The Center for Lifelong Adoption Support at The Cradle provides support to birth and adoptive parents, adopted persons and families.
Nina Friedman, Director of Post Adoption Support, works with those who want more information on birth relatives or hope to make a connection. She shares with us the top three questions clients have.
What information can The Cradle give me?
The Cradle can give you the non-identifying medical and social background information from our files. The amount of information we have varies, but often includes demographic information, birth parents' relationship, the decision making process, details about the birth, and medical history. We can also tell you if your birth family member(s) has (have) contacted us since the birth and left updated information. Learn more about Background Reports and who is eligible to receive them.
During an Informational Consultation, which is open to people from Cradle and non-Cradle adoptions, we can talk about the social and medical background information we have as well as options for making contact with birth relatives through The Cradle and/or the State of Illinois. I can also offer guidance on how to use those services, help you prepare for possible outcomes, and think about the emotions involved for the person searching as well as the person who is found.
Have my birth relatives been looking for me?
I can tell you if a birth relative has contacted The Cradle hoping for a connection. However, I want to point out that even if someone hasn’t reached out, it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t open to contact. For most of our history, open adoption and contact between birth relatives was not encouraged. Many people who made a plan of adoption during that time don’t feel empowered to reach out, but still may welcome contact. I also speak with adoptive parents and birth parents that had an open adoption and for whatever reason; the open adoption relationship has changed. Maybe they lost touch or drifted apart. Or, a birth parent agreed to an open relationship but found it too emotionally difficult to maintain contact. If the other person/family hasn’t contacted The Cradle, I can help you try to reconnect. The Cradle can also hold information and updates – pictures, milestones, contact information- until everyone is ready.
If you were not adopted from The Cradle or choose to search on your own, remember that we are still here to support you and can give you some direction to available state services.
I have the names of my birth parents from my original birth certificate - what do I do next?
I get calls regularly from people with this very question. Most people ask for confirmation of the name(s) on the original birth certificate and/or suggestions on how to find their birth parents. Illinois law
does not permit The Cradle to confirm or release birth parent names unless the birth parent has given their consent to The Cradle. We can discuss search options available through The Cradle or The State of Illinois, or searching and reaching out on your own. If you want to do it on your own, I can offer advice on ethical and respectful ways to do so. Since the other person may not be expecting the contact, the last thing we want is to give someone a heart attack or catch someone in the middle of a dinner party.
Even when people have searched on their own and identified their birth parent(s), many people prefer to have The Cradle serve as an intermediary. The Cradle is a name all parties involved know and trust. It gives them a chance to react and soak in the information. This is also what we do – we’ve helped many families connect and we’re able to counsel and offer support to everyone involved.
Whether you choose to work through The Cradle or gather information and reach out on your own, having some professional support through the process is important. I’d encourage you to connect with me for an Informational Consultation to talk about your options and expectations.
To connect with Nina for questions or help, schedule an appointment for a free Informational Consultation.