why can’t adopted persons access their original birth records?

birthcertificate

In most states, original birth certificates are replaced upon the finalization of every adoption.  The original birth information becomes filed away and sealed from all public access, and, according to the laws of the land as they stand now, those records shall remain sealed throughout the remainder of eternity.  Not even an original birth parent and/or the adopted person is allowed to have access of any kind to the original birth information of an adopted child.  That information is re-written into a brand new birth certificate, and the blanks are filled in with new parental information to match the adoptive parents with the newly-adopted baby (who may or may not retain the name recorded on the original birth certificate).  The new birth records are designed to give the appearance that the child was born to the adopting parents, as, after all, they are assuming all of the rights and responsibilities of parenting the child they are adopting as if he or she had been born to them.

This practice was put into place and “perfected” during the period we now call the Baby Scoop Era, which started largely in the early 20th century and became more refined throughout the later part of the century.  During this time period, women who were pregnant and unmarried were whisked away, usually by their families, under the cover of night and sent away to live in homes set up specifically for unwed mothers.  They were usually sent to a home in a different state from where they’d been living when the child was conceived, and the prearranged agreement was that they were to remain there throughout the entirety of their pregnancy then return promptly to their home state after the birth and relinquishment of the baby to the adoption agency and the adopters.  It has been said that these laws concerning the original birth information were put into place to protect the “privacy” of these mothers by effectively doing away with all evidence that they ever gave birth out of, shall we say, less than ideal circumstances.  It was the job of certain “concerned parties” to “counsel” an unwed mother as well as help to facilitate/mediate/carry out the adoption of her gestating child.  Such counseling largely consisted of many reassurances that as soon as her baby was whisked away from her and given to someone else to raise, she would forget all about it and go on to marry, have other children, and lead an otherwise productive life.  It was a sort this kind of, “There, there, dear, don’t you worry yourself about a thing.  We’ll arrange everything.  It’ll be as if this whole messy business had never even happened.  And, besides, since this child will belong to someone else, what would be the point of retaining any evidence that the child was ever yours?”  Of course this, “you’ll forget all about it” thing couldn’t be farther from the truth of the actual experience of most birth mothers.  It is now very well-known and well-documented that women do not forget – ever (unless they are struck with persistent amnesia). This approach was all part of the rationale behind the sealed birth records and a basic component in the history of how it all came to be.

As many advocates now head to their state legislature brances to rally in favor of adoptees’ rights to be granted access to their original birth records, many who oppose the idea use the argument of a birth parents’ right to privacy, citing the archaic Baby Scoop era line of thinking.  As a birth parent myself, I am of the opinion that once I procreate, my genetic information is no longer mine to keep under lock and key.  If I truly want to keep my name out of the mix of someone else’s entry into this world then the answer to that is simple: I refrain from procreating.  If I truly want to keep my genetic information to myself, then I do not contribute it to a newly-forming fetus that, if left to gestate in peace, will become another human being, who is not now and never will be me.  Otherwise, once I’ve participated in the procreation process, then any law that is supposed to protect my so-called privacy has become irrelevant, a moot point.  The right to that privacy was forfeited by the very real and verifiable event of having conceived, gestated, and given birth to a living human being.  For if the natural order of things prevails, my offspring will, in turn, contribute their genetic information – which also happens to include my genetic information – to other human beings, and so the cycle of the continuation of our species carries on.

This is all scientific and actual fact that is irrefutable.  Therefore, my genetic information never was and never will be exclusively mine.  It belonged to plenty of other people long before I was ever conceived.  It will belong to others long after I’m gone.  The rest is just paperwork – which, by the way, happens to be a system put in place, in part, to provide a reference to document the existence of the previous generations for the sake of posterity.  If the genetic information is not mine exclusively (nor does it, by the way, belong to the state), then neither is the accompanying paperwork.  It’s just common sense.

And that is what has gone off the rails with current adoption laws, practices, and procedures in the United States…most all of it defies COMMON M-Fing SENSE!!!

