' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Adoptees closer to OBC access in MA and HI--Write right now!

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Adoptees closer to OBC access in MA and HI--Write right now!

Lorraine 
Good news to report on two clean bills restoring the right of adopted individuals to their original birth certificates (OBC), and thus the right to know and claim their original identities, ancestors and true histories. 

In Massachusetts, a clean bill (no veto, no inane restrictive amendments) passed out of the legislature's Joint Committee on Public Health the other day. Now it goes to the full Senate and House for a vote (2 different bills, same result), at a date yet to be designated before the end of the session, July 31st. This legislation will close the gap that exists between the OBC haves--adoptees born before July 17, 1974 (when access closed) and after January 1, 2008--and the have-nots--those born between July 17, 1974 and 2008. Thus this new bill would cover those adoptees between ages 42 and 8, those caught in the squeeze when the legislature partially opened their records. Sounds good to us!

ALL RECORDS WILL BE OPEN ONE DAY
In time all sealed records will be open. Even that staunch supporter of sealed records, the late Bill Pierce, founder of the National Council For Adoption (NCFA), told the redoubtable Florence Fisher, founder of ALMA, that all records would be open one day. Even as he did his best to smear the ink, he saw the writing the wall. 

Massachusetts needs us to bombard state legislators with letters, calls, e-mails, and social media posts to urge a yes vote on the bills: H2045 in the House and S1144 in the Senate. The state has a two-year legislative calendar, so if the bills do not pass this year, it is likely to take two years to get back to the same place. 

Etta Lappen Davis, Kathy Aghajanian from CUB, Karen Caffrey (chair of Connecticut Access), Joyce Maguire Pavao, Adam Pertman and others such as Brian Donahue from Connecticut (who has been a constant cheerleader for the bill on Facebook) deserve credit for getting the legislation as far as it is. News is posted regularly to the dedicated Facebook page: Facebook.com/OBCforMA. 

A list of legislators to email is below. Rep. Sean Garballey is an adoptee who is championing the bill, and hopes to make sure it gets on the docket. His email is Sean.Garballey@mahouse.gov. Correspondence from anyone is welcome, but again, residents of the state--whether or not they are personally involved--typically are paid more heed than out-of-staters, as they represent votes. Legislators listen first to their own constituents. So if you have family or friends in Massachusetts, please ask them to write or phone their legislators! Adoptive parents and parents of first mothers (adoptee grandparents) needed too! Legislators might be surprised, but would note them. I will be taking this up in a day or two myself. 

AND IN HAWAII
Meanwhile, from Hawaii, more good news: A clean bill passed the legislature (HB2802) and is awaiting the governor's signature. Please email him through the contact form on his website: http://governor.hawaii.gov/contact-us/contact-the-governor/
It pops right up and is simple to use. 

If these bills pass, they will add to the other states that allow clean, unobstructed access for adoptees to their original birth certificates: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Kansas (never closed!), Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island. Massachusetts would be an important state to add, for it would be the largest in population, with close to seven million people, that acknowledges sealed birth certificates are unjust, immoral and wrong any way you look at it. 

Best to keep the letters short and to the point. Share your personal and/or professional reasons for supporting access to original birth certificates.  Since any objections if they come up are likely to center around "birth mother" privacy, please note if you are a first mother (you might use that language) that you do not desire "privacy" or anonymity from your own child, and that the law never promised it in the first place. Now let's get this done for every adopted person in Massachusetts and Hawaii.--lorraine 
____________________

Here's a recent Op-Ed in The Boston Herald, comments welcome and post on Facebook too!
As You Were Saying ... Time to open adoption records

Massachusetts Senators AND email: 

