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What you need to know for 10/17/2017

Woman searches for half-brother she never met

Woman searches for half-brother she never met

Andrea Rollier-Fitzpatrick wonders about Mark Robin, the half-brother she’s been trying to find for
Woman searches for half-brother she never met
Anrea-Rollier Fitzpatrick poses for a photo in Schenectady's Rose Garden.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

Maybe the man who was once Mark Robin Rauch moved to California in 1993 and is an architect.

Could be Mark Robin studied literature at Union College during the 1990s and now prospers in Cape Cod writing crime novels.

The Peace Corps could have inspired M.R. Rauch, and he might now live and work with the people of Madagascar.

Or maybe the man is close to home — a lawyer in Schenectady, a restaurateur in Saratoga Springs.

Andrea Rollier-Fitzpatrick wonders about Mark Robin, the half-brother she has never met. She’s been trying to find the man for nearly the past 20 years. She wants to give him a hug and tell him about a family he has never known.

So this is a detective story. Daily Gazette readers might be able to play a role, and help Rollier-Fitzpatrick’s plan for a family reunion.

“My mother had a child out of wedlock with a man she was dating in 1966,” said Rollier-Fitzpatrick, 42, who now lives in Watervliet and works as a logistics specialist for the General Electric Co. in Rotterdam.

Barbara Marie Rauch — later Barbara Rollier — gave birth to her son on Easter Sunday, March 26, 1967.

Rollier-Fitzpatrick has only a few other facts.

Mark was born in Albany Medical Center, with a Dr. Schultz in the delivery room. The baby’s regular doctor was Dr. Anthony F. Mastrianni, and there was a “do not circumcise” order on the birth information. The baby was adopted by a Jewish family in Niskayuna shortly after his birth, and Rollier-Fitzpatrick believes he would have attended Niskayuna High School.

Mark would now be 49 years old.

Barbara Marie told her daughter about Mark in 1989. Andrea Rollier was then a student at Linton High School, in the Class of 1991. The birth and adoption had remained a family secret because there had been a measure of “shame,” as Rollier-Fitzpatrick described it, surrounding a baby and an unmarried woman.

Both Barbara Marie and Rollier-Fitzpatrick’s father tried to persuade their daughter against looking into the past. They thought maybe Mark — and the person who probably grew up with a different name and in another life — might not want strange people knocking on his door asking fantastic questions. And there was always the chance the new family never told Mark he had been adopted.

But Rollier-Fitzpatrick had the curiosity. She started looking around in 1998, around the time her mother passed away at age 59. Her father is also deceased.

She’s consulted with “search angels,” people who help others in adoption matters. She worked with data bases, looking for names of men born in the United States on March 26, 1967. She even met with a medium, for more ethereal insight.

She found the baby’s father, and while he insisted Mark was not his baby, he said his mother had assisted Barbara Marie with the adoption.

Rollier-Fitzpatrick has Mark’s birth certificate. She has only one photograph. In the square picture, similar to ones taken by Kodak Instamatic cameras during the 1960s, Barbara Marie sits in the passenger seat of a car and holds her blanket-swaddled baby. She’s wearing cat-eye glasses, a scarf and coat and has a thin smile. The baby’s eyes are closed; a tiny hand is over the left cheek and a finger rests on his eye. It’s the day mother and child parted ways.

List of candidates

Over the years, working with the data base list, Rollier-Fitzpatrick compiled a list of “candidates” who might be her half-brother. The investigation agency compiled a similar list.

She made contact with several men.

“A lot of people were intrigued and they checked their birth certificates because the certificate numbers wouldn’t change,” Rollier-Fitzpatrick said. “If I give you your birth certificate number and say, ‘Are you registered under this number?’ No matter what the name change had been, if the number matches, you’re the candidate.

“A lot of people were like, ‘Let me look, I have my certificate here,’ ” Rollier-Fitzpatrick added. “Some people said, ‘Let me get back to you.’ I had one candidate who refused to speak to me, was angry that he was contacted and then other people just didn’t get back to me.”

She knew she could encounter all those responses.

“It was a risk that I had to take,” Rollier-Fitzpatrick said.

She believes she has valid reasons for such a personal investigation. For one, she’d like to share family health issues with the man who was once Mark Robin Rauch. The man probably knows about the myopia already; Barbara Marie was near-sighted, and it can be a hereditary condition. Rollier-Fitzpatrick has it, and wears contact lenses.

Another reason — she just wants more family.

“As we get older, I think you find it’s a little bit harder to connect with some people,” Rollier-Fitzpatrick said. “Your life becomes busier, your family becomes a lot more important.”

She has thought about what Mark might have become. She also knows the man could have passed away years ago, so the search could have been for naught.

There are still hopes. Rollier-Fitzpatrick wonders what her half-brother would be like in conversation.

“I hope he has my mother’s sense of humor because she had a very strong sense of humor,” Rollier-Fitzpatrick said. “And she really had a strong sense of adventure, which I have. I have one sibling who doesn’t share the adventure part. It would really be nice to have somebody to talk about that and share my life, the outdoors and just a zest for living.”

Deeply affected

Rollier-Fitzpatrick believes her mother always thought about her first baby.

“I think it bothered her every day of her life,” she said. “He was born on Easter Sunday and I can tell you every Easter Sunday, my mom went through quite a bit. It really bothered her, I could just tell she was upset. She wasn’t herself, she was just kind of withdrawn.”

Rollier-Fitzpatrick believes her mother knew where her little Mark ended up. The medium believed Barbara Marie knew what school the little boy would have attended, and that statement sparked a childhood memory.

“I went to a Catholic grade school and my sister was going to Linton; she was four years my senior,” Rollier-Fitzpatrick said. “We would get off early for a Catholic holiday or something and she would leave like an hour early to pick up my sister. She would drive up and down a couple streets in Niskayuna, near the high school, and I thought it was the weirdest thing. I was in the car with her when she was doing it.”

Rollier-Fitzpatrick posted a poster about her search on Facebook earlier this year. She gave people her details and asked that if anyone had any information about Mark, to email her at andrearollier@yahoo.com, with notes titled “Searching for Mark.” People reading this story and who are willing to share clues can use the same email address.

The active search will conclude at year’s end. Rollier-Fitzpatrick said she has always kept her maiden name as sort of a “beacon.” Anyone looking for a Barbara Rollier would find Andrea Rollier-Fitzpatrick; she will drop her maiden name in early 2017. “This year, if I haven’t found him, it wasn’t supposed to be,” she said. “I’m giving up the ghost.”

Adoption issues can spark emotions. Some mothers do not want people looking for them, and maybe some children do not want to be contacted by mothers curious about their children after 25 years.

This is a volunteer exercise. If someone thinks he might be related to Rollier-Fitzpatrick, he can contact her. Or, he doesn’t have to do anything.

In years to come, maybe someone who learns he was adopted will come knocking with questions for his mother’s relatives. Rollier-Fitzpatrick will be ready.

“My door will always be open if a person comes looking for me,” she said.

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at wilkin@dailygazette.com or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter. His blog is at www.dailygazette.com/weblogs/wilkin.

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