Saturday, February 1, 2014

Powerful testimony for adoptee OBC access at NY hearing

From left: Carla Rupp, Mike Schoer, Joyce Bahr, Marsha Raffloer and Dennis Sumlin
“If I had known that someday I could meet my daughter it would have been so much easier to sign those papers. My social worker and I went over this point again and again and again. Never, never, could I see her, not ever, time heals all wounds, she would say. It does not heal this one….” So began my testimony yesterday at a New York state assembly hearing on the Adoptee Rights Bill, A909. As I wrote here before, my opening few lines quoted from a transcript of testimony I gave in 1976 at a similar hearing in Albany 38  years ago.

(L to R): Lavine, Borelli, Gottfried, Weprin
VIDEO RECORDING OF HEARING: http://assembly.state.ny.us/av/
As before, this hearing was chaired by Richard N. Gottfried, (D, Manhattan). The sponsor of our bill, David Weprin (D, Queens) told the NY1 reporter: "A basic human right is that everybody that's adopted, when they become an adult, should have the same rights as any non-adopted citizen of New York State, which is to have access to their original birth certificate." Agreed. 

Our voices as first mothers, adoptees, social workers, and adoptive parent Adam Pertman were vigorous and heart-felt with emotions ricocheting around the room. Everybody's blood pressure was amped up by the first speaker, Suffolk County Surrogate's Court judge, John M. Czygier Jr., who argued strenuously against unsealing the birth certificates because of...the little old natural birth mother in the closet. (BTW, "birth mother" was used throughout the hearing by the four men holding the hearing.) I wasn't taking notes like a reporter and so the only words I have written down next to his name are these: unsealing the birth certificates would have "devastating consequences" because of the women who were promised, promised, promised anonymity. I wish I had counted how many times the word "promised" was spoken at the hearing; the number would go around rosary beads. Czygier spoke for quite a long time, and the four men at the hearing questioned him way beyond my patience. What does he know? about first mothers now I wanted to ask. What does he know of adoptee pain? He made it seem like it was easy and not really difficult for adoptees to find out their information through the courts, but still he knows about the..."devastating consequences" that will befall us mothers if our lost children find us. To make it more personal, this guy is from the county where I live. 

THAT FAKE 'PROMISE' ON ANONYMITY
Two other rather officious males from officialdom spoke at length against the bill, all because of the supposed awful consequences of adoptees getting their birth certificates, and honestly, it was hard to follow their arguments because other than keep on the hobby horse of the anonymity "promised" us first mothers, they had nothing else to offer. One was Peter Kelly of the Surrogate's Court in Queens County who made some cockamamie argument that the birth certificate was somehow under joint ownership of both the birth mother and the individual whose birth certificate it is. The panel of Gottfried, Weprin, Joseph Borelli (R, Staten Island)--who is adopted--and Charles Lavine (D, Long Island) spent way too much time questioning Kelly because he had his facts wrong. Sitting directly behind him, I had a hard time not emoting at some of the malarkey he (and Czygier) was spouting. Nonetheless, he is indicative of the opposition we face from non-adopted attorneys and judges. 

Then there was one of my arch-enemies, Aaron Britvan, adoptive father, adoption attorney and chair of the Adoption Committee of the Family Law Section of the New York Bar Association. Britvan and I have sparred in print over the years. Before the hearing began he came up to me to introduce himself and stuck out his hand for me to shake, and I almost did but recovered quickly enough to say that since we were enemies, I saw no reason to shake hands.

He then told me that he had changed his position, and the problems with the bill has to do with the attorneys appointed for the birth mothers and children; his rambling testimony was about the technicalities of the bill--a lot of stuff I could not follow--but he did get in before he got off the stage that he was not against the bill, more or less, but it needed to have a veto in place. But he was not an effective speaker against the bill because he threw in his comment about whether the birth certificates ought to be unsealed almost as a throw-away. The judges were more worrisome. Britvan, by the way, also said that his first child, a girl, was adopted, and she became attorney like him, and has no interest in finding out who she is. Who would, with a parent like that, I thought? How could you ever even think to be curious? about the most important thing in your life? He added, that after he and his wife adopted, they were blessed with two natural children. Typical, ran through my mind. With an undeniable attitude of lawerly superiority, he represents those who will be against giving adoptees their rightful due of their own, original birth certificate until the day they all die. 


