Back to the Beginning


Research Etc. Publishing
 Back to the Beginning
 Remarkable True Stories of Adoption Searches & Reunions
From the Case Files of Research Etc.

ISBN: 0981641202        ISBN-13: 9780981641201 

"The rollercoaster of emotions will move you to have a better understanding of 'why' and 'how' an adopted person and a birthparent feel the need to go “Back to the Beginning” of the person they are searching for." 
~ Rachel, California        
 "I've read it twice and recommend it to every single person involved in the adoption process. Then I'd recommend it to every person outside of the process." ~ Judy Starbuck, Scottsdale, AZ       
"The investigators who wrote this book are not 'typical' private investigators. They are more like crusaders out to help people whose 'normal' family pattern was disrupted and who rarely have anywhere to turn."   
~ Leroy, Oak Harbor, WA    
"As a psychologist who has helped many clients get the courage to begin a search, and someone who just enjoys reading, I highly recommend Back to the Beginning."  ~ A Psychologist, Phoenix, AZ
"From the ins and outs of Private Investigation to the beautiful, touching and heartwarming stories, I could not put it down!" ~ C. Briskman, Vashon Island, WA
"Lots of twists and turns and human drama, both happy and sad." ~ A Police Officer, Tempe, AZ

Research Etc. Publishing®
Released in May, 2008, this book is a compilation of true adoption search stories from the case files of Research Etc., and offers a fascinating glimpse into the often secretive world of search and reunion from the viewpoints of triad members and the investigators who worked on their cases.

Adoption searches are unique to each person involved. Some clients simply want medical histories. For others the stakes are much higher:
  • A daughter seeking to understand the trauma her birthmother went through at the time of relinquishment
  • A son wanting to set the record straight on his own family history
  • A birthfather who never even saw his daughter when she was born, but never forgot her
  • A birthmother who wants reassurance that she did the right thing when she placed her child for adoption 21 years ago.

This book offers not only true reunion stories that touch the heart, but invaluable experience in understanding the dynamics of adoption reunions from the perspective of all those involved in the Adoption Triad.

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 Research Etc. Publishing®

 About the Authors


Ava Friddle -  Judy Andrews -Kristen Hamilton


 Since 1995, Ava Friddle and her daughters Judy Andrews and Kristen Hamilton have specialized in adoption search cases nationwide. Judy and Kristen are also Certified Confidential Intermediaries for Arizona's C.I. Program.
"For over a decade, we have helped facilitate a wide range of adoption reunions,
from the initial search through first contact and beyond. We have shared every
emotion with our clients, from joy to heartbreak."
(Photo - left to right:  Judy, Kristen, and Ava with Camelback Mountain in the background - courtesy of Isaac and Kina Cooper)






Joe Bardin

Joe is a professional writer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. His literary works on varied subjects have appeared in numerous publications nationally. His fresh insight into our adoption search cases and experienced guidance was intregal to the writing of this book.

Contact Joe at:

Office: 480-683-2075
Cell:     602-361-7567

Excerpt from Chapter 9 - Lorraine's Search:

 An Angel in the Snow

When Lorraine contacted us, her expectations were remarkably modest compared with other clients. From the Non-Identifying Information provided by the adoption agency, Lorraine was already equipped with the knowledge that her birthmother had lived a hard life and died a terrible death. Lorraine simply wanted to know her birthmother’s real name, where she was buried, and the circumstances of her death. We were determined to do what we could for her.

     Lorraine was 42 years of age when she came to us upon the referral of Kristen’s childhood friend. A pretty woman, with a head full of blond curls, she was married with small children and living in Eureka, California. The information Lorraine gave us came directly from the county adoption agency in San Francisco that had placed her with a foster family soon after her birth in the early 1950s. This information was rather general, as it often is with adoption agencies. In our many years of investigative work, we’ve seen how agencies hold back facts, making decisions about what to record and what not to divulge in order to protect the identity, privacy and even the feelings of the individuals involved, be it the birthparents or the adoptees. Thankfully, this agency didn’t hold back anything - they told it like it was.

    Here are the two short paragraphs in the agency’s report that we had to go on:  

Birthmother was slender and attractive with bright blue eys, wavy blond hair and a fair complexion. She worked as a cook and waitress. However, since 1946 she had worked as a prostitute. She had a police record in Nevada for using narcotics. She reported that she used morphine, not heroin.

She died in 1956 in Wyoming. She was found frozen to death by the side of the highway. Autopsy revealed that she was under the influence of narcotics. They thought that her car stalled and she tried to walk for help. She lay down beside the road and froze to death. She left an adopted son born in 1953 who lived with his adoptive family in Wyoming.

