Adoptees Face Sting of Discrimination

Buvetta Bryant struggled with her identity her whole life, before a reunion with siblings this year at the age of 67. "I felt a part of me was missing, an empty feeling."

Now she has met some of the 10 siblings on her birth mother's side and six more from her father. "This has been an experience of a lifetime."

Marlou Russell, a Santa Monica, Calif., psychologist who specializes in adoption, said, "It's natural to want to know your roots."

She was adopted in 1950 and given an amended birth certificate naming her adoptive parents as birth parents. By 1991, she searched and found her birth mother, with whom she has a "positive relationship."

"Telling adoptees about their history validates their experience, that they were there," Russell told "Only in adoption is it considered strange or abnormal to want to know where you come from.

"Searching for birth family is not a statement about adoptive parenting. It is a statement of wanting to know one's self."

Reunions With Birth Families Positive

Many adoptees and adoptive parents feel more connected after a reunion with the birth family, according to both Russell.

Such was the case with Kate Vogl, who had no desire to connect to her biological parents -- "a couple of college students who got into trouble."

But late one night, at 28, she got a call from her birth mother -- just two months after the death of her adoptive mother.

"She found me through my mother's obituary," said Vogl, who remembers her father's reaction to the reunion: "There's always enough love to go around."

"I'm not sharing holidays," Vogl insisted. "I was really reluctant at first because of my strong loyalty to my adoptive mother."

Now, 15 years later, she describes in the book about her journey, "Lost and Found: A Memoir of Mothers," the first holiday with the woman she calls, "Val."

"I know she would like me to call her mother, but she's not my mom" said Vogl. "The wonderful thing about this is I've lost my mom and I've had Val, who is a wonderful person, come in to my life."

Though she sees discrimination as a "loaded word," she said knowing the negative experiences of adoptees can help educate society about their struggle for identity.

"I don't think that the instruction needs to be on adoptive parents' side, but society as a whole," Vogl said. "The thing that really gets to me is how people feel that the bonds formed in adoptive families are not as strong as the bonds with biological families.

"It breaks my heart that someone would think she couldn't love me enough."

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