Posts Tagged ‘birth family searches’

Birth family visit 2016

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Realize I never posted a photo from our visit this summer with Olivia’s birth mother in Guatemala. In the photo above, they’re walking into the church in Panajachel, where every year we pray together and light candles.
And in the photo below, from their first reunion, when Olivia was age seven, with Abuela.



TLC “Lost and Found”

Monday, March 28th, 2016

Spring Break this week for Olivia and Mateo and we’re on the East coast visiting historical sites. Because every hotel has cable TV, the kids were thrilled to catch up on Cutthroat Kitchen, Extreme Weight Loss, and Cupcake Wars, programs they miss in our cable-less home. That is, until they discovered the new TLC show about adoptive families: “Lost and Found: Reunited.”

Now it’s back-to-back Lost and Found episodes, one story melting into another–of mothers and their sons and daughters searching and hoping and meeting. Of filling in blanks and seeing oneself reflected, of finally getting answers. Olivia and Mateo are fascinated, mesmerized, transfixed. Glued to the screen.

I’ve written about Lost and Found before, but now that I’ve seen the show myself, I am re-recommending. If the episodes do nothing else, they will generate dialogue. Dialogue is good. It’s a beginning. ~


Excerpt from Mamalita

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

I’m honored (and surprised!) that Adoptive Families magazine recently posted this excerpt from Mamalita–the final chapter. (Thank you!) As you know, eight years after adoptions between the US and Guatemala closed, some 6 to 8 families still wait for resolution of their cases. As I remember our story, I think of them. ~

Here are the first few excerpted paragraphs:

Because of Olivia, everything else in my life finally made sense. My failed first marriage. My early menopause. The sequence of boyfriends who had rejected me because of my infertility. Meeting Tim. All of it had had a single purpose: to lead me to her.

My parents welcomed Olivia with open arms. Family and friends clamored to meet her. She was the undisputed star of every social gathering. I felt more settled and happy than I ever remembered.

But as the years passed, scrutiny of Guatemalan adoption increased. One night, Tim came home to find me on the family room sofa surrounded by a pile of used tissues. I was watching a television newsmagazine about adoption practices in Guatemala. Much of the show was shot with hidden cameras in the shadowy hallways of a “baby hotel,” which I recognized as the Camino Real. The report focused on one particular “broker,” a nefarious character who kidnapped babies from their Guatemalan mothers and sold them to unsuspecting, infertile couples in the United States. Although the “broker” had been banned from facilitating adoptions by the U.S. Embassy, unscrupulous agencies continued to use him.

Tim stared at the TV screen in disbelief. “That’s our facilitator,” he said. In most international adoptions, contact with birth mothers was impossible because little information was known. In Guatemalan adoption, however, most families had access to a birth mother’s name and cédula number — a national identity card — at a minimum. We possessed that information about Olivia’s birth mother, Ana. It would be possible to hire someone to find her.

Read the rest here.





Being complete

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Like me, my 10-year-old son Mateo is a fan of musicals, and Annie is one of his favorites. Yesterday Mateo said, “The ending of the movie Annie isn’t complete.”

“How so?” I asked, surprised. We hadn’t seen Annie lately, and were in Mateo’s room, making his bed.

“Because Annie didn’t meet her birth mother,” Mateo said. “The story isn’t complete unless she meets her birth mother.” He thought for a minute. “Or if the guy she ends up with, Daddy Warbucks, had been her real dad.  If she found out Daddy Warbucks was her real dad.” He looked out the window, pondering. “That could work.”

I smoothed the sheets on his bed and puffed up his pillow. “So meeting the birth parent completes the story?”

“For me it did,” Mateo said.

“Why is that?”

He stared at me with a “duh” expression. “Because now I know who she is.”

And he tumbled across the bed, conversation over.

Both Mateo and Olivia have met their birth mothers, which seems to be key to their feeling “complete.” I describe the experience as a circle being closed. My children know whose features they inherited, and from whom they get their special talents. They’ve felt their mothers’ arms around them. They understand that they are loved.

As Mateo sensed at 10 years old, their stories feel complete. ~






Ballerina adopted from Sierra Leone, with a birth family reunion sub-theme

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

As the daughter of a former Rockette who owned a dance studio—my mother—I must post a link to this Associated Press article about an amazing 17-year-old ballerina, Michaela DePrince, who was adopted as a child to a family in the U.S. from an orphanage in Sierra Leone, and is set to debut in her first full-length professional ballet. The primary focus of the article is compelling enough, but if you read through to the last paragraphs, you’ll discover another reason why I’m posting about it now.