At the hearing 
Finally it was time for our side to come out with guns blazing: Joyce Bahr, founder and president of New York's Unsealed Initiative, came forward with several members (above). Summing up the psychological research about adoptees and mental health, she said: "Determining identity is more complex for the individual whose ancestry is unknown to him. There is ample evidence that the adopted person retains the need for seeking his ancestry for a long time. What he is really seeking is to achieve a unity and persistence of personality in spite of the break of continuity of his life." Amen, Joyce! Several members of our group wore red in a sign of unity, and their bright appearance made our side seem strong and soon-to-be victorious. Coincidentally, one of Weprin's aides wore a bright red dress and the legislative camera man had on a red sweater!  Good vibrations, maybe. As the photos show, we did pop!

The rest of the testimony that I heard ( I had to leave before the very end) was all in favor of the bill. Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Donaldson Institute, spoke early and effectively countering the specious arguments put forward by the judges and lawyers who spoke against us. Most interesting was this comment: that the Donaldson Institute is a think-tank, the research is the research, and that sometimes as an adoptive parent he personally finds it uncomfortable, but still, they report on what the research shows. Adam is a controversial figure to some adoptees and first mothers, but I found his honesty refreshing--and his support for our bill is all the more important because of the Institute and yes, like it or not, because he is an adoptive father. He is our staunch advocate, and with the Donaldson Institute behind him, he is listened to. Years ago when I gave a keynote address at the annual conference of the American Adoption Congress in Atlanta, whatever I said--a history of the opposition as I had known it--upset most of the adoptive parents in the audience, who, I was told, spent the afternoon talking rather heatedly about my speech. Not Adam. I didn't know who he was when he grabbed me in the hall afterwards and planted a big kiss on my cheek. Since that day, Adam and I continue to have a friendly relationship with a certain amount of frisson. No matter what, we are on the same side. 


Legal scholar Elizabeth Samuels
Dana Stallard of Spence Chapin Adoption Services spoke in support of our bill, making it clear that she represented the agency, and later in the day someone representing a consortium of agencies was there in support, but I had to leave before he spoke. Elizabeth Samuels, our legal scholar who came up from the Baltimore School of Law, blew holes in the argument that birth mothers were promised anonymity saying that she had collected 76 surrender documents from 26 states (if memory serves) and none of them promised birth mothers anonymity; in fact, the promises were all the other way: birth mothers were ordered to sign documents promising that they would never interfere with the adoptive family! Peter Franklin of AWOL (Adoptees WithOut Liberty) came from New Jersey and made a strong, impassioned statement, pointing out that we as a nation give 18-year-olds guns and tell them to fight in a war, but we won't let them have their original birth certificates. 

Others who spoke out eloquently included Nancy Horgan, a first mother from Rhode Island; Joe Soll of Adoption Healing Inc., who ended with the story of finding out who his mother was after 32 years of searching, and learning that she had been searching for him at least as long; adoptee and psychotherapist Leanne Jaffe; Michelle Wasdowski of the Manhattan Birth Parents Support Group; clinical social worker Doris Bertocci, who works with students at Columbia University. I didn't hear everybody so to those whose names I missed, please forgive me. Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy drove down all the way from Kingston but sadly because of a birthday party for her daughter later that day, had to leave before she got to speak. 

THE TURMOIL OF TRYING TO FIND OUT WHO YOU ARE
But the adoptee who brought the house down was Judy Acton who herself broke down talking about the cost and difficulty she had finding out who her parents were. Okay, I cry easily but I was not the only person in the room trying not successfully to stifle our tears. The judges who spoke earlier made it seem that it was all so easy for anyone to get their birth certificates by simply petitioning the court or using the so-called normal routes. Judy, adopted from Washington, DC., talked about the endless waiting, the requests for payment from Catholic Charities, the emotional turmoil all this entailed. Her teenage daughter, Elsa Chung, also wearing a red jacket, then spoke and talked about being the daughter of an adoptee. Together they were so powerful. How I wish those pontificating judges and lawyers who were long gone had been there to hear their testimony--as well as everybody else's. 


Lorraine at hearing 
Somewhere in there I spoke, telling not only my personal story but also hitting on the data about the woman in the closet: Data from the six states that opened their records since 2000 shows that the number of birth mothers who asked for "no contact" number 579. When that is put up against the number of available birth certificates in those states--approximately 829,730--you get this amazing statistic: One out of 1,429 birth mothers requested no contact. (More about these statistics in a future post.)

