would feel duplicitous if the search continued
without their knowledge. I hated that I had to
inform them over the phone, not face to face.
They were tender yet supportive. I asked them
if they could recall any other information about
my birth parents. Mom remembered that my
birth father was a title officer. I shared this
information with Christina.
From the California Birth Index we also
knew that my birth father’s last name was
Kelly. Why the adoption paperwork listed him
as Italian was beyond me, as Kelly does certainly not sound Italian. Regardless, my crack
genealogist went to work and found a Ron
Kelly, graduate of San Rafael High School, who
worked at First American Title in 1969. When I
saw his senior year photo, I knew it was him. No
question. Case closed. We had found my birth
parents in a few short weeks. My DNA results
arrived before Christmas and we had our smoking gun. My DNA mapped to first cousins of
both Kathryn and Ron.
A NEW FAMILY, UNCOVERED
With some hardcore online sleuthing I found
Kathryn and her husband living in the East
Bay near her daughter, my half-sister, who is
married, with three young children. Ron and
his wife were in Sonoma, and I have two half-sisters on that side who also live up there, one
of whom is married. My three sisters are beautiful. I studied photos of them and wondered if
they knew about me. I had conversations with
them in my head. Would they embrace me in
their lives, I wondered?
In late November I started cardiac rehab at
the Cardiovascular Center of Marin and began
working with a nutritionist. For three days a
week I would do cardio workouts, gaining more
strength and confidence each time. I also adopted
the Mediterranean diet and the weight started to
fall off of me like melting snow from a roof.
On January 28, 2017, I sent Ron and Kathryn
letters. They were each three pages long and
started the same way: “My name is Adrian
Jones. I was born in the early morning of
October 10, 1969, at Marin General Hospital.
I am adopted and I believe you are my birth
mother (birth father).”
Five days later I got an email from Kathryn,
with the subject line “Thank You.” She had been
waiting for this day for 47 years and had never
changed her last name, in the hopes I would
come find her. Just days earlier she had resigned
herself to the fact that I wouldn’t search for her.
She told me about her daughter and her fam-
ily. We exchanged several emails that night and
agreed to talk the following morning.
Tuesday February 7, 2017, was an extraordi-
nary day. That morning I drove to Novato to do
a cardiopulmonary exercise test, where I rode a
stationary bike under increasingly difficult set-
tings with leads attached to several monitors.
I passed with flying colors and was informed I
had “graduated” out of cardiac rehab and had
achieved a full recovery. After ward, I drove to the
Claremont Hotel in Berkeley to meet the woman
who gave birth to me. Seeing her walk toward
me in the lobby was an ethereal experience and
I simply cannot describe our first hug. My con-
tact with her elevated my soul and being in her
embrace brought a profound sense of closure. We
spent the next six hours talking in the lobby.
Kathryn and I would meet during the fol-
lowing weekends at places like Left Bank,
Farmshop, and the San Anselmo Coffee
Roastery. Yet I still hadn’t heard from Ron.
Sometime in late February, after combing
through information on Facebook, we dis-
covered that one of Ron’s daughters, Kati, had
recently dated the first cousin of a good friend
of mine in San Anselmo. I approached this
friend and he encouraged me to reach out to her
directly. He said Kati was really open-minded
and he offered to help in any way. He just had.
Two days later I sent Kati an email and three
days after that I met Ron, his wife, his daughter
Kati, my other sister, Amy, and her husband, at
HopMonk in Novato. Toward the end of March,
I met Kathryn’s daughter, my sister Annie. For
the first time in my life I had met my immediate
My reunion has been fantastic, even with
the complexities that accompany unpacking
decades of separation. My sisters had not
known about me, although Ron and Kathryn
had told their respective spouses about my
adoption before their marriages. I have been
welcomed, acknowledged and embraced. We are
all learning how to move for ward, together. And
I have this new biological family to complement
my Jones family. There is more love in our lives
and especially in my children’s lives now.
Not all adoptee reunions go well. Many, in fact,
do not, and it crushes me knowing how a fraught
or difficult reunion can impact adoptees and
families. Rejection t wice over doesn’t sit well.
Once I “entered reunion,” I became an adoptee advocate striving to help others find their
truth. Adoptee truths are different than those
of non-adoptees and these ought to be heard.
Adoptees can suffer trauma and P TSD and are
four times more likely to attempt suicide. We
are overrepresented in mental health treatment
settings. Our issues ought to be understood.
Additionally, I want to open society’s eyes to
the inequality we suffer. Forty-two states have
laws in place restricting adoptees’ access to their
original birth certificates, including California.
Without the help of savvy genealogists or DNA
companies, we have historically been unable to
find our birth families and to discover our genetic
medical risks. With that in mind, I encourage
everyone to track down their medical information
and take action accordingly. It’s an opportunity for
preemptive knowledge you cannot afford to waste.
What I found out from Kathryn is that heart disease runs in her family and caused at least three
deaths: of a brother at 52, her mother at 65, and
her father at 71. That would have been really helpful information for me to have had 25 years ago.
I am one lucky survivor.
This name has been changed.
She had been waiting for this
day for 47 years and had never
changed her last name, in the
hopes I would come find her.