' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Perspectives on open records continued

Friday, January 30, 2009

Perspectives on open records continued

This is the last of a series of emails between me and my surrendered daughter Megan about open records. The first two parts were posted Monday and Wednesday, January 26 and 28.

Several commentators have criticized me for posting Megan’s emails contending that I betrayed her confidence. I would not have posted her emails if they contained personal information but they don’t. There is nothing about her family, her marriage, her finances, her work, her address, her health – nada. Her emails contain only the opinions which she put forth in her letter to the Bloomington Illinois Pentagraph (below).

I learned of Megan’s Pentagraph letter from a post on the CUB (Concerned United Birthparents) list. It also attracted the attention of an Australian blogger. On the other hand, I copied Megan with my response to her letter.

Megan and I talked on the telephone and exchanged a few emails after the Pentagraph letters. The "don't send presents" email came four months later. I did not respond and I have not heard from her. I assume that if I had written back, our relationship would have continued to limp along.

Although I am sad things haven't worked out, I don’t regret the suspension of our relationship. "Limping along" is worse. I, as I suspect many mothers do, harbored sentimental, almost romantic feelings about Megan. She was my baby. Some day she would realize I was her true mother and come home. In the first few years, I fretted constantly about saying the right things, whether I was too pushy or too distant, and so on. Now that I accept that I cannot control Megan’s feelings, I can be myself.

I think that another reason that I am able to deal with our parting is that I have two young grandchildren, the children of a daughter I raised. These little sweethearts meet my need for someone to mother.

My differences with Megan are not simply a political dispute (she voted for Bush; I voted for Kerry). In asserting that two strangers always make better parents than a single natural mother, Megan is attacking me at my core.

The letters:

Pentagraph(Bloomington, Illinois)
Letters to the Editor

Oppose proposal about adoptee birth certificates

I am an adult adoptee. About 10 years ago, I made the choice to search for my birth mother and I found her!

I knew nothing about the "adoption rights'' movement. It was just something I wanted to do for myself.

The reunion with my birth mother was satisfying for me, and we still correspond and visit each other. After we met, I even attempted to obtain my original birth certificate, but was denied.

Since that time, I have been exposed to many, many communications from various groups pushing for legislation that would allow all adoptees the right to obtain their original birth certificates, regardless of the wishes of birth mothers.

At first, the political arguments made a lot of sense to me. However, after much careful study, pondering and prayer, I have decided for myself that I cannot embrace these groups' basic philosophy regarding family.

God has a plan for families. Children should be nurtured in loving homes by a father and a mother who are also husband and wife. "Redefining kinship,'' as advocated by the some of these groups, is a dangerous thing.

Furthermore, to obtain one's original birth certificate is not a civil or human right. Because I don't believe in the basic goals of "adoption rights'' organizations, I cannot and will not support their political agendas, including open records for all adoptees.

Megan [last named deleted]

April 15, 2008

The Pentagraph
To the Editor

Megan [last name deleted] who wrote the letter published April 13 (“Oppose proposal about adoptee birth certificates”) is the daughter I surrendered for adoption in December, 1966. Megan argues that adoptees should not have the unrestricted right to their original birth certificates.

While Megan is a fine person, I strongly disagree with her views on adoptee access.

I live in Portland, Oregon. On November 3, 1998, Oregon voters passed Ballot Measure 58 with 57 percent of the vote. This measure allowed adults adoptees to obtain their original birth certificates. Opponents immediately challenged Ballot Measure 58 in the courts as violating birthmother privacy. The Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the law and the United States Supreme Court refused to review the decision. The Measure became effective May 31, 2000.

While opponents of the Measure claimed that birthmothers did not want their children to know their identities, birthmothers said something quite different. Two days before the election, over 500 birthmothers including me placed their names in a full page ad in Oregon’s largest newspaper, the Portland Oregonian, supporting the measure.

When I learned in 1997, that Megan was looking for me, I was terrified; but also overjoyed. Since our reunion, I have felt much more complete. It is indeed true that the truth will set you free.

My experience is not unique. Over 9,000 Oregon adoptees have received their original birth certificates. There have been no reports of birthmothers becoming distressed over being contacted by their child. I have met birthmothers and birthfathers from all over the country. I have never heard any regret having a reunion – regardless of how the reunion turned out.


Jane Edwards
(Note: Published 4/20/08)


  1. Wow, what is your goal here?

    You seem so righteous and mean-spirited. So unwilling to engage with your "readers" as if they are less than.

