' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Should adoptees have rights of real identity?
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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Should adoptees have rights of real identity?

Dusk                                                                                         photo by dusky
Should it be mandatory to give adult adoptees full access to their birth records if they want it?

It seems hard to believe but people--including the National Council for Adoption--are still debating this question, and not recognizing it as a clear violation the the rights of adopted individuals, citing as ever the confidentiality of the mother/
father/whomever. In the November issue of The Costco Connection--yes, that Costco, the discount chain--the question is being asked and anyone can vote on line. (Link below.)


Lorraine
And of course to make this seem as an argument with two equal sides, there are both pro and con essays. Against: Megan Lestino, director of public policy of NCFA.  "NCFA has never opposed adoption reunions or information sharing," writes Megan Lestino.

That's news to me. And a lie--unless "information sharing" means that the mother has the sole and final power over whether information is to be "shared."

William L. Pierce, the man who started NCFA after he was denied becoming head of the Child Welfare League, did so with the express purpose of giving himself a job as a lobbyist--against open records. In the Seventies when my memoir Birthmark was published, he was the attack dog Good Morning America wanted to have on with me to debate the issue. I didn't take the bait for I knew that without me that morning, there was no debate because the records at that time were sealed to adoptees everywhere but Kansas and Alabama. ALMA's founder Florence Fisher took him on many times. NCFA has always supported sealed records with vehemence. They have sent people to testify all over the country when necessary to oppose opening sealed records.

I had heard they were not going to oppose unsealing the birth records anymore, but apparently they are still at it when the opportunity rises.

But I digress. Lestino goes on to promote the right of mothers to secrecy: "...we believe it is crucial to continue to honor and advocate for those who prefer confidentiality, because speaking their own behalf would mean losing the very confidentiality they seek."

This means: mothers have all the power. Mothers alone can decide if their children have the right to know who their mothers are. Mothers are in charge. You're adopted? Too bad. You want to know whose DNA you share, what your medical history is, who you look like? Too bad. You are a second-class citizen and your mother retains her right to live her secret life, and deny your existence.

NCFA supports mutual-consent registries, but these registries still leave all the power of identity in the hands of the mother. Mutual-consent registries are invidious tools of the people who would allow one group of people to have lifelong control over another.

April Dinwoodie, of the Donaldson Institute, argues for giving adult adoptees their true records. Comments taken from Facebook are used as a graphic. What bothers me is the adoptee, Peter Teevan, who argues that knowing "where he came from" does not trump the "rights of birth parents to their privacy." Like, please--how does anyone's "right to privacy" to be freed of any embarrassment (because a mother or father has kept this secret from their spouse and the other children trump) anyone's right to full and complete knowledge of self? This always continues to stump me--why do adoptees who aren't interested in their origins become a voice to stamp out the rights of others? I guess it is human nature--I don't want something, so you shouldn't have it either? It's just sad. As well as harmful.

The other anti comments come from people who do not identify their relationship to adoption, so...let's go with adoptive parents on this, or the parents of natural mothers who encouraged their daughters to give up a child. "...You are promised anonymity [well, I wasn't and the law never promised that] when you make the very hard decision to give up your child," states Janelle LaMotte Shumaker. "That should be respected." Comments below on who you think make that statement? A natural "birth" mother? Doubtful.

Let's give credit where credit is due, however. Melissa Strate Rassas says she is both a foster and adoptive parent, and she votes Yes: "I know the issues these children have from not knowing where they came from and [their] feeling of abandonment and questions even with a loving family."

But enough! Vote, even if it is just in the Costco magazine. Vote today before you forget. Just do it--Vote. The results will be published in the next issue. Don't let this opportunity to make your voice heard go by.--lorraine
_________________
See the article and vote at: Should it be mandatory to give adult adoptees full access to their birth records if they want it? 


For those of you reading on tablets and phones, here is a link to a recent interview with me in Dan's Papers, a popular publication in the Hamptons: Activist Lorraine Dusky Talks About New Book 
 "Likes" and Shares appreciated)

SEE ALSO

Why all should have the right to their true identity and kin


TO READ
Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self 
Although some have quibbles with this book, I read it after knowing my daughter for many years and found it absorbing and enlightening. I later lent it to a teen adoptee, who immediately read it and lent it to her best friend, also an adoptee. Right on! they said. I'd recommend this to adoptive parents, any siblings of adoptees, therapists, natural parents in reunion or hoping to be, and adoptees.

Thank you for ordering anything through amazon! Click on the book jackets or the titles! Only a few more days to order before the end of the month! What does that mean? Nothing really, but I'm tired of being serious. 


71 comments :

  1. For the umpteenth time, mothers were not promised confidentiality. Mothers were not promised anything, except that they would never see their son/daughter. If adoption is supposedly what is best for the "child", why are the majority of adult adoptee records still sealed? The genie is out the bottle - BSE mothers were browbeaten, threatened, coerced, lied to. Many agencies were (are) unethical or had illegal practices. Enough already with this continuous lie that (natural) mothers were promised confidentiality. Ugh!!

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  2. I can't help wondering why William Pierce is so adamant about about keeping adoption records sealed. If there's something personal here, he ought to reveal that. I make no bones about the fact that I am both a natural mother and an adoptive mother, which, I believe, gives me a certain amount of credibility when I speak out for total access for adult adoptees. When it comes to weighing the sometimes different claims of adoptees vs. natural moms, the claims of adoptees should prevail. No one, not even your mother, has the right to steal or give away your identity.

