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Published Sunday May 10th, 2009 at 6:26pm

Original Article by Sally Pollak

On the summer day 54 years ago that Ida and John Cadieux brought their baby boy home, they stopped all along the West Road in North Troy to show their son off.

The Cadieuxs had lots of relatives who lived on the dirt road in northern Orleans County. They wanted their family to meet its newest addition.

"It was a happy day," said Ida Cadieux, 82. "He fit right in."

Peter Cadieux holds a photograph taken in July of 1955, the day he adopted by his family and presented to his great grandmother. Decades later, as a grown man, Cadieux would seek and out and find his maternal mother and although he will always consider his adoptive parents as his mother and father, he has strong relationship now with the woman who gave birth to him.
Peter, the little boy, was almost 5 months old that July day in 1955. He was born in Hartford, Conn., but likes to say he was conceived in Vermont, and spent the first few months of his life living with a foster family in Chittenden County.

The Cadieuxs adopted him through Vermont Children's Aid Society, a social service agency in Winooski celebrating its 90th anniversary.

After picking Peter up at his foster family, his parents drove him home to the Northeast Kingdom. "We held him and he rode in the front seat," she said. "Which is a no-no right now."

But it was considered OK half a century ago, a secure and loving start to family life in North Troy and Newport, with some of Peter's childhood spent in Colebrook, N.H.

The Cadieuxs had a daughter, Barbara, two years after Peter was born. Peter was a musical child; he became an Eagle Scout in 1970 and graduated from North Country Union High School in 1973.

"I have wonderful parents," Cadieux said. "I grew up in a good family. I always had a good sense of identity and felt very loved. I had a lot of loving family from all around."

Cadieux, 54, lives in Plattsburgh, N.Y., with his wife of 30 years. They have three daughters. He works as a financial adviser in the Plattsburgh office of a Colchester-based company, the Vermont Agency.

He has known his whole life that he was adopted. "I always had a positive feeling about that," Cadieux said. He was another kid in a Northeast Kingdom clan, one of more than 40 first cousins.

"Besides the fact that I was a head taller than all my cousins," he said, "you'd never know."

Growing up, Cadieux had no interest in finding or meeting his birth parents, he said. But as he reached middle age, he started to think it would be useful to know about his biological parents for medical reasons.

Apart from hoping to learn about his biological family's medical history, a couple of other reasons compelled him to look for his birth mother, Cadieux said.

"I would like to have my birth mother know that things turned out well," Cadieux said. "I wanted her to know she did the right thing. I thought she must've always wondered."

Maybe, he thought, he could meet her.

He told his parents what he planned to do, and about 10 years ago, Cadieux set about on a search, on his own, for his birth mother.

Through VCAS, he learned some non-identifying information, Cadieux said.

This included:
- She was the second of six siblings in a family of French-Canadian descent.
- She lived in Winooski.
- She was 17 when she gave birth.
- Her parents went with her to VCAS, supporting her decision to place her baby for adoption.
- Her father was 5 feet, 11 inches and had prematurely gray hair.

"That sounds familiar," laughed the gray-haired Cadieux. "That sounds like someone I know."

But the information stopped short of leading him to his birth mother; he gave up the pursuit.

Center comes through

Some years later, at the wedding of a family friend, Cadieux was speaking to the mother of the bride, who told Cadieux that she remembered the day his parents brought him home to North Troy. He mentioned that he'd been looking for his birth mother.

The family friend suggested he call the Lund Family Center, which runs the Vermont Adoption Registry. The registry serves as a gatekeeper of adoption records and, bound by the law, can assist in searches, according to Wanda Audette, director of adoption at Lund Family Center.

The professional assistance, which functions as a kind of liaison in the searches, comes with a certain understanding of, and sensitivity toward, the relationships involved, she said.

Working with the Lund center proved successful, and in the summer of 2004 Cadieux learned that his birth mother, a woman named Nancy McNeely, was living in the suburbs of Seattle. Through his Lund caseworker, they communicated by mail for about four months.

One day, Cadieux wrote her a seven-page letter, telling his birth mother about his life. He recalled that his wife expressed surprise at the length of the letter.

"I'm 49 years old," he told her. "That's seven years a page."

After months of letter-writing, Cadieux learned that his birth mother was ready to talk to him on the phone. She called one day while he was at the landfill. Cadieux's daughter knew by the message she left that it had to be her, he said.

"We had five months of phone conversations, getting to know each other over the phone," Cadieux said. "It's kind of ironic that from the time I found her there was a nine month period before we met each other. Maybe there was a good reason for that."

Cadieux arranged for his birth mother to visit him and his family in the Adirondacks, a two-week visit four years ago that included a trip to the Northeast Kingdom to meet his parents.

"I have mom and dad," he said. "And then there's Nancy. She really just wanted to thank them. She's so appreciative that I'd had good parents and a good life."

Cadieux assured his mother nothing could diminish his love for her. "When you adopted me, I was an only child," he told his mother. "When you had a baby, did that mean you had less love for me?

"It doesn't work that way. Your love for family just expands. You're my mom and you'll always be my mom. So now I have two moms. I'm especially lucky."