EATON —Annie Cron first heard about Senate Bill 23 in 2013 when a friend told her about it. The bill was scheduled to release adoption records for children adopted between the years 1964 and 1996, allowing them to discover the identity of their biological parents for the first time.
Then on March 20, 2015, after nearly two years of waiting, those records were officially made available. Cron, a postal worker in Springfield, said she waited for March 20 for a long time and had everything ready the first day she would be able to apply to receive those records.
For the first time ever she would know the identity of her biological parents. But not before an agonizing 24 days of waiting, “Twenty-four long days, I would check the mail every day, I work at the post office so every day I would peek over to carrier and ask if my letter came.”
Cron said during those 24 days she pondered whether she would reach out to her biological parents, not wanting to interfere in their lives and fearing they would take the option of removing their names from records.
When her fiancé told her the letter had come in the mail Cron immediately came home and began looking for her biological family. Cron eventually came across Terry and Buffy Pendergraft.
Years ago, Cron had applied for non-identifying information and remembered the birthdate of her biological sister. Oddly enough Buffy shared the same birthday, and Cron believed she had located her biological family.
Cron discovered she had a mutual friend of Buffy, one of her co-workers knew Buffy, and the co-worker sent Buffy a message on Facebook in attempt to reach out to her. Cron said once the message came back the relationship took off. “She sent me the message back and I asked her if Terry was her dad and she said yes, after short a conversation she said ‘you found us, you found us, that is us, we’re your family.’”
Cron said she met with Terry’s two daughters, Buffy and Lorrie, prior to meeting him, when she asked them if he would like to meet her for the first time. When they said yes, Annie quickly contacted Terry on Facebook and the two set up a meeting between Annie, Terry, Buffy and Lorrie.
Pendergraft said he waited for the meeting like a 16-year old kid on his first date, saying he was nervous beyond belief not knowing what to expect from the meeting but that quickly changed according to Pendergraft, upon meeting for the first time.
“She walked right in and gave me a big hug and I knew everything was going to be alright. It was like winning a million bucks, like winning the lottery. It broke the ice immediately, her coming in and hugging me after 41 years, put me on cloud nine,” Pendergraft said with a enormous smile.
Since meeting the Pendergrafts for the first time, Cron and her children have spent several days with Pendergraft and their new family, having picnics together and making plans to continue to strengthen the relationship of their new family. Pendergraft said they plan on attending a Reds game together this summer, and hope to go on a cruise together next summer.
Cron said now that she has spent several days with her biological family, the situation has been better than she could have asked for. “It just seems that they really want me to be a part of their life, I want them to be part of my life and we just go on now like nothing ever happened, like its supposed to be, we just move on forward. I call him ‘Dad’ now and we say I love you, and now we move forward.”
Saying “I love you” began when Pendergraft bought his daughter a birthday card for the first time and quickly realized he didn’t know how to sign the card. Finally he nervously wrote down, “Love Dad.”
For Cron, this was the perfect way for him to sign the card and she said it absolutely broke the ice in saying “I love you” for the two.
Pendergraft said not only has he gained a daughter, he has gained two grandkids and new purpose of life. “Let me put it this way I’ve been sick for a while, and kind of low and down in life. Annie has given me that new spark that I needed. We both glow right now. We’re just happy, I’m not sure how to put it in words. But we are just joyful.”
Pendergraft even joked that his new grandson keeps asking him in a worriedly fashion what age Terry lost his hair, fearful of his own hair loss.
Cron and Pendergraft spent their first alone time together on Tuesday, June 9, when the pair traveled to Columbus to meet Senator Bill Beagle who helped sponsor the bill. The pair had a chance to sit and talk to Beagle for over 20 minutes, thanking him along with Senator Dave Burke and Governor John Kasich for giving them the opportunity to start a relationship together.
Cron said she hopes her experience will help encourage other children who were adopted to seek out their biological family in hopes they can share the same experience as her. Both Pendergraft and Cron hope the passing of the law in Ohio will help inspire other states to pass similar laws if nothing else for Health reasons.
But for now, as Pendergraft said, the two are taking a “41 and forward” approach in reuniting their two families into one.