Contributors

KARA ALBANO

Kara Albano
Chicago, IL Adoptee Rights Demonstration August 2012

Kara Albano was born in early November of 1982. She was relinquished at birth and spent the first seven months of her life in St. Vincent’s home, an orphanage run by Catholic Social Services in Providence, RI. At seven months, she went to live with the family who would eventually adopt her close to her first birthday.

With the help of her adoptive mother, Jackie, Kara started searching for her biological family at the age of 13. She has been involved in many groups pertaining to adoptee rights. Kara was a member of RI-CARE ( Rhode Island Coalition for Adoptee Rights and Equality) a local adoptee group in RI that fought to get laws overturned, in regards to sealed birth certificates. She is also an active member of RIARG (Rhode Island Adoptee Resource Group), as well as serving on the Board of Directors for the Adoptee Rights Coalition.

Due to the success of RI-CARE in the summer of 2011, almost 17 years after the start of her search, Kara was able to finally reunite with many biological family members. Kara also helped her adopted brother and his biological family reunite in 2013.

Even though Kara is in a successful reunion, she still fights for other states to promote equality for adoptees, and is a confidante for other adoptees in her life. Kara now works at a group home for teenage girls who are in state care for reasons such as psychiatric, behavioral, children looking for families, and also kids from juvenile courts.

WENDY BARKETT

Wendy Barkett
Adoption Law Event, Columbus, Ohio 3-20-15

Wendy Barkett writes of her personal struggles as well as triumphs in hopes that it will help adoptees feel less alone, and help non-adopted people to have a better understanding of some of her personal struggles.  As her journey in a search for truth continues, she writes from the heart and without a filter.

Born in Ohio in 1972, she learned on her 18th birthday that the adoption laws in Ohio prohibited her from obtaining her original birth certificate.  She spent years writing to anyone who would listen and was proud to be a part of the changed law in Ohio, which takes effect in March of 2015.  She found her birth mother at a grave in 2004 and continues to search for her birth father.

Along the way, she continues to write in order to keep people aware of the challenges as well as the victories of her personal search.  She is the author of Shadows of a Dark-Alley Adoptee, an Adoptee’s Search for Self.  She also has a website with a page listing all she has done over the years in her search in hopes that it will help others who are searching.

www.RememberDottye.com

KAREN BROWN BELANGER

Karen Brown Belanger
Photo for The Dallas Observer 6-8-00 on an article about adoptee rights

Karen Brown Belanger is an adult adoptee and the author of Assembling Self, an adoption poetry book, and writes at her blog of the same name.  She contributes at The Lost Daughters bloggers and was recently included in the Lost Daughters: Writing Adoption from a Place of Empowerment and Peace.

Karen has held various leadership positions within the adoption education, reform, and activism community over the last fifteen years.  She recently submitted a piece included in Adoption Therapy: Perspectives from Clients and Clinicians on Processing and Healing Post-Adoption Issues (Entourage Publishing) and is now working on her second book.

She inherited her biological mother’s love of dance, cooking from scratch, growing roses, and her biological great grandmother’s musical talent.  Karen is married and the mother of three adult children.  In her spare time she also enjoys reading, working out, and helping other adoptees on their paths towards healing.

JOANNE BENNETT

Joanne Bennett with child

From the beautiful Pacific Northwest, JoAnne Bennett has raised three wonderful daughters alongside her supportive husband of almost 40 years. Although her adoption journey has been difficult, she loves focusing on her passion – writing. Painfully transparent through her words, as an author her heart-felt desire is to reach others whose voices have been silenced by abuse and adoption issues, and to send the message to not feel so alone.

A poignant lesson that comes from her personal triumphs: “Never give up on discovering your gifts.” JoAnne’s work has appeared in print and in a number of publications over the years. She felt such a strong sense of community with her participation in The Adoptee Survival Guide.