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    1. As another natural and adoptive mother, I entirely agree with you about total access for adoptees, Pam - though there are more than a few who would not agree that the two hats we wear do anything to enhance our credibity. Some might even say the opposite.

      I should point out that the late William Pierce is not in any position to argue anything now. He has been dead for at least ten years.

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    2. Pierce, incidentally died several years ago. Pierce always had doomsday scenarios if the records were opened. In our state legislature, Helene Weinstein appears to be channeling him, along with the ever-rude Danny O'Donnell. Pierce. however, told Florence Fisher (ALMA'd founder) that one day the records would be open. So even he believed he was fighting a losing battle.

      WE WILL WIN ONE DAY.

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    3. Actually, as I recall, the late bill Pierce was an adopted person

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    4. I think that is apocryphal. Florence knew him pretty well and this never came up.

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    5. I spoke with Bill Pierce in person several times. When he had a crowd around him, he fell back on the party line. But when I had his back against the wall, quite literally, when we were both standing behind curtains as he waited to go on stage at a conference in the late 1980s, I told him my adoption story. I told him that my mother died and my father gave me up for adoption. I told him that I was the baby of 5 children born to married parents. I told him that NYS took away my name, my family, and I grew up an only child. He looked visibly shaken. I asked him about my rights to my birth certificate, my rights to my siblings, my rights to my father. He started to choke. He had no words. He, and the NCFA, hid (and still hides) so much behind the crap of "sinful mothers" who "need" protection, that he could not hold up his argument in the face of my reality. I am a real half orphan who did not need a new home, nor did I need a new birth certificate, either.

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  3. Here's some background on perhaps why Costco is addressing this issue: http://lavenderluz.com/2015/10/adoptee-rights-costco.html. In order to best pitch the idea of covering it, there needed to be people to argue both sides. I'm glad the issue of open records is getting widespread coverage, and I hope lots of people speak up via the survey.

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    1. Wow. Lori, I read your blog and I see that it looks like you and Claud did the job!
      Now let's hope for overwhelming results!

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    2. Costco has been getting messages on several fronts about this issue. Beth Jaffe, current newsletter editor for CUB, knows the son of the founder of Costco personally and has put in the good word there as well. We just had our annual CUB retreat in Carlsbad, Ca, which was well-attended so this is another way the word is getting out.

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  4. The fact that the State (Government Apparatus) colludes with Private Enterprises (Agencies) to produce Falsified Documents, purporting to be a true and accurate account of the particulars of a persons birth means there can be no such thing as an Ethical Adoption.

    That the State actively participates in this illegal process is flabbergasting!

    It is a gross violation of human rights to deny an individual the accurate details of their Mother and Father. What an individual chooses to do with this information is up to them. It is no-ones business but their own.

    Every Human Being should be accorded this right and groups and individuals who support it's prevention are morally bankrupt with their own nefarious agendas. The idea that the State willingly secrets this information from some people but not others is blatant discrimination.

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  5. 2,300+ comments -- some of which were very informative -- and Costco prints *six* of them, accompanied by two brief opinion pieces? Sheesh.

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    1. Well, it's a published magazine in paper, so they had to pick stuff from the net before they ran the story. The breaks of publishing.

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    2. The one that bothers me is the adoptee who votes against opening the records to give "birth parents" the "right of privacy."

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    3. The irony in his comment is that by refusing adoptees OBCs, where they could get a direct route to their mothers, they are forced to use DNA testing, which results in their revealing their quest to relatives from third cousins on. By the time they locate their mothers, living relatives from several generations know the "secret."

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    4. Adoption Digger--Right! I'm going to add your thought to the story....

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    5. I was saddened by his opinion as well...Also, seems that he actually does take both sides (even though he's not aware of this!)

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  6. See? They should have the right to reclaim it as their identity.

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  7. I am amazed that this is even a question. I cannot see any reason to deny adult adoptees their own information? A birth certificate belongs to the one born, not to their parents. I voted yes, of course.

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  8. It is important that this question gets out to the general public in any venue, any form, and that we weigh in on it.I voted yes, made a comment. As Lisa pointed out, old Bill Pierce has been mouldering in the grave these past ten years, and current NCFA spokespeople have largely lost their teeth as far as totally opposing open records. Their new tactic is to sneak around it with registries, contact vetoes," mother may I" permission for adoptees to view their own OBC. Many people in the general public have no idea that adoptees cannot get their original birth certificate on demand like the rest of us. Unless special interest groups mess up this survey, hopefully it will go in our favor and be one more proof that adoptee access is an idea whose time is long past due.

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    1. I have also found that many people have no idea that Adopted adults are denied their rights to their own OBC's. This is another reason that I take every opportunity I can to talk to people about the issue/problem and enlighten them as well as encourage them to participate in our efforts ..

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  9. My birth state has a mutual consent registry. I registered about 10 or so years ago. When I met my natural family a few years ago, I found out that my uncle is also registered -- there, and at SOUNDEX -- and we were never matched. He looked for me for several years, as he knew his sister, my first mother, didn't feel she had the right to.

    I put off searching for years because I felt unwanted. I registered at both mutual consent registries that should have matched me, and was disappointed that no one was looking. But someone WAS looking, I was not a secret, I was not unwanted, and I wasted more than 5 years hoping that the passive search would work.

