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Helping Adoptees Find Their Birth Parents and Understanding Their Journey: The Jackie Bradfield Story

May 2, 2019

Our guest is Jackie Bradfield. She is an adult mental health counselor based in Orlando, Florida. Today she shares her incredibly important adoption story as an adult adoptee.

When host April Fallon asked her how she had found the ADOPTION NOW show, she shares that she had grown frustrated with trying to find her birth parents. Before trying to navigate the dizzying process of connecting with her birth parents again, she googled ‘adoption podcasts’ and found ADOPTION NOW!

One of the first episodes she encountered was about Sarah Winger, who found her birth mother through And soon she would find inspiration enough to reach out to April and Noah through the ADOPTION NOW platform.

But first, April asks Jackie the reason why her birth parents wanted to adopt. 

Jackie says that her mother has a congenital heart defect and she could not have children as a result. Soon her adoptive parents looked towards adoption as a solution. 

Curious about her placement, April asks if Jackie was their first match. Jackie says that she was not. Soon after being matched in an open adoption dynamic, the birth mother later decided she wanted to keep the child. This was difficult for her parents, so they decided that closed adoption was probably the best choice for them.

Jackie describes the circumstances for her being matched with her adoptive parents:

“They went through Catholic Social Services, and my Mom says they were actually at the golf course. They were hitting balls at the driving range. It was like five o’clock on a Thursday and they said, ‘we have a baby girl for you.’”

When April asked what year this was, Jackie says it was 1987. When asked if she had a backstory or any information surrounding her life before adoption, Jackie says there wasn’t much. She did have a 2-page sheet of information about her birth family, which contained their ethnic background, education, and physical descriptions.

At this point in the interview, April asks Jackie what the experience was like for her adoptive family. 

Jackie responds by saying that all of the information she has is predominantly driven by what her mother has told her. Jackie fit seamlessly with the family, so much so that sometimes her adoptive family even forgets she was adopted.

Although Jackie expresses that she hadn’t accepted that she was adopted as a child. It was around her time in kindergarten that she began to really understand and process her adoption. She says that she had other adopted kids in her class, and that really helped normalize her own adoption.

Going back to the 2-page account of her birth parents, April asks how her parents were described by Catholic Social Services. She provides this description of her mother:

“My mother was 5’2”. She was 23 and had blonde, curly hair and green eyes, and I know that she was a theater major...they also have what her interests were and also how she described her personality.”

With this knowledge in hand, April asks Jackie about her process for later searching for her birth parents.

Jackie said that for the first two years she did nothing. She then decided to reach out to Catholic Social Services. It was a couple of months later that she received a letter regarding her birth father’s location, but at the time he was not receptive to communication. And she didn’t have much luck with her birth mother as well. Discouraged, Jackie decided to table her efforts for another couple of years.

April asked how her birth father’s refusal to communicate affected her at the time. Jackie said it was very difficult to process. She says she came to be at peace with it, but it was by no means an easy feat.

After waiting for a couple of years, her next step was to do DNA testing. She didn’t find any direct matches, but realized she had a lot of second and third cousins. By singling out common last names and doing a whole lot of googling, she was soon confident she had found her birth father.

Jackie decided to write him a letter. Her goal was to open up the means for communication, include a photo of herself, and not pressure him to contact her if he wasn’t comfortable.

She says that just sending the letter and knowing that it was delivered and signed for made a huge difference for her. Jackie also shares that once she found an online picture of her birth father, just having that physical frame of reference really provided her closure.

But as Jackie tragically states, she has run into roadblock after roadblock trying to find her birth mother. She says that’s a big part of why she wanted to come on the ADOPTION NOW show. Jackie states that it has been an invaluable resource for hearing other adoption stories as well, which has helped her.

Jackie says that she wanted to share her story for those who are in similar positions because sometimes the hardest part is not knowing. 

Considering every detail that Jackie has so bravely shared in this episode, she is still staying strong and not giving up on her journey towards connecting with her birth mother. Show your support for Jackie by leaving words of encouragements, thoughts, comments, and prayers. To learn more about how you can help other adoptive families and adoptees contact us.

To contact Jackie Bradfield for professional reasons, email her at

For a video accompaniment of the episode, check out the ADOPTION NOW youtube channel.