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The 46 Year-Long Journey to Finding My Sisters

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
March 7, 2023 3:03 am

The 46 Year-Long Journey to Finding My Sisters

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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March 7, 2023 3:03 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, years after finding out she was adopted, Traci Huguley discovered she was not the only child adopted out. She then made it her mission to find her siblings.

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Exclusions apply. And we're back with our American stories. Up next, you're going to hear from Tracy Ugele. He's telling the story of her adoption and the 46 year long journey of searching for her sisters who were adopted by different families.

Here's Tracy with her story. I had mom and dad and they had a son and a daughter and my brother was almost 20 years older than me. Then I had a sister named Mary and she was 15 years older than me. So I was kind of the only one in the house with mom and dad.

And a lot of people think my life sounds like something you would have on Oprah or have on a talk show. But honestly, my life was very, very low key and chill. Every day my dad came in from work and my mom had supper on the table and she washed the dishes and I dried them.

And we watched TV at night and got up in the mornings and my mom made breakfast and, you know, it was just very normal. Of course, I never knew I was adopted. I was adopted sometime before I was a year old and my parents treated the word adoption like a bad word. So we never said the A word at our house.

And so therefore I didn't even know. A neighbor's child told me I was adopted and I was like in the fourth grade and I didn't even know what that meant. She sat me down. She kind of walked back and forth in front of me and she was like, OK, so you know your parents? Well, they're not your real parents. They adopted you. And of course it was a little scary and it was sad. And she said, have you not ever noticed how much older they are than everybody else's parents?

And I said, no. And I noticed from that point on. So when I went home that night, of course, I asked my mom if I was adopted and you could just see the blood drain out of her face. I guess it was kind of her worst fear happening because she didn't ever talk to me about being adopted.

And so I had no concept of what that even was. And of course, I didn't get to play with that little girl for a year. But my mother just really put it to bed for me. She said, we chose you. We wanted you.

We picked you. You're special. And I felt like a prized possession. It was very, very comforting what my mother said to me.

The only drawback was the fear that I kind of had. Every night then I was sad because I was afraid something was going to happen to my parents because now I was super aware that they were older than everybody else's parents. So you fast forward and now I know and I'm aware. And so I had a cousin that I was really close to. She was like a year and a half older than me. And she told me one day when we were playing, I was probably in about the sixth grade now. She said, you know, we're really sisters. And I said, you know, no, I had no idea. Because when I found out and my mom and we talked about it, she didn't say any details. So now all of a sudden I find out I have a sister. I loved finding that out. It was kind of our little secret.

We didn't talk about it. It was just something we knew. And we have always had really close bond.

And so it's always been wonderful to have Renee in my life. And she had another sister and a brother. So we all had the same biological mother. So now I know that I have a sister and then her younger sister and then we have an older brother.

So now I realize there's three girls and a boy. Well, also my sister that was my friend, cousin Renee, she knew that there was two other siblings that were adopted out at birth. So she began to tell me the stories over the years. I guess as she found out more information growing up, she would share it with me. So there was two adopted out at birth, born in 73 and 75. We did not know them. They were adopted out through DHS and the system in Alabama. So as me and Renee began to get older and have families, the curiosity was a lot. It was very, very private adoptions. It was through the state of Alabama.

I grew up and became a nurse. So I went and looked at my file in the health department and I asked questions to friends and people that were there. Of course, they couldn't tell me anything. But the truth was their files were sealed so that you couldn't find out anything because it was a private adoption through the state of Alabama. Nobody, even from our town, knew where they were because we were friends with the attorney that handled it.

We were friends with judges and they couldn't even help us because it was private adoptions through the state and everything was done in Montgomery and you couldn't find them. I just knew their biological names and I knew the date that they were born on. So I would always kind of, out of curiosity, say, hey, when's your birthday? Any time anybody would say, hey, you kind of look like so-and-so's wife, you know, or have you met so-and-so? They really look like you.

I always wondered, is this somebody that's in my school? When we went to Disney World, I wondered, oh, could they be here? If we were shopping out of town, I would wonder when I passed people. It was not a little thing.

It was kind of a big deal. Where are these two siblings? Where are my two sisters? Because I was very close to the ones that I did know. And you would be surprised at how that just was a theme in life. No matter where I was, if someone looked close to my age and favored me in any way, I had this burden almost to find out what their birthday was. It was just such a letdown every time.

I don't know what I expected. At some point, I just thought somebody was going to say those dates, and when they never did, it was just another letdown. It was hundreds of times. It was my whole life. In 2018, I got a call from my friend that had also had a situation where she found out about her adoption.

She called me and said, you have to get on Ancestry.com. And of course, I was just, I don't know, I've been burned so many times in finding out things that I just was like, okay, I'll do it. So I got on there and ordered my kit, and it came in in just like two days, and I did the kit, sent it off, but really just forgot about it. Well, in about six weeks, I opened my email one morning and absolutely freaked out. I opened my email and had a match, immediately had a match for a half-sister. And it blew my mind. Ancestry is a little hard to read.

It gives you like several options. It said half-sister or like first cousin once removed, and you're like, okay, so this possibly could be. So I messaged her and said, okay, hey, I think we may be related.

Call me. Well, then I called my sister Renee and I told her, okay, you're not going to believe this, but I've messaged someone that we have a match with. I can't wait to hear back.

I don't know what it is for sure. And so she didn't respond. So, of course, I messaged her again about lunch, and I kept thinking, whoever this is, maybe she'll see it during lunch, and she didn't. So then I continued to Facebook.