Link to:
LORRAINE'S TESTIMONY ON YOU TUBE

My written testimony follows. What I actually said veers somewhat from this. If you want to join our effort in New York, please email me as forumfirstmother@gmail.com. All hands needed on deck!--lorraine
____________________________
Testimony submitted to the Chair of the New York State Assembly Health Committee, Richard Gottfried, and other members of the committee regarding the Adoptee Rights Bill, A909. Submitted January 29, 2014 by Lorraine Dusky
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“If I had known that someday I could meet my daughter it would have been so much easier to sign those papers. My social worker and I went over this point again and again and again. Never, never, could I see her, not ever, time heals all wounds, she would say. It does not heal this one….”

I said those words at a hearing of the New York State Senate/Assembly on April 28, 1976.*[1] The hearing was called: Sealed Adoption Records and Identity. Assemblyman Gottfried was the co-chair of that hearing, held for the same purpose we are here today: to consider giving the adopted the right to learn their true identities.

That was 37 years ago. Today I have arthritis and Chairman Gottfried’s beard is gray, and thousands more adoptees in New York State have died since without the legal right to answer a question that most of consider fundamental and uncomplicated: Who am I?

What are we still doing here?

A MISSED CONNECTION WANTED BY BOTH PARTIES
In 1976 I did not know who or where my daughter was. When I signed the relinquishment papers ten years earlier in Rochester, I objected long and hard over never being able to know who my daughter was. The social worker finally told me that if I kept insisting to do the adoption a different way, she “couldn’t help me.” I had no choice; object or not object, it didn’t matter. I had no power. The state had taken that away. And in a strange city, I had no idea how to arrange a private, and open, adoption.

Over the years, I wrote to the agency three times, and in response each time was told my daughter was “fine and happy.” In fact, that was not true. She was not fine and happy. She had grand mal seizures and her parents were trying to reach me—through that same agency—to learn whether I could tell them something that might help her. By 1981, I gave up waiting and for the price of four months rent, I was given her name and address. She was 15. Her adoptive parents were thrilled. My daughter Jane was thrilled. Because of the epilepsy, her adoptive mother wanted to know if I—or anyone in my family—had been in a mental institution. Epilepsy seems to come out of nowhere--Dostoevsky was an epileptic—but still her mother, a nurse, wondered if her daughter’s other mother was damaged goods. Not surprisingly that attitude found its way to our daughter, and by the time I came on the scene, her self-esteem, quite frankly, was near zero.

Surely this was not intended when the law was passed in 1935—that someone who needs medical information is denied it, especially when the other party is more than willing to give it. Now think about this happening over and over again; think about the harm sealed records have done, and are still doing today.

According to the American Pediatric Association, healthy individuals need to know not only who they are—their true identities, that is—but also who their ancestors were. And yet, I, as a mother, and the other mothers like me, have become the reason that our children cannot have the all the necessary psychological tools they need to grow up to be healthy, fully integrated individuals. My daughter, for instance, would have grown up wondering if I were institutionalized—and what did that say about her? Might she end up in a looney bin herself one day? That is what the law would have forced her to live with had I not “broken” it. 

I was not in a mental institution. Oddly enough, months after I gave birth I was one of the first women covering the state legislature. A decade later  I was a magazine editor and writer in New York. But underneath what seemed like a sophisticated Manhattan life, I hid my depression. I sought psychiatric help that did not help. At times, I was even suicidal. And then, I was back in Albany testifying in front of Mr. Gottfried.

Today I speak not only for myself but for the millions of mothers who had no choice but to agree that our children be issued new and amended birth certificates, and that our identities would be locked up in some dusty vault somewhere. To say this is cruel and unusual punishment for our “sin” is to diminish the true scope of what this means to the vast majority of us.

THE LAW WAS NOT DESIGNED TO 'PROTECT' US
We do not forget; we do not go out and make new lives for ourselves without remembering our lost children; and we are lost ourselves without knowledge of who they are today. We are always looking in the face of someone our children’s ages and wondering: Could that be her? Is that him? For most of us, it never ends until we are reunited. A great many woman like me—I’d say most, in fact—want those records opened so their children can find them.

