By Lisa Kininger:
My name is Lisa Kininger. I am an adoptee and so is my husband Sam.I have been in search of my biological family for over 25 years but because my adoption was international it has been a struggle. During my search I have come to be really good at finding other adoptee’s families here in the states. I even found my husband Sam’s biological family.
I decided to become a Private Investigator and spent some time working surveillance but it wasn’t for me. My heart so goes out to adoptees as I know the pain and sorrow that the not knowing brings. I want to help adoptees and have begun my own business. It is called Adoptee Assist. I am fully licensed and credentialed and am good at what I do. I thank the Utica Phoenix for bringing my work to the public.
This is my story.
I was adopted from Thailand in the 70’s during the Vietnam War. My adoptive father was in the Air Force and both my adoptive parents were stationed in Utapao, Thailand. They couldn’t have children of their own and really didn’t expect to adopt a child at the time.
I was 18 months to 2 years old and I weighed only 13 pounds. I was dying of malnutrition. A Thai doctor and his American wife took me to their hospital and then eventually took me to their house and put me up for adoption. My adoptive parents got a visa for me and I was adopted in the states and became an American Citizen when I was 6 years old. I grew up traveling all over the world.
Since I can remember I always wanted to find my biological family and know about myself. I’ve always wanted to learn about my culture.
I started searching when I was 18 years old. I have found out many interesting things about myself. The doctor that put me up for adoption also put up 40 other children for adoption. He would have his cooks or maids sign as biological family members on our birth certificates. Our birth certificates were forged. My birth name and birth date is false.
My search has been incredibly hard. Throughout my search I have had to deal with lies and deception. I have had people come forth and claim they are my family. I believed them and actually went over to Thailand to meet them.
For a whole year I prepared by learning how to speak, read and write Thai. I spent a lot of money and I took on the identity that I was told for about 10 years. This family asked me for money all of the time and I gave it.Then I got smart and did a DNA test with a family member. I wasn’t related to them. These people took advantage of my emotions, money and my time. I was devastated. I also did DNA with the people on my birth certificate. I am not related to them either. I have been back to Thailand twice and no luck. Now that DNA communities are getting bigger and more popular, I have a better chance. For me my search has become a struggle but I will never give up!
Where I am today
I am a mother of 3 beautiful children, Nicholas 24, Malai 17 and Jade 15 from my first marriage. I am happily married to a wonderful husband who supports me in my journey with Adoptee Assist. His name is Sam Kiniger and many in the Utica area know he is a fine musician.
Sam and I met each other in the 4th grade. My dad was stationed at Griffiss, A.F.B. My mother’s family was from Oriskany where I went to N.A. Walbran Elementary School. That’s where I met Sam. .He wrote me a note one day and asked me to be his girlfriend. From there we would meet to go roller skating all of the time. On a field trip to a planetarium we sat next to each other and that is where Sam kissed me. It was our first kiss. I know it was a little too young, but I never forgot it.
I moved in the 5th grade and I never saw Sam again. I was devastated. I didn’t get a chance to say good-bye.Throughout the years my cousin, who was in his graduating class, would tell me about what Sam was up to.Sam moved to Boston and so did I but I never saw him. I eventually got married and had 3 children. I would go see him play on and off throughout the years.After a rough divorce and being a single mom of 3, I picked up the pieces and moved on. I randomly emailed Sam and saw him play in Utica. We reconnected and on our first date I told him how I had found my family. (At the time I thought)I promised him I would find his family for him and I kept that promise.
We got married over 8 years ago and are going strong. I think we always gravitated to each other because we were adopted and in the similar situation being in an interracial family. It’s always been important for Sam and I to know our roots. As for every Adoptee. While I would search for my biological family over the years I would become a Search Angel for people here in the states. I became really good at it.
As I stated earlier, my husband is an adoptee and we were able to find his family and since then he has been able to reconnected with his biological family. I began mentoring adoptees on how to search and supporting them on an emotional level.I understand the hurt and the feeling not knowing what to do. The void that an adoptee feels every day is beyond sad. I started helping more and more adoptees and was really good at it.
I had friends and family tell me that I should be a Private Investigator. So, I did. I went to school and became a PI. I worked surveillance and workers comp cases. As it was very interesting I knew this isn’t where my heart and passion is.I wanted to help adoptees and teach them how to search. I was driving home from work one day and I thought of this concept. That’s when Adoptee Assist was born.
As an Adoptee Search Consultant I mentor adoptees on how to search on their own. Even if your records are sealed there is a way. To be able to search on your own gives you a greater appreciation and empowerment. I believe it’s not the end result but the journey.
Adoptee Assist has 3 phases:
Phase 1 – This where I assist/mentor the adoptee or person who wants to search for their lost love one. They basically do all the leg work for the search. Everything I would do. I teach them how to skip trace.
Phase 2 – This is where the client will hire me to do all skip tracing and locating.
Phase 3 – This where I have to outsource a Private Investigator to do things other than what I can do. If they want surveillance or background checks. I do have access to a database that I can reference through a friend who is a licensed PI. That would cost more money.
I have listened to so many adoptees as well as birth parents and I can feel their emotion and pain. That’s what sets me apart from the next PI. I am an adoptee. I know what it feels like. I can empathize.
I want to be able to help even if only in some small way. I cannot promise a happy ending every time because every case is different but you will learn more of who you are. Adoptee Assist is a compassionate guide to finding your roots. “If you want to find your purpose in life, find your wound.”
I am an Adoptee Search Consultant. What sets me apart from PI’s who do this is that I am an Adoptee. I empathize rather than just sympathize. I get how adoptees feel. So my heart goes out to them. Even though I haven’t cracked my own case I have the passion to help others.
I also know that compassion doesn’t pay the bills. I have found that often adoptees/birth mothers and fathers don’t want to pay Some of the Adoptee Groups may be offended that I would charge but my fee schedule is modest and my mission is one I believe in.
So, if you are an adoptee or know someone who could use my services please get in touch with me in the way most convenient for you.