Archive for October, 2006

October 31, 2006

Overview of Survey Results on the Psychological Adjustment of Adult Adoptees

Conducted by David Cubito, Psy.D.July, 1999 Psychological Adjustment in Adult Adoptees: Assessment of Distress, Depression, and Anger was published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry Volume 70 No. 3, July 2000.

The public holds many unsupported beliefs about adult adoptees. Doctors, lawyers, social workers, and government officials make decisions about adoptees based on hearsay and their own assumptions. The purpose of this study is to expand the limited body of research that has investigated the psychological adjustment of adult adoptees.
A total of 525 female adoptees and 191 male adoptees (Figure 1) were recruited at adoptee conferences, adoptee search & support groups, and via the Internet. Participants included in the data analysis were placed in their adoptive home prior to age 2, were adopted by a family unrelated to their birth family, and were currently living in the United States. Adoptees in this study were between the age of 21 and 61 (average age of 35), 91 % of the adoptees described their biological nationality as “European/Caucasian,” and participants were recruited from all over the United States (20% from the Northeast, 34% from the South, 17% from the Midwest, and 29% from the West – Figure 2).
Adoptees completed a demographics questionnaire, the Brief Symptom Inventory (a measure of overall distress), the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale (a measure of depression), and the Anger Content Scale of the MMPI-2 (a measure of anger). Each of these test instruments has two types of “Normative Data” so those researchers can evaluate how our sample population (the adoptees) scored in relation to other groups. These two types of normative data include:
General Non-native Data — The average score from a sample of everyday people in our society.
Outpatient Normative Data — The average score from a sample of clients at outpatient mental health clinics. An outpatient mental health clinic is where a person would meet with a Psychiatrist, Psychologist or Social Worker to help them cope with their mild to moderate emotional discomfort. Their level of distress is not severe enough for them to require psychiatric hospitalization.
Before discussing the findings, we want to stress that the results should be interpreted with caution. Like most research, this study has some important shortcomings:
the adoptee research participants were not randomly selected,
the adoptees were compared “normative data” which may not be representative of this sample,
categorizing how the adult adoptees had searched (Nonsearchers, Searchers, or Reunited) was problematic, and
the test instruments only cover a few facets of psychological logical adjustment.
Given the previously mentioned limitations, the overall finding was that the adult adoptees scored about half way between the General Normative Data and the Outpatient Normative Data on each of the test instruments. Specifically, on both the measure of distress and the depression scale, male and female adoptees scored about half way between the General Normative Data and the Outpatient Normative Data. On the measure of anger, the female adoptees scored slightly higher than the General Normative Data and the male adoptees’ score was virtually the same as the General Normative Data. Taken together, the results indicate that adult adoptees tend to report higher levels of maladjustment than nonadoptees but they are by no means a pathological group.
Comparisons were also made between Nonsearching, Searching, and Reunited adoptees. For each test instrument, Nonsearchers reported the least maladjustment followed by the Reunited and Searching subgroups. This rank order Finding occurred for both male and female adoptees. Because of the previously mentioned shortcomings in this research, it is impossible to determine whether searching is a stressful process that contributes to the differences between search groups or if psychological distress motivates adoptees to search.
We hope that this summary letter answered most of your questions about the purpose and results of this research project. A 30-page manuscript concerning this research was sent to the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry for publication. If accepted, the earliest we anticipate it will be published will be around May 2000.
Thank you,

David Cubito, Psy.D.Licensed Psychologist
Karen Obremski Brandon, Ph.D.Assistant Professor of PsychologyUniversity Of South Florida
Figure 1. Breakdown of Adoptees by Gender

Figure 2. Breakdown of Adoptees by Region

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PLANNED PARENTHOOD AND NARAL

October 31, 2006

I want it understood that I believe in choice. Choice to me means parenting, abortion, and adoption. In parenting and abortion, I believe its a woman’s right. I don’t think anyone has the right to dictate to a woman what she can and can’t do to her body. As long as the child is in a mother’s stomach, no one can dictate jack diddly to her. Planned Parenthood and NARAL have something of a good thing when it comes to abortion. They are providing a service to women and girls. Many of which is also toward actually planning parenthood. Poor women need their services.

My attack on them isn’t about these very services. I am angry with them for being ignorant about adoption. These people consider adoption a medical procedure. The only part of adoption that is even remotely medical is labor and delivery. Once the child is born and relinquished there is no medical procedure about it. Parents sign a piece of paper relinquishing their rights. Then the child is adopted which is also a legal procedure. Even in abortion, a woman has to sign a piece of paper acknowledging that she has received fully informed knowledge of what exactly she is doing. In a court of law when a minor requests help from the court in order to bypass the parents’ consent. This minor still has to reveal her identity. Granted those records are sealed, she still has to reveal her identity to the court system. There is no longer any guarantee of privacy. With the courts now forbidding abortion in two states, the law goes after the doctor. The medical records of women who have had an abortion are no longer private. When you have the Christian Right groups taking pictures of young women and their vehicles (license plates numbers) and posting them on the internet, privacy is being thrown out the window. Ignorance is no longer an excuse for these groups. Those adoptees are becoming adults. Others have been adults for many many years. We should be recognized as such.

The right to privacy is not automatic when a woman gives a child up for adoption. More than 99% of birth parents no longer want that privacy from their child. Privacy is no longer a promise that can be kept. There are voter registration lists (that are sold to many databases), death, marriage, birth, and divorce indices, property tax rolls, and many court records that are not sealed.

In Doe vs. Sunquist, several things were stated.

1) Having open adoption records does not impede traditional familial rights such as marrying, having children, and raising children.

2) Because a birth mtoher has no fundemental right under the federal constitution to have her child adopted, she also can have no correlative fundamental right to have her child adopted under circumstances that guarantee that her identity will not be revealed to the child.

3) A birth is simultaneously an intimate occasion and a public event — the government has long kept records of when, where, and by whom babies are born. Such records have myriad purposs, such as furthering the interest of chldren in knowing the circumstances of their birth.

