Longtime Independence schoolteacher Sally Beebe sought what many adopted people want to know: Who are my biological family?
“People tend to know they are adopted at an early age,” said Beebe, “but they kind of wonder what their real parents are like.”
For decades she kept her curiosity to herself because she didn’t want to hurt her adopted parents’ feelings.
“I had a happy childhood and wonderful life,” she said. “I didn’t want to upset them in any way.”
So in 1992, after her adopted parents had passed, Beebe finally went out to search for her biological parents. Armed with a birth certificate, she visited the Community of Christ Library and Archives in Independence to research her roots. She eventually found the answers she had been seeking for a year later and just recently wrote a book about her discovery.
“Search for Sally” is Beebe’s second book, released in January. The memoir, co-authored by Brenda Black, chronicles Sally’s adoption journey and her reunion with her biological family.
“One of the main reasons I did this was because I learned there are lots of people who are adopted and wanted to share my journey.”
Beebe always had a penchant for writing. For decades she would either compose lighthearted short stories with her kids and even co-authored a primary level social studies textbook that was used by all elementary schools in Independence during the early 1990s. But juggling her teaching career, family and earning her graduate degree left little time for writing. However, since retiring from Santa Fe Elementary School in 1997, she finally had the time to hone her craft.
“It (writing) helps keep your mind sharp,” Beebe says. “And when you’re retired, you shouldn’t let your mind go to waste.”
Beebe finally came in contact with her biological mother at the end of 1993 when a distant cousin shared her address. She wrote a letter to her biological mom asking about any hereditary diseases she should be aware of and was actually skeptical if she would correspond.
But much to her surprise, Beebe’s biological mother replied.
“I told her that I didn’t want to upset them or anything and said she didn’t have to write me back,” Beebe recalls. “I found out that I had two brothers and three sisters.”
Her biological mother also agreed to let Beebe meet her other family.
Beebe stresses there was no resentment when she met her biological family. In fact, they were quite accepting and the meeting itself was a positive experience, she says. This welcoming led Beebe to journal her biological family’s history and the stories her newly found siblings shared.
“They are crafty people,” she says of her siblings. “Swede, Scot and Irish descent. I’ve written bits and pieces about them over the years.”
Just six months ago, Sally shared her passion of storytelling with a member of her church near Clinton, Mo. The member referred her to Brenda Black, an author and editor from Deepwater, Mo.
“Initially she (Beebe) wanted to write another children’s book,” says Black, “but also mentioned the story of her adoption.”
Black convinced Sally to write about her adoption story. “I love true stories. Everybody has a story to tell. Plus coupled with the idea that she had a happy childhood and meeting her biological family would be great for a book.”
Over a cup of tea last October, the two writers sat around Sally’s dining table and devised a plan to write the book.
“I was just fascinated with all the notes and documentation she garnered,” Black said of Beebe’s notetaking on her biological family.
The two then collaborated on “Search for Sally” and completed the book in just six months. Black credits Sally’s compilation of notes and journals that helped made the project go smoothly.
And Beebe’s biological family was very supportive of their writing endeavor, both say. “They even provided pictures to use,” adds Sally.
Sally says the key to writing is to simply practice every day and to “have a picture in mind” when composing.
“Everyone has a story to tell, but you have to stay true to your story.”
She says it all begins just by writing it down.
To purchase Sally Beebe’s book, “Search for Sally,” visit http://thewordsout-brendablack.com to order online or call 660-696-2333. The book has a special price for a limited time of $10, plus $3.50 for shipping and handling.