' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: A rationale for adoptee access to original birth certificates

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A rationale for adoptee access to original birth certificates

From the Albany Times-Union
As we celebrate Hawaii's ground-breaking law, we must remember that many states (13 at this point) have passed laws that give some--but not all--adopted people access to their original birth records. These laws are wrong every which way. There should be no restrictions to anyone's access to their birth records or any source that would give individuals the names of their natural biological parents. However, when there is no possibility of complete access--due to a legislator's intransigence on the noxious issue of birth mother vetoes--we have not opposed such legislation. We did, however, oppose the truly awful bill in New York state recently. But just as the military went from President Bill Clinton's tepid "Don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays to full acceptance, so will we move to full access for all adoptees to their original birth certificates without exceptions, or those damn birth mother/first mother vetoes.


Below is an excerpt from Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption, published in 2015, about what's wrong with sealed records: 

Daughter and Mother reunion, 1982
Imagine that you are at a family gravesite. A grandmother is being laid to rest alongside her husband, perhaps a sibling or two, and other relatives connected by birth. You are standing there, head bowed, but you can’t squelch the awareness that when you die you do not really belong in this family plot. You should be elsewhere. You have a whole other passel of relatives, but you don’t know who they are, or where they are. You are adopted.

You have no knowledge of who you really are, where you came from and how you got here, you have no family medical history. You don’t look like anyone in this family, and you wonder where you got your flat feet or why your second toe is longer than your big toe, when nobody else in the family has feet like yours.

You are an orphan in the world.

You’ve known since you were five or six that you came from another life, but you understand that you are not supposed to question, or wonder what that life would be like, or even who those people are who gave you life. You have a birth certificate, but the information on it doesn’t tell you who gave birth to you, only who adopted you. The state took away your right to know who you are when your parents adopted you, and sealed your original paperwork forever.

For the vast majority of adopted people in America, this is the way the world works.

SEALED OBCs ARE IDENTITY THEFT
What sealed records do to adopted people is no less than a kind of identity theft, a state-sanctioned robbery. Only a handful of states—and none of the most populous—give an adopted individual the free and clear right to that basic piece of paper. Call them free states. Today there are nine. [1]

Elsewhere adoptees are subject to a crazy-quilt of laws with various caveats that still leave some unable to learn their true place in the world. Those states permit a mother to redact her name on the original birth certificate with a simple request to the state.[2] Consequently the most critical birth data—whom one was born to—is eradicated. There is no appeal, no legal recourse.

Press conference for adoptee rights bill in New York  City, 2014
Lawmakers in those states have insisted on such vetoes because they ostensibly smack of a certain fairness: adopted individuals may have their birth certificates as originally written—except if the mother objects.

There is nothing fair about these vetoes. They give the individual who wishes to remain anonymous the right to deprive another knowledge about one’s being that the rest of us enjoy without asking and have always taken for granted. For those of us who know who we are—who have known since the age of reason—the enormity of this blank wall in the mental makeup of another individual is impossible to fully grasp. You were raised Jewish but maybe you were supposed to be Episcopalian. You were raised in a hot-blooded Italian family but you’re cool and less excitable. You are something else. Your mother is a poet but all you care about is politics.

These vetoes are becoming the path states are mistakenly taking as they move to unseal birth records of the adopted. Reflecting the zeitgeist of an earlier era when an out-of-wedlock birth was the cause of great scandal, these half-way measures today are chauvinistic holdovers of that time. Legislators who enact them insist they are protecting these scandalous women from—whom? Their own children.

Testifying in New York, 2014
But the laws that sealed birth certificates were never designed to give mothers anonymity. The goal was quite the opposite: The laws were written to shield the adoptive family from the natural mother’s interference.[3] It was presumed that she would want to know what happened to her child, and adoptive parents did not want her intruding. Despite how desperate a woman may have been to keep her baby’s birth a secret at the time, today that assumption has been subverted to allow her to hide from that child, and thus prevent his ever knowing his real identity. In effect, the state has set up a system that allows this type of identity theft, issues him fake ID papers, and offers no recourse. These new laws are not fair and equitable. These laws make a mockery of justice for all.

