DULUTH (AP) -- Like many of those searching for their birth mother or father, 50-year-old Don Seaquist was unsure of what he might find when he looked into his past. Certainly, he didn't expect to uncover Duluth newspaper articles making him famous during the days following his birth.
Tucked away in library archives and sent 50 years later when he requested any news clippings about a child discovered on Park Point, Seaquist uncovered a series of articles describing how he was found near Park Point's Naval Reserve office the night of April 10, 1951.
The old newspapers dubbed him: "Baby Boy X."
That night, Robert Olin, a 20-year-old naval reservist and hospital orderly, had just finished a training session. He was getting into his car and heard movement in the back seat, where he found a baby, wrapped in rags and covered with sand. Olin asked some older reservists to help but said they fled after seeing the baby covered in birth fluids, its umbilical cord still attached.
Olin drove to the hospital himself, where he handed the newborn to the medical staff. "I got on the road and honked my horn like it was an ambulance... I got there (St. Mary's Hospital) in about five minutes," he said. He waited to make sure the boy survived and checked with the hospital during the days following.
The memory nagged him for two years as people in Duluth recognized his name as the man connected to Baby Boy X; friends teased him that the baby might be his. But Olin blushes when he recalls this and said it is not possible. The two show little resemblance.
In time, Olin's discovery became a faded memory for him and others. It wouldn't be until Olin, who now lives in May Township northwest of Stillwater, turned 70 that he would lay his eyes once more on the child he saved.
It started this April -- when Seaquist started poking into his past. Seaquist, now a secretary/treasurer of United Food and Commercial Workers Local Union 789 in South St. Paul and a West St. Paul resident, decided he was ready to "build a little family history."
His first grandchild, Olivia, was born and, although Seaquist knew he was adopted and had his birth certificate, he wanted more -- including his health history. He called the Minnesota Department of Human Services and learned he couldn't access his confidential birth record without a paid search; Seaquist wrote a check and waited for a call.
Seaquist knew something was unusual about his adoption when Gina Knezevich, an employee with St. Louis County Social Services, called back instead of someone from Ramsey County -- the county in which Seaquist's parents adopted him. Seaquist recalled Knezevich saying, "You were found in the back of a car on Park Point." He said, "I didn't know whether I should laugh or cry."
For Knezevich, the situation was unusual. In her 20 years with the county, she's rarely come across a case with absolutely no information.
Seaquist dug deeper, contacting the Duluth Public Library for old news records from the time of his birth. One of the headlines read: "Mom, Your Baby Needs You! 2-Day-Old Foundling Doing Well, Plea Issued to Mother." The newspaper had Seaquist's first footprints and quoted St. Mary's nurses asking Baby Boy X's mother "to take just one peek at her son. They know that if she does, she'd never want to give him up."
But Seaquist also learned no one had came forward during the weeks following his birth and his information was sent to the state agency handling adoptions. Within a few months, Seaquist became his adoptive parent's first child. Clarence and Margaret Seaquist raised him in the St. Paul area and were "good parents who gave me a conservative, Scandinavian upbringing, very typical of the time," he said.
It was not until this July that Seaquist finally met the man who found him. The two had been living 25 miles from one another. "I went to shake his hand and we just hugged," Seaquist said. They met at a restaurant near their homes. He recalled Olin saying it was nice to meet him -- for a second time.
On a recent Thursday, Olin met Seaquist once more. This time, it was in Duluth as Olin showed Seaquist the exact spot where he was found -- the bay side of Park Point at 13th Street and Minnesota Avenue.
Olin said he vividly remembered the day. When Knezevich called him, he broke out in a sweat. "I could see the whole scene as if it was a videotape," he said.
He added: "I started to weep.... It was kind of like it was something that was put back there in storage in the back of my mind.... You knew a little baby, and now he is a man, and nothing between it."
At the time, the 20-year-old University of Minnesota Duluth student was studying industrial arts in Duluth. Later, he moved to the Twin Cities, changing his studies to medicine. He now conducts research in child psychiatry.
Olin said he often wondered: "Why him?" and "Why his car?" Others at the base told him they found blood on the outside handles of their locked doors.
"It was quite emotional for me. I didn't realize at the time I found the baby what it all meant," he said.
Afterward, he wondered if he could have taken the baby to his mother to raise instead of the hospital. "Then I thought no, it wasn't really something I could do, nor my mother -- at her age -- would want to raise him."
But even after 50 years, Seaquist is special to him: "I never had a son. Maybe he could be my adopted son now.... It's just nice to see how he turned out."
He and Seaquist agree that whoever placed the infant in the car did a good thing rather than leave him in the remote area to die.
Jenifer Stehr, Seaquist's oldest daughter and mother of his first granddaughter, said his whole family supported the search. The details helped her father: "It is information he has and makes him at peace with it." As for Olin, she said, "I would just like to meet him, and shake his hand and thank him for the wonderful thing he did."
Becci Seaquist joined both of her husband's reunions with Olin -- the first in the Twin Cities in July and the second in mid-August at Park Point -- and was emotional at both meetings. As she looked around where her husband was found, now with only a sidewalk and shrubs where the building and parking lot once were, she said with tears in her eyes: "I wouldn't want to have a baby here."
She, Seaquist and their three daughters have driven Park Point many times without ever knowing the area's significance.
Her husband said: "I just picture this young lady trying to have a baby on the beach. Was she alone or with someone else?... Being here now I can imagine how isolated this was. It's so out of the way."
But Seaquist said he won't be disappointed if all he discovers is what he knows of his story through newspapers and Olin. "I know a hell of a lot more now than I did just three months ago," he said.
And if he did meet his birth mother, assuming it was she who placed him in the car? "I would tell her I was OK," he said.
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