' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: OBC-ACCESS Petition fails while protest on Russian adoption ban flourishes

Saturday, December 29, 2012

OBC-ACCESS Petition fails while protest on Russian adoption ban flourishes

Lorraine, incognito at the capitol
While the White House officials posted what is likely the fastest response to date to a We the People petition this week, urging the U.S. government to oppose then-pending legislation in the Russian parliament banning U.S. adoptions of Russian children, at the same time, the petition to give adult adoptees clear access to their original birth certificates failed to meet the signature threshold. 

How many signatures were needed? 25,000 signatures within 30 days.  How many adoptees are estimated to be in the United States: Six million? Eight?  How many of them are over 13, the age required before signing the petition? How many are denied access to their original birth certificates, and for many, the right to learn their true identities? It must be at least several million.

While the OBC access petition failed because of lack of interest, the Russian adoption petition received about 55,000 signatures in less than a week, more than double the number required for a White House response.
The plea to get signatures on the petition for OBC access for adopted individuals was around for a while. On November 30, I posted this on my Facebook page: "Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines. I hope that not only my adoptee and first mother friends sign this petition, but others too who believe in equal rights for all, adoptees included, who are denied the right to know who they are by law. PLEASE LOOK THIS OVER AND SIGN." I posted another comment asking people to share the petition on their page.

I have some 900 friends on Facebook, most of them related to me through adoption, either as first parents or adoptees. Only a few indicated that they signed and shared. Two days ago, Unsealed Initiative, New York's adoptee-rights organization, sent out a request for emergency signatures because the numbers were not reaching the necessary threshold to have the petition be considered by the White House. Since I had signed, I did not pay attention to how many signatures were needed, but there was another email saying that 21,000 signatures were still needed. After all the years we have been working for adoptee rights, after so many television reunions and movies about lost family connections that the man on the street usually believes that sealed records are a thing of the past, 21,000 signatures were still needed. Where, I wondered, where in the fuck are the adoptees? Are they so bound by guilt over hurting their adoptive parents feelings that they cannot stand up for themselves? Are they just not interested in who they are? Has the sense of abandonment killed what would be natural curiosity to find out their true story, how they came to be born, who they were are birth, why they were adopted? 

While first mothers and fathers could sign, and did sign, this was not a petition that asked for anything for first mothers per se. The petition did not ask the White House to consider giving birth mothers access to their children's adoption records. Even if the White House acted on this, Congress followed and the President signed an executive order based on this petition, we would not have the ban on information to first mothers lifted. First and foremost, this petition was for the rights of adopted individuals. 

I have adult adopted friends--two of them, highly successful individuals in their private and personal lives--but neither of them have made the final step to find out their identities. Both made halfway attempts, one contacting the agency where he was adopted from in Minnesota for whatever health information available, but he refused when asked if he would like the agency to contact his natural parents. The other went so far to hire a searcher in Nebraska, but as he got close, the adopted individual pulled the plug and stopped the search. Mutual friends wonder why they are not curious, because we all wonder--how can they not be? Not being adopted, they see no reason to rein in natural curiosity on a question that seems so obvious. I've answered the question for myself because I have learned how frightening it is for some adopted individuals to seek their biological parents, after all these years. Questions that were not answered when first raised as children get stomped down, and there they must lie. The woman says she is happier imagining her father is a king. I did not ask either of these intelligent, adult adoptees to sign the petition. They all know that I am involved in adoption reform, and I know my asking would have been seen as a violation of our friendship.

Yet people--all kinds of people, people who want to adopt, people who know people who want to adopt--can get so worked up about the ban on Russian adoptions--something they can't really control--that they got nearly double the number of signatures needed in a matter of days? The petition regarding Russian adoptions was posted Dec. 21. The White House response was posted less than seven full days after the petition was launched, while it usually takes weeks or months for a government response after passing the numbers threshold.

“Children should have every opportunity to grow up in loving families; their fate should not be linked to unrelated political considerations,” the official White House response stated. "The United States and Russia concluded a bilateral agreement on inter-country adoptions, which entered into force on November 1, 2012. The Agreement provides additional safeguards to better protect the welfare and interests of children and all parties involved in inter-country adoptions." It then goes on to explain the diplomatic background.

"The Russian action was reportedly in response to the Magnitsky Act, a provision of broader legislation President Obama signed this month, which would freeze the assets of Russian human rights abusers. The provision was named for Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in prison after accusing government officials of fraud.

Today this is what the We The People site says if you look for the adoption petition:
Thanks for your interest in We the People, a new tool on White House.gov that allows all Americans to ask the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country.
The petition you are trying to access has expired, because it failed to meet the signature threshold.
While you can't sign this petition, there may be other petitions on We the People on a similar issue that you'd like to add your name to. Or, you can create your own petition.
I read this today and wondered what in the hell I have been doing with my life if we can't even get enough signatures on a petition to give adopted individuals their original birth certificates.--lorraine

for FMF's earlier reaction to the Russian adoption ban:

Russians say "nyet" to US adoptions

for earlier posts from FMF about Russian adoption
From FMF:
Foreign Adoptions Aren't Plunging Fast Enough
Open Adoption is "one free baby-sitting scam".... (about a Russian adoption)
Good news: Foreign Adoptions Decline

