SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Nearly 60 years ago, a San Francisco woman was the subject of a KRON4 News special documentary about her adoption.
She’s been wondering about that footage since her parents passed away in the ’90s and after years of searching for it, it’s finally been found.
A voice she longed to hear and the faces she long missed.
“There are mannerisms my father had that I haven’t seen in 30 years and I was just like blown away,” Triana Fitzpatrick said.
Triana Fitzpatrick was born in 1963. Shortly after, she was adopted by Mike and Ann Polifrone, a Catholic, San Francisco couple whose story was the subject of a 1965 KRON4 News special assignment called “An Adopted Child.”
“My parents had a flyer. They had a flyer from the broadcast date, so I was always aware from the flyer around the house and then they would tell me the story,” Fitzpatrick said.
She says her parents made her feel special all her life and losing them both in the early 90s was hard to come to terms with.
“My parents had died before my children were born so they never had the opportunity to meet my parents but with the advent of the internet and the idea you could reach out easily I thought maybe I should reach out to KRON and see if I can find any info about this,” Fitzpatrick said.
Her journey to find the archived footage of the special began in 2001. The tapes, however, were difficult to find.
“The film itself had been sitting in a vault for 10 years before I found it in 2012,” Alex Cherian said.
Alex Cherian is the television archivist at San Francisco State University.
“It probably would’ve been destroyed had we not found it and since then it’s been sitting in our vault, waiting for Triana to reach out to me and ask if we had the adopted child,” Cherian said.
Triana reached out to Alex back in April about finding the lost footage. He says the timing was serendipitous.
“Since November of last year, we’ve been able to transfer 16 mm film in full-frame 4k. Just after that point, Triana reached out to us. We had the film sitting in the vault. We had the cutting-edge equipment to remaster the film. It was meant to be,” Cherian said.
“I was shocked,” Fitzpatrick said.
After 20 years of searching, Triana could finally reconnect with her parents and the footage was much more than she anticipated.
“It was quite shocking to find out what was on there because I had no idea it was a long-term process, really intimate stuff no one would ever have,” Fitzpatrick said.
The 25-minute documentary special detailed her parents’ struggles to have their own children and the pushback they received from friends and family as the idea of adoption was not widely accepted at that time.
It even shows the moment Triana was first placed in her mother’s arms.
“It was awesome. I mean it was more than that it was. It was, the confirmation of all the stories they told me, being true,” Fitzpatrick said.
Alex says stories like Triana’s are why archiving is so important.
“We all have stories to tell, and many of these stories are preserved on film and it has a way of reaching out to people and touching them emotionally,” Cherian said.
“It was just such a coming home experience. I think my parents would be really proud of me that I persevered,” Fitzpatrick said.