    With states that have a paid CI program, I have to wonder how well their free mutual consent registries will ever work. And no, I did not pay the program.

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  10. I also voted yes, and think that this issue should be publicized more, it certainly isn't obvious to the general public.

    I also felt that I didn't have a right to contact the two sons I had placed for adoption, and felt that it would be imposing on them in the most cruel manner, if I initiated any contact. I heard nothing from them as the years went by, and just assumed that there was no interest, or they were angry and wanted no contact with me.

    After being contacted by my younger son a year ago, after 35 years of separation, he said that he had tried and failed several times through the years to find me. This made me very sad indeed. I just assumed (!) that adoptees were able to access their birth certificates upon reaching the age of majority (be it 18 or 21) - and I'm a birth mother!!

    So even people who are in this unhappy mix are not aware that an adoptee can search lifelong, with no access granted by their state. I'm glad that some states have changed their views and laws on this issue. I knew absolutely nothing about these laws, until reading FMF post-reunion with my son.

    As to the adoptee who voted in favor of protecting his parents' "rights of privacy" - it doesn't make sense from an adoptee perspective, so I feel strongly that it is a fake comment. I would wonder if he is bitter, or was told something bad about his birth parents - but even that doesn't hold water, in my view.

    I wouldn't let this one comment on the survey be too bothersome, Lorraine, as it posits an upside-down logic with absolutely no explanation. Maybe it's a scared parent?

    Again, I can only repeat that I was a very scared birth parent, and these days I am more sad, although fear is still present. And I miss both of my sons more than I can express. The only thing I can do is to try very hard to live in the present (it doesn't happen for me automatically, I have to remind myself not to dwell on the past), and try to be the best, most positive person I can to be a mother to my son - whatever his perception of what that might be, that would make him happy. I hope this will help any other first mothers out there who are afraid, perhaps not even knowing the cause of their fear. The truth can set you free - it might be very hurtful, but it can bring peace of mind, at least in a sense. This is the definitive instance of a cliche really being profound.

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  11. I'm an adoptee who has always been lucky enough to have my OBC. I also feel this information should be available to ALL adoptees, regardless of whether they want to search or not. Those are two different issues! I didn't want to search and still will not pursue a relationship with my birth mother, that doesn't mean I shouldn't have the information that is mine and mine alone. Adoptees should have the same opportunities as non adoptees, that includes foreign travel, jobs that require deep background searches and anything else that a non adoptee can automatically do without wondering if they have the documentation for.

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  12. I'm adopted.
    I voted yes.
    I bet Peter Teevan isn't even adopted at all...

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  13. I have had a really terrible reunion. Just really, really bad. The worst. But I still think adoptees have a right to their original birth certificates and family history. I would never think to deny . someone their rights simply because I had a bad experience.

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  14. Lori, I am so sorry that you have had such a horrible experience. But you can change phone numbers, end a relationship, say no to further contact, or utilize harassment or stalking laws in extreme cases. I don't know where you are getting your facts, but in the 20+ years that I have been involved in adoption support/search/reunion groups I have been told that the majority of searches provide some level of a positive experience, even if no relationship ensues. I am in a positive reunion with my mother, none with my father (by his choice) and my husband has been in a mostly positive relationship with his mother( fell apart for a while when he met his father) and a really good relationship with his father and paternal side. I think that most positive relationships just becomes part of life, and just like with bad consumer experiences, it's human nature that bad experiences are talked about more. People in good relationships often drop out of groups, don't chat online or seek support of the online groups/boards. I know mothers who were completely shut down by their adult adoptee but still had some peace knowing he/she was safe and had a good life. I know moms who found convicted felons, drug addicts and cemetery plots who would still prefer truth and pain to the unknown. I have seen really bad experiences when damaged individuals seek a parent or child. I have always wondered how the children of serial killer Aileen Warmus or the mothers of the Son of Sam or Joel Rifkin or Aileen Warmus (who was both adopted and a birth mother) etc. feel. But then there are plenty of bad experiences in life, and yet bad experiences of one individual should not hinder the right of another person to learn about their own identity.

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    1. Leigh G - I hate to say it - but no, I have MOVED thousands of miles, changed my number, changed addresses, done a thousand things including the simple statement of DO NOT COME BACK - guess what?! She still won't leave me or my family alone. She has tried to borrow money from my brother in the last 2 years - after coming to my home and using me and stealing from me in the middle of me grieving the loss of my husband of 28 years.... Yeah, it is not as easy as you would like to think.

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  15. Leigh G. I fully agree and could not have said it better. There is a difference between information about their own birth which every adoptee should have access to, and relationships which nobody has a "right" to and which are all over the place from best to worst. People who search are generally aware there is no guarantee they will like what they find.It is not only in adoption situations that people sometimes have get restraining orders against family members. Nobody who has searched should make their own good or bad experience the template for supporting adoptee rights or not. Access to birth certificates is a human right, and it is not about reunions, relationships, or personalities.

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  16. How about: Should it be mandatory to give adults full access to their birth records if they want it?
    In this case, would Costco also anticipate an even 50-50 "vote"? I find it annoying that they stage this issue about adoptee birth records in an even split - with both votes and comments.

    "Full access" does not mean it is required. This is a matter of choice, the freedom of choice!
    Birth records. Could it be any simpler? It was my birth, no one else's.

    I think Costco needs to ask again - only this time ask - should adults have full access to their birth records? A 50-50 split vote? - I don't think so!

