I Can See the Horizon 

Sleep found me easily and peacefully. I usually suffer from insomnia and will lay awake for hours praying that slumber will come upon me. A peace I’d never known before washed over me as all of my children were under my roof in the same place at the same time. The people I value and love the most in this world. The ONLY people whose opinions about me I care about. I felt complete and whole.

But sad. Sad for what could have been. Sad for the upcoming goodbye. Sad from what my choice had taken from all of my kids without their permission. There had always been a feeling that someone was missing and while she was here that feeling was gone. But it would soon be back. Nevertheless I tried to revel in how lucky I was to even have this moment, this time, at all.

I have three daughters and two sons. Of all of my children, she is the most like me in every way. It’s almost scary how similar we are. Many times people would comment “its like looking at you when you were her age!” Or “She’s JUST like you at that age!”

And she is.

She’s tenacious, she has no filter, she looks like me, she sounds like me, she has the same mannerisms as me. Admittedly she does have my husband’s nose.

Driving to Taco Bell one day we said the exact same thing at the exact same time with the exact same inflection. That happens within families all the time. Families that you share DNA with. “That’s never happened to me before,” she said with surprise. And it kept happening. My sisters and I are always speaking in stereo. It made me think how sad it would be to go through life without ever hearing someone who sounded like you.

And she’s just like her sisters. When a neighbor started up his motorcycle too closely they all screamed, shook, and started crying. All three of them. All at the same time. DNA is some powerful stuff.

But she’s herself too. It was lovely to hear her talk about the things she loves, the places she’s seen, the people in her life she cares about and how they’ve impacted her.

And still there was this thing hanging in the air. All the shared memories we had that she didn’t. My family is big on talking about “Remember when this happened…” and then proceeding to tell a funny or shocking story. So while she was like us in every way, and fit in perfectly, there was always the elephant in the room that reminded us that she had been gone.

So many mixed emotions. So much to untangle.

My husband was smitten. He reminded me of a new father doting over his infant daughter. Except we had already doted on her when she was born. I can read this man better than anyone and the looks on his face said, “I’m in love with this beautiful creature.” As he should be. She’s pretty amazing if I do say so myself.

And here is where I decided that this blog has served its purpose. For now, anyway.

When I was hurting it was here. When I needed to vent it was here. When I was scared, anxious, worried, happy, hopeful, suffering, it was here. You were here. Some of you lifted me with your thoughts and others pissed me off. And that’s okay. Because sometimes I just needed a good fight and you engaged me.

I know this journey is ever evolving and I’m not completely abandoning this space. There may be a time in the future where I need it regularly again. But this journey is no longer just my own. Now that our lives have come together again, and she is again a part of mine, our stories are intertwined and it’s not up to me what to share.

I have let adoption consume my life. That’s not an entirely bad thing. I’ve found sisterhood and courage in this community. I’ve found courage to stand up, stand out, and help make changes. I will always be an activist. Always. But I’m also a mother and wife. I can’t spread myself too thin so I’ve decided to focus my energy on certain endeavors that will allow me to balance things more equally. I lost my grandfather, who helped raise me, and a beloved pet who was my emotional support animal, this year. The wheels of time don’t stop turning for me to sit behind a computer.

So while I’ve already bowed out of this blogging thing pretty much, I thought I’d leave you all with a happy update. I’ll pop in once in a while. But it’s time to take back my life and focus on where I can really make a change, enjoy my family, and still remain a functional member of society.

 

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Search Angels – Assistance For Your Adoption Search & Reunion

Finding people can be hard. Throw in adoption and it can be even harder, or seem impossible. Many times adoptees or their families are at a total loss on how to even begin. I would like to talk to everyone today about search angels. I have had the privilege of learning so much, over the years, from these wonderful people. They have taught me so much about not only becoming a search angel, but helping others navigate search and reunion.

What is a search angel?

A search angel is someone who, free of charge to you, uses their own resources and time to find someone you are looking for, typically in an adoption situation. Many times search angels have had their lives touched by adoption in one way or another and this is what is the driving force to do what they do. Each search angel has their own resources. Some of these are in the form of paid databases and some of these are in the form of hard to get birth indexes. Utilizing just one search angel can definitely lead to a successful reunion, but I would like to point out the “new” way of doing searches.

Search angels that work WITH each other, combining resources and talents, to give the greatest chance of a successful search. I have seen, time and time again, through Facebook groups made specifically for this reason, the magic of search angels working together.

Before I end this article I will give you the links to a new search angel group that a very good friend of mine runs. She is probably one of the best there are out there and I have learned a lot from her.

Upon entering one of these groups, you will need to keep some things in mind.