JoAnne’s most recent contribution is making a difference in the lives of young people through the anthology, Dear Wonderful You:  Letters to Adopted & Fostered Youth

NICOLE BLANK

In the spring of 1971, I was born as Lisa in Hanover, Pennsylvania to a 25-year-old woman and a 29-year-old man. I was the third child on both sides with two half-siblings and one full sibling, and was the only child out of my siblings given up for adoption.  Two months later – after a stint in foster care –I was adopted and raised an only child outside of Baltimore, Maryland where I lived and went to college, only moving back to Pennsylvania at the age of 24 where I married in 1996 and had two children, brothers, two years apart.

Though I received a B.A. in psychology, I became a stay-at-home mother for many years until starting work part-time as a teller in a credit union.  My hobbies – outside of writing – include advocating proper care for pet hermit crabs, psychic ability development, and ghost hunting as part of a local paranormal team.  Interestingly, my ghost hunting has brought me back many times to Gettysburg, PA which is only mere miles from where my life began nearly 45 years ago.  In so many ways, I have come full circle. – Nicole Blank

KAREN CAFFREY

Karen Caffrey

Karen Caffrey, LPC, JD is a psychotherapist, a writer, a reunited adoptee and an attorney. She has a private psychotherapy practice in West Hartford, Connecticut and specializes in counseling adult adoptees, attorneys and all those seeking to live more satisfying and open-hearted lives.

She is a Contributing Author to Adoption Therapy:  Perspectives from Clients and Clinicians on Processing and Healing Post-Adoption Issues.  Karen is also President of Access Connecticut Now, Inc. a grassroots organization dedicated to re-establishing the right of adult adoptees to access their original birth certificates (www.accessconnecticut.org).

You can visit her at www.karencaffrey.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KarenCaffreyCounseling.

VON COATES

Von Coates

Born in 1944, Von’s parents met in the RAAF and produced a “love child,” for which adoption was the only option. Von was raised in a small Australian country community. At 21, she went to live in London, returning home to live almost 30 years later. She was reunited with her mother after 50 years, met some of her father’s other offspring and knows a lot of family history.  A firm foundation for the adopted life, giving birth to a daughter and being present at the South Australian Apology for forced adoption are some of the highlights so far.

ELLE CUARDAIGH

Elle Cuardaigh was born in Tacoma, Washington and has vowed to never leave the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Using a nom de plume, Elle lives her secret life as a writer while simultaneously juggling the responsibilities of being mother, daughter, and sister to many.

Author of The Tangled Red Thread (An Da Shealladh 2014, through amazon.com) and blog ellecuardaigh.com (WordPress), Elle focuses on spirituality in adoption/reunion and as a writer has long been a supporter of adoptee rights and adoption reform.

LAURA DENNIS

Laura Dennis

Laura Dennis was born and adopted in New Jersey and raised in Maryland. She earned a B.A. and M.F.A. in dance performance and choreography, but gave up aches and pains and bloody feet in 2004 to become a stylish sales director for a biotech startup.

Then with two children under the age of three, in 2010 she and her husband sought to simplify their lifestyle and escaped to his hometown, Belgrade. While the children learned Serbian in their cozy preschool, Laura recovered from sleep deprivation and wrote Adopted Reality, A Memoir, available on Amazon.

An adoptee activist in reunion, she writes at The Lost Daughters, Adoption Voices Magazine and her own blog, Expat (Adoptee) Mommy. Her essays have been published in Lost Daughters: Writing Adoption from a Place of Empowerment and Peace, The Perpetual Child, Dismantling the Stereotype, Adult Adoptee Anthology, and Dear Wonderful You, Letters to Adopted & Fostered Youth.

She is passionate about giving voice to the adoptee experience and is proud to have edited the popular anthologies, Adoption Reunion in the Social Media Age (Entourage Publishing) and Adoption Therapy: Perspectives from Clients and Clinicians on Processing and Healing Post-Adoption Issues (Entourage Publishing).