4) If there is a federal constitutional right of familial privacy, it does not extend as far as the plaintiffs would like. The Constitutio does not encompass a general right to nondisclosure of private information.

Our nation’s courts have spoken clearly on this issue. The right to privacy does not extend to withholding birth information from the very person to whom it primarily and justly pertains — the adoptee. This is according to Bastard Nation. A group that I am very pleased to be a part of now.

We as adoptees, birthparents, and adoptive parents need to stand up and voice our opinions. It is time for the courts, lawyers, state congressional leaders, state senate leaders, agencies, social workers, and governors to take heed. We are 30 million strong. Our voices will be heard.

FOUND A BLOG MUST READ THIS ONE

October 29, 2006

I found this via a friend of mine. I am pretty sure that she even published the article on her blog although I have not checked her blog. She forwarded the blog’s address to me. I am publishing this blog’s addy and the article that was oh so awesome and powerful. It is written very intelligently. It also examines all the issues that the NCFA throws back at us. It presents our arguments for open records, the groups that support us.
This is the blog’s address is: Http://adoptionneedtoread.blogspot.com/ If this person is still writing, we need you to continue writing. Please start doing it again. Our cause is being opened up by all the new stories and books coming out.
Degenerative Policy Design: An Examination of Sealed Adoption Record Policy by Larry Watson, LMSW-ACP

(this is a very long entry-but it is an incredibly insightful look at these policies! please read!)

