Examples of experience with CI service

After a CI case is completed, CISI asks all petitioners to tell us about their experience using a Confidential Intermediary. We also ask them to consider submitting a personal story to be posted on this website. Some topics we suggest they might want to include are:

  • When and why you decided to search
  • Your efforts to locate your relative before beginning the CI process
  • How the CI program worked for you
  • The outcome of your search
  • Feelings that you had during the process

A number of birth parents, adoptees and other relatives have given us permission to share their stories on the CISI website in the hope that their experiences may be of help to others. All stories we receive for this purpose are being posted and are not edited other than to remove names and other identifying information.

4/20/2013
"I will not burden you with the horrid details of what I found out before contacting a C. I. I found my birth mother's name and all were deceased in their fifties and younger. But most of all, I wanted medical info since I have been ill. I wanted medical info for my biological children...After finding out info on the birth mother's side, I was hitting a brick wall trying to find out about the birth father's side. I then decided to contact the C. I. program.

I was so very fortunate to have Deanna as my intermediary. My case was frustrating but she never let that show. She was always supportive, encouraging, and patient with me. I was a pest! She found a first cousin from me father's side who has given me medical, nationality, and the now completed identity I needed. We will be meeting soon. It was a huge effort Deanna made trying to get this cousin to respond, but she never gave up. Thanks to Deanna, I will be meeting the cousin and he has pictures of my birth father to give me. I have waited a long time to complete that journey.

If I was to give advice to anyone searching, I would tell them not to wait like I did. These people are experts. I feel like a complete person knowing who I am, and I am so extremely grateful to my intermediary angel."

3/16/2013
"Prior to enlisting a CI, I petitioned the court in the county where I was born. They found my file and sent me a copy of my adoption papers but because of it being sealed for privacy, my mother's maiden name was whited out and the father was not listed. I had the CI paperwork for several years. The fee was way too much for me when I first got it. But this time I was able to apply for a reduced rate and that I was able to afford. I also struggled with my feelings and it took me 7 years to pluck up the courage but a couple of situations presented themselves to me that let me know it was okay and time to search.

The program worked well for me. The intermediary kept in touch with me and was very helpful in explaining each step of the process as we came to them. It didn't take very long at all to find out my biological mother had passed away. She couldn't give me specifics or present a death certificate or obituary but she gave general, necessary information. She then went in search of a biological brother I was told I had. That didn't take long either. The intermediary called me to let me know she found my brother and confirmed I wanted to proceed. She sent him the introduction letter and request for the contact information. I received my letter from the intermediary before he received mine because he was out of town when it came in his mail. So, when I called him he was caught off guard but not too shocked for too long because he knew this was coming.

The outcome of my search has been very positive. We talked a few times on the phone, met for lunch in a central location, I was invited to his daughter's house for Thanksgiving weekend, we met for lunch again and talk practically every weekend and sometimes during the week. We have exchanged stories, memories, photos and his wife made me a photo album of the family for Christmas.

Neither he nor anyone else knows who my father is, but we have the same mother which makes him my half-brother. My brother and I get along very well and enjoy each other's company and his family has welcomed me with open arms. Ironically, we both found out the other existed in the same year. He had not way of knowing how to look for me because the adoption was privately done through lawyers and out mother had passed so he couldn't ask questions. I send out my sincere appreciation and gratitude to the CISI for finding my biological brother (and cousin) which has and will allow me to have a life, and people, I never otherwise would have known."


1/21/2013
"I will start by stating that in the beginning of my search for my son, I interviewed several search companies and all of them wanted up-front monies without any description of their procedure. This gave me a very negative feeling on them and continued the search for an honest company. Let me tell you, most are just seeking your money, and very limited service, if any at all.

I found Midwest Adoption Center by continuing my search on the Internet. I read their story on the website, called them, and was totally consumed by the personal care and interest they gave me-total explanation of their services, and how it works.

Through the conversation, they informed me that I had to register with the department of Health and Welfare, and the Court to receive a case number. They were exact in what I had to do and even provided me with the information as to how to get the forms. I cannot say how much I appreciated this personal touch.

As I started this process, they were always very attentive to my questions and always had the answers. And believe me they did not even bring up the cost of doing this service for me. I will not state the cost amount, but it was so reasonable that I almost fell out of my chair, and sent them a check on the spot. Let me say that there was no cost involved until I had received my case number from the court.

Once the court assigned a case number, the status was GO. I was assigned a CI and this was the beginning of the search. Every detail was thoroughly explained in verbal and written form. I was informed of the possibility of a complete search not being able to be completed. Also that the search could take weeks to months.

From the time we started this search, it was just a matter of weeks when I was notified that they had found my son. The son and I now have communicated by e-mail, and exchanged personal information for continued getting to know each other. The birth mother was also part of this search, and provided much needed information. So now, all three of us are in communication, and look forward to the future experience.

There is no proper word or words to say how much I appreciate the service this company and their staff provided me. I am forever grateful to them. May they all be blessed for the work they do."


1/15/13
" I had many fears before I began my search for my siblings. I thought what if they were alcoholics, drug addicts, would they use me? Would they not want any contact with me? All these crazy thought ran through my mind since there was alcoholism in the family. So it stopped me for years from searching for them. But as I aged I said, "Self, what do you have to lose?" I have always questioned who was my mother, who were my sisters, etc? So I first contacted the judge that resided over my adoption, luckily he answered the phone and gave me the information for the CI organization. Thank God, I did it then because a few months later he passed away.

So now I had the information and then other fears ran through my mind such as will I be able to afford it? But I finally did it. I went through the application process with a very nice lady who said I should hear something back in a couple months (I think). And the next thing I know, the ball is rolling. Another lady sent me a letter and said she was appointed to my case and we would be working together. This lady has always been there for me, answering all my questions and troubleshooting different ways to find a sister whom was very difficult to find.

When I received the firs letter informing me of my oldest sister, I was elated but scared. She was sent a letter asking if she would like to release her name and phone number to me and she promptly replied with permission. I made the phone call. What a blessing! She is a wonderful sister (half-sister) and she even sent me pictures of my mom and herself and pics of me as a baby. I couldn't have asked for more. She even invited me to come out and meet her in person. I am very grateful I have a sister and even went to another state and visited cousins for the first time. I was gladly accepted and they were even anxious to meet me.

I still have to contact my other siblings and I will. I am just grateful I got through my fears and made the leap."


12/9/12

"-I would talk of the fears, apprehension, self-doubt, and support form CI staff and the healing process.
-Certainly the outcome, but more important-the feelings of fear, uncertainty, and desperate knowing that the outcome could be very poor.
-My outcome was outstanding in many regards, especially the healing for myself and adopted family."


12/12/2012

"I believed my case was hopeless. I was told numerous times over the years that I would have to be dying of some unknown disease for the court in Cook COunty to even consider unsealing my birth records. My experience with the CI was practically effortless. It was very supportive-changed my life and helped my dream come true!"

11/12/2012

"I found out about the CISI via a web search. I had been looking for my birth father off and on for several years. I made a concerted effort the last couple of months and became very disillusioned after doing extensive searches. When I found CISI, and actually spoke to someone, I felt a ray of hope for the first time! The person I spoke to was very through, patient and warm in explaining the program to me. Throughout the process, the intermediary kept me updated, which I appreciated very much.

Although my story does not end the way I had hoped, (in finding my father), I do have a lot of appreciation to them for their extensive efforts and in the caring and compassionate way they interacted with me".

9/28/2012
"This was a very hard decision for me; however after becoming a widow at a young age, I chose to do it again for my girls. I had gone through the state prior. It was useless. The CISI personnel helped me and as difficult as it was, I now have the truth and peace. I am lucky that everyone was so understanding. I am one of the few that are blessed in the fact that my bio-family has accepted me."

8/15/2012
"Before using the CI process, searching was too expensive and there were too many dead ends. But the CI program worked very well for me. I used the CI program after my adopted brother had good results. For my outcome, I found a sister that I never knew I had. I gained better feelings of knowing who I am."

