I have a new first cousin. Her name is Carol, and she was born June 16. That would be June 16, 1946.
When Carol was sixteen days old, her mother, my aunt, my mother's only sister, arranged for her to be adopted. My aunt already had one baby daughter, Betty, born one year earlier almost to the day. In between the births of her daughters, her husband left. Twenty years old, single and faced with raising two babies alone, she felt the best thing to do would be to give Carol up to be raised by someone who would be able to give her what she needed. That's our assumption, my aunt would never talk about it.
She eventually married again and had another two children, two sons. In the 60 years after Carol was born and until her death five years ago, my aunt steadfastly refused to discuss her. My mother was 13 when Carol was born. She saw her only once and knew she had been adopted by a woman she knew only as "Mrs. C." Shortly after Carol was born, Mrs. C moved. My mother never saw them again. Until a week ago.
Although I was close and spent lots of time in my aunt's house growing up, it wasn't until I was an adult that my mother told me about Carol. Or she told me as much as she knew about her, which wasn't much. Betty found out about her eventually, too, and talked about finding her sister. But all we had was that last name. No first name for Mrs. C, nothing. A few years ago, Betty's daughter did find some of their biological father's family but he had died and the family knew nothing about Carol either.
I've done a lot of genealogical research on the family over the years and have tried but never had any luck finding Carol. A long time ago I put a query out on a genealogy online bulletin board asking if anyone knew Carol "C" born 6/16/46. I never received a response.
Recently Betty called me again saying she really wanted to find Carol. This time I started going through records on Ancestry.com. Sure enough, within 5 minutes I had found an obituary of a man who died two years ago whose wife's name was Carol with the maiden name "C." He was about the age she would be and they lived in the same town that my aunt was living in all those years ago. Could it be? Could it be that Mrs. C and Carol were living right there in town all along?
A little more research and I had an address for Carol. I gave Betty the information and she sat down to write a letter. What should she say? Suppose Carol didn't know she was adopted? Suppose she did and didn't want a connection to her biological family? Betty sent the letter and it came back.....Addressee Unknown. A dead end.
I went back to the computer and found several people with her married name in the same little town. Before I had a chance to start making some random calls, Betty's husband called me and said, "I think we've found her." He had beat me to the random calling and found a relative of Carol's late husband who said she'd remarried and moved to another state. They had her cell number.
It was Carol, our Carol. She knew she had been adopted. Her birth date was right, and she had discovered her father's last name years ago. Her adoptive mother, who died 30 years ago, would never discuss her birth either. Carol wanted to know more but with nothing except a last name to go on, she could never find more.
Now here we were. Her family. She was excited to learn that she had a sister, two half brothers, nieces, nephews, cousins and an aunt. Several times she told us that she grew up happy and well loved but had always wanted to know more.
We sent her family photos and she sent some of her. Her resemblance to my aunt, her mother, is astonishing. If there ever was any doubt about who she is, once we saw her, it was gone. One of the grand kids looked at a photo of Carol and her husband and asked, "who's the man with Nana?"
Last week Betty, her husband, Bob, Mom and I traveled to meet Carol. After 64 years (almost to the day), several phone calls and a few emails, Carol had her family and Betty had her sister.