Sunday, March 14, 2010

Man Offers $1K for information leading to his family

You are almost sixty years old, your mother is going into a nursing home, and in cleaning out her home your 26-year-old daughter finds papers that show your name was changed when you were an infant.

You are adopted. You were not "Larry Dell" when you were born.

This after four decades of adoption reform, adoption in the news, adopted people searching? And your "mother" never told you the truth of your origins? To continue the fiction that she told herself, she lived the lie and kept you in the dark. What do you do now?

If you are Larry Dell of Brooklyn you advertise wherever you can and offer $1,000 to anyone who can give you information leading to can help him locate a blood relative.

Dell was born Louis Roth on Aug. 18, 1948, at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, according to the New York State Department of Health Adoption Information Registry. (Not sure how he got that information, but good for him.) He was his family's fifth child, and both of his birth parents--a truck driver and a homemaker--were 39 at the time he was born. His adoptive aunt believes his birth family lived in Bushwick or East New York, but she's not sure, said Dell, who can be contacted at larrydell@daddyoutpost.com. (Let him know where you heard about this if you contact him, please.)

This story, Adopted Brooklyn man offers $1K for help finding his family, in the New York Daily News today (3/14/10), really pisses me off. Pisses me off that this kind of hoodwinking still goes on. That people hide the truth from the person it matters the most to. That this is even possible today.

Once, when I was writing my memoir Birthmark, I was having lunch with a business contact and somehow we got around to adoption. He was an adoptive father and I poured out my story to him for reasons unknown. He said nothing, but later, as we were saying goodbye outside the restaurant, he turned to me and told me that a few years earlier, the mother of his (now adult) daughter had contacted them and had hoped to meet the girl. Did they tell her? No, he said, they did not tell her because although she knew she was adopted, she never talked about it. Or mentioned wanting to know her mother.

I wanted to punch the bastard. 

If you are adopted and are reading this and you have never talked to your adoptive parents about your feelings about adoption and knowing the truth of your origins, do so today. If you are a first/birth mother and have buried your sorrow and never talked to your father, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts about wanting to know what happened because that part of your life is never talked about, do so today. When a searcher calls and gets your brother/sister/uncle, he is going to say: She doesn't want to know. She's never talked about it.

And the reunion you secretly long for may die right there. I hear from searchers that it's most often the males in a family who turn down an active search, and they may hold the only key to a birth/first mother's whereabouts. If not today--when? --lorraine

11 comments :

  1. I wish that i had $9000 to add to his fund of $1000. To take away or hide someone's history is the worst possible thing to do to someone. I can't imagine any reason why his "family" could validate for them not telling him the truth.

    I hope that you'll keep us updated on this gentleman...

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  2. kitta here:

    Lorraine, when I saw that picture it was like..wow!...he looks just like my former father in law. My first husband's family were Russian Jews who came to the US during WW1.

    Well I guess a lot of people look alike, but maybe someone will know him...and recognize his name and call him home. there is still a trail somewhere.

    another reason why I don't believe in false documents or allowing others to answer for us or "interpret" for us.

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  3. As a fellow LDA (found out when I was 31, 25 years ago) from NYC, I've contacted him. He has A LOT of help now - so I'm confident he's going to find answers.

    As to how he got his birth name - the NYC birth index, same place I got mine.

    Given when he was born, there are many more things that are going to be public record - such as his parents' marriage info.

    Downside is that his was a private adoption so the non-ID available has been minimal, I'm told.

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  4. I was forced to pay just about $300 by my birth/adoption state, by law, to find my Original Family.

    The State of Tennessee discriminates against adoptees by charging excessive fees that they know they cannot avoid. Not only is the 14th Ammendment equal protection clause violated but my First Ammendment Right to have access to useful information is violated by having to pay the government more than anyone else does in order to obtain it. A non-adopted person pays $8 for the SAME information that an adopted person pays nearly $300 for.

    Lorraine, you are absolultely correct. Adoptees NEED to tell their APs about how they feel or at least talk about their First Families, even if you can't find words or can't identify latent feelings within yourself that you may have. I've always had feelings of loss about my adoption but NEVER talked about it because I had no words to express my feelings. Infant adoption has a funny way of robbing a person of cognitive labels to express and identify loss. It wasn't until I gave birth myself that the Primal Wound, motherly instinct and connection to my First Mother and biology really hit home and then the pain of my loss became absolutely unbearable.