Degenerative Policy Design: An Examination of Sealed Adoption Record Policy

Public policy is often the result of a policy system influenced by social constructions that stigmatize some groups and extol the virtues of others. The societal view of each group coupled with the political power of the groups, determines the political agenda and influences the process that eventually determines the policy design. (Schneider & Ingram, 1997) This article will examine the sealed records policies that denies adult adoptees accesses to their original birth recordsFew issues in American adoption policy have been so widely debated as the right of adoptees to have access to their original birth and adoption records without a court order (Wegar, 1997). Currently, only four states are open records states that allow adult adoptees access to their birth records. It is generally thought that adoption records are a single entity but, in fact, there are three sources of family information about an adopted person: (1) records of the court that approved the final adoption, (2) the state repository for birth certificates, and (3) case files of the adoption agency (Carp, 1998). This article focuses on policy related to birth certificates and adult adoptees access to those records. Examining this one issue allows us to bring the debate into clear focus. We do not examine questions related to the rights of adopted children, but instead; focus on the issues related to adults who were adopted as children. We do not examine the issues of access to adoption agency records, but only study the question as it relates to birth certificates. The debate over open vs. confidential or closed adoption is examined briefly, but only in terms of the influence of adoption professionals in the question of sealed birth records and the role of adoption agencies as stakeholders. By examining this single issue within the larger adoption policy debate, we bring into clear focus the complexity of the issues and the many layers of policy questions.The present state of this sealed records policy and the history of adult adoptee access to birth records are explored. We examine the stakeholders in this debate—the adoptees, the adoptive parents and the birthparents and the interest groups that purport to represent them. The changing values of our society and the social constructs of each of the triad groups is explored in light of the policy debate. We look at the nature of the debate, the policy design issues and where we are on a policy shift timeline. Finally, we examine the policy options for the future.What is the Present Policy?Adult adoptees in all but four states in the U.S. are forbidden access to their own original birth certificates (Bastard Nation, 2003). Alabama, Alaska, Kansas and Oregon are open records states, meaning that adult adoptees can receive copies of original documentation about their adoptions just by completing an application process. Other states also provide for the release of original information with some restrictions (About Adoption, 2003). These arrangements, known as conditional access legislation, include disclosure vetoes, contact vetoes, and intermediary systems (Bastard Nation, 2003). Some states have established passive and active registries as a means to reunite willing adult adoptees and birthparents. Activists have responded that these arrangements are ineffective, they demean adult adoptees and do not remedy the fundamental denial of adoptees’ right to basic information. Troxler (2001) has stated that reunion rates achieved through state and local registries are low, ranging by one estimate from a high of 4.4% to a median of 2.05%, with the lack of higher rates attributed to factors such as being under-funded and understaffed.The History of Sealed Records in the United StatesThere is a general perception that adoption birth records have been sealed throughout most of our history, but adoption records and original birth certificates have not always been sealed. Sealing records is, in fact, a relatively recent development in our nation’s history. Birth certificates themselves only came to be required in the first decades of this century. In a 2001 Rutgers Law Review article, Elizabeth J. Samuels (2001) states:Adoption law did not proceed in a simple, single step from a period in which court and birth records were closed to the public to a period in which the records were permanently closed to all of the parties. Instead, a more complete and accurate history of the law reveals interim periods, lengthy ones in many states, in which court records were closed to all, while birth records, as recommended by social services and legal authorities, were closed to everyone except the adult adoptees whose births they registered. Laws closing adoption records to the parties were enacted not as a shield to protect birth parents from their adult children’s ever learning identity, but as a sword to prevent them from interfering with the adoptive families raising the children. (p. 228)The history of sealed adoption records is complex and fraught with misconceptions and misunderstandings. Over the past sixty years states have sealed and unsealed their records and have from time-to-time allowed or restricted adult adoptee access. Within the ever changing approach to adoption birth records there is a general historical pattern. Samuels (2001) has made a major contribution to understanding this issue by her detailed analysis of the development of the law. The patterns with this detailed history are as follows:In the mid-1920s there were virtually no confidentiality or secrecy provisions in adoption law.By the mid-1930s to the early 1940s, there were more state provisions for confidentiality with respect to the general public’s access to court records, but still few provisions for secrecy among the participants.In the 1950s states began to provide adoptees with new birth certificates (listing the adoptive parents names of the birth certificate) and provisions were developed to limit access to the public but not to the adult adoptee.By the 1960s twenty-eight states made birth records available only by court order.The largest number of legislative actions closing birth records took place after 1979.The Interest Groups and Their Agendas Social constructs of interest groups are a major factor in adoption policy design. There are several groups with a stake in the policy debate over sealed records. The obvious groups are those of the adoption triad—adoptees, adoptive parents and birthparents. The other stakeholders are the adoption agencies and the adoption professionals within the agencies. There is not clear agreement within these shareholder groups, and there are vocal advocates for either open or sealed records within each of these stakeholder groups. Subgroups within the stakeholder groups have organized in an attempt to influence public policy related to sealed adoption records. Regardless of their membership as triad member or professionals, the major organizations in this policy debate can be clearly divided as advocates of sealed records or advocates for open records.Organizations Advocating for Sealed Records National Council for Adoption (NCFA). The National Council for Adoption, formerly the National Committee for Adoption, is a non-profit membership organization based in Washington D.C. The organization was founded in the late 1980s as an outgrowth of the efforts of the Edna Gladney Home in Fort Worth, Texas to defeat the open records provisions of the Model State Adoption Act. This opened records to adult adoptees and instructed adoption agencies to serve as intermediaries in the search by birthparents and their adult adopted children. NCFA remains the driving force in maintaining policies for sealed records. In the 1980s, the membership of NCFA included many adoption agencies throughout the country, but as adoption practices shifted from closed adoption to open adoption, many of the agencies withdrew from membership. Today their strongest members and supporters include the Gladney Center and the Latter Day Saints Social Service (National Council for Adoption, 2003).Organizations Advocating for Open RecordsAdoptees’ Liberty Movement Association (ALMA). The Adoptees’ Liberty Movement was founded by adoptee Florence Fisher, who is the author of The Search for Anna Fisher (1971). There had been earlier critics of sealed records, but the establishment of ALMA is seen by many as the beginning of the adoption reform movement in the U.S. When ALMA was formed, it strongly asserted that adoptees had a right to their records. In more recent years ALMA has focused more on search and support activities rather than open recores activism (Adoptees’ Liberty Movement, 2003).The American Adoption Congress (AAC). AAC was founded in 1978 as a volunteer, non-profit organization bringing together the local and regional search, support, and advocacy groups on a national level. On their website, The American Adoption Congress statement of belief declares that “growth, responsibility, and respect for self and others develop best in lives that are rooted in truth. The AAC is therefore committed to achieving changes in attitudes, policies, and legislation that will guarantee access to identifying information for all adoptees and their birth and adoptive families” (American Adoption congress, 2003, p. 1).Concerned United Birthparents (CUB). CUB began in 1976. A small group gathered to provide mutual support for birthparents, men and women who had surrendered children to adoption. CUB is in support of open records for all and does not support legislation that opens records for adult adoptees if birthparents are not included in having equal access to the birth records (Concerned United