It may not be widely known that LSS provides adoption search and reunion services. When one member of the “adoption triad” (adult adoptee/birth parent/adoptive family) initiates a search for another member, it may be an adult adoptee searching for a birth parent, a birth parent searching for an adult adoptee, or an adoptive family searching for a birth parent. If the search is successful and both parties wish to meet, LSS’s Lutheran Adoption Services of Texas (LAST) can facilitate the contact.
Tessa Robinson began her search through LAST around 10 months ago. Tessa, who grew up in Tyler and lives there now, is a 21-year-old hair stylist who recently discovered she has six siblings: a full brother, two half-brothers, and three half-sisters. She also learned that all of her siblings had been adopted – either through an agency or placed with family or friends – and that her birth mother passed away in 2001.
Tessa, who was adopted at five weeks old, first became interested in searching for her birth parents when she was 16. It is a requirement for the adoptee to wait until age 18 to begin a search, and when that birthday rolled around, Tessa wasn’t ready. At age 21, the time just seemed right.
Contact usually begins with a letter or a phone call and evolves based upon the mutual consent of both parties. In Tessa’s case, her older half-sister Jessica made the first contact with a phone call. Then Jessica gave her phone number to the other siblings and Tessa has had conversations with most of them. This is all still new, and she has only met Jessica and Lyndsay face-to-face, and is looking forward to meeting Leean soon.
What has been the biggest surprise to Tessa? Just having so many brothers and sisters! Also, she finds that she has a resemblance to all her sisters in one way or another. “My sisters and their families have been able to tell me some things about my birthmother and they have shown me pictures. I actually do have a lot in common with them.”
One aspect of a search like Tessa’s that adoptees often fear, is how it will affect the relationship with adoptive parents. Tessa’s parents were all for it, and in her case it hasn’t been an issue.
When asked if she would encourage other adoptees to search for their birth families, Tessa said, “Yes definitely. But you have to have the right mindset. It could go wrong and it could go right. So you have to be prepared for bad things also. I haven’t been able to find out anything about my birth dad at all, but overall it’s been a really good eye-opening experience for me. It just helps to know.”
[Note: Texas Family Code 162.413 requires that individuals initiating an adoption search must have an hour of counseling before a reunion can be facilitated.]
For additional information about adoption and reunification searches, call 800-396-4611 or contact Tanya Graham: [email protected].