' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: When first parents adopt their surrendered 'children'

Thursday, February 2, 2017

When first parents adopt their surrendered 'children'

A father wrote to advice columnist Amy Dickinson recently about his wife's adult daughter whom she placed for adoption as an infant. His wife was reunited with the daughter, Betsy, now 30, ten years ago. Now she wants "to divorce her current adoptive parents" because of "irreconcilable differences", and for legal reasons involving her own 8-year-old daughter. Betsy wants her natural mother, and her biological father (who has been out of the picture for 30 years) to adopt her. The man who wrote to Amy says he and his wife (the natural mother) have children together, as well as children from prior marriages.

Apparently the letter-writer will be asked to go before a judge and make a public statement that his wife and Betsy's biological father are now the adoptive parents. He identifies himself as "No Prior Precedent" (NPP) feels uncomfortable about doing so. He asks if he is being "an oversensitive territorial man"?

Amy assures him he is not being oversensitive. She points out that state law might require him to consent to his wife adopting Betsy which is probably true, thus the need to publicly attest to the adoption by his wife. She advises him to see a lawyer about the legal ramifications, and suggests that he and his wife see a family counselor to discuss the impact on himself, and the collective family, including all the children the couple now share.

So far, so good but then Amy also casts a jaundiced eye adding that "if Betsy manipulates your wife or pressures her for the adoption to be done very quickly, you should be skeptical about her motives. Do not agree to this in haste."

That Betsy wants to restore legal ties with her first parents, broken soon after birth, is not evidence that something is amiss. It may be that she wants her desire (need?) to be a part of her biological family to be recognized legally. Besides, he and his wife have known Betsy for 10 years, and so any idea that this is being rushed is absurd. Rush might be considered 10 months.

Contrary to what No Prior Precedent (most likely, the name Amy gave him) assumes, there is precedent for individuals being adopted by their natural families. It's a strange legal way of restoring what was broken when the "termination of parental rights" papers were signed by the biological mother (and sometimes biological father). We know of adoptees who choose to live with their first parents. Rosie O'Donnell's adopted daughter, moved in with her first mother the day she turned 18. Joe Ezterhas, screenwriter and author, adopted his natural daughter, Suzanne Perryman. Florence Fisher, founder of Adoptees Liberty Movement Association (ALMA) and author of The Search for Anna Fisher, as well as others, changed their names back to their original names. We know of at least two cases where the natural mother adopted her daughter, thus reinstating parental rights The pull of the natural family is strong.
Check out the physical resemblance! 

I would add to Amy's advice that NPP read some adoptee and first-mother memoirs, join a support group of adoptees and first parents, and include Betsy in the counseling. And we'd love to hear from anyone involved in this situation--the individual, first parents and adoptive parents.--jane
Ask Amy: Adult daughter wants birthparents to adopt her

Adoption is not all 'Rosy' for O'Donnell
When adoptees change their names back to their birth names

The Search for Anna Fisher

By Florence Fisher
on February 13, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase

The Same Smile: The Triumph of a Mother's Love After Losing Two Daughters
on August 14, 2012
I read Susan Souza's amazing memoir two years ago but the impact this book had on me remains strong as ever. 
Susan writes with brutal honesty about the most touching subject for any mother - the loss of a child. And Susan 
suffered not one but two losses! By writing this book, Susan offers a testimony to the strength of a mother's love, 
and she shares her story with grace, clarity, emotion, and hope.


  1. Though there are precedents for back adoption, back adoption by BOTH biological parents, while they are married to somebody else may be new. Married people tend to adopt together or eachother's biological children.

  2. For the love of god. Just let us adoptees get out of the first adoption without worrying about getting into a second one.

    1. Yosemite, this is the only way that an individual can legally be the rightful offspring and heir of their biological parents. I know it is crazy, but there it is. The termination of parental rights legally vitiates the natural connection. It is unusual but not unheard of. And the adopted individual is the one asking for such a legality, not the biological mother.

    2. Are you forgetting about adoption annulment? It still seems to be an option, though a hard one, in some, but not all, parts of the USA, I just don't understand why people are so difficult about that: the adoptee did typically not consent and should thus not be forced to stay in that artificial relationship, without the option for the adoptee to say "no", adoption seems to have more in common with slave trade than with family.

    3. I find the conversation interesting, mostly because at one point my daughter wanted me to adopt her back - while I am not sure why, I do know that it had something to do with her credit history, etc. and then she changed her mind when she discovered that it would negate her claim on her rich adoptive parents estate and would not fix the issues she hoped to fix.