Her spelling of her name was a little different, so it was easy to find her. I was like, oh, my goodness, that looks like me. I'm Malcolm Gladwell. I live way out in the country. I drive everywhere.

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And so I was actually in church and I got up and ran to my office. And immediately when we heard each other's voices, it's hard to describe. We just knew something special was happening. And the first thing I asked her was her birthday, which was the question I had asked so many people for so many years. And she said that magical date, January 21st, 1975. I can't explain all of the emotions that happened in that moment because it was like an age old puzzle was put together for me. And it was amazing.

I could have just laid down in the floor and felt like my life is starting to come together in this area. And she didn't understand that question. It was my question to be answered. So it was big. I tried to explain to her how we had looked for her and how we were so curious about her for all these years. And she was overwhelmed to find out that people were out there that really cared about her and wanted to know where she was. And she told me about having great parents. And I guess the next thing she said blew my mind. She said, you know, there's two of us.

And I said, I know there's two of y'all, but how do you know there's two of y'all? And she said, well, I found the other one when I was 18 years old. So I said, OK, what's her name? And she said her name is Stacy. So I was talking to Sherry and Sherry then told me there was a girl named Stacy and she was the 1973 girl. So she was the girl that was right after me. And one thing that was so neat about it is their their birth names were changed.

So it would have been very, very difficult to find them because their names were changed. And when I finally talked to Stacy on the phone, the first question I asked her was her birthday. I don't remember thinking about it. It just wasn't it was just a reflex. And she told me her birthday and it was it was just crazy. So we quickly started having correspondence with all of us and we planned a meeting place. They lived 30 minutes apart. And of course, me and Renee lived 30 minutes apart.

So we just picked a place that was halfway and met in the lobby of a hotel. And it was very, very surreal. We were all crying, hugging and crying.

I don't know that we really said anything at first because we were just overcome with emotion. And then we wound up just renting a suite and we went upstairs and just spent the day laughing and talking. So we had just the best day together. That day will probably always really stand out in my mind.

Just having all of my questions answered. It was really, really special. We talked about birthday parties. We talked about things we had missed with each other. We talked about each other's families and our kids and our life growing up. We talked a lot about our likes and how they were similar.

We did not grow up together, but you could not tell it about the way we wore our hair, ways we dressed and things we did that were very, very similar. This sounds crazy, but it was the very first day we met. We were in a restaurant and we were saying, I wonder if they have this kind of dessert. We had gotten some pie and we were like, we wish they had strawberry cake. We were laughing so hard because it was like, is that your favorite too?

Is that your favorite too? It was kind of a funny thing just to think, okay, we all like the same cake. When we went back to the hotel room, we kind of took bites of our food and would say, hey, this is for your eighth birthday.

Hey, this is for your ninth birthday. We just kind of celebrated the fact that we all love sweets and we all miss those times together, but we're going to have this now for that. I think we all liked Prince, so we were laughing about, we all knew all the same words to the songs. So I looked from, I remember being in high school and starting to wonder about people all the way. And I'm talking about the summer before I found them. We were on the way from the beach and a girl at Cracker Barrel in South Alabama said, hey, you look just like this girl that was doing some theater. And I literally thought, how do I find this person's phone number?

How do I find a way to ask this person their birthday? And so I really had not given up, but I sure had not envisioned how this would wind up happening. It felt like there was a piece of me that was full and fulfilled. I didn't know what they would be like. Of course I had some reservations that it wouldn't be the kind of reunion that we really did have, but thankfully we were all people that just came together really, really easily and that we were ready.

I think that's the big deal. We were all ready for it. In certain areas of our life, certain timeframes, I don't know that we would have been ready to just jump in the way that we did, but it worked out really, really well. I had no idea that our kids would love each other and our husbands would all get along and that we would enjoy each other's companies on this big scale that we do. We pray together. We have Bible study together some. We have made up for a lot of years in this short time by some of the things that we've been able to get together and do. We will get a lake house together a couple of times a year.

We love each other's kids and we get together for Christmas. As our families got smaller losing parents and that type of thing, it's like now we've had this come into our world and all of us have each other. When we look back over it all, we all had great people loving on us and taking good care of us.

So much that we're so thankful for. And we all get together and we just cook and laugh and sometimes we'll just meet at my house and we'll swim. It's just fun going to Walmart together because we're just enjoying the fact that we found each other. We've only known each other a short time, but it feels like we just picked up where we could have always been. We're not bitter that we didn't have our growing up together. We're just thankful that we have each other now. And a great job on that piece by Madison. And the piece is dripping with gratitude and love.

And my goodness, imagine being in that lobby and just watching that and wondering what's going on. These strangers meeting and picking up as if they'd known each other forever. We all had similar hair. We all had a similar fondness for strawberry cake.

We even all liked prints. And for those who don't believe in God, this is a test. There's God's footprint all over this. And a beautiful get-together, a beautiful gathering. And again, the power of love, the power of adoption. And if you have an empty home, think about it.

Think about loving a stranger. Think about adopting one and how it could change a world and then the world. The story of Tracy Ugoli.

The story of so many adoptees here on Our American Stories. So instead of selling my car using the Roto app on my phone, I posted an ad online. Now it's nonstop phone calls and people at my door. I'm Larry. I'm here about the sedan. Not now, Larry. See, Roto will buy your car or even buy you out of a lease without the hassle. Hey, I'm not a hassle.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-07 12:36:18 / 2023-03-07 12:45:09 / 9

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