Archive for November, 2006

NEW JERSEY’S ACCESS LAW

November 30, 2006

I am sure most adoptees in New Jersey are thrilled with this bill. I, like Bastard Nation, disagree with this bill. It does not allow all to have access. WE DID NOT SIGN AWAY OUR RIGHTS. THE BIRTH PARENTS SIGNED AWAY THEIR RIGHTS. THEY OWN UP TO THIS. ASK MANY WHO HAVE BLOGS, POST ON ALL FORUMS CONCERNING ADOPTION, AND MANY MANY OTHERS. WHY ARE WE THE ADOPTEES HELD BOUND TO THE CONTRACT THAT THEY SIGNED? AS I HAVE SAID BEFORE – WITH PARENTING, ABORTION, AND CONTRACEPTION WOMEN ARE EXERCISING THEIR RIGHT TO PRIVACY – ONCE A BIRTH PARENT SIGNS THEIR RIGHTS AWAY – THEY HAVE NO RIGHTS. I DO BELIEVE THAT BIRTH PARENTS SHOULD HAVE ACCESS JUST AS MUCH AS THE REST OF US PARTY TO THE ADOPTION.

BELOW IS THE VERY REASON WHY I AND MANY LIKE ME DISAPPROVE OF THIS BILL.

Access to the original, long-form copy of an adopted person’s birth certificate will begin one year after the date of enactment of the bill. The delayed effective date will provide birth parents of persons adopted prior to the date of enactment with a one-time, 12-month period, beginning on the date the Department of Health and Senior Services adopts regulations to implement the bill, during which they may submit to the State Registrar a written, notarized request for nondisclosure or make such a request to the State Registrar in person. The request for nondisclosure would prohibit the State Registrar from providing the birth parent’s name and home address, as recorded on the birth certificate, to the adult adopted person or other persons authorized to request the birth certificate. The State Registrar shall acknowledge receipt of the request for nondisclosure and shall enclose with the receipt a family history form requesting medical, cultural and social history regarding the birth parent. The State Registrar shall require the birth parent to complete the form to the best of the parent’s knowledge and return it to the State Registrar within 60 days. The birth parent may update the family history form as necessary. (The family history information will be provided to the adopted person when the person requests a copy of his birth certificate.) Failure of a birth parent to complete the form and return it within 60 days, upon requesting nondisclosure, shall nullify the birth parent’s request for nondisclosure

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DEAR STATE LEGISLATOR

November 28, 2006

My name is Amy Burt. I am writing to you to ask you to change the adoptee access laws currently in place. These laws as they stand now violate an adoptee’s basic human right to have his/her own original birth certificate. As Homeland Security is changing the laws for getting passports, adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents and many others will soon be affected. If the date filed is not within two weeks of date of birth, that person is suspect. An individual has to find other forms of identification proving their birth. This is something that adoptive parents and adoptees do not have under current state law. The Surgeon General is also promoting family medical history. Adoptees again do not have this especially those born in the days of closed records.

The main argument against access law is promised confidentiality. I have website links to two petitions signed by birth mothers across this country proving otherwise. These mothers also did not want that confidentiality especially from their children. I also have website links to the recent Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute research study proving otherwise again. I also have a website link to the Vital Statistics Department of Oregon again proving this information. Interesting facts from Oregon: 1% of birth parents don’t want contact from their children. 1/4 of 1% want to be contacted via a confidential intermediary. I also have a web site link to the National Association of Social Workers who also believe that adoptees should be allowed access to their records.

I have also enclosed links to the two court cases, one in Tennessee and one in Oregon. Both of these pages show the Courts ruling on allowing access to adoptee access.

In Oregon this is what those judges ruled:

Because a birth mother has no fundamental right to have her child adopted, she also can have no correlative fundamental right to have her child adopted under circumstances that guarantee her identity will not be revealed. The state did not create a contract with birth mothers to guarantee them that their identities would not be revealed to their adopted children without their consent. Thereby the state is not honor bound by the so-called promises made by medical, religious, and social services to the birth mother.

In 1983, the legislature provided that not all original birth certificates were to be sealed when a child was relinquished for adoption, and the birth mother had no say in whether the original birth certificate was sealed.

In Tennessee:

Under former statutes, disclosure of records required judicial determination that such disclosure was in the best interest of the adoptee. Upon such a determination, there was no requirement that birth parents or other individuals be notified or have the option to register a veto preventing contact. There could also never be any reasonable expectation of confidentiality.

The argument – Open Records impede the right to familial privacy – falls short. With parenting, contraception, and abortion, women are exercising their rights to familial privacy. With adoption, birth parents relinquish their rights; thereby they do not get the procreational privacy as claimed for by this argument. Both of the states’ court systems saw this in this argument.

Now this is very harsh looking at this conclusion. I do believe all in the adoption triad deserve access to adoption records and original birth certificates. I believe both birth parents deserve to know that their child is okay. With the laws currently in place, my birth father and my sister (his daughter born before I was) can not make contact with me nor I them. He and I both have been denied our rights. We did not give up our rights. My birth mother is the only one who gave up her rights, but somehow she has all of them now. Explain that one to me. I have been told that if she feels shame that the state should protect her. I was also told that the state should protect adoptive parents who have not told their children that they are adopted. By allowing access to the triad members, you are lifting the veil of shame surrounding birth mothers. As far as those adoptive parents not telling their children, how can a child find out if they do not know the truth? I personally don’t believe that it is right for an adoptive parent to deny the truth from an adoptee.

