When I first started telling my friends and family that I was traveling to the country where I was born, the first question they asked was whether I would search for my birth parents. They assumed that I have a hole in my heart where my birth parents should be. However, this has never been the case for me. I grew up with two parents, and they have been the only parents I have known for as long as I can remember. If I had grown up as an orphan without parents, I am sure I would feel differently, but I always felt like I had a family.
Before arriving in Romania, I had no plans to try and find my biological parents, but Angela, the foundation director at ADV, offered to help me during our first conversation together. She said that ADV could help make an official request to the Rimnicu Sarat, the city where I was born, and we should at least try to find more information. So, I wrote to my adopted parents and asked for all the information about my adoption. In 1991, the bureaucracy was not as organized as it is now, and very little information was needed from the birth parents. Still, we sent the request, in both English and Romanian, to the Romanian national adoption agency with an official stamp from ADV.
I have to admit, I didn't expect to find anything. Maybe I was afraid to get my hopes up. But in a short while, my birth record was found. My name was Julie Hadir- there was no name on my birth certificate, so my first name was the one my adopted parents gave me before leaving Romania. My birth mother's name was Bobolina Hadir, and she was 19 when she had me, and illiterate. There was no information about my father. According to my adopted mother, I was only able to be adopted because my birth father had not signed my birth certificate. The only information about my birth mother was her name, birthdate, and the city where she lived at the time.
I am sure my friends and family are hungry for the rest of the story- the part where I find and meet my birth mother, but the rest of the story is yet to come... we can't find her. City Hall contacted ADV to say that there was no record of Bobolina Hadir. I assume that this is probably because she was illiterate at the age of 19. How could there be a detailed record of her, and how involved could she be in society? Is she living in a home, or is she a begging mother on the street (which is seen quite often in Romania)? She is only 41 years old- is she still alive? Is she still in Romania, or was she one of the thousands of people who left Romania when the country became part of the European Union? I feel as if a floodgate has been opened. I am more curious than I have ever been to meet her and to know of her fate.
A woman at the national adoption agency has made it her job to continue looking for information at others institutions and even in different cities. I will return next summer, and perhaps she will be located and I will meet her. Part of me believes that the search will stop here. More than anything, it has been a strong realization that I am indeed the luckiest person I know. I have concluded that circumstances here in Romania would never have been very good. I would have grown up with an illiterate single mother. My choices would have been begging on the street, growing up without education/opportunity, or spending my childhood in an institution with poor conditions. What I wake-up call! Instead, I grew up in Idaho with a mom and dad who raised me and cared for me, with siblings, with grandparents, and a long list of people who support me and love me. I have had every opportunity. I went to college and got a degree. Now, my path is wide open- I can do anything I want. The more I contemplate my change of circumstances, the more I wonder, why? Why was I so lucky? I don't have the answer, but honestly, I will never buy a lottery ticket again- I have already won.