By Pfc. Samantha SchutzApril 7, 2008
CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq (Army News Service, April 7, 2008) - A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier has the support of new Family members at home during his deployment.
After Staff Sgt. Edwin Scott was born in Okinawa, Japan, nearly 36 years ago, his young mother felt giving her son up for adoption was the best thing she could do for him. After she took a few years to get her life together, she relocated to Sacramento, Calif., and then began searching for Edwin in 1977.
Long Lost Family
It took nearly 30 years for Valerie Alexander-Bailey to be reunited with her son. Valerie's 28-year-old daughter, La'Keisha, used Internet search engines to track down the half-brother she always wanted to grow up with. She even wrote letters to television talk show hosts like Oprah and Montel Williams, asking for help with her search.
La'Keisha said perseverance and faith finally brought them all together.
"Anything worth fighting for takes time, and with due diligence people will find who they are looking for. If things are meant to be, they will be," said La'Keisha.
Scott, now the noncommissioned officer in charge of video-teleconference operations with Company C, Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, said when his sister first contacted him through a letter in May 2007, he was admittedly apprehensive. Growing up, his adoptive parents were honest about his circumstances, but Scott never got his hopes up about meeting his birth parents.
"I just put (the situation) in a little box, closed it, locked it and put it away inside myself," Scott said, about dealing with being adopted. "I never thought about what it could have, would have been."
Finding Each Other
The letter Scott received in Texas, from La'Keisha opened a new door. Her detailed explanation of the circumstances surrounding his adoption intrigued him; finally, he called. Hearing her voice on the voicemail, Edwin sensed there was a connection."I heard her voice and I knew. I thought, 'That's her. That's my sister,'" said Scott.
Scott used an Internet search to look up La'Keisha after he left a message on her voicemail. Although there were a few different profiles bearing her name from Sacramento, he said one in particular stuck out. Feeling certain, he jotted down the e-mail address she provided in her profile.
As soon as she received the message, La'Keisha returned Scott's call. Once the two got past the initial awe of their brother-sister relationship, they exchanged e-mail addresses. When La'Keisha started to tell him hers, Scott said he didn't have to write it down. He had picked the right profile.
Catching up on lost time became their biggest priority.
"For the next few weeks, we didn't speak for less than two hours on the phone, and we passed hundreds of pictures via e-mail," Edwin said.
When they shared photos over the Internet, the siblings were amazed to see how much they resembled one another. Each of them has prominent Filipino features, and La'Keisha said she thinks Scott bears a close resemblance to their other family members, also.
"I have my mother's nose and high cheekbones," Edwin said in agreement.
Valerie, too, was able to capture lost years by looking at Scott's pictures." He sent me pictures from when he was a baby to where he is today," said his mother. "I treasure each and every one of them."
Even though Valerie was excited by seeing the pictures and knowing her son was out there, she was cautious about talking to him for the first time.
"I was afraid to scare him away," she said. "When he told his new sister how nervous he was about talking to me, I made sure he knew I did not want to pressure him in any way. We communicated first by e-mail only."
After a little more than a month of continuous communication by telephone and Internet, the blossoming Family decided it was time to arrange a meeting. Since Valerie was already scheduled to arrive in San Antonio in mid-June for a business meeting, she arranged for La'Keisha to fly from Sacramento with her.
"To finally meet him in person was a blessed day," Valerie said."We were at the airport; he and his family were picking us up. When he turned to hug me, all the pent-up anxiety from the past 35 years was finally released," she continued. "I could have stayed in that very spot for hours, but I knew we had to keep moving on."
Because Scott and La'Keisha had spent so much time talking on the phone, they were anxious, but not nervous, to finally come face-to-face.
"For me it felt like some of that uncertainty and nervousness was gone. I was very excited to see Scott, but in some ways, I felt as if I had already been given an opportunity to know him more before we met," La'Keisha said.
Since their first meeting, the three have maintained constant contact. Valerie and La'Keisha have visited Scott in Texas several times, and Scott had the opportunity to visit Sacramento to walk his mother down the aisle at his sister's wedding. His presence, La'Keisha noted, made her wedding day complete.
Making Up for Lost Time
Scott said he plans to move to Sacramento after he retires to make up for lost time with his family. "California is the place I ought to be," he said with a smile.
Scott is overjoyed about the new relationships he's now able to forge. He said he encourages anyone looking for an estranged family member never to give up.
"If you ever had a doubt...if you ever had a percentage of wonder about your biological family, seek it out," Scott advised. "I know my adoptive parents did the best they could for me. I don't feel like I'm at any disadvantage from my upbringing, but there's a certain connection (adopted children are) missing. I don't care how they try to hide it; I don't care how adamantly they try to sweep it under the rug. There's always that yearning to know."
(Pfc. Samantha Schutz serves with the Multi-National Division - Baghdad Public Affairs Office)