Adoption Reunions Bring Joy, Answer Questions
Catholic charities NH assists all birth families, adoptees seeking information
“I’m proud of my choice. I don’t regret it. Not only did it benefit my child, but it benefited me. My child got the life she deserved and I got a lifelong friend through Elaine.” – Jane, a birth mother
Sarah was an infant when Catholic Charities New Hampshire helped place her into a loving, adoptive home in the 1950s. As she grew older, she experienced medical issues that compelled her to learn more about her birth family.
Sarah approached Elaine Langton, coordinator of Adoption and Maternity Services at Catholic Charities NH, to learn her options.
Elaine has been working for Catholic Charities since 1982 where she counsels and assists birth mothers, places children in loving, adoptive homes, performs home studies and post-adoptive placement work as well as facilitates reunions. Thanks to your support, Catholic Charities placed more than 2,000 children since it began adoption services in 1945.
Although it is not uncommon to receive requests for non-identifying social or medical information, the request for search and reunion services has seen a significant increase.
“I am so grateful that I reached out to Catholic Charities, who not only facilitated my adoption into my wonderful family 31 years ago, (but) recently helped me find information on my birth relatives. After all this time has passed, my birth family welcomed me into their lives with open arms. I could not have been more grateful.” – Kelly, adopted through CCNH
Elaine said the change in the law surrounding the release of birth certificate records produced a new level of openness. When she first started working in adoption services, adoptive parents and birth families knew little about each other. New Hampshire law changed in 2005 to allow adoptees access to non-certified copies of their original birth certificates. From there, adoptees can learn their birth mothers’ names.
“When I first started, there were not nearly as many search and reunions. Someone would need to prove just cause, such as medical issues,” Elaine says. “I think that gaining access to the birth certificates has led to more searches.”
Now, it is also not uncommon for birth mothers to have direct contact with the adoptive parents, at times even meeting them. Elaine says there are instances where the birth mother has mediated contact with her child, such as exchanging birthday cards, letters and pictures. This new level of openness has contributed to the rising number of reunions. The ongoing contact can benefit both birth and adoptive families.
“Throughout my whole journey in understanding my pre-adoption history and options for re-uniting with my birth parents, Catholic Charities was there each step of the way to ensure I was aware of options and considerations. They provided resources and experience to help make me feel as comfortable as possible throughout the process. (This) is a much-needed service for individuals anxious for a reunion to help find closure and potentially open up new doors.” – Henry, reunited with birth mother.
Sarah describes her adoptive parents as the best parents in the world and says she would never change the path her life took. Even so, she says she is glad to learn more about her birth family – meeting not just a brother, but cousins, nieces and nephews. Sadly, both birth parents died before she could meet them.
Elaine estimated she facilitated approximately 60 reunions since the law changed in 2005. She has three reunions scheduled to occur this November, which is National Adoption Month.
“Historically, birth mothers are more inclined to wait until their child does a search,” Elaine says. “What I often find is both parties wish to respect the other’s right to privacy.”
And, if and when both parties are ready, Elaine says she is honored to be part of facilitating these reunions.