It is time to give us our rights back. When Concerned United Birthparents, Origins-USA, adoptive parents, adoptees, birth parents, the National Association of Social Workers, Bastard Nation, American Adoption Congress, The Evan B. Donaldson Institute, the NACAC, the Child Welfare League of America, and many many others support our access to OUR records. Why can’t you, the state legislator, listen to us? It is OUR lives that you regulate. Shouldn’t you ask OUR opinion on this?

Sincerely
Amy K. Burt
Http://www.amyadoptee.blogspot.com (click on my blog and that will take you to the many many others who write about adoption)

Here are all the links that I mentioned in my letter:

The Petitions:

http://www.petitiononline.com/forbmoms/petition.html
http://www.geocities.com/moreopenrecords/
http://www.petition.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?nyarpt1

Studies and Research:

http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/research/2006_11_birthparent_wellbeing.php
http://www.txcare.org/surveyab/stats/adoptionrecord_ssl.html

Surgeon General Family History Project

Http://www.hhs.gov/familyhistory/

National Association of Social Workers

http://www.socialworkers.org/research/naswResearch/adoption/default.asp

Court Cases from Tennessee and Oregon

http://www.americanadoptioncongress.org/tennessee.htm
http://www.americanadoptioncongress.org/oregon.htm

Adoptee, Birth Parent, and Adoptive Parent Supporters

http://adopta2ya.com/
http://www.bastardnation.org
http://darkwing.uregon.edu/~adoption/
Http://www.cwla.org
http://www.chosen-babies.com
http://concernedunitedbirthparents.org
http://www.originsusa.com/
http://www.americanadoptioncongress.org
http://www.nacac.org

THOUGHTS

November 24, 2006

I have spent the last few weeks being reflective. I have told many people about how adoption needs to be changed. As far as pregnant teens, I believe in honest discussions on birth control and human sexuality. We want to reduce these, right? Well the only way that is possible is to inform our children what their bodies do and the consequences of their acitons. I have already begun the process with my oldest child. I can’t honestly say how I would respond if either one of my girls got pregnant. I only pray that I stand up for them and their decisions.

When I look out my backdoor, I see how adoption affects me. I see our dogs. I know their lineage because they are for the most part pure bred. My yorkie is a Blue Diamond yorkie out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. My pit bull is also from a good line of pit bulls. She has not an agressive bone in her body. She considers all the cats, dogs, kids, horses, and adult humans her children. That we all need her love. (Just off the beaten path – she would have been a good adoptive parent) The horses which stay in the pasture around our house have all their lineage. We have gotten the heritage of one of them, – Shorty. All of the horses have this. Some of them go all the way back to Poco Bueno. He is even buried on this ranch standing straight up. He has a huge granite headstone in front of the gate of this place. All the cattle have their lineage. It is a matter of health for the cattle. If a cow has a large calf and it kills her, it is traced back to the bull. Adjustments are made to keep that bull off the smaller cows. My cats have their lineage. Two of which are traced back to siamese lineage.

I find it interesting that the human race deems it okay to take a newborn away from its mother immediately when it comes to adoption. That has been known fact Just look at the way birth mothers were treated in the fifties, sixties, seventies and even as late as the eighties. Some people call the Baby Scoop Era. With puppies and kittens, we try as caretakers of these divine creatures not to take them from their parents for four to six weeks. With horses and cattle, their offspring stay with them until they are close to a year old. My husband doesn’t get a colt until he is two years of age. The only time a human raises a calf is when the cow dies. Then one of the cowboys and their wives raise it. We have done it as well as many others on this ranch. When I was pregnant with my first child, I raised three bull calves on the bottle.

When the Evan B. Donaldson Institute came out with its study on birth parents, I was jumping for joy. At last society will hear about the pain, the heartache, and struggles of a birth mother. This study was about birth mothers and infant adoption not foster care adoption. Something that is very different. I even posted it myself as did many other bloggers. It was in over 100 newspapers nationwide. It made my newspaper, Wichita Falls Times Record. Everyone in my orientation class was happy for me. I do plan on still using that report along with many other petitions, studies, law cases and other reports. I will use these when I am writing my letters.

My excitement had its bubble burst in a major way. I went to MSN ‘s and Yahoo’s message boards. I was horrified at what was written. So many people blasted birth mothers. They actually called them whores, crackheads, drug addicts, and many other detrimental words. When it calmed down a bit, it became more about the adoptee rights. Well this study is not just about that. What many people don’t realize that we have even less rights that birth parents. Only five states have adoptee access to their original birth certificate. The so called registries have about a 4% success rate. In some states that is even less. Like Indiana for instance – only birth mothers and adoptees have access. In Indiana, birth mothers can overrule everything. I can have access at my birthmother’s death. For the most part though these message boards were scalding to birth mothers. Here’s where that comes into play. The pro-life and the pro-choice has dictated to Joe Public that mothers have an antagonist relationship with their children. This survey throws that out the window. I have read in Oregon where records were opened up about five years ago the number of adoptions have not decreased as feared. At least 90% of birth parents would never go through another closed adoption. They would prefer an abortion than to never know their children.

The money is another thing that just bothers me. I know my adoptive parents paid the adoption agency. It bothers me. Why I think is because of the ownership thing. One of the things in those message boards that came up slightly. The adoptee belongs to the adoptive parents. God do I hate the ownership thing. It angers me that Joe Public thinks that I am owned by my adoptive parents. Some of these people would like to guilt me and others like me into thinking I am property. Children are not property. If anything we are on loan from God. Even He gives us free choice. I think the money should be taken out of adoption. Many think birth mothers get that money. Nooooo they don’t the adoption attorneys and adoption agency get the money. If an adoption falls through, those adoption professionals keep the money. The adoptive parents might get some of the money back. I have read where that is not the case.

