DELEVAN, N.Y. (WIVB) — Across the state, thousands of people have been posting on this Facebook page in search of their birth parents.
“I just always wanted to know who I was,” said Stacy Betlewicz, who posted on the page in January 2016, looking for information about her adoption which took place in the Gowanda area in 1971.
Betlewic began searching when she was 18 and it really picked up when she was pregnant a few years later. Her second daughter was born with some health issues and the new mom wasn’t sure why so she applied to the state for her non-identifying documents. The only thing she got back was information about her birth parents ages and her birth mom’s last name.
“I wanted to find medical history and just anything that would help me find out if it was hereditary but I wasn’t successful.”
New York is one of 21 states which seals adoption documents still so Stacy had to find out another way to learn about her history and heritage. She met Alyssa Dash who is an Ancestry DNA researcher.
“You can see your common matches and if you have [family] trees, you can see what bloodline you come from,” said Dash.
Alyssa began looking up her family history on Ancestry as she was looking for her mom’s background. Her mother was adopted and didn’t know much about her heritage or health records either. After spending months digging online, she was able to come up with some information, connecting with her maternal great-grandmother; eventually finding her grandfather but he was uninterested in forming a relationship with the family. That’s something Alyssa says happens often.
Stacy’s case was the first one Alyssa took on after finding out about her family. It took about six months for Alyssa to find out information about Stacy’s background. She, too, hit a road block while looking around the New York area but found success looking nationwide.
Stacy’s birth parents, Rick and Julie, lived in San Diego. Julie was 17 when she got pregnant; she only came to Western New York to give birth and give up her baby girl.
“Her entire life has been focused on giving up Stacy and how awful it was,” Dash learned through talking with Julie.
Alyssa says finding a match is always exciting and she couldn’t wait to share the news with Stacy. After sending a few emails back and forth, then texts, and finally talking on the phone, Stacy decided to visit her birth parents.
“I remember coming down the escalator and Rick and Julie were at the bottom, with their arms open and there were tears and hugs,” said Betlewicz, recalling the moment she was reunited with her birth mom.
While Alyssa helped her find her mom, Stacy is still pushing for the records to be unsealed because she feels everyone should be able to access the information.
“People ask me a lot — wouldn’t this make adoption a less attractive option? Well, privacy is important but we need these documents, this information,” said Betlewicz.
“Your genetics make you who you are and without that information, you don’t know,” said Dash. “You don’t know what you could be passing on to your children or even have yourself.”
For more information about the petition and to sign it, click here.