Birthparents, 2003).Bastard Nation (BN). Bastard Nation was established in 1996 as a website and was incorporated later in the same year. The single unifying issue for Bastard Nation is equal access to adoptees original birth certificates. On their website they state:The only unifying concepts of BN are those of being for equal access to our own original birth certificates, combating negative stereotypes of adoptees, and providing a forum for the wide spectrum of adult adoptee experience…. We are unlike any other adoption organization: we are…without a whole truckload of associated “positions” on adoption and adoption reform. (Bastard Nation, 2003, p. 1)Bastard Nation has been focused in its mission to redefine the issue of access to birth certificates as a struggle in terms of civil rights, empowerment and tactical activism.State Based Groups. There are numerous other interest groups operating to influence the sealed records policy. Some are state-based such as the Texas Coalition for Adoption Resources and Education, a grass-roots organization of adult adoptees, adoptive families and biological families as well as adoption professionals, organizations and others concerned about adoption issues. The stated vision of TxCare is “to see adult adoptees have access to their original Texas birth certificates and court records and to promote improved integrity in adoption law” (Texas Coalition for Adoption Resources, 2003, p. 1).Adoption Agency Groups. The Federation for Open Adoption and the American Association of Open Adoption agencies are two of the groups made up of adoption agencies and adoption professionals who support open records. Many adoption professionals and adoption agencies that support open records either belong to or support the work of the triad-based advocacy groups. These groups were formed to combat the impression that the NCFA speaks for all adoption agencies and adoption professionalsThe Nature of the Debate: Good of Societyvs. Individual RightsOn one level, the nature of the debate on adoptees access to their birth certificates is a very complex issue, but at its core it is actually two basic beliefs that are in conflict. Those who advocate sealed adoption records view adoption as “a perfect and complete substitute for creating families through childbirth” (Samuels, 2001, p. 20) and are invested in the proposition that birthparents, once separated from their children through adoption, should have no opportunity to interfere with the family created through adoption. Conversely, those who advocate for access to birth records, believe the policy of sealed birth records denies the individual rights of adults to have information that belongs to them and is being denied to them. In their view, sealed records are based on shame associated with adoption. Although most adoption experts today agree that information about one’s adoption should not be hidden from the adoptee, opponents of adoption reform have continued to characterize institutionalized secrecy or sealed records as serving the best interest of all parties involved. Search activists, on the other hand, have argued that institutionalized secrecy reinforces rather than remedies stigmatization and shame (Wegar, 1997). The sealed records controversy is a debate between two opposing conceptions of kinship, one emphasizing the biological nature of kinship and the other emphasizing the primacy of social bonds (Wegan, 1997).Since the first sealed records law was enacted, the major argument for sealing adoption records has been that confidentiality benefits all the parties involved, including the state, as well as public interest. Hollinger (1995) states, “Sealing the adoptees’ birth certificates was intended to ensure the adoptive parents the same rights to parental autonomy and family privacy that the birthparents once had” (p. 49). By converting the issue of confidentiality into an issue of secrecy, a practice that was formerly represented in positive terms became invested with negative social meanings. This transformation was made possible by linking claims for openness with the moral themes of sincerity, authenticity and truthfulness (Wegar, 1997).The social construct of those seeking their birth information has changed over time. Seeking to find one’s birthparents or offspring was often perceived symptomatic of underlying pathology (Wegar, 1997). The Adoption Triangle, written in 1979 by a psychiatrist and two social workers, concluded that “taking a child from one set of parents and placing him/her with another set, who pretend that the child is born to them, disrupts a basic natural process. The need to be connected with one’s biological and historical past is an integral part of one’s identity formation” (Sorosky, Baren & Panner, 1979, p. 67). In clinical and popular literature, the desire to search is no longer perceived as unreasonable or as symptomatic of underlying pathology; today a lack of interest in one’s biological origins is often viewed as a sign of repression (Wegar, 1997).Advocates of open records have chosen to attack secrecy. To insert secrets (even lies) into the domain of family, intimacy, and love provided a reaction. In the wake of federal freedom of information acts, depriving an individual of “vital facts” about her- or himself was easily constructed as a denial of “rights” (Model, 2002, p. 27). NCFA Adoption President Bill Pierce has said, “Birthparents request privacy, adoptive parents have a right to non-intrusion, and above all, children deserve to be protected from the conflicting interest of adults (Model, 2002, p. 27). Florence Fisher, however, gets to the heart of the matter when she asks, “Where else in our free society is such secrecy condoned?”In the debate over sealed records, both the search advocates and their opponents argue that their view genuinely expresses the American ethos of individualism. Adoption professionals and policy makers who oppose change have argued that the desire of some adoptees to find their biological parents jeopardizes the social institution of adoption, which, according to their views, currently benefits the society as a whole. In contrast, by positing the “social fiction” of adoption against the “natural desire” to search, activists have portrayed the adoptees’ search for their biological origins as a triumph of the individual will to self-realization over the oppression of social arrangements (Wegar, 1997).The Policy Shift Time-LineThere have been several key events that have shaped the debate on sealed records. In 1978 President Carter convened a panel of independent experts in child welfare. The result of this panel’s work was a Model State Adoption Act that would open records to adult adoptees and instruct adoption agencies to serve as intermediaries in searches by birthparents for their adult adopted children (Bastard Nation, 2003). As a reaction to this event, the National Committee for Adoption was formed and has aggressively opposed open records since that time until the present.It was not until 1994 that the next model law was recommended in the form of the Uniform Adoption Act drafted by a study committee of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. The ACT would seal adoption records for ninety-nine years. The ACT was overwhelmingly approved by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform Statute Laws (NCCUSL) for submission to the state legislatures. NCCUSL is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of more than 300 lawyers, legislators, judges, and academics who propose legislation to the states (Hollinger, 1995). The ACT is opposed by the Child Welfare League of America, National Association of Social Workers, Adoptive Families of America, Catholic Charities USA, American Adoption Congress Concerned United Birthparents, National Adoption Center Adoption Exchange Association, Children Awaiting Parents and the Joint Council on International Children’s Services (Hollinger, 1995). This ACT seemed to unite the triad advocacy groups and the professional groups in opposing the act and in supporting access to birth records by adult adoptees.In closing her law review of sealed records laws, Elizabeth Samuels (2001) says:Although the movement of the states toward greater openness has been slow and cautious, it has been nation wide and its pace has been accelerating sharply n recent years. The numerous passive and active registries are being supplemented or supplanted by the growing number of states opening all records, re-opening records not closed at their inception, opening records prospectively, or opening all or some records subject to disclosure vetoes by birth parents. These changes both reflect and foster the difficult process of deconstructing lifelong secrecy. It may be expected that one day the number of states opening birth records will reach a critical “tipping point,” a point after which a majority of states will reject lifelong secrecy as expeditiously as they once embraced it. (p. 104)The Debate in the Popular MediaThe popular media has been a major influence in changing the social construct of adult adoptees. In the early 1970s, the effort to reform sealed records laws and agency practices was spurred by two influential autobiographical accounts of the psychological effects of the sealed records policy—Florence Fisher’s The Search for Anna Fisher and Betty Jean Lifton’s Twice Born: Memories of an Adopted Daughter (Wegar, 1997).Search and reunion stories of adoptees and their birth relatives are common themes often featured in books, newspapers, magazines, daytime television dramas and the talk shows. Movies in popular release have also been built on an adoption search and reunion story line. The search movement has not yet reached its goal