Thursday, June 19, 2014

How to F--- up adoptee 'rights'

the Mad Hatter Lorraine
So again this year we in search of justice for the adopted are going down in ashes in Albany. Another year in which thousands of adoptees born in New York state like my daughter will be denied their original birth certificates which would have the er, real, parents in the lines where one's real mother and father are to be named. 

Today I am too riled up to not use Real because first mothers are the er, real biological mothers in the minds of real people, so though we understand all parents are in a sense, real, go with this today. We mothers not in the closet are the oppressed today, and yesterday, and just as native Americans do not want to be called Redskins, we do not want to be called anything other than real mothers today. 

The bills in New York that we had so much hope for were amended way beyond reasonable. It includes a birth parent veto. Period. Before anything at all is released, the birth parents must be found (within four months) and give their notarized permission. If the birth parents can't be found to give their permission for their names to be released, or they do not respond, a judge can decide that doing so would be detrimental to the "welfare" of the "birth or adoptive parents." 


If you can prove your birth parents are dead (how would you be able to do that without your original birth certificate?), you might get your original birth certificate (OBC). That is, unless a judge decided that it was detrimental to the welfare of your adoptive parents. You read that right. The welfare of your adoptive parents. 
Larry Dell demonstrating at Philomena film 

AMENDED PROVISIONS
It's a clear case of "Mother, May I?" in the form of supposedly giving adopted people their rights. The feckless Speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, had a former judge write the bill. Here's how our "clean" bill (no veto, contact preference) was amended:

To obtain his OBC, the adoptee must first apply to the court with all kinds of documentation, and then if the court approves his application, it is sent to the Department of Health which then searches for the birth parents. If they (or she) are not found in 120 days (approximately four months), then the adoptee must go back to court and ask a judge again for his records, which can be denied for "GOOD CAUSE SHALL INCLUDE, BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO, EVIDENCE CONCERNING THE WISHES OF THE BIRTH PARENT REGARDING CONFIDENTIALITY AS EXPRESSED AT THE TIME OF THE ADOPTION OR SURRENDER. " 

In other words, if the agency or lawyer who handled the adoption inserted language a parent never saw or even agreed to, the adoptee and their descendants will be bound by it. I spoke out against the non-identifying clause of the relinquishment, of forever amending my daughter's birth certificate, but I did not insist that my opposition be included in my file--never thought I needed to do that. And should those agency files be lost, burned or otherwise destroyed, there would exist no record of my attitude towards sealing my daughter's identity from her forever. It would only be part of the adoption file--perhaps. 
We keep trying. 

If the birth parent cannot be located, or does not respond to the notification that the adoptee is asking for his OBC, the court can determine that the release of the information is detrimental to the welfare of the "birth or adoptive parents" and deny release of the full OBC. *

This is so damn absurd it's hard to wrap my mind around it. Not only does it now have a birth parent veto--the birth parent has to actively permit the information to be released. The state has to locate the birth parents. How likely is it that (in)experienced searchers will be able to find mothers through multiple name changes, and possible moves around the country? Are they going to hire trained searchers or college kids who can't find another job and pay them ten bucks an hour? Then, no matter what else happens, if the court deems that the release of the information would be detrimental to the birth or adoptive parents, the OBC will not be released. 

ADOPTEE ANONYMITY IS EMOTIONAL BONDAGE
So everyone's welfare is considered except for the adopted individual,who is in the position of practically begging for his OBC. Just as the laws that kept slavery going for centuries were not written in the best interests of the slaves (who were barely considered human) but instead the slave owners whose "welfare" was very much on the minds of the slave owners themselves, and the legislators who represented them, often slave owners themselves, or their relatives and good friends. (Think of Dean Skelos, Joe Bruno, Danny O'Donnell, John Tower, Chief Justice John Roberts, the head of the legislature in Rhode Island, et cetera). Slaves were never asked what was in their best interests, yet the laws kept them in chains. Adoptive parents are not slave owners, by any means, but adoption secrecy laws today keep the adopted in emotional bondage just the same. 


'Protect' whom? 
What is infuriating about sealed birth certificates is that when the laws were passed they basically were for the "protection" of the adoptive family, who were to be "protected" from mothers interfering with the new family unit. Birth mothers were offered no choice, or "protection" from being "discovered" by their adult children one day. Now we mothers are being "protected" from those very same children, though not only was it never part of the agreement: It was foisted upon us. The vast majority of us want nothing more than to be "found" by our lost children. 

Adoption secrecy laws were never in the best interests of the adopted. They were always in the best interests of the welfare of the adoptive parents, and that is the case with how this bill was amended. Unsealed Initiative and others are vehemently opposing it, though some adoptees feel it is much better than nothing, and can be amended later. 

SOME FIRST MOTHERS REFUSE CONTACT 
We know that some birth mothers are in the closet and wish to remain there. While the number of women who actively file a "no contact" or "no disclosure" form is exceedingly small when compared to the number of available birth certificates--one out of 1,429 in the six states that have implemented access to OBCs for adoptees since 2000--the number is likely to be much different if the mothers are actively sought out by the state and asked to give their permission. 
Could be said of adoptees

Seven-tenths of one percent, according to the above statistic**--even five percent, as Illinois birth-mother redactions show--is low enough to make the number seem nearly negligible, but judging from the confidential intermediaries and adoptees we hear from, that percentage is too low to what likely occur if this bill became law. The actual number of first mothers and fathers who refuse reunion with their relinquished children when contacted by a neutral intermediary appears to be considerably higher--one educated estimate is between twenty to twenty-five percent. The birth parents may have married and had other children, which leads to a higher refusal rate; the mother may have never told her husband or other children, and fear doing so because she has kept this secret from them for decades; she is so caught up in the shame of the era when she relinquished that she cannot face her adult child. Personally, I don't care if the number is fifty percent: Embarrassment is no reason to deny anyone his ancestry. A mother's right to control the life of her child by being anonymous ends when the child is born. Everyone deserves to know where they came from. 

The good news is that this stinky bill did not come to the floor for a vote this session, which was over last night as bills passed every couple of minutes. RIP. Another year down the tubes, another year adoptees in New York are ignored, another year a whole class of people continue to have their rights trampled. It is long past the time for the adopted to be equal to the rest of us, and have full knowledge of who they are and how they got here.--lorraine
____________________________
Legal language: 
*"IF AFTER REASONABLE AND GOOD FAITH EFFORTS PURSUANT TO PARAGRAPH (A) OF THIS SUBDIVISION, THE BIRTH PARENT IS UNABLE TO BE NOTIFIED OR DOES NOT RESPOND TO SUCH NOTIFICATION, THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SHALL SO NOTIFY THE COURT. UNLESS THE COURT, IN ITS DISCRETION, FOR GOOD CAUSE SPECIFIED IN ITS ORDER,  DETERMINES  THAT THE  RELEASE  OF  SUCH  BIRTH CERTIFICATE  OR  IDENTIFYING INFORMATION WOULD BE CLEARLY DETRIMENTAL TO THE WELFARE OF THE BIRTH OR  ADOPTIVE  PARENTS..."


**Compiled by the American Adoption Congress FROM FMF
Adoptees and first parents for to access to OBC --In today's NY Times
Gov. Cuomo: Right the wrong of sealed birth certificates THIS YEAR
Who's your Daddy? Why some first mothers won't tell

BOOKS
Still Unequal: The Shameful Truth About Women and Justice in America
by Lorraine Dusky
Yes, this book is about the legal system and women, but as I thought about an appropriate title for today, the words: Still Unequal flitted through my mind. Adoptees and birth mothers are "still unequal" and will be as long as birth records are sealed. BTW, I was thrilled to have my work honored to be a finalist for the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. "The book's best section may be the analysis of how the courts treat women: "lady lawyers," but mainly nonlawyers embroiled in divorce, custody, domestic violence, and sexual assault cases. There's nothing lawyerly here; perhaps that's why Dusky sheds light on problems lawyerly types prefer to ignore."--Booklist


77 comments :

  1. I'm sick to my stomach. I can't even speak. And I am about to give up.

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    1. Please don't give up.

      There will be a time when this, like other major injustices, will be history.

      You have a very powerful voice. You express your viewpoint so well.
      Can you write about this, whether to add to the public responses or to express yourself privately for now?
      Just don't give up - your voice is so important.

