' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: What if I Don’t Want to See the Child I Gave Up for Adoption?

Thursday, January 25, 2018

What if I Don’t Want to See the Child I Gave Up for Adoption?

Lorraine
What if I Don’t Want to See the Child I Gave Up for Adoption? screams a headline on the New York Times in the Ethics column on line that I assume will show up in Sunday's Times magazine of Jan. 28, 2018. 

The Ethicist is an advice column, just like Dear Amy, but gussied up with response by someone who has highfalutin credentials, in this case, Kwame Anthony Appiah, a London-born and Ghana-raised "renowned philosopher" who has a double appointment at New York University in both law and philosophy. Thus, he supposedly has the wisdom to pronounced reasonable, legal and philosophical answers to life's ethical conundrums. 


Name Withheld writes that many decades ago, she gave up her daughter in a private adoption, was told not to even note the name of the adoptive parents when she signed, and was "assured that my identity would likewise be kept secret." 


Since then she has married, had children, divorced and remarried. Her husband and children know about this child. She has spent her life in women's health care, and has "been privileged to participate in numerous private adoptions." (She does like adoption.)



The daughter says she was searching since she was an adolescent, when her mother "contrary to our original agreement," gave the daughter her name. She writes she was "horrified," but after some back and forth agreed to meet her. "She is a nice person as far as I know, but my children do not want to meet her." (Given Name Withheld's  attitude, we are not surprised.) She goes on to say that she did what she thought she had to, but she is not overwhelmed with love nor is she coming to terms with "putting this all 'out there,'" whatever that means. (Perhaps, god forbid, inviting her daughter to a family dinner, encouraging her other children to accept her, or simply act more compassionately.) She is angry that the girl's adoptive mother broke the agreement and gave the girl her name. She concludes: "For me, I did something wrong [that would be, got pregnant], and then I did something right [give her up for adoption], and making this public would not work for me. What do I do now?"--Name Withheld


Now to Appiah's response. He basically tells Name Withheld that she has the moral high ground, even though he begins by saying that birth of a child incurs responsibilities. But he only allows that the responsibility is to "set her up with a decent life," and that Name Withheld did her part in that regard, and the adoptive mother took on the responsibility of providing the "decent life." (What if it wasn't a "decent life," I wondered. Then what? But in Appiah's world, apparently, all adoptive parents are good.) 


However, the adoptive mother comes in for criticism as Appiah notes that it was the adoptive mother who broke her word, even though, he notes, "Adopted children are naturally curious about their biological parents," and "occasionally they even have a need to find things out" about their medical history. He then notes that even that is less likely to be necessary in the future as we further understand the human genome.  (And have adoptees submit to all kinds of unnecessary, expensive testing to learn what a simple questionnaire could). 


But then his secondary motive rears its ugly head: Such secrets should be kept so as not to discourage other women from giving up their babies: f we want to encourage unprepared mothers to consider giving children up for adoption, we should respect the terms on which they want to do it, and — for reasons your case illustrates — this means allowing them to insist on privacy, absent some weighty countervailing consideration." 


Appiah goes on to note that he would understand why someone would give into the demand of a child she loved..."but the child’s mere curiosity probably wasn’t a good-enough reason to break the covenant." (Mere curiosity, like where did you hide the Christmas presents? Not quite. The woman has apparently been searching for decades.)


Are the presumed wise solons of today no better than Judge James L. Oakes who wrote, in 1979, that adult adoptees had no fundamental right to learn the identities of their birth parents? This was in the case of ALMA v. Mellon,* the class-action suit Florence Fisher filed against New York's sealed birth certificates of adoptees. Oakes, like Appiah, pointed out that secrecy encouraged "regulated adoption without fear of interference or disclosure, thus promoting the best interests of the children." In other words, closed adoption today, closed adoption forever. 

Kwame Anthony Appiah by David Shankbone.jpg
Kwame Anthony Appiah

Appiah's words, like that of Oakes, bear little connection to the reality of being adopted as it is practiced in America and elsewhere. Only someone who has always known who he is--and in this case I stress the he--or someone who has turned off his innate curiosity to the point of strangulation would agree with his words. Appiah seems to be totally unaware of the reams of literature and research that attest to the lifelong, deleterious psychological effects of being adopted, especially when there is no hope of relief in one's lifetime. It is, Dr. Appiah, akin to the legal strictures of slavery, that gives the adopted no voice at all in their own identity for all their lives. Appiah's academic degrees may portend wisdom, but they have moved him several degrees from the emotional reality of the great mass of humanity. He may have the title of Ethicist, but he is spouting dated poppy-cock, and in the process may do a great deal of harm. He needs to be brought up short for his condescending, unknowing, unfeeling response. He knows not of what he writes.
Terrific essays from all voices
in the triad

The cherry in Appiah's Wikipedia page is the esteemed pedigree; it lists his accomplished parents, his grandparents to the nth degree, noting that through a grandmother he is a descendant of John Winthrop, one of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. One of his ancestors was a Loyalist during the Revolutionary War, and went back to England, becoming a distinguished Vice Admiral in the Royal Navy et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. On his father's side, he is a direct descendant of Osei Tutu, the warrior emperor of pre-colonial Ghana. And then: it lists his husband. 

