Reunited, for the first time

  • ConVal High School staff in the school library watch the television with excitement as their co-worker Kim Fairbank of Wilton meets her biological father for the first time on the TODAY show with Megyn Kelly Show Monday morning. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • ConVal High School staff in the school library watch the television with excitement as their co-worker Kim Fairbank of Wilton meets her biological father for the first time on the TODAY show with Megyn Kelly Show Monday morning. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • ConVal High School staff in the school library watch the television with excitement as their co-worker Kim Fairbank of Wilton meets her biological father for the first time on the TODAY show with Megyn Kelly Show Monday morning. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • ConVal High School staff in the school library watch the television with excitement as their co-worker Kim Fairbank of Wilton meets her biological father for the first time on the TODAY show with Megyn Kelly Monday morning. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce

  • Kim Fairbank of Wilton with her biological father in the NBC gift shop in New York City after meeting him for the first time on the set of the TODAY show in New York City on Monday. Courtesy Photo

  • Kim Fairbank, 51, of Wilton back stage at the TODAY show with Megyn Kelly. Courtesy Photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/23/2018 10:40:47 AM

Kim Fairbank appeared on the TODAY show with Megyn Kelly Monday morning to meet her biological father.

“It was amazing. It was really amazing,” Fairbank said. “Amazing and intense.”

Fairbank, 51, of Wilton is a social worker for the ConVal School District. She has been searching for her birth family since she turned 21.

“I think that I always had a desire to know where I came from. I think that’s a common quest for adoptees and I knew that the law for New York State was you have to be 21. So right when I turned 21 I signed up,” Fairbank said.

Her quest went nowhere for 30 years.

“New York State is very strict about the birth records for adoptions. The birth mother had all the rights, so the adoptees have none,” Fairbank said. “My original birth certificate is sealed.”

Fairbank knows very little about her birth mother.

She was born in New York to a 20-year-old woman, who said she had been abandoned by the father, and put Fairbank up for adoption.

Every opportunity her mother had to list any interests, hobbies or health issues on the adoption form was left blank, Fairbank said.

Finding her biological family has been on her mind since she was told as a child she was adopted. At birth, Fairbank was adopted by a couple in Queens, New York. However, her adoptive father died of leukemia when she was six. Because her adoptive mother suffered from Schizophrenia, at the age of nine Fairbank was placed with a foster family, who eventually adopted her and told her she was adopted at birth.

“My understanding is that my father was the one who would have her take her medication every day so when he was gone, she was off her meds,” Fairbank said. “My mother was trying to take care of me the best she could, but she really struggled.”

Her longing for her biological family was coupled with a desire to know her ethnic background. For as long as she can remember, Fairbank has been asked about her ethnic heritage. From people she just met, to her own children. But it’s a question, Fairbank, having been adopted, could not answer.

“My daughter really was pushing,” Fairbank said, so she took a DNA test. “Through Ancestry.com it said I was European Jewish and Greek/Italian.”

Once you get the results back, you get to see what your DNA is and you also get to see who your relatives are,” she said. “You are always mostly looking for your mother because she gave birth to you, but I was looking for any biological relatives, aunts, cousins.”

She uploaded her DNA to various websites on the internet, a modern and fairly new advancement for people searching for birth parents today. “I was willing to find anybody,” she said.

It was MyHeritage.com that turned up a match for her father, Tavlos.

An artist living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Tavlos only goes by one of his names because growing up in the U. S. his classmates could never pronounce his Greek name. Tavlos wasn’t searching for family when he tested his DNA. He and his wife Janice Pantazelos, an opera singer, had a bet to see who was more Greek. He won with 100 percent. He also found a daughter he never knew about.

Tavlos was over the moon with joy when he appeared on the TODAY show Monday to meet his daughter, and said he knew about a birth, but thought Fairbank had been a boy. He doesn’t remember Fairbank’s mother’s name, but told Fairbank, he would “recognize a photo of her in a heartbeat.”

“It’s just one of those things,” he said on the Today show.

“And my father says what he recalls of the two nights he was with her is that she was a young, stout Jewish woman,” Fairbank said.

The two met on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Tavlos was a college student on vacation. Fairbank is not sure if her mother was on vacation or if she lived locally. Although she was born in New York, it was the 1960s, Fairbank said, her mother could have gone to a different state to give birth in secret.

“My understanding is she contacted him,” Fairbank said. “He offered to pay for an abortion and my mother turned it down. … And then I think they just went their separate ways.”

Fairbank said Tavlos is thrilled to have a daughter and two grandchildren, Emma Fairbank, 21 and Tate Fairbank, 18, who were on the set of the TODAY show Monday along with Fairbank’s fiance Jerry Humphrey.

“Seeing my father is amazing. My children look like me, but when I found my father, who looks like me, it’s pretty intense,” Fairbank said. “He is thrilled. He is absolutely thrilled and both my kids have embraced him. They think he’s pretty cool. You don’t get to choose your parents, but he turned out to be this artist, which is pretty cool. So I feel like I scored.”

The search for her mother goes on, she said, but for now she is enjoying her new family.

“We’re both kind of short, and he likes sweets, as do I and we both have huge potty mouths and I don’t think that’s related, but maybe that is,” she said. “Right now it looks like we have plans for Christmas.”

Meghan Pierce is the digital editor at the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript. You can reach her at mpierce@ledgertranscript.com or follow her on Twitter @monadnockbeat.




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