Here is a story about a fellow PI in SC and member of SCALI. Linda Cecil of Locaters Unlimited.Contact: Linda Cecil Office – 843-757-5700 – SC / 859-885-1777 – Ky Toll Free 1-800-455-5574 / cell 859-619-1777 PI Licenses: Ky- 0081, SC Sled Lic. PDC2214 www.LocatorsUnlimited.com – President/Investigator www.KyAdoptions.com – Registry,Search and Support www.SouthCarolinaAdoptions.com – Registry, Search and Support www.SCAdoptionReform.com – Coordinator – Legislation Reform So Carolina Foster Care Review Board –Chairperson 14B Reunited Adoptee
Private investigator specializes in reuniting birth families
The Post and Courier
Remembering 36 birthdays
Editor’s Note: In an e-mail, Heather Bailey shared a story describing what she did when her son turned 36. Reunited after years of searching for one another, she finally could celebrate her son’s birthday.
One thing I forgot to tell you, and it’s kind of sad and funny at the same time. You asked if I was consumed with searching for my son. Not at all. While I did think about my son every day, I did have a very full life.
However, every year around the time of his birthday, for some reason, I was drawn to look at and read birthday cards and hope that someday I would be able to send one to him.
We were reunited about six weeks before his 36th birthday. In 2007, I was finally able to buy my son a birthday gift and card for the first time. I went to the card store, and something kind of comedic kicked in. I bought all the age-numbered “To My Son” cards I could find: 1-18, 21, 25, 29, 30, and 35. Then I filled in cards for the other years for which I couldn’t find numbered cards. The store clerk was blown away, and I told her not to even ask.
I signed every one (on the 36th card I wrote a little note that we were finally all caught up), sealed them up, and put numbers from 1 to 36 on the envelopes, and put them in a separate box underneath his wrapped gift.
When he received the gift, he called me laughing about it. He said he opened the gift and thought I had sent him two presents. When he opened the second box and found all those envelopes, his wife grabbed her camera and started snapping photos as he arranged them in order and started opening them. He said after he opened a few cards, he realized the camera flash had stopped. That was because his wife was crying and just unable to snap any more photos. They sent me a picture of him at the dining room table with all 36 cards set up in front of him. He told me he will always keep every one of them.
I think my husband and my son’s wife were just as happy as we were about the reunion.
On the web
—www.childwelfare.gov: Child Welfare Information Gateway.
—www.LocatorsUnlimited.com: Private investigations.
—www.SouthCarolinaAdoptions.com: Registry, search and support.
—www.SCAdoptionReform.com: Information on proposed legislation reform.
Family Fair participants:
—www.ACCadoptionservices.com: Summerville agency.
—www.adoptionsc.com: Adoption attorney, Spartanburg.
—www.realpagessites.com/glennlister: Adoption attorney in Mount Pleasant.
—www.cwa.org: Christian World Adoption.
BLUFFTON — Linda Cecil will accept most any assignment — producing evidence of adultery for use in court, finding missing persons, video surveillance, premarital investigations, employer fraud. But her favorite kind of case has nothing to do with suspicion and blame and everything to do with longing and love.
Cecil, a private investigator who lives in Bluffton and is licensed in South Carolina and Kentucky, specializes in reuniting adoptees with their birth parents.
An adoptee herself, she knows firsthand what a reunion can mean, and she has become an advocate for legislative reform that makes it easier for birth parents and adopted children to find one another should they choose.
She says there are three types of adoption placement in South Carolina: public (via the Department of Social Services), agency-instigated (for those actively searching for a child domestically or internationally) and private (direct arrangements among or between families).
Adoption laws apply in the state of adoption, not the state of birth,she said, and each state has its own set of laws. There is no federal legal guideline, which makes for a lot of confusion when it comes to reunions, she says.
Adoption records in some states are open and accessible to the public (South Carolina had open records until 1963.). Agencies such as DSS will provide some, but not all, adoption information upon request. (Identifying information is redacted.) Private agencies rarely will release their data. What’s more, she says, states typically do not have records of adoptions facilitated by private groups or arranged among families. Only the original birth certificate is on file with the state.
