Adoptee welcomes extended family and Native heritage

Nora had known since childhood she was adopted. She experienced a loving and close relationship with her adoptive parents and they shared a deep love of animals, especially horses. Nora had a good life and wanted to care for others by becoming a nurse.

“In 1985, I was expecting my first child and contacted CHSW to know more about my birth family,” Nora said. “I found out I was part of a Washington state tribe, so I started to attend the tribe’s events and activities to learn more about my family. However, during those thirty years, I didn’t find anything, but I did get to know more about my heritage.”

Three years ago, Nora reached back out to CHSW in hopes to find more details about her adoption. She learned that her birth mother had given her up for adoption, because she was a single mother and wanted to give her baby a better life.

“After making that connection with CHSW, I found one of my cousins,” Nora said. “I also learned I had a half-sister and that my mom in her adult life had also been a nurse, like me. My cousin and I made plans to meet at the tribe’s family reunion. When I arrived, he came running toward me with arms open and hugged me. It turns out he had been at the tribe events all those years and I may have even walked right past him and not even known it.”

“My half-sister and I look a lot alike and my cousin and I have the same hands,” Nora said. “It was amazing to see the similarities and meet my sister’s three grown children and one of her grandchildren.”

Nora’s birth family gave her the location of where her birth mom and brother were buried. Nora visited their graves and honored them with flowers. She later met her birth aunt and the ties between Nora and her families continue to grow.

“Since the reunion, we have all stayed in contact via Facebook and phone,” Nora said. “My adoptive parents were very supportive of me finding my birth family and connecting me to my people. My adopted mother who is now 97, expressed how much she wishes she could have met my birth mom to hug her and thank her for me.”

“Thanks to CHSW, I couldn’t have asked for better adoptive parents,” Nora said. “My adoptive family gave me a wonderful home and if someone is considering adoption or needing services, they should partner with CHSW.”

Nora’s adoption occurred prior to 1978’s federal Indian Child Welfare Act that gave tribes legal authority in child welfare cases. Great care and sensitivity is taken with adoptions within tribes today to ensure children have the opportunity to learn and grow within their cultural community.

Jennifer Parsons is the marketing communications manager for CHSW.