Finding the “missing piece” to the puzzle


Me as an infant.

Me as an infant.

I have a secret. It’s not really a secret to family and close friends, but its something that I don’t often talk about. My secret is that I no next to nothing about my biological mother. She abandoned me when I was a toddler and I was raised by my paternal grandparents.

All I know is what I have been told by family members.

According to my paternal grandmother my biological mother was very young when I was born (I was told she was 16). She had married my biological father and he went into the Army and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan shortly after I was born. For some reason my biological mother and I didn’t go with him. We stayed in New York.

I was told that I was treated like a doll more so than a baby by my biological mother. She would dress me in doll clothes and only feed me powdered milk mixed with water. I take everything I am told with a “grain of salt,” meaning I don’t necessarily believe everything 100%. People’s recollection of things change over the years.

My paternal grandparents offered to help take care of me. They saw how my biological mother wasn’t doing well raising me. Then one day, out of the blue, she called my paternal grandparents and told them “If you want her, come and get her.” (referring to me). When they showed up at the apartment they found me and her dog and nothing else. She had moved out of the apartment leaving us behind.

I know I was a sickly child. I was brought to hospital right away and found to be severely anemic from lack of proper nutrition. I mostly lived on powered milk and water until I was a toddler (around 18 months old). My paternal grandmother refused to keep me hospitalized and brought me home. She was determined to get me to eat real food and get healthy. I won’t go into details about that now, but for this reason I am obese and I am still anemic.

My biological mother was only seen one other time after she left me and that was at the courthouse when my biological father divorced my biological mother. She also granted my father full custody of me. She wanted nothing more to do with me.

Me as a toddler

Me as a toddler

By the time my father had come home from Japan I was already calling my paternal grandparents “mom” and “dad”. I was raised with my aunt, and I hear her call them mom and dad so I did the same.

In effort not to confuse me my paternal grandparents offered to raise me as their own child.

I grew up thinking my aunt was my sister, my uncle was my brother and my biological father as my brother too.

My mom (paternal grandmother) finally told me everything when I was 21 years old. Some how I always knew. There were too many tell tale signs. For example, I went on dates with my “brother” (biological father). He also bought me my first car and took me to Europe for my high school graduation. He didn’t do those things for my “brother” and “sister” (aunt and uncle).

I’m totally cool with everything. I know it was all done out of love and I ended up with a mom, dad and a father. In fact I have a wonderful relationship with my biological father. He’s even best friends with my husband. I also have a step-mother that I adore.

I love my family and I wouldn’t change a thing. But there is still a missing piece in my life that I doubt I can ever fill.

To be totally honest I don’t think I could ever have a relationship with my biological mother. As a mom I can’t see how you can just up and abandon your child. Not only that, I lived at the same house with the same telephone number until I was 28 years old. If she wanted to reach out to me she could have called or sent a letter. My family was in the phone book. Not only that she had parents, grandparents, a sister and cousins who all lived locally. One of them could have reached out to me on her behalf, even to find out if I was OK. It’s as if they fell off the face of the Earth.

Me as a toddler. My hair looks almost yellow!

Me as a toddler. My hair looks almost yellow!

I do know that I have at least a half brother. Long story short, a young man called my paternal grandmother (my mom) and asked her how they got custody me me. From what he told her he had a son with my biological mother and he was sick and in the hospital. He wanted to get full custody of his son, like how my father got custody of me.

No one knows what became of that. Hopefully the baby survived and is doing well.

It bothers me that I know NOTHING about my maternal side of my family. I know some illnesses are inherited. For the health and well being of myself and my children I would very much love to know about my biological mother’s health and any issues from her side of the family. My daughter has Raynauds. No one in our family (my paternal side and my husband’s family) has it. Where did it come from? Did it come from my biological mother’s family?

I would LOVE to know medical history. I would also like to know about my half-brother. I think it would be wonderful to find him and get to know him (if he wanted to have a relationship with me).

My paternal grandparents are deceased now and my biological father doesn’t remember much. He was just a young teen when I was born too. Clearly I was an “oops” baby. They only got married because it seemed like the right thing to do. I don’t even think they dated too long.

The only thing I have are two photos of my biological mother and three baby rings – one with her initials and two others whose initials I don’t recognize.

Linda Sue Smith


I have tried for years to track down my biological mother, or anyone in her family. The problem is that her name is very common. It would be like finding a needle in a haystack the size of the Empire State Building.

Her maiden name is Linda Sue Smith. Do you know how many Linda Smiths there are in the world? Sigh…

I “guesstimate” that she’s about 62 years old (give or take). Chances are she’s married and goes by her married name.

I see stories on the internet and in the news all the time about people finding long lost relatives all the time. I wish I knew how. I have tried everything within my power to find my biological mother, or at least a relative willing to talk to me and tell me about family health issues and whatever happened to my half brother.

I don’t have the funds to hire a private investigator. Even if I did I have nothing he/she could go on other than a name.