Mike.Barrett@masenate.gov, Michael.Brady@masenate.gov, William.Brownsberger@masenate.gov, Harriette.Chandler@masenate.gov, Sonia.Chang-Diaz@masenate.gov, Cynthia.Creem@masenate.gov, Vinny.deMacedo@masenate.gov, Sal.DiDomenico@masenate.gov, Kenneth.Donnelly@masenate.gov, Eileen.Donoghue@masenate.gov, Benjamin.Downing@masenate.gov, James.Eldridge@masenate.gov, Ryan.Fattman@masenate.gov, Jennifer.Flanagan@masenate.gov, Linda.DorcenaForry@masenate.gov, anne.gobi@masenate.gov, Donald.Humason@masenate.gov, Patricia.Jehlen@masenate.gov, Brian.Joyce@masenate.gov, John.Keenan@masenate.gov, barbara.l'italien@masenate.gov, eric.lesser@masenate.gov, Jason.Lewis@masenate.gov, Joan.Lovely@masenate.gov, Thomas.McGee@masenate.gov, Mark.Montigny@masenate.gov, Michael.Moore@masenate.gov, Kathleen.OConnorIves@masenate.gov, Marc.Pacheco@masenate.gov, Michael.Rodrigues@masenate.gov, Stan.Rosenberg@masenate.gov, Richard.Ross@masenate.gov, Mike.Rush@masenate.gov, Karen.Spilka@masenate.gov, Bruce.Tarr@masenate.gov, James.Timilty@masenate.gov, James.Welch@masenate.gov, Daniel.Wolf@masenate.gov

You can write one email, and put all but one name in the BCC.

For the list of the Representatives, go to

Members of the House of Representatives

You can also link to them directly there. For myself, I have never been able to make Microsoft Outlook work. 

MA Access Website
"...extremely helpful in allowing me to see and feel how other adoptees have experienced the same sense of loss I have coped with since childhood.....finding my birth parents after 30+ years, it was amazing to have a book which so clearly outlines the stages of my life, and allowed me to understand the feelings I have had for so long."--Bill Sawyer on Amazon. 

"In this brilliantly crafted and compelling memoir, Dusky covers all perspectives: her own grief and pain as a first mother, her daughter's anger and longing, and the adoptive parents' fears...I was equally astounded by her ability to flawlessly weave in facts about adoption practices over the years, the impact of adoption on both adoptees and birth mothers, and the lack of progress to unseal records."
--Denise Roessle, author of Second-Chance Mother: A Memoir of Adoption, Loss and Reunion,
Adoption Today Magazine

37 comments :

  1. Just wrote to the Gov. of Hawaii, mentioning my daughter in law's extended family on Maui as well as the fact that I surrendered a child in 1968. I will get to MA later. So refreshing to see clean bills.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am getting reports that people cannot leave comments. The comment form appears, they are not asked to prove they are not robots, and POOF! It disappears.

    WE ARE PLANNING A MOVE TO WORDPRESS SOON. Too many problems here.

    If you have a comment and would like me to publish it, send it to me at forumfirstmother@gmail.com

    sorry for the inconvenience, we will try to fix but remember...mercury is in retrograde! lots of screw ups in travel/communication during these three weeks.

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  3. Thank you, Lorraine, for highlighting the work we are doing to restore access to original birth certificates to all adoptees born in Massachusetts! We encourage everyone to write, call, and/or tweet MA legislators. Our chances of passing our bill during this session are good, but we need to make as much noise as possible during the next couple of weeks. People who want to know more should visit our website at www.OBCforMA.org.

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  4. We've summited and now it's downhill, just a few years until all states open records. Soon people will wonder what all the fuss was about. The next frontiers: Letting natural mothers obtain their child's amended birth certificate and court records. Letting children or other relatives of deceased adoptees access their parents' or relatives' records.

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  5. The questions:
    Why are natural mothers not allowed their OWN personal information / records from labour, delivery, and birth?
    Those records have nothing to do with the adoption.
    Those records contain very important MEDICAL information and are part of the mothers medical history. Like what knockout drugs were used to keep her unconscious? What was used to dry up the milk? Etc.
    Who's 'privacy' is really being 'protected'? It's certainly NOT to 'protect' the mother. Nor is it beneficial to her health (history).

    Why are mothers prevented from filling out medical update forms?
    I was. I do not understand the need to keep medical information from the adoptive parents and the child, the adult adoptee, or their descendants.
    who's 'privacy' is really being 'protected'?

    Why are mothers not permitted to receive even a SCRAP of NON-identifying information? For example, the adoptive parents hobbies. NOPE, not allowed.
    Who's 'privacy' is being 'protected'?

