23andMe Adoption Reunion- A Sibling Story Sixty Years in the Making

I have been reading quite a bit about adoption reunions enabled by mail order DNA testing.  Most of the stories are about adoptee’s reunions with distant cousins. However, this recent article in the Parsippany Focus tells the reunion story of sisters Sherri Parker and Jan Mattaliano. DNA-Strang 2

23andMe shares similar stories on its customer story page.

As an adoptee, who searched pre-internet, in an decade when DNA was primarly used as a  means to prove paternity, these reunions always amaze me. We have witnessed the moving of mountains in terms of adoption search technology. Of course, if we had access to our records and original birth certificates (OBCs), we wouldn’t need any of these functional family finders to reach the search summit.

A happy reunion story. Please share.

Reunited after 60 years: Florida woman finds her long-lost sister in N.J.

Two sisters, unknown to each other for 60 years, met for the first time in a Florida hotel recently. Sherri Parker, a Realtor from Florida, and Jan Mattaliano, of Fairfield, met after Parker’s decades-long search for her birth mother led to the half-sister she never knew about. DNA testing finally brought them together – and proved… READ MORE at Parsippany Focus

Blessings for a DNA matching miracle,



Waving Backwards, a Savannah novel (SYP Publishing)
Imagine not knowing who you are,
until you find yourself in a statue 800-miles from home.
COMING TO Amazon/Kindle/Nook and a BOOKSTORE NEAR YOU JULY 2015

Adoption Search Resources (Facebook & More)



I realized this morning that I have an abundance of helpful adoption search links bookmarked on my laptop.  Sharing is caring. So here are some of my favorite resources for finding your family.



Search & Support Sites

People Locator Sites (perfect for surname searches by state/location)

Facebook Resources and Groups

If you are unsure where to start your search- I also recommend these adoptionfind posts-

Letter to use when requesting non-identifying information

How non-identifying information identifies

Organize your adoption search

Step by Step search advice

Please email me if have a resource you would like added or questions about searching.- vbrunskill*at*gmail.com

Blessings for a productive search day,
V.L. Brunskill

Waving Backwards, a Savannah novel (SYP Publishing)
Imagine not knowing who you are,
until you find yourself in a statue 800-miles from home.
COMING TO Amazon/Kindle/Nook and a BOOKSTORE NEAR YOU JULY 2015

Adoptees- What’s in a Name?

We adopted two pets last year — a dog named Georgia and a cat named Gretel. They were named when we got them, and these youthful balls of energy responded to their names.

Gretel’s brother in the animal shelter was Hansel. We considered calling her Marble. Georgia has eyes that look like they are lined with heavy makeup. We thought about calling her Cleopatra.  We did not change their names. It seemed silly to change names that were understood by our animals. Hello-my-name-is2-720x505

The adoption of our furry friends made me consider the re-naming process in human adoption. Are most adoptees renamed? Do they like their new names?

My foster parents called me Janet for the first 7 months of my life. It was the name my birth mother gave me. Once adopted, my name was changed to Vicki-lynn. I love my adoptive name.  I don’t feel like a Janet. Imagining the four sets of foster parents who called me Janet is impossible since their identities are unavailable to me.

I asked my loyal Facebook community Adoptees who have found their birth parents to help me explore the adoption name game by answering this question;

Was your first name changed when you were adopted?
If yes, which name do you prefer?