BECKY DRINNEN

Becky Drinnen photo

Becky Drinnen is an Ohio, Baby Scoop Era adoptee who searched for and found her birth parents. She is also an advocate for adoptee rights and a co-facilitator for Adoption Network Cleveland’s general discussion group.

Becky works in corporate America and loves her role as a wife, mom and grandma.  In her free time, you’ll find her immersed in genealogy research, reading a good book, or enjoying the great outdoors.  Becky blogs about adoption at puzzlesandpossibilities.com and is a contributor to Adoption Reunion in the Social Media Age, edited by Laura Dennis

SOPHI FLETCHER

Sophi Fletcher

Who is Sophi Fletcher? I’m a work in progress. I’m even trying out a brand new name these days, which makes me more confident and comfortable in my own skin than I have ever been. I’m a God-fearing, praise-singing, road-trip loving, drive-by-shooting photographer, former speech coach and English teacher. I’m an adoptee in recovery, reunion, reinvention and reformation. I will never stop searching for answers to my truth and my whole identity. I am a genealogically-minded, DNA-tested Facebook addict who uses the medium to connect with other adoptees and the cousins I find through DNA testing, and to educate those who need it/are open to it. I enjoy creating Facebook pages for friends and businesses I support, and I’m a purveyor of postcards I make for my little town, which I refer to affectionately as Mayberry.

I’m also a former journalist, presently a part-time writer, editor, proofreader, and a former ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, who dreams of becoming an online accent reduction and assimilation coach one day. I love art and music, American history, primitive antiques, and thrift shopping.  I am always looking for a bargain. This ties in well with my organizational skills (apart from my computer desk!) as I love to rearrange furniture and my “treasures.”  Last, but certainly not least, I am currently a live-in caregiver to my elderly adoptive mother, and mom to an adorable, yet ornery, diabetic cat.

LISA FLOYD

Lisa Floyd grew up in Indiana in a closed adoption wondering who she was and where she came from. It took many years for her adoption fog to emerge after which she decided to search for and eventually reunite with both sides of her birth families. It is only in finding her birth families and what occurred in the beginning days of her life that she has found her identity and her voice.

She is passionate about adoptee rights and plans on becoming an attachment and trauma therapist to help her fellow adoptees find their authentic selves and meaningful, purpose-filled lives. She is also a contributing writer in the adoption anthology Adoption Therapy: Perspectives from Clients and Clinicians on Processing and Healing Post-Adoption Issues. 

LYNN GRUBB

Lynn Grubb Chicago ARC demonstration holding signs
Chicago Adoptee Rights Demonstration August, 2012

JEFF HANCOCK

Jeff Hancock

In 2007, I was nearing my 42nd birthday when I discovered that I was adopted. Discovery came through the application process for a U.S. passport. It has since evolved into a non-ending search for self. My search began the same afternoon that I learned of my adoption and took six years to complete.

If the trauma of being a Late Discovery Adoptee wasn’t enough, add in the shock of being denied the truth of my original identity by New York State law. That was the turning point of my life when I joined the fight for restored Original Birth Certificate access for all adoptees.

My purpose as an adoptee rights activist is to call upon all adoptees, our families (both birth and adoptive), our children, our siblings, our spouses, lawmakers, and agencies that currently provide adoption services, to unite in support of “The Adoptee Bill of Rights.”  Besides my volunteer activist role, I busy myself with collecting things including Buffalo Sabres hockey cards, 1/64 scale vehicles, and celebrity autographs. I’m also an avid photographer, artist, and gardener.

STEPHANI HARRIS

Stephani Harris lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her loving husband, who is also an adoptee from a closed adoption and her 150 lb. Big Bear Akita (also adopted). She also has an adopted stepdaughter who currently lives in St. Louis.

