' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Perspectives on Open Records continued

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Perspectives on Open Records continued

This is a continuation of a blog I started Monday, January 26 of an exchange of emails between my surrendered daughter Megan and myself. Although we have much in common and get along when we are together, we disagree sharply on adoption-related issues. Last March I wrote to Megan inviting her to attend the American Adoption Congress (AAC) convention as I have many times in the past. As always, she refused to come.

A month later, I forwarded Megan some emails from Bastard Nation regarding Illinois open records legislation. Megan reacted angrily to the BN emails and ultimately wrote a letter to the Bloomington, Illinois Pentagraph denouncing open records legislation. I in turn wrote to the paper supporting open records. We exchanged a few more emails over the spring unrelated to adoption. In August, Megan asked me to stop sending her children birthday presents which I had been doing for over 10 years. I did not respond and did not send birthday or Christmas presents. I have heard nothing from her although her daughter Rachael sent me a Christmas card and emailed me.

I’m not sorry about what I wrote to Megan and the Pentagraph although I am sad about the rift in our relationship. I should have been more sensitive to Megan’s feelings.


"The Baby Thief" is the title of a book by an adoptive mother, Barbara Raymond about Georgia Tann who operated a notorious adoption business in the 1930's and 40's. Her actions were so evil that they were the subject of Congressional hearings in the 50's. "The Baby Thief" was published last year. I'm sure you can get it at the library.

"The Primal Wound" is the title of a book by Nancy Verrier, also an adoptive mother. It's also available at the library. Her book is very controversial and many people in the AAC do not agree with her. The leaders of Bastard Nation very much oppose Verrier's ideas.

Neither Bastard Nation nor AAC use use the terms "Baby Thief" or "Primal Wound" except in referring to these books..

The term re-defining kinship is used as one way of stating that adoptive families are just as valid as families formed by biology, something I'm sure you would agree with.

I don't know what you mean by saying they twist the meaning of terms such as "human rights," "identity," "family preservation" and "rooted in truth."

I have never heard anyone in AAC or BN rant or rave.

I think you're confusing the fact that the AAC is open to allowing people with a variety of viewpoints to speak with what the AAC espouses. AAC conferences are not like Mormon semi-annual conferences where speakers may say only things which promote the views of the LDS church.

Bastard Nation has only one goal: to get legislation passed which would allow adoptees to receive their original birth certificates. I understand your objection to its name. The fact remains, however, it is the only national organization which focuses solely on this goal. It has been effective, getting legislation passed in Oregon, Alabama, New Hampshire, and Maine. I have to think some of your objection to BN is that LDS Social Services is the primary organization opposing openness.

I do not understand the basis for your statement that the arguments (what arguments? whose arguments?) are based on flawed reasoning.

You're absolutely wrong about the "traditional family structure" as being basic or ancient. In fact the family as we know it (husband working, mother at home with children) is largely a creature of the 20th century as work moved out of the home or farm.

In many early cultures, women had children but stayed with their original families, not with the fathers of their children. For at least 50 years, Mormons defined family as a man, his plural wives, and his children. In fact the LDS church did not even promulgate its position on the family until the early 1990's.

I know that trying to shoehorn everyone into the beliefs of what some religious organizations consider to be family is a calamity for those who do not fit this mold. Actually the majority of the families in the world do not fit this mold -- gays, single parents, widows, adoptive families, grandparents raising their grandchildren, and others.

Muslim countries promote the "intact" family and many (particularly women) suffer severe calamities as result. I certainly prefer to live in the US with a variety of family structure than in Afghanistan which severely punishes those who deviate from the "intact" family structure.

Let me say this: I do not participate in AAC, BN, or other organizations for healing although initially I found attending conferences and meeting people who had similar experiences helpful. I actually don't participate often but did attend the AAC conference this year because the conference was in Portland and I offered to help out.