International Adoptions (Opposing Viewpoints)
"The viewpoints are selected from a wide range of highly respected and often hard-to-find sources and publications. By choosing from such diverse sources and including both popular and unpopular views, the Opposing Viewpoints editorial team has adhered to its commitment to editorial objectivity. Readers are exposed to many sides of a debate, which promotes issue awareness as well as critical thinking. In short, Opposing Viewpoints is the best research and learning tool for exploring the issues that continually shape and define our turbulent and changing world."--Amazon

Sources: Concerns About Russian Legislation That Would Affect Adoptions and Civil Society
and on the failed adoption petition:


  1. When the White House petition came out I was quite excited. I immediately sent out a strong armed email to family members basically saying that if they loved me, and believe its a persons right to have their birth documents, they needed to sign the petition. I also asked them to email me back if they signed. About ten family members got back to me that they signed.
    Next I went onto the adoptee rights Facebook page and posted a message about the petition that went unanswered. Next I sent a Facebook message to one of the adoptee rights board members that I greatly respect. She told me that in her opinion the issue is better handled by the state because if the US government got involved it could go to the Supreme Court and with all the money the pro-adoption community has they could get great lawyers and we could lose. Then all of the states that have good laws in place would be struck down.
    After hearing that I just let it drop.

  2. "Has the sense of abandonment killed what would be natural curiosity to find out their true story, how they came to be born, who they were are birth, why they were adopted? "

    Only a non-adopted person could write this. The situation is far more complex than just curiosity. I would wager that most, if not all, adoptees are curious about their origins. But if one searches, s/he has no idea what s/he will find and how it will affect her life. Many people are not ready for this and don't want to add these unknown complications into their life.

    Also, many people from the closed era have never even heard of the BSE and have no idea how single mothers were forced into giving their babies up. I know that if I had not learned about what was really going on back then (thanks for your book, Lorraine :), I would never have searched. By being given up, I assumed my mother didn't want me. It would never have occurred to me that she gave me to strangers, never to be heard from again, because she loved me. And most people don't go looking where they aren't (or think they aren't) wanted.

    Also, some adopted persons are angry. They feel that their mother had her chance, 'chose' to not raise them, and that they aren't going to give their first parents a second chance (I have to say I have noticed this more among male adoptees). And some people just don't want to know. I mean, how good could one's birth circumstances have been if you were given up for adoption?

    And, yes, there is the subtle or not so subtle pressure from adoptive parents that they are the child's REAL (read only) parents. They are the people who were there for the child. And some adoptees do have what I consider a
    misguided sense of loyalty to the APs which prevents them from searching.

  3. I signed the petition because it was the right thing to do. Signing the petition does not mean you have to search, but it would give the right to those adoptees who want to know. It's almost as if by not protesting and leaving things as is gives one an excuse to say "well, I can't find out who my first family is because I'm not allowed to get my birth certificate." I am not trying to offend, but aren't these adoptees just further letting someone else treat them as children when they are fully capable adults who can make the decision to search themselves? It SHOULD be every persons right to know their biological heritage for any reason they choose.

  4. Robin, If something in the process of being given up and being adopted today did not kill what I can only call curiosity, then one would have to assume that adoptees would be fighting at the barricades to get their original birth records, and the names of their original parents.

    They are not in the numbers one would expect if something in them had not been killed. I call that curiosity.

    I agree there is no word in the English language that conveys what must be a burning, innate desire in some adopted individuals to know the truth of their origins. One need only remember the emotional responses of the non-adopted people who traced their ancestry on the cancelled TV show, "Who Do You Think You Are?" to realize something major is occurring. So why aren't there more adopted individuals at the barricades in the state legislatures--or at least signing a damn petition? What happens to the need to know in far too many adoptees? Why aren't they in greater numbers asserting their right to know? Their silence reflects "curiosity" killed because no other words suits.

    As you wrote:
    "Only a non-adopted person could write this. The situation is far more complex than just curiosity. I would wager that most, if not all, adoptees are curious about their origins. But if one searches, s/he has no idea what s/he will find and how it will affect her life. Many people are not ready for this and don't want to add these unknown complications into their life."

    We often agree--we most often agree--but your sentences following your first in that graf prove my point--something happens to the human psyche and the desire to know (that curiosity) in the process of being adopted. A friend who recently took her Chinese daughter on a business trip to China found her unusually incurious about all things Chinese, and unresponsive to the culture. She asked her, a sophomore at a top university, if she was interested in Chinese culture. She said: Not interested. Awareness that she had absolutely no chance of finding out anything about her roots led her to cut off all thoughts of being interested--or curious. Or maybe not letting her parents know her true feelings.

    Her parents, by the way, were thrilled that she was not interested in anything Chinese, and made a point of letting me know. (I've written about this before; it was a very unpleasant ending to an otherwise pleasant evening for me.) The people are otherwise generous, nice people; I've known them for longer than their daughter has been alive. But somehow, despite our friendship, despite the literature available to them, they ended up in the "love conquers and kills all curiosity" camp. Obviously the girl would have hurt their feelings if she had been interested. Or curious. I'd call that "killed."

  5. I think fear is the biggest obstacle in an adoptee not searching or not wanting a relationship. The fact that the fear may be recognized or not is individual to each adoptee. The fears are many..fear of rejection, fear of hurting parents that raised them, fear of what they may find, fear of what it will do to them personally and how they have learned to see themselves. Fear that they will ruin someones life, fear that someone somewhere is going to be mad at them...ungrateful, rude, disrespectful and it goes on.

