Archive for Sunday, December 7, 2008

Woman finds birth family

December 7, 2008


Debra Newman, right, Bonner Springs, hugs her birth mother, Dorothy Appleberry. The two were reunited recently in Carrollton, Mo.

Debra Newman, right, Bonner Springs, hugs her birth mother, Dorothy Appleberry. The two were reunited recently in Carrollton, Mo.

— While she was growing up, Debra Newman never felt as if anything was missing.

She had two loving, adoptive parents and three siblings who all formed a close family. But now, at age 50 and with all but one brother dead, the Bonner Springs resident is feeling an intense void in her life that she’s starting to realize was there all along.

“I always knew that something was missing a little bit. Like I’m an artist. Where did I get that from? But it never felt like a big hole,” she said. “After the Newmans passed away, that hole got bigger. But now I don’t feel that way. I’ve got my family back.”

From as young as she can remember, Newman’s adoptive parents, Archie and Martha Newman, were open with her about her adoption status. She grew up a happy child on a farmstead in the small town of Carrollton, Mo., with little thought about her birth family.

At age 17, Newman’s adoptive mother asked her if she wanted to know anything about her birth mother. Newman wasn’t entirely interested but decided she just wanted a name.

“Her name was Dorothy Appleberry,” Newman said. “And that’s all I ever knew until October 27.”

Little did Newman know, not only was her birth mother out there waiting for her, but also nine siblings. For the first time in years, Newman found her family, and just in time for the holidays.

It all started when Newman was watching a TV show called “The Locator.” The show follows a man who searches out lost family members for people. That got Newman thinking.

She remembered a business sign back in Carrollton that she passed on a regular basis during her childhood: Appleberry Realty. She wasn’t sure if there was a connection, but she figured it was a good place to start.

To her surprise, the person on the phone knew exactly who Newman was looking for and gave her the number of a 69-year-old man who was supposed to be her oldest brother. Newman called her brother and thus began the start of her new family.

Over the next week, Newman was in touch with several more siblings and found why her mother put her up for adoption.

At age 19, Dorothy became an unmarried mother to her first child. After a few years she met and married a man with whom she had five more children. Then came Newman.

Newman said that there was some question as to whom her father was, but it’s nearly impossible to prove because both men are dead. At the time of her birth, Dorothy was on welfare with six other children to feed. Newman said a social services agency told her mother she would either have to give Newman up for adoption or have all of her children taken away.

Newman spent the rest of her young life living in the same town as her birth mother and siblings. She said many of her brothers and sisters knew who she was and watched her grow up, fighting back the urge to say something.

With the missing pieces of her life falling into place, Newman was determined to take it a step further.

She arranged a gathering with her siblings in Carrollton. All who could make it met her in the town’s McDonald’s and with tears, hugs and a whole lot of talking, Newman was reunited with her family.

The day didn’t end with the meeting of her siblings. She had one more person she wanted to see.

As she walked down the long hallway of an assisted living home in Carrollton, Newman’s mind raced. She came to a door and knocked. When the door opened, Newman saw her mother for the first time and burst into tears.

The two spent the rest of the day talking and making promises to meet again.

Newman said for the first time in many years, she feels complete again and has gotten questions answered that she always wondered about.

Newman plans to return to Carrollton to spend Christmas there and said she can’t wait to get to know the people she’s waited so many years for.

“It’s nice to have family for the holiday,” she said. “I realized that I’m at a place where I’ve pushed ‘reset.’ I feel like I’m starting a whole brand new life with a new family.”


SMe 9 years, 3 months ago

Hey, LJ-W you wanna hear two tales about finding birth families you oughtta contact me!

Deja Coffin 9 years, 3 months ago

Good for her, congrats! I'd love to hear more stories like this!

KSChick1 9 years, 3 months ago

Me too, although I found a child I had been forced to give up when I was 17. It's been bittersweet, let me tell you.

dustyshook 9 years, 3 months ago

"For the first time in years, Newman found her family, and just in time for the holidays."As an adopted person myself, I feel compelled to say that this comment (from atricle) doesn't sound fair. Like me, it sounds like she had a wonderful, loving and open adoptive family. That has been her REAL family--helping her grow, nurturing, caring and providing for her. The other is her biological family, and hopefully that will blossom into a fulfilling relationship, too. But to say that for the first time Newman "found her family" is just not right. Family is not just about blood ties, as that comment seems to imply. Perhaps it should have read "found her biological family."

justforfun 9 years, 3 months ago

Anybody know the best way to start the search? I've been starting to wonder.Thanks

mom_of_three 9 years, 3 months ago

Two years ago, about this time of year, I started searching to see where my grandmother's biological father ended up and if there were any siblings. It took me several months, but I found my grandmother's half siblings. My grandmother met her younger half sister on Labor Day, September 2007. It was a day I will never forget, and my grandmother died on Christmas Eve of the same year. I am still in touch with my great aunt, and hope to visit her again next May.

Maddy Griffin 9 years, 3 months ago

I also found the child I was forced to give up in '73 earlier this year. It's been a wonderful experience catching up and being able to explain all the reasons why. For the person who was wondering where to start, I did it all by myself for free through I registered there in 2004 and she registered last year at Christmas. I found her last September after being without a computer for almost 4 years and was amazed at how easy it was. It won't be that easy for everybody but I would recommend starting there.

KSChick1 9 years, 3 months ago

Religious right, my arse. My dad was a minister. Getting pregnant at 16/giving birth at 17 was the worst thing I could have done in my household, except for getting hooked on drugs. There was no support, no guidance, just "give it up" because we won't help you. I was also told that I didn't have a chance in life with a baby with no father (first love, already broken up, he lived in a different state by then), no education, no job, no car, no way to even get somewhere and ask for help.Who has the money for an abortion at 17????IDIOTIC COMMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!You say you understand and honor my plight, but you don't really or you wouldn't have prefaced it with your comment about guilt. Do you think I DON'T feel guilty for disobeying, being disrespectful, and then bringing a child into this world that I had no hope of supporting? I can tell you that being forced to give him up was one of the worst moments in my life. I have never stopped thinking about him or wishing that things were different. His adoptive parents couldn't have kids and were so happy to have the chance to be parents. That is seriously the only consolation in the whole situation. Adoption is really never easy, even if your mind is made up that it's the best thing for the child. The birth mother almost without fail ends up with a broken heart. Intellectually you may be able to rationalize your decision but you can't tell your heart or empty arms that this was for the best and think that assuages any of the pain or guilt.It would have only been worse knowing that I aborted and killed the child. At least by giving him up, even being forced to do so, he was raised in a stable home with two parents. There are a lot of kids in this country who only dream of that!You can be a forever family without giving birth, and my son has always been a child of his adoptive mother's heart, if not her body.

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