Couple's Secret Has Surprising Outcome

As Laurie and Chuck went on with their lives, they glanced occasionally at waitresses in restaurants or passersby on the streets of Erie, wondering whether one of them could be their daughter.

Shared Experiences

Chuck became a successful tool maker and designer; Laurie achieved her success in broadcasting, most recently as a sales manager for Connoisseur Media, a group of radio stations in Erie. That was how she met a new young saleswoman named Missi Meely.

Missi was an only child who piqued Laurie's interest when she sat down in Laurie's office after a hard day and wondered aloud how people with children manage their lives.

Missi said she could imagine that her own parents felt unable to cope when she was born. Perhaps, she said, that is why they gave her up for adoption.

"I didn't know you were adopted," Laurie said.

"She got this look on her face that everybody does when I mention that I'm adopted," Missi recalled.

"Whenever I hear that, I always want to ask questions, obviously, because of my own personal experiences," Laurie said. Her next question was whether Missi would ever want to find her biological parents.

"Not really," Missi said. "I really don't have a need to, because I had such a wonderful upbringing."

And so Laurie, who had given up a child, listened closely to how Missi's story developed from the perspective of a child who had been adopted.

'I Never Felt Like I Was Missing Something'

Missi's parents are Doug and Sandy Meely, who had waited on an adoption list for years before the call came. Sandy was a nutritionist. Doug was employed at the local General Electric plant.

"My wife called me at work, and said, 'You're a father of a baby girl,'" Doug said. "And I said, 'Wonderful. I'll get the cigars.'"

Holding Missi for the first time, said Sandy, "It was just like she was my own. They put her in my arms, and I cried. I laughed. All the emotions that come with being a new parent."

Missi was raised in a rural area near Erie, where she could safely ride her bicycle on a country road and play beside a creek. She took dance lessons for most of her childhood, and liked to sing along with the radio. She got an A on a school paper she wrote about her adoption, recounting how her parents had let her know she was "chosen."

"We bought a book [about adoption]," said Doug. "I read it to her at nights, so when she got older, she'd understand that she was chosen, not had. … We wanted to build trust."

"We didn't want her to find out later on, and then think that we had lied to her all her life," Sandy said.

"I never really thought that my life needed any kind of justification," Missi said. "I never felt like I was missing something. A lot of children, for whatever reason, have problems with neglect or abandonment, and I never had that."

In Laurie's office on that day in the spring of 2006, Missi told her boss some of the few details she knew about her birthparents. The details were contained on an information sheet provided by the adoption agency that Missi's parents had shown her.

'Is This Happening?'

Among other details, "My father had brown hair and brown eyes," Missi told Laurie. "And he must have been some kind of loser or something, because he collected beer cans. I said, 'Who collects beer cans?'"

"I laughed," Laurie said. "And then I thought, 'Whoa! This sounds really familiar!'"

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