She is a business owner of over 20 years, a Salon Master Educator, and serves as a professional mentor in the salon business industry encouraging professional development. She has studied Internal Family Systems Therapy by Richard Schwartz for her personal growth and has been actively involved with IFS group therapy for over five years focusing on healing of grief, loss, and trauma/PTSD.

www.Facebook.com/stephani.harris

www.Selfleadership.org

REBECCA HAWKES

Rebecca Hawkes is an adoptee by way of Baby Scoop Era infant adoption and a parent by way of birth, adoption, and foster care. She blogs about adoption, family, and other matters at Sea Glass & Other Fragments and The Thriving Child. Her work has also appeared at Adoption Voices Magazine, BlogHer, the Huffington Post, and Brain, Child magazine, and in the anthologies Lost Daughters: Writing Adoption From a Place of Empowerment and Peace, Adoption Reunion in the Social Media Age, and  Adoption Therapy: Perspectives from Clients and Clinicians on Processing and Healing Post-Adoption Issues.  She lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband, her three daughters, and a dog named Buddy.

JODI HAYWOOD

Jodi Haywood

Jodi Haywood – born in England and taken to North America two years later by an aunt she’d never met, Jodi grew up in a closed relative adoption and began writing stories at an early age to make up for the story nobody wanted to tell her – her own.

She pursued a degree in creative writing in college and is currently studying adoption-related issues such as developmental trauma and attachment disabilities.

She contributed to the anthology Adoption Therapy: Perspectives from Clients and Clinicians on Processing and Healing Post-Adoption Issues (Entourage, 2014) and has authored two young adult novels and the memoir Attachment Unavailable (to be released in 2015).  When she isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, traveling around the U.S., and running marathons.

CARLYNNE HERSHBERGER

Carlynne Hersberger photo

Carlynne Hershberger is co-owner of Hershberger & Huff Studios in Ocala, Florida. She is also co-author of the book Creative Colored Pencil Workshop by FW Media. Her award winning work has been exhibited in juried exhibitions across the country. Carlynne is a late discovery step- parent adoptee and also a mother who lost her newborn child to adoption in 1980. She has been reunited with her daughter since 2002. She blogs about her experience and is currently working on a painting series about adoption called Silent Voices.

CATHY HESLIN

Cathy Heslin

Cathy Heslin is a reunited adult adoptee of closed domestic adoption in New Jersey. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two boys. She met her birth mother when she was just 18 and moved out to Portland after graduating college to live with her birth mother. She has been in reunion with her birth mother for nearly 25 years, and with her birth father for 15 and has a complicated extended family that includes all sides of the triad.

She has been writing about adoption for the past five years with a focus on long-term reunion. In addition to writing for Lost Daughters, she has been published in Adoption Constellation magazine. She has written a memoir in partnership with her birth mother called Kathleen-Cathleen – A True Story of Adoption and Reunion, where she and her birth mother write alternating chapters sharing their experience of reunion from both the perspective of the adoptee and the birth mother (not yet published). Cathy’s personal adoption blog is reunioneyes.blogspot.com. Follow Cathy on Twitter @CathyHeslin.

MARLA JONES

Marla Jones

Marla Jones was adopted at birth and raised in Centerville, Ohio.  She currently lives in Perth, Western Australia with her husband Mark. They have four children; the youngest adopted from the Philippines.  Marla is passionate about helping others through her experience and her faith in God.  She has also written and published the book, Hungry for Life.

LUCY CHAU LAI-TUEN

Lucy Miller
Photo credit: Sarah Lam

Lucy Sheen – stage name, nom de plume Lucy Chau Lai-Tuen: made in Hong Kong and exported to the UK as a transracial adoptee. Lucy is a dyslexic actor, published writer, filmmaker, trainer and transracial adoptee advocate.  She loves Dim sum, Yorkshire puddings and tea.

Her first professional job was the female lead in a British feature film PING PONG (1987), directed by Po Ch’ih Leong. The first ever UK feature to look at the history and issues of the British-Chinese community.

