Tag Archives: adoption stories

True #adoption story… @ZekeAnders #adoptionstories

Korean American filmmaker Zeke Anders stepped in front of the camera to document his own adoptee experience and challenge some of the stigmas of the adoption experience.

Zeke Anders

Zeke [legal name Andrew Erickson] was three when he was adopted in 1978 from a South Korean by an American couple from Detroit. ‘Anything before that point it’s really sketchy. The authorities found me on the street and they took me to an orphanage and that’s basically it. That’s all I know, that’s all my parents knew and it’s kind of crazy that way.’

The idea for his vlog American Seoul came to him when he acknowledged the curiosity of friends and acquaintances about adoption. ‘They would always say ‘real.’ As if the parents I have aren’t my real parents.’ He is keen to portray adoption as ‘normal, it’s great.’

Zeke Anders

Zeke held by his adoptive mother, Joyce Erickson, at Chicago O’Hare airport as he arrives from South Korea in 1978 [photo: Zeke Anders]

In one episode, he asks viewers to share the comments they find the most annoying when people ask about their adoptive experiences. For him, the most annoying thing is when someone says ‘I’m sorry’ after hearing he is adopted.

Read Zeke’s story in this NBC News article.
Watch a television interview with Zeke on Halo Halo about his adoption vlog American Seoul.
Listen to Zeke interviewed on Michigan Radio.
Zeke’s website

Zeke Anders

Zeke as a child in the early 1980s [photo: Zeke Anders]

If you like this true story, read:-
George Dennehy
Ray Victor Lewis
Brian Moore

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True #adoption story… Betty Morrell #adoptionstories

The headline sounds like something from a film: ‘Woman, 82, finds birth mother, 96’. After 50 years of searching Betty Morrell finally met her birth mother, Lena Pierce.

Betty Morrel

Betty Morrell meets birth mother Lena Pierce with Kimberly Miccio, holding her own daughter [photo: Kimberly Miccio]

Eighty-two years after she was born to a teenage mother and put up for adoption, Betty Morrell finally met her birth mother thanks to the dogged research by her grand-daughter, Kimberly Miccio, over twenty years. Betty started searching once her adoptive parents had died but, as her adoption had been closed, it was ‘like hitting a brick wall.’

Born in Utica, New York State, in 1993, Betty’s mother Lena named her daughter Eva May. But Lena was a ward of the state and so social welfare officers took away her baby for adoption. Betty, as she was later named, grew up as an only child with her adoptive family on Long Island. Her childhood was happy. In her thirties she started to search. The first shock was finding that her birth mother had not died during childbirth as she had been told.

Betty’s grand-daughter Kimberly started to help her grandmother with the research when she was 12. ‘My grandmother had been looking for a long time. She had never tried through the internet, so we started going through different sites.’ Eventually, using Ancestry, Kimberly located one of Lena Pierce’s daughters. Betty then learned she had four sisters, two brothers, and that her mother was alive and well and living in Pennsylvania.
Read the full story of Betty’s reunion at US News.

If you like this true story, read:-
Kate & Tom Jameson
Eileen Heron
Dave Lowe

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True #adoption story… Peter Papathanasiou @peteplastic #adoptionstories

Peter Papathanasiou was 24 years old when he was summoned to his mother’s bedroom and told he was adopted. The subsequent search for his identity takes him from Greece to Australia as he uncovers his mother’s life story. Son of Mine, published in 2019, is not just a story of adoption and identity but a story too of migration and the experience of first and second-generation immigrants.

Peter Papathanasiou

Peter Papathanasiou [photo: Salt Publishing]

‘I thought she was going to tell me somebody was dying,’ Papathanasiou told The Guardian. ‘Instead, she revealed that she was not my biological mother. Her brother, one of my many uncles, a man I’d never met, who lived in northern Greece, was my real father. I slumped against the wall in shock. By the end, I was splayed on the floor.’

