' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum

Sunday, October 4, 2020

After The Wedding is a story about a mother and daughter reunion; Catch it On Demand

Lorraine
Lorraine
Of all the gin joints in all the towns in the world...is a line from Casablanca of course, but the other night I had a similar experience watching a film from On Demand that I knew nothing about....

After scrolling through what seemed like hundreds of movies to find something that wasn't a horror, action, comic book-themed movie, I came upon a drama called, After the Wedding. Info said it was about memories stirred up by attending a wedding. Hell, I'm about memories, right? Weddings, right? It starred Julienne Moore and Michelle Williams, both actors I like. I hit Play. 

Isabel, (Williams) works at an orphanage in India and is summed back to the US to secure a $2M donation for the orphanage. The rich lady (Moore as Theresa) considering the donation is insisting Isabel show up in person to make the pitch. Reluctantly, Isabel flies to New York City.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Are all parents who adopt internationally saints? Tucker Carlson thinks Amy Coney Barrett is one.

Lorraine
Last night I tuned into Tucker Carlson on Fox who was railing against people who are railing against Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett for suggesting that her adoption of two black children from Haiti is not at least open to circumspection. Carlson went on a lengthy discourse about how terrible it was to attack her, or basically anyone, who had adopted children from another country. Period. Of course they were children who had no parents and would have pretty much starved to death if not rescued by people in America was his message.  

In the past we've posted here at First Mother Forum about the gross negligence and crass commerce that is involved in some adoptions from foreign countries. Parents take their children to orphanages during the harvest season, thinking they can go back and get them when it is over, only to find the children gone and adopted in a far away land. Parents are duped into thinking their children will get a good education in America, and come back to them prosperous, and take care of them. But of course they never come back. Or if they do, they are such changed people that even communication is impossible without an interpreter. 

The baby flow out of Guatemala was finally staunched after the government there did their own investigation and discovered that fully half of the adoptions during a ten-year period were corrupted with kidnappings and murders, falsified birth certificates, and fake relinquishment documents. As soon as corrupt adoptions from one poor country are shut down, they pop up in another. Religious organizations are often involved, giving the business a healthy sheen of benevolence and good works. 

Carlson of course mentioned none of this. His point was straight-forward: Amy Coney Barrett and her husband, as do all adoptive parents who adopt poor children from a foreign country, have near sainthood status. I don't know anything about the circumstances of the children the Barretts adopted. How carefully the backgrounds and extended family of the two children were checked. If adoption was truly the best option because, after all, it requires taking them from their native culture and dropping them into ours. All may check out for the Barretts and I am not passing judgment on their decision. Their faith appears to be a guiding force in their lives, and indeed they may have rescued children who needed rescuing. 

Rather than the personal defense of Amy Barrett's decision to adopt twice--once shortly after she discovered she was pregnant--that was irritating, it was Carlson's enthusiastic support of all such adoptions, and the sanctified glow that it gives all adoptive parents. Surely some deserve it. There will always be babies that need homes and parents other than the ones they were born to. But Carlson's pro-foreign adoption rant reminded me once again that adoption is still seen by a large percentage of the population as an uncomplicated act of charity, without all the questions and difficulties that lie under the surface for so many of the adopted, and yes, in some cases, the bewildered parents who never intended their children to be adopted. 

Numerous memoirs belie the falsehood of such unthinking support of such adoption. Recently I write an essay--actually two--for a new book by the Vance Twins, Janine and Janette, who have chronicled not only their own story about being adopted from Korea, but brought to light numerous heart-breaking tales from children adopted from many cultures. Tucker Carlson should take a look.--lorraine

On a personal note, I expect to have the second edition of hole in my heart finished soon. My husband had a knee replacement this summer, I'm involved in a local community project, and...I just let myself get distracted from finishing. But it's coming soon! 

_______________

ALSO FROM FMF

Encouraging intercountry adoptions with hard cash

Senate bill encourages more international adoption



Friday, July 17, 2020

Adoptees making contact with natural/biological/birth family in the time of Covid-19

Lorraine
Has the coronavirus pandemic changed your feelings about searching? In the midst of a life-and-death crisis, adoptees and the mothers and fathers who relinquished them certainly have thoughts about whether this is the time they should delay search or contact.

