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Adoption reunions 3

If everyone lighted just one little candle
by Alice Syman
A few years ago a member of my Orphan Voyage Adoption Search and Support Group in Arizona hosted a Christmas party. The home was a Christmas Wonderland. Thousands of lights twinkled on the lawn; the inside looked like a Santa-Land. The atmosphere was warm, loving and affectionate. The Christmas music and candlelight sparked some real magic that night.

Each person searching for someone was invited to light one of the red or white tapers arranged in a circle around a lighted taper in the center of the dining table. Those who were already reunited lit a candle for a member who couldn’t attend. Each person’s name was called as they lit a candle. Then, everyone joined hands, observed a moment of silence and visualized a reunion taking place.

During the next 16 days Janice had a telephone reunion with her birthfather and two siblings. Sadly, Victor found out that his granddaughter died 10 years earlier. Carole’s birth-daughter, and Sho-Mei’s birth family, were located. Sho-mei’s mother had died. Carl’s birth-sister, who was located in spring, but had not consented to meet with him, called; they met before New Year! His adopted daughter’s birth family was located.

Linda, a birthmother, received word that the court finally located the record of a son she had given up. She had also lost custody of several children she’d not seen since they were small. They were now all adults with families of their own. The night of the party, Linda was home alone, ill, wondering where her children were and if she’d ever see them again. She knew nothing about our candle-lighting ceremony but said that suddenly she felt all her children around her and knew she would see them again. I asked what time this happened. She said about 7:30 PM. We were lighting candles at 7:30 PM! We located Linda’s children shortly after.

As far as I know everyone at the party that night has been reunited with the person they were searching for.

About the author
Alice Syman operated Orphan Voyage of Arizona 12 years and now operates Orphan Voyage-at-St. Augustine (Florida). Orphan Voyage, founded by Jean Paton in 1953, was the first search and support organization for the adoption triad in the US. They have an adoptee/birthparent memorial site on the web; request guidelines; 904-810-5596.

Adoption Related Searching

These are very basic steps for doing an adoption search; Adoptee for birthparents; birthparents for adoptees; adoptive parents for birthparents.

The single difference that distinguishes an adoption search from any other is that, often, you begin without knowing the name of the person for whom you're searching. This is complicated by name changes when birthmothers marry.

You face a two-step process
1. Find the name
2. Find the person

There was a time when searching was done in isolation and secret. That, mercifully, is no longer true. There are many places and much help. Assert yourself.

Register with the International Soundex Reunion Registry
ISRR is a totally volunteer organization thus your complete cooperation is required. Read carefully and follow their directions to the letter. Answer every question as thoroughly as you can to give them details to make a match.

Registration is free (donations encouraged). Send self-addressed, stamped envelope to ISRR, PO Box 2312, Carson City NV 89702.

Decide if you will search or hire someone else
Searching is not to be taken lightly. It is a large commitment of time, energy and emotions you probably didn't know existed. It is not for the faint of heart. Enter your personal search with determination and be prepared for challenges, obstacles and disappointments. You may be facing a long and compelling experience.

If you decide to hire someone to help you, be prepared to provide information and financial resources necessary to complete the job. We make no recommendations because like all other help you hire, there must be a comfortable fit. Check Reunions magazine Classifieds, your local search and support organization, the Yellow Pages, the American Adoption Congress, and others who have searched (whom you know personally or meet in books and articles).

Join, attend and be active in a search and support organization; list in their registry
Join a local group for support and assistance. If you were born or adopted elsewhere, affiliate with a group in that area too. There are local groups throughout the country. Check Reunions magazine Classifieds, the Yellow Pages, ask a social worker, minister or librarian, ask someone who is searching or has searched.

Read, read, read
There are many books about searching and reunions. Many inspire. Some anger. All teach. You will learn about other people's searches. What worked. What didn't. Keep your mind, heart, eyes and ears open to the message of each. Begin at your local library.

If you are an adoptee, ask your adoptive parents.

Most adoptive parents expect their children to ask for information. Some offer it but most must be gently confronted. The best outcome should be that your parents share all the information they have, which sometimes includes the name and more. If not, they can direct you to the agency or intermediary who helped make the placement.

Be very circumspect and thoughtful about why you are searching. Medical information to survive is probably the most compelling reason to search. Think through what you hope to find and alternative realities that might be the case. Try to prepare yourself to be surprised, overwhelmed, disappointed or even underwhelmed. Use your best judgement. Let everyone adjust at their own pace.

Resources for beginners
International Soundex Reunion Registry
PO Box 2312
Carson City NV 89702

General Information
American Adoption Congress
1000 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 9
Washington DC 20036
Phone 202-483-3399

National Adoption Information Clearinghouse
11426 Rockville Pike, Suite 410
Rockville MD 20852
Phone 301-231-6512

Search and Support Groups
The Blue Book Birthparent Connection
Box 230643
Encinitas CA 92023-0643

With a Computer
There are individuals, bulletin boards, chat rooms and web sites on the Internet which you can visit or to which you can connect. Some of them are hot-linked from here. Also try Yahoo and other Internet search engines. Resources are added daily.

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