' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: To stay in the closet, don't publicize being a 'maternal source'
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Monday, March 11, 2013

To stay in the closet, don't publicize being a 'maternal source'

There's always something. In this case, someone, who steps forward as we press for openness in adoption and unsealing original birth records that holds the identities of the adopted. Kathleen Hoy Foley is at it again, and yesterday's New York Daily News had a story about her sad plight of being "pursued" by her daughter, Elaine Penn of New Jersey, and how this is destroying Foley.

Foley claims she wants nothing to do with Elaine, was destroyed by being "found." However she is publicizing a book, or a second book, she is writing about her life and giving up a child for adoption who later is able to find out who she, Foley, is. If someone wants to stay out of the limelight, you would think that she would not write two books about it. The cover design of the first, Woman in Hiding, a True Tale of Back Door Abuse, Dark Secrets and Other Evil Deeds, is so putridity bad it is
laughable--reminiscent of horror art done by demented adolescents--and I imagine indicative of the verbiage inside. Certainly it is a good thing that the Daily News saw fit to use it because it announces that there is something amiss here. One could see Foley's pathetic attempts to garner sympathy as the fallout of the trauma of giving up a child, and the guilt she feels over that act. However, what come across is anything but sympathetic, but rather, sick.

It's hard to even know what words to use in writing about this because Foley calls herself a "maternal source" or "biological source," rather than a birth/first mother. Elaine is trying to walk away from her "biological source's" false accusations that she has been stalked, etc., because they have never even met. Elaine was merely trying to find out who she--Elaine--was! The short story is that Elaine, without getting her name or identifying information from Catholic Charities, was able to find her mother, aka, Foley. Elaine spoke to a lawyer on a public deed related to Foley, and discovered he was Foley's son-in-law. Elaine has never even called Foley. However, Elaine says she has relationships with other members of her maternal family, who found her through Ancestry.com, and she also has a relationship with her paternal family, both of whom insist that what Foley writes is not true. Does Foley's family gather at Thanksgiving? But I digress.

You can read the details of the story at the Daily News site--Foley says she left the hospital and put the baby all behind her, but Elaine (in a comment) says that the record shows that she called the agency (Catholic Charities) over the six weeks following the birth for information, and did not sign the termination of parental rights paper before then. When she was seven months pregnant, according to the non-identifying information given Elaine, Foley was still considering keeping her baby.

One could argue that without more proof than "she said/she said," there is no way to know positively what is the truth, but the tell-tale clue that Foley is less than truthful is that she presents herself as an "adoptee," and that is what the story says. To the world, plainly stated like that, she is announcing that she herself was given up and grew up with genetic strangers. However, the reality is that Foley was raised by her natural mother and legally adopted by her step-father. An adoptee as the world knows the meaning of the word? Hardly.

But the story of course stirs the pot about adoption and, as we know, adoption stories capture the public eye. They are rife in the media, in novels, in mythology (think of the twisted story of Oedipus), the movies. As I write there were 393 comment at the Daily News site. Many were sympathetic to Foley, some to Elaine, but a great many were from people  who haven't a clue about what being adopted means, the grief that closed records cause both adoptees and MANY MANY first mothers who want nothing more than to find out who their children are, who they became, and have a relationship with them. Is it worth commenting at the site? I did twice, I admit, because something irritated me and I felt the readers of the comments needed to hear from first mothers who do not share Ms. Foley's mind set.