Their replies-

  •  “I didn’t know it growing up, but my biological family kept me for 9 days before the paperwork as finalized. They called me Bright Eyes, – the Bonnie Tyler song Total Eclipse of the Heart (turn around bright eyes…) Was the #1 hit two months before my birth. They referred to me to my siblings as Bright Eyes – said I had died- probably to avoid a sad truth- I’ve never liked the name Elizabeth- I go by Liz.”
  • “I was originally Mandi(after the song) then changed to Alicia. I prefer Alicia. Throughout childhood I really disliked the name Mandi, I had no reason for it, every Mandi I knew was nice.
    I didn’t know it was my original name until I was 18, I have always wondered if my dislike of the name was just an odd coincidence. I met my bio mom when I was 18, I love her dearly but will never love the name Mandi.
  • “My birth mother named me Princess and she was actually shocked that my name was changed to Amy . When the agency first located her and asked if she wanted to know my name, bmom was quite surprised it had changed. I’ll keep Amy although Princess isn’t that bad.”
  • “My name was changed to Susan when I was adopted. I just found out last year that my birth name was Diane. They’re both okay. I feel like I am Susan-Diane. It’s a very strange thing to discover about yourself. Not too many people understand what it feels like.”
  • “I found out at age 24, my name was Karen before adopted. At 13 days old the adoption agency had taken first letter of my bio Mom’s last name & created a first name for me. but my other name growing up is actually Janet Michelle, but from day I was adopted, my adoptive mother called me Chelle (shell) & it stuck; and I embrace all the names.”
  • “I have yet to find my b. family but have a strong notion that I had a different name. The name my a. parents gave me (Erika) is not a bad name whatsoever but I have never liked it for me or felt like an Erika.”
  • My birth name is Hope, but my adopted name is Rosemary. My birth family calls me Hope, everybody else calls me Rosemary. I answer to both. Doesn’t matter to me…
  • “CRAZY STORY…..both my birthmother and my adoptive parents named me Jennifer Lynn. When my adoptive parents went to pick me up from the Children’s Home, my adoptive mother changed it (because she was freaked out that it was the same).
  • “Mine was changed. Took 18 months for me to accept my new name.”
  • “My real name was Marjorie and it was changed to Lorene. I kept Lorene because I thought it was prettier and more original but I did change my adopted surname back to my real surname when I was 16.”
  • “Mine was always Lisa and I liked it. B mom was happy I my first name was kept.”
  • “Well, since my name was Baby Girl C I guess anything is better than that!”
  • “My bio mom named me Samantha. The adoption agency told my parents I was un-named. I would have preferred being Samantha.”
  • It was originally ‘Julie’, which as a kid from my era, I would have preferred. You can’t tease / poke fun at ‘Julie’. I had so much teasing and dumb statements made about my name as ‘Paige’. Now it’s trendy, but not so much in 1962.

So what’s in a name? What do you think of the renaming process?
Is it OK to rename a baby that knows his/her name after adoption?
Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Blessings that all adoptees might know their names,


Waving Backwards, a Savannah novel (SYP Publishing)
Imagine not knowing who you are,
until you find yourself in a statue 800-miles from home.






Adult Adoptee’s Messages to Adoptive Parents

Earlier this week, I shared things that adoptees would like to say to their birth mothers.  As moderator of the Facebook page –Adoptees who have found their biological relatives, I ask members to comment on reunion-related questions. Community members share their feelings with insight and honesty.

2953403454_7dd3a9740c_zToday, we look at the opposite end of the adoption coin, with answers to this question-

If you could say one thing about adoption to your adoptive parents (without guilt or censorship) what would it be?

  • “I love you. I’m thankful for the life you afforded me. I wish you’d been able to know me rather than trying to make me the child you’d wished for- who was more like you.”
  • “I wish you’d known how to act like parents. But we loved each other and in the long run you probably did me a solid. You weren’t a good mother. Dinner on the table every night, house so clean it shined, every game/toy that came out and I wanted, check check check. Love, kindness, understanding, acceptance, affection- not so much.”
  • “The one thing I would say to them again, and to ALL adoptive parents (and I am an adoptive mom myself) is ALWAYS be honest with a child about their adoption.”
  • “Thank you for being my mom and dad.”
  • “Thank you for always being open about it and giving me the option to search for my biological parents, and have a relationship with my mom.”
  • “Very simply, Thank you for being there with me every step of the way! Miss them oh so much!”
  • “I am thankful. I hope nowadays adoption is taken more seriously and they do home checks for years. Make sure the child is in a loving environment and not abused! Yes, that means you Catholic Charities!”
  • “You gave me a loving home & opportunities in life I would never have had with my biological mother. I will always love & respect you as my parents! Even more so after having met my biological mother! I now know what a lucky baby I was 45 years ago to be put in your arms!”
  • “Why did you go along with the farce, when there were far more willing and acceptable contestants available? I love you and I wish you could have loved and accepted me. All you left me was a sense of uselessness, hopelessness, lovelessness and death. I feel so sad for you. You don’t even REALIZE what you have missed. Thank you though for all you managed to do. I truly wish you all the very best. Love & Prayers.”
  • “To prospective adoptive parents: When you have a child for a reason, you better make sure that reason never ceases to exist, or it will be hell for that child.”
  • “Why the need for secrecy? You should have felt secure enough to share and be open.”
  • “You should never have adopted, but should have learned to live with your infertility. Saying you “love” an imaginary child who you pretend is your own, while lying to your adoptee about information you have about their real name, and referring to their mother as “that whore” is NOT love.”
  • “I love you both until the end of time. You taught me how to never give up or give in and thank you most for loving me when I was most unlovable or feeling unworthy of love.”
  • “I wish you would have filled in all of the gaps regarding the things I don’t know.
  • “Thanks Mom and Dad for being so forthright and open about my beginnings. You always allowed me the positive memory of my biological mother, Emma. Everything that I am or will ever become is because of your love for me. Now it is my great privilege to “pay it forward.” With love and gratitude, your daughter.”
  • “I love you and I miss you. I wish we had more time together.”
What would you like to say to your adoptive parents?
Leave a reply below.
Blessings for honest adoption conversations & healing,
Waving Backwards, a Savannah novel (SYP Publishing)
Imagine not knowing who you are,
until you find yourself in a statue 800-miles from home.