He had always known his parents had struggled to have children. What he didn’t know was that in 1973 on a family visit to Greece, his mother had tried to adopt a baby at a Greek orphanage. When she was unsuccessful, her brother suggested he and his wife have a baby for her. ‘It was to be a pure gift, but Mum was scared her brother and his wife might want to keep the child: there was nothing in writing. Still, she agreed, went back to Australia and waited. One day, she got a letter. It said: “We’re pregnant. The baby will be born in June 1974.”’

His mother flew back to Greece for the birth but missed it by a day or two. She spent five months there, caring for Peter and doing the paperwork. ‘My birth certificate was issued with my adoptive name and listed my adoptive parents as my parents. We left for Australia when I was six months old. It must have been difficult for my biological parents to give me up.’ Peter’s cousin George [actually his biological brother] later told him that when he was taken away, ‘it was like a period of mourning – nobody talked for three days.’

Papathanasiou’s emotions ran through shock, then he felt deceived and angry, finally he felt excitement. ‘I forgave my parents quickly. At the end of the day, they’d always loved me. My wife and I struggled to conceive for two years, and that was tough. Mum and Dad had close to 18 years of that. My dad has since died, but he taught me so much, including how to be a father. My mum adores my boys. I’ll tell them one day: “Without that lady and the lengths she went to, to become a mother, I wouldn’t be here and neither would you.”’

Read the full article at The Guardian.
Peter Papathanasiou

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If you like this true story, read:-
Angela Patrick 
Esther Robertson
Eileen Heron

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True #adoption story… @juliewassmer #adoptionstories #birthmother

In 1989, budding screenwriter Julie Wassmer went to meet a literary agent to talk about script ideas. She didn’t look twice at the secretary who served coffee that day. Twenty years earlier, teenage Julie had given birth to a baby daughter who was given up for adoption. The following day, typing a letter for her boss, the secretary recognised Julie’s name from her own birth certificate.

Julie Wassmer

Julie Wassmer [photo: juliewassmer.com]

Julie managed to hide her pregnancy from her parents until she went into labour. She was sixteen. “In my family, where I was the adored only child, falling pregnant to my boyfriend Martin when I was 16 was a disaster… Martin and I never assumed for a moment that there could be a happy ending. We were too poor, too working class, too young to build a family. Adoption was the only possibility.”

After spending ten days in hospital with her daughter Sarah Louise, Julie went home alone and returned to her A-level studies. She and Martin split up. She always believed Sarah Louise would get in touch, especially when the Adoption Act was passed in 1976 giving children the right to trace their parents. She was convinced Sarah Louise would look for her after her 18th birthday in 1988. Meanwhile, Julie wrote a script that was made into a film in 1989, and the meeting with the agent followed.

“There is no ground map that exists for such situations: we have had to feel our way towards a relationship over the past 20 years. She has a mother whom she dearly loves – that is not my role. Mostly I feel we are more like sisters; other times it feels as if we are best friends; occasionally it has felt like falling in love.”

Mother and daughter meet regularly. “Writing down our experiences in a book has been cathartic. And when Sara fell pregnant at 37, I was able to revel in her experience. Picking up my grandson for the first time brought us full circle.”

Julie WassmerBUY THE BOOK

Read Julie’s full interview with The Guardian and visit her website.

If you like this true story, read:-
George Dennehy 
Bob MacNish
Cat Stubbs 

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True #adoption story… finding Joy #adoptionstories

This is a true story told by the adoptive mother of a mixed race boy, first fostered by the family from when he was five weeks old. “His birth mother was placing him for adoption, but the government of Guam was intent on finding someone within his extended family to adopt him. It was the culture. But at eight months of age, the parental rights were terminated and the adoption process began. At age two he legally became ours.” All identities are protected in this story.

heart to heart adoptions

[photo: heart to heart adoptions]

As their son grew, his parents talked to him about his birth mother and how one day he might like to find her. ‘Not yet’, he replied. When he was twenty, he was ready. “All we had was a name and a phone number – and we weren’t even sure about the number,” explains his adoptive mother. “But sitting on his dresser was a slip of paper with the information we were able to find. He knew that when he was ready, we would support him in finding his birth mother and making that call.”

