Darien man discovers biological family
DARIEN — Decades after being put up for adoption, a Darien man was finally able to connect with his biological family.
Rodney Rideout, 54, said growing up he didn’t think much about not knowing his biological parents. It wasn’t until much later in life that he started to think about it in detail.
“It wasn’t talked about a lot, but my adopted parents did let me know I was adopted,” Rideout said.
Then, for his 53rd birthday, his wife gave him a 23andMe DNA kit that changed his life.
“The idea was we wanted to find out more about where I came from,” he said.
Through the 23andMe kit, he found a list of DNA relatives with some contact information. Rideout said the first name he contacted on the list was Lar Gilinsky, his birth father’s cousin. After reaching out, they immediately started corresponding through emails.
“Well the email started with ‘I know you are my cousin’s son,’ ” Rideout said. “We kind of progressed from there.”
Gilinsky told him they had been searching for Rideout for a long time. He also discovered Gilinsky was first cousins with his biological father, Robert Mirrer, and the two would go on to serve in Vietnam together.
“He (Gilinsky) was the last family relative to see him alive,” Rideout said. “He was killed in action in Vietnam. He never made it back.”
Rideout said Gilinsky knew his father would have wanted to know more about him. For the last 30 years, Gilinsky had been looking for him, an effort that may not have been as feasible before the internet.
Upon meeting Gilinsky, Rideout told him he was unaware of an effort to find him and, had he known, would have made his own efforts to reach out sooner.
Within a couple of months of starting his DNA journey, Rideout would meet all the living relatives on his biological father’s side. This side of his family was largely from Boston or New Jersey.
“It just so happen Connecticut was in the middle,” he said. “There was around 19 people and we all met in Fairfield, Connecticut.”
Connecting with his father’s side of the family was a good experience, Rideout said. He now has three first cousins he never knew about.
Rideout said his biological parents were married at a very young age, which may have played a part in him being put up for adoption.
“My mother was 19, my father was 23,” he said. “There were probably some factors around that which made them put me up for adoption. There was probably some struggling or internal things that made that happen.”
After finding out about his father’s side, Rideout was determined to find out more information about his biological mother. This process took much longer, and he emailed around 100 people trying to find leads.
“That part of the journey took another six months,” Rideout said. “I wanted to see if my biological mother was alive.”
With help from Gilinsky, Rideout was able to track down his biological parents’ marriage certificate and discover his mother’s name, Janet Roberts. From there, they found his biological grandmother’s name through a real estate transaction.
“From that, they were able to track down my biological mother,” Rideout said. “If it wasn’t for him (Gilinsky), none of this would have ever happened.”
After Gilinsky reached out to Rideout’s mother, he arranged for the two to have a phone call.
“It’s like anything that is a big event coming up in your life,” Rideout said. “I thought about it the whole night. Then the all morning. Then I got up enough courage and I called her.”
The meeting came at a good time for both of them, he said. Rideout’s adoptive parents died in his early 20s, and his biological mother lost her second husband of 20 years in a car accident.
“To find out I was alive was a big thing (to her),” Rideout said. “Since then, we’ve built a relationship.”