Uncensored Adoptees Tell Birth Mothers The Truth

As moderator of the Facebook page –Adoptees who have found their biological relatives, I ask members to comment on reunion-related questions. This engaged community shares with gusto and their answers give insight into the many feelings associated with abandonment, adoption and reunion.

adoptionLast week, I asked the following question.

If you could say one thing about adoption to your birth mother (without guilt or censorship) what would it be?

These heartfelt replies are a testament to the pain, healing and resilience of adoptees.

  • You have made me feel like an abortion come to life. You nearly destroyed me when I first found you and every interaction thereafter has been unbearably painful. I believe you are a frozen person, disassociated from your pain and I feel sorry for you that your life is full of lies and secrets and you will not come into the light.”
  • “One thing…..who’s my birth father? ….won’t tell any of us”
  • “I forgive you.”
  • “Just curious as to why you kept the 4 children you had after me. I’m not angry or bitter, just curious.. I’m not asking because I wonder what life would have been like with you either.. I’m curious by nature.”
  • “Without guilt, thank you, and I mean it. Uncensored… you suck, and I mean that too. But I feel guilty about feeling it!”
  • “I have had a wonderful live, but I missed you.”
  • “You used the care system to dispose of me, but I made so much more of my life thanks to my short time in adoption and foster care. Thank you for negating me to your whole entire family, and lying for over 20 years who my father is. I’ve let go of that never and continue to strive to be a better mother woman and human being than you ever could be.”
  • “It would be a question, not a statement. I would ask her if she ever thought about me.”
  • “Thank you for giving me a stable healthy life.”
  • “Thank you for healthfully bringing me into this world. Thank God you didn’t raise me. Why after 42 years do you still hold onto secrets?”
  • “I would tell her that I wish she could have kept me, she wanted to, but was forced to give me up. Sad.”
  • “My first mother and I have talked at length about my adoption and the events that lead up to it. A lot of illegal things were done and she was treated badly. I think the one thing I would say that I am not sure I have is, ‘I’m sorry those things were done to you.'”
  • “You made the best decision ever to put me up for adoption…it was done out of love.”
  • “I’m so glad we found each other, thank you for never giving up.”
  • “I would tell her to seek professional help for the pain she has from losing me at birth, for no other reason than I need my mom. I need that safe place to curl up in her arms, and let all the hurt and pain of the past 45 years out. And then finish healing together. Wishful thinking. I know.”
  • “Why? Why? Why? Why could you have given me to my birth fathers family instead of telling them I died?”
  • “You lied! You also kept a sister after you relinquished me. You hurt me.”
  • “Why would you still hide me from my family after all these years? I have not hid you from anyone in my family but if I did, how would that make YOU feel? I don’t think you realize how hiding my reality (and yours) just reinforces the feelings of being unworthy of acceptance. Still haunts me to this day.”

What would you say?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.
I asked the same question with regard to adoptive parents, and will share those answers this weekend.
Blessings for open, healing adoption dialogue,

Great News for Ohio Adoptees

Get ready Ohio adoptees born between Jan. 1, 1964, and Sept. 18, 1996. An open records bill has passed in the Ohio House and is heading to Governor John Kasich, who is expected to sign it into law.

All members of the adoption traid are encouraged to contact the Governor using the contact form link here- http://www.governor.ohio.gov/Contact/ContacttheGovernor.aspx 

Let him know why this law is important to you, and be sure to thank him when he signs it into law!

Read the full story here-

Bill granting 400,000 adoptees access to birth records clears General Assembly, heads to Gov. John Kasich for signing

Blessings for a season of hope, and reunion,

Washington State Adoptees- Original Birth Records to Open July 1, 2014

State by state and crumb by crumb, adoptees continue to gain access to their God-given rights.  Today’s good news comes from top left side of our fabulous country. Washington State adoptees will be able to obtain their original birth records starting on July 1, 2014.washington

According to a News Tribune article published in May 2013 when the legislation was approved, “House Bill 1525 — allows those adopted before October 1993 to obtain copies of their original birth certificates identifying their birth mothers and possibly fathers, provided those parents have not filed papers to prevent the release.

