By Lauren Waddell
She didn”t wonder about her identity or feel she was incomplete, she was just curious.
This curiosity is what motivated Melissa Shortt to look for her birth mother. Her interest was sparked when LDS Social Services told her she could search for her birth mother after her 21st birthday.
Shortt, a senior in advertising from Gahanna, Ohio, met with her birth mother for the first time last summer.
Adopted through LDS Social Services as an infant, Shortt said the search for her birth mother was most likely simpler than most.
“It was really easy,” Shortt said. “I think she [my birthmother] needed me to find her. It probably went easier than it usually does, and the Lord definitely played a part.”
The chance that a match will be made between a birth parent and child is only about 15 to 20 percent, said Carolyn Lucas, adoption specialist for the Utah Department of Health. If people knew about the registry, it would be much higher.
The registry Lucas referred to is a directory kept by the state Department of Health that includes the contact information for birth mothers and adopted children who choose to be placed on it. The registry includes only people who were born in the state of the registry, Lucas said.
Once a match is found, the responsibility turns to the birth mother and child to decide what to do with the information they have been given.
Shortt and her birth mother met in person only a few months after their first phone call.
“It was kind of weird,” Shortt said. “You could tell it meant a lot to her. I think she really felt like my mom, but I didn”t feel like she was my mom. I mean, my parents are my parents. I just wanted to thank her. Because of her sacrifice, my parents could have kids. She gave me a better life.”
Shortt said she feels fortunate that her search was so quick, but cautions against diving right in.
“In hindsight, I probably should have thought about it more, but everything turned out OK,” Shortt said. “It ends up affecting a lot more than just you.”
Alicia Hinrichs, a junior at Utah College of Dental Hygiene from Fort Braggs, N.C., agrees with Shortt, referencing her own experience as she found her birth father a few years ago.
Hinrichs” biological mother and father were divorced while Hinrich”s mother was still pregnant. After she was born, Hinrich”s stepfather adopted her.
“Definitely let your parents know what you”re doing,” Hinrichs said. “Don”t go behind their backs; you can get a lot of hurt feelings.”
Hinrichs said she was not intentionally trying to sneak around; she just didn”t think to talk to her parents about her decision.
“Finding my biological dad wasn”t an attempt to replace my dad, it was just something I needed to do,” Hinrichs said.
Hinrichs found her biological father”s information on a search site and contacted him on her own.
A month and a half after their first contact, they spent the day together in Salt Lake.
“I was nervous, but once we started talking, it was a relief. It”s nice to have family and get to know where I came from,” Hinrichs said.