Adopted Bridge City woman finds siblings
A teen-aged girl sits alone, crying, faced with an adult decision. Keep the baby raising it alone, or give it up for adoption. The year is 1948. Option and opinions are much different then than those teens face in 2011. The stigma was harsher, resources fewer, a different society for an unwed pregnant girl.
So it was for the birth mother of one Bridge City woman, Rebecca Messer. Adopted directly after her birth by a couple from Groves, Rebecca knew next to nothing about her birth mother, except that the decision she made was difficult, and the right one.
Rebecca Messer was raised with one older sibling, a sister, also adopted. Her sister, however had been eight years old when she became a part of their family, not adopted at birth.
“She had siblings that she knew and that she kept up with,” Rebecca says. Messer had a happy childhood, spoiling grandparents and a loving mother and father, but she did ponder on the same questions most adopted children do. Why didn’t they keep me? Who do I look like? Do I have other brothers and sisters? As time passed Rebecca did a little searching.
With encouragement from her sister and the support of her children, she would venture into trying to find more records. The complete story of her birth mother was locked in government red tape as many adoptions of the day.
“I knew her name and age. I thought I knew the state she lived in but that turned out to be incorrect,” Messer explains.
She knows this now because in the passed five months Messer’s knowledge of the woman who gave her life and the answers to most of those mysterious unanswerable questions have been solved. 2011 will also forever be remembered as the year Rebecca’s family grew exponentially for along with the answer to “Who do I look like?” came six look alike siblings for verification.
“It happened very quickly, she said. “In the past, I had tried to find out things. I went through International Locators. I had very little luck with them. Then I tried a one month free trial with Ancestory.com.”
Her daughter, Marcie Messer, who is just as excited about the story and its outcome as her mother, brings out a file folder with clippings, birth records and various documents of her mother’s search for answers.
“I had a great childhood,” she said. “Grandparents that spoiled me, and parents that loved me, I really wasn’t on this vigorous hunt like some people are, but I did want to know.”
“The only information I had I entered. My birth mother’s name and age.”
During that one month free subscription another one month subscriber, a young woman named Casey, living in North Carolina, contacted Rebecca telling her that this was her grandmother’s name.
“What are the chances that they would sign up for the free trial at the same time?” Marcie asks.
This was the beginning of a flourish of e-mails and information exchange, culminating in Messer sending pictures as well faxing her birth certificate and adoption certificate to the family contact. Those few days of revelation wrought excitement as well as trepidation.
As life would have it, six more children had been born to Rebecca’s birth mother, Maxine Hinson. Though she passed away about six years ago, all of her children are still in the Charlotte, N.C. area, and have a tradition of meeting together at a local restaurant every few months to keep their close-knit family connected. February happened to be their scheduled date for this event, it also happened to be on the day the fax of birth information and photo of an unknown Rebecca Messer floated across the digital atmosphere into the hands of Casey’s mother, the third born, Valinda.
At the tables that evening were six siblings and their spouses. None knew their mother had given up a baby for adoption before any of them were even on the playing field.
“I just left it there, though it would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall,” she said. “I wasn’t wanting to push anyone. I just figured that if or when they were comfortable they would contact me, and they did, one by one.”
It seems that after the initial shock as well hurt they probably felt, the photo Rebecca sent them gazed back at them with their mother’s eyes. The same eyes with which Messer had spent 63 years looking at herself in the mirror and wondering who she looked like, convinced one brother without any other proof needed.
These new siblings were close to each other and it didn’t take them long to each decide to embrace Rebecca as one of their own.
In the photos they sent her, Messer saw herself. She also recognized faces similar to her own children.
“I had never looked like anyone, except my kids, but here were these people in whom I saw familiar faces,” she explained.
This amazing story could have ended there with a fairly happy ending. It was a completion of a life long of wondering and curiosity. A one month chance of finding information on the world wide web. It isn’t the end though but a beginning.
The siblings each contacted her and then collectively decided to come for a visit. Instead of looking for brightly colored eggs on Easter, Rebecca found herself surrounded by bright smiles searching out who was who, how they all looked alike, who they were married to, who were their children, how much her son Marlon looked like one of the sisters. All six opened their arms and hugged her, the youngest making sure he was first.
“I think it was best it happened now, like this,” Rebecca said. “I had a great life with a loving family. She (Maxine) did what was best for everyone. My mother couldn’t have children of her own. My grandparents spoiled me. One of my brothers said he couldn’t help but feel sorry for me because I wasn’t raised with all of them,” Rebecca smiled, “I told him, don’t be I would have been the chief babysitter as the oldest girl,” she laughs knowing she is right. Marcie adds, “One of them posted one of the Easter pictures on their Facebook page and it simply read, ‘Then there were seven!’ ”
Not all adoption stories can have happy endings. Though Messer and her new found family do not know who Messer’s biological father was, she isn’t concerned about it.
“It is enough for me to have found them,” she said.
She is of course referring to Sandra Lee, Valinda, Stan, Steve, Cereta, and Scott, their spouses, their children. They are her happy ending. She adds her husband Mark and their three children, Marcie, Jeremy and Marlon to their families and so a new era starts for all of them.
Gone is the frightened young North Carolina girl making adult decisions. Gone is the young, heartbroken, childless couple from Groves. Still here are those they helped grow and nurture, now a unified family, a reminder that life continues, grows and often has unexpected miracles for those blessed enough to find one another.