I encourage you to go to at least one conference. You can attend without espousing what you believe to be these organizations' philosophies. If you learn something, fine. If not, no great loss.


I cannot and will not accept the mission statements and beliefs of BN, the AAC or Origins. I am not wrong about anything.

Illinois HB4623 is fine the way it is written. I don't agree with Bastard Nation that it is a "bad bill." I'm not writing a letter in support of BN's position on HB4623.


How did Origins get into the discussion? I certainly would not expect you to support its mission.

This all started because I forwarded you information about a bill in Illinois affecting the right of adoptees to receive their original birth certificates. You are in a unique position to help Illinois-born adoptees because you are an adoptee and live in a rural area in Illinois.

You've decided not to help Illinois adoptees because you don't like Bastard Nation, the American Adoption Congress, or Origins. Of course you don't have to like any organization in order to take a position on a piece of legislation. You can write a letter without referencing the organizations you find objectionable.

So whose voices do the Legislators hear? Those of the conservative segment of the adoption industry who claim falsely that natural parents don't want their children to know their identities.

Thus, adoptees continue to be denied the right that every other American has -- the right to his or her birth certificate, the right to know whose genes they carry. Adoptees continue to be treated as second-class citizens or, to be blunt, treated like bastard children.

I appeared in a full-page newspaper ad proclaiming my sins of 32 years earlier in order to support adoptees in Oregon when Measure 58 was on the ballot in 1978. This did not benefit me and frankly was very difficult to do. I did it because I thought it was the right thing to do.

And you won't even write a letter. And Illinois will pass a bad bill severely restricting adoptees right to their original birth certificates.

This will set the cause back in other states like California.


Your question below is a leading question, which I will not answer directly. It cannot be answered "yes" and it cannot be answered "no." Inflammatory phrases such as "more equal than others" are meant to incite emotion; they are not the basis of an intelligent, open-minded discussion. This type of language is the thing that first turned me off to groups like BN.


To be continued on Friday, January 30.


  1. Jane,

    I am sorry. I should have realized how difficult that exchange with Megan was for you. Thank you for doing what you did.

    Megan is missing out on the chance to get to know a strong and valiant woman. I am sorry for that,too.

    I admire you, Jane.


  2. "I am not wrong about anything"???

    Jane, you do such a good job of explaining the issues and the missions of organizations like AAC and BN. Megan just doesn't want to hear you.

  3. hmmmmmm

    I wonder if my mom would like it if I posted our email exchanges on the internets?

  4. Nobody's Mom or kid would like it to have a private email exchange posted in a public place like this without permission. That is just common decency and common sense.

    Jane, what were you hoping to accomplish? If there ever was any hope of reconciliation with your daughter, this should kill it, and it sadly explains her asking you to not send gifts to her children.

    This whole thing is a great example of what not to do if you want a good relationship with your relative.

  5. I think only adoptees should be discussing adoption because it is about them and it is their business.

  6. "I should have been more sensitive to Megan’s feelings"

    Jane. I wasn't going to respond, but I have been musing about what you say above, and it's hard, given what you're doing now, to believe that you were being sincere.
    Joy and Maireane are right. Don't you know that to publicise someone else's private correspondence is a serious no no? That it's a form of betrayal. Really, it's not something a person should do to their worst enemy, let alone their own daughter. No matter what has passed between them.

    Regardless of what Megan said to you in her emails, she did so in the belief that it was in confidence. I really can't get my head around why you're doing this, unless it's for revenge. And that may be the case, because I see that you're very hurt.

    I'm no fan of the Mormon church, but it's not Megan's fault she was adopted into a home that holds to a belief system you don't share. To expect her to actively support you in your activism is unfair. If she'd indicated that she'd be happy to do so, that would be another matter, but from where I stand it looks as if she's been bullied and harangued. No wonder she doesn't want to hear you.

    PLEASE, I suggest you ask Lorraine to remove these two blog posts.
    Do you REALLY want to do this to your daughter?



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