Adopted individuals were never asked if stripping away their identities and histories was their choice, or in their best interests. These infants and children grow up into adults with all the rights and obligations of the rest of us, yet—due to a contract made by others—they are denied basic facts about themselves. Sealed birth records of any kind, with any restrictions that apply to the person whose record it is, codify the same kind of appalling thinking that allowed slavery to flourish in centuries past.

NO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO ANONYMITY 
Other than slavery, there is no instance in which a contract made among adults over another individual binds him once he becomes an adult. It takes from him full autonomy as a free person; it makes him subject to the whims and preferences of another, and it does so indefinitely and for all time. Anything other than full autonomy—which surely includes the right to know who one was at birth—is wrong morally, wrong legally, wrong anyway it can be interpreted.

Courts in the past have held[4]—and unquestionably courts in the future will find—that the mother has no constitutional right to remain anonymous from her child, and thus the state has no obligation to keep her identity secret from her offspring.

While these veto-burdened laws perpetuate a great injustice, they do this in the name of the very few. In free states where adopted individuals may obtain their original, intact birth certificates, mothers not wishing to be contacted may file such a preference with the state, and this is passed on should their adult children request their original birth certificates.

Jane (in center) on a day of testifying in Olympia, WA, 2013
Few women choose this option. According to statistics compiled by the American Adoption Congress, fewer than 600 women have requested no contact in the six states that have opened their records since 2000, out of nearly 800,000 sealed birth certificates there. That is .0007, or seven-one-hundredths of one percent. In essence, only 1 of out of every1,429 mothers named on sealed birth certificates in those states have requested no contact. In those six states approximately 30,000 people to date have asked for their original birth certificates, and the number continues to grow. How many received a no-contact request is unknown.

Fathers are not normally named on such documents, for most states prohibited that if the mother was a single woman—unless he filed an affidavit attesting to paternity. “Unknown” on a birth certificate does not mean the mother did not know who he was; it only means that the state did not recognize anyone as the father.
Oregon ad signed by 500
firstmothers, including Jane and Lo.

When adopted individuals began contesting sealed records, states and organized groups, such as ALMA, set up mutual-consent registries to match adoptees and natural parents. They are a step in the right direction, but they are largely ineffectual and ignore the basic injustice of sealed records. Most people do not even know such registries exist; dead parents and dead adoptees can’t register; some people do not know where they were born; young mothers who were heavily sedated and living in secrecy may be uncertain of the correct date or specific location; both parties must file with the same registry; some registries have inane restrictions, to wit: New York and California originally required that the adoptive parents sign off on their adult child registering.

SEALED RECORDS CREATE A SUBORDINATE CLASS
Some states allow confidential intermediaries to do a search for the missing parties in one’s life. Who may initiate a search varies from state to state, but typically the name of the person sought may not be revealed without her permission. While either side may refuse, it is only the adopted individual who is seeking his own identity; the mother knows hers.

Neither intermediaries nor registries are a solution to the central issue of the right of the adopted to be able to answer the question: Who am I? Lacking that, the adopted remain a subordinate class of people, denied what the rest of us take for granted. This is social engineering gone awry.

Some may see a mother’s right to anonymity as a twisted extension of her "right to choose." But surely that right ends with her, and does not extend to future generations. Only in a Kafkaesque hell would someone grant anyone the right to erase the past history of another and sentence him to a state of genetic ignorance. Yet that is precisely what sealed records, and those laws that allow a mother’s veto, do.

It is not a hidden mass of natural mothers demanding such a twisted interpretation of fairness when states attempt to correct the wrongs of the past. Instead it is legislators listening to the ghosts of the past. It is adoption agencies and their agents, adoption attorneys—even search companies—who perpetuate the image of the vulnerable, fearful woman at the time of her greatest anguish, and place her in the present now, needing protection from her own flesh and blood. But she is a straw woman created by an industry fearful of change and of being discovered to have been wrong all these years.