Other publications that Lucy has contributed to: Dear Wonderful You:  Letters to Fostered and Adopted Youth; Adoption Therapy:  Perspectives from Clients and Clinicians on Processing and Healing Post-Adoption Issues; Adoptionland:  From Orphan to Activist; and Perpetual Child:  Adult Adoptee Anthology:  Dismantling the Stereotype.

Lucy is also in post-production for her independent documentary: Abandoned, Adopted Here – a film that looks at what identity and belonging means to a transracial adoptee growing up in pre multicultural 60s Britain.

You may visit Lucy at www.lucysheen.com.

ANN MARTIN

Ann Martin was adopted at the age of 2, in the state of Texas.  Today she is married, has two daughters, one cat, and two dogs.  Ann and her husband live and work on a cattle ranch.  She loves to write, play Boggle, and music is her personal therapy.

JAKE MUMMA

Jake Mumma

Jake Mumma lives in Dayton, Ohio with his wife and two kids. He is the owner of Sketch Monkey’s Artist for Hire and Nothing Presents Productions. He does work from animations to illustrations to paintings and more. Jake has been forming his style over the past 25 years and is currently working to bring out a new series of uplifting and inspiring children’s stories.

You can visit Jake at www.Nothingpresents.com or email him at sktchmnky@gmail.com.

ZACK PASTERS

Zack Pasters

I was adopted at 6 weeks of age through Richland County Children’s Services. I was born in Ohio and grew up near Columbus, Ohio.  I am 37 years old and have had a fascination with history and genealogy for at least 30 of those years. I like to read mostly historical fiction and the classics such as The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I also like to watch TV shows that are well written such as the Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy – Zack Pasters

DEANNA DOSS SHRODES

Deanna Doss Shrodes is an Assemblies of God minister, serving for twenty-seven years in pastoral ministry. Currently she serves as the Director of Women’s Ministries for the PenFlorida District of the Assemblies of God and is an in-demand speaker in the United States and abroad.

In the adoption community, Deanna is best known for her blog, Adoptee Restoration. An award-winning writer, she is the author of the books JUGGLE, Manage Your Time…Change Your Life! and Worthy to Be Found. She is a contributing author to five highly acclaimed adoption anthologies, contributing author to Chocolate for a Woman’s Courage, and a feature writer in scores of publications worldwide, including The Huffington Post.

Deanna and her husband Larry make their home in the Tampa Bay area with their three children.

LYNN STEINBERG

Lynn Steinberg
Lynn and her two moms

Lynn Steinberg is an adult adoptee from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Her adoption was closed and Lynn’s adoptive parents knew nothing about her birth family or story leading up to her relinquishment. At the age of 35, after having two biological children, Lynn and her husband Michael adopted a baby girl from Ethiopia. It was the adoption of her daughter that ignited an innate interest in searching for her birth mother.

In 2009, Lynn found her birth mother and half-siblings with the help of a private investigator. Upon reunion, she discovered that her existence had been kept a secret from her siblings by her birth mother for 35 years. With that said, Lynn was joyously accepted by her birth mother and siblings, but continually struggles with her identity and comfort level within her birth family. She feels there is a lack of support and resources for adult adoptees once the initial reunion is complete and hopes to act as a source of support for what she calls, “the reunion after the reunion.”

Lynn is a strong advocate for opening adoption records nationwide and is passionate about educating adoptive parents on the importance of open communication and lifelong emotional support of their adopted children.

Lynn also writes for Lost Daughters and works for Roots Ethiopia, a non-profit organization that focuses on supporting community identified solutions for education and job creation in Southern Ethiopia.

PAIGE ADAMS STRICKLAND

Paige Adams Strickland

Paige Adams Strickland is an Ohio adoptee, teacher and writer. She is married with two daughters. She’s been in successful reunions with her birth family for a long time. Paige is the author of Akin To The Truth: A Memoir of Adoption and Identity, about growing up with shame and secrets during the Baby Scoop Era and how it felt to be an adopted child and young adult.