Typically, search angel groups will not search for someone under the age of 21 without prior approval from an admin and then only under unique circumstances. Search angel groups will not search, in most circumstances, for an adoptee that was removed from the home under CPS. Search angel groups do not have magical access to hidden date of birth registries for everyone born in this country. They use intuition and the resources they have to paint a picture and connect the dots. Why is this important to know? Because you need to have a few things in place if you want your search to have the greatest chance of being successful.

Non-identifying Information

Non-identifying information, and how it is obtained, will vary from state to state. Typically it will include details about birth parents, or adoptive parents, such as what they do for a living, things they enjoy, what their health is like, and possibly way more stuff. What makes one search successful over the other? It’s in the details. In other words, the non-ID. Before initiating a search it is imperative that you look up your state’s laws on non-ID and what you are able to get and then get it. If you are unable, for some reason such as money, to do this then you should definitely still start your search but try to save, over time, the money required for this information. I do find it deplorable that any agency would charge hundreds of dollars for this information, but it is such important information to have. Some states or agencies won’t charge anything or will only charge a very small fee to cover their ink and paper used to print it. I’ve seen others charge upwards of $800. Which leads me to my last point.

Search angel groups can also be a valuable resource for finding out exactly what you will need to do and the steps to go ahead to get more information. Be sure to read any group’s rules before posting as there are usually specific requirements that are needed to proceed. This isn’t to be mean but, rather, to make sure your search has the BEST chance of success.

For any search in any state I would like to introduce you to Research & Reunion Team. You can find your way there by clicking their name in this post. It will open in a new tab.

If you or the person you are looking for was born in California, however, you are asked to join California Search Group. You can find your way there by clicking on their name in this post. It will open in a new tab.

Finally, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to comment. I wish you the best in your search!

-Astrid

My Desperate Plea – Searching – October 29, 1993, Kingsport, Tennessee

There are SO many people that are searching for birth family or for the child they relinquished. I know that this may seem like one of the many thousands, but I really need everyone’s help here. Tawney is such a wonderful person. She has been through so much as a birthmom. More than anything I want to be able to give her the gift of knowing that her daughter is alive, happy, and healthy.Even though her child’s adoption was done in 1993, it was a traditionally closed adoption and she knows next to nothing. I have watched this brave mama celebrate in the reunions of others, help in searches for other people, and still have no peace of her own to be found. I hate that I have not been able to help her, or the many other people that have tried. I know Tawney’s daughter is out there somewhere and, as a last resort, I am hoping that social media can help us find her.

Tawney has two Facebook pages to assist in her search. The first is October 29, 1993 Searching for My Daughter 10-29-1993 Kingsport, TN and the second is October 29, 1993 Searching for Hope.  Tawney’s daughter, who she named Hope, was born October 29, 1993 in Kingsport, TN. Tawney suspects that Hope was adopted across state lines because of one of the stamps on her non-identifying information (which is all on her facebook pages). There was an ICPC stamp on it which stands for Interstate Compact for Placement of Children. Hope was born in the Holston Home for Children.

One of Tawney’s posts from her page. It is absolutely heartbreaking.

tawney2

This is a desperate plea to anyone who has gained anything from reading my blog. Tawney means the world to me and I cannot sit around waiting anymore. PLEASE share this post, share her page, share her flyer, just share! Get the word out. Any search angels who think they may be able to find Hope please do try! Help Tawney’s heart find the peace it needs. Adoption should never be this way, cause this trauma.

Thank you,

Astrid

TAWNEY** Special thanks to Indiana Britt for her beautiful flyers.

How to Find Your Child’s Adoptive Parents – A Step by Step Guide

With an alarming number of women who were promised open adoptions having the door slammed shut in their face, I thought I would write about some methods that can be used in order to solve this problem. Almost every search group will not search for a child until they are 18 or 21 years of age, regardless of whether or not it was supposed to be an open adoption. However, I think that searching for adoptive parents, who promised to always keep you in the loop, is something that all first moms should know how to do.

Most women who were promised open adoptions would probably not have even considered adoption,at all, if they knew they would spend years wondering if their child was healthy or, at the very least,alive. The promise of open adoption does seem to lure in a good number of mothers who would not otherwise have signed the dotted line. This “glamorizing” or “dolling-up” of adoption is a way to fill the demand for babies. While a good number of adoptive parents do keep their promises (and should be given kudos for that), the sad reality is that the majority do not. Some don’t even give their real first names, as advised by the agency, which can sometimes make it almost impossible to find anything.

Where does this leave us? Pretty much in an era of closed adoptions that are initially sold as open. I think it is despicable that anyone would take someone else’s child, promise they will always know how that child is doing, and then shut and lock the door. It’s deceitful and there is a special place in hell for people like this.

I’m here to hold them accountable. I don’t care if your child is 2 or 22. If I am able to help you find just a picture of your child to ease your mind, after the sacred promise made to you by the adoptive parents has been broken, then it has made everything worth it.