Cecil has been fighting to get states to keep their records up to date and more accessible (especially medical records), to pass laws that make reunions easier when there is mutual consent and to ensure that birth mothers have an extended waiting period before they are required to terminate their parental rights.
Some adoption officials argue that that window should be small, that months of preparation, counseling and soul-searching before birth should not be compromised by a last-minute, hormone-laden change of heart.
Not all birth parents or adoptees want to find one another, Cecil says. When searches are managed by a private investigator, anyone being sought who doesn’t want a reunion always has the right to refuse contact, she says.
But there are good reasons to facilitate reunions, she says. Instinct and curiosity are legitimate impulses that might drive people back together. And practical concerns regarding medical histories and genetic inheritances also serve as motivators, she says.
Someone with a health condition can better understand the implications and likely outcomes when the family medical history and genetic information are obtained.
Looking for a match
To help people find one another despite the obstacles, Cecil and others have set up adoption registries (most are online now) that enable searchers to list information about themselves in a database with the hope that matches can be made.
It was Cecil’s registry, http://www.southcarolinaadoptions.com, that finally brought together Heather Bailey and her son, Scott.
Bailey is 55 now. She grew up in Aiken and works as a paralegal in Columbia. Her first husband was a “control freak” who didn’t want children, she says. The nightmare began when Bailey got pregnant unexpectedly. She says she felt threatened. She says she was scared.
“I felt I was already dead,” she says. But the child — he must be protected.
After the cesarean section, she was in the hospital for five days, listening to her child’s cries, unable to go to him. A nurse tried to reassure her. “Don’t worry, you’ll have another one,” she had said.
On the fifth day, a social worker arrived.
“What time is your husband coming?” she wanted to know, so that the papers could be signed.
“This is not what I want,” Bailey, recovering from surgery, on pain medication, susceptible to hormonal changes, managed to tell her.
The social worker looked Bailey in the eyes and repeated her question.
She signed the papers reluctantly, she says. She asked for copies of the documents but never received them. Counseling was never offered.
Soon she would divorce and, in 1986, remarry. But she never had another child.
For the next 36 years after giving birth, Bailey thought about her lost child every day, she says. She tried to search for him, but she had only the name of an Aiken lawyer and the Columbia legal guardian, clues not substantial enough to set her on the path of discovery.
She decided to wait until the child turned 18 before she would search in earnest. In 1989, she began to add her information to every registry she could find. She avoided baby showers. She became depressed around the child’s birthday in November.
Several years ago, Bailey came across a South Carolina adoption registry online. She plugged in her information and got in touch with the site’s manager, Cecil. The two women became friends, and Bailey, discouraged about her own search, began to help others.
Meanwhile, Scott Rodgers decided he wanted to find his biological mother, so he started researching his origins, discovering clues such as the fact that he was born in a Catholic hospital.
He searched the Web for information. He found Cecil’s Web site. He called.
As Rodgers and Cecil talked, the private investigator entered the information into her database. One name kept popping up. Later, Cecil called her friend.
“You need to sit down,” she said.
“Oh, my God, oh, my God …”
“You’ll never guess who I’ve been talking to for the last hour.”
Bailey learned that her son was in law school, living in Washington state. She learned that his adoptive father had died. She learned that his adoptive mother supported his quest. She learned of Scott’s wife and two stepchildren, of his degrees in economics, chemistry and sociology/anthropology, of the Master of Business Administration he had earned. His adoptive mother, “an amazing and giving woman,” has sent Bailey dozens of photographs taken over the years.
When they spoke to each other for the first time in September 2007, he said, “I know you had other options. Thank you for not pursuing them.”
She said, “I did what I did out of love, because I wanted you very much.”
A few months later, when Bailey took a flight to Seattle for her first visit with her found son, she sat in the bulkhead next to a man from Colombia and two of his daughters. They fell to talking. The man told her that his third daughter was adopted and that she had just found her birth mother in Seattle. The family was flying there for the reunion.
They cried and cried.
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