    People have told you how hurtful you are being and you justify it.

    I am sorry for you.

  2. Agreeing with Joy; it is not the content of Megan's personal emails to you that is the issue, but the fact that you made private emails public without her permission. You did not just reprint and react to her letter to the editor. This is not the same thing, and I do not think the fact that it took her four months to ask you to send no gifts means the two things are unrelated.

    It is pretty clear that under all the justifications you feel she hurt you by not preferring you to her adoptive parents, and you are striking back.You say as much, that you felt "attacked to the core" by her expressing that honest feeling. That is understandable but ugly and mean-spirited.

    You "won", you got to be "right", but lost your daughter again. That is just sad.

  3. I don't think it was wrong of Jane to publish these E-mails-especially after how Megan hurt other Adoptees with her outrageous letter to a public newspaper. And I will say one thing, Megan sure as hell was NOT speaking for me. And so, because of that letter, inspired by the insane theories of the insane Mormons, how many people now will beleive the records should stay closed? How many people will think Megan speaks for all Adoptees? I think Jane is posting Megan's E-mails to show how damaged she is in her thinking to the from outer space LDS conclusions of how Adoption should be, which imo is needed after her Adoptee rights damaging letter. There is a big difference between showing how the child that was taken from you is irrational because of a sinister religion they were raised in, and calling the baby that was taken away from you bipoloar, insane, border line, etc because a reunuion is not going well, whilst ignoring the hell we have gone through because of closed records and not giving us time to work that through. There are a few Real Mothers, that when they find us are still in the poor me victim mode and are hogging the spotlight so much, there is no room left for us and our pain. Reuniouns are very sensitive issues, and since we both feel violated, it is hard to balance them sometimes. And as usual, Kippa and Mairaine are being way the hell to hard on Jane.

  4. Like they always are on anyone they disagree with.

  5. What is so interesting about the comments herein is the attitude the nay-sayers express. They have no room in their hearts to accept that others might find some understanding of their own situations by reading these back and forths. Instead, they throw rocks.

    Megan chose to go public with a signed letter in a newspaper. If you look back at them, the posts are mostly Jane explaining why she hoped that Megan--who searched for her, after all--might at least come to support open records...on the record. Megan, in fact, tried to get a copy of her birth certificate, but was denied.

    One might not chose to see the benefit of reading an adoptee's thought process, but what is point of being so nasty in one's disagreement? There is enough hurt to go around without adding to it.

  6. I see nothing wrong with publishing the letters to the newspaper, they were intended to be public. But publishing private correspondence will not bolster feelings of confidence and will surely damage any hope of reviving the relationship.

    I assume Jane believes all hope is gone. From what I've read, I agree.

    That is sad. I am also sorry for you.

  7. Lorraine, I hope you include Improper Adoptee among those who are "nasty" and "throwing rocks", even though in this instance she is agreeing with you.

    What Jane did in publishing private correspondence is wrong, no matter what or who it came from. It is an action that destroyed all possibility of trust. To point this out is not "throwing rocks" especially since Jane is and has been a group leader and one who gives others advice on how to handle their reunions. I would hope no one else would follow her example and use personal correspondence from their relative as a weapon for revenge.

    If the only point of this blog is for those reading it to agree, no matter what is written, it is not a forum but a place for yes-folk to echo the philosophy of the day.

  8. "They have no room in their hearts to accept that others might find some understanding of their own situtaions"

    I would think, hope, that this is a very unusual situation. I have talked to a ton of adoptees and have never heard of a mother trying to worry her child into activism that she was clearly not comfortable with.

    Megan was placed in that environment by her mother Having a child raised in a different culture than one's own is part of adoption, Megan did not have a choice.

    The idea that people will learn from witnessing the betrayal of confidence, is true they will learn, but not happy warm things.

    I still think that if I published excerpts from my mother's emails, and there have been some doozies, the ones I wanted out of context, along with commentary about how I am such a queen martyr, some of these same people defending this would call me disrespectful, hurtful and hateful.

    I am getting the impression that this is not a place for dialogue though, that we are meant to be "taught" by the writers and well, I am really wondering why that is.

    How many other mothers are out there

  9. oops, the last line on the previous comment is a mistake

  10. Agreeing again with Joy. It is clear that Jane pushed and pushed Megan to agree with her about adoption reform, and Megan finally pushed back. Like Joy, I don't know any other mothers who have done this, and I know plenty whose kids do not agree with them on this or other issues, and they agree to disagree or just do not bring the subject up.

