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Familienforschung - Felker

A New Chapter In My Life

Extract of the Book “Full Circle” written by Stepen Bryan Mills

  • I was not sure if i would ever find my family in Germany.
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  • Funny how things are played out for you in life.
  • One must beleave in a higher power that took us on path that would change my life forever.
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  • Stephen Bryan Mills
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  • Thanks to everyone for making this discovery turn into an adventure of a lifetime.
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  • James (Jim) Bradley Mills and Mamie (Kitty) Mills:
  • Thanks to my parents who had the wisdom and foresight to make and keep this folder for me.
  • Dad gave it to me when he was near the end of his life.
  • I can never thank you both enough for everything that you gave to me.
  • Your unselfish act was just who yor were.
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  • Thanks, Mom and Dad. R.I.P.
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  • Meghan Chamberlain: Thanks for cleaning the office and finding the file.
  • This started an adventure that will last a lifetime.
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  • Jeremy and Renata Carmen: Thanks for being the best next door neighbors and translating the newly rediscovered documents from German to English. Thanks also for rewriting the documents in English, and for the phone calls to Germany trying to get answers for me.
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  • Gail Chamberlain-Mills: Thanks for takin notes while everything was being translated. Thank you also for the Google search that led to finding my family in Germany, and the hours that you and Roland e-mailed back and forth to make sure you had the right site.
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  • Roland Felker: Thank to my cousin in Germany who took the time to set up a genealogy page on the Felker family and put it on internet. Thank you also for all the traveling around Germany looking for and sending documents and fotos to us and for setting up family meetings that led to me meeting Thorsten and Claudia at your home.
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  • Where does one start talking about the biggest surprise of one`s life?
  • One starts at the beginning...
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  • I would sometimes wake up thinking how different my life might be if i had not been adopted, completely unaware that the world would have so many surprises in store for me later in life.
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  • The big surprise began on a warm spring afternoon (May 25th 2015) when i came home to find Meghan Chamberlain organizing the office. She came to me with the adoption folder that my parents, Jim and Kitty Mills had prepared for me almost sixty years ago on the day that i legally became their child. Meghan urged me to look at the papers, but i had seen my birth certificate many times and i did not look in the folder right away. My curiosity grew about the thickness of the folder, so i finally looked inside. Sure enough, it was the same birth certificate that i had seen many times before: Stephen Brian Mills, born on 11/4/1955, in Heidelberg, Germany. But there were many more papers inside the folder to study.
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  • The next set of papers was a birth certificate for an Edwin Felker. I had never heard that name before and it almost dropped me to the knees. I had to think about this for a while. Upon further study i found a set for Edwin Mills. Then below that was the name change to Stephen Bryan. You can only imagine what was going on in my head at this time.
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  • Gail and i looked at the adoption papers and figured out who the birt mother was - after all it was written in German. I called Renata Carmen, our next-door neighbor, who is from Germany, and asked jokingly if she could read German. So i ran the documents over to her so she could translate for us. When i showed her what we had, her eyes got big and she said that we definitely had the adoption papers in our hands.
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  • I will always remember the look on her face; I don’t know who was more excited. We sat down at the dining table and she started translating them for us. I was in shock and thank the good lord that Gail was taking notes. All this was happening too fast for me to absorb. We went over all the paper work that we had, Renata and Jerry Carmen began translating everything over into written English for us. So we left them copies of the paper work for this monumental task that they insisted onpursuing. We spend about two hours discussing the translations and formal content. Some German legal procedures did not make sence to us, so she volunteered to talk to her family in Germany to see if they could give us answer. Also her son was a lawyer and he had done some work in Germany, so she would consult him as well.
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  • So we went home and reflected on what we had just found out. I had always said that the only thing that i ever wanted to know was a medical history. I am not one to intrude into the live of others. You just never know what will happen when this type of news comes out, so i just wanted to go on a slow pace. One does not knows if this is a dark family secret or what.
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  • It was the week of Memorial Day weekend. I was busy and didn’t have much time to think about this
  • new-found information. I didn’t have a lot of faith that anything would come from it. People spend a lot of time and money, and never find out anything. So i was going to wait and reread the papers in the english version and then decide what i might do. I don’t have a lot of patience when it comes to looking things up on the computer.
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  • I was unaware that Gail decided to search for my family to learn my medical history. I think she went home and started looking since she is a night owl and researching is right up her alley.