The right to know one's heritage should be a given, not something to be asked for as a favor. It should—in a free society, it must—belong to all individuals by the very act of being born.
--from Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption by Lorraine Dusky
_____________________

[1] At this writing: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Rhode lsland and allow adult adoptees unrestricted access to their original birth certificates; Rhode lsland adoptees must be 25. I call them free states. (Updated from time of publication.)

[2] At this writing: Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana (effective 2018) Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey (2017) Ohio (minor restrictions), Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, and Washington and others. will join that list in 2017. While it is not current with recent legislation, most laws are explained at the American Adoption Congress website. See: http://www.americanadoptioncongress.org/state.php

[3] Samuels, Surrender and Subordination: Birth Mothers and Adoption Law Reform, Michigan Journal of Gender and Law, 2013, Vol 20: 1, pp. 32-81.

[4] Samuels, “The Idea of Adoption: An Inquiry into the History of Adult Adoptee Access to Birth Records,” Rutgers Law Review, Winter 2001, Vol. 53:2, pp. 432-434.

SEE ALSO

Hawaii OPENS adoption records!

Yearning 

Who am I? Who are my real parents? Whom do I look like? Most of us take the answers for granted. But a 40-year-old accountant recently was forced to go to court in an attempt to learn such basic information about herself. The New York Times,  -  

34 comments :

  1. susie q, adopteeJuly 6, 2016 at 6:21 PM

    Thanks for this post! If only every legislator in the country who votes for a fuckin' veto could read this.

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  2. (adoptee). When a natural parent vetos an adoptee from receiving unredacted birth certificates, it probably won't have the desired outcome of preventing the adoptee from finding their natural family. It really only precludes them from having the same rights to government held documents as other citizens. I totally respect any adults right to decide not to associate with another adult, however, families consist of more than one person and other adult family members have the right to choose whether or not they want to associate with the adoptee or not for themselves. Parents do not "own" their own families access to the adoptee and vice versa. They also don't own their ancestors exclusively. From a reunion point of view redaction doesn't make sense and from a legal standpoint its downright discriminatory.

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    1. I totally agree. Families are large. If a parent rejects meeting or contacting their offspring, but there are siblings, cousins, etc., and they wish to contact them, I encourage them, but with the caveat that it may be more difficult to have a relationship if the parent is so opposed to it.

      However, I have heard of siblings who do welcome their brother or sister, and then help facilitate the relationship with the mother.

      Ancestors belong to ...ALL OFFSPRING IN THAT LINE. Period.

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    2. And yes of course redaction is discriminatory. Why the ACLU is so fucking hell bent on saving "birth mother" privacy is beyond my comprehension. I have to ask, what in the hell is the matter with your thinking?

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    3. Lorraine wrote: However, I have heard of siblings who do welcome their brother or sister, and then help facilitate the relationship with the mother.

      Omg, i'm shocked, shocked i say. Don't those siblings know that the adoptee has no right for the sibling to want to help them and bring the family together? Don't they know the golden rule is that the adoptee must work on each relationship in the family independent of one another ? That because the adoptee has no legal or moral right to those relationships then all family members must infer that it would be wrong to facilitate anything? what world are they living in?

      After all, that is the definition of a family, right? A bunch of people who have completely independent relationships with one another? (sarcasm)

      omg i must say i'm completely appalled. NOT

      i agree Lorraine, all genetically related individuals belong to each other genetically and therefore have the right 1) know of each other and 2) interact together as a family, even on one another's behalf if they desire to, or not.

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    4. redactions have the potential to complicate legal identity matters, as well, including obtaining passports, travel, or even obtaining citizenship.

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    5. The ACLU issue came up a few months ago, and I did write to them (in April) to inquire about their position. They sent a sincere but very firm response, essentially that privacy of birth parents is guaranteed by the constitution, without any interference from the government. And that's why they get involved - it sounded like an extension of a woman's right to do with her body as she wishes, without government interference. I don't think the 2 issues really are side-by-side. Since there is now a new person, who possibly will never know their true origins. Is that something to fight for? How could it be?

      It's quite hard to understand, considering the ACLU is out there fighting for the rights of all people, and I assumed they were all for the release of information to the public. They have been on the right side of history, except for this issue, where they are on the wrong side of history.