For those who may want to do this on their own, I’ll outline my methods. I do not have any kind of access to any secret databases. I am armed with Google, Facebook and intuition.

Step 1 – Knowing first names is probably a necessity to use this method. Knowing what the adoptive parents have named your child will also help tremendously. Knowing a possible state they may live in can bump that success rate way up. Knowing how to utilize Google, when searching for anything, can help you weed out thousands of unnecessary search results. For example, if I want to search for two people named Larry and Kate who live in Utah and type that into the search bar I will get results for any web page that has all three of those words. And that’s not what I need. I need a webpage that has those two people together and living in Utah. So, to narrow the results, I will search for “Larry and Kate” Utah. The quotations around the names will tell Google to ONLY search for pages that have those exact words in that exact order with that exact spelling. I don’t put Utah in quotations, at first, because I don’t want to narrow my results too much. I can also switch the order of the names to “Kate and Larry.” If you have the name of your child you can add that as well. It would look like this in the search bar: “Larry and Kate” “Haley” Utah.

Step 2 – Obituaries are a great source of information. If my search for Larry and Kate, daughter Haley, from Utah, isn’t getting me results I want or think are pertinent, I can try this: “Larry and Kate” “daughter Haley” Utah. In obituaries, the survivors are listed. Again, like before, you can switch the order of the names as well. If you find you are getting too many results, you can also put the state in quotations. I do this as a last ditch effort because sometimes people move and I don’t want to rule out neighboring states that may pop up.

IF YOU HAPPEN TO FIND AN OBITUARY

If you happen to find an obituary that has a Larry and Kate (that are listed as a married couple) and they have a daughter named Haley, and it is saying they live in that state, the chances are really good you have just found a last name. We’ll get to last names later.

Step 3 – Maybe you can’t find an obituary listing them as survivors. Next we look at things like hobbies, jobs, and religion. What DO you know about the adoptive parents? Are they a certain religion? Do they have a hobby they love? What is their occupation? Using the same method as step one, plug it into Google. Let’s say that Larry and Kate were members of the LDS church in Utah. I could plug in “Larry and Kate” “Haley” (or “daughter Haley”) “LDS” Utah. Sometimes churches have PDF files of flyers or announcements and you will find the names of members listed. Let’s say that Larry is an art teacher. A search for “Larry” “art teacher” Utah will yield results. You will have to sort through those results and maybe make a list of all the possible last names for our future steps. Let’s face it, how many Larry’s are also art teachers in Utah? Even if the answer was 50, is it worth it to explore each one?

*Note: The more unique names are, the more likely you are to have ease of finding what you’re looking for.*

Step 4 – Now, once you have done your diligent searches, or maybe while you’re still going through possible names, open up Facebook.  It is very likely there is a Facebook page for them. Let’s say that I’m pretty sure, based on an obituary, that Larry and Kate are really Larry and Kate Dawson who live in Salt Lake City, Utah. The way Facebook searches are working now, I would type into the search bar: Larry Dawson Utah Salt Lake City. If nothing pops up, get rid of the city and just try for the state. You will have to click on the very bottom of the list that pops up where a magnifying glass is and what you typed in is next to it.

Click where the red arrow is.

Click where the red arrow is.

Once you have done this, another page will pop up. You will want to click on “People.”

Click where the red arrow is.

Click where the red arrow is.

After that you will get a list of results of all people with that name who are associated with Utah.

You will probably have to play around with this a bit and use both the adoptive mother and adoptive father’s name. If your child is of an age that they would probably have a Facebook account you could try them as well. But, I caution you, I would not contact them directly as it could result in a restraining order against you if the adoptive parents choose to do so.

Step 5 – “I can’t find a profile for them.” If you have an obituary, now you need to start looking at relatives. If you don’t have an obituary, go to Advanced Background Checks and find relatives there. It’s a simple search tool, no need to pay, and it will list names and relatives associated with people. (You can also use the “paid” search sites without paying. It will list relatives but ask you for money if you want more info. Sites such as Intellius and People Finders. Just use it for what you need – relatives or maiden names) You’ll need to use your abstract thinking. Obviously someone who is estimated to be 78 years old is not the right person and someone listed as a relative that is 90 years old most likely won’t be on Facebook. Additionally, the White Pages can be very helpful for finding “associated people” as well as addresses and phone numbers, once you have a last name that is.

Step 6 – Once you have been able to locate a relative on Facebook, it is likely the adoptive parents are on their friends list, if they have a Facebook page that is. Many people, nowadays, have their friends lists private. If you find this is a problem then don’t panic. Even the most locked down profiles, I’ve found, have a few public posts or pictures. Look at the “likes” and “comments” on these posts! These are these people’s friends – not hidden! Even if you can’t find the adoptive parents through likes or comments, see if you can find someone with the same last name or someone that has commented and seems close to the family. Go to their page. Is their friends list private? No? Good, search it. If you can’t find the adoptive parents there, look for the last name. How do you search a friends list? You simply type a first or last name into the little search bar.

facebooktutorial3Okay, great. Now we have that settled. You will find that opening up a new tab by right clicking will be helpful so you can go back and forth between people’s pages.

