' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Were any of the children killed in Newtown adopted?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Were any of the children killed in Newtown adopted?

We have been silent for the last few days because we were stunned by the senseless death of 27 people in Newtown, Connecticut, and the invariable hand-wringing over the lack of better, stronger gun controls here in the United States. It appears that now after this tragedy--after Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, and now Newtown--we may actually find the political willpower to beat back the National Rifle Association's insistence on Guns for Everyone! Any Kind of Guns! and pass serious gun legislation.

Australia and South Africa previously had gun-filled cultures such as ours, but national tragedies finally pushed them to seriously restrict the ease by which anyone can purchase guns and bullets designed for war. And you know what?
The number of senseless deaths that have occurred in the places listed above has dramatically and swiftly declined. Other writers have spoken of this in every newspaper and television station in America, and I need not go on here.

As I heard President Obama read off the list of names--Noah, Josephine, Charlotte, Olivia--I began wondering if any of the children were adopted. I could not help but think that somewhere there are mothers who relinquished six, seven years ago wondering if one of those who died was their child. Before I found my daughter, at fifteen, every bad story about someone her age could be about her. I realized the odds made it unlikely, but still could not stay the wondering in the three a.m. of my mind.

My inner peace came when I found my daughter, but millions of other [birth] mothers will not find such relief. Yet all their grief--the therapy visits, the midnight weeping, the physical effect of lingering sorrow--is unnecessary. All could end with a federal decree that all original birth certificates were no longer sealed, much the way the Emancipation Proclamation was the beginning of the end of slavery. I am pilloried for comparing slavery to modern-day adoption, but consider this: No other institution so seals the fate of an individual who had no say in that decision.

A mother relinquishes a child because she feels helpless against the swelling tide urging her to do so; if the child is adopted, his identity in most states is trampled, much as a giant might walk on twigs, crushing them into bits. Let us come together, mothers and adopted individuals, let us put aside petty grievances, our bickering over the correct language, the inchoate anger between mothers and the adopted, and together work for our reform that will set us all free at last.--lorraine
PS: I felt compelled to add [birth] before mother at least once for the damned SEO ranking. I apologize. But we are changing the language. We are. And one day, right will overcome the wrong perpetuated by the sealing of the birth records.

From FMF:

Why Is Adoption Like Slavery?
The Adoption Contract vis a vis Slavery, Continued
NJ Bill Voted out of committee to full Assembly. At bleeping last.

I found Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self to be invaluable in understanding my daughter. I gave it to a young neighbor who was adopted, and at the time, motherless, as her adoptive mother had died when she was seven, and before she returned the book, she lent it to her best friend, also adopted. They were in high school, and they had found each other. They both said this book was "amazing" at how right it got their feelings.

For first mothers: The Adoption Reader: Birth Mothers, Adoptive Mothers, and Adopted Daughters Tell Their Stories "This is one of the few books written about adoption that has brought tears to my eyes with the emotional intensity shared by the writers in their stories from all perspectives of adoption. I would recommend this book to anyone touched by adoption, or who is considering entering into the world of adoption, whether through adoptive parenting, placement, counseling, or reunion."--Amazon. Admission: I (Lorraine) have the first essay in this book; it is only one of 30 written by birth mothers, adoptive mothers and adopted daughters.


  1. At first, when we knew even less about the killer, I could not help but hope the killer was not adopted. I say this as a member of class adoptee, and because of the stigma associated with our status. Moreover, if the killer were an adoptee, I believe it might have impeded the conversation we as a country are beginning to have. Given the widespread prejudice against adoptees, it would/could give an easy answer to why? He was adopted.

  2. On Friday, I had a need to contact all of my children and make sure they were safe, including my first daughter. I explained to her that for 18 years, I worried every time a child of the right age was injured or died, afraid it was she. It was good to at least have a name to search for. She assured me they were all fine. But I also wondered how many of the children might be adopted.

