24 October 2016

Who I am: An introduction

I have known for as long as I can remember that I was adopted. My adopted family never kept this from me, and always answered whatever questions I had (to the extent that they knew the answers, of course). I was brought home from the hospital with my adopted family just days after birth as a foster child, and was adopted a few years later. My adopted family is all I have ever known.

Despite general curiosity about my biological family, I never dwelled upon it too much, and besides, there wasn't much to know. My adopted parents were given a little bit of information (presumably from a social worker), but I never knew how much stock to put in this. On top of that, until recently, Pennsylvania had very restrictive adoption laws. I was not (and, as far as I can tell, still not) entitled to my original birth certificate. And until the last few years, there was no way to find out any additional information.

Over the years I have spent some time here and there looking into what little information I had. For example, my birth mother's surname was supposed to be Knapp. Well, was that her maiden name? Or her married name? Was she even married? My birth father was perhaps a student at Lehigh University. I paged through years of Epitome, the student yearbook, looking for a familiar name or face. Nothing. I posted something on Facebook, asking friends to share it. Hoping it would go viral. Perhaps millions of Facebook users would see it, and someone would recognize what little information I had. Still nothing.

Within the last few months, I decided to press the issue more aggressively. I want to answer the age-old question: Who am I? Perhaps I will someday have the opportunity to meet my birth parents, or meet biological siblings. Perhaps not. But I want to know as much as I can. I will document that search here. This is the entirety of what I knew as I began my search:

Birth name: Michael
Adopted name: Michael J. Schearer
Birthday: November 28, 1975
Birth place: Reading, PA
County of adoption: Berks County, Pennsylvania
Birth mother: Unknown. Last name may have been Knapp
Birth father: Unknown. May have been a student at Lehigh University
Other ancestry/heritage: Unknown.

EDIT: I found some more detailed notes that I recorded a few years ago!

When I was born, my placement agreement with my foster parents referred to me as "Michael King." Other documents from this period also refer to me by that name. My adopted parents believe that "King" was a name given to me by the hospital.

When I was adopted (late 1977-early 1978), my adoption agreement with my adopted parents referred to me as "Michael Knapp." Other documents from this period also refer to me by that name. My adopted parents believe that "Knapp" was probably my birth mother's name. I don't have any other information to verify this, though.

Mother: 5'5 1/2", light brown hair, blue green eyes, fair to medium skin, nice complexion, wears glasses (myopia), good general health, head childhood diseases, one year of business school. 20 years old.

Father: 6'2" 185 lbs., brown hair, brown eyes, medium skin, right handed, good general health, at college presently (Lehigh). Sophomore, 19 years old.

I'm not sure if this college information is as of 1975 when I was born, or 1978 when notes were made. I've looked through Lehigh University yearbooks from 1977-1981 in the hopes that I might simply recognize someone that looks like me, but I haven't had any luck so far.

Maternal grandmother: blind due to measles and whooping cough. Died at age 22 of pneumonia.

Since my birth mother was ~20 when I was born in 1975 (and thus born ~1955), I am guessing that my maternal grandmother was born ~1935 (+/-3) and died in 1957 (+/-3).

Maternal grandfather: blind due to a hunting accident. Died at 52 of a heart attack.

Maternal great-grandparents were living and in good health at time of placement (~1975).

In upcoming posts, I'll address some of the more recent steps I have taken, including the Pennsylvania Adoption Information Registry, DNA testing, and more. 

There is no roadmap, and the destination is unclear. But I invite you to come along for the ride.
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