Adoptees Find Birth Family Using the Web

April 01, 2009 07:30 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
The Web has streamlined the adoption process and helped adopted children find their birth parents, but improvements must still be made, and repercussions of in-person meetings must be considered.

The Search for Family

A Pittsburgh woman who spent years searching in vain for her birth father finally got answers in the fall of 2008. According to the Houston Chronicle, Robert Emery was struck and killed by a motorcycle while trying to save three dogs “stranded in an emergency lane” during Hurricane Ike. His story spread, and Houston residents tried desperately to locate Robert Emery’s family members.

Emery’s daughter, Alaina, resides in Pittsburgh. She received an e-mail from Kellye Nagata, an adult adoptee from Houston, explaining the situation. Nagata says she “got really good at searching” for people online while trying to locate her own parents, and used those skills to find Alaina.

Despite never meeting, Alaina and her father illustrated how crucial the Web can be in reuniting family members. In particular, parents and children separated by adoption are looking for one another online.

In addition to bringing families together, the Web has had an impact on the adoption process, according to a 2002 article in The Seattle Times. For example, there is more support available for parents both before and after adoption; more research sources to teach parents about types of adoption, costs and international requirements; and improved communication with agencies and caseworkers.

However, the Web “can’t replace advocacy for hard-to-place special-needs children,” professor Victor Groza of Case Western Reserve University told The Seattle Times. Children living in poverty “are being left out” of the adoption process, and the Web “has not been the solution for these children,” Groza said.

Nonetheless, adoption resources on the Internet seem to be constantly evolving. For example, in August 2008, the Gladney Center for Adoption unveiled an updated Web site with “Birth Mother video testimonials as well as Adoptive Parent and Adoptee testimonials."

Related Topics: Meeting in person; Genealogy

When adoptees and birth parents finally meet, “they should not expect a meeting to be a cure-all for their own life issues,” said Joe Soll, a New York-based psychotherapist. Soll and Theresa Heller, a Michigan-based certified adoption intermediary, give “advice for those considering an adoption search” in an article in the Kalamazoo Gazette.

The New York Times reported on the uplifting story of an adult adoptee reuniting with his long-lost twin’s adoptive mother—an unorthodox, but life-changing meeting that was orchestrated by a genealogist, not the Internet.

Reference: Adoption resources

The findingDulcinea International Adoption Web Guide provides online resources that explain the international adoption process, programs and requirements, costs associated with adoption, advice for finding an adoption agency or lawyer, and health information related to adoption.

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