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Published Monday October 25th, 2010 at 4:18pm

Original Article by Charlzetta Driver

My life as a child came to a sudden stop 29 years ago. Not just because I was crossing the pediatric lines from child to adolescent, but because I was pregnant and my life would never be the same. The events leading up to this are a different story but the facts are I was not mature or educated enough to comprehend what was in store for me mentally and emotionally. 

What I remember about my pregnancy is that I was always afraid. I spent the majority of the time in "Queen Anne's Maternity Home" for pregnant girls, it was a Catholic home and school. To a child like me at that time, it was cold and creepy there, very much like those you see on TV. Designed and decorated like that of a cathedral, mahogany wood walls, burgundy carpeting in the halls, and disturbing oil paintings of predecessors. The bathrooms were down a dark hall a good distance away from the rooms. I hadn't made any friends so I always had to go by myself. The tubs were the old fashinoned kind that sat in the middle of the floor on demon lion feet. Each had its own circular rod with a curtain attached. I never knew whether it was better to close the curtain and not see the ghosts coming or leave it open and witness my demise by the "thing" that would come to get me. I usually closed it though, choosing not to see it coming. That says more about me at that time than I even knew. The staff always had the hall lights off at night and I would be creeped out, jumpy, and seeing shadows of monsters everywhere.

Every morning when we arrived at the breakfast table there was always someone missing. "So and so went into labor last night." One of the older girls would always announce. We attended school and doctor visits on grounds and had group counseling sessions every evening, where the older and braver girls would talk incessantly about the pains of labor. I rarely spoke, shame and guilt quenched some of my words but I was the youngest and didn't quite know what to say anyway. So I just listened and created vivid horrifying and bloody scenes in my imagination of what having a baby was going to be like. 

What was most unfortunate about this, was we should have also covered feelings we were having or not, about placing our children up for adoption. All the girls there were "giving their babies up." That's the verbiage the girls and staff always used! I vaguely remember independent counseling sessions where my mother and I both attended. There were at least a couple of them and the counselor basically said something like "You will be doing a great deed for a family that cannot have a child." "They will love this child better than you can." "You can go on with your life and grow up like a normal child." True! False! False! Up to the 1980's the process of adoption left much to be desired. 

For the next 18 years I would dream about this child, worry, have horrible thoughts of what might potentially have happened to her, and cry many nights never knowing if I had made the right decision. Which it really wasn't my decision or my mothers, we were coaxed into it with phrases like those above. Not really being prepared for such a situation, the moment realization of pregnancy became evident it was a whirlwind of events and we were just pushed from one step to the next.

One thing I did learn however, after she turned 18 she could begin looking for me if she wanted and on her 18th birthday I did all but sit by the phone waiting for it to ring. I went to every registry website I could find and listed my information, called the maternity home and updated my information, I read hundreds of search & reunion testimonies, watched every TV show that broadcast adoption search and reunions. From that point there were many times that I literally searched the internet registries hours from night until morning trying to match information and find any sign of her with no results. I resigned to the fact that she was not interested in finding me or worse, dead.

Exactly 10 years later on her 28th birthday, I signed up for a registry called Adoption Database. Within a month I was contacted by email by one of their search angels telling me to complete the registry identification page which I somehow missed. All biological, geographical and personal information about myself, the birth, and family is what was needed. All of a sudden I had search angels emailing me telling me they believed they had found my daughter! In this age of internet fraud and scams I was very skeptical and tried to search databases to see what I had missed yet they had found. I found nothing more. 

One of the search angels sensed my suspicion and then sent me a picture which she pulled from my daughter's Facebook page. When I opened the email and saw the picture my breathing stopped. There was no doubt in my mind that was her! They arranged phone contact between the two of us because we were in different states. She had searched for me but did not have accurate information and was unsuccessful until the angels spotted consistencies in both our information. Search angels have access to many resources the average person does not. Moreover, they put a lot of time and research in and for free.

Find My Family is a non profit organization of birth parents, siblings, grandparents, adoptees, adoptive parents, and other family members impacted by adoption in someway. The organization is truly altruistic, operating solely off of donations from its members. If you or anyone you know are searching for a family member I highly recommend registering with them and if possible make a donation to support them and this ongoing need. I am just one success story of many.

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