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    2. Thank you, Cherry. I have never been more discouraged. But I will keep piecing together what I can of my history, one step at a time. Thank goodness for this blog!! The support certainly does help.

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  2. I'm an adoptee.

    Amending a bill at the last minute, leaving practically no time for public input, and abusing the support the unamended version of the bill had up to that point - seems like it ought to be unlawful. It's certainly unethical.
    The bill goes against a *longstanding* feature of NYS adoption law, N.Y. DOM. REL. LAW § 117 (1) (a) “After the making of an order of adoption the birth parents of the adoptive child […] shall have no rights over such adoptive child” yet fails to amend that section.

    Some adoptees are victims of domestic violence - put up for adoption because their biological parents’ parental rights were terminated due to physical and/or sexual abuse. Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein’s amendment to the bill (as Weprin’s office characterized it) appears to even given biological parents who physically and/or sexually abused their offspring to have rights over their victims who’d been placed for adoption because of that very abuse. Unless you see the bill excluding such biological parents from having a right to a disclosure veto? I don’t see where it does.

    Under the hostile amendment to the bill, unsupported by any adoptees, adoptive parents, or biological parents that I know, a court may even hold that the release of an original birth certificate may be “clearly detrimental” even to the *adoptive parents*:
    “UNLESS THE COURT, IN ITS DISCRETION, FOR GOOD CAUSE SPECIFIED IN ITS ORDER, DETERMINES THAT THE RELEASE OF SUCH BIRTH CERTIFICATE OR IDENTIFYING INFORMATION WOULD BE CLEARLY DETRIMENTAL TO THE WELFARE OF THE BIRTH OR ADOPTIVE PARENTS,”
    It is not a "human rights" bill, but discriminates against adoptees in a manner even worse than the existing law - pathologizing them as dangerous and infantilizing them as eternal children who will always need their parents' permission.

    I don't know if the sponsor's memo was amended when the bill was amended. It had stated "FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None." That would be fundamentally dishonest when it comes to the amended bill. There would be the expenses of the court procedures, the expenses of the government tracking down and contacting the biological parents, etc.

    If instead adoptees were given the same right to obtain their original birth certificate identifying their parents at the time of their birth just like other citizens (i.e. equal rights), then that would have been a little money-maker for New York. The fee for obtaining a birth certificate through the NYS Department of Health being $30.00 or $45.00 if expedited. Instead, the sponsors (at the behest of Helene Weinstein according to Weprin's office) want NYS to waste taxpayers' money and to discriminate against adoptees even more than the state already does.

    Back in February 17, 1999, when the public Internet and DNA testing and sharing were young, the Sealed Adoption Records Report of the Connecticut Law Revision Commission to the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly recognized “the probability of privacy is, and always was, illusory. Search for and identification of birth parents happens all the time, and will continue to happen, regardless of the law. The question is whether the state should continue to place a major, but not always insurmountable, hurdle in the way of legitimate search.”

    New York needs to get with the times. It should be a leader in recognizing adoptee rights, not finding new ways to discriminate against adoptees.
    http://www.newsday.com/long-island/politics/spin-cycle-1.812042/sponsor-of-adoptee-bill-of-rights-measure-optimistic-1.8494193

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    1. You make an amazing point! That section of the Domestic Relations Law should be used when we fight next time against the idea of first mother privacy. Any effort to conceal our OBCs from us because of first mother privacy concerns would be in violation of this section of the law! It would be giving them rights over us!

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  3. Infuriating. There are just no words.

    This perpetual child nonsense is incredibly offensive to me, and I'm an adoptive mom. My daughter who is adopted will one day be an adult, a woman, a person who deserves to have equal rights with every other adult. It's demeaning to adult adoptees to keep their origins from them out of a false sense of protection for another adult.

    I want to make clear something, though. As adoptive parents, my husband and I were given no option on sealing away our daughter's OBC. I have the email I sent to the agency asking if there was any other way that didn't involve changing her BC. I stated that we did not want it to be sealed. We did not want it to be changed. I asked if we could use the adoption finalization paperwork and leave the BC as it is. Of course, none of this is possible, which is what I was told. (They also implied that I was a bit crazy for even asking, but by that point, I knew their angle). When we went to our finalization appointment, at the point of the process where the judge talked to us about the OBC, I stated that I was not happy that our daughter would not be able to access her OBC. I specifically said to the judge that I do not appreciate being forced to sign my name as the "mother of birth" because I am not. It is a lie as I did not give birth to my daughter, and I was upset the state was forcing me into a lie to complete the legal process of ensuring our daughter has our full protection (insurance coverage, inheritance rights, etc).

    I do have our daughter's OBC for her, in a safety deposit box where it is safe. I will never stop advocating for open and unsealed records. I will never think that this is right. I am my daughter's mother, yes, but she has another, and that is the mother of her birth. I had and have no wish to deny any of this in her legal record of birth, but that was not a choice that was offered to me by my state.

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    1. Bravo!.... I love what you do for your daughter.

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    2. I couldn't have said it better.

      Anne Johnson
      adoptive mom
      Potsdam, NY

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    3. I am an adoptive mother, as well as a "birth" mother. (I agree with Lorraine that WE are the REAL mothers in this equation.) My adopted son is from Vietnam, and his adoption was finalized in Indiana nearly 40 years ago. We were issued an amended birth certificate, stating that my then-husband and I were our son's parents. This was patently ridiculous, as my husband and I are white, and our son is Black-Vietnamese, quite obviously not our natural son. I found this odd at the time, but I was still in the fog of adoption-land and simply went along with it. "Oh, what a tangled web we weave.... "

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  4. Well said, Lorraine. I share your outrage. I am sick of outsiders, ie., legislators, interfering in the lives of adults as if they were helpless children. The fact that adult adoptees were once helpless children makes this all the worse; they were never given a say in what happened to them but were handed over for the benefit of others. Adoption agencies traditionally operated to find children for families, and much persuasion and coercion was employed to accomplish these selfish ends. This seems every bit as outrageous as slavery, and I am astounded that there are still those who can't see that.

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  5. Unbelievable! I guess I am once again reminded that I am somewhat less than human, being adopted and all. I'm wondering though if even I would be "granted the privilege" of seeing my OBC under the new bill since I know who my birthmother is and she is deceased and my adoptive parents are deceased as well. Even then it looks like I would still have to go to court to ask for it!

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  6. As a NY adoptee, I am in disbelief. How dare they think that our having our own name would be detrimental to our ADOPTIVE PARENTS? Why are we being held to a greater standard then every other NY citizen? We are required to continuously be the gift that keeps on giving? To make sure that our adoptive parents are satisfied that their transaction for adoption doesn't ever hurt their feelings?? I am feeling the same suffocation that I felt on the Thanksgiving that I turned 18-the day my aparents had promised me for 18yrs that they would give me the first name my mother named me. (After my amom gave my abrother his original passport with his full name when he was 12, and I was 13) I had to beg my father and he argued with my amom. He came downstairs at 11:45pm and said "Guess, it starts with a W" The same suffocation that I felt when I sent away for the NYS registry form the week I was turning 21...it required both my aparents notarized permission for me to apply to the registry. I was devastated. And at 45, I will still need a judge to take my aparents' (both of whom were abusive, btw) feelings into consideration? I have my real mother's notarized permission, will that be enough? Or will a Judge still wonder if my amom may suffer too much angst? This is pure unadulterated bullshit.

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  7. I really do believe there is only one set of "real" parents, and those are the biological parents. When you don't accept that biology is fundamental to identity, both the good aspects and the bad, then you create lifelong voids. Us adoptive parents try to fill in to the extent we are able, to do our best to fill in some of what our children lost, to give them something as akin to the feeling of having a mother and father as we can, to honor what we know of their real parents and try to raise them in that image. But that's it. Their real family needs to be accessible to them. I may love my son with the intensity that my mother heart can muster, but it is not complete without his real mother. Loving someone means letting them find their way home. Let's open up those records.

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  8. I woke up early this morning with the same sick feeling in my stomach as I had yesterday. This tug of war with the legislators in NY is a sick game, and they are playing with people's lives.

    I have never come across a subject that is as misunderstood as adoption. Here I am, along with God knows how many ADULT adoptees, with the first few chapters of my life missing. Yet....everyone one the planet, most of whom are not adopted, will tell me what is in my "best interest."

