Adult adoptees, rather than birth parents, are typically the individuals who initiate the searches, Ms. Gehring said, because birth mothers don't feel that they have the right to do so. Adoptees -- typically in their late 20s to mid-30s -- will look into finding their birth parent when they have reached a point of stability in their own lives, perhaps after a marriage or the birth of a child.
The process of locating and reconnecting families is not speedy. "It's not a matter of finding people and putting them together right away," Ms. Gehring said. "We want to make sure that it's a relationship that will be conducive."
Before the search for a birth parent can even begin, Ms. Gehring or another social worker meets with the adult adoptee to assess readiness to begin such a search.
"It really is like a roller-coaster ride. A lot of emotions are involved, be it joy, happiness, oppression, anger, elation. It can be any number of reactions throughout the journey of the search itself," Ms. Gehring said.
Many times, Ms. Gehring said, adoptees such as Ms. White are looking to find missing pieces of their backgrounds, pieces that those who are not adopted take for granted, such as access to medical records and information about skill sets.
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