And so, if we have managed to hold onto enough sanity in the lunacy of today’s world to maintain at least some measure of common sense, then we owe it to the generations to come to re-introduce the rare and precious commodity of common sense that’s been lost to the generation of now (for it seems to have become masked by the fog of pink unicorn farts that is now the accepted average, everyday adoption story that baby brokers have so shrewdly been marketing in recent decades).

How much simpler can this @#*&%$!~ing be???  Give people their @#*&%$!~ing birth records, already!!!

nicely – and quickly – done, NPR!

Never have I been so happy to have to eat my words!  And, funny thing: they taste just like chicken!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The adoption community spoke out (the few of us not drunk on the koolaid), and they listened!  They actually listened!

NPR Takes Advice and Features Transracial Adult Adoptee

In a world where people generally don’t want to hear what we have to say, you listened anyway.  Thank you, National Pubic Radio!  Well done!

follow up to NPR’s latest choice

see no evil

Besides being a big money entity, society is more accustomed to hearing about adoptions going through than they have been to listening to people’s actual experience with adoption.  From all 3 perspectives, it is not the win-win that it has been portrayed.  Parenting an adopted child has its own set of unforeseen challenges, and the adoptive parents I have met and/or whose stories I have read who have had the courage to be honest about that have my utmost respect.

There is a completely different set of challenges for those growing up adopted – and the challenges are ongoing.  I do not pretend to know what it is to walk through these challenges, but I am aware of many of the challenges.

The other party in adoption – and perhaps the not completely silenced but definitely muffled or even muted voice and/or the voice that is the least likely to be heard – is the voice of the mother who looks into and ultimately chooses, for whatever reason, to give up all of her parental rights – and quite often, whether knowingly or unknowingly, any and all chances of ever seeing her child again.  Unfortunately, she cannot know the magnitude of how devastating this choice can be until it is too late.

The voice we are starting to hear more that was hardly ever heard before is that of the father who was either tricked into signing away his parental rights – or who was not even given the chance to sign because he was listed as unknown.

The other voices in the adoption scenario are those of the deceived and the deceivers who keep the myth afloat that everybody wins, when, in fact, everybody loses to some degree or another – except for those whose livelihoods are dependent on facilitating adoptions – and we all know that a baby fresh out of the womb is preferred over those coming out of “broken homes” (which is a topic that is as wide and varying as the number of people involved, but this is another conversation altogether) or those who who have no living relations (since, after all, they have been in a few foster homes before they are adopted, usually, and, therefore can be “damaged” or at the very least have special needs).  No one likes to talk about the issues adoption creates in the lives of families – whether it is the family being “created” by adoption or the family that has been torn apart in order to make adoption possible.  Not talking about it does not mean the realities cease to exist.  It is most unpleasant to hear about and unpleasant to truly think about.  So we, as a society, generally choose to avoid the unpleasant business of hearing and/or truly thinking about it – thus the tradition carries on largely unchallenged.

So when I say NPR chose the chicken train in not allowing the truth to come out about what adoption creates in the lives of the people involved, NPR is not alone and not necessarily to blame.  They are, after all, just going with the status quo flow of the world we have created that says that the unacceptable consequences of adoption are all okay and what must be when, in fact, it is not okay what adoption has wrought in the lives of so very many – and doesn’t have to be.

We can do better!

The thing is, the doors and walls of the adoption closet cannot hold up under the weight of the bones that have been collecting for all these decades.  They will not continue to remain out of sight and out of mind for very much longer.  They are already starting to press through to come out into to the light.  NPR just missed an excellent opportunity to do what must and what will be done – with or without them – that’s all.