of overturning sealed records laws, but search activists have been extraordinarily successful in attracting attention to their claims by tapping into America n ideals and values. The adoption theme, particularly the theme of searching for birth parents, has emerged as a compelling human-interest story and has inspired myriad novels, plays and movies (Wegar, 1997).Policy DesignThe policy debate concerning sealed adoption records can be viewed in the context of Schneider and Ingram’s (1997) degenerative policy-making process model. In this model, the social construction identifies four different kinds of policy targets that are based on social constructs and to the extent of the political power of each group. The authors identify these groups as: (1) advantaged (who are powerful and positively constructed); (2) contenders (powerful but negatively constructed as undeserving or greedy); (3) dependents (positively constructed as “good” people but relatively needy or helpless, who have little or no political power; and (4) deviants who have virtually no political power and are negatively constructed as undeserving, violent, mean, and so forth (Schneider & Ingram, 1997). In looking at the sealed adoption record policy question, it is instructive to view the groups as the targets of the policy within this framework. In addition to the four target groups, there are also policy entrepreneurs such as policy makers, interest group leaders, political parties, media, scientists, and others. These groups anticipate how an issue needs to be framed so that the public policies advantageous to their own cause will appear to be the only rational response (Schneider & Ingram, 1997).The group advocating to maintain sealed records are, for the most part, members of the “advantaged” class—affluent adoptive parents. As members of this group they carry a positive social construct and are thought to be deserving. They are solidly a part of the middle to upper class. Their inability to have biological children evokes empathy and there decision to adopt is viewed as commendable. On this issue they have demonstrated their ability to organize and influence policy decisions. The most effective strategy for the closed records advocates it to continue to frame the issue as their protecting birthparents rights to privacy. This is one, if not the only, justification to oppose the adult adoptees’ claim of rights to their birth records. This group must also continue to assert their claim that closed records are good for society and that their position protects children from the conflicts between adults. Adoption is a popular political issue and the advocates of sealed records will do well to promote their position as promoting family values.The advocates of open records and their activities can best be understood by viewing them as an emergent contending group whose power lies mainly in their legal, ethical, and moral claims for equality and justice (Schneider & Ingram, 1997). In the legislative arena this group is no match for the elite advantaged group. While they may continue the policy battle in the legislatures it is most likely that the courts are their best avenue for opening birth records. As these groups continue their advocacy with the backing of the professional groups and positive portrayal in the media, their power and ability to impact the policy debate will improve. Their cause will best be served by continuing to frame open records as a justice issue and their birth records as their rights. The advocacy groups have been successful in moving the public perception of adult adoptees from a status of dependency to a status of emerging contender. Their challenge is to continue their progress toward being seeing as deserving of their rights and refuting claims that this is being done at the expense of adoptive parents are birthparents.While it may seem contradictory, it will be wise for the adult adoptee advocacy groups to separate themselves from the birthparent advocacy groups. Birthparents are likely to be viewed, at best, a dependent group and at worst a deviant group. While birthparent advocacy groups share the goal of open records, their claim to these records are seen in a very different light. At the time of the adoption, they relinquished their rights and therefore are most likely to been seen as having no claim to re-assert those rights. Birth parents have also received a more positive public image due the popular media interest in search and reunion stories, but it will be difficult for this group to be viewed as deserving. Birthparent groups can be supportive of the efforts of adult adoptee groups, but they are not likely to have success is asserting their “rights” to open records. Their most effective role in the policy debate is to dispute the claims of the sealed records advocates that they are protecting the privacy rights of birthparents, a right which studies have shown is not wanted by almost 95% of birthparents. (Samuels, 2001)ConclusionDue to a change in the social constructs of adult adoptees, we are currently observing is the final stage of a policy shift from a policy of sealed adoption records to a policy of open records. Since the early voices of change in the 1970s, we have moved to a time in which open records are supported (or at a minimum, sealed records are opposed) by the majority of professional organizations. Adoption practice has moved far in the direction of openness, as have the rank and file adoption workers.Public opinion has moved from viewing searching adult adoptees as defective or unappreciative to viewing them as people seeking information that this rightly theirs. The only group standing squarely in opposition to open records is the National Commission for Adoption and the few powerful adoption agencies and the adoptive parents that they represent. This group, however, represents adoptive parents who are politically powerful and influentialAdult adoptees actively seeking access to their birth records have moved from a position of dependency to a more powerful political presence. If there is to be a final move in policy to open records, it will most likely come from the courts and will be based on a finding of individual rights (Schneider & Ingraham, 1997). As long as the question remains in the legislative area, open records activists will continue to face attitudes that the country is not ready for this policy shift. Sealed records advocates will continue to do well in the legislative arena. Policies that favor the advantaged group, adoptive parents advocating closed records, will be implemented by written statute. The legislative strength of this group is seen in its ability to have the 1994 Uniform Adoption Act call for sealing records for ninety-nine years. The slow pace of change, in spite of the changes in professional opinion, public opinion and increased activism, can be understood by the reluctance of legislators to impose burdens on this advantaged group (Schneider & Ingram, 1997).There are several possible scenarios that can settle the sealed records policy debate. The courts could rule that the adult adoptees have a right to their birth information, and with that the issue would be settled. Or as, Elizabeth Samuels (2001) has suggested, the legislatures will continue to move, albeit slowly, toward opening the records until we reach a critical “tipping point,” a point at which a majority of states will reject lifelong secrecy as expeditiously as they once embraced it. Or in the absence of either of these events, the informal structures of search and reunion and agency practice toward open adoption will continue until the policy of sealed records becomes moot. Regardless of the policy path taken, the time for sealed adoption records appears to be nearing its end.ReferencesAbout Adoption. Home page. Retrieved from the Web March 3, 2003. http://www.adoption.about.com/Adoptees’ Liberty Movement. Home page. Retrieved from the Web march 3, 2003. http://almasociety.org/American Adoption Congress. Home page. Retrieved from the Web march 3, 2003. http://www.americanadoptioncongress.org/Bastard Nation. Home page. Retrieved from the Web March 12, 2003. http://www.bastards.org/Carp, E. W. (1998). Family matters: Secrecy and disclosure in the history of adoption. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University PressConcerned United Birthparents. Home page. Retrieved from the Web March 5, 2003. http://www.cubirthparents.org/Freundlich, M. (2000). Adoption ethics (p. 8). (Vol. 2). Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America.Hollinger, J. H. (1995). The Uniform Adoption Act. The Future of Children: Long-Term Outcomes of Early Childhood Programs, 5(3).Lang, S. S. (1997). Adoptive parents favor opening adoption records. Human Ecology, 25(2), 2.Modell, J. S. (2002). A sealed and secret kinship: The culture and policies and practices in American adoption. New York: Berghahn Books.National Council for Adoption. Retrieved from the Web March 5, 2003. http://www.ncfa-usa.org/Open Adoption. Home page. Retrieved from the Web March 1, 2003. http://www.openadoption.org/Samuels, E. J. (2001). The idea of adoption: An inquiry into the history of adult adoptee access to birth records. Camden, NJ: Rutgers University.Schneider, A. L., & Ingram, H. (1997). Policy design for democracy. Lawrence, KS: University Press of KansasTexas Coalition for Adoption Resources. Home page. Retrieved from the Web March 11. 2003. http://www.cubirthparents.org/Troxler, G. W. (2001). Human rights and responsibilities in adoption. Retrieved from the Web, March 11, 2001). http://americanadoptioncongress.org/regional.htmlWegar, K. (1997). Adoption, identity, and kinship. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press