    Why are adoptee's not allowed their OBC, when their mothers have registered with the agency?

    If it's ALL about 'protecting MOTHERS privacy' why do the fathers HAVE TO approve as well to 'release' identifying information?
    Who's 'privacy' is being 'protected'?

    Why do birth index lists cost 52 dollars? 52! Why? 3 to 5 sheets of paper. I had NO idea paper was THAT expensive.
    All the better to keep you seekers from affording them my dear.
    Who's 'privacy' is that 'protecting'?

    The birth index lists received from vital stats. with the admonition of, "You KNOW only their adoptive name is on that list". Well, yeah, I know...now.
    Who's 'privacy' is THAT 'protecting'?

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  6. No idea if this still works but I got my hospital records when my son was around 8 just by asking that they be sent to my doctor who had agreed to give them to me. They did let me know what drugs I had been given and other information, but I found it upsetting and tore them up. I do not regret it. Someone helped me find out where my child was shortly after that by other means.

    However I have heard that many hospitals only keep records a limited amount of time and after that they are destroyed. No idea if this is true or not, but I guess it it worth a try for young birthmothers to request their hospital records.

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  7. Jane wrote:" Letting natural mothers obtain their child's amended birth certificate and court records."

    This is not equivalent to adoptee access to their own OBC, or to the natural mother's access to the OBC on which she is named. The amended BC belongs to the adoptee, and to the adoptive parents while the adoptee is a minor. It has nothing to do with the natural mother. It would be hard to make a case for birthparent access to this document, as the only reason to want it would be to search for the adoptee, unlike adult adoptee access to their own OBC. There would have to provisions to restrict those natural parents whose children were removed by the state for abuse or neglect.

    Most adoptions today are open to some degree, making access to records moot in fully open cases. The parties know each other. Better to work for enforceable open adoption laws and elimination of predatory and coercive adoption providers than to try for birthmother access to the amended BC. Or perhaps to work for a different system, where the BC stays the same but a legally accepted certificate of adoption is used for ID purposes and there is no amended certificate of birth.

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    1. It's a no-brainer to make a case for mothers to access their adult child's records in order to find their child. It's the most natural thing in the world for a mother to care about her child and want to know him.

      Definitely we should work on enforceable open adoptions and elimination of predatory practices but these goals and allowing mothers access to records are not mutually exclusive. Au contraire, they complement each other. The fact that mothers want to know their child reinforces the importance of enforceable open adoptions. The fact that adoptions today are open highlight the importance of mothers from the past being able to access their child's records in order to find their child.

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    2. Well said Jane! I would also go so far as to say, if mothers were allowed the records/OBC and even the amended name, that it would show how few mothers are wanting or 'needing' protection(?).

      I don't agree with redactions, not allowing our sons and daughters their truth. I do feel empathy for those mothers. I waffled for awhile. I know how hard that road is. I hope that they can find true supportive people to surround themselves with to make that journey through the pain and fear. It's hard as heck going that road with no support.

      That being said, why should so very many (that meaning ALL adoptees) that want the records, their truth, (not necessarily contact!) be made to suffer so? Sometimes just knowing is peace in itself.

      Open the records puh-leeeeze. Let us all out of this prison of lies, shame, longing and sorrow. It can 'cripple' people / lessen their effectiveness and productivity. How does that help society? Simple answer, It does NOT.

      A life sentence for this? Does the punishment fit the "crime"?

      For the adoptee, they have received this 'life sentence' and *they* have committed *no* "crime". Isn't it time to examine the evidence, reach a verdict of NOT guilty, and release those who were "convicted and sentenced" as infants and children? Set them free...to be.

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    3. I wrote about mothers returning to agencies in the years before the hysteria over keeping records sealed took hold of the country from the 30s to the 50s. In fact, some social workers actually helped mothers find their adult children.

      If the trend is to open adoptions, surely then why not open old adoptions such as mine and Jane's and other mothers from our era and make them "open"? It doesn't sound like the end of the world and it would certainly give those who are hell bent on protecting mothers something to think about. In fact, I've been holding back an email from someone who suggests that mothers have gone about this the wrong way--instead of simply working for OBC acceess from adoptees, why not turn it around and work for first mothers right to know what happened to their children? I think the numbers of women who would search would astonish lawmakers, and might have had an impact that would work to adoptees' advantage.