Under the state’s old law, those adopted after Oct. 1, 1993, can access original birth records without court orders. Records can be requested once the adoptee turns 18.”

For more on how to request an original birth certificate, visit the Washington State Department of Health Site. There is a full  description of the law and who is allowed access here.

As usual, the new open records legislation comes with an ugly  ‘opt-out’ option for birth parents who do not wish  to be contacted.  If only adoptees could opt-out of having their heritage stolen and their lives mired in secrecy. Open records should apply to everyone!

Blessings for a country where freedom-for-all finally includes adoptees,

Help pass NY Adoption Legislation for Adoptee Access to Birth Records

NEWS10 ABC reported yesterday on Legislation that would give adoptees access to birth records. What a wonderful way to head into Mother’s Day weekend!

However, we can’t sit back and celebrate just yet. The New York Statewide Adoption Reform Unsealed Initiative needs your help to make sure this life-altering Adoption legislation passes the Senate.  Call your friends, share and please do whatever you can to make equal access the law in New York.

Below are details from the New York Statewide Adoption Reform Unsealed Initiative  site explaining what you can do right now.New York unsealed initiative

“Contact your legislators in their District Offices. To learn who your state assembly member and senator are, call the Albany switchboard at: 518 455-4218. The phone number in New York City for the League of Women Voters is (212) 725-3541. There are 150 assembly members and the link to the assembly website is http://assembly.state.ny.us
There are 62 state senators. One way to find out who your senator is is by logging on to the senate site, www.senate.state.ny.us
We now have 75 assembly sponsors. Although we have 16 in the senate, we are very hopeful for the future. With more interest and more of us committed to lobby in Albany next session, we are determined to win.
A written letter (snail mail) is of more importance with many legislators. However, some value emails. If your email does not get through, go to SEARCH and type in the name of the legislator for access to their website, as many have their own sites. Then send an email from the site. Be sure to include your address and phone number in your mail.A new law recently signed by Governor Cuomo extends participation in the adoption registry to include adult adoptees born in other states but adopted in New York. At last they can obtain non-identifying information from the registry the same as adult adoptees born in the state.”

Let’s go New York adoption triad members!
Let’s get this long overdue legislation passed!

Blessings for making the dream of equal access a reality,


Closed Adoption System: 50+ Years of Stolen Biological Rights and Broken Identities

The closed adoption system in America is broken, and has been for more than fifty years.  Just look to Facebook for proof of the lifelong wounds inflicted by the closed adoption system. Everyday, hundreds of desperate adoptees post photos embellished with birth dates and non-identifying information in hopes of finding family.

The closed adoption system steals identities and often results in lifelong personality issues.  Even after reunion, many adoptees report a sense of not feeling bonded or belonging 100% to their biological or adoptive families.  We adoptees live in a limbo that tests the concepts of nature vs. nurture and like a science experiment gone horribly wrong, many of us can only guess at the biological tendencies that define us.

Having experienced the all-encompassing sense of loss that adoption brings, and knowing that my birth mother suffered the same emotional trauma, I have been thinking about the origins of closed adoption.  Who first decided that it was ok to take a child from one woman, charge a fee, and hand it over to another family to raise? Who decided that stealing and sealing away the medical and birth records of adoptees was a just legal procedure?

Adoption in America started informally in the mid 1800’s, as a way to place orphaned children. According to InfoPlease.com, “In 1851, Massachusetts passed the nation’s first adoption statute. It required that judges determine if adoptive parents had consent from the adoptee’s guardian or parent, “sufficient ability to bring up the child,” and that it was “fit and proper that such adoption should take effect.”

Two years later, Charles Loring Brace founded the Children’s Aid Society of New York in 1853. The Children’s Aid Society was meant to serve orphans, and created the Orphan train phenomenon. InfoPlease writes, “Between 1859 and 1929 some 200,000 orphaned children were transported from coastal cities to rural areas in the Midwest.”orphan train

After World War I, modern day adoption methods started to take shape. The choice to close off the records of adopted children was not a result of too many unwanted babies. It was a decision born of married couples wanting babies with no strings attached.  Adoption and social agencies supplied well-off couples with children and promised that biological families would not contact them.  Agencies claimed that closed adoptions would protect children against the social stigma of being illegitimate, and help them to bond.

