Police Record Starting Early – “‘1-Day-Old Hitchhiker” ~Newsday, August 21, 1963

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Yes, my adoption story was one I didn’t find the full truth about until about 20+ years ago.

 

And to be completely truthful here, I am still awaiting some truths.

This is when my search for my birth parents changed direction. I had no idea the tru circumstances of my coming into being. The truth I found out was only revealed after I did some basic leg work and kept requesting information. So, my truth I  found out when I reached out to the adoption records department through the NYS Health Department. Much of it was general, no history on the parents. Commonly referred to as ‘non-identifying’ information. They sent me my file and it read read ‘released due to neglect.’ Also in it was a corresponding police report ID #; I had a mission ahead of me.

The next step took some time, but I was able to obtain the original police report. It would be up to me to continue to find any of my identifying information. To utilize what was available. DNA, at that time, was financially out of my reach. I hit the pavement. I tried to connect with the police officers in the report, I searched newspaper microfiche. From there I found the correlating news story. The car belonged to a middle aged woman named Josephine.

hitchhiker

Small world, or my world which is actually 4 degrees and not 6 degrees of separation; my partners / SO’s 2nd cousin actually held me  while waiting for the police to come and get me when I was found that fateful day 53+ years ago. But the ‘coincidences don’t end there.  

As chance would have it, a friend of mine went to high school with Josephine’s daughter. This helped with facilitating a meet and greet.  I was fortunate enough to meet Josephine, and her daughter, in the flesh.  I don’t think she was able to see me as anything other other than the adult that stood in front of her. She couldn’t fathom I was that infant that was left alone with literally nothing but the clothes on my back, a blanket and a religious medal.  In Josephine’s aged years, she questioned me; why did you leave that baby in the car. I really was unable to answer her.

My whole life I knew I was adopted, but the story I was raised with was quite different from the truth. It seems that is a common theme, the truth evading me. From my parents [adoptive ones, the ones that earned the right to be called parents], trying to protect me to the current situation. But here, I don’t think ‘Linda’ [birth mother] is trying to protect anyone but herself. 

I reflect on so many things now. It is with a different perspective. Now I look at it as a mother.  I also look at it as lost sister, lost daughter, lost granddaughter, lost niece, lost cousin, and lost aunt. Overall, that is OK because I did not want for any of those relationships.

Random thoughts that seem to plague my waking hours:

  • The hardest thing for me now is still wondering what the exact truth is.
  • To some it might seem trivial, but I have never known what my actual birth date is since they guesstimated my birth as 12 / 24 hours before I was found. 
  • What is it that led ‘Linda’  to that fateful decision?
  • What was going on in her head.
  • All these years, she never tried to find me.
  • This secret was best left a skeleton in her closet. But the truth is rearing it’s head.

Not looking for justice; none if this is about that. The crime itself has long passed its’ statue of limitations. Answers, truthful answers to just some of those plaguing thoughts. 

For some time after I found out the truth I was pretty unhappy that this truth, my truth, was always kept at bay. But then it occurred to me my adoptive parents, the family that made all the sacrifices to raise me; were just trying to protect me and possibly put a better spin on my birth parents.

FOUND!!!!!

