Pamela Kroskie never knew her birth mother growing up.
It was only after nearly a year of digging at age 21 that she made contact with the woman who gave her up as a baby. Now, 22 years later, the Bloomington resident and her birth mother have developed a close relationship filled with reunions, weddings and frequent phone calls.
Inspired by her own search for answers, Kroskie is fighting to make the reconnection process easier, or at least put biological and medical knowledge in the hands of adoptees.
“When I found my birth mom, I knew that would be something I would do, helping others,” Kroskie said. “I was going to help people where I needed help when there wasn’t any.”
And for these efforts, Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., has recently named Kroskie the 2012 Angel in Adoption for Indiana’s 9th District. The bicameral, bipartisan Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, of which Young is a member, honors individuals across the country who work for the welfare of children in the United States.
“I’m motivated to spend some effort and time in this area for reasons of heart and head,” Young said. “The earlier we take care of our children, the less problems our community will have.”
Kroskie wants grown adoptees to have easy access to copies of their original birth certificate, a document that would reveal basic, yet previously unknown information and could lead to a wealth more. Current Indiana law gives those born after Jan. 1, 1994, the ability to access their records at age 21.
But for everyone else, those records are usually only accessible if both the adoptee and birth parent have registered and consented to the release of those documents.
Opponents argue the legislative action Kroskie advocates would endanger the birth parents’ right to anonymity and endanger their privacy later in life.
“It’s really simple,” Kroskie said. “We want the Indiana legislators to realize like the eight other states have realized that it’s in everyone’s best interest that adoptees have access to their original birth certificate. Let us take a little bit of power back into our lives and the ability to make our own decisions, and hopefully sooner than later.”
To help see this vision through, Kroskie serves on the board of directors and as an Indiana representative for the American Adoption Congress, a national organization committed to adoption reform.
In this role since 2009, she has met with legislators and others involved with the making of Indiana laws to lobby for her cause.
Attempts during the 2010-11 session were tabled. After a break during this year’s short session in the state Congress, Kroskie and other advocates are gearing up for another round of legislative appealing.
“I can honestly tell you that I take great pride in it,” Kroskie said. “I hope that I represent everyone as best as I possibly can.”
Kroskie said she knows first hand the benefits of possessing her own birth records.
She discovered she has two biological sisters, one of which also now lives in Bloomington. She’s also discovered a history of breast cancer in her family, and with her biological mother’s current stage-four breast cancer, Kroskie is grateful for both the knowledge and the time she’s been given with her mom.
“For all the nay-sayers who said not to, however well intended they may have meant it, you just have to go with your gut feeling,” she said of her choice to seek out her birth mom. “I knew I wanted to find her and know her. Thanks to that, I’ve gotten to know her for 22 years. It’s also led me to my sisters. No one can ever tell me that was a bad decision.”
The award will take Kroskie to Washington, D.C., on Sept. 12 for an honorary gala, where Kroskie will be honored alongside hundreds of other adoption issues advocates.
“That was really one of the biggest compliments you can get, as far as being an adoptee,” Kroskie said. “It’s amazing that they’re actually giving an award for it. You feel like you’re not worthy of it. It’s a huge event. It’s a pretty big deal.”
At the gala, Kroskie and Young will finally meet.
“She has an impact on the adopted community beyond the 9th District,” Young said. “She’s very active in the community and I’m very excited to meet her.”
And while her lobbying efforts in the state haven’t been fully realized, Kroskie has no plans of backing down.
“If I have to talk about it everyday to everyone, everywhere, I will, if that’s what it takes to get this law changed,” she said.