The groups that are against open records:
ACLU (yep the very group that is for an individual’s rights)
NARAL AND PLANNED PARENTHOOD ( They consider adoption a medical procedure.)
NCFA
ACLJ (Pat Robertson’s cronies)
Gladney Adoption Centers
Bethany Adoption Agencies
Christian Coalition
Eagle Forum
Family Research Council
Hear My Voice
American Life League
International Concern Committee for Children
kids Help Foundation

Adoptive Parents Committee of New York
Adoption Advocates of Iowa
Adoptees Supporting Adoption
National Coalition to End Racism in America’s Child Care System
Heritage Foundation.

Many of these organizations are very powerful. Their voice is often heard over ours. Many policies in this country are established because of these organizations.

INDIANA SAFE HAVEN LAWS

October 29, 2006

There is just something that is totally icky about safe haven laws. I have not even begun to tap on it. Two blogs that touch on it are:

Http://thedailybastardette.blogspot.com/
http://adoptalk.blogspot.com/

I agree with what they both have to say. Safe haven laws don’t protect the child. It doesn’t even protect the mother. If a woman goes up to a fire station or hospital bleeding with an umbilical cord still attached to the baby and she is bleeding herself, no help will even be offered if she wants to give her child up for adoption. No questions asked. A majority of these situations are teenage girls. I believe that in order to prevent these very things. We as a society need to change the sexual education these young girls get. Instead of “abstinence”, we should really teach them what sex is, what it does to the body, and what it results. If we had honest forthright sexual education, girls and boys would have the information needed to make a good solid decision. Groups like the NCFA support laws like this because the parents identity can never be discovered. Fathers lose their rights completely. They are not even given due process. The children don’t have their right to identity and heritage. I think it should be required to have identifying information. It doesn’t mean we have to prosecute. All information needs to be given though. The article below is one from my birth state of Indiana. I recently found out that Texas led the way on these types of laws

I found this bit of information at the Alan Guttmacher web page. It is the highlights of safe haven laws.

47 states have legalized relinquishing an infant up to a specified age.
17 states allow someone other than a parent (generally someone designated by a parent) to relinquish the infant.
30 states expressly preserve the anonymity of the person relinquishing the infant
47 states designate the places/personnel authorized to accept an infant
30 states allow emergency services personnel to accept an infant or allow relinquishment through the 911 emergency system.
44 staes authorize health care providesr such as hospitals or health clinic employees to accept the infant.
11 states allow an infant to be relinquished to some other organizations such as a licensed adoption agency or a specific facility designated by the state.
22 states require the person receiving the infant to follow a state approved protocol, including providing both the person leaving the infant and the infaant with identification bracelet to aid with possible reunification, asking for medical information about the infant, and initiating an investigation to determine if the infant is registered as a missing child.

Wow so much protecting the infant’s future rights to identity. So much for a father’s right to due process.

Safe Haven baby attends hospital reunion

By Frank Gray – The Journal Gazette – Sat, Oct. 21, 2006

(Picture) Laura J. Gardner/The Journal Gazette Nurse Bob Pequinot talks with the area’s first Safe Haven baby, now 2 1/2 years old, at Friday’s reunion at Parkview North Hospital.

It was past 6 a.m. one day in March 2004 when a young woman, her sweat shirt stained with blood, walked into the Parkview North emergency room carrying a newborn baby, probably about an hour old.
The baby was still bleeding from the umbilical cord, which hadn’t been tied off. She was wrapped in only a towel. The woman carrying the baby handed her to emergency room workers, said something to the effect she was a Safe Haven baby, and left, Shirley Thompson, emergency room director at the hospital, said.
Emergency room workers were stunned, but they knew what it was all about. The newborn became the first Safe Haven baby in northeast Indiana, a baby handed over to a safe place under a law that allows mothers who can’t keep a baby for whatever reason to abandon them in hospitals or fire stations no questions asked. The law is designed to scared mothers from abandoning babies in trash bins and letting them die.
Hospital workers named her Samantha, after the hospital’s Samaritan helicopter, because the nurse who first took the baby is a flight nurse on the helicopter.
Within a couple of days, the baby was gone, delivered to a foster family that had registered as a family willing to adopt any foster child they got. The emergency room workers never saw her again.
Friday, though, the emergency room nurses on hand the day the baby arrived got to meet her again, this time at a reunion held to coincide with a training seminar to teach hospital, school, police and other officials about Indiana’s Safe Haven law.
The girl’s adoptive parents, who asked not to be named, offered details of the child, who is now 2 1/2 .
“She speaks very proper English. She knows all the words to her songs and makes up her own words sometimes. I want her to see the world and know it’s her oyster,” her mother said in an interview before the reunion.
Since Samantha was left in 2004, three other babies have been dropped off at hospitals or fire stations in Allen County.
Nationally, a hotline for mothers who can’t keep babies has fielded thousands of calls from expectant mothers seeking help. That hotline is 1-877-796-4673.

ADOPTION AND FOSTER CARE

October 24, 2006

When I discuss adoption, it appears that I am anti-adoption. I am not that way but adoption is something that desparately needs reform. Infant adoption has become a multi-billion dollar business. It used to be about the child’s welfare but instead it has become about the adoption industry’s ability to make a buck and some parents’ welfare. I am not saying all but some. I don’t want to offend my wonderful adoptive mothers who have adopted both domestically and internationally. Many of these wonderful people are good kind parents who want the best for everyone. They do understand the complications of adoption. They do work hard at being honest in their lives and in their dealings with adoption. I don’t believe in international adoption. I do know these parents have done their best to have their child’s information when the time comes for that child to search. My problem is with those that are like Sharon Stone, Rosie O’Donnell, Angelina Jolie, and Madonna. My concern is those children that are in foster care. We have over 500,000 children in foster care in this country alone. These children need stable homes and environments, yet foster care homes and the foster care system needs to be seriously overhauled. This came from a foster mother. She is a woman that all would respect.