    Not only that but the expectations put on adoptees is huge coming from both sides of the families, coming friends who don't get it and coming from society in general.

    I believe thats why many don't sign petitions or even know they are out there. Just trying to live their lives as best they can. guess its called "in the fog" I call it self protection...something we learned early on.

  6. I refused to sign the Whitehouse petition. The federal government has nothing to do with the issuance of birth certificates. It is imperitive that the federal government keep its fingers off our records. I can very well see that Homeland Security (the American version of the Stasi) could become the repository of adpotion records (or all birth records for that matter). It already is the collecting agency for IA. It is also imperative that as much as possible to keep the issue out of the courts. One bad court ruling and you can say goodbye to records access everywhere.

  7. Er...we have the right to have an abortion because of a court decision. While some may think the grounds were the wrong one, it generally made abortion available and not illegal. (What is happening now is trying to get around Roe V. Wade.)

    Yes, there are bad decisions--start with Dred Scott--but they are eventually overturned, one way or another. A petition like this getting the signatures would have been noticed by some, and could be used in the lobbying effort in state houses. State by state is taking a hell of a long time....the issue of sealed records needs to be attacked on all levels, noise needs to be made. The American commotion over the Russian ban is unlikely to change the Russian president's mind, but this petition is an American issue.

    I don't see much happening on unlocking the sealed records on any front this year. Oh yeah, the big state of Rhode Island opened its sealed records for adoptees over 25. At this rate, it will only take another 43 years to have OBC access for adoptees.

  8. While I agree with just about all of the points mentioned, there is something that I didn't see.

    In the case of the Russian adoption ban, time is of the essence. The ban is scheduled to go into effect next week. With OBC access, while individuals are up against their own personal deadlines, there is no looming crisis or universal sense of urgency.

    I predict that a few months down the road, a "please reverse the Russian adoption ban" petition will not get one tenth of the required signatures.

  9. True,but Roe was a terrible decision ., It actually killed the real abortion rights movement. States were moving pretty quickly to legalize abortion. Roe took it out of state hands and threw it to the feds who have made a muck of things. There is no such thing as a right to abortion in the US today. Only a right for some women under increasingly constrained circumstances. Those of us who supported abortion rights from the beginning knew that Roe was the death knell. Legislation through the courts is almost always a bad move.

    Internet petition gathering is useless-- even to the Whitehouse whose site is simply a liberal PR scam to make people think their opinions count.

    Records are not being unsealed because deformers continue to send mixed messages to lawmakers. We want our records opened, but you can restrict our expendables. +We're contortionists We'll kiss your ass while your screw us It's all or nothing, something libs don't seem to get.

  10. Marley, we are never going to agree on this.

    The more noise is made, the more will be heard. Even if this particular petition didn't change anything today, it would be part of the record. Gay marriage is happening pretty quickly because a lot of noise is being made. Eventually it is heard.

  11. And Gaye, you are right about the time element. There is no immediacy involved here. But the lack of interest is depressing.

  12. "She said: Not interested. Awareness that she had absolutely no chance of finding out anything about her roots led her to cut off all thoughts of being interested--or curious."

    I think not wanting to feel the pain of her enormous loss is what cut off her interest. Yes, her search sounds hopeless but I wonder if her thought process is as rational as you think. I suspect that emotion is driving her more than just the intellectual understanding that she will most likely not be able to find her bio-families anyway.

    I agree with dpen that fear is a driving force behind a lot of adoptees' reluctance to search or reunite.

  13. Robin: Of course it is not rational in the person to whom this is happening. It just is. Only outsiders can coolly rationalize what must be such inner turmoil. And I agree too that fear is a driving force that prevents search and reunion, fear on both sides, birth parents and adopted individuals.

  14. Oh please. Slavery wasn't a federal issue. Until it was.

    What legislation does BN actually get behind and work for?

  15. Ever her of Measure 58? There's a whole book about it and us AL was our bill NH passed due to our very own Janet Allen in the House and her political connections in the Senate We were part of the loose coalition We worked with RI Much of our time is spent trying to kill bad deform
    What bills has anonymous passed?

  16. There's a good chance legislation will pass in WA this year. Last year a bill passed unanimously in the House but was held in the Senate by a single stubborn Senator. Open records legislation will have a much better chance of making it through the process in 2013. I imagine it won't meet with BN standards and the bill file will get another of Marley's letters, which will be read by few lawmakers and will not make the official bill report.

    In the meantime proponents have been working on negotiating removal of the veto provision, but there will likely be some compromise along the way. I'm in the camp of seeing the vast majority of adoptees gaining access to records as a good thing, while continuing to perfect the law in future years. The control of the Senate will likely change again after this year giving Senator Hargrove the chance to stand in the way in the future. We hope to get something passed while we can.

    BTW I signed the petition and am also disappointed that it couldn't get the needed signatures.

  17. Paige:

    Please explain--Hargrove is the guy who held up the bill in the Senate? And he is likely to be in the new Senate also?

    It has been suggested that someone do another petition very soon, while there is a reminder and disappointment of the one that didn't get the required number of signatures. If that is done, there needs to be a major effort to get out the word that such a petition exists and should be signed by as many people as possible. It would at least be a record of desire that adoptees do want their OBCs, if nothing else.

