Adam Smith opened his dead mother's freezer in her St. Louis home two months ago. Life hasn't been the same since. Inside was a box that the 37-year-old had recalled seeing since about age 6. Before opening it, he snapped a photo and sent it to his girlfriend, aunt, and sister—who had also long been aware of it. They joked there could be money inside. Instead: a pink blanket. Prodding beneath it, he found a baby's foot and the rear of a baby's head; it's still unclear how the infant died. In a lengthy piece for the Riverfront Times, Ryan Krull writes that the discovery raised questions for Smith: "Exactly what kind of person was his mother?" who died on July 21 and whom Smith describes as a heavy drinker with a foul mouth. "What else about her didn't he know?" A lot, it turns out.
Some of what he's learned has come from digging up old memories. Smith remembered riding in the car with mom Barbara when he was, at the oldest, 8. She told him she seemed sad because "my firstborn Jennifer would have been 21 today." "I can't help but think that the baby that I found was Jennifer," he says. But Barbara Smith didn't have just 3 kids. After his mom's death, Smith learned his mother had given birth to two girls who had been adopted (this came to light via a cousin's 23andMe test). Shannon was adopted in 1977. But Laura was born in 1986, five years after Smith. He says "no one in the family—not her children, not her siblings, not her parents"—was aware his mother was pregnant or gave birth. And a birth letter Laura got from the adoption agency raised another question. (Read the full story here.)