I always feel like something is missing in my life – like a piece of a puzzle. Not knowing anything about my maternal side of my family makes me feel like I don’t know who I really am – only bits and pieces. Where does my hair color come from? Do I have more siblings? What were my maternal grandparents like? What nationality am I? These are questions that will never be answered.

I do know that some of my personality “quirks” stem from all of this. I’m a “people pleaser” and will do anything to make people like me – even if it’s something I don’t want to do. I also feel like nothing I ever do is good enough, even if people tell me it is. I truly believe these “flaws” come from being abandoned – as if I wasn’t good enough for my own biological mother to love and want me in her life. I guess deep down inside I feel like my mother didn’t like me, that is why she left me and that maybe if I was a cuter baby, I slept through the night, cried less or anything else she might have liked me and wanted me to be in her life.

Chances are she probably had “issues” and it was all for the best. Still, it’s hard to get over those feelings that are buried deep down inside. Plus there are two sides to every story. Maybe what I’ve been told so far is not 100% accurate. I would be interested in hearing her side of the story.

Is your life story similar to mine? If so, how do you deal with not knowing anything about the missing side of your life?

Have you found a long, lost relative? Did you hire someone or did you find them by searching on your own?

I was a cute little girl.

I was a cute little girl.


About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family and "mini zoo" consisting of five cats, a dog and a Goldfish. Kimberly is a teacher's assistant for a Kindergarten class. When she is not working or blogging, Kimberly enjoys taking photos of nature and hanging out with family and friends.


  1. Oh Kim! I’m crying big tears here. I hope that one day you learn more about your mother. I just can’t imagine having that hole in my heart. My dad was adopted and knows nothing about his biological family so I have no idea what could be coming down the pipeline for me or my kids with things that are passed down through the genes. So I understand where you are coming from in that point.

    Who knows maybe this picture will help someone find her for you! The world is a much smaller place than we think. *hugs*

  2. I just can’t imagine going through this. I know as an almost 40 year old woman with kids of my own I still seek and long for my mother’s approval on things I do. I can only imagine how much worse it is to grow up thinking that I wasn’t wanted.

    I am so glad that at the very least you had a great biological father who made sure to know you were loved and wanted.

  3. Kimberly,

    What a heart-wrenching story. Have you done Ancestry DNA? If you haven’t, I think you should reach out to the company about writing a review and they could give you the kit for free. I just did mine and got my results last week. I am trying to locate relatives on both sides. Even though I know who my mother and father are, I have always wanted to know more about my grandparents. My mother’s father died when she was just 4 years old and no one will talk about him. They say he committed suicide (something I don’t believe entirely). I think Ancestry DNA, Gedmatch.com, and familytreedna.com are helping me to trace my grandfather’s family. I have a couple of leads right now. On my father’s side we have another mystery and that is that he doesn’t know who his biological father was. That’s tough because I don’t even have a name to work with. I know my father’s mother’s name and the town she was born, but she is deceased and I don’t know any other relatives to ask. Like you said, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack.

    But I think where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you’re really determined to find out more, you shouldn’t give up. My relatives are international, so that makes it harder. I think since your mother is/was American, there are many avenues you can take to locate her (the web sites I listed, DMV records, property records, social security records, etc.).

    Good luck. I hope you will blog about it more.

  4. I really hope that you find your mother. I wouldn’t give up, keep doing what you can to try to find her. It may not end up being what you expect, but I think you are owed seeing her. I would reach out to those website and maybe they would work with you. I hope that you get some kind of help in this area, and hope you get your happy ending. I dated a guy from Vietnam, and he never knew his mother. He has several brothers and sisters and when the Fall of Saigon happened he was put on a helicopter and never saw his mother ever again.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story. I do hope that in time (sooner than later) that you are able to find someone who knows where your biological mother is. My father went through this trying to find out who is biological father is and never did find out before my grandmother passed. My father also has passed on without every knowing. I just recently found out that my father had a daughter before he married my mother and her name is the same name as my youngest daughter (and an uncommon name at that). I would like to someday meet this person but I really don’t want to do it while my mother is still alive as this would likely kill her to know that my father had a child before they were married. I am so on the fence about this as I would love to have a sister since I lost my brother this past year. I wish you well in your search.

  6. Natalie Brown says

    As a certified therapist, I can tell you that your difficulties with food and feelings of abandonment are due to this sad event. I understand that you don’t feel “whole”. The information you seek is reasonable too. Although, I’ve known friends and a family member that, when they did get the information they wanted, were not fulfilled from now knowing. I’m sincerely glad you were surrounded with love and turned into the beautiful and creative woman you are today. BTW: I can see you in the baby picture. Your pretty eyes are still evident. 🙂

  7. You were a cute little girl and turned out beautifully. One of my children is adoptive and I have met with his biological parents. I keep track of them as best I can. I know a lot about them but I am sure there is so much more to find out and my child will hopefully have a chance to do that. They are very young also. I hope you find what you are looking for, I am sorry you have to deal with all of these feelings.