7/27/2012
"I had registered to find my adopted daughter through Ann Landers' or Dear Abby's CEDEX registry without results. My daughter knew of a service offered in Illinois. I called a number she gave me and was welcomed by MAC. Everyone I spoke to seemed to be sympathetic to my search for my birth daughter.

Happy to say, she was found within weeks after all the paperwork was completed. Although we are still anonymous to each other, we have an email address for the other. I hope one day we will meet face to face."



5/10/2012
I found out that I was adopted when I was 40 years old. My birth mother raised me and her husband adopted me. The relative who told me knew what my father looked like and what his occupation was, but could not remember his name. Both my mother and my adoptive father were deceased, so I began calling older relatives who might know something. They all confirmed that I was adopted but none of them knew who my father was. I was able to confirm that my daddy adopted me when I was two years old through the courthouse in the county it was issued in. At that time, there were no adoptions for full information available to me in Illinois where my records were sealed.

After 20 years, I discovered that Illinois laws had changed and I began the process with the Registry and CI. I was so disappointed when the letter came from the Registry saying no one was looking for me! Based on the information I received from the Registry, I discovered exactly where I was born. It was a home for unwed mothers and I was able to get some non-identifying information from them. I discovered that my mother had actually left me for adoption for six weeks and then came and took me home. At this point, I filled out the intermediary service paper work and sent it in. 

My intermediary, Linda, was absolutely wonderful. Whenever she called, she was so sweet and so supportive! Even her voice calmed me and left me feeling like there was hope in my situation. The process of locating my father's information and being notified that he was deceased seemed to take a long time, but was actually only months. We discovered that I had an older brother who was still living and Linda made contact with him. He had no idea that he had a sister! He agreed to contact with me and we exchanged permissions and information.

From our very first telephone conversation, this has been an amazing blessing. We spoke for the first time in October 2011- about one year after I started the process. My brother and his wife immediately began sharing information, photographs and documents with me. We discovered that we grew up four blocks from each other, attended the same elementary school and high school, and he walked past my house every day on the way back to school. My brother lives three miles from our son! Seven months after our first conversation, my husband and I traveled to meet my brother's family. We connected immediately and spent a lot of time together over one week. We met my cousins who live nearby and almost all of my brother's family. I was amazed to be in a room with people who looked like me and were my family. Everyone in my father's family expressed gratitude that I didn't give up and that I found them. My father took the secret of my birth with him to his grave and no one in his family knew about me.

The hardest part of the process was waiting. It was so disappointing to get a letter but no information. I got through this because my intermediary was so helpful and with lots of prayer-by myself and all my friends. It helped to talk about it with my friends and family during the search. When Linda called to tell me that my brother agreed to contact with me, I cried all day because I could not contain all my emotions!

When I said goodbye to my brother at the end of our visit, we both cried. I have been home for two days since the trip, and we have already talked again over the phone. I have a whole new family! I even have nieces and nephews who look like me! I am experiencing a whole new level of happiness that I never expected. The empty place I had inside for 22 years is now full and overflowing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.



3/25/2012

I had been looking for my birth mother for many many years to no avail. I was always told I was "privately adopted", thus there was no agency to contact. I was unable to locate any records of my adoption to the point I always assumed I was a "black market" baby- that's kind of the "joke" I always kept in my head. This whole ordeal was very stressful. The more diligently I searched, the more "nothing" I found (realize I was adopted in 1965-no computer records were going to be found, and back then it was easy to ensure records would never be found). In 2008, I was told about the CISI. I was soo excited. I sent in my application and I was assigned a case worker who was so nice and very understanding of my situation. I felt a strong bond with her immediately. For the next year, she looked everywhere. To this day my adoption file has never been found, however, there was my original birth certificate and one adoption paper with it. Again, I got soo excited and very anxious.

The next obstacle was my mom's name. There were two different variations and each document was different. When I heard this, my anxiety hit the roof. Again, I felt this was purposely done so that I could never find my real mom. But my case worker never gave up. She worked diligently to find this woman. Every time I'd receive an update letter, I'd feel trepidation before I opened it. Id do a little prayer recital and go off by myself to open it.

My original case worker retired and I was appointed a new one. I really freaked out over this as my original worker and I were close (at least I felt that way), as I'd shared feelings with her that I'd not shared with others. My trepidation was unfounded as my new worker was great! Another angel sent by God to help me on my quest.

After about 1 1/2 years, however, I was told that we had exhausted all our avenues and there was one more possible database to look in. I was so sad, thinking I am never going to find this person. My next letter was that two outreach letters were sent out. One came back negative and no response to the other. My worker said she was going to send out one more follow up letter and that is about all she was able to do. My next letter, almost two years from the beginning was that she finally located my real mom!

Now I was ecstatic and scared. I'd been waiting forever for this and now that it was here I was scared to actually go through the door that had been opened. My worker was great. She talked to me about all my anxiety and reassured me that all these feelings were normal. She spoke to my mom and told me about the conversation and did the same with me.

I finally was put into contact and it's great! We write each other all the time. I am looking forward to meeting her this summer. It is very interesting to discover someone who acts like me. My mom and I have a lot of the same mannerisms and ways in a lot of aspects. It's pretty neat to experience.

I have found I also have three brothers, to whom I hope to meet someday as well, plus nieces and nephews.

CISI was a very wonderful experience. Without them and their diligence, I would have never found my true mom. I am very grateful to them, and especially to Becca and Linda, who were the best angel-case workers a person could ever hope to have.

Thank you for being so king, caring, and diligent in your quest to re-unite me to my mom after 46 years! God bless you.


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January 25, 2012

I am now 56 years old. I wanted to search for my birth family when I was 12 and again when I was 25. This upset my adoptive parents, and I chose to wait until they passed away to begin a search. I was doing searches on the Internet and found many different people, but no one that was able to help me. I finally was lucky enough to find information about the Confidential Intermediary Services of Illinois. I am really glad that I found the CI program, and that Deanna Barrett was assigned as my CI.

My birth mother passed away in 1978, but Deanna was able to locate a cousin on my birth mother’s side. We began with anonymous correspondence. I was scared when the first letter came from my birth cousin, and I remember reading the letter with Deanna and crying. I was then put in direct contact with my birth cousin. I cried the first time I spoke to her on the phone, but she treated me like family from the very beginning. My birth family has continued to share information with me about my birth mother and her life. I was given pictures of my birth mother and my maternal birth grandmother, and saw the resemblance right away.

I am really grateful that I found the CI program. This wouldn't have been possible without Deanna. Deanna was very helpful. She helped me every step of the way, and made me feel very comfortable. I am grateful that she had the patience to continue the search since she had such little information. I was angry at first because the process took so long, but now I understand. I feel so much better about myself now that I have found my birth family.

December 28, 2011

Using the CI service was easy (after filling out all the required court paperwork) and my intermediary was very helpful and friendly. After a few months of searching, she located my birth mother and I even found out that I had a half brother (by birth)! I have now been in communication by letters, email, and even a few phone conversations and I look forward to meeting them in person some day. The CI service has really been helpful in making this connection.

December 7, 2011

I’ve always wanted to find my birth family. With the help of my wife, we started on our own in February 2010. We hit several dead ends-legal issues with records, closed agency, hospital closed down, etc. I registered on several adoption search websites but had no luck. Finally, I got a hold of the Children’s Home & Aid and they told me about the CI program. We called them in February 2011 and got appointed our CI, Linda Fiore.

She was wonderful in explaining how the process would work and never hesitated in answering all our questions. Once she pulled together information, we decided to officially search for my birth mother.

Now, let me tell you my parents were not married when I was put up for adoption. So, we figured searching for my mom might yield the best results. Linda kept us informed with each action she took (contacting through mail or phone calls). She finally got a reply from my mom…..and dad! The got married shortly after I was adopted.

We exchanged a letter with a picture and my parents returned a letter and picture to us. I was thrilled to see people that looked like me and to find I had a family out there that loved and missed me.

After the first letter, I knew I wanted more contact. Linda explained our options to us and then did the same with my parents. We decided to have full contact.

