Woman born in St. George takes to Facebook to search for biological family

ST. GEORGE – A Utah woman given up for adoption at birth is turning to Facebook in hopes of finding her biological family – a quest she had once given up on after being scammed out of $1,500 by a private investigator.

Lauralee Stephens Kohl as an infant, date and location unspecified | Photo courtesy of Lauralee Kohl, St. George News
Lauralee Stephens Kohl as an infant, date and location unspecified | Photo courtesy of Lauralee Kohl, St. George News

Lauralee Stephens Kohl, 36, was born at Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George on June 14, 1979, and was put up for adoption through LDS Family Services. Today, Kohl’s message to her birth mother is one of love, understanding and thanks.

“The main thing that I just want to say is ‘I have so much – I’ve been a single mom, I’ve struggled and I understand and I’m thankful,’” Kohl said. “I’m so thankful for her decision that they made 36 years ago. I appreciate the sacrifice.”

Because Kohl’s adoption was closed, she was given little information about her birth mother, who was 35 years old at the time of Kohl’s birth, making her approximately 71 years old today.

In a closed adoption, the record of the biological parents is kept sealed, preventing the adoptee and the biological parents from finding or knowing anything about each other. But since the days of the Internet and the long-reaching virtual arms of social media, things are changing, breathing new life into Kohl’s desire to connect with her biological family.

Lauralee Stephens Kohl turns to the Facebook community for help finding her biological family, November 2015 | Photo courtesy of Lauralee Kohl, St. George News
Lauralee Stephens Kohl turns to the Facebook community for help finding her biological family, November 2015 | Photo courtesy of Lauralee Kohl, St. George News

On Nov. 7, Kohl posted the following appeal on her Facebook page:

Friends and Family, please help!
As a kid that was adopted, I hit the parent jackpot. I have been SO lucky to be adopted into the family that I was. My parents are amazing. My dad is so mellow. He’s the kindest person I know. I don’t have memory of ever hearing him yell. My mom is charitable and giving to a fault.
I am truly blessed. My aunts, uncles and cousins have all been a huge part of my life. I am the person that I am today because of my amazing family.
I am so grateful for the family that I have.

Being adopted, I’ve always wondered about where I came from. It’s the little things that I missed that I’ve wondered the most about. My entire family was tall, thin, blond-haired and blue eyed. As a chubby, brown haired, brown eyed kid, I felt like I was in the middle of a Sesame Street episode “One of these things is not like the others!” I wondered if there was someone else out there who looked like me.

Every time I go to the doctor and they ask for my medical history and I have to answer “I have no idea.” I wonder about my birth family.

As I look at my baby, I wonder if either of my birth parents looked at me lovingly, the way I look at my little guy.

In a week’s time, Kohl said the post had already garnered more than 1,000 shares.

Growing curious

When Kohl’s parents were told they were unable to have children of their own, they opted for adoption. They applied through LDS Family Services and, after waiting for a baby for several years, they were selected.

Kerry and Melanie Stephens the day after bringing home their adopted daughter Lauralee, Clinton, Utah, June 17, 1979 | Photo courtesy of Lauralee Kohl, St. George News
Kerry and Melanie Stephens the day after bringing home their adopted daughter Lauralee, Clinton, Utah, June 17, 1979 | Photo courtesy of Lauralee Kohl, St. George News

Kohl grew up in Clinton, a small community nestled between Ogden and Layton, with three younger siblings. As long as she can remember, Kohl said, she has known she was adopted. Growing up, Kohl said her life was happy with an amazing family and a lot of love. Nevertheless, she said she still found herself with a natural curiosity and longing to know more about her biological roots.

“I had a really good friend, actually a couple of good friends, who have found their biological families through social media,” Kohl said. “And so I remember sitting on the floor just looking at my laptop, looking as one of my friends found his biological parents, and just crying and thinking ‘oh my gosh, that’s so amazing.’”

When Kohl was 18, her curiosity got the best of her and she decided to officially begin her search for her birth mother. But her quest got off to a rocky start when she was taken advantage of in her vulnerable state.

“I’ve actually spent a lot of money – about $1,500 on a private investigator,” Kohl said. “I got scammed basically. And so after we paid that money, then they came back and said ‘we have a name, but you have to pay us another $1,500 for us to give you that name’ and I was just like ‘you know what? That’s it.’”

Several years later, after love, support and a little convincing from Kohl’s husband and the support of her adoptive parents, she said she feels like it’s time to continue her search.

