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Rural Toledo, Illinois sisters meet for the first time

change in adoption law, Facebook bring them together

October 12, 2012
By John Speer - Editor , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

There were broad smiles, disbelief, some admitted "shaking" and maybe a few misty eyes.

Amy Haggard is 47 years-old and lives at rural Toledo.

Kari Taylor is 41 and lives at Sycamore, Ill.

Article Photos

It was mid-morning on Saturday, Oct. 6 when Amy Haggard, rural Toledo (left) met her sister Kari Taylor, 41, Sycamore, Ill. for the first time. Taylor had driven from her home after first making telephone contact with Haggard on Monday. News-Herald photos/John Speer

They're sisters, had the same birth mother, and, yes, they never met. That is until Saturday morning, Oct. 6, when Kari came calling.

A week before, Amy received a telephone call which she said, "Put me in shock. i had to have her repeat everything all over."

Kari, who placed the call said last Saturday, just after meeting Amy, "I was so nervous. I didn't know if I should call, I didn't know how you would receive me."

Their first face-to-face meeting had the sisters learning of each others' lives, families and making some plans for the future.

Amy and her companion, Derek Moeller, share his family of children and grandchildren. Kari has daughters, ages 10, eight and six.

How did the two sisters came to meet? A change in Illinois law and Facework, that internet site which is the dominant social network one for many, are responsible.

Kari Taylor said she grew up knowing she was adopted. Her parents, Ken and Kathy Peterson also adopted her brother, Larry, who lives at Stoghton, Wisc. Kari was eight weeks old when she was adopted through Lutheran Social Services.

"Out of respect for my parents, I didn't pursue (adoption) information while I was in college," Kari said.

After that the cost of pursuing the record using a private search agency was prohibitive, she said.

Amy, for her part, said she was not in the custody of her mother when she was age six at the time Kari was born. She said she now recalls knowing her mother had been pregnant and her baby had been given up for adoption but said she had "completely forgotten about it."

That changed with the Oct. 1 telephone call.

The death of Kari's adoptive parents and a new Illinois public records law on adoptions in 2011 led Kari to pursue her real mother. This was coupled by her lifelong severe hearing loss which made her want family history for health reasons.

Kari sent in the application for her birth certificate and received it on Sept. 29. She learned she was born "Monica Amick" at the Salvation Army Booth Memorial Hospital in Chicago on Dec. 12, 1970, and placed in foster care 10 days later.

That sent Kari to her computer with her mother's name, Joanne Amick, and knowledge of having a sister, Amy Jo Amick.

"I spent two to three hours "Googling." Then i stayed up all night, went to church the next morning and that night typed in Amy Jo Amick. At least 15 came up....the third one listed knowledge of American sign language. I then just knew."

That was the Facework page of Amy Jo Haggard which listed Amy Jo Amick in parenthesis after her name.

In her photo section, there's a photo of their mother playing pool taken 21 years ago. Their mother, Joanne was deaf. She died of cancer in 1998. (Amy was adopted by her mother's husband had took his name of Hagggard.)

"It's sad I didn't get to say thank you to her for giving me life," Kari said Saturday. She said she hopes her unitieg with family will be an inspiration for other adptees to attempt ot do so also.

Amy says she has not been active on the Facework site lately and was surprised her information was not stored under the "private" option.

Amy is currently recovering from neck surgery at her rural home where she has lived since 2004. She had last occupation had been raising purebred Bassett Hounds. Prior to moving to Toledo she worked for Compaq Computers in Illinois and before that was employed by a Houston, Texas, architect after studying architetual design at IIT Technical institute there.

Amy was born on Dec. 23, 1964, in Los Angeles, Calif.

Kari, a devout Christian, is a kindegarten-12th grade school counselor for the deaf and hard of hearing. She graduated from Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisc., and received a graduate degree from Northern Illinois University in rehabilitation counnseling. She said she is currently on hold on her work toward a doctorate degree.

Accompanying Kari to Iowa on Saturday was her "hearing dog" Luc. Luc is the only Hearing Dog Team member in the State of Illinois. The team is a project of Lions Clubs International.



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