 In the Name of a Mother

      We began the search in 1997. We were looking for a nameless woman that had died in 1956, somewhere in Wyoming. Our first task was to determine if there were any old records regarding a lady that froze to death in Wyoming in this time period. We felt that when we found this information, we would know Lorraine’s birthmother’s name, and where she had lived, worked, and died. We started out looking for news articles in Wyoming for 1956 that might have reported such a death. During our initial discussions, we had a slight edge because Ava had once lived in the San Francisco Bay area in the 1950’s. She remembered that the newspapers often published articles about the prostitutes who would travel and work between San Francisco, Reno and Cheyenne, Wyoming. We got out a map of the U.S and began studying the towns, roads and highways between and within the three states. Ava intuitively picked a central point along the route, and we thought it was as good a starting point as any. . .


Copyright 2008 Research Etc.


Back to the Beginning - REVIEWS

Avid history buff - The stories are beautifully written and very compelling. As an avid history buff, this book brought something else to mind that had never dawned on me before. The adoptees in the stories were given back a history that they did not know before the investigations. In today's society, one is left sometimes with lose ends. This book ties some of those ends together and helps make people whole. ~J. Francisco, Citrus Heights, CA 

RN, BSN - A friend of mine recommended this book and although I am not an adoptee, I was intrigued by what she shared about the book. I am glad that I read it. If you're like me and you enjoy the search for a happy ending, you'll enjoy reading "Back to the Beginning." First and foremost, the accounts of adoptees searching for their birth families and vice versa was riveting; however, what I liked most about the book was the way the authors seemed genuinely interested in their clients emotionally. I thought the advice they gave to their clients was very sound; particularly the advice about approaching first time meetings between families, as well as how to manage their expectations about the process and its possible roads blocks. I counsel people every day in my job, so I'm sure what I read in this book will be woven into my practice somehow. Even if it's not, I'll be keeping this book on hand for those moments when I need a feel-good pick me up well as a little perspective on how nice and easy my childhood was knowing my birth parents and siblings. ~M. A. Erspamer, Mesa, AZ
An adoptive parent - It is truly amazing how much care and kindness are poured out on these pages to find the answers that anxious people are searching for.  What a gift you gave to share these stories and lives changed. ~ Gwen M.
As an investigator and adoptive parent - As a professional investigator for many years and an adoptive parent, I recommend this book without reservation. It is well written, touching, inspirational, motivating, informative and a great place to start for anyone interested in adoptive reunions or even in becoming a private investigator or researcher. The investigators who wrote this book are not 'typical' private investigators. They are more like crusaders out to help people whose 'normal' family pattern was disrupted and who rarely have anywhere to turn. . . this book made me cry with its poignant detail and open sharing of worthwhile information. ~ Leroy, Oak Harbor WA
Intrigue, Pathos and Reality
You really don’t want to skip any part of this 'read in one sitting' book as it gives a true picture of what the path of adoption 'has been' and 'is' for many. Though each story is different, there is a good dose of intrigue, pathos and reality in the well written details of each account. The rollercoaster of emotions will move you to have a better understanding of 'why' and 'how' an adopted person and a birthparent feel the need to go “Back to the Beginning” of the person they are searching for and the value of the adoptive parent's support. As a birthmother, I commend this team of private investigators who show compassion and wisdom at every twist and turn of each featured adoption search and reunion. This special gift truly has a positive affect on the success of their business and their book.
~ Rachel, California
Outstanding reading - Simply put--the authors are true professionals in their field who have captured the essence of bringing people together and touching the lives of many.  ~ D.K., Scottsdale, AZ
Wow! New info & an emotionally satisfiying read! - I just finished reading Back to the Beginning. I can not recommend a book to my clients that I have not read myself. I have slogged my way through many books on adoption. This was a delight to read. It puts the search process into perspective… only real people who are dedicated to their clients can provide a perspective as close to the real world as these investigators have done. It was very moving and practical at the same time. As a psychologist who has helped many clients get the courage to begin a search, and someone who just enjoys reading, I highly recommend Back to the Beginning. ~ An experienced Psychologist
AMAZING - I was blown away! This book is so interesting!!! From the ins and outs of Private Investigation to the beautiful, touching and heartwarming stories, I could not put it down! I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in solid, well written stores about real life. Help other customers find the most helpful reviews   ~ C. Briskman, Vashon Island, WA
Adoptee - The warmth and sensitivity of these wonderful women comes through on every page. I've read it twice and recommend it to every single person involved in the adoption process. Then I'd recommend it to every person outside of the process. It's heartwarming and insightful. I wish I had known them when I searched for my birth family, or at the very least, had their book. Help other customers find the most helpful reviews  ~ Judy Starbuck (Scottsdale)