NPR took the Chicken Train

On Sunday, January 12th, in light of the recent controversy that was stirred concerning a joke by Melissa Harris-Perry about the Romney family’s trans-racial adoption and her apology that followed, this interview was aired on NPR’s The Sunday Conversation: Transracial Family Gets Double Takes ‘Everywhere We Go’ – which would have been fine except for this:

NPR & Exclusion from the Transracial Adoption Experience Discourse: the Wisdom we Could Have Gleaned

Angela Tucker was contacted originally by NPR to do that segment but was contacted the very next day and told they’d chosen to go another direction, hence, the segment by Rachel Garlinghouse on being a white adoptive parent of trans-racial adoptees – who, by the way, are minors under the control of current adoption laws and practices which essentially boils down to being given no voice.  As Angela said in her article in Lost Daughters, who better to help shed light on the experience of what it’s like to grow up in a trans-racial adoption than an adult trans-racial adoptee?

NPR, obviously, decided to follow the big money trail.  Adoption is, after all a huge and powerful money-making machine.

NPR, in light of your recent decision to scrap the interview with Angela Tucker in favor of a white adoptive mother, this one’s for you:

 

Adoptive Couple (Capobianco) vs. Baby Girl

Capobiaco Suit

Here is the motion in its entirety: Capobianco Lawsuit

I saw this today and became outraged, all over again!

Was it enough for this adoptive couple, Melanie Duncan and Matthew Capobianco, to steal a little girl, Veronica, away from her father, Dusten Brown, and steal her away from her heritage, the Cherokee Nation?  Obviously not.  I’d been hearing rumblings of a lawsuit to be brought against Dusten Brown and the Cherokee Nation since the decision was made to turn Veronica back over to the Capobiancos.

Now, it is no longer a rumble or a rumor.  It is now a court order filed in the District Court of Nowata County in the State of Oklahoma on November 1 of this year.  The first to be named as a defendant?  Their own adoptive daughter.

Who sues a 4-year-old, much less their “own” child?  Who does that???  Matthew Capobianco and Melanie Duncan, that’s who.  I don’t know how the laws in Oklahoma work, but can a minor child under the age of 14 be held financially responsible for someone else’s decision to adopt her?  And where does her share of the money come from?  There is nowhere else to look but to her future.

If, in order to file a suit against Veronica’s father, they had to stay consistent with the naming of the case in the original motion to get her back after the courts had awarded her true and natural father custody of his true and natural daughter, how does anyone with true parental instincts see the motion with their own eyes, right there in front of them, in black and white, and allow themselves to go through with suing their own daughter – if indeed that is who and what she is to them?  I question that because this motion makes me wonder: Is she family or is she property to them?

Please tell the people, Matthew Capobianco and Melanie Duncan, what are we supposed to think?  Oh, wait.  You did tell us.  It’s right there in your court document, readily available for public consumption.  You made your intentions known in a court order for any and all to see who you are and what you are about.  You named your own adoptive daughter as a defendant in a case you brought against her, her father, and her tribe.  You did that – not the media, not the rumor mill, YOU.  YOU are named as the plaintiffs.  Instead of parenting the now traumatized daughter (or have you even had time to notice that) you fought so hard to adopt and raise, this is how you choose to spend your time and resources?

Yeah,  you live in a free country, and you’re free to do as you wish, but you certainly won’t be getting my vote for the Parents of the Year award.

a conversation with Kate

I have thought about the similarities in Solomon’s first test of rulership as the king of Israel and how it so completely relates to adoption many times and have wanted to talk about it, so I’m finally doing so.

Earlier today, my friend and fellow first mother, Kate Dahlquist, posted Claudia’s recent article on open adoptions gone wrong, and I (Carol Sherman, wink, wink, Kate) decided to chime in.

Here is Claudia’s article:

A Typical “Open” Adoption

Promises of Contact Broken Reveal Intentional Lies
A Guest Post by Amy Payne-Hanley

Amy-and-K-before-the-adoption-closed

And this is what Kate said when she posted Claudia’s article on her facebook:

Kate Dahlquist’s postscript to the article: “This is a guest post by my friend, Amy, on my friend Claudia’s blog.  Both of these women are amazing ladies who I consider to be my sisters.  Amy’s story is very parallel to what I have experienced – especially the last part where the APs interfere with attempts to reconnect and threaten the adoptee – which is one of the cruelest and most heartless things an AP can do, IMO.  And BELIEVE me, we worry terribly about how this effects our children.  Our stories are NOT uncommon.  We were promised that they wouldn’t be like this.”


