Scott Merz was illegally sold into adoption and now is searching for his birth mother.

Scott Merz

Scott Merz, around the time of his adoption

CASE DETAILS

He had recurring dreams of a hospital hallway

In November of 1959, 18-year-old Dylene Zolikoff was alone, scared, and seven months pregnant.  She was taken in by a nurse in San Antonio named Ethel Nation.  On January 6, 1960, Dylene gave birth to a healthy baby girl.  But while Dylene was still in the hospital, Ethel took the infant away:

“Ethel stole my baby. And I searched, I searched, I tried everything in San Antonio.  I talked to a lawyer.  Ethel wouldn’t help me.  I just couldn’t find my baby.”

Ethel Nation always denied that she had anything to do with the abduction of Dylene’s baby.  But in 1968, Dylene found a photograph of her daughter in Ethel’s house.  It took another 15 years of searching before Dylene and her daughter were reunited on national television:

“When I first saw my daughter, she smiled.  And I was just overjoyed… after all these years… I finally found her.”

While the story of Dylene and her daughter had a happy ending, the stories of two other young people who were sold by Ethel Nation are far from over.  Scott Merz was born in San Antonio in 1965.  His adoptive parents were unable to have children and paid Ethel twelve hundred dollars for Scott.  Scott grew up knowing he had been adopted.  But when he was 10, Scott began having a strange, recurring dream.  Scott’s dream seemed to be about the mother he never knew, and perhaps, the place where he was born:

“I remember walking through the main doorway. Feeling very cold.  I felt like very, very horrible things went on there. Beside this table, there was a man in a green robe and a lady dressed in white.  I don’t know what they were doing there.  When I woke up, I woke up almost screaming, I mean I was really, really scared.”

“I felt like very horrible things went on there.”

When Scott was 18, he and his adoptive mother, Mary, began an intensive search for his birth mother.  Scott started his search with a visit to Ethel Nation:

“She seemed really nice… like she wanted to help. 

Scott and Mary visited Ethel on six occasions. With each new visit, Ethel changed her story.  At various times, she told Scott he had been born in three different hospitals.  However, none of the hospitals had his birth records.  On the final visit, Ethel lost her temper and revealed what, she said, was the bitter truth about Scott’s mother:

“She told me that I was a bastard child, that all my mother was, was a slut, a whore and that I should have no right to even look for her, so for me to go home and for me to stop looking for her.”

Scott and Mary refused to give up.  They decided to visit yet another place where Ehtel said Scott had been born.  According to Scott, the place was a community health center known as the Woodlawn Clinic:

“The very minute that we walked in, I was completely stunned.  I couldn’t even talk.  The feelings that I got from this were just incredible.  I mean it was… a morbid type feeling but yet I felt like I had been there before.  And everything in this dream that I had back when I was ten was coming true before my eyes.  I was so happy that it made sense of the dream I had from many years ago.”

It was the hallway he’d seen in his dreams

But that was the only satisfaction Scott would receive.  Sadly, Scott never found his birth mother.  He did, however, meet a young woman who had a remarkably similar experience with Ethel Nation.  Dawnette Barker was adopted in July of 1966 by a childless couple from San Antonio.  As a last resort, Dawnette’s parents approached Ethel Nation after years of trying to adopt through state agencies.  Dawnette learned that on the night she was adopted, her parents had to choose between her and two other infants:

“Because my parents didn’t expect that things would happen so quickly they just thought they were going to go to see the baby.  But at that point Mrs. Nation told my parents that they could go ahead and take me home that night.”

When she turned 18, Dawnette found that her mother’s name was listed as Gloria Cantu.  The adoption papers had been notarized by Ethel Nation.  There is no way of knowing how many babies were sold by Ethel Nation, who died in 1991.  Scott Merz and Dawnette Barker now suspect that there may be dozens of young people who, like them, will not be able to rest until they are re-united with their natural mothers.  Dawnette Barker’s birthday is listed as July 21, 1966, but she may have been born weeks earlier.  Her mother, Gloria Cantu, may have been 23-years-old when Dawnette was born.

Update:

On the night this story aired, several viewers called on behalf of Dawnette’s birth mother Gloria Cantu Martinez.  A short time later, Dawnette spoke to her mother for the very first time and learned that Gloria had never wanted to give her daughter up for adoption.  Ethel Nation had tricked her into signing the papers.  Dawnette made plans for a long overdue reunion with her birth mother.  Within a few days, Gloria flew to see Dawnette in Washington, D.C.:

“I just couldn’t believe it. I’ve always wanted to find her and wondered what she was like, if she was married, if she had any children.”

The reunion was made even more special when Gloria met her four grandchildren for the first time.  Dawnette’s dream of having her entire family together had finally come true.

Scott Merz is still looking for his birth mother.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season five with Robert Stack and in season eight with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

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27 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    I was born August 5,1965 in San Antonio. Adopted. Don’t know anything about myself. My late wife found the story, and spoke to Scott. She wanted me to get a dna test. I’ve been afraid of how it would feel to discover that some subhuman had stolen my life from me. I’ll get the test, but where do I do it Scott?

    Reply

    • Monica

      Please do a DNA test and you will be surprised to find your family.
      I used family tree , 23 and me, ancestry and my heritage
      Good luck!

      Reply

  2. Anonymous

    Scott, I began a similar search in NY in my late 50s after my adoptive parents died. After about 3 years, I connected with 3 of my 5 siblings, who welcomed me. The biological parents were dead by that point, but I found out a lot about the family and hereditary health conditions. Texas may have 2 birth certificates for you, one public and one sealed. NY released info from my sealed certificate after a mandatory one-year waiting period. Try doing a public records request. Also, genealogical hobbyists in San Antonio may be able to assist you. Try the public library’s reference dept. Google is another great tool. Best of luck in your quest.