Heartwarming and delightful
What a terrific book! It has shed a whole new light on the actual process of adoption searches and reunions. A heartwarming and delightful read, I hope there is a second book.
~ L. Frankson, Arizona
Great Read! I'm thoroughly enjoying my autographed book! : )  I'm on chapter 7 right may know I'm not a big reader - as my husband says - I "only like things with pictures" - but this is a great read!  It's so neat to hear the stories and picture your old house in  McCormick Ranch... and I remember being at that surprise birthday party! Bye for now! ~ Jeanette, Phoenix, AZ
Warm, compassionate true recounts - As a triad member, this book has particular meaning to me. It captures the hopes, desires, joy and disappointments experienced in the searches from such a compassionate perspective. I would hope it would encourage others in similar situations to take a chance, not get discouraged and search for the missing pieces of their lives with loving, qualified assistance such as that displayed by these wonderful women. ~ P.R., Scottsdale, AZ
WONDERFUL STORIES - I couldn't put the book down until I had finished reading it. I cried tears of sadness for those who were not successful in finding their biological parents and tears of happiness for those who did. The authors are clearly dedicated to the work they do and give fascinating accounts of some of their cases.  ~ Retired Teacher, Paradise Valley, AZ
One of those "picked it up and couldn't put it down" books - I found the book fascinating and rewarding reading. (My wife, who is reading it now, repeats "fascinating" ) As I started reading, the first thought that struck me was how well the writing was as if I was having a pleasant conversation with old friends who were relating to me some of their interesting experiences in their business. It has the unmistakable ring of truth about it. (And, it illustrates once again the old saying that truth is more interesting than fiction.) As I continued to read I was intrigued and gladdened by how the love inherent in human hearts so often showed through, including the caring of the authors for their clients...I could see that they are involved in this work not only as a business but because of their desire to help others...~ BFH, Little Rock, AR
Fascinating true stories and real life characters. Once you start reading, you won't be able to put it down - a real page turner. This book is for everyone, not just people interested in adoption research or private investigations. Lots of twists and turns and human drama, both happy and sad. Never thought I would be interested in a book like this but I was dead wrong. Buy this book, you won't be sorry!
~ H. Russell, a police officer
Kudos and Accolades on the book! I thought it was a great read. I enjoyed it so much that I read it while on my morning walk, and that can be dangerous to my health...I nearly stepped on a snake not long ago doing that...I couldn't stop reading it though. Well written, both poignant and joyful, made me sad and glad over and over...My favorite story was Tim's. The last one. He seemed to have a good and Godly perspective on life. Something we all need.~ B.R., Quitman, TX
A Must Read For Anyone Touched By Adoption! As an adopted adult considering searching for my birth family, I'm always looking for new books that address adoption issues - how the search and reunion process works, what kind of outcomes others have had, etc. After reading this book, I gained some real insight into how hard it can be trying to find someone, usually without even a name to go on, and how, once that person is found, what can happen from there. One thing I really liked about this book is the section of real adoption papers that investigators work with. I haven't read any books yet that actually show examples of those kinds of papers! I also loved the stories - they are written, not in legalese or clinical terms, but rather you feel as if the investigators are speaking to you in conversation, telling the stories with compassion and truth. After reading this book, I feel I am one giant step closer to letting go of my fears and starting the search for my family of origin that I've debated doing for so long. It also made me wish I had a career as a private investigator - so cool! ~ M. Fitzgerald, An Adopted Adult
Best book I've read in a LONG time - This book is so touching. When you're reading it, you feel like you can relate to all the stories, or like your a part of the book. TRULY AMAZING! ~ Carol Stone
A second book? Just got my copy of this book - great cover, well written and very interesting stories. Can't wait for the next book by these authors! ~ Keefer
reality...not always happy endings - While this is a beautiful book, I'm concerned it promotes unrealistic expectations for those undertaking the search for their birth parent. What they find may be painful, even ugly, for both themselves and the birth parent. The child may have been conceived in abuse, rape, even incest, and the birth mother may have held this secret in shame over the years. In such cases, reviving old memories can be traumtic for the parent, and cause for emotional distress for the adopted child.
     In a situation affecting my own family, an adoptee that found her birth mother 45 yrs later not only triggered a painful and serious emotional upset for her mother, who was already suffering confusion with mid-stage alztheimers, but initated difficult situations among her new-found siblings as she tried to assume a role in the family that conformed to her lifetime of dreams of a role as 'older, guiding sibling' in their lives. The adoptee had been concieved in an abusive incestuous situation, that her birth mother had put out of her own memory, and had never told her own later children about. It was a painful ordeal for all concerned.
     So when one begins such a search, please, stress it should not be with unrealisitc or idealized expectations of what will be found. ~JenY
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