I personally had an unpleasant run-in with her brother, Danny O'Donnell, New York assemblyman who stated unequivocally that he is against giving adopted people their original birth records for numerous reasons. Letters to him about adoptee rights have gone unanswered. So when it was made known that she would be the subject of NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?" I watched with avid interest.
Yes and yes and yes. The show ends with her going into a pub in Ireland with the same name as the one she uncovered in her own family history--Murtaugh--with her older brother to tell him what she had learned. During the show she said, this search into her past was "much more emotional that I expected it to be--we now have some place to start in the world." And, "I feel like I've won the lottery." And, whenever a new piece of evidence was uncovered: "Ding Ding Ding, we have a winner." As she visited a workhouse similar to the one her destitute ancestors would have lived in at the time of the Potato Famine in Ireland before they came to Canada--that was "pretty intense to think about."
|Danny O'Donell, Rosie's bro|
Like Rosie, he is gay, and he has been very involved in trying to push through gay marriage in New York. Fine. I am all for gay marriage and written about it in USA Today; one would think that since gays such as O'Donnell are fighting for equal rights, they would extend their understanding to another group that has been marginalized and whose rights have been stripped from them through no fault of their own, those adopted. Not so.
To others, O'Donnell has said that opening up the records would be "unconstitutional," that Rosie and he fear that the birth mothers would want money, and they grew up poor; and to me and two adoptees, he simply leaned back and stated: "I will never vote for this bill."
That was a few years ago when I lobbied him for our bill in New York, and in a few short minutes he had the woman with me in tears and the man was ready to explode in anger. I've lobbied other legislators who were never going to vote for the Adoptee Rights Bill, but I had never encountered anyone so rude as O'Donnell. (Read more here and see below.*) And while he could insult me--starting the session by telling us that we were all well dressed?--it was during the ten minutes in his office that I completely understood how powerless and enslaved by draconian laws were the adopted. He treated them like dirt, like not worthy to take up his time. He dismissed their crying need to know their heritage with a look of disdain. He was talking about a law that would affect them all their lives--at least as much as not having the rights of privileges of straight people, quite probably more so--and yet he had no ability to see how his immovable stance was holding their rights hostage.
So, would Rosie's enlightenment have any effect on her stance regarding the biological heritage of her three adopted kids? Would the light bulb going off in her heart be transferred somehow to Danny? Who has power and a vote and who is influential in Albany? Would he get it?
Maybe. Rosie, who has always been on my ----list for what I presumed her feelings about the children's birth parents, has done an about face, if a video on Access Hollywood is any indication. She talks about telling working on the show and coming back to her kids and telling them that she is for sure Irish, and how their great grandfather drove a Wells Fargo wagon, and how they took the information as their own history--hang in there, it gets better. But them she goes on:
"But while I was doing it [the taping] I did think that each of my children would go through this in some capacity. And how I am really thankful that I got to do it and see what it meant to me....To be there to support them when they go through it in any way...because I understand wanting to find out where you came from, who your parents are, what your biological lineage is. I get it....I'm their Mom, and I'm not threatened by it and I understand why they would want to find that out." (Video clip below)Well, knock me down with a feather. Next step: write to Rosie and ask her to support open records in New York. She lives in Nyack. Address, anyone? --lorraine
* Orphan Trade, Gay Marriage and Open Records Legislation
You can watch the entire Rosie episode of Who Do You Think You are at this link. If you live in O'Donnell district (the 69th) we have a job for you; please contact us and check out Unsealed Initiative. The movement to give adoptees their civil right to a real heritage needs you.
In one of those delicious ironies of life I just caught this on his website: Governor Signs O’Donnell’s Anti-Bullying Legislation into Law. I guess he doesn't think that extends to adopted people.