Lynne Hogan has always wondered where she came from. She’s one of 540 adoptees who’ve requested a copy of their birth certificate under a new state law.
Hogan is 48 years old. She hopes to learn more about her family history.
Washington joins 14 states that now give adoptees a chance to access their birth records. Starting today, adoptees like Hogan can access their documents, unless the birth parents request to keep them sealed.
“Not knowing who your birth parents are is a little piece that you don’t actually know about yourself. It’s not a black hole, but it’s just a mystery," Hogan said.
"I ride the bus a lot. I look at people who look like me or who have brown hair. And I’m thinking, that could be my cousin, or that could be my half-sister.”
Hogan was three when she found out she was adopted. Through the years she often wondered about her birth parents, especially when she would go to the doctor and fill out medical forms. The paperwork reminded her there were pieces about herself that are still a mystery.
“A lot of questionnaires had the question, 'Do you know any kind of medical information about your family?' And I remember filling out these forms, and always having to write 'N/A, adopted.' And that’s when I started getting interested in trying to actually contact my birth parents so I can get that information,” Hogan said.
She was 24 years old when she petitioned the court to open her birth records. At the time it involved a third party, a go-between, to ask the birth mother to unseal the records. Within a week, Hogan heard from the intermediary.
“She called and said, 'Lynne, I’ve contacted your birth mother, and she said she’s not ready to sign over the records yet. But she really is glad that you searched for her, and that she wants to let you know that she loves you.'"
Hogan was asked to write her birth mother a letter, which she did. She said that one day her boyfriend called her at work one day to say that Hogan had received a reply. She told him to open it right then.
"He opened it and he went, 'Whoa! It’s a picture of you with a bouffant wig!'" Hogan said with a laugh.
At least she had a picture of her birth mother, and a first name: Susan. But no one in Susan’s family knew about her past, and Susan still wasn’t ready to meet yet.
“I was disappointed at first, and I’m just thinking this woman just has this big secret; this must be something that she’s kept for so long."
"I kind of empathize with her because when I was 15 years old myself, I had gotten pregnant in high school and had terminated the pregnancy, and I remember that was kind of a very big secret for me. So I really empathize with her and I thought, this is confidential, this is something super private, and I don’t want to out her," she said.
For Hogan, the new law gives her another chance to find out about her birth mother.
“I’m so excited. This makes me pretty giddy, from the time that the law had changed, I’ve been literally counting down the months, and the days. I’m just over the moon to be able to find out who my birth mother is," she said.
"First thing I would say to her is, thank you so much. What a great thing that you’ve done, and made my family so happy, and I had this great life; you did the absolute right thing.”