Foley herself did not testify a few years ago when New Jersey was considering changing its laws and giving adoptees the right to their own birth certificates. She sent her husband instead. But it's doubtful she can hurt the movement for reform, as she just comes across as unstable and weird. Conversely, the Elaine Penn we know is together and healthy.--lorraine

To Clarify, from Pricilla  Sharp:

1. Foley had a 1-1/2 year dating relationship with her boyfriend, Penn's father. He thought they were getting married and was stunned when Foley's mother slammed the door in his face.
2. The father's family tried to stop the adoption and wanted to take the baby (Penn) home with them. They were thwarted in their efforts by Catholic Social Services (CSS) and Foley's family who insisted the baby be adopted. Because they were not married, the father had no legal rights.
3. Penn's "non-identifying information report" from CSS contains nothing about any "rape" allegation and, in fact, is replete with touching details of how mother wanted to keep her baby and hesitated for several months signing the relinquishment papers. Thus, she had no warning or reason to think her mother would not want to be contacted.
4. Penn contacted Foley ONCE 15 years ago through the family attorney and NEVER again. She has kept Foley's privacy and silently endured Foley's abusive attacks ever since.

N.J. woman relives painful past after child she gave up for adoption reaches out
Lawsuit fans flames of N.J. debate on adoption privacy
From FMF
The Wacky Website of a Woman in Hiding (from her daughter)
How giving up a child affects you in the long-term
How shame keeps birth mothers from embracing reunion
Why first mothers walk away from their children after reunion

Suggested Reading from another first mother
Without a Map: A Memoir
 A fantastic book, a wonderful, moving read.--Lorraine

"Meredith Hall's memoir begins in 1965, when she becomes pregnant at sixteen. Shunned by her insular New Hampshire community, she is then kicked out of the house by her mother. Her father and stepmother reluctantly take her in, hiding her before they finally banish her altogether. After giving her baby up for adoption, Hall wanders recklessly through the Middle East, where she survives by selling her possessions and finally her blood. She returns to New England and stitches together a life that encircles her silenced and invisible grief. When he is twenty-one, her lost son finds her. Hall learns that he grew up in gritty poverty with an abusive father—in her own father's hometown. Their reunion is tender, turbulent, and ultimately redemptive. Hall's parents never ask for her forgiveness, yet as they age, she offers them her love. What sets Without a Map apart is the way in which loss and betrayal evolve into compassion, and compassion into wisdom."--Amazon  
EPenn17 hours ago
Foley outed me long before that in an article in the Newark Star Ledger. I have never gone to the press, they have come to me. She put herself in front of CBS News, in the Philadelphia papers and wrote a book.

My bio-father thought they were getting married. He and my paternal grandmother tried to keep me, but he had no rights.

Catholic Charities did NOT give me any information. I have repeated this and she continues to lie. I can't even go into all of her lies.

Her family keeps in touch with me. They all have my number and THEY call me.

My paternal family keeps in touch with me also.

Foley has never gotten any kind of restraining order, etc. because there was nothing to restrain against. I have never gone to her house, never called her. AND, someone in her family found ME through ancestry dot com. Her family has assured me that her book is packed with lies. They totally refute what she said about her adoptive father. Her adoptive father was a jokester that pulled pranks on all the kids.

Foley said she left the hospital and thought it was over "B*LLS**T". My non-identifying info has her calling the agency inquirying about me over 6 weeks after birth. She would not even sign the papers before then. At 7 months pregnant, she was still considering keeping me.

I don't have the energy nor the infinite amount of time to contradict every lie. This newspaper contacted ME. I did not call them. Foley directed them TO me. She is using me for controversy to sell her book. I am merely a way to get controversy and make sales. She is as cold as they come. Thank God she's a rarity. I would LOVE it if somehow she wasn't my maternal source. But I would never wish her mean-ness on anyone else


  1. Lies, hypocrisy, fame seeking....

    sounds like your typical sociopath!

  2. I can't believe this megalomaniac is still at it. My condolences to Elaine.

  3. This woman should be THE spokesperson for mental illness. Because she has CHOSEN not to deal with what happened to her, she continues to blame her daughter - who had NO CONTROL OVER HER OWN CONCEPTION- for 'destroying' her life. This nasty woman has been living a lie since Elaine's birth - THAT is what's destroying her. She lied to EVERYONE in her life about Elaine; again, HER choice. Not Elaine's fault. This woman is NOT the rule, she's an exception to it. She infuriates me!!! A good psychotherapist and a padded room is what she needs.