    It is one thing to say that you are involved with groups that are working for open records, and support groups, and offer once to invite the adoptee. Nothing wrong with that.

    If they say they disagree or are not interested, the polite thing to do is not bring it up again and move on to other aspects of the relationship, not beat the person over the head verbally until they cry "Uncle" and agree with you or break off the relationship.

    And yes, if Joy or any adoptee did this same thing to their mother, I can just hear the screams of outrage from some here.

  11. "One might not chose to see the benefit of reading an adoptee's thought process"

    So this private correspondence was made public solely in order to 'educate' us poor unenlightened saps? C'mon. You don't really expect anyone to buy into that bullshit, do you?
    Even if it were true, it would still be just as wrong.
    In fact, it would add insult to injury by objectifying the person whose 'thought process' was under scrutiny.

    "but what is point of being so nasty in one's disagreement?"

    What was the point in being so nasty as to post this private exchange?

  12. Reunion can be fraught with challenges and misunderstandings. It's plain that Jane is hurt by Megan's rejection of her gifts.

    Reading Megan's private correspondence to her mother makes me feel ill. Reunions can go through lots of changes.

    I thank God my daughter, Joy, has the good grace to keep our private correspondence private.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Improper, you know nothing about either the circumstances of the relinquishment of my son (with whom I am happily reunited), nor of the circumstances surrounding the relinquishment and subsequent adoption of our adopted son.
    Consequently anything you or others equally ignorant have to say on the matter is 'full of sound and fury, signifying nothing'.

  15. Unlike some of the other posters here, I don't see the relationship as unsalvagable.

    I think if Jane was able to honestly write to her daughter that she realizes that Megan is also in a difficult situation, and she has failed to respect her, and tried instead to persaude her she is wrong and apologize, that would be a very powerful thing.

    Megan isn't wrong about anything, she is entitled to her opinion even if it isn't shared by her mother.

    The mother/child bond is very strong, and reunions can survive some pretty tremendous blows, mine is proof of that.

    Respect for Megan, and acceptance for who she is right now, not where you would like her to be, would be much more fruitful than the stand-off that appears to be happening.

    Adoption is very difficult, it is a very different trauma for mothers and children. The event that causes the upset is the same, but from radically different perspectives. We adoptees can never fully know what it is like to relinquish, in the inverse you don't know what it is like for us, who are often expected to not only take care of the emotional well-being of our aparents, but our natural parents as well.

    As one adoptee said to me once, it does feel like a triad, an inverted triangle where she is expected to support the emotional world of two very needy mothers.

    While I haven't heard of an adoptee complain about a mother worrying her into activism that would likely upset their own social/family world, I have heard a lot of adoptees talk about nmoms who don't respect boundaries, expect them to discount the relationships they have with their adoptive families and fail to have compassion.

    People make mistakes every day, most can be overcome, but there has to be a willingness to be accountable and compassionate to the ones we want to love us.

  16. Beautiful post, Joy. A lot of wisdom and compassion. See, sometimes we do agree:-) If Jane were to follow your advice, it might cause Megan to reconsider the relationship, eventually. But I think it would take a long time, and Jane would have to admit she made mistakes and want to fix things.

    Adoptee and social worker Betsy Forest does an exercise to show how it feels to be the adoptee in the middle of conflicting demands by both sets of parents. A rope is wrapped around the adoptee's waist, and the ends are given to someone on either end representing the adoptive mother and natural mother. Both ends are instructed to pull, which constricts and hurts the adoptee. After the exercise all parties discuss how they felt.

    It is a very graphic depiction of how harmful it is for either parent to make demands and try to "pull" or "push" the adoptee to their side. Nobody wins in these situations, and the adoptee suffers the most.

    Jane's anger and disappointment that her daughter is not what she expected and does not share her beliefs is human and understandable. The unfortunate thing is how she acted on that anger and continues to try to justify her actions.

  17. What I see - and I have read these published letters before - is a not non-uncommonly very conflicted,ambiguous young adopted woman who has been filled with a lifetime of religious brainwashing.

    I also see - or hear - a mother who says that she feels "criticized" and yet continues, as if on some level proud of herself for taking a stand....getting even, as it were.

    I see a mother who set a boundary for herself to atop a relationship rather than "limp along" in part because she (selfishly) enjoys other outlets for her maternal instincts that apparently fit closer to her stated "harbored sentimental, almost romantic feelings about" (for now!) than her relinquished daughter.

    To compare a child raised elsewhere with those raised within the family is patently unfair, IMO.

