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Soldier's search to be continued

Staff Sgt. Kurtis Woulard leaves today for Iraq. Those left behind will continue to search for his birth parents.

By WAVENEY ANN MOORE
Published September 14, 2006


[AP photo]
Staff Sgt. Kurtis Woulard packs his gear before his Iraq deployment.
The soldier becomes a seeker (7/22)

Kurtis Woulard had hoped to find his birth parents in the Tampa Bay area before leaving for a third tour of duty in Iraq.

But the 29-year-old U.S. Army staff sergeant is set to leave today from Fort Riley, Kan., without getting his wish.

“I was just hoping that it would be a little faster,’’ Woulard said of the search for this birth parents. “But good things come to those who wait.’’

Woulard was four months old when Chester and Barbara Woulard adopted him through the Children’s Home Society in St. Petersburg. The couple drove from their home in Fort Pierce to pick him up. His name then was David.

Woulard’s quest for his birth parents was featured in a St. Petersburg Times July article.

Florida’s laws prohibit the release of information on birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptees, unless a court orders it.

In August, a judge granted a motion opening Woulard’s adoption file and appointed a confidential intermediary to search for his biological relatives.

Timothy Kelly, a lawyer helping Woulard, said Thursday the intermediary has sent release forms to a person believed to be one of Woulard’s parents.

“We think we’re on the right track,’’ said Kelly, who is helping Woulard for free. “I think we’re going to get some results soon. We want to make absolutely certain that we have the right person.’’

The birth parent must sign consent forms allowing their information to be released to Woulard. “The biological relatives could say, yes. They could say, no,’’ Kelly said. “Probably I’d say around 90 percent do want to have contact.’’

Even if Woulard’s biological relative declines to have contact with him, Kelly has filed a petition that would allow all nonidentifying medical family history to be released to the soldier.

Woulard was hopeful Wednesday when he heard one of his birth parents may have been found.

“Wow! I’m kindof nervous,’’ he said by telephone from his Manhattan, Kan., apartment. “My heart is kind of fluttering a little bit.’’

He admitted he would be disappointed if his birth parent refused to meet him. “I just want to see where I came from,’’ he said. “I totally understand if they didn’t want to have that relationship with me. I would be okay, though. I think I would be okay.’’

Kyla Woulard hopes her husband’s wish will eventually come true.

“I hope that they’re found,’’ she said Thursday. “He’s a great person and they should want to meet him.’’

Woulard didn’t think much about trying to find his blood relatives until recently. He and Kyla, who have been married three years, began thinking about having children and wanted to know his medical history.

And then came orders for yet another deployment to Iraq. This time, Woulard wondered whether he was “going to come home in one piece.’’ The search for his birth parents took on greater urgency.

“It hurts this time around,’’ Woulard said Thursday about returning to war for a third time. “I’ve been home so long, and I’ve gotten used to being around my wife. It’s like the first time I left, but it hurts a little more this time.’’

Woulard, a diesel mechanic in the Army, is being deployed to Iraq for a year.

Woulard didn’t learn he was adopted until he was about 7 or 8. A boy in his neighborhood shared the puzzling information, which his parents scrambled to explain. He recalled a contented childhood filled with church, Sunday school and family outings. He was a football and basketball player in high school and joined the ROTC.

Barbara and Chester Woulard have blessed their son’s quest.

Adoption advocates object to the legal maneuvering required for people like Woulard to get the information they want.

Closed adoption practices are based on “an antiquated notion that birth families, birth mothers, want to hide from the lives they created and that adopted people are stalkers or somehow have less than noble motives,’’ said Adam Pertman, executive director for the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute based in New York.

“I think it’s great that this guy has an opportunity to connect with his roots. I think it’s unfortunate that it is such a laborious and lengthy process, and unfair.”

Others will continue Woulard’s search while he is in Iraq. Lynn-Marie Carty, a St. Petersburg private investigator and founder of reunitepeople.com, has offered her free services.

Woulard is grateful and imagines the day a year from now when a reunion might occur.

“I would be disappointed if they weren’t able to find them,’’ he said. “I would be, but, hey, we tried.’’

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at (727) 892-2283 or wmoore@sptimes.com.

[Last modified September 14, 2006, 21:48:02]


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