Avon man receives long-awaited answers in search for biological family
The letter to Jeff Hancock held the answers for a man whose journey began as a boy, a foster child adopted when he was four.
“When I first found out I was adopted, I felt like a guest at my own funeral,” he said. “The person I had known my whole life was dead. I felt like my whole life isn’t valid to this point, because I wasn’t who I always thought I was.”
Hancock was 42 when he went to apply for a passport and realized he did not have a required birth certificate.
“I said, ‘Mom, I need my birth certificate,’” he recalled. “I actually had never seen it. And she goes, 'Oh, I don't have that anymore.'"
That was when Hancock’s search for his biological family and his original birth certificate began. He joined a group lobbying to unseal state adoption records, giving adoptees access to their birth certificate.
“We just want what everybody else has,” he said.
In 2019, adoptees won the fight for adoption rights. Immediately, Hancock applied for his birth certificate. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed it for months – but, finally, the day Hancock received his letter finally arrived.
“I was five pounds, seven ounces when I was born,” he said, looking over the papers. “I was little.”
“This is something I’ve been wanting to know for a long time: I was born at Booth Memorial Hospital in Buffalo, New York,” he said. “...I learned something today, and I also have confirmation that’s my mom.”
Now, because of the work by Jeff Hancock and others, adoptees in New York no longer have to wait a lifetime for the paper that's a birthright.
“I felt complete for the first time since discovery,” he said.
Ed. Note: Jeff is an LDA - late discovery adoptee, one who didn't get told he was adopted until he was an adult.