Riverton man finds branching siblings, parents after learning of adoption

May 2, 2018, 10:10 PM

RIVERTON, Utah – Galen Chatterton suspected as a child that he was adopted, but never had that confirmed until just before his 40th birthday. Even then, he says he never had a desire to find his biological family until years later, after his adopted parents and brother passed away.

“I loved my parents. They gave me everything and were so wonderful to me,” Chatterton said.

Chatterton’s journey to find his family recently brought him to a DNA match on the website Ancestry.com, where he found his oldest half-sister, Shirlee Clark.

Shirlee Clark(left), Galen Chatterton(right), and Chatterton’s wife Karen meet at Clark’s Inkom, Idaho home for lunch.

“I never thought that there would be any way on earth that I could ever find her,” Chatterton said, from Clark’s home in Inkom, Idaho.

The two have met a handful of times since finding each other.

“His expressions are a lot like mine,” Clark said. “He does a lot of things like I do, which is really strange, because we’ve never lived together.”

Betty Lue Campbell

Chatterton and Clark share a mother in common; Betty Lue Campbell, who gave them both up for adoption and went on to marry, have children, and later leave multiple families.

“Betty Lue grew up in an unstable home. Her mother married at least a few times,” Chatterton said. “She didn’t know how to be a mom, that was very obvious. There were lots of pressures that she couldn’t cope with.”

Chatterton started meeting his biological family after he says Campbell found him several years ago. He had a brief chance to get to know her before she passed away. Since then, Chatterton has found two sisters from one family, and a brother and sister from another.

“To think that I’ve waited so long for this to happen. I mean, I’m going to be 70 soon. That’s a long time to have to wait to find your family.”

Chatterton’s Ancestry.com profile also recently lead him to find his biological father, Keith Robinson, along with another brother and sister who share that father. He met them just weeks ago, also in Idaho.

Galen Chatterton and his wife, Karen at a recent reunion with several of Chatterton’s found siblings and their families.

“Meeting them was absolutely wonderful,” Chatterton said. “It was a real blessing.”

There is still one more brother that Chatterton has found leads on, but has not located. In addition to siblings, he’s gained relationships with nephews and nieces.

“They’re all excited to have me in their lives. I’m excited to have them in my life,” Chatterton said.

Clark still has yet to meet her many new siblings.

“It’s crazy. I love it,” Clark said. “I’m just taking it a little step at a time, because I never expected to have this many.”

Like Chatterton, Clark says she too had great adoptive parents. But as an only child, she felt somewhat lonely after they passed. While she barely knows Chatterton, she feels a connection.

“I feel I have a support system that’s not just my husband’s family and my children,” Clark said. “I have other support systems now that makes it great.”

While Chatterton already had a large family of his own, with six children, he says he feels the same way.

“To find the rest of my family, to put these links, these missing pieces together, it’s hard to describe,” Chatterton said. “I feel really blessed.”

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Riverton man finds branching siblings, parents after learning of adoption