Find My Family because the show has certainly struck a nerve with lots of grumbling that it doesn't give adoptive parents the air time they deserve because they are the ones who bandaged the knees, did the late night emergency room runs, etc. We know, we have heard that before. We understand that adoptive parents did what we were not able to do: raise our children.
We know that many of the people who raise our children can't even talk about us as more than a "birth canal" and the "woman who labored my son." We have seen those references, the first at RainbowKids.com and the second in a book called Wanting A Child (apparently anybody's child will do).
But folks, Find My Family is not about how noble it is to adopt because there are so many children who need homes, a questionable premise regular readers of FirstMotherForum are aware of. The ABC reality show is about the fact that simply obliterating a person's identity because he/she was adopted by a new family and given a second identity does not work! Thus the tears, thus the running up the hill to the family tree to meet the person or people who give back an identity that was lost, thus the emotions running high.
Reality all right.
Yes, I know, I can hear people clucking in the background that not every adoptee wants to search, and not every adoptee feels "incomplete" with knowing his or her identity, and to them I ask: Why Not? What makes them cut themselves off from their past, or the search for their past? Isn't it just a little weird to have your slate wiped clean at whatever age you were adopted and have the world tell you--what happened before doesn't matter? Isn't not wanting to know unnatural? Curiosity is normally seen as a sign of intelligence, but when an adopted persons asks Who am I? it is often interpreted as a sign of pathology.
Anybody thinking clearly realizes this is total baloney, the result of years of brain-washing by a culture that views adoption as a pure good, not complicated by the messy emotions of a grieving birth mother and a child who grows up confused. But adoption is painful. Adoption is always painful. The healing can only truly begin with full and complete knowledge of one's story, one's heritage, one's cultural and familial identity.
Yet in 42 states of the nation, it is still not legally possible for an adopted person--of any age--to say, Hey, you know, I want to know who I really am. I want to know what my story is. I want to know who my mother is and why she gave me away. And by the way, I want to know who my father is, too. Did he even know I was born? Was I given away because something is wrong with me?
Only six states allow individuals adopted as children access to their records: Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, New Hampshire, Maine, and Oregon. Delaware and Tennessee place restrictions on this information at the request of the birth parent (though only a minuscule number do this); numerous other states have various kinds of limitations that prevent individuals from freely having this information simply by asking for it. We are talking about letting adults have the same rights as the rest of us: the right to know from whence we came.
Getting the legislation passed to let the fresh wind of truth into an adopted person's life has proven incredibly difficult--and though I hate to say it because of the hackles this will raise, it's often an adopted parent who blocks the legislation. Weird, wouldn't you say? If they love their kids so much, wouldn't they want them to be free? Adoption then is more about ownership than our culture admits. The counterpoint to this is Lou D'Alessandro, the adoptive father and legislator who was the driving force behind the legislation that opened up New Hampshire and gave adopted individuals the right to have their original birth certificates.
In New Jersey right now, the Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts (see sidebar here for call to action) is sitting on legislation despite approval by the Senate in a 31-7 vote and the support of 50+ (of the 80) Assembly members. In New York The Adoptee Bill of Rights has been stalled in Codes Committee by the Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver since 2006, even though it has 70 sponsors.
What will it take to move hearts and minds not only in New Jersey and New York but in every state of the nation that punishes people for the privilege of being adopted? If it is Find My Family, we are all for it. --lorraine
- Resources: Laws, Searching, Reunion
- Resources to Help Parents Keep Their Babies
- Favorite Adoption Quotes
- Considering Open Adoption? What You Should Know
- Response to The Adoption Option
- UPDATE: NY Adoptee Rights
- Letter to Birth Mother or Sibling
- Giving Up Your Baby?
- Writing the First Letter
- 'Positive' Adoption Language?
- What We Think About Adoption