Siblings Reunite Amidst Questions About Their Adoptions

Three siblings met for the first time in more than five decades. Their reunion was bittersweet, filled with hugs and kisses, along with unanswered questions and regrets.

Mike Jacoby, Larry Eyler, and Betsy Kissinger reunited at Kissinger’s home in Spring Branch. They enjoyed their time comparing similar facial features and joked about their younger sister Betsy who now had two brothers to keep her safe. They happily shared their life experiences and memories of their childhood. But, the excitement quickly turned to pain when unanswered questions kept creeping up attempting to dominate the conversation.

The siblings did not understand why their parents gave up Mike and Betsy for adoption and why they kept their now deceased older brother Bobby. Their birth parents also tried to give Larry up for adoption but later changed their mind and decided to keep him.

More frustrations plagued the siblings as they realized their 73-year-old mother who lives in Maryland as well as their adoptive parents and additional relatives could give them the answers they longed for. But, no one wanted to divulge the family “secrets.”

“My adopted father is 92,” says Mike, “but he’s still kind of under the impression that if he releases the secret of what happened, the ‘adoption police’ are going to come and get him.”

The Search

Betsy started searching for her birth family at 18 years old. She found her baptismal certificate at a Lutheran Church in Washington D.C. and discovered the names of her birth parents. She didn’t know what to do with the information until 18 months ago when she took to the internet to finish her search.

Betsy posted her profile information and received a message from a woman named Tracey.

“From all the information in your profile,” it read, “I think you’re my husband Larry’s sister.”

“This was the first time I had any inkling I had a brother,” Betsy said.

Larry and Betsy discovered they were siblings and contacted each other. Larry told Betsy she had two more brothers—Michael and Bobby.

The siblings found Michael on Facebook and sent him a message through his wife Theresia.

Mike sent back a message asking, “Who are you?”

“I knew I had siblings,” Mike says. “But I didn’t know how many or whether it was brothers or sisters.”

The three siblings remained in contact and spoke in length about the mystery of their adoption. Larry couldn’t understand why his adoption process never materialized.

“No one has ever told me why, other than that some kind of incident happened and my grandmother Hilda put a stop to it,” he says.

According to the three siblings, Hilda, their paternal grandmother, may have been behind the adoptions.

“My impression,” Betsy says, “is that Hilda was also in contact with our parents after we were adopted.”

Betsy and Mike also recall stories that would prove there was ongoing communication even after the adoptions.

Adoption expert Adam Pertman mentions the nature of closed adoptions during the 1950s. According to Pertman, most occurred due to unplanned pregnancies, which is why this particular case is daunting since the parents were married. Pertman feels financial strain may have been the driving force behind the adoptions.

“If the father was unemployed or lost his job, the couple could have decided they couldn’t raise a family of four children,” he speculated.

Answers

The siblings know their birth mother had answers to their secretive past but none have spoken to her. They talked to their aunt Liz, their mother’s sister, who told them their mother was amazed that they reunited and her comment was, “Well, that was all in the past.”

Though their mother’s comment was not the answer the siblings were hoping for, Liz said she was planning to write her children a letter soon. Hopefully the siblings will get some answers.

“We’ve all thought about (just knocking on her door), but we have to respect her privacy,” Betsy says. “We’re just happy to have found each other.”

Betsy’s adoptive parents are also not entirely supportive of her searching for her long lost siblings.

“Actually, I don’t know what my mother thinks, because she wouldn’t talk to me on the phone about it,” Betsy said. “My dad is upset, but he’s a little bit more open and answered questions.”

The siblings tried a different route and contacted the Reverend presiding over the Lutheran church where their adoptive and birth families attended. The Reverend questioned his elder parishioners about adoptions from the 1950s, but discovered the church never facilitated adoptions.

“I’m adopted myself, so that would have been OK with me,” he said. “But as far as I can tell that never happened.

Focusing on the Reunion

Amidst unanswered questions and concerns, the siblings are trying to focus on spending time developing their relationships. They enjoyed their contact even though it entailed solving mysteries.

“We could not stop talking; it was like we’d just seen each other the week before,” Betsy says, “We’ve already decided the next time we meet, it’ll be in Maryland, and we hope it’ll happen soon.”

Betsy sent a photo of the three reunited siblings to their Aunt Liz.

“Whether she passes it on to (our mother) is up to her,” she says. “Hopefully she will.”