Naples Man, Abandoned at Birth in Iowa, Reunites with Brother

Koenig with long-lost brother, Bret McKee and Debbie KcKee. Image provided by Kurt Hoenig

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On the evening of March 30, 1965 in Fort Madison, Iowa, Edward Hoenig’s life changed forever when he found an abandoned infant in the front right seat of his car. The car was parked outside of the 400 Bowl, a popular bowling alley that Hoenig frequented.

Upon returning to his car at 9:30PM after bowling, Hoenig noticed the baby boy, warmly clothed with new infant’s wear, along with two blankets and new diapers. Hoenig immediately removed  the child from the car and returned to the ally to notify the police.

The baby was later taken to Sacred Heart hospital in a patrol car, where he was given a complete examination and found to be in good health.

The Iowa Evening Democrat reported that, according to medical authorities, the baby was said to be between three and seven days old and weighed five pounds and three ounces at 17 inches long when he was found. “The baby apparently was born away from a hospital and without an attending physician. They said the infant’s umbilical cord was tied with common household thread in an unprofessional manner.”

Fort Myers
“Baby Boy is Found Abandoned,” read The Evening Democrat on March 31, 1965.

The child was eventually adopted by Hoenig, 45, and his wife, 40, although not after a short court battle. The judge proceeding over the abandonment case had also attempted to adopt the the baby. Ironically, Mrs. Hoenig owned a beauty salon and cut the judge’s wife’s hair. She shared with the the wife her desires to have a child and their inability to do so, especially now, at their age. To her, finding the little boy seemed fortuitous. Following their discussion, the judge stepped away and allowed the Hoenigs to proceed with the adoption.

When Mrs. Hoenig was handed the baby in the court room on they day of his adoption proceedings, the Judge presiding over the case told her that the child’s birthday would be the same as hers and wished her a “happy belated birthday.” The couple named the baby “Kurt”.

Fifty-two years later, after the passing of both parents, and with the urging of friend Sally Cray, Kurt Hoenig decided it was time to solve the 52-year-old mystery of his birth.

Hoenig, who now lives in Naples, FL, reports that his parents said nothing but positive things about his birth parents. He recalls a conversation with his mother in which she told him, “If you ever meet your birthday mother, you wrap your arms around her and give her a big hug.”

Hoenig later experienced an emotional break down in the late 90’s after realizing that his adoptive parents were in their late 70’s and noticeably 20 years older than parents of his peers. To console him, his father offered to help Hoenig find his birth parents, but Hoenig didn’t want to come across as ungrateful for all that his adoptive parents had done.

After they passed away, Hoenig was ready to find his much-needed answers.

As the owner of Sally Cray Geneology, Cray assisted Hoenig in his search.

Weeks after beginning their search, Hoenig received an email through Ancestry.com from a man named Bret McKee.

McKee asked, “where were you raised?”

Hoenig replied, “Fort Madison, Iowa.”

McKee replied, “We need to have a conversation.”

Hoenig had found his birth brother and was ecstatic. “OMG! He wants to talk!” he said in tears as called to share the news with Cray.

Hoenig phoned McKee who explained that he had been surrendered to Child Protective Services in Burlington, Iowa ten months before Kurt was put up for adoption. He was adopted immediately by the McKees. Like Hoenig, he was about three days old.

As to not keep any secrets and encourage open dialogue, Hoenig immediately shared with McKee that he was gay. Hoenig says he was nervous as he waited for a reaction from McKee. He breathed a sigh of relief when McKee, although admitting that he did not fully “understanding the lifestyle,” seemed very supportive. They continued their conversation.

According to Hoenig, Bret had also reached out to his birth parents. Although he received some medical information from his mother, she wanted no further interest and failed to share any info about his birth.

Hoenig also learned that his birth mother had him at age 23 or 24. She later married. The two brothers also have a half-brother and a half-sister in Michigan, but are reluctant to reach out to them, because they’re unsure of how much of the story the siblings know.

Neither man had discovered much information about their birth fathers, aside from the fact that both lived very close to one another in Burlington, Iowa.

After their initial phone call ended, the two brothers decided to meet. Hoenig agreed to fly out to San Jose, CA where McKee and his wife now live. Unfortuantely, Hoenig’s journey to California would not be an easy one.

Days before their meeting, Irma struck Florida, making landfall just an hour south of Fort Myers. Hoenig lost power the night before he was supposed to fly out and thought twice about making his journey.

Concerned that he would not make his flight, he drove to Ft Lauderdale and slept in the airline terminal overnight. The next morning, he flew to California for their reunion.

After picking up his rental car, he met his brother and McKee’s wife, Deborah, at a local Thai restaurant. The two men had matching rounded faces and blue eyes. McKee later showed Hoenig a picture of his daughter, at which Hoenig replied, “OMG, she’s so pretty, but she looks just like me!”

Fort Myers
Hoenig with long-lost brother, Bret McKee and Debbie KcKee. Image provided by Kurt Hoenig

Over lunch, Hoenig learned that they had grown up an hour and a half apart form one another. McKee had been surrendered twenty miles north of where Hoenig was found and raised as an only child by the McKees.

Following lunch, they explored the town and visited McKee’s office at Google headquarters, shared a raspberry a la mode at what Hoenig refers to as “pie utopia,” and ate dinner with a cousin.

Back home in Fort Myers, Hoenig feels more complete and has been overwhelmed by the support of friends and clients. “I can’t tell you how content and at peace I am right now.”

Reflecting on his past, Hoenig says, “We all have a past, we all have a story to tell. Nobody is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes.”

To learn more about Hoenig, visit his United Real Estate website by clicking here.

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