Woman with rare brain condition searches for biological family

Erica Dawn Royko told birth mother is named Molly

BURNET, Texas – Living once again on the scenic shores of Lake Buchanan in the Central Texas town of Burnet, Erica Dawn Royko said her adoptive parents once had a home across the lake.

She said Bernard and Gaye Royko told her when she was 5 years old that she’d been adopted in Bexar County when she was 9 months old from a woman named Molly, but little else.

“I was never told anything -- genetics, race, names, anything,” Royko said.

Now 32, Royko said she does have photos of the woman she’d been told was her birth mother.

But when she often looks at photographs of her adoptive parents, since deceased, Royko asks, “Why? Why didn’t you tell me so it wouldn’t be so hard on me now that you’re gone and I can’t ask you.”

Royko said she became more curious when she was diagnosed with a rare brain disorder, Chiari malformation at the base of her skull where the spinal cord enters the brain.

“Who else in my family might have this? This really made me start wanting to search for answers,” Royko said.

Royko said she had her first seizure in 2013, followed by two brain surgeries since then.

“It’s called decompression surgery where they remove a piece of the skull to kind of make more room in there,” Royko said.

She said Dr. David Jimenez, a neurosurgeon and Chiari malformation specialist at University Hospital, was able to solve her medical mystery.

Royko said now she’s hoping the public can help lead her to her  biological family.

If anything should ever happen to her, Royko said, “My three kids will have somebody to lean on, hopefully.”

She said, “If they don’t want to meet me, I respect that, but I just need genetic information at the very least.”

Royko said she has set up a Facebook page in hopes that someone will contact her about her biological family.

She said like many adoptees, she wonders, “Are they looking for me too? Do they care? I think about that a lot."