Finding out I was adopted was a shock but not the end of the world. For over two years since I had found out I was adopted I wanted to search for my birth parents. I had no idea where to start, but had enough information in a brown envelope given to me by my mother. What was known to me is that I have a German heritage. Knowing I was born in West Germany made it a lot easier to research. If I had been born in East Germany it most likely would of been more difficult to find records.
Germany unlike the United States have open adoption records which makes it easier to find records. I contacted ALMA Adoptees’ Liberty Movement Association. almasociety.org. They were so helpful in showing me where to start. What resources were available to me. Now this was over thirty years ago that I performed my search. ALMA is still there helping many people who are searching. If you are reading this and you were adopted, they might be able to help you also.
When searching for birth parents you have to reassure your parents that you love them and do not want in anyway to hurt their feelings. That you are curious, and that is a normal reaction. In my case I also wanted to know about any medical issues since I have scoliosis. This is one point I am very strong on. I believe it is a right for someone to know their medical background. It is now, finally more open adoption but for many of us baby boomers that was not the case in the United States adoptionhelp.org.
Being told that adoption records in West Germany were kept for ninety years, maybe I could find some information. I do not know if that is still the case anymore since my search began over thirty years ago. If I could just find a small piece of information it would eliminate the not knowing. I felt it should be wonderful to pass this information onto my children. What if they wanted to make a family tree? I thought they had a right to know also. In my case, my mother did not accept why I was even looking. You have to look at views from both sides. But, never knowing I could not live with.
Posting a letter to the German embassy explaining why I was looking, who I was looking for, birth dates, all the pertinent information. The embassy was very quick to write me back. As I excitedly scanned the information, I had to sit down, calm down and actually read it! I remember thinking ok, there is a name here but it is not my birth mother’s name. It turns out that Germany keeps manifest records and where that particular person will be arriving and also who their sponsor is. So, the information I was looking at was her sister’s husbands name and address.
It took me a couple of days to actually get up the courage to look for a phone number for this person. As my luck would have it there was a phone number listed for this person at that address. Remember, this was many, many years ago that my birth mother came to the USA, what were the chances of finding this phone number?
I believe it was the next day I called the phone number and a man answered the phone. I told him who I was and why I was calling. He told me to hold on, and then a woman came on the phone. She told me she was my aunt and that she often wondered where I was. Well, we both cried and laughed, it was a wonderful phone call. I asked about my birth mother and she gave me a phone number to call.
We all hear good stories about adoption but sometimes we put ourselves out there and it does not work out for us. My birth mother had the frame of mind that once I was given up that was it. I am not going to even try to understand this, but like I have said before, there are two sides of a story. No one is really right or wrong.
I did stay in touch with my aunt and uncle. I had learned a great deal about what they and my grandparents went through during and after World War 11. It was a very hard time for all of them and sometimes I think it can change a person. I was just grateful to have gained insight and friendship with my aunt and uncle.
My aunt and birth mother have since passed away and it makes me glad I did the search. I will never regret that.