Jamestown Resident Seeks Birth Mother In Colombia

Chelsea Gardner is pictured with her husband, Sean.

A Jamestown resident with South American roots is hoping to learn more about her heritage and the woman who gave her life.

Chelsea Gardner, a 25-year-old who has spent all but half a year living in Jamestown, is asking for community support in her search for her birth mother, who gave Gardner up for adoption upon her birth in 1991.

“I was born in Bogota, Colombia, and I was adopted when I was about 6 months old,” she said. “A crazy Sicilian couple from Jamestown, Anthony and Patty Schifano, took me in and raised me as their own daughter. I can’t stress how much my mother and father (the Schifanos) did for me, and thank them enough for answering my birth mother’s prayers that I would have a life she knew she couldn’t give me.

“(The Schifanos) told me from the time I was old enough to understand that I had been adopted, and so I always had an interest in finding my roots. Anthony and Patty both passed away over five years ago, and ever since then I’ve been wanting to try and connect with my birth mother.”

Gardner, who is now married and has two children of her own, began doing some of her own research and came across ColombiaTuPais — an agency that assists adopted Colombian children in finding their biological families. Gardner said she was able to garner enough funds to get a case file going with the agency, which she said is now in the process of searching for Gardner’s biological mother.

“The next step would come if they are able to find anything,” Gardner said. “If they are able to locate (my mother), they’ll talk with her and send her some photos of me and a short biography I wrote. Then we would try to set up an online conversation via Skype, or perhaps try and bring me to her or vice versa.”

She said ColombiaTuPais has been searching for just over a week, and the staff she has spoken with have been very helpful and hopeful. The agency’s website can be found at colombiatupais.com, where information about the agency’s mission and success stories are available.

Gardner is currently accepting online donations to fund such a meeting with her mother if things develop in the way she hopes. She is hosting a GoFundMe campaign through which people can give any desired amount.

The campaign can be found at gofundme.com/9-30-91. Gardner is seeking $1,000 and has currently raised over $100.

“I just keep praying that they find anything, even if it’s a death certificate,” she said. “I just would like to have some closure on who my biological family is and where I come from.”

In the meantime, Gardner said she is thankful for the family she has now. Given her history with adoption, she said she and her husband have been considering adopting a child of their own someday, when their biological children have grown some more.