On Saturday afternoon, Judd emailed photos of Skip to his father that had been posted on Facebook. Steve was on the golf course when the email arrived. Scrolling through the photos on his iPhone, he was stunned. “As I look at them I see that he looks exactly like Joel (his half-brother) and my dad,” recalls Steve. Skip saw the same similarities after looking at photos of his father. Later, Skip and Steve compared notes and the excitement grew.
“There’s a good chance this might be it,” said Skip.
Skip and Steve decided to petition the state health department in Salt Lake City. The law enables state agencies to release information about adopted kids and their birth families if there is mutual consent. Steve emailed a form to Skip on Monday, but the latter couldn’t wait. The next day Skip, Sandra and Lori drove from Logan to Salt Lake City to provide the necessary information in person. He called Steve and explained what he had done.
“I’m in town,” he said. “I’d like to meet you.”
He drove to Steve’s office in Draper. Skip was waiting in a conference room when Steve appeared at the top of the stairs. They stood there a moment, smiling and staring at each other, and then they came together and embraced and cried.
“The minute I looked at him, I knew we were related,” says Steve.
After a combined 120 years of living, Steve Orgill and Skip Dopp had found each other. With one phone call, Skip gained a brother and 13 half-brothers and sisters.
Later, Lori would tell Skip, “Your mannerisms are the same. The way you move and sit.”
Normally, the health department requires more than a month to pull records from its archives to verify such biological connections, but after Skip made his request the woman behind the counter told him, “If your mother submits her request, I will personally find it in the archives and you won’t have to wait.”
The next morning Steve drove his mother to the health department in Salt Lake City to complete the paperwork. The woman at the department asked them to wait and then she disappeared into the back room to search the archives. She returned an hour later crying.
“It’s a match,” she said.
After Steve and Clara left, the woman called Skip. “She was crying," says Skip. "I said, ‘I hope this is good news.’ She said, ‘Your birth mother was just in here, and it’s confirmed that she is your mother.’ I had a good cry, too.”
He called Steve, who told him, “Your mother would really like to meet you.” On Saturday, Skip and his family drove to Draper to meet Clara at Steve’s home, where other family members had gathered for the occasion. “I was so nervous," he says. “It seems like it was forever getting there.” When the door opened, Skip could see his mother sitting on a chair in the front room.
“Mom,” Steve said, “this is your son, Skip.”
There were tears all around as the family looked on. Skip hugged her as she sat in her chair. He knelt by her and they stared into each others' eyes for several moments. Finally, she grabbed his nose and wiggled it. "Yep, that’s my nose," she said.
Says Skip, “My heart was so full. I can’t remember a time in my life other than when I got married that I felt that way. She just couldn’t believe she had found me.”
They hugged and held hands. Skip’s wife Sandra showed her photos of Skip as a boy. Skip presented a lengthy letter to his mother that he had written to tell her the story of his life.
Says Steve, “Skip was so good and gentle with her. Mom was really frightened to meet him for fear of what he would be like (toward her). After she put him up for adoption she was distraught. It had bothered her over the years. She said, ‘I always would think about him and never thought I’d meet him until after this life.’ The next day, she said, ‘Was I dreaming or did he really come visit me? Is he going to come again?’ She was like a little kid.”
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