Life is full of surprises…meeting my birth mom was one of them!

For those of you who don’t know, I was adopted. My parents have always been very open and honest with my sister and me about our adoptions, and have always supported us if we ever decided we wanted to search out our birth parents. This is my story of exactly how that happened after setting out on full-time RV travel.

A few years back, in late 2019, I decided to do a DNA test…two of them actually. The first was through 23 and Me, the second was through The impetus to do this was due to the fact that I had little to no information about “family health backgrounds” whenever I would go to the doctor and have to fill out those informational questionnaires. It was the results of the Ancestry DNA test that put someone in touch with me, first through Ancestry messaging and then later through Facebook. This person was a very close relation, either a first-cousin or a sister. For the sake of this post (and her privacy), we will call her Lisa. She also happened to be the “keeper” of her family tree on Ancestry.

Through a lot of questions and answers, texts and messages back and forth, the DNA results, and even photos being studied, we jointly determined that I was the son of one of 4 brothers, one of which was Lisa’s dad. Given the date of my birth, we were able to narrow it down to one of the brothers but not with any confidence. Again, for the sake of privacy, I’ll call him Jimmy.

At this point, we were 90% sure who my birth father likely was, but my birth mother remained more of a mystery. Those that know me, know that I love a good mystery and therefore couldn’t just let this lie. The deeper I dug, the more I wanted to know. Eventually, I learned that the state of New Jersey (where I was adopted) had passed a law allowing adoptees to request closed adoption records. Birth parents had a year or so after the law passed to request that information not be shared if that was their preference. Otherwise, NJ would share the original birth certificate with the adoptee.

I submitted my request for information to the state in late 2022 and received that info in early 2023. I was born to a single unwed mother by the name of Karen K (name omitted for privacy). After doing a lot of googling and research online, I found an address for this woman (married twice and since widowed) in Biloxi, Mississippi. I agonized over writing a letter and finally sent it off to her.


I did attempt to jog Jimmy’s (suspected bio-Dad’s) memory with her information and he remembered her but didn’t know about me. Closer, but still not proof positive.

Until just a couple weeks ago.

Jamie and I were on the road, traveling from Seattle to Dade City, Florida to spend a few months near my folks (adoptive parents). Because we were going to be traveling through Biloxi, MS on our way, I decided to throw one last Hail Mary pass. I wrote another letter. This time I mailed it to her place of business. I sent the letter from Pie Town, New Mexico, which, if you’ve been following our adventures, you will know is a small (SMALL) town. Biloxi was less than 2 weeks away on our RV schedule.

As luck (or fate) would have it, I received a call from Karen while we were in New Orleans for the new year. We were leaving New Orleans on Jan 1st and would be passing by Biloxi that night. With just a few days to spare, Karen and I connected on the phone. We talked for THREE hours! We mutually decided that we wanted to meet and luckily, Karen was free on the 1st.

Before I get into how the meeting went, I should back up and tell you how Karen received the letter, because here is where luck/fate/providence really comes in to play. You see, Karen has been retired from her job for a couple years. However, before leaving her job, she trained her replacement, a person she had become friends with. When my letter arrived, her friend ended up receiving it and calling Karen to let her know it arrived. And Karen asked her to read it to her over the phone, unsuspecting of the contents. Karen’s friend immediately stopped reading after the first line which went something like this:

I want to start this letter off by saying I’m not trying to upset you or cause any trouble. In 1967, you gave birth to a baby boy and put him up for adoption. I am that son and I got your information through the adoption agency in New Jersey.

At this point, Karen got in her car and drove down to Biloxi (she lives just outside the city now) to retrieve the letter. That is when she called me.

Needless to say, pulling up to Karen’s house to meet her for the first time was extremely nerve-wracking. I did my best to put on a brave and non-committal face to Jamie and my folks, not knowing how it would go. I needn’t have worried. We arrived around 3:30pm on the first of January. Karen cooked us dinner and the three of us sat up talking until 9:30pm. Jamie and I retired to the RV (parked in her driveway) and then got up the next morning to have coffee, talk some more and say our farewells.

Karen was extremely sweet, explaining (not that she had to) why she made the choice to give me up for adoption. I made sure she was aware that I held no judgment against her for what she did. She made sure to make me aware that she was thrilled I reached out to her and to continue contact going forward. All in all, it was a positive, healing moment for both of us.

And with Karen’s confirmation, we now know for sure that Jimmy is my biological father and that he was completely unaware of my existence all these years. But following my meeting with Karen, Jimmy has asked Jamie and I to come by to meet him as well. As fate would have it, he lives here in Florida! Stay tuned for that adventure still to come!

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