And here is how the conversation went:

Carol Sherman – I’ve been wanting to do a piece about Solomon, the 3rd king of Israel’s, first challenge because it applies very much to adoption.  2 women, harlots, the Bible calls them, had babies at around the same time.  One woman’s baby died, so she stole the other woman’s then a flight arose between the 2 over the baby.  They took it all the way to the king.  The king ordered that the baby be cut in half and one half given to one, another half given to the other.  With the woman who stole the baby, that was fine, as long as she could have the baby.  The REAL mother said, “No. It’s okay.  Let her have the baby.”  She’d rather someone else have the baby than see him/her come to harm.  The wisdom of Solomon is that a real mother would only care, in the end, about the true well-being of the child.  Parents who can close a promised adoption are just like that harlot who was perfectly satisfied to see the baby she stole cut in half – IMO, of course.

Kate Dahlquist – I totally agree.  I’ve often thought the same.

Carol – In fact, it begs the question about adoption that is not of a truly orphaned, truly abandoned child who is already born and has no one.  It begs the question: anyone who could, in all good conscience, take a child from his/her mother, especially so soon after birth, should our ways and laws follow the wisdom of Solomon?  That is the question I ask of this current world.

Carol (on a roll, here) – I too dream of the day when we look back at the horror of it as appalled as we (finally) did with slavery in this country and the subsequent inequality in the treatment of those who were freed.  But, then, we “Europeans” are still negotiating with our past when it comes to the treatment of Native Americans…we’re still too busy enjoying their resources to fully concede to that horror…so, there you have it.  It could go either way.  And it really depends on us, perhaps.

Kate – Preach it, Sister!!!

Carol – 😀

I’m laughed there because it’s either laugh or cry.  Where, oh, where has the wisdom of Solomon gone???

a message to adoptive parents thinking of closing adoption

I appreciated this adoptive parent’s candor.  This is a really good article!

“Adoptive Parents Don’t Love Their Children the Same Way Biological Parents Do”

This parent showed real courage to talk publicly about this, although, I will say that her assessment that her child’s biological parent’s relinquishment was rejection was unfair, but I can overlook that bit of ignorance and still embrace the message.  I will just say that, although relinquishment may have all of the appearances and consequences that color it like rejection, I have yet to meet a birthmother who has rejected her child, especially within her heart.  I have not yet met a birthmother who did not want her child.  I have only met the product of what desperate acts desperation can produce.

I knew it wasn’t all roses for the people who adopted my son.  Of course, in their yearly correspondence, they would never tell me anything but the sunny stuff, but, instinctively, I knew this was a lot of what they were operating around.  I knew that with every decision large or small, they were seeing my face, hearing my voice.  I was there, always somewhere, sometimes gnawing, nagging, sometimes just there in a benign sense.  I know that the reality of me has never gone away.  I know, because every decision I ever made was colored by their imprint.  Every thing I did was without the eyes they looked into every day – that came from me.  Even though I didn’t get to see those eyes, I couldn’t get away from the reality of them (nor did I want to).

For those scared individuals who choose to close adoptions after promising openness, this parent’s missive just goes to show that you can run, but you cannot hide.  Whatever you think you are running from is still there, not going anywhere, staring down your every move.  I’m not saying this to be negative.  These are just the facts, and that’s all.  Shutting the biological mother and/or father out doesn’t make it all go away and make you the perfect family.  It doesn’t make your child NOT the product of someone else, the product of another’s hopes and dreams.  And keeping your agreement doesn’t mean your adopted child will abandon you.  I’m sure you felt it the first time your child called you, “Mommy” or “Daddy,” and I’m sure it’s still there when you hear it every day: it’s no small thing.  All I’m saying is have just a little faith.  You had faith to go through this process of adopting and making the promise to keep the biological parents in the picture.  Keep the faith!  It’s better that your child doesn’t have to find out later on that you denied him or her access to something that is his or hers by birthright.  That’s a betrayal that WILL come back to haunt you eventually, so just do the right thing now.

