Her 47th birthday recently came and went, and, for Lisa Marshall, there was no phone call, no card, no present, no hug from her birth father.
Just like the previous 46 birthdays.
That’s because the Vernon magazine distribution company employee has no idea who her birth father is.
“He may not even know I exist,” said Marshall, married with two adult kids.
For more than 25 years, Marshall has been searching for her birth parents. She’s known since she was young she was adopted. Her adoptive parents had five boys and kept trying for a girl, so they adopted Marshall.
She found her birth mother, a woman named Sharon Bolen, 21 years ago. And Bolen was not at all thrilled to learn Marshall’s adoptive parents had helped by pulling a ruse.
“She phoned me at 6:30 a.m. from North Carolina and she was not too happy,” said Marshall. “My parents had found her using a lie, saying they’d known her when she lived in Vancouver and wanted to know where she was.”
They talked for about 45 minutes. Marshall let Bolen yell at her and get mad at her for the way she found her, which Marshall says she “completely understands.” Bolen asked what kind of information Marshall was looking for. Marshall was specific: she wanted the name of her birth dad.
Bolen never told her.
“I tried to ask as many questions as I could,” said Marshall. “Give me a little medical information about the family. She wouldn’t tell me who my father was. I asked, she just said no.
“She made it known she didn’t want any contact with me at all and I respected that. It’s her life, her secrets. But she gave me no clues as to who my dad is.”
Through her research, Marshall has been able to ascertain that Sharon likely got pregnant in Regina and moved to Vancouver to live with a sister (Marshall was born in Grace Hospital in Vancouver). Marshall made contact with the sister and, like Sharon, Marshall said she’s not happy she made contact with the family.
Marshall believes her dad was about 30 at the time, which – if he is still alive – would make him 76 or 77.
Marshall never talked with Bolen again. It was through Facebook that she discovered her birth mom had a profile page and when clicking on that page, Marshall discovered she had died.
She also discovered she had a sister, Nicole, who lives in North Carolina, and a brother, Chris, who lives in Europe. The trio are planning to meet at family events this year in Saskatchewan and North Carolina.
Marshall is the oldest of the three siblings and said Nicole told her they share the same father.
“She has been amazing since we made contact,” said Marshall, who spends a couple of hours each night on her laptop researching. She has built a family tree but is missing the branch that would lead to her birth father.
“I’d love to meet him and talk to him or any of his relatives, sons, daughters, cousins,” she said. “I put it off for the last 21 years thinking Sharon would come around and give me information. She never did.”
Her family is completely behind her goal to find her dad.
“They’ve been awesome,” she said. “It’s never been a secret I was adopted and it shouldn’t be.”
She has done DNA testing and regularly checks ancestry.ca but is hopeful somebody may read her story and suggest another way to try and track down her birth father.
Anybody with suggestions can e-mail Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org.