TROY — Despite overcast skies and middling temperatures, this week proved rather bright for Tipp City resident Dennis Kerg.
In a planned meeting at Holiday Inn Express on Wednesday in Troy, Kerg was united for the first time ever with biological daughter Tiffany Ostaszewski, of Epping, N.H., a meeting that comes nearly forty years after her birth.
Kerg, who grew up in the Tipp City area, spent 10 years in Las Vegas, Nev. and over 20 years in Tucson, Ariz. before moving back to Tipp City in 2012. It was during his time in Las Vegas that he and a former partner conceived Tiffany, who was born on Dec. 18, 1978.
“In the ’70s, I joined the Air Force,” Kreg said. “I met a young lady named Patty while in Las Vegas and I got her pregnant. Somehow, we kind of split shortly after that, and she called me up one day, and said, ‘I want you to sign adoption papers.’ I said, ‘No way — this is my first-born. I can’t do that.’ I thought about it and thought about it, and realized I wasn’t sure how I was going to raise a baby by myself.
“I went to the courthouse, they gave me the papers, and I signed it. I tried to go to the hospital to see her before leaving town, but I was refused. From that day, every December 18th, I’d look up into the sky and say, ‘Happy birthday, baby girl.’”
Ostaszewski moved from Las Vegas to New Hampshire at age 4, where she resided with her adoptive mother, father, and adoptive brother for the rest of her life.
She began to seek out information on her biological heritage with the help of a DNA ancestry kit.
“Back in 1978, all adoptions were closed adoptions, so my parents and I didn’t know anybody’s names,” Ostaszewski said. “I took advantage of doing an ancestry test, because I wanted to learn what nationalities I was, and I also wanted to see if I had relatives. I got a match to my birth mother’s uncle, so I finally learned a name on her side, and that was back in May. I went out to Nevada in May, and Patty (the biological mother) told me my father’s name.”
From there, Ostaszewski was able to contact Kerg’s son, Dennis, Jr., through Facebook.
“I connected with my half-brother, who responded back to me, saying ‘I just had to call Dad and make sure this wasn’t a scam’,” Ostaszewski said.
“My son, Dennis, who lives in New Mexico, called me up, and said, ‘Dad, do you know someone named Patty in Las Vegas?’” Kerg explained. “I said, ‘Yes, I do.’”
Once Kerg confirmed the story Ostaszewski had shared, Kerg’s son confirmed that she’d reached out to him.
“I told him, ‘Son, if she calls again, give her my number,’” Kerg said.
A few weeks later, while attending a Tippecanoe football game, Kerg received a text that read, “Hi, Dennis. This is Tiffany. I hope you text me back.”
“I ran to my car, called her back, and she answered,” Kerg said. “She sent me a picture after that, and I knew it was my girl. She told me she was living in New Hampshire — I knew I couldn’t travel that far now, but I wanted to see her right away. She said, ‘Well, what if I come to Ohio?’
“I told Tiffany, ‘Tipp City has a car show on Friday, and the Mum Festival is on Saturday, so now’s a great time to visit.’ I’ve been on cloud nine ever since.”
Kerg and Ostaszewski have spent most of their time together dining and sharing family photos, and agree their feelings of being united after nearly 40 years are happy, but hard to put into words.
“It’s just so indescribable,” Ostaszewski said. “It’s such a feeling of being complete. I had a wonderful upbringing in a loving home, and I certainly never really questioned being adopted, but my soul just needed to know some things — where I came from, who my parents were, what they looked like, if I acted like them. I’m just so speechless — there’s going to be a lot more trips planned, I’m sure.”
“I cry every day,” Kerg admitted. “Tiffany’s staying until October 2, and I don’t want to let her go again. I’ve been walking on air ever since meeting here a couple days ago. It may not be the best word to use, but it almost feels like she’s been re-born to me. Every time I hug her, I tell her if this is a dream, I don’t want to wake up.”