Elaine Henwood will have an especially merry Christmas this year, thanks to the Net. A resident of New Zealand, Henwood used an Internet newsgroup to find the son she gave up for adoption in Cleveland, Ohio, 28 years ago.
Last summer, Henwood posted a message to the alt.adoption newsgroup that read, "Hi, I'm a birth mother searching for my son born October 7, 1967, in Cleveland, Ohio. Can anyone help?"
The response was overwhelming--Henwood received email from all over the world. Eventually, she was put in touch with a Cleveland adoption network that gave her the names of three people to contact. On December 9, Henwood spoke to her son, David, for the first time. The two plan to exchange photos, and David, a civil engineer, has resolved to get online so they can stay in touch easily.
The Net offers a wide range of resources to those searching for people with whom they've lost contact. A number of newsgroups specialize in tracking down missing persons and reuniting children with their birth parents; some provide free advice and assistance to those searching on their own.
Searchers can also pay fee-based services to do the detective work for them. Although some conduct searches for as little as $25, the more comprehensive services such as Holler For Janyce and the Missing Persons Locator Service have rates that begin at around $100.