Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Closed Adoption and Birthparent Tracing - Jennifer's Story

Have you taken time to meet our Featured Family of the Week, the Caulk Family? They are in process and trying to raise the last remaining funds for their domestic adoption. Please pop on over when you get a chance and donate $1 this week. (Roman thanks you.) Today's blog post comes from Jennifer and offers an adoptee's perspective into reaching out to a birthparent. A huge hug goes out to Jenn for offering us a window into her life to better understand adoption in our own families.

Growing up, I always knew that I would want to find my birthmother. Because of laws in my state I would have to wait until I was 18, but was reassured by my parents that they supported the search.

My 18th birthday came, I moved into a dorm, started college, and broke up with my high school boyfriend. I wasn't ready to bring the emotion it would take to begin the search, and possibly start a relationship. It wasn't until a year later that I was ready to begin the search.

After calls to my parent's lawyer, my birthmother's lawyer, and the state vital records office, I had a plan. My brithmothers lawyer warned me that though she hadn't talked to her in years, I need to be prepared that she wouldn't want contact at all. That was a blow, but I continued on my search.

The state I was born in, New Mexico, didn't allow me access to my records, instead they had 'intermediaries' that had been trained in confidentially practices and how to legally search. We contacted one off the approved list, Linda, and my parents paid her fee. I knew they always supported me looking for my birth family, but them paying the cost for the search showed me how supportive they truly were. After a few weeks, I received a call from Linda saying that she had found my birthmother, so I should begin writing my letter. She explained that this might be the one and only contact I'll ever have with my birthmother, and I need to put the most important information at the top of my letter (opening lines), because she might not read the whole thing.

I wrote several drafts, each one being edited by Linda for confidentiality purposes. I couldn't write "I'm a sophomore at the University of New Mexico", I had to just say I was in college. I thought that was funny, because I WANTED her to find me, why would info about me be an issue?

Every draft began the same way though I just wanted to say thank you. More than anything I needed her to know how grateful I was for the decision she had made. I didn't know much of our story, just that she was young, and had gotten pregnant by an older man, who was married and had a family. I knew she was sent to New Mexico to live with a relative while she was pregnant, and then flew back to New York. I know it caused a rift in her family. I know I was blessed by it.

Linda sent the letter, and a week or so later, she called me saying it did not go over well. My birthmother called her and was very angry she had been contacted. Linda advised me that all hope was not lost, she might calm down and change her mind. I was discouraged, but at least I could say that I had tried.

Several weeks later, I received another phone call from Linda. My birthmother had contacted her again, apologized, and asked for a way to contact me. She preferred email, so I gave Linda my address and anxiously awaited an email.

The first email came later that night, and we corresponded for several weeks over email. She then asked for my number so she could call. I remember I was walking between classes on campus when she called.

We talked for over an hour that first time. Our conversations were a lot asking questions and giving answers on both our parts. Our relationship grew, though there are still trust issues that have had to be overcome.

Going through the adoption process with our son, it made me think of the type of relationship he would have with his birthparents. Would it be though handwritten letters, or more likely, over email and FaceTime?

How has modern technology influenced the relationship with your child's birth families?

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