Birth Mothers, Adoptees Aim to Reunite





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In an effort to join together separated families, birth mothers and adoptees throughout the nation registered on computers last Saturday for the 6th annual International Registration Day drive.

The drive, organized by the International Soundex Reunion Registry was held at Berkeley's Cody's Books, on Fourth Street, which was one of the eight sites in California where visitors could find information about adoption.

The organization's mission is to reconnect lost or dislocated relatives around the world through mutual consent registry. In this process, family members are able to reunite with relatives by using a computer database, as long as both parties register and want to find each other.

The registry is the oldest and largest free mutual-consent

database.

Although Saturday's cold weather discouraged some from heading to the bookstore location, the turnout, in line with tradition, was promising.

"A lot of people have taken information," said Kay Trimverger, a volunteer for Post Adoption Center for Education and Research, one of the various non-profit, nationwide organizations that were on site facilitating the registration drive.

In Oakland, volunteers at the site handed out about 50 registration forms, said Laura Ingram, a board member of the center.

Volunteers set up registry booths at many bookstores, which have been very supportive of the event, Ingram said. At the same time, groups like the adoption center promote books as a source of information for those dealing with the adoption process.

"We really encourage people who are thinking about searching to read books and go to support groups," Ingram said. "The more prepared you are the more likely you are going to have a positive experience."

The center's foundation is a network of support, information and education for "the triad," which is made up of adoptive parents, birth mothers and adoptees.

"I think it's very important to deal with this issue and to educate people about the adoption issue," Trimverger said. "There's a lot of emotion involved."

Trimverger said it was critical to talk about adoption more openly, given that there are many individuals who are personally affected by it.

"If you go into a room of 30 people, four or five are going to have some relation with adoption," she said.

Ingram said that adoption has become more of a prevalent issue as the negative stigma about unwed pregnancies, common in the 1950s, has, to a certain extent, faded away.

"It's exploded - there's a huge, huge demographic bulge of people who have been adopted and there's a huge bulge of them who are looking for their relatives," she said.

Groups like the adoption center and the international registry aim to forward this movement towards openness and awareness about adoption, officials for the center said.

"Up until now a lot of this stuff has been under the surface," said Bob Crowe, president of the board of directors at the adoption center. "We can be the go-between or the ones who are pushing the conversation. Keeping things hidden can only manifest pain, grief and sorrow."

For the past several years, Berkeley's registration day site has been on Telegraph Avenue. Event organizers decided this year to move to Cody's Books' Fourth Street location, however, in order to reach a different audience, since the area is home to many young families, Crowe said.

The Adoption Registration Coalition, the event's national sponsor, established a Web site where people can learn more about the international registry, International Registration Day and other adoption issues.

Since the international registry works solely through mutual consent, historically there has been a very low match-up rate for lost or dislocated relatives, Ingram said. This is why the center supports International Registration Day but promotes other organizations and causes as well.

"It's one thing to do, but not the only thing to do," she said.

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