    Lawmakers will tell me my first mother was promised this famous secrecy. I am "not allowed" to see my own birth documents, yet some clerk in an office in Albany can see them. I must beg a judge for access to my file. So I did. And I was denied. I will have to do a circus performance to obtain a passport. I can not provide any physician with my medical history. By default, my daughters are missing half of their medical history. But, I am told, I could have been an abortion. Be happy. Be grateful.

    My A-father reads all the articles in Newsday and the NY Times about this issue. He reads the paper every day, cover to cover. But, we can't talk about it. We can't even see the film "Philomena." I offered to get the DVD for my folks, since it was an Oscar nominee, and A-mom nearly fell to pieces. There was no way on earth she would watch such a movie.

    My a-parents apparently had the name of my first mother all along. But, we can't talk about that, either. The subject is taboo. Adoptees who search are "selfish." We change the subject rather than ever discuss any of these issues.

    Right-to-lifers have adoption plastered all over the place as the alternative to abortion. These two political footballs will be entangled with one another forever, even though they are two completely different issues.

    And yesterday we had the famous amendment to the bill. This amendment was such a slap in the face, I can't even talk about it. And the bill died. Again.

    Nobody understands adoption. But everybody has something to say about it. And they seem to think they have the power to control the lives of all adult adoptees. It comes from all sides....everyone feels they have the right to tell adoptees how we are supposed to feel, what we are allowed to see, who we are allowed to contact or meet, how we are supposed to handle our health issues.

    Does any of this make sense? Am I making this up? I wish I was. But this is adoption in 2014, just as it was back in the 40's and 50's.

    And now I have to go around the law. Because I will find the info I intend to find, whether NY cooperates with me or not. The whole thing is unbelievable.

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  9. I just don't know how those legislators can justify this gross and blatant injustice.

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  10. The mantra I feel emulating from Weinstein is we must control them, we must control them. But why? What is this loser's problem? Is she an adoptive parent? (With due respect to Tiffany and Jay who do hold the right attitude, one that if all adoptive parents were sane and mature enough to have, the records would be open by now). Weinstein needs to be told off and I think it is high time she was. So does Silver. I will never understand this anonomy privacy horseshit. A PROMISE IS NOT A LAW. So they have no right to enforce it and make new laws around it. Especially since that "promise" was never made in the first place. I guess these politicians don't see how STUPID trying to keep the records closed makes them look. @ Wendy-been there. The insane woman that adopted me played diabolical games with me and is a compulsive liar. I feel your pain.

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    1. Yes, Anon, these lawmakers look extremely stupid trying to keep all these names and events secret. Because first mothers and adoptees are plastered all over social media holding posters proclaiming all their information....and the entire world can see it! Where is the privacy in that, I wonder? First mothers and adoptees are being reunited every single day, some of them on TV for everyone to see. So, what about the privacy laws in those cases? Birth indexes in NY list original names, which is how I came across mine. There was no "privacy" until the adoption was finalized. I could go on forever....but everyone here gets the idea. Not too many of the opposing lawmakers are familiar with the wealth of information that can be found on the internet. They seem to think that, if they say something has to be secret, then it has to be secret.

      As far as Weinstein, I do not think she is an adoptive parent. But it has crossed my mind and she may have a "baby" out there somewhere that she is hiding from. Either that, or she is getting a huge pay-off.

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    2. She could simply be a bigot.

      Some adoptees are victims of domestic violence, as I noted above, put up for adoption because their biological parents’ parental rights were terminated due to their physical and/or sexual abuse (what percentage of adoptions that accounts for, I don't know). Weinstein’s amendment (as Weprin’s office characterized it) appears to even given biological parents who physically and/or sexually abused their offspring to have rights over their victims who’d been placed for adoption because of that very abuse. That's outrageous.

      Victims of domestic violence ordinarily may obtain restraining orders, but the due process rights of the abusers still are protected by law - certain steps have to be taken to obtain restraining orders, the right to face one’s accuser, the restraining order is not perpetual, etc.

      Disclosure vetoes don’t involve due process, don’t allow for the right to face one’s accuser (a biological parent claiming they need to be eternally protected from contact by their offspring being de facto an accuser), and the disclosure veto is perpetual. Weinstein seems to think adoptees are more dangerous than convicted perpetrators of domestic violence, such that basic legal and constitutional rights need to be suspended for adoptees - as if adoptees were terrorists, essentially. I'm surprised she hasn't insisted we all be rounded up and disappeared to an internment camp in Guantanamo or a CIA black site in Europe! It calls into question the sincerity of her work for victims of domestic violence - she seems to care about them if and only if they’re not adoptees, and she seems to dislike perpetrators of domestic violence if and only if they’re not people who’ve surrendered children for adoption. That's what makes her appear to be a bigot. Why is such a person the chair of the Judiciary Committee, or in office at all?

      One of Weprin’s assistants defended the amendments as necessary due to the dysfunctional committee system and the undue power wielded by committee chairs in New York. That's long been identified as a problem in New York, not just with respect to adoptee rights but universally. See e.g. the Brennan Center for Justice's "Still Broken: New York State Legislative Reform 2008 Update" (which notes the floor is not much better): "In 2006 and 2007, most standing committees met infrequently or not at all. There were almost no hearings on major legislation. Not a single major bill was the subject of a detailed committee report. Leadership maintained near total control over what bills reached the floor. And on the floor, there was little substantive debate; every bill brought to the floor for a vote in either chamber passed." I asked if that dysfunctional committee system could be changed, but Weprin's assistant noted that the committee chairs would have to approve bills that would take away their ability to abuse their power, and that that would never happen. The power-mad like Weinstein or the Dishonorable Suffolk County Surrogate’s Court Judge John M. Czygier, Jr. aren't known for voluntarily ceding power.

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    3. I too wonder about Weinstein. I wonder if maybe her husband has a child out there that she doesn't want known, or maybe her own daughter (if she has one) gave up a baby. Seems like she is hiding something-but maybe she thinks she's protecting someone else and that is why she is so harsh in quashing this legislation when she promotes so many other child welfare issues.

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  11. Kim Cairelle PerillouxJune 20, 2014 at 8:38 AM

    I'm sitting down here in Louisiana having serious deja vu to our own fiasco a few months ago. What a crock. What a farce. I shouldn't be astonished but I am, very much so.

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  12. Just to be clear, Lorraine and I both gave birth to children in New York and lost them to adoption. Neither of us had any promise of anonymity. Conversely, the very thought of anonymity was a huge cross to bear. We were both fortunate that we were able to work around the system and find our children in the 80's.

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  13. I am an adoptee. Not just any adoptee, but one who didn't know she was adopted until 3 years ago. The stupid falsified documents allowed that to happen. It's a shock from which I still haven't recovered, and to grow up thinking you are a totally different heritage from what you are should be a crime.And by the way, we "know" something is wrong all the while, but just don't know what it is. I don't see the government offering to pay for therapy after finding out that government-sanctioned secret.

    I found my first mother very easily by finding her maiden name, which was my birth last name, in the NYC public library. So much for confidentiality! She was, in her own words, "thrilled" and "delighted" that I found her and my half-siblings. She had no idea how to find me, and because of my falsified birth certificate, I didn't know I was adopted so I couldn't look for her.

    How just a few people, such as Weinstein, wield such great power that they can keep this bill from being passed is beyond me. They are self-serving because they must have secrets to keep and it's disgusting. Why do they make it like we are something to be feared? When I contacted my mother, if she told me she didn't want contact, I would have left her alone. I am sure 99% of adoptees would do the same. Why would we want to be rejected again? Why would I have to get her permission and go to court just to have a piece of paper with MY true information on it? I am almost 50, not a child! I am so sick of this! They are just trying to wait until we all die off.

