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STORIES OF SYNCHRONICITY Surprising Coincidences in Reunion Two-Part Series: Part One

The Idea of Synchronicity
By Linda M. Schellentrager
Communications Manager
Adoption Network Cleveland

Synchronicity is a concept that describes a meaningful coincidence. In “Catching the Bug of Synchronicity,” Paul Levy explains “Synchronistic moments feel like grace, as they induce in us the feeling that we are right where we are supposed to be.”

Sometimes extraordinary discoveries are uncovered among people who reunite after decades apart because of relinquishment and adoption – and many find that there are some uncanny coincidences in their life stories. I first became aware of this phenomenon in the 1990s when I read and then purchased the book Synchronicity & Reunion: The Genetic Connection of Adoptees and Birthparents by LaVonne Harper Stiffler. I still recommend it often.

In our Facebook group Ohio Adoption Search and Reunion, my interest in these synchronicities has been piqued again and again. Some fascinating coincidences have been shared as many are reuniting since Adoption Network Cleveland’s successful legislation opening original birth certificates two years ago. Here we’ve gathered some stories of synchronicity to share a variety of powerful and fun coincidences that were found in reunions, long ago or recent, among our members.

Betsie’s Story of Synchronicity

At the time of my placement my adoptive parents lived in Warrensville Heights and my birthmother lived outside Philadelphia (having come to Cleveland for a stay in the unwed mother’s home). A year later my adoptive family moved to Shaker Heights and soon after that my birthparents married and bought a house in Cleveland Heights just over a mile away from us.

Upon reunion and my “moms” comparing notes, we all shopped at the same stores and ate at the same restaurants until my birthparents moved out of town when I was 12 years old. Before moving out of town they considered purchasing a house located on the street where I lived. My birthmother and I also had similar career paths – after finishing college she was one of the first Child Life Workers at University Hospitals, I became a Registered Nurse and specialized in pediatrics, and then child psychiatry. Shortly before my reunion I traveled to more than one place where I later found close birth family members lived.


That’s Freaky
by Marni Hall

Before I met my birthmother Karen, I sent her some pictures of me with my ventriloquist dummy. She responded with a picture of her own. My children said, “She’s into puppets too? That’s freaky.” Truth be told, I am a ventriloquist. Karen did a skit lip syncing to the song Sisters from White Christmas for a Miss America Pageant party. It makes a great side by side picture when we share our reunion story.

by Jamie Tuss

I grew up loving basketball and as a left-handed person, taught myself how to shoot just as well with my right hand. I just found out that my birthfather, a top-ranked college basketball player, was also left-handed and also taught himself how to shoot with his right hand so that he could switch it up on his opponents.


My Homeland Felt Like Home
by Erica Curry VanEe

One of the coolest things that happened in my reunion was discovering that my biological mother had me when she was 23 years old. She had come from Germany at the age of five but returned to Europe throughout her formative years, including high school.

When I was 23 and my birthmother was in her 46th year of life, I was working at a Girl Scout summer camp in Germany. In fact, I celebrated my 23rd birthday there. I ended up staying for two years and working as a nanny during the school year. I remember arriving in Heidelberg and having a very deep sense that I was “home.”

Twenty-three years later, during my 46th year of life, my birthmother and I reunited and met for the very first time. I applied for my original birth certificate when I was 45 years and six months old, to the day. Two months after I turned 46, we took a trip together to Nurenberg, Germany to meet my maternal birth family and see the home where she, her mother, and her grandmother were born. We realized that I worked in the same region (Bavaria), just 3 hours from Coburg, the place my entire maternal family (grandparents, great-grandparents and, greatgreat-grandparents) originated. I don’t know what drew me to Germany of all places, but I realize now a part of me really was home all those years ago.

From Ohio to Kentucky and Back
by Linda Bradford

First of all, my birth grandmother’s family lived in the same tiny Kentucky town as my adoptive mom’s family. There were only 200 or so people in the entire town so they had to have known each other. Granted, it was over 70 years ago but what are the odds that I would be adopted out of Columbus (MANY miles away from that small town!) and wind up with a family that once upon a time may have lived next door. Secondly, in my search for my birthfather I made a list of possibilities based on the little information I had from my adoption record and images from a yearbook with the correct year. One name stood out, not of my birthfather, but of a classmate of my mother. Only one person in the entire USA had that name and he is a member of my church! The answer I’d been seeking for 45 years was literally sitting three pews away.

Down the Road
by Elizabeth Brougher

My biological parents and sisters moved from Ohio to Georgia, which I also did after college. We all lived in Decatur and for some of the time, just a few miles down the road from each other. Revisiting the area with them, during my reunion, showed how many of the same places we all frequented ... possibly at the same time.

NYC and Tattoos
by Jamie Tuss

Although I was born in Ohio, I never felt at home there. I always had an attraction to New York City, and as soon as I graduated college (majoring in something that would surely get me to NYC – theatre) I moved there without knowing a single soul. I saved every penny I had earned since my first job in 8th grade. After living here for over 10 years and building a wonderful, strong community of my own, I found my birthfather’s family. That’s when I found out that my birthfather was born in Brooklyn, and his father was born in Harlem a few blocks from where I now live. In another twist, my birthfather’s mother (Grandma BJ) was born in the same city I was, Dayton, but moved to Brooklyn with her family when she was six. I now know why I was compelled to be in New York; it’s because this is where my people are from and calling this city my “home” has an entirely new meaning. I know why I’m here and I feel like I truly belong now!

My grandma BJ and I have similar tattoos, we both collect elephants, and I’ve inherited her smile, freckles, and love of photo albums.

Around the Corner
by Tammy Evans

Synchronicity #1 - I grew up in Grove City, Ohio. My birth aunt’s in-laws lived one street over from me the whole time and I never knew it. I cannot tell you how many times I walked my dog or rode my bike by that house.

Synchronicity #2 - When I reunited with my birthfather I learned that I had a half-sister, Amanda. Amanda just happened to be living, where else ... in Grove City, where I grew up. She also happened to have worked with me 14 years ago, same salon, as a massage therapist. We knew each other! I remember her saying to me years ago, “You laugh just like my aunt and I swear you could be my cousin on the Keller side.” My response? “You never know ... I’m adopted!"

Right by My Sister
by Lori McCarthy

I was born in Euclid. My birthparents always lived on the East side, as far as Lake County. My birth sister (birthmother’s daughter who was two years older than me) died at age two and was buried in Parma, the city where I grew up.

by Rose Gattozzi

Amazingly, my birthmother Beverly and I both went to the same hairdresser for years. She would get her hair done weekly and I would just go periodically for a cut. After our reunion everyone in the shop went crazy since they knew both of us.

Check back next week to read more in Part 2!