A Lifelong Search for Answers: Part 1

MAUMELLE, AR - "This is my oldest daughter. This is Jennifer."

Family has always held a special place in Jerry Rodelander's heart.

"Our youngest daughter, Sandra."

It's right up there with his faith. Jerry and Jan, his wife of 28 years have family pictures scattered throughout their Maumelle home.

But there's one photo,

"This is a picture that we found of my dad."

That has always signified a missing piece in his life.

The man in this picture is someone he's never met, his father, Jesse Sadler.

Jerry was born Gerald Sadler. His mother always told him his dad was a scoundrel.

"They said that he went around to bars drinking," says Jerry.

Adoption papers from when Jerry was 12 even say his father abandoned him.

Marriage certificates show Jerry's mother remarried to a man with the last name Rodelander and Jerry, not quite a Sadler and not quite fitting in yet.

"I wasn't a part of mom and dad," says Jerry.

He decided to take his new father's last name and for 53 years that's who he's been.

His mom and adopted father have since died, leaving him without much family on that side.

"There's a Rodelander family and they have nothing to do with me," says Jerry.

So still, there's a void.

"Just being unsettled and not knowing why," says Jan.

Jerry had always asked his mother for any kind of info about his real father.

"They didn't know where he was or anything else."

So he and his wife started the work themselves, acquiring decades of documents.

Jerry's spent quite some time in his room researching.

"This is my man cave."

Dedicating most of it staring into the vast expanse of the internet looking for a name.

"I always just pulled him up through Google," says Jerry.

Hoping to find relief in someone named Jesse Sadler, his real father.

Jerry got close one time, finding the name. But after all the work Jerry decided he didn't want to disrupt a family his father may have started without him.

"You know, I could make things worse. He may not have ever told his new family that I ever existed," says Jerry.

Soon after that Jerry and Jan learned that this man, possibly his father had died.

Jerry would never get to meet him.

Jerry says he closed the book ending his search for his father and that chapter of his life.

But after a surprise phone call, he would pick that book back up again and things would never be the same.

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