She searched for her birth family and found a surprise!
by Beth Kozan
In my 35-year career in adoption, I wore many hats. One hat was that of Confidential Intermediary.
Michelle contacted the agency hoping to find her birth parents. Michelle had been born in Tucson and placed with a family in Phoenix. I explained that we would soon have the ability to do searches once the Confidential Intermediary Program was launched, and that I would be a CI.
“Then I want to be your first customer!” she declared. I promised her she would be.
It didn’t take long to find Michelle’s birth mother. I tried the phone number in the file. Her dad answered and gave me a phone number for his daughter in the Phoenix metro area. She agreed to meet her daughter, whom she had not seen since she was a tiny baby.
Michelle visited with me after she met her birth mother. She reported that her aunt, who had been a support for her birth mother while she was pregnant, was astonished and couldn’t stop looking at Michelle. “You look so much like Bill! It’s like his ghost has appeared!” she said.
Michelle, who had joined the Army after high school, learned that her birth father had been a soldier during the Viet Nam War. He was injured in the war and passed away from his injuries; she did the math and learned he died when she was not-yet three. Now Michelle had a new goal: to see his name on the Viet Nam War Memorial. She researched The Wall online and at first she couldn’t find his name.
In an effort to learn more about her father’s side of the family, she made lots of calls and worked on the internet. She called Bill’s mother and learned that Bill, too, was adopted, but that was as much information as his mother was willing to share.
Along the way, Michelle learned that her birth father had been busy before he left for the Army. He left behind a pregnant girlfriend in his hometown! She found her half-sister, Jodi, just five months older than Michelle. Jodi had also done research on Bill, and had a yearbook from his high school. When Michelle saw his picture, she had to admit that it was startling how much she looked like her birth father.
The internet has given the half-sisters a new window to learn more about Bill: an online message board for people to share their memories of their years of service. Just last year, a soldier posted a note about Bill, recalling how his injury occurred. He told of the young soldier, eager to go into battle, and how he fell from the helicopter yet was saved by the “chicken belt” that soldiers wore while firing out of helicopters. The writer of the note explained in graphic detail how he’d helped retrieve the unconscious soldier and cradle his head while the ‘copter returned to their field base. He also said that, on The Wall, the date of his injury was given as his date of death, but he’d died in a hospital stateside, six months after his injury.
Both Michelle and Jodi got in touch with me when this new piece of information came through. They wanted me to write their story. I hope you like it, Michelle and Jodi. And I hope you (the reader) do, too!
Beth Kozan is the author of the book Adoption: More Than by Chance and the forthcoming Helping the Birth Mother You Know. Beth worked in adoption for 35 years and retired to write. She has many more books than these titles to write and will emphasize and explore the concept of community in her additional books. “Growing up in a close agriculture-based, rural community in Texas, I felt the comfort and bonds of caring for others which is often missing in our busy lives today. Exploring and building communities for today is my writer’s goal.” Follow Beth on Facebook or visit her website, where she reviews books and films featuring adoption.