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    1. Mary, My story mirrors yours. I found out a year and a half ago...at 48... that my adoptive parents died without telling me who I was. I too found my natural family (both sides), but I had to pay an investigator a large sum of money to do so. My mom's first thoughts expressed in her first letter was that she hoped and expected me to find her and contact her sooner. She had no idea I was never told. How does that show any desire or expectation of anonymity??? My father died in 2002, but his wife has told me that he thought about me often and was sad that he had no idea where I was or what happened to me. She told me that he would be glad that I found his family. I want my OBC not to "reunite" or for 'curiosity" as Judge Czygier would have people believe, but rather to feel whole. I agree..the government is doing nothing about support for the likes of me, who was thrown full on into a complete identity crisis as a result of all the lies. What legislators blocking this legislation from passing are doing is beyond immoral and criminal! It is time for these crooked legislators to get out of politics. I think they need term limits...the power has gone to their heads. I believe people like Helene Weinstein are not waiting for us to die...just one person in particular.... The amendments were so horrible they bordered on the insane. It was a Franken-bill. What bothers me most is another year will go by with more people dying without knowing the truth and without benefit of medical history or heritage, knowledge that the other person is ok...without the knowledge of knowing their story...all at the hands of cruel and callous individuals who would deny the legal process the ability to work if they just let it go to the floor and let the vote happen.

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  14. The amended bill drafted by a judge or judges and Assm. David Weprin is disrespectful to adoptees and birth parents. It is a clear sign judge want adoptees under their thumb and not searching.

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  15. We have to get better at countering this persistent 'confidentiality' argument: that not one shred of evidence exists to prove birthparents were 'guaranteed' such confidentiality by agencies, that birthparents already have laws in virtually every country to protect them against unwarranted contact/harassment, and that there truly is no Constitutional guarantee of such confidentiality. A birth is a matter of public record. Full stop.

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  16. As disappointing and frustrating as this was, this is most definitely NOT time to give up! We need to have a bigger voice! Thanks, Lorraine for all the wonderful posts educating people of the issue with our civil rights! People that are not adoptees need to understand that today it is us, but tomorrow it could be any of them if these corrupt legislators are not put in check and voted out of office!

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  17. @Julia Emily-good point in your reply to me because you know what? NOT ONE real mother or father who contacted their sign holding child objected AT ALL to them doing this. But who did? Who had a major spaz? Adoptive parents! I mean Christ even the mother of the Burger King baby didn't even get upset and I remember reading an article on how they (adoptive parents) were all hysterical in the UK and here about adoptees doing this on Facebook. When the hell will adoptive parents start to understand that they don't own us and they never get too.

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  18. Exactly, Mary. I am looking for anyone who can tell me if my first mother is still alive. Any family members. Does that mean anyone has to be afraid of me? God, no. For a number of reasons, I am not trying to disturb anyone's life with a face-to-face reunion. Not right now, anyway. But I can communicate, should I find anyone, by mail or email, or Facebook. In the privacy of my own home. If I had my OBC it would be easier, but, I guess that's not going to happen. I can still hear one judge at the hearing last January saying that adoptees could "blackmail" people if given their information. My jaw hit the floor! I just want some answers, which I think I deserve, and the means to obtain a passport. Real scary!!

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    1. I remember very clearly, once one set of official adoption papers had been signed, suddenly being treated very differently by the social workers. Beforehand, I was treated as a youngster they were helping - almost as if they were aunties or elder members of my family. As soon as something was signed, I was treated like a potential criminal, even though I had never done anything criminal in my life. I wasn't allowed to know anything about my son or his whereabouts 'in case I disturbed the adoptive family'. I was suddenly regarded as a potential stalker or kidnapper, someone the new family must be shielded from, even though nothing in my words or actions so much as hinted at that as a possibility.

      Isn't it a f*cking nerve, treating us all like criminals. Treating family members who have been separated from each other by adoption, and who have a very natural and understandable interest in each other, as criminals.

      You said it, Julia Emily - 'I have never come across a subject that is as misunderstood as adoption'. I agree wholeheartedly. It is full of sleights of hand and completely skewed information. We really must speak our truths, take the narrative back, use all our resources and skills to be heard. The worldwide democratic Internet is our friend for that.

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  19. I'm utterly appalled. I'm a NY born adoptee who spent 20 years searching before being reunited with my Mom, who was so happy to hear I was alive and well. All living parties to the adoption (me, mother and adoptive mother) petitioned the court for access to the records and were denied, why? because now (apparently) they are protecting my natural father!!! He whom they offered absolutely no rights at the time of my relinquishment and adoption, he whom they did 'not require a signature or permission', he who was (at their behest) was not named on my birth certificate nor was a party to the adoption. Apparently, the Judge at Madison County Family Court believes I'm 'just trying to get his name'!!!!! (I have his name! my mother has told me all about him!) I'm so sick and tired of being treated like a naughty child; it's humiliating.

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  20. This is my first time to make comments on any blog, but I couldn't keep quiet any longer. I'm very aware, Lorraine and Jane, that this is your blog and that most of your readers agree with you. I'm not going to win any popularity contests for what I want to say, but I hope I can have the chance to speak anyway.

    As a college student in the sixties I was raped and became pregnant as a result of the rape. It was a very, very terrible time, and when the baby was born I chose adoption for a number of reasons, including the circumstances around the birth. To me, it was the best choice for all of us: the baby, my family, and me. There was no coercion or pressure from anyone, including my family or the adoption agency. I actually only met with a representative of the adoption agency once, to give information and sign the paperwork, and she was very professional, offering no opinions at all. She didn't promise anonymity, but she said that all the records would be sealed at the time of the adoption and that thereafter no one would ever be able to access them, except in the unlikely event of a court order, and that included those of us most directly involved. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to infer anonymity from that, and yes, that is what I wanted. I certainly never forgot, or tried to forget, and through the years I thought of my birth daughter very often, hoping that she was healthy and happy and that she'd found the home and family she deserved. Many years later my biological daughter hired a private investigator and located me. When she contacted me, in what I felt was a confrontational way, I felt blindsided. Since I had never been involved with adoption issues after my own experience and knew nothing about all the emotions and various interests involved, I looked in several directions for information and understanding. One of these directions was the internet. While almost by definition I expected most of the postings to be contrary to my own opinions, I wanted to hear about all sides, in hopes that it would help in my situation. Instead, what I found, almost universally, was enormous anger, sometimes real vitriol, directed against any of us who disagreed with opening all birth records, enabling contact between birth parents and adoptees, and encouraging reunions. This applied to government entities, adoption agencies, birth parents, adoptees, and sometimes, it seemed, especially adoptive parents if they disagreed. There was enormous empathy and support given to those who wanted to search and be found, whether birth mothers or adoptees, but almost nothing but scorn heaped upon those of us who wanted to maintain privacy. If we were birth mothers, we were "in the closet". If we were the adoptees, we were too afraid to hurt our adoptive parents. If we were the adoptive parents, we felt threatened and jealous. We heard a great deal about the pain and anger of those searching, and frankly I learned a great deal from this and am much more empathetic now about that, but we heard almost nothing about the pain and unwillingness of those who didn't want to be found. The only feelings that seemed to matter were those of the birth mothers or adoptee who wanted to search and be found. All the rest of us were rather cruelly dismissed.

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    1. Kathy ~~ My sincere condolences for your suffering. You have every right to your privacy and to refuse contact. However, you do not, and never will, have any right over your son/daughter's basic human right to know their origin, family history, heritage, and the identity of those to whom they are blood related. In fact, if OBCs were restored, and contact preference forms were placed on the record, you could have forewarned your son/daughter not to contact you and why. Your privacy would surely have been respected. As it is now, there is absolutely no way for anyone to know whether you are one of the less than 5% of mothers who do not want to be found and contacted, and we just have to assume. Because we are going to continue to find mothers, with or without OBCs. We are now finding almost as many families with DNA alone. I personally am reuniting three or four families a week, and I am just one of hundreds of Search Angels around the country. The age of secrecy and lies is over and done.

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    2. Kathy, thank you for expressing your thoughts here, and all that you say is how it all happened in the day. You may not have read much of our postings here, but neither Jane nor I felt especially coerced by our social workers--in fact, as I was otherwise alone except for the (married) father--my social worker (Helen Mura) was a source of support and was there when I woke up from the anesthesia and held my hand as I became hysterical. She is the one who called the father at work and told him.

      Yes, there is not a lot of online support for women who are afraid of being found because--they are not blogging or writing about it! The adoptees who take to the internet and write, do so out of anger, frustration and angst about their adoptions--and that they can't find out who they really are.

      Although the records were sealed at the time I relinquished, and you too, in every state the OBCs of the adoptees were only sealed when they were adopted. So despite what your social worker made clear to you--as mine did to me--legally she could not promise that the system would change or that you could never be found.