I noticed when some of us actually came out to defend that study attitudes did mellow. Many of those that posted, myself included, kept it clean and close to the facts. The MSN board was hostile but not as vulgar. The Yahoo Board was despicable. At least it is being discussed. A step in the right direction. I still believe that those of us in the triad need to be the ones making the laws not those who have no association with adoption.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

November 23, 2006

What do we as triad members to be grateful for? I am grateful for Ann Fessler. She told birth mothers’ stories. I am grateful to the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute for putting out their study. I am grateful that we are all finally discussing this issue. So many people assume it is easy for all of us to get our records. Our stories bit by bit are being heard.

Other things that I am grateful for: My family.

My husband is one of those billion that are hard to find. Yep I found him and he is all mine. God knows how much I love him. Yes he so gets IT.

My daughters – I have got two of the coolest kids in the world. I worry about how the world and our society will treat them in the future. Its for them that I fight. I want them to have the freedom that I and many others have fought for.

My pets – all of them. Smokie the big black cat – the sweetest most loving feline. Shorty – the most possessive and spoiled horse in the world. The great and mighty Figgy – the hardest working ranch yorkie in the world. Yes he works livestock. Of course, Shorty usually runs him off. Shorty doesn’t like too many male animals near me and the girls. I have been startled off the computer a time or two because he is stomping on the cellar door. It usually means he wants me to come outside. That goodness – I didn’t get my birth mother’s allergy to cats. Hopefully she isn’t allergic to dogs and horses but she might not know all that stuff. She doesn’t live in that kind of environment.

My Adoptive Mom – Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for asking me to search. It may not have turned out the way you and I wanted but I am stronger for it.

My Birth Mother – I don’t know if you are reading this. Yes you made me stronger, louder, and feistier. Its for you as well as myself that I fight. Its because of you that I have chosen this battle to fight and hopefully win. All I ever wanted from you was to see you. I wanted to know what I looked like. In time though – hopefully it will be a safer environment by the time I get done with it. My friends and I will do our best to make it safe.

My Brothers and Sisters – In time we will all get together. Again I fight for you and for the time when we can be an us. I have three cool sisters for you guys to meet.

My friends – Last but most definitely not least – from Janice, Sararae, Christy, Mirah, Marley, Mary Anne, Mia, Joy, Claudia, Wraith, King Kranky, Dbannie, Lynn, Sandy, Erik, Bets, Rose, Twotrux, J.B., Marie, and the many many others. Many of you have allowed me to take a knee when I was hurting. Many of you have held me up when I needed it. Many of you helped me maintain my strength when I just couldn’t handle it.

Thank you all – Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Our wishes are finally coming forth. Now we can go after the laws that keep us away from our extended families.

THE AUDACITY OF HOPE BY BARACK OBAMA

November 18, 2006

Adoption as it stands even today sucks. 45 states out of fifty don’t allow members of the triad access to the original birth certificate. With the agencies now telling prospective adoptive parents to search in schools for pregnant teens, unscrupulous behavior abounds in adoption. An anonymous poster says it is an imperfect system as is everything. So we should accept it as it stands? I don’t think so. If we as a triad don’t stand up and make our voices heard, it will continue unchecked and unregulated. Have we as a society forgotten compassion? Have we as a society forgotten the desire to understand one’s identity? Does one event define us as a single entity for the rest of our lives? Does a misjudgement on our part make our children suffer for the rest of our lives? It seems to me that as an adoptee that I forced to be subject to the sins of my parents.

As someone who reads the laws, who checks out potential candidates and who tries to vote responsibly, I bought a book recently. It is called The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama. I am going to quote the book. This particular section can be found on pages 67 and 68. It was published by Crown Publishing Company out of New York. He was discussing empathy/compassion and the lack of it in our society. I think in the adoption system his philosophy could and should be applied.

“There ‘s nothing extraordinary about such awakening, of course; in one form or another it is what we all must go through if we are to grow up. And yet I find myself returning again and again to my mother’s simple principle – “How would that make you feel?” – as a guidepost for my politics.

It is not a question we ask ourselves enough, I think: as a country we seem to be suffering from an empathy deficit. We wouldn’t tolerate schools that don’t teach, that are chronically underfunded and understaffed, and under inspired, if we thought that the children in them were like our children. Its hard to imagine the CEO of a company giving himself a multimillion dollar bonus while cutting health-care coverage for his workers if he thought they were in some sense his equals. And its safe to assume that those in power would thing longer and harder about launching a war if they envisioned their own sons and daughters in harm’s way.

I believe a stronger sense of empathy would tilt the balance of our current politics in favor of those people who are struggling in this society. After all, if they are like us then their struggles are our own. If we fail to help, we diminish ourselves.

But that does not mean that those who are struggling – or those of us who claim to speak for those who are struggling are thereby freed from trying to understand the prospective of those who are better off. Black leaders need to appreciate the legitimate fears that may cause some whites to resist affirmative action. Union representatives cant afford not to understand the competitive pressures their employers may be under. I am obligate to try to see the world through George Bush’s eyes, no matter how much I may disagree with him. That is what empathy does – it call us all to task the conservative and the liberal, the powerful and the powerless, the oppressed and the oppressor. We are all shaken out of complacency. WE are all forced beyond our limited vision.

No one is exempt from the call to find common ground.

Of course, in the end, a sense of mutual understanding isn’t enough. After all talk is cheap, like any value, empathy must be acted upon. When I was a community organizer back in the eighties, I would often challenge neighborhood leaders by asking them where they put their time, energy, and money. Those are the true tests of what we value, I’d tell them, regardless of we like to tell ourselves. If we aren’t willing to pay a price for our values, then we should ask ourselves whether we truly believe in them at all.”