Just as she did with everything else, Linda answered our questions, listened to my wife joyfully cry on the phone and walked us through the process. Weeks later, we were texting and talking on the phone with my family! Thanksgiving Day we Skyped with them and they got to see their new grandson (born 3 days earlier). This has been the most amazing Thanksgiving and Christmas of my life. We are traveling at the end of the year to meet them and will ring in 2012 with the family I’ve searched for 28 years.

I could never thank Linda enough for what she did for me. She may say she just did her job, but I know better. She will forever be loved in our family!

December 3, 2011

I started my search because of a disease; I wanted to know if it ran in families. My birth certificate was lost and I had no way to find out until I began the CI process. This worked wonderful! We found out the disease does not run in the family but I have medical history. We have been be-friend by the newly found relatives and have even been invited to a reunion and another will visit in the spring. Being 70, I never thought I’d obtain the information, receive pictures and stories, and indeed know the facts. I have found a whole new family on both sides. I’m very glad we went through this program. During the process-excitement, worry, anxiety; what if the people I was searching for were different from the way I imagined? All my life I wondered and now I know---Thank you!

May 11, 2011

I always wanted to know what happened to my baby. When I had enough nerve to ask my mother (she's mean and has always been throughout my childhood and adult life), she would not give me answers or she could not remember. I began to ask other family members if they knew anything about my baby. My mother was very secretive and moved us far away from the family and kept them away from asking any questions. No one knew much, but my aunt did remember her birthday, 1977.

I began my efforts of locating my child with a pre-paid legal service. I contacted my provider law firm and explained to them that I was looking for my birth child which was taken from me at birth and placed for adoption. At the time I was very young, under age and lived in Illinois. My mother had made all arrangements and I had no information to go on besides her birth date and the hospital she was born. My attorney referred me to a law firm in Chicago. I called the attorney and briefly explained my situation. I was told because the adoption was a closed adoption, I had to first comply with the law about records to petition the courts to open the case and I was also advised to apply with Midwest Adoption Center, which I did.

After the courts approved the closed adoption records to be opened, they submitted the information to Midwest Adoption Center to work on my behalf for what I considered a small fee (for what I received in return). I submitted the paperwork. After the agency received my application and fees, a few weeks later I received a packet from Linda Fiore. I completed the packet and followed the steps of all required paperwork. Mailing my forms from Chicago to California seemed like it was forever waiting. Time was not moving fast enough or it just felt that way. I had waited for 34 years now it was right in front of me and soon was not soon enough.

A few months later, I received a phone call from Linda stating that she had located my child but she could not tell me where she was because she needed to get permission from her (my child) stating that she also wanted to be in contact. Can you imagine what I felt: the excitement and anticipation, the pain, the sorrow of what if....I eagerly granted permission for Linda to release all my information to my child.

Once again I rushed the paperwork and waited and waited and it seemed like forever waiting for a response, which was only a few days. Linda called me back and gave me the most important phone number which I would ever receive in my life. My birth daughter wanted to see me as much as I wanted to see her.

Now granted I waited over 34 years, did all the paperwork, waited and waited to get the response that I wanted all my life, and now I'm too terrified to make this phone call. What if she's angry with me? What if she did not have a good life? What if she struggled? What if she was abused?.....Everything is going on in my head and my heart is racing. I waited two days before I had the nerves, the strength and the courage of calling her.

Making that phone call and dialing those ten digits at that moment in time was the longest seconds of my life. To hear the phone pick-up I had a lump in my throat when I heard the voice on the other end say, 'Hello'. I had to respond in a very professional voice, 'Hello, my name is (birth mother) and I am calling for (birth daughter). She replied, "This is she." "I'm your birth mother and Linda Fiore gave me your phone number." At that moment I could hear the phone go silent and she began to cry and we have been crying and talking everyday since.



November 8, 2011

I searched the Internet and came up empty each time. When I found this program I immediately felt as if I was making more headway within the first few weeks. I personally have the "perfect world" story where it took 6 months to locate my birth son, we communicated through e-mail then met a month later. We keep in contact weekly and plan to stay active in each others life. This process was almost as emotional as the decision to put him up for adoption in the first place- and I would not change anything.

November 2, 2011

My son had not registered with the Illinois Adoption Registry so I hit a dead end. I asked the Registry how else I could try to find my son. They referred me to the CI program. I decided to search when my son was 22 years old and I was 41. I searched because there had been some deaths in my family and I realized that if something happened to me, no one could adequately inform my son of the things I wanted him to know, especially his birth parents medical history and that of our separate, raised children. I wanted to be the one to give him my side of the story and not have it be left up to my sister or father. My mom had passed but only I could convey to him the real account of my side of the story.

At first the CI caseworker could not get an answer to the first letter she sent to my son. It was his parents home. She then tried a search tool that usually doesn't get results and she found him! I was elated! My birth son and I exchanged five letters each. He was extremely busy at the time with intense schoolwork, moving and getting married so he decided that he could not give me (with further communication) what he felt that I deserved. I feel that he will contact me in the future.

The CI process was emotionally exhausting but worth it.


August 2, 2011

I started searching for my birth family in 1992. After a year of trying with the adoption service that handled my case in 1951 we came to a dead end. I didn't do anything in the search area for quite a few years following that effort. But in the spring of 2010 I decided to give it one more try after hearing about the CI program.

The CI program was much more professional and streamlined (user friendly) than the service I worked with in '92. But the key to the process working, and my reunion with many from my birth family, was my caseworker Linda Fiore. It was her diligence and exceptional skills that made the process work. I truly believe that I would have never been reunited with my birth family had it not been for Linda's tenacity, professionalism and resourcefulness. Because of Linda's never give up service I have a much richer, fuller understanding of who I am and where I come from.

Thank you Linda from the bottom of my heart.


July 20, 2011

I had no idea about how to search until I learned about CISI. The results of my search were very satisfying. Beyond my hopes. Linda's efforts and show of concern was beyond words. The way in which she kept me informed as the process proceeded was above and beyond what I expected. I didn't have the ability to pay for the service, yet was treated like a million dollar client. Thanks so much. My new found sister and I are grateful for your services.

May 4, 2011
Malis placed her son for adoption in 1982. She wished to do a search and asked me to assist her. I saw the adoption registration notice with my vehicle registration. We contacted them and they referred us to the CI program. We worked with Deanna Phalen. She helped with the search, and made contact with Malis' son. Malis obtained his address and wrote him a letter. Malis has not yet received a response, but she is relieved to know he is alive and well. Thank you for your much needed professional and kind service.

April 22, 2011
Our search was not successful but was due to lack of information. I along with my brothers found out that we had a half sister that was given up for adoption before my mother met and married my father. We found this information out after our mother died which was 35 years after the adoption. This was a long kept secret and many of the family and persons involved in the adoption had already passed away. The exact date of birth could not be determined but we did estimate about a 6 month window of when it took place. The hospital was not known but we did know it took place in Chicago and that my mother worked nearby the Cook County Hospital. The adoption was arranged by a church member working independently from the church so there were no documents to be found.

It took some time for my brothers and I to finally agree to try to search for her. I searched the Illinois Vital Records division and learned that adoption records are sealed but they offered a site for people searching for adoptees or birth parents/siblings on the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange. In order to proceed any further, one must have registered on this site. It was necessary to obtain birth certificates and death certificates for my mother. Once registered, an agent tried to match the information with already registered members. No match could be made, so the next step was to contact Midwest Adoption Center in order to petition the court to open records.

Unfortunately we did not have enough information such as names or dates to find the adoption record if one exists. The courts do not allow a case to remain open so the petition had to be closed at this time.

Since my brothers and I were 30 somethings when we found out about this we had little emotional attachment. Until the search was initiated, I always had a guilty feeling for not pursuing the search and wondered if our half sister was having some of the hereditary health problems that we have. I was disappointed that we could not provide enough information to make the search successful but I do feel closure and no longer have the guilt feelings knowing that we have exhausted all avenues to find our half sister.