We've said it before, but we will say it again. There is no right time, nor wrong time to reach out, there is only time. When I read Joan Didion's Blue Nights, she wrote of how inopportune it was when her adopted daughter Quintana was contacted by her biological sister by mail that had to be signed for on a Saturday. I thought: What better time? It's not a work day; she's likely to be home; she's likely to have time and space to deal with the flood of emotions. Yet somehow, Didion found this unacceptable: ...[O]n a Saturday morning when she was alone in her apartment and vulnerable to whatever bad or good news (italics mine) arrived at her door, the perfect child received a Federal Express letter...."

Friday, March 6, 2020

To Amy Dickinson: First/birth mother's right to privacy is a myth

Jane
Should a man who has just discovered he has a child--DNA testing at work--reveal to his son, who he and his family have warmly welcomed, the woman who he strongly believes is his mother? It's a question that is sure to come up more and more in the future as more people join the DNA data banks.

Washington Post columnist Amy Dickinson dealt with the question the other day, but gave the father advice that is just plain wrong as well as misinformed.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

First/birth mothers: Letting out the secret of the child no one knows about; telling the family about my first child, relinquished to adoption

Jane and Lorraine, 1982
New York's Gov. Cuomo announced yesterday that more than 3,600 people applied for their original birth certificates within 48 hours of the new law that allowed adoptees to obtain a copy of their original or "pre-adoption" birth certificates. He noted the numbers of people indicated how "valuable" this "policy change" was.

Damn straight!

All this interest does mean that a great many mothers and fathers whose children were relinquished for adoption will be eventually contacted. Not every adoptee will search, but many will. Many mothers and some fathers who have been in denial about this possibility may be fearful of being contacted. Worried about "what the neighbors will think." Or, what our (kept) children think? Will I have to tell him/her who the father is? Or they may start remembering the awful time of pregnancy and relinquishment, the shame of the past, the fear of being "found out" that they were "knocked up." My god, even the language of previous times sounds judgmental, indicative of the shame of that era.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

It's a blue, blue Christmas for many connected to adoption

At my house 
Ahhh, Christmas. Carols piped in at Starbucks. Christmas specials on television. Radio stations that play nothing but Christmas music from Thanksgiving until New Years Day. Presents. Buying and wrapping. Dinners, pies that you will bake. Phone calls to family members and loved ones far away. Christmas Eve in the Polish tradition--that means me--a meal so special it has its own word: Wigilia, pronounced vi-gil-YA. It's all centered around family. 

There is no way to avoid...Christmas, the holidays, Hanukkah, Kwanza, no matter what religion you are and what your beliefs are. For mothers who relinquished their child for adoption, for individuals who were relinquished, Christmas is always full of reminders of whom is missing around the table, but never far from our thoughts. Reasons why do not matter. We live with the present. 

Friday, November 15, 2019

Gov. Cuomo signs bill giving adopted people in NY their original birth certificates

My daughter (center) with her daughter, my mother
and me. My family. 
As on January 2020 individuals born and adopted in New York will be able to have a copy of their original birth certificates with the names of their biological parents, if so listed.

What a simple statement of fact.

How long it has taken to write those words. For me, nearly a half century.

Many of you already know this because it's been all over Facebook and Twitter and even the eleven o'clock news last night. Yesterday evening when I got the news from my husband--Florence called  and she told him--when I was out having tea with a friend not related to this issue. At first, sitting on the couch in our living room, I hardly reacted to his words. I had been assured the signature was coming even though the wait was driving us all nuts, and so now, I thought, Oh, thank god, Cuomo's finally signed the bill.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Finding Your Roots could be the conversation starter you need to talk about adoption

Jacket photo on Birthmark, 1979
Last night I watched as rapper LL Cool J dealt with discovering that his mother was adopted, that the grandfather who lovingly raised him was not his biological grandfather.

He was shocked and surprised because of the love and caring he felt from the grandfather, and stunned about his mother because she herself did not know she was adopted. Later, LL Cool J (born James Todd Smith) and his mother were invited into her and his biological clan, one where they found people who they looked like, and also shared a love of boxing. Both his biological grandfather and grand uncle were successful boxers. His uncle was a champion who held a title for four years. Together this newly reunited family watched an old film of his uncle and grandfather boxing, and shared photos of the boxing gym where this grandfather (or his uncle, there was a lot of information to take down) trained both white and black boxers. Apparently on the back cover of one of his albums, LL Cool J is in a boxing stance with a punch. When

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

When people say: I'm not curious about my roots....