      If ever there was a "Freedom of Information Act" needed, it's needed badly in this case. I wonder if there's a way to persuade the ACLU to evolve on this issue? I can say I will not renew my membership and tell them why, but do you have any other suggestions? I'm not sure they care about a dialogue with one member on one issue. Do you have any suggestions that may have more impact?

      If anyone would like to see the text of their response, I'll be happy to post it - it's probably a template response and there's nothing confidential in it.

      I think that Hawaii did the right thing. It seems that a person "adoptee" - a person! should have the right to know who their parents are. We are not dogs or cats after all, but are humans. Adoptees may find that there is no happiness at the end of their inquiry, but I think anything - anything - is better than an eternal question mark. If the news of the birth parents is not good, it certainly is no reflection on an adoptee.

      As a birth mother, I wouldn't have searched for my two sons, as I felt that would be the worst, and perhaps cruelest, thing to do. But one of them found me and I am glad. Prior to reunion with my son and coming to FMF, I had no idea that OBCs were not available at all, I assumed that everybody retains a copy for "that day" when an adoptee is grown and would like to know. I certainly think that this issue needs more publicity, there are a lot of people who don't really understand - even those who have been involved in adoption. We certainly are encouraged from a young age to be trusting of our government and the existing laws are for the benefit of all. Coming to this point, shows that they are not, necessarily and strip some people of a basic human right.

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    6. New and old, exactly who did you write to and who sent the response?

      Quoting myself from above: Courts in the past have held —and unquestionably courts in the future will find—that the mother has no constitutional right to remain anonymous from her child, and thus the state has no obligation to keep her identity secret from her offspring.

      Samuels, “The Idea of Adoption: An Inquiry into the History of Adult Adoptee Access to Birth Records,” Rutgers Law Review, Winter 2001, Vol. 53:2, pp. 432-434.

      Let's hit them with more letters. Please email me at forumfirstmother@gmail.com. The ACLU's position is malarkey. As I understand it, some state chapters have not taken this idiotic position. In the Constitution? What about the rights of the new person?

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    7. The ACLU is just plan wrong in saying that birth mother privacy trumps an adoptee's right to know his origins. Courts in Oregon and Tennessee have rejected that argument and upheld legislation opening records.

      The local ACLU's haven't been consistent in their approaches to access legislation. The Oregon ACLU opposed the ballot measure in 1998 allowing adoptees to have their OBCs but did not actively fight it. The New Jersey ACLU has gone to the mat over access legislation and got a birthmother veto provision in the law.

      Several years ago, I talked to the Oregon ACLU attorney about legislation which would require a woman considering adoption to be fully informed about her options. He said the ACLU would probably oppose the legislation because the ACLU opposes "forced speech". More nonsense.There's lots of places in the law where people are required to receive information before making a decision--the Miranda warning, for example, which I'm sure the ACLU supports.

      I quit the ACLU a long time ago. They are totally ignorant about adoption. My cynical side thinks this is because a lot of their members and benefactors are adoptive parents.

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    8. Lo,
      I think it has more to do with abortion rights. Women have been subjected to speeches while trying to obtain abortions.
      (Please note that I do NOT agree with ACLU. Abortion and adoption are two DIFFERENT things.)
      But, someone once told me that was how they saw it.

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    9. I've heard this too. It shows how pathetically ignorant the ACLU is about adoption.

      The ACLU believes natural mothers need to be protected from their lost children but not from rapacious adoption practitioners. It does not see the difference between anti-choice zealots requiring pregnant women be given misinformation about abortion and family preservationists wanting accurate information be given to pregnant women.

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    10. Related-ness goes in both directions. People are just as related to their "relatives" as their relatives are to them, including the ones who don't know about each other.
      Laws regarding incest hold people accountable for knowing if they are marrying a relative who is too close to legally marry. This is another reason why there should not be secrecy laws in adoptions.

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    11. FYI--the ACLU in my home state of Florida does support access to OBCs for adoptees.