March 22, 2011
In June 1999, we began searching for Cynthia's biological family through U.S. Search. Since the information we had was so limited they weren't able to complete the search. In 2000, Catholic Social Services contacted us by mail regarding Cynthia's two oldest daughters. Catholic Social Services recommended that we use Midwest Adoption Center to locate more of Cynthia's biological family, including her parents and brothers. Over the years it appeared as though contact was not going to be made. Paula continued in the search which encouraged us and gave us hope. In October of 2009, we received a letter from Becca regarding a response from Cynthia's youngest brother. We exchanged information and communication is still continuing. We are grateful to Midwest Adoption Center and their wonderful staff. FOREVER GRATEFUL.

SEARCH FOR MY BIRTH FAMILY
Written in July and August, 2010

The Legend:
My adopted parents always told me I was adopted but that my mother died in child birth and my father died in the war. That may have also been what the agency told my adopted parents. Since I was born in 1943, that made perfect sense to everyone.

As a little boy at bedtime, I would always try to stay up a little longer by asking my mother to tell me the story of when she and my father picked me out and brought me home with them. Now, that story sounds more like getting a puppy from the pet store. I loved hearing the story. My mother would normally tear up and tell me how much they wanted me, to love and have with them. She would imply how special I was since I was "chosen", not just "given" to them as would be a normal, natural child.

The Puzzle Begins:
Until last year, 2009, that legend about my adoption provided a very final dead end for any genealogy search. My birth parents were both dead for 66 years and the trail was long cold. There could not even be any meaningful medical information from their short lives. If only I had some medical history. Maybe I could or should look someplace. I started a long and intense search for information about my birth parents.

The Process of Searching:
The first attempts at finding my birth parents were to search the usual genealogy databases found on the Internet. I looked for Illinois women who died in the year I was born. I looked for men who died in the months preceding my birth. I looked for marriage records for 9-12 months before I was born. Nothing worked because I didn't have any names.

Then I found several, long standing, adoption agencies that were active during the time of my birth. One of them suggested I contact Midwest Adoption Center for advice on what resources in Illinois I might find most helpful. Upon doing that, their advice was to first request my Adoption Decree from the Cook County Court since they seemed to have some jurisdiction. Then, they recommended that I also enter my name in the Illinois Adopted Persons Register with my own medical information. If someone was searching for me, there could be a connection in this register. This idea never bore any results, as no one was looking for me.

On my 66th birthday, I received a copy of my Adoption Decree from Cook County. The document told me that I was adopted through a legally established adoption agency, Catholic Home Bureau, an organization that was later merged into Catholic Charities. All names on the adoption papers were covered over for legal purposes but several places it was not totally effective. In one place, I could see my given name was "John". I thought the last name was "White" but that later proved incorrect. The other significant information that I got from the adoption papers was that my birth mother surrendered all her parental rights 7 days after my birth. She did not die in child birth.

The Midwest Adoption Agency then suggested to me that I apply for a court appointed "Confidential Intermediary", a person with the Court's authority to look at any records but obligated to follow the state laws by only revealing non-identifying information until release forms are signed by the mother or other appropriate person. Since I was still unable to find anything about my birth parents, I asked the courts in October of 2009, to assign such an intermediary and in November of 2009, an investigator at Midwest Adoption Agency was assigned. Still trying to find a clue on my own, I continued to be unsuccessful without a name.

By mid February 2010, my CI had looked at some records to evaluate what she considered the chances of successfully finding anyone in my birth family. I had the option of looking for my birth mother, my birth father, my birth aunt (who was listed as an emergency contact on the hospital application), or a birth sibling, a possible child born before me. She told me that the probability of locating one of these relatives was not great. The CI didn't want me to expect more than was likely. I chose my birth mother because she was the youngest of the adult choices.

On a morning in April of 2010, I received a call from my CI that someone had been identified who could possibly be my birth mother, but that it was only a "potential" at this time. There were "inconsistencies". The news was this person, this potential birth mother, was still alive at 92 years of age. Sharing this information with my wife a few minutes later actually choked me up, brought tears to my eyes, and I was almost deafened by the roar coming from my head and from my heart.

One of the inconsistencies was this person had not talked about having a baby for over 60 years, had told no one, and it was not on her medical records. During the initial contact with the CI, this person did admit to having a child born at about the right time and in the right place but thought she had given up a girl for adoption. In May of 2010, it was confirmed that this woman was actually my very much alive birth mother. She was 92 years old and in a nursing home.

The wait to have contact was almost intolerable. The CI said that my mother was too frail to talk on the phone, but that she had a relative who would talk to me. That night the relative and I did have a long talk. Among other things, I learned that my parents did actually marry after I was born and put up for adoption.

My wife and I would be driving to meet my birth mother. The drive would take 3 days. We got ready to travel, got the car maintained, changed or canceled appointments, packed, invited my daughter to fly up with her son (my mother's great grandson), researched the newly found names in many Internet genealogy data bases, and sent my mother a life history of her newly found son. We have no idea how we got all that done in only 48 hours. We left Saturday morning and arrived Monday afternoon. On Sunday, while driving, I got to talk to my mother for a few minutes -our first conversation.

THE REUNION:
How do you prepare to meet your mother after 67 years of not even knowing her name or believing she was still alive? Can someone visualize how their mother would look if they have never seen them? Without a picture or a description, there are no clues. Is she big or small? Is she gray haired or no hair? Is she bed ridden or mobile? Does she eat or have tubes. Is her mind intact or her memory failing? Will she be nice or curt? After all, I have come out of the blue and forced her to reveal a secret she had not shared with anyone for over 60 years -that she once had a baby. Will she be angry with me for showing up now?

As we drove to the nursing home that Tuesday morning, and parked, I tried to put those thoughts out of my mind and just concentrate on getting my wife into her wheelchair and making the day as comfortable as I could for her. Meanwhile, my mother was watching our arrival from the window in the lobby, staring at me, willing me to come to her, impatiently waiting for my arrival, and deciding whether she would like me or not. I never learned her initial thoughts; but for me, MY MOTHER WAS PERFECT.

Remember in the first years of school, the teacher would ask you to draw a tree? Each student had a different picture, but yours was always the only "right" tree. That is the way I felt about my mother, she looked like the perfect image of a mother. She was beautiful sitting in her wheelchair. Her gray hair was just done that morning as she had greeted the beauty parlor when they opened up saying, "Make me look good, my son is coming to see me today". She had on lovely clothes, mostly in red as that was her favorite color. It is mine too. She has wearing lots of jewelry. The nursing home staff call her Grandma Bling. Nothing is expensive but it all makes her look very special. She has loved jewelry all her life.

It was an emotional moment as I knelt down beside her wheelchair and held out my arms; we hugged as we said something that was probably "hi", but I really don't remember. We just looked at each other for many minutes, I probably better than she, with her poor eyesight from macular degeneration. We both looked through solid blue eyes -like mother, like son. We decided that it would be all right to call her "mom" or "mother", not the impersonal, given name. Eventually, I looked around the small lobby and saw others there too -her decades long care giver and best friend and her faithful neighbors from before she came to the nursing home 3 years ago. The nursing home had opened their family room for us, but first, my mother wanted to show me her room.

In time, I noticed my mother was holding a Mother's Day card I had sent her. It was my hope we could first talk on Mother's Day, but the legal processes caused us to miss that date. So, I sent my card anyway, addressed to my still unknown and unnamed mother, to my CI who forwarded it as soon as she could. My mother got it a few days before we arrived. We were told that my mother would roll her wheelchair up and down the aisles of the nursing home telling everyone that would listen, "my son sent me a Mother's Day card. It is from my son, my son....". In my Mother's Day card I told her how I was so blessed that she gave me the one gift no one else could give me, the gift of life. I think I wrote that this is the only gift that we only get one chance to receive, all others can come to us repeatedly; but human life is given only once and she did that for me. She gave me my life.

When I learned that her caregiver had email capability, I had sent three files ahead of our reunion so my mother could get to know me in smaller doses. What would you tell your mother for the first time she ever heard your name, after 67 years, and knew absolutely nothing about you? How do you summarize your life in a few pages?

The whole nursing home staff heard the story of my coming out of no where and never being spoken about, to becoming a proud declaration of love. At our initial reunion, the staff first kept their distance for a couple of hours, giving us our space to connect, but they were peeking around the corners and down the hallways. Slowly, one staff member after another came to say hello to my mother and get introduced to me.