GAYE SHERMAN TANNENBAUM

Gaye Sherman Tannenbaum is a retired forensic accountant, currently living in Uruguay. She is a New York adoptee who reunited with her mother about five years ago and now spends her time as a DNA search angel and access restoration advocate.  A Late Discovery Adoptee, she was finally told “the big secret that everyone knew” in 1984, at age 31 and credits her online adoptee and first mom friends for keeping her sane during her journey.  When she’s not paying it forward by doing searches and advising others, she can usually be found commenting on adoptee rights, DNA and genealogy throughout the Internet.

AMANDA H.L. TRANSUE-WOOLSTON

Amanda Woolston

Amanda H.L. Transue-Woolston, MSS, LSW is an author, speaker, psychotherapist, and social worker with a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in social work. Amanda has served the adoption and foster care communities through individual and family clinical work, group work, writing and presenting, and working for positive policy change. Her writing and presentations have reached broad audiences through multiple books, magazines, major news and radio interviews, and conferences, and she has engaged with legislators at the state and congressional levels on adoption policy.  Amanda is probably best known for her personal blog, The Declassified Adoptee.

DARYN WATSON

Daryn Watson photo
Daryn Watson (left) photo credit: secretsonsanddaughters.org

Daryn Watson is a Canadian adoptee living in Austin, TX. Thanks to open records, he found his maternal birth family living in Canada in 1995 after a two month search. The reunion journey with his birth mother has been tumultuous at times but he is grateful for finding his birth mother and family.

Daryn reunited with a paternal brother (Aaron) in 2011 and remains in contact with him. His birth father has not made any effort to contact Daryn.

Daryn lives with his wife Christine and their several cats in Austin, TX. He works as a landscaper and a real estate investor. He enjoys racquet sports, reading, movies, meditating and writing about adoption issues.

HOLLY WATSON

Holly Watson photo

My name is Holly Watson, an adult adoptee from NW Pennsylvania, who was adopted at 6 days old.  I am a wife, a mother, and a Grammy to three princesses and a handsome prince.  I am the founder of Open Line Adoption Connection, a support group for adult adoptees who are searching or who have searched.

I am also a Pennsylvania rep for American Adoption Congress and an adoptee activist who believes adult adoptees should have access to their original birth certificates.  One thing that I am determined to do in my life is to advocate for adoptees and to stress that prospective adoptive parents NEED training and adopted children WANT and need to talk about their first parents.

RAYNE WOLFE

Rayne Wolfe photos

Rayne Wolfe

Birth Name: Sally Ann Heiter

Adopted in San Francisco in 1956, Rayne Wolfe was a staff writer (2000 – 2009) at the Santa Rosa Press Democrat (a New York Times regional newspaper). She covered business and philanthropy beats plus everything in between, from penning obituaries to capturing the fun of hometown parades.

With early encouragement from “Mr. San Francisco,” columnist Herb Caen, her byline debuted in 1998 with a business column called “What Works” at the San Francisco Sunday Chronicle/Examiner. That column also ran in the Sunday Seattle Times and several other newspapers.

She was a lead blogger at 8WomenDream.com, a site dedicated to encouraging women to work on lifelong dreams.  From 2010 to 2012 she was an AOL.com columnist/contributor and helped establish the PetalumaPatch.com bureau.  Her freelance work has appeared in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Sunset Magazine publications and Glamour Magazine.

In 2014, she published her first book, Toxic Mom Toolkit, which includes her memoir describing her three mothers: birth, adoptive and step; as well as the oral histories of other women from around the world who also grew up sane and happy despite having super toxic mothers. Her current focus is on making Toxic Mom Toolkit the most popular book (and therapeutic tool) in California prisons.

A former law enforcement chaplain, married to a police Lieutenant, she lives in Petaluma, CA.