Operation Identity: 25 Years of Support

by Mary Hanson

     Operation Identity started a few years after I moved to Albuquerque in 1973. I was here when Sally File and the others started this group.
     Actually, when I moved here, no one in Albuquerque knew me or knew of my son’s birth and adoption ... unless I told them. My son had been born and adopted in 1969 in New York, so Operation Identity could have been there for me in 1979, but I didn’t know I needed them, so I didn’t look for them. And thus I didn’t tell many my story and was alone with my thoughts.
     One day, not too many years ago, I found Operation Identity. I attended a few meetings before I shared my story. At the time, it was hard to realize that people at that meeting did not judge me. It took another year or so to come back, my pain was so great.
     The folks still were there only to hear each other, to make suggestions how each of us could heal, suggest steps to search for lost ones and to celebrate reunions. The group gave each of us the time or space needed in our personal journey to accept and respect our own experience and support our right to search and reunion.
     My pain is less now that I have shared and know I am not the only one—and not alone. I hope the group will be there when I find what happened to my son, alive or dead, wanting to know me or not, and any of the other possibilities of reunion.
     And if my son and I never meet, this group will be there for me, too. I meet new folks at monthly meetings and listen to new stories; learn of new ways to search and ways to deal with my own search experiences.
     In this group, there is room for my own thoughts about adoption, open records, and social reform. I am glad that, 25 years ago, Sally File and others had the sensitivity to see what this group could do for themselves and for others. I applaud their honesty and courage to be open with their own experiences. I am grateful to others, leaders and attendees, who’ve kept the monthly group meetings for others. Thank you all!
     What has Operation Identity meant to me?

• A safe haven for peers to share birth, relinquishment and search experiences.
• Support for all triad members: first parents, adoptees and adoptive parents.
• Information of changes to law, social attitudes and search sources.
• The library continues to offer new material. In fact, some of our peers are writing and sharing their own experiences for publication helping others to understand they are not alone.
• The quarterly newsletter keeps us informed of what is happening in the group, with the literature, laws, conferences, and many more topics related to adoption issues.
• Most of all Operation Identity offers friendship with the chance to shed personal shame; honestly and openly renew relationship with our selves and someday in reunion. Congratulations to Operation Identity for 25 years of being there for each other!

Excerpted from the July 2004 edition of the Operation Identitiy Newsletter
© 2004 Operation Identity