My mother brought pictures and papers to share with us, and her caregiver helped her to find the words to remember all the things that I asked her. There were so many pieces of her life to share with us, it got to be a blur of little facts that didn't seem, at first, to fit together. My wife had prepared some nice gifts for my mother too including a photo album with pictures taken when I was growing up. My mother missed those years so my wife tried, in a small way, to give them back to her.

We got lots more information about my mother's past and also much about my father. We tried recording some of my mother's stories; they were priceless. We compared fingers and hands, eyes and noses, chins and smile lines, to see how closely we matched. There was no question that this woman was my mother. We found that many of our likes and dislikes were the same. We both loved red. We both believed that a scheduled time to arrive someplace was a commitment, we are very punctual people. We both liked to eat our dessert first, and if cake, we started with the icing. We both love neatness, organization, and looking nice.

My mother told me where my father was buried. I felt compelled to visit his grave site so my wife and I drove there. We found both my father's grave and his mother's, my birth grandmother. It was another emotional moment for me. Here was the site of my father's dead body, placed here 61 years ago.

Earlier in the month, my mother's last sibling passed away. She had outlived 6 sisters, a brother and 7 other half siblings. All of my mother's husbands had died, and she had no children, except me. The collection of photo albums, legal documents, genealogy books, and memorabilia that was collecting dust in my mother's closet was about to be discarded literally thrown away -until I just happened to came along. I was my mother's last living direct relative; so she gave all the photos, the documents, the genealogy book, and the keepsakes to me. I had arrived just in time, as this was a treasure for me, and I had come so close to losing it. It was my history or the history of my birth parents. The collection of boxes and papers was significant, but we managed to get it all in the car to take back home.

On the last day of our visit, my wife and I wanted to gather all those who made this reunion possible, and who had become so special to us. We were going to throw a party at my mother's old tavern, a place she managed for 24 years of her life. When we told my mother of this event, she looked into my face and said, "I want to go too". For 15 minutes I told her all the reasons why that couldn't possibly happen: she can't transport in my car, she doesn't stay up past 6pm, she is too weak, she had conflicts with medicines and bar food, and she can't hear or see well, etc. My wife just left the room with a dream and came back with a wheelchair taxi, permission from the nurses to eat and drink anything she wanted, and a plan that could work. In a former job, my wife was a case manager who helped patient's dreams come true.

There were 10 of us expected. We rode through the countryside, taking her back to the town where she had lived for over half a century. We got to go past the one and only house she ever owned. Then we went to her old tavern. There were over 20 people waiting to honor her for a wonderful life and for sharing the wonderful story of our reunion.

Once safely back in her room, we had to say good-bye, too, as our five day visit was about over. My mother made me promise to come back to see her. That was an easy promise to make to her. She then said something I will never forget, "I lost you once; I won't lose you again". We left blowing kisses and waving all the way out the door. A few days later, my mother recalled the EXACT time she last saw us.

Before we got home, I sent her an email through the nursing home staff. They printed my note and my mother dictated her response. She was amazed when someone told her that I would have her reply in a few minutes. She smiled unbelieving and gave the staff person a postage stamp. She has dictated many emails since then and maybe the staff is still getting a collection of postage stamps.


11/9/2010

More than 15 years ago, I began an effort to trace my father's family roots. In this effort, I used the common approaches in researching family history: gathering family records and photographs, sifting through my Dad's papers, talking with his surviving "relatives," surfing genealogy websites on the Internet, etc. I was collecting a lot of interesting information about the clan, but then I received a totally unanticipated shock a few ago. From one of the "relatives," I learned that my Dad, along with his twin sister, was adopted into the household sometime during the late 1890's. Strangely enough, Dad had never told me, or my siblings, that he was adopted or had a sister. Then I became focused on finding my father's birth family.

Through my Internet search, I came across information and websites for the Confidential Intermediary Service of Illinois (CISI). First I was in touch (by phone and e-mail) with Ms. LaKisha Watts, who was quite helpful with my initial inquiries. Later, I formally petitioned the Circuit Court of Cook County to have the CISI serve as the confidential intermediary to conduct an official search of adoption and other vital records, if any. Ms. Linda Fiore was appointed and assigned to me in that capacity. She, along with the CISI staff genealogist, worked hard in conducting the search, and I am deeply appreciative of Linda's diligent efforts. Unfortunately, no official records could be located during the preliminary search, so that CISI could not undertake a full search. However, Linda has informed me that, should any new leads prove to be promising, it might be possible to reactivate the search.

My experience with CISI has been very positive and worthwhile, and I sincerely hope that the efforts made to date do not turn out to be a permanent dead end. I would strongly recommend CISI to anyone needing family-related services.

11/15/2010

I was adopted through Catholic Charities in 1979-1980. It was, of course, a closed adoption. When I was in college the desire to know my medical history, who I looked like, where I came from and if I had siblings was overwhelming. I spent hundreds of dollars and over eight years searching. I hired Catholic Charities, whom had even lost my birth mom file. Needless to say my search was inconclusive. It was after I saw an episode of Find my Family on TV in November 2009 that I found renewed vigor to restart my search. I decided to contact a private investigator and apply for the TV show I had just watched. The P.I. needed info I didn't have to be able to help me (names, birthdays, etc.) and the TV show never called/wrote back. The P.I. did point me in the direction of CISI, however. I called them the next day and had all my paperwork filled out and turned in the following week.

Living in Montana now, I expected the process to be more difficult and expensive, but Linda made it seamless. By spring I had a list of family members and Linda's likelihood of finding them. I decided to search for my birth mother first, as it just seemed like the right thing to do. A few weeks later I got the great news that she wanted a relationship with me, so Linda helped us exchange contact info. Four days after I got her first e-mail, my adopted mom and I were able to meet my birth mother, her husband of 25 years, my half brother, his wife, my nephew, my half sister, and her long time boyfriend. There were so many happy tears and stories and old photographs shared. Although we live several states away, we've maintained a wonderful relationship. I've since watched a new niece be born, have a visit scheduled to see my sister (I have a sister! How exciting!) in four days and a trip to see my mom and step dad in less than a month.

As if that wasn't enough excitement for one year, I decided to next search for my birth father. Although I knew his address after my birth mom gave me his name and I googled him, I still chose to hire Linda to go through the process. I felt her and the CISI program were able to lend support and understanding to him after 30 years of my being alive and I wasn't sure he even knew about me. Of course Linda found him and much to my surprise and joy he wanted a relationship with me as well. Linda, again, helped us exchange contact info and we communicated for the first time this summer. I was able to go visit this Fall and got to meet my birth dad, step mom, half brother, his fiance, two nephews, my grandma, three aunts, and tons of cousins. They threw me a huge birthday party while my adopted mom and I were visiting. It went seamless.

When I go back to Illinois in four days, I will meet my youngest half brother and then I'll have met all of my immediate family. Wow. I went from being an only child (lucky to have been raised with the most AMAZING adoptive family from infancy) to one of five! I love it! I communicate with both sides of my birth family regularly. I was welcomed with open arms and loved unconditionally. Now I have three amazing families that I get to be a part of. My birth mom made the right decision 31 years ago to put me up for adoption, but now I get to be part of her life. I'm the luckiest girl in the whole world. I get to love and be loved by so many. The experience couldn't have gone better. Thank you, Linda, for helping me expand my family.


11/12/2010

I had a great experience with the CI program. My CI was kind and professional. Unfortunately, she was not able to locate my daughter's birth mother. However, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I tried, and who knows, maybe she will find us through the adoption registry some day.


11/9/10

Dear Searcher,
I am writing this to you to encourage you to use the Confidential Intermediary Service of Illinois for your search. I am an adopted 47 year old individual and decided to search for my biological mother last year (2009) using the CI program. I have used other programs & used many internet programs before this, but was not successful. However, the Confidential Intermediary Service of Illinois was successful and has found my birth mother after a year of searching.