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Happened that quickly; in the blink of an eye – I went from not knowing anything to having full siblings, and 200 people on my ancestry tree.
Well, I don’t even know where to begin. But I will start with a bit of backtracking.
Last Monday, after returning from a family vacation, I found I had a ‘close family’ match on Ancestry.
Well, cutting to the chase, after a day of phone calls back and forth to my new close family match, Nikki, sharing 1602 cMs and 62 segments, as well as calls to some other DNA cousins – we determined this was my niece – my FULL niece. Nicki had lots of info and we got from point A to point B pretty quickly with her knowledge combined with the Urdaz research tree I had on Ancestry.
Why is this so AMAZING? 50+ years ago I was found in a car at 12 to 24 hours old with no identifying information. The ensuing police investigation came up empty and I was soon released by Family Services to be adopted. [Who would ever think I would have FULL anything!!]
I have always known I was adopted, and have always wondered about my birth family. Years and years of questioning, wondering and frustration followed by empty leads and not much more information.
Finally, I DNA tested three years ago. I followed the recommendations and tested across the board, aka, ‘fishing in all ponds’; it paid off. Honestly, I am still floored/confused by the science. Many times I didn’t fully understand what I was looking at. I was fortunate to have the assistance of the brilliant mind and amazing heart of a DNA cousin, George P. George correctly determined who my original tribe would be months ago! Without the information George pieced together; it wouldn’t have been so easy to ascertain the relationship with my new found niece!
It turns out I have one surviving full biological brother and 2 that have passed along with my biological father. My birth mother is still alive. She has a vague memory of her pregnancy with me, so I am still trying to determine the true story of my very very humble beginnings. However, she did name me Elizabeth. [My biological brother will be DNA testing soon.]
Now, I am complete – I am relieved to have finally found my truth!
I am still a woman of two tribes, but now I know the origins of my original tribe – so, my quest will be changing.
My breakdown:
I am half Puerto Rican – and if you are Puerto Rican you know this to be a melting pot of several cultures and nationalities combing European, Indigenous and African roots.  The other half is mostly German.  My Jewish / Ashkenazi heritage is still questionable and seems to possibly come from both sides.
My paternal history is Puerto Rican.
My dad was Israel Joseph Rivera y Juarbe, 1935 – 2011. He relocated to Florida.
On his paternal side; he is the great grandson of Hipolito Rivera and Francisca Correa y Urdaz [circa 1866 – 1925] both from Arecibo and Eulogio Rios y Medina & Beatriz Ortega y Viruet [circa 1864 – 1915] both from Utado. He is the grandson of Emilio Rivera y Urdaz & Trinidad Rios y Ortega [circa 1887 – 1937.]
On his maternal side  he is the great grandson of Utado residents Juan Batista Serrano Gonzalez & Cruz Roldan [circa 1842 – 1898] and Antonio M. Juarbe y Gonzalez of Utado & Fidela Gonzalez y Lopez from Lares  [circa 1844 – 1927]. He is the grandson of Jose Juarbe y Gonzalez & Carmen Serrano y Roldan [circa 1842 – 1942]. Both from Utado, eventually Carmen would find herself in Arecibo.
He was the only surviving son of Efrain Rivera y Rios & Rosa Juarbe y Serrano [circa 1912 – 2000]. His mother Rosa, passed just months after his entrance to this world. That is probably what sparked my grandfather, Efrain to pull up roots from Puerto Rico and head to the mainland; to New York. Eventually he would retire with my step-grandmother Marta Davis Centano in Florida. Efrain & Marta would have two children together; my father’s half-siblings, Beatrix and David.
My paternal birth family hails from mostly Arecibo and Utado, Puerto Rico. My paternal surnames are Rivera, Juarbe, Serrano, Gonzalez, Lopez, Correa, Rios, Roldan, Ortega, Urdaz, Medina, Viruet and Miranda.
My maternal history is basically German, along with some Irish.  My mother Linda Elizabeth Reyalt, 1935 – present was born in New York.  At present, she is in a facility in Florida.
On her paternal side, she is the granddaughter of Henry Reyalt & Augusta Ohrich [circa 1878]. They hailed from Germany and show up on the 1910 US Census. Here they both give their immigrations years as 1894 for Henry & 1900 for Augusta ‘Gussie’ as well as claiming ‘Naturalized’ status. They made their home in Brooklyn.
On her  maternal side; she is the great granddaughter of Patrick Sylvester Durkin & Katherine Sweeney [circa 1852 – 1914] both of Mayo Ireland and Philip Ochsenreiter & Katherine Liesenbein [circa 1848 – 1904]. Patrick & Katherine S reported their arrival from Mayo, Ireland to New York city in 1861. At some point after she was widowed, Katherine S relocated to Chicago, Illinois.  Philip & Katherine L originally hailed from a small town, Freinsheim in the district of Bad Dürkheim in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. They migrated to the New York City area arriving on June 24, 1853 on the ship, The Mary Annah. The ship last departed Le Havre, France before it ended its journey on our eastern shore here in New York. She is the the granddaughter of John Ochsenreiter of New York & Katherine E. Durkin of Pennsylvania [born approx 1875, showing up last on the 1930 US census]. They too resided in Brooklyn, NY.
Finally she is the daughter of Walter Reyelt & Isabel Ochsenreiter [circa 1911 –  2003]. Practically her last 8 years she would spend as a widow relocating to Florida.
My My maternal surnames are Reyelt, Ochsenreiter, Durkin, Ohrich, Liesenbein, Sweeney, Dyra, Hofmann, Armbruster, Neyland, and Neiland.
My parents had a total of five children together, in birth order;  Debra Rivera 1957 -2102, Israel Rivera 1958 [stillborn], Joseph Rivera 1960 – present, this author 1963 – present, David Rivera 1966 – 2009.
My tree continues to  populate because of the dedication of another DNA cousin who has even collaborated with George P and she has become more than just a DNA cousin; Yasmin M. is always there as sounding board, a friend and trusted confident.
There are MANY other DNA cousins along the way that have added in great information, shared their family trees, outlined relationships, shared family folklore, gave me roots. Too many to mention here a few off the top of my head …. Karen, Tracie, Roberto, Yolanda, Sylvia, Eric & Emilio, Daniel, Cesar, Martin, Patrick, Teresa, Chastity, Ana, Sofia, Cyndia, Becky, Heriberto, Annette, Peter, Joe, etc. too many to mention!!
From the depths of my heart THANK YOU ALL!!
More details to come – this is the general post so far!!
For those  still looking; DON’T GIVE UP!!!
5.9.17 – Update – I have updated / altered this post to reflect a genealogy spin to it. I cannot honestly say this is a hobby and leave things the way they were. I added in names, dates and places of those that came before me.  Those that have given me a history I can call my own. They gave wings to my tree and it is soaring.