“I feel like, regardless of what happens, I’m prepared for whatever,” Kohl said. “So if I’m able to find them, that’s great. If I’m able to find them and they don’t want contact, I’m also prepared for that, and I’m at a point in my life where no matter what the outcome is, I’m fine.”

Back to her roots

According to paperwork provided by LDS Social Services about the adoption, at the time of Kohl’s birth, the natural mother was divorced and was struggling to support her three other children she had during her marriage.

Reasons Kohl’s birth mother listed for placing her baby with an adoptive family were because she wanted her baby to have a mother who would be home with her to care for her needs as well as having a father in the home. The birth father was not in a position financially or emotionally to care for a child at the time of the birth, the paperwork states.

Lauralee and her adoptive parents Kerry and Melanie Stephens, date and location unspecified | Photo courtesy of Lauralee Kohl, St. George News
Lauralee and her adoptive parents Kerry and Melanie Stephens, date and location unspecified | Photo courtesy of Lauralee Kohl, St. George News

According to the paperwork:

(This) was a very difficult decision for her to make, but she felt that this was the best thing she could do for her child and expressed a lot of lover for the child. She did see the child several times at the hospital before she left and was very pleased that the baby was beautiful and healthy and fully at peace with the decision that she made, feeling that Heavenly Father had really helped her in making the right decision at this time for her child.

“That’s one of the things that growing up – because as a child you don’t understand – as a child, is that was one of the things that stuck with me was that she had visited me,” Kohl said. “And so my parents have always kind of explained it to me as a true act of love that that was one of the things that struck me because it would be easier to just walk away.”

Description of biological mother

  • 35 years old at time of birth – approximately 71 years old now
  • Described as being approximately 5’8” tall with dark black hair and a slender build
  • Scottish, Irish with some French, German and English descent
  • High school graduate with about one year of college completed
  • Divorced with 3 children from her marriage
  • LDS

Description of biological father

  • 21 years old at time of birth – approximately 57 years old now
  • Described as being approximately 5’7” tall with dark-brown hair, brownish-green eyes, medium complexion and kind of muscular build
  • Caucasian of Irish, German and a small bit of American Indian descent
  • He completed ninth grade and was working as a laborer at the time of the pregnancy
  • Musically inclined and was a talented impressionist
  • No formal religion but had some training in the Baptist faith
Lauralee Stephens Kohl holding her son, St. George, Utah, Nov. 15, 2015 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News
Lauralee Stephens Kohl holding her son, St. George, Utah, Nov. 15, 2015 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

“When I was going through my photos of my childhood,” Kohl said, “I kept looking at my kids and thought ‘my gosh, they look a lot like me.’ And so I’m just hoping someone out there will think ‘gall, she looks like somebody I know’ or you know or one of my siblings, or my biological mom. Somebody should be around here, and so I’m hoping there’s someone that I look like that it will spark a memory.”

While Kohl did have a lot of questions when she was younger, she said, she doesn’t really have questions for her birth mother any longer.

“I just want to say ‘thanks’ – my life is so happy and I feel like I’m the person that I am because of the decisions that she made,” Kohl said, and added:

I feel like I’m missing that part of my life. I’m missing that journey. I’m missing my roots. And so I just I want to just know about that. But if they were to say you know ‘I’m not prepared, I don’t want a relationship, I don’t want to know you,’ I’m OK with that.

Lauralee Kohl is asking for your help to share her story and for anyone who may have information that will help connect her with her biological family, to please contact her by email: lauraleekohl@weber.edu or by text message: 801-317-5235.

Email: kscott@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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3 Comments

  • Lauralee November 19, 2015 at 7:38 am

    Thank you so much to all that have shared this!

  • Brian November 19, 2015 at 7:46 am

    Good luck with your search. Ancestry’s DNA testing (http://dna.ancestry.com/) may be able to put you in email contact with more distant relatives (this lady says most of them were 4th cousins: http://bangordailynews.com/2015/09/27/living/family-ties/maine-speaker-on-dna-testing-in-genealogy-gives-compelling-program/), but that may help narrow things down or start a chain of connections that leads to answers. Since you mention “Scottish, Irish with some French, German and English descent” you may have already done this, but there are 3 services that do it (according to the Maine article above), but I think only Ancestry tries to put you in contact with relatives. Again, good luck!

  • Lauralee November 19, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    That is our next step! It’s a little costly so it will be after Christmas most likely. Thank you so much for your advice! I really appreciate it!

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