On a snowy day in December 1955 in Spokane, my new mother Ferne raced through a storm in her car, eager to pick up me up. It was the day she was allowed to get me after the adoption and no storm would prevent it.
I was just a few months old and called “Little Billy.” I had been born in a home to unwed mothers in Spokane and was living with my foster parents. I never learned their names, but I am so grateful for their willingness to take care of me as an infant.
Like Children’s Home Society of Washington (CHSW) did with so many children, they found adoptive parents who were a wonderful match for me. I became Roger James and raised in an idyllic family. My father, Milford was a scientist and my mother, Ferne a school teacher and later a librarian. With the help of CHSW, my older sister was also adopted, but from different birth parents. Then our parents had a biological son. We were, and have always remained, a close family.
I went to the University of Washington law school and became part of a law practice in Seattle. I contemplated searching for my birth mother, but didn’t feel the urgency at the time. I buried my emotional questions about my start in life, but after watching the movie “Cider House Rules,” I found myself crying in the theater during the scene where the boy in an orphanage tearfully watched to see if he would be chosen for adoption. My wife Margaret also encouraged a search.
I realized my feelings were strong enough to pursue my past. My family was very supportive of my desire to search for my birth parents. I contacted CHSW and they did a wonderful job helping me set my expectations for all possible outcomes. CHSW provided a wonderful confidential intermediary who would access sealed records to learn the name of my birth mother.
It was recommended we write a letter to her so she had a chance to contemplate the decision. My wife and I worked on the letter, sent it, and eagerly waited. I just wanted to know what every adopted child wants to know: why?
We received a letter of reply from my birth mother Cindy. She explained that she wanted me to be a part of a family which wasn’t something she could give to me when I was born. Cindy and I communicated and met at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in June 2008. Cindy and I talk often. Although not all searches lead to successful reunions, I am blessed to have two wonderful families; one adopted and one biological.
Roger Kindley is an attorney for Ryan Swanson Law and board member at Children’s Home Society of Washington.