Share on Facebook  |  More Articles
Published 10/08/2009 at 4:46am  |  Views: 6017
Comments

by Brian Kelly
Original Article

ONTARIO, Canada -- Questions Delia Doucette has long asked now have answers.

Born in Sault Ste. Marie, Doucette was given up for adoption when she was four months old. Her mother, Marion Douglas, was just 16. Doucette's birth name was Nancy Douglas, named after Marion's favourite cousin.

Doucette, 53, now works as a health care aide in a nursing home in Chatham. She always knew she was adopted. It's a fact her late parents, Bruce and Vivian Doyle, were candid about.

But when Doucette gave birth to twin boys in 1980, the former Hornepayne resident wondered if there were other twin births in her birth family.

"I was always curious," she said during a recent interview.

"You're always curious about who you look like."

But with limited information released about her biological parents nearly 30 years ago, "I kind of left it."

She tried again in the 1990s and learned her birth mother was dead. Marion Douglas died of a heart attack in 1996. The former city jail guard was 57.

Doucette learned a bit more about her family's past, but not enough.

"I thought that's the end of it," she said.

"I just left it."

When Vivian died in July at age 84, Doucette's interest in her past was rekindled.

She wanted to connect with anyone "who could tell me anything" about Marion Douglas. Doucette wondered "if I'm anything like her."

"I was just kind of obsessed about it," she said.

"I wanted to know."

She found a firm online, OmniTrace, that searches for birth parents. There was a fee paid, but "sometimes you can't put a price on something that is on your bucket list," said Doucette.

"I want to just do what I can do so I know when I go to my grave I've done everything I could do," she said.

"This is something that was important to me."

The investment paid off handsomely for Doucette.

The Florida-based private investigation agency "gave me much more information than children's aid society could ever give me."

OmniTrace gave Doucette the phone number of Douglas's husband, Roger Rogoschensky. He helpfully provided her with the names of other relatives and where they lived in the Sault.

"From there it just snowballed," said Doucette.

She soon heard from her first cousin, Wendy Gutcher, who is the daughter of Marion's older sister, Roberta.

Doucette made the 500-kilo-metre drive from Chatham to the Sault for a three-day visit in late August. Gutcher, "the first blood relative I ever met," presented Doucette with "a treasured gift" -- an album of photographs of her Sault family including aunts and uncles, nieces, nephews and grandparents. The pair camped at Pancake Bay.

Besides a physical resemblance, Doucette learned she shares other traits as her birth mother. Both are "bubbly" and "like to have fun." Mother and daughter both loved the outdoors.

Doucette wasn't alone in having twins. Gutcher gave birth to a boy and girl in 1985. Her namesake, Nancy, has a twin brother.

She went to Greenwood Cemetery to bring flowers to her mother's grave and take photographs of her final resting place.

"She just wanted to say, 'Thank you for giving me life and for getting me to know my family who I never even knew I had,' " said Gutcher.

Doucette is "so, so happy" with everything she has learned about her family.

"I have pictures to show my family," she said.

"They look at it down here and say, 'Wow, you really did look like your mother when you were young.' There's so many similarities."

Gutcher was excited to meet a close relative after so many years, especially the daughter of an aunt she dearly loved.

"I'm just so excited that she actually came here wanting to know where she's from," said Gutcher.

"We had a really good time. I didn't want her to leave. I call her my little cousin and my little sister . . She's so sweet. She reminds me so much of my auntie."

Cousins Gutcher and Doucette plan to stay in touch. The pair are planning a trip to "some place nice" such as Hawaii or Jamaica next summer "where we can spend more time together."

"She's so happy that we have welcomed her into our family," said Gutcher.

"We're not bad people. You're blood -- no matter what."