      At least that is what I have been told by those that knew what was going on and knew my daughter (her friends).

      I have to reiterate - if someone wants to do something in a hurry, it is usually for reasons that are seriously selfish, and self-interested.

    4. Accurate point Theodore. I'll add that descendants also did not consent at all "and should thus not be forced to stay in that artificial relationship without the option for the descendant to say "no". I'm still so miffed (to put it mildly) about Missouri adoptee descendants being thrown under the bus so the adoptee rights act would be passed. We were sacrificed and for what? What harm is there is allowing descendants to have the birth certificate? It's not likely that we would find our grandparents or great-grandparents still living.

      What is there to say but I'm left feeling perpetually owned by the people that made the transaction (whether money changed hands or not) for my dad. I would love to see adoptees and descendants have the option (as step families often allow the children the right to choose) to choose what name they want for their own. Is that such a horrible option for adoptive parents? Does it have to be 'I claim you, I name you what I want to call you and you WILL take my/our last name...whether you want it..or not'?

      What the current system says is, "you belong to us now, forever, for all time, you and your children and your children's children will never again be allowed to carry your true lineage because we won't let you, YOU BELONG TO US. (i.e. we 'own' you). How many people would really be accepting of that if it was anything but adoption (win-win, sunshine and rainbows) involved? Why is it so hard for those opposed (to allowing AT LEAST open records and original birth certificate access) to this to see how it -can-feel like- a form of slavery?

      Making adoptees, if they want their original name, go through a process of being 'adopted' back by their TRUE LINEAGE parents and possible having issues with passport and other issues, or refusing outright to allow them their original name is unjust!

    5. Theo, I've never heard of a law allowing an adoptee to annul his adoption. Adoptive parents may be able to terminate an adoption or at least prevent a adoption from being finalized if they can show the child welfare agency withheld relevant information about the child

      Cindy, I understand your anger but it's not quite a bleak as you write. Once a child turns 18, he does not belong to his parents whether he was adopted or not. He does not have to have anything to do with his parents. The only possible connection would be if he were to die before his adoptive parents, they would inherit from him. He can avoid this by making a will leaving them out.

      Adults, whether they were adopted or not can change their names to any name they want as long as it is not for the purposes of fraud. Parents, adoptive or not, cannot prevent them from changing their name once they turn 18. It's a simple procedure; they can do it without an attorney.

    6. Theodore, if adoption annulment, by an adult adoptee, is allowed in parts of the US, I'd like to know where. There's only one case that I know of where an adoption was set aside, and that was due to a proven case of fraud.

      I've gone to court to try to have my own adoption vacated, and my motion was summarily dismissed. There currently is no legislation -- in any state that I know of -- that allows for an adoption to be undone. The only option available for *adult adoptees* to get out of their adoption is to be adopted by another adult. Adoptive parents, of course, have options, "re-homing" among them, to rid themselves of no-longer-wanted children.

      The attorneys I've spoken to don't understand. "Just don't be in contact with your adoptive parents. Just legally change your name. Biological children sometimes don't like their parents, either. What's the big deal?"

      But it IS a big deal. I've already changed my name. The parental units (all of them) are dead, and by choice I'm estranged from what's left of the adoptive family. But it's not enough. I'm 60 years old. I don't want to be adopted again (which, for me, would make a THIRD TIME), I just want to be UN-adopted. For now, that's simply impossible, and absolutely unfair.

    7. Kaye--What a nightmare for you! I am so sorry and yes it is absolutely you cannot undo what was done to you.

      "Apart from slavery there is no other instance in our laws, or in any other jurisprudence in civilized system of jurisprudence, in which a contract made among adults, in respect of an infant, can bind that child once he reaches his majority." Cyril Means, the (late) attorney on the suit brought by ALMA to unseal birth records for the adopted

    8. What I am thinking of, is that some states seem to have laws on the book, which would allow a benevolent judge to grant annulment of an adoption,... In Maine, the "being in the best interest of the child" ground for annulment seems to exist, for instance, just giving the judge a bit of space to do justice, so potential for precedent development in a few states exists.

      On the other hand, if you look at the comments to Amy's texts it does seem that popular opinion is more friendly to adoption than to adoptees, who just want to have their legal next-of-kin be their real (biological) next of kin. The case for annulment might need still a lot of exposure, before it is recognized and accepted, at least as something which is another adult's own bussiness.
      That said, the BIG precedent for ignoring the upper age limit for adoption annulment in Dutch Law, was not expected by most lawyers either. I used the word "hard" and I may not have communicated clearly that I understood that as a strong understatement, sorry.