He's got all the esteemed ancestry anyone would want! If he does have a child, it will be through adoption or surrogacy, and his attitude informs us that he does not want to be concerned about any ancestry besides his own. Unless there are compelling reasons other than "mere curiosity" he dismisses an adoptee's need to know the truth of his origins.
His casual dismissal of another's intellectual curiosity and emotional well-being is thoughtless and cruel, and possibly self-serving. 

As for Name Withheld, she may be an actual woman. She is entitled to not have a relationship with her daughter, if that is her choice. It is sad that she chose to poison her siblings against even meeting their sister, but no one can be forced to have a relationship they do not want. 

But as this letter is coming just as the legislative session is underway in Albany, she is possibly a shill found by those against giving adoptees the right to their original identities. It could happen; it's doubtful that the Times does a lot of research on the letter writers, unlike say, the claims of women who have accused various men in high places of sexual harassment and assault. Since there are two bills currently in play in Albany--one a clean bill (S 05169), another with all kinds of caveats and turnstiles--the publication of an anonymous letter that is really a plea for continued secrecy leaves me wondering. It could have been taken right out of the playbooks of those in Albany who would perpetuate identity theft, as closed adoption does. 


Everyone, start your engines. Leave a comment at the New York Times site and please copy it for us here. Or vice versa. I will make certain that at least the legislators who are considering the bill, once again to unseal sealed birth certificates aware of what is written here, not only in the blog but in the comments from mothers and adoptees.--lorraine 


PS: Just a caution, I had trouble myself leaving a comment a few hours ago at an earlier blog, don't know if it is my computer or the blog platform. Patience

._________________________
*For more, see E. Wayne Carp's Family Matters: Secrecy and Disclosure in the History of Adoption. It is fountain of information on the history of adoption in America. 

SOURCE

What if I Don’t Want to See the Child I Gave Up for Adoption?
RELATED BLOG POSTS
Family Matters: Secrecy and Disclosure in the History of Adoption
on November 8, 2001
As a historian, I must compliment Professor Carp for his work on a topic that is seldom treated in a serious, 
academic fashion. His book is actually two chapters in the American adoption story. Chapter one tells us that the 
context of the times was such that adoption was never really favored, especially by social workers. That observation  
helps explain the current antipathy toward adoption by the inheritors of that bias. 

Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption

on January 15, 2018
Thoroughly enjoyed your writing style and the topic. You could have been writing about my life. I am so glad you 
found Jane and had many years with her. But reunion is so hard. My daughter and I will have our 20 year reunion 
anniversary this year 2018. You handled it better than I have. 

The Adoption Reader: Birth Mothers, Adoptive Mothers, and Adopted Daughters Tell Their Stories
This compilation of essays - beginning with birth mothers, then adoptive mothers, and finally the adopted daughters - goes above and beyond the usual "magazine style" articles on the quirks or perils of the adoption process. I was incredibly pleased and impressed by the diversity of Wadia-Ells' collection. Lesbian women, multi-racial families, and a variety of socio-economic backgrounds all lend to this book a wealth of perspectives. The contributors are thoughtful, often in emotional pain, honest about their experiences, and each one is a talented writer.

57 comments :

  1. Call it what you like, but adoption is slavery. Look up Stockholm Syndrome as it relates to adoption. We must put a stop to this evil practice. We must give freedom to adoptees to know who they really are and give them access to their real birth certificates and medical records. No one has the right to steal someone's birthright. NO ONE!! Adoption is the breakup of families. Isn't America supposed to be the "land of the free and the home of the brave?"

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  2. Yup, why would I not be surprised Mr. Ethicist is aspiring to adopt or get a child via surrogacy/rent-a womb? I'd bet on that too. And that he's gay and these are his only artificial means to become a father. And that he's using his lofty credentials to behave immorally for his own selfish gains.

    Unfortunately, I know a thing or two about similar types of people. I'm adopted, adopted by a formerly-closeted gay man and hetero ex-wife. All of my siblings were also adopted (multi-ethnic family with numerous "colors of the rainbow"). Well, at the ripe, spring-chicken age of older than many of you (octogenarian), certainly older than me by decades, my adoptive dad announces that he's a father again, via surrogacy, to a newborn. Baby's womb-owner is defined by her age (no name). Everyone else in announcement has a name. His husband is quite a bit younger than him, but still approaching geriatric retirement (60's). Less than 10 years ago, my a-dad was explaining to me that he and his ex-wife are "beyond their parenting years", so I should stop expecting them to make parental adjustments. But, at 80 years old, he's ready to parent again?!!? And him dismissing my thoughts or attempts to educate him on adoptees' sealed birth certificates, rehoming, child trafficking... LOTS more is making sense, in a sickly, disturbing way.