      We were not given a choice about the sealed records, etc. It was foisted on us as settled law, the end result of bad social engineering.

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  8. "It's a no-brainer to make a case for mothers to access their adult child's records in order to find their child. It's the most natural thing in the world for a mother to care about her child and want to know him."

    Wow, this really sounds like natural mothers' rights, not adoptee rights. I don't believe this street goes two ways. Adult adoptees are entitled to their original documentation because it belongs to them. Adult adoptees are also entitled to their amended birth certificate, even if they want to use it for litter lining, because it belongs to them. However another adult, whether natural parent or not, is not automatically entitled to this piece of paper without the adoptee's consent.

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    1. Adoptees and mothers have rights to the extent the legislatures give them rights. The Oregon legislature enacted a law giving mothers other than those whose parental rights were terminated, the right to copies of documents from their child's adoption file. This includes documents with the names of the adoptive parents and the adoptive name of the child.

      While mothers made (or were coerced into making) the decision to give up their child, treating them as a guilty party and withholding records from them is just plain mean.

      Children want to find their mothers and mothers want to find their children and the government shouldn't stand in their way.

      As far as who "owns" the documents, the original birth certificate belongs to the mother as well as the adoptee since it contains information about her. The court adoption and agency files contain information about her which arguably should make her a co-owner of these records.

      We're getting close to a majority of adoptees being able to access their OBCs; the next step is to allow mothers to access documents which contain information about herself and her child. Why would anyone would oppose this unless there is risk that the mother would harm the child.

      The right to documents should not depend on what the person may want to do with them Mothers can use the documents as liter lining if they choose to do so.

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    2. I am all in favor of mothers finding their kids, after all, I did it. So did almost everyone who reads here. I did not need my son's amended birth certificate to do that. How many of you got the amended certificate as part of your search? Today, it is even easier to find people with Facebook and DNA tests and the numerous search angels out there, plus the many recent adoptions that are open. These many avenues of search are great for those who want to search and be found. It is a different world than when many of us searched.

      I do not feel I have the legal right to my son's amended birth certificate or any court documents, because I gave up all legal rights when I surrendered. That stuff is all his. In fact I have no interest in those documents and would not expend any energy in a crusade to obtain them. We all choose our own battles. Those who see mother's access to the amended certificate as important are welcome to pursue that. I do not see that cause as contributing anything to adoptee rights, and in some cases it could be detrimental. There have always been mothers testifying for open records like Lorraine and me, and we are always dismissed by our foes because we are not like the closet moms who need "protection" and are afraid to testify. Not all natural mothers want to search or be found, so it will never be a unanimous thing to want the ABC either.

      I would prefer to work towards enforceable open adoptions, and helping mothers who just need a little help to keep their babies to do that. No unneeded adoptions, and those that do take place, ethical and open when that is feasible and all information available to the adoptee as an adult when they cannot be open due to severe dysfunction in the natural family.

      Did I have a "right" to find my son? I never thought of it in those terms, I just did it. Do I need any papers to prove who he is or who I am? Nope. For mothers, I do not feel it is really about papers as it is for the adoptee. Obviously others feel differently which is OK. Some feel that mother's access to the ABC is equivalent to adoptee access to their own OBC. I and some others see these things as very different. It is a subject still open to debate.

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    3. It has nothing to do with anyone finding anyone. This is supposed to be about rights. The natural parent does not have the right to a document that was issued AFTER he or she relinquished all rights to the child. To say they do is to keep adoptees in a state of perpetual childhood.

      If you don't believe in adoption and think all adoption should always be guardianship where the natural parents get to raise the child with the APs, just say so and work for that. But when someone surrenders all rights to a child, that person does get the benefit of viewing or owning the amended birth certificate, which belongs to somebody else.

