THE SEARCH FOR YOUR #TAKEN CHILD
BY GERI PFEIFFER
BY GERI PFEIFFER
Time passes. You fought hard for your child. A corrupt family court process has terminated your rights and you have exhausted every appeal process. You do not know where your child is. He may still be in foster warehousing. He may have been placed in forced adoption. Depending on the age of your child you may have years looming ahead of you until your child ages out of the system, or is old enough to search for you. Now what?
The choices you have will vary depending on the age of your #TAKEN child, but you have not reached the end of the road! This is the point in time where you gather your strength for the wait ahead and prepare for the day your #TAKEN child returns to you and you resume your life together. I will share with you some of the ways biological families have laid the groundwork for the time when your child begins his search for you.
The simplest thing you can do to start this process is start a Facebook page in the child's own name. Fill the page with photos of the child, photos of siblings, stories about the child's life. Be sure and mention key memory joggers like a favorite toy, or a favorite relative. Be sure and leave a good address and or phone number on the page. On the profile photo, choose a photo closest to when the child was #TAKEN. Quite often kids who first get on Facebook, type their own name in the search bar to see if there are any other people with the same name.
Monitor school yearbooks on line. For this you will need a general idea of where the child may be.
Use the internet to google your child's name. You just never know what will pop up.
Register your name with the national Adoption Registry. This is a website with links to every state. Be sure and check in often to read new posts and change your post if necessary (phone number or address change). Become familiar with the site, if your not computer savvy it's tricky to navigate but be persistent. Be very clear with information that you post and fill in every question. A child needs to be 18 in order for you to be able to register on this site so check in your area for other adoption site searches and pages. Be thorough in each detail. Your child finding you could depend on a single detail such as a birthdate, hospital or your maiden name. There are many search sites.
Make sure you avail yourself of every type of social media in your search. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, are all ways to get your story out there. Facebook has support pages like #TAKEN where you can post photos and messages of your child and get support from other parents who are going through the same thing.
Research laws in your state concerning your #TAKEN child. What are the adoption laws? There is now a bill trying they are trying to get through congress that would make it a federal law that no matter what the circumstances of the adoption, the child will have the legal right to know if he is adopted. The depth and breadth of this bill remains to be seen. A bill going congress can undergo tremendous changes.
You will need to be your own private investigator in your search, so make sure you gather every court document, report, cps paper, address, name of every caseworker, supervisor, CASA, gal, and judge involved in the case. I have documented instances of a parent of a #TAKEN child receiving important information from a caseworker that helped the parent know where the child was located. I cannot stress enough how important EVERY detail of your case is. Get a notebook (even if your case is over) and write down relevant details of your nightmare with child protective services. A year from now you might remember a detail, write it down, and later on it will be the one detail that helps you the most in your search. Writing out your experience will also help you divest yourself of a small portion of the anger you feel. While a parent NEVER heals from the loss of a child to CPS, I must say documenting my experience has helped me.
Monitor adoption sites like adoptok and usadopt, to search for your child. A child may be adopted, found to be not wanted and placed on a "rehoming" list. Monitoring these sites is both painful and stressful. When I search I find myself holding my breath. A friend of mine found her son on an adoption link that I had posted on my page. I was mortified that I may have caused her added pain, only to hear joy in her voice that she knew he was alive and still not adopted. This new friend became my partner in #TAKEN, Tera Coyne Everett, and we decided to make a change for #TAKEN children and their parents, buy starting the #TAKEN page. I have also created the #TAKEN album, we started the FB group #TAKEN and now with the help of Mark Mumma we are developing a website so #TAKEN children and their biological families can find each other.
In my opinion the single most important thing you can do to leave a trail of evidence for your child is DNA testing. Getting a mouth swab and having your DNA signature placed in a data bank, opens endless possibilities for a future match, when your child searches for you. It is a choice that leaves no room for doubt. Be sure and use a REPUTABLE DNA testing facility, and ask about the data bank. How many people are registered in that company's data bank? Is it shared with other DNA data banks? Is there a yearly fee? Make sure and take the time to get answers before money is laid down. You want to make sure you walk away, feeling comfortable with your choices. These are long term decisions and must be considered carefully because not everyone is comfortable with having their DNA stored.
Give your child benefit of the doubt. This is where you step in faith to know the child you raised has enough of you, in him, to search for you. I am seeing more and more children searching for biological family. The numbers will continue to increase as the child protective services search for more job security thru Title IV increases.
Should you become a found parent, make sure you live in the present with your found child. All the people, anger, and pain must be set aside so you and your child can heal. I strongly recommend counseling, jointly and individual, to help you thru these beginning steps. Child protective services can take your child...they cannot destroy the love you have for your #TAKEN child.