Whose child am I? A WAFF 48 News special report

By Jim Abath- bio | email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Searching for a birth parent can be a difficult decision. With help from investigators, social workers and websites, more and more Americans seem to be actively searching for their birth families.

Tara Theisen's search for her birth father started in earnest last year.

"I needed to start really trying to see where I came from, exactly what had happened," said Theisen. Her mother passed away and she waned to know what happened to her birth father who left when she was two-years-old.

"The only thing that I have is my original birth certificate," said Theisen. In these types of searches, that's a big first step.

"We have his name," said Theisen. "We have high school. We have town where he grew up."

[Click here to learn about obtaining birth certificates]

Even with all this information, she still hit a brick wall. Audrey Derevenko with the Children's Aid Society helps people like Theisen search for their birth families.

Molly Graham, one of Derevenko's assistants, suggested trying the search website pipl.com.

"You will get to the point where you have to pay," explained Graham. "But you're usually able to see most of the address before you have to pay."

Theisen tried that, but didn't have much luck.

"I feel like I could go to a private investigator's office and put this on the table and him be found," said Theisen. She said she doesn't necessarily have the money to do that.

That's the same point I was at, looking for my birth mother and not wanting to spend a lot of money. I registered on several adoption reunion sites but got no response.

I had my original birth certificate, which had my birth mother's name on it. A legal friend searched an information database. She found a woman whose name and age matched perfectly. I figured she would be in or around Delaware where I grew up. The woman we found lives in Oregon.

A social worker wrote the woman in Oregon a letter, asking her to make contact if she is my birth mother. We sent the letter first class and we got confirmation she received it. So far we have not heard back from her.

"If she doesn't answer, you will have someone to talk about," said Derevenko. "And, this way, hopefully you won't feel she's rejecting you or abandoning you and then you'll see what your next plan of action will be."

Tiffany Rogers had a plan of action when she turned 18. She got her birth certificate and called the apartment complex it listed. She also called the doctor who delivered her and she checked local adoption agencies.

"After not getting anywhere, we just gave up," said Rogers.

Now 23, she gave it another shot.

"About three months ago, we paid for an online search," said Rogers.

Using the database website, Intelius, she paid $14 dollars, plugged in her birth mother's name, found several possibilities and one entry stuck out.

"It said that she had been married and that she had children, so we were just pretty sure," said Rogers.

The listing had a phone number, so her boyfriend called for her.

"He got her on the phone, and he instant messaged me right away and said. 'I'm talking to your birth mother!' I was working with a patient and was just full of joy, tears, overwhelming emotion, just because that's the person that delivered you."

Then, Rogers called her birth mother.

"You can hear in her voice her emotions, kind of like she's scared," said Rogers. "She's excited. She's nervous."

So was Rogers. They decided to meet that weekend in a Tuscaloosa park and got their reunion on tape.

"It was just weird," said Rogers. "It was, but when we hugged, I felt like I was hugging my mother and just an overwhelming feeling."

Meantime,  Theisen and I keep searching.

"I always tell my families, 'I wish I had a crystal ball,'" said Derevenko. "There might be happy endings. There might not."

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