Suzanne Sininger woke up out of breath, dreaming she had a hole in her stomach left by her baby. The baby she put up for adoption 25 years before.
Like Sininger, many birth mothers feel the need to reconnect with children they haven’t seen for years. The International Soundex Reunion Registry is one way to do that.
The free service is also a resource for adoptees, like Sininger’s daughter, whose name is also Suzanne. Though on different sides of the country, they both registered on the database and found each other several years ago.
“It feels that my life has come full circle,” said Sininger, a Bay Area artist.
Since 1975, the Soundex Registry has helped make such reunions possible. It was originally created in Carson City, Nev., to help cancer-stricken Emma May Vilardi find her family’s medical history that was lost when her mother was adopted.
On Saturday, workers from the Post Adoption Center for Education and Research asked people strolling near Cody’s Books on Fourth Street if they needed help finding a birth relative.
The event was part of a national registration day designed to give Soundex more entrants on what is already the oldest and largest national reunion database.
Although not many people stopped to look at the colored fliers filled with information about finding birth relatives, the organizers were satisfied.
“If there’s only one who comes by and it’s a good story, we’re successful,” said Bob Crowe, president of PACER and a reunited adoptee.
“The whole idea is to get the word out.”
Adoption remains a difficult topic. People avoid talking about it and states are reluctant to open their adoption records.
People who endeavor to find relatives can end up disappointed.
“For every wonderful loving success story, there is also one that is totally dreadful,” said Crowe.
Yet a survey conducted by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute found that six out of 10 Americans have had a personal experience with adoption.
And a study by the Maine Department of Human Resources Task Force on Adoption reported that 95 percent of birth parents and adoptees wanted to find their relatives.
That’s why Soundex can be successful – people who register are giving consent that they want to find their relatives.
The registry also gives information about support groups to people going through the difficult psychological process of finding a lost relative.
“It was the first time someone was listening to me and validating my wishes,” Sininger said. “I was so surprised, I burst into tears.”
For more information go to www.isrr.net. For support groups and birth relative search workshops, visit www.pacer-adoption.org.