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  17. For Costco to do this poll is an insult. It gives credibility to the insane argument that mother's confidentiality needs to be protected.

    To lock up information because someone might misuse it is akin to locking up someone because he might commit a crime, something the Nixon administration advocated but thankfully never became law.

    Taking a poll on whether adoptees should have access to their records makes as much sense as taking a poll on whether slavery should be reinstated.

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    1. In principle, I agree with you. There is a part of me that gets miffed thinking, "Who the hell are all these Tom, Dick and Harry, and Mary and Janes telling me whether or not I have the right to a copy of my own vital record? But the Costco article does bring attention to this issue which many non-adopted people are probably unaware of.

      When I've brought up the issue of my having found my first families to people who are not very familiar with adoption, they usually respond by saying something like that they, too, would want to contact their first parents if they were adopted. I then point out that it's not such an easy matter to know who they are; that in most states our original birth certificates and adoption records are sealed, and that most adoptees have little or nothing to go on.

      As a Florida born adoptee, I knew I was going to have to rely on something other than expecting my OBC to be made available to me in order to find my natural mother and father. If I'd waited, I'd be dead before I'd ever get a chance to even find out who they are.

      The Costco survey may, if nothing else, at least bring more awareness to the issue.

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    2. Robin, whenever I talk to people not familiar with adoption they assume that getting one's birth certificate with the original names is simply a matter of asking for it and are stunned to know that it is not. Just about everyone really understands that those who are adopted asking simply for the true identities should be a matter of course, of justice, of humanity. Only dunderhead legislators stand in the way. They need to change their minds or get out of the way@!

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  18. Although in principle the idea of balance is a good one, it can also be used in abusive ways by those with privilege who set the boundaries for discussion. I agree with others here who have said that the need for dialogue between those who believe we deserve OBC access and those who don't are basically asking us to "balance" our humanity against our mothers' wounded pride/shame/whatever. It is sick. That is not "balance." It is a false equation. Bad, bad logic and pathetic rhetoric.

    It is tragic we live in a world in which vulnerable women are pressured to give up their children; then those children are considered less than human. The "balance" crap is not an argument that even begins with an level playing field, although it masks itself that way, as many adoption "dialogue" does.

    Perhaps the Costco mag reading public will give a shit about adoptee rights. One hopes so, but I find it disappointing that the debate (if is was one) was framed in a demeaning way with boilerplate counterpoint and an "adoptee" voice that suggests that we adoptees do not deserve even to have what everyone else takes for granted. It is a joke.

    And please: let us stop confusing OBC access with reunion. As others have said, leave that dead horse and focus on the basic inequality.

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  19. I really can't comment as I am not adopted - however I think purely for the genetic / medical / peace of mind of knowing would bring it is an essential need. I think a sealed package that was available whenever requested or delivered at a preset time by impartial parties would make a world of difference. As a side point, the wording of birth certificates could be more accurate - don't know where else documentation is able to state false information as fact, it is not a parent certificate! I hope this is not too provocative, it's just how I feel.

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  20. I don't think that anyone here is confusing OBC access with reunion.

    I read Lori's post when it was first made, and she said, clearly - that (1) knowing what she does now, she would never want to keep an adoptee from accessing their OBC, but (2) she would not have contacted her daughter. She expressed a support for adoptee rights, as I read her post with my own eyes. She also expressed regret and sadness for her own experience with her found daughter, which is not knowable until reunion has taken place.

    Yes, both issues were brought into her post, in response to this thread. But they were clearly 2-pronged and separate from each other, Lori did not deny support of adoptee rights. Her story is sad, and I think she was venting. Isn't one of the purposes of FMF to be a place where we can vent? As has been pointed out, there are many sad reunion stories. Our support is needed not only on political issues, but personally also.

    As for the Costco poll, it sounds like it is a sham. Similar to some of the click-through polls on the web - for the benefit of those reading and clicking, no matter the topic.

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    1. Not a sham to my mind. The results will be published in the next issue--and it does inform people who think the adoptees have the right to get their birth certificate that they are misinformed and adoptees are still being held to an agreement made by the state and binding them forever. What does that make you think of?

      I urge everyone who has not yet voted to do so. We need to be heard, our votes counted.

      WE WILL WIN ONE DAY.

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    2. just call me oscar(ette)November 1, 2015 at 12:25 AM

      I just searched for information by typing in; What Can an Adoptee do to Reverse an Adoption. Well, not much. This came up as one of the search results; How to Nullify an Adoption for an Adult -ehow. One sentence said, "...the court must be presented with VERY compelling reasons..." (emphasis added) In other words it's near to impossible to annul or reverse to LEGALLY AND RIGHTFULLY claim your REAL name. Talk about feeling like a possession, a piece of property. Owned. Branded for the rest of our generations with the mark of ownership (a falsified/lying piece of paper that says -THEY- gave birth to the adoptee, or our parent/s or our grandparents, etc.). Other search results showed even step-parent adoptions cannot be overturned/annulled. Only by someone else ADOPTING the adoptee can they be freed from the step-parent or adoptive parent/s name. Only that's not being free to claim our true name. That's just changing ownership. Why is it so hard to accept that some people want THEIR TRUE/REAL NAME and heritage? This applies to second generations and I'm sure even further on down the line. Why do we want to be tied to someone we 1). don't know or remember? 2). We are not related to them. They may be part of our history, but they are not our heritage. 3). What is so rotten and wrong with wanting our true ancestry? IS it all about ownership? With closed records do you provide truth?, honesty?, love?, compassion?, understanding? Did you (as adoptive parents) provide them their heritage, their roots, while you were compiling and showing pride in YOUR family history and links to heritage and ancestors? Sharing photos and names and memories at family gatherings, did you leave your little adoptling feeling like they came from some strange planet and were not really connected to the human race? That they weren't really human with feelings, wants and needs? While you were looking at your compilation of your heritage did you say to the adoptee....oh, this is your ancestry too. While the voice inside of the child or even adult adoptee (or their children) screams...NO, IT isn't! It's not TRUTH. Can you please TRY to understand and comprehend what this does to people when they are made/ forced to live and tell lies against what they know IS truth (even if they do not know the full truth). Stop hurting us like this. There's this thing called mental and emotional ABUSE. Isn't it time this stopped?

