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Published January 2016

Growing up, I always knew that I was adopted. My parents initially explained with books and stories from when I was born, and as I got older I started to do my own research and learn more about my personal history. My mother greatly struggled with this, fearing that I would leave them for my “other family”, which I’ve learned to understand is a common feeling among adoptive parents.

When I went to college, and Google became a thing, I tirelessly searched for my birth parents. Since I was a part of a closed private adoption, there wasn’t much information to go on other than my birth mother’s first name, the hospital I was born in, and my birthdate. In the spring of 2004, I came across a post on an adoption forum for a woman named Nancy seeking a baby girl born on my birthday, at my birth hospital. I knew it was her, and then the fear set in. As a small child, I dreamed my mother was Cindy Crawford (really), imagining that one day I would meet her and become rich and famous. Now faced with adult reality, my biggest fear was disappointment. Every bad scenario ran through my head. What if she closeminded? Or a bad person? Or wildly unhealthy? What if I didn’t like her?

Curiosity won me over in the end, and I prepared a letter and a collage full of photos of me through the years. After some letters back and forth, we agreed to meet that winter at a restaurant in Chicago. I couldn’t tell my parents for fear that it would hurt them, so I had two close girlfriends wait at a nearby coffee shop in case something went wrong. Of course, nothing went wrong. It was lovely. We hugged, and cried, and talked for hours over a big Italian meal. I learned that I was a result of a summer fling. I learned that she lost touch with my birth father over the years. I learned that she too was adopted, but was never given the chance to meet her birth family. I learned that she never had any other kids of her own, but that she’s happily married with stepchildren, with a couple of dogs, and a solid career. She was the farthest from the bad scenarios that I dreamt up.

That was 11 years ago, and we haven’t seen each other since. We kept in touch with letters, then emails, and now eventually Facebook. I still wonder about my birth father, and have tried to find him a couple of times, but I haven’t told my birth mother that. As I get older, and consider children of my own, I feel a stronger need to know more, to be more connected, and to have a relationship with my birth family. It’s a difficult thing to balance, but I’m working on it.

More than ever, supporting adoption efforts is extremely important to me. I’ve learned that there are so many women (and their partners) who are so confused by their options when faced with an unwanted pregnancy. After asking many friends about their knowledge or opinion of the basics behind the adoption process, I feel so strongly that the world of adoption needs to be demystified. Many said that all they know is that adoption is expensive, or difficult, or heartbreaking. Many said that they don’t know of any adoption agencies or groups they would turn to if they were faced with an unwanted pregnancy. Feedback like that is the reason I reached out to volunteer with Cradle. My family and I have had such a great experience with the adoption process that I want to “pay it forward” in any way I can.

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