|Lorraine and daughter Jane, 1982*|
A few states--Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, to be exact--have bills in the pipeline to unseal original birth certificates (OBCs), but the legislators parry and worry and delay the bills because usually a few insist that mothers must have a "right" to lifelong anonymity! By in large, legislators do not need convincing anymore that there is a crying need to give the adopted their original birth certificates, but their Yes! vote appears to hinge on their feeling about the supposed right to anonymity of birth mothers. Yes, that is what we are called by legislators. Birth mothers.
Legislators need to hear from us FIRST mothers because they will hear from adoption-agency owners and workers; judges, religious officials who supposedly have the support of God behind their opposition, adoption attorneys, even the state's
ACLU chapter may pop up and say they are speaking for all the birth mothers in the closet who cannot come forward to beg to remain in the closet, hidden from their own children. They have done it elsewhere.
These folks fill legislators' heads with talk of the disaster, havoc, lives ruined, etcetera that will rain down on humankind if the adopted are given their birth certificates. Hints of suicides are mentioned. Trust me, I've heard all of these things at hearings for adoptee rights. I've watched handlers from the National Council for Adoption comfort a sobbing mother who testified asking for anonymity. From whom, I always wanted to ask--your child? It didn't seem like it that day.
Do not let these people--who only see mothers at the vulnerable time of relinquishment--speak for us. While some who work for legislation claim OBC access is not about reunion, only rights, for us OBC access may be the only route to the reunion many of us so fervently wish. No statistics exist on how many adoptees get their OBCs with the name intact and search, but I'll go out on a limb here and presume the number is quite high. It is certainly a presumption the man in the street makes, as well as any legislator.
Why get that piece of paper without taking the next step and finding out what your story is, why you were relinquished, who your father is? Isn't there an innate curiosity about your own story, or has the trappings of adoption and the secrecy fostered in the past and the guilt that follows killed this curiosity?
So while we approach the busy time in state capitols, take a moment--give this an hour!--and send an email, write a letter, make a phone call to a legislator in the state where your child was born or, perhaps even more importantly, the state where you live now. In the above states, letters from anywhere are better than no letters are all. Let them know that you, a mother who relinquished, are in full support of giving adoptees their original birth certificates. If you pray for reunion, let them know that too. If you already have had a reunion, tell them that. If you have a hole in your heart, tell them that too. You don't have to go on at any length, just hearing from first mothers is crucial!
Ask them not to allow the few mothers who are in the closet to have total control over the process, because that is what a contact veto or redaction does. In Louisiana the current terrible bill in play has disguised their absolute veto as a "contact preference." A preference is when the adoptee still gets the OBC--without redactions--but receives a notice that her first mother does not wish to be contacted. That has to be among the worst pieces of information that an adoptee ever receives--now she feels rejected and abandoned twice--but it still gives her the birth data and history, and leaves her free to contact siblings or other relatives.
Only when we take the step to write a letter, call a legislator, or take action in great enough numbers will that last barrier to adoptee access to their OBCs fall. If you hope for reunion, how proud you will be if you can tell your lost child that you took action so that they could find you.--lorraine
*This was taken a year after reunion and though the photo doesn't show it, we had on matching sandals, made by a small Italian company in limited quantity that we purchased separately more than a thousand miles apart. Synchronicity at work.
PS: Because the people in those states have worked so hard to get where they are now, leave a short notice here that you contacted someone to cheer them along. EVERY EMAIL, EVERY LETTER, EVERY PHONE CALL is another nail in the coffin of sealed records. If you have never done this before, let this be the year you start. Think how proud you will be to tell your son or daughter that you took action.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THESE STATE BILLS, and where to find out where you can write: (We will be posting more information as we get it.)
(see comments for LA names and contact information)Access Massachusetts
MISSOURI ADOPTEE RIGHTS MOVEMENT
PS: New York's bill is so terrible no one is supporting it. We hope to let it die this year, we hope the opposition can not have it rewritten so that it is a comedy of contravention, and revive a new bill next session. Sad but true.
PPS: Because of infighting among people working for OBC access, comments will be strictly moderated. IF YOU HAVE TROUBLE COMMENTING, PLEASE EXIT FACEBOOK--someone has also suggested leaving Google to comment--and try again. We sometimes hear from people who have trouble commenting, or that we are censoring them, but we have never seen their comment at all.
If you have links to add about where letters are needed, please add them.
Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption
I don't know who Sophie Shopper (an adoptee) is but I'd like to thank her for her review, here in part:
"I like the fact that Lorraine has shared with us in this book all the various parts of the reunion years....'The rest of the story' so to speak. Because often times there are many ups and downs over the years following reunion and the important thing for people to understand are these years. You might watch some TV show about people finding their families - and they are all tears and hugs and wonderfulness. However, what happens next is what matters most. What happens 5 yrs down the road - 10 yrs - 20 yrs? That's where the story is.
"My first mother has been dying for awhile now. I have all sorts of emotions about this ending. Reading this book helped me in many ways while I'm going through this process of letting go of the woman who gave birth to me 62 yrs ago. I'm glad I had already bought it several months before and had it ready on my Kindle to start when I needed something like this to help me get through."
Links above to Amazon. THANKS THOSE OF YOU WHO ORDER THROUGH FMF. JUST CLICK ON THE JACKET OR TITLE AND GET TO AMAZON.