CARMEL, Ind. - There is something about sitting in a barber shop or salon chair that makes people open up more than they might otherwise. Jason Peek owns Main Street Barber Shop in Carmel and knows this is true.
"You just start talking about your life and what's going on," Peek said. "My life's plastered all over my mirrors, so people ask me questions."
But, during an appointment with Paul Medernach this summer, Peek was the one asking questions of Medernach. He is retired from the FBI and is now a private investigator with Veracity.
"He asked me if we can find people," Medernach recalled. "I said I'm really good at finding people."
The thing on Peek's mind was the paperwork he received from the state about his biological mother, which he set aside for months. Then, during one random appointment with Medernach, Peek asked him to help find his mother.
"He gave me the information, the birth certificate that he had as well as the birth certificate that has mom's maiden name and their address of where they lived in the 70s, I believe," Medernach said.
In about a half an hour, Medernach used the tools Veracity has at his disposal to find the name of his birth mother.
"Eventually we found Brenda Jean that we felt was the right age, came back and I told Jason, I think I just found your mom," Medernach said.
Peek waited for a special day to call Brenda McCullough for the first time.
"I called her on August 30, which is my birthday," Peek said. "So, I called her 47 years to the day."
Peek said he did not have any expectations when he dialed her number.
"My name's Jason Peek, I said I was born August 30, 1972," Peek remembered. "I said, "does that date mean anything to you?"
He said he hesitated for a minute, and he could tell it sparked a memory.
"I said, "well my name's Jason Peek, I was adopted blah, blah, blah," Peek said. "I said, "Did you ever give a child up for adoption?" She asked me what I was selling. I go, "well I'm not selling anything," and then I asked her, "well did you put someone up for adoption?" I read her the paperwork, gave her the address and she said, "oh my God." She goes, "that's my mom's old address. I think you're my son."
Peek said he told her he had an incredible life with great parents, a loving wife, and four beautiful children. He told her it was up to her to decide what happened next.
"She goes, 'do you want to meet,'" Peek said. "We decided to meet and we met here at Main Street Barber Shop."
Peek showed FOX59 the photo he has of McCullough and him from the first meeting. Since then, he has spent time with her again and met his biological grandmother and three half-siblings.
Peek said McCullough also helped him find his biological dad who works in Indianapolis.
"Decided to belly up to the bar where he works, me and my wife," Peek recalled.
Peek said his father, Thomas Bryce, was not as quick to pick up who he was as his biological mother.
"He set it up for us, he looks me dead in the eye and says, 'you guys look familiar, do I know you,'" Peek recalled. "I said, 'well I've never been in here before,' I go, 'you look familiar too.'"
Peek said Bryce still did not pick up what Peek was saying, even when Peek asked him about the adoption.
"He goes, 'yeah, yeah I didn't get to meet him,'" Peek said. "Parents got involved, they were 17, just wasn't a good situation for a baby. They wanted to give me a better life."
Peek said he asked him whether Bryce though his child looked like Peek.
"I said, "man, I'm pretty sure he looks like me that looks a lot like you," Peek said. "It must have grazed his head at that point. Then he said, "like I said, I never got to meet him." Then he just goes [shakes his hand], started doing that and teared up and he said, "are you my son?" I go, "yeah, I think I'm your son."
Now, Bryce and Peek have plans to share a meal soon. Peek's family has not met his biological family yet, but there are plans in the works. Peek said he is happy for how it worked out, but he would continue carrying on had it not because he is happy with the life he has lived and is living now.
Medernach said Veracity helps people find biological family members, but it is only a small part of what they do. The cost of their service varies, as they charge $150 per hour.
There is a law in Indiana for a resident adopted before January 1, 1993, to request access to their adoption records. Those records were previously sealed. Senate Enrolled Act 91 opens the records unless the biological parent files a contact preference form to restrict access. Those interested must register with the Adoption Matching Registry.
Those eligible to register include an adult adoptee, adoptive parent, birth parent, and birth sibling. Spouses and relatives of the deceased adoptee or deceased birth parent may register with the appropriate proof of relationship. An individual must be 18 years or older to register. To receive adoption information, the individual seeking information must be at least 21 years old, and complete both forms, identifying and non-identifying. A government-issued ID must accompany the forms.
You can find out more information by visiting, www.in.gov.