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Meeting birth family ‘was like coming home’
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For Perry Township resident Sherry McCort
By Carol McIntire
To say the past few months have been a whirlwind for Sherry McCort would be an understatement.
Nearly seven years to the day after Ohio unsealed birth records of people whose adoptions were finalized between 1964 and 1996, the Perry Township, Carroll County, woman met members of her birth family for the first time.
“I was adopted in 1968 at the age of nine months,” the 54-year-old mother of three adopted children explained. “My adoptive parents, Sheila and Jerry Carl, were open about the adoption and I knew my birth name was Sherry and my mom was 39-years old when she gave birth to me.
“Mom and dad named me a combination of their two names –Sheila and Jerry – and named me Sherry Lynne,” she explained.
“My parents told me I was adopted through Catholic Charities in Brilliant,” she continued. “The priest told them the church wasn’t doing any adoptions at that time, but later he couldn’t get them out of his mind and he put them in touch with the children’s home of Cincinnati. That’s where I was adopted.
“Growing up I thought I was ok with being adopted,” she continued leaning forward in a chair as she talked. As I got older, I thought if I could only see a picture…was my nose from my mom or my dad…just little things like that.”
Enter social media and readily available DNA testing.
Over the past year, Sherry’s curiosity about her birth family led her to social media and DNA testing and she joined Facebook groups for people who were adopted.
“One day I received a message on Messenger saying this person and I had four friends in common. The message stated, ‘I’ve noticed you’re on these pages but you haven’t posted anything.’”
Sherry’s reply was that she had been adopted in Ohio in 1968 and those adoption records were closed and she was just curious about other people’s adoptions.
The woman’s reply informed Sherry Senate Bill 23, passed by the Ohio General Assembly and signed into law by Governor John R. Kasich in December 2013, modified state law governing records of adoptions finalized between Jan. 1, 1964, and Sept. 18, 1996. March 20, 2015, was the first day adoptees, their children or grandchildren were permitted to request adoption records and birth certificates.
“If you would like to look for your birth family, I can help you,” the woman wrote.
Sherry accepted the offer of assistance from the woman who, she later learned is called a “search angel” and lives in the Amsterdam area. The next step was to request a copy of her adoption file and birth certificate from the Ohio Department of Health.
She also completed a DNA test hoping it would help find her birth father.
When the birth certificate arrived in the mail, Sherry took a picture of it and sent it to her search angel. Less than two hours later, she found members of her birth family.
“I began looking up on DNA trees, then I received an encrypted email from one of the family trees,” Sherry said, her words coming quicker as she related the story.
“The woman is actually my first cousin. I told her I was born June 25, 1968, and sent a picture of my birth certificate. She replied to the email saying, ‘I know exactly who you are. You are exactly who you say you are. I was just talking about you this past weekend with your uncle.’”
Unfortunately, Sherry didn’t have the opportunity to meet her birth mother as she died in 2017. However four of her mother’s siblings are alive, the oldest of which is Vida, who is 91.
At first there were communications over social media sites, then phone calls, and finally a reunion in Richmond, KY.
“I talked to Aunt Vida, Uncle David, Uncle Jack and Aunt Jane – one each night over the next several days. They all said we should plan to get together. I told them we better do it soon as Vida is 91.”
Within two weeks, Sherry’s trip to Kentucky was arranged and she and her daughter, Hannah, a senior at the Carroll County Christian Academy, made the trip.
When asked about her emotions on the trip and when meeting her family, Sherry admitted it is hard to put into words.
“I wasn’t nervous,” she said after a pause. “It was…like coming home. I just knew I was home. There were plenty of hugs and pictures and it was so easy and natural to talk to everyone.”
Family members shared photos of her mother, grandmother and great grandmother.
“There are so many similarities it’s striking,” she continued. “I grew up a Methodist, mom was a Methodist. Mom played the piano, I play the piano and my adoptive mom plays the piano. My birth name was Sherry. My adoptive parents put their names together to get my name and came up with Sherry. There are so many!”
Sherry and Hannah made the drive to Cincinnati to meet other family members on the return trip.
“It was just as exciting,” she said. “They are all wonderful people and are open and accepting. They are sending friend requests to my adoptive mom and are planning another reunion that includes my adoptive family this summer.”
Sherry’s story doesn’t end there.
“Because I was adopted, the idea of adopting children was always in my mind,” she explained. Kenny and I adopted three children, all of which know their birth mom. “We allow them to decide what kind of relationship they wish to have with their birth families.”
Mica (McCort) Fouts, the oldest of the children, was adopted in 1992. She is married and has two children, Esther and Thaddeus.
Eli was adopted in 2001.
“We brought him home from the hospital at four pounds. He stayed in touch with his birth mother through mail and phone calls,” Sherry noted.
Hannah, the youngest, was adopted in 2004.
“Our names were on an adoption list and that is how we adopted Eli,” Sherry noted, explaining the adoption of Hannah came from that same list.
“We got a phone call from an attorney who left a message to call him,” she said. “I asked Kenny if he knew why an attorney would be calling and us and he said “no,” so we didn’t return the call. Then, we got a second call and Kenny talked to him. The attorney said we were placed on an adoption list in 2001 and Kenny confirmed that we were. Three weeks later we adopted Hannah!”
Hannah stays in touch with her birth family through social media.
As for what the future holds and her relationship with her birth family, she says, “I have no idea where this is going. I’m taking it one day at a time. It’s closure for me, but it’s also a new beginning. The Lord is in control.”
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