  18. "While the White House officials posted what is likely the fastest response to date to a We the People petition this week, urging the U.S. government to oppose then-pending legislation in the Russian parliament banning U.S. adoptions of Russian children, at the same time, the petition to give adult adoptees clear access to their original birth certificates failed to meet the signature threshold. "

    That doesn't surprise me. Adoption reform is incomprehensible to most people, including the majority of those who are connected to adoption. Information to the public is complicated by too many crosscurrents of feelings and opinion. People just switch off. It seems to me that the message needs to be simple - that everyone is entitled to know where they came from, whether they decide use that right to find out or not.

    This article about the Russian adoption ban makes its points succinctly:

    Here is an example of how an ethical adoption really can improve a life:
    Note. These people did not set out to adopt Alexander. They were his host family when he was undergoing surgery to replace his deformed legs with prosthetics. They grew to love him and his concerns became theirs.

    And here is another link to a really interesting broadcast featuring Alexander D'Jammos, the young man mentioned above, and David Smolin, Director of the Center for Children, Law and Ethics at Samford University in Birmingham Alabama:

  19. Manon, thanks for the information and the links.

    I also think the petition did not have any gas because not enough adoptees felt it was worth their time to push it, or even sign it, and get their relatives and friends to sign. It does need to be simple: Adopted people should have the right to know where they came from. Period.

    All adopted people, even the ones whose mothers and their mothers' religion are against it.

  20. Hargrove's a lifer, so yes, he's still in the Senate. After the election when the Democrats maintained a slight 26-23 advantage, Committee on Committees elected Hargrove to chair the powerful Ways & Means Committee leaving the chairmanship of the Human Services & Corrections Committee to a Senator who is easier to work with. Even then Hargrove might have had the votes to hold the bill in Rules if it did pass from committee. However, 2 moderate Democrats joined ranks with the 23 Republicans forming the newly coined "Majority Coalition Caucus" upsetting the D's plans.

    Since then the new majority has announced a power sharing scheme with 6 committees to be chaired by D's, 6 chaired by R's and 3 co-chaired including the Human Services & Corrections Committee. The D's rejected the offer and it sounds like they are ready to take a minority role, though that is not yet official.

    So there's an unexpected window of opportunity in WA for 2013. Things are likely to get a slow start in the Senate, because they're still organizing. House committees have been determined and there is no apparent reason why a bill shouldn't move smoothly through that body. Many proponents feel encouraged.

  21. "Has the sense of abandonment killed what would be natural curiosity to find out their true story, how they came to be born, who they were are birth, why they were adopted?"

    That's such an unfair and inaccurate judgement.

    This is not about a lack of curiosity, and you know it. I've never met another adoptee who wasn't curious. Never. Our situations are typically so complex, so convoluted, so unsure, and so difficult, that the vast majority of us sit paralyzed, hesitant to move forward. Not only does society judge the crap out of adoptees who search--WHY ARE WE SO UNGRATEFUL?--we also have to come to terms with the fact that what we find may not bring anything but rejection, ugly secrets, ugly truths, and/or pressure/disappointment/anger from adoptive families, etc. Finding may mean that lives are up-ended--and if people are hurt, who'll be blamed? We will. If it all goes south, we'll be left holding the bag, and we know it. WHY CAN'T YOU JUST LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE? How many times has every adoptee heard that phrase?

    And now, apparently, we're damned if we do, and damned if we don't. How can everything be our freaking fault when we were the only ones who had no choice in all this?

    OMG, I'm so annoyed.

  22. Curiosity is normally seen as a sign of intelligence. Only in the case of adoption is it seen as pathology.

    Reuben Pannor, one of the authors of ground-breaking The Adoption Triangle, said that, or something close to it.

    When a grown woman and a grown man say they do not want to find their parents, or learn what their stories are, yes, that statement almost certainly masks a lot of turmoil and pain. It is not the adopted person's fault, any more than women from the BSE should be faulted and blamed for giving up their babies when the middle-class world presented no real choice.

    To the outside world, an adoptee not searching, acting as if they are NOT curious, stopping a search mid stream, acting as if nothing about being adopted bothers them, can only be interpreted as a lack of curiosity. The other world--that of the non-adopted, or someone not schooled in the psychology of adoption--is left to think,--Wow, not curious enough to search. Interesting. They can't imagine the forces that prevent adoptees from searching. If every adult adoptee did rightfully and forcefully demand to know the truth of his origins, the records would be unilaterally open. The system creates the mind set that tells them, and their adoptive parents, that not searching proves their adoption was a "success."

    Tim Green's book about this adoption and search that I added yesterday at the post about Colin Kaepernick last week is one of the sweetest memoirs about his need to know, and how it was shaken loose when the mother of an ex-girlfriend confessed she had given up son who would be his age. But unfortunately, many adoptees never have that Aha! moment, and the pace at which states open records moves as slow as rock erosion.

  23. Excuse me, Renee, I just read through the comments and can't figure out what is supposed to be your (and my) fault? I'm adopted, btw. I didn't get the sense of any blame being laid on us.


  24. I think there is a difference between a LACK of curiosity and NOT ACTING on that curiosity. It is not a LACK of curiosity that keeps adoptees from fighting at the barricades to get their original birth records, and the names of their original parents. Our curiosity has never been killed. It is the issues that I outlined in a previous comment and that Renee wrote about that stop an adoptee from ACTING on that curiosity.