  4. When you look at her website, womaninhiding , it is clear that this person, Kathleen, is clearly plagued with mental illness...I am actually sad for her that she has all these intense, nasty thoughts...she must be hurting in an intense way that I cannot fathom if you read the things she spews

    Elaine, you are not a reflection of this woman who gave birth to you in ANY way...I hope you know this...

  5. Clarification:
    1. Foley had a 1-1/2 year dating relationship with her boyfriend, Penn's father. He thought they were getting married and was stunned when Foley's mother slammed the door in his face.
    2. The father's family tried to stop the adoption and wanted to take the baby (Penn) home with them. They were thwarted in their efforts by Catholic Social Services (CSS) and Foley's family who insisted the baby be adopted. Because they were not married, the father had no legal rights.
    3. Penn's "non-identifying information report" from CSS contains nothing about any "rape" allegation and, in fact, is replete with touching details of how mother wanted to keep her baby and hesitated for several months signing the relinquishment papers. Thus, she had no warning or reason to think her mother would not want to be contacted.
    4. Penn contacted Foley ONCE 15 years ago through the family attorney and NEVER again. She has kept Foley's privacy and silently endured Foley's abusive attacks ever since.

  6. I am heartbroken. The damage this woman has done to adoptee rights and to women recovering from legitimate rape and millions of mothers who lost children to adoption and genuinely love them is incalculable.

  7. Ugh! That woman!

    I highly doubt there were any guarantees of anonymity.

    More importantly, no one has the right to guarantee that an adoptee will not search once s/he becomes an adult. I did not consent to parental anonymity.

    I contacted my mother. She is in the closet and wants to remain there. I accept her choice. But, I had every right to contact her.

  8. Wow. I just checked out KF's website. Sick, sick woman. My heart goes out to Elaine.

  9. How can anyone not see this woman as the height of hypocrisy? She wants anonymity, yet she's the one who went to the newspapers and wrote two books. She has certainly outed herself ten million times more than her daughter ever did.

    Most of the comments I read were in support of Elaine (as they damn well should be). Only a handful seemed negative and many of those were written by the same few people. People who acknowledged that they were neither first parents nor adoptees.

    I never thought I would say this of any woman because I tend to be on the woman's side of things, but I don't even believe her allegations of rape. I think she is one twisted, demented woman and I am so sorry this is what Elaine had to find.

  10. I think this is a good example of just how poorly trained counselors were and probaly still are. It was all about getting the child and looking the other way as to any problems. I can't imagine that someone this ill did not show any signs while going through the process.
    Sad for all involved and the effect on all of those seeking their own truth.

  11. I just posted another comment on the Daily News, so, before it disappears as some of my other posts have, I'll post here:
    Ms Foley? Why all the nasty fanfare? Hiring a publicist, setting up the horrid website, outing yourself so dramatically? That's like painting a target on yourself, frankly. Pardon my armchair psychology, but the thought occurs to me that you really have such a revolting, sordid opinion of yourself (calling yourself such filthy names on your website I can't even repeat here!) that you are projecting onto Elaine. I see today an allegation that Elaine has at least two paternal siblings out there, one before and one after her. Well, you still made the choice of dating him steadily for a year and a half. You could have said, "No, I don't want to go out with you any more' anytime in that 18 months. So, methinks you see Elaine as an extension of your hated self. So sad. No one should be rejected by their own mother, let alone so cruelly and nastily. I had a reunion last year for a son whose mother was impregnated by her own father at 15. He was later convicted of murder and sent to prison. She welcomed her son with love and joy. Now, *that* takes the courage and strength of a saint, IMO! I admire her so much - silently. I can never utter her name in public because she truly is a "woman in hiding."