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    4. I have a right to my husband's OBC. His parents had a life-long right to his OBC. They lived to be nearly 90 years old. That was the law. In NY state, where I was born, my own father got copies of my OBC when I was past 60 yrs old. None of us had ever seen it, not even my parents.
      This is not about "perpetual childhood." It is about birth and relationships that are recognized by Vital Records. Birth relationships are permanent. Parental rights do not erase the facts of birth.
      That is why adoptees and their birth relatives are still connected by birth and remain connected by both birth certificates. It is the event of birth.

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  9. Sounds like some people believe in secrecy for adoptees. Secrecy under any other name, whether it is called "adoptee rights only" is still secrecy. And a special "right" for adoptees that other non-adopted people don't have. My parents had the right to obtain my OBC until the day they died, whether I liked it or not.

    Birth records belong to parents and the children they gave birth to. They also belong to the government. The government started the whole process of vital records, whether we like this or not. Mothers names are on the birth certificates, as well as their occupations, race, address, and other personal details.

    No one "gets himself-herself born"...birth requires a multiple effort....hardly a 1-way street.
    I am entitled to my child's birth certificate. I signed the thing. My name and information is on it. It is my information, also.

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    1. Let's make this clear, people. I said another adult--natural parent or not--is not entitled to the adoptee's AMEMDED birth certificate, not the OBC. Why would he or she be?

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    2. Well, for one thing, Jess, because our data, that is the natural mother's data,connected to that birth event, is still on the Amended BC. The natural mother does have a connection to the Amended BC. She gave birth to the "registrant"...the person born, renamed, but still the child she gave birth to. And usually the birth data does not change.

      I do have a copy of my son's Amended BC. I got it when I got his name. The state where he was born had an open birth certificate law in those days, and anyone could get a copy, so I got one.
      All of the original OBC data was still on the Amended BC...doctor, dates, time, place, my medical history...all of that is still a part of MY life-long medical record which I take with me every time I go to the doctor. The hospital, city,state,...none of that changed and was simply transferred from the OBC to the Amended BC when my son was adopted.
      I authorized some of that data myself when I signed the OBC application in the hospital. I remember filling it out and signing it, and I recall seeing the original data on the form.
      The event of birth, which was recorded on the OBC was also identical on the Amended BC. It belongs to my son and to me.But it is also a government Vital Record and other people are entitled to have access. It is not precious, special, or secret.




      The names of the adoptive parents did not change the facts of my son's birth.

      Adoptees no longer have the same name, after adoption, as the one that they were registered with on the OBC. But they are still that same person named on the OBC. The same is true, in theory, of the Amended BC. The event of birth is still the same.
      The birth connection is the same, which is what connects both birth certificates to the same people. It is not a mystery.

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  10. There are/were lots of adoptees from the closed era who wanted to be found and did not understand that records were sealed from their mothers.
    My son was one of those adoptees. He thought I knew where he was. He expected me to "just show up any day" and take him home. He tried to find me when he was 21, but was discouraged by the agency.
    I found him a few months later.
    Mothers should be helped to find their children. There are lots of adoptees like my son. When I worked in search/support I got calls from them frequently. They wanted to know why their mothers were not looking for them.
    I do not support secrecy or preventing mothers from searching. Mothers don't need anyone's permission to look for their children.

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  11. Jess, Natural mothers are the excuse being used to KEEP records closed. How about looking at the likelihood that adoptees WOULD have free access to their OBC --IF-- mothers were not held as the ones responsible for keeping them closed.

    Secondly, many of us (mothers) have been very outspoken about adoptee access. Some, for a very long time. Yet slow as molasses goes the process. Maybe it IS time to turn the focus to the one that is being used as an excuse.

    I wonder if the excuse would suddenly change to 'needing to protect the adoptee'. Or maybe the fullest truth would come out about 'needing to protect the "privacy" and "confidentiality" of the adoptive parents and the forever family'. The ones to whom some of us know the promises were really made to, as a lot of we mothers were told to 'never ever go looking' or 'you'll never see them again'. That is not -us- wanting privacy or confidentiality.

    A third point, this IS a blog for natural mothers. If you are unable to see the pleading for access for adoptees, irrespective of OUR "right to access", maybe you have skipped over some things.


