Articles from the 'Family Ties' series

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  • Finding birth family starts new chapter

    Pamela Lannom|Updated Feb 23, 2022

    I've known I was adopted for as long as I can remember. My birth mother loved me so much, my mom would tell me often, that she gave me up to make sure I would have a good home. And she and my dad had picked me to be their daughter. It was a story of love all the way around. As I grew up, my understanding of being adopted deepened. I didn't want to find my birth mother, but I did think about her. I thought about her more after my own daughter was born. And yet I did nothing. I...

  • Detective work pays off for one adoptee

    Pamela Lannom|Updated Feb 16, 2022

    When Jackie Pyle of Hinsdale began searching for her birth mother in 1989, the only clue she had was her full maiden name. Resources like and 23andme were yet to be developed. She joined a west suburban chapter of ALMA, the Adoptees' Liberty Movement Association, and began to do the tedious work of piecing together her past. "We lived at the Newberry library," she said, noting her husband Ken, who died in 1995, was a huge help. "Any adoptee could be a private...

  • Curiosity prompts search for birth mom

    Pamela Lannom|Updated Feb 16, 2022

    Mary Catalano still has "The Chosen Baby" book her parents gave her for Christmas in 1966 to help her understand adoption. "To our chosen baby, precious Mary Margaret. All our love, Mommy + Daddy," its inscription reads. "I've known ever since I was born," Catalano said. "I've always known I was adopted so it was nothing new. I was always open talking about it. It wasn't something I tried to hide." Growing up in Gwynedd Valley, Pa., Catalano didn't have a desire to find her bi...

  • McGue finds more than she searched for

    Pamela Lannom|Updated Feb 10, 2022

    A disconcerting mammogram reading prompted Julie McGue to search for her birth family, with the hopes of learning her medical history. The five-year search process generated much more than information about her genetic predispositions. McGue found and established a relationship with her birth mother and other relatives, chronicling the experience in her memoir, "Twice a Daughter: A Search for Identity, Family and Belonging." "From the very get-go I was journaling about what I...

  • DNA tests offers answers for adoptee

    Pamela Lannom|Updated Feb 9, 2022

    Were it not for his daughter, Bill Lewis might never have found his birth family. Four years ago, when she was a senior in high school, Mary Claire came to her father with a simple request. Well, more of a demand. "She is a triple Type A and tells me she wants me to do one of those DNA things so she can find out if I'm a minority," Lewis, a Hinsdale resident, said. Her goal? To get into a better college. After initially refusing, Lewis eventually agrees and submits a sample...

  • Woman opens heart to birth family

    Pamela Lannom|Updated Feb 2, 2022

    When Alisa Messana was a sophomore at Elmhurst College, she got a call she never expected to receive. The woman on the phone identified herself as a volunteer for Truth Seekers in Adoption and asked Alisa her full name and to confirm that she was born Jan. 2 at Swedish Covenant Hospital. "She proceeded to tell me my birth parents had married, had two other children of their own and were interested in having a relationship with me if I was interested," Messana said. Messana...