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    3. Agreeing with Lorraine, rather than grousing about whether this poll should exist at all, we should take the opportunity to educate the public and get our point of view on adoptee rights out there wherever and whenever we can. Whether you like the poll or the expression of two points of view there or not, do vote and urge others to do likewise. The more adoptee acess to their own OBC is seen as normal and right by a majority of citizens, the better chance we have with legislation in each state. My experience with the general public, like Lorraine's, is that many people do not know that adoption records are still sealed to adoptees. There is so much publicity of searches, people finding each other on Facebook, talk show reunions, that many people assume it is easy for adoptees to access their records. Publicity like the Costco poll show that it is still an issue and give the public the opportunity to support adoptee rights.

      It is too bad that access to adoptee's OBC has been so equated with reunion and the opposition has created a fiction that sealed records protect anyone. Fact is, birthmothers in the closet are not protected by sealed records; they continue to be found every day by other means. Almost all the bad reunions that Lori calls "collateral damage" have happened without records being open, which makes it ludicrous to oppose access to birth certificates on the basis of preventing bad relationships after reunion or keeping closet moms safe from their children. Yes, we will win, because majority opinion is on our side once the truth is shown.

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    4. Maryanne, your last paragraph is so very true. Having sealed recordes protects no one. Every first mother I know was found without them & happy to have been found. Regardless of the out come.

      Oscar (ette), you are preaching to the choir. Many on this site have worked years for adoptee rights. November is Adoption month it's a good time to get on our soap boxes and tell the world how we feel about adoption.

      We can only hope that people will read the Costo poll and say "What ?! Why can't they have their OBC!!!"

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    5. just call me oscar(ette)November 5, 2015 at 12:01 AM

      Meryl, If no-one but 'the choir' reads here, why ever bother making any comments at all? Why bother with a blog at all? I don't know about you but I do happen to read other blogs that are, shall I say, not singing the same song I/we do and I learn from them. I suspect that others, not in the choir, read this blog as well.

      I did feel like you were attempting to shut me down. I don't quite understand that, especially since, as you said above, ''Many on this site have worked years for adoptee rights." What is wrong with one more, or a hundred, or ten thousand more singing the same song and making a growing voice for others to hear? Mothers and adoptees get shut down on this blog so often that it's sad. It's that many fewer voices and the choir stays the same in number of voices heard. Maybe that's what some on here want. It seems that sharing opinions / venting isn't allowed either. At least by those who don't speak PAL.

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    6. We try to keep this blog open to everyone but when the mud starts to sling personally--and people get quite hurt by it--we step in and try to control the dialogue. But it is difficult--this is largely an anonymous blog--so people fell free to say whatever comes to mind without really considering how someone who is sensitive about the issue (and aren't we all?) will react, or be hurt. Sometimes what seems like an innocuous enough comment to us turns out to be one that hurts someone. However, I don't think that "Mothers and adoptees get shut down on this blog so often that it's sad," as you wrote.

      We try our best, and though we are open to all, this is a blog written from the POV of mothers who relinquished children to adoption. Natural mothers. First mothers. Birth mothers (though I hate how that has become the lingua franca.

      For some--preaching to the choir or not in the moment--this is a place to vent pent up frustrations regarding how adoption impacted our lives. And while the immediate reader may be in the choir, FMF is read,as are the comments, by people all over the world who may have come here with a completely different POV. So the comment that we may think of as business as usual strikes someone else who is new to this way of thinking as: OMG--I never thought of that. I never thought of "it" that way.

      Keep the comments coming. Sometimes a string of words--in a comment--might be what someone searches for and they find FMF through.

      The more voices that are spoken are more voices heard. It takes a lot of noise to make a revolution.

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  21. I am a natural mother, and I can assure you in the state of Kentucky, keeping OBC's under lock and key is not about a 'birth mothers' privacy. I was told by the 'Christian Crisis Pregancy Center' that I could go over to the office of 'Kentucky Department of Family and Child Services' and pick up my son's OBC. When I called the office of 'Vital Statistics' to find out where to pick this up at, I was told in a very rude manner that I needed a court order, even though my son and I have been in a reunion and were both in agreement to get this document. Who the state is trying to protect are the Attorneys and Agencies. Every person has a right to their OBC. This idea to protect the birth families' anonymity is ridiculous. It stems from a culture that used to shame women who became pregnant out of wedlock, supposedly, but instead is used as a smokescreen to protect the attorneys, agencies and adoptive parents (to pretend they gave birth to the child). If lawyers can figure out a way to make money by opening up OBC's I'm sure it will happen in no time. It will take Adopted adults in political office to start the changes that need to be made. There should be one birth certificate for each person born, and the adoptive parents names added to it. It is hard to change a system that has been based on lies for so long.