    Honestly, a lot of things are made up and falsified in adoption, but I couldn't make this stuff up if I wanted to. Some people are so crazy, who needs soap operas or dramas? There's enough drama in just breathing when your adoptive family tends towards the absurd.

    So, sadly, I'm not surprised by Mr. Ethicist or the NYT plugging him in to the mic, while silencing adoptee rights advocates (they've been doing that for years). And btw, Mr. Ethicist hasn't posted many people's comments (not too ethical). Nor has he explained if it's ethical to keep secrets from a human being about that human being, which is what he criticized adoptive mother for in his advice.

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    1. I left a comment yesterday sometime, and usually within a few hours it is posted, as all the comments are reviewed. Yesterday the comments stood at 30 when I wrote my comment, and last time I checked (nearly 24 hours later) they are still standing at 30. Usually when the comments close (after hundreds or more than a thousand) the Times site notes that; I'm wondering if he, as you say, is putting the kibosh on the pushback he is getting from adoptees on his thoughtless, tactless comments. I simply took part of the blog and used that. I'll let you know.

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    2. I know of several who have tried to comment, but they haven't appeared. I know that none of my comments have appeared. I've also checked back (I know there can be delays), but see that some more have been posted. Yet, now a standstill at 30 comments.

      We'll see.

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    3. Kym, That's appalling!. I'd like to ask Mr. Ethicist about the ethics of an attorney or doctor whoever to arrange for a couple in their 60's and 80's to have a child via surrogate. The child will most likely be an orphan before he is out of high school. Does your adoptive father expect you and your siblings to in this sort of half sibling?

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    4. Thanks, Jane. I've been appalled too. Who knows what he expects of me/us. All of us have long fled the nest and have our own lives and communities, some of which is still cleaning up some of the messes that adoptions and irresponsible a-parents leave behind. So, while I feel terrible for this little boy's life, my plate is already overflowing, in part because he shuns responsibility and awareness.

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    5. An 80 year old man having a baby by surrogate....He gets the selfish pig award for this year! Just so sad for that child who is obviously just another possession and plaything for the old man, not a human being with feelings. Kym, it just rots that you were raised by him, and many other kids as well.

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    6. Parenting at 80? This should be illegal. Someone else for most of your sibling's life will have to raise him or her. That being said, congratulations is in order to you for having a new sibling. I am sure you will have many things to teach them and lots of love. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyFmbGHDfqY&t=727s

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  3. I sent a letter to the Times today, since it appears that the comment section is frozen under this column. I suspect that Appiah stopped them himself, since one can still leave a comment; it just doesn't get published. Send letters (short! a few sentences!) to letters@nytimes.com

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  4. From one of the comments at the Times site

    Biological ties are overrated, in my opinion and her daughter, as many young people will, has a romantic notion of her relationship to the woman who gave birth to her. Likely she thinks that "knowing" her will someone improve or change her life like someone in a movie she saw once. My response would be: "Your adoptive mother (who is your "real" mother, by the way) acted against my wishes in revealing my identity to you. My reasons for giving you up for adoption when I was a much younger woman are my own and private, but I can assure you that none of them are personal to you. I do not wish to develop a relationship with you. While that may be a disappointment to you, it is my right."

    It's signed Me. People who say "It's just me, that 's the way I am," are usually giving an excuse for rude behavior. This is either an adoptive mother or the close relative of one. So annoying people are so thoughtless.

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  5. Somebody should ask the New York Times why comments about adoption by someone who knows zip about adoption is "News that's fit to print."

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    1. But Jane, don't you know? **Everyone** is an expert on adoption because they've seen everything there is to know about adoption on tv, or in movies, or on the news (the news that's fed to the general public, that is), or because they have friends of friends who adopted, or they know someone who is adopted, etc. . :)

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  6. My comment did not go through either.
    Here's another point. By human nature children have not cemented their attitudes and, in fact, this contradicts the nonsensical comment that they do not want to meet the adopted sibling. Young people in a family would be, hands down, the first members eager to meet a missing relative. Fraud is more likely. All of Appiah's comments are absurd and/or inhumane and scripted for him. Appiah is probably a Bot. Thank you, Lorraine, for shedding light on this abberative article.

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  7. Hmmm. I commented also this morning. It looks like there is 1 new comment "2 hours ago" . . . What about the rest of this morning, and this afternoon? Could they be cherry-picking the comments? I figured someone there would read and approve the comments, but not sure what to think about this.

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  8. My comment was rejected as well.

    I added to my original comment:

    Society placed shame and guilt on relinquishing mothers. These societal taboos were/are then transferred onto adoptees, many of whom were not the products of teen pregnancy. Some adoptees were born to married parents who divorced and remarried, the children were adopted by step parents. Some adoptees were removed from abusive parents and placed into foster care. Some adoptees were born of married parents, and suffered the loss of one or both parents to early death. But all adoptees must suffer at the whims of the adults who made decisions over them as children.

