After 25 Years, Do We Still
mentioned elsewhere in this issue, some question the need for an organization
such as Operation Identity in this day and age of the Internet, where one
can conduct their own searches, to a greater or lesser extend, and where
one can find a on-line support group. As weve mentioned before, one
cannot always complete their search for birth family on their own, and an
on-line support group cannot really substitute for real live people, who
can share their own experiences, who can listen to each other, offer a tissue,
a hug, or a laugh when appropriate, and celebrate progress in reunions.
Thats enough reasons for O.I.s continued existence, but why are
we still needed?
Our occasional social gathering, such as the
recent picnic, give us an opportunity to get to know each other and our families
in ways that monthly meetings dont, a chance to find out what else
we have in common besides being adoption triad members. The existence of
O.I. also helps the community at large to become more aware of the needs
and views of adoption triad member, if we get the word out through announcements,
articles, and events like Reg Day. Everyone in society is affected by adoption
in some way, either by adoption or relinquishment in their own family or
by friends and their families. Although O.I. as such hasnt sponsored
any stat legislation in a while, we do keep track of legislation in other
states and support changes toward open records and openness in adoption in
all states, and we consider needed changes in our own state. Remember that
New Mexico still does not have open records for either adoptees or birth
parents. To promote and support any changes takes an organization, because
an individual, on his/her own, cannot have as much influence as a group.
Again, we can raise the public awareness concerning adoption issues.
Further, being able to gather together physically
helps us all realize how many people do have adoption connections. To read
about it, or discuss things online does not have the same impact as seeing
people in reality. Our recent picnic, again, helped us get to know others,
from adopted infants to grandparents, with whom we have this shared interest.
Many of us left wishing we could have a lot more such activities. We enjoyed
seeing O.I. members we hadnt seen in quite a while, and we wished we
could see others who werent there.
Like many non-profit organizations, O.I. has
had fewer financial contributions in recent years. This is probably not because
O.I. supporters are actually worse off than they were a few years ago, but
our attendance has dropped off some due to perceptions that we are no longer
needed, or that, having completed our own individual searches, we no longer
need to attend or financially support O.I. Some members just get busy with
other facets of their lives and dont find time for O.I. Some have hit
a tough time in their reunion relationships and hesitate to share that at
meetings, not wanting to discourage others, or finding others good news painful
when they compare, so they quit coming. We hope anyone will still feel they
can share their feelings, even the painful ones at meetings, but we do understand
that its not always easy.
Sometimes the media would have us believe that
reunions are dramatic, one-time events with no further developments, or that
relationships fall apart after a while and the affected parties want to forget
they every met, or that reunited families are so perfectly meshed that there
is no reason for any type of support group. Reality rarely fits any of the
above clear-cut models. Those media reunions or stories about reunions never
mention support groups, either. We dont know how many of those families
have had the benefit of something like O.I. We do know that our members have
found O.I. to be of great value as they develop those reunion relationships,
and that has sometimes included keeping a low profile, not televising the
initial reunion or having newspaper reporters present the first time birth
parent and relinquished offspring meet.
Were hoping that this years activities
in connection with O.I.s 25th anniversary will bring more public awareness
of O.I.s existence, and also of adoption issues in general, and even
that publicity about O.I. will increase financial contributions, because
without those, O.I. cannot continue to exist, much less publish this newsletter,
support the American Adoption Congress, and support all of those persons
who need us now and who will continue to need a group that supports search
and reunion, and openness and honesty in all adoptions. After 25 years, O.I.
is still needed and O.I. still needs you.
Excerpted from the October 2004
edition of the Operation Identitiy Newsletter
© 2004 Operation Identity