    Reply

  3. Anonymous

    Scott, I’m so sorry for what you have been through. I can’t believe Ethel would sell newborns to other families for money. I hope she gets what she deserves.
    And I hope you’ll find your birth mother soon. I’ll be praying for you and everyone out there who has went through the same situation that involved Ethel.

    Reply

  4. Anonymous

    Ethel Nation was paid, for 54 boys and 63 G Babies, she is still doing it, at the daycare, she has set up, a abduction, on field trips, hope this helps

    Reply

  5. Anonymous

    Dawnette, How did you find out your bio mom’s real name?

    Reply

  6. Anonymous

    Denna is right, Scott. You should try Ancestry.com. It can help you find your birth mother.

    Reply

  7. Greg Martinez

    This is crazy my birth certificate says Woodlawn Woman’s hospital in San Antonio Texas , I’m adopted. But my social security number from Kansas

    Reply

  8. karen

    Scott.I’m also searching for My twins. A boy and a girl born feb28,1980 in Charleston West Virginia hospital. They were taken at birth and the hospital in 2009,told I was never a patient there. I was 16. I don’t know who to turn too for help but best wishes in your search

    Reply

  9. Anthony Jones

    Has Scott tried to look into the Texas Birth Index at all? I know that in the episode it said that he seen his birth certificate and it had a false name on it of his mother. If you look at this info this might help him

    Name Scott Douglas Kneupper
    Event Type Birth
    Event Date 28 Jul 1965
    Event Place Bexar, Texas
    Gender Male
    Father’s Name Reno R Kneupper
    Mother’s Name Betty Jo Wilks

    According to the birth index, there was another child born named: Susan born 1955

    Both of the aboved parents are still alive. They had a grandchild who passed away in 2012. The above parents were in the obituary

    Reply

  10. Jimbo

    I think Scott should sign up to Long Lost Family. Now, it’s been renewed.

    Reply

  11. Vicki H.

    Who ended up with the speed boat?

    Reply

  12. Donna

    I am with a man with the last name Merz sparked my interest when I was watching unsolved mysteries. Don’t know if there is a connection but got me interested

    Reply

  13. Eric W Bohannon

    When he worked or went to the Super market, where he grew up, there was interaction with his mom, and I get that You have the same mouth and nose, and dirty blond and colors her hair, she has a small dog, as your eyes and forehead is genetically from Your Biological Dad. is what I get

    Reply

  14. Eric W Bohannon

    Your Real Mom is 4.5 mile drive, and she comes in to the proximity, You her son, and every time, she sees you, she know in her gut, She Cries For You, I see You helping her with a cart at the supermarket. Hope this helps.

    Reply

  15. Kayla

    Did Ethel nation ever get charged for these abductions? She’s ruined many lives very sad.

    Reply

    • Maryellenduncan

      I’m Scott’s aunt. Miss Nation burned all the records and then died. If anyone was born there please contact Scott. His adopted mom died a couple of years ago. Scott told me there’s always a hole in his heart until he finds his birth mom.

      Reply

    • Bobbie Rediker

      Did ethell nation ever face any charges? Is she still alive, did she have children of her own.
      She should be jailed. Was her license ever revoked.

      Reply

  16. Julie cooke

    I am also a baby that was adopted out by ethel nation… my adopted parents told me they paid ethel $1500 for me in 1968. i wish i could find some information on my birthmother or family contact info is coachjgc@yahoo.com

    Reply

  17. Mimi

    Is there any way to contact scott?

    Reply

  18. Pam

    Do not give up. DNA will give you your answers to both your maternal and paternal families. I was a stolen baby and I tested with ftdna, ancestry, and 23andme. I found my two half sisters and an uncle (confirmed w/dna testing of my sister, a half sibling). I am now looking for my birthfather. I started searching in 1977. My sisters were told I died when I was 2 days old. When I met them the first thing they said to me is that our mother “would never have given you up. Never. ”
    I do not know if my mother was told the same story or not (she died a decade before I found my sisters). The test for family finder at all of the above databases is about $100 each. It will be the best money you will ever spend. DNA doesn’t lie like the baby brokers do. All of my court records were falsified. Everything. Even my birth month and date. Do not give up. Keep chugging along and let your DNA tell you the truth. DNA doesn’t lie. Thank goodness that adoptees now have a place to find the truth. Good luck.

    Reply

  19. Joann

    Scott I’m so sorry to hear that you’re not having luck finding your parents. I know that this may sound funny but if I was in your position I would try anything anybody would suggest. That you’re not having luck finding your parents. I know that this may sound funny but if I was in your position I would try anything anybody would suggest. Did you ever consider contacting Dr. Phil? I know he has had a gentleman on his show that could track down long lost family members. I hope you find the answers you’re looking for.

    Reply

  20. David

    There is a TV show in the United Kingdom called Long Lost Family. You can check it out on Wikipedia and read all about it. I think it’s time for us to have our own version of Long Lost Family here in America. Do you?

    Reply

  21. Denna

    Dear Scott I was given away too : only baby pictures taken from me : made so hard for me to prove : Blonde baby in a incubator and me released to the people who were not my parents with red hair : I thought it was going to be impossible to prove : I prayed everyday for a answer I found it ancestry dna : Scott I found my second cousin as you and I both know given away that was a miracle : good luck I hope you find the strength to take this dna test find your ancestors it worked for me I hope it works for you : I am JANEDOE1687 on ancestry : My second cousin is a King : although he is not much of a sharer I know the truth: That’s what matters: good luck scott ” sincerely, denna , JANEDOE1687

    Reply