    It is hard for me to be judgmental of anyone in a difficult relationship. I have the "luxury" of not having to deal with the roller coaster or limping along of a reunited relationship, as my daughter has passed on...

    I DO have those kinds of difficult relationship with friends, cousins, and my one and only sibling - and have felt compelled to end a painful, abusive relationships - like tearing off a bandaid quickly, rather than subject myself to ongoing pain. So in that sense, I can identify. Although, in each of those instances, I left a door open. set a firm boundary on the abuse, but let each person know that if and when they could relate to me civilly, I will always be here for them.

    Having said that...the one relationship I would NEVER cut off is that with any of my children. A mother gives unconditional love. And IMO - which may not be popular - a mother who has "abandoned" her child owes her even more!

    They quite naturally test us....push our buttons to see if we will love them or reject the yet again.

    Oh, there would be some limit to my move for my kids...if one were a murderer or rapist. But short of that... for disagreements in philosophy? politics? religion? NO WAY!

    Love descends such differences. Love is compassionate and understanding. Maternal love is NOT romantic and fantasy-filled and we need to grow up and separate those out nd ace reality and ACCEPT the reality that s our child,IMO.

    I share the sorrow expressed by others. It is heartbreaking knowing that this young woman spent TEN YERAS trying to contact Jane, only to now be turned away because she has opinions that are very strong and harsh, and yes even hurtful and WRONG by our way of thinking...but so what?

    Other the her letter to the editor, I did not see evidence of her daughter saying not to darken her doorsteps again. Did I miss that, or that is Jane's choice?

    Meagan was raised by people very different from us and has THEIR mindset in her mind now. Whose fault is that? Surely not hers. Surely even a misguided person is worthy of love, IMO.

    A mother needs to be strong and put her own hurts aside...or not. Jane has made a decision not to. That is obviously her choice and she feels the need to express it where ever and whenever she can; retribution for Megan's publicizing "her' feelings and beliefs.

    I find such behavior sad and frankly, childish. The mature thing is to ACCEPT and love those who are related to us despite our differences.

    WE get to chose our friends based on common beliefs, not our family!


  18. OOOPS! I was Sure I had "changed hats" before posting. Sorry for the confusion.

    Yes, I agree with Joy that it could be rectified if Jane wanted to work on it which does not seem to be her choice, at least at this time.

    I am reminded of many decades ago when the then president of a birthparent organization met her son and iNSISTED that he call her Mom or Mommy or Mother and was appalled and offended and she would not accept his choice of name for her and made a major issue over it it her relationship. I think it became an ultimatum.

    I also remember, MaryAnne Cohen, in her inimitable style saying she wouldn't care if her son called her SH$T, as long as he called her! :-)

    Deferent styles. But one has the possibility of destroying a relationship.

    We have been "taught" over the past few decades to "set healthy boundaries" for ourselves. This, like anything else, requires BALANCE.

    My relationship with each of my children is far too precious to risk over differences of opinions. They are adults and I respect that they are entitled to theirs. One of my sons does not call me Mom, nor his dad, dad. One of my sons has chosen to live outside with my precious grandson - a decision I am not fond of. But it is their life, not mine and their choice.

    Adult-child relationships are THE HARDEST of all relationships IMO - without the added CRAP adoption brings to the table. Adult children are testing their limits and their independence all the time.

    As I said...I believe as parents who "gave them away" once - we owe it to them to be here and be solid, except for REAL abuse. No, we do not have to and should not ENABLE drug use or other negative dysfunctional behavior. But that is NOT the case with Meagan.

    Balance. A difference of opinion should not a relationship break.

    Many many mothers I know put up with less than ideal situations, i.e. grandchildren are not "allowed" to know them as or call them grandma for fear of offending aps, etc. It's hurtful, yes...but they tolerate because they understand how tenuous the adoptive family ties are and that they must rely on lies to sustain...

    They TOLERATE pain for the sake of their child and the relationship. Not abuse. But a balanced amount of hurt feelings.

    We gave them away. We were not there. We did not mother them. How can we now blame for not calling us mother or identifying us with that role in their life that another filled? Is our anger misplaced on them? I think it bears consideration....because it seems to me we have o one to blame but ourselves (and society at large) and that stings.

    We cannot go into reunion with ANY expectations and surely not an expectation of forgiveness or redemption from the one we abandoned!


