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It’s okay to be found

Judy Sellin, Lead Searcher

Judy Sellin, Lead Searcher

Often birth mothers carry a horrendous guilt for surrendering their child. It’s perhaps getting a little lighter for birth mothers, now that adoptions are more open, and that we can watch television shows of reunions. Many topics that were considered secret and private are becoming more open and more accepted by society. But, I still have to tell birth mothers that it’s okay to be found — that you have not committed a crime, but have in fact given a gift to families that perhaps couldn’t have their own children or could but wanted to take in another child. And, it’s okay to be found, because the child I am searching for that you surrendered has spoken to me, and they’re no longer angry, and they really care to meet you and want to be a part of your life in any way you choose to allow them.

I try to give birth mothers options, too – that they can communicate through me, for example, or don’t have to tell their husband or other family for a time until they can go through the adjustments and digesting they need to go through after being located. And it’s alright. For many birth mothers, it’s really a relief to be found. I recall decades ago where I found a birth mother who happened to be at a family reunion, and she was just so happy that I found her, that she was going to tell everyone at the reunion about the child she surrendered. It’s always okay to be found, regardless of what happens, and I always give that reassurance to the birth mother, because I’ve been speaking with the child that has been looking for her.

When it’s the birth parent looking for the adoptee, I think it’s a little more frightening, because the child has been surrendered, and there’s that fear that the child they surrendered, even as an adult, still holds resentment. And, it does happen. They’re afraid they’ll be inquisitive. And, they can be. There are questions of “why did you give me up?” But, these questions are answered a lot more differently because of my searching, because I’m talking to the adoptee and telling them how the birth parent feels, and sometimes I can even relate bits of information as to why they were surrendered, and so on. Sometimes adoptees do know a bit about the circumstances, too, via the identifying or non-identifying histories they’ve obtained from the government. But, coming indirectly from the thoughts of the birth parent to the adoptee can make it a much easier process.

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