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    1. I remember reading a story about a fellow Florida adoptee who went to the Vital Statistics Office in person, accompanied by BOTH her natural parents and her adoptive parents. And the clerk there still wouldn't release her original birth certificate. Of course, that's not surprising. The clerk was simply doing what she was required to do by law, even when all the parties involved knew who each other was. Crazy!

      Also, agreeing with Maryanne, that while I do find an element of insult in the Costco poll , it may still help our cause to get a lot of Yes votes out there.

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    2. Robin, the same thing happened in NY State, with people I know. Adoptive mom Jane Nast, her adult daughter and daughter's birthmother all went together to NY Vital Statistics and were told that even with all of them right there, the daughter's original birth certificate still could not be released. That's insane!

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    3. What was just as surprising to me as to not being able to access my son's OBC as a first mom, was that this 'Christian Crisis Pregnancy Center', who had been in business for 30 years and had an adoption agency until 2012, told me I could go pick it up (?). By this time they should have known you could not waltz in and pick it up without a court order. I called the CPC back to tell them what happened to me. At this time the adoption agency was still in business and as part of their 'perks to birth moms' was listed that 'birth moms had access to OBC's', after I called them and talked to the Director, they took this off the list. This was my first experience in the realization of how 'closed and out-of-date' our system in Kentucky (and other states) truly are, and just how out of touch this CPC has been over the years.

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    4. Sandy, what might have been going on there is that birthmothers used to be able to get the OBC before the adoption was finalized, which could have been 6 months to as much as a year later back in the day. Of course surrendering mothers were not told this, but some did get it anyway before it was too late. My son went into foster care and was not surrendered at birth, so somehow I was sent a short form OBC, with just his original name and date and place of birth on it shortly after he was born. I don't know why as I did not know to request it. I sent it to him years later as his adoptive mother said he wanted it, he probably lost it when he moved When I had tried to send for the OBC years later when I was searching, I got a note back from Vital Statistics that no such person existed. We used to tell searching mothers to send for the OBC, and if they got this note at least they knew their child had been adopted. If they got back the OBC it was usually very bad news; the child had died before the adoption was finalized, or had stayed in foster care due to severe handicaps which of course the mother was never told about.

      Sad to say it is typical of religious crisis pregnancy centers to lie, so this is just one more lie in a long list that they told you.

      Delete
  22. Lori had the experience she did; we all have ours. I was not criticizing her or insisting that she have a relationship with someone who abuses her.

    The truth is that those of us in this mess--adoptees, especially, where it comes to our identity--have it thrown in our faces that our needs must always come second to someone else's. In hearings for OBC access, we are told that our getting our documents will disrupt people's lives; that we need to let people (read: the original "adults", not us) get on with their lives; blah blah blah. The public at large confuses reunion and OBCs all the time. This is a real problem. It is counterproductive and destructive. I am not saying that this confusion is happening so much here, although people did start talking about reunion (of course, why not?). Seeing reunion brought up in the Costco context as an argument against access is frustrating to me as someone who works in activism, *and* as an adoptee who has been told too many times that I should not have my OBC because my mother "moved on," or that I should be grateful she didn't abort me, or that I need to keep my mouth shut and accept whatever scraps I have.

    All adoptees should have UNREDACTED OBCS because having that document is a matter of equality. All humans have their original documents except adoptees, and we are not in the witness protection program. I cannot even believe we still have to fake debate this.

    And no, packets of information handed over by a third-party is a bad idea. I attest to this as someone who had to search through the CI system. BAD. Bad, bad, bad. Too much room for abuse, and no. We are not criminals. There is legal recourse for putting up boundaries if people act against the law: restraining orders, etc. We do not need to pay people to censor our lives and decide who gets to know what.

    I feel that the Costco discussion and its "vote" puts adoptees on trial again for being born: it is a discussion, okay, but it is more of the same. Why should our having access even be a question? We deserve our documents. End of story. It is not about personal things (i.e., Lori) it is about the larger context and what adoptees have to live with. On the other hand, even bad publicity is good sometimes, but I hate having to hear the same slimy crap aimed at us.

    Not to mention I am pissed that tomorrow starts November, the month of adoption hell.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Whether or not is is easy or difficult to annul an adoption, we would love to hear from people adoptees who annulled their adoption. Please leave a short message here and then message me at forumfirstmother@gmail.com.

    But while it may say that, we do know adoptive parents do annul adoptions sometimes, and while it is probably an uncomfortable situation and difficult it does happen. I personally know someone who was the parent after divorce who did it.

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  24. snipped from Leigh G post
    I know mothers who were completely shut down by their adult adoptee but still had some peace knowing he/she was safe and had a good life.

    Yes - I have peace of mind knowing my daughter was safe and had/has a good life! She does not want any contact, so I have gone with her decision. It's been 10 years now that I found her.

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    1. Lee, I am sorry that your daughter does not want any contact. At least she knows you are around, if she has a change of heart - and that in the meantime, you respect her feelings. I know that saying this doesn't really help your situation, but for what it is worth.

      I am in a similar situation, my oldest son wants nothing to do with me, and will not even entertain any discussion about me. He is very angry and resentful about being placed ("given away," as he put it) for adoption. It has been a year since his brother (my younger son) and I have been in reunion, after 35 years.