      The Rights of Adult Adopted Persons
      Policy Statement

      Adopted April 21, 1987
      SW Florida Chapter of the ACLU

      This chapter agrees with the policy statement accepted by the Oakland County Chapter (Michigan Affiliate) and hereby accepts their policy which has been adapted to conform to Florida.

      In recent years, the issue of adoption has increased in complexity and has involved the interest and efforts of the courts, social agencies, and media. A person adopted in infancy, unfortunately continues to be referred to as an “adopted child” even after reaching adulthood. If this person chooses (or in some cases needs) to discover his or her birthparents or birth records, they find such records are sealed by the courts and are inaccessible.

      Historically this was considered to be for the protection of privacy, and maintenance of secrecy was ostensibly for the good of all involved. However, careful scrutiny of adoption statutes and practices has indicated that legal changes are necessary, and that civil liberties of adopted adults are being violated in the absence of any state or national policy on this matter, and with the belief that adopted persons should be treated no differently than other citizens, the Southwest Florida Chapter Board has
      voted to endorse the following policy:

      “Numerous states have laws or procedures which impede the ability of adopted adults, their birthparents and other relatives to ascertain each others’ identities. The ACLU believes that so long as state and/or local governments choose to maintain birth records, such records must be maintained and accessible without discrimination by virtue of adopted or non-adopted status.

      Toward this end, the ACLU believes that laws suppressing information about adoptees and/or their birthparents, and laws allowing access to such information only upon consent or registration, or laws allowing access to such information only upon court order, deny adopted persons, their birthparents, and their relatives equal protection of the laws and constitutes unwarranted interference by the government with the right of people to choose whether to associate.”

      The political debate on the adoption issue has tended to be framed in terms of psychological issues; emotional issues; medical issues and sociological issues. The above policy confines itself to a civil liberties analysis.

      Respectfully submitted,

      Nancy Stone Farley
      Chapter Chair SW Florida, ACLU

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    12. Hooray for SW Florida Chapter and the Oakland County (Michigan) Affiliate of the ACLU!!!! Now let's hope the rest of the ACLU Chapters and the National ACLU get on-board.

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    13. Excellent. I see that the FL ACLU uses the 14th Amendment argument, the "Equal Protection under the laws" argument. Good for them. And I see that they include adoptees, birth parents and other relatives,who need not be hidden from each other. Adoptees and their relatives do not need to be hidden from each other....and are being thwarted in their attempts to connect with each other in normalized ways, because of government interference.
      Actually, sealed records violate private relationships much more than they ever protect privacy.

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  3. In regards to this, at a Facebook page I just read about two stories where siblings married each other without knowing it. The twins--yes twins--did have have children and had their marriages annulled. Is this crazy or what?

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    1. You mean BOTH stories where about twins who married each other, had kids and then had their marriages annulled.
      That really IS weird.


      Delete
    2. No, only one story was about twins/ the other was half siblings, same mother, different fathers.

      Delete
  4. Waiting for newsJuly 8, 2016 at 12:42 PM

    Sure would be nice to see the Missouri Adoptee Rights Bill having been signed by the Governor in SOME Missouri news. All's quiet on the Missouri front...unless I missed something and my google searches were all wrong. Your blog is the only place I have found that says it was signed besides the Mo. House and Governor's pages. Does something else have to occur before it gets any attention in the press?

    Makes me wonder why it has all gone quiet. It was front page news in February. I thought the idea was /is to 'notify' (birth) parents. One simple, easy, fast way to do that is for the news to be saturated with the complete details for a bit of time. Isn't it? Or is it the opposition camps holding up the reins? One and a half years to notify (birth) parents? Really? Wow. Good thing it isn't something REALLY life or death important. Yes. That was total sarcasm.

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  5. I don't know what's wrong with the Missouri press--who should be on this--but the Missouri people are shy about announcing anything, I think, considering the trouble they had with some who opposed this bill.