    9. Theo, the Maine law you link to is for adoptive parents to annul an adoption. It doesn't allow adoptees to annul their own adoption.

      Cindy, I am curious how adopted children are shown on family charts prepared by genealogists. Is there some kind of indication they were adopted?

      If I prepared a family history chart, I could add my daughter and her children. Of course she is on her adoptive parents chart as well. Is there some kind of official arbiter of who can be put on a genealogical chart?

    10. Well, it may depend on the way you see potential case law development: "German", everything not explicitly allowed is prohibited, or "Dutch" everything not explicitly prohibited is allowed, and even if it is explicitly prohibited, nothing is stopping you from finding a new loophole to do justice (adoption of adults, for instance is introduced that way in Dutch law).
      A legal system allowing Roe vs. Wade, combined with at least 50 jurisdictions and thousands of potential cases to argue, has the potential for the precedent development, but judging by the comments to the Amy article, the understanding that allowing one to step out of an adoption one has not consented to, so that one's biological (and medically relevant) genealogy becomes one's legal and only genealogy too, is justice still seems to be lacking.

      Concerning genealogies, it just depends what kind of genealogical chart you are creating, biological, legal or official, if you mix, you should indicate, which link is which kind. They are different:


    11. Jane, I do not know in what manner adopted children are shown on family charts prepared by genealogists. Every legal record such as birth certificates, census documents, military records, and other such like as well as marriage /divorce documents, birth announcements, obituaries, and oh so many other 'trails' show the adoptee and their descendants as being in/descended from the family of the adoptive parent/s. With the unsealing of original birth certificates there is, perhaps, at least one source of "proof" of ancestry but only if it is accurate and complete. For many adoptees it is neither and for those who have no access to information they are stuck.

      So much of this frustration comes from seeing 'was born to on this date' or a variation of that on the amended birth certificate. Especially when the adoptee was an older child when they were adopted. Either way, it's a blatant lie. Most folks have a fuss and a fit when they feel that government or media or anyone else seems to be or is known to be lying to -them-. Hah, so lies bother us when we feel or know we are being lied to from these sources and upset by being expected to 'play along'...tough cookies, I don't like it either with lying, falsified documents.

    12. A number of adopted children in extended family. They are not differentiated from those not adopted. In later generations, there are children who are the result in vitro, artificial insemination with sperm or egg donors other than parents. That is not being placed in the charts and records either.

      Nor are children given up to adoption. Those children are considered to be part of the family that adopted them.

    13. Kaye, I absolutely agree with you. You and other adoptees should absolutely have the right to determine for yourselves whether you wish to continue with the adoption arranged when you were too young to give proper consent. I completely support you.

      I also cannot understand how your indisputable argument for the above could ever be dismissed. It is so clearly an injustice.

  3. Yes Jane you're right, like every other person, adopted or not, we can go have our names changed to *marshmallow puff* if we want. That is not the issue. The issue, in part, is being able to completely disconnect from showing up in records as the descendants of someone we are NOT related to, among other things.

    1. Along the lines of descendants....I know a family where the father (when he was drinking) allowed his son to be adopted by his ex-wife's second husband. A pretty common phenomenon these days. Fifteen years later, the father is not drinking, he and his adult son become extremely close, and son has a child. Son wants his birth certificate reinstated as the original one so that his daughter will have access to the original family line via legal documents, not just family knowledge. Now both son and father are sorry the "adoption" caused the falsification of papers.

      I think this is a fairly common occurrence and I'm sorry that the MO law didn't fix this. It's seems so fricken' reasonable. Though fixing this legislation is complicated, this might be one area where the law could be nudged toward true openness in Missouri in a year or two, once the state sees that the sky did not fall with the first crack in the door to true openness. It's messy and takes time and individuals willing to go back and work on this, but it can happen, as it did in Colorado.

    2. Thanks for the link to the genealogy information, Theo.

      Roe v Wade was based on various rights contained in the U. S. constitution. I can't think of any constitutional provision an adoptee could use to convince a court to nullify her adoption. It might be easier to convince a legislature to pass a law allowing an adoptee to nullify her adoption.

    3. The 14th amendment seems to offer possibilities, if we would see the problematic part of adoption in the strict sense as mainly "denial of birthright identity by the state".
      But indeed, an annulment option could be introduced, if only as a counterpart to laws making adoption easier, just for the semblance of balance, and that would be so much better.

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