Rick Farrant is writing a book, a series of letters as he describes it to a mother he never knew. Farrant was born to a teenage woman in a New York home for unwed mothers and adopted by a humorless and abusive man but an adoptive mother who doted on him and was always open about his adoption. And though much of Farrant’s home life was good there was always something missing.
“I spent my entire life feeling a little unanchored,” he says, “feeling like sort of a free bird out there in the world. Because even though some of my cousins of my adoptive family were very welcoming, never felt like an outsider, I always knew I was not part of their family tree.”
Six months ago, at age 64 and facing life threatening surgery, Farrant sent a DNA sample to Ancestry-dot-com just to discover his ethnic background. The results he got back included several genetic matches including two people with connections to the same last name, Shinn, that appears on Farrant’s original adoption papers. He contacted them, they put him in touch with an elderly woman who says her sister, Barbara May Shinn, gave birth to a baby boy at the same home for unwed mothers and in the same year Rick Farrant was born.
“So there was a whole series of pieces of information that you could start to put together and say you know, that’s my mother,” he says.
Barbara May Shinn died in 2005 of an aortic aneurysm, the same genetic defect Farrant's recent life threatening surgery corrected in him. Later this month he’ll travel to New Jersey, meet with his birth mother’s sister, his newfound aunt, and her daughter.
“They’re going to take me around to all the sites that we’re important to my birth mother and my aunt,” he says. “Things such as childhood homes and places where they worked and places where they hung out. And they will be telling stories about them growing up during the Depression. “My guess is they will be telling stories, even though the memory seems to be foggy, of that train trip from New Jersey to New York so that Barbara May could give birth to me.
And Farrant is telling his story, in that series of letters to his birth mother, saying things he waited a lifetime to say to her.
“Well I love my adoptive mother, my adoptive mother was very good to me. but I also now have another mother that I love even though I never met her. I know where I came from I know who my mother was, I know that she loved me. It brings a great calm. I’ve come home.”