Decades-long search for siblings ends in tearful family reunion

Dec 28 2012 - 7:05am

Images

Elva Cox smiles at a reunion with her children and grandchildren in Farr West on Thursday, December 27, 2012.  (KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner)
Mike Cockett and his sister Linda Hunsaker Burt talk during a family reunion in Farr West on Thursday, December 27, 2012.  (KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner)
Mike Cockett and his sister Marie Taylor talk during a family reunion in Farr West on Thursday, December 27, 2012.  (KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner)
Elva Cox hugs her great-grandson, Koda Rampton, and her son, Don Rampton, in Farr West on Thursday, December 27, 2012.  (KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner)
Marge Pavlov stands with Elva Cox at a family reunion in Farr West on Thursday, December 27, 2012.  (KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner)
Elva Cox smiles at a reunion with her children and grandchildren in Farr West on Thursday, December 27, 2012.  (KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner)
Mike Cockett and his sister Linda Hunsaker Burt talk during a family reunion in Farr West on Thursday, December 27, 2012.  (KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner)
Mike Cockett and his sister Marie Taylor talk during a family reunion in Farr West on Thursday, December 27, 2012.  (KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner)
Elva Cox hugs her great-grandson, Koda Rampton, and her son, Don Rampton, in Farr West on Thursday, December 27, 2012.  (KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner)
Marge Pavlov stands with Elva Cox at a family reunion in Farr West on Thursday, December 27, 2012.  (KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner)

FARR WEST -- Elva Cox could not stop the tears as she talked to three of her children whom she had not seen in almost 50 years.

"I keep pinching myself to make sure this is not a dream," said the 77-year-old woman. "It's really a miracle after all of these years."

The reunion of Cox's children took place Thursday at the Farr West Senior Center.

Cox's granddaughter, LoReta Jean Karns, 27, of Richfield, was there to meet uncles, aunts and cousins she did not know she had. Her mother, Linda Burt, is Cox's second-to-oldest child.

"I woke up at 4 a.m. I was so excited about meeting everyone today," said Karns, whose middle name is the same as one of her aunts, who had been adopted. "This was like a fairy tale coming true."

Because of circumstances following her divorce from Clyde Whitaker, Cox's five youngest children were put up for adoption. She raised her two oldest children, which she had from another marriage.

"Even though they weren't together, they are so much alike," Cox said, her eyes brimming with tears as she scanned the room.

Her oldest son, Dale Hunsaker, was in Idaho and unable to attend. One daughter was ill and didn't attend, while the family still has not found one of the sons who was adopted.

Whitaker also had a daughter from a relationship before Cox, and she too was placed for adoption. That girl, Marg Pavlov, now 61, of Stamford, Conn., began searching for Whitaker earlier this year with the help of her friend, Andrew Sverdlove.

In September, Mike Cockett, 51, of Farr West, had enlisted the help of a friend to find an older brother he knew about.

Pavlov, who always thought she was an only child, learned that Whitaker had died at a young age and her birth mother recently passed away. She did find Cox in March and that is when she learned she has seven half-siblings.

"I told her my goal was to find the other adopted children, and she said, 'I've been searching for 50 years and haven't found them,'" Pavlov said.

"Never give up," said Sverdlove, who was at the reunion with Pavlov. "We never know what's around the corner of life."

Meanwhile, Cockett's friend was able to help him locate Cox too.

Cox then called Cockett early in October.

Cockett said that when he answered the phone the voice on the other end said, " 'This is your mom.' I was shocked because the only mom I knew passed away 26 years ago. She then said, this is your birth mother, and that's when all of it sinks in."

Cockett then learned he doesn't just have one brother, but several, as well as sisters, including Pavlov, who was searching for her half-siblings.

"I'm so grateful I've met you all, and I'm thrilled to be part of this family," Cockett said at the reunion.

Burt, who is one of Cox's two older children who were not adopted, said meeting her siblings for the first time on Thursday "was thrilling."

"I'm tickled to know them and their families after so many years," said Burt, of Richfield, who brought her own children and grandchildren to the reunion.

Burt's daughters, including Karns, said their mother always talked about her siblings.

Burt hopes her siblings will take her up on her offer to visit her in Richfield.

"I told them we could go fishing and hunting, which I like to do," Burt said.

Don Rampton, of Layton, showed up to meet his siblings.

"It's so overwhelming," Rampton said. "I knew of four of them, but it's amazing."

Marie Taylor of Gunnison is Cox's youngest child.

"It's awesome," Taylor said about meeting her siblings. "We're all together. It's exciting and it's good. There's blood there. We'll stick together."

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