Lorraine
Sometimes things pop up in the media that indicate somethings in the air at the same time I've been ruminating about same. I've been planning to write about one of the more noxious things that people have said to me--about as "out" a birth/first mother as anyone can find. Sometimes I feel they say it simply because they are irritated with the idea of me, and want to poke a stick at all I stand for, that is, openness in adoption. I'm talking about the many times adoptive parents have said: My daughter/son isn't in the least curious.... Sometimes the speaker adds: I've even asked them if they wanted to search--said I wouldn't mind--and they say, NO, they aren't curious.

Then comes the unanswerable stare: What do you think of that? What do you have to say about that, Ms. Media Maven Birth Mother....? I usually mumble something along the lines of, Well, not everyone is curious....and curiosity comes and goes in waves, as I've seen.... Or I just throw up my hands in a macht nichts, it-doesn't-matter gesture, everybody is different, etc., and move the conversation to safer ground. And sometimes I do say: A lot of adoptees search without ever

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Adoption Loss: Unrecognized grief that mothers endure alone

Jane
In a New York Times opinion piece, Hope Edelman's vivid  description of still grieving at the loss of her mother 38 years earlier when she was 17 (New York Times 8/25/19) brought to my mind how much losing a child to adoption is like losing a loved one to death  Edelman wrote: "At the time, I thought grieving was a five stage process that could be rushed through and aced like an easy pop quiz. When I still painfully missed my mother three and five and even 10 years later; my conclusion was that I must have gotten grieving wrong." Her words echoed what Lorraine wrote 40 years ago in Birthmark about her 13-year-old daughter adopted at birth: "Of course I knew I would always remember her, but I didn't think it would be most of the time. She pervades my being."

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Woman who says priest forced her to give up her child files federal suit to help others

Lorraine
"You have to think of your daughter as dead," a priest told a friend of mine whose daughter was adopted through a Catholic agency. Chilling words if ever was told to a natural mother upon relinquishing a child.

I was reminded of this the other day when I read a story in The Washington Post about a woman who sued the Archdiocese of Omaha and the Wisconsin province of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuit order) for forcing her, as a teenager, to lose her son to adoption. In this case, the word "lose" is called for, as numerous influences operating with a jaded idea of what's right forced her to accept a adoption she never wanted.

While Kathleen, 18, and her boyfriend at at Saint Louis University (a Catholic school) were already talking about marriage, the nurse she had initially confided in began talking about adoption as if it were a done deal. The nurse called her mother, and soon Kathleen was on her way home. Father Thomas Halley was sitting in her parents' living room when she returned home to Omaha. It was the late Sixties, and the "Swinging Sixties" certainly were not happening in Omaha or St. Louis.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

When DNA reveals a new family member: 'It might not turn out the way you want it, but everyone has the right to their own history'

Lorraine 
DNA is changing how many families will be surprised by the appearance of a relative in the family tree who suddenly appears as from nowhere.  You spit in a vail one day, and a few weeks later, there it is, irrefutable evidence that the family has a new kin--someone never heard of before! A person grows up believing he/she was mom's firstborn, and now--they've been demoted to second! Though we like to believe that siblings will welcome the addition of a brother or a sister--and some will--it's not the case all the time, and this is a reality that many adoptees have to face when contacting family members.

The newly demoted child--and I mean of any age--might be jealous, and upset at losing their special "first" status. "She/he has other parents--why do they need mine? Why can't we be a family--like before?" Or, "Where do I fit into the family now?" Not every returning family member will be the firstborn, and other issues will emerge. Children of birth fathers can fit anywhere in the spectrum and remind a wife, and his children, of their father's unfaithfulness, and then start figuring out what was happening in the intact family at the same time.

Monday, July 29, 2019

A 'birth mother' becomes a 'real' great-grandmother

Jane, Hiram, and friends
I just spent a wonderful four days with my granddaughter Rachael, her husband Shane, and her three month old son, my great grandson, Hiram at their home in Omaha, Nebraska. Since he is my first great grandson, I'm just learning the role. I will say this, though, he is my great grandson even though I surrendered his grandmother, my daughter Megan for adoption.