      I know a couple of women whose children were born of a rape, and I am sure that it adds to the pain of meeting the child conceived, carried and relinquished. Yet they were not responsible for any of that, and I hope that you might have at least met your daughter once face to face and answered, truthfully, her questions. Woman's right to choose ends when it conflicts with the rights of another human being to know the truth of their origins.

      Having heard of so much adoptee angst over the years caused by secrecy in adoption, I came to believe that mothers have a moral obligation to answer their children's questions truthfully and meet them, at least once. I often think of this quote: "Everybody wants to know where they come from, even if it doesn't turn out like you wanted it." - comment from ABC's Find My Family message board.

      Finding and reuniting with my daughter was ecstatic, emotional and painful. At times, I was emotionally regressed to how I felt when she was born and I gave her up. All the feelings felt as fresh and roiling as yesterday. But it does get better. I don't know how you left things with your daughter, but I hope that, for her sake, you did not totally reject her, and if you did at the time, you might reconsider that and reach out to her. You don't have to have a relationship but put yourself in her shoes--at least for a time.

      Thank you for leaving an honest expression of your feelings. You (as a group) are rarely heard from.

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    3. Kathy, my heart goes out to you. I was close with someone in high school who became pregnant through rape and chose adoption (she tried for several weeks to keep the baby, but she couldn't handle it). There can be no comparison to rape. It is such a violent, damaging act, and to suffer even further through pregnancy and having to make difficult decisions is unfathomable to me.

      I am an adoptive mother, and I have never been in your position, so I really can't feel much entitled to a voice in this discussion. But I wanted to say that regardless of the circumstances surrounding conception (which your daughter may not have known when she contacted you?), the desire of a person to know where they came from is so very strong. I have trouble agreeing to the idea that one person's desire for anonymity, even under good reasons, trumps another person's right to know their genetic origins (as well as their children and their children's children).

      It must have been startling to hear from your daughter out of the blue. On the flip side of that coin, I am sure making contact was difficult for her and not something she undertook in an attempt to hurt you. Is there ever a good way to do something like reunion? I'm not sure... as I said, I am not an adoptee or a first mom, but I know many adoptees with good hearts and kind intents who do not want to disrupt or ruin their first moms' lives. They just want what so many humans want- biological connection.

      As for the anger, yes, there is a lot of it in adoption. People on both sides have some big emotions, and the internet has become a place to share those feelings. Your feelings are equally as valid as anyone's, and you are right, we do need to listen and understand the feelings of each other, even when they differ. Understanding is important, as is compassion and grace. There also needs to be respect from adoptees and first moms if contact is made and the desire is not reciprocated. I agree fully with this in the same way I agree that no person in general has the right to harass another person. This, though, is completely a separate idea from ensuring that adoptees are guaranteed the same rights as any other person to have their record of birth. Contact and open records do not equate to each other, at least in my mind. Open records are not needed for contact, as you discovered. My daughter who is adopted has a right, I fully believe, to her record of birth. I feel it is a fundamental right granted to everyone except adoptees, and that is wrong.

      Again, I want to reiterate that I truly understand what you are saying. You have a right to not want contact with your daughter, and you have a right to ensure that you are respected in that wish (legally, there are options if someone is being harassed). But I do believe that she has a human right to knowledge of her own origins.

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    4. What Lorraine says here is true...you as a group are rarely heard from. Your story is heartbreaking, and you may be among the very few who wish to remain anonymous. If the child you relinquished contacted you, and you made clear your feelings, she should respect that.

      As an adult adoptee I resent that lawmakers are telling me what I can and can not do. They are dictating who I can meet, or correspond with, and that is simply not right.

      If I were to contact my first mother, and she became distressed over it, I would leave her alone. I might ask a couple of very important questions, and then tell her I would not be contacting her any more. The point is....that should be my decision to make. Not the judges, not the legislator, not the Catholic Church....mine and mine alone. I am a reasonable person. I am hopeful that most adult adoptees would act reasonably. If we could obtain our information we could proceed, and act like civilized human beings in the process. I just resent being told what I am "allowed" to do, while the rest of society does not have these restrictions placed upon them.

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    5. @Kathy A,
      I am very sorry for what you went through. Having never been a victim of rape I'm sure I cannot fully understand your experience. However, as an adult adoptee, I want to remind you that it is not your daughter's fault that she was conceived from rape and that she has just as much right to know her own family as anyone else. Although I do agree that she does not have the right to force a relationship.

      Lastly, while I'm sure you meant no offense, the term 'birth daughter' really rankles. Human beings give birth to a girl or a boy, a son or a daughter, not to a 'birth' child. Personally, I loathe the terms 'birth daughter' and 'birth son'. I am, always have been, and always will be my natural parents' daughter, regardless of the circumstances of my conception.

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    6. Kathy, thank you for taking the time to write. I am sorry for all you went through. Please note what Priscilla is saying... that birth certificates were not sealed when you signed away your rights, only upon the finalization of the adoption. Had your daughter never been adopted, she would have retained her identity, birth certificate and your name. Consent for contact can be facilitated by the contact preference form, which most adoptees would respect. It would provide you with the ability to update medical information. The problem with passive registries and the state registries is that with adoptions taking place across state lines- how would you know which registry to join? States like NY are just starting to accept registrations from adoptees born outside the state but adopted within. THere needs to be uniformity on a national level to approach any kind equality across the board. However, while I do not believe adoptees are entitled to their full adoption file, we are entitled to an unaltered copy of our birth certificates. I am sorry that your daughter approached you confrontationally, I know that I wrote my mother in love and hope. I would have respected her wishes had she requested no further contact, as long as she provided updated medical information and my father's name. I was one of the lucky ones and have enjoyed a 22yr relationship with my family. My father did not want contact, and I have respected that.

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  21. Am afraid I got too wordy so will have to continue here.

    While I certainly don't know this for certain, I suspect that there are many, on all sides of the spectrum, who agree with me, that we need to find a way to provide information to those who want it without completely destroying the privacy of the rest of us. I certainly don't have the answers, but it seems to me as if opening records completely needs to be by mutual consent, agreed to by both the birth mother and the adoptee. Otherwise, more information such as medical history and ethnic background could be provided without divulging identities. I know this enrages some people, but I very seriously doubt that up to 98% of birth mothers would be happy to be found, and I think a fairly large number of adoptees would prefer privacy if they could otherwise get the information they wanted.

    Obviously, I don't belong on this blog, but I would beg you to try to have some understanding and compassion towards those of us who have put our lives together in the best way we know and who would choose privacy.

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    1. Kathy ~~ Again, please understand what I am trying to tell you. DNA matching is putting to rest once and for all genetic secrets and lies. Period. It's over and done. You cannot bring another human being into existence without your identity indelibly imprinted on their DNA. There is absolutely no way to avoid identification, even if one uses a fake name at the hospital or abandons a baby in a so-called "save haven" drop off.

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    2. Absolutely true. There is no more privacy. No more secrets. Technology has blown that idea to bits. No law on any book can guarantee privacy.

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    3. Kathy A, I am truly sorry that you were raped and that you became pregnant after being raped. But, most women were not raped. They engaged in mutual sexual behavior. And, even some women who were raped have longed for the day they could meet their son or daughter. Look up Minka Disbrow. She was raped, yet Minka longed for nearly 80 years to find her daughter.

      I have to say that I question your estimation that a "a fairly large number of adoptees" want to maintain their privacy Privacy? No, I really doubt most adoptees want anonymity. We've been in the shadows our entire lives. Many of us want to be acknowledged. That doesn't mean that we all want relationships with our b-families. But, many of us do want our b-parents to say, "Hey, yes, you are my daughter" (or son).

      The fact is that our birth certificates should never have been sealed. When I look at my amended birth certificate, I laugh. My a-mom and a-dad didn't even know of my existence on the day of my birth, yet there they are on my birth certificate.

      My b-mom made a unilateral decision. My father wanted to marry her. Fathers didn't have any rights back then. So, he lost me because of my mother's decision. So, should our mothers hold the power to keep us from our families? I had to find my mother in order to find my father because he wasn't on the birth certificate.

      But, he wanted to know me. Please don't tell me that your desire for privacy should trump my right to know the family members that want to know me.

      I'm sorry that our right to know our heritage butts up against your desire for privacy. But, why exactly does everyone get to make lifelong decisions about my life? I didn't sign any papers agreeing to expunge my heritage and family. And, honestly, b-parents don't have a right to permanently wipe us off the family tree.

