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An Adoption File Full of Holes

Posted on April 7th, 2011 by David R. Ford

Back in the mid-1980’s, I had finally worked up the nerve to call the Virginia state agency that had my adoption records.  I knew that Virginia treated those records as confidential, but hoped that I might be able to get even a little bit of information that would help me in my search for my birth family.

The bureaucrat I finally spoke with seemed cold; maybe it was just because she got so many calls like mine, from people asking for something she couldn’t give them.  But I was surprised that she said I could have sanitized versions of my records, even though she told me there wouldn’t be much of interest in them.  The “sanitized” part would be anything that might identify my birth parents, which she said would be cut from the documents.

I didn’t realize that she was being literal until I finally had the records in my hands:  Each time my birth parents’ names appeared, someone had actually cut the words from the page, so I had a few dozen pieces of paper with many little holes in them.

I should say that every reference but one to my birth parents had been cut out.  Reading every word of the file a second time, I spotted that a reference to my birth parents’s last name had been missed.  Whenever I tell this story to people who know a lot about adoption searches, they get a wise smile on their faces and say something like, “You’d be surprised how often that happens.  Maybe someone was willing to give you just a little help in your search.”


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