June 7th, 2014 started out as a normal day for the Search Quest America team. CEO Susan Friel-Williams logged into Facebook and noticed that someone had forwarded her a video link and asked her to watch the video and to please help if she could. Curious, she watched.
The video, posted by Frank Ritchie of Odessa, TX, at 8:07 a.m. explained how he was looking for his 4 children who had been removed from him when they were toddlers and infants, and how his one dream was to reunite with his kids. Frank had seen all the flyers posted by adoptees in search of their birth families in different groups, and thought, “Heck, maybe a video will work for me!” Little did he know what was going to happen in the next few days? Susan watched the video on June 7th at 8:28 a.m.
She immediately reached out to Frank in a Facebook private message to gather more information about the children and to ask what happened that initiated their loss to the family. She then went over the information with SQA Texas Research genealogist, Pam Kish and together they decided that Frank really deserved to have a happy Father’s Day, and so they went to work.
Children’s Protective Services had stopped into their home while he was gone on a road trip where he loaded trucks for over-the-road truck driving firms after his infant daughter had been seriously injured. The findings by CPS resulted in all four of their young children being removed from Frank and his wife. Not only did they lose their children, but their marriage did not survive. Frank was told that because of the situation, all four of the children would be placed in separate homes. In his mid-20s at the time, Frank spent the next 25 years trying to get over the loss of his babies, as well praying that someday they would find each other. He even traveled to Alaska looking for Misty since he heard her adoptive family was in the military. In his 50’s now Frank tried one last plea, and it paid off!
With the information Frank provided to Susan and Pam, all the first names and dates of birth were checked in databases. Surprisingly, not a one of the four sets of adoptive parents had changed the first name of the Ritchie adoptees. What was even more astounding is that Frank’s daughter Misty wrote in to Search Quest America on 04/26/2005 while she was still in high school and registered her search with us naming both her birth parents in the request. At that point we were quickly able to trace her forward and contacted her husband’s cell phone late in the afternoon of June 7th, 2014. Explaining the situation to him, we learned that Misty had spent years looking for her birth parents and siblings. Within minutes Misty called me back, phone numbers were exchanged and the next thing we noticed was that Frank and Misty were now Facebook friends and were exchanging pictures. If you’ve noticed the new video on our web site that’s Frank and Misty’s thank you video!
Within days Frank moved from Odessa to Wichita Falls, Texas to be closer to Misty and her family, including Frank’s grandchildren who he is thrilled to be able to get to know. Meanwhile back at Search Quest America the team continued to look for the other 3 adoptees. It was determined that Frank Jr. and Nina may be impossible to reach for reasons we will not discuss, but son/brother Dustin Ellis was located and contacted by voicemail. Then we waited, all of us, for a return call. Eventually Dustin called back at 3:00 a.m. in the morning on July 14th, 2014. He’d just finished his job and decided to call. Scrambling for the notes, Susan gave Dustin Misty’s telephone number and encouraged him to call. The next news we received about the reunion was from Misty who said, “Dustin’s on his way over!” Turns out that both Dustin and Misty (and now Frank) all live in Wichita Falls, TX. Misty and Dustin had not seen each other since they were babies, and were amazed they’d ended up in the same location!
In checking with Frank yesterday, he told me there is no way to explain how finding his son and daughter feels other than he’s numb, excited and overwhelmed. Since he moved to be closer to Misty all of them are working hard on trying to rebuild their relationships. Frank is also planning a Ritchie family reunion in Quanah, Texas on July 25th to introduce Dustin and Misty to the rest of the Ritchie family although many of them have already connected on Facebook!
Congratulations to Frank, Misty and Dustin on their very special Father’s Day reunion story!