These particular paragraphs call all of us to task. It is our responsibility to see our stories hears. It is our responsibility to take action to change the laws of adoption. Research is now supporting our claims. Look at the study below by the Evan B. Donaldson Institute. Elected officials need to hear them. We need to tell them that when they make laws concerning adoption, they need to talk to us. We are the ones affected by adoption. Most adoptees and birth parents agree that when it comes to the original birth certificate, it should be freed from the walls that hold it in secrecy. It does not belong in the hands of the government and adoption agencies.

A first mother or better yet, a mother has a motto that yes it is controversial but it is so true. Her blog is called Adoption Roadkill. Her link is on my list of links. “If adoption is so great, which child are you willing to give up?” Knowing myself and knowing other people, we can’t even imagine what that choice is like. I personally don’t ever want to have to think about that kind of choice. Both pro-life and pro-choice groups assume an antagonistic relationship between mother and child. Neither group can accept anything else because it would tear their arguments to shreds. We all need to understand – empathize so to speak. It is a heartbreaking decision for any woman. It is amazing to me that society “glorifies and condemns” a birth mother all at the same time. She does the “loving choice” on one hand and on the other “how can she give her baby up?” Then the adoptees are vilified when choosing to search. Shame on you for searching – Oh the pain you are putting your parents through – you should be grateful that you weren’t aborted. Our society must realize that it is not a reflection nor a betrayal of our parents if we search. My family understands this. Why can’t society? To me, Judgement is left to God not humans.

