From A Birth Parent - Why Your Parent Has Not Searched for You

>> Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The following is submitted by Pris Sharp. Pris is a mother of loss as well as mother of an adoptee. She is a highly respected Search Angel and is associate with the yahoo groups "theregistry" and "nyadoptees" who can assist you in your search. Pris actually wrote this article last year and I have been sending it t people who asked me this question.

 Here come the Holidays again.  I know many of you become depressed that your birth family is apparently not looking for you.  But, there are so many reasons why and not one of them means your mother doesn't love you or yearn for you.  Most likely your mother married and/or moved away and does not know about the state and on-line registries.  Perhaps she never told anyone, as we were counseled to do, and does not want to risk exposure.  More than 90% of the mothers we find do not search or register anywhere; those who say they wanted to had no idea how to go about it, where to start.  Many of them are afraid because we were told that once we had relinquished our babies we had no more rights ever, for eternity; some of us were even threatened with criminal prosecution if we ever tried to find our children or interfere with their new lives.  We were constantly reminded of what terrible, immoral women we were, that we would be shunned and shamed if people knew, even our own children.  I was told, "Don't ever tell anyone what you've done, especially not a prospective husband, because no decent man will want to have anything to do with you!"
  These were all means adoption agencies and adoptive families used to pry our babies away from us and keep us away from you.  It was a cruel, vicious business that has and will impact everyone for many years -- mothers and children especially.  I don't know of one mother who came away emotionally unscarred.  It lasts a lifetime; there is no relief -- not even having more children repairs the hole our baby lost to adoption leaves.
  Most of us slunk back home in shame and fear and tried to heal and gradually got on with our lives.  I moved 3,000 miles away because everywhere I went, whenever I would see a baby about my daughter's age, I would begin crying.  Some of us went on to prove the old adage, "The best revenge is a good life."  We became successful businesswomen, super-achievers, as if to say, subconsciously, "I am *not* a bad person and I will not accept your blame!"  Others could not recover from the trauma and sunk into depression, alcoholism, drugs.  A very few became what I call "serial birthmothers" -- getting involved in more inappropriate, doomed relationships , having one or more babies and giving them up to adoption.  These women tend to be scarred with a lot of guilt and definitely will not search. 
  So many mothers, when they are found, say, "I thought you would be mad at me.  I didn't think you would want to have anything to do with me."
  This is what we have to keep reminding the NY and other state legislatures when they claim original birth certificates (OBCs) of adoptees are sealed "to protect the privacy of the mother."  It's a privacy cruelly *enforced* on us, never asked for, never wanted. 
  The best thing you can do when your search seems to be stalled is get involved in the efforts to restore OBCs to adoptees and tell them when they try to tell you "Your birthmother wants privacy" that you want to hear it from her own mouth and don't need anyone presuming to speak for her, thank you very much!

For more information on adoption and how mothers were treated in the “Baby Scoop Era” (end of World War II to 1972), go to

For information on how to get involved in legislative efforts to unseal OBCs, go to:
In NY State:
In PA: Pennsylvania Adoptee's Rights or on Facebook or
In NJ:  NJCare on Facebook or

Search on Yahoo Groups for other geographically specific groups Theregistry will help anywhere.


The Search is Over - Greg's Story

>> Saturday, November 20, 2010

The success of Greg's search was greatly due to his perseverance to get the truth. Greg is his birth name. It took many pieces to get Greg's answers and help from all over the United States. Greg asked if he could tell his story in his own words as he wants to share how he feels about having been an adopted child with no answers. So here it is:

The search began twelve years ago, was revisited six years ago, and concluded this month. The big question that needs to be answered, " Why search at all?" Pragmatically thinking in my case I was chosen by people who wanted me. They were able to want me because the state had me, and the state had me because the people that conceived me didn't want me.

Where did the search start? Six months ago with the registry of New York, a Yahoo group. Six years ago with the Alma society. Twelve years ago with the Hugs organization. But the search really started in a doctors office in Oakland where I was being tested for allergies. I was 5 and kinda hanging out in the kids toy area of the lobby. 40 years ago a popular toy was the wood bench that you would fit different shaped articles in and then bop it with a hammer to get them through the opening. As I was looking trying to get a full set (communal toys are often incomplete, remember that phrase) There were about 3 different "sets" but none were complete, so I decided to make a set, and was able to save one piece. There was a circle shape in the 'bench' but no dowel, there was however a star shaped dowel that would fit within the confines of the shape. It worked, the other kid in the area said, "You fixed it! Can I play with it?" I handed it over, went and sat down, and waited for my turn in the doctors office. To the kid it worked, to me it did also, just not correctly.