      He does have a safe and stable life, with a family. As you mentioned, that does bring peace of mind. My understanding is though, that he has stated that the adoption has impacted every single aspect of his life.

      My husband has suggested to me that my son has the right to live the life that he wants, and perhaps he feels a need to protect his family. It seems to me, from this - It is possible that besides the anger, a birth mother may represent instability or lack of love, compassion or caring, for an adoptee. I understand, sometimes - and other times, I'm not sure I understand. I wrote a letter to my son in February, explaining the situation, assuring him he was and is loved, hoping it would make a difference. It did not. Perhaps a reply may come drifting in, but I see, with time, it would not make sense to expect any reply.

      You have done your best and it's important that you have respected your daughter's wishes, whatever they may be. It is painful and not easy. It's been a long road for you. Best wishes to you.

      Delete
    2. I am so sorry to hear of your situation with your oldest son, and you are not alone in such a situation. What he says about how adoption impacted every part of his life is true. I understand the pain of being rejected because after an initial good reunion of several years with my daughter, I felt like a yoyo she could bounce up and down at will and it was awful. This is the terrible legacy for both the mother and the child in adoption. BTW, I don't cringe at the "given away" language. To me it is clear and solid, and conveys what actually happens. I accept it, and accept that I no more made an "adoption plan" at the time than does someone who falls overboard from an ocean liner and is thrown a life preserver. Do you swim to it or make a plan to do so?

      These words may not bring solace but they did ring clear to my ears: The people who want to be in your life will be. You don't have to go chasing after them.

      You sent him a letter explaining everything. Perhaps he read it. He is not able to respond. He is too bitter. You don't have to go chasing after him. It seems that while sad, you have found the strength to accept what is.




      Delete
    3. Lorraine, thank you for your kind and sensitive comments. I think that he views the adoption event as a sad chapter in his life that has closed. I can't blame him for not wanting to revisit a time of great hurt and sadness, which may be all I represent.

      Well, he has the right to his feelings, as does everyone. I was treated very badly by my family (birth family), and raised to believe that I had no right to my own feelings. After 12 years of therapy, I was able to realize that I indeed have a right to my own feelings about my parents and siblings. My family has been an excellent role model in how not to treat a person - being cowardly, lying to manipulate, and in general, pretending that all is normal when it is not, and to indicate otherwise or ask questions, is unacceptable. So after being contacted by my younger son, I made the decision not to treat my children the way I was treated - as a skeleton in the closet, or a scapegoat. As they say, what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger.

      What I would like for my oldest son, is for him not to continue to hurt. That's always what I wanted for him. I know it's easy to say, from my perspective, not so easy from his perspective. Yes, the feeling of being "given away" is very real. It is something that I can't argue with, on any basis.

      Best wishes.

      Delete
  25. I changed my surname back to my family name as a young adult, but would love to annul my adoption.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I don't know of any legal proceeding that would allow an adoptee to annul her adoption. Your original parents could adopt you which would terminate your legal relationship with your adoptive parents and put you back to where you were when you were born. Being adopted by just one parent would do it.

      Delete
    2. I have actually heard from an adoptee who did it, but I don't remember her name. Or how to reach her.

      Delete
    3. Michael Edward Chalek was able to annul his adoption in Florida, based on fraud. He wrote a book several years ago detailing the case.

      That's the one case people keep referring me back to when I mention that I'd like to annul my own adoption -- but there was no legal fraud in my situation.

      Delete
    4. Both my parents are now dead. Besides, I want it annulled, not to be adopted. Again.

      Delete
  26. I start to think that maybe the best hope on a successful annulment for a US-born adoptee would involve foreign adoption to the Netherlands, (Hey, the US was source country #2 after China in 2014 again, so it would not be that unlikely).

    http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/27407

    Really, searching in Dutch one finds hundreds of websites: academic writings on the adoption annulment, lawyers claiming that it is very well possible, all the way down to the standard procedure for registering an adoption annulment in the municipal registration, but one has to take care to keep Dutch and Belgian adoption law apart, they are rather different.
    Personal stories from people who WERE adopted are very rare though, court cases are more common.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A rather long story about a foreign adoptee from India who had her Dutch adoption revoked, it could be a bit triggering, so careful if you are a bit sensitive right now:
      http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/given-up-for-adoption-at-birth-a-young-woman-reclaims-her-life/

      Delete
  27. I just read the other day that gay couples who used the adoption business to legalize their relationship are now seeking to have the adoption annulled so they can get married. Perhaps the fallout from this initiative will be a legal ruling that will allow all adoptees to annul their adoption if they so desire.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Quoted you and linked it, Lorraine:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mirah-riben/should-adult-adoptees-hav_b_8500620.html

    ReplyDelete
  29. If either the mother or the child does not want contact, then it should not happen. Both should have the opportunity to make that decision and have some way to make it known so that when both parities want contact, they can make it. But, if either do not, then so be it is my take on the situation. As for the parents who adopted the child, their views should prevail while the child is a minor unless there are agreements in place stipulating otherwise.

    It was every bit the mother's decision when she relinquished the child to even have the child during much of the time periods. Many of my friends took care of this entire issue before it arose by aborting their fetuses and avoiding any of this in the future. Some kept their babies and raised them. Many had little choice in the matter as they may have underage at the time and their parents dictated what was to be done with an unwanted pregnancy. Many more feel that the pressures of the times forced choices that are now regretted.