THE RESULTS OF THE SURVEY

November 18, 2006

Research: Institute Research
SAFEGUARDING THE RIGHTS AND WELL-BEING OF BIRTHPARENTSIN THE ADOPTION PROCESS
Author: Susan SmithPublished: 2006 November. New York NY: Evan B. Donaldson Adoption InstituteDocument Type: White Paper (68 pages)Availability: PDF Full Report Executive Summary Web Page Press Release
This publication, released in November for National Adoption Awareness month, represents the most thorough, intensive and sophisticated effort to date to understand contemporary infant adoption, particularly as it relates to the least-understood and most-stigmatized participants in the process: the women and men usually termed “birthparents.”
According to this report, parents who choose adoption for their infants do not have their rights and needs sufficiently addressed in U.S. law and practice – largely because of basic misconceptions about who these women and men are – and they invariably fare better when they have ongoing information about and/or contact with the children they place into new families.——————
Executive Summary
Each year in the United States, approximately 14,000 women and a growing number of men make an agonizing parenting decision that they hope will provide their children with the best possible future: They place their babies for adoption. At the same time, policy-makers across this country each year propose and implement measures meant to improve adoption, often based on their perceptions of what these parents want and need. Historically and through the present day, however, adoption-related laws, policies and practices have been made without the benefit of solid research that might answer the most basic, underlying questions: What are the characteristics of mothers and fathers who relinquish their infants for adoption? Why do they choose this path? And how can their needs and rights best be served and protected?
Due largely to the secretive nature of adoption’s past, the state of knowledge about infant adoptions in the 21st century is deficient, at best. There is no broad, concrete body of work on who these women and men typically are, what forces shape their decisions, or how adoption impacts the rest of their lives. We do not even know precisely how many babies are placed for adoption in this country annually. Indeed, though domestic infant adoption is what most people think of when they hear the word “adoption,” it is the least common type in the U.S. today (after adoption from foster care, from abroad, and by step-parents), and it is the type we know the least about.
This study by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute represents the most thorough, intensive and sophisticated effort to date to understand contemporary infant adoption, particularly as it relates to the least-understood and most-stigmatized participants in the process – the women and men usually termed “birthparents.” The findings and recommendations in this paper are based on a year-long examination and analysis of decades’ worth of research, literature, interviews and experiences relating to the topic. Pursuant to its mission of improving adoption for everyone it encompasses, the Institute’s primary objective was to learn as much as possible about these women and men in order to determine how laws, policies and professional practices affect them; what essential rights they should be afforded; and what reforms are needed to optimize their well-being.
Among the principal findings in this report are:
More adoptions take place each year than is commonly perceived or reported. The Institute estimates more than 135,000 annually, of which about 13,000 to 14,000 involve babies who are voluntarily relinquished domestically. Of non-stepparent adoptions each year, approximately 59 percent are from the child welfare system, 26 percent from abroad, and 15 percent of domestic infants.
Overall, the parents placing their children for adoption in the 21st Century are very diverse and different from their counterparts in previous generations. They are no longer primarily teenagers; in fact, only about one-fourth are teens. The predominant profile is young women in their 20s who have graduated from high school, many of whom have other children.
The vast majority of adoption agencies, as well as independent practitioners, offer open adoptions, in which identifying information is exchanged. Many of the adoptions they arrange also are mediated adoptions, in which ongoing information is exchanged through the agency.
An overwhelming proportion of birthmothers contemporary have met the adoptive parents of their children – probably 90 percent or more – and almost all of the remaining birthmothers helped to choose the new parents through profiles. Contrary to the stereotypes that have been created about them, almost no women choosing adoption today seek anonymity or express a desire for no ongoing information or contact.
Available data and experience indicate a minority of infant adoptions involve fathers in the process. The strongest protection for their rights and for the legitimacy of the adoption process requires identification of biological fathers and notifying them of adoption proceedings. Many states have established putative father registries to involve these men, but they are too often used as a means of cutting them out rather than including them.
Principally because adoption is not well understood by the public generally, most women struggling to make decisions about unplanned pregnancies do not have accurate information with which to make an informed choice about whether this is a reasonable option for them.
In some states, attorneys paid by and representing the prospective adoptive parents also may represent the women (and men when they are involved) considering placing their children. This practice of dual representation raises acute ethical and practical concerns.
Research findings consistently show that women who feel pressured into placing their children suffer from poorer grief resolution and greater negative feelings. Most states do not have laws that maximize sound decision-making, however, such as required counseling, waiting periods of at least several days after childbirth before signing relinquishments, and adequate revocation periods during which birthparents can change their minds.
Research on birthparents in the era of confidential (closed) adoptions suggests a significant proportion struggled – and sometimes continue to struggle – with chronic, unresolved grief. The primary factor bringing peace of mind is knowledge about their children’s well-being.
Current research on birthmothers concludes that being able to choose the adoptive family and having ongoing contact and/or knowledge results in lower levels of grief and greater peace of mind with their adoption decisions.
Women who have the highest grief levels are those who placed their children with the understanding that they would have ongoing information, but the arrangement was cut off. Such contact/information is the most important factor in facilitating birthparents’ adjustment, but only 13 states have laws to enforce post-adoption contact agreements in infant adoptions.
Perhaps the most remarkable finding in the Adoption Institute’s work on this paper was that there are no current studies that have examined a representative sample of women (or men) choosing to place their children for adoption today. The most recent research focused on adolescent respondents but, as noted above, that age group comprises only a minority of contemporary birthparents. Additional research therefore is vital in order to develop laws, policies and practices that genuinely address the rights, needs and desires of women and men who choose adoption for their children.
RAPID CHANGES IN ADOPTION PRACTICE
Adoptions today have changed radically from the clandestine and often-coercive arrangements that many young women experienced in earlier generations. For example, historically, birthmothers were primarily unwed teenage mothers who often had to drop out of school and leave home during their pregnancies. Today that profile is rare. The Adoption Institute’s analysis of available data indicates that only about one-fourth of women choosing adoption are below the age of 20. Most birthmothers have completed high school, and many have other children. According to practitioners, the most common situations among women choosing adoption today include women in their early- to mid-20s who are just becoming independent from their parents, and single women with other children who believe they cannot manage parenting another child at this point.
The Institute also concludes that total secrecy has become rare in current infant adoption practice, and it is considered poor practice for everyone concerned by a growing majority of professionals. So-called closed (or confidential) adoption, in which there is little or no contact or exchange of information, is actually a relatively recent phenomenon that became prevalent in the U.S. by the 1950s. The body of research on birthmothers who relinquished children for adoption in the era of total secrecy chronicles a negative, long-term impact of this experience on many areas of their lives, including triggering chronic, severe grief reactions and contributing to ongoing complications in future parenting and marriage relationships.
Living with the uncertainty of what became of their children is identified by birthmothers in closed adoptions as the most difficult factor they cope with, and receiving information about their children is singled out in the research and literature examined for this paper as the most important thing that would help to bring them peace of mind. That reality flies in the face of contemporary stereotypes of birthmothers as women who crave anonymity and oppose contact by the children they placed for adoption; rather, the desire to know about their offspring appears almost universal. For example, one study of birthmothers in Britain, who ranged in age from 22 to 81, found that all but nine of the 262 respondents (about 3 percent) wanted basic information about their children. The same small number said they wanted to preserve the secrecy of their identities.
Beginning in the 1970s, agencies began offering alternatives to absolute secrecy; there has been a progressive trend toward more openness in infant adoptions ever since, and the great majority of agencies now offer adoptions that are open to varying extents. Still, the proportion of adoptions today that are planned to be closed (confidential), mediated (information exchanged through agencies), or open (identities exchanged) is not known. We do know that almost all prospective birthmothers (approximately 90 percent) choose and meet the adoptive parents of their children, and even the majority of those who do not meet are able to choose the new parents from profiles. Furthermore, many pregnant women today seek open adoptions that include written agreements for ongoing contact with the adoptive families. Several studies reviewed in this report found those birthparents who have had contact with the adoptive family since placement have lower levels of grief, regret and worry, along with more peace with their decisions, than those who did not have this opportunity.
Some expectant parents make adoption plans with the desire and explicit assurance that they will receive information about or have ongoing contact with their children and their families – but subsequently have to cope with the impact of the adoptive parents reneging on that agreement. Currently, 20 states permit legally enforceable adoption contact agreements, but only 13 apply to infant adoptions. (Penalties for violation of such contracts include fines, but never return of the child). This is an area of law in which reforms are critically needed to support the long-term well-being and adjustment of birthparents. Another is the enactment of statutes restoring the right of adopted people, once they reach the age of majority, to gain access to their own birth records. This is a vivid example of how misconceptions about birthparents can lead to misguided and even harmful practices; that is, state legislators frequently use birthmothers’ supposed desire for privacy as a rationale for keeping birth records sealed when, in reality, only a tiny minority wants to stay closeted and the vast majority want information about or contact with the children they relinquished.

Recommendation 1: Establish legally enforceable post-adoption contact agreements in all states and permit adults who were adopted to regain access to their own records.

COMPLEXITY OF FORCES SHAPING INFANT ADOPTIONS TODAY

The institution of infant adoption in the U.S. today has evolved rather haphazardly in response to sweeping cultural changes, including the widespread availability of birth control, the legalization of abortion and, most notably, the precipitous decline in the stigma against unwed motherhood. As a result primarily of those factors, the number of infants relinquished for adoption in this country has dropped radically. The rate of voluntary placements among never-married white women giving birth fell from 19.3 percent in 1973 to 1.7 percent in 1995 (Chandra, Abma, Maza, & Bachrach, 1999). This scarcity of infants available for adoption has fueled the creation of an array of methods to achieve adoptions – from traditional agencies, to independent attorneys, to match-making “facilitators,” to internet-abetted arrangements in which the prospective adoptive parents and birthparents essentially make most of the arrangements themselves. About half of all infant adoptions are carried out by independent practitioners, who facilitate birthparents’ placing their children directly with potential adoptive parents.

