Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Iron County woman meets half-brother she never knew existed

WH

Iron County woman meets half-brother she never knew existed

EDITORS NOTE: JUDIE AND DAVE HUFF ARE FRIENDS OF EDITOR (WH) IN IRON COUNTY MISSOURI.




Judie Huff poses with Wally Bunker - a half brother she only recently met for the first time.
On Tuesday, November 15, Judie Huff picked up her mail at the Ironton Post Office and found a “thickish” envelope from the State of Illinois.
“I took it home and put it down with the rest of the mail and left it alone,” she said. The next day she opened the mail, screened out the junk and set the letters aside to read later. “Finally another day goes by and I thought, ‘Well, I guess I ought to do something with this stuff,’ so I picked it up and started reading.  ‘No way,’ was my first thought.”
What she had in her hands was a letter from a “confidential intermediary’ from the State of Illinois who was acting on behalf of an adopted adult who was seeking to find out if he had any siblings.
“I’ve been at this for almost four decades,” explained Wally Bunker. Wally, 69, and now living in Culpeper, VA has always known he was adopted.  In fact, his adoptive parents had never made a secret of it. “You always have questions like, ‘Where did I come from?
“Back in 1947 the term ‘single mom’ did not exist. It was unheard of for a single mom to have a child; you either married the guy or you went to a home for unwed mothers and gave the child up for adoption.  That was really the only options unless you went to a back room somewhere.”
One of the big questions adopted people have is about their medical history - it may be at least partially unknown.
So he wrote a letter to an organization - one of those homes for unwed mothers - called “The Cradle” (it is still in business).
“In 1980, I finally wrote a letter to The Cradel asking for any information about my adopted parents,” Wally said. “Illinois has some tough adoption laws. I mean they sealed everything. They could only tell me non-specific, non-identifying information.”
About five years ago those laws began to change a little and Wally was able to obtain some basic information through the state and agency.
For instance, he found that his mother was 22 years old at the time of the adoption and she worked for a dental supply company.  He found that his father also worked for a dental supply company, but there was no information as to whether it was the same employer as his natural mother.
He found out his natural father was 32 years old, married and had one child.
In 2013, working through the state and agency, he receive a copy of his birth certificate, but it only had info about his mother, and nothing about his father.
With that information, Wally began searching the Internet and found his natural mother’s obituary, the fact that she had later married and had a child, that she was a teacher in the Fargo, North Dakota School system, and that she advocated for the blind.  
His half-sister’s name was Linda, she was a ham radio operator, and she was living in Georgetown, MI, right across the river from Fargo.
NOTE: EDITOR IS A HAM RADIO OPERATOR FOR 68 YEARS ? OR MAYBE JUST A "HAM" ?
She was 60 and she was blind, but had a long-time companion to asssist her.
He wrote her a letter and received a positive response. He went to see her and they corresponded several years.  She passed away in April after a battle with Ovarian Cancer.
The confidential intermediary made the connection with Judie a lot simpler.
After she received his email, Judie sent him an email saying, “For 76 years I was raised as an only child and now I find out I’ve got an half-brother!?”
Judie said at first, she really didn’t believe they were related, although she noted that “she had been wrong before.”
Somewhere in all the exchange of the paperwork necessary to arranged a meeting she asked the intermediary to tell her what he dad’s middle initial stood for as a way of confirmation.
His middle initial is her grandmother’s maiden name.
It was confirmed.
It turns out that their father was a traveling saleman for a dental supply factory, not where Wally’s mom worked, but he did periodically come to town.
“She knew he was married,” Wally said, but she loved him and they saw each other for about a year and a half.”
Judie said her mother never knew any of that and she has passed away.  Her father divorced her mother in 1949.
Wally, who is a retired policeman, was in the Valley recently visiting his new-found sibling.
Judie is 76, so this new found sibling is understandable a shocking development.
“She and I will not forget each other and we will move forward,” Wally said. “We will email and talk and hopefully visit some more and for that I’m grateful.”
He also said he wanted to encouraged those who are adopted and want to know more.
 “For those people who are in the same situation I am,” he said, “Don’t give up!”
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