Timeline of Key Events

Timeline of Key Events in Rudolf Scott-Douglas Owens’ Adoption Journey
Birth Name: Scott Douglas Owens
Adoptive Name: Martin Rudolf Brueggemann
Legal Name Changed to Rudolf Scott-Douglas Owens in 2009

April 1958 Rudy’s future adoptive parents become engaged in Saginaw and get married in New Jersey, in July that year.
September 1958 Rudy’s adoptive parents move to Detroit, on a tree-lined middle-class street not far from River Rouge Park. Rudy’s adoptive father’s begins work as the Lutheran campus minister at Wayne State University. His adoptive mother becomes a homemaker.
February 1963 Rudy’s adoptive parents adopt his adoptive sister, who is born in Saginaw, Michigan.
Spring/Summer 1964 Rudy’s birth mother and birth father meet in Detroit and his birth mother becomes pregnant.
December 1964 Rudy’s birth father marries his wife after having denied paternity for Rudy.
Late 1964, early 1965 Rudy’s adoptive father enters into alcoholic treatment program. His addiction and illness is overlooked or hid from social workers who investigated him and Rudy’s adoptive mother as prospective adoptive parents.
April 1965 Scott Douglas Owens is born in Detroit at Crittenton General Hospital, the largest maternity hospital created by the National Florence Crittenton Mission, the organization chartered to serve single mothers and vulnerable women in the 1880s.
April 1965 Rudy’s birth mother signs documents relinquishing Scott and her legal rights as a parent. It is the last time they will see each other for a quarter century.
Late April 1965 to Late May 1965 Rudy, then still named Scott, becomes a ward of Lutheran Children’s Welfare Society (later Lutheran Child and Family Services) and become a foster child with a foster family in suburban Detroit.
Late May 1965 The state of Michigan issues an adoption decree, designating Scott the child of his adoptive parents. The state creates an amended birth certificate with the new name, Martin Rudolf Brueggemann, and places Rudy’s original birth certificate and birth records into a sealed file for decades.
Fall 1965 Rudy’s adoptive parents and family move to Boston for new mission work by Rudy’s adoptive minister father. The job lasts barely two years.
October 1967 Rudy’s adoptive parents and family move to Clayton, Missouri, where his adoptive father starts new position as campus minister at Washington University. Rudy’s adoptive father’s drinking problem begins to impact the family.
1973 Rudy’s adoptive parents divorce. Rudy and his adoptive mother and sister move to University City, Missouri.
1974-1979 Rudy and his adoptive sister visit their adoptive father in West Virginia/southeast Ohio. His alcoholism ends his career in the Lutheran ministry and his health and life take turns for the worse.
July 1981 and June 1982 Rudy’s paternal grandparents, who never knew or met him, die within a year of each other. His paternal grandmother passed away in 1981 and paternal grandfather in 1982.
August 1983 Rudy visits adoptive father for the last time while he is alive in Cleveland.
December 1985 Rudy’s adoptive father dies from multiple health complications at 61 years of age.
August 1987 After graduating from college, Rudy moves to Seattle and begins full-time search for biological family and birth records.
Spring 1988 Rudy receives copies of non-identifying information from the Wayne County Probate Court and Lutheran Child and Family Services after extensive delays. Rudy learns for the first time basic information about his biological family and ethnic heritage.
April 1989 After nearly two years of searching for his biological family, Rudy flies to Detroit with no identifying information about his birth mother. Within 48 hours, Rudy meets his foster parents and birth mother. Rudy learns about his birth mother’s family ancestry and meets birth uncle and birth cousin.

Rudy gives Michigan his birth mother’s signed statement compelling the state and his adoption agency to release his original medical records, adoption decree, and other file information. The state refuses to surrender his original birth record.

May 1989 Rudy meets his maternal birth grandparents in Seattle for first time. They claim him as their long-lost grandson.
May 1989 Rudy meets birth father in San Diego for the first and only time for less than 30 seconds at his home. His birth father denies paternity and the two never speak to each other again.
September 1994 Rudy’s maternal grandmother dies in a nursing home in Michigan. Rudy is listed in her official obituary as her grandson.
September 1998 Rudy speaks by phone for the first time ever to his paternal half-sister, who he met for brief seconds in 1989 at the home of his birth father.
February 2002 Rudy’s maternal grandfather dies at his home in northern Michigan. Rudy is listed as his grandson in his obituary.
March 2004 Rudy’s birth father dies in Montana from complications from cancer. His official biographies make no reference to his bastard son, Rudy.
May 2007 Rudy obtains genealogical history of his birth father’s family in his birth family’s hometown. Rudy meets for the first and only time one of his birth father’s three older sisters and her daughter—Rudy’s biological cousin. They acknowledge him as family.
August 2009 Rudy legally changes his name from Martin Rudolf Brueggemann to Rudolf Scott-Douglas Owens. The name combines his adoptive and original given name to create a new identity that reflects his adoptive heritage.
September 2014 Rudy flies to San Diego and meets his paternal half-sister at her home. The two share information and stories and pictures. She acknowledges Rudy as her biological half-brother. She tells him, “You don’t know how lucky you are,” in reference to her father and family experiences. Rudy decides that night to write a memoir of his adoption experience with the same name.
November 2015 Rudy begins writing his public health memoir on adoption called You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are, 50 years after he was relinquished as an adoptee.
March 2016 Rudy petitions Rick Lyon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), for his original birth certificate that the state has denied sharing since April 1989. The department refuses to surrender it, illegally claiming it is a sealed record.
June 2016 The Michigan Third Circuit Court hears Rudy’s petition to have the MDHHS release his certificate and agrees his record is already public knowledge and the state had no grounds to keep it sealed. The judge signs a court order compelling the MDHHS to release his original identity document.
July 2016 Rudy receives his original birth certificate after waiting 27 years and immediately publishes the document online to make it an open and public record.
August 2016 Rudy speaks to his obstetrician who delivered him at Crittenton General Hospital after learning his identity from his original birth certificate. They maintain their correspondence.
October 2016 Rudy completes his public health adoption memoir, ending his adoptee’s hero’s journey.