Laura Stover finds her father 2010.10.20

Written by David Green. Posted in Feature Stories

laura_stover.jpgBy DAVID GREEN

The fact that Laura Stover was adopted was never a secret from her. For as long as she can remember, she knew that her parents, Charles and Phyllis Sandusky, obtained her from a foster home when she was a baby.

The secret lay in the identity of her birth parents.

She wondered about them from time to time, and after high school she started reading about how a person could track down birth parents.

The words “Social Security number” figured large in the process and Laura had none.

A few years went by before she decided to begin the search. That occurred about seven years ago and the effort led to communication with her birth mother.

A document from the adoption agency listed only general information. Her closed-adoption birth certificate let her know she was born at Detroit’s Botsford Hospital so she asked for the medical records.

Laura knew it wouldn’t provide all the information she needed, but she hoped for the best. She received a photocopy of the original records, with names whited out before the copy was made.

About a week later, a stroke of luck aided her search. Someone at the hospital made a mistake and mailed the copy with the white correction fluid. It was easy to see the names by holding the paper up to the light.

What she learned first was the name of her grandfather because her mother was still on his insurance coverage. She soon learned he was deceased, so she next obtained his death certificate.

There was her mother’s maiden name, but that was only half of what she needed. The certificate listed a brother of her mother and an internet search led to him. When Laura called, he promised to inform her mother about the phone call.

“She called me back in about a week,” Laura said, and they’ve had intermittent contact ever since, although her mother isn’t yet interested in a visit.

Laura was given the name Randy K by her mother and learned they went to Cody High School together, but that was all her mother would offer—not even the full last name. They weren’t even dating by the time her mother discovered she was pregnant.

Laura found a website with listings of Cody classes and in with the Class of 1974 she found a Randy with a last name that started with “K.”

“This is how I found my birth dad,” she said, “by looking through the Cody website.”

It was just a year ago when she came up with a name and phone number, but she didn’t call right away.

“I gave it some time because I didn’t know what to say,” Laura said. “I didn’t want to cause problems with his family. I had to prepare myself for finding out that maybe he didn’t want to know me.”

She finally made the call, but the number was disconnected.

Additional searches showed that phone number and listed a wife and children. Laura also found a separate listing for his wife.

“Should I call that number?” she wondered. “Does she know?”

This seemed to be her only hope.

“I rehearsed a few things I would say and I said I was trying to find some classmates of my mom,” Laura said.

However, it was a man who answered and Laura left her name and number, wondering if she would ever get a return call.

She did call back and asked if Laura was searching for big Randy or little Randy. Laura said it was someone around 55 years of age.

“I already knew what you were going to tell me,” the woman said.

When they were dating, Randy told her about his child given up for adoption, and he told her that he would really like to meet her some day.

The two were no longer married and Randy had left the state in search of employment after being laid off from the Detroit Public School system.

Once again, Laura received a promise that her message would be passed on, and then she waited.

The call came in April—April 28, to be exact, one day before Laura’s birthday.

“It was kind of like a birthday present,” she said.

Laura told him the tale of her search and he mentioned there were 900 students in his graduating class at Cody. That made her success all the more satisfying.

Randy came for a visit in June to meet his long-lost daughter and to meet his “new” grandchildren. He looked through Laura’s scrapbooks to get a slice of her life growing up in Morenci, and they all had dinner together at the Sandusky house. Laura’s adopted parents were strong supporters of her search.

The meeting brought closure to Randy’s longings as well as Laura’s.

“I had two photos of you as a baby,” he said. “That’s all I’ve had for 35 years.”

All he knew in 1975 is that the adoption met two qualifications that the birth parents requested—the new parents would be college educated and involved with the Lutheran Church. And he also knew she was off to live in a farmhouse.

With only those clues, he didn’t expect to ever meet her unless she found him.

Laura’s family continues to grow. In addition to the three siblings she grew up with, she has other brothers and sisters from both her mother and father that she’s yet to meet. She also keeps in touch with her foster parents even though she spent only the first month of her life with them.

She’s made it clear to both of her birth parents that she has no regrets about their decision to choose adoption.

“I’ve had a great life,” she’s told them, quite satisfied with how things have turned out. It’s just a curiosity that’s driven her search.

She’s hoping her birth mother eventually decides to meet. Perhaps some day her mother will have the same feeling that her father expressed on a card attached to flowers: “Thanks for not giving up.”

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