#9 Finding my biological family in 1997

Posted by on Jul 21 2016 | 26 great life experiences, Family History


Maureen and Miriam 2010

I have neglected to write the great things in my life, and there are a lot of them. I may just list them in my next post. But for the time being, one of the most important things I did was to go on a search for my biological father. I knew he was from Long Island and born in 1931. I was motivated to attain dual citizenship for financial opportunities while pursuing advanced education in the U.S. And, of course, there was a lot of curiosity and unanswered questions. I knew I had two full sisters that he took with him back to New York when I was an infant in the care of my aunt and uncle, who later adopted me.

My biological father was known here in Vancouver as Jay Fleming, so I did some searching under that name. I knew he had served in the military, but those records led nowhere. I asked my biological mother for as much info as she could give me and she told me that he was born on the 4th of July and lived somewhere near Tarrytown, Long Island. Somewhere in some old family records I found a postcard written to Mr. and Mrs. James Nevins Fleming, and I realized that it might a key piece of information.

Now the internet was not as highly evolved then as it is now, but I did manage to find phone directories online, and found a J.N. Fleming listed in Port Jefferson, a town not far from Tarrytown. So, I sat down to write a letter explaining who I was and what I was looking for. I provided an email address in my letter.

A couple of weeks later, I got an email from my half-sister Dianne. Jim (as he was known there and no longer Jay as he was in Vancouver) had just had a stroke and was returning home from the hospital. And interestingly enough, he had aphasia.

I flew to NY as soon as I could and met my biological father, his second wife and her two sons, plus my half-sister and fraternal twin half-brothers. And the next day I met my full sister, Miriam. (The other full sister, the one who looks more like me, was living in Oklahoma.) I am pleased that I had enough communication skills to get information from Jim in our conversations. And he gave me a copy of his autobiography that he wrote for his Masters thesis when he was in his fifties.

Meeting my father, I realized where I got my hairy eyebrows. And meeting Miriam was truly a wonderful experience as she and I are very much alike in a lot of ways, although she looks more like our biological mother. We hit it off and laughed like little girls.

Over the years, Miriam has come to Vancouver many times. She and my mom, Maureen, hit it off. Biologically, Maureen was our aunt, the youngest sister of our biological mother. And when Maureen was dying in 2010, Miriam came out to see all of us.

The one thing I learned in this reunion was the realization that genetics are a much stronger bond than I had previously thought. After having found my biological family, I understood myself better. I went to Oklahoma to visit the other sister and learned more. She and I resemble each other a lot and even stood the same way with the right hand on the right hip. It was really strange for me to look at her and see myself. However, in temperament, we were quite different, and we have not maintained a relationship.

Miriam came out again when our biological mother was dying in 2013 and was here for her death and funeral. It meant a lot to me to have her support through that time. I had promised Maureen that I would take care of Betty and I was pleased that I could complete that.


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One Response to “#9 Finding my biological family in 1997”

  1. […] 10. Finding my biological family in 1997 and a new cousin in 2014. […]

    10 Aug 2016 at 2:25 pm

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