    Then adopters jump in demanding that they are seen as the adoptee’s real parents because they raised us.

    And then stuffy professors like Kwame Anthony Appiah believe they know everything and repeat catch-phrases they’ve heard over the years.

    What many non-adopted people do not realize – and this especially includes the esteemed author of this advice column, Kwame Anthony Appiah, is that adopted people’s REALITY has been revoked and replaced. Until one lives this bizarre life created by others, you have no knowledge of it.

    Adoptees’ REAL birth certificates were revoked and sealed, and then replaced by false-facts on amended birth certificates issues upon the finalization of adoption. This legal falsehood must be corrected for all 5 million adopted people in America.

    Once the truth is not hidden, adopters will begin to accept that they were appointed as legal guardians. They do not replace the adoptee’s natural parents, but the falsified birth certificate lets them get away with lying.

    In cases where paternity is questionable, DNA is what solves the question of who the father is, whether that father is involved with the child’s life or not. DNA can also prove who the mother is.

    Documentation of the mother’s labor and delivery of a live birth, and of the infant’s birth, exists in the form of medical records kept by the hospital. The child’s medical record of live birth – the birth certificate – is signed by the attending physician and the registrar of vital statistics within five days of birth. This is the document that is revoked and sealed and replaced upon adoption.

    We all know that a pregnant woman and her unborn baby live in a symbiotic relationship. This is the process of life itself, for eons. Built in to biology is the physical, mental, emotional, psychological dependency the mother and baby feel for each other during pregnancy and afterwards. This is the bonding process.

    This is what Appiah misses in his answer to the natural mother who does not want contact with her relinquished daughter. The mother doesn’t want to meet her daughter because she has been brainwashed into believing she is not the mother. So she rejects her offspring in self-denial.

    The mother and Appiah see adoption as a one-way street.

    But adoptees see and feel adoption differently. Non-adopted people forget that adoptees are keenly aware of their split parentage – their split selves.

    This distinction has absolutely nothing to do with love. Adopters provide love and emotional/social parenting, (most of the time, but not always). Natural parents also love the missing child, but they are not the emotional/social parents during the child’s formative years. But meeting in adulthood gives the chance for love to develop. In split parentage, both the biological parents and the adoptive parents are important to the development of the adopted person, whether this is acknowledged or not.

    Relinquishment and adoption put unnatural stresses upon the adopted person. The healthy adoptee copes by integrating their split parentage – their split selves. Arguing about who are our real parents does nothing but aggravate the situation.


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  9. I just read the last comment that went up at the Times site, and it is criticizing the other comments, saying that the issue is not black and white. In a snarky intellectual way it includes definitions of some of the terms he uses, which leads me to think that this was a plant by a friend of the writer. Or maybe not. However, the writer is saying, you folks are too emotional to understand this issue.

    However, just as we here decided whether to publish a comment or not, the writer and the paper has the right to not publish comments, as frustrating as we of this era find that.

    Here is the comment:
    Most of those posting their opinion about the rights of adoptees seem rigidly judgmental, and way too busy pontificating about the moral compass of the woman who gave her baby up for adoption, to consider the possibility that there are no absolutes here. None. Your opinions are just that and not the only perspective on the topic.

    Like many issues, this is not black and white, good or bad. Like many issues it's complicated and there are multiple variables to consider. If these posts are examples of how the commentators go about problem solving, I wouldn't rely on any of them. Self-righteous indignation doesn't leave room for empathy or reality. The ethicist, unlike so many posting here, provide an intelligent, compassionate perspective.

    Eclectic Pragmatism — http://eclectic-pragmatist.tumblr.com/
    Eclectic Pragmatist — https://medium.com/eclectic-pragmatism

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    1. Yes, he can make his choices, as can you, as can the first parents, and the adoptees.

      A difference though, is this is your personal blog, your personal space. This Ethicist is supposed to be as advice-giver on ethics, proper, appropriate, ethical manners. Why go to an Ethicist advice column to get unethical, poorly thought-out advice on a topic he has zero experience in, little knowledge about, and isn't interested in being fair about or listening to more-experienced viewpoints?

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    2. It looks to me like the esteemed ethicist had never considered the rights of the adoptee when he wrote his learned opinion. When the Times got a barrage of criticism, he got someone to punt for him, employing the time-honored fall back of ethicists and politicians: this is not a black or white issue.

      And as Kym writes, the Times is different from a blog. The blog is promoting a position and has no ethical obligation to post opposing views. The Times is an information source for a large public and is ethically obligated to entertain opposing views.

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    3. I went to the Times website and to the Ethicist site, where the letter and comments are published. We subscribe to the Times, and like others, I am sometimes a bit bewildered by the reasoning in the columns...

