The year was 1963, and a young Oneida Nation citizen named Deloris (Dee) Groth had just given birth to a baby girl. Unfortunately, Groth had been raised in foster care and was on Wisconsin welfare which made raising a child extremely difficult. Groth felt the best thing she could do for her infant daughter was place her up for adoption.
At the time, Groth didn’t believe she was ever going to see her daughter again. “I was specifically told by the state not to try to look for her or contact her so I didn’t think I’d ever see her again,” Groth said. “I was told to forget about her. But fortunately, all these years later, she decided to contact the State of Wisconsin and told them she wanted to know about me. Suddenly last year I received a message from the state saying she wanted to meet me.”
Groth’s reaction to the news is not surprising. “This has been such a haze of happiness,” Groth said. “It turns out my daughter, Carolle Duncan, was raised in Illinois and has now been happily married for many years.”
“I learned I was adopted when I was about ten years old,” Duncan said. “I’ve wondered about my birth mother most of my life. I wondered who she was, where she was, why she gave up on me, did I have any siblings, did she think of me, and if I resembled her.”
Duncan began the process of trying to locate her mother about a year ago after repeatedly seeing Ancestry.com commercials on television. Her adoptive parents had told her she was part Oneida, but she wasn’t sure if that was true. And every time she had an appointment with a new doctor she was asked about her family history and she was unable to provide answers.
“So last year Ancestry.com was offering discounted kits so I ordered one,” Duncan said. “It confirmed that I was 34 percent Native American so I began searching for my birth parents. My adoptive parents had told me I was born in Green Bay so I submitted the necessary paperwork with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. By October of 2017 I received an email informing me that they had spoken to my birth mother. I was so happy they had found her and that I wasn’t too late in finding her.”
Duncan says she didn’t begin the search sooner because her adoptive mother had told her all of the records had been destroyed in a fire. Now knowing that wasn’t true, Duncan holds no resentments because she knows her adoptive mother was just fearful that she would lose her.
Duncan’s husband Brian has been fully supportive of her efforts and, like her, wishes she had begun the search sooner. And despite some initial uncertainties, Duncan said she is glad she made this effort. “I was afraid and I had to push myself to reach out to (Dee),” Duncan said. “First by email, then I had to push myself to call her, then I had to push myself again to actually meet her. I’m so glad I did because it was wonderful to finally meet Dee. I felt I knew a lot about her from the numerous emails we exchanged in the previous months. I felt like she was such a warm, caring, and fun person. I was right.”
This is not the first time Groth has been reunited with a family member. In the early 1970s, after researching her family background, she realized she was the sister of Oneida Nation citizen Mike Hill.
“It was getting dark one evening and I got a knock on my front door,” Hill said. “I thought I had some friend pounding on my door wanting a ride home or something because I used to live next to a bar. I answered the door and there was a lady standing there with paperwork telling me she thought she was my sister. I had absolutely no idea. That’s how Dee and I met.
“I’m happy that we finally know each other and my three children are happy as well,” Hill said. “I thought for sure Dee would have told me if she had a child, but I can clearly see how happy she is about meeting her daughter. Now Carolle has the best mother and best uncle in the world. It’s a pretty powerful feeling.”
Groth couldn’t agree more. She and her husband of 55 years, Robert, are elated with this latest family revelation. “He has been so supportive of all this,” Groth said. “It was like a little piece of my heart came alive when I received that phone call. I’m so happy that we have all found each other. I have found peace in my heart for sure.”
Plans are being made for more visits in the near future. “Right now we’re planning on getting together during the Pow Wow,” Duncan said. “Other family members are planning on going to the Pow Wow as well. It should be a really nice family reunion. I hear I have a lot of cousins who are so excited to meet me.”