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.
My adoption was a closed one, arranged through one of the many private agencies of the mid-twentieth century. The agency legally withheld my history; My adoptive parents never met my birth mother and they did not receive any information about my history. I grew up ignorant of my genes.
Closed 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; something was missing inside me. I needed to know my own story.
Now adoptees are connecting to their roots, thanks to states opening their sealed records, as well as social media and genealogy websites. All of these have helped me to understand who I am by connecting me to my birth parents and my past, revealing my thread in the human tapestry.