  25. Rachel, you don't see this article--with paragraph heads like "WHERE ARE THE ADOPTEES?"--as one that blames the "lack of curiosity" of adoptees for the failure of the OBC Access Petition? From my perspective, that the point of the entire article.

  26. As an international adoptee I have found that my fellow IA's lag a few decades behind our domestic adoptee counterparts in knowledge of the adoption issues and awareness of adoption as a human rights issue. I did. It has only been in all of a little over a year that I had a steep learning curve and educated myself on adoption. Reading books, articles,and all things adoption related online to at a frantic pace to. I get it now, but most of my IA friends don't give a shit minus a handful that live, breathe and eat adoptee rights. Another reason is many of them in the 20-30 age range are just coming out of the fog and slowly trying desperately to figure out their identity. Psychologically all of this waking up is a huge process. HUGE. The metnal and emotional hold that our APs have/had on us that held our adoption as a taboo and secret world, can not be put into words. Breaking free of that hold takes a earth shattering moment. It happened for me at the late age of 35 when I received word from my adoption agency that my bio family was searching for me. Up until then, I was living as if I was the white daughter of my adopters and desperately still trying to please them and have them love me. Until adoptees are able to come out of their own a-families strong enough to consider the larger political issues of adoption, then maybe there will be more progress for adoption reform. But the taboos, denial, silencing, abuse, and pain that so many of us come out of our a-families with into adulthood, leaving us as wounded and broken people leaves us with little ability to think of anything but our own struggle just to survive our childhood. Just connecting with other adoptees online is a whole new world for my adoptee friends and asking them to do more is like asking a baby to run a marathon. They just aren't capable yet. Most of my adoptee friends are just trying to understand their issues of abandonment, the additional trauma by our adopters, and for some our reunions. Inside our head, there is A LOT to deal with.

  27. And in my opinion, this will never happen until it is driven by adoptive parents. Even if half a million of us were to sign a petition. No one cares what adoptees want, and most of us know it, and that's another factor that contributes to our lassitude.

    The only changes that ever happen in adoption happen because adopters either want them or need them. They have all the power because they write the checks--and since they drive the business, the agencies will put their money and juice/lobbying power behind them.

    Even open adoption, which society likes to pretend is about adoptees, happened only because it was an effective way of keeping the baby stream flowing TO THE ADOPTERS.

    There's no money in appeasing adoptees.

    Follow the money. It makes the rules.

  28. I would also add that the adoptees who had supportive and loving adoptions do not feel the righteous anger that many others of us do and feel no burning passion for adoption reform. I know many sit back and read what comes out of the adoption community politically with mild interest but nothing more. They have adopted or would love to and much of this is lost on them.

  29. Unbelievable. Even if you don't want your OBC, why not support others getting theirs? This is a human rights issue.

    As for so many signatures on the Russian ban, there is nothing America can do about it.

    So lopsided...

  30. So the petition failed because the man on the street didn't sign it? Or birth mothers? Birth fathers? Adoptive parents and their friends and relatives? It was a petition for adoptee rights. If we don't speak up for ourselves, who should? Who will? It ain't gonna be adoptive parents. I'm sorry but silence kills our movement, and you are arguing semantics and OMG pissed off that Lorraine pointed out that adoptees couldn't sign a petition for their rights. So why did the petition fail? You must know the answer.

    i signed it

  31. The way I read this post and Lorraine's comment about her friends with the adopted daughter from China was Lorraine saying...If I was adopted, I would be breaking down the door of the vital records office to get my OBC and if I had been adopted internationally, I would be on the first plane back to my home country and would want to learn as much as possibleabout the culture. But that shows a lack of understanding the complexities of actually being adopted.

    It made me feel like if I said "If I had been pregnant out of wedlock in the BSE, I would have kept my baby come hell or high water, nothing would have kept me from raising my child". And I have heard adoptees say things like that. But, of course, that completely ignores the reality of the times.

  32. Very much agreeing with Renee and Robin here. The adoptee's feelings belong to him or her and should not be second-guessed or impugned. Adoptees who do not make outward motions of searching or choose not to discuss the issue openly are not necessarily “not curious” or intellectually stunted, which is practically where you're going. I agree that most adoptees are curious but even when a-parents are supportive or sympathetic, a-parents cannot help an adoptee with those feelings about their first parents. It's something the adoptee has to work out. I know my daughter has very mixed feelings about her original parents and she's given me the go-ahead to collect whatever information for her that I can. But if I attempted to orchestrate what she should feel or upbraid her for her apparent “lack of curiosity,” I would be doing a lot of damage. I do sometimes say, “Maybe some day . . . .” But that's about it.

    Please let's stop bashing adoptees who aren't “doing it right.” Shouldn't even be part of the discussion and surely this is one of the “cross-currents” Manon was referring to. The issue is the right to the information. What the adoptee does with that info is up to him or her. There will be as many responses as adoptees.

  33. Oh, yes, please do jump all over me with inaccurate, bullshit assumptions because it pisses me off to hear a non-adoptee blame adoptees' "lack of curiosity" for a petition's lack of success.

