Steve Dennis knew he was adopted, but had no real inclination to search for his birth family. He grew up loved, wasn't lied to about being adopted, and his life was full. Then the ancestry.com trend hit his household and everything changed.
Steve has two daughters, 18 and 14, who were curious about their dad's ethnicity. They gave him an ancestry.com kit as a gift. Once Steve checked in on his results, he found out not only his ethnicity, but that he had some biological relatives on the site. Still, he wasn't looking for his biological family, so he didn't make the first move. A first cousin reached out to him with a simple message that threw the whole family for a loop.
"I think I know who your mother is. We've heard throughout our lives that there's a baby that we're related to that was left in a telephone booth.
What made that message so shocking was that Steve had grown up hearing the local legends of a baby abandoned in a phone booth, but brushed them off as a wild story. He knew he was adopted, but didn't believe the story was true, so he had never considered that the baby might be him. This biological relative hadn't grown up in the same area. How could they have known about that urban legend unless... ... ...
The first cousin got some other relatives to test, including the person they suspected was Steve's half sister. The kits confirmed that they shared the same mother. Just like that, Steve knew who his birth mother was - and could fill in the missing pieces he wasn't even looking for.
His birth mother is alive. She is 85 years old and abandoning Steve was not something she really wanted to do. He was born in a hospital in Kentucky, but his parents were not married. At this time, that would have posed a problem. The young couple drove from state to state with the baby, trying to make their way to Maryland. Steve's father spent the drive trying to convince his mother that he would marry her if they gave up this baby. Somewhere in Ohio, he got tired of coercion and he wrapped the child, put him in a box with a bottle, and left him in a phone booth outside of a diner. He then drove off with Steve's mother, eventually abandoning her as well.
A few hours later, bread delivery men found the baby and the search for parents was on. Authorities weren't sure if he was a kidnapping victim or had been abandoned, but when nobody stepped forward to report him missing, they put the child up for adoption. Offers to adopt the famous phone booth baby came pouring in.
He was, after all, a media sensation.
Lancaster Eagle Gazette
Also, he was pretty adorable, let's be honest.
Lancaster Eagle Gazette
The parents who adopted Steve treated him well, loved him to pieces, and never lied to him about being adopted. So he never really questioned where he came from. Now that he knows, he's actually pretty nonchalant about things. He's mostly just curious about what his actual birthday is, but understands that his birth mother may not remember. This was a traumatic experience that happened over six decades ago she's well into her 80's; her memory of the baby are likely to be fuzzy at best. Still, Steve plans to meet with her later this month. He's not interested in pressing for details, though.
I'm not going to make a real big deal about this. I'll just take whatever she gives me and leave it at that. I mean, you can't hassle an 85-year-old woman —- so whatever she feels comfortable saying to me, I'll take. It's more than I had before.
We will keep you updated once the meeting happens. Best of luck to Steve and his family.