After almost 52 years, Norway man finds his mother
John Chaney’s daughter wanted to know more about her family background.
That search would lead Chaney to the birth mother who was forced to give him up for adoption in 1966.
It all started when Amber Shields got a DNA testing kit as a Christmas gift.
“I did it to find out our heritage,” said Shields, of Iron Mountain. “I didn’t think about finding anybody.”
It ended with a call from her father earlier this month: “I got to meet my mom yesterday.”
Chaney, a Norway resident who previously lived in Ligonier, Indiana, said he had long sought his birth parents after learning at age 10 that he was adopted.
“I’ve been searching since I was probably 15 years old,” Chaney said. “I went to libraries down there and searched in microfilm and papers, looking for birth announcements, and I actually looked up people with the last name and knocked on doors.”
He eventually was able to track down information such as weight, height, birth time, but hit a dead end on anything that provided names.
Little did he know his birth mother lived just an hour’s drive north for a good portion of his life.
Dianna Eubanks of Markle, Indiana, was 15 when the state stuck her in a home for pregnant girls and then put her child up for adoption.
“They took me away. I was truant and a ward of the state, but I wouldn’t sign adoption papers. They lied to my mom, and they took him from me,” said Eubanks, adding “It has been a hard thing to talk about. I tried to find him over the years.”
Chaney moved from Indiana to Norway in 2001 to be closer to his then in-laws. He and his ex-wife have two children, Shields and Josh Chaney of Norway.
“My daughter had gotten the Ancestry DNA as a Christmas present, and she took the test. She asked me if I knew any of the people that came up as matches. I said, ‘No, I don’t, I was adopted when I was 2 years old,'” Chaney said.
Chaney decided to have his DNA analyzed as well so his daughter could compare tests.
“She was just doing it for kicks — she was looking to see what part of the world we were from. Without her doing this, I probably never would have done it,” Chaney said. “I told her ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, because this happened because of you.'”
When Chaney received his results, he contacted a match that was a high-probability cousin in Kentucky.
“I told her my story. We actually talked on the phone on Aug. 10. Because I was adopted out of Wells County, Indiana, they put me in touch with a cousin in Indiana. She thought it was a scam at first but then we were talking on the phone. I told her, ‘I was born Sept. 1st, 1966, and cousins in Kentucky pointed me in your direction.’ She said, ‘Wait, I have an Aunt Dianne that had a child that was put up for adoption.’ She got in contact with her mom and an aunt, and I guess it blew all up,” Chaney said.
In Ohio for work at the time, Chaney was able to drive to Indiana on short notice.
“My cousin picked me up and took me to down to Bluffton to meet my aunts and uncles, and my mom came, and we met. She had been searching for me since day one,” he said.
At first, Eubanks was skeptical — she’d recently lost her husband and was afraid it could be a scam. But the other birth information Chaney had discovered matched the birth certificate she’d kept through the years — and she knew he was her son.
“It’s kind of overwhelming, but exhilarating, too. When I saw her, it was a feeling of relief. It was something that I had wanted for all these years. I got to hold my mother in my arms,” Chaney said.
Chaney was born Joseph “Joey” Wayne Patterson and adopted by David and Martha Chaney, who both died in 2014, David in February and Martha in August.
Richard Eubanks, Dianna’s husband, was Chaney’s biological father. His parents actually had split up after they lost him. They both married others and started their own families.
“Back then, we were crazy kids that just wanted to be together, but I got sent away and he moved on,” Eubanks said.
Then, 27 years ago, the couple reconnected and got married to each other. “Over the years we would talk, but we were both committed, but then there was a time when we weren’t. We just grew together again like we were never apart,” Eubanks said. “We were apart 27 years, then together 27 years,” she said.
Richard Eubanks died of cancer July 18. They had a baby photo of Chaney on the memorial board at his funeral.
Chaney was disappointed he didn’t have the chance to meet his father. “I missed him by three weeks,” he said.
The recent loss of her husband made the reunion bittersweet for Eubanks as well.
“It’s so hard to grieve and be happy. Why couldn’t this be a year ago?” she said. “I’m sad, but happy; I don’t how else to describe that feeling. I keep thinking, ‘Gosh, I hope this is not scam,’ but it feels so right. We talk every day, and I find out more about his life. It just feels right. He makes me smile. It’s wonderful that I got a miracle when I needed it, that I still have a part of Richard.”
Chaney echoed her mixed feelings. “It’s been quite the experience. It was scary. I’m scared, excited, worried. You always have that thought, ‘Am I going to be accepted?’ But I could see a little bit of me in her, and my cousins said, ‘You have the Patterson nose,’ ‘Blue eyes run in the family,’ and ‘You look like Richard.'”
Chaney and Eubanks hopes their story gives others the inspiration to keep looking.
“It would be cool if this story could get out and give other people hope that even after 52 years you can find a loved one,” Chaney said.
“To have something like that, that was so painful for so long, it’s like you lost a piece of the puzzle. We tried to find Joey. There is hope for people — don’t give up, don’t lose the flame,” Eubanks said.
Chaney’s 52nd birthday is Saturday, and he plans to spend it with his mother and extended family. Eubanks is “humbly grateful for everyone involved.”
“I am Christian, I depend on the Lord for my strength. I know God had a plan. Maybe Richard did, too,” Eubanks said. “Joey’s birthday will be a joyous day; there won’t be any sorrow that day.”