  19. Mairaine:

    :) Oh I bet we agree about most things. I don't know that I agree with anyone about everything...and I certainly have my flash points

  20. As do we all, Joy:-) I might agree or disagree with just about anyone. I comment on the content of individual posts, not on the person making the post, and on these adoption blogs I have often agreed or disagreed with the same person depending on the issue.

    If someone writes sanely and decently in disagreement with me I am willing to listen, and also willing to admit it where I can see I was wrong. Everyone, and I mean everyone, makes mistakes sometimes.

    A blog where everyone agrees with every post all the time is just a cheering section and benefits nobody.

  21. Jane is getting some pretty harsh criticism in regards to these posts, and I am not sure that she deserves it. I know that Jane is a thoughtful and cautious person who doesn't do things rashly or without proper consideration. While I may not understand her choices, I trust that her motives are pure and that she has given her decision the utmost deliberation.

    I also value Jane as a person, and respect her enough to know that even if her choices are not my choices, her intentions are honorable because Jane is honorable.

    It isn't up to me to judge Jane's decision on this or on anything. It is up to me to be Jane's friend and to publicly defend her right to do what she thinks is important and learn the lessons that she is attempting to teach. If I disagree with her, as her friend, I will tell her so in private. In this instance, I will learn the lesson and see what comes.

    Thank you, Jane, and Lorraine.

  22. "And yes, if Joy or any adoptee did this same thing to their mother, I can just hear the screams of outrage from some here."

    I'm sorry but I have to disagree, and I will do so politely. I have read Joy's blog numerous times and as a "First" have disagreed with her numerous times, (even been totally ticked off to the point of screaming by her terminology)however I have always respected her right to say what she needs to say and HOW she needs to say it and not screamed in outrage.

    I think Jane at least deserved the same respect. You may not agree with her posting, but it isn't anyone's right to challenge her reasoning for doing so. If she should or should not have put the e-mails out there is subjective, it all depends who you talk to as to whether it is right or wrong.

    Point is, she did, she felt she needed to, so... her blog, her right, stop the lynching please.

  23. Oh and BTW...

    I'm just using Joy as an example since you mentioned her, there are plenty of Blogs that challenge me!

    I like that about them, they make me think!

  24. Nobody is being "lynched". Disagreement with another person's actions and judgment, put out there for public comment on a blog that is public and invites comment, is not lynching, it is merely commenting and disagreeing. Like you are disagreeing with me. It goes both ways, nobody gets lynched, just disagreed with and perhaps annoyed.

    Being challenged by blogs includes sometimes disagreeing vigorously, sometimes enthusiastically agreeing, sometimes saying nothing. Once something it put out there for comment, opinions will be expressed, and not all will agree.

  25. Different strokes for different folks.
    From my POV, public postings incur public responses. Private messages get responded to privately.

  26. Kirsty, I have to disagree with you that there wouldn't be an outcry if "Joy or any other adoptee" made personal correspondence between their mothers and themselves public without permission from their mothers.

    I am confident that the vast majority of people would consider using private correspondence to make a point without permission from the other party quite indefensible.

    And your reactions to what Joy writes on her blog - it's not comparable. Not the same situation at all.

    "Point is, she did, she felt she needed to, so... her blog, her right."
    Of course, on the web it's possible for anyone to say pretty much anything. Because they can.
    But that doesn't make a need a right.

  27. Kristy:

    I really don't think you not liking my opinion compares with publishing my mother's emails on my blog.

    I think she would find that humilating. I would certainly feel like she violated my trust had she done the same, even though sometimes she posts things too that I don't like.

    I can deal with her point of view, even though it is sometimes hurtful, because it is not her being malicious.

    Any original writing is de facto copyrighted to the writer, so even a paraphrase would have been a different story.

    It doesn't seem to be an issue for the blogger here, but if she is interested in a relationship with her daughter, and who says she has to be? It may be a real problem for a relationship.

    I think people who could describe themselves as "friends" and fail to point this out, well, I hope my friends would point it out to me if I was taking a knife to my nose, and point out, I would be wiser to save my face.

  28. If Jane truly did consider carefully before making private emails from her daughter public, and concluded their relationship was not worth it and if this ends it, so be it. that would be one thing.

    But she expressed such surprise, puzzlement,anger, and sadness when her daughter asked her not to send any more gifts to her kids, several months after the initial public newspaper disagreement and then this private exchange took place, I have to think that the whole thing had unexpected consequences for Jane.

    And then, as Joy said, she cut of her nose to spite her face by putting it all out there on this blog.

    The lesson others can learn from this is one of the many ways to wreck your own reunion. That is the only lesson here, and it is a sad one.



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