|Mother and Child by Mary Cassatt|
In my state, Oregon, mothers who gave up their children to adoption (rather than have their rights terminated) have the right to ask a judge for copies of documents in their child's adoption legal file once their child turns 18. These documents contain the names of the adoptive parents and the adoptive name of the child.
You may ask why go through a judge at all. Excellent question. The work group that created this legislation, of which I was a part, couldn't quite get past the idea that there needed to be some sort of safeguard (even if it was imaginary) and so put the judge in between as a barrier. But change often occurs in baby steps. I believe that eventually the judge requirement will be eliminated and mothers will be able to get records directly from court staff.
The law not only makes it easier for mothers to find their children, its very existence tells them it's okay to search for their children! Since the law went into effect March 1, 2014, I 'm aware that at least two mothers have had joyous reunions with their lost children. I've not heard any complaints about the law.
This law was not proposed by a bunch of wild-eyed neurotic first/birth mothers seeking to track down their children and disrupt their lives or worse. It came from a work group authorized by a state-endorsed law reform commission, and was composed largely of members of the adoption industry and state adoption workers--and me. It sailed through the legislature with no opposition.
Although this law is a great start, Oregon and other states need to go further. While 21 states allow or soon will allow adoptees to access their original birth certificates (some with restrictions)* mothers cannot access their children's amended birth certificates in any state. While open adoption agreements have become common in domestic adoptions since the 1990's, no state gives first mothers an absolute right to enforce these agreements.
In the world of the adoption industry and often the media ad public perception, natural mothers are the lesser member of the Adoption Quad which consists of 1) agencies and attorneys who set the rules and make the money, 2) adoptive parents who benefit by the rules and pay the money, 3) innocent children who are to be adopted, and at the bottom, 4) mothers who make it all possible through, according the attitude of the others, their irresponsible sexual behavior and noble sacrifice. Thus some in the Quad believe that mothers' rights should be considered last--their "noble" sacrifice notwithstanding.
Mothers' redemption in the folklore of adoption comes from loving their children enough to know someone else could give them a better life, which of course means a better life without their own mother's love and natural family. Segments of the adoption industry sponsor "Birth Mothers' Day" the Saturday before Mother's Day, to celebrate "birth" mothers and honor their selflessness--which allows more deserving people to have children.**
Natural mothers should be honored -- not for giving up their children but for carving out a life in spite of their terrible loss, With little or no support, mothers suppress their grief, complete their educations, have careers, marry, and some have other children and are good moms to them. We at FMF know of no better way to honor natural, first, birth mothers than by recognizing their natural right to know their children, and let their children know in the best way possible that they were never forgotten and first and foremost, loved--jane.
*Resources: Laws Searching Reunion
**See for example. Friends in Adoption
From First Mother Forum:
Oregon to allow first mothers easier access to their child's adoption records
It's Mother's Day Again. And 'Birth' Mother's Day too
It's here again: Mother's Day Blues
Lost Daughters: Writing Adoption From a Place of Empowerment and Peace
Editor and contributor: Amanda H.L. Transue-Woolston
"Lost Daughters Anthology is a tough book for mothers who relinquished to read because whatever we may have told ourselves about the “good” reasons to let our children be adopted, these poignant, sad, moving essays belie that with the sheer force of a body blow. I found myself with tears in my eyes as soon as I started reading, and they didn’t totally dry up until long after the last page."--Lorraine
Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience
by Betty Jean Lifton
"Important and powerful . . . [the author] is concerned not just with adoptees but with the experience of adoptive parents and birth parents."---Psychology Today
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