Finding birth parents
We just yesterday got in contact with my youngest son’s birth parents, a process that has taken us something like six years.
We started looking almost immediately, using the official channels of Family and Children’s Services. In theory they’ve had the most recent contact with birth parents in these situations. They’re the ones who made the decision to take the child into custody in the first place. They’re the ones who have followed the case through the courts. They’re the ones who have had to keep up legal communication with the birth parents. You’d think that they’d be able to pass on basic contact information.
In our experience, however, you’d think wrong. With both of our adoptive children, Family and Children’s Services has been entirely unable to help us with connecting to birth family. Despite their frequently stated emphasis on keeping contact between children and care and their families of origin, we have never once had any of the agencies we work with (four over the years) be able to provide us with a way to contact birth families or even pass on pictures or letters. We’ve tried emailing our worker at our agency, the kids’ workers at their agencies, administrators at all the agencies. Not only are they never able to help, they don’t even seem particularly interested in helping.
So, our next step was to try to find them on our own, and the best way to do that, at least in our experience, is good old Facebook. I created a separate Facebook profile and email account (because not everyone responds to first contact with the adoptive parents of their children well). It took me about 10 minutes to locate the profiles that I was looking for. The names were right. They were Facebook friends with each other. Their pictures matched the descriptions we had been given by the agency (though the agency wouldn’t even confirm or deny that we had the right people).
I messaged both of them through Facebook, letting them know who we were, and suggesting that we would like to be in contact. Then I waited. I checked the account off and on for several months, but never heard back. I assumed either that I had the wrong people or that they weren’t interested in being in contact.
Then, yesterday, almost two years later, my little guy was asking about his birth parents again, so I decided to try and message them again. I logged into that profile, and – shock – there were messages from both his birth parents. They had been sitting there unanswered for more than a year. I replied right away, and in a few minutes I was messaging my son’s birth father. Later that night I was able to get in touch with his birth mother.
It was a little bit surreal for me (imagine what it must have been like for them). I ended up transcribing a conversation between my son and the parents he’s been wanting to know his whole life (imagine how exciting, terrifying, and strange that must feel to a six-year old). He talked about his school and his Christmas and the things he likes. He found out that his birth father also likes to make things and to play soccer, that he also prefers small groups to big crowds, and that he also had a hard time learning his letters when he was small.
None of that might seem like much when you’ve grown up just knowing your parents, but to a kid who has always had to imagine what his parents even look like, it’s a big deal. Hopefully, for him, for them, for all of us, this is just the beginning.