Year 6: Searching For Rachel

My birth-sister's name is Rachel. I'm not supposed to share that publically, but after 6 years of inaction by the Montgomery County Orphans' Court I'm now taking the search for my birth sister in to my own hands. Below is a transcript of my email conversation with Helen Blair Schuler, the Administrator of Pennsylvania's Orphans Court. I'm posting this on my blog primarily for my own records as I move forward in this search. 

March 16, 2012

Hi Helen,
I left you a voice mail at the end of the day on Friday inquiring about the status of the letter I had sent requesting the opening of my birth sister's file. I had addressed it to Judge Stanley Ott, but it's my understanding that you open it first. I have asked the Bethany Christian Services caseworker, Heather Bert, about the status and she stated that you would be requesting consent for this search from my birth mother.  

I received a receipt for the $200 check I sent the Orphans Court for my search. Thank you. I wanted to check in with you to see if you've been able to locate/make any contact with my birth sister? Are you able to give us any more information? Please let us know if you need us to do something. 



March 25, 2012

Angela, I just received your e-mail.  I apologize for the delay in responding, the county system diverted to a spam file. I am still gathering information in an effort to locate your birth sister.  I am currently working on search requests which preceded yours, in addition to various other work responsibilities which demand my attention.  

In the meantime, you may be interested in writing a letter of introduction to your sister.  Once you have completed the letter you can send it to me.  If I am able to locate her I can tell her of your letter.  I have attached a guide for writing a letter in case you need it.  



May 15, 2012

Hi Helen,

I've attached the letter to my birth sister for you to forward along. I will be anxiously awaiting your reply. 

May 15, 2012

To my dear birth-sister,

My name is Angela Tucker, and I live in Seattle, Washington. I was born Chattanooga, Tennessee in September 1985, and was adopted to a wonderful family one year later in 1986. Our birth mother, Deborah Johnson, gave birth to me just 19 months after she gave birth to you – your birth date (January 1984) is the only piece of information that I was given about you.

I am reaching out to you, as it has been my dream to meet you and learn all about you. I am hoping that upon receiving this letter that you’ll understand that my sole intention is simply to get to know you better. Through great efforts and many years of working with the orphan court and the adoption agency, I am under the impression that you live/have lived in Pennsylvania, I’ve always wanted to visit the east coast! If you aren’t comfortable with meeting in person, perhaps you’d consider exchanging emails or being Facebook friends – I’d welcome any mode of communication.

I’ve thought about you an awful lot over the years, curious about your family and your upbringing, your interests and hobbies. Do you have siblings? What was the town like that you grew up in? My questions are endless.

Last summer, I located our birth family, and found that we have three more half siblings! My husband, my family and I traveled to Tennessee over the 4th of July weekend last year at which time we met everyone for the first time. It was a joyous occasion. I’d love to tell you more about it.

I pray that this letter reaches you, and that you can understand my intentions, and that we can develop a healthy and comfortable relationship from here forward.

Your birth-sister,

Angela Tucker

June 27, 2012

Hi Helen, I'm assuming that you have not heard anything since sending forth my letter, is this correct? Can you tell me how current the address that you had for her was? Thanks for your assistance.



June 28, 2012

Angela, I have not heard from your sister.  I did receive an e-mail from an attorney responding to my letter to your sister.  I was asked to contact the attorney to discuss the matter.  I responded that I needed authorization from the adoptee giving me permission to discuss the matter with the attorney.  I have not heard anything since.  I need to have your sister's permission before  I can discuss anything.  



July 12, 2012

Helen, I'm not sure I understand why you'll need to speak with an attorney and furthermore, how might you obtain permission from my birth sister if you don't know her whereaouts. Did the attorney state that he’s representing my birth sister? If so, why would you need my birth sister’s approval?

Is it possible that my birth sister has a guardian and thus has an attorney appointed? Would a cognitive disability constitute needing an attorney to represent her in adulthood? Thanks again.



October 13, 2013

Hi Helen,

I thought I'd just take a shot in the dark, and ask if you've heard from my birth sister or her attorney since last summer? There is a documentary that might put her at ease as it's about my search to find my birthfamily. Might you be able to get this link ( to her attorney? 

Hope you're well,


My search continues - and I won't be paying any more monies to the Montgomery County Court in Pennsylvania. I can't wait to meet my birth-sister, Rachel.

Adoption and the State Of The Union?

Last night I flipped between watching Trump's State of the Union address and a couple wildly entertaining college basketball games. While stationed on the SOTU address I was surprised to hear Trump highlight a couple who "saved a baby from a woman unfit to be a mother" propositioned up on this national spotlight, being honored as the face of an All-American hero.  I had remembered seeing this story going viral on social media late last year.

