Mother, son reunited after 40 years

For years, Brian Sleeth and Donna Davis had been seeing the same doctor. It took the unsealing of Sleeth’s birth records to bring them together.

Sleeth, 40, and Davis, 56, reunited last month, ending Sleeth’s 20-year search for his mother, thanks to the Ohio law change opening up adoption records that had been sealed for decades.

“We’re really all connected,” Sleeth said.

While developing their relationship and blending their families, Davis and Sleeth have marveled at coincidences and similarities, ranging from physical resemblances to common habits.

They share the same doctor, Dr. Jennifer M. Ridge, in Middletown.

“The coincidences are just crazy,” said Sleeth, sitting next to his mother on the porch of his home in Franklin. “We’ve got the same exact ears.”

Davis gave birth to Sleeth on Oct. 24, 1974, after a two-month stay at the St. Joseph Infant and Maternity Home, north of Cincinnati in Sharonville. She said goodbye after holding him an hour and soon returned to her sophomore year at Talawanda High School in Oxford.

Few people, including siblings, knew the truth.

Since Sleeth found her, Davis has been unburdening herself. “I’ve never been happier,” she said. “It does feel great that I’m able to finally tell my family that I had a baby.”

Sleeth was adopted and raised in the Middletown area. Davis married twice but never left the area.

The birth records arrived while Sleeth, director of the board of elections in Warren County, was working late on voter registration.

For several weeks, Sleeth combed the Internet and came close to finding his mother after archivists sent him scanned pages from several years of yearbooks at Talawanda.

“I was just floored. We looked just alike. It was really unbelievable,” he said.

However he was set back when he called Davis’ home, using her last name from a previous marriage, and her husband told him he had the wrong number. Another week’s research led Sleeth to his mother’s email address.

Davis had returned from vacation to work as a food services coordinator at Miami University and was cleaning out her email box when she came across Sleeth’s inquiry.

She emailed back, triggering a phone conversation that led to a six-hour meeting the same day.

“We tried to get 40 years into that six hours.” Sleeth said.

Now Sleeth has reached out to his father, who also lives in the area.

“This was a perfect ending that I never would have anticipated,” he said. “They are not all going to be happy endings.”

About the Author