Fasten your seatbelts! Once you've successfully located your birth mother, father, sibling, daughter or son, the real emotional roller coaster ride begins...and, in most cases, the highs and lows encountered during this final reconnection phase are as frightening--and thrilling--as careening around the curves of Coney Island's Cyclone!
To help make this up-and-down ride a little smoother, the White Oak Foundation offers a low-cost Outreach and Intermediary Program, open to all triad members who have located a birth family member on their own or through our Search Assistance Program.
This voluntary program allows adoptees and their birth and adoptive relatives to initiate contact with one another indirectly, using White Oak's unique "Outreach Package"...
Designed to offer as many options as possible to the person who has been located, the Outreach Package consists of:
1. A cover letter from our organization outlining the circumstances of the adoption and the request for contact (click here to access sample Outreach cover letters).
2. A greeting card (most card stores have a wide selection appropriate for this kind of occasion) accompanied by a short, written message (inside the card or on a separate sheet) and a picture (either recent or not-so-recent) from the person requesting contact
3. A copy of the White Oak brochure, outlining our mission and scope...
4. A reply form for those who do not wish to pursue contact (the version sent to birth parents and siblings includes a medical questionnaire; click here to see the reply form sent to adoptees, and here to see the reply form sent to birth family members)
5. A self-addressed, stamped envelope for returning the response form to our P.O. box
The Outreach Package is usually sent out via Priority Mail with delivery confirmation--allowing the person searching to confirm when their package was delivered through the United States Postal Service Web site: www.usps.com
Most birth family members contacted through our Outreach Program relay their decision regarding contact to us via mail or phone within one to four weeks (although one adoptee waited a YEAR to respond to the Outreach Package!). In some cases, the person located may request additional information from the person searching...or wish to get confirmation of the match through the Illinois Adoption Registry before proceeding. We frequently act as an intermediary between the adoptee or adoptive parents and the birth family member(s) during the initial phases of the reunion... Our involvement usually ends when everyone involved is comfortable with the idea of moving on to the next phase (i.e. face-to-face contact--see our Reconnecting section for additional info). In some cases, though, those whom we've located as well as those we've helped search have come to us for post-reunion advice and counseling... and that kind of assistance is, of course, an integral part of our Outreach Program, too.
If there is no response to the Outreach Package within 30 days (a rare but always possible occurence), we will attempt to make contact with the presumed birth relative by phone and confirm that the package was received and ascertain whether or not the recipient was a match for the search. If the person located needs more time to make a decision regarding contact, we relay that information to the person who initiated the search.
This is merely an overview of White Oak's unique Outreach Program. For additional information on this and other post-adoption options available through the White Oak Foundation--or specific advice relative to your search or reunion-- please call (312/666-5722) or write us (at ILtreesurgeon@aol.com).