Starbuck man finds biological family, discovers a wealth of information about his family heritage
BY JIM PALMER
In 1969, at the Winnipeg General Hospital in Winnipeg, Canada, a happy, healthy baby boy named Darcy Lee Hunnie was born. Days later, the baby boy would receive a new name (Chad Krosch) and meet his new family. His new mom and dad were Janice and James Krosch of Butterfield, Minnesota, who traveled to Pembina, North Dakota, to adopt Chad and bring him back to Minnesota.
Up until just a few years ago, Chad, who now lives in Starbuck, knew little about his biological family. He was told he was adopted and was born in Canada, but knew nothing else. Then everything changed. After poking around one night on the internet, he found the connection that led to his family. And soon, he also discovered his new family, but he also learned that he had some unique branches of his family tree.
A New Life
Chad’s parents brought him home to a normal and stable household, he said. James was an Air Force veteran who later worked as a boiler operator, and Janice was an accountant for most of her life. Records show Chad’s adoption cost $300. Janice and James also had a daughter, Suelaine, who they had naturally before they adopted Chad.
“We were raised very well,” said Chad, who said he had a very normal small-town childhood. About five years ago, Chad was going through a treatment program. It gave him time to heal and reflect on his life and childhood. He wrote a letter to his mother. In many ways, it was a thank you letter. Parts of that letter read, “You were the best mother/friend a kid could have. Growing up we went through good times and some bad times, but I’m not counting the bad times because that’s not what counts.” He continued, “You’re the best. I’ll be thinking of you always in prayer. I’m very glad to have had a mom like you. You were one very beautiful lady -- kind, very good-spirited, and just fun to have grown up with and known. You were a very loving mom.”
His parents later divorced. His dad remarried and lived in Worthington and Brewster, Minnesota, and his mom lived in Sioux Falls.
“My mom passed away in 2007, and my dad passed recently of kidney cancer.”
Reuniting with his biological family
Chad had always wondered about his biological family. One day, his curiosity turned to action.
“I came home one day and got on the computer,” said Chad, who has lived in Starbuck for the last 13 years. “I found some forms to fill out and sent them off.”
The forms were from the Manitoba Post-Adoption Services, which assists adoptees and their birth families, with information and reunification.
“I sent in the forms and about eight months later I got a call from the Department of Families in Winnipeg,” said Chad. “They said my brother would be calling me by the end of the day.”
About a half hour later, the phone rang. They had a great conversation and had lots of big questions for each other.
“My brother said he and his sister had been looking for me since 1991,” said Chad. “They even traveled to the Twin Cities to try to track me down but I wasn’t registered anywhere there.”
Chad learned he has a brother, Keith, and sister, Karen, who both live in Winnipeg. All three were adopted by different families and all three had different fathers.
“After Keith and I talked, Keith called Karen,” said Chad. “He said ‘He found us!’ and Karen said, ‘Who?’ And Keith said, ‘Our little brother.’
Keith and Karen had connected with their biological mother about two years earlier. When Chad found them, they took their biological mother out to dinner to tell her the news. Since then, Chad has talked with his biological mom several times. Most recently, Chad called her to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day and they had a great conversation.
Since the first connection, Chad has connected with more than a dozen family members on both his mom and his dad’s side.
“I was very excited to find them,” he said. “And then I found more and it expanded bigger and bigger with more relatives. Everyone has been excited about this and everyone is happy that I found them.
One of Chad’s “new” relatives is Mae Pellan, an aunt on Chad’s father’s side, who was 12 when Chad was born. She remembers visiting Chad at the hospital when he was born.
One person that Chad has not reached out to so far is his father.
“My dad is known as a very bad person, and I have been told by many people up there to stay away from him,” he said, listing some of the crimes that his dad has committed. “I don’t want to associate with him.”
In 2020, Chad met his brother and sister for the first time.
“They came down to Starbuck and we met at the gas station in town,” he said. “My sister said, ‘There he is!’ when she walked in. And my brother said I looked a lot like my dad.”
The meeting was an emotional day for Chad, and one he had been looking forward to for many years, although he was never sure it would really happen.
Finding his family wasn’t Chad’s only discovery. After doing a genetic test, Chad learned about his unique ancestry.
“I learned that I am 23 percent Indigenous,” he said. “It is from my dad’s side, so my brother and sister do not have the same ancestry.”
Chad is actually considered to be part of the Métis ancestry, which is well known in Canada. Métis are a people of mixed European and Indigenous ancestry. They are one of the three recognized Aborginal peoples in Canada. The Métis people originated in the 1700s when French and Scottish fur traders married Aboriginal women, such as the Cree, and Anishinabe (Ojibway).
Distinct Métis communities developed along the fur trade routes. This included three Prairie Provinces -- Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta -- as well as parts of Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, and the Northern United States.
According to Wikipedia, “at first, the Hudson’s Bay Company officially forbade these relationships. However, many Indigenous peoples actively encouraged them, because they drew fur traders into Indigenous kinship circles, creating social ties that supported the economic relationships developing between them and Europeans. When Indigenous women married European men, they introduced them to their people and their culture, taught them about the land and its resources, and worked alongside them. Indigenous women paddled and steered canoes, made moccasins out of moose skin, netted webbing for snowshoes, skinned animals and dried their meat for pemmican, split and dried fish, snared rabbits and partridges, and helped to manufacture birchbark canoes. Intermarriage made the fur trade more successful.”
Chad has been fascinated by his ancestry and has done a lot of research on it over the last couple of years.
A Big Reunion
So far, Chad has only met his biological brother and sister in person. That may change this summer as a reunion is being planned in Canada.
The connections made with his biological family has added a lot to Chad’s life, and to his family in Canada. He is glad that he took the steps he did to make it happen.
“I was happy with what I did,” he said. “Everyone seems to be happy. My brother even wants me to move up to Canada.”