Michaela DePrince was little more than a toddler when she saw her first ballerina — an image in a magazine page blown against the gate of the orphanage where she ended up during Sierra Leone’s civil war. It showed an American ballet dancer posed on tip toe.

“All I remember is she looked really, really happy,” Michaela told The Associated Press this week. She wished “to become this exact person.”

From the misery of the orphanage “I saw hope in it. And I ripped the page out and I stuck it in my underwear because I didn’t have any place to put it.”

Now Michaela’s the one inspiring young Africans: She escaped war and suffers a skin pigmentation disorder that had her labeled “the devil’s child” at the orphanage. She’s an African dancer in the world of ballet that sees few leading black females. She was adopted and raised to become a ballerina in the U.S. — a country where she believed everyone walked around on tippy toes.


“I lost both my parents, so I was there (the orphanage) for about a year and I wasn’t treated very well because I had vitiligo,” [Michaela] said Monday. “We were ranked as numbers and number 27 was the least favorite and that was my number, so I got the least amount of food, the least amount of clothes and what not.”


Michaela said the war and her time in the orphanage affected her for years.

“It took a long time to get it out of my memory. But my mom helped me a lot and I wrote a lot of stuff down so I could recover from it,” she said. “Dance helped me a lot. I had a lot of nightmares.”

[Adoptive mom Elaine] DePrince and her husband Charles have adopted nine children, and had two biological sons. Two of Michaela’s brothers died before she was born, and a third died when she was young. Their deaths were a result of HIV contracted from a manufactured plasma product that was used to treat the hemorrhages associated with hemophilia.

[Elaine] DePrince said the family has worked hard to develop all their children’s dreams.

Now for the part I mentioned in the first paragraph:

“She says she would have not had this dream come true if she had not become Michaela DePrince” by adoption, [Elaine] DePrince said, adding that none of the three girls adopted from Sierra Leone have expressed interest in finding their biological family.

The last half of the last sentence–”none of the three girls adopted from Sierra Leone have expressed interest in finding their biological family”–speaks to recent discussions that have ensued at the other blog where I write, Adoption Under One Roof, about connecting with birth family. Micheala DePrince is an example of a person adopted from an orphanage who currently expresses no interest in reconnecting with her biological family. Is she truly not interested? Or is she afraid to express her interest, fearful she may hurt her adoptive mother?

I don’t know the answer to that question.

But once again, I’m reminded how important it is to avoid generalizing about the subject of reunion, to treat each situation as unique, and to consider all points of view.

You can read the entire article here.

(I cross-posted this blog at Adoption Under One Roof.)


100-year-old California woman and 57-year-old Nebraska man reunite with birth families

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Today I read two amazing articles that remind me again of how powerful the bonds of biological roots are to people involved in adoption–both as a person who is adopted, and as a parent who relinquished a child. The first recounts the story of a 100-year-old California woman who gave up a daughter 77 years ago. The second is about a 57-year-old man in Nebraska who searched for and found his birth siblings and other relatives.  Happy 2012!

Mom reunites with biological child 77 years later

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. (AP) — For most of her 100 years, Minka Disbrow tried to find out what became of the precious baby girl she gave up for adoption after being raped as a teen.

She hoped, but never imagined, she’d see her Betty Jane again.

The cruel act of violence bore in Disbrow an enduring love for the child. She kept a black and white photograph of the baby bundled in blankets and tucked inside a basket.

It was the last she saw of the girl — until the phone rang in her California apartment in 2006 with the voice of an Alabama man and a story she could have only dreamed.

 57 years after adoption, Nebraska man finds family that had only existed in his imagination

A few days before Christmas, Orion Knee got a telephone call from his uncle, Don Frazer, in Omaha. “I think you’ve got a brother,” his uncle said. “I was blown away,” Orion said. He had no idea that his mother had given up a child for adoption 57 years ago, before he was born. Recently, in north Lincoln, the two brothers met for the first time.

Rick Nolze, 57, of Clearwater in northeast Nebraska, was welcomed into a family that a few weeks ago only existed in his imagination. “I’ve got aunts and uncles I didn’t know existed. I’ve gotten hugs… And that guy over there looks like me,” Rick said, pointing to his uncle, Frazer, a few feet.

Rick is grateful for the love and care of his adoptive parents, Fred and Shirley Nolze. He doesn’t want his search to take away from the wonderful life they gave him.”I felt like the prodigal son. They put a robe on my back and a ring on my finger and said, ‘This is my son.’”

But he’s always been curious about his birth family. He has his original birth certificate (Larry Dean Knee) and was aware from adoption records that he had an older sibling.