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    4. Back in February 17, 1999, when the public Internet and DNA testing and sharing were young, the Sealed Adoption Records Report of the Connecticut Law Revision Commission to the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly recognized “the probability of privacy is, and always was, illusory. Search for and identification of birth parents happens all the time, and will continue to happen, regardless of the law. The question is whether the state should continue to place a major, but not always insurmountable, hurdle in the way of legitimate search.” http://www.cga.ct.gov/lrc/adoption/sealedrecordsreport.htm

      A number of years ago I'd hired an out-of-state PI to identify my biological parents. The PI identified my biological mother in less than a week, but was unable to identify my biological father.

      It was some time before I tried contacting her, and the conversation was brief - she was practically speechless. It was years before I tried again. We spoke for about an hour, and somewhere in the middle she said with some measure of relief that she was finding it easier than she had thought it was going to be. She indicated it would be OK for me to write, but when I did and sent some photos (as I'd said on the phone I would) she never responded. I haven't tried calling again, and haven't written her directly, though I did send her a gift through Amazon of a book I edited and self-published (regarding which I received no response). Clearly she's having some kind of difficulty, and I always keep that in mind. I haven't tried since having Amazon send that book last June. I might not try this year at all, or for a number of years, but I will try again eventually. Knowing practically nothing about the people to whom I owe my existence I find terribly difficult. Aside from that, I have an older half-brother, a widower with a daughter. I haven't tried contacting him at all; my biological mother indicated she'd never told him (I think it's possible his father might have, though). If he doesn't know, I'd rather he learn from her than from me.

      There is no absolute anonymity. It would be an impossibility as the Connecticut Law Revision Commission noted fifteen years ago, and it's not something the law in New York was ever intended to provide. About all people can do is try their personal best to respect each other's wishes while at the same time not completely denying their own, and to reach out to others for help when they're having difficulty.

      "Many years later my biological daughter hired a private investigator and located me. When she contacted me, in what I felt was a confrontational way, I felt blindsided. Since I had never been involved with adoption issues after my own experience and knew nothing about all the emotions and various interests involved, I looked in several directions for information and understanding. One of these directions was the internet."

      The Internet isn't necessarily the best place for information and understanding. There's words on a screen, lacking tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. There's a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding! Flaming, group polarization, dehumanization, etc. I think occur more easily online. Trusted family, friends, support groups, counselors out in the real world might be better for information and particularly for understanding.

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    5. Open records mean you get to know a name. That doesn't mean you have a right to verbal contact or a relationship.

      No one has the right to engage in repeated unwanted contact. You could be charged with harassment and stalking.

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    6. Hello again, Kathy. Yes, the majority of first mothers either want to be found, or at least want to know that the child they relinquished had a decent life and is ok. You are in the minority. Of course, that is due to your circumstances. But, you have to understand, time and technology have caught up with the whole privacy and secrecy game. All the sealed records in the world can not prevent people from learning names, dates, and, for some, finding one another.

      Opening records by "mutual consent", as you suggest, is just one of the things the bill in NY tried to put in place. It basically said to have NYS find the first mother and see if she will "allow it". First of all, the red tape involved would take ages. It took NY almost 2 years to get me a little half page of non-identifying information. Second, first mothers gave up all rights to their child when they relinquished. From the adoptees point of view: why should we have to ask permission from someone who gave up all their rights to us?

      My adoption was a closed as could possibly be. Everyone on the blog knows I had no paperwork, to the point where no one, not even my a-parents, knew my actual birthday. Yet, with the help of the internet and social media, I learned my original name. There it is, in the NY Public Library, for all the world to see. After learning that I went on a genealogy site and bingo! I found a NY census that listed my first mother AND other members of her family. If my first mother is still living, and she thinks her identity is private, she is sadly mistaken.

      Am I going to harass or blackmail this person, as has been argued by opponents of open records? Of course not. I need my OBC for legal purposes. The amended, false one I have now is no longer acceptable for any legal purpose. Why should I be denied this document? I was born, just like everyone else. The fact that I have a useless document with my a-parents listed as my ONLY parents is an insult and a lie. They were not present at my birth. They didn't even know the date. But that document says A-mom gave birth to me. Honestly, my little dog has more accurate documents of the day she was born!

      Also, please try to understand that the child you relinquished has grown into an adult, with thoughts, feeling, possibly issues. No one can tell this person they do not have the right to their own history, because the records are "sealed." I would rather know any detail of my beginnings than to remain in the dark like I am now. You can not imagine what this secrecy does to the adoptee.

      The world has changed. Adoption has to catch up with the rest of the world.

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    7. Kathy,

      I can't express how sorry I am about what happened to you. It is unimaginably awful, and, although my lack of similar experience prevents me from fully understanding what you live with, I can hear how deeply painful it still is, and I very much respect both you and your feelings about it.

      My views about what you have written are this:

      I have never thought it is right that adopted people are made to carry the unresolved pain of their adoptive parents infertility, or parental anxieties, or feelings of insecurity when reunion occurs . I think it is beholden on those parents to take steps to resolve these - their own personal issues - in ways that do not involve or affect their adopted 'child'.

      I think the same is true with first parents. I do not think it is right that those who are adopted should have to carry the weight of their first parents' grief, anxieties or painful experience. (It has taken me quite some time to realise this, after wanting so much for reunion to heal all).
      I think this applies in your case, for although I have complete sympathy and respect for how you feel, I don't think it is right that your daughter's life should be weighed down from its independent course by the terrible experience you had. It is not her pain to carry. It is yours to resolve, to live with, to seek healing for. I sincerely hope you do, but it is not your daughter's responsibility to circumnavigate the effects of that event. Her life is a new life, a different life, and she should have the same rights and information as everyone else, for discrimmination is simply wrong in itself.

      With great respect.


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    8. Kathy A,
      Your experience, while extremely traumatic, does not give you or other mothers the right to remain anonymous while the voiceless, powerless child never gets a say.You do have the right to your story being private from the world, but I can not support your desire for anonymity from your own offspring.

      Also, you fail to take into account that there are many mothers like mine who were just waiting by the phone and said "I always knew you'd find me." Although regardless of what my or any mother's response is to a contact from a relinquished child, she doesn't have the right to never acknowledge her relationship to the adoptee or to go to great lengths to make it 'impossible' to be found.

      As far as birth certificates go, I do not mind having an amended one. I think people forget the mindset of the day when it really was a terrible stigma and the child was ostracized for being born out of wedlock. Being taunted, called a bastard and not having friends are experiences that many BSE adoptees would have had to endure. The problem, imo, is the original birth certificate being sealed and not being available to the adoptee at age 18.

      Btw, this is off topic, but does everyone know that actress Delta Burke was born to an unmarried mother in 1956 and was kept? I mean this was the height of the BSE! Burke is actually her stepfather who legally adopted her and she of course took his name. She has never met her biological father.

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    9. While I truly feel bad that you had such a hard time with your daughter (and yes...she is your daughter...there is not such thing as a "birth daughter"), you also need to understand that what others are telling you here is correct...and being done in a respectful and compassionate manner. What is at issue here is that the government should not have the right to intervene in what is a very private and personal FAMILY matter. The best compromise should be the contact preference form, which would have actually have afforded you a better outcome with your daughter, as she would have known how you felt in advance. Anonymity from your own offspring is a privilege...not a right (see a court case from TN called Doe v. Sundquist) and no person's privilege should ever trump another adult citizen's equal rights under the law. The right to know who you are, what date, time and place you were born, and yes, your family's names is paramount to proper identity formation. The right to know what your health history is (which can only be asked) so that you can take care of yourself and your children for perpetuity is vital and cannot be underestimated. Adoptees are being denied the right to DNA testing for genetic defects being covered under their insurance plan is happening all over because we do not have our health history from our parents. Should the government have the ability to legislate that? What about our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Adoptees are not asking for anything that any other US born citizen has.

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  22. babygirlcarter68June 20, 2014 at 6:12 PM

    I guess the only good news is that the NY bill won't go to the floor for a vote. I'm so sorry about what happened. One of these days, parents and adoptees will finally have our voices heard. I can't imagine that it would go on like this. The Weinsteins and Landrieus/Towns (Louisiana) one day will be gone and if we keep educating folks and sharing the stories, the new generation will see things in a different light. I can't tell you how much your help in Louisiana meant to me this year. Your voice and the blog are super important to educating the general public. Keep up the fight!

