by Diane Gray
This is a story about adoption, about finding family, about not giving up. Sometimes, the way a thing turns out in the end is more important than the reason it happened to begin with.
My name is Diane Gray. I am a 63-year-old adoptee. I have known I was adopted since about the age of 5. It never bothered me growing up but as I got older and had my own family, I started wondering about my biological mother and father. Did I have any brothers and sisters? What were they like? Do I look like them? What were the circumstances surrounding my adoption?
My parents (the couple who adopted and raised me from 5-days-old) were amazing. My older sister was adopted, too. I was blessed to be brought up by loving, kind, inspirational and Christian parents. My father passed 11 years ago and my mother 9 years ago. Their passing really started me wondering, in earnest, about other family I might have.
I was born and adopted in New York, a closed adoption state. I did not even have an original birth certificate. A few years ago, I decided to take a DNA test to see if I had any biological family. The results came back with a 2nd cousin. Attempting to understand it was crazy for me. I joined several adoption and genealogy groups on Facebook and started asking questions to understand this new “language” from my DNA test.
A professional genealogy researcher reached out to me and started digging into what little information I could provide. More than once, I was ready to give up—but my faith in God carried me through. It’s amazing how much a genealogist can glean from the “non-identifying information” from my hospital records. Using census data to narrow down the possible search pool, the researcher was eventually able to determine who my biological mother and father were. After 3 and 1/2 years of searching, my researcher was certain she had finally found them.
Both my biological mother and father are living. I have 3 biological full sisters. Two weeks before Christmas, I finally had the names, addresses and phone numbers of my 3 sisters. I was thrilled. My prayers were answered.
It was several weeks later when I got the courage to pick up the phone and make the call. How do you start a conversation with a stranger 800 miles away and tell them that we’re sisters? The call went to voice mail. I did not leave a message. The next day I called the office at the business my new sister and her husband own. I left a message “regarding a personal matter” and five minutes later my sister called me back.
I explained who I was: that I was an adoptee from upstate New York and had been working with a professional genealogy researcher in search of my biological family which had lead me to her. She was just as shocked as I was. We chatted for a while, and, understandably, she wanted to do some research and call me later. The next day, she called with an update. She and one of her sisters went to their father and told them about our conversation. He confirmed everything. It’s true…we are full siblings.
My biological father was thrilled that the truth was finally out in the open. He wanted to know when I was coming. It took some planning; my older sister, from my adopted family, who I grew up with, came with me (she was actually meeting with HER biological family for the first time, too, but that’s another story). I flew to New York in the middle of the biggest snow storm of the season.
Before I knew it, I was face-to-face with my biological sisters. It was magical. We all look alike. We sound alike. Our mannerisms were alike. WOW. I am blessed. We all talked for hours. Two days later I finally get to meet my biological father. All my sisters were there with their husbands. We walked into the house, my father was across the room. We walk towards each other, both of us crying. He hugs me tight. He said he NEVER wanted to let me go. He told me he thought about me every day.
My biological parents had married several months after my adoption, and had divorced over 40 years ago. My father explained how different the world was at the time of my birth and how sorry he was to give me up. I told him not to be sorry, that my life has been wonderful. I told him that, because of giving me up for adoption, he had given so much joy to so many people. My adoptive parents had been unable to conceive naturally. I never would have met my husband. My children and grandchildren are a result of the adoption. He was thrilled to have great grandchildren. I gave him a photo album to show him just some of the people in my world and see what my childhood had been like.
Connecting with my biological family has been amazing beyond words. I want the whole world to know the story. There is never a guarantee that research will find a connection, or that the discovery process and meeting will be well-received and result in a positive experience. The stories don’t always turn out as well as mine did. I know my faith, hope and perseverance is what got me through a snow storm that lead me to my family.
As technology and DNA research become more advanced, finding long lost family is more of a possibility than it used to be. More than anything, I want to inspire and encourage others to look for and reach out to people whom they might never have otherwise had the opportunity to meet.
Diane is available to speak at any function about Faith, Hope and Perseverance. For more information email