Was I looking for a correct fit? No, I know the sacrifices and the love of my family that raised me. I also knew the shortsightedness and quick fix mentality of the family that abandoned me. Please do not be offended, the truth is the truth, and no amount of political correctness will reveal more truth than the blunt honest truth. Just like communal toys, this communal child was incomplete. I do not know why, but I knew the difference between a volunteer (the family that raised me) and an obligation (the family that abandoned me) I knew and saw through my friends and family that there was something a little more that there was blood in the game, And whether real or imagined I thought that the bloodline made a difference.

The first and second searches were wrong time, wrong place types of deals, I was often hooked up with "free or low cost persons" who guaranteed contact, but ignored the basic non-identifying information, often telling me "your mother's name was princess snowflake, and your father was Shaka Zulu" or something that ridiculous. It was an ever frustrating experience, and although I do not fault people for making a living, I didn't think that someone should charge an illegitimate child to find out who his parents were. Really, hasn't the child been through enough? One of the pieces of information mentioned the birthmother had moved to New York. So 6 months ago, I joined the NY group. I was helped by several people most notably and most helpful Diane Harman-Hoog.

The secret to the search is fresh eyes and pointed questions. If you paint a government worker into a corner with information about your search, they will often reveal more than just the simple information that you requested. One of those things was a psychological profile done 9 months after my birth. The psychiatrist listed my first and middle name on the evaluation, and mothers maiden name. This was huge information, because in prior searches the birth mother and birthfathers last names were transposed. The middle name was also key, because it was the same as the birthfather's middle name. Through the process of elimination, we were able to crosscheck hundreds of bits of information and narrow it down to 12 names on the birthmothers side, and 4 on the birthfathers side. Then 2 months passed with nothing. Two months compared to 43 years seems like not a lot of time, and it wasn't but it felt like an eternity. We had a stalemate, then a searcher who seemingly was throwing spaghetti off the wall e-mailed me the name of my birthfather, I looked at my notes, and the state of birth, the date of birth, the age of his father and time of death all were wrong, But the middle name was right. So I called for a week, he finally answered, I believed that he knew who I was, and when he answered he confirmed it. From him we got the first name of the birthmother and were able to close the search in about 12 hours time.

What did I hope to get out of this? I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that I wanted to be wanted by the ones who were supposed to have wanted me. So that would be a fairy tale ending. We live in the real world sometimes its great, sometimes its less than that. For now I'll have to be content with the star shaped dowel through the circle. I know plenty of people got their noses out of joint when Rules of Engagement made a comment about "used babies" I didn't. That statement didn't offend me, in fact it kinda described how I felt. Thank you for your time, and good luck.

Greg found his birth father with one adopted son and a daughter in Utah. Greg particularly feels pain that his father rejected him but yet went on to adopt another son. From my point of view, perhaps it was an attempt to make amends in some sort of way.

His mother was a nurse and was tracked down through rather sketchy information on his non-ID as well as through a news article about her getting her nurses cap at a ceremony. He also has two male siblings from her. She died in 1990. Greg was able to get a picture of her by asking the nursing school if they had one and they were kind enough to send it. She was a beautiful woman.

The most recent development was that Greg was able to find her nursing school roommate and learn a little more about his mother. She was also found through a news article.

Please note that Greg kept up the search despite the fact that his parents had two of the most common last names which slowed us down for quite a while. He will always grieve for the mother he never knew and for what might have been.

As a curious last note, Greg lives quite near me, far from where he was born in California. I used to live even closer to him when he was a young boy and his soccer team played my son's soccer teams. I hope to actually meet him one day.

Greg was willing to come out and tell us just how he felt and feels in the hope that other adoptees will identify with his feelings and also know that many searches are solved.. I would like a birth parent to share their feelings as well in a future blog.