    I'm also a 'lineal descendant' of an adoptee. I'm tired of seeing a lie staring back at me on the amended certificate. I want the records open for adoptees regardless of whether or no we mothers are EVER freed in this life, from our 'punishment'. As a descendent, I don't like being made to feel a 'criminal' for asking for a -simple piece of paper- with MY TRUTH on it. I would also LOVE for my natural grandmother, or her family, to be able to have the right to get her child's amended birth certificate if it would bring US together /help them to FIND me. I don't know if she is still alive and it is very unlikely...sad.

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    1. The amended birth certificate doesn't belong to you. It only belongs to the adult adoptee. The OBC is something both of you ought to have legal entitlement to.

      I don't give a fig about protecting the "forever" family, the stupidest concept ever. But other jurisdictions agree with me here. Adopted people in Scotland, for example, have always had the right to obtain a copy of their original birth certificate when they reach 16 years of age. Birth mothers have no such comparable rights to their child's amended birth certificate.

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    2. The thing I feel that I and other mothers do not have a right to is a copy of the amended birth certificate, the actual paper itself, given out by vital statistics which I think is the issue here. That does not mean I think we have no right to find our children and offer a relationship, which they can either accept or decline.

      As far as the information contained therein, there are many other ways to get that information, the adoptee's new identity, which we all did and others are doing every day in a variety of ways. Sealed records have never really stopped search from either side, so nobody is actually protected, whether they want that protection or not.

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    3. Maryanne,

      usually I agree with you, on nearly everything. And I think you are an open-minded kind person. But, there are not as many ways to get information as you might think. Some states have actually tightened up laws.
      TN, for example, has passed a state-wide "contact veto" law against all natural parents who try to search. It is the position of the state of TN that all TN adoptees need protection from all birth parents and the only way to beat this, is for the adoptee to file a "permission to contact" with the state.
      It is like an automatic restraining order. Mothers are "guilty" no matter what. I didn't believe it at first, but I looked up the law and it is true. Then I began hearing from mothers who got nasty letters from the state of TN, on behalf of their children, after one gentle letter or phone call.
      We don't even know who intercepts those letters or contacts the state or puts pressure on the adoptee to say "no." I remember when Australia had a contact veto law in their states, and folks over there told me it was awful. The veto did stop people from searching and contacting their relatives.
      There is a movement here for that law.

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    4. i think bio moms and dads should have rights to amended birth certificates in this day and age, just as the kids should have access to their OBC's and at least minimally while the kids are minors, that means that the adoptive parents should have access, too.

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    5. Kaisa,
      I agree,
      all should have access. Except where it has been proven that someone is a "danger" as in parent terminated for criminal abuse, there is no reason for "secrecy/privacy" just because...............

      Delete
    6. Kaisa, by in this day and age", do you mean bio parents should have a retroactive - as in going decades back - right to their adopted-out children's amended birth certificates, *without the O.K from the adopted person*, even if the adoption was originally closed and the bio parent had accepted that, however reluctantly, as a legal condition for the adoption at that time?
      Or are you talking about bio parents who have relinquished into recent open adoptions"in this day and age"?
      Of course the adoptive parents have access to the ABC. They get it as a matter of course. That's why it is amended, to show that they are the legal parents.

      For anyone interested, here are the regulations outlined for search and reunion in the UK:
      http://www.adoptionsearchreunion.org.uk/Channels/
      New regulations extending provision to Intermediary Services came into force late last year:
      http://www.adoptionsearchreunion.org.uk/news/newsitems/newaccess.htm

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    7. Lisa,
      just to clarify here,
      I have a copy of my son's relinquishment and there is nothing on it about records or birth certificates or agreements for secrecy/privacy.
      I did not agree or disagree to name changes.That option was not under my control.
      The fact that we have/had no "secrecy contracts" has been used as a successful argument for opening records/OBCs to adoptees in a number of states now. Mothers do not sign a contract for secrecy/confidentiality or privacy when they sign a relinquishment. That has been proven. This works both ways. We also do not have a contract with our children to avoid them in adulthood.This argument works all ways.
      There was no secrecy contract or agreement. I didn't accept it as a "condition for adoption" at that time. It is not on the relinquishment paper. We didn't sign on the dotted line and say "yes, I agree to the name changes and the secrecy."