The high costs associated with infant adoptions (typically $20,000 to $35,000 for all the services involved), the deep yearning of some prospective parents to adopt a baby, and the low level of legal regulation of adoptions make the process vulnerable to unscrupulous and unethical practices. Such practices threaten the interests of all parties, particularly birthparents. Because practitioners are paid by adoptive parents, who typically have higher social status and income, their needs and desires often supersede those of the other participants. Laws regulating adoptions vary greatly from state to state, and generally fall short of adequate protections of birthparent rights in the adoption process.

HOW ADOPTION LAWS AND PRACTICES SHAPE THE CRITICAL RIGHTS OF BIRTHPARENTS

Based on an analysis of ethical practice guidelines, decades of experience, and studies on outcomes, and reforms advocated by many practitioners, researchers and birthparents, the Adoption Institute sets forth the following rights as being in the best interest of women and men considering adoption for their children (expectant or already born). A parent should have the right:

To make the placement decision in a fully informed manner, devoid of pressure or coercion.
To reconsider an adoption plan at any point prior to the legal finalizing of the relinquishment.
To be informed from the start of any monetary expectations – such as repayment of financial assistance — if she changes her mind about placement.
To exercise all parental rights she/he wishes prior to placing a child for adoption.
To be treated with dignity, respect, and honesty.
To have independent legal counsel to protect her/his best interests in the process.
To receive nondirective counseling to help her/him understand all of the options and resources available and the implications of the decision.
To be legally assured that promises and agreements made as a part of the process will be adhered to.
This report examines how state laws and the practice of adoption professionals shape the essential rights of birthparents. Whenever an adoption professional begins working with expectant parents, it is very important that clients be informed of all of their rights, both verbally and in writing.
Recommendation 2: Require all adoption practitioners to provide a document of birthparents’ rights and responsibilities, which should be signed by the clients and the professionals near the beginning of their work together.

LAWS THAT SUPPORT BIRTHPARENTS’ INTERESTS IN ADOPTION PRACTICE
INFORMED CONSENT THROUGH COUNSELING

Parents considering adoption should be able to make decisions that are fully informed and free from coercion. The concept of “informed consent” applies to a range of decisions in our society; indeed, it is considered best practice and is legally mandated in some realms, such as before receiving medical treatments or participating in research studies. But the concept of being fully informed before making a decision about relinquishing a child for adoption has not been fully implemented or legally mandated in most practice. Ideally, all expectant parents who are considering adoption would receive factual, unbiased information through nondirective counseling to help them explore all of their options, including adoption and parenting, and to enable them to understand the immediate and long-term implications of each. The reality is that many if not most do not receive such counseling. Only about half the states’ adoption laws mention counseling; some mandate it and others simply assert that prospective birthparents should be advised of its availability.

Recommendation 3: Require at least two counseling sessions with a qualified professional for all women who are placing children for adoption, during which they are fully informed about their options, including parenting and various types of adoption, as well as about the resources available to them.

Another factor that compromises genuine parental consent is subtle and/or overt coercion, whether from parents, friends, religious or school communities, or the adoption professionals themselves. Adding the ingredient of financial profit to the equation increases the prospect of pressure from some adoption practitioners. Indeed, there are unscrupulous facilitators (and others) who have analyzed the factors that increase the likelihood of relinquishment and try to implement them; for instance, they sometimes persuade an expectant mother to relocate to another state – where she doesn’t know anyone and has no support system – or to accept inflated reimbursement for living expenses to increase the chance that she will feel obliged to relinquish. Overt coercive tactics should be barred in law and practice; furthermore, ethical practitioners need to be alert to even unintended, subtle forms of pressure – so, for instance, they need to help an expectant mother understand explicitly that accepting financial aid or developing bonds with the potential adoptive parents does not obligate her to go through with the placement if she decides it isn’t right for her or her child.

THE TIMING OF RELINQUISHMENT AND REVOCATION PERIODS

If the best interests of birthparents are to be supported, along with those of their children, then sound laws and practices have to be developed relating to when a woman or man can sign a relinquishment and whether the decision can be revoked. To permit a woman to make a reasoned judgment – which can be difficult in the days and weeks after childbirth – there should be a significant period of time before she can sign a legal relinquishment, and there should be a reasonable revocation period during which she can change her mind about placing simply because she wants to be a parent and without having to jump through legal hoops.
Every society, including our own, accepts that it is generally in the best interests of children to be raised by their biological parents unless they cannot or do not wish to do so. Placing a baby for adoption is an extremely significant, emotionally fraught decision that has consequences for the biological parents and their children for the rest of their lives. State laws should provide every reasonable protection to ensure that the decision is sound, reasoned and informed. That resonates as intuitively fair before the child is born, but it also should apply to the period afterward because that is when post-partum hormonal changes need time to abate; when the reality (and finality) of the choice often becomes most real; and when mothers and fathers need to be allowed to reflect on the “rightness” of their decision. Though some adoptive parents and practitioners might balk at the lengths of time involved, they ultimately serve everyone’s interests because the adoption is on firmer legal and ethical foundations and adoptive parents can feel more secure that the birthparents were sure of their decision and will not try to reclaim their child.

