The business of finding his biological parents
by Kimberly Bailey-Tureaud
In the quest to find the biological parents who put him up for adoption, Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly made courageous choices that changed his life.
We have all heard the phrase, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” For adopted children and others who are not raised by biological parents, however, the search for their roots can be an arduous task. With its many facets — long hours, legal hurdles, heavy research and intense emotional strain — the process can itself become like a job.
Having known for most of his life that he was adopted, Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly, at the age of 47, undertook a mission to find his own birth parents. His story — which is inspiring, and in some ways, also heartbreaking — is one of courage. It is emblematic of the innate desire of all people to know, as Weekly puts it, “the history behind the blood that runs through your veins.”
Who was the mother who adopted you? Where is she now?
Her name was Mary, and she passed away in 1986. I miss her so much and I thank God for sharing her with me.
What prompted you to search for your biological parents?
I think like any other person who has been adopted — or who is a foster child — you want to close the gap, and feel whole and complete, by knowing your genetic roots and the history behind the blood that runs through your veins.
Do you know who your biological father is?
Yes, I got a chance to meet him by phone, right after meeting my biological mother. I asked her about him, and she gave me the information on him. Shortly after hanging up the phone from speaking with her, I was scrolling through the names in my cell phone address book, and ran across a last name that was the same as my biological father’s. The name of the person in my cell phone is a good friend of mine, and I called him up and asked if he knew the name of my biological father. He indicated that the person was his uncle, who lives in Louisiana. He got my biological father on the phone to me that same day, and I got a chance to speak to him.
Two weeks prior to me going to Louisiana to personally meet him, he died. But we got a chance to talk on a regular basis, three times a week, since last August. He was sick and his sister was his caretaker. I feel good that I got a chance to have those conversations with him, and he apologized to me for not being in my life as a child. He really wanted to meet me and he asked me, “When you come to visit, can you do me a favor?” I was kind of taken aback — because here was a man that never took care of me, now asking for me to do something for him. I just said, “Yes, what is it?” He asked me to bring him an orange and an apple when I came to see him. He said he just had a taste for an apple and orange, and would appreciate it if I could bring that to him. I asked him to put his sister on the phone, and I told her, “Can you go to the grocery store and get a couple of apples and oranges, and give them to him and tell him they came from me?” She (said) that she would, and the next time I spoke to him, he stopped me in the middle of our conversation and said, “That was the best orange I have ever tasted in my life.” Which made me feel really good.
How did you locate your biological mother? Does she live here in Las Vegas?
Yes, she lives in Las Vegas, and I went through the process of a search. I hired a very young and talented African-American lawyer, who was diligent and very smart. Before I knew it, she came to me and said we had to go to Reno — because that was where my information was stored. We went through a judicial process, and a couple of months later, the information was revealed and the judge sent me all the information in the mail and I was very nervous about finally opening up the letter.
I received my original birth certificate, and was shocked that I was born April 16 — and not April 17 — (in) 1964. All of my life I had been celebrating my birthday on April 17. I saw my biological mother’s name listed on the birth certificate, and found that I was born at UMC Hospital — which was also a revelation, because I thought I was born in Reno. It was kind of ironic, because I was born at the hospital I now serve as chairman of the board.
How was it meeting your biological mother for the first time?
When I saw my biological mother’s name on my original birth certificate, I didn’t recognize it, and wondered if she was still alive. I called the coroner’s office, and asked if they had any record of this person … around 70 years of age. They indicated that they didn’t have her on record as being deceased, and I asked if they could find out if this person is alive. They said it would take a few days, and they would call me back. Well, in a matter of 30 minutes, they called me back with a phone number and address for her, and told me she was alive and living in Las Vegas. Come to find out, she only lived about a mile from my home.
I got in my car and drove to the address to see where she lived and found the house. I just sat there in my car waiting to see who would enter the home; I was almost like a stalker — watching, emotionally ripped up. I didn’t see anyone entering the home, so I went back home and just stared at the phone, contemplating whether to make a call that would change my life forever. I finally picked up the phone and dialed her number, hoping that a voicemail would pick up instead of a live person on the line.
Needless to say, a soft elderly voice answered and it was her. I just said, “Hi,” and asked to speak to her. She indicated that it was she on the phone, and I said to myself, “Wow!” Then I didn’t know what to say and she said, “Hello, are you still there?” I said, “Yes, I am sorry — I am still here.” I asked, “Are you from Louisiana?” She stated she was. She stopped in the conversation and said, “You seem to know a lot about me, but I still don’t know who I am speaking to.” So, I gave her a fictitious name, because I didn’t want her to initially know (my official position). I asked her, “Do you recall back in 1964 having a baby boy that you gave up for adoption?” Everything went silent, and, like a bubbling volcano, all I could hear her saying was, “Oh, my God, oh, my God.” I said, “I am your biological son that you gave up for adoption.”
So, for the next 10 minutes there were a lot of tears flowing. We ended up meeting about two weeks later after I got myself together.
Was this a resolution?
I feel the accomplishment of just knowing who they were and what happened. … The emotional side of it I wasn’t 100 percent ready for it — and still not ready for it all. She had five children and I was the only one given up for adoption. That was tough to find out. I think to myself, “Why was I the one?” On the flip side, I think people who adopt should really understand that if they are able to provide a loving and nurturing environment to a child, they are truly God’s gifts on this Earth.
How would you describe a mother’s love?
Oh man, it is just like that of a lioness protecting her offspring. The loving way she looks at her children — and the relentlessness to always be there for her children, no matter what happens. My experience is a little tough, because I didn’t have the opportunity to have direct contact or emotional contact with my biological mother. I have to start from scratch, and when you look at someone who is my age, meeting their biological mother for the first time, it is almost like meeting a complete stranger or a new constituent who you are trying to get to know. It will all come in time.
Happy Mother’s Day and many blessings and love to you all!