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  • Gail could not hold her excitement back and did a Google search and found a family genealogy site for a Hildegard Felker on her second try, and that site looked promising. She was not shure if this was the right Hildegard Felker, so she made contact with the webmaster. After much back and forth with e-mails with the webmaster Roland, she learned that he was my cousin born the same month and year as me. He confirmed that she indeed had the right site. Tell me that God does not exist. He led us down a path quickly and directly that many people search for their whole life and never find.
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  • After she was sure of the facts, she waited for some time to pass. Gail wanted the time to be right before she told me the news of finding the family. Gail had talked to my daughter Tabetha about this all along because she knew Tabetha was interested in finding her German roots. Tabetha kept asking when are you going to tell Dad about this. Gail said that she was waiting for some medical information and just the right time. I think everybody in the family knew but me.
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  • Roland told Gail that i had one sister Kerstin, now living in Pennsylvania, who had been looking for me and that Gail needed to get in touch with her. So Gail got her e-mail adress and contacted her. Kerstin had never heard of Edwin before. Oh well - so much for going slow. She was looking for another brother Cornelius, who she learned of after her mother’s death. It had taken her by surprise and now i am sure that she was in shock to find out that she had yet another brother. Gail told her that i only wanted to get medical history. she said that she was sad because i did not want to contact her. I have never thought about brothers and sisters ever in my life; I was very happy with my family in the United States. I think that it is a “guy thing” not to wonder about the past. After all, i had parents who gave me a great life. I didn’t think that i needed more.
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  • Gail determined that the day had arrived to tell me her news. On a Saturday afternoon, Gail said that she needed to talk to me, and came over with her hands on her hips. Now what have i done to be in the doghouse this time? She looked at me and told me that she had found my German family and just walked away to give me some time to think. As i sat on the couch, i remember tears streaming down my face.
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  • I think after thirty minutes or so, she gave me Hildegard’s death notice. I was still sitting down on the couch and another wave of tears came flowing down. After a little more time, i asked for the first time in my life if Hildegard had any other children. Gail gave me the same paper back because it had the children’s names listed. I guess i was in shock and did not see them the first time.. To my surprise she had six kids in total.
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  • Later Gail handed me a photo of my birth mother with her sisters sitting at a table.
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  • After thinking about this for a while, i decided that i should contact Kerstin in Pennsylvania. Gail said that i could contact her on messanger - OK what ever that is. I found out that she was getting married in Texas in a few weeks and we would talk after that. After some time we got in contact with her. We talked a little and i was trying to find out about Hildegard, but i think Kerstin was a little guarded about her mom. I told her i had nothing negative say about my birth mother, and would thank her if i saw her walking down the street for putting me up for adoption. She was too young to raise a child. She gave me the best gift of all time, when she put me up for adoption.
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  • I sent Roland paper work that would allow him to gather more paper work on my behalf. In Germany all of your records belong to you. This is very different than in the U.S. where records are not released.
  • The birth records had hand-written notes in the margins from the courthouse.
  • He was running around Germany getting the missing documents to complete the puzzle. He was hot on the trail for getting answers and would not stop until he had ran out of leads.
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  • Roland sent documents to us every couple of days. I was like a kid on christmas eve, waiting for the next e-mail to come in with fotos or newly found documents. It was like getting a present every time we opened the inbox. Thanks to Roland, i know now what time of day i was born (6:15 PM). There were so many records that we needed to research. You can see why i would come home and go straight to the computer to check what was in the inbox.
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  • .Gail and i did a lot of looking on the internet, trying to understand all thad had happened from before WWII to my birth. The war had a big impact on my German family’s lives and we wanted to know how, when and why. We wanted to learn how the family started out in Poland and were forced out because of the war. They moved to a town in East Prussia called Haselberg. After the war was over, East Prussia became russian and polish. Today it is tripartite. The lithuanien Memelland and the southern, polish part belong till 2004 to the European Union. The area Kaliningradskaja Oblast (Königsberg) is a russian enclav in the area of the E.U. We learned that the family fled to Bavaria at the end of the war. We learned that my aunt was kidnapped by the Russians, my uncle was POW held in France, and four Years passed befor they see their family again. This is one hell of a story and you can see why it was important for me to find out their efforts to escape the ravages of war and recover their lives after 1945.
  • Many more hours were filled with questions and searching for answers, although that we knew that many would go unanswered. After all, that generation was all but gone. Maybe Germany can answer some for us?
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  • With high hopes, we began our plans to visit Germany in 2015.
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  • Stephen Bryan Mills was born as Edwin Felker *Nov 04 1955
  • University gynecological hospital
  • Heidelberg/Germany Voßstr. 9
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    Recorded in the population register of Heidelberg and Enkenbach-Alsenborn,
  • as a son of Hildegard Felker
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    July 25 1956 Entered the USA, NYC
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    First US home, South Carolina 1956-58 Shaw Air Force Base
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