Over the last few years, I have been in touch with an organization called The Ties Program. They're an organization whose focus is reuniting adoptees with their biological families and/or their homeland. You can probably tell where this is going, so I'll just jump to the point- The Ties program put me in contact with a team of social workers in Paraguay, and I just received the much anticipated result of their search: they were able to get in touch with my birth family.
(Insert 1,000 exclamation points here.)
My birth mother's name is Maria Belen Carrillo Martinez, and she now lives in Spain. She moved there about 8 years ago, and she found work doing in-home care for older adults. I also have siblings- I have two sisters who are still living in Paraguay, one brother who is somewhere in the world (he was put up for adoption at a young age), and one brother who unfortunately passed away when he was 14. I have an aunt and a grandpa in Paraguay (he's 94!), and even two nephews.
Most important to me, the report-back said that my mom and my aunt were very touched to hear that I was looking for them- they were both moved to the point of tears. The report concluded by saying that I have a large biological family in Paraguay waiting for me.
As you know, these question marks have been with me for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is sitting in bed with my parents and praying for my Paraguayan family. Having these pieces start to fall into place is really incredible.
And that leads me to my second big piece of news- I have been chosen as one of this year's recipients of The Gift of Identity Grant , and as a result, I will be traveling to Paraguay this July! The Gift of Identity Fund is an amazing organization that raises money to give grants to international adoptees so that they can travel to their birth countries. The Gift of Identity Fund is the sister organization to The Ties Program, which I mentioned above. So I'll be traveling with a long-standing, established heritage program created to help international adoptees take journeys like this one.
Here's where I need your help...
The Gift of Identity Grant is a "Pay-it-Forward" program, and it works like this: Each year, the Grant Recipient (that's me) is asked to fundraise half of their Grant amount. The money that I fundraise this month will then go towards next year's Gift of Identity Grant.
So if I can fundraise my target amount ($2,500), that means that the fundraised money will go towards making someone's dreams possible next year... and I will then be able to put my full grant amount towards my journey this year.
And that's really awesome.
The process of reuniting with one's birth family becomes really expensive really fast: the costs of conducting a search like this (it ain't cheap), the plane tickets and travel expenses (ouch), passport fees (no fun), etc... they all add up faster than you might expect. I am so, so grateful for any help that I'm able to garner. The Gift of Identity grant is an amazing opportunity, and I'm so thankful to be working with them. The money that I raise will go towards fulfilling my $2,500 "Pay-it-forward" responsibility, so that next year another adoptees dreams can come true. Any money that I raise above and beyond my goal amount will go towards further travel expenses for my trip. This will come in handy because, as I mentioned above, my birth mother now lives in Spain, which means that I probably have another expensive plane ticket in my future.
Meeting my birth family- my mother, my siblings, aunts, nephews, and even grandparents- is something that I've been thinking about for as long as I can remember. Thanks so much to everyone who everyone who has been a part of this journey so far, and to everyone who chooses to join me in pursuing this amazing opportunity.
- Mary & Casey McCarthy
- Charity Lytle
- Laura Hobson
- Elan and Ali
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