My surrendered daughter Megan, a Mormon, searched for me for over 10 years, finally locating me in late 1997. Shortly after we reunited, she asked me what her original name had been. It was Rebecca. She said that her adoptive mother told her that I had not given her a name. Soon after that, Megan wrote to the State of California requesting her original birth certificate (OBC). Given that California still seals records and steals the name, she did not receive her OBC.
After our reunion, I tried to learn more about adoption. I attended conferences sponsored by the American Adoption Congress and Bastard Nation, advocates for allowing adoptees to receive their original birth certificates. While I had kept Megan’s existence a secret from most of my family, I became an activist for open records and encouraged Megan to become one as well. In August, 2000 she wrote the following letter to the Chicago Tribune:
“I've long been an advocate of open records. I am an adoptee. The birth certificate that I must rely on to get a driver's license, passport, etc., is a lie. It lists my place, date and time of birth and has a signature of the attending physician. And then it has the names of adoptive parents who were not there on that day. It places them at a place and time they were not. It is a cover-up.
I have long wanted to own a Certificate of Adoption that I could use for identification. It would list the place, date and time I was adopted. Really, my identify began at that moment.
I have a pretty good relationship with my adoptive parents, and I know they would never understand this.
Before I found my birth parents, I spent a lot of time scrutinizing my birth certificate, trying to make sense of it, trying to find my birth parents names listed somewhere between the lines. The certificate contained other facts about my birth, yet it left off the most important fact. I could not make sense of it. I want my original birth certificate because I want the complete truth, in writing, of who I am. I will still use the ammended [sic] one for legal purposes, but getting the original one would give me great satisfaction.”
Over the past eight years, however, Megan’s connection to the Mormon Church has hardened and our relationship has deteriorated. When we are together, we get along, agreeing for the most part on subjects like movies, raising children, protecting the environment. We enjoy the same activities, walking, theater, family dinners. We both wear simple clothes -- jeans and T-shirts -- and use little make-up. We make the same spelling errors -- we both routinely spell “amended” incorrectly. However, Megan cannot tolerate any discussion that she considers to be a criticism of the LDS Church or adoption. She believes that her adoption was God’s plan for her; that her adoptive family, the family to which she is joined for eternity, is her only family. I and my other children and her father and his daughter are inconvenient appendages. She recently emailed me and asked me not to send birthday gifts to her children, my grandchildren.
Early this year I forwarded Megan emails from an Illinois member of Bastard Nation with information about an open records bill in the Illinois legislature, HB4623. In a complete turnabout of how she initially felt, Megan wrote the following letter to the Bloomington (Illinois) Pantagraph.
“I am an adult adoptee. About 10 years ago, I made the choice to search for my birth mother and I found her!
I knew nothing about the "adoption rights'' movement. It was just something I wanted to do for myself.
The reunion with my birth mother was satisfying for me, and we still correspond and visit each other. After we met, I even attempted to obtain my original birth certificate, but was denied.
Since that time, I have been exposed to many, many communications from various groups pushing for legislation that would allow all adoptees the right to obtain their original birth certificates, regardless of the wishes of birth mothers.
At first, the political arguments made a lot of sense to me. However, after much careful study, pondering and prayer, I have decided for myself that I cannot embrace these groups' basic philosophy regarding family.
God has a plan for families. Children should be nurtured in loving homes by a father and a mother who are also husband and wife. "Redefining kinship,'' as advocated by the some of these groups, is a dangerous thing.
Furthermore, to obtain one's original birth certificate is not a civil or human right.
Because I don't believe in the basic goals of “adoption rights'' organizations, I cannot and will not support their political agendas, including open records for all adoptees.”
The letter created a ripple in the adoption rights community. A blogger in Australia ripped her for writing the letter pointing out that she had what she wanted but now would not let others have the same.
“That she has said all this AFTER She has *reunited* and REMAINS *reunited* with her Mother who gave birth to her and they still correspond and visit each other and not only that but the whole reunion was 'satisfying' for her...( I should be so lucky)
“BUT What Megan about all those other poor sods out there who NEED Their Original OBC To even 'begin' their search ? did you think about that ? What about them ?
“No sorry but your views are antiquated and self serving and certainly NOTHING To do with GOD.”
I don’t know why Megan wrote the letter – to get back at me for something? To reassure herself that her adoption was the right thing? I can only think that Megan struggled with the need to be true to her feelings and the need to be true to her church. In the end, the Church won out.
How did I feel when I read her letter? Disappointed, wistful, sad. Five years earlier I would have been distraught. I’m disappointed that Megan isn’t like Marley Greiner and the many other adoptees that fight for open records. I wish Megan and I could share our feelings about adoption. I’m sad Megan is so controlled by the LDS Church that she suppresses her feelings in order to support the Church’s fanciful views on the family. I’m sad that Megan can’t accept that she has two families.