An adoption, a reunion and a celebration
Jewish Child & Family Services believes that every child who is adopted has a unique story. This is especially true for Aaron and Marilyn who were both adopted six decades ago through what was then called Jewish Children’s Bureau. What makes their stories so unique is how intertwined their stories are.
When Aaron spoke to us, he was overwhelmed with gratitude for the loving parents who adopted him as an infant and opened their hearts to him. Although Aaron grew up in Chicago as an only child, he was aware from a young age that he was adopted and might have siblings. When his father passed away in 2013, Aaron discovered a box of adoption papers. Aaron’s parents had remained close with Tante Bertha, the woman who had helped facilitate his adoption. She had carefully preserved the details of his birth family and passed that information on to Aaron’s dad. When the adoption papers came to light, Aaron, like many adult adoptees, chose not to search for his birth parents or any potential siblings.
Marilyn was also raised in the Chicago area and adopted, at birth, by another loving family. Like Aaron, Marilyn also grew up knowing she was adopted, though her house was filled with siblings and stepsiblings. One of those brothers was also adopted through JCB. As she explained to us, she had plenty of family at home, but she also felt as though something, or someone, was missing.
After becoming a parent, herself, Marilyn decided to look for her birth mother. She hired a detective and discovered that she was one of four children. She learned that she and another sibling had been placed with families and the other two siblings had remained at home with their biological mother. Her search led her to a rabbi and the cousins and friends of her birth family who contributed bits and pieces of her story. It was a complicated process and the information was not easily accessible. At the time of Marilyn and Aaron’s adoptions, information was kept confidential and rarely, if ever, disclosed to adoptees or birth parents. New legislation over the past 30 years has made much of that information available.
During her investigation, Marilyn discovered Aaron’s name and the city in which he lived. So she picked up the phone and started calling all those with her brother’s name in the phone book. And, out of all of those names, the fourth Aaron on the list was her brother. Marilyn could not believe her luck -- in her words, “it was “truly miraculous!”
Aaron and Marilyn made an immediate connection and have remained close ever since. Marilyn was also able to locate their mother and another one of her siblings, but she has not stayed in contact with them.
Today, Aaron lives in Washington close to the Canadian border. He is passionate about the environment and works as a tennis coach. Marilyn is a teacher working outside of Chicago. They are in regular communication and are planning a reunion in Chicago with the hope that their children will meet one day. A special visit to JCFS will definitely be part of their shared future.
Project Esther: The Chicago Jewish Adoption Network, a program of Jewish Child & Family Services, offers support, resources and post-adoption services. For more information, contact Marsha Raynes, Program Manager, at 847.745.5408.