One dear friend of mine spent the first seven years of her life in foster care and her mother’s care (if you can call it that). Her birth mother (many of you would be disgusted with the way she was treated so be warned) was extremely horrible to her. This woman burned my friend fifty percent of her body. This woman also gave her a box of live scorpions as a gift. Everytime my friend was in her care, she would end up nearly dead. Three states kept giving her back to her mother. She also spent time in foster homes. In these homes she was sentanced to be used as an emotional, physical and sexual punching bag. By the time that help could be gotten, many considered her unrehabilative. Fortunately the birthmother’s husband and his parents did not. They kept charging to her rescue. For that I am grateful because now I have a truly wonderful friend. Many of these situations are not monitored. Child protective services is understaffed and can’t do much. In various states such as Texsas and Tennessee, adoption is pushed to point where natural parents are severed from their children without just cause. In fact both states were award over a million dollars each for their efforts in adoption. Yet at the same time children are left to flounder in foster care. In New Mexico, I have reda about children dying at the hands of foster parents. Katrina, my CI from Indiana, told that natural parents have three chances to kill their chldren. These are all scary stories. The foster parent that I mentioned earlier has many several comments to me on how she would like to see things change. Too many times, foster parents enter the foster care system just to receive a check. The children are not really cared for. Foster care also doesn’t have the adequate help to monitor all the children in foster care. Too many times the children themselves do not have an advocate that stands up for them. The parenting classes that are available are not adequate. The very people we are expected to help are not getting that help. These classes need to be revamped to where they fit the parents not the schedule of CPS.

Many times when a woman is in a “crisis” pregnancy, she goes to one of these centers. Many times a woman has to go to one of these centers to get a verification pregnancy test before she can even get medicaid. She is filled with false information both about adoption and abortion. There is no information given on parenting her own child. Many women have received negative messages about their ability to parent especially if they are unmarried, if they are poor, and countless other ways that they use a woman’s self image of herself against her. They literally ply on a woman’s negative view of herself. In my mind , if a woman enters a family planning clinic of any kind, she should be given information on all three. Truthful information. Not the lies and not the bullshit. Abortion is hard on a woman’s body but so is adoption. Parenting is a hard choice as well. It means hard work. I know I have two daughters. I fight for their rights as well as the rest of the women in this country. Here in small town Texas (Vernon), the crisis pregnancy center has pushed adoption. Many women do not realize that there is help. I had another girlfriend who went through this exact process. She went in for a pregnancy test only to be asked three times to give her child up for adoption in front of her husband and two year old son. There is medicaid, there is foodstamps, there is housing, and there is WIC. I have personally used three of these. When I was pregnant with both of my daughters, I received benefits from these organizations. I was lucky that I had support from the people in my life. My social worker was even a friend. There was never any pressure to give up my children. I did feel some discrimination from being on those benefits. Between friends and DHS, I was given resources to take care of me and my girls. I know many women who have done this.

There are those in our society that feel women need to repent for their pregnancies and their lack of financial resources by giving up their children. I don’t think any of these people truly understand the pain that both foster care and adoption can cause. Adoption done openly and honestly and for the right reasons is a good thing. I do believe in it. I don’t believe that adoptees and birth parents should pay for their sins for the rest of their lives. Even God forgives. Record should be opened to adoptees, birthparents and adoptive parents. They should be allowed the right to conduct their business without government intrusion. Only in adoption does the government break its own laws by invading our lives without just cause. We do not need to be protected from each other. We are all adult enough to make the right decisions. Give us that right. WE are the only group of people in the United States that has to face this kind of intrusion. Lets change the laws together. Lets do right by the adoption triad members.

NEW ADDITIONS

October 23, 2006

I have added some more links. Be sure to check them out when you get the chance.

ARE GRANDCHILDREN TO BE THROWN AWAY?

October 22, 2006

Recently I was told that I would not understand what it was like to have a daughter get pregnant. This person’s children both got pregnant. Her son’s girlfriend got pregnant. (the boy is about 20 yrs) Her daughter also got pregnant. The girl’s relationship wasn’t a very good one. It was my understanding that her boyfriend beat her up. The girl is about 18-19 yrs. The son’s child was welcomed with open arms. The girl’s child was not. They wanted her to put the child up for adoption. Is it me? Am I just sensitive to women’s issues? This person does not believe in abortion. First my comment is that the daughter is an adult. She is entitled to make her own choices. The girl eventually lost her child. I honestly feel that it was a blessing. I don’t want to see that girl become a birthmother. I don’t want her to be as angry as the rest of us in the adoption world of reunion and search. I definitely don’t want her child to come back years to be as angry as I am. I could see this person shunning that child. This person is of course no longer a friend. She made a comment that you just don’t say to any adoptee. She has gone the way of the religious right. I never ever thought she would do that. She was the most modern woman that I had ever met back in the day. Now she has flipped out completely.

Another good friend of mine said she noticed this trend. That grandparents are willing to sacrifice their granchild for the child. I have met several young pregnant girls the same age and younger even than the girl previously mentioned. I am amazed that the parents of these other girls actually support their daughters. What is so wrong about having a child and keeping it? Why isn’t parenting a supported issue with reproductive rights? Why is it that women are supposed at odds with their children? Hey Right to Lifer’s and Pro choicers guess what that type of relationship just doesn’t exist. The choices are being over exaggerated. We need to present all the choices equally and justly. Mothers do love their children and want what is best for them, not what is best for you.

YOU WERE LUCKY THAT YOU WEREN’T ABORTED

October 20, 2006

YOU SHOULD BE GRATEFUL THAT YOU WEREN’T ABORTED.

Words that came out of the mouth and brain of a now former dear friend. Get this she is the wife of an adoptee (who is in reunion). She also accused me of being jealous of her husband. I am thrilled when adoptee beats the system of secrets and lies. She is also a webmaster and a former paralegal student. If by chance she actually reads this, I am going to make it clear to her and others how I really feel about adoption. By diminishing me she also diminished her husband who is a very good man. Too bad she doesn’t realize it.

