' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Mr. President: Pardon Sandy Musser

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Mr. President: Pardon Sandy Musser

Sandy Musser
Dear President Obama:

In 1993 Sandy Musser was sentenced to federal prison for four months. Her crime? Finding a way to reconnect individuals separated by adoption--mothers and grown children who had no legal recourse that led to reunion. At the time all but two states--Alaska and Kansas--had legislation that forever denied an adopted individual a way to reunite to his family of birth, and vice versa.

What Sandy Musser helped effect is becoming increasingly commonplace as state legislation slowly but surely is ending secrecy and anonymity in adoption. In 20 years, what Ms. Musser did will be seen in a whole different light, and her "crime" will be seen as a courageous act of compassion.

Some background: From the Seventies onward, a movement comprised of adoptees and mothers who relinquished children to adoption began demanding an end to the anonymity and secrecy that had ruled adoption for the previous half century. The forced anonymity of closed adoption was a practice that began in the mid-teens of the last century, as state after state sealed the original birth certificates of individuals when they were adopted. Neither adoptees nor their mothers--the two groups most affected--had any input into this legislation. For both sides, there was no recourse, for the anonymity was designed to be for all time. Health histories were not possible. Even descendants of the adopted could not learn the true family of origin.

Today those laws are falling by the wayside. Not only have seven additional states (Alabama, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Colorado, Oregon) joined Alaska and Kansas in giving adult adoptees full access to their original, unfalsified birth certificates, more than twenty states have relaxed their laws to allow restricted access to these records. At the same time, open adoptions are becoming commonplace. Eventually the sealed-records practice of the past will be no more than a memory of ill-conceived social engineering. Much has been written about the lifelong genetic bewilderment of the adopted, the mother's quest to know her child, as well as the abiding desire of people to connect with their kin. I know this firsthand. I was not as fortunate as your mother when I became pregnant outside of marriage in 1966. The daughter I bore in Rochester, New York was adopted.

Ms. Musser herself is a mother whose first child was born in 1954 when she was fifteen. Ms. Musser found her in 1977. Over the next 16 years, she helped hundreds of people have the reunion that they so desperately desired.

Certainly someone broke some law in my behalf. In 1981 I handed over $1,200 in cash (about $3,300
in today's dollars) to someone who sent the bills in a card to someone known only to a few. (To answer the obvious question, I had no contact with Ms. Musser, and she states she was not involved with my search.) Soon I had my daughter's new identity; a week later I met her at an airport in Madison, Wisconsin. She had epilepsy, and her parents had been trying to locate me through the agency for any medical information I might have that related to her seizures. In fact, I probably did have the answer. Yet the three letters I had written to the agency over the 15 years since her birth--stating my desire for any scrap of information about her--went unheeded. Quite to the contrary, I received responses assuring me that my daughter was "fine and happy," a blatant lie. With New York state's stringent sealed-records laws that date from the 1930s, I would never have been able to find her without outside help, and thus she would have been denied whatever emotional sustenance I was able to give her. With her adoptive parents' blessing, she spent summers for several years with me and my husband. Despite everyone's best efforts, she died in 2007.

An accurate count of how many Americans who lack the right to know their true identities is impossible, but they number in the millions. Successful underground searches have cut into their number, but how many is unknown. Older adoptees are dying and going to their graves without the self-knowledge that you and I, and anyone not adopted, has always been privileged to have. Even as states unseal original birth records, they continue to falsify the records of new adoptees, proof that the current system is a messy medley of archaic and unjust legislation, biased against the adoptee.

I am not asking you to fix the whole system. Today I am merely asking for mercy and a pardon for Sandy Musser. She was convicted on federal charges of fraud and conspiracy for obtaining confidential government information. Put another way, she circumvented damaging social engineering to bring relief and joy to broken hearts. I am asking that you pardon someone who is a direct descendent of others who "broke" bad laws, people like Sojourner Truth, John Brown, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone and many others. The laws Ms. Musser circumvented will one day be seen as no more than a failed social experiment. She deserves your presidential pardon. The incoming administration will never consider her case, with their approach to a woman's right to choose and what I predict will be an uptick in unnecessary adoption.

Sandy Musser is 78 years old.

Lorraine Dusky
Here's how to do the right thing for Sandy:
Write to either the Pardon Attorney, Robert Zauzmer, the President, or BOTH! We prefer letters sent to the President and cc the Pardon Attorney. But, you can write to either one, and send a copy to the other--please use the “cc” symbol at the very bottom of the letter to alert the president or Pardon Attorney that you have sent a copy of the letter to the other source. Many people like to write to the President in care of his Senior Legal Counsel, Neil Eggleston and if so, be sure to cc Robert Zauzmer at the bottom and send him a copy of the letter, too.

Use the proper letter format. DO NOT DOUBLE SPACE a letter. Double spacing is used in motions, legal briefs, etc. not in letters. Be sure to include the date. Then the name and address of the person you are sending the letter to, such as:

(fill in the date)

Office of the Pardon Attorney
Mr. Robert Zauzmer
145 N Street N.E.
Room 5E.508
Washington, D.C. 20530

OR if you write to the President use this address:

President Barack Obama
Attn: Neil Eggleston, Senior White House Counsel
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington DC 20500

RE: Pardon for Sandy Musser (either here, and/or in the first sentence of the first paragraph.)

If emailing:
USE THE COMMENT FORM ON THE WHITE HOUSE WEBSITE (president@whitehouse.gov) Simply emailing to that site sends your message to an unmonitored mailbox. 

Use  your own words; the emails don't have to be long.  DO JOIN IN THIS EFFORT. Lord knows, Sandy deserves this pardon. 

