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Utahns hope signups lead to long-lost kin

Pamela Elkins hopes her Saturday visit to Barnes and Noble Bookstore will help her find her brother.

She and her sister were separated from their two brothers when she was 5. The brothers were also split up. As foster children, they had no choice in how they would be divided when adopted."I haven't seen him since I was 5, but he should be almost 18 by now. I just hope he registers, too; wherever he is," Elkins said.

The International Soundex Reunion Registry, sponsored by the Adoption Registration Coalition, conducted its third annual mutual consent registration to help reunite adult adoptees with their siblings and biological parents.

The registrations were held at Barnes & Noble bookstores in Sandy, Salt Lake City and Orem. The three sites were taking information from people who wanted to find family separated by adoption by making themselves available through registering.

Adoption Registration Coalition representative Grace Larsen, who has been searching for her biological parents for three years, said there are about 150 registration sites throughout the country.

The success of the registry depends on having both parties of a separation registered and in their database so that the information is available to make a reunion possible. It's something that would otherwise be all but impossible due to the highly confidential nature of adoption records, Larsen said.

"It's kind of slow . . . but already we're doing better than the total of last year. We've had more publicity since then. That's the most important thing, letting people know we're here," she said.

To register with Utah's Mutual-Consent Adoption Registry, you have to be 18 or older if you are a parent and 21 if you are a child looking for birth parents or siblings. Anyone 18 or older can register with the International Soundex Reunion Registry. Because of privacy laws, and the American Adoption Congress that tries to protect adopted children, it is even more difficult for biological parents trying to locate their adopted children, Larsen said.

About noon Saturday, a young woman approached the registration table with tears in her eyes. She told Larsen she needed to find her baby who was adopted a month ago. Larsen explained the remote chances of them ever locating her child until it was 21 and decided to look for its mother.

"This is so sad, but the adoption laws make it so that they pretty much close the books on anything having to do with the history of an adopted child."