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  23. @Kathy, sorry but you need to grow up. Especially after all this time. Your daughter is not responsible for your rape nor did she rape you and she is as much of a victim as you are. I've been raped too, had a miscarriage but I would of kept my baby. It isn't all about you I hope you will start to see that asap. Go watch the movie "Family of Strangers" too. You'll learn something. Something you need to learn.

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  24. Part 1

    Kathy --- You are not taking into consideration the facts: one sperm, one egg create one baby. Period.

    You signed a piece of paper when you relinquished your daughter, giving up ALL rights to your child. You have NO parental rights. At all.

    My parents were married for ten years before my birth. They had four other children. While Mom was pregnant with me, she became very ill. I was born two months prematurely. Mom died of cancer three months later. She died knowing she had five children. There was no talk of adoption. There was no talk of abortion, either.

    At her funeral, a priest said to my father, “the baby needs two parents.”

    I was relinquished because my father was grieving and felt that he could not take care of a newborn as he had to work. He kept his other four children.

    My father and my adopting parents met to exchange me. My father gave my birth certificate to my adopting parents. Then, they went to court. The judge verbally told my father to stay way from me and my new parents. Additionally, he and my adopting parents signed the Consent To Adoption and Petition to Adopt (back in 1956, at least for my adoption, it was one document). One paragraph stated what the judge had verbally said: refrain from doing anything to interfere with said child and her adoptive parents.

    I repeat: all three of my living parents were in the courtroom together. And my records are sealed as if I will cause harm to these three parents who are now dead?

    My father did not sign a confidentiality agreement.

    And I suspect, neither did you, Kathy.

    IF you can present such a document, you would be the first to provide the proof of this legislative argument. But you can’t. Because you were not promised anything of the sort, either verbally or in writing. You have no leg to stand on. You lost all parental rights when you signed surrender papers.

    No parent has any rights over a son or daughter once they reach the age of majority.

    ...More...

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  25. Part 2

    My Real Mother died knowing she was my mother! Imagine how she would feel to know that New York State stripped her of her right to be my mother?

    No, do not point the finger of blame to my father. He gave me up because he felt he had no other choice. No one stepped up to help him keep his infant. He cried, sobbing, several times during our reunion that he never wanted to give me up. He had four other children and a job. He had to go to work to feed them. His parents helped as much as they could. They died soon afterward.

    Adoptees do not come in one flavor. Not all of us are illegitimate. Many of us are half orphans, like me. Or full orphans who were born within a marriage. Many adoptees are adopted by step parents. Or adopted by their grandparents. Or adopted by their aunts or uncles. Or cousins. Or older siblings. In ALL of these cases, the adoptee has NO CHOICE. The law states that once a child is adopted, for any reason, under any circumstance, that child’s real birth certificate is confiscated by the state, sealed, and a new, amended --- FALSIFIED --- birth certificate issued in its place.

    I have had my CERTIFIED, but sealed, birth certificate since 1974 --- 40 years! --- when my adoptive mother gave it to me one week after the beginning of my reunion with my natural family. BUT I AM NOT LEGALLY ALLOWED TO OBTAIN IT.

    You have rights to yours, Kathy!

    It doesn’t matter that I already have my sealed birth certificate. What matters is the CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATION that prevents me from doing something that non-adopted people do all the time.

    Also, my legal birth certificate states that my father and mother named created by (implied) sexual intercourse. This certificate states that the mother named gave birth to me at a certain time on a certain date in a certain hospital. These are all lies! A legal piece of fiction! It sickens me to have to present this as proof of who I am!

    NO! These parents adopted me! Their names belong on an ADOPTION CERTIFICATE.

    What part of honesty do you not understand?

    Now, go take your “poor me, I was raped” BS and examine your conscience. Your argument holds no credence in my eyes. I have no sympathy for you.

    YOU want to condemn me and all other adoptees, to live lies, as well as be subjected to your selfishness.

    You don’t own me, but have it your way, and you will.

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    1. Joan Wheeler born Doris Sippel said ' Now go take your “poor me, I was raped” BS...'

      Nothing you say can justify that sentence to me. For that reason, I personally will never read another single word you have to say about anything.

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    2. Cherry: I have been around a long time. I refuse to be held down by a small group of raped mothers who think that they can use their rapes to justify sealing MY birth certificate and all other adoptees' birth certificates! A raped natural mother, or a small group of raped mothers, have no right to redact their names from a state-issued document that is required by law to record every single birth in New York State.

      I am in now way insensitive to rape victims. You misunderstand my points. So be it, if you have no use for me, get out of my way. I stand for no compromise on the immediate release of sealed birth certificates to ALL adoptees: complete, unrestrictive and un-redacted unsealed birth certificates to ALL adoptees. Leave NO adoptee behind! Raped natural mothers: step aside! Go heal your grief and fear in therapy and DO NOT step on the civil rights of adoptees in your healing process.

      These mothers need to get a grip on reality. Their reality has no bearing on the fact that they signed way all legal rights to the child they gave birth to. Their reality of rape make me in no way sympathetic to their rapes. They are unconcerned for all of us. they are selfish and want to use their rapes as weapons against adoptees.

      Delete
    3. Cherry, you are right. That remark about "rape BS' was uncalled for. Hopefully Kathy will read some of the other comments trying to explain how her desire for privacy can not trump adoptee rights...and maybe she can begin to understand. I think a lot of us explained it rather well.

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  26. @HDW - you said, "b-parents don't have the right to permanently wipe us off the family tree." I totally agree and am glad you said this. Like many others, I surrendered my daughter in 1969, and started a chapter in my life filled with grief. I searched pre-internet and finally found and reunited 15 years later. One of the first things I did was to ask my sister-in-law to redo the handmade family tree piece (crosstitched I believe) that was hanging on the wall at my in-laws house. I wanted her to add my daughter and she did. This simple act of kindness, righting a wrong, is a moment in time that I will forever treasure.

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    1. It brought tears to my eyes when a relative showed me that she had added my name to the family tree. Actually, it is bringing tears to my eyes just typing this. I belong on the tree. I am a member of the family even though I was raised in another family. Without my name, the tree is incomplete and in error.

      I'm glad your daughter was added, Gail. And I second what HDW wrote.

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    2. 'I belong on the tree. I am a member of the family even though I was raised in another family. Without my name, the tree is incomplete and in error.'

      Robin, I completely agree with you.

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  27. I want to emphasize one tiny little remark I said earlier: One sperm, one egg, makes one baby. This is undeniable scientific fact.

    A birth certificate is a medical record of an actual birth.

    In no other situation, but adoption, is it ever considered ethical to redact a name from a state-issued document for the benefit of protecting the feelings of a parent of the person whose birth was recorded via state law.

    In no other situation, but adoption, is it ever considered ethical to keep a medical record of birth sealed in order to appease the controlling group (those in power) by punishing the group considered of lesser value (adoptees).

    Adoptees are an entire segment of a free society, numbering 7 to 10 million of us in America. Our civil rights are being squashed due to the wishes, demands, insecurities, embarrassment, emotional instability, disgust, fear, or perceived parental control by a group of people who wish to control another group of people.

    This is discrimination. Unethical. Demeaning.

    One sperm. One egg. Makes one baby. And that birth is recorded by law by each state. These are facts put down on paper. Only in adoption do people think they can have the power to tell the state to keep these birth certificates sealed, or redact parental names.

    Hell, I don't want my name on my marriage certificate anymore because I divorced his sorry ass 21 years ago. Too bad. We were legally married. And we are legally divorced. My name and his are on both legal documents. I cannot change the facts, even when I am totally disgusted and embarrassed that I even married him in the first place.

    So why do adoption attorneys, religious institutions, and legislators, raped hiding natural mothers and adoptive parents with superiority complexes think that they can manipulate adoptees?

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  28. New York is a "grim" reminder of what Michigan has pulled in the past. I'm not a first mother, nor am I an adoptee or adopter either!
    I am a "kept sister". It boils down to this....I have my ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE, my sister should have the same rights as I do! No one should ever be denied the right to know their heritage! It's a cival rights issue in my eyes! Shame on New York!

