After 60 years, adoptee reunites with birth mom

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Carli Teproff, Miami Herald (Tribune News Service)
May 30, 2015

MIAMI—They have the same small nose. Their blue eyes, hidden by glasses, look eerily similar.

Even the way they laugh sounds the same—which made them, well, laugh.

As soon as they saw each other for the first time two Thursdays ago, they embraced in a bear hug for what seemed forever.

“I don't want to let go of her,” said Beverly Adams, 83, who waited more than 60 years to hold her oldest daughter. “You're beautiful.”

Her daughter, Becky Chechak, 64, grinned, and replied: “You're beautiful.”

The pair met for the first time in the lobby of the Residence Inn Miami Airport after Chechak found Adams through ancestry.com's DNA testing several months ago.

Chechak, who lives in South Carolina, came to South Florida to meet Adams, who lives in Kendall. Until about five years ago, Chechak and her husband, Joe, lived in Clearwater, Florida, only a few hours away, but had no idea who or where her birth mother was.

“All those years we were only a few hours away, and we had no idea,” Becky Chechak said.

The last time Adams saw her blue-eyed baby girl was in February 1951, in Rochester, New York. She wasn't allowed to hold her, but she would spend hours staring at her little girl through a tiny nursery window. The baby was bundled in a white blanket.

Adams wasn't ready to have a baby. Yet giving her up was the hardest thing.

“I had nowhere to go,” she said. “I couldn't do that to a baby.”

When she found out she was pregnant, her boyfriend of about six months was sent off to the Korean War as a reserve in the Marines. They were both 18.

She said she remembers standing at the train station and “like a scene out of a movie,” all the soldiers, in their uniforms, boarded the train and all the women stood there and cried.

Just before William Adams left, he told her not to tell his mother that she was expecting. She wound up in a home for unwed mothers, which is where she gave birth after 20 hours of labor and a C-section. Her mother “didn't want the neighbors to know.”

Adams still remembers shaking and crying as she clutched a pen to sign the papers.

“I held on to that pen for a while after,” she said.

After leaving the home, Adams got a job, and eventually William Adams returned. The couple got married and had two more children before separating. He died in the late 1990s.

While Adams never searched for her daughter, she always thought about her.

“I never wanted to intrude in her life,” she said.

Becky ended up finding her.

Ancestry DNA, a branch of ancestry.com, began offering the test about three years ago, said the company's Anna Fwayne. The process is simple: Order a kit, spit into a tube, return the material, and wait to see whether there's a match. There are currently 850,000 people in the database.

Said Fwayne: “DNA doesn't lie.”

“It can help someone unravel their story,” she said.

Becky Chechak, who was officially adopted at age 2, grew up in upstate New York and had a “great life.”

Her mother and father always told her she had a “birth mother,” but Becky said she wanted to respect her mother's decision and not “just show up.”

In 1972, she moved to Clearwater with her husband to escape the cold.

About three years ago, Becky Chechak got her husband a subscription to ancestry.com because he had an interest in tracking his family tree. When he had the idea to go to Canada to visit his family, they realized Becky would need a passport.

But getting one was a challenge without a birth certificate, so he suggested a DNA test. They paid $99 and waited for the results.

Sure enough, the results came back in November 2014 with a match to a third cousin. A message was quickly returned and the cousin happened to know Becky's birth mother.

Within hours, Becky had a phone number to Adams.

Their first conversation lasted four hours. They have been in touch ever since.

Sitting in the Miami hotel, the pair reminisced and pored over old pictures. Chechak, whose adoptive parents have since died, held her birth mother's hand as she saw a picture of her father for the first time.

While the Chechaks would only be in town for the day, they said they will never lose touch with Adams again.

“I thought I'd never find her,” Chechak said. “This is the best gift I can ask for.”

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