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Oswego Man's Search for Birth Mother Comes With a Joyful Ending

An amendment to the Illinois Adoption Act recently reunited one Oswego man with the mother he never knew.

Matt Fyda never knew his birth mother.

The 31-year-old Oswego man was given up for adoption shortly after he was born in 1980 at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. Up until November of last year, Fyda's chances were slim that he would ever find the woman who gave him life. 

That's when the Illinois Adoption Act was amended to allow adopted people, age 21 or older, born after Jan. 1, 1946, to file a request for a noncertified copy of the birth certificate, which usually includes the names of the birth parents, their ages and places of birth. 

Ever since the amendment's passage, Fyda has been searching intently for his mom, and on March 30, he finally came face to face with the woman he never thought he would meet. 

Unanswered questions

Like many children adopted as an infant, Fyda didn't find out until he was old enough to understand that he had been given up for adoption.

“I didn’t really ask any questions until I was older,” he said. “I didn’t really want to know, and I didn’t want to make things weird with my family.”

Later in life, Fyda discovered that his mom had been 15 when she had him, and his father was also a teenager. Fyda said he never had any urge to look for his birth parents.

“Especially if I didn’t know if they wanted to be found or not,” he said. 

Fyda's feelings started to change when he and his wife, Kate, had their first son, Blake, in 2008 and then another son, Nolan, a few years later.

“Once the boys were born, it was weird because they were the only two people I knew I was related to by blood,” he said. “I wanted to know my medical history too out of concerns for them.”

Recent figures show about 5,400 adopted children have applied for their noncertified birth certificate since the Illinois Adoption Act was amended in November. Kate Fyda said it's her hope that more people searching for their adopted parents will be able to find them. 

“I am hoping by spreading the word through as many people as we can, that more people will be able to find that missing family member,” said Kate.

The search continues

Fyda took his search online last fall to see what he might find. Bits and pieces of information began to trickle out. On an adoption website, he found a post by a user made on July 21, 2008 with the description of: “Searching for baby boy born 12/26/1980 at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois.”

The poster’s last name was Ralls.  

“It took away some of my fear,” he said. “I knew someone was looking for me.”

After more online investigation, Fyda applied for his birth certificate and it arrived at his Oswego home March 10.

“We’d just dropped the boys off at her parents and Kate gets the mail, and I somehow just knew it was in there,” Fyda said. “Then Kate's there holding the envelope in my face. I took it and just stared at it for a minute.”

His father’s name was not listed, but his mother’s was: Kim Ralls, the same surname as the online poster.

He and Kate immediately tried searching the web for her. The first thing that popped up was her name on a 1983 class reunion board for Palatine High School, along with the new name of “Nathanson” attached and an email address.

“The email was hard to write, I had a hard time starting,” Fyda said.

Sadly, the email bounced back. Fyda renewed the search and found a picture of Kim Ralls at a Cubs game from a Western Illinois University Alumni Association website. Fyda and his wife were both happy to learn Kim went to college and made the best of her life.

“It was nice to see, after she had a kid, she still went on to school,” Kate said.

Frustration mounts

As the search continued discrepancies regarding the woman's last name kept popping up, and the Fydas deduced that Kim had been married, gotten divorced, and was now remarried. She also now had two sons.

They found two addresses that belonged to her at one point, but Fyda didn’t want to send the letter to the wrong person.

“I was getting frustrated,” he said.

He’d found posts by her on Facebook, but had never been able to click on her profile. Then one day he found her older son, Matt's, Facebook page.

“It was crazy that she’d named him ‘Matt,’” said Kate. “Obviously she had no idea, since she didn’t name my Matt, but it was a crazy coincidence."

Fyda sent his half-brother a message, but later learned he never received it. Not ready to give up, Fyda tried once more to find his mother, but this time at a computer at work.

“And I still don’t know if she lowered her privacy settings or what, but she was the first result that popped up when I searched,” Fyda said.

