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A Family’s Story—80 Years in the Making

Valentine’s Day 1943—a young woman met and fell in love with an army serviceman, and she became pregnant. Before they could marry, he was shipped overseas to serve in World War II. She insisted she would parent her baby but her parents did not support her. According to the records, she decided “she would be doing him an injustice trying to raise him alone.”

Unsure of her future, she walked through the doors of the LSS House of Mercy, a home for women experiencing unintended pregnancies and the first of many LSS services.

“I always knew I was adopted,” said Craig Kittelson, now 80 years. “I remember my mother saying that you’re special, you were a chosen child. In fact, I even had a book she’d read to me at bedtime, The Chosen Baby.”

Craig had a typical childhood, attended college, and married after his college graduation in 1965.

“After several years of trying to have children with no success, we finally tested for infertility and found we would not be able to conceive.” He remembers this news was hard to cope with, but he and his wife quickly, and almost automatically, turned to adoption.

Starting a Family

It was an easy decision for Craig and his wife to choose LSS as the organization where they would apply to adopt a child. Anticipating a six to twelve-month wait for a child, Craig remembers feeling like LSS really wanted to ensure that this was going to be the right placement, not just a placement. They were surprised when they got the call about a baby boy only two months later.

He remembers making a list of names, which was narrowed down to two, on their drive to Sioux Falls from northeast South Dakota. There was the natural joy and excitement at the thought of bringing a baby into their home, but Craig also remembers feeling “What are we getting ourselves into?”

When the couple saw their baby for the first time, they agreed his name would be Brian.

“If adoption had not been available and therefore we had never had children, my life would have been, in some ways, simpler, but in more important ways emptier,” Craig reflects. “I’ve learned as much from my kids as they’ve learned from me. I learned to hug from my kids. You know, the spontaneous hugs or saying ‘I love you’ were not part of how I was raised.”


Brian had an innate desire to know more about his birth family and where he came from. His interest peaked during graduate school. Brian found himself back at the place where his adoption story started. He learned that LSS would be able to do a search for his birth mother and communicate with her on his behalf. The LSS social worker encouraged Brian to write his birth mother a letter telling her about his life and explaining why he wanted to find her.

Brian’s birth mother had also been longing to reconnect: “Throughout my life, I held my son in my heart, as a piece of me was missing. I prayed that someday we would reconnect. There was not a day that went by that I didn’t think about him.” She was overjoyed to learn about Brian’s desire to contact her. She agreed and eagerly waited.

Brian was reunited with his birth mother. “It was definitely one of the best days of my life,” he said. Since their reunion, Brian, his birth mom and their extended families have maintained close relationships.


“Finding my birth family and later working with LSS to find my original birth and adoption records has helped me find myself essentially. All these pieces helped me learn about who I am.”

Brian continues, “The LSS social workers that helped me find my birth family in the 90s had a huge impact on my life, I’m indebted to them forever. Their work is so important. And the same with the social worker who I’ve been visiting with this past year. I can’t even explain the impact that she’s had on me.”

As Brian discovered, adoption services at LSS go far beyond the birth and placement of a child. LSS offers a range of services extending across a lifetime—from a pregnant woman discovering her options, to a child finding a loving family, and to an adult like Brian finding his birth family as well as the documents that filled in the gap that had remained in the early days of his life story.

Your donation makes stories like Craig and Brian’s happen every day.