I didn’t have either and knew that if I had, I would have found my mother already. I told the investigator, “Find me 10 Marjorie Joneses who were born in Chicago around 1930 and are Black. I’ll call each of them.” She didn’t go for it.
One day, the social worker at the adoption agency called me and told me she met a woman who worked for the Salvation Army and did adoption searches. I called her and told her my story. She said she could only find my mother if she had been born in a Salvation Army hospital and only if I had the date that my mother was born. Another wall. I whined a little and she said, “Well, I know a man who seems to be able to find people. Let me give you his name and number. Tell him specifically that I told you to call him.
I called immediately and explained my situation. He grimaced at the name Jones and asked if I had any kind of other clues, any address even if it was old. I said “No. I’ve told you everything I know.” I did say I thought she might have lived in the projects, but couldn’t be anymore specific than that.
His next line was, “Pardon me for asking…but, are you Black?” I said, “I am!” He said, “You don’t sound Black, but that should help a lot” and I knew I had found my man! He told me it would take a bit longer than unusual (a week) and cost a bit more ($450), but that I wouldn’t have to pay for anything unless he found her. Sounded like a great deal to me.
Eight days later, he called. He said, “I’ve got good news and bad news. Which do you want?” I took the bad news. Mom had died in 1996, but had married a few years after she graduated college and had five other children. He had spoken with her widow, Harvey who did not know about me but had agreed to speak with me! The investigator called me immediately after he spoke with my step-dad. By the time he reached me to give me the news, learned that I was overnight-ing a payment to him and called my stepfather back, Harvey had already called the other (now adult) children and told them they had an older sister.
One of my brothers, Harvey, Jr. agreed to be the contact point. The investigator gave me his phone numbers and said, “You have quite a family. Your brother’s a doctor. He sounds whiter than you do. One of your sisters is in law school. Another brother is a Master Sergeant with the state police. Your step-father is a retired chemist.”
I called my doctor brother immediately and in a highly unusual instance, reached him on his cell phone on the first attempt. I introduced myself and it took him a moment to place me since he wasn’t familiar with my name. We spoke for almost 45 minutes. As we spoke, he said, “You laugh just like Mom. In fact, you sound just like Mom.” He told me about our other family members. Twelve uncles and aunts altogether and 42 first cousins! All this after having grown up an only child. I heard about my grandparents and great grandparents.
He told me the law enforcement brother was wary of my sudden appearance. He worked in the Fraud division and thought, understandably, that I might be trying to scam them.
He invited me to his wedding that was taking place in five months. Having found the missing link to my life, I was ready to get on a plane that moment, but understood that my siblings would need some time to integrate this new knowledge of their mother’s history. Additionally, I didn’t think that my introduction to the new clan should be at my brother’s wedding since the bride and groom should be the focal point of such an occasion. I suggested that when they were ready, I could come to Chicago to meet them.
He promised to scan some pictures of the family and send them to me. That inspired me. I offered to scan pictures of me and send them to him. I emailed him pictures the next day. When he finally opened them, he called me and said, “Well, if there were any doubt in anyone’s eyes, it is gone now. You look more like Mom than any of the other kids!”
A couple of weeks later, Harvey Sr. attended a niece’s wedding on Ohio. He told one of Mom’s older sisters who lived in Silver Spring, MD about the call from the investigator and asked if she knew anything about a baby that Marjorie had. Her response was “I was wondering when that would come out.” She had been keeping Mom’s secret for 50 years!
One night, I had a dream where I was in a room alone with a young woman who was troubled by some problem. I asked her a series of questions during which she had an epiphany and realized how to resolve her issue. She looked up at me and exclaimed, “Wow! You could have been a psychiatrist!”
By now, my brother and I are talking every Friday night. Each time we speak, I have a new list of questions about my mother. One of those questions was “What did Mom do for a living?” When I asked him, he told me she was a clinical social worker. (I ended up in the business world as a human resources executive. Similar work, different venue.)In early June, I fly to Chicago.