He sent her a quick, generic message and waited for the response. It came back with a simple, but loving message: 

“Wow Matt, I always hoped this day would come," she wrote.

The happy reunion

And so began a lively correspondence, first through Facebook, then to the phone and then video chat. Fyda said he hasn’t been close to his adoptive family for some time, so having this connection was very special.

“If I was still close with my adoptive family it wouldn’t be as exciting," he said. "I’ve heard how proud she is of me more in these last two weeks than in the last 10 years from my adoptive family.”

Fyda has two half-brothers now, as well: Matt, 19, and Aaron, 16. And his mother now has grandchildren.

“She says she can’t wait to spoil the boys,” Kate said. 

Kim Nathanson boarded a flight March 30 to Chicago from Scottsdale, AZ, where she now lives, and greeted her son for the first time in 31 years at the airport. She stayed with the Fyda's in Oswego that weekend. 

“We had a wonderful weekend with her,” Kate said. “Everyone was sad when she left and we’re already planning our next get-together!”

Karin McCarthy-lange April 07, 2012 at 12:25 PM
I am happy for Matt and his birth mother and thankful for them that the Illinois Adoption Act has made this possible. This is a wonderful story with a happy ending. Not all adoptive stories are this way or will turn out like this so they are two very lucky and blessed people. I am an adoptive parent and also consider myself our daughter's "real" parent. Since she was adoptive internationally, it is obvious to everyone that we built our family through adoption and we will have several discussions with her about her early life and the country she came from. Unfortunately, she will mostly likely never be able to search for her birth family as there are no records or information other than where she was found. Someday, if she chooses to search, we will be happy to help in any way we can to support her.
Natalie Stevens (Editor) April 07, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Hello Karin, I responded to your email and wanted to let you know I completly agree. The change was made in edits and I have gone back to correct it to "birth" mother. Thank you for your comment!
Heather Klassen April 07, 2012 at 01:19 PM
I agree! As an adoptive mom, there are few things that hurt more than not being called a "real mom". We've been there for both our kids from the beginning.... I may not be biologically related to them, but I am as real a mom as they come! Our kids are lucky enough to have two sets of parents--biological & adoptive. To our 1 & 4 year olds, I'm just Mommy! :-)
Natalie Stevens (Editor) April 07, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Heather, I understand completely (and spelled that right this time) and couldn't agree more. I may not have been adopted, my I have several friends who are who consider both sets of parents their real parents (and/or their adoptive parents if they do not know their birth parents) and I don't think it should be any other way. I'm sorry for how that was edited, but it has now been fixed! Thank you for your comment!
Steven Jack (Editor) April 07, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Everyone, that's my fault. Please accept my sincerest apologies. I screwed up. Thank you for your feedback. It's greatly appreciated.
Marissa McClure Mitchell April 07, 2012 at 02:01 PM
What an awesome story! Thanks for sharing!!!
Tawanda The Avenger April 07, 2012 at 02:21 PM
very nice story and so glad everything turned out well. :)
sb32199 April 07, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Any word on the birth father? Can't overlook half the parental story...
Natalie Stevens (Editor) April 07, 2012 at 03:26 PM
From what I understand, the birth father was not very involved and had his name removed from the birth certificate.
Kate Lawrence Fyda April 07, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Thanks everyone for your comments! Natalie and Steven you did a great job with our story. It has been an unbelievable and positive addition to our lives. My boys have been more than thrilled to have a "new' grandma in their lives. And sb32199 the father's name was not on the birth certificate. We do know his name, however as of this time we have not made an effort to try and locate him. Thanks!
Carol Anaski-Figurski April 07, 2012 at 08:47 PM
how cool is that
Jen Slepicka April 07, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Wonderful story. Thank you for being so open to share. This is beautiful.
Jane Enviere April 08, 2012 at 06:23 AM
What an interesting story! We also have people in our family who have experience with adoption and their feelings are mixed on this topic. It's fantastic that this worked out so well for these folks!