What if the friends list of the family member is private as well? Repeat step 6.

Step 7 – If none of this is working for you, go back to basics. Is there anything specific that the adoptive parents are interested in? Maybe there is a group for it. Members of all open and closed groups are visible to the public. Try that.

Much of this is intuition. And although I used Facebook here, the same could be applied to any social media account with some tweaks. I could Google “Larry Dawson” “twitter” Utah. You’d be surprised what those magical little quotations marks can find for you. There’s also common sense. Most likely, in a church flyer, a husband’s name is going to be listed first. I adjust my search accordingly. Many churches also have Facebook pages now, too. If you can determine what church the adoptive parents are going to, and they have a Facebook page, you may find pictures of your child there.

A WARNING

While it may be extremely tempting to reach out to the adoptive parents or your child, I must say this. If your child is under 18, you run the risk of alerting them that you have figured them out. This means any future pictures they may publicly post will most likely be taken away from you via the “block” button on Facebook. Even if they blocked you, they may still lock down their accounts which will make it impossible to get any new pictures even from a friend’s account. If you are thinking there may have just been some mistake and that’s how you lost touch….I’m so sorry to say that is most likely NOT what happened. They cut you off for a reason and will most likely not welcome you with open arms. Instead they will probably FREAK that you’ve figured them out and know who they are. You do what you want, though.

Edit: Additionally Priscilla Sharp has created a WONDERFUL list of search resources and that can be found HERE.

A MESSAGE TO ADOPTIVE PARENTS WHO HAVE CLOSED OPEN ADOPTIONS

I have decided that my life’s goal is to find each and every one of you. Lock down your profiles all you want, I’ll get that address, phone number, email. You can’t hide. Not in today’s world. It’s as simple as that. I will hold you accountable. If you are thinking of adopting and have stumbled upon this post – let this be a warning to you as well.

The DNA Test

For Christmas I got myself a 23andMe DNA test. Some people wondered why. Most people who utilize these tests are extreme genealogy buffs or are in search of biological family. Because of my experiences working as a search angel in various different groups I have been able to develop a deep appreciation for tests such as these. Furthermore, a deep appreciation for the fact that these tests mean nothing unless more people like me, who are not adopted, submit our DNA.

Yes, I am a birthmother, but DNA will play no role in the life of the daughter I relinquished in regards to her quest to find me. She will never need to search. Her adoptive parents hold all the answers to my location. And if, for some reason, she is unable to obtain that information from them, she will only need to look to the courts in the state she was born in. My notarized signature is on file. She has permission to have her original birth certificate. The fact that I needed to give permission for her to have it, in the first place, is sickening but, nevertheless, it was the only way. In addition to that, my address and phone number is also there. I have updated it every time information has changed over the past 14 years. I hope she never has to use this as a means to find me and only as a means to have her birth certificate. But, if it turns out that way, I have peace knowing it is all there.

Unfortunately, for the majority of adoptees in this country, that is not the case. Outdated and archaic laws and informal social institutions have dictated that adoptees are somehow not deserving of the basic human right to know who created them. So until these laws and social attitudes are changed, many adoptees have only one hope of finding any birth family. Genetic testing.

There are a few big players in the DNA testing market. I am by no means an expert at this stuff at all. I chose the company I did because, overall, to me, it seemed to serve the main purpose I was using it for the best. It had a large database of people and is well known for matching birth relatives. I don’t know that there is anyone sharing my DNA that may be searching for family, but I don’t know that there isn’t. In a show of solidarity for all those people still searching for answers, I jumped in the pool, as one of my fellow adoptee friends pointed out. If my DNA could help only one person solve their puzzle it would be worth it.

Of course I did get some other perks of the test. It’s neat to see where my ancestors came from and what genes could be potentially ticking time bombs. I found out I’m not nearly as white as I look and that I have the best longevity gene one could hope for. Great! Since all I really have is raw data I can’t do too much in regards to my main purpose for testing. In a few days the program should start matching me with relatives. Distant cousins, Maybe close cousins? In the meantime I am trying to make my family tree as accurate as possible. I have transformed all the data I worked on for years from my ancestry account and it now resides in my 23andMe family tree via MyHeritage. Maybe the secrets of my genes can help someone uncover secrets of their own.

Why am I blogging about this? Really it’s quite simple. If EVERYONE paid the $99 and did one of these tests imagine how many adoptees could find their answers sooner than these laws are starting to change. What do you say? Are you ready to jump in the pool with us?