      However, I read over the letter,more than once, and noted that the mother does say that she met her daughter, so she is not trying to avoid a meeting. They have already met, and spoken. She says her daughter hugged her and that hug did not cause her to feel motherly..She does seem to be seriously fearful of having her other children meet her first daughter. That stands out, to me, as a major issue.
      She says her children don't want to meet her first daughter, but I think she is conveying that fear/threat to them.
      Just wondering if this could be connected in some way to the "missing father"? Sometimes, the fear of uncovering, unearthing " he who has not been mentioned," who has been long buried in "the past" is the reason for the fear of "awakening" those feelings from the past. Sometimes there are a lot of "buried feelings" around the other bio-parent, and a whole lotta other stuff.
      It might help her to connect with CUB or another support group, if she were willing.

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    4. The problem is that it is, indeed, not a black and white issue, but that Kwame A.A. completely failed to point that out, and talked like a lawyer, rather than as the philosopher he should have been, taking into account the title of the column...

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    5. There seem to be 140 new reactions now, it might be that the moderator was sick for a day.

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  10. Anyone who wants to send an email to the author/ethicist, Kwame Anthony Appiah, can do so via his email address published on his website (http://www.appiah.net):

    Anthony.Appiah@nyu.edu

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  11. I posted this in response to the Eclectic Pragmatist:

    "Could you please be so good to tell what your connection is with;
    a) human rights,
    b) civil rights,
    c) the adoption industry,
    d) the author,
    e) people touched by adoption
    f) ethics
    g) the magazine
    i) the Confederate States of America?

    Sure, it is a good thing to be pragmatic. That, however is not what we
    react against, here Kwame argues that "if we want to encourage unprepared mothers to consider giving children up for adoption", without considering whether we should or do want to encourage them to do that. He fails to consider the "IF" he used, but rigidly assumes, that that is something desirable, without any argumentation or justification. I don't know whether that is because he has been bought and paid for by the adoption industry, is a birth dad fearing reunion, hasn't mastered English sufficiently, had a bad day, was more interested in the other issue or just fails to understand that the Constitution of the United States of America only allows slavery as punishment. Furthermore, about the connection, by RIGIDLY claiming that the vdaughter is not entitled to a connection, without giving any ethical reasons why an adult citizen would have to accept the legal fiction of an adoption without consent, there are legal reasons, yes, but K.A.A. is supposed be an ethicist, not a lawyer."

    (I forgot to make clear that I meant that as responder in the Ethicist, and it may be that that was all what went wrong, he forgot that he had to answer as a philosopher thinking about what people SHOULD do, but answered as a lawyer Knowing what the client HAD TO do. Of course people burnt him down for giving him a lawyer's answer to a question in a philosopher's column. Still he had no reason to assume that there is any reason, why we would want mothers to consider adoption.)

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    1. He's not American. Why are they asking someone who isn't American? He would be wrong under British law as well. Also, what is up here in New York with minorities (Jews, Blacks, gays) discriminating other minorities (adoptees)?

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  12. Sounds like an epic case of mansplaining.

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  13. The number of comments has now gone from 31 to 170. Perhaps it just takes time for them to review and approve comments, and they do so in a batch.

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  14. Something was definitely up because I have a comment profile at the the Times, and it usually never took more than a couple of hours. Anyway, the log jam has been broken. My comment is there as Lorraine.

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  15. Still this one...

    "Ben, you know that the child is "Many decades" old and female, in that case the word to be used is "daughter", your insistence on using "the child", rather suggests you have some problem with accepting that the adoptee concerned could be somebody who is older than you.

    I do not see how you can know there was anything courageous, rather than callous, about relinquishing this child, there may have been, most certainly, but her behaviour upon reunion does not seem to suggest any courage. If she had taken it with courage, she probably would not be so scared to tell everybody about it. Don't get me wrong, I don't say that her position is unreasonable,
    far from it, it is just that it rather suggests that she knows. or at least feels, relinquishment is something bad, something shameful, and that she has to readjust the ways she sees herself, adoption and her involvement with adoption, if I'm right, she should see a shrink, not an ethicist.

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  16. Just a word to say that the NYT has always maintained rather, ah, eclectic standards for assigning folk to answer questions under the title of “The Ethicist.”

    One former “Ethicist” was Randy Cohen, who previously had toiled for Slate, the online magazine, running its readers-chime-in humor competition. Before that, he was a staff writer for “Late Night With David Letterman.” Apart from a bachelor’s degree, he had no known training in counseling; to give him credit, Cohen was adept with words. But I don’t recall any incidents during his tenure as egregious as what Lorraine relates above.

    Here’s hoping that we’ll learn more about this newly self-anointed “adoption expert,” and that maybe HE’LL learn some important lessons from this experience. Which rather turns the ostensible function of “The Ethicist” on its head... he/she is supposed to help and enlighten readers, not the other way around.

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  17. Anthony Brandt wrote the Ethics column in Esquire magazine in the 80s. He wrote one titled "Blood Ties" about adoption and connection, but I do not believe it has been on line. If I can find it, I will post it.

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  18. Just left this comment over there...