At least 28 states specify a waiting period after the birth of a child before legal relinquishments can be signed; only six states mandate a waiting period longer than three days. Ideally, state laws would require a minimum of four to seven days after childbirth before allowing a woman (or man) to sign a relinquishment. In most instances, that would allow time for the mother to leave the hospital and for her to make a reasoned judgment after the immediate physical impact of delivery has abated.

At least 17 states and the District of Columbia have adoption laws providing a specified number of days after the signing of a relinquishment (ranging from three to 30 days) during which parents can revoke their decisions without having to prove fraud or best interests of the child. A few additional states allow revocation before court action terminating parental rights. In many other countries, including the majority in Europe, consents for adoption do not become final for about six weeks; in approximately half of U.S. states, irrevocable consent can be established four days after birth or less. In reality, lengthening waiting and revocation periods requires other considerations – most notably the care of newborns during this period and the timing of placement with adoptive parents – be addressed. Policy-makers need to weigh the interests of all parties in deciding how long these periods should be.

Recommendation 4: Modify state laws on the timing of relinquishment and revocation so that parents have several weeks after childbirth before an adoption decision becomes irrevocable. Ideally, this would include a minimum of one week after birth before a relinquishment can be signed and then a substantial revocation period.

PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF BIRTHFATHERS IN ADOPTION

Men who are legal fathers (also called presumed fathers) have more rights in the adoption process than do alleged (or putative) fathers. A man is automatically the legal father to his wife’s child, but unwed men need to take specific actions to protect their parental rights. They can best accomplish this before childbirth by providing financial and emotional support to the mother, visiting and communicating regularly with her, and registering in a state putative father registry if there is one.

States vary in the extent to which they seek to protect the rights of putative fathers in the adoption process. A fundamental foundation for doing so is identifying the father, locating him, and notifying him of his rights. Some states do not require mothers to identify their children’s fathers, viewing this as a right of privacy for the women involved, while others require them to name the fathers and impose penalties for giving false information.

There are strong ethical, moral and practical reasons to involve men as fully as possible. Some of the highest-profile cases in which adoptions were overturned – and the children were returned to their birthparents – resulted from the fathers’ legal rights being circumvented or violated. In other realms, society argues that men cannot be just sperm donors or “deadbeat dads,” but should assume responsibility for the lives they helped create. And, of course, medical and biological information from biological fathers is as important for the adoptive parents’ rearing of their children as that provided by their mothers. So the first essential way to involve men in the adoptive process, to protect their rights, and thereby to also bolster the efficacy of the process itself, is to require that they be identified whenever possible and then be personally notified of the pending adoption.

Many states have established “putative father registries,” which men must sign if they believe they have fathered a child out of wedlock; only fathers who have registered are entitled to parental rights, including notification of adoption proceedings. Most Americans do not even know these registries exist, however, and they have other inherent problems – for instance, if a man registers in his own state but the adoption is taking place in another, the court will not know the father explicitly expressed his intentions. Lack of registration therefore should not be used as a means of excusing notification or excluding a putative father’s participation. Overall, more aggressive protection of birthfather rights is needed, including requiring the mothers to identify them, except in extraordinary circumstances, and working to personally notify all possible fathers of adoption proceedings.

Recommendation 5: Require more aggressive protection of birthfathers’ rights by mandating their identification by birthmothers whenever possible, and by personally notifying all possible fathers of adoption proceedings. In states where putative father registries exist, they should be widely advertised, and a failure to register should not be used as an automatic reason for not notifying or involving men. A national registry would help to alleviate some of this system’s inherent problems.

SUPPORTING THE LONG-TERM ADJUSTMENT OF BIRTHPARENTS
WHAT RESEARCH TELLS US

This report examines the body of research on the long-term social-psychological consequences of adoption for birthparents and the primary factors that are important for their positive adjustment. Most of the research was conducted on birthparents whose adoptions occurred during the era of total secrecy. The most current research has focused on adolescent mothers, a population that is not representative of the majority of women choosing adoption for their children today.

The body of literature and research on women who relinquished their children when adoption was a highly surreptitious, stigmatized process demonstrates the ongoing, negative impact of their experiences on many areas of their lives, particularly by causing chronic grief, difficulties in intimate relationships, and/or complications in the parenting of subsequent children. The research on long-term outcomes of birthmothers is rife with methodological problems – from use of clinical or self-selected samples, to conduct of retrospective surveys, to limited utilization of comparison groups or standardized measures, to failure to examine outcomes by cohort or adoption practices experienced.

In order to improve adoption practice and address the needs of birthparents in the process, it is critically important to conduct sound research that focuses on birthparents who participate in all types of infant adoptions today and to follow them over a period of years. Recommendation 6: Address the critical gap in knowledge about birthparents’ needs and preferences through research on questions including:

What are the characteristics of women (and men when they are involved) who choose adoption for their children today and what are their perspectives in relation to the choices they make – i.e., abortion, parenting or adoption?

How do they decide on a specific type of adoption, if that is the road they choose, and what laws, practices and policies can best meet their needs and desires?
What is the emotional and psychological impact of adoption loss for birthparents, and what practices facilitate grief resolution and healthy long-term adjustment for them?
What practices are needed to support all of a child’s parents in working out their relationships after placement, including open adoption arrangements?
One important caveat needs to be made before discussing the challenges birthparents must address in dealing with the adoption of their children: In today’s more-open, more-honest adoption climate, many women and men make successful post-adoption adjustments and feel pride and confidence about their choices. So, in addition to needing more competent and current research on birthparents’ needs and adjustment issues, greater understanding is also required of those who adjust well to informed adoption decisions and of which processes helped them to achieve this comfort level.

