My Birth & Adoption Story


I always knew I was adopted. But nothing was ever said about it. I often wondered about things growing up. Then over 25 years ago, I was introduced to genealogy, and began researching my adopted family tree. During that time, I thought more about my adoption and my real family tree. Then in 2002, I went to the emergency room for some kind of medical issue, and while there I was told my blood sugar was VERY high. A doctor visit after that revealed I had type 2 diabetes. So later, after I got home, I was wondering what other medical issues might be in store. At that point, I decided to put my research skills to work. I sent to Boston for "non-identifying" information. Before they sent the packet of information, which told the story of my birth family without revealing names, they called me and made sure I was sitting down first to give me the heads up. According to the records, my biological parents were brother and sister. As a matter of fact, the brother was sent to prison for about a year for this crime. This didn't shake me up because I realized right away that it wasn't like I could change it, nor was it my fault. After they told me on the phone, they said.... gee, you're taking this pretty well! I told them, I have been doing family history research for years, nothing surprises me anymore. I have uncovered skeletons in every family tree I have worked on. Now, "I" was the big scandal! I actually found this somewhat amusing. They proceeded to send a pile of papers, including two baby pictures from the day I was born. On the back was my birth name blacked out in magic marker. Held up to the light, I could read it. I then reached out to contacts I had made over the years from Massachusetts to Illinois, who were experts in the genealogy field as well as adoption records. Between their skills and mine, we put the pieces together bit by bit, and within only a few months we had names and locations.

A couple months later I met my birth mother and siblings. After a second visit a few months later, I concluded the family has not changed much since they were known to child welfare long before I was born. Not getting into details, but can say with certainty it was good I was adopted. Only two siblings who left the group early on have made something of themselves. If the records were correct, My birth mother had at least six children, most by different fathers. My alleged father had three children, including me. This meant, I had a large number of half siblings.

Since 2002 I have managed to acquire many of my pre-adoption records. Birth certificates, medical records, foster home records, and many more that most adoptees only wish they could have. I know that after my birth at Tewksbury State Hospital & Infirmary in November of 1959, I stayed at the hospital until February 26, 1960. From there I was sent to a foster home where I stayed until December 1, 1960 when I was placed with my adoptive parents. I was officially adopted in March 1962 and my name was changed.

Ok, fast forward to late 2013. For several years now I had been told by several people within the birth family group that there was another story besides the one my birth mother told me. Apparently, others were told it was actually my biological grandfather, who was my father, and not my mother's brother. There were stories of eye witness accounts of events between father and daughter long after I was born as well as other stories about the man. So, I sat down and reviewed everything I knew. Upon closer inspection of earlier notes and information, and putting together the stories from four different people who don't really even talk to each other, I now came to the conclusion my biological grandfather was most likely my birth father. Although I had enough circumstantial evidence, what I really wanted to find was some kind of smoking gun type evidence. After talking with a fellow researcher, we decided DNA might help. Because I wanted this to be done as correctly as possible including translating the results later, I went looking for help in that area.

Enter Cece Moore, an independent professional genetic genealogist, and Dr. Jim Wilson PHD, Senior Lecturer in Population and Disease Genetics at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland in March of 2014. They graciously took on my project despite their already hectic professional lives. This was because I was one of the rare individuals who was not only willing to talk about my information but also willing to share the information later. Most people upon learning they were born in a situation like mine, do not want to talk about it. During the study, Dr Wilson told me that it appeared to him that it looked like this incestual practice had been going on for generations in my biological family tree to some degree. It should be noted that my birth family was from a tiny village in the Azores Islands for hundreds of years. This may have been a contributing factor. Eventually, after much hard work and discussion, the two were able to trudge through all the DNA data. This included DNA collected from a child of the man originally accused of being my father. In the end, we were able to conclude with a fair amount of certainty that the man we thought was my biological grandfather was in fact my father. The DNA study confirmed all my previous research work. My only regret was that the man who took the fall for the family and went to prison for a year, died before I could tell him I knew he was innocent.

On a happier note, I am 55 years old as of this writing. Despite how things could have turned out for me in so many negative ways, I feel I've had a pretty good life. My birth family did the right thing to give me up for adoption, and I was raised in a very good environment. As for my health? Sure, I have diabetes. But so do millions of other people. I've had other health issues but nothing out of the ordinary for someone my age who doesn't exercise as much as I should. I'm currently a professional photographer and a professional genealogist. I was even a board member for two genealogical societies. I would say overall I have done alright for myself all things considered. This is one of the reasons I wanted to tell this story. One reason, is that it gives me a feeling of closure. Another, is that it's proof that no matter what was in your ancestral past, at least in some cases, it doesn't always turn out badly. There are times that your destiny lies not in your ancestry, but in yourself.

Copyright 2015 John Bedard all rights reserved.

I am a member of the following;

New England Historic Genealogical Society
Connecticut Society of Genealogists
Massachusetts Genealogical Council
International Society of Genetic Genealogy

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