An online friend, unrelated to ehbabes.com, recently noted that the number of reunions for our group seems to have decreased. She wondered if we had hit a new barrier or if the change in the Illinois adoption laws had changed our focus.
The short answer is yes…and no.
I must be candid and state that years ago, when ehbabes.com was first formed (circa 2003) I aggressively sought members for both our support group and our search efforts. I did not do this for any obnoxious marketing reason. Rather, I did it for selfish and what I thought were benevolent reasons. The selfish part was rooted in my own desire for community, for friends that could relate to what I was feeling at that time. I wanted to connect with other mothers who had been victimized by Kurtz. I needed to talk to someone, anyone that would understand and validate me.
I executed google searches for phrases like “surrendered my daughter to Easter House”. Not surprisingly I would find postings on adoption.com, cousinconnect and other sites. I learned that the adoption.com reunion registry allowed one to search by agency name, even by state, year of birth. I found most of my Kurtz network agency victims through that site. I would reach out to the posters and we would connect. My connecting was not limited to mothers or fathers who had surrendered children to Kurtz. I also reached out to adopted persons. And so our group was formed.
When I would first contact someone, I would typically send them the URL of my site and the yahoogroup. They might answer me, they might not. If they did, we generally started dialogue, developed a relationship and eventually, in many cases, started their own search for their mother or child.
Since my own reunion, my outreach efforts have all be ceased. I no longer go looking for people. I don’t troll adoption boards, no longer google Kurtz network keywords and rarely read the google alerts that pop up in my inbox. The reasons for this change are varied. The two most compelling are 1) personally, I don’t need that support anymore. Not only do I have it in the existing network of friends I have cultivated but as I have changed and grown, so have my needs and 2) less personally, I don’t feel I have the right to intrude on anyone’s life the way I once did. Granted, I “intruded” with good intention and never, ever did I search for someone with out the searching parties consent but I did, much as I regret it, pop up in the email boxes as what some might consider emotional spam. Just because someone put their name online as part of a passive search did not necessarily grant me permission to ping them.
I used to think differently. I felt it was okay to say “hey, hi, I am like you and I can help you if you want it”. I thought, when I was still young and green and naive and hopeful in my own reunion I was doing something good. Something helpful. I thought the individuals I contacted would appreciate it. I was looking forward to reunion. I wanted to share the love, the hope. I was all shiny and smiley and lacking experience of what it really meant to be in reunion. Sure I had READ about it but I hadn’t actually lived it.
Now that I approach nearly six years in my reunion (of sorts) I realize, now, I was also bringing the potential for pain into those lives. Now that I know what it is like to have a non reunion I don’t want to be peddling the idea to others. I don’t want to be a reunion pusher. I believe today individuals should come up on this decision on their own without my intrusive knock-knock in their email account door. One can argue divine intervention (and they have) and suggest that I was doing what I was meant to do. I am not inclined to agree. I genuinely regret that I helped certain people. While the majority of the reunions we have had were surprisingly good (requiring work by both parties) I still feel deeply sad for friends like my friend K that did not have a reunion. Friends that well, are where I am at — or worse. I feel, perhaps wrongly so, that I caused that. It could have been avoided if I had minded my own business.
For these reasons (and several others) I have decided to merely maintain a registry and keep the ehbabes.com site active but not very dynamic. As such, our numbers are down. I am okay with that. Searching individuals can easily come upon me/my site/the yahoogroup via their own searches. I hold firmly to my belief that adopted persons have the right to their records, to know their family of origin. I will do almost anything I can to insure that happens for individuals separated via Kurtz. However, they will find me. I will not find them. They will do it in their time. Not mine.
For those that I did help, I extend a personal apology. I really had no idea what it was like to live with this.
Now I do.