My name is Jeannette Elaine Casselman and this is my personal story about how I became involved in adoption searches.
My parents divorced in 1965. During that period my father was great at throwing out little innuendos regarding my mother’s past. The accusations were just enough to pique my curiosity, but not enough to bring me to confront either parent. I was only ten years old and certainly did not have the gumption to question either one of them.
Almost 25 years went by before I approached my mother regarding some of the troubling things my siblings and I had overheard throughout the years. My mother had been diagnosed with lung cancer and was given six months to live. I thought that if I was ever going to know more about her past that I needed to ask her now or I would never know. The big bomb was that she had a child she put up for adoption. She gave my sisters and I some of the details (very few) and stated that she did not ever want us to mention it again. Much to my regret, that is exactly what I did. She went to her grave with the adoptive parents’ information. That is when my passion to search and locate my sister began.
I decided to try and locate the child my mother had given up. I started in Texas, as that is where we were raised and where my mother was born. I searched for five years in Texas. I would frequently fly into Austin and search through the Texas birth indexes. I searched in Texas through every female adoptee's records that was born in the time frame that I believed my mother had given up our sister.
Through the course of visiting the archives in Austin, I met a man named David Grey. David was very instrumental in helping to make the Texas birth records public. By this point I had become very proficient at searching records. I decided to start doing volunteer work for David by going through the birth records and identifying the records of the children that were adopted. I thought if I couldn't find my sister, at least I could help others find their loved ones.
Around the same time period as the death of my mother, my father-in-law also passed away, and another secret was out of the closet. I discovered that my husband had a sibling that his father had relinquished. My husband did not really believe it, and took little interest in whether or not it really was true. I began a search for her that took me to California and Florida. This was a new venture taking me to other states, dealing with their state laws, and having only a minimal amount of information. I only knew that the last name had something to do with baby food (according to my father-in-law's widow). I began to scour records, called old classmates and co-workers, ordered military records, sent for SS5's, and the list goes on and on. After a lot of research I was able to narrow down a time frame, and lo and behold I came across the name Gerber. Aha!! Sounded like it might be right...you know, as in Gerber baby food. I sent off for a potential death certificate on the mother, and sure enough it led me to Florida and to my husband's newly-found sister. Fortunately for us she was aware of her last name at birth and immediately knew why I was calling. It was a wonderful ending to an extensive search, and we couldn't be happier that my hubby gained a sister, and that she and her family are in our lives.
After I found my husband's sister I felt renewed and had a fresher outlook on the search process. I decided to find a new approach to my own search for my sister. Little did I know what road that would lead me down. I found two uncles that I did not even know existed, and with new information I was now headed for an even bigger obstacle. I discovered my mother had moved to Flagstaff during the time frame that I thought my sister was born. I had to start my search all over right here in my own state. I scoured any public records I could find for several years. Empty-handed again! I had spent a good seven years devoted to finding my sibling and felt like I had exhausted all my leads.
I continue to search periodically for my sibling, but I am certain she does not know she is adopted. Three years ago I finally found her original birth certificate in Minnesota. She was named exactly what my mother had said. The time frame was not what I had originally thought, and the last name my mother used was actually her own mother's maiden name. When I received the birth record there was no doubt that the signature was my mother's, and her first name was also my mother's unusual name. The obstacle had been that she used her mother's maiden name as a last name, and I certainly didn't start looking in Minnesota. However, I knew when I received the birth certificate from Minnesota that my search was at a dead end. They (the State of Minnesota) would not have sent the original birth certificate if there had been a legal adoption attached to her. Sadly, I had to conclude that my sister never knew she had been adopted, and that in all likelihood my mother allowed a couple to just assume possession of her daughter without any legal process taking place.
While it is difficult to accept that I will not find my sister, the process of searching for her has led me to a new path in life and helped me discover both a skill-set and passion for helping others find their loved ones.
New update...coming soon
Arizona Adoption Locator | Phone: (602) 373-7499 | Fax: (602) 368-0448 | Email: AZadoptionlok8r@gmail.com