    As I said on your Amazon book site, I wish you well on your journey of healing. Sadly, though, it's probably too late. This is definitely not the way to go about it. By these extreme measures, you are doing such terrible damage to millions of adopted people who are just looking for acceptance and a kind word from their birth families, not to mention millions of mothers who lost babies to adoption who truly love and long for them. According to Ann Fessler ("The Girls Who Went Away"), there are an estimated 1.5 million of us from the 1940s to the early '70s alone.

  12. Foley's story has spread on the internet and is being discussed at various "liberal" blogs, nearly all of them accepting Foley's story at face value, because it was in the paper.

    I have amended my earlier blog on this (11/11/09) as that is the one getting most traffic, to include the information you posted, Pricilla, as well as to this one.

    The Wacky Website of a Woman in Hiding (from her daughter)

    Pricilla, I will message you at FB in a minute.

  13. It is really a shame that this crazy and vindictive woman is getting so much publicity. How dreadful for her daughter Elaine. Not to mention the damage she is doing to NJ chances for ever getting OBC access legislation.

  14. Is she really Elaine's Mother? How would Elaine know without a DNA test that this bitch can get out of by never having to meet her, or obviously agreeing to take one. How do we know that this bitch isn't just some spokeperson for closed adoption? A paid off shrill. I say prove you are her mother first Foley you piece of rat shit and then take the punches you deserve when every sane person in the world hates your guts!

  15. Sigh - everything I have seen posted about this newest article is so twisted.

    No one seems to get that this happened 15+ years ago and Elaine has done nothing since. Yet the term stalker etc is being thrown around willy nilly...argh...

    I feel so bad for Elaine having to deal with this - again, and again, and again.

    You don't write a book if you want to stay private. Am I correct in my assumption that she has either written another book or wants to sell some more of her first book? Either way - nice using your daughter that way lady.

  16. Elaine, if you're reading here, please know that my heart aches for you. As a firstmother, I can't even begin to imagine how awful it must be to have a mother like yours. The only thing that makes sense to me is that she must be quite mentally ill.

  17. I am a friend of Elaine Penn, a birth mother, a search angel for adoptees and a genealogist, and I have to say that because of all these things, and because I consider myself to be a decent human being, I am beyond disgusted by Kathleen Foley's actions.

    I have been following all of this nonsense for this time. Yes, it is nonsense. She claims to be a 'woman in hiding', accuses her daughter of basically harassing and stalking her over the past decade and a half, but yet Kathleen has absolutely no problem with publishing books full of lies and twisted/warped half-truths, unsubstantiated allegations, and now she is in cahoots with a well known talk show "shrink". She's out for one thing-publicity. Actually, make that two things. Publicity/money and the desire to hurt Elaine.

    Why would Kathleen want to hurt the woman she gave birth to, you might ask? I mentioned this on Facebook, and I'll mention it here as well. Foley is sick. She hates herself. She likes everything to be just so. She created this 'perfect' life with her husband and the children she kept, and she effectively hid her past. When Elaine sought her out (ONCE 15 years ago, I might add), Foley had to face the music. She suddenly wasn't in control. Her 'perfect' life was crumbling so she had to think fast. She had to grasp for straws. Find someone to blame, to hate, because in actuality, Kathleen doesn't hate Elaine at all. She hates herself. She hates the fact that she cannot control the entire situation. She had to pick the most vulnerable victim to portray. No one is going to question a woman who claims rape, right? And the cherry on the top of her proverbial ice cream is that Elaine's birth father has passed on and cannot defend himself and the heinous things she claims against him and others.

    Oh yes, I have no doubt that Kathleen Foley is a victim. The problem is, she's a victim of her own wrongdoings (a lot of her family has disowned her, she is a laughing joke, she is burning bridges). She's an embarrassment to all the women, birth mothers and otherwise, who actually were raped and there are so many women who would love to be Elaine's birth mother, to hold her, comfort her, offer her love, support...it's sickening.