What’s in a Name?

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What is the name of my Original Tribe?

So, here we are another day unfolding and a bit more info. The latest count on Ancestry.com are over 19,000 DNA matches. Overwhelming on what to do with them. I am so fortunate to have such great DNA matches / cousins that continually assist me. They volunteer their time to help me find my truth; part of it is also theirs. But they have most of their answers; this they do out of their own generosity and for that I am truly grateful!!

My current tree on Ancestry Research Tree: Urdaz Family. all thanks to my cousin George who has uncovered / researched so much information.

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So, what has been uncovered.

My maternal great great grandparents; Pedro [Roman] Urdaz & Juliana Correa; also from Arecibo, PR. There’s a story circulating that Juliana’s dad was from Spain. My my great grandparents; Hipolito Rivera and Francisca Urdaz y Correa, circa 1860’s from Arecibo, PR.  One of their eight children should be my grandparent. From the way the DNA matches are revealing themselves it seems most likely that one of these three Rivera y Urdaz children should turn out to be it: Jose, Angel or Francisco.

Presently I am leaning towards Francisco 1891-? & his wife Guadalupe Soto y Serrano  1896-1984. Angel 1887-1958 was married to Trinidad Ocasio y Cebollero 1889-1925, Jose 1856-1934 was married to Susana Borras y Menendez 1882-1922 and Carmen Santana y Diaz 1894?

Finally,  I can now firmly state that my surnames are:  Rivera, Urdaz, Correa, Roman?, Miranda, and Pollaci – from my life sustaining tribe!

My Own Great Wall Still Standing

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May 2016 So many things to update here ...

