May 31, 2008

All in the Family

Zebra Hug
© Photographer: Wallybear | Agency:

May 29, 2008 10:06 PM

By: Simone Joseph

Stephanie Bursey was born April 14, 1966 in the St. Fernando Valley.

Her mother, Diane Good, who was 21 when she got pregnant, decided to
give up Stephanie for adoption. The baby was given to the relatives of
a nurse who had learned of the young mother’s predicament.

It was the last time mother and daughter were together — until two
weeks ago.

After decades of searching, Ms Bursey tracked down her mother through
Facebook and arranged a meeting.

While waiting for her mother’s flight to arrive at Pearson
International airport from St. Louis May 14, Ms Bursey said she felt
she was being tortured.

So what was Ms Bursey’s reaction when she finally met her mother?

“Giddy, heart pounding, crying, every emotion you can have all at
once,” she said, adding it was all she could do not to pass out.

And Ms Good’s reaction?

“So much like hers. I was anxious to get to her.”

But there were fears.

“What if I am not the mom she was hoping for?” she asked herself.

Ms Bursey had her own fears, worrying her mother might think, “What if
my daughter is totally weird?”

Of course, those fears were never realized.

“I want to pinch myself. I cannot believe I am here,” Ms Good said,
her eyes brimming.

Those emotions paled to the feelings she endured in April 1966 when
she decided, as a single mother, she wasn’t financially able to raise
a baby and felt the infant would be better off with a family.

“It was the most horrendous, hardest decision I had to make,” she said.

Ms Good fought back tears as she thought back to the day she gave
birth to Stephanie.

Her baby was whisked away after the delivery, without Ms Good even
getting to hold her because that was thought to be less cruel than
having mother and daughter grow attached and then trying to separate

Nurses kept coming and saying the baby was the cutest one in the
nursery, Ms Good recalled.

How often did Ms Good think of her daughter from that moment?

“All the time,” she said. “I thought, some day, I will find her or she
will find me.”

She joined adoption sites on the Internet because she knew her
daughter’s adoption records in California were closed.

For her part, Ms Bursey had been searching for her mother on and off
since she was a teenager.

She was raised in Ohio after her adoptive parents moved from
California and she has lived in Ontario for 20 years; 11 of those in

Ms Bursey spent countless hours searching the Internet, but got
discouraged since most adoption sites require both parties sign on. Ms
Bursey knew the name of Ms Good’s grandmother — Mabel LeResche, who
was with the young mother during the pregnancy and, fortunately, she
had an unusual name.

So she did what most people do when trying to track down someone from
the past. She went to Facebook and typed in LaResche.

The search turned up Laura LeResche, who turned out to be a great-
granddaughter of Mabel.

Not wanting to get into all the details, Ms Bursey told Laura she was
looking for family history. Laura provided what she could, but had to
contact her grandfather — Mabel’s son — Doug LeResche. He didn’t know
about any family in Canada, so, Nov. 4, 2007, he sent an e-mail to his
niece, Ms Good.

“He told her there was a Stephanie from Canada looking for information
about the family,” Ms Bursey said. “She knew immediately it was me.”

Mr. LeResche gave Ms Bursey’s e-mail address to his niece and many e-
mail messages and phone calls ensued over the next six months.

For Ms Good, it was rewarding meeting the daughter she had longed for
as well as a granddaughter, Sara, 7, she did not know she had.

And Ms Bursey found out she had two sisters — Jennifer, 39, and Julie,
36 – Ms Good had later in life.

“They both have birthdays coming up. You have to remind me of that,”
Ms Bursey told her mother.

While the process was lengthy, Ms Bursey was able to draw on her
husband, David, who was also adopted, for support.

He found his mom in Newfoundland three years ago and his father in
Alberta a year ago.

His search for his mom was far easier than Ms Bursey’s ordeal.

“We found her by accident while visiting Newfoundland,” she said,
pointing out she got talking to a waitress and mentioned they were
looking for family members. When she mentioned the name of the woman
for whom she was looking, she was shocked when the waitress announced
she knew the woman and handed over a phone number.

After staring at a telephone and working up the courage to dial, he
made the call and was welcomed with open arms. In fact, they’re going
back to the East Coast this summer for family reunion.

“He went from being an only child to having a huge family,” she said.
“You feel more complete.

“The relationship they formed gave me the encouragement to keep
looking for my family.”

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