My adoptive parents were awesome and loved me very much. I always thought if I did this search I would break their hearts, but there was always an empty hole in my life that I needed answered. When I was an adult and my father was already passed away, I confronted my adoptive mother and told her I needed some of my questions answered. She agreed to help me with the search. She even paid for another organization to do the search and that program was not successful. At that time I gave up on the search. My adoptive mother passed away in 2005 and the emptiness began to start up again. I remember being told about the CI program when I searched the first time and decided to try again.

I called the CI office and asked how I would start the process and they were very helpful in explaining step by step procedures. I first registered with the Illinois Adoption Registry, which there were no matches. Then I started the process by filling and sending papers to the court for a judge to assign me a mediator. By this time it seemed like it was taking forever. It was very hard to be patient. I had to remind myself that I waited 47 years already, what was 1 more year. After my petition finally got to the judge he assigned me a terrific mediator, Linda Fiore. This all took about 5 months. Linda then started collecting all the data. She was very patient with me, as I called about every three weeks to see what information she collected. About two more months went by and Linda had enough information to start sending out letters to individuals that she thought might be family members. It was about 4 more months when I finally got the phone call that I have been waiting for. Linda had found my birth mother.

During the search your mind is running 100 mph and you think you are going crazy. You are always thinking, what if? You are always wondering what are you going to say to the person you are searching for or what if that person doesn't want to know you. You are always hoping for the happy ending, however also preparing yourself for the worse. Well, my story was the one that didn't end as happy as I would have liked it. My birth mother did not want a relationship; however she was willing to answer any questions that I might have. My birth mother was ill, so my birth aunt, which was the only one that knew she had me, was going to answer those questions. Linda gave me some time to come up with questions I had about my adoption and when I had them prepared I called her and gave them to her. She then called my aunt and found answers to all of my questions. It was then the empty hole in my life began to be filled and there was closure to my search.

I recommend the Confidential Intermediary Service of Illinois to anyone in search of a loved one.

Sincerely,

Adoptee


11/1/2010

It was more than 40 years ago when I placed my birth son in a state facility for the handicapped. My son was a premature infant that was born mentally challenged, and developed other deficiencies as he grew. He is non-verbal and blind.

I lost track of him over the years, and decided to search for him upon my retirement. I contacted the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and they referred me to the Confidential Intermediary Service of Illinois, also known as Midwest Adoption Center. Before and during the search process, my feelings were "they will tell me my son has passed on."

The search for my son took some time, but the center would keep me updated on the search status. Then the day arrived when I got the call they had located my son. The first words I spoke, "Is he alive?"When they told me yes and told me where he was living and gave me his caregivers name and phone number-the feeling I had was indescribable. I called the caregiver and she told me what a handsome young man Tommie is. I made arrangements to visit with Tommie and the empty hopeless and desperate void in my life has been healed.

I am so grateful for the efforts of the caring and dedicated people working for Confidential Intermediary Service of Illinois. I just want to say God bless them for the work that they do!

10/24/2010

After trying to locate my father's second family I was referred to CISI. My search did not relate to an adoption, but I called to see if they could refer me to the correct avenues. As it turns out they were extremely helpful and sensitive. Very welcome after spending too much in fees for document searches and dealing with disinterested bureaucracies. I was easily led through the process of requesting an intermediary and was granted one by the court. She was Linda Fiore and she took so much time to learn my story, kept in touch during the search, and welcomed contact by me at anytime. When my late father's family was found she handled the situation with great tact, which led to them agreeing to call me. The communication I had long sought with them was so gratifying. I owe it to Linda and her very human touch.

8/24/2010
The following comment is from a birth father who searched for his birth daughter through the Confidential Intermediary program. The birth daughter did not wish to have contact, but her birth father offered to give her medical information that he felt would be of importance to her. She decided to accept that information and it was relayed to her through the Confidential Intermediary.

"I tried 3 other systems that didn't work but the last one took it to the court and that's how I ended up with your organization. Thank God"

7/29/2010

I assisted my father in searching for his OBC. I found out about your program via internet. I spoke with Linda Fiore, and she walked me through the entire process step by step. She kept me apprized of any information, (within the law) that she discovered. I am confident we would have been able to access my dad's OBC, with her help, but with the change in the IL law, I stopped the search at the beginning of June. Thank you Linda!

5/4/2010
"My search began many years ago for my birth mother and birth father. I always seemed to come to a dead end. My adoptive parents and I had contemplated hiring Private Investigators, but they were always thousands of dollars. I finally came upon the CI program and decided it was the right program for me. I was appointed a confidential intermediary (Becca) who was the most wonderful, compassionate, caring person I have ever dealt with. She worked so hard on my case. Finally after about 4 months I had the answers I was looking for. Becca called me up and said I have located your birth mother. I was ecstatic ! She was going to send her a letter letting her know that I was searching for her. She than told me she had also located my birth father. Again I was so excited. All my life I had thought that my birth father knew nothing about me. (I had a letter from the adoption agency that said my birth father never knew of my birth mother's pregnancy) Both letters went out to my birth parents. One week later I got the call I had been waiting for. My birth father has been searching for me for the last 6 years!!! The CI program was everything I had hoped and more. This Friday (5/7/2010) I will be going to meet my birth mother and birth father for the first time. I also found out that I have 2 half brothers and a half sister. My birth dad and I talk about 6 times a day. I feel like he is my twin!! It's so wonderful finally knowing where I come from. I owe everything to Becca for finding my other family! I have already recommended the CI program to many of my friends and family who are also adopted. I am finally complete!"

5/3/2010
"Today I am 28 yrs. old. I was adopted at 2. While I had no memories of those 1st 2 years, I constantly thought about them. My adopted family always told me I was adopted, and I knew I would always search. Over the years I searched online with the limited info I had, with no success. Eventually I came across Midwest, they were great from the very beginning. In my situation, I imagine it was one of the more difficult cases due to the fact that I am in Prison. This made communication difficult at times. I could not just pick up a phone and call Midwest or vice versa. Becca was really great and we handled the entire thing via US postal service and a few scheduled phone calls. Becca really cut through all the red tape and got it done for me. Today I talk with my Mom, Dad, half siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles-none of them I previously knew! It's amazing!"

March 20, 2010

CI has been a wonderful tool in the search for my mother. I've tried number of avenues in my search. Unfortunately, Illinois makes it very difficult to get information; and in the early 60's when I was born a person did not have to be truthful regarding name, work, etc. This seems to be the case with me. CI worked my case for over 2 years, and always kept me informed.

January 20, 2010

First a warm personal thanks to my Confidential Intermediary Linda, for her persistence, kindness, and insights in this successful search that ended 71 years of separation from my biological family. Linda's patience was surely tested in dealing with this 71 year old hyperactive client.

I was fortunate to have been adopted by a loving family who lived their lives as positive role models. My two adopted brothers and I were told at an early age that we were adopted and that my parents would help us locate biological family through private contacts when we were ready. But, while at times in the 1950's there was an interest, it was never pressing partly due to our wonderful secure childhood and respect for our adoptive parents.

About 25 years ago when my children reached adulthood and questions began about health histories and physical traits, I made several attempts to locate my biological family with no success. It wasn't until just over two years ago in a phone conversation with two nice women, Vicki and Melissa, who worked for the Illinois Department of Public Health, that I became aware of the Confidential Intermediary Service program. Due to past secrecy, limited records, multiple cohabitations by both biological parents, uncertain paternity, moves and dead end leads, this was not an easy search for CISI. In July of 2009, Linda informed me my birth mother is alive, and my niece agreed to a contact. From this contact I have been able to secure photographs, and health histories and meet some very receptive relatives here in California. A younger half-brother still won't let me meet my mother or tell her that I have surfaced. In November of 2009, contact was made with a niece on my father's side of the family. From this contact I also received health histories and photographs and in January of 2010 found a much younger half-sister, with the possibility of another 5 or 6 more half siblings. What a guy! This letter doesn't contain the good "stuff" concerning bootlegging, prostitution, adultery, and especially business ties between Al Capone and my family in the 1920's back in your lovely state. I do have a priceless video interview of my mother, taken recently by a wonderful niece, as evidence.

On a more serious note, it would by my hope that every adopted adult born in Illinois be made aware of CISI and your professional services in providing information from health to bringing together lost family members. Even in this internet age, I would not have found my biological family without your services. My family and I thank you!

