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After church that Sunday, Jan buckled and decided to call Theresa at home, and again had to leave a message. After another agonizing day without a response from Theresa, Jan got online around 9:00 that evening and registered herself on the “Find My Family” website before going to bed. As Jan slept, “Find My Family” went to work and had contacted Theresa and told her they had found her birth mother. Jan’s phone rang at 5:15 P.M. Monday, and it was the call she had been waiting for! She looked at the caller ID when the phone rang and knew immediately that Theresa was calling her back. She had mixed feelings during their first phone call, ecstatic but worried that this might be the only chance she might have to talk with her daughter. Jan told Theresa on the call, “I had always felt as if there was a burning hole in my heart, and I felt as if it had healed with finding you and speaking with you!” Theresa sobbed and said, “I think mine has healed too, and I didn’t even know it needed to!” Their first conversation was very open and the two of them agreed to continue their relationship. Theresa’s Search Theresa started searching for her birth family beginning in 1999, the search difficult as she didn’t have any information about her birth family. Five years later she was able to obtain the non-identifying information from her adoption agency records. From there she learned that her birth mother was from South Dakota and used the information to update one of her adoption registry profiles on www. findmyfamily.org. Before recent birth data was removed from the internet due to identity theft concerns, Theresa found an entry that listed the possible last names of her birth parents. Though she didn’t know it at the time, those really were their last names! After searching the internet for anyone with those last names in South Dakota, she became completely overwhelmed when the search returned hundreds of names. Over fifteen years since she started searching, she went to law school, got married and had two children. She often became too busy to search, but every couple of years she would check the adoption registry websites for any new birth parent registrations or look for new ways to find information online. Though one of the easiest things anyone can do is to complete a Consent to Contact form with their adoption agency, hers didn’t make it to the mailbox. She obtained the form, had it notarized, filled out the envelope and put a stamp on it… but never mailed it in. Looking back, she feels that she might not have completed this step for fear of not being in control of her search or of being rejected. Making Contact One December evening, Theresa quickly checked Facebook before going to bed. She had a friend request from a person whom she recognized as being affiliated with Find My Family. Theresa asked if this person would provide help in finding her birth family; she was ready to commit to a search. The Find My Family contact immediately sent a message to Theresa that her birth mother had registered on their website and asked if they could share her contact information. Theresa immediately agreed. She spent that night on the internet, looking up her birth mother’s registry and found a name. Finding a picture of her birth mother and pictures of women who may be her sisters, she started comparing chins, eyes and noses. She talked with friends and family and agonized over when her birth mother was going to contact her. She called in to work to check her messages on her day off, December 12. There was a message from her birth mother, Jan Everson…the same woman she had found on the internet! When she picked up the house phone, there was another message from Jan. Theresa steeled her nerves and called her birth mom. Seeing is Believing Listening to them reminisce about the first time they all met was extremely heartwarming, like taking part in a production of a Hallmark movie. Theresa explains it like this, “When my daughter was born and I looked into her eyes, it was like looking into eyes that I knew. When I opened the door, and my mom Jan was there, it was the same experience, I was looking into these eyes that I knew.” Jan and Denny flew to Sacramento on March 20, 2015 for their first meeting with Theresa. Though Jan told Denny not to tape the private moment, he did anyway. Jan now treasures the ability to relive all the details of that memory. They met Theresa and her husband at their home and enjoyed a couple of happy, tearful hours together before her daughters came home from school. It was finally Jan’s opportunity to hug Theresa, 41 years later. Jan explained the moment, “It was to me as special as having your vTHE JOURNEY continued on page 15 Practicing the gentle art of modern dentistry. New Patients and Emergencies Welcome! 1101 Broadway Ste. 105, Morgen Square 605.665.2448 • www.scottfamilysmiles.com Experience Gentle, Personalized Dental Care For Your Entire Family! HERVOICEvMAY/JUNE 2017v11



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