Got a minute? Check out this great story from Chalmer Harper (’02)

Posted by Monica Hoel
Chalmer Harper (E&H ’02) recently solved a family mystery: at age 40, he tracked down his birth mother.

Chalmer is a radio personality at KSOS Christian Radio in Las Vegas, Nevada, but he grew up in Tennessee. He knew he was adopted, and had never really wanted to track down his birth parents for fear of upsetting long-settled lives.

But as time passed, he started thinking about the fact that he didn’t know much about his medical history. So, he bought a “23 and Me” kit, and then stalled for several months while he got up the courage to follow through. When Heart Health Month rolled around, he did the work and sent in his DNA sample.

After he logged in at the “23 and Me” site, a chain reaction was set in motion. As we know from this process, he was not only looking at people on his list, he was suddenly on the lists of others. A Second cousin, saw Chalmer’s name, and started asking questions. That cousin called his grandmother (Chalmer’s Great Aunt) who called Chalmer’s birthmom) to say, “I have a name.”

Chalmer’s mother had also been hoping to find the son she had given up for adoption, but she, too, was hesitant to disrupt another person’s life. After she got the call about this new name in their family tree, she found the courage to send Chalmer a Facebook message – that he never saw. (If you have Facebook, you know about those hard-to-notice messages from people who aren’t your Facebook friends!) After she allowed it to languish in his Facebook inbox for a few days, she resent the message to his work email.

This time he got her note, and he says it literally stopped him in his tracks.

Through another interesting turn of events, Chalmer had recently been given a letter from his Adopted Dad that gave a physical description of his matriarchal birth family. He took a photo of the letter, and sent it to the woman who was wondering if she might be his birth mother. She read the letter. Then, emailed him back to say, “Welcome to the family.”

Covid-19 has made travelling to meet each other complicated: She lives in Powder Springs, Georgia, he lives in Henderson, Nevada. So, they each drove to Amarillo, Texas, for their reunion – and even managed to find a baseball game where they could spend some casual time together. Chalmer is now making plans to connect with siblings, as well.

You can hear Chalmer tell his story in the WEHC archives: https://archive.org/details/OntheDuckPondWall

  • Chalmer Harper, E&H Class of 2002

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