    How very fitting that tonight’s NPR’s “This American Life” would broadcast “The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar”. For anyone who wants to listen to a 100-year-old family mystery of a kidnapped little boy who once was Bruce Anderson but then ends up being raised as Bobby Dunbar, look this story up and listen for yourself.

    It is a riveting, complex story with thousands of newspaper clippings, letters, court testimony and family interviews.

    In the end, what solved the mystery? Can you guess?

    DNA.

    DNA proved the identity of the decedents of the little boy who was raised as Bobby Dunbar.

    Why is this important here?

    This validates the importance of knowing one’s origins – even to the decedents of that person, now dead, who was raised as someone else. The truth was earth-shattering to the adult grandchildren who carried the Dunbar name but not the bloodline.

    The esteemed author/ethicist, Kwame Anthony Appiah, has much to learn about how adoption, 100 years ago and now, affects everyone who plays pretend (adopters), who doesn’t know the truth (adoptees), and who loses a child and then lives under the crush of society’s scorn (mothers who may live in heartbreak and denial).

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  19. I agree that if the mother or the child do not want to meet, that is the way to leave it. If both parties mutually want to meet, and a scenario is present where both can make contact to a neutral place expressing this desire, that is the way to go.

    This forum is instrumental in bringing to light the fact that there are both children and mothers who want to meet. However, many are ambivalent or do not want to meet up. Or once they do meet want to keep contact minimal. That is the reality.

    Those with unwanted pregnancies these days have to be counseled that if they truly want to walk away from the child, adoption not the answer gheceaybthings are going, and to abort. Otherwise you never know when the child will want to come bback into your large. For those who look st this development as a positive, more the reason to go the adoption route. For many, keeping the child not an option or a something they want to do after consideration. All these options available should be in the table and considered with possible outcomes, and you go the route less onerous to you.

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  20. Rebecca, what is your connection to adoption? It would clarify your comments. It does sound as if you are an adoptive mother or someone who wants to adopt and drops in here now and then. Parts of your comment are incomprehensible.

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    1. It does not matter what my connection is to adoption or if there is any. For the record there is. The FACT is some mothers do not want to meet the child given up. And some children do not want to meet their first mother. Those wishes should be respected. When both parties want to meet, then absolutely let it happen. And whatever future relationship if any is up to those parties. Problems occur when one party wants more or less than the other.

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    2. Rebecca incorrect. First, do not talk about adoption unless you yourself are an adoptee or a first parent. I'm White, you don't see me going around telling Black people what they should do. So, no adopteesplaining is not fine. Second, you have a connection? Yeah sounds like you're the sibling of an adoptee be they are biological sibling or adopted into your family. Next, under all circumstances a first mother should want a relationship with her adopted out child including those conceived in rape. I have a friend whose three year old was conceived in rape by a serial killer. I will not budge on that and she agrees. By saying it's moral and fine to deny a relationship with your child, no matter how long apart, 100% blames the conception on us. Rebecca the problem with you is the simple fact that you think less of adoptees, and think it's fine for us to be treated like dirt because some first mother can't grow up and get therapy and use some common sense that what happened isn't her child's fault. Nowhere else is it accepted to hide from your problems. Do us a favour Rebecca and stop talking. My entire biological maternal family (close) wants nothing to do with me because lies are spread about me and my first mother refuses to face reality. Guess what. I outed them. I have zero regrets. Why? Because you don't treat me or anyone else like shit for things we never did.

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    3. The FACT is some mothers do not want to meet the child given up.

      The fact is some mothers need help because nobody in their right mind refuses. The fact is it's not "the child" it's "their son or daughter".

      Yeah you got a connection to adoption. The adoption language propaganda connection. Get the fuck off my friend's forum.

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    4. Rebecca, please stop talking. Please please stop talking. Nobody cares what you believe. It is never okay to deny your adopted out child. Never. You would not want to be treated this way. Where is your empathy? Stop thinking you're protecting those "scared birthmommies who don't want to be reminded of the past." Also, there's no such thing as unwanted pregnancies but unwanted circumstances so stop thinking that...actually that's your problem, you don't think. You're utterly brainwashed by the adoption industry and talk like you think you're smart. Like I said before, shut the fuck up.

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    5. LOL can you believe this Lorraine? She really thinks adoption is the answer to abortion! How uneducated!!

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    6. Abortion is a word and concept that I think every corner of the adoption triad likes to throw out as a weapon. I don't know where I fall on this. If the siblings want to meet with the adopted out sibling, absolutely they should be allowed. But forcing contact and a relationship shouldn't happen in any corner of any triad. Ever.

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  21. The comments section now shows as closed.

    As an adoptive mother, I was greatly irritated by his continuing use of "child" even though it was very clear from the letter that the "child" is an adult. Not a child. It is much easier (although just as wrong) to dismiss the desires and needs of a child than it is an adult, isn't it? So we continue to refer to adoptees as children long after they have left childhood behind them.

