New York State Health Department’s Adoption Information Registry

Ada Chicarelli: We look like twins there,
both in red – beautiful mountains in the background. Ada Chicarelli and Cheryl Mooney reminiscing about a special vacation to Italy in the fall of 2016. But this was not your average mother-daughter getaway – it was a chance for Ada to show her hometown to her daughter, whom she’d only known for several months. Ada: I couldn’t show her enough places and I was just so happy. I was just so happy, and she was too. And it made me feel so good to share that
experience with her, to look at her. Ada had Cheryl when she was just 19 years old and gave her up for adoption due to her strict parents and upbringing. Cheryl grew up with a loving adoptive family, but started wondering about her past when she became pregnant with her first child in 2000. She heard about the New York State Department of Health’s Adoption Registry from a friend and registered to find her health history,
information she quickly learned. 16 years later, Ada discovered the registry
and Cheryl received a life-changing letter. Cheryl Moore: It was very surreal, it was
very surreal. I didn’t know how to react. I think my first instinct was kind of why
now, I was 48 at the time, so why all of sudden now? It turns out Ada had been looking for her
for decades. She had called far and wide using the phone book before the internet, then spent late nights in her office on Google, anything she could think of to find the little girl she hadn’t seen since the day she was born almost 50 years ago. The little girl she couldn’t help but buy
bibs, dresses and dolls for even after she was grown. Ada: She’s my daughter, time was passing, and I said I got to meet her, I’ve got to meet her. And I just had the desire to see my daughter again, I wanted to see my daughter. And that finally happened because of the Adoption Registry. Department of Health staff members and volunteers are constantly processing information from applicants, the court system, and potential family members, and made more than 400 matches in 2018, the most ever. The matches included Cheryl and Ada, who nervously reached out when she learned that her daughter had signed up. They spoke on the phone and agreed to meet. Cheryl: We met at 5:30 in the afternoon, went across the street to a restaurant, sat down, and the next time we looked up it was 11:30 at night. The entire restaurant was empty and we were the last two people there. And we had no idea that that much time had passed. And that was it! Ada: I couldn’t believe it. I really couldn’t believe it. It was really surreal. You know, that my daughter is sitting across from me, that I’m having a conversation with my daughter, and it didn’t sink in
yet. Ada and Cheryl got to know each other and their families during the summer of 2016. Then, Ada insisted Cheryl join her and a friend on that previously planned trip to Italy. In the two and a half years since they met
they have become practically inseparable – talking on the phone daily and spending weekends together. Cheryl: it took a little while for everything
to sink in. It probably took a good year for everything
to sink in that this is happening. I was… I feel I was blessed twice… I had wonderful parents growing up and now I have a wonderful biological mom, so… I’m very blessed. Cheryl: It’s definitely overwhelming. I’ve never looked like anyone in my family
before, and now I look like someone! It’s very cool! While Cheryl and Ada know that their story
is one of a kind, they urge anyone in their situation who might be interested in finding
out about their past to give the adoption registry a try. Ada: I had a very good experience, I really
did, because if there wasn’t for the adoption registry, I don’t think I would have ever found her. Cheryl: Absolutely, I think the worst thing
in life, when you get to the end of your life, is saying “what if.” You know, I don’t think anyone ever regrets
what they did, I think people regret what they never did, so I think that absolutely. You have to try. Because you just never know.

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