He was concerned about the shock a call from him would cause, and so his adoptive mother agreed to make the first contact. “He wanted me to thank her for him. To thank her for life and for loving him enough to give him his best chance; and he wanted to know about his heritage. Being a mixed race, he wanted more details. So, I called with those intentions – and my own agenda too. You see, for twenty-one years we had prayed for her.”

That phone call brought Joy, the birth mother, back in touch with her son and with his adoptive family.

Read this adoptive mum’s story in full.

If you like this true story, read:-
Heather Katz 
Tom Pickard 
Oksana Masters 

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#Genealogy #mystery ‘The Love Child’ by Rachel Hore

The Love Child by Rachel Hore is not just an adoption story of birth mother and daughter, it is a story of women’s lives between the wars when shame and public expectation, not love, governed family decisions. In 1917 Alice Copeman, a 19-year old nurse, falls in love with a soldier home on leave. They expect to marry but he is killed. No one else knows of their relationship, it is wartime and everything happened so quickly. But Alice is pregnant. Rachel Hore

Mourning for Jack, Alice is forced by her father and stepmother to give the child up for adoption. In the Essex seaside town of Farthingsea, Edith and Philip Burns long for their own child. When they adopt a baby girl Irene, they expect their family to be happily complete. But Irene feels different from her parents and grows frustrated at the lies told about her birth; in particular she struggles to connect with her mother Edith and often feels rejected. At school she is bullied. At home she feels second rate to her younger brother, conceived by Edith and Philip after they adopted Irene. Things improve for Irene when she makes friends with a boy from the disreputable artistic part of town; Tom lives with his single mother and he too is different. Both Tom and his mother are positive influences on Irene.

This is a story told in two strands – Alice and Irene – first as each makes her own way in the world, and then as their paths come closer together. Alice’s story – qualifying as a doctor and working as a GP – is fascinating and a glimpse of a time when female doctors were starting to appear. Irene is also independent, leaving Farthingsea to work in London at an art gallery. In these inter-war years, it was still difficult for independent women to make their own way. Old-fashioned standards and expectations prove a challenge for both Alice and for Irene and often at the hands of other women.

A little slow to start, not helped as the storyline jumps around from year to year, it settled down halfway through. At times I confused Irene’s adoptive mother Edith with Alice’s stepmother Gwen, both are sharp-edged women whose words can wound.

This is a novel of love, separation, shame and mother and daughter dynamics; it ultimately shows how the road to love can take many diversions and twists along the way. Both Alice and Irene are rather self-contained and defensive, afraid of being hurt, but they are also capable of being loved if they allow their self-protection to drop. This is a reflective and sensitive portrayal of the adoption dilemma when the hunger of one individual for the truth may cause pain to others.

A note about the cover; I could see no link between the story and a rowing boat at sunset.
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If you like this, try:-
The Marriage Certificate’ by Stephen Molyneux
‘Beside Myself’ by Ann Morgan 
Shadow Baby’ by Margaret Forster 

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True #adoption story… Angela Patrick #adoptionstories

On January 16, 1964, Angela Patrick sat in the waiting room of an adoption charity in west London. In her arms she held her sleeping baby, eight-week old Paul. When an adoption worker took Paul from Angela’s lap to ‘take him to show to the couple’, Angela waited for Paul to be returned so she could say goodbye. But Angela would not see Paul for another thirty years.

Angela Patrick

Angela Patrick & Katharine [photo: Sarah Lee for The Guardian]

Nineteen year old Angela was raised in a Catholic family, told she would meet a man, marry him, then children would follow. But Angela went to a party, forgot her mother’s warning of ‘Never let a man touch you’ and found herself pregnant. Angela clearly remembers the emotions today. “From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I felt sheer panic,” says Angela, 68. “I was in denial for weeks. My overwhelming feeling was shame – at how badly I’d let my mother down. But when I finally accepted it, my one thought was: how can I get through this without anyone finding out?”

