Puyallup: News

After 71 years, Bonney Lake man reunites with his birth mother

In the day of social media and readily available information with the Internet at our fingertips, one would think tracking down any individual would be easy.

For Sumner native and Bonney Lake resident Don Simmons, his trek to find his birth mother took far more than a simple Google search.

Simmons, born in January of 1944, was adopted shortly after his birth. He was raised by his adopted parents in Edgewood, and graduated from Sumner High School in 1962.

At the age of 10, Simmons found out he was adopted.

“I was over at the neighbors, and I was the only sibling in the family since my adopted mother could never have children,” Simmons said. “The neighbor said I was adopted, and I went home and asked mom, and she said, ‘Yes, you were adopted.’ I didn’t think anything of it.”

Years went by. Simmons got married, had children, got re-married, and had more children until finally his oldest daughter, 52, wanted to find out her family’s health history.

“I called WARM (Washington Adoption Reunion Movement) and they sent me some literature that sat in drawer for probably six or seven years,” Simmons said. “But then I called them back at the end of July and was able to get my birth certificate with my biological mother and father’s name on it.”

Upon receiving his birth certificate, Simmons set out to find his biological mother. In January, a friend suggested he head on down to the Heritage Quest Library in Sumner and see if staff there had any leads on reconnecting with his adopted family.

“He knew her name, of course, and he assumed she was from the Seattle area because he was born here, but we couldn’t find anything,” said Heritage Quest Library volunteer Dee Fournie. “We didn’t know if she had gotten married, so I went back to the 1940 census, because she would be living with her parents at that time. We found her parents, but they were dead at that time. We saw she had a brother, so we said let’s try for the brother. We were able to find his obituary.”

Fournie then suggested Simmons call the funeral home listed on the obituary in Fremont, California to see if they had any leads.

An employee at the funeral home told Simmons the records with his family’s information on it was out back of the facility in a shed, and she would need a few days to find the correct information.

“I really thought I was going to be dead in the water,” Simmons said. “It was neat of her to do something like that for me.”

The employee called the contact person linked to his uncle’s burial, Don’s cousin, Steve.

“Two days later, my newfound cousin called me and said, ‘You have a living sister and a brother,’” Simmons said. Steve arranged it for Simmons to call his long lost sister the next night. Simmons picked up the phone the next evening and called his newfound sister. During that phone call, he learned their 91 year-old mother is still living and wanted to meet him.

On January 18, 2015, after 71 years, Simmons and his mother were reunited one afternoon at her assisted living facility in Arlington (Skagit County).

“She was overjoyed,” he said.

For years, his mother had worried her son was killed in the Vietnam War.

“I just wanted to make sure she knew that her choice of parents for me was the best,” Simmons said.

Not only was Simmons’ mother able to reconnect with her son, she gained four more grandchildren and seven new great grandchildren — with four of those great grandchildren being quadruplets.

“We plugged a whole in her heart,” Simmons said.

According to Simmons, since their reunion, his mother has gone from 102 pounds to 108 pounds.

“They think this has a lot to do with it,” he said. “Her heart has been healed.”