In 1956, a baby boy was born to a 15-year-old high school girl in Warren.
Twelve days ago, on Thursday, Oct. 24, he spoke to his mother for the first time in his life.
“I did not know I was adopted until I was 11 years old, and when trying to gather information… my adoptive parents would not provide the information I needed,” he said.
Today, the Rev. Dr. Jeffrey T. Moore lives in Meadville, and is the pastor at Central Christian Church in Hermitage.
He said that following his adoptive mother’s death in 1994, his adoptive father finally gave him the paperwork that triggered a serious nationwide search, although there was still very little to go on.
“I had actually begun my search in the late 1970s, but to no avail even employing a detective agency. Nearly giving up on my life-long search, I decided to place an ad on the You Knew You Grew Up in Warren, Pa. site on Facebook, to see if anyone could assist me,” he added.
“Because of the wonderful help of Warren people I don’t even know, I was led to my biological father’s family on Wednesday evening. While he passed away in 1981, my new stepmother informed me that I have five beautiful half-sisters who were also searching for me through the years, and that my father always felt bad that he had given me up.”
Warren native and former resident Denise Storer said she had just joined the Facebook group when she spotted Moore’s request for help. “I knew the father, his wife was my mother’s best friend,” she said. Storer then passed along the information to Moore. She said it was just a small role she played, and didn’t want to take credit for the work others had done.
“Since Wednesday, I have been on the phone… reuniting with a family I never truly knew existed. My father was John Hamm, Jr., now buried in Pine Grove Cemetery in Russell,” Moore continued.
“With a small tidbit of information, and much research… from Warren residents and my son in Denver, last night after 57 years I talked with my mother in Syracuse, New York.”
He said he is planning to reunite with his mother over the Thanksgiving holiday
“She is 73 years old, but in good health. Through many tears we began to process the huge span of time that has passed.”
“As an only child, I wished I had a brother or sister, and now I have eight half-brothers and sisters, many, many nieces and nephews, a stepmother and my biological mother,” he concluded.
A search for You Knew You Grew up in Warren revealed a site that will allow only those with some tie to Warren to join the group. Posts to Moore’s request identified his biological parents within 48 hours of his first entry.
He posted, “To all my dear friends in Warren and on this site – in 48 hours I have been reunited with biological father’s family and just talked to my mother, finally ending a 57 year search! God is good!”
He added, “It has been an incredible and emotionally wrenching week. I have cried more in 48 hours than I probably have the last five years. I have wonderful family and to top it off tonight came home and there on my answering machine was a message from my new found biological mother!”
Moore spoke of his early life, in and out of Warren. “Obviously a Warren native, I lived there until I was two when we moved to Virginia, but returned to Warren in 1966 when my grandmother on my adoptive side was dying.”
“When we moved back to Warren, in ’67 I attended Lacy School, South Street and then Beaty for seventh through ninth (grades).
Moore’s wife teaches for the Crawford County School District, and they have four grown children.
He indicated that none of his maternal family live in Warren, but, “I do think from the biological side there are many Hamms in Warren that are related (I’m) just not clear which ones yet.”
Searches by adopted children for their biological parents can be difficult in Pennsylvania, because, by law birth certificates containing the names may only be released to the child once he or she is 19 years old or older, and only if the parents have signed and filed a consent form.