Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Finding Family

"It fit together with a lot of stuff that I knew. All the pieces just came together for me. I worried that she'd think I was stalking her. But I didn't want to let her get away. I couldn't go home and sit for a week without getting an answer to this question."
"I think we're sisters...?"
"She has a dark sense of humor and the ability to laugh at hard things and an awful situation. But we are looking forward to being a part of each other's lives."
"I am just so glad [Parker] was open enough to give me the opportunity. I love my mom who raised me, but I think a lot of adoptees have a curiosity about their past. We have exactly the same need to wonder where did this nose and this pinky toe come from—where all those pieces fit together."
Katy Olson, 34, New York City

"I was not in a position to raise them. If I had raised them they wouldn't have had the privileges they had."
"They're brilliant beautiful young women. In them, I see what I had the potential to be."
"I'm glad I chose to have them and gave them the chance at life. I'm not religious I'm spiritual, but if you don't believe in a higher power, you would, when you heard their story."
Leslie Parker, 54, mother of Lizzie Valverde and Katy Olson, Tampa, Florida

"I always whimsically approach everything I do in life. But the way this happened, the only thing that comes to mind is something magic. It's a real life fairy tale, like it was supposed to always be." 
"Katie is very easy to get along with. She is a really warm person who made the acclimation a lot easier. She's a stand-up comedian, so we can laugh." 
"We are both still writing. It's pretty clear we are two writers who have been given the gift of a truly incredible story."
Lizzie Valverde, 35, New York City
Leslie Parker, left, is the biological mother of long lost sisters Katy Olson and Lizzie Valverde. Olson and Valverde met unexpectedly when they were both in a Columbia University writing class.

It is a serendipitous tale of two strangers, raised in different parts of a vast country whom a shared, but completely unknown penchant for writing and a wish to further their academic careers as writers brought them from northern New Jersey where Lizzie Valverde was raised by her adoptive parents, and Florida and Iowa where Katy Olson was raised, to New York City to attend Columbia University's writing program.

Both young women, knowing nothing of one another, enrolled in a literary reporting class at Columbia. There, they sat in a classroom in Kent Hall, adjacent to one another when the instructor asked the students to introduce themselves verbally. Lizzie Valverde spoke to the class of being adopted as a child, and now being a single mother of a six year-old daughter. Katy Olson, hearing this realized how closely her own experience reflected this woman's.

She had done some exploratory research on her own in an attempt to find out about her biological family. She took the opportunity to speak with Lizzie Valverde after the class, and in her excitement over the potential began posing detailed questions; her maiden name, whether she'd been adopted in Florida, whether she lived in New Jersey, and finally revealed her belief the two were biologically connected; sisters.

And then it was Lizzie Valverde's turn to surprise Katy Olson with the information that she had done some research of her own, discovering their mother's name from an adoption certificate and online searches followed. Revealing their mother's criminal record, a police photograph and details of a life that was replete with an attack by a serial killer. As for Leslie Parker, their mother, she declared when she became aware of her two daughters meeting: "I felt like the world was coming full circle."

Leslie Parker had surrendered her two daughters for adoption, as a teen, but she raised three sons, in her struggle to live a life that always seemed troubled. She had wanted herself to become a writer, but a life of poverty, drug abuse and emotional turmoil had negated any opportunities to attain that dream. Instead, her two daughters of whom she knew nothing, had a passion for writing.

Since the mutual revelations they shared in discovering one another, the young women have developed a close and trusting relationship. They have met one another's adoptive families. They have spend holiday time together. And they planned to together meet with their biological mother.

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