We describe our relationships by the language we use. We also create or deny relationships by the language we use. And so while I gave birth to Megan, many would deny me the right to call myself her mother. That official title belongs to the woman who became her mother through a paper signed by a judge. And to tell the truth, I have not been all together comfortable in referring to her as my "daughter." When she was born, someone at the hospital asked me to sign a paper authorizing routine medical care for her. The space next to the signature line said "mother." The word startled me. I did not think of myself as a mother. Her mother was a perfect somebody else selected by an omniscient social worker. The person who prepared the paper surely knew that. I felt the the wording was mocking me.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

We are not here to provide babies for failed fertility. Nor do adoptees want to be answers to infertility.

Lorraine 
Does anybody who is adopted or who relinquished a child for adoption get a sinking feeling when they read a story about a woman who longed to have a child but put off doing so for years and then discovered that it was too late...and the story comes to an end in the penultimate paragraph with these two sentences:

"Donor eggs are an option. Adoption too."

Ah yes, "donor eggs" and "adoption too." I would have bet the farm that the story was going in that direction as soon as I read the headline: "Don't Put All Your (Frozen) Eggs in One Basket," on the Modern Love column in today's New York Times.

And indeed, the woman did want to have children early enough but her partner (and ultimately husband) kept

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Thoughts on the Fourth of July: Separating children from their parents is Un-American and cruel

Declaration of Independence
This Fourth of July we will again celebrate liberty, one of the unalienable, natural rights with which we are endowed by our creator as declared by a small group of men in Philadelphia 236 years ago. This Declaration gave rise to thee greatest nation the world has ever known. Subsequently the authors of the United States Constitution declared through the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments that liberty could not be taken away without due process of law, that is through fair procedures.

In a long series of cases, the United States Supreme Court has held that the right to liberty includes "the fundamental liberty interest of natural parents in the care, custody, and management of their child."

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Allow adopted people right to know their true identity

Too shy to push myself totally into the shot...
Some people have said they can't adequately reach the Albany Times-Union site where the piece I wrote that my assemblyman, Fred Thiele, referenced in the New York Assembly in the discussion just before the Montgomery/Weprin bill giving New York adoptees the right to their original birth certificates at age 18. It's at the end of this note about what has been happening since. 

As most know by now, the bill passed both the New York Senate and Assembly with an overwhelming margin, and now awaits Gov. Andrew Cuomo's signature, which is expected. For reasons that baffle me on the one hand and are not surprising on the other, the emotional passage of this bill in the Assembly--the Senate passed it first the previous week--did not receive nearly the coverage it merits. Many of the speakers were highly emotional--not just three three who are adopted--and when the vote tally was first announced, a cheer went up in the hall. Yet media coverage has been scant. The NY Times so far has ignored it. Newsday did not. The big three news stations in New York City seem to have ignored it.  My local television station (Long Island Channel 12) did a good job, and another spot is scheduled, this time with an adoptee looking forward to getting his real not amended birth certificate in a day or two. I'll post the link when it appears.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

ADOPTEE RIGHTS BILL PASSES IN NY!!!!!

Lorraine 
UPDATED 11 P.M. JUNE 21, 2019
Adoptee right bill passed!!!!!!!!
The vote in the Assembly was 140-6.
(Final vote; 4 abstentions.)
Senate voted last week, 56-6.

Many of the people we expected to vote against it folded, and two who had been our staunch opposition in the past spoke about changing their minds. Joe Lentol, for one, who had held up the bill in the past, as he is chair of Codes. Yesterday, however, when Codes passed it, he voted for it then, and spoke today on the floor passionately and eloquently about having his mind changed.

Assemblywoman Debra Glick did the same. In the past, she always spoke of birth mother privacy, but her tune was different today, about how times had changed. I couldn't believe it. Even Danny O'Donnell, who we have excoriated in the past for his attitude when we lobbied him, in the end voted Aye for the bill. Totally surprising!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Legal surrogacy in NY moves forward, adoptee rights stalled. Again.

Lorraine at 2018 Indiana conference with fellow New Yorker,
Suzanne Bachner, playwright,The Good Adoptee 
If surrogacy--renting a woman's womb for a high price--is legal, why isn't prostitution?

