Former Holly resident reunites with birth dad on Oxygen’s ‘Finding My Father’

HOLLY, MI — All her life, former Holly resident Angie Fenton has wondered about her origins — she was adopted at three weeks old, and never knew her birth parents.

On Wednesday night, Dec. 30, her meeting with her birth father will be shown to the entire nation on an episode of the Oxygen series “Finding My Father” at 10 p.m.

“As the possibility of meeting him became clear, the more I let myself realize how much I wanted to know,” she said. “(The desire to know him) was always there, but I was afraid to let myself hope for it too much because I didn’t want to be disappointed.”

Fenton grew up as one of five children, four of whom were adopted. Her parents, a minister and a nurse, birthed one child (lovingly nicknamed “Homemade” by her siblings, Fenton said), and adopted four other children who they thought would be unlikely to find a home otherwise. One of Fenton’s sisters had physical disabilities and another was brought in from Korea after being left on the streets and living in a foster home.

“I’m multiracial, and during that time, kids like me usually sat in orphanages or foster care and aged out of the system because they didn’t know what to do with someone like me,” she said. “We were really fortunate that our parents wanted to adopt kids like us.”

The family lived in Detroit for a short time before moving to Holly while she was in kindergarten. Fenton’s adopted parents would later divorce, and she lived with her mom. In high school, she would become a three-sport athlete (tennis, soccer and volleyball), student body president and homecoming queen. They lived modestly, she said, but the loving family environment and community were priceless.

“I really had the best growing-up years that I could ever possibly imagine from that standpoint. We didn’t have money for designer jeans and those kind of things, but we had family and we had friends and a community that really supported us,” she said.

For college, she briefly attended University of Michigan before transferring to Central Michigan University for its composition program. She graduated with a B.A. and an M.A., and began work as a college instructor for freshman and advance composition. She fell in love and moved to Louisville, Ken., with her partner. She now lives in New Albany, Ind., where she works as an entertainment correspondent for a weekday morning show and runs a lifestyle magazine she founded in Oct. 2014 after she remarried. By many measures, she is a success story for adopted children: She has a supportive family, a career and a happy marriage of her own.

But as she was growing up, Fenton always wondered about her birth parents. Even though she was with her adopted parents for as long as she could remember, the first three weeks of her life were still a mystery she wanted to solve.

“I have such an incredible family that I didn’t miss whatever I was supposed to be missing as someone who was adopted. But as I got older I realized how lucky I am,” Fenton said. “There are so many kids in foster care waiting for a family. There are all the alternatives: I could’ve been aborted, I could’ve been abandoned.

“I wanted to thank them to let them know that I’m OK. And also to find out, where did I begin? My life began at three weeks. What happened before that?”

When Fenton was in college, a friend convinced her to reach out to the International Soundex Reunion Registry, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reuniting long-lost relatives. Within five days of submitting her form, she got a response — her birth mother had filled out a profile with the organization five years earlier with hopes that Fenton would reach out one day.

They met up, and Fenton learned a few things about her father.

“She didn’t know where he was. She knew minimal amounts of information, but enough so he was from a small town, he was a twin, and they weren’t very tall,” Fenton said. “Enough information that I was able to file that in the back of my head.”

Her own searches came up empty until repeated conversations with someone she met in Louisville revealed someone who was from the same town as the twins Fenton’s mother told her about. The woman gave Fenton the phone number for the twins’ sister — Fenton’s aunt — and they corresponded for a while to help set up a meeting between Fenton and her father. But the aunt eventually stopped responding to Fenton.

“That aunt and I were corresponding, and I thought, ‘This is it, I’m finally going to meet that side of my biological history.’ But for whatever reason, she just shut the door — she stopped returning my calls, stopped returning emails, and I eventually gave up,” she said.

“Then the show came along, and thankfully — I would’ve never found out any of that information.”

Fenton said the journey with the show took nine months of searching and dead ends. She can’t give details about the search for her birth father, but she said that the run of emotional ups and downs was worth it to finally meet her dad and see her other birth family members.

“Without spoiling it for people, finding him has meant everything. But I also found so much more, for the first time in my life,” she said. “My biological mom is blonde, white, buxom, and all these things that I’m not. But you can see me in her face, and you can see me in the face of one of her brothers.

“I really got an opportunity for the first time of my life to see people who look like me,” she continued. “If you’ve never had that, it’s pretty special.”

As the search was approaching its end, producers asked Fenton and her husband if the process was making them more eager to have biological children themselves. The couple, who was freshly married, said the journey actually made them feel more equipped to adopt instead. But in June, they found out that Fenton was pregnant with a new daughter — despite her turning 40 six months earlier, and her faithfully taking birth control at the time.

“We blame the show. We couldn’t be happier. This little girl is definitely a meant baby. It makes all of this even sweeter,” she laughed. “If we have any siblings for her, we are absolutely adopting. We feel very grateful, and we’re very sure God was chuckling, ‘silly humans, I had a plan for you.'”

Source: MLive.com (William E. Ketchum III)

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