Happy Hearts



Roni Girello was born in 1963 but didn’t know her parents until 18 days ago.

She answered the telephone Jan. 28 at her home in Federal Way. A woman calling from Nova Scotia on Canada’s east coast asked Girello a few questions about where and when she was born, then said, “My name’s Marilyn Morrell. I’m your mother.”

After four decades apart, Girello and her birth parents, Marilyn and Ronald, are making up for lost time. Though five time zones apart, they’re on the phone as much as they can afford and are e-mailing each other. Ronald, who just turned 67, got a birthday card this month from his daughter for the first time. And as soon as possible, they’ll all meet for the first time since Girello was given up for adoption when she was three days old.

It’s a happy ending they always hoped for but weren’t sure would happen.

Girello was nine months old when Harold and Vida Adams adopted her. Harold, 82 now (Vida died in 2001), was a Baptist minister and moved his family many times, mostly to the U.S. towns of new congregations. They eventually settled in south King County, where Girello graduated from Auburn High School in 1981. She got married and has five children, the oldest 21 and the youngest 3 years old.

Over the years, Girello, unaware that her biological parents wanted to find her, tried to locate them but got discouraged and gave up. “They never stopped,” she said, smiling broadly and adding that Marilyn “told me she wouldn’t go to her grave until she found me.”

“At times I was confident we’d find her and at other times I wasn’t,” said Marilyn, 63. “Sometimes it felt like we were running against a brick wall.”

Marilyn and Ronald lived in Dawson Creek, a British Columbia hamlet near the start of the Alaskan Highway, when they became parents for the first time. That was 40 years ago, when unmarried parents living together was unacceptable, Marilyn noted.

They gave their newborn daughter to an agency that Marilyn said “told us we had up to a year to take her back.” After the couple decided to marry and wanted their baby girl back, she was gone.

Ronald and Marilyn moved to the farm in tiny Middle Stewiacke, Nova Scotia where Marilyn was born and raised. They’ve lived there ever since, had a second child –– a son who’s 37 –– and wondered endlessly about their daughter.

Last spring, hoping to find a fresher trail of her, the couple drove the width of Canada to Dawson Creek. But until last month, Marilyn said, “we just knew she’d been adopted by a minister’s family and that she was living in the United States.”

“That’s a big country,” Ronald said. “But I thought we were getting close to finding her. When we did, it was pretty emotional.”

So far, pictures and voices are all they have of each other. The family resemblance is unmistakable, especially between mother and daughter. The latter bond is tight in other ways, too: Both women have worked at Sears, Girello selling appliances at the SeaTac Mall store in Federal Way, and both have the same likes and dislikes in food and colors.

The parents and daughter that time couldn’t keep apart are on opposite sides of North America, but not forever. None of them have much money for travel, so they’ve contacted television shows such as “Oprah” in the hope that producers will fly them to a studio for a reunion. If that doesn’t work, Ronald and Marilyn, who raises sheep dogs and miniature dacschunds, vow to somehow come up with enough money for their daughter to visit them.

“One way or the other,” Ronald said, “we’ll get together.”

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565,

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