WHO IS FAMILY? A personal story of adoption research

March 27th, 2017 by National Genealogical Society Blog Editor


National Genealogical Society Banquet, Convention Center Ball Room, 6 pm, Friday, 12 May 2017

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Stuart Watson is an award-winning investigative reporter, with 30+ years of stellar experiences in journalism, non-fiction storytelling, media broadcasting, and journalism teaching. Join the journey and learn how he used his investigative skills to find his birth mother and discover a powerful story of alcoholism, recovery and forgiveness—his own.

WHO IS FAMILY? by Stuart Watson.

My Mom and Dad died the same morning in the same room of the same disease. They were rarely apart for more than six decades. I was the one who called the funeral home and arranged for the gurneys, who bore witness to their bodies being zipped into the black plastic bags. They shared one obituary, one funeral, and one grave.

Mom and Dad raised me from the age of four months. They saw me through diapers, skinned knees, girlfriends who dumped me, a college I dropped out of (twice) and ultimately graduation, a journalism career, a marriage of over 30 years and four children -their grandchildren. But Mom and Dad were not my biological kin.

My biological Father met my Mother at a dance at the state mental hospital. He said she was doing the “bunny hop.” She was a nursing student. He was a patient, committed for alcoholism. She got pregnant. He ran away. In the era after World War II but before the pill, she placed me up for adoption. I don’t think she ever fully got over the loss of her first born child.

When it comes to researching family history, adoptees can elect to follow nature or nurture, biology or culture, or both. I chose both. I will tell you the story of what I found.