One November 20, author, Craig Steffen, read excerpts of his new book at The Bookseller located at Austin Landing at 3646 Rigby Rd. in Miamisburg. The evening was spent with fans listening and asking questions about Steffen’s adoption in his newly released book, ‘A Family Apart: Sleuthing the Mysteries of Abandonment, Adoption and DNA,’ which is now available for sale at The Bookseller.
Steffen, a Spring Valley resident, never thought he had a “story to tell” until he began looking for his birth parents over five decades after being adopted. ‘A Family Apart: Sleuthing the Mysteries of Abandonment, Adoption and DNA’ is a rendition of one man’s journey to find the truth about his life and untangle the lies that were told.
‘I can’t reach my clothes! Tears of frustration run down my cherubic, white cheeks. Anger turns to rage as I collapse onto the floor, legs crumpled under me, with my head buried in my arm which rests atop the stanchion seat as I scream till my empty belly aches through my uncontrolled sobs…’ This is Steffen’s first childhood memory. He was three years old when his mother abandoned him and his two siblings and her husband. Decades later, he’s still haunted by this memory.
Steffen started his journey after the death of his adoptive father. Prior to his father’s death, Craig really had no desire to look for his birth parents. “I was standing over my father’s casket and it was like a switch went off inside me. Suddenly, I had to know where I came from. So, I went on this journey to find all of that out.”
Because his adoptive parents never kept the details of the adoption secret, Steffen knew a few details about his birth parents and that information became the foundation of his search. With a DNA kit in hand, he traveled to Iowa to find the truth about his birth parents, siblings and other details of his life before his adoption. With twists and turns along the way, not only from the hardships of getting information from the government and family members, he found the truth and was able to reconnect with loved ones.
“I found my mother first. I talked to her friends and family and they were all so welcoming. I learned that she’d been murdered in 1966, but no one wanted to talk about it. It was like they wanted to erase her from their memories,” Steffen said. “But, my older brother was the one that really gave information as to who she really was.”
He learned that after their mother left, his father couldn’t handle the demands and responsibility of three children. He took them to a friend and asked them to babysit while he went to look for work. He didn’t return. Finally, the children were taken to an orphanage. Steffen’s older brother was ill and was in the medical ward at the time of Craig and his sister’s departure. One day, a strange man and woman came for them. They took a long ride to a smelly farm that that they both soon learned to call home.
Like many adoptees, they wonder if they were ever looked for by their parents. They wonder if regret ever played a part in their past. For Steffen, the answer to these questions came from his older brother, Ricky. In his book he wrote, ‘…he told me that it was in October of 1964 that our mother, Beverly, returned to Iowa… she made the 2,000-mile drive from Oregon with the intention of getting all three of her children back. But the legal adoption of Theresa and me had been finalized just a week or two prior…’ Even though heart-wrenching, Steffen said, “To me, it’s always better to know the truth than be in the dark about it. Even if the truth is difficult or painful, I’d rather know.”
In closing, Steffen appropriately wrote, “The circle of life has taken another lap… and will again. Endings beget beginnings.” His life’s now complete, not only with his wife of 31 years, Cindy Steffen, but now with his new family members, new memories and with a better understanding of his family dynamics.
“I’m a person of faith. Before this journey, I started out with a faith that was very rigid that I got from my childhood. The longer my journey, I feel like God really isn’t confined by our perception of how he should be. He seems a lot more comfortable with the messiness of our lives than we give him credit for. All of that ‘sin’ had to happen or I wouldn’t be here. It’s improved my appreciation for my relationship with God,” Steffen said.
Did he find his biological father? Does he have a relationship with his older brother? What were the circumstances of his abandonment? Did he have a fulfilling childhood? How’s his relationship with his adoptive family and his biological family now? Well, like it’s said, you’ll have to read the book.
Craig Steffen’s memoir can be found on his website at Craigasteffen.com,on Amazon.com and now on shelves, in paperback at Austin Landing’s new book store, The Bookseller. This book will make perfect stocking stuffers for friends and family.