    So, once that child was released to adoptive parents, in my day, the express understanding was that the event would not be revealed and that the child was indeed relinquished. That very condition was often what made having the baby possible, otherwise an abortion was the preferred choice. To me, keeping that agreement is important as life itself was contingent upon it. However, if both adult parties agree to exception, then I can see having a reunion. I would not want to force a reunion on those who do not want it.

    Though there are wonderful outcomes from reunions, there are also terrible ones where having the birth relations in ones lives is not a good situation. For those who don't want to take that chance, the option to keep the records sealed is a good one, in my opinion.

    I think that it's a wonderful thing that the thinking has changed about having a child outside of wedlock and there is more support for those who choose to do so. IT's not considered such a horrific event. I know that I would never have hurt my parents, and hurt they would have been, painfully so and shamed, had I brought a baby home to them as an unmarried mother in my young years. And hurt they would have been in having to help raise such a child even as I am sure they'd have grown to love their grandchild. I know a few who have done just the thing; my closest friend from the olden days did so ,and much as her parents love that grandchild, they suffered enormously and wish that had not happened. A lot of tough ramifications and consequences occurred to them. So it would have with my parents. Even today, the financial and life changers of such a thing can be very difficult for families already living on the edge.

    So let the child and the mothers each make their decisions, and when the mesh, let there be contact.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Catherine wrote:"Though there are wonderful outcomes from reunions, there are also terrible ones where having the birth relations in ones lives is not a good situation. For those who don't want to take that chance, the option to keep the records sealed is a good one, in my opinion."

    Catherine, in this instance you have no idea what you are talking about. Sealed records DO NOT prevent reunions or contact, they have been happening for ages as determined searchers find their family member with information from various sources obtained without ever touching or seeing the sealed original birth certificate. Just about everyone commenting here, adoptee or mother, has found their family member without access to birth certificates which remain tightly sealed as ever. Birth certificate access is about rights, not reunions. For determined searchers, nothing can stop them, and nobody is guaranteed they will like what they find. Do you like all of your relatives? Like them or not, you do have the opportunity to know who they are, and to get your own birth certificate for a simple request and fee. Why should adopted adults be different?

    The sealed records is an insult to adult adoptees; it protects NOBODY. from being found or contacted. In fact most who search act with kindness and tact and if the other party does not want a relationship, they accept that. We are talking about adults who can make their own choices about relationships, not perpetual minors who need the state's protection.

    The whole tone of your comment, what a good little girl you were by never getting pregnant and "hurting" your parents comes across as prudish and patronizing. I figure you are my age or younger but you sound like someone from an earlier generation looking down your nose in disapproval. You cite mothers and grandparents who regret raising their child. Yes, they exist. Not everyone who gives birth should raise a child. But for every situation like that there are ten more brokenhearted mothers and in cases like mine, grandparents who wish with all their hearts that they had kept their baby and grandchild. My parents regretted till the day they died that they did not help me keep my first child. They died without seeing him again, a harsh punishment, not a blessing in any way.

    You have no idea what any of this is like for those of us living it, and no right to judge that adopted people should not be able to get their own original birth certificate because that might upset someone. It is decidedly not up to you to decree who shall meet and who shall not, it is none of your damn business.. Read a whole lot more about adoption reform before you decide what is good for us.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Well said, Maryanne. I'm sure Catherine means well but is just poorly informed.

      Delete
  31. Less than a year ago, I may have agreed in general with many of Catherine's comments - but after my son found me after 35 years, he said that he had tried several times, without success, to find me. This made me very sad. For this reason I think it's important that every person have a right to know who their birthparents are, and the birth certificate should become unsealed when the child reaches majority (18 or 21) under the law.

    Also, it's possible to be "in trouble" with unplanned pregnancies under the auspices of marriage! Not every woman who becomes pregnant and cannot handle the subsequent events is unmarried. In my case, I was married to an abusive husband on hard drugs. My family stayed as far away from this situation as they could, as much as they had always during my life. After a long string of circumstances degenerating and out of my ability to control, I chose adoption as the best option, out of several awful options.

    My son and his wife came to visit me and my husband here in NY. They had a few wonderful, romantic days and we saw much more than "all" the sights together, and spent some quiet time together. Now that they have left, I am in a day-long crying jag, and am very, very sad. I had a feeling it would be that way. A sense of great loss - I love my adult son and miss him - more than than, I love my baby and miss him. I wish I could crawl into a hole and die, a feeling I am very familiar with, a feeling that almost all first mothers are, I guess? But I don't want to upset my son or make him sad. I wish less sadness for him. I didn't call him this morning, as I didn't want him to hear me break up or cry.

    What I say is, don't let fear be your first controlling emotion, no matter what you do. Even if your experience becomes very bad, your child still has the right to know who his/her mother is, and feel better about his/her origins. It may help him or her, and that's the only thing that matters, in my view. How could anything else matter as much?

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    1. '...Now that they have left, I am in a day-long crying jag, and am very, very sad. I had a feeling it would be that way. A sense of great loss - I love my adult son and miss him - more than than, I love my baby and miss him. I wish I could crawl into a hole and die, a feeling I am very familiar with...'

      I recognise the feelings you describe very well and my heart really does go out to you.

      Be kind and compassionate with yourself during this time. Your feelings matter too.

      Delete

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