      Nope, didn't happen that way. I did not even know if my son would be adopted. There were no guarantees at all. I only knew that he was being relinquished and I was losing custody of him. An agency would take legal custody of him, and, most likely, another family would adopt him.
      Whatever the conditions would be, were out of my control. I could neither agree nor disagree and if conditions changed, I had no control over those, either.
      The agency handled the legal adoption. I had nothing to do with that.

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    8. Kitta wrote:"Then I began hearing from mothers who got nasty letters from the state of TN, on behalf of their children, after one gentle letter or phone call."

      Was this after a letter or phone call direct to the adoptee, or to the state? Agree that it is none of the state's business who contacts whom, but some adoptees genuinely do not want contact, without anyone pushing them in that direction. It is their own choice, and if the state gave them the form to say no, evidently they used it. The decent thing would have been to get back to the birthmother directly and to say they did not want a relationship, but if they were not contacted directly by the mother and had no other way than through the state to get back to the mother and say they were not interested, I guess they were just using that way to let her know. Contact vetoes or lousy, which is why "open records" that contain them are not really about adoptee rights.

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    9. Maryanne,
      the mothers found their children using independent searchers. From what the mothers said, they were not aware of the contact veto, until they got the letter from the state telling them to "cease and desist contact on behalf of the adoptee" who had contacted the state after getting a letter or phone call from the mother.
      So, yes, the adoptees were contacted by the mothers directly. They could have told the mothers, "no, please don't contact me again." In one case, I did see the cease and desist letter from the state of TN. It looked like a form letter.
      TN may send this letter out to everyone in that same situation.

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  12. maryanne--Did you not use the same searcher I did?

    We simply paid our money and got the new identities of our children. It's not like that for many; many will search but never be able to find--unless the information about their own children is given to them. When we gave up our children the law which many of us did not agree to but were forced to accept, now continues its hold on a whole group of people who never wanted to be anonymous from our children. What worked for us does not work for many. And The Searcher--who found our children quickly--is long gone. We have stated many times that while there are many avenues for successful searches today, it does not work for everyone. Philosophically, if the law was bad for children, it was also bad for the mothers. We know how we have been damaged.

    ...Birthmark came out in 1979. That year some “twenty-eight states defeated or allowed bills to die in committee that would have provided adult adoptees with some sort of access to information in sealed adoption records.” But despite the intense opposition, some heard our plight. What was then the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) had held hearings around the country before writing a comprehensive Model State Adoption Act that would cover the whole country. Florence, B.J. Lifton and I—as well as a whole packed auditorium of people—trooped up to Columbia University to testify. As expected, plenty of adoptive parents, adoption agency workers, adoption lawyers, NCFA and fellow travelers were against the changes being proposed. CUB’s president Lee Campbell was on HEW’s advisory committee, but we didn’t hold out much hope for anything for natural mothers.

    When HEW released its proposed legislation in 1980, we were stunned. It advocated not only open records for adoptees, but also for mothers:
    “It is the philosophical position of the Model Act that secrecy is not and has never been an essential or substantive aspect of adoption.”

    There is more:
    “There can be no legally protected interest in keeping one’s identity secret from one’s biological offspring; parents and child are considered co-owners of the information regarding the event of birth….The birth parents’ interest in reputation is not alone deserving of constitutional protection.”
    pages 97-98 from h♥ole in my heart

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  13. No, Lorraine, I did not use the same searcher you did, although I did refer many people to that searcher, and to another who could only do NYC searches. My son was found by a personal friend who found a lot of people in another state by knowing what to look for and physically going into vital statistics and looking at the birth records. She came to NJ and did the same for me, bullshitted her way in with a story about doing genealogy. She got my information for me, and did not charge a cent. She would not take any money. But she did charge me with helping others and carrying it on, which I did. I took that very seriously and am still in touch with her at Christmas.

    Someone else tried what she did some time later, and they were not let in, so what worked for me did not work again. This was in 1976. Several years later, the paid searchers showed up, and we in NJ Origins started referring searching birthmothers to them, as I did you, Lorraine.