    Let's clear a couple of things up.
    1) I did sign
    2) I did search--FOR THIRTY TWO FREAKING YEARS--and I also successfully petitioned a TX court to turn adoption records over to a C.I. (setting precedent in Harris County)
    3) I identified and found my mother with help from no one, including the agency that placed me
    4) I reunited
    5) I obtained a copy of my OBC
    6) I would love it if no other adoptee had to go through all the maddening bullshit I had to go through to get where I finally got

    My POINT is that a high percentage of adoptees are not up to searching OR finding, and I totally get WHY, and that it's unfair to blame adoptees for not feeling capable of tackling these issues.

    Also? Screw your self-superior assumptions--and screw you for trying to tell other adoptees how they are obligated to feel and/or behave. You are NOT ENTITLED.

    And as regards your question on whom to blame, Lord God Queen Of The Adoptees Rachel, maybe it has nothing to do with people. Maybe we can blame the petition? Maybe we can blame the awareness campaign that failed to reach potential signers? Maybe we can blame the timing? Maybe there are loads of different variables to blame? Maybe it's all down to a combination of many of them?

    And with that, I'm signing off, because frankly, I'm sick of dealing with discompassionate assholes. Argue with each other if you want, but I'm maxed out on blame. No adoptee should have to put up with attitudes like yours from other adoptees, Rachel and Denise.

  34. Nanle Yi,

    "Just connecting with other adoptees online is a whole new world for my adoptee friends and asking them to do more is like asking a baby to run a marathon. They just aren't capable yet. Most of my adoptee friends are just trying to understand their issues of abandonment, the additional trauma by our adopters, and for some our reunions."

    Beautifully stated. Thank you.

  35. Now I understand why the records will not be open in my lifetime. All of you are right. I don't even disagree with you Renee and Robin, about the difficulty of asking. You are saying, not gonna happen--but you did it yourself, Renee. Sure we get help from birth mothers, and a few adoptive parents, but we as a group have to make it happen, or it won't. As for your insult, Renee M, do you do that every time someone disagrees with you? So productive.

    Robin, your point about not blaming mothers from the old days for not keeping their children is a good one, but I don't get from Loraine's comment what you did. Merely noting that the girl was not curious is not the same as saying she would have done it differently. What Nanle Yi said expresses what happens completely. I think Lorraine was more interested in how pleased her parents were that their daughter was not interested, and that--their attitude--is part of what keeps us down, all of us.

    I repeat, you have made it clear why the records will not be open for all in my lifetime.


  36. @Renee,
    I am sorry you have gotten so upset by this discourse that you are ready to throw in the towel. We need voices like yours. Lorraine meant no malice by what she wrote. I am sure of that. She just doesn't get it. She's not adopted. She does not come from an emotional place where she was raised by strangers because her parents gave her away. Just as we adoptees do not come from an emotional place where we gave up our child.

  37. Thank you Robin. I too am sorry that Renee was so upset; I did not intend to attack adoptees as much as express my frustration at the the system that leads to this inability to act in your own interests in large numbers. I do understand--as much as an outsider can--how adoption does what it does. I hate it! But no, I can't get into your skin, I didn't live it.

    Since all this is true, what is further frustrating is the push for more women to have more babies to give up, as demonstrated in the sidebar I put up earlier today.

  38. Speaking as an older adoptee, I share Lorraine's frustration that more adoptees don't work for adoptee rights. But then I have to remind myself that I was in my late forties and had suffered a serious medical crisis before I became courageous enough to look for information about my original family. Until that time, I didn't even realize how compromised my rights really were. And yes, I did put off searching because I did not want to hurt my adoptive parents' feelings. All of these complexities came from the closed adoption system of which I was a part. Now I work for reform in NJ, but it is a frustrating and uphill battle. It is very much like hitting your head against a wall over and over again -- that's how entrenched old attitudes about adoption are in our culture and legislative chambers. It's no wonder that many adoptees simply do what they have to do on their own and then move forward with their lives. I continue to write at my blog, but I honestly can't stomach attending legislative hearings every legislative cycle -- the political games and the power that the adoption lobbies, the Catholic Bishops, and Right to LIfe yield are very, very depressing.

  39. You are welcome, Lorraine. And I hope that you and Jane, and all the readers of FMF have a very Happy New Year!

  40. I appreciate learning from all the commenters and take no offense from anyone. In my immediate family of non-adopted people- my husband and young adult kids- don't always get adoption issues. On top of that we are so different in personality, perceptions, and our world views, so much so that the family argues relentlessly on politics, women's rights and religion every freaking day. BUT we always come back together. We say so what and go back to yelling and making up. Debating and arguing is fighting for what you believe in and after that knowing the other person is also more than one argument over any given topic. At least that's how we roll in our family. I would just add that the curiosity factor is not what is what is soley in question. That comes later. From being in adoptee groups with my IA friends, it seems that the disassociation and identity splitting that occurred as babies and children without our knowledge, is the first step to questioning/curiosity of everything else. And that very first step shakes the very foundation of everything we believe as our reality. Let that sink in.

    Many adoptees I know are in their late 40's-50's and just beginning to deal with this process of waking up. It is not magically undone as adults independent from our adopters or after reunion after living decades as if born to our adopters. The first priority I see with my fellow adoptees is dealing with the traumatic loss of our first mother/family and the destruction of their A-family due to denial/secrecy/abuse. Those are the triage wounds that MUST first be dealt with. Many of us don't ever get past that to a functioning level. All other issues are more or less 'optional' based on the individual adoptee.

