Shadow's Story

It was Post WWII, 1952 in Germany and 16 year old Georgine was living with her stepfather, her pregnant older sister and three younger half siblings. Georgine fell in love with a young American soldier and subsequently gave birth to a healthy baby boy. She named him Gerhard. Because of her age and living situation she was eventually forced to place Gerhard in an orphanage.

Young American soldier, Chuck and his wife, Vivian were stationed in France. Vivian had just recently miscarried and was told she would never be able to have children. They heard that there were many orphaned children in Germany that were available for adoption. Having huge hearts with so much love to share, they decided to travel from France to Germany and visit the orphanage where Gerhard was living. As they entered the big doors of the orphanage there was an adorable toddler Gerhard, with his big beautiful blue eyes who caught Chuck and Vivian’s attention by placing out his shoe to tie the laces. That was it, they immediately fell in love with the young boy and put into action their request for his adoption. Amazingly, they were able to take Gerhard with them that very day and they decided to name him Michael. The adoption became final some months later when they returned to Germany and adopted another orphan, an infant girl who would become Michael’s adoptive sister, Cindy. In the early summer of 1955, Chuck finished his tour of duty and he and Vivian returned to the United States with their children, Mike and Cindy.

Chuck and Vivian devoted their lives to their children, raising them with their extended families in West Covina, California and then later settling down in then rural El Toro, California. Mike and Cindy were always aware of their German heritage and adoption, but they never felt like they were adopted, they were loved so abundantly by their parents. They were a typical American family, took vacations, rode bicycles and motorcycles, competed in school sports and clubs and Mike helped his Dad building cars. Mike and Cindy had a great childhood and were loved beyond measure.

Mike and Cindy had always wondered about their German birth family. “Did they have a brother or sister out there that looked like them?” “What were the circumstances that led their mother to place them in an orphanage?”

Mike and Cindy grew up and went on to marry and have children. Mike married his first wife and the mother of his two boys, Chris and Jeremy. He always told his boys about their German heritage. After his divorce to the boys’ mother, he met and married his soul mate and the love of his life, Diane. The gave birth to their daughter, Nicole. Sister, Cindy married her love, Dave and they gave birth to their daughter, Kayleigh. These two families flourished in their lives. Mike and Diane started their own business in insurance claims and then investigations. They got involved with off road vehicles, mules, horses and riding various street motorcycles.

It was in the early years of their business of investigations that Mike’s friends and employees began to call him by his nickname Shadow. Shadow is the name by which he is known today. Shadow also competed with champion mules, Pam and Bill at Bishop Mule Days and won the title in 2002 for World Champion Small Teams. After a few grueling years of competition with the mules, Shadow and Diane found their true passion in riding iron horses, Harley-Davidson Motorcycle.

In March of 2007, Shadow encountered some medical issues. During his recovery, Chuck and Vivian gave him his adoption file and said they wanted him to have access to his family medical history if that was possible and to know the extent of his German heritage. Chuck and Vivian continue to be the most loving, giving, parents anyone could have had.

Shadow and Diane’s investigation business focuses primarily on insurance fraud, but over the years they have helped friends of friends find their lost families or friends. One case in particular has always given them cause for reflection. A young woman was searching for the foster sister that she had spent many years with during their childhood. However after the divorce of her parents, the foster sister was placed back in the system and several years had passed with the desire to know the whereabouts of her foster sister. After a bit of searching, it was found that her foster sister had been killed a couple of years prior. Sadly this reunion would never happen. This was incredibly difficult to share this information with this young woman. Shadow was troubled with the thoughts that his own birth mother may not be alive.

Struggling with his intense loyalty to Chuck and Vivian and the fear of the unknown, Shadow left the folder on the coffee table for almost a month before he finally opened it and started reading the documents that would change his life. Although many of the documents were in German, there was enough English to know that his birth mother’s name was Georgine Boehm. He also realized that at the time of his birth his mother was only 17 years old and at that point he realized the clear possibility he wasn’t unwanted as he had feared, but that she loved him enough to give him an opportunity for a better life.

Shadow and Diane immediately began researching German adoption sites and checking various bulletin boards and postings. They even sent information through the network of HOG (Harley Owners Group) in Germany. In May, 2007, they signed up on a yahoo group for German born adoptees. Shadow and Diane read the postings by various members sharing their stories of reunions and yes, rejections. Diane posted Shadow’s information and shortly they were in contact with one of the most beautiful ladies they now know and love, Ilona from Hamburg, Germany. Ilona, a German Search Angel offered her help. She cautioned that the search may be long and exhaustive for a birth mother because women change their last names through marriage and may have moved over the years with their husbands.

During the next few months, the whereabouts of Georgine was tracked through several villages in Germany. Information was provided by Child Services in the village where Shadow was born, that Georgine was forced to give her blue eyed boy up for adoption, but not before she kidnapped him from the orphanage for a brief time.

With this information, it was apparent to Shadow that Georgine did not want to give up her baby boy voluntarily. Shadow’s dream to find his birth mother was intensified by his realization of her obvious love and unwillingness to abandon her son combined with his desire to fill that void that unknowingly plagued his heart most of his life. Several disheartening dead ends brought Shadow to prepare himself for the worst, that he may never find his birth mother or know the truth.

During one of these draughts of information regarding Georgine’s whereabouts, Ilona had found more documents and a paper relating to Shadow’s sister, Cindy. Ilona began a search for Cindy’s birth family in Germany. Within a few hours she found an uncle and a cousin living in Germany. She also learned that Cindy’s mother had moved to Florida and had 3 other children, two boys and a girl. The information was passed on to Shadow’s wife, Diane and she searched various databases and made several calls and found Cindy’s mother and birth sister had passed away, but her two half brothers, were still alive and they were aware of their mother having another child given up for adoption. Cindy was reunited with her brothers and also made a trip to Germany to meet her cousins and uncle.

Ilona remained steadfast with her searches, then at the beginning of August, 2007, Ilona found the estranged sisters of Georgine, and one of them knew her married name and a possible phone number.

After several months of extensive searching, on August 15, 2007, Ilona succeeded in locating and speaking with Georgine. Ilona told Georgine of her son’s search. Georgine was overwhelmed with emotions and questions. She told Ilona that she never forgot about her son that she loved him from the day he was born. She said that Shadow’s father was an American soldier and he had been killed in an accident before his adoption. Georgine was married to her first husband and because of an early bout with cancer, was never able to have other children. Shadow was her one and only child. She was so happy and ready to meet her son with open arms. The plans were made for Shadow and Diane to fly to Germany to meet Georgine and her husband Harold. Plans were also made to meet with another important part of Shadow and Diane’s life, their HOG (Harley Owners Group) family in Germany.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at 11:53am


Diane and German Search Angel, Ilona

Shadow, his adoptive parents, Chuck and Vivian, his sister Cindy also adopted
and her husband, Dave, Christmas 2006

Shadow, his first meeting with his birth mother Georgine and her husband, Harald.
December, 2007 Remagen, Germany.

\Shadow in December 2007 at the building that was the orphanage in Germany
where he lived for a few years before his adoption. It is now a child care facility.

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