Searching for her mother

Carla Allen, The Vanguard
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WEST PUBNICO - Deep down, the pervasive yearning was always there. Since Jo-Ann Hatting’s birth on Jan. 18, 1957, she has felt the absence of her birth mother.

Jo-Ann Hatting’s search for her birth parents and other relatives has brought her from Copenhagen, Denmark, to West Pubnico, with the help of a genetic matching service.

She believes many adoptees have unconsciously searched, like her, all their lives for “mother.”

“Being within her womb for nine months, hearing her heartbeat and knowing her voice and then we’re born,” said Hatting.

“We’re torn away from each other and as a newborn, put into the arms of strangers… the brain starts closing down unconsciously; we know it’s not our mother,” she said.

Hatting’s search has brought her from Copenhagen, Denmark, to West Pubnico with help provided through a DNA service.

Born at the Catherine Booth Army Salvation Hospital in Montreal, she was 19 inches long and weighed nine pounds, five and a half ounces. A Danish couple adopted her when she was eight days old. They are not supporting her search for birth relatives.

She was approximately two when the family immigrated to Providence, Rhode Island.  When she was eight they moved to Little Falls, New Jersey. In 1970 they moved to Greenville, South Carolina. In 1973 the family moved to Copenhagen.

Her adopted father was a statue moulder for many years then became an engineer in the plastics industry.

The relationship between Hatting and her adopted parents became strained when they moved to Denmark. The language proved a problem for her and, at 16, she felt she didn’t fit in anywhere.

She was sent to a language school in Jutland for a year-and-a-half.

“I learned everything but the language,” she laughed.

She attended a business school in Denmark, then went to Tunisia on vacation, where she met her first husband.

“I was searching for someone that would comfort me and keep me safe,” she said, tears beginning to flow.

Hatting gave birth to two sons but after six years left them with their father after realizing she was not receiving the comfort and love she was seeking.

“I wanted my two children to stay safe,” she said.

Shortly after, she met Bo, who took her sons in as his own. The couple have been married for 30 years and added two other sons to the family.

Her research has been not only for her natural mother, but also her siblings.

She has been actively searching for two- and-a-half decades, starting before widespread use of the Internet. She is a member of many adoption sites in North America.

Last Christmas she learned about 23andMe, Inc., a privately-held company dedicated to helping individuals understand their own genetic information using DNA analysis and web-based interactive tools. The company has at least 700,000 genotyped customers. They sell a DNA testing kit, which she ordered for $200 including shipping.

When the kit arrived, she says, she guarded it like it was her birth certificate.

“I took it to work, I was afraid it was going to get stolen. It took me a good two weeks before I pulled myself together to do it,” she said.

“You were afraid of being disappointed,” said her husband, quietly.

“I was leaping into the unknown,” she said.

She spit into the test collector and mailed it off. The sample went to the lab on Jan. 26, the date she was relinquished from the hospital so many years ago.  On Feb. 14 the results returned.

There were 1,001 matches. Her results started with first and second cousins.

“That’s when I started crying,” she said.

Persons listed in the database had chosen to include their names in the info provided.

Through Facebook she began corresponding with relatives in West Pubnico. She decided to travel to the community to meet them and other relatives. At least half a dozen of her cousins have had their DNA tested in order to aid her in her search.

What if her birth father/mother doesn’t want to meet her?

She responds by saying that less than five per cent of natural moms don’t want their adoptees to know their identity.

“I don’t believe I’m one of those,” she said.

“I think that if I am the person I am, it’s genetically (related). I believe my parents are the same as I am. I believe they would be willing to help, because all my life I’ve been helping: building schools in Africa for underprivileged children (for example).”

Hatting’s anxiety, something she says that most adoptees struggle with, is diminishing.

“Now I know where I am from. I know that Pubnico is part of me; I know that I’m Acadian. As time goes by, hopefully it will evolve and the doors and windows will open more.”

And what if her mother is in that five per cent? “Then I will respect that,” she said.

If you think you have information that can help Hatting, you can email her at jbhatting@hotmail.com or write her at Jo-Ann Hatting, Salvievej 23, 2630 Taastrup, Denmark.

Organizations: Catherine Booth Army Salvation Hospital

Geographic location: Denmark, Pubnico, Copenhagen Montreal Providence, Rhode Island Little Falls, New Jersey Greenville, South Carolina Jutland Tunisia North America Africa Taastrup

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