Help Emergency Locators Find Matches for Medical Emergencies

>> Saturday, November 6, 2010

EMLA is a volunteer organization that specializes in helping find family members when a medical emergency is at hand. Some examples are when a donor is needed or when an adoptee has a medical condition and the physicians need family medical information.
Thanks to short sighted legislation that seals adoption records from even adult adoptees, 5 million or more Americans do not have a family medical history available.
One of our own Search Angels has just found her birth sister and has learned that her birth brother died from ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). In Googling the hereditary component of the disease I found the following write up

Q. Is ALS hereditary?
A. ALS is directly hereditary in only a small percentage of families. The majority of patients with adult-onset ALS (90%) have no family history of ALS, and present as an isolated case. This is called sporadic ALS (SALS), and although there is likely a genetic predisposition involved, SALS is not directly inherited in a family. Rare exceptions are when familial ALS (FALS) is masked due to an incomplete family history, such as if the patient is adopted or the patient's parents died at a young age. The remaining 10% of persons with ALS have a close second family member with ALS, which is referred to as familial ALS (FALS).
Currently the best tool to distinguish between SALS and FALS is the family history. A neurologist or genetic counselor will ask whether anyone else has ever been diagnosed with ALS, and if anyone else in the family had progressive walking or speech problems. If so, they will likely ask additional questions to see if the health problems were related to ALS or any number of other causes. They will also inquire about the ages that family members passed away to see if any close relatives passed away at a young age, meaning that a long health history is not available. It is very common to have limited information on one's family, but most families can still be reassured since the majority of instances of ALS are not hereditary. Older relatives are often good sources of family history information, and medical records can often be obtained with the help of a hospital's medical release form.

There are many diseases where the hereditary component is much more crucial to treating or diagnosing the disease.

Adoptees should not have to die because they were adopted. Help EMLA underwrite the costs of subscription databases by buying their cookbook. If like me, you do not cook, Joan, the moderator of several reunion adoption lists, suggests that you buy it to give to your lawmakers who have refused to pass adoption record reform laws. It contains not only recipes but heartwarming reunion stories.

EMLA posts this information in their flyer;
The Angel Food Volume II, our second cookbook of favorite recipes from the
EMLA! Search Angels, associates, & friends, is the perfect gift for your
family members & friends. The Angel Food II cookbook contains over 700
delicious recipes, cooking tips, successful reunion stories & more. 100% of
proceeds from the sale of this cookbook go to funding AFS/EMLA
http://adoption- free-search. org/ so we
can continue to help adoptees and birth parents with medical issues.

The cookbook can be purchased by emailing
The cost of the cookbook is $10.00 plus $5.00 postage in the US.

All money goes directly towards covering the cost of databases and other computing services. Our Search Angels on many boards use these services to help you. Please help us continue to afford it. All of the search angels donate money as well as their time. Please contribute so we can provide these and more outstanding services for you


