By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes
Adopted as a newborn, John Glen recently tracked down nine of his 10 birth brothers and sisters.
Now Glen, 60, hopes this article is the first step towards finding the 10th, who like him was also given up for adoption.
For some, the fact that his birth parents kept nine children and adopted out two may leave mental scars. But for Glen, who has lived in Keizer now for almost 20 years after his birth in Schenectady, New York (his name at birth was Daryl Eno), there’s no hard feelings.
“I look at it as a blessing, actually,” he said. “They just couldn’t feed any more kids. You’ve got a baseball team here, you know?
“And the parents that raised me were wonderful, loving parents.”
There was no big sit-down, no revelation. He knew his background from as far back as he can remember, and it was little more than a footnote as he grew up with three siblings, one of whom was also adopted. He was adopted by John and Shirley Glen; John was a doctor and Shirley a homemaker.
“I do recall her saying she heard I were from a large family and for some reason she thought they were Catholic,” he said.
Glen let it be as he moved across the country with his family as a child, ending up in Walla Walla, Wash. He studied business at Eastern Washington University, moved to Oregon in 1990 and came to Keizer after that for a job with the state. He works as a program analyst for the Oregon Employment Department.
Along the way he got married and had a son, who later had a granddaughter. They were the reason he started to wonder about his family’s medical history.
The state of New York has strict confidentiality laws as to revealing identities in an adoption. There’s a voluntary registry for basic information, but his birth parents never signed up. It revealed that he was given up for monetary reasons and his “future well being,” his parents’ ages at the time, his birth weight and that he was their 11th child. He already knew their last name was Eno.
Last year he signed up for Ancestry.com. Using the Social Security Death index he learned Wilbur Eno died in Miami in 1993. Helen Eno died in Georgia in 1997. That led to a search for obituaries.
“I knew that there’s got to be at least nine children, if they were listed,” he said. Wilbur’s two-line death notice in the Miami Herald wasn’t much help, but he had more luck learning about his mother.
A key piece of information – her faith – unlocked an essential door. He contacted a Catholic church, whose staff pointed him to a funeral home that handled many Catholic services in the Fayetteville, Ga. area. Their files revealed a full obituary, including names and locations of nine children.
Then he sent a letter.
“Saying basically, here’s who I am. This is probably going to be the strangest letter you’ve ever received,” he said.
About a week later, Jeanne Prastien of New York called him.
“She called and said, ‘Hi brother,’” Glen recalled.
He’s talked to five of them so far. They knew about as much as he did about his own background. Essentially their mother went to the hospital pregnant and came back without a baby. Like him, they were told it was for financial reasons.
“And it was never really discussed any further,” Glen said.
He’s been received enthusiastically, which as Glen has read, isn’t always the case.
“It can open up a can of worms,” he said. “The reason some states still have document laws is to protect the parent and the child; there may be some real sores that have not healed, or you can reopen. And in this case I haven’t sensed that. … They treated me almost like a brother, telling me some very personal things they wouldn’t share with people on the street.
When it came to health history, his search became much ado over little: No history of cancer, heart problems, high blood pressure or other genetic issues. Glen himself also has been lucky in that department. All were in good health, save one of the older siblings who had suffered a stroke.
With that case closed, one more remains open: What happened to the 10th of the 11th children, who like John was also adopted? That nut will be harder to crack, but Glen hopes this story is a start.
“They may not even know they were adopted,” he said.