“You’re always looking for people that look like
you. I don’t care how good your parents were, or how close you were with your
siblings, it’s odd growing up not looking like anyone,” Kimmie Sapp said.
MANSFIELD, Ohio - Beginning March 20 of this
year, Ohio adoptees whose adoptions were finalized between Jan. 1, 1964 to
Sept. 18, 1996 may gain access to their adoption file and original birth record
from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) thanks to Senate Bill 23.
Kimmie Sapp didn’t need to wait for this
legislation to find her parents, because she was adopted in 1957. Adoption
records prior to Jan. 1, 1964 have been open to adoptees and linear
Sapp, now a Mansfield resident, said she began the
search to find a missing piece of her history; not only for medical
information, which was important, but a piece of herself. “You’re always
looking for people that look like you. I don’t care how good your parents were,
or how close you were with your siblings, it’s odd growing up not looking like
anyone,” she said.
The search would have been easier today, with the
internet at her fingertips. But in the late 1970s, a telephone book and
directory assistance had to suffice. At the age of 21, after obtaining a copy
of her birth certificate and finding her birth mother’s name and home town, she
simply started calling everyone listed in that town with the same last name.
“The second person I called was her uncle,” said
Sapp. “He said, ‘That’s my niece…but she never had a baby.’ But he gave me her
“I called her. I cried, she cried, and yes, that
was my birth mother,” Sapp said.
She said they corresponded, and even met. But
life is not a fairy tale, Sapp noted.
Sapp’s birth mother had moved on with her life
and had three sons. None of them knew of Sapp’s existence, and the birth mother
preferred to keep it that way. “I didn’t live in her shoes. I don’t know what
she went through in her lifetime,” said Sapp. “I don’t judge. She just couldn’t
handle a relationship with me because she was too worried her boys would find
out and lose respect for her.”
Sapp said she understood, because her adoption
took place in a time when counseling was not offered to birth mothers.
She recalled her birth mother relating the
experience, “She had a baby, she got to hold me, she counted my fingers and my
toes, and kissed me goodbye,” said Sapp. “She said, ‘I memorized your face. I
cried and cried. But when I came back to [my hometown], I had to pretend like
you never existed, so I thought of you as being dead.”
“She’s not a bad person. She’s just dealing with
things the way she has to deal with them,” said Sapp.
Her birth mother discouraged her from contacting
her birth father, so it was ten years later that Sapp tracked him down. That
experience turned out better, she noted.
“He was ecstatic. He has two daughters, and he
told them immediately,” said Sapp. She said she is very close to the youngest
sister, and they have much in common.
Sapp said her adopted family is wonderful, but
she just needed to know where she came from. She added that for some adoptees,
just finding a name is enough.
Her advice to those seeking their birth parents,
“I think it’s very important. People need closure. I just don’t think anyone
should go into it without thinking about it deeply.”
She said that often those parents have moved on,
and it is hard for the adoptee to find where they fit into that new family.
ODH has created a video to explain the law and
how adoptees may go about obtaining information. Instructions may also be found
at the website.
Adoption records for 400,000 Ohioans available Friday
people can learn about their origins (sucks that some will apply and
still won't find out who their parents are due to the fact the parents
are still afforded the chance to remove their names)
If you find a story about an adoptee who has found her/his family, share the link in a comment or let us know about your own reunions...Trace