The fling having ended before Angela found out she was pregnant, she lived first with a supportive friend and then, for the last two months of her pregnancy, at a Catholic home for unmarried mums-to-be. There was no alternative but to have her baby adopted. Having been in denial for so long, it was too late to have an abortion. “I’ve been over it a million times and wondered how I could have kept my baby, but I’ve never come up with an answer,” says Angela. “I would never, ever have been able to go home with a baby.”

Angela’s delivery was difficult and, as a result, she stayed at the home with Paul for two months after the birth. Time for mother and son to form a strong bond. Adoption day was unbearable. “It was impossible to think of another woman mothering him,” she says.

Thirty years later, on January 19, 1994, Angela received a letter from the adoption charity saying Paul had been in touch and would like to make contact with Angela. “I imagined how much it had taken for him to track down the charity. To think he had searched for me, not knowing if I would want anything to do with him, and might reject him all over again, broke my heart.”

Angela went on to marry and have a daughter. Katharine, now 35, has a child of her own and cannot imagine doing what her mother had to do. And she is angry with her grandmother. ” I wasn’t brought up religiously, so I don’t understand the indoctrination my mother had, or the society that she grew up in. My mum is a good person, a nice person, and her own mother behaved in an inhumane way. I can’t imagine letting those beliefs win over what I felt for my child. I have a 10-week old baby, and the thought of being forced to give her up is unimaginable.

“My grandmother died when I was eight. I don’t think, once I’d found out about what had happened to my mum, that I could have forgiven her like Mum did, or would want to have continued a relationship with her.”

Read Angela’s full story at The Guardian.

If you like this true story, read:-
Oksana Masters 
Bob MacNish
Kate and Tom Jameson 

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True #adoption story… Cat Stubbs #adoptionstories

When adoptee Cat Stubbs gave birth to her son JD she worried about what to tell him about her own adoption story and the things she didn’t know about her birth family. And then she had what she describes as an ‘ah-ha’ moment.

Cat Stubbs

Cat Stubbs with her husband and baby JD

I was born in Busan, South Korea and turned over to Holt International when I was only a few days old. During my time as a Holt orphan, I was placed in foster care and a generous family raised me until I was adopted to my parents in the United States at three months old.

Cat Stubbs

Cat as a baby in Korea – this was the first photo her adoptive parents saw of her

While this story has always been enough for me, I wondered if it would be enough for my son. I wondered, “Would he ever want to know more? If so, what would I tell him?” An anxiety began to play into my mind.” Sadly before JD’s birth, Cat’s adoptive father died. But they were able to tell him that his grandson would be a boy who they planned to name John, after him.

“And then I had an ah-ha moment. Teaching JD about his Korean background, I realized, would be no different from teaching him about the grandfather he’ll never get to meet. I’m only able to teach what I know, and as long as I do that with integrity I will do right by him.

“So far, I feel like I’ve been able to meet this commitment. From taking JD to Korean restaurants to celebrating his Baek-il, I try to honor our Korean heritage by making it a part of our family’s culture. My hope is that by regularly exposing him to Korean culture, he’ll have a general sense of our shared background.”

Cat Stubbs

Cat with her adoptive parents

When he does ask me about my personal story, I hope that we are able to explore that subject together. If I don’t have the answers he looks for, then I want him to know I support him in learning more — however he needs to.  But no matter what, I want him to know that I love him and that he has a strong heritage to be proud of — both Korean and American.”

Read Cat’s story in full and discover more about Holt International’s post-adoption services.

If you like this true story, read:-
Brian Moore 
Esther Robertson
Sarah, the mother of my adopted son 

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True #adoption story… Heather Katz #adoptionstories

When her teenage mother fell pregnant in the winter of 1971, Heather Katz’s mother hid her swelling stomach. “At seven months into her pregnancy, her mother finally uncovered the truth. The following day, her parents set events in motion that would alter the course of many lives to follow. The family arranged for my mother to leave her home state and move into the Edna Gladney Center for unwed mothers in Fort Worth, Texas, USA. No one in her hometown, including her siblings, was ever to know of me—and she was never to speak of my birth.”

