Attitudes toward adoption have changed tremendously, said Pat Greenwood, supervisor at Catholic Family Service in Amarillo, Texas.
Her office handled the reunion between Margie Warner and Kelly Drennan.
"It is very common now," Greenwood said.
"Reunions are much more common because people know they are available. Things are opening up. It seems to help people heal.
"The stigmas have lifted."
The agency began handling adoptions in 1945. Originally it arranged a mix of closed and open adoptions. Thirteen years ago it switched to open adoptions only, she said.
In closed adoptions, birth parents may get "stuck" dwelling on or grieving over the event, children have nagging questions and sometimes there are medical concerns, she said.
Another factor increasing reunions is the Internet.
"The fact of the matter is, you can pretty much find anyone on the Internet," she said.
Her agency places 18 to 28 babies per year. However, now they are fielding about 20 inquiries per year about reunions, most dealing with adoptions about 20 years ago.
People tend to seek information at life-changing events such as a birthday, graduation, marriage or birth of a child, she said.
Studies suggest that daughters are more likely than sons to seek birth parents, but Greenwood was skeptical, saying they get many inquiries from young men. Birth mothers are just as likely to call as children, but fathers seldom do, she said.
The decision to establish contact is complex and intense, and the agency does what it can to help both sides make informed decisions on how to proceed, she said.
Sometimes birth parents have never told anyone what happened. Or children may feel contact with birth parents slights the people who adopted and raised them. But most people, including fathers, are willing to respond to an overture to reestablish contact.
The agency has not done any surveys on outcomes.
In a few cases, people find they have nothing in common or dislike each other, but most encounters work out well after the initial emotional turmoil, Greenwood said.
"The normal progression is that it gets to be an extended family sort of thing, where they contact each other on holidays," she said.
The sense of closure means a lot to people.
Greenwood said some people, when they get that first call from the agency after 20 years, say, "I've just been waiting for the day."
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