' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Another year of progress in adoption reform

Monday, December 29, 2014

Another year of progress in adoption reform

On New Year's Eve 2013 I wrote that we had reached the tipping point in opening birth certificates to adoptees with Washington, Rhode Island, and Ohio joining ten states granting access and Pennsylvania expected to follow.  This year Connecticut, Colorado, and New Jersey joined the parade making 16 states granting access although some have restrictions like first mother vetoes. Here's the list: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Washington. For more information on these laws, see FMF's Resources page.

Sadly, a New York bill died in committee and we haven't heard of any action in the other three big population states--California, Texas, and
Florida. We're optimistic though. The "protecting the birth mother in the closet" argument is ringing hollow in more and more legislative ears. (Lorraine interjects: I wish that were true in New York. We've got the numbers, but still can't get it to the floor for a vote.)

There's good news on other fronts. Oregon's new law making it easier for first mothers to see their their child's court adoption files kicked in, enabling first/birth mothers to find their relinquished children. Colorado's new law allows first mothers to obtain their child's original birth certificate and, for those who relinquished voluntarily, copies of all documents they signed.

Intercountry adoptions continue to fall, from 8,668 in 2012 to 7,092 in 2013. The voters in Louisiana booted Sen. Mary Landrieu, the Congressional champion of foreign adoptions, out of office. She was a sponsor of tying foreign aid to those countries that make adoption to Americans less restrictive, and we all know where that leads: corruption and kidnapping.

However, the bad news is that surrogacy is becoming increasingly popular as the supply of adoptable
infants dwindles. A booming business has sprung up in India and other countries where women are paid to bear the children of wealthy Americans through implantation of fertilized embryos. To many, surrogacy has a benefit adoption does not: The intended parents can refuse to take the child if it doesn't meet expectations, This has happened in two recent cases involving Australian parents. One couple left their child left in India because it was the wrong gender, and another couple abandoned their Down's syndrome child in Thailand. In adoption once a couple take a baby, it's theirs and they can only rid themselves of troublesome children if they can get another couple to take them or have them institutionalized.

The next frontier for adoption reform is requiring that mothers have enough time and information to make knowledgeable decisions before relinquishing their children to be adopted. In most states mothers can sign consents within two or three days after birth when they are still reeling with hormones or are simply exhausted from labor before they can make one of the most critical decisions of their lives. In some states--including my own, Oregon--mothers can sign irrevocable consents immediately after delivery. As we recently wrote about, in a few states, pregnant teens and women can consent to adoption before their child is born.

States do not require mothers to be informed about the effects that adoption may have on themselves or their child. Nor do they need to be made aware of any governmental or private resources that would help them make the decision to keep their babies. There outta be a law! Relinquishing your baby is the one area of consumer law where "buyer beware" still governs the game. In other areas such as buying a house, for example, the seller has to disclose risks. Even the purchaser of a Big Mac is entitled to know its calorie content. However, adoptive parents have the right to sue for damages if the adoption agency or attorney misrepresents or conceals fact about a child--whether deliberately or accidentally.

Mothers who are mislead about adoption have no such remedy. Can you imagine the difference there would be if women considering adoption were told about the lifelong grief that may ensue; the higher incidence of mental problems among mothers who have relinquished; the likelihood of ennui and unhappiness of their children, even if the parents are good ones? The higher rate of suicidal thoughts among adoptees when compared to those raised in their own families?

I'm optimistic though that by working together, we can return adoption to its intended purpose, that is, finding homes for children who need them.

My life outside of adoption is going well too. My husband Jay and I will be celebrating our 46th wedding anniversary on New Year's Eve going to dinner with friends and attending the Oregon Symphony's production of Beethoven's Ninth. On New Year's Day we'll be watching the Oregon Ducks wallop some miserable team from Florida. My children and grandchildren are doing well. I have a lot to be joyous about as we enter 2015.--jane
Wombs for rent: India's surrogate mother boomtown
Australian couple refuse to take one of their twins born to a surrogate
Wrongful Adoption

A joyous New Year--Some good news in adoption reform
Oregon to allow first mothers easier access to child's adoption records
How the Adoption Industry convinces mothers they aren't 'ready to parent'

Birthbond: Reunions Between Birthparents and Adoptees — What Happens After
By Judith Gediman and Linda Brown
"In 36 interviews with women who relinquished their children to adoption, the authors present anecdotal documentation of what happens when birth mothers and their children meet. The case histories are bittersweet. For some, reunion provides enrichment and release from guilt; for others the event is wrenching, especially when it occurs in the adoptee's adult life. In considering the many facets of adoption--including the views of birth fathers, adoptive parents, grandparents--the authors of this helpful study allow us to hear voices and attitudes that could change future adoption practices in this country. The authors are longtime friends. Gediman is a Connecticut-based marketing consultant; Brown is the former legislative director of American Adoption Congress."--Publisher's Weekly
The Spy Lover by Kiana Davenport
When you want to turn away from all things adoption: This book is not about adoption but it's a wonderful story beautifully written set in the Civil War by first mother Kiana. She is a descendant of both a Chinese man who fought against the South and Anglo from Alabama who fought against the North. This is an extraordinary novel you will not forget. It got screwed by booksellers and the reviewing press because she published it with Amazon.--lorraine

THANK YOU ALL FOR ORDERING ANYTHING FROM AMAZON THROUGH FMF. If you go to Amazon from here, it is credited to FMF. Thanks to those few who do. 


  1. I agree with Lorraine. I have very little hope for NY. Clearly no one is listening. They just don't care to learn the truth about adoption and why records must be opened. It's like beating my head against a brick wall.

  2. I am curious about Arizona laws. I would like a copy of my daughter's original birth certificate. It is ridiculous to keep me from having it, since I filled out the forms in the first place and had a copy for a long time. Sealing it from me is a waste of time and effort.

  3. What an interesting and telling statement, "Colorado's new law allows first mothers to obtain their child's original birth certificate and, for those that relinquished ****voluntarily****, copies of all documents **they signed**." This says, to me, ''we're not, can't, won't release any of the telling documents from forced or coerced adoptions but we will let some of you have the stuff you ''voluntarily'' signed.'' Also interesting that they are still not willing to release -all- documents related to labour, delivery, birth and other, up till time of adoption... Why is that so hard to do? It involved the mothers and their children not anyone else. It is the mother and child's medical records.... Refusing to release all records smells of deceit and cover-up and nothing else. Release the records to whom they belong and pertain to. Simple.

    You're darn tootin there ''outta be a law''. When adoption is considered. The number one law... inform mother's and father's of effects the adoption may have on mothers/parents and adoptees, plus their options and resources to parent. Then shut-up and let them think and decide for themselves what they will do. What --they-- want to do.

    1. I believe Jane meant any children that were not removed from the family, or taken from the mother, by the state due to abuse. That is what "voluntary" means in this regard.

  4. I posted a comment but it hasn't appeared. Why not? It was respectful. I asked what "reforming" adoption means and looks like.

    1. Karen: If you tried to comment without clicking out of Facebook the comment was lost into the ether. It never registered here. See the Comment instructions and I hope you will leave it again.

  5. Lorraine, thanks for keeping up on this. Here is a link for anyone who relinquished or was adopted in Colorado to apply for their records. http://www.aisctc.org/index.php/laws/model-language

  6. Georgia Tann's Adoption Practices have been thoroughly discredited - and State by State the laws she (and her practices) inspired are coming off the books.

    Those who want to help end the #TannLehmanLegacy in New York State - please contact New York State Adoptee Equality on Facebook or Twitter - or email us at NewYorkStateEquality@gmail.com



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