A brother and a sister dropped into the Indiana foster system and adopted by separate families when they were young recently found each other through an archived newspaper story.
Becky Ford of Seymour and Cory Meyer of Indianapolis had been looking for each other for years, each discovering on their own that they had been adopted through Indiana’s foster care system in the early 1980s.
When he was a teenager, Meyer found his adoption file in his father’s desk and learned he had biological parents and siblings, including their names.
When she was a teenager, Ford was told by her adoptive mother that the boy she remembered as David from her childhood was not her brother. But another relative told Ford that David was her brother.
But the two, with different last names and no solid leads to follow, had no way of knowing that they had lived about an hour apart from each other their entire lives.
Ford, who was adopted when she was 3 and is now 38, learned from her adopted mother the week of March 28 the name of the attorney who handled her adoption.
From that attorney, she learned the last name of her biological parents was Lessard. This revelation came shortly after The Republic placed its entire newspaper archive online, making it a searchable database worldwide.
Curious about what the last name might tell her, Ford typed the name Lessard into an Internet search engine. A story link appeared from The Republic archives about a couple named Louis and Barbara Lessard who had robbed a Days Inn Motel in Clark County on Dec. 21, 1977, accompanied by their four children.
“Read me the children’s names, read me the children’s names,” Ford asked when she called The Republic on March 30.
The names were Louis, age 10, Debbie, age 7, David, 20 months, and — Becky, age 3 months.
“That’s me, I’m Becky, I’m Becky,” Ford said.
But an even bigger revelation was yet to come.
After contact information was exchanged and an in-person interview set up with Ford for later in the week, a quick search of the name Lessard by a Republic staffer turned up a match to David, now known as Cory Meyer, on an adoption website. Meyer, now 40, had posted a plea seeking information about his parents and siblings, all named Lessard. He mentioned his biological parents being arrested in Clark County and the siblings being placed in the foster care system.
Listing himself as also known as David Lessard, Meyer also mentioned all four siblings’ names, writing he was desperate to learn information about them. He posted a picture of himself at age 4, when he was adopted by an Indiana family and separated from his siblings.
The Republic contacted the adoption website to obtain Meyer’s contact information, and representatives there agreed to put Ford and Meyer in contact once Ford contacted them.
On April 1, after Ford was cleared by the adoption website representatives, she was given Meyer’s cellphone number and nervously made the call from The Republic newsroom.
“This is Rebecca — Becky,” she said when he answered.
“Wow,” Meyer said. “Oh wow. I’m speechless.”
The story that brought the siblings together was tucked away on Page A16 of The Republic on Dec. 21, 1977. It’s an account of Indiana State Police from Seymour arresting Louis and Barbara Lessard of Providence, Rhode Island, on charges of theft after stealing $814 from the Days Inn Motel at the Interstate 65 Hamburg exit in Clark County.The newspaper story states the four children were turned over to the county’s welfare department, and $813 was recovered from the family after the arrest.
The state police said the two older children, Louis and Debby, had been at a pinball machine in the motel’s restaurant when their father sent them into the office to take money from a safe. The children took the money into a restroom, where paper bill wrappers were later found, and the family paid their bill and left the hotel, state police said then.
The family then hitchhiked on I-65 and was picked up by an Allied Van Lines truck driver heading north. Troopers stopped the truck on I-65 near the Jonesville overpass in Bartholomew County. The father, Louis Lessard, jumped out of the truck as troopers approached and Barbara Lessard was found in the truck’s sleeping compartment with the children, according to the newspaper account.
More than $600 had been rolled up and placed inside a snowsuit that 3-month-old Becky Lessard was wearing while she was in the truck, police reported then.
The family had a suitcase and two paper bags full of belongings at the time of the parents’ arrest, the newspaper account said.
Gerald Crotchett, a former Clark County Sheriff’s detective who investigated the case, remembered it mainly because it involved four young children and what he described as a family that was really “down and out.”
The day was extremely cold, and he remembered that the family had been hitchhiking out of town before their arrest.
The children were placed in foster care because the parents entered a plea bargain on the theft case and gave up custody, and there were no relatives available to take the four children, he said.
He also remembered that Becky Lessard was wearing a yellow snowsuit on the day her parents were arrested, and that was where the money was found.
When told that she had recently reconnected with one of her siblings, Crotchett said he was glad to hear that and wished her well on her continuing search.
Making up for lost time
During their first phone conversation, the siblings joked about the newspaper story and their previous family life of crime.“What a great start, we were thieves when we were just months old,” Ford joked to her brother.
But Meyer immediately told his sister that he never gave up hope that he might find his baby sister someday.
“I want to tell you I’ve been looking for you forever,” he told Ford. “I’ve hit nothing but brick walls.”
He told her about the day the two were separated, and Ford learned that she and Meyer had been in seven foster family placements together before being adopted by two different families.
Meyer told his sister that she had run out of her foster home to the car as he left and had to be held back and taken back to the house.
“That was the last time I saw her,” he said. “I have always said one of these days I will get my baby sister back.”
Meyer was adopted by a family in northern Indiana and was raised as an only child. He said his adopted parents attempted to adopt Becky, too, when his adoption went through. But adoption proceedings for her with the foster family at the last placement already were underway.
Meyer’s adoptive family was concerned about upending that process and backed away from intervening in Ford’s adoption, something Meyer said the family always regretted.
Ford learned that Meyer already had done some research on their biological family.
He is unsure of the status or location of their parents, and said he believes that their oldest brother, Louis Jr., might have died in a motorcycle accident when he was 21. He has been unable to locate the older sister Debby, but said he still hopes to find her.
The two exchanged photos by cellphone and marveled at how their physical characteristics matched up. Their eye and forehead shape is similar, and when each smiles, an eyebrow lifts the same way. They share the same blood type.
“I’m just blown away right now,” Ford said of the conversation. “I got my brother back.”
Meyer drove to Ford’s Seymour home that night and spent the weekend of April 2 and 3 with Ford’s family. The two traveled to Indianapolis on April 2, and Ford was able to meet her brother’s adoptive mother.
The two now are planning to get together frequently to try to recreate some of the activities they missed growing up together — vacations, birthdays and holiday celebrations.
Coincidentally, each sibling has four children. Ford is a stay-at-home, married mom and has a daughter, two sons and a stepson. Meyer, a military veteran who is an agent care representative for an insurance company in Indianapolis, has four sons.
Both siblings said that even though there have been difficult times in their lives, some of it caused by the emotional repercussions of losing their biological family so young and not knowing their past, they now believe they can piece back together what they have lost.
“I don’t blame them,” Ford said of her parents giving her up for adoption all those years ago. She still wants to find her parents and other siblings if possible and hopes that the story of Ford and Meyer finding each other might lead to more reunions.
“I just want my family back,” she said.
“I’m just blown away right now. I got my brother back.”
— Becky Ford, Seymour, said of the reunion with her brother Cory Meyer, Indianapolis, after the two had been separated for more than 30 years after they were adopted