Take it from someone who’s had to learn the hard way:  I know of no decision made based on an irrational fear of the unknown that ends well.  I also know of no facing down a fear that’s truly been regretted.

gimme some skin!

Perhaps, to those who’ve been following this blog since the beginning, it may seem as if I have gone soft in the political part of family preservation and adoptee rights.  What I have found about political causes, as with any “war” waged, it’s very easy to get caught up in the politics, and as soon as we do that, the humanity that brought the issue to light in the beginning gets lost in the battle as one side takes up arms to enforce change and another side takes up arms to resist change.

And when it comes to our kids, battling each other over them is rarely a good thing, and usually not a healthy thing.  And that is the essence of what must come back to adoption: it must, once again, be about what is best for posterity.  The last thing I want is for children, be they my own or anyone else’s, to become collateral damage – especially in a fight that will only be won when all involved, be they mothers, fathers, babies, or would-be adoptive parents, are given a chance to take a step back from their immediate crises and step into their true human forms and get connected and/or re-connected with their true human hearts so as to facilitate really thinking this all the way through.  The understanding human mind and compassionate human heart is where solutions will be found – and how children who are already born who truly have no families, for whatever reason, will finally be the focus of adoption, and they can have families too.

And so, my goal is to continue to put a human face on adoption.  I’m putting my face before anyone who’ll be brave enough to see it as one of many representing the heartbreak of a family that got shot down before it ever got a chance to take flight.  I represent one side of the adoption triad.  I will take up my banner at times and cry out for change, but, by God’s help and grace, I will fight my battle the way my conscience allows and will not allow my humanity to be taken from me in the process.  My humanity eluded me for far too long to toss it away now – to any entity, any thing, any cause, or even anyone.  I gave permission for that to happen and had no idea if I would ever experience my true humanity again.  For the past 2-3 years, little-by-little, I have been reclaiming it, and I am going to be very vigilant in making sure it isn’t taken from me again.

This humanity now has gashes, has scars, and rust, and deformities, and some things about it that just aren’t that pretty.  But you know?  When I was prettier, I was also much more shallow, much more judgmental, and far less capable of giving a pass or anything like a real chance to others.  I don’t have that kind of luxury anymore.  And you know what?  I am completely okay with that.

i’ve said all to say this

I’ve shared some of my secrets here.  I’ve shared some of my pain.  I had to do something with it all because I was being crushed underneath the weight and the magnitude of it such that denial was no longer an option.  I’m not out of the water in terms of the grieving.  I love my son.  I told him every day, many times a day in the days I kept him with me before relinquishing him.  What I am facing is the prospect of coming to terms with the fact that the choice I made may have caused it to be such that I may never get to tell him again, and that is a hard thing, harder than anything I can possibly imagine.  I did not heal like I somehow thought I would after giving him up.  I have not healed yet.  I don’t know how much to expect in the way of healing in looking toward the future, but it’s clear enough that I have not arrived.  I am actively seeking to heal.  I hope I can heal.  At times throughout these near 21 years I have not wanted to go on living, but I choose not to take the choice of that upon myself and allow the breath that is in me to continue.  I must find a way to go on with the rest of my life.

What I am is what I am.  What I’ve done is what I’ve done.  I alone must deal with the consequences, and there is nothing to be done about it now, really, but just let life continue on the course that has been set.  What I would ask of you, dear reader, is this:  If you are a man making love to a woman who is not your wife, I would ask you to think before you bed her again if you would not be willing to raise a child with her.  It is, after all, procreation when you break it all down.  If you are a woman making love to a man who is not your husband and find yourself cast off, please know that you are not obligated to carry on that man’s tradition of tossing you out as if you were trash.  Just because he can treat you like trash, doesn’t make it so; it doesn’t make you trash.  All his actions have proven is that he doesn’t respect himself enough to take care of what he’s taken on in procreating with you.  If he doesn’t respect himself, how can he respect you or anyone else – including, perhaps, even his own child?  It’s not your fault anymore than it is your child’s fault, so do not feel obligated to conduct your life as there is a fault that demands recompense.  A child is one’s greatest blessing, if the man who helped bring this child about does not get that, you’ve no obligation to seek a means of letting him off the hook.  He will never be off the hook anyway.  He’ll always know he has a child in this world, and how he chooses to handle that will be his reward – or his reproach.  If he goes the way of reproach, you are not obligated to go down that road with him – especially if he’s gone his own way and left you behind to handle it all.  They say it takes a village.  I live in the village.  If I know you, I’ll help you in anyway that I can.  There are others who feel this way too.  It will not be easy, but you’ll have your child, and your child will have you, and that’s all that really matters when all’s said and done.