Researchers have documented the overall devastating impact of relinquishing a child by querying first mothers decades later: “While only an insignificant proportion of birth mothers had been diagnosed with a mental health problem before adoption (three percent), in the time between the parting and contact, 24 percent had psychiatric diagnosis, mainly for depression.”[2] Another study from the Donaldson Adoption Institute, reiterates these findings: “a significant portion of women who placed children…[in closed adoptions] have experienced chronic, unresolved grief.” [3]

That was me until I broke the law.

Despite the damning effects of sealed records on most first mothers, the opposition touts out the woman in the closet: that woman who has never told her husband, her other children, that woman whose life will unravel if her lost child emerges. But sheer embarrassment, no matter how mortifying—is not reason enough to deny anyone his identity.

Data from those states that have open records prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that these women are a truly a small minority. Looking at data from six states that have opened their records since 2000, only 579 birth mothers[4] have requested “no contact” while close to 30,000 adoptees have asked for the original birth certificates. The bottom line is that 1 out of 1,429—or seven one hundredths of one percent—asked for no contact. This means the vast majority of first mothers are hoping and waiting. There is no reason to assume that women and adoptees in New York are any different than the women and adoptees in Alabama, Oregon, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode island.

It is so ironic—when we gave up our children, we were the pathetic young women  who had no power to stop what we knew was wrong. Now we are held up as those who must be protected from our children, as if they are hunting us down like prey to shoot and serve for dinner. Now we are the supposed reason that New York cannot, or will not, repeal this archaic law that comes out of another time, another sensibility.

But this law was not designed to “protect” us; our names were not obliterated if there was no adoption. Our welfare was not the law’s intent. It was to reinforce the notion that adopted children had only one set of parents and to “protect” adoptive parents from birth parents. The needs of the children who would grow up to become adults and the women who bore them were patently ignored.

No matter how sorry a group we women were once, we and the times have changed. We deserve no special treatment that comes at the expense of a whole class of people, separated from the rest of us only by adoption.  The state affords no such protection to any other group. People can’t hide their previous marriages or prison records; men who don’t want to be named in paternity suits are given no such cover; and nor should the state be in the business of “protecting” birth mothers when it comes at the cost of trampling the basic rights of others. I repeat: Simple embarrassment is not reason enough to prevent anyone from knowing his true identity.

Today most adoptions have some degree of openness, but still do not grant the adopted the right to think and act fully for themselves. Many of those adoptions are semi- or half-open, and still leave the adoptees in the dark about their ancestry.

NOT DESERVING OF CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION
In conclusion, consider the words of a Model Adoption Act that the then U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare issued in 1980, after holding numerous hearings around the country, with input from adoptees, adoptive parents, social workers and birth parents (including yours truly):
“There can be no legally protected interest in keeping one’s identity secret from one’s biological offspring; parents and child are considered co-owners of the information regarding the event of birth….The birth parents’ interest in reputation is not alone deserving of constitutional protection.”
These words, written decades ago, echo a similar opinion reached by an Oregon court when the open-records law was challenged there: Just as there is no fundamental right to adoption, the court decided, there is no fundamental right to privacy between mother and child. Closed records were wrong when they were conceived, and they are wrong today.

It is time to right this wrong, it is time to give everyone access to their original birth certificates, it is time to leave behind this relic of the past and pass the Adoptee Rights Bill. Neither Chairman Gottfried nor I have another 37 years left to fight for this. This year, I hope you can find the heart and the will pass the Adoptee Right Bill, A909, with no caveats.

Thank you for your time today.  I hope, Mr. Gottfried, when we meet again it will be under happier circumstances.–Lorraine Dusky, Sag Harbor, NY, 11963
_____________________________________
Lorraine Dusky is the author of Birthmark (1979), the first memoir from a mother who relinquished a child. Having received hundreds of letters when Birthmark was published, she became an immediate expert on their issues. She has written numerous pieces on adoption issues and particularly on the effect of sealed birth certificates for several national publications, including The New York Times, Newsweek, Parent’s, Town & Country. She is the founder and main writer at the blog First Mother Forum.



[2] Triseliotis, John, Julia Feast, & Fiona Kyle, The Adoption Triangle Revisited: A Study of Adoption, Search and Reunion
 (2005), p. 91.
[3] Smith, Susan. “Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being in the Adoption Process”, (2006) p. 6.
[4] This refers largely to mothers since on most unrelated adoptions, the biological father is not named. Chart of comparative statistics from Alabama, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Rhode Island attached to written testimony. (I'll post the chart later.) 

