The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

January 13, 2013

Change in law allows adoptees to find information

(Continued)

DANVILLE —

It was then that a waitress escorted Alfreda Louise Johnston to the table. The 69-year-old from Portland, Ore., is Marsha’s biological mother whom she just located on Nov. 30 after receiving a new birth certificate from the State of Illinois with her biological mother’s name on it.

The surprise visit was orchestrated by Richard, who flew Johnston into Indianapolis and picked her up that afternoon at the airport.

Woodard, 52, knew she had been adopted by a Hoopeston couple, Herbert and Marg Shoufler, who named her Marsha Ann. Woodard, however, also knew her given name at birth was Brenda Lee Danner.

“I’d been curious about it for a while, especially after I had my daughter,” Woodard said. “I Googled my name, Brenda Lee Danner, a couple of times but didn’t find anything.

“A friend told me the law had changed and I could get my original birth certificate and an agency could maybe help me locate my biological parents,” she said.

Woodard requested her new birth certificate in late October and once her biological mother’s name was revealed, Richard — who owns a computing service — scoured the Internet for her.

“We Googled her name and found a couple of obituaries where she was listed as a survivor. The most recent was for one of her sons who had passed away in 2009,” she said.

It was a June 1961 obituary for a late-term miscarriage of an infant boy that listed Alfreda as the mother and his sister, Brenda Lee Danner at home, which convinced the couple they had found the correct woman.

The 1961 obituary also led to another discovery.

“I wasn’t adopted at birth like I always had thought,” Woodard said. “I was 13 months old. I had no idea I had been with my mom for a year.”

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