A Thrilling Search - Patty's Search

>> Thursday, November 4, 2010

Patty has been searching for her birth family for several years. All her life she had wondered about her birth family. She loves her adoptive family, but for an adoptee, there often seems to be the feeling of a disconnect in one’s life. Any one who does genealogy should understand this need to know, but with an adoptee it is even more urgent as an adoptee has no family medical history to report. In the area of something less tangible, unless an adoptee has children, they have never seen someone who looks like them. Remember the thrill you had when you saw a picture of Great-Aunt Sarah and realized you had her smile or the inner grimace when you had Uncle Roscoe’s ears? Those identifications are all part of the human experience that defines our existence. In addition, in most states, an adoptee has no access to an original birth certificate or to information that identifies her origins. There are a number of legal ramifications involved, but why should this significant minority of 5 – 6 million people be denied what every other citizen has?
Patty like hundreds of other people discovered Search Angels. These are people who donate many hours of their time and other resources to reuniting families separated by adoption. Patty was able to get some information on her birth mother’s name and eventually a possible birth name for her father. She contacted a few close relatives of her mother’s and was shocked to find that she was born in prison. An aunt by marriage told her that she had heard that her mother killed a man in a poker game and was sentenced to 5 years in the Kentucky Women’s Correctional Institute. It turned out that her mother had died at the age of 66 in Indiana.
Patty felt discouraged and even though she had become a leading Search Angel herself, she dropped her own search to help hundreds of other people find their birth families. At the same time, her mind kept coming back to her own search. Like many adoptees, she had fear about what she would find. She would make jokes about what she had found and used the experience to assure others tht she understood and that knowing was better than not knowing.
In the world of adoptions, there is such a thing as a non-identifying document. While the people who are entitled to them vary from state to state and the content is dependent on the state laws as well as the mood of the person who extracts the information, this is a document available to many adoptees. Patty had always advised people she worked with to order theirs, but Patty had never had the nerve to order her own. A few months ago she did just that and was shocked and disappointed that it contained far less information than she already knew. This made no sense since she was born in state custody. She shared that information with her fellow search angels and one of them decided that Patty needed some answers.
Search Angel Diane is a genealogist who came into the field of adoption reunion through trying to find a cousin’s birth child. She is passionate about the belief that adoptees are not treated as full citizens in this country. She donates time and money to rectifying this. Diane says:
I had no idea what I was getting into when I started looking for my cousin’s child. The impact of sealed records on a person’s life had never occurred to me. When I heard of people dying because they could not get their medical history, stuck in another country because the amended birth certificate given to adoptees had different information than the person’s government file, unable to participate in genealogy and to identify with the people that made up her past, I knew I had to use my computer research skills to fix what I could.
Diane had become a good on-line friend of Patty’s and when she saw the comments Patty made about her non-non-ID that she got that was basically a form letter with not much filled in, she decided that she needed to at least try to help.
She volunteered to see what she could do. She started by doing a family tree that went back many generations on Patty’s mother’s side. Her people were some of the first people to settle in Kentucky. They came from North Carolina and Virginia. Patty’s son was able to find more information about her European roots as well. After she got the mother’s side done, she made a list of possible relatives who were still alive. She also cross checked with existing family trees on and low and behold found a Cousin Billy also doing a genealogy on this family. They corresponded and he went to the library and sent them some news articles on the crime, on deaths in the family, a list of how all the family died who were buried in the Baker Baptist Cemetery in Crittenden County Kentucky, family pictures, marriage licenses for great grandparents, etc. Cousin Billy’s great grandfather and Patty’s great grandfather were brothers.
So the next day he went to the library, and when Patty and Diane opened up an email clipping he sent they were astounded. It was the article on Patty’s mom’s trial. She claimed that the man attacked her and that it was self defense. One of Patty’s birth brothers, Donald was a witness. She did get 2 years in prison for killing the man instead of the 5 years Patty had heard from a relative. The sweet part for Patty was that the article ended saying that the lawyers were trying to get an appeal approved so that the baby would not be born in prison. The other really, really important part is that the article gave her mother’s name as Kathleen Campbell and said that it was her third marriage. Patty had thought her father’s name was Campbell, but we had no proof. So not only was that the case, but her parents were married. The next email had an article on the death of Patty’s toddler sister a few years previously and listed the family members so we had a list of siblings. (attachments enclosed at end of article)
So here we were, her mother was not a hardened criminal, her father was a Campbell and Patty’s brother Donald was a witness and could also confirm Patty’s dad’s full name.
So we were riding high. I looked up her brother and he had died last year. He lived less than an hour from Patty. He looked like a wonderful man and his memorial site had comments from grandchildren about how they would miss him. This was an awful shock to Patty as you can imagine. She had known he had existed but had delayed contacting him. We were fortunate that his obituary listed family members. Marianne found Facebook accounts with pictures for Donald’s daughter who is the spitting image of Patty and for Patty’s birth sister, Sandra. Sandra looks more like Patty’s mother. The only person Patty had ever seen who looked like her was her granddaughter.
Patty had to wait a few days before contacting them as her emotions are fragile at the moment. However, Sandra will be able to confirm which Campbell and then she will have all of her birth family as well as genealogy. Sandra even had a picture of herself and Donald as little kids on her Facebook page.
Patty’s mother died in 1993 and we feel so sad for her. She had a hard life but I have talked to a number of family members who have said that she was a considerate person sending Christmas presents and crocheting a scarf for her sister. As the Search Angel, think Patty would have liked her. Patty is a fun loving and generous soul which I expect she got from both her birth mother and adoptive family. If Patty’s father is still alive he would be 89, so he is probably gone, but she has a large family of siblings and nieces and nephews out there to get acquainted with.
Kat liked what she saw from her point of view of growing up in a poor farmer/coalminer family of what she perceived as the good life and enjoyed drinking, partying and playing cards. She ended her life as a waitress. She had married again and we believe she may have had another son. We are checking on this now.
Patty is also dealing with the fact that there was and is mental illness, such as bi-polar disease in the family as well as the fact that for the last several generations, family members died very young. Even the ones who had left the environment seem to have been affected. As of her great-grandfather’s generation, the life span seems to be what one might expect for a family in this environment, but after that point, the age of death is low with many childhood deaths. However, now she has that information and her new found Cousin Billy has been finding death certificates so we can see the cause of death. Now her doctors can be told. Billy has our honorary Search Angel award for his willing assistance.
So the moral is don’t delay contacting people and if one approach does not work try another. I have solved several searches recently through those family trees so check them out.


  © Blog Design by Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates

Back to TOP