XENIA — Imagine being adopted, and while searching for your biological father you end up sitting right across the table from him … and have no idea.
That’s exactly what happened to Spring Valley business owner Craig Steffen.
The 55-year-old — who was adopted at an early age — was on that very quest for his biological history. After investigating a few leads, and some information he obtained from his biological mother’s friends, Steffen sat face-to-face with the man who had unknowingly fathered him during a weekend tryst in middle-of-nowhere Iowa.
Insert climactic soap opera music here.
But unlike a daytime drama or a bad episode of Jerry Springer, this is not made up. It’s all chronicled in Steffen’s new book, “A Family Apart, Sleuthing the Mysteries of Abandonment, Adoption and DNA, A Memoir.”
“It’s a true story,” said Steffen, who is president of Paraclete Consulting, Inc. “It deals with my journey from being abandoned at age two, living in an orphanage for over a year, in foster care for another year (and) adopted by a family in southwest Iowa.”
In three distinct parts, the 405-page book details Steffen’s journey for identity, a journey for a mother and a journey for a father. Along the way he discovered a half-sister, Suzie Eckart, who was equally in the dark about the past of their shared father, Richard Nolta.
“He was unaware that he had a son,” Eckart said by phone from the Kansas City area. “That is what makes this story so amazing. People were coming to Craig. He would follow these leads. He had twists and turns … and ended up sitting across from (his father) at a table.”
Steffen and Eckart met for the first time almost two years and have seen each other maybe a half a dozen time since. But after one meeting it was obvious they were related.
“We are so much alike,” Eckart said. “There are so many things in our personalities. We just clicked. I just love him.”
Both are thankful to have found each other and are spending Thanksgiving together with their families in Steffen’s southern Ohio getaway.
“We’re going to spend a few days together,” he said. “I couldn’t be more grateful to have a wonderful sister like Suzie. It’s really a special time.”
Their Thanksgiving treat seemed more-than-unlikely decades ago.
Steffen’s mother, Beverly, abandoned him and his two siblings when they were young. Steffen found out he was adopted when he was four-years-old. Steffen had a good relationship with adoptive parents, Morris and Flora, but as he grew up Steffen felt something was missing.
“They were good-hearted people,” he said. “(But) I didn’t feel I fit with the adopted family.”
In 2011 Morris died. Steffen officiated the funeral and then it hit him.
“It was sort of like a switch got thrown inside of me,” he said.
The book goes into great detail about the whos, whens and wheres. It’s available at The Booksellers at Austin Landing and through most online sellers.
“Everyone should read it,” Eckart said.