Both commodify a woman's body as a product to be sold, bartered, rented, call it anything you want, it offers for sale the use of a woman's body. If the surrogacy is unpaid--except for the expenses of the procedure itself and the birth of the baby--it's not quite the same. Family members--even mothers for their daughters, sisters for siblings--sometimes have offered to become impregnated with related DNA as sperm or egg or embryo and carry a fetus to term. I have no objection to that.

But the paying for the use of a woman's womb, and having her incur all the medical challenges of pregnancy and birth, changes everything. It takes advantage of impoverished women as well as students facing enormous college costs their families can ill afford. In fact, the better the school one is attending--think Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the like--and the fee can skyrocket to $200,000.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Will this "birth mother's" attorney really look out for her interests?


In Roseburg, Oregon, a small town 175 miles south of Portland, a woman I do not know will deliver a baby within the next 30 days and give her infant to the clients of Portland attorney, Scott Adams. An adoptee himself, he is a long time adoption practitioner.

Perhaps she responded to a "Dear Birth Mother" ad, perhaps she knows the prospective adoptive parents, friends of relatives, a couple she met while waiting tables, or a couple referred by her pastor. I do know that unless a miracle happens, she will leave the hospital with a flat stomach and searing lifelong pain.

An attorney she has met only recently perhaps for only an hour, hired by Adams and paid by the prospective adoptive parents, will within a day of the birth present her with a consent form prepared by Adams. Once she signs, the attorney will send the paper immediately through electronic means to Adams who will file it as soon as possible at the courthouse. Once filed, the consent is irrevocable.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Everyone wants to know where they came from, but sperm babies still made with only half a heritage they will know

Press Conference on steps of NYC City Hall, with Sen. Velmanette Montgomery,
 Assemblyperson David Weprin, and that's me with the big green bag to the left.
WE SHALL OVERCOME ONE DAY....
Today's Jeopardy Question: He once said: “In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage... who we are and where we have come from.”

The answer is Alex Haley, author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family.

Then in the Style Section, there is a story about two black lesbians "Seeking a Sperm Donor Who's Black" about the difficulty of finding a black sperm seller, or donor, as is the common parlance. They won't use the sperm of any of their friends because he--even if he signs papers terminating parental rights--might want to be involved, ya know, one day. One of the woman was up for using a friend's sperm--it would be free, for one thing, "donated" sperm costs $1400--but the other states "I do not want to co-parent with anyone but you," referring to her partner. They have a very limited choice, and one of them is picky about the one good candidate (for health reasons) they finally settle on. She doesn't particularly like his looks. His skin tone isn't as dark as theirs, and she doesn't like that--but from the photo, they both clearly have some white genes intermingled with the black. 

What is missing here?

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Happy Mother's Day? Hmm. Well, not for some of us.

Lorraine
Here it comes again, Mother's Day, impossible to delete from the calendar or ignore totally because of the incessant ads that pop up everywhere, from the internet to the newspaper to the super bargains on the Today show that are just "perfect for mom." I got my hair cut today and as I was paying the bill, I heard the receptionist say to the woman ahead of me--Happy Mother's Day. I happen to know the woman for years, and know she is the nicest person. But the woman ahead of me said, I never had children. Neither, it turned out, did the receptionist, she just thought it was a nice thing to say. When I paid my bill, I said, You know, Mother's Day is a painful day for all women who gave up a child. I hope you will stop saying that to everyone who comes in. I rather surprised myself because in years past I probably would just have let it go, but she had three more days to remind, once more, other first mothers that this godawful holiday was upon us. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Millions of words written about unsealing original birth records for adoptees--and we are still fighting in New York

Daughter Jane and Mother Lorraine
1983
"My little girl said to me one day, 'I wonder what my mother was like,', she recalled."It struck me that she had a feeling of loneliness....I knew the need was so strong I couldn't reject it or pass it off...adopted children have the right to know about their natural parents. They are people, not puppies or kittens that one takes in. You can't deny the existence of the people who gave birth. You might like to but you can't."--Adoptive mother who joined ALMA, quoted in "Adopted Children Who Wonder, 'What Was Mother Like?' by Enid Nemy, The New York Times, July 25, 1972. This is the piece that changed my life. Within a month I had met Florence Fisher and set a new course to my life.