If you are a citizen who knows someone talking of breaking up her family by means of adoption, please be a part of the community that embraces it’s member with a new member on the way.  If a woman is thinking of such desperate means there is a desperate need.  You as a member of her community are not obligated to leave her alone, drowning in her fears.  You’ve got more resources than you think with which to comfort her fears.  Do what you can to just help her let herself be pregnant and really let it sink in what that means: it means she is an expectant mother – emphasis on the word, mother.  You are not obligated to watch her destroy who she became when she became pregnant.  Though we do not like to think of women who relinquish as mothers, it does not make them any less mothers: that is what a pregnant woman is, an expectant mother.  It is not self-indulgent for a woman to think of herself as what she is when she is an expectant mother; it is reality.  If she is considering adoption for her child, there has been a disconnect in her link with reality…know that!  Count on it!  It wouldn’t take much and it wouldn’t take long to bring her around to reality.  Let her indulge in imagining herself as who she is: her child’s mother.  Seriously.  What can that hurt?

If you are a couple seeking a child to adopt, do not seek it from a woman who has found herself alone, scared, and with child.  She is not an object for you to take advantage of anymore than she was an object to be taken advantage of by the man who fathered her child.  Realize where this practice came about…it came about when we scorned women for having sex outside of marriage and sent them out in the cover of night off to homes for unwed mothers before the neighbors found out.  This isn’t the 1950’s.  Women no longer have to be hidden away if they become pregnant.  The woman whose child you are hoping for is not a commodity for you anymore than she is for a pimp; she is a human being.  Don’t seek an agent or agency who would make her a commodity.  You are not obligated to perpetuate a predatory practice.  And also, keep in mind, that child inside her is not motherless yet.  If she has it in her to think of her child’s welfare – especially to the extreme of considering adoption – then she is capable of being her child’s mother.  Give her that chance.  Blowing up her family to create your own will not take away the pain of whatever it is that has caused you to have to look toward adoption.  What about the children already here who truly are motherless?  What about them?  You are not obligated to sit by and watch another generation grow up without someone there to say, “You are part of us.  You are not alone in this world.”

All I am asking is for us all to stop and really think about the people around us.  We are social creatures for a reason, and we are interconnected whether we like it or not.  As a society, we are starting to take on bullying.  That is so good because in this we are learning that every person has value, and no person has a right to take another’s self-worth away.  A man who is allowed to come into his own and find his self-worth without the interference of someone violently stealing it away with bullying may be allowed to let himself be the father he procreates himself into being instead of running away like he had to try and run away from the bullies and the pain they were inflicting.  Maybe that sense of self-worth that he’ll be allowed to grow into will be the difference between doing the right thing and not.  Maybe that sense of self-worth will even allow him to wait until he actually finds the person he would want to have a family with instead of trying to cram the empty holes of his stolen self-worth with the first thing that comes along.  Maybe that first thing will no longer be a thing.  Maybe she will actually be allowed to be a human being who can find and know her true worth.  If she is allowed this, then a better world is already being created for our children – who are, after all, the future.

And that is all I am saying in even starting this blog to begin with.  None of us are objects to be cast aside when no longer of use, so let’s not treat each other as such.  Each of us has value, each has something to contribute if we’ll just give a little mercy, a little room to grow, a little kindness, a little understanding, a little compassion.  Little is much with such grace in our midst.