  41. This has been a most illuminating discussion, but the conclusion is disheartening because of what it says about the OBC movement.


    My wishes for everyone: Stay warm, be loving and be loved--by your whole family. Families. May the new year let them blend into one family for you.

  42. Nanle Yi wrote, "the mental and emotional hold that our APs have/had on us that held our adoption as a taboo and secret world, cannot be put into words. Breaking free of that hold takes an earth shattering moment".

    I found this very throught provoking though painful to read. It saddens me that some adoptees feel caught in a sort of emotional stranglehold. But it also is very telling about who has all the power in adopion - APs. They need to get on the ball with OBC access since they control the adoption narrative in this country. I would also like to see the elimination of admended birth certificates altogether - birth records should never be altered to suit the whimsy of anyone.

    Please APs, you profess to love your adoptlings so much, put your money where your mouth is and take action in support of open records!

    Happy New Year!


  43. Happy New Year to you too Lorraine! Jane too!
    Beautiful sentiment fir the New Year.
    I have been watching a DVD that was made from
    a VHS tape that came from one of the first movie cameras.
    My son who I lost in 66 is maybe a month old. It may have been his first day with adopted family.
    Anyway, each time I watch it my eyes hone in on his little
    face so precious and vulnerable. I did not see him at birth but I cannot understand my mom who told me she saw him could walk away from him her 1st born grandson. So sad and after all these years his loss has
    hurt me to my core.
    I spent Christmas Day with my son and our family he even jumped in and helped with cooking!!! Anyway, not
    sure why I brought this up probably because it is always on my mind even after 20 years of reunion.


  44. Er...no matter how you read this post, anybody, I never said what I would do if I were adopted. I have no idea what I would do. I find it strange that so often the posts are misinterpreted to suit the reader's POV.

    What I am saying is that if the adoptees--except for a few--are not able to get involved in this fight for OBC, it will fail. All the birth mothers in the world cannot open those records; yes more adoptive parents would be helpful, but they are not going to do it either. This must come from adoptees, with support from first and adoptive parents.

  45. lorraine posner zapinJanuary 1, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    Happy New Year to all
    There are a lot of angry people out there. if you look below the surface i think they are really upset with upset with the system. Lorraine’s writing takes them to at place that forces them to raise their awareness and bring into their consciousness what they really don't want to look at or deal with.
    addressing the issue of what appears to be lack of interest in the petition… trying to motivate people to sign a petition makes them look for a reason why they would do this. Introspection opens the floodgates of self examination and confrontation. You have to dig deep and there you have it. that long look inward brings adoptees in particular to the brink of what happened to them and why it happened and onward to how any action they take to search will effect their lives and their adoptive parents. the result? Overwhelming paralysis of the worst kind, a real crippler. can this be overcome? i am not sure it is possible. For every adoptee. mother and adoptive parent there exits a unique and personal set of circumstances and emotions that drives their orientation in the murky world of adoption.
    the federal government refuses to intervene with states on larger issues than adoptee rights. If you are an adoptee seeking answers about your birth family, your origins, your story, if you are an otherwise interested party, your support is needed. Let us join forces, without reservation, and forge ahead with a renewed effort to petition the government to help those enslaved by archaic adoption practices.

  46. Someone made a statement on another blog about a week or so ago. They said that we are never going to get our babies back. I wonder if adoptees feel this way. They are never going to get their first mothers and families back.
    I know my daughter has said that she just always thought that I was "relieved" that she had gone to a good family. She never thought that I might not have wanted to give her up.

  47. Paige--if one person is compromised out of their right to OBC access in WA or any other state, then a right is not restored, a favor is granted.

    Do you believe that the Emancipation Proclamation actually "freed the slaves" too.

  48. This post from FMF in 2009 is applicable to the current discussion. In it, Lorraine had a conversation about the lack of success of the open records movement with a PI.


    Check out the second time Dennis speaks and talks about the public venting. At the time, I didn't take what he said seriously either and responded as such on the thread (not as BeeHive). Today I do.

  49. The Emancipation Proclamation was the first step in a long process, laying the groundwork for the 13th Amendment, which did free all the slaves.

    I hate the compromises involved in our issue, but they may allow most--the vast majority--of adopted people to get their original birth certificates. And because of that, Jane and I are not purists when it comes to OBC access. You are right, Marley, in the absolute sense, but in this case being "right" theoretically prevents any practical action at all, while older adopted people from the closed records era die without being able to have their OBCs and learn the truth of their origins.

  50. Janet wrote:"I wonder if adoptees feel this way. They are never going to get their first mothers and families back."

    Yes, I feel that way. It's not possible to get back what I lost. I couldn't get back having my first mother raise me or having a lifelong relationship. I was an adult when I found her so it was too late. I also can't get back the shared history of family dinners, vacations, holidays, etc., or knowing my extended family as I grew up and being there for funerals, weddings, and births of new family members. Also, for me, the loss is so overwhelming at times that I feel a need to pull back because the pain is too great.

    So, no, I don't feel it is possible to get back the same relationships I would have had if I had been kept in my original family.

  51. Robin: Yes yes yes.

    Sometimes the grief even now is overpowering. I am mowed down by it. Even now. Even when I think I am fine, and it is behind me, even knowing my daughter is at peace.