"The way it is now," she said, "there is just something missing from my life." Adopted woman at a conference on sealed records in Washington DC, quoted in "Who Is My Daughter," by Dusky, Newsweek, Oct. 15, 1979.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Hoda Kotb adopts again--

Lorraine
Hoda Kotb of the Today show adopted again. I caught the end of the reveal on Today this morning, and all the women sitting around the table had tears in their eyes, and an indication that they guys did too. Later, the after Today Show, the Hoda and Jenna Show did another spot, this time with Samantha Guthrie and Jenna Bush--since Hoda is taking some time off--which I caught in replay.

So many tears, a box of tissue drops from above on the set so the women can wipe their tears away. Samantha says they need to go to Costco and buy a carton! Hoda on the phone is talking about love and hope and how much she wanted a second child. Hope Hope Hope, she put it out in the universe (and apparently in a book) that she wanted a second child to adopt, and now she is naming her Hope. Samantha says, now you have a family of four--now her family is complete. More tears. Hoda repeats how she hoped and dreamed and prayed for a second child.... Everybody on the show knows how much she wanted this baby, a second baby to adopt, and the set is overflowing with love for Hoda--who does exude a warm, inviting persona--and the joy because of this child....

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Novice film maker tells An Adoption Story

Kelly Hansen
It's always thrilling when someone not a first mother or an adoptee gets it. Kelly Hansen, a high-tech professional in Portland, Oregon not only got it, she turned what she knew into a film.

Kelly was looking for a subject for a film she planned to make as part of an amateur video group.  She happened upon Ann Fessler's compelling 2006 work The Girls Who Went Away which profiles mothers who lost their children to adoption in the decades before Roe v. Wade. 

Kelly wanted to learn more history of first mothers sought them through Concerned United Birthparents. She learned that many women are still manipulated into relinquishing their babies. Eventually she connected with Holly and Hannah, a reunited mother and daughter, and me. In the
Jane
course of the film--only 12 minutes long--myths are shattered. I do a brief intro about adoption, then and now. Then we meet Hannah, a young woman who contacted her mother on Facebook while still a teenager. She met her mother, her mother's husband, and three siblings. Two years later she made the difficult but right decision for her to move in with her new-found family.

Like most of us, when I see a film of myself, I cringe. Kelly says I did great but I think I should have talked more clearly, explained things better, sat straighter. But then I think hey, I did it, maybe made a small contribution to letting people know about the dark side of adoption.

Here's the video on YouTube.  An Adoption Story.  Please pass it along!--jane

PS What's with my right eye? It was removed twenty years ago because I had a tumor attached to the blood vessels which fed my eye. The doctors tried to remove the tumor several times but were not able to and thought it would become malignant. I make the patches myself in various colors so I can  coordinate them with what I am wearing. I do have a false eye sitting in my bathroom cabinet. It doesn't look real because I have no eyelid and the false eye doesn't move. It's held in with glue and always in danger of falling off. It's good for Halloween, though.



Sunday, March 10, 2019

Give adoptees their original birth certificates as a birth right--writing to New York Senators

Lorraine
My letter to New York Senators on the Health Committee in the state legislature:  

Dear Senator X:  A true identity should be everyone’s birth right as a matter of course. I am writing to ask you to support legislation which would allow adoptees to receive a certified copy of their birth certificate upon reaching the age of 18.

In 1966 I relinquished a daughter for adoption in Rochester, New York. At the time, I objected vigorously against the “forever” sealing of my daughter’s birth record to my social worker. All to no avail; I had no choice but to go along. The law—the 1935 law—was the law, and I had no voice, no choice.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Coming out as a natural mother in 1975 and still fighting to unseal birth certificates of adopted people

Legislators Velmanette Montgomery and David Weprin,
Lorraine Dusky at press conference on step of NYC City Hall
 a few years ago. That's Carol Schaefer between Lorraine and 
Weprin. 
Forty-four years ago today I wrote about the sealed records of the adopted, and why it was wrong on the Oped Page of The New York Times. In doing so I came out as a natural mother who had relinquished a daughter to adoption. It was a first.

Since then I've lobbied not only in New York but by letter and phone in other states, and we are still at it in New York. This year we may have a chance of vacating the 1935 law that sealed birth certificates, as we have new leadership in the state senate and legislators are committed to doing the right thing. The links below take you to not only the New York Times piece, but also a piece running this week in my local newspaper, The Southampton/East Hampton Press, about the possibility of change in New York with quotes from my assemblyman, Fred Thiele, Cathi Swett, and myself.

