I am an adoptee who is now reunited with my natural family. It took 36 years for that to happen, but I'm so glad to have my dad in my life, as well as the rest of my family. My parents married when they were very young. When they separated, they realized the limitations in each of their lives for raising a child, and decided on adoption for me. They went to an adoption agency in San Francisco. I was 13 months old.

Many years later, my father tried to get information about my welfare. But, such information was not available to him because all of the records had been sealed. My amended birth certificate made no mention of my mother and him as the first parents, and my first and last names had been changed. As is the practice in adoption, in accordance with the law, my adoptive parents and adoptive name were the only names listed my birth certificate. Even though this is a record of my birth event, it did not have all of the factual information on it regarding this event. The birth record holding that information is kept sealed by the state and is not available even to me.

Because of the secrecy in adoption, I spent the next many years being led to believe my natural parents had abused me. The adoption agency had told my adoptive parents that I had been thrown from a motorcycle, tied to a bed, left alone and other such atrocities. A social worker from the adoption agency later told me these abuses weren't true, and that she did not know why my adoptive family was told this. I had obtained non-identifying information when I was 25 from the adoption agency. After that, I didn't do much more for a while.

When I was 38, my husband brought up the issue of looking for my first family. I felt ready to do this and he encouraged me every step of the way. I hired someone to find their names, then went on a search. I bought my first PC specifically to search. It took about six months, but one day in September of 2001, I got up from my computer, walked into the living room and said to my husband, "I found him--my father." The next day we drove to the house, as there was no phone number in the listing I found. I was terribly anxious. My father's wife answered the door. I had thought several times on the way up, "What if his wife doesn't know about me?" I couldn't speak so my husband finally told her I was Russell's daughter. She put her arms around me. She said they'd looked for me, too. <

My father was at work. She called him on his cell phone and told him to come home right away. She wouldn't tell him why, so he kept asking. Finally, she put me on the phone and I said, "Dad, it's Laurie and I want you to come home. He slowly asked, "My Laurie?" I said, "Yes, Dad, please come home." Soon afterward, my father and I looked at each other again for the first time since I was 13 months old. He pulled me into his arms and we both cried and held onto each other for about 15 minutes. I realized from what he told me that he had experience sadness over the years. My fear that he wouldn't want to know me was now relieved. That night I sat at the foot of his chair with him stroking my hair. I cannot tell you how wonderful that felt. We have a good relationship and I'm so glad to have him and my step-mother in my life.

Soon I met an entire family, most of whom remembered me as a small child. My grandmother said she always wanted to have all of her grandchildren in her life before she died. I know I belong with them in my life. The similarities between blood relatives is also amazing. I can see where I get many of my traits, quirks, sense of humor and the like. It has been a great reunion.