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Dave Reynolds, a 46-year-old health care-plan operator from Deerfield, didn't seek his birth record until he met Feigenholtz, who encouraged him. He just spoke by phone about a month ago to his birth mother, who lives in another state and never told anyone in her family about her son.
"I'd love to meet my birth mom face-to-face. I'd love to give her a hug," Reynolds said. "I'd love to meet my half-brothers. That would be a neat moment. But that's on her timetable. If it never happens, then I'm just so thankful I had a chance to thank her."
The meetings can be just as wrenching and emotional for birth mothers, and many adoptees are reluctant to ask them to come forward and speak publicly. Nor is it always an easy process for the family that reared an adopted child.
Duffy's adoptive mother, who is ill with Alzheimer's, often talked with her daughter about finding her birth family. The process has been hard on her father, but "I'm not going anywhere," Duffy said.
"They were the people that put a Band-Aid on my knee when I scraped it. They're my family," she said. "It's just nice to start to get to know this person who gave so much up for me, who did such a selfless thing for me, giving me birth and bringing me into this world."
Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org
American Adoption Congress: http://www.americanadoptioncongress.org