Sandy's story To Prison With Love: An Indecent Indictment and America's Adoption Travesty
on August 19, 2013
If gold stars were awarded for bravery, this mother/writer would be awarded gold stars, purple heart and more. 
Not to diminish troops valor but Sandy Musser went to hell and back for her stance concerning reuniting adoptees 
with their mothers. She was wronged constantly. No, there are no winners in adoption but if there ever was one, 
Sandy Musser would be. She doesn't pull any punches in her account and yet gives credit where credit is due.
If adoption is anywhere in your family you owe it to yourself to read Sandy's story.


  1. President@whitehouse.gov goes to an unmonitored email box. You have to access the comment form on the whitehouse.gov website

  2. Lorraine, Thanks for the inspiration to write to President Obama. Prayers for a pardon for Sandy Musser.

  3. As a birthmother, I am asking for Sandy Musser to be pardoned. Her punishment for assisting in reuniting birth-families was cruel by any ethical standard. Honorable deeds with good intent and results deserve respect, not punishment.
    Thank you.

  4. I read Sandy's book years ago and learned a lot. As a mother of three children I helped search and reunite with their birth families, who were all waiting and wanting to reunite with their child. Should I have gone to jail also for helping my kids and their birth mothers know each other? As time has proven so vital to all adoptee lives. Please pardon Sandy Musser who did so many a favor.

  5. Dear President Obama,
    Please pardon a truly good woman - Sandy Musser - who should never, ever, ever have been prosecuted in the first place. I was adopted from Washington DC by an English couple, then found my birth parents in the US when I was in my 20's, thanks to the help of a volunteer like Sandy. At that point moved to America, wrote a one woman comedy about the experience that was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic and a novel called The English American about an adopted English woman who finds her birth parents - and her self - in the US. More recently I wrote The DNA song, in which there is a verse about you: "Even President Obama had to go and find his father, He knows what it's like to need to know. It's hard to be a future star if you do not know who you are - Every child should have the right to know." Google Alison Larkin The DNA Song to watch it - it's just over three minutes and free and says it all. Please, President Obama, you know the importance of this first hand, please pardon Sandy Musser who helped so many people and right this wrong, Thank you. Alison Larkin www.alisonlarkin.com

  6. Done! Sent via the Contact Us page on the Whitehouse website.

  7. Thank you for doing this for Sandy!!

  8. I don't understand though. IF we emil v ia the web address you provided, it goes to an unintended mail ox??

    1. Only if you send it yourself to president@whitehouse.gov through your own email address. At least that is my understanding. Use the page and form from link above.

  9. Not to be nitpicky or anything, but has someone filed an actual petition for a pardon? Or are you just asking people to send in emails? Also, one of the factors in getting a pardon is the person's acceptance of responsibility as well as some demonstration of atonement and remorse. I'm not seeing that here at all.

    1. Sandy's petition is a complicated trail that began a while ago. The Department of Justice attorneys who handle the cases are totally overwhelmed.

      Sandy's guilty verdict was certainly a product of the mindset that adoption is a universal "good," without complications, and that anyone who seemingly upset that belief was guilty.

    2. Gregory. Sandy filed a 23 page petition for a pardon to the DOJnin July 2015.

  10. Pardons can be symbolic as well as benefiting the person being pardoned. Indeed some pardons are granted posthumously.

    Sandy Musser gains nothing personally by receiving a pardon. She served her sentence over two decades ago. At the time of her conviction, paying searchers was the only avenue for many mothers searching for their children and children searching for their mothers. Searchers all over the country resorted to obtaining records illegally because there were no other options. Today, thanks to the Internet, DNA research, and more enlightened legislatures, finding lost family is much easier.

    Sandy was the only searcher who went to jail. A pardon would recognize that her cause was just and that laws sealing records were wrong. I liken this to pardons for civil rights activists who went to jail for violating segregation laws.

  11. Sent President Obama request for a pardon for Sandy tonight!!

  12. I also sent a message to President Obama to ask that he pardon Sandy Musser. I miss our President already.

  13. People who are berating Sandy Musser elsewhere ought to read her side of the story--she did not pocket big fees and she was overwhelmed with requests because she publicized what she was doing. She tried to fulfill as many as she could and used various searchers herself. No operation runs without money to keep it going, faxing, phoning. And she gave some money away to sister organizations, she helped young mothers get back on their feet, she contributed funds to family preservation organizations, she kept up memberships in numerous organizations committed to ending secrecy in adoption. And she did mostly searches for mothers, who had little or no way to do the search themselves.

    It's always easier to kick someone to the ground rather than lift them up.

    1. good point about the money, i concur. i can't condemn a person for having to make a living. good work is good work.

  14. It is outrageous to me that someone who leaked about 250,000 diplomatic cables from US embassies with highly sensitive deals and conversations, dossiers and a video of an American helicopter attack in Baghdad in which two Reuters journalists were killed as well as others had her sentence commuted by President Obama yesterday.

    The people defending Chelsea Manning, once known as Bradley Manning, call it an act of compassion (she tried to commit suicide) and ultimately relieves the government of dealing with her sex-change within the prison system. Manning expressed remorse, which is mentioned in all the stories. What she did in my book amounts to treason, and that was one of the charges prosecutors wanted to bring but he pled guilty to lesser charges.

    Mind boggling, in fact. Manning had a lot of support from the liberal population. Mothers who gave up their children and broke laws to find them because of asinine adoption regulations get no respect. It's often the liberals who are adopting and and some adoptees themselves who have no compassion for birth mothers.

    I'm sorry, Sandy. You deserved better.



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