Clark County commissioner finds family roots after 46 years

The man choked up as the woman tried three times to coax a response from the other end of the line.

He kept thinking to himself, "Hang up! Hang up! Hang up!"

Finally, the words Lawrence Weekly waited 46 years to say came to him.

"Do you recall April 1964," Weekly asked the woman. "You may have had a little boy that you may have given up for adoption? … I think I might be your biological son."

The woman began to weep and her phone dropped to the floor. When she gathered the strength to pick up the phone, he got the answer he was searching for — the 70-year-old woman was the one.

It validated a story the Clark County commissioner thought he overheard as a young boy. Had his grandfather used the word "adopted" when discussing Weekly? He couldn’t be sure, and since his parents never said anything, he kept quiet.

That was until he began a quest last year to discover his roots. That snippet of conversation he thought he heard always stuck with him.

Both of his parents were now dead, and he prayed for guidance about whether investigating his past was the right thing to do.

"I feel like in my divine intervention that my parents gave me that OK," Weekly, 47, said. "Like they said, ‘We didn’t tell you because we didn’t want you to feel different. If you want to bring your life full circle, and you want to know, it’s OK.’ "

THE PAST UNRAVELS

Months before meeting his biological mother, Weekly got a lawyer and pleaded with the court to unseal his records. The judge was reluctant at first, citing privacy laws.

"I believe a child should have rights because a child doesn’t have a choice," Weekly told the judge. "Someone made a decision for me when I couldn’t make a decision for myself. Shouldn’t me and my children know our roots, know where we came from?"

The judge, a mother with two adopted children, told Weekly that because of his comments, she felt compelled to tell her children, too. A fat envelope sat on the table in Weekly’s office shortly thereafter.

His eyes flooded with tears. His hands began shaking. He walked away from the desk, returned, took a deep breath and opened the file about 10 minutes later.

Weekly’s story began to unravel and pieces of the puzzle started to fit.

The most difficult part was looking at his birth certificate. He was listed as "Baby."

"I had a last name, which was her last name, but no first name," Weekly said. "That part was kind of painful. Looking at it, I thought, ‘Wow, I really had no identity.’ "

He is reluctant to give his biological mother’s name, not wanting to drag her or other newly found relatives into the media spotlight. Talking about his adoption is not easy.

"I realized I was embarrassed to talk about being adopted," Weekly said. "I don’t know why."

His biological mother was 23 at the time she gave up her son. She was expecting a child by a man with whom she had no future.

She delivered him at a hospital before signing the baby boy over to family services.

The documents showed he was bounced around Clark County foster homes from birth to 11 months old. It was another tough realization to not know who helped raise him during those months. He still considers it a missing link and is trying to solve that mystery.

Weekly always celebrated his birthday on April 17, only to find he was actually born the day before.

He wasn’t born in Reno, either. That’s where his adoptive parents — his parents — raised him. They divorced when he was 7 years old.

"This woman could have said, ‘OK, we’re not together anymore; send him back to the state,’ " Weekly said of his adoptive mother. "But she didn’t, you know? I have so much respect for my parents today."

He was born at University Medical Center in Las Vegas. He now chairs that hospital’s board.

CONNECTED ALL ALONG

Weekly discovered his biological mother lives a half-mile from his home. She is one of his constituents.

He recognized her from attending some of his events. He let her use his cellphone once because she couldn’t find her purse.

He had called her "Mom," an affectionate nickname the county commissioner gives all of his senior constituents.

There was another foreshadowing event.

While giving a high school graduation speech, Weekly saw the woman again. She thanked him for speaking at her granddaughter’s graduation and told him "his mother must be proud." Her granddaughter was his niece. Still, they had no idea they were blood relatives.

Then there was the barber who has cut his son’s hair for years. He turned out to be Weekly’s little brother on his mother’s side.

In all, Weekly, who has been married 16 years and has two teenage children, discovered nine biological siblings — seven brothers and two sisters.

He asked about his biological father. His mother gave him the last name and asked if he recognized it. Weekly said he didn’t.

That is, until he was on his way to a speaking event and scrolled through his cellphone. One of the contacts, a friend, shared that last name. It turned out that Weekly’s close friend, Deputy Chief Victor Dunn, of the North Las Vegas Police Department, was his first cousin.

Dunn happened to be in Louisiana, where Weekly’s biological parents are from, when he got a phone call from Weekly asking questions.

Dunn realized his uncle was Weekly’s biological father.

"It was amazing," Dunn said. "I felt honored. Here’s a guy, we’ve worked together, interacted together, we were friends. I supported him in different arenas, and we found out we were close for a reason. We’re blood cousins."

Dunn said Weekly is a "carbon copy" of his uncle from working in local government right down to their mannerisms. They even had a similar build, Dunn added.

"It’s still kind of surreal," Dunn said. "Fate brought us together I guess. … Every­one was honored to have him in the family, and all the relatives say he looks just like his dad."

THE FIRST MEETING

Weekly began a phone relationship with his father, whose health was failing. It would be two months before Weekly could get to Louisiana to attend homecoming festivities at his alma mater, Grambling State University, about five miles from his father’s place.

Weekly’s plane touched down in Louisiana two weeks too late. His biological father had died.

Their first meeting was at the funeral. Weekly gave his father’s eulogy.

"It’s everything you can imagine," Weekly said. "It’s bittersweet. It’s full circle. I should have left well enough alone, should have never opened this can of worms. I feel like that some days. It’s positive some days."

A lot of time has passed, he added.

"For me, what’s bothersome is they don’t know little things," Weekly said. "Like my favorite color, that I like chocolate chip ice cream, Baskin-Robbins is my favorite, that I love tennis, just little stuff. A lot of stuff we missed out on. All they know is this person they see on TV and read about in the paper."

That full circle closure has touched almost every nuance of his life, it seems.

"I don’t know how many people can say they were born at a hospital and now chair the hospital they were born in and be a spokesman for the department that cared for him at birth," Weekly said. "That’s some good, humbling stuff."

Contact reporter Kristi Jourdan at kjourdan@reviewjournal.com or 702-455-4519.

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