    Having dabbled in a few philosophy classes, this seems to be an answer that is devoid of any of the hallmarks of a philosophical discussion. It relied more on emotion and opinion than an examination of the ethics of the situation and what two independent adults are deserving of from this life. "Curiosity" was repeatedly stated as the reason for her search in a very negative manner. It is odd that he is so dismissive of possible intellectual curiosity of one's origins when this very attitude (the desire for knowledge) is a hallmark of great philosophers. Although he talked about how "in the future" we will not need to rely on medical history, he ignored the current state where we do still need medical history. He gives a lot of weight to something that was not clear at all- the woman says she is angry the adoptive mother broke the "agreement" but at the beginning of the letter, she simply says she "was assured my identity would likewise be kept secret." By the adoptive mother? I think not, knowing how adoptions occurred decades ago from listening to you all. It was the agency that told her this. The adoptive mother was not likely bound by any agreement to secrecy on her part, and we can also examine the ethics of keeping that information from an independent adult. Which of course, the author ignores even though he teaches philosophy!

    All in all, this man strikes me as a giant fraud in the philosophy area, and I wouldn't want him as my teacher. I mean, I disagree with his opinion, of course. But even setting aside my personal passions and connection to adoption, this truly is a terrible answer from an ethical standpoint.

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    1. Child is used for relationship reasons not to denigrate. It is understood that these offspring (perhaps a better word?) are usually adults.

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    2. And ... This "child", or these "offspring" are usually ... sons and daughters! How about if we call them what they are? Our son or our daughter?

      Without using terms that are diminishing or clinical, trying to mask the impact of what has happened to them? They didn't "spring off" anybody, they were placed, given up, taken away from their natural parents. Weren't they?

      How about respecting the adoptee not only as a person or a product of a sexual union, but also as the son or daughter - which is what they are.

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    3. Rebecca,

      A few points.

      One, I can't remember the last time either of my parents referred to me, a grown adult, as their "child." Daughter, yes, child, not so much. When they are talking about all of us, they use "children," and I feel that is different.

      From the article linked, the birth mmother says "She says that she has been searching for me since she was an adolescent (when her mother, contrary to our original agreement, gave her my name)."

      So, we know that the woman was a teen when she started, and she is now an adult.

      Also from the birth mother: "To me, this child is akin to a distant, long-ago acquaintance." The use of "child" in this context is implying a distance between them and how she views this daughter- she is saying she feels no connection.

      From Kwame's response: "If you give birth to a child..." In this context, we are using the word for the infant stage.

      "Should she have broken her word to you in order to satisfy her child’s curiosity? Adopted children are naturally curious about their biological parents." We are not talking about when the adoptee was told, which has already been indicated to be during the teen years. 13? 17? 18? We don't know. But we do know childhood had been left behind.

      "I understand.... a child she loved, but the child’s mere curiosity ..." In this context, we are getting the sense of toddlerhood and preschool age. "A child's mere curiosity" absolutely evokes a small child, not an older teen or adult. It is this phrase that for me absolutely determined that the use of the word "child" instead of "daughter" was intentional (whether conscious or not- I suspect it was unconscious, honestly) in order to diminish the agency of the adoptee and decrease their personhood and importance here.

      There is such a thing as tone in writing, and an author recognizes this fact. Words matter and they carry weight. The choice of each and every word in an article is not something a writer takes lightly, and this is the reason why.

      You say "It is understood that these offspring (perhaps a better word?) are usually adults." Is it? In my experience, limited though it is, I admit, and purely anecdotal, adoptees are the ones who I see referred to as "child" with far more commonality. There are endless discussions about the view of adoptees as "perpetual children." Why are grown adoptees denied their birth certificates? I have my OBC. Why couldn't my daughter, when she is grown, have access to her OBC?

      It's worth considering the undercurrents and social constructs at play here rather than just taking it at a surface level.

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    4. To "new and old" ---

      Yes, admitting that a mother relinquished, surrendered, gave up her daughter or son to adoption is the key to admitting the truth --- and the key to respect.

      But that is the key for adopters to admit as well. Adopters are legally assigned guardians; they do not take the place of the true mother. An example of Respect from the adopters to the daughter or son of the true mother would be NOT to re-name the infant or child and NOT to request a new amended birth certificate upon adoption.

      When respect is given to mother and to the daughter or son who is born, then we may begin to see social stigma against mothers lifting, revoked and sealed and replaced birth certificates a thing of the past, and adopters admitting that they want to help a child in need of a home and the experience of parenting without the idea of replacing the true mother and father.

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    5. Legitimate- just to clarify, it is not possible to adopt without an amended birth certificate. I tried. I was naive and thought since we were entering an open adoption, of course her BC would just stay as it was. Why would it change, is what my husband and I thought. Then we found out it would be sealed and a new one issued. I talked with a lawyer and also asked the judge at finalization- there was no option to keep the OBC. Guardianship has a lot of legal issues, and we wanted our daughter to be an equal with our other daughter (no issues with inheritance, etc). I was very upset by it all because I and my husband and are listed as her parents "of birth" when I absolutely did not give birth to her. In my opinion, it is a lie, and it made me incredibly angry to be forced into a lie by the state in order to adopt our daughter.