    No one who is truly in as much agony and pain as Kathleen Foley would be publishing books and seeing out so much publicity. She sent the journalists to Elaine's website. She wanted Elaine to join her on a talk show. She is trying to control a facet of her life...yet again. It's all about control and blame. Elaine is innocent and doesn't deserve this nonsense.

    I pray to God that Mrs. Foley will get the help she truly needs. I pray she will back the hell off and leave Elaine and her family alone. I hope this just goes into the abyss and the serpent's tongue will stop its flickering and lashing. No good will come of this.

  18. After thinking about and analyzing the situation for several days, I have come to the following conclusions:

    Ms. Foley hired a publicist, presumably to peddle her book, who instigated the Daily News article which was rerun verbatim in the London paper and SFGate site, also taken over to the Democratic Underground and another site I did not get a chance to go to.

    Before doing so, she had some people write "rave" (5-star) reviews of her book on Amazon which counteracted our negative reviews and brought it up to a 3-star rating.

    After reading most of the comments on the sites, I am convinced that the publicist has placed at least one troll on each site who are vociferous and nasty in their attacks on anyone who has anything nice to say about Elaine. If you read the posts, it's the same person again and again - obviously a "gatekeeper".

    Someone is trolling Elaine's FB page and stole something she said about adoption in December and brought it over to the DU site. That same troll took my website to DU along with nasty, inflammatory comments, and several comments from this page to the SFGate site.

    Elaine was contacted by "Dr. Phil" to appear on his show and has declined, I believe wisely, as all of us should refuse to further participate in Foley's distasteful display of self-promotion and manipulation of public opinion.

    This is a well-planned, calculated sales campaign for personal financial gain and self-aggrandizement at the expense of Elaine, millions of adoptees, mothers who truly love them, and legitimate victims of sexual assault everywhere.

    For me, the true measure of a person is how they can suffer personal abuse and hardship and not take it out in turn on innocent people around them. Foley is a classic example of the abused becoming the abuser. Elaine has done nothing to deserve the sickening nastiness being said and written about her. No matter the circumstances of her conception, it was not, and never will be, her fault. The real target of Foley's wrath is dead so now she seeks to exact revenge from his child. Additionally, her self-hatred is blatantly evident on her demented website.

    The adoption community seems to be united in understanding and support for Elaine; I have faith that the public will come to the same realization. I feel very sorry for Foley; it seems we're too late to find her any meaningful relief from her self-imposed suffering.

  19. As a victim of rape and a mother, I am horrified that this crazy person thinks she is speaking for me and others like me. I adore Elaine and find the insanity that this woman pushes to be horrific. What is wrong with a family that doesn't seek help for their mentally ill members?

  20. I think it is time for Elaine to exercise her right to prove her innocence here. There are always 2 sides to a story & I beleive she needs to share hers and expose this woman for the fraud that she is. This sorry excuse of a woman is an insult to TRUE victims of rape.

    Elaine needs to sue this woman, period. Time to bring all of the non identifying informaiton to light & out into the open where all can see it. Additionally, I'd like to see her father step up and defend his daughter to the utmost degree. Elaine never asked for all of this; but most importantly to be called a liar and treated like dirt as she has. Shameful..absolutely shameful

  21. Elaine's biological father had died by the time she was able to identify him.

  22. Sadly, I have tried to link several times to Elaine's blog and it has been taken down. I wonder if it got overrun with crazies and she felt she had no choice?

  23. "However, the reality is that Foley was raised by her natural mother and legally adopted by her step-father. An adoptee as the world knows the meaning of the word? Hardly. "

    I was adopted, under the exact same circumstances. Yes, I do not bear the same burdens that children raised apart from BOTH of their natural parents do, but the removal of one natural parent and the replacement of that parent through the adoption process does not make one any less an adoptee and does not grant you the right to denigrate all of us. I didn't have access to my birth father or to my paternal heritage. My adoptive family saw me as "second class." In some respects, I had it much worse than if I had been a full adoptee because of that.

    This woman is a nut, but your statement is mean.


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