    Yes, in blogdom it is usually wise to note when something is scarcasm. Too bad there isn't an emoji we can use. :)

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  6. waiting for newsJuly 9, 2016 at 10:46 PM

    Just learned descendants of Missouri adoptees will STILL have to get a court order to receive a copy of their parent's original birth certificate. WHY? Why do I still feel like an object OF PROPERTY, BOUGHT AND OWNED for LIFE. Yes, I'm yelling. If the adoptee can receive their original birth certificate why can't the children and other descendants of that same adoptee, if dead, receive a copy without having to feel like a damn criminal asking for their ancestors information that would be willingly given to the adoptee? I don't understand this at all. It makes no sense. Someone please give me a GOOD reason. I don't want lame brain excuses or twisted reasoning. I want and OTHER DESCENDANTS DESERVE a. good. reason.

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    1. Waiting for newsJuly 12, 2016 at 7:36 PM

      I'm left to believe there is no 'good answer'. Surely those that were in the know on everything that was going on and requested all the details to be 'kept quiet' while the legislation was working through the legislature would have some idea. But maybe all these things have to be kept "hush, hush" too. Was that part of the bargaining process? Keep quiet and let us do these things and we will give you some of what you want?

      I know how secrets and back room/closed door deals work. I grew up in a time and place where that was too often the norm. It was a destructive practice then and it still is today. It's often done to hide unethical or immoral behavior and it needs to STOP. Too many are hurt by such practices. The one/s that walk away with their misdeeds hidden are in no way getting away with anything because those that were hurt are often still hurting. Why not put the truth out there and free many from the prison of pain and shame from someone else's 'secret' deeds and practices?

      I think many would be amazed at the amount of forgiveness and appreciation that can and could be shown when truth is acknowledged. It's the continual covering up and attempting to hide the things that were done mistakenly, or in error, or even deliberately, that creates an atmosphere of disgust and an inability to fully forgive the wrongs done and thereby prevents healing of those so affected by such.

      Surely money, or rather fear of loss of money through possible lawsuits has a great bearing on all of this as well. To those who fear such, there is not enough money in the world to make up for the loss of my child and my motherhood. They are without price. The truth, on the other hand, is more precious and a greater compensation than any kind of monetary payment could ever be. Some food for thought for those that care to hear.

      I'm tired. I'm done. I pray that some hear.

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    2. There is also no amount of compensation that could make up for the loss of my true grandparents and extended family. Why in the world are we forbidden this side of a court order our parent's birth certificate? What the heck do we have to prove? That we are genetically related to our OWN parent? How crazy is that? Why are you, those who refuse us the right, abusing us? It is abuse.

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  7. It's funny that the law 'requires a public notification period' and yet they hold back and wait. What or who is holding it up? Go take a peek at Missouri Adoptee Rights Act Lutheran Family and Children's Services (blog). Part of which says, "In efforts to help ensure that this confidentiality continues to be respected today, LFCS is helping to raise awareness among birth parents of how the new law MAY(emphasis mine) affect them." It continues farther down after pointing out that there is a required public notification period, "In the meantime LFCS is working with Catholic Charities, the Adoption and Foster Care Coalition of Missouri, Children's Home Society of Missouri, and OTHER (emphasis mine) partners to raise awareness among birth parents of how they can PROTECT THEIR CONFIDENTIALITY (emphasis mine)." Won't all of that information on "how they can protect their confidentiality be made known in the public notification process? Won't it be available on the forms? No one NEEDS to take intervening steps to make (birth) parents "aware". No one. Especially if the public notification process is done quickly and thoroughly. It should be spelled out clearly. No meddling needed from ANYONE.

    Being a mother of loss, I know what my feelings are on this. It's to take the time to scare, frighten, discourage as many (birth) parents as they possibly can into "choosing" a veto prior to any public notification or the actual release of birth certificates.

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    1. Waiting--I must be particularly vulnerable today because by the time I got to the end of your comment, I had tears in my eyes. The wording the agencies and religious organizations involved in adoption use are downright disgusting. People get upset when I use the slavery analogy, but to me it seems so apt: one group of citizens get to control the fate of others. For effing EVER. It's like the South sending out warnings about why they need to go to war against the North when it was clear the slaves were about to be freed. Take up arms, you slavers whose livelihoods as you know it, depends on the enslavement of other people whose skin colors just happen to be different from yours, and whom you have treated terribly for a century!

