One University Heights man who was adopted at birth is on a journey of exploring his biological roots.
When Kenneth Lowenstein, a member of Waxman Chabad Center in Beachwood, found out he was born to a Jewish family and adopted into a Modern Orthodox family, it was a troublesome time in his childhood. He was growing up in Los Angeles and didn’t look like his sister, which was often the source of comments made by other kids.
“I would get into fights at school because people would say such rude things,” he said. “And I was like, ‘Thank God I’m not adopted.’ And then I was the adopted one, and my life kind of ended.”
He went through an identity crisis. He couldn’t answer doctor’s questions to family health issues and didn’t know where he came from. A lawyer, Lowenstein had been in contact with and was concerned with Lowenstein’s well-being shared information from the sealed adoption papers. However, the information was unpleasant.
Lowenstein was told his birth mother’s name and that she had died. It wouldn’t be until Lowenstein turned 18 until he could visit her burial site in Mission Hill, Calif., and found she had been cremated.
“I was very upset that she had been cremated,” he said as it went against the Orthodox lifestyle.
Through the years, he found links to other family members and, with the help of a private investigator, found his maternal grandfather and an aunt. He was also able to find his maternal grandmother who sent him a letter which, in part, said he didn’t have any siblings.
Lowenstein didn’t make any lasting contacts until he started a profile on Ancestry.com. It was there he saw a match on his profile, he found his half-brother, Seth.
“How was that possible? I was told I didn’t have any siblings,” he said. “But I always believed that there was someone else there.”
Several sessions at the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies’ annual conference July 28 to Aug. 2 in Cleveland will discuss Ancestry.com.
Through his journey, he said he wants to help give his half-brother a bar mitzvah. He created a GoFundMe account to help pay for travel expenses, additional DNA tests, a pair of tefillin for his half-brother’s bar mitzvah and documenting the experience.
Lowenstein said he might have found out who his father is and, with that, discovered possible half-sisters. Through his own DNA test he also discovered he is part Native American.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen now,” he said. “When I started to investigate more, I felt this sensation – if you call it – of wanting all the ‘I’s to be dotted and ‘T’s to be crossed because it’s just so much more. As I’ve been discovering, it’s unleashed more so I don’t want to stop now when I’m so close to discovering who my father might be.”