Big Day For Adoptees

It flies under most people’s radars. But today marked a big day in Connecticut’s adoption community.

The state presented original birth certificates to 4 adult adoptees. They received them under a new law that requires the Department of Public Health to give adopted individuals age 18 or older whose adoptions were finalized on or after October 1, 1983 — or their adult children or grandchildren — uncertified copies of the adoptee’s original birth certificate on request.

It’s a key to an adoptee knowing his or her family medical history — and the truth about who they are.

John Suggs

John Suggs

The Westport connection — besides its importance to adoptees — is John Suggs. The RTM member works full time as a forensic genetic genealogist, specializing in helping adult adoptees, and birth parents and siblings, find each other.

The search he’s proudest of took 9 years to solve. It involved a birth mother of an abandoned 3-month old — who was now 91 years old.

Suggs found and interviewed an 85-year-old nephew of the missing birth mother. He said his aunt had “disappeared,” and after a lengthy search by her father and brother was presumed to have been murdered.

Suggs finally told the birth mother’s 91-year-old daughter that her mother had never abandoned her — she’d been taken from her. The daughter died a few months later.

Not all his searches are as dramatic. All, however, are unique — and important.

Suggs also volunteers as Westport’s representative on Access CT. The 501(c)(4) organization fights for the right of every adult adoptee born in the state to access his or her true original birth certificate.

This morning Access CT launched a social media fundraising campaign to help all Connecticut adult adoptees — not just those born after a certain date — gain access to their original birth certificates. Suggs says 43,000 Connecticut birth mothers and adult adoptees are still trying to find each other.

He’s doing all he can to help.

(For more information, click here. To contact Suggs directly, email jsuggs@family-orchard.com or call 203-273-2774.)

Birth certificate

 

13 responses to “Big Day For Adoptees

  1. Elissa Moses

    Way cool! Keep up the good work!

  2. Barbara Sherburne '67

    That’s great news! I could have used his help back in 1979 when I started looking for my birth family. Mine was an out-of-state adoption, which made it more difficult. Born in Pennsylvania but adopted by a family in Connecticut. The birth certificate I had was through my adoptive parents. I was told by a friend of mine to write to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and request a copy of my birth certificate prior to adoption. It took me a while to make all the steps necessary, but I finally located my biological brother on February 5, 1982. We then went on to find two other brothers who had also been adopted. There were eight siblings originally, and my brother was the only sibling to have the same last name we were all born with. I was lucky to have found him.

  3. Great story, Dan. This is such a huge issue for many, many adoptees. Mr. Suggs, I know your natural inclination to seek the truth in any given situation is essentially unstoppable – how nice that those who desperately thirst for their own most basic truth have such a powerful ally.

  4. Kudos to John Suggs, who is a RELENTLESS researcher! His skills have been invaluable in a number of issues critical to the Greens Farms Association. This is a man who loves getting to the bottom of things.

  5. Marcy Anson Fralick, Staples Class of 1970

    I was adopted in Michigan, but my adopted parents moved soon after to Illinios. I started searching for my birth family, and it was fairly easy as Michigan has pretty lenient laws. I also got a copy of my original birth certificate with all the original information as I told the Clerk of the Court I’d met and knew my entire birth family. I’m glad CT is getting on board with more open laws. When you’re adopted and searching, it’s really important to know as much as you can about your birth family. Adoptees usually do have questions about who they are. I have two adopted sons, one who knows all about his birth family (Colorado has wonderful laws on obtaining birth information), but my other son was abandoned at birth, so we may never know his true identity. We did, however, do an Ancestry.com DNA test on him which was really informative and totally unexpected! I usually counsel adoptees who can’t find birth information to at least take one of the DNA tests so they have some idea of their history.

  6. Nancy W Hunter

    An excellent topic of conversation.
    While my friend’s step-mother was given all the relevant information about her two separately adopted children, one chose to seek out her biological family (and are happily in close contact), while the other had no interest in learning the information.
    Birth information should be easily accessible to those who choose to seek it.

  7. Jack Whittle

    John Suggs is a good man and a relentless seeker of the truth and justice – great post and I learned a little more about John.

  8. morgan zo callahan

    I am a 70 year old adoptee still seeking his original birth certificate so I feel deeply the importance of this work which can be supported via http://startsomegood.com/adopteerightsance. Not knowing one’s ancestry is like having a hole in one’s being, a separation from one’s blood kin. As Nancy Hunter writes above: “Birth information should be easily accessible to those who choose to seek it.” I salute all the activists who are making this accessibility possible.

  9. What a great service this is and provided by a man for whom this is clearly an avocation. As a therapist who treats many adoptees, services like this play such an important role, especially for those whose adoptions were not open. These people have found a dedicated, relentless ally in Mr. Suggs.

  10. Wendy Crowther

    I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Suggs this past year when we both became involved in a Town of Westport related matter. I was blown away by his unyielding dedication to seeking out the truth, and by his polite and patient demand for government transparency. Equally impressive was the way in which he was able to do this with such grace and integrity. These qualities make him one of Westport’s most valuable RTM members.

    I didn’t know what John did for a full time living until this post today. It makes total sense that he’d be dedicated to this special cause. Having seen John in action at Town Hall, I can tell you that there is no better man in CT to help others find their truths.

    In honor of John Suggs and the 43,000 CT birth mothers and adult adoptees who are looking for each other, I’m most happy to help by making a donation.

    Thank you, John, for all you do.

  11. I have known a number of adoptive parents who, in choosing open adoption, faced the reality that their children, be they biological or adoptive are not their property. The courage of these parents mirrors the fear and protective instinct adoptive parents have felt who, in keeping birth information a secret, hope to shield their children from a difficult past. Making birth histories available to adoptees constitutes a great leap if faith in the power of families to sustain loving relationships in the face of newfound knowledge about an imperfect world

  12. Gave me shivers and put a wonderful smile on my face. That is what life is about. Love. We need more stories like this. Congrats for a job well done John!!!!