      As for the Catholic Church, their fears are based on the priests and nuns who will be discovered to be mothers of children given up for adoption. The sexual revolution of the Seventies involved more than pot-smoking kids and hippies; it spread to an entire society, including the religious, as we keep learning today with continued revelations of priests who violated young men and women.

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  8. I just went to some Lutheran Family Services blog. Ye gods they use all kinds of modern day tactics to get you to give up your baby. They just want to stay in business. They are pathetic. When are people going to realize that adoption is not the answer to their fertility issues?

    I once had an adoptive mother tell me that it wasn't just a yearning for a child, but an organic deep feeling that she had to have a child. Thus, she had to find children to adopt. So she found two. There was no way I could tell her that she was just using a lot of fancy words to dance around what I was saying: That her need to adopt meant that she needed a mother actually supply the children--I did use words like that, trying to make her see that adoption was not just some warm and fuzzy thing--and that there was something fucked up about that reasoning. I also said that maybe the one son's drug issues were partly the result of the issue of being adopted, and though he had found his biological family--and they were in drugs and poverty--maybe one had to consider that his feelings of disorientation could not exactly be measured against the "better" more financially secure life she gave him. And who knew what was better?

    This idea was really upsetting to her ingrained way of thinking that she said, I have to end this conversation. She heard the words, but did not hear.

    She later told our mutual friends that I was very "aggressive" in the conversation. I recall how calm I was when we spoke, but I think anything I said to her about hows she was not "saving" her children from a terrible life struck her as "aggressive."

    The Lutherans want the babies, then they want real mothers to live lives of silence.

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  9. Waiting for newsJuly 10, 2016 at 5:16 PM

    Lorraine I don't know. Maybe the son and his biological family were medicating the pain of the separation which those that do not endure such cannot begin to understand in the fullness of the damage done. Who knows what may have been had the original family been encouraged to stay together and work at it and possibly given a bit of help. Things may have turned out the same and yet, I know how much of my strength, hope and health and will to try I lost in losing my child. In being 'told' I was worthless, did not help in any way to move me forward to my full potential. Many hopes and dreams, stayed hopes and dreams. Abilities went by the wayside. Many days I was so consumed with grief it was a struggle to get the basics done at work and at home. There was no energy left for moving forward or doing 'more than'. As you say, "live lives of silence". Silent despair. The "Shut up. I don't want to hear about your pain or loss. I don't care how much of a struggle this is for you. I don't care how bad it hurts. I don't care that everywhere you go and in everything you do you are hurting, wondering, where?, how?, is that my child? or could that one be? Are they ok? Oh how it hurt".

    The pain I medicated heavily with alcohol for some years and then backed it off to regular consumption but not to obliviousness or even what could be called drunkenness. Would I have plunged so deep into alcohol if this grief had never entered my life? I cannot say for certain, but I do believe it would not have been at such a regular and soul numbing level for those first 3 years.

    Those words, "I have to end this conversation". Duck and dodge. Can't bear to hear the pain has only been transferred to another and perhaps(likely) the child. Can't bear to hear that what they participated in was maybe not so great after all. It's sad. When society wakes up and stops pressuring these women who are unable to have children and comforts them instead and encourages the original families to remain together and help them to become strong and self sufficient, MAYBE, just maybe this destroying one family to create another that creates so much added grief, for all involved, will begin to change.

    I try to avoid agency propaganda/sales pitches for babies. It is just too horrid and stress making. When I did spend time looking a couple years ago I could not believe what I was seeing. Too shocked and disgusted for words. And terrified for the families and their children who might be separated by it all.

    Back to your post subject, there is all the rationale in the world for giving adoptees access to their original birth certificates. Simply it's the humane, just, fair, right, equitable, good thing to do. It's a loving thing to do. In other words, don't tell me you love me then treat me like this. That's saying one thing and feels quite the other. Words are easy and cheap. Come on Missouri and rest of the Nation, SHOW ME.:) TAKE DOWN THIS WALL! (all the way down.)