  3. When I first felt the horror of the news of the massacre of school children in CT my thoughts fell back ( again) to a playground in Stockton , CA. In January 1989, five children were slaughtered and thirty others wounded by a lone, suicidal gunman at the Cleveland Elementary School. It was national news. Previously numb from the surrender of my newborn son 21 years earlier, I had now awoken to the harsh, sobering reality that may lie before me. Though the dead and wounded too young and the killer too old to be my adopted away son it became sickening clear that the next tragedy could just as easily include my child as I had no idea where he was...or who he was. Until then, the paralyzed emotional side of me considered only that he was fine--sitting in the safety of a sundrenched field of love. We reunited in July of 1989 but I am forever changed by the two words 'Stockton, California' and the rude awakening of true uncertainty at the core of closed adoptions....especially the ones preformed in the earlier years with so many callous infringements of our rights . I wonder each time I hear of tragedies.....the school bus crash in Kentucky, the young hikers lost in the mountains and so many others. Energy that could be put to better use is spent on a bit of my heart breaking for those left to wonder about the safety of their children lost to adoption. Could it be their child this time? Will anyone tell them? "Why is it easier to access assault weapons that it is to access ones original birth certificate in most states?" is the question that needs to be put to each legislator. The opposition reasoning that 'the truth could hurt someone' seems to further pale with each passing horrific story. I shudder to think that the words 'Newtown, CT' might elicit similar, life long, painful angst in another Mother of loss. It's all so sad.

  4. I can well relate to what you are saying. I remember reading news accounts of the little girl in NYC(in 1986 or 1987) who was murdered and "illegally adopted" by a lawyer and his girlfriend, I was struck with terror What-aren't all adoptive parents perfect? which is what I was sold. I also remember being jealous of the (birth)mother of the other child they had who got her son back. Also, regarding the Newtown story, this may sound creepy but I am so relieved that the shooter wasn't labelled "schizophrenic" otherwise it would be "here we go again" Label some people with some ridiculous out-dated diagnosis, keep them away from "us" and we'll be forever safe. As someone who has been labelled with a ridiculous label and knows wonderful people kind, gentle people with just about every label in the world, I can tell you that most mentally ill people are LESS violent than the average angry human being. I was also slightly amused by the media getting so upset that "autism" or "Asperger's" was being linked with violent behaviour. It is considered more acceptable(dare I say even politically correct or fashionable to be labelled as "on the autism spectrum" Several of the media people and others like them have children with autism. The priest got it right when he said that the tragedy was the last desperate act of a confused young man. Look up the word confused or fused with. If everything around you is violent when you are out there and confused you are 'fused with' the surrounding violence which doesn't excuse him by any means from this unspeakable horror

  5. On November 18, 1978, a day after my surrendered daughter's 12th birthday, hundreds of former foster children from the San Francisco area died in the Jonestown Massacre. I surrendered my daughter in San Francisco and she was placed in foster care. I assumed, but did not know for sure that she had been adopted. Perhaps she had remained in foster care and James Jones had swept her off to his compound as he did with many other foster children. It seemed unlikely because the majority of the children were African-American. Still the possibility remained. I have often wondered if the parents of the children were told that their children were among the dead.

  6. The thing is you never know. As a mother of adoption loss, you react to everything that involves children the age of your relinquished one. I was told (and it turned out to be true) what state/area my son would be living in, so I was able to hone in on that if anything happened, which it didn't, but not have to worry over every incident I heard of where children were killed. I hope there were not adoptees among the slain, so mothers don't have to wonder if they think their child might be there.

    Like Joanne, my first thought was, please don't let the killer be an adoptee. Too often, since I've become aware of the impacts of adoption, been in reunion, too many who have committed heinous acts have been. It breaks my heart.

    Wishing peace for all the families who lost loved ones during this tragedy. I can't even imagine their grief.

  7. Denise, I had the same thought too--is the killer adopted? It was, in fact, a relief to find out he was not, and instead just a sad, deranged person with access to a semi-automatic weapon.

