Decreased Reunions

An online friend, unrelated to, 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 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, cousinconnect and other sites. I learned that the 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 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.

13 Thoughts.

  1. Awwwww, Suz. I have struggled with this at times, too Even though my reunion with my Mother is quite craptacular, I do not regret it. At all.

    I have at times, felt guilty encouraging others to search, not knowing if they could handle a bad outcome.

    But- the people I have encouraged to search- even the ones that have ended badly, still say they would do it again in a heartbeat.

    Im a bit more cautious now when giving people search help and/or advice. I will give them the information, but always stress that they need to be prepared for every possible outcome…..not that you can really prepare yourself for pain….


  2. (((Suz))) I have long admired your generosity toward others who are searching and entering reunion. Whatever you may think, I believe you have done more good than harm.

    When I was in my initial reunion honeymoon, I encouraged every adoptee I knew to search. In support groups, I relished the process of mothers, fathers and adoptee searching and finding. I wanted everyone to have the joy I had.

    As you know, things aren’t so joyful anymore. But for others, there is still. You never know what you’re going to get.

    • Denise – Thanks. And here I must be a crazy Gemini and say again, yes and no to this statement of yours:

      “You never know what you’re going to get.”

      I believe you can know — intellectually – that reunion may go bad, you may be rejected, you may find things that you dont want to know, etc. At least I did. I read, talked, researched, asked, read, wrote, etc. before reunion and really thought I was prepared for the good and the bad.

      Living it – even with the intellectual knowledge before hand – is an entirely different concept. That cannot be captured in any book, class, conference, etc. It is as unique to each of us as our DNA. It can be good, great even, for some and then for others, it can be walking in through the out door, forever confused and wishing you could walk back wards needing to go forwards, never, ever the same.

      Ya know, on second thought, part of my challenge may be that I did not have a good reunion, or a bad one, I am just in limbo, go around and around in that revolving door never knowing when it will stop and where I will find myself.

      • Good point. If you had a reunion, whether good or bad, you would likely be able to accept, put it to rest (still knowing that things can change… I’ve seen in over and over, from good to bad, bad to good, and every other transition you can imagine. Limbo is hell. In any situation.

        I went in clueless. Learned everything that could happen AFTER it was happening. At least you were prepared. Then there’s that hope thing, that my situation will be one of the good ones.

        Intellectually knowing what might happen is a whole different thing than the emotional… something we can’t know, or even how we might react to it, until we’re in it.

        I still say, prepared or not, you don’t know. Because we’re talking people, not science. Our children are their own selves, with their own experiences of adoption, personalities however like or not like our own. Anything can happen. And it does.

        What gives me hope, and I hope will for you too, is that change is always possible, even likely. As we and our children age and mature. Never give up. Just get to a good place while you wait.


        • Denise – Funny you mention ‘hope’. Seem to be coming across lots of hope related quotes lately and been posting them on my tumblr. Two that come to mind immediately.

          “Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torment of man” – Nietzche


          Hope is the thing with feathers
          That perches in the soul,
          And sings the tune without the words,
          And never stops at all,

          -emily dickenson

  3. This quote helped me get through the 18 years of silence from my son, when I thought I was permanently rejected, and also helped me perservere in aiding others in search and support.
    My favorite quote about hope:

    “Either we have hope within us or we don’t; it is a dimension of the soul; it’s not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation. Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons.

    Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but, rather, an ability to work for something that is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. The more unpropitious the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper the hope is. Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. In short, I think that the deepest and most important form of hope, the only one that can keep us above water and urge us to good works, and the only true source of the breathtaking dimension of the human spirit and its efforts, is something we get, as it were, from “elsewhere.” It is also this hope, above all, which gives us the strength to live and continually to try new things, even in conditions that seem hopeless as ours do, here and now.”

    Vaclav Havel, from “Disturbing the Peace” 1986

  4. (((hugs)))

    I think a lot of people don’t search (like I didn’t for a while) because they don’t know that they can. Closed adoptions can leave we adoptees with a feeling of despair that because we don’t have information to go on, we’ll never get any where. So, it can be life-changing to hear that there is some hope and that there are people who can find someone with little information.

    But I think people ultimately search and/or reunite, if they want to. I think there’s always a part of us that knows it might not go well.

    You can’t make things perfect for every one. That’s just not how life is 🙂

  5. Suz, even though you may feel some accountability for introducing others to the pain your reunion has brought you, at the end of the day people must make their own decisions.

    That said, I get what you are saying. From another angle, I am learning that as much as I have yearned for reunions for my children – and honestly for my entire family – the more adoptees and mothers I speak to, the more I realize I have to be very, very careful not to push my kids. This is a decision they need to make without feeling like they need to please the AP in the picture.

    You have done, do, and will always do good work for adoption.


  6. I completely agree with Amanda. Some people are going to search, now or later, because you helped pave the way or because someone or something else did. But they get there because that is what they choose. As you mention in your post, some responded to your emails. Some did not.

    Your feeling the need to apologize for being intrusive…. well that is just your caring, beautiful soul wanting to soothe others’ potential hurt.

    People will remember how you made them feel… hopeful, not alone, encouraged. And that is hardly a selfish act. I learn so much from you, dear Suz.

  7. Suz, I’m glad to have met you and I’m glad that you created EHBabes. You have absolutely nothing to apologize for. Sure, my reunion didn’t happen but I’m glad I have the information. I have her name and she has mine: this information should have been mine to begin with but the world is a barbaric and cruel place. The laws are better now, but it is the girls adopted from China who I pity as their records are scattered to the four winds as if having the name you were born with wasn’t important at all to a human being.

    I’ve begun writing a memoir of my life as an Asian-American adoptee. It begins: I have a family, but I have no ancestors. I have a home, but I have no origin. Now knowing the bottomless and glacial cruelty of my own birthmother, I’m glad in my own personal case that I was adopted away. Nevertheless, the institution of adoption is very evil, I’ve come to see that clearly now.

  8. I feel like intention counts for so much. You have always had good intentions. I doubt you will never know how many lives you have touched and made better. My reunion is as sucessful as it is, because I have you to support and understand me and like today, help me understand Mom C. Thanks.

  9. I had a three year reunion with my son. He discarded me by email last October. It was a good reunion and then…bam. Most days I wish I had put a veto on my file and avoided all this pain. Not knowing was horrible but knowing where he is,who he is, what my grandchildren look like and having no contact; most times I think that is worse than not knowing. He will be 40 in December. I will send one last birthday card. I hold two separate,disparate thoughts – I want him to come back,with all my heart and I am terrified he will come back, with all my heart. The same as these two opposite thoughts that I sometimes believe at the same time – I should never, ever have relinquished him and he had a better life without me. Oh, adoption, the gift that keeps on taking.

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