A vivacious young girl is enjoying the holiday weekend at her half-sister Jessica Kern's house. As she looks over the laptop she is currently working on, she explains how she would like to find her older brother. Growing up relocating between unstable households and now trying to figure this world out for herself, Cassondra Russell is also now searching for her older brother who was adopted as an infant.
Russell was the third child born to a young unwed mother who weíll call Amanda for anonymity. At the time of Russellís birth Amandaís life was in turmoil. Three years before, a 16-year-old Amanda gave birth to a little boy who may have been adopted under the name ìTylerî. There was an adoption plan made for him before his birth, so he left the hospital with his adoptive parents who were headed back to their own home in Texas.
Russell is still in contact with her father, who would also be ìTylerísî father. ìAnytime I have ever asked my Dad about it, he just acts like he doesnít want to talk about it. He just shuts it down every time,î Russell said. On the other hand, the two sisters say their mother would very much like to be reunited with him.
Oklahoma can be a hard place to get information from a closed adoption. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, after an adoption is finalized almost every state seals adoption records. Most states have put laws and procedures in place for someone searching for information about a specific adoption to obtain non-identifying information. Some states, including Oklahoma, are more restrictive about releasing information. They require the person seeking non-identifying information to register with the state adoption registry before any information can be released.
Russell has just begun her search. She has not yet inquired with agencies such as the Oklahoma Adoption registry about her brotherís birth records. She only has a very small amount of information to run with, and with the two people who could help piece together the information ó her mother and father ó both shut off to her, she is left with only a few options.
There are now websites and databases which specifically try to help people in her situation. These sites allow a person who was either adopted or looking for someone who was adopted to post information and connect with each other.
Another option is to hire a private investigator to help find the person you are searching for. If you have the resources to do so, this can be a great tool to aid in a search.
Lisa Townsend, owner of The Adoption Specialist, is a private investigator. She began helping people find lost loved ones after being affected by adoption in her family. ìI would say her odds are pretty good in trying to reach her brother. Hiring a searcher would most likely increase the odds of finding him but the registries are great too. The most important thing is to never give up,î Townsend said, regarding Russellís search, which is in its infancy.
ìI want to find him because he is my only full-blood sibling. I bet he looks a lot like me. I bet he is awesome. I want to know how he is, how his life turned out. I just want to know,î Russell said.
Jessica seems less interested in the search for ìTyler,î who would be her half-brother.
ìI just donít know. I donít know if I would want to meet him or if I would want him to meet our family,î Kerns said. The two girls are spending the holiday together this year ó without their mother because she is currently incarcerated and at a womanís correctional work program in Oklahoma City, for drug related charges.
Russell continues to be optimistic, open-minded and persistent. She is young and is looking forward to what the future may bring. She will be starting college, with the help of her sister, in the spring and is determined to succeed at everything in life, including finding her older brother.
They are called searchers and there are so many others out there like Russell who are determined to find someone they lost long ago ó whether it be birthparents searching for a child that was once put up for adoption, adopted children searching for their biological parents or siblings separated by adoption searching for one another.
Trying to piece together a family years after its separation is something that once may have been nearly impossible. Now, thanks to modern technology, finding a lost relative has become easier. Searchers now have many more tools to aid them in their search. The Oklahoma Adoption Registry, adopteeconnect.com, is one of hundreds of resources people like Russell can use to search for their loved ones. Another great avenue to help people in similar situations is adoption.com, which claims it has reunited countless families all over the world. There are thousands of great agencies and networks set up to help those separated by adoption.
Send all comments and feedback regarding Feature to firstname.lastname@example.org
Share this article: