May 7, 2014 6:28 PM by Akeam Ashford
A New Iberia couple will continue searching for their adoptive son's biological mother, years after his death.
Barbara and Francis Menard adopted their son Thomas Gerald Menard in 1963 from an unwed mother's home in Shreveport.
The baby was already named, but the Menards said his adoption papers showed two names, one as "Thomas Edwin" and the second as "Thomas Edward".
"We adopted him when he was only a month. We had been waiting to have a child, he was the joy of our life," Barbara Menard said.
Thomas was raised as the oldest of five children.
He was close to his family, but as he got older, he wanted to find his biological mother.
"He didn't tell us at first, and when I heard he was doing this, I asked him why didn't he let us help him. He said because he didn't want to hurt us," Barbara Menard said.
Louisiana has a "closed adoption" policy, which allows birth parents to keep their identity confidential.
Menard said this makes it difficult for the children who want to find their birth parents.
"We tried to help him as much as possible. We gave him whatever papers we had, which were non-identifying information, because the records are closed," Barbara Menard said.
Time went by, and in 1995, Thomas was involved in a serious car accident.
"He cut the top of his head open, and we were told it disrupted his frontal lobe. I didn't think he was going to come out of that," Barbara Menard said.
After months in the hospital, Thomas pulled through.
Menard said years after his horrific accident, she noticed he was not the same.
At the height of his career, Thomas successfully designed a flood control gate to keep water out of New Orleans during hurricanes.
In April 2011, at the age of 47, Thomas took his own life.
Now his adoptive parents have taken up their son's search for his birth mother as one last gift to their oldest son.
"I want to finish what he started. I feel he knows what's going on. At least he'll know who she is, and I'll be able to tell her thank you one day," Barbara Menard said.
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