Those of us who have searched or are currently searching know that the real stigma of closed adoption is being citizen with less inalienable rights than American’s who were raised by their biological families.  The idea that sealing away records would help a child to bond is the most laughable aspect of the closed adoption model.  Books like ‘Primal Wound‘ and ‘Being Adopted‘ chronicle the lifelong search for self, and the biological need to imprint that is inherent in all animals.

In the 1970’s, Roe vs. Wade and a change of social attitudes allowed for some open adoptions, but by then an entire generation of adoptees had been damaged. Many states are now considering laws that will allow adoptees to obtain their original birth certificates (OBCs), but for some the awakening of America will come to late.  How many biological mother’s went to their graves without ever once looking at their child? How many adoptees have searched in vain for information sealed away in their best interest?

It is sickening that in a country that prides itself on freedom of religion, protection of civil rights and freedom of speech, adoptees are still denied the right to know. Slavery was a broken system based on inequality, oppression and denial of basic human rights. It was abolished and slaves were freed.

When will adoptees be freed?
Blessings for equal access,

Sibling Day 2013: Adoptees should Recast Reunion Fantasy to include Extras

On July 1, 1991, I wore a new path in the already threadbare carpet of my third-story apartment. I was pacing and waiting for a return call from my birth mother. What will I say? What will she say? How will I breath? These were the questions that raced through my mind.  I was readying myself for the first shared words with the woman who bore me.



After she confirmed my identity (by having me tell her my birth name) there were no words for at least five minutes. Instead of talking, we cried together. We cried for the loss of so many years, with the relief of finally knowing and for the future we might share.  I was ready to move forward with her — alone. I was not mentally prepared for the cast of extras that are part of every reunion package.  Especially the ‘kept’ siblings.

Being raised with one brother, also adopted (born 3/13/68 in NYC in case you are trying to find him) I experienced a sibling closeness built upon bricks of survival. I was my brother’s protector growing up, standing often between his face and our adoptive father’s fist. We survived, grew up as the first generation of latch key kids, and are both fiercely independent with decent jobs and families of our own.  Siblings raised in abusive homes share the same bond as soldiers fighting side-by-side. Their survival depends on a near physic connection. The added psychology of adoption loss made us even closer.

When I found my birth mother and learned that I had two half siblings, I was surprised. I had never thought about the fact that she could have given birth to children after me, and kept them. My reunion fantasies were all about her. I was searching for a lone wolf, not a pack. After reunion, the reality of siblings was fraught with extra emotional baggage. To accept them was to accept that they were somehow more important, more deserving than I was. After all, they were kept.

My half-siblings never knew about me, and my birth mother chose to continue keeping me secret until after we met face-to-face. This meant that I would call to talk to her, and end up chatting with my adult siblings (who both still lived with her). They believed I was one of my birth mother’s co-workers.  It was awkward, but deep down I liked being unknown to them.  I wanted my birth mother all to myself, even if it was just for just a little while.

To introduce myself to them, I made a video, which my birth mother played for the siblings when she returned to Florida from our reunion in Massachusetts. She opened a bottle of champagne, announcing that she had some news. My half-sister said, ‘What are you pregnant Mom?” Little did she know.

After the sister secret was revealed, I learned about their lives and had a hard time adjusting to the truth. While I was given away because my birth mother wanted me “to have a better life” than she could afford, my half-siblings were raised with ample opportunity, stability and wealth in their formative years.

After my relinquishment in the early 1960’s, my birth mother became a successful banking executive.  While my adoptive parents divorced when I was 11-years old and we experienced hotel homelessness at a shelter for battered women and children, my half-sister had a fur coat, a diamond nameplate necklace and a trip to London, all before she reached age 17.  The irony of being the one who was supposed to be ‘better off’ was not lost on me. Neither was the jealousy.

Sibling jealousy is rarely discussed in terms of adoption reunion, but it was one of the toughest aspects of reunion adjustment for me. It still is.

I found my birth father five years after I was reunited with my birth mother and the sibling situation there was even worse.  My birth father’s two sons were told about me and decided that I was the unacceptable result of their father’s whorish behavior. I have not met them to this day, and do not expect them to ever be a part of my life.

I am writing this on ‘Sibling Day” (who knew there was such a thing) to remind adoptees in search, that beyond the leading lady in your reunion story, there will be extras. There will be probably be ‘kept’ siblings.  It is crucial that you recast the reunion reel that plays in your head to include them now, before the reunion. Doing so may ease the adjustment of finding more than your birth mother.

Remember- “Searching is difficult. Finding is life-altering.

Blessing for successful sibling relationships,