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Published Tuesday September 1st, 2009 at 4:18pm

Original Article by Karen Walenga

Green Valley resident Mike Sommer shares a moment with his birth mother, who was reunited with her son 64 years after she gave him up for adoption.
Mike Sommer still isn't quite sure why he decided four years ago to try to find his birth mother.

Raised by adoptive parents in Kansas City, Mo., the happily married father of three had long felt satisfied with his life and hadn't the desire to look for the woman who gave him up for adoption as a newborn in 1945.

"Then I got older and had no health history. And my kids wanted some health background," says Sommer, 64, who resides in Green Valley with his wife, Patricia.

The thought that he -- who grew up as an only child -- might have a sibling was exciting, too.

He read newspaper articles about finding a birth parent, but hit a dead end when an information sheet from Kansas City had most details about his birth mother blacked out.

Then Sommer was directed to Pamela Slaton in New York City, who runs a "no find, no fee" adoption reunion service and, with scant information, had found her own birth mother about a decade ago.

Sommer couldn't believe it when Slaton took only four days to locate his birth mother, now 92 and residing in a nursing home in South Dakota.

Slaton provided him the names of his birth mother, his half-brother and a cousin in the Mount Rushmore State.

"I didn't know what to do," Sommer admits. He asked Slaton to contact the cousin, who then talked with Sommer and put him in touch with his half-brother, who also was very receptive. Two years earlier, Sommer learned, his birth mother had told her younger son he had a brother somewhere and should try to look him up.

Sommer and his wife visited his newfound family, including nieces, nephews and more cousins, in South Dakota in July.

"They threw parties for us, a nice dinner, a big barbecue," he says. "It was wonderful after being raised as an only child. It couldn't have turned out any better."

While Slaton notes on her Web site that not all reunions, even her own, are successful, Sommer says his has been a wonderful, life-changing experience.

He is sharing his story now, albeit without revealing his birth mother's name and causing her any embarrassment, "so that other older adoptees can still have hope that these things are possible."

Patricia Sommer, who comes from a big family herself, says she "saw how happy it was making him to finally get some answers, and I was thrilled. I knew he wanted it so badly."

Sommer's mother doesn't hear well and can be hard to understand, but Sommer had no problem interpreting her emotions when she held his face in her hands and crooned, "My baby boy, my baby boy."

Sommer now writes to her, since she has trouble talking on the phone, and she has someone read his letters to her over and over.

She now occupies "a particular niche in my heart," Sommer says. "I appreciate her strength in giving me away. It took a lot of courage. She went through the wringer with her family, who were unforgiving," he said.

The family resemblance between Sommer, his birth mother and half-brother is striking, and his brother's children now call him "Uncle Mike."

Sommer's own children were nervous at first about his search and now are supportive, he says.

His brother is planning to visit Sommer and his wife this winter.

"I'm getting to know a man I really, really like. We talk on the phone" often, Sommer says. "I have a strange sense of humor, and he's right there with me."

And, considering his mother's age, Sommer is aiming to return for another visit with her before winter sets in.