  8. For me it was 9/11, which happened less than a month before my daughter's 13th birthday as well. I was overcome with worry that my daughter could have died and I would never know. I had no reason to believe that she was anywhere near New York, but I had no idea where she could be either. After that I was always worried that something happened to her and I didn't know about it. Thankfully, we reunited three years ago and she is alive and well.

    Closed adoptions are the worst kind of torture.

  9. Let this horrific, unfathomable tragedy be a wake-up call.

    When you give a child up for adoption, that child is gone. S/he is lost to you, even if you have some type of open adoption where you get pictures, phone calls or even a visit now and then. You will never have the same relationship that you would have had if the child had been kept. You many not even have any lasting relationship at all. It is rare for both the mother and the child to want the same level of relationship once the child is grown.

    Ladies, whenever possible, KEEP YOUR BABY. In the event (heaven forbid) that your child has an untimely death, you will at least have had had as much of a relationship as possible during whatever time your child had on this earth. Contrary to Bethany's social worker, Dawn, adoption is not "see ya later", it's too often GOODBYE.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

  10. A great tragedy, especially shattering for all those who are personally affected in any way, but it is thoughtless comments like "too many who have committed these heinous acts have been (adoptees)" without any sort of qualification, that perpetuate the stigma attached to being adopted.

  11. Agree with you Anonymous, but in fact a lot of serial killers (not mass murderers) have been adopted. If you know the statistic, you can't help but have your mind ask the question, even if you don't voice it.

  12. Fair enough, Sarah - up to a point. Questions may come unbidden to the mind.
    However, saying that too many adoptees are killers is not "voicing the question". It is making a statement that leaves the question hanging in the air.

    I know the statistics, and as Mark Twain memorably said, there are "lies, damned lies and statistics". Statistics can be misleading depending on how they are gathered, evaluated, interpreted and presented.

    A responsible way of framing the question so that it would not taint adoptees as a group would be to include reliable information about the backgrounds of the individuals in the cohort

  13. Anonymous: A bio of each person in the cohort? That would include the information that some had blue eyes, some brown, but the fact of their being adopted would still standout. Did they have troubled relationships with their adoptive parents? Were they beaten by them? Unloved?

    How would you deal with the fact of their adoptions? Even if you showed that they had troubled relationships with their parents, that still would not do away with adoption as a part of the bio of each member of the cohort. Please explain how you would do this.

    Everybody recognizes that most adopted people are sane and healthy. But that still shows up as a factor in the list of serial killers, not mass murderers, as far as I know.

  14. I am anon Dec18 2:22PM FYI Even though I've had my mental health issues, my son is fine(Didn't want to terrify any of you adoptive parents who are scared you may have gotten damaged goods. I'm sorry if I offended anyone by this comment.

  15. Not a "bio" of each person, but a breakdown into sub-groups, taking into account details like age at adoption; whether step-parent, family or stranger adoption; whether open or closed adoption; heritable illnesses; mental illnesses; abuse, addiction issues in either bio or adoptive family, etc, etc., all of which are important parts of the puzzle and deserve to be included in any analysis. Anything less rigorous is unacceptable.
    Of course, opening adoption records to all would go the longest way to clearing the air.

    I can think of one mass murderer who was an adoptee. In 1996 Thomas Hamilton, who was adopted by his grandparents at the age of two and grew up believing his mother to be his sister, killed sixteen children and one adult in a school in Dunblane, Scotland, before turning the gun on himself. The response to the tragedy resulted in the passing of laws that effectively outlawed handguns in the U.K.

    After the Colorado cinema shootings there were rumors that James Holmes was adopted, but these rumors have never been substantiated, which I am sure they would have been by now if the story had had any foundation. If it had been true, no doubt many would have accepted it as an easy answer to the question why someone would do such a terrible thing.
    Even though there was no evidence that Holmes was an adoptee, it seems some people were only too eager to assume he was. To me this represents a very strong example of the kind of stigmatizing that Joanne was talking about.



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