The first comment left at the Southampton Press site was negative. There's always someone....

From the New York Times

Yearning


And this week's Southampton/East Hampton Press

State Considers Opening Birth Records For Adoptees


Sunday, February 3, 2019

Who's the First Mom? Why is 'Adoptive Mother' such an offensive term? It's truth, it's reality.


As predictable as Groundhog Day repeating itself is adoptive mothers who go ballistic when referred to as adoptive mothers. "I am the real, the only true mom" they proclaim, sounding as if their child did not have another mother, did not come from another mother, but instead arrived by stork. Recently FMF received angry comments in response to a 2010 post about knowing the truth even when it's ugly* from a woman who identified herself as Panda.

Panda doesn't oppose her adopted son searching for his "bio family" or "the incubator" as she refers to the natural mother, but she is mad as hell about being referred to as an "adoptive mom."

Sunday, January 20, 2019

The adoption trigger: To hang on or let go?

Lorraine
A few days ago a friend emailed me about seeing the Judy Chicago Birth Project--a series of impressionist and graphic woven images--recently. My friend who writes about art added that Chicago had observed 150 births and noted that the beautiful colors and striking images which "belie the agony and the tearing."

Here is how I responded:
"Birth scenes! I hate them! I can watch them if I have to, but I'd rather speed dial through the screaming and baby's first cry and all of it, and do whenever I can. I allowed myself to be even more "triggered (that currently trendy word) in the first decade after [my daughter's birth] but as they became more common in everything, I just said, time to get over it, girl."
That pretty much covers my reaction to triggering today. There is so much around us all the time about birth and adoption that if I had to go

Friday, January 4, 2019

Adopted kids take after their first parents, not their adoptive parents

Geneticist Robert Plomin says children take 
after their biological parents, not adoptive. 
Kids take after their first parents, not their adoptive parents, in cognitive skills, interests and personality traits. They even resemble their first parents in seemingly non-genetic traits as television watching and likelihood of getting divorced. This comes as no surprise to first parents who have met their lost offspring, but it's heartening and reassuring to have our impressions supported by scientific research.

In "Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are," Robert Plomin, a behavioral geneticist at King's College London, is the latest researcher to conclude that babies are not balls of clay, shaped by their parents after birth, but come at birth with imprinted traits from their biological parents. In essence, he posits that parental nurturing has little effect on the adults children grow up to become.

Plomin's research echos that of earlier scientists, including Judith Rich Harris who stated that adopted children do not resemble their adoptive parents in intelligence, character or personality; and Steven Pinker who wrote "The doctrine of a blank slate is a totalitarian's dream". To them, the nature/nurture argument was over, and nature had won.

To us who live adoption, we understand that the desire of adoptees to learn their origins, and the intense grief of mothers who lose their children, is proof that the bond between us is driven by natural forces that is not broken by time or distance.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Memories of the missing child you can't erase at Christmas


My holiday amaryllis taken with my Sony 
Like everyone else I've been busy with holiday stuff--I'm a dinosaur in some respects and send cards to a smaller number of people every year, but send them I do--adoption friends from years past, friends and family I won't see this Christmas, girlfriends who have migrated all over the country, a girlfriend from high school whose political point of view has diverged from mine. But we were best friends in the fifth grade and stayed close all through high school, even when she was the pretty popular one, and I was the one who only managed to get a date for the senior prom because there was someone I could ask--a neighbor's nephew from Germany.

There are presents to send back to Detroit to my granddaughter and Jennifer, the daughter of the man I might have married and then NOT given up a daughter, as she is nearly that daughter. Christmas Eve will be with my husband's son and family, as well as his nieces and nephews and their families in New Jersey. It's a huge raucous affair, with more than 20 at a sit-down dinner, followed by a ever-more-raucous exchange of gifts (everybody brings one) that involves blind luck and a lot of horse-trading--make that stealing--in the hopes of coming away with  the gift you really want, no matter who brought it. Christmas Day involves driving back to Long Island, and making the pumpkin pies for a traditional dinner with friend we've shared Christmas Day with for the last decade. In short, I'll be occupied and have a good couple of days.

But I remember.