      I agree with you that OBC's should not be altered. They are factual records of birth and adoptees are owed that truth. But we have to work through the law to get that changed, which I fully support.

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  22. They stopped the discussion, but I still wrote two answers...

    @Ben,
    The distinction between the gender neutral "child" and the much more personal "daughter" is that child suggests both by its alternative meaning of minor and its gender neutrality, a state of being less of a person, whose interests and obligations towards can safely be ignored by would-be "ethicists".

    @ Human being, I meant that she just should tell the truth to the people concerned, not that she should just tell the truth to the people concerned. I meant to talk about her obligations, she should tell the truth: This is who you are, these cuties are your kinfolk, no hanky-panky there, those cuties are kin by marriage, so no direct problem there, though that would result in very complicated family relations between us. Who died of what and all..."

    She has no obligation to be nice, no obligation to be kind, not even an obligation to beg for forgiveness, no obligation not to demonstrate her child was better of without her, no obligation to love, no obligation to care, just one obligation to offer the full truth to the people concerned, though taken seriously that offering the full truth should actually include an offer to end the legal fiction of the adoption if it is, would or will be possible and it is desired, for instance by adopting back, as adoption itself is sort of an untruth, but as I said, such an offer, though it should be sincere, does not have to be nice.

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  23. Just seeing if I can post again here.

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  24. I'd like to know we have a trend here in New York of minorities discriminating other minorities. Kwame is an immigrant, gay, and Black. He's triple minority. You would think minorities would know better than to discriminate other minorities, but no as we see Weinstein (gay/Jewish) and other gay senators discriminating adoptees. Kwame is not even American. He clearly doesn't know American law when it comes to adoption because there is no privacy. Nobody is promised privacy. Word of mouth doesn't count. Kwame needs to keep his mouth shut. Also, why is the New York Post asking him for adoption counseling? He's not an educated first mother. New York Post did a lousy job and could've asked someone like Lorraine Dusky or Joyce Bahr. Furthermore, the adoption propaganda is glaringly obvious. "I was told not to search for my child" "I was told not even to write the name down" "raised my children" (No, you raised your other children). Of course, she's lying when she says my children didn't want to meet her. Which should be my other children didn't want to meet their sister. I have no doubt she brainwashed them or guilt tripped them into not talking to their sister. Well, I'm sorry, but cat's out of the bag and it's time to grow up.

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    1. I agree Kwame should keep his mouth shut not only about adoption but abount everything. A few days ago I read one of his columns where a reader asked if he should turn in two class mates who were cheating on assignments. Kwame said words to the effect, "No, mind your own business. You'll just get in trouble being a tattle tale plus no one will like you." Maybe in his native country it's dangerous to turn in wrong-doers but in the US whistle blowers need to be encouraged. People who cheat in school move on to cheat in games, in business, in politics, and everywhere they think they can get away with it.

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  25. Everyone saying it's acceptable to have your first mother and/or biological family ignore your existence clearly would never want it happening to them. That's why these people are jokes.

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  26. It is never okay to refuse contact with your adopted out sibling, niece, cousin, or daughter or son because by doing so you 100% blame the adopted out family member for the conception and the circumstances surrounding the adoption.

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  27. I love you so much I never want to see you again.

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  28. I love you so much I never want to see you again.

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    1. Yes, that is what the agency bullshit unwittingly has promoted. I understand the twisted logic that gets us there, but it was better in the old days when it was assumed that the mother couldn't take care of the child, that society's opprobrium would mandate adoption, that the mother continued to grieve for her child throughout her lifetime, one way or another.

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  29. Yes it's really hurtful. I do think it's morally wrong. The truth can be messy and sad but I do believe that truth is a sacred value and where it leads will be towards greater good.

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  30. You know it's a really contentious subject but I think everyone is entitled to have their wishes respected. I would never judge anyone or force anyone to spend time with me against their will. I also don't think anybody has a right to demand relationships with another.

    I'm an adoptee and my birth mother didn't want contact. We met once upon my request and she was very polite and gave me the circumstances of my surrender, plus medical information. It was awkward I admit but I would have been open to further contact. My mother has closed the chapter and I may not like it, but she has a right not to re open it without being made to feel guilty or harassed.

    I may be unique I don't know, but I'm at peace with my life and my lot. You never know if birth moms like mine will come around one day, but I would guess they won't if backed into a corner. I have no anger towards my birth mom, non at all. I didn't before meeting and I don't now. I feel sorry that she's been hurt so badly. My adoptive family is the best anyone could wish for so with curiosity satisfied I move on.

    My love to all of here and I hope nobody takes any offense to what I have written. All birth moms have my respect as it must take tremendous courage to live with such a wound, that never really heals. The same for adoptees who can't obtain a relationship with the birth mom / dad. I hope you also can find the peace one day that I have.

    Much love x

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