November 20, 2009

I don’t really have much of a story to tell. I went through the program in hopes that I could find my true family.  I had learned a while ago that my mother was from Wisconsin and the youngest of 9 children.  With this information, I felt that it was a good possibility that I could be successful.  However, I found that it seems that some people don’t want to be bothered hearing from the past.  I have always stated that I believe that forgiveness was necessary here.  Jesus Christ didn’t say forgive; he said to resolve conflicts, and that was what I was attempting to do.  I realize how difficult it is to ask for forgiveness and it is too easy to forgive and forget. However, many curses come about because of the lack of resolving situations and conflicts.  This was my main goal.  I was surprised that none of the relatives that Deanna contacted would even respond to her requests or letters.  They were probably thinking that it was such a long time ago; is it really? I can remember going to adoption meetings in Chicago and seeing someone reunited with a parent that they hadn’t seen for forty years or who put the person up for adoption fifty years earlier. My hopes were high.  When Deanna found a first cousin and two second cousins that were related to me, I was hoping that I could come in contact with them.  Since they don’t want to respond to me, there is little I can do.  However, the offer is still open.  If they want to contact me, I am very willing to respond.  All it takes is an email or a phone call.  As for me, I will keep on searching with the information I have.  I know that my dad is dead and my mother probably is too.  I will continue searching.  Just to tell the rest of the family that Jesus loves them.

November 6, 2009

I have been looking for years for my parents.  I saw the website for your agency and thought “why not?”  I had a wonderful CI, Linda, for the extensive search it took. How wonderfully compassionate she was to all involved!  She found my mom first, my mom was in shock cause she kept it a secret, she wanted no contact but them she said one letter a piece.  So at least I got that!  Then I asked Linda to search for my dad and she found him and he wanted contact! I was so thrilled! It turns out they both live in the same town and have remained friends!! I talk with my dad on the phone and someday hope to meet both! Thank you again Linda, you are truly an earth angel.


October 23, 2009

It was a very positive experience.  In the end, the results I may have unknowingly wished for didn’t happen. But, there was still a sense of knowing and closure.  The Intermediary, Becca, could not have offered more or been more compassionate.  She is truly a beautiful person!


October 19, 2009

It is interesting that I would receive this questionnaire when I did. Yesterday I picked up my sister, “S”, at the airport for a 10 day visit. The timing is very appropriate. Initially I was told that Illinois records were closed. End of story. I then hunted for Chicago Orphan Asylum where I was left and then placed in foster care. This, of course, does not still exist, but the internet is a great place and I did find an organization which I emailed. What followed was frustrating at best. The person with whom I spoke seemed very much to want to help but was muzzled by Illinois law. She tried valiantly to hint, suggesting that another agency might have been involved in my adoption. I had no way of knowing to what she was referring. I then contacted as many people who are still living associated with my adoptive father as I could find. Nobody knew anything. After that my companion began posting on various adoption sites until he stumbled onto Midwest Adoption Center.

Midwest Adoption Center walked me through the process. I had already done the paperwork with the State of Illinois that referred to medical information, etc., so I had a head start. I was assigned a CI, one Becca who is the calmest of people and just the one you want on the other end of this almost fools’ errand. Together we walked through the lengthy process. She never raised false hopes but kept in touch on a monthly basis. The wheels of the judiciary brand of government are hugely slow and there were several months of those monthly calls.

In retrospect, I had always wondered who my “people” were. I was completely unlike my adoptive family, both physically and emotionally, and perhaps even mentally, as I tend to have an active and creative mind, which wasn’t the norm where I lived. I thought I was stuck. Lucky for me my companion never took no for an answer and continued to search, thought I had given up years ago because of the laws in the State of Illinois. Closed records meant just that for me. My ex-sister-in-law, who is a legal aid, had opined that the laws had changed somewhat in Illinois a few years ago, but neither she nor I had figured out how. My partner stumbled onto Midwest Adoption Center. It was difficult at first to determine if they were just another scam offering false hopes or whether the program they offered was legitimate. Still, the price of admission was reasonable. I did not apply until I had the money in hand. I had written for the paperwork and received it, even filled it in, but had not mailed it. This is a shame, since my birth mother has been steadily deteriorating mentally over the past few months. Since I had no way of knowing this before the fact, I did not realize how much time was of the essence.

The call came in August of this year, if I remember correctly. It seems like months ago. I was told that I was the oldest of three sisters and that my mother was indeed alive though failing. My sister “S” and I have a great deal in common. My younger sister “C” and I have less in common but she lives near my daughter. “C’s” children and my grandchildren are close to the same ages so they have been spending time together. Mom, during my first couple of visits, may or may not have realized who I was, but she definitely “got it” over time. Because “S” is an investigator and because Mom had mentioned a man named “BB” over the years as being someone with whom she maintained contact, we pieced together her mutterings with past information and eventually—in about a week or so—turned up my two brothers on my father’s side. I am in contact with them as well. My older brother, “D”, ten years my junior, will be spending Thanksgiving with me. I talk to him on a weekly basis.

During the process, I tried not to have expectations. Emotionally I was neutral. When “the call” came I cried. Since then, I have concentrated on understanding that I belong somewhere. Both “S” and my brother “D” are much like me which is something I have not had my entire life. Sometimes I cry because I can’t visit my mother every few days. She lives several states away. Strangely she was born about two hours from where I now live. My sister “S” and I have agreed that we have no idea how to be sisters so well just fake it. It is going great. I am so pleased that she decided to come for a long visit. (Nearly a week has passed since I started writing this.) It has been a full and comfortable week. I am hugely grateful to have found my family.



September 3, 2009

My efforts before using the CIS was not successful.  We had gone to libraries and a few other places and we had no success at all.  I had called family to see if anybody could help but no one would come forward with any information at all.  People would tell me that was the past so forget about it.  I couldn’t do that and that’s when we started looking around for help. The program was the best thing that ever happened for me, because without the program’s help, I couldn’t have found my biological brother on my own.  (I had actually decided to search the very day I had been told that my mother died giving birth to a baby boy and {our family} gave him away.  There was no hesitation.)  The outcome of my search has been the greatest thing every!  I now have my brother back and a sister-in-law and a niece.  It’s a dream come true.  During the process I really had to keep myself pretty busy so I wouldn’t get depressed, but with the help of the CIS (Linda) and my family, I made it through and have come out of it extremely happy.  It is our beginning!!  Thank you CIS.

July 30, 2009

My search started 14 years ago.  After researching my adoption in the archives of the Chicago Law Review (by law all adoptions have to be published, yet they are (or were) published in a paper that only lawyers read) I discovered my birth name.  Later on, I came across the adoption agency that handled the adoption.  They sent me all the non-identifying information about my birth parents.  In 2005, I registered in Springfield on the Adoption Registry.  At that point, I realized when I received my amended birth certificate that I had 3 siblings born previously to me.  During the 14 year search, I would get frustrated only to pick it back up months (or sometimes years) later.  My adoptive parents (whom I loved very much) had passed away when I was a much younger person, so I was hungry to meet my biological family.  In 2008, I came across the “Confidential Intermediary Service” of Illinois.  I spoke with Linda, and decided to give it a try.  It took exactly 1 year, from May 2008 to May 2009 and I had to pay a nominal fee to conduct 2 searches (the first one was a dead end).  This service is truly a godsend for adoptees searching for biological families.  I’ve since met my 3 brothers (who didn’t know I exist) and we’re a cast of colorful characters that hang out together just about every weekend.  We love each other.  I’ve met aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins. It’s been the best experience of my life. 

July 27, 2009
Anyone interested can email me and I would be happy to correspond. robglarsen@aol.com

July 27, 2009
I would be happy to share my experience. Please give my email address to anyone you think would like to hear my story. LTapp@triad.rr.com

July 4, 2009

I am so very grateful to the Midwest Adoption Center for helping me discover my biological family.  I had started this process many years ago, but because of the many spellings of my family name, was unable to complete the process. My daughter decided about one year ago to start the process again, only this time she insisted on trying the Confidential Intermediary Service of Illinois.  We worked with Linda, who was very compassionate and extremely professional.