Heather Katz

Heather Katz [photo secretsonsanddaughters.org]

Heather was adopted by a rabbi of a large reform congregation in San Antonio and his wife, director of family life education at Jewish Family Services. After years of trying to conceive, the couple received a call from the Gladney Center. It was to be a charmed childhood for Heather.

“We did not keep secrets in our family. From the moment I was adopted, my parents spoke openly of my adoption. When I was only three months old, my great-great aunt asked my mom when she was going to tell me I was adopted. My mom responded with, “I am just going to tell her that she is a girl, Anglo, American and adopted. Being adopted will always be part of her identity.” Indeed, it was. I do not recall a moment of not knowing I was adopted.”

Now with her own children, Heather wonders about her birth family. “I still wonder which unknown family member passed on their musical abilities to both my children and me; I wonder what family folklore I might never hear; and while I met my birth father once, there is much I cannot say or know.”

When she was 21, Heather’s adoptive parents employed an adoption search specialist. Her birth mother was found. After a break of a few months to think about it, Heather asked the social worker to make the telephone call. Her birth mother answered, saying, “My family does not know about her. I cannot talk at this time.”

“Your daughter only wishes for you to know that she is doing well and that she’d enjoy exchanging letters when you’re ready and willing,” said the intermediary.

For several months, Heather and her birth mother exchanged letters. Finally, they met. “We all exchanged hugs, made awkward chatter about hair highlights or something mundane like that, and then shared a light-hearted restaurant meal together. We spent close to four surreal hours with them. From that encounter, a phantom had been laid to rest and my ancestral tree had grown a few more branches. However, when I had asked questions about my birth story or my paternal family, I learned nothing more. At the time, it was too difficult for my mother to dredge up the past.” It would be a further 18 years before Heather’s maternal birth family knew of her existence.

Read Heather’s story in full at her blog, Secret Sons and Daughters, or follow her at Facebook.

If you like this true story, read:-
Esther Robertson
Van Dai & Siobhan
Laurence Peat

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True #adoption story… Kate & Tom Jameson #adoptionstories

Kate Jameson first thought about adopting a child when she was 16. “I had no overwhelming desire to have my own biological kids – I felt there were enough children in the world already – but knew that I wanted a family and, if I could, I wanted to offer my love to a child who maybe hadn’t had the best start.” At the age of 16, Kate assumed she would probably grow up, meet someone and change her mind.

Kate & Tom Jameson

[photo: meet_the_jamesons @ Instagram]

She was 22 when she met 24-year old Tom, and still wanted to adopt. Then by the time she was 29, “I still had no real longing to have my own child” and felt strongly that there were enough children in the world needing loving homes. Statistics from October 2019 released for National Adoption Week estimated that the UK’s care system had 4,000 children with only 1700 adults wanting to adopt. Tom was initially wary of Kate’s suggestion but agreed to explore the process. “My main worry was that I wouldn’t be able to love an adopted child like my own biological child.”

Kate & Tom Jameson

Preparing for our children’s arrival [photo: meetthejamesons-com]

They decided to look at siblings as it is more difficult for social workers to place siblings together. They met Robert, four, and Eve, two, in February 2018 at the house of their foster carer. A month later, they were living together.

Kate & Tom Jameson

Finding our voice as parents [photo: meetthejamesons-com]

Kate says, “The past two years have been a whirlwind. To begin with, it felt like we’d stepped out of our own lives and into someone else’s. It was overwhelming having two children in the house calling us Mum and Dad and expecting us to know everything.” The children are now six and four and, although the Jamesons would love to adopt again, they are focussing for now on what is right for their two children.

Kate & Tom Jameson

Travelling [photo: meetthejamesons-com]

Read Kate and Tom’s full interview with Good Housekeeping magazine, or follow their story on Instagram and at their blog.

Read this Guardian article about birthstrikers who decide not to have children in response to climate crisis.

If you like this true story, read:-
Amy Seek
Brian Moore 
Joy Lieberthal Rho

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