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Cleveland, OH 44103

Finding Alice

Finding Alice
by Rita Jefferson, Birth Sibling

My siblings and I had always known about our baby sister, “Alice.” We also understood why our parents decided to place her for adoption. Our mother, bless her heart, was stricken with a disease that was eventually diagnosed as Parkinson’s Disease. It already directly affected her ability to care for the six children she was raising. On January 26, 1949, Alice was born in Columbus, Ohio and was never brought home from the hospital.

By all accounts both of my parents were considered older people. My father had been married previously and had six children from that marriage. My mother gave birth to seven children. So it was understandable that my parents were in a difficult situation when Alice was born. I know that my mother lived with much regret and pain for needing to place her baby girl for adoption.

Over the years my sister, Barbara, had expressed a desire to search for Alice. She was so passionate about it that I decided to help. Over the last 31 years there were many attempts to find Alice. The search was difficult as our parents never shared details with us about the adoption process itself. Was she placed with a family they knew? Did they work with an adoption agency? My parents never spoke about Alice and it was not until my mother died that we made an attempt to ask my father about our baby sister. He became very upset and refused to share any information.

In 1985 when my father was 88 years old, I was helping him with some personal matters and I discovered documents regarding Alice’s adoption. It was the actual Permanent Surrender of Child Form! My sister and I began to write letters to the agency involved, but their records showed no correspondence from the adoptee requesting contact with her birth family. We were reassured that it didn’t mean that Alice would never request contact and so we completed forms with our contact information to be placed in her file should she decide to contact the agency and reach out to us. She never did.

Sadly, my sister, Barbara, passed away in 2005. I made a promise to her and to myself to keep on searching. In 2015 I happened to read a news story online, “Ohio Set to Open Sealed Adoption Records.” This is what I had been praying for … to finally know Alice’s adopted name! After reading the article a few times, I realized that the open records allowed the adoptee to get their Original Birth Certificate, not the birth family. I decided that this was a sign for me to get back in the game and try to find my sister!

I went online in November 2015 and found Adoption Network Cleveland, which proved to be most valuable! Even though I live in Nevada and the search was focused in Ohio, the organization was there to assist me with the search. This was a turning point for me and for my family after I made contact with Amy Lomis, who was both a blessing and a peacemaker. Due to Amy’s work and that of her volunteers, I am now at peace!

In February 2016, Amy contacted me to inform me that she believed they had found Alice, who was renamed Ramona. Sadly, Ramona had passed away in 2013. The information shared and sent to me by Amy left no doubt that Ramona was my baby sister. The good news was that she had married and had three children with families of their own. In July 2016 we all met for the first time at a meet and greet that I coordinated, followed by a family picnic the following day. My family created a Facebook group designed to keep an open forum. Through Ramona’s children and grandchildren, I am getting
to know my sister even though she is no longer here.

For anyone searching for loved ones lost to adoption, never give up! There are so many more resources and tools available now as well as the support and search expertise of Adoption Network
Cleveland. The support provided to emotionally prepare for what is found when the search is completed is hard to put into words. I admit that I was devastated and heartbroken to learn that I would never have an opportunity to meet or talk to my sister. However, Amy and her team led me to my new nieces and nephews, who are helping me get to know my sister and to know about the wonderful life she had.