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Examiner
  • Frank Haight: Family was so close, but so far away

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  • Something marvelous happened to Ruth Ann Simcosky some six years ago when she welcomed into her life three siblings she had never met. They were complete strangers.
    Now, Ruth Ann, raised as an only child by her adoptive parents, wants to share her story of living in darkness some 70 years, oblivious to the fact she was not alone. There were two brothers and a sister waiting to welcome her into the family.
    Ruth Ann’s story begins in 1939 with her birth in Kansas City, followed by her adoption some six weeks later by a loving and caring Independence couple.
    Sitting in a rocking chair, perhaps as a 4-year-old, Ruth Ann listened as her mom explained she was adopted and was a very special girl, because she was selected from all the other children.
    “I remember my mother telling me (that),” she said, ... and “I remember thinking, ‘This is really great. I was chosen out of all these babies.’”
    Sitting in her Independence home at a table covered with old newspaper clippings and family photographs, Ruth Ann recalled asking her mom “right then” who her biological parents were. Her mom promised to tell her someday. But never did.
    Ruth Ann might never have discovered her biological family had it not been for a medical issue.
    “I had a heart attack at an earlier age, and my oldest son was having problems that might be heart related, so I wanted to get at least the medical history (of my family).
    “And with closed adoption in Missouri,” she continued, “you can find only nonidentifying information, so I went through all that to no avail; there was no information they could give me.”
    With the assistance of a professional family searcher, Ruth Ann hit pay dirt.
    “I found your family,” the searcher told Ruth Ann over the phone, noting she could not reveal the family name because the records were still closed. However, she was able to tell her that her mother was 23 years old when she was born and that the family name she found in an old newspaper article was the same one she had.
    “So I had to do my own search from there,” she said, which eventually led to Bob, the youngest brother.
    “I called him direct and said I was looking for (so and so ),” Ruth Ann said, “and I used my mother’s name.”
    “She is my mother,” Bob responded.
    “I am adopted,” Ruth Ann replied. “I think she is my mother.”
    Page 2 of 3 - “I don’t think so,” he responded to the astonishing news.
    After conversing for some time, Bob called his brother Bill, exclaiming, “Brother! We’ve got a sister.” Soon after, the brothers shared the exuberant news with their sister Pam in Arkansas.
    It was during the summer of 2008, at the home of Kent and Ruth Ann Simcosky, that Ruth Ann met the first member of the family, Bob, and his wife.
    And she remembers that special day well.
    “It was really emotional,” she said, hearing first-time family stories and poring over photographs of family members she had never seen.
    What Ruth Ann learned about her mom was this: She and her two young sons lived on a farm with their grandfather. But after the boys’ father abandoned his family, Ruth Ann’s mom left the farm to find work in Kansas City. This stressful period of her young life led to an encounter, resulting in Ruth Ann’s birth. Later, Ruth Ann’s mother remarried, and bore another daughter, Pam, who is 15 years younger than Ruth Ann. She said she didn’t want to reveal their surname.
    As for her father, Ruth Ann said he is “some unknown person; I never knew him.”
    When the siblings and their families met together for the first time in 2008, what astonished them were the many family coincidences.
    For instance, take brothers Bob and Bill. One plays the French horn; the other, the trumpet. Two of Ruth Ann’s sons are musicians. One plays the French horn; the other, the trumpet.
    Or, how about this coincidence: All of the siblings – at one time or another – lived less than 5 miles from Ruth Ann’s home near Crysler Stadium in Independence. In fact, Bob’s property line touched the backyard of Ruth Ann’s parents. Yet, no one knew the connection.
    Then there is the pie connection. Whenever the siblings get together, “We have lemon pie,” Ruth Ann said. “We found out we all loved (it).”
    And how about this! Ruth Ann took music lessons for years on Pearl Street, not knowing that a cousin lived on the same block.
    “I had relatives all around me, but I never found them.”
    But she’s delighted she did.
    “I am just grateful to find such a loving, welcoming family,” she said, then adds: “I was amazed at all the hard work they do. They are all very talented.”
    Page 3 of 3 - She’s also is grateful she gave up on the idea of observing her siblings from a distance and not getting involved in their lives.
    “I just wanted to know about them. ... I was afraid to meet family members. ... I just wanted to observe and know all about them.”
    Retired community news reporter Frank Haight Jr. writes this column for The Examiner. You can leave a message for him at 816-350-6363.

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