My adoptive parents, Don and Joan Koehnemann, my baby sister Denise, and me, when I was five.
Until I found my birth families, being adopted was a shroud that hid my identity.
Mid-twentieth century adoption laws permanently stripped away adoptees’ basic human right to know who we were by denying us what every other American had access to: an original birth certificate. All this secrecy was supposed to help us bond to our adoptive families. But, like many other adoptees, I felt separated, alone, isolated; there was a void inside me that only a connection to my biological family could fill.
Now adoptees are finding their roots, thanks to states opening their sealed records, as well as social media and genealogy websites. By connecting me to my birth parents and to my history, all of these resources have helped me understand who I am.