There is a breakthrough on my search, for my original tribe – it seems a unique surname; Urdaz, has come up on three separate Ancestry trees where I  have a DNA match. I have reached out to several descendants of Emilio Rivera Urdaz, 1891 – 1957 Arecibo, PR. There’s probably a good chance one of his 9 children could offer some insight to my vague beginnings. However, two have since passed. The one living in NY when I was born is one of those two. Emilio Rivera y Fuentes 1937 – 2001 Queens, NY. He might have held the key. Right now I am waiting to hear back from his daughter, YS, that wonders if we are related. We are; she hasn’t DNA tested yet. We are biologically related! We are family! She is part of my first tribe. How close are we I wonder? A closer relative to Emilio Rivera Urdaz. If I wasn’t adopted; would we have even grown up together? She grew up not more than 40 minutes from me. So close, logistically and biologically!

urdaz post

Then there are few other cousins I reached out – one is very cold when I speak to him on the phone. It didn’t start out that way. In fact the first time we spoke; this second cousin of mine Reynaldo, he seemed genuinely interested in my story and helping me out. Then he went to visit family in PR and has since been very distant the times I have tried to reach out o him on the phone. Another cousin remains in the shadow, Emilio – I have tried to reach out to him via social media and through Ancestry – both so far a bust. Lastly, the the grandson of one of Emilio Rivera Urdaz’ daughter, Daniel has reached out with more of an open hand. We are working to build up that relationship. Although Ancestry recently reconfigured the way they measure SNP’s and we are now a bit further apart on the DNA tree. I don’t think his grandmother ever ventured from PR; so that would make sense.

The most frustrating is a match on ancestry that is just a basic member – with a vague name, no family tree, no identifying information except – female, probably in the NY area and a 1st cousin match. Several attempts at reaching her go answered in the ancestry in-mail system. FIRST COUSIN Match – OH MY!! and I cannot get any information from her. [Big sigh of disappointment as I shake my head]

These walls seem pretty unsurmountable at this point – but eventually something  has to break. Patience is not one of my better traits; but what choice do I have.

Waiting for My Bulldozer …. to answer my lifelong question; Who Am I?

 

Elated!! Ecstatic!!

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Wonderful fabulous week and it’s only Tuesday!!!

I spend so much time on the DNA sites; checking for new matches; looking at names, looking for hints of information. Calculating how can I be related to this person? How can I connect the dots of their life & world to mine. Where do they live now?  Where has their family lived?

Over thinking until I am exhausted and still empty. My cup runneth over with information; but it is too distant for me to make sense of it – YET!!!!

But yesterday …. YESTERDAY I found out I finally have a surname I can call my own … Miranda!!! It’s official! thank good news for MY COUSIN TRACIE, who figured this all out. Her acumen in Gedmatch is to be admired!! I am still pretty green on doing this.

Finally!!  Finally!!!    Finally!!!!   HUGE sigh of relief!!!

Late last night with the last bit of energy I had to stay awake; I exuberantly entered my newly confirmed surname into my profile on Ancestry, FTDNA & 23andme.

It gets better though … I have been in contact via the DNA sites ‘in-mail’, email, phone calls, Facebook, texts and also working on Skype calls.

I have been fortunate to have so many new cousins. These new additions are under the special grouping of primas & family in my contacts. I know each day how increasingly important they have become because each time I see an email or a call or even a FB entry that they have made; I cannot wait to get to it, to answer that call. And when I do, I am smiling from ear to ear! Truly, I consider them friends as well because they are lovely wonderful warm open hearted people.

Well, this Friday I meet my cousin Karen IN THE FLESH.

This is the VERY FIRST COUSINS I WILL MEET IN PERSON!! [squeal squeal squeal].  I cannot wait!

Two Tribes One Woman Confused Heritage

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It’s been amazing to learn of my original heritage. It’s a heritage full of culture, passionate people, beautiful island.

But for fifty years; I have been submersed in another culture, different foods, language, similar but different traditions.

I find comfort in what I know; although everyday I try to learn more about my original beginnings and celebrate it; I am still a visitor.