New TV Show Highlights Adoption Search-and-Reunion Stories

by Kathie Forward

      A new television program on ABC, called Find My Family, focuses on search and reunion, primarily adoption-related. It is hosted by two adult adoptees, including Tim Green, author of A Man and His Mother, the story of his search for his birth mother. By going to abc.com, and then findmyfamily, one can download a 13-page application to be considered for the show.
     I am an adult adoptee who, so far, has failed to locate any of my birth family. So when I first heard of this new program, I was excited. The first show aired on Monday, November 23rd. It featured birth parents who had relinquished a baby girl when they were only 14 and 15, then later married and had more children. The hosts went through the usual questions as to why they wanted to search now and how they thought it would make a difference. Next, they explained the steps taken to locate the child. The birth mother had named her daughter Tanya, but the birth records came up blank. Finally, the Find My Family staff went to the hospital and went through all birth records until they found a match by birth date. It turned out the daughter grew up only eight miles away from the birth parents. Then the show featured the reunion, held by a tree in an undisclosed location, one of the show’s “gimmicks.”
     The second show aired on November 30th and featured two stories. Story One was an adoptee looking for her full brother who had been raised by the birth parents, who ws only 16 months older than she was. Again, the breakthrough was searching all birth records for her date. When they found her records, they backtracked 16 months to find a boy. Again, the parents were married. When they actually contacted the brother, he informed Find My Family that there was a younger sister, not relinquished. In all cases, once the match is made, Find My Family obtains permission from all parties to set up the reunion.
     Story Two of this episode was a daughter searching for her birth mother. Again they searched birth records. This time they had the birth mother’s name. However, this was no help. Finally, Find My Family decided to check marriage records and that was how the birth mother was located.
     I realize these reunions are set up for television, but everyone seemed too agreeable and way too happy. They even showed follow-up visits (a few weeks or months later) and everything was “just wonderful.” Realistically, it doesn’t always work out that way. My concern is that it portrays reunion as the answer to everyone’s lifelong problems. However, it may motivate a lot of people to search.
     I downloaded the application and found many of the questions helpful in deciding to search and in planning how I might handle a reunion. The program would also be good for starting a discussion about search and reunion between adoptive parents and children, or in families where there has been a relinquishment in the past, or even between parents who were adopted themselves and their own children. Time will tell how popular this program is and how it develops.

Excerpted from the January 2010 edition of the Operation Identitiy Newsletter
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