  52. Nanle Yi wrote,

    "I would also add that the adoptees who had supportive and loving adoptions do not feel the righteous anger that many others of us do and feel no burning passion for adoption reform. I know many sit back and read what comes out of the adoption community politically with mild interest but nothing more."

    This could describe my adoption and yet does not describe me at all (adoption is so very complex and individual, as we know). My adoptive parents are loving people, and we are very close. And yet I searched; they encouraged me, wholeheartedly, although *I* didn't feel personally ready to do so on my own until my late 20's. My parents have donated money to the Adoptee Rights Coalition. They gladly sign petitions and write to legislators to try to help the cause in Missouri, where I was born. I sign petitions, have met with legislators, and have been to the Adoptee Rights protest IRL. I am definitely angry and passionate about bringing about change; my aparents have always been highly politically engaged, in fact, and taught me to commit to a cause.

    Since reunion, I have spread the word to my first family, and my mother is on board and willing to help, as well. She is angry and working with us; she had no idea that l couldn't get my OBC.

    My adoptive family and first family are diametrically opposed in political views, but in terms of OBC access, we can thankfully agree and all work together for the same cause. ;-)

  53. The belief that only adoptees who had bad experiences work towards adoption reform is a dangerous stereotype. It has long been used to dismiss us as bitter and deny us our rights.

    I have often wondered how those who promote adoption and sealed records could even acknowledge that some adoptees had bad experiences. I mean, wasn't the reason we were given up in the first place so that we would get a better life?

  54. Marley - you and I will not agree on this issue. In a perfect world a clean bill would easily pass. I don't live in that world. I live and work in a world where the pragmatic of us understand that compromise and good, long term strategy is the way to win the day. Measure 58 won't happen in my state. The days of paid signature gathering make that nearly impossible without either a giant bankroll or highly motivated volunteers.

    Finding enough volunteers is a daunting exercise and then you have to find the dollars for an ad campaign. Costco spent 22 million dollars in my state to pass privatized liqueur sales. I-502 the marijuana initiative cost over 6 million to pass. Gay marriage came in at 14.6 million (gay marriage is a good one to look at...failed in the legislature, failed on the ballot, then proponents passed civil unions, then it passed the legislature and finally a vote of the people - more than 20 years passed from start to finish...people compromised and ultimately got what they wanted).

    I'll do my thing; you'll do yours. Frankly I hope you're more successful than me...but I'm tired of holding my breath.

  55. Robin,
    I don't think the "bad" experiences are given much thought except by those would had to experience it. I think many of us after being reunited have found that our children didn't really get a better life. Just a different one. After all adopted parents are human. They are just as likely to overuse alcohol, drugs, etc. as anyone else. They divorce, they fail at their careers. They are capable of mentally, emotionally and physically abusing their children.

    I for one (a mother from the BSE era)know that if I had it all to do over knowing what I know now would do it all differently. It was shame and total ignorance about adoption that led me down the path of no return. I regret every day that I signed my name to that piece of paper (even though I don't recall doing it.)

    On a different note.. I am in the process of helping my daughters adoptive Mom find her first family. She was adopted in the 1930's and is one of those who is not sure about "stirring the pot". We are pursuing this on the premise that what information we find is totally hers to do whatever she wants with it. It has been a real challenge and so far only a few persons of interest have come up. Wish us luck.

  56. Paige: Would you email me at forumfirstmother@gmail.com?


  57. I don't think that Robin was arguing that adoptees get a better life. We know that all adoption guarantees is a different one, but the INDUSTRY tells first parents and society-at-large that we adoptees that we get the "better" life. Then no matter what our story is, if we speak out for reform, we are told, "Too bad you had such a bad childhood, but not all adoptions are like yours." Too many assumptions are made about us to discredit what we are saying. The "bitter, angry" stuff, or "your adoptive parents must have abused you."

    I try not to get involved in such discussions anymore, or if I do, I do not talk about my personal story.

  58. Paige, I think the one saving grace in WA State is that Ann Rivers (R), a birthmom who co-sponsored the re-write of the 2012, moved to the Senate. Unfortunately, she will likely push for the 10-year veto, but I am in the 'take what we can get' camp. It pisses me off that 18-year-olds can get their OBC in our state, but I cannot, although I already know all of the info on the document. Please let me know if you are working on the 2013 campaign and if there is anything that I can do to help.

    I signed the online petition. What we really needed to get signatures was/is a 'celebrity' (I'm thinking someone with social conscious, like Cory Booker) who has clout and access to many sheeple on social media. I don't personally make decisions based on 'celebrity', but they do have a wide reach and can motivate people to act. We have to somehow reach the social justice sector beyond adoptees/birth mothers.

    Keep up the good fight everyone and Happy New Year!

  59. Thanks, Mswander girl. Jane and I agree with you--most adoptees getting their birth certificates is better than none. The Emancipation Proclamation didnt free all the slaves, but it was a beginning. And the states could not come back into the Union with slaves.

    I was surprised that the petition was not shared over and over on Facebook to remind everyone to sign. I can't see how the Russian petition--which would have zilch effect on Putin, which he probably would never see--was able to get 55 signatures. Maybe adoption agencies pushed it. They certainly don't push unsealing the records, now do they? We know who their real clients are.



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