VIDEO RECORDING OF THE HEARING: http://assembly.state.ny.us/av/

16 comments :

  1. Thank you for your comprehensive report. Mothers were not given confidentiality nor promised secrecy. Mothers should have been informed the truth that adoption is a loss with extremely painful consequences. You wrote a good article.

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  2. Lorraine, Thanks for this very comprehensive report on the hearing. I could only attend for part of it. I heard some of the sickening testimony of the surrogate judges and the confuzzling speech of Britvan. I think all of us did very well and I hope the committee takes what we said collectively to heart. Thank you for being there for us.

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  3. Lorraine: thank you for this summary.

    I watched the judge from Suffolk County and, if I had been sitting directly behind him as you were, I might have strangled him. His testimony about birth mothers was sickening, but even more so was his condescending attitude. If he used the term "adopted child" one more time I was going to jump out of my skin. And how easy it is for adoptees to get information, according to him. I'd like him to try.

    I am going to petition the court in Queens, NY ASAP. But, I have sent my requests for non-id information to the health department. Notarized all the forms, filled in what little info I have.....almost 2 years ago. Heard nothing. So I wrote back. And wrote back again. I got a couple of form letters but nothing more. And this judge has the nerve to say how the registry is in place so we adoptees can easily get information.

    I did not see the other 2 judges, but I saw a lot of the positive testimony from first mothers and adoptees, and I think I am a bit more hopeful than I ever was in the past.

    Thank you for updating us on all of this.

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  4. Thank you Lorraine for all you do. I watched the entire thing (six hours!) but my feed slowed down every so often and I'll need to revisit some of the testimony and questions when video gets uploaded.

    The idea that there is co-ownership of the BC is not a new red herring. The counter to that is I would be well within my rights to remove my name from the birth certificates of my non-adopted children - just for spite or if I would somehow be embarrassed to be their mother. The BC is not only a personal document; you need to present it to various agencies. If I were some society dame and my child were a serial killer...

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  5. Thank you Lorraine for your powerful presentation. I really wanted to be there but circumstances here, in California, did not allow me the joy of joining you and the other triad members.
    Had I been there, I would have shared the fact that my search revealed that the former Mayor LaGuardia was married to my birth mother's sister, Thea. I'll be 83 this month and still want my original birth certificate before my children sign my death certificate!! I believe that LaGuardia was instrumental in sealing adoption records retroactively. He and his second wife adopted my sister Jean. She was born in 1928 and died in her early thirties.
    Again, thank you for your efforts. Peace!
    Alberta Sorensen

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  6. Yes! Fiorella LaGuardia was very involved in the passage of the legislation closing the records in 1935. You remind that that I can tell that story at the blog. Thanks.

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  7. Alberta, Hi, Mary Anne Cohen here. I remember you from years ago! Glad to hear you are doing ok. What a joke the laws in NY and NJ are, and how many corrupt politician's own self interest they serve! I think you may be old enough to get your own OBC:-)

    As to the OBC being owned by both the natural mother and adoptee, in the case of non-adopted people, at least in NJ, either parent named on the BC or the person named can get a copy at any time just by providing ID, but neither can prevent the other from getting a copy. So why can't natural mothers of adoptees get a copy of the OBC here? And why should they be able to prevent adoptees from getting a copy, even if it is co-owned? That is a real red herring; co-ownership does not imply veto power either way, just that only those named have a right to the OBC, not the general public.

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  8. I've tried to get through this three times. Every time, I get to "He added, that after he and his wife adopted, they were blessed with two natural children" and the urge to vomit is so incredibly strong that I have to just leave the site.

    I'm sure that must make his adopted daughter, the lawyer "just like him," feel so awesome. Whether he means it to come across this way or not, he immediately makes it seem like there is some sort of difference in our adopted children vs our biological children. What on earth did that even have to do with the topic at hand, anyway?! Just had to slide that in for some reason?? As an adoptive and biological mother, he makes me sick with that comment. Disgusted. Infuriated.

    I'm ashamed of my home state. I wish I could have been there. What nonsense they spouted! Once my daughters are older, I'm hoping to be able to travel a bit more easily without them to attend some of these. I am keeping an eye out for any such action in my state, CA, as I'm close to Sacramento and could participate. Hopefully, you will publish if you hear of anything in other states?