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  29. Lorraine, how many hats do you have? That's quite a collection:-)
    Sorry about NY, quite depressing.

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    1. Lots. What you have seen is only a very small number of my hats. I thought it was time to switch from the winter hats to the summer. :)

      Delete
    2. Thanks for this website. It has been so helpful to me. My husband and I recently adopted a sibling group ages 7,5,4 & 3 from foster care. I just got the birth certificates with our names as parents. Do all states do this- simply fixed the certificate so it appears adoptive parents are first parents? This seems so wrong to me. I've never lived in Texas, yet a document says I gave birth there in 2008. Why don't they just amend the document and add our names as adoptive parents or have another form? So glad we have their original birth certificates. I wholeheartedly believe they deserve them. Thanks again for your website and how you educate all of us, including adoptive parents.

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    3. Yes, that is what happens. The state rewrites the original birth certificate so it no longer represents....a real birth certificate. It is an amended BC. And should be outlawed and put in the dustbin of history.

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  30. Thank you Lorraine. As always, a great voice for freedom.

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  31. Thank you, Lorraine, for your continued advocacy and support for adoptee rights for so many years. I never would have thought there would be such a strong need to stand for adoptee rights.

    Who would think that allowing someone to know about one's own self would be so problematic for legislators? This amendment is insulting to adoptees and their families. It is an insult to people's intelligence. And to humanity. The tactics used to bring forth this amendment are an insult to the "democratic" and legislative process.
    Some legislators/staff tried to "inform" me on the history and issues in adoptee rights. It is beyond sad when "supporters" and those who should be "trustworthy" give you lies and misinformation. Whether they are uninformed themselves (their culpability) or are maliciously deceiving (their culpability) -> same result: spreading of more lies and misinformation. For example,
    1) the OBC's were originally sealed because an influential, banker-type first parent didn't want the secrets of birth information out. Wrong, it was an ADOPTIVE parent who systematically sealed the records for all, because they wanted secrets kept
    2) this amendment is similar to compromise bills in Ill, Ohio, and NJ. Wrong - this amendment is far worse than those other states. No other state has passed a bill as destructive to adoptee rights as this NYS amendment
    3) this amendment will eventually end the secrets in adoption - WHERE did he pull this out of?
    4) wouldn't it be better to pass this so as to look like there's been progress? (huh?) wouldn't this amendment be better than not passing anything? uh, NO, NON, NO
    5) this amendment was created to address concerns about first parent confidentiality.
    a) statements about first parent confidentiality have been REPEATEDLY refuted by researchers, lawyers, adoptive parents, first parents and others. There has NEVER been a law promising first parent confidentiality. Anyone who brings this excuse up is either ignorant about adoptee rights and surrender forms or is purposefully deceptive. Either way, the information/logic is wrong.
    b) who is concerned about confidentiality or privacy for ADOPTED people? Adopted have to prostitute themselves on social media just to get basic information about themselves, no more information than anyone else has about their own selves. Sometimes, they put themselves at risk of theft. The media love it, because it's sick entertainment for the public. Similarly, the johns may like prostitution, while the prostitutes might hate it.
    c) for those truly concerned about first parent confidentiality and stirring up old memories and experiences in the very few (<1%) who adamantly fight reflection, this amendment does nothing for them, but is actually worse in that arena. This amendment's "concern" for first parents' confidentiality is disingenuous at best, but exploitative of the 99%+ of first parents who don't mind/invite reconnection and/or support adoptee rights. Shame on the architects of this amendment to feign concern and exploit them this way.

    This amendment should NEVER have been introduced. It should never have been introduced without discussion with adopted adults and true adoptee rights supporters. It should not have been introduced so late in the session alongside a "malfunctioning" comment system on the website while many key legislators are unavailable to comment or discuss in the mad dash to end the session.

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  32. A lot of people, including the idiot legislators in Albany, are making the mistake of assuming that access to original birth certificates will always lead to "searching." Many adoptees (myself included) have no interest in searching. But we do want our birth certificates, which are rightfully ours. And NO ONE has the right to keep them from us.

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    1. Surely, whether someone wants to search or not, is beside the main point. It's their business. I think we should try to keep it that way.

      Delete
  33. Having my original birth certificate and unsealed adoption records would probably answer most of the questions I have, which is really all I want. I have several reasons for not wanting to search. I don't want to go into all of them, but I'll just throw one out there -- I wouldn't want to have an outcome like Elaine Penn finding out her real mother is a crazy, psycho bitch from hell.

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    1. and we all know, adopters are never "crazy, psycho bitches from hell.." Sure they can be. I happen to know one personally.

      Delete
    2. "and we all know, adopters are never "crazy, psycho bitches from hell.." "

      Excuse me? I neither said nor implied that. I was referring to a reunion that had a horrible outcome, as an example of a situation that I don't want to risk happening to me. And yes, the birth mother in question is most definitely a crazy, psycho bitch from hell.

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    3. And the adopter in question in the case I am talking about is "crazy, psycho, bitch from hell" in a reunion I was involved personally in.

      My point is that it is not just natural mothers who bear the stigma of being the aforementioned above. Plenty of adopters are as well. Excuse me.

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    4. "Plenty of adopters are as well."

      You're absolutely right. I still don't know what that has to do with my post about my reason for not wanting to search, but whatever.

      Delete
    5. There have to be many reasons for a person not wanting to search, including the devil you know being better than the devil you don't know.
      It could be adoptees who don't want to search have other things going in their lives that take priority over searching. A few may really be just not that interested.

      Whatever the reasons, it's their business and that deserves to be respected, NOT questioned or second-guessed by others who aren't in their particular situation. Respect, respect. And that includes no inappropriate and demeaning similes.
      Mothers who don't want contact deserve respect too, and from what I have seen, mostly they get it. The respect needs to go both ways.

      None of this has anything to do with adopted peoples' right to their unaltered original birth certificate. As has been pointed out innumerable times, many adoptees have searched - and found - without their OBCs. Conflating personal choice (i.e, the decision to search) with restoring civil rights that have been abrogated from a particular group pf citizens is not helpful. It causes confusion and discord and plays into the hands of those who want to keep OBCs sealed.

      E.

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  34. CJ makes a good point, adoptee rights to their own OBC is a separate issue from search, and that needs to be stressed again and again. What adoptees do with their own OBC and the information on it is their own private decision, and that includes just getting the document and not searching. The point is that they should have a legal right to that document, even if very few exercise that right, and those that do, do not all choose to search. Nobody should be pushed to search or not search nor be criticized for either choice.The equating of rights to OBC with searching or obtaining medical records has just muddied the waters around this civil rights issue.

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  35. My daughter will not need her OBC to search, the same as many adoptees who are growing up in this time where open adoption when at least some contact and information exchange is more common. I also have a copy of her OBC for her. But that doesn't change the fact that she has a basic right to not have to rely on me for this information. I know adoptees in active reunion, and I am sure there are those here, who do not need their OBC to search and yet still cannot obtain it. It's clear to me that the subjects, while intertwined, are definitely not co-dependent on each other. It is also clear that the legislatures are too moronic to grasp this fact.

    They are debating privacy rights of first mothers and possible emotional distress to adoptive parents because they are assuming the OBC leads to a search. This is a false assumption. All adoptees do not want to search. All adoptees do not need the OBC to search (as has been proven over and over). The rights of adoptees to their OBC is what legislatures should be discussing. Period. The decisions that adoptees might make with that access is their own and no one else' business, and as has been established repeatedly, sealed OBCs do not prevent searching, contact, or reunion anyway. My daughter has a right to her record of birth, and whatever she should choose to do with it is, as it is every other citizens, should be her decision alone.

    This is a clear cut case of discrimination based on the unfounded fears of the minority. Unfortunately, this minority wields tremendous power.

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  36. I want my OBC for reasons that are specific to my own adoption. I want to fill in the holes in my history. I never wanted to have this document for "search" purposes, I want it for legal purposes. I want it for the missing information it will give me, and I want it because it belongs to me.

    AS it turns out, I am slowly searching the internet and learning about my beginnings, and I didn't need the OBC to do this. Which is part of what we are trying to explain to Kathy....the info is out there. The privacy was never promised. People can find out names and places and dates, and they can meet face to face if they so choose. I still want the document, no matter how much information I have uncovered. Adoptees are the only people in the country who are discriminated against in this way...

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