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Televised on KOLD-TV Channel 13

Some Call Her a "Search Angel" By Dan Marries
KOLD-TV Channel 13 Tucson, AZ

In the CBS Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, "Little John", we saw the story of a woman who thought her was son was put up for adoption. But all along the woman's estranged father had raised the boy. After an emotional struggle the family finally reunited.

Bringing lost family members back together has become one Tucson woman's passion. Using her website and a system of people she refers to as "search angels" she provides the anwers so many are seeking. "I found her in California," recalls JoAnne Stanik, of the day she reunited a daughter after she was given up for adoption more than 50 years ago. In less than two years JoAnne has reunited more than 270 familes, "oh my God, it's better than any christmas that you've ever had." JoAnne calls her website "The Adoption Database". It's the third largest of its kind on the internet. More than 1400 people are registered here trying to find loved ones. It also provides thousands of links to help people in their search. JoAnne shares in their emotional pain, her daughter died at 17, one of the reasons JoAnne works so hard to bring families back together, "I know what adoptees feel. They have this big whole in their heart like I do. So I just try to help them to find that missing piece."

Dawn Swink of Tucson knows the pain of not knowing. At the age of 15 she learned she had an older brother who had been given up for adoption. Dawn spent the next 25 years searching, "I looked and I looked and I didn't know where he was and I don't think anybody should have to go through that. Cause it leaves a hole." Four years ago they were finally reunited, "it was like the world was lifted off my shoulders because i had finally found him. He was there." Not only did finding her brother fill a hole in Dawn's heart, it may have also saved his life, "My brother didn't have his medical history and this is a multitude of ailments in our family that he needed to know about."

Stanik says many adoptees don't want to find their birthparents for fear of rejection. She says many harbor the feelings of rejection because they were given up for adoption in the first, but JoAnne says that shouldn't stop anyone from looking, "I know many are fearful of searching because they didn't know how. They don't know where to turn, they've been told that it's forever gone, but that's not true." Stanik is also working to make sweeping changes in adoption laws. She would like them to be federalized. She says the current system makes it to hard for adoptees or birth parents to find lost loved one since adoption laws vary so much from state to state.


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