In that vein, I came across this passage this morning from Robert J. Lifton, author, psychiatrist, thinker, and husband of Betty Jean Lifton:
"The origin of the secrecy is the specter of illegitimacy in the background. Instead of confronting these issues openly, there is the pretense that they don't exist and the whole subject becomes pervaded with guilt in a way that harms that relationship between the adopted child and his or her psychological parents. Every adopted person I have spoken to has confirmed that process....Yes, it's my memoir, published in 1979. I was leafing through it this morning and came across Lifton's testimony included in a chapter about a 1974 trial in which both he and I testified in the Bronx. It was my first public admission of being a woman who had relinquished a child to be adopted. I don't recall that the term "birth mother" was in use yet. I do remember being a somewhat terrified and nervous (I'm about to admit in public I gave away my child!!!), but determined. The judge was kind. I found my voice.
"A name is an enormously important element of identity over the generations and over the course of one's individual life. Moreover, by learning the name, by learning about the person--one's mother and father--he or she becomes an actual vibrant human being rather than fragmented bits of information. Such bits and pieces, ethnic or social characteristics, medial background, only become further stimulants to curiosity.
"From my own experience with adopted people from from the literature, it apparently seems as though every single aodpted person has some significant curiosity about this. Some are blocked from further effort by that layer of guilt; others make no effort. But the desire to find out is probably universal."--from Birthmark.
It was the case of Ann Smith versus Spence-Chapin Adoption Services; she wanted to look at her case file. The judge denied her claim, but noted that anyway, that the file it did not contain the names of her natural parents. Unless Ann Smith was dropped off without any identifying information, her original birth certificate would have given her what she sought. I'm thinking about all this because Jane has a good post in the works about what the original birth certificate signifies, and why it's been so hard to unlock them from the damn vaults where they are hidden away from the eyes of the people to whom they rightfully belong.--lorraine
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