By Tom Grant

Imagine you just baked your favorite pie. It might be an apple pie, boysenberry, pumpkin - or whatever makes your taste buds come to life.

Now out of the oven, you leave it to cool on the kitchen counter and go outside on your patio to sit and breathe in that fresh spring air. About 20 minutes later, you come back inside only to discover the pie tin still sitting on your kitchen counter, empty except for a few crumbs.

Your expectations have been shattered. You're stunned and hurt. They didn't leave any for me!

I have great news for you; Love is not like a divided and consumed pie. Love is more like one really great pie that is never consumed. You cannot divide love too many times. There will always be more love left than anyone can give or take away.

Now, as we glance into real life situations and true stories, I want to acknowledge that when it comes to issues involved with adoption, location and reunion - every person is different and every family is different. So I don't mean to imply there is always a simple answer for every situation.

Some family dynamics are very complex. Some are dysfunctional. Some involve an abusive parent or parents. Some involve parental or sibling drug or alcohol addiction. Some involve a parent or parents who simply have a difficult time feeling or expressing love, even though it's usually there just waiting to be harvested at the right time under the right circumstances.

My first, personal experience with adoption

I was 11 years old when my parents told my brother, my two sisters and me about a 3-year-old girl that they wanted to adopt. After hearing more about her, we all agreed - it was a great idea. Yay!

I'll never forget the day my parents brought Audrey home.

I had been waiting impatiently for mom and dad to arrive home with my new sister. The car finally pulled into the driveway and I ran out to see her. As they opened the car doors I looked in and saw a tiny little girl who was so scared she seemed to be having full-on panic attack. She was too young to understand what was happening to her and she didn't know who any of us were. I felt so bad for this tiny little girl.

She carried a small blanket with her as my father carried her out of the car and into our house. Her screaming and crying gradually subsided once inside the house. A short time later, still whimpering, Audrey began trying to communicate with us by mumbling two short words that I didn't understand - "agua" and "zapato."

Our new little sister only spoke Spanish!

Fortunately, my father knew just enough Spanish to interpret. She was saying "water" and "shoe." Audrey was thirsty and apparently proud of the small sandals she was wearing.

Her tiny feet were very dirty and in need of washing but she would not let anyone take her sandals off or take her blanket from her, not even to give her a new, clean child's blanket. These were her only possessions and she was hanging on!

My parents eventually got Audrey to bed that first night. The poor little girl was emotionally exhausted.

Both of my parents were school teachers at the time and had to go to work the next day, so they agreed to let me stay home with Audrey that first day to care for her. That was so cool! I'd be the first one in the family to spend a whole day trying to help her feel safe and secure.

The next day was fascinating and memorable. Audrey was still very shy and afraid, but with just me and her alone in her "new home," the atmosphere was a little less chaotic. She accepted food and milk from me. I think that's when she first knew I wanted to help her. Within a couple of hours, I had her sitting on my lap while she kept pointing to her sandals and repeating over and over, "zapato."

By the time my parents and other siblings came home, Audrey and I had become friends. We developed a unique bond in those first few days. She trusted me but it took a few more days for her to become totally comfortable with the rest of the family.

Years later, when she became of age, Audrey came to me to help her find her birthparents.

I helped. We located. They reunited and Audrey got to know her biological family, including several siblings.

During the years that followed, Audrey has traveled extensively with her biological mother and often spends holidays with her biological family.

Audrey came into my life 60 years ago now. We are still very close. I see her regularly, in fact I saw her today - the very day that I'm writing this story. We talk on the phone on a regular basis. I love hearing her stories about her travels with her biological mother.

But what about my mom and dad, the couple who adopted and raised Audrey? That's where the slicing of the "pie of love" demonstrates how God actually designed each and every one of us. Of course, He also gave us free will to accept or ignore His design.

Fortunately, my parents were faithful to Godís will. They both understood the miracle of regenerative love. They knew they would never lose Audrey's love just because she got close to her biological parents. My mom and dad were extremely happy for Audrey's new discovery.

When you love someone, you want, them to be happy. You want them to fill any void in their life if they feel the need to do so.

Isn't that what real love is?

So my adopted sister, Audrey, was my first birthparent search, locate and reunite "case." It turned out to be a lengthy but extremely rewarding journey.

My second, personal experience with adoption

At the age of just 19, I married a girl of the same age who already had a one year old daughter. She was a sweet, adorable little girl. Soon after our marriage, with her biological fatherís permission, I adopted my daughter, Kris, and she's been my baby girl ever since, even though she's now in her 50s.

When she was old enough to understand, I was very open with Kris about who her biological father was. I told her that she could have whatever relationship she wanted to have with him. She could visit him. She could call him dad or daddy - as she called me. She could also love him as her father. I placed no limits on whatever normal father/daughter relationship Kris wanted to have with her biological father.

I also made it clear that any love she had for her biological father had nothing to do with the father/daughter relationship and the love she and I shared. So as she got older, Kris, did develop a relationship with her biological father. It was good for her and I'm sure it was good for him.

From a very small child to now as a grown woman, Kris has always been one of the sweetest, most caring persons I've ever known. She is also the mother of two of my adult grandsons!

Moving forward

My personal experiences with adoptions had a profound effect on me. I had become fascinated with the process and realized I had developed a strong desire to help other adoptees locate and reunite with their birthparent(s).

I was also inspired by several daytime television talk shows that would occasionally have an adoption birthparent search specialist or private investigator as a guest to share the search results of a particular client.

The extremely emotional and happy first-time reunions of the birthparent or sibling was then televised as it occurred. Hugs and tears of joy overwhelmed each of those who had been reunited. The camera would often scan the audience as nearly everyone was wiping tears from their own eyes.

Yes, happiness is contagious.

As my own journey into adulthood continued, I frequently found myself engaged in conversations with friends about adoptee searches. These conversations often resulted in requests for my advice or direct help with their own birthparent search.

After several years with the L.A. Sheriffís department, I eventually obtained my California private investigatorís license and opened my office in Beverly Hills, California. My intention was to specialize in adoptee/birth parent locates and reunions.

The first thing I learned about my business as a private investigator was that most adoptees who wanted my help could not afford my fees and the expenses often involved with the locate and reunion. I certainly wished that I could do those cases pro bono, but I had a fairly large overhead with bills that had to be paid.

As a result, I found myself mostly taking on criminal and civil investigations with the occasional birthparent search and locate job that I relished more than the other cases.

Over the many years that followed and with all things considered, I've been able to complete quite a large number of adoptee search and locate cases - the kind of work Iíve always enjoyed.

So as I find time, I'm going include many of those true stories of some of my most interesting and challenging search and locate cases. I hope you'll enjoy these stories as I complete the writing of each one and post them on this website.

Tom Grant

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