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  • Sweet Reunion

    http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?B...ewsid=11132887
    &PAG=461&rfi=9

    Sweet Reunion

    By: Cynthia Martens March 17, 2004


    Long search reunites daughter in Hillsboro with biological mother in Alabama
    after 40 years
    That empty space existing for a lifetime in her heart has finally been filled.
    The search is over.
    Linda Klenda, 40, adopted at the age of 3 months, met her birth mother for the
    first time last year.

    "It's very overwhelming to finally find someone you've thought about all your
    life," Klenda said. "Every birthday, you think, 'Is she thinking about me? Who
    is she? Am I like her? Do I look like her?' And then, all of a sudden, you're
    corresponding."

    Living in Hillsboro with husband Frank and enjoying a blended family of six
    children, Klenda works as a foreman at Marion County Emergency Communications.

    On May 30, 1964, she was adopted by Charles and Romaine Kenney in Los Angeles.
    She was the third child adopted by the Kenneys, who previously adopted a boy
    and a girl.

    "My parents are my parents," Klenda said. "No one can replace them by any
    means. They were just wonderful parents."

    None of the adopted siblings were biologically related. Each has a letter that
    was written by Romaine shorty after their adoptions. Klenda's letter contained
    what little information her mother could glean from the social worker at the
    time of adoption.

    Now yellowed and slightly tattered from years of wear and tear, the letter
    includes such information as her biological parents' ages, height, weight,
    hobbies and schooling.

    "I've always had this piece of paper," Klenda said. "Just like my parents told
    me I was adopted, it seems like I've always known. It meant a lot to me. It
    enabled me to connect with someone-with my biological past."

    Unmarried, pregnant, about 20 years old and from a strong Catholic family,
    Klenda's biological mother chose to move to California to quietly give birth 40
    years ago. After briefly holding her newborn daughter, she let her go and
    slipped back into her previous life.

    Raised in Concord, Calif., in the San Francisco Bay area, Klenda can remember
    what a treat it was to celebrate two birthdays.

    "It was pretty cool growing up," Klenda said. "I was adopted on May 30, so not
    only did I have a Feb. 18 birthday, but May 30 was an anniversary. We
    celebrated that day as well. We got presents for anniversary day."

    Recalling a happy childhood, Klenda also remembers the nagging questions about
    her birth parents.

    "I think I've always wanted to look for them," Klenda said.

    Her first memory of questioning her adopted life was as a young girl in a mall,
    where she fantasized about her mother. Was she in the crowd, taking pictures of
    strangers and looking for her daughter?

    As a young girl about 16 years old, she decided she wanted to search for her
    birth parents.

    "I was going to do it, but it was going to cost $100 for them to help me
    search, and I was a teenager," Klenda said. "So I just let it go."

    Years passed before she decided to look for her mother in earnest.

    Five years ago, co-worker Loretta Klose was helping someone else search the
    Internet for their birth parents.

    "She found sites where you can go and post names," Klenda said. "That's how she
    started for me and then kind of helped me with it."

    In 1999, Klose gave Klenda the name of a California woman who was willing to
    search the California birth-index library. Armed with Klenda's birth name of
    Susan Lee Moon, the woman discovered that Klenda's birth mother's maiden name
    was Tuomisto.

    "Finding that name alone was a very big deal to me," Klenda said. "It actually
    connected me to someone. I continued to put my name and my information on
    different adoption-search Web sites. There are a zillion out there."

    She discovered a number of people had the last name of Tuomisto, especially in
    Minnesota. But at one point, she stopped searching.

    "I think I got cold feet," Klenda said. "I wasn't sure if I wanted to do it
    anymore. I did, but I didn't. I guess, it was the fear of rejection. I didn't
    want to intrude (into her life) and stir up any bad feelings."

    On Jan. 30, 2003, Klenda received an e-mail from someone who signed her name
    Lee Moon, an obvious reference to Klenda's birth name of Susan Lee Moon. But
    the e-mail was wrapped in mystery, and the writer said: "I'm going to have to
    get back to you later. I won't forget."

    The next e-mail asked if Klenda was looking for her birth mother.

    Klenda responded: "Please write more. I have no hard feelings toward anyone,
    just want to know who I am. Again, just looking forward to hearing more from
    you."

    Letters followed as the two women tread lightly and slowly began to exchange
    identifying information.

    In their letters, Klenda discovered more and more information about her
    correspondent. She now had a name-M.J. Bennett, who was married, living in
    Alabama and had two step-children. She also had five brothers and three
    sisters.

    Could Klenda actually have eight biological aunts and uncles?

    "Once we started corresponding, she decided it would probably be a good idea to
    have a DNA test," Klenda said. Following the instructions on DNA kits, both
    women swabbed their mouths last spring and waited for the results.

    "They matched it up, and it was 99.9 percent accurate," Klenda said. "That's
    basically when you finally meet your mom for the first time. It was finding a
    piece of me, filling that hole, that emptiness. It was a little piece that
    wasn't quite there that is now filled."

    Klenda discovered her mother spent a lifetime thinking about the daughter she
    gave up.

    "She was always looking, always," Klenda said.

    After the DNA confirmation, Bennett told her brothers and sisters about her
    daughter.

    "She sent them all letters," Klenda said. "They were all very open and OK with
    it. They want to meet me now."

    Bennett and Klenda, biological mother and daughter, met for the first time last
    June at the Wichita Airport.

    "She had sent me pictures, but as soon as she walked out, I knew who she was,
    and she knew who I was," Klenda said.

    "Tears just started falling, and we held each other. I told her it was OK. She
    was so worried about me being upset with her for giving me up for adoption.
    But, not at all. I was grateful, because the alternative would have been me not
    being here at all."

    The two talked, toured Wichita and basically discovered each other.

    "Everything just flowed and things just clicked," Klenda said. "I just think it
    was meant to be."

    The future for the two reunited women looks bright.

    Klenda and her family have been invited to visit Bennett in Alabama. And this
    summer, the Klendas are invited to a family reunion in Minnesota.

    Although Klenda's adopted father passed away, her adopted mother is able to
    share in her daughter's joy.

    "On my 40th birthday, my adopted mom sent my biological mom flowers," Klenda
    said.

    "That was so cool. And they e-mail each other back and forth. Both moms are so
    thankful for each other."





    -------------------------
    A good friend will come and bail you out of jail . . . but, a true friend will
    be sitting next to you saying, "**** . . . that was fun!"
    -----Unknown
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