
As I lay my hand on the granite headstone and take a deep breathe,
It is my only connection to my parents and generations that came before me.
From flesh and blood to stone, that is what every life entails, beginning to end.
It is now 2020, there has never been any more communication between my father’s family and I. In my researching I have found a few inconsistencies in the story I was told. None of that matters anymore.
From DVD The Librianian
“You reminded me that what defines us isn’t what we’re born into. It’s what we choose to be.”