When Nicole Koharik was a child, she was very shy and withdrawn. She lacked confidence in her identity. She was the only girl among 7 male cousins and usually ordered what the cousin closest to her in age ordered when they went out for breakfast. He ordered pancakes – and she did too. But she secretly hated pancakes.
Her favorite movie was E.T. she understood the need the little creature had for wanting to go “home”. For although she had a good home and a loving Father, she didn’t look like him – or anyone in their large,extended family. She experienced many of the same emotions that adoptees have – trauma, sadness, loss,and the distinct feeling of being “separate:” and different.
Nicole will tell you that she was prepared for the worst when she started on her journey to identify her biological mother. But she wasn’t prepared for her case to be unsolved. By all rights, it should be solved. She has a name. She has a match that is a first cousin to her mother. But the actual woman has eluded her.
Nicole was born and raised in Cleveland and grew up knowing she was adopted, but also knowing that she was much loved. Her father, a retired Marine turned Catholic priest adopted her after she had been left with him when she was three years old. He knew her birth mother “Sandra” and always told her that her child needed stability. Mother’s Day has always been particularly difficult for Nicole, having been raised by a single Father, it defined the fact that she did not fit in.
Nicole has wondered about her birth parents all her life. As a child, seeing her birth certificate confused her, it just had her father’s name,. which left her confused. She knew where babies came from and she knew it took a Mommy and a Daddy – so who were these people that had given her life, and then decided to be a part of it? Having a child of her own – the first blood relative she’s ever had – was the love that made her whole. How could her mother have left her? Before she gave birth to her own child, she wondered if maybe not having a mother, she would not know how to mother her own child.
When Nicole finally got her original birth certificate or OBC, the name on it was not Sandra, but it did have a father’s name. She wondered again about the people who had given her life. Who were they? Where were they from? Where did they go? Her Ancestry DNA test revealed a few clues, including that her father was 13% Nigerian. She reached out to a third cousin match on her Father’s side and was met with open arms. This “cousin” did not know her father but welcomed her to the family and even invited her and her husband to come to the family reunion. She eventually figured out who her father was, and that he had passed away, but has found his family to be warm and welcoming to her just the same.
It was with this warm welcome still in her mind that she reached out to DNAngels. She had a brief conversation with her mother’s first cousin. He knew whom she was looking for but gave cryptic, vague answers, and then cut off contact with her. Her Angel, Monia, built her a beautiful tree and gave her a lot of family information on her grandparents and great-grandparents, but one thing still eluded her.Where did her mother go? A possible picture was found of her in high school and Nicole searched the photo for features that resembled her own.
Nicole though has turned her mess into a message – she has become an advocate for adoptee rights.“ Who you are shouldn’t be a puzzle”, she says. Surprisingly, no other siblings have turned up on either parent’s side. Nicole offers a message, not to others seeking their birth parents, but to all of you out there who have taken a DNA test and are contacted by matches “Please respond! You could be the link and help change someone’s life!”
We know her mother is out there, and we will never give up looking for her. In the meantime, Nicole finally orders breakfast her way; egg whites with hash browns, rye toast, and bacon.