My feelings during the process were ambiguous at best.  I had heard of adoptees discovering their birth families only to be rejected.  I, not knowing what to expect, figured that I could “take it or leave it”.  I was very fortunate to be adopted into a wonderful family and had that to fall back on, so it didn’t make a difference.  However, I was very pleasantly surprised when my daughter and I first made contact with an uncle on January 30, 2009 (my biological mother had died in 1993).  We have since kept in contact and even though I have never met him, I love him dearly; he is a sweet, kind, man.  He even told me that if he had known about me that he would have taken me in rather than let me be adopted.  I’ve been in contact with one half-sister and on half-brother, all of whom have accepted me.  Additionally, I correspond with various cousins who have also accepted me as well.  I am so blessed to have two families.  I thank Linda for her hard work and dedication and I am very grateful for what has since transpired: I only wish others such as me could have the same results.

March 10, 2009
I waited too long! My adopted parents were open about my adoption but never gave me any specific or accurate information about my birth parents. I didn’t seriously start my search until I was sixty years old and I relied on the information my adopted parents had given me. Over ten plus years my search took me to numerous websites, two trips to Illinois where I visited the Illinois State Bureau of Vital Statistics, two visits to the Nation Archives in Laguna Nigel, CA, and all of the county offices in the county where my adoption had taken place. All was in vain. Then a friend of mine that lives in Illinois sent me a newspaper article about a new law that was passed allowing the CISI program to change. I immediately contacted the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services about the CISI program and promptly received information about the program and the necessary paperwork to petition the Court to have a CI appointed. The paperwork was comprehensive, very easy to understand and follow. I petitioned the court on my own and a CI was assigned to my case. Approximately one year later I was united with a half brother and three aunts. Sadly my birth mother had passed a year earlier. I have met all of them and their families and I maintain weekly contact with my brother. Surprisingly we have many interests in common and have become very close. An important side note is that on an annual physical I was found to have a hereditary condition that was pre-cancerous and was told by the doctor that if I had any siblings I should inform them to contact their doctor to be tested. Thankfully my brother and I are cancer free.

TRANSCRIPTION OF A HANDWRITTEN STORY

I didn’t begin searching before the CI process.  When I was 65 I received a phone message from (another state) – thought it might be my birth mother or relative – but it wasn’t.   I began then.  Contacted a cousin in (a city in Illinois) who is an attorney and he started the process.

In the spring of 2008 my birth mother’s sister was found in (another state).  She has adult children and they have children and grandchildren.  In June I went to (the other state) and met them --  only over night but they were very very warm and accepting.  They told me as much as they knew.  Also family stories and experiences.  Since I didn’t grow up with it as they did it was a lot to absorb all at one time.

I plan on journaling what I learned and my feelings also put the photos of family and birth mother with it.  My mother died 15 years ago.  She had a hard life but was a good person.  Even though I never met her she looked familiar to me in the photo.  I don’t really look like her.  Sometimes it is strange to have 2 families, 2 mothers.  It is an adjustment, but I am happy I did it.

I don’t blame my birth mother for giving me up.  She gave me a chance at a better life by doing so.  I feel love and gratitude towards her.  I only wish I could have been there to help her at the end when she was ill and in pain.

My birth family and I are different but I’m different from my adoptive family also.  We are trying to keep in touch and talk from time to time on the phone.  I am grateful for their acceptance.

I am glad I did this.  It helps me to understand myself more.  I can see that some of my past behavior and choices are in the genes.

The man listed as my father on the birth certificate has denied paternity.  I am disappointed not being able to learn about my birth father and his family but grateful for what I did learn.

During the process I felt impatient and scared at time.  But was pleased with the results.  There seemed to be a lot of excess paperwork too!

November 12, 2008
We all want to know from where we came. My life has been a story-book in nature, and I have always known that I was adopted and have consistently had the desire to know my lineage. When I was twenty-five, I located my birth father and have sustained a healthy relationship with him for thirty years. He was able to satiate a portion of my curiosity with answering questions, recalling events, etc.; however, the location of my birth mother had remained elusive until this year. CISI was recommended to me by the Illinois Department of Vital Statistics. From the onset, I was impressed by the unyielding professionalism that was offered to me by this reputable organization. My Confidential Intermediary became not only my representative during this process but also a caring friend. Once the details and paperwork were completed the story unfolded before me at a rapid pace—it was a surreal experience learning the specifics surrounding my beginnings. I learned that my biological mother had passed just a few months prior to my search; however an additional search was offered to me by CISI and I was able to locate the children of my biological mother; i.e., my siblings. This past summer I made the pilgrimage to their home where relationship was established, more questions answered, stacks of pictures offered to me, and the bittersweet trip to the gravesite of my biological mother was made. In conclusion, I have no regret—it was all good. A sense of completion and calm has washed over me and I no longer have any mystery in my life. During one of first telephone calls my Intermediary noted that my age at and birth year [54/54] were the same. She stated that it was my “golden year”. Truly, it has been that.

October 5, 2008
This letter is a small but genuine means to give thanks to the several agencies and individuals who made it possible for me to have contact with my birth son. I want to express my sincere appreciation for those who worked to revise the laws that made it possible for me to search for my birth son. I appreciated the ease of the process through the court to have an intermediary appointed. Further, I owe a debt of gratitude to all of those who have strived to make the necessary adjustments in the Confidential Intermediary service for it to function more effectively and thus find my birth son. A special thank you to Becca for all of her efforts to bring this search to a conclusion. My personal experience in this long journey from relinquishing to reuniting has been difficult. Throughout the years I have consistently comforted myself with the hope of the best future for my child and to one day have validation of my choice. The decision I made has proved out to have been the right one for my birth son, and for that I have an overwhelming sense of joy. For as much trials as I have gone through the last two and a half years waiting for contact to be made with my birth son, it has certainly been worth the wait for the amount of relief I have experienced since he was located and we began communicating. Please remember all of you who are involved in carrying out this vitally important service from beginning to end, that I counted on you to provide a link between me and my birth son. I only wanted to feel you had an understanding and compassion for my situation, an appreciation for my need to have answers to three decades of questions about my son’s life and that I be treated with all the sensitivity and respect during the emotionally difficult proves of attempting to contact with my loved one. At times, it was difficult not to waver in the decision to try to locate him when weeks feel like months, months feel like years and years (as well as three changes of my Intermediary) feel like a never ending span of time added to the perceived eternity I had already waited hoping the laws would change to make it possible to try and find him. Once in the process I felt an urgency that was real and ever present until the day I received the news he had been found and that he agreed to exchange letters with me. Happily, we are now in direct contact and I finally feel the burden of the unknown of his life lifted from my shoulders and I have a peace with my choice to have placed him for adoption. Now our relationship begins with much discovery of how much we share in common. It has been a few weeks since my birth son and I have been corresponding and I have had time to process much of all that has happened so although this may seem a little slow in coming please do not let that diminish the importance of the message. To all who had a part in helping me with the most important quest of my life I am truly grateful.

TRANSCRIPTION OF A HANDWRITTEN STORY

I wanted to write something for your website because I am so incredibly happy with the results of the search process my case worker helped me with.

I am going to be 33 in January of this year and all my life have known I was adopted.  I have gone on quite a few wild goose chases in my time. A friend of mine informed me of the new law that Illinois passed in 2005.*  It took me some time to prepare myself for all the possible outcomes of this search and when I felt ready I petitioned the court. My case worker was assigned to my case and she was wonderful. I have now reunited with my birth mother and I have a younger brother and a huge family that I am absolutely so excited about. I met the woman who gave birth to me this past week for the first time in my life and her son.  It was the most amazing experience. I can not thank her enough for giving me the best Christmas gift I could have ever asked for.

*  Note:  The Confidential Intermediary provision was first added to Illinois law in 1990.  At that time, only adult adoptees and adoptive parents of minors could petition the Court for the appointment of a CI – and had to have a medical reason for doing so.  Effective January 2004, the need for a medical cause for filing was removed and birth parents of adoptees over 21 and other categories of individuals impacted by adoption were eligible to file petitions.  


 
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