YES I DO SOMETIMES WISH THAT I HAD BEEN ABORTED.

Then maybe I would have been born to my parents. I would not have had to deal with the fact that I was thrown away by my “first” not once but twice. I would not have had to deal with the fact that I was a pawn my “first” mother used against my birth father. She used me to get my birth father to try and leave his wife. When that failed, she cast me totally aside like I was trash no longer useful to her ambitions and desires. Being a girl child, I was even more useless to her. Her boys have better value than me.

DON’T TELL ME THAT I OUGHT TO BE GRATEFUL FOR THE PARENTS THAT I HAVE.

I am very happy with my adoptive family. We have our share of problems but we do alright. My search is not about them. My search is about me and discovering who I am. My search is about my identity and about my life. It is no reflection on anyone else. So leave my family out of it

WHO HAS MY OWNERSHIP RIGHTS?

October 18, 2006

Is it my parents that have them? NO because my mother has always told me that she would help me search. In fact she has tried searching for me. Do I own me? Most definitely not!!!! I don’t have my papers. The state of Indiana does. My birth father doesn’t own me. Heck he never had any rights to me. My birth mother made sure he would not have them at all. So which of them owns me? The state of Indiana or my birth mother? One of them does. Its funny I was recently told that when my birthmother dies, I can then have my records. Interesting. She owns me and the state of Indiana lets her get away with it. Only adoptees in 45 states are owned. The non adopted don’t have to worry about their records, their history, their geneology. They know it. It is okay for them to have a search for their identity. I don’t how many times that I have been asked ” have you searched yet, don’t you want to search, I couldn’t handle not searching for that information.” I have also been told that I should be grateful that I have parents that wanted me, that I was lucky that I wasn’t aborted, and I am also lucky my mother didn’t throw me in a trashcan. What you don’t know if the law back in 1965 had been different she would have done just that – aborted me. I did have one biological parent that wanted me but my biological mother chose the unethical way out and the state of Indiana has let her get away with it then and now. I know this for a fact. She even owns up in the Transcripts listed under my April links.

You know the government has never allowed me to get away with anything. Yet the government allows her to get away with destroying a family. The government won’t even recognize his rights whatsoever. Where is the honor and integrity in this?

I have a great deal to be angry with. I wonder when the day will come when adoption isn’t foremost on my mind. I wonder if the day will ever come that I get to meet my father, my brothers, and my sister. She is going to have to come clean in a major way for us to even have a relationship. If she ever opens the records, I will get my information and then I am so gone. How can anyone be so scared of her only daughter? How can anyone show so much disdain for her only daughter because she is just that a daughter? Why am I the member of the 1% club?

GOD I HATE ADOPTION. ADOPTION IN THIS COUNTRY ESPECIALLY BACK IN THE FIFTIES, SIXTIES, SEVENTIES WAS ABOUT OWNERSHIP. I AM SO TIRED OF BEING OWNED BY THE STATE.

A LONG TIME FAVORITE POEM

October 3, 2006

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one leftto speak out for me.
Pastor Martin Niemöller

I first read this poem in a Postal Record. It is the NALC’s magazine for letter carriers. I also read it in the Oklahoma Letter Carrier. A favorite newspaper. Still is because I still get it. I found this at the Courttv message boards. I have wanted to print this on my blog for the year that I have been writing this blog.

I see quite a few bloggers tackling the reform issue with their own arguments on what they would change in Adoption. I have also seen arguments for getting rid of the amended birth certificate.

My thoughts on the amended birth certificate are these: It is a falsified document all the around. It is not better or worse. Its just false. Although I would have loved it if my parents had given birth to me, it is just a fact of life that it did not happen that way. I see my birth certificate having all names on it. The birth parents and adoptive parents both listed. To have it any other way is disrespectful to all involved. My only problem with doing it this way is society doesn’t even comprehend what adoption secrets have done to those involved in adoption. Therefore they have no idea about amended birth certificate let alone open records. Most people assume that adoptees and birth parents have access to their records. Wrong! Some states have given the adoption members their access to records. Most refuse to give it to anyone. Some states have the have/havenot rules. Open records do not mean everyone has access. Only those in the adoption plane as one blogger, Wraith, puts it should be allowed access. I have heard the argument that abortion and adoption are the same and privacy should be allowed to the mother. Well the Appeals court in Tennessee states otherwise. Anyway abortion is a medical procedure where adoption is a legal procedure. Its funny that the adoption records are sealed when the adoption is finalized not when a birth mother relinquishes her rights. If she relinquishes her rights, how is that she is the only one with rights in this? Of course many mothers of origin would sympathize with me but my own would not. My rights are denied. My birth father rights have been denied for fourty plus years. I think we need to tackle getting access to our birth certificates and then tackle the birth certificate.

I think that open adoption should be a contract where all in the adoption must abide. No one gets preferential treatment. How it should be enforced? I think mediation and counseling. Maybe even legal steps.

I think with many CPC’s adoption is being shoved down a woman’s throat even if she is married but poor. It is unregulated. It is still about coercion not choice. I think abortion, adoption, and parenting should all be represented equally. If that situation had been thrown at me when I was pregnant with my daughters, I would wrung someone’s neck. Parenting should be the first option offered.

To me adoption should be used only as necessary. Our society puts too much weight on women and children. Women are wrong if we get pregnant especially if we are poor. Women are wrong if we can’t get pregnant. I wish we could accept that women are just as sexual as men. It is a human function. I wish that we could educate children on human function. It is okay to teach children how the heart works, how the mind works, and other things concerning their bodies but its not okay to teach them about their sexuality. Sex is a human function. I am sure God wanted us to understand our bodies. Living where I live, I am having to teach my daughters about their bodies and what sex is. I am afraid of what Texas Public Schools will teach them. Teach them abstinence when there are boys that won’t take no for an answer. Please I want to make sure there is choice for my girls.

I also feel that women are under constant attack by our society. When are women going to be accepted as being women just like men are? When will children be allowed to be children?