- Associated Press - Saturday, December 24, 2016

DECATUR, Ill. (AP) - Similarities between a Decatur woman and the newborn she gave up for adoption 36 years ago just keep adding up.

Since their reunion in August and as mother and daughter begin to create new holiday traditions together, it’s clear both love to talk and use their hands for emphasis. They also share some dietary preferences, including a habit of smashing their sandwiches before eating them.

They also don’t keep secrets from their families, so their children have always known about the other.

Linda Fleckenstein, 53, said she did not fully appreciate the enormity of what she gave up at age 17 until she gave birth 13 years later to the first of three more daughters she had with her late husband, Mark.

So Fleckenstein went so far as to include her maiden name (Craig) when she created a Facebook profile to make it easier for her daughter to find her one day.

Therein lay the rub and a difference between the two: Lani Greenarch, 36, of Ivesdale is far more internet savvy.

Greenarch found Fleckenstein on Facebook early this year, but the private message she sent March 23, one she spent three days crafting, went unanswered.

So did four more messages she sent over the next three months. “I knew she had these teenage daughters,” Greenarch said. “I didn’t ever want to barge in for me to, like, take over.”

Even so, she upped her game in the message she sent to Fleckenstein June 22.

“I always knew it was possible if I found my mother, she might not want anything to do with me,” Greenarch wrote. “I thought I was prepared for that. But. I am not. It’s breaking my heart.”

Fleckenstein, meanwhile, hadn’t opened any of the messages. “I’m horrible at social media,” she said.

Greenarch finally told a cousin “who knew everybody in Decatur” and who asked a mutual friend on Facebook if she would talk to Fleckenstein. The woman, unfortunately, waited several more weeks to do so, in part, because Fleckenstein was mourning a death in her family.

Finally, as Fleckenstein was headed for Blessingdales on Aug. 24, the woman called.

“She said, ‘Your daughter’s looking for you,’ and I said, ‘I just left them. What do they want now??’” Fleckenstein said. “She said, ‘No, your first daughter,’ and I go, ‘Whoa, what?’ and I was like, ‘Wait, I gotta pull over.’”

She drove back home and was in such a state when she woke up daughter Morgan, 19, the teenager thought at first someone else had died.

The mutual friend then called Greenarch while she was getting ready to go to her job as a nurse at Maple Point, an assisted living facility in Monticello.

Fleckenstein and Greenarch spoke by telephone that evening and met for the first time in Fairview Park Aug. 27. “She is so me,” Fleckenstein said.

Greenarch has also reunited with her biological father, who went to MacArthur High School with Fleckenstein and lives in Missouri.

Mother and daughter have since gotten together several times.

A jack-o-lantern carving session at Greenarch’s house Oct. 23 brought just about everyone together, including Greenarch’s parents, husband and daughters, ages 14, 11 and 4, and Fleckenstein’s other girls, ages 23, 19 and 14.

Sundays are often best for get-togethers because Fleckenstein works through the week as a carpenter by day and at Jake’s Video Gaming by night.

They celebrated Madison Fleckenstein’s 23rd birthday with friends and other family Nov. 13 at Whitmore Park and talked about making a pre-Thanksgiving weiner roast a regular tradition but not necessarily a birthday party.

“We can’t have Maddy feeling this special every year,” Fleckenstein joked.

She brought her traditional Texas sheet cake, just like the one her own mother always made and like the one she baked for Greenarch’s 36th birthday Sept. 5.

Greenarch’s youngest daughter turned up her nose, however.

“She doesn’t want her cake because it’s touching the ice cream,” Madison said, shaking her head. “That’s just like Mom.”

“I’m that way, too,” Greenarch remarked.

Alexis Fleckenstein said she and her oldest niece have also discovered they have mutual friends, which is not surprising as both are 14.

“I always told people I had another sister in the world,” Alexis said. “I’m thankful to finally have her in our lives.”

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Source: (Decatur) Herald and Review, https://bit.ly/2fyLuOR

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Information from: Herald & Review, https://www.herald-review.com


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