Author Shirley Muñoz-Newson / Submitted photo

Author of true life switched-at-birth memoir to sign copies of her book Thursday in Buckhannon

BUCKHANNON – Author Shirley Muñoz-Newson will be in Buckhanon this Thursday to sign copies of her book, “The Little Dark One: A True Story of Switched at Birth.”

Create Buckhannon will host a book signing at the Buckhannon Opera House Sept. 21 from 1-3 p.m.

Her book details her life before and after discovering she was accidentally switched at birth.

“Through DNA testing, the day before my 43rd birthday, I found out the father that raised me had a 0.00% chance of being my father, and the mother that raised me said, ‘If he’s not your father, I’m not your mother, and I will take a DNA test to prove that,’ so then I went into detective mode and started doing research and hired an attorney to open the hospital records,” Newson said.

Her fact-finding mission morphed into a tedious process that required time and extensive research.

“They were in Wyoming archives, so I had to petition the court to open those, and finally, after five months, the judge opened them, and I was able to find my birth mother,” Newson said.

Newson said she grew up not looking like her parents or siblings.

“There were eight children in my family. My parents both had blue eyes, and my siblings had blue eyes or hazel-colored eyes, large frames, very fair-skinned and blonde hair,” Newson said. “I am 5-foot, 4-inches with olive skin, brown eyes, black hair – totally different – and when I was introduced, they would say, ‘Oh, you’re the milkman’s daughter, or you’re the mailman’s daughter.”

The first biological family member she met was her Aunt Mary, which was a profound moment for Newson.

“When I saw her, she said, ‘You look just like your mother,’ and I had never heard that in my life – it was like a sense of belonging,” Newson said.

Her book, which was released June 7, 2023, details her discovery on April 7, 2001, that she had been switched at birth.  

“I didn’t want to write the book; I was terrified,” Newson said. “I’m an accountant, and I’m very black and white, but my son, Austin, for years, kept saying, ‘Mom, you need to write a book; do you know how many people you can help?’”

“My biological cousin Leah was writing a book, and I asked her about it,” she recalled. “I said, ‘How can I get a ghostwriter because I’m not qualified to write a book?’ She said, ‘Yes, you are – who would be better at telling your story?’ I took a book creators class, and it was supposed to be six months to write a book, but it took me about 18 months.”

After she gave her first interview about her experiences in 2022, another person who was also switched at birth – Tallmansville resident John Carr – reached out to her.

“John Carr hired David Taylor as his investigator in his case, but David had a Google alert, and my story came up, and he contacted me,” Newson said. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be able to speak to someone else switched at birth.”

Newson and Carr have corresponded but have never met in person, so she decided to come to Buckhannon to meet up with him. Taylor, an Upshur County resident, helped organize the book signing with Create Buckhannon that Carr will also attend.

“It’s like God put us together,” Newson said. “We’ve had Zoom meetings and phone calls, and when I was writing my book, I told my husband we were going in the fall to meet John — I wanted to meet him.”

“It’s so phenomenal to meet someone that was switched at birth because we’re so few right now,” she added. “Counselors have a hard time even understanding or helping you because they’ve never dealt with it,” she added. “There aren’t very many people out there to help us, and speaking with John helped me.”

More information about Newson, her book and her story can be found on her website here.

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