SUPPORTING LONG-TERM ADJUSTMENT OF BIRTHPARENTS

Based on analyses of multiple studies, decades of literature and professional experience, and interviews with practitioners, the Adoption Institute identified key factors in promoting the positive, long-term adjustment of birthparents; these include:

Lack of coercion by others in making the decision about adoption;
Opportunities to express feelings of loss and receiving social support;
Being empowered to choose the adoptive family;
Having a level of contact with the adoptive family after placement; and
Receiving ongoing information on the child’s progress and well-being. Mothers and fathers who plan adoption for their children come to this decision from different sets of life circumstances and with their own unique outlooks and coping abilities. While each individual’s adjustment realities will vary, there are some common themes and challenges that characterize the birthparent experience. The Adoption Institute identified four critical areas of adjustment that typically must be mastered in order for birthparents to integrate what has occurred into their lives without undue negative long-term consequences:
Resolving the grief that invariably accompanies such a profound loss;
Making peace with the decision to place a child rather than to parent;
Incorporating being a birthparent into one’s identity without lowering self-esteem; and
Overcoming adoption’s impact on intimate relationships.
This report reviews the theoretical and research knowledge related to each of these areas of adjustment, as well as the factors that maximize the long-term, positive adjustment of birthparents.

Many of the answers to better serving birthparents center on the quality of the services they receive throughout the process – during pregnancy, around the time of relinquishment, and in the years following the adoption. They need to receive thorough education and preparation on the social, legal, and psychological issues involved. If they choose open adoption arrangements, they should be helped to understand that with benefits come responsibilities, that is, to their children; they also need to know they may require assistance to surmount any obstacles that arise in achieving and continuing workable arrangements. And, most pointedly, they need to be prepared for their own emotional adjustment processes, and to be armed with both knowledge and resources that will enable them to heal from the losses they almost inevitably will experience.

Birthparents have reported difficulty in finding counselors who understand the nature of their losses and their grief. Mental health professionals generally receive little or no training related to adoption issues, and there is no body of literature or research on interventions to assist birthparents after adoption (Brodzinsky, 1990; Wiley & Baden, 2005). Addressing this void is a critical step in serving the needs of birthparents after adoption.

Recommendation 7: Develop a broader array of post-adoption services to serve birthparents, including counseling or mediation services to facilitate open-adoption arrangements.

CONCLUSION

Attention to the rights and needs of birthparents must be part of the foundation of adoption if it is be a healthy, ethical institution that serves the interests of all the individuals involved, as well as of civil society generally. This should be a top priority for future development of adoption law, policy, practice and research. Current adoption-related statutes are too often based on outdated understandings, faulty stereotypes, and misinformation from the time that secrecy pervaded the adoption world. For infant adoptions to be sound and viable arrangements, two paramount needs of birthparents must be addressed: 1) the ability to make fully informed decisions, free of coercion, supported in law and practice, and 2) the wherewithal to know how their children are doing over the course of their lives.

This report illuminates the state of knowledge relating to birthparents and illustrates that current statutes and processes fall short of safeguarding their rights and well-being. The seven primary recommendations listed above are offered as a framework for future reforms. The full report includes additional suggestions to better meet the needs of birthparents in the domestic infant adoption process. The Adoption Institute plans subsequent research to deal with comparable issues relating to birthparents in the child welfare and international adoption systems.

THE EVAN B. DONALDSON INSTITUTE

November 18, 2006

HEY NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR ADOPTION, ITS AGENCIES, PAT ROBERTSON AND THE MANY OTHER IDIOTS OUT THERE THAT ARE SO GUNG HO ABOUT ADOPTION.

READ THIS AND WEEP. YOUR LIES ARE NO LONGER ANY GOOD. A REPUTABLE ORGANIZATION IS BLOWING YOU OUT OF THE WATER. HEHEHEHEHEHEHE YAHOOO

MEDIA ADVISORY: EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION/BROADCAST SUNDAY, NOV. 19, 2006

MAJOR NEW REPORT ON BIRTHPARENTS FINDS FLAWED STEREOTYPES, PRACTICES
NEW YORK, November 19, 2006

Parents who choose adoption for their infants do not have their rights and needs sufficiently addressed in U.S. law and practice – largely because of basic misconceptions about who these women and men are – and they invariably fare better when they have ongoing information about and/or contact with the children they place into new families, according to an unprecedented report by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.

This report, “Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birthparents in the Adoption Process,” represents the most thorough, intensive and sophisticated effort to date to understand contemporary infant adoption, particularly as it relates to the least-understood and most-stigmatized participants in the process: the women and men usually termed “birthparents.”
The principal findings in the 68-page report include:

There are more adoptions in America today than is commonly understood. The Institute estimates over 135,000 annually; 13,000-14,000 of these involve voluntarily placed infants.
Women placing infants today differ vastly from the past. Only about 1/4 are teens; the main group are women in their 20s who graduated high school, and many have other children.
Contrary to stereotypes about them, birthmothers rarely want anonymity and the vast majority meet their children’s adoptive parents. Few “closed” adoptions take place today, and a growing number are open arrangements involving regular contact.

Most states do not legally require prospective parents to receive counseling or information about their rights with which to make informed choices on whether to place their children.
Birthmothers in “closed” adoptions or who felt pressured to relinquish struggle most with chronic grief. Research suggests more information/contact brings greater peace of mind.
“Mothers after childbirth are in a very vulnerable state, and this is one of the most important decisions of their lives,” said Susan Smith, the Institute’s Program and Project director and author of the study. “We need laws and practices that protect their rights and interests.”
Among the Institute’s main recommendations are:

Birthparents should have basic rights, including to informed, pressure-free decision-making; to their own legal representation; to counseling about options