    I'll try again to get through this later. Maybe I'll just skip past this part. ;)

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  9. As an adoptee in reunion for over 21 yrs and in possession of my mother's surrender documents from NYC- I can unequivocally state that my mother was neither guaranteed nor promised privacy nor anonymity. The paperwork detailed her LACK of rights to anything- stating she wouldn't interfere with my adopted life. I was returned by the first family I was placed with. Had I not been placed a second time and adopted, I would have retained my identity and legal access to my birth certificate. What anonymity would my mother have had then?

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  10. Renee, I added that bit about his two other children because there was absolutely no need to add that.

    And Renee, those documents prove that not only were first mothers not promised anonymity, we were the ones who were supposed to do the promising. Thanks for pointing that out. Samuels made that point at the hearing.

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  11. Lorraine- I had to cut my previous post down in size and cut out the section where I thanked you for attending and being a voice for us all! In addition to the surrender documents not guaranteeing my mom her privacy- nothing has been said about how agencies/attorneys have given adoptive parents IDENTIFYING information. Orders of adoption, names on documents. My husband is Candian born NY adoptee- he had his birthcard. My brother came from overseas- he had his original passport with his name. A promise of anonymity was as solid as the promise that our mothers would forget and live on as if nothing ever happened. Motherhood is neither private nor forgettable...it involves two parties- both of whom deserve their truth and voice. And the gov't has no place silencing either.

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  12. By the way Lorraine, do you know whether that talk about never seeing one's child again, has shocked anybody's conscience enough to keep?

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  13. I would like to know why the judges said their peace and then did not stay to hear testimony of the other side. Who is making this decision? Them? And they do not stay to hear the testimony? When will the next hearing be. I will try to be there. I can share my story - which is one of reunion through DNA test if it helps. She registered and I registered through the agency but no one ever reached out to tell us the other had registered for identifying information. This was in the early 2000s. I am afraid I have no proof or documentation of this and neither does she because she was a Sandy victim. Thanks.

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  14. If it helps, I had a reunion at the end of last year with my birth mother. You can contact me for the story. She had registered for identifying information with NYS - I did it as well by way of the agency, which is what the state recommends. No one ever contacted us, even though we were both registered sometime in the early 2000s. Unfortunately I have no proof and only have the letter they sent me with non-identifying information. I am lucky to have found her through DNA.
    Who are these judges and lawyers giving testimony representing? Could we try and see what their motive is and then concentrate in that space? I am sure it has less to do with what they are saying than with some political motive. Try not to let it offend you so much. (I know it must be hard and I would have been right there with you!)

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  15. Jessica--One of the women who spoke, somewhere after the two hour mark, possibly right after me--found her mother through DNA. She did 23andMe and then turned over the results to some other company, as I recall, and her mother was there. She didn't believe it at first, but there she was. I'm going to go back and hear some of the testimony again.

    As for the judges who had to leave--of course they had to leave--they have more important things to do than listen to the heartache of sealed records and the truth of birth mothers. They will never listen to us. David Weprin is committed to our cause, as are some of the other legislators; it is immensely helpful that Joseph Borelli is adopted, and a Republican. As for those who are deep into believing the world will end and mothers will kill themselves if the birth certificates are unsealed, they will never change their minds.

    The historian Thomas Kuhn concluded almost 50 years ago that a scientific paradigm topples only when the last of its powerful adherents dies; it will be the same with unsealed records. But I believe we will be able to go around the opposition, just as the country is going around those who oppose gay marriage.

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  16. Promises, Privacy, Confidentiality. The magic words by which the future of adopted persons is governed.

    When I contacted the mother of my first child forty six years later (about finding the son we gave up for adoption), she said "the lawyer told me that I would never be found".

    That's a statement, not a promise. I think that most of these guarantees that are purported to create "a reasonable expectation of privacy" were just that, statements, not promises.

    I find it unlikely that an experienced judge, unless they were not judges at the time as they lead us to believe, would make a hard and fast promise that he knew he had no control over. They can't enforce a personal guarantee against the rest of the populous.

    Further, I can't feature a sitting judge, whose function is to ensure that the law is followed, making gratuitous personal statements to unknown women coming before him briefly to finalize a procedure. What could his stake in this be, that would cause him to go out on limb in this fashion?

    My devious mind says that he is a buddy of the lawyer bringing the adoption before him, and that lawyer assists in the judge's political efforts, as apparently does this guy Aaron Britvan with all his memberships and coziness with the judiciary.

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