Posted by Betsy Hochberg
Jane*, a 37-year-old woman who contacted Adoption Resources last year, had always been told that she had been adopted through JF&CS. Due to deliver her first child in six months, she was now curious to learn more about her medical history. After coming in and meeting with me, she realized that she would like to know more about her family of origin. Jane’s adoption had been a closed one and Massachusetts law does not allow identifying information to be shared with members of the adoption triad (adoptee, birth parents, and adoptive parents) without express written permission from the adult adoptee and birth family.
A closed adoption means that no identifying information is shared between birth and adoptive families. This was standard protocol at the time of Jane’s birth.
We reviewed Jane’s file and, as it turned out, her birth mother had, in fact, left a letter in the file asking that she be contacted should her daughter come to the agency to find her. Using a variety of means, we found her birth mother’s current address and new married name and determined that she still wanted her information shared with Jane. With that information Jane and her birth mother, Susan*, met. Jane met half-siblings and Susan was able to share Jane’s joy in the birth of her first child. They could both marvel at the similarities between them, such as similar hand gestures, a love of Italian food, and the same choice of profession.
Jane’s birth family did not replace her adoptive family, but became part of her extended family. Though initially somewhat concerned, Jane’s adoptive parents have come to support Jane’s open adoption.
I recently received the following note from Jane’s adoptive mother:
“At first I worried that Jane might regret meeting her birth family. I also wondered how we would all fit together. Now I could not imagine life without Susan and Ron*. I realize that Jane is the wonderful young woman I love in part because of her upbringing but also because of the wonderful people she came from...I understand how important it was for Jane to search and I am so proud of her.”
Adoption in 2012 is certainly different from adoption in 1964. As we move toward more open adoptions and freer exchange of information, JF&CS continues to support the families we are honored to have assisted.
*Names changed to protect privacy.
Betsy Hochberg, LICSW, is the director of
JF&CS Adoption Resources.