Meredith Beer always knew that she was adopted — and she has always been proud of her story. When she introduced herself to her first grade class, she had to give a fun fact about herself. So, confidently (as 6 year-olds do), she stood up and said, “My name is Meredith Beer, and I’m adopted.”
As one of two adopted children in her parents’ household, adoption was always an open conversation. She remembers reading children’s books with adoption storylines and always having confidence in her adoption story. She was only 8 years old when she decided to find her birth parents — and promptly let her dad know.
“He went, ‘Well, let’s wait until you’re 16, because you’re a little young.’ I definitely didn’t forget that promise, so when I turned 16, I asked him again,” Beer remembers.
The search and reunion that would follow was a journey that would bring her more family and love than she ever thought. Now, at age 25, Beer looks back on her personal adoption story and what she hopes others can learn from her own experience.
Taking the First Step
Growing up, Beer was always proud of her adoption story. But, like many adopted children, she always had “what-ifs.” Her adoption was closed, and all she knew about her birth mother could fit in three sentences: Her first name was Vania; she had given birth in Reynoldsburg, Ohio; and she graduated high school at age 16 in 1992 — the same year Beer was born.
But Beer wanted more. She wanted to know how she came to be adopted but, more importantly, she had a desire to make sure her birth parents knew she was happy and healthy — that adoption had absolutely been the best choice, and she was forever grateful for their selfless decision.
Armed with the three facts about her birth mother, Beer and her dad set out to Reynoldsburg in 2008 to find the rest. After a disappointing lack of leads, Beer felt like giving up and waiting until she turned 18 to open her adoption records.
But her dad had another idea.
“He actually signed up for Classmates.com as an alumni of 1992 in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, and he paid $20 to get the full list of alumni,” Beer says. “It just so happens that Vania — which is the craziest coincidence that has ever happened to me — had signed up for Classmates.com a couple of months prior. He found her maiden name, Googled that, found her married name and found her Facebook. He called me on the way home from soccer practice and asked, ‘Are you going over to your friend’s house? Because I think you should come home, because I think I just found your birth mom on Facebook.’
“I don’t think I’ve ever driven so fast in my life,” Beer says.
Looking at her birth mother’s Facebook photo, for the first time in her life, Beer was seeing someone who looked like her. She sent a message to Vania explaining the situation, making sure to emphasize her happiness and gratitude for her birth mother’s choice, and waited for a response. It came back three days later.
“Her response was more than I ever could have imagined,” she remembers. It read, “Wow, what a surprise. I wondered if and when this day would ever happen. I am your birth mother. I’m sure you have a lot of questions, so I’m just going to leave it to you to ask.”
Connecting with her Birth Parents
From there, Beer and her birth mother began messaging back and forth (Vania would end up asking for Beer’s mother’s phone number to make sure her parents were 100 percent comfortable with the contact). Beer found out she had three younger half siblings and was finally able to get answers to those questions which had been pressing on her for so long: Who was her birth father? What was her adoption story?
Less than five months after she first messaged Vania, Beer and her parents flew out to meet her.
“Being in front of her for the first time was probably the craziest thing that has ever happened — I couldn’t even talk,” Beer remembers. “I was just staring at her during lunch, which was probably super awkward, but I had never seen anyone who looked like me before. Even just watching her was weird to see; we have the same mannerisms…That in and of itself blew my mind.”
She learned from Vania that the adoption had not been a mutual agreement — her birth father, Tommy, had proposed to Vania with the intent of raising the child together — and the two had not been in contact for many years. Beer wouldn’t receive her birth father’s contact information for a couple more weeks, after Vania had become more comfortable with the idea. After Beer contacted her birth father, he traveled to her hometown to meet her.
Despite their difficult history, Vania and Tommy eventually saw each other again at Beer’s high school graduation — a monumental moment in Beer’s life.
“It was the first time I had ever had a picture with two people who looked like me,” she says.
Looking Back — and Moving Forward
Today, Beer has a close relationship with Vania, who she describes as like a “super-close aunt.” They talk almost every other day, and Beer is thankful for the support her birth mother gives her.
Despite the closed nature of her adoption, Beer thinks it worked out for the best, especially now that she’s in contact with her birth parents at an older age. The support of her parents throughout her entire life — from their positive explanations of her adoption to their assistance finding her birth parents — also plays an instrumental role.
Recently, she’s begun reaching out to other prospective birth and adoptive parents to share her story and help them feel more comfortable deciding on adoption — as a way to help them experience the same kind of positive adoption process she had.
“My biggest goal is to just shed a better light on adoption and that adoption is a great thing,” she says. “While adoption can be scary, and it can go wrong, so can a lot of other things in life. It is like anything else in your life that can go wrong. To be scared of it and back out just because you’re scared of what could happen is silly because you have this chance.”
For birth mothers, Beer says, that chance is to give a child a better life and hopeful parents a chance at a child they could never have. For adoptive parents, it’s raising a child with all the best opportunities in life. Whatever challenges come along the way, like her own emotional journey to finding her birth parents, will be all worth it in the end, she says.
“As long as you raise the child to be confident in their story, I don’t really see anything going wrong in that.”