Kathy April 08, 2012 at 05:21 PM
I too am searching for my birth mom, Donna Hood. I was born January 30 1956 in Chicago. Kathywurth@aol.com
Donna Dewberry April 08, 2012 at 09:51 PM
I often wonder how adoptive parents feel when they raise someone from birth, and then that person calls their bio-parents, Mom and Dad. I think it would hurt, but I guess that is part of the deal of adoption. I have raised a "step" daughter since she was 18 months. She is 30 now, and does have an open relationship with her bio-mother, but she is not her MOM. I am.
Donna Dewberry April 08, 2012 at 09:52 PM
I often wonder how adoptive parents feel when they raise someone from birth, and then that person calls their bio-parents, Mom and Dad. I think it would hurt, but I guess that is part of the deal of adoption. I have raised a "step" daughter since she was 18 months. She is 30 now, and does have an open relationship with her bio-mother, but she is not her MOM. I am.
Lisa Cornelius April 08, 2012 at 11:34 PM
This is an awesome story! Thank you so much for sharing!
Marcella Boehnke April 09, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Great story!! I too am adopted and have found both my biological parents (I'm originally from NE). I also had a wonderful experience finding and meeting both of them - seperately (my adoptive parents have met my biological dad). My adoptive parents will always be my mom & dad and I refer to my biological parents by their first names. Best of luck to you Matt with your new extended family.
Nita Currie April 09, 2012 at 03:35 PM
I gave up a son 45 years ago and am looking for him. Hope our reunion is this happy. I am from Georgia, the laws aren't all that great. Nita
Nita Currie April 09, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Dear Matt as I said in my previous post, I gave up a child, but I am also adopted. I am much older than you. The people that adopted me were old enough to be my grandparents. This created a lot of problems. It was made clear to me at an early age that I "owed" them for taking me. I was never accepted by my adopted parents families and felt like an "outcast" at family gatherings. I never knew why, but I was different and it was obvious. I loved my parents, but I suffered verbal abuse as well as physical abuse. It was different then, you could treat your children this way, now you can't. When my mother found out I was pregnant, I thought she was going to beat me to death. She hit me so hard, my back was bleeding. That's when I knew I had to put my child up for adoption. Sometimes I think people adopt children so they can get accolades. That is why they use the word "adopted" in front of their child's name, otherwise they would never make this distinction. I just hate the word! I need to stop. I could write a book. Nita Aurora, Il
Kim M. April 09, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Depends on the personalities/relationships of the adoptive parents.. if there was nothing "lacking" then possibly those words may not have been used..or this story would not have taken place..Everyone must own their feelings and actions..
sb32199 April 10, 2012 at 10:31 AM
As an adoptee, I always wanted to know a little about the family tree to which I was connected. After reuinting with my bio-relatives, I found myself fascinated with the history of my previously unknown ancestors. I wanted every detail. The feeling of being tied to those roots was far more powerful than I had imagined it would be . Does Matt feel the same way?
Pat Duffy April 10, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Congrats! I too, was born on 12/26; was adopted and found my birth mother. As the Universe loves coincidences, she and I are both named Pat (my parents did not know her name). We come full-circle in Love!
Stephen Lange April 10, 2012 at 02:33 PM
A sad universal truth is that bad parenting knows no boundaries and has a negative effect on children regardless of their origin (bio, adopted, fostered, etc.). Regarding your statement - "Sometimes I think people adopt children so they can get accolades." I'd encourage you to talk to adoptive parents and hear about their experience, the time, emotional toll, and waiting and I think you would feel differently. The reality of adoption today is much different than it was 20+ years ago. I'm sorry to hear about the abuse you suffered, no child should go through that.
Albert lexi July 06, 2012 at 05:31 PM
just FYI, free to register and search biologicalfinder.com
Christine Frances May 20, 2013 at 05:43 AM
Great story ..as for yesterday I received my original birth certificate from the state of Illinois. My search now begins..I was born Feb 9 1971 at northwestern. If anyone knows of Josephine Ann Nix Dempsey...let me know!

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