To many adoptees, birthparents and adoption professionals, the story of a 27-year-old police officer "rescuing" an unborn baby from her birthmother (who struggles with an addiction to heroin and meth) does not sound like a heartwarming tale of selflessness and valor. In fact, the police officers decision to show the woman a photo of his wife and four children's picturesque life and thus convince her to allow him to adopt the unborn baby sounds a bit like coercion.

...the power dynamics of the Holets’ situation are cause for concern: A woman in dire poverty who’s just been caught by a cop with illegal drugs is not in a position, free from undue pressure, to willingly surrender custody to her fetus.
— Slate

A quick Google search provided a short update about the birthparents - apparantly they are now in rehab (it's difficult for me to write this, as I don't truly feel that this should be public information for all to consume). I'm wishing them the best support from therapists who are not only trained in addiction recovery, but also who can help them through the loss of their child.  

Knowing that this birthparent is accepting help makes me wonder about foster-care and perhaps reunification for this child. Prior to jumping to adopt a child, there are other avenues which may allow the adoptee to remain with her biological family. In America, we call that system foster-care. Might this have been an option? 

Upon watching Trump hold this family up on the national stage, I wondered about the child's birthparents. Were they watching the State of the Union? How did they feel being left out of the story, yet hearing Trump state "This is our new American moment, All of us, together, are one team, one people and one American family. We all share the same home, the same heart, the same destiny, and the same great American flag." Surely society can see the incongruous nature of these messages, right?

Adoption is almost always the result of the inequities and imbalances of power. That power is often rooted in economics, race, and education. Wealthy, well educated people don’t place their children for adoption. Marginalized people do, even as their situations can change with education and health care, and they could then care for their children.
— Maureen Evans (adoptive mother)




I'm Honestly Curious...

Honstely Curious - Fost-to-adopt.jpg

I am thrilled to begin a new endeavor with my colleagues at Amara! Over the course of 2018, I will be hosting a series of Facebook Live conversations with community members about hot topics within the realm of child-welfare and adoption. I'm excited to employ the Facebook Live medium, as that means that you will be able to chime in with your thoughts and questions, so I can address them in real-time. Some topic ideas that I'm curious about, and would like to discuss are: 

- How to talk with your [adopted] child about their difficult truths. I'm thinking about enlisting Beth Hall, my friend, and the Founder of Pact. She would likely be able to speak on this issue with great wisdom!

-Where are the black foster-parents?! I blogged my novice thoughts about this one a couple months ago, and since then have watched Trey Rabun and Krishna Richardson (A Bridge Forward) delve into this further. I think I'll invite them to chat with me about what they've learned.

- Can you have an open relationship without having any contact with biological parents? I have strong opinions on this one, but dream of having a discussion with Lori Holden, as her work on this topic is second to none. Not sure if I can get her to Seattle from Denver, but we shall see...

- What was the adjustment period like for birthparents after having their rights terminated and watching their kids be adopted? I think having this conversation with a couple birth-parents via Facebook Live would provide a safer space than a public forum, so I'm hoping to find willing participants to have this heavy conversation.

All of these conversations will begin from a point of genuine curiosity, which will be quite a natural starting point for me, as I love to ask questions! The series will begin on January 10th, when I'll be discussing the term "foster-to-adopt," as there is some debate about whether the term has merit or not. This article provides some background to the debate. 

Any other ideas of topics that you are genuinely curious about? Feel free to weigh in and perhaps we'll choose your idea!

Do You Include Your Child In Answering Those Inevitable Adoption-Related Questions?

We know you’ve experienced it, too. That well-intentioned (nosy?) grocery clerk who curiously inquires, “Are you her real mom?” You knew this question was coming after she uttered that first word, by the quizzical look in her eyes. You wonder: Should I educate her about the adoption process? Should I politely ask her to mind her own business? Or maybe you reach back into the recesses of your mind, fishing for those witty comebacks you’ve silently practiced after each of these encounters.

While assessing your options, you turn to your 11-year-old, Sophia, who is looking back at you non-verbally communicating that she’s ready to go and you ask, “Sophia, would you like to answer?” She groans and pinches you – hard. You yelp and she looks at the grocery clerk and responds, “Yup! She seems real to me! Thanks, and have a good day!”

Apparently, Sophia has been practicing her response, too!

Read my full blog post here and find out how to interact with me via Facebook Live to discuss this topic in a couple weeks.