    Overcoming that hurdle yielded yet another obstacle: telling my adoptive parents. There are often many idealized expectations set up for infants adopted by infertile couples in order to "make up for" infertility loss. I had loyalty and shame issues for wanting to reunite with my First Family. My APs were supportive but my A-Mom feels I am trying to replace her. I carry immense guilt because of that and I wish people would just let me feel what I need to feel and do what I need to do without guilt. I can't tell you how many Adoptive Family members said to me "oh, you found your REAL family" as if I was a "lesser" family member who was just playing pretend with them until I was old enough to "go back home." I always felt like I didn't fit in...everywhere I went....I just didn't understand the extent of it. Then there were the extended A-family members and friends of the family who reminded me "remember your parents couldn't have kids" as I embarked on reunion, as if I was intentionally tying to remind them of their pain or being insensitive to my "duties" to them as the child of an infertile couple by seeking out my Natural mother.

    NO adoptee wants to deal with that crap. I can't blame anyone who just wants to leave things be--and yet I can and do blame them. There may be hurting Natural Family members out there in the world longing and waiting for you. Search and reunion can bring a lot of healing. I wouldn't trade in my relationship with my First Mom and First Family for the world!

    I once interviewed an AP who felt she did a good job at parenting the children she adopted as infants because they rarely asked about their First Parents. I guess we're to assume that wanting to reunite is a sign of "bad parenting?" On the contrary, her children's lack of cognitive labels due to being adopted as infants may be why they're not asking. Their loyalty to her--as many adoptees are inherently made to feel, may also be an issue that she's unaware of. Not to mention, she compares her two children adopted as infants to her two children who were adopted as adolescenses in abusive situatins in order to establish her opinions on Adoptive Parenting--not something I think is a good comparison to make in terms of "parenting success" personally. All adoptees, no matter what age or circumstance of adoption, have "baggage" in different forms--whether they admit it or not.

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  5. Amanda, thank you for that great comment, actually short essay. Adopted people need to find the courage to tell their adoptive parents that they do think about their first mothers/fathers/families...and adoptive parents need to understand that is a sign of the good communication between the two of you, rather than a negation of your relationship.


    And I can't stress this enough, first/birth mothers need to talk about their loss within their families! Often I hear...well, my sister never talked about it so I guess she did not want to be reminded and so, no, I am not going to contact her--and let her know someone is searching.

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  6. Amanda, let me add this one thing...when members of your adoptive family refer to your "real" family--the original, biological family--try to let it fall off your back. They are only expressing the truth of your origins without PC language, they certainly are not trying to hurt you (I would think). Love or hate them, you, like all adopted people, have two "real families," one who gave birth to you, one who raised you.

    As for those nasties who tell you, "remember your parents couldn't have kids," gently remind them you are not the reason they were infertile. You might say something like, "Well, I'm sorry for my mother and father, but I am not the reason they were infertile."

    You might get some abashed looks, but WTH? They are being unthinkingly rude by trying to control your life with guilt for something that is a natural as getting up in the morning: curiosity about your natural parents. Your parents' infertility is not your responsibility. By telling you that, they are informing you that they see you as chattel your parents (and their sister/brother/aunt/cousin) bought to fill a deficiency. In themselves.

    Thank you so much for your poignant comment. Hugs...
    lorraine

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  7. I know a few adoptees who found out late. One was in her fifties. She had always suspected and even asked her a-mother many times while growing up. Her a-mom denied it over and over. Even AFTER my friend confronted her with the papers! She had been adopted at age 2, and her a-mom had a scrapbook of baby pictures which turned out to be of a neighbor boy. Talk about denial!

    I thought it might be a common practice in earlier decades, but I'm sure it still happens. My son was born in 1970 and was not told.

    As for talking about it… I didn't (except to my husband) and when I found my son, many of my friends who knew said they'd always wondered if I thought about him and wanted to find him, because I never mentioned it.

    Thanks you Lorraine for the great advice for both sides. And for helping this man.

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  8. kitta here:

    300 dollars to the state..Amanda that is extortion.

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  10. Amanda,
    I am so sorry that TN made you pay for your information. The money that goes into the corruption that is adoption is absurd! What a horrible thing for them to do, I was shocked when I read that. Shame on them, and shame on all the other states that treat adoptees like second class citizens!

    As for the original post, I cannot imagine keeping that from someone all their lives. I have know people who knew all their lives and others who found out around graduation from high school. The ones who found out late were profoundly changed...forever. It is so much better to tell them early. What are the adoptive parents so afraid of? I do not think they would like to be lied to like that...by anyone much less their parents.

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  11. The story I heard about someone who did not know was that at the gravesite, an uncle said..."and she died without ever knowing who her real parents were..." and the woman's kids freaked out...because their mother, the woman in the grave, had never told them she was adopted....

    Secrets do not all die in the grave.

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