Real Name: Unknown
Case: Lost Family
Location: San Bernardino, California
Date: September 17, 1947
Details: Dolores Valadez is believed to have been born on September 17, 1947. She was raised in San Bernardino, California by her stepmother Maria Valadez. Maria was a midwife and medicine woman, and she was considered something of a pillar of San Bernardino's Mexican-American community. Maria always told Dolores that she had been left on her doorstep in a suitcase one night, something Dolores could never accept. Although Maria adopted two other children named Vickie and Mingo and told them who their biological parents were, she refused to answer any questions Dolores had regarding her birth family. Maria died when Dolores was in fourth grade and Dolores was sent to various foster homes until she aged out of the system in 1965. The birth of Dolores' own daughter Erika in 1970 renewed her interest in finding her birth family. She was eventually able to find a record of her baptism at San Salvador Catholic Church in Colton, California. In the baptism record, her godparents were listed as Rodolfo Minjares and Rufina Rodriguez, names Dolores herself did not recognize. Teresa Quiroz, an administrative associate for the church who was interviewed in the segment, stated that it was in fact fairly common in the 1940s for the parents of children born of out wedlock to be listed as being the godparents. Dolores was also able to obtain medical records from when she was hospitalized for diphtheria as a child. Those records, dated April 2, 1952, indicated that her stepmother Maria Valadez was in fact her aunt and that her mother, listed as Esther Valadez, was deceased. Dolores believed that "Esther" may have been an alias for another family member and that this person gave her to Maria to raise. Such an arrangement was not unheard of in large Mexican families with multiple siblings if someone could not adequately care for another child. Once the exchange took place, the subject was never to be discussed again. After hearing rumors that a long-time family friend was in fact her real mother, Dolores decided to talk to this woman. The woman denied being her mother, although Dolores did closely resemble the woman's other daughters. Dolores' foster brother, Mingo Arriola, was said to have told Dolores as a child that he knew the truth about her birth family, but when interviewed for the segment, he claimed he didn't remember ever having said such a thing and disavowed knowledge of Dolores' roots.
Extra Notes: This segment originally ran on the December 21, 1988 episode.