' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Father denies son what he needs--his original birth certificate; Dean Skelos--who fought OBC access--going to jail for corruption

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Father denies son what he needs--his original birth certificate; Dean Skelos--who fought OBC access--going to jail for corruption

Dean Skelos and son, Adam 
Adoptee Adam Skelos suffered from classic Primal Wound symptoms; he abused drugs and couldn't hold a job. He abandoned his wife and his two autistic children. His father, former New York State Senate majority leader, Republican Dean Skolos, 70, stepped in to help by trading on his  power in Albany to bury or push legislation favorable to businesses that gave his son $300,000 for a patchwork of no-show or low-show jobs, and offered support for Adam's wife and children.


Complicit in his father's actions, Adam, as well as his father, were convicted of several felonies in a New York federal court. Judge Kimba Wood sentenced Adam to four years in prison. Adoptive father Dean Skelos received four and three months, the extra three months for lying in court.
Lorraine at legislative hearing,
 2014, NYC

Thirty-six year old Adam told Judge Wood that he had turned his life around. He reunited with his birth parents to deal with his abandonment issues, addressed his substance abuse issues, and is planning to marry to his pregnant girlfriend. The father and son at one time extremely close are now estranged and according to press reports have not spoken in months.

Now here's the irony--it took what Dean Skelos fought for years in the Legislature to prevent--a reunion between Adam and his first parents--to set Adam on a better course. Together with equally corrupt-and-convicted House Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Skelos was able to be one of the blockades against allowing adoptees to access to their original birth certificates. Both men were convicted after two trials--following a Supreme Court decision that made it more difficult to find legislators guilty of corruption by narrowing the definition of what corruption is, and both were found guilty--twice.

Joyce Bahr (center) and others testifying, 2014
Democrat Silver, 74, was sentenced to seven years in the slammer, but managed to stay out of jail while a last-ditch appeal is pending. In irony of ironies, Joyce Bahr, who founded Unsealed Initiative in New York, was once told by someone during an Albany lobby that if our group wanted to make real headway with our bill we should hire a certain law firm...presumably the one that is involved in the fraud, extortion and money-laundering schemes Silver was convicted of. Silver single-handedly was able to keep our legislation from ever reaching the floor of the Assembly by nixing it in the last step before it a vote. His partner in all this was the powerful assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, also a Democrat, who has solicited the support of Surrogate Court judges and women judges.

On top of all this wrangling--a GOP held Senate, a Democratic Assembly--sits Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who dithers and appoints a committee to look into the issue. But a committee that leads to a report that only states what everyone already knows--this issue is complicated, opening the records means a mother's anonymity is no longer protected by the state--does no good except to make the governor appear concerned. And then he does: NOTHING.

Despite lobbying and letters and phone calls, we've done nothing but raise awareness of our issue in New York State, but never gotten any real action that led to unsealing original birth certificates. Legislators do not doubt that adoptees may even have a right to own their original birth records--but, goes the opposing argument, what about the "right" of the women who gave up their children and were "promised" anonymity--even if the law didn't? Without the voices of many mothers who want their records open, the states that have to date been intractable will continue to be. Lorraine has lobbied extensively over the years in New York and elsewhere, and Jane worked to pass a ballot measure opening records in Oregon in 1998. She also lobbied in Washington State which opened its records in 2014, albeit with a birth mother veto. Birth mothers elsewhere have done the same to raise awareness and work on legislation.

Jane in center at lobbing in Olympia, Washington in 2013
As for Dean Skelos and his blockade of unsealing birth certificates for adoptees? The likely truth of course is that Skelos was afraid of Adam meeting his first parents, that he might prefer them. If Skelos wants to repair his relationship with Adam, he could start by acknowledging how wrong he was. As for the coverage of Skelos? Though the trials were reported extensively, the fact that Adam was adopted was not mentioned--until Skelos wanted to use that fact in his defense, and now in the last stories. Look what he did for a son who wasn't even blood! was presumably the thinking to garner sympathy from the judge and jury. The judge would not allow it.

Let's hope with that with Skelos and Silver no longer in power, New York will join the 30 states that allow some access, if not the nine* that allow adopted people to have full, unrestricted access to their own, original birth certificates. We wish we felt more encouraged but Gov. Cuomo gives no indication he understands the plight of the adopted; on this issue, he seems to have a hollow head and empty heart.--lorraine and jane

*Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island.
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Dean Skolos, Ex-New York Senate Leader, Gets 4 Years and 3 Months in Prison

FROM FMF:
Sheldon Silver" A blockage to unsealing OBCs in New York is convicted
Adoptees and first parents for access to OBCs--in today's Times

MORE READING
The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child
By Robin on September 12, 2016
...my adopted son who is now grown. I wish I'd had this understanding so many years ago, as it may have helped avoid so much pain. The insights I've gained are invaluable and have begun to open up some long overdue, albeit painful, dialogue. Thank you!
.0 out of 5 starsWished I'd Known This Sooner!
ByRobinon September 12, 2016
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
...my adopted son who is now grown. I wish I'd had this understanding so many years ago, as it may have helped avoid so much pain. The insights I've gained are invaluable and have begun to open up some long overdue, albeit painful, dialogue. Thank you!

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