    ReplyDelete
  10. This will probably be the last comment I post on an adoption blog and Lorraine you have not printed my posts before when they have not fit your narrative. But I am going to have my say for the last time if you post it or not. Your blog has been described by you as a support blog for first mothers. You also have been a strong advocate for adoptees. And this is where I take issue. You are an adoptee right's blog first, a firstmother support blog least.

    Your blog has been more about adoptee rights (IMHO) than for first mother support. I respect your works for adoptee right but in such I expect you become transparent and inform your readers that adoptee rights are your main focus. In your words "Despite how desperate a woman may have been to keep her baby’s birth a secret at the time, today that assumption has been subverted to allow her to hide from that child, and thus prevent his ever knowing his real identity." Read that again and please take note of the first half of the first sentence you wrote. The first half reads "Despite how desperate a woman may have been to keep her baby’s birth a secret at the time."

    I know you have statistics that show that most birthmothers want to know about the child they relinquished and are not concerned with their privacy. I believe this may be true, but we have to understand that not all birthmothers are represented in these statistics. Data can be gathered and interpreted in so many different (and not conclusive) ways.

    Regardless of how "most" birthmothers feel about their privacy, what about those who actually believed the first part of the sentence I quoted. That they would have been able to keep the birth of their relinquished child a secret? They who chose not to undergo a legal or back alley abortion and to give birth to a child who they would relinquish (with shame) but go on to have the "better" life that adoption promised for their child and themselves? Those who believed their pain was a sacrifice and went on to build a life that they believed would honor the privacy they were promised.

    Fast forward and these birthmothers who were promised privacy (regardless of the benefit to the adoptive parents) are now "outed." The life they built can be changed in a minute by their relinquished child contacting them or their family. I especially feel sorry for the older birthmothers (I have read from adoptee accounts of mothers in their 70's) who have been contacted and when refused contact, their family members contacted.

    Now let's go on to the second part of the sentence I quoted. I reads "today that assumption has been subverted to allow her to hide from that child, and thus prevent his ever knowing his real identity." I ask you honestly what the hell you mean by this. A birthmother who was promised secrecy is now hiding from her child and preventing that child from knowing his identity? No Lorraine. You can't have it both ways. The woman who was promised secrecy (for the promised good of herself, her child and her family) has not been swept away in the benefits of "today." Rather "today" has come for her and broken all the promises that were made for the good of the adoptee. So please admit and be transparent that your blog is for adoptee rights and those birthmothers who lives will change when confronted by their "secret child" regardless of their desires are just collateral damage.

    I really hope women or girls reading your blog, other blogs and internet sites fully understand that there is no no promise to a birthmother that will usually be kept. Be it open adoption or privacy- the rules change at the whims of others for the benefit of others. The reason- birthmothers don't deserve the promises made to them.

    And BTW- If you post this and you focus on my comments regarding abortion (the likely place to distract my full meaning of this post) I will be disappointed in you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous said, "Those who believed their pain was a sacrifice and went on to build a life that they believed would honor the privacy they were promised." and "Rather "today" has come for her and broken all the promises that were made for the good of the adoptee."

      Is there "honor" in a lie? Is there honor in deceit? Is there honor in falsehood? Is there honor in make believe? How many adoptee's want to know their truth? Making an adoptee live a lie is not "for the good of the adoptee."

      Who are you really arguing for?

      Delete
  11. What 22 states have opened adoption records to adoptees? I can't find that information on the internet,could someone tell me please?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Look here:
      Resources: Laws, Searching, Reunion
      http://www.firstmotherforum.com/p/blog-page.html

      I believe it is up to date.
      this is one of our permanent pages

      Delete
    2. All but eight have some restrictions, that is, some form of a veto that may affect some birth years. Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island have no restrictions but different ages at which you can get your records. New Jersey will be on the list, with restrictions in 2017.

      Hawaii to be included without restrictions, when the new law goes into effect.

      Delete
    3. The above from me refers ONLY TO ACCESS OF ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATES. Not "adoption records."

      Delete

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