    No, the paid searchers of the secret kind are no longer there. That was in the days before caller ID or the internet, or sophisticated ways to electronically track things. It was before DNA analysis was available. But there are so many other avenues open now to searchers, mothers and adoptees, these people could not make a living any more doing what they did. Not everyone would be able to find the person they are looking for even with the amended BC; people move, change names, some records are false. Many more people can find their missing relatives today than we had to rely on paid searchers who hid behind layers of protection so most had no idea who they were dealing with including us in their chain of referrals.

    I was at that hearing in 1980. Mirah Riben was there too with her baby Adira in a baby carrier, and I was hugely pregnant with my youngest son Gabriel. We made quite a sight! But it did not get anywhere, despite all the tears and testimony. So here we are today, still carrying on, some progress made but nothing like we envisioned in those naive days.

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  14. I was so freaked out by my information being inadvertently published in the newspaper--where I had been a reporter up until I showed--that today I am not sure what it says on the OBC. I do not remember ever seeing it, it was handled by the social worker--a discussion I do recall, and I seem to have a hazy memory of telling her or agreeing to a fudging of my last name and using the first part of the original Polish/Russian name. So without help from the agency--which certainly was not helpful when I was writing them, as were my daughter's parents--my daughter's OBC might not have let her find me. Only the agency papers would give her my name, which I never changed. I always meant to keep my original name--decided around the time I realized most women changed their names when they married--but after I had her, that was another reason to keep her. So she could find me easier. God knows where those agency documents are today. Hillside in Rochester has closed or folded into another agency. At some point, someone from Hillside Terrace did confirm that Jane was my daughter. Of course, it was not worded that way. Much more...convoluted, but clear enough. She is the person you think she is, something like that.

    Let me point out again: The Chinese year 1966 (Jan 21, 1966-Feb.8, 67) comes up again and again in adoption reform, esp. among the women who turned their energies to finding their children and then getting involved in the law. Continues to blow me away!

    Jess--Whether it is a "right" in the legal sense or not is immaterial; when we terminated our rights to raise our children, we were forced to accept banishment. A great many of us did not want that "right" to be banished from our children's life. So, what's the problem in admitting that now and saying, as this movement gathers the energy of a tidal wave, we never wanted that, let's give mothers what they were forced to accept. You know, like people who had to accept laws that governed their lives made by others without the individual having a say-so in them. Ah! This is worth a post by itself!

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  15. Does first getting laid in 1966 count for the Chinese Calendar thing? :-) The dimly understood rhythm method did work for a little while! At 20 I thought I was the oldest virgin left in NJ except my boyfriend who was 2 years older.

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    1. No. but you come close! Conceived in 1966? I suppose that has some of the effect. But the children born in those dates are Fire Horses, and that leads to...commotion!!! Strong willed. I imagine can do great good or trouble, but the trouble part is what goes most of the attention. In China, there is always a spike in abortions in those years. Fortunately they are infrequent.

      A study was done in Japan in 2010 about these women and researchers from Osaka University and Japan’s Gender Equality Bureau found that “these women were in fact more likely to have been divorced than those close to them in age" (born just a few years before or after). It was also proven that these women made less money overall.

      Japanese Birth Rates

      The last year of the Fire Horse was 1966. During that year, many parents avoided having children either because they believed superstition about the Fire Horse year, or they were afraid their child would be discriminated against. The results were severe: the Japanese birth rate dropped 15 percent in order to avoid giving birth to a Fire Horse child, which is equal to 463,000 less births than the surrounding years.

      The next year of Fire Horse will be born in 2026.

      I took all of this from links but forgot to copy them.

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    2. here it is, with a chart for the dip in births
      http://bust.com/general/13080-the-legend-of-japan-s-fire-horse-women.html

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  16. Actually my first son was conceived in 1967, around July since he was born in April. Good thing I am not Asian:-)My newest grandson is part Chinese and Japanese on his mother's side, born in early Jan. this year so the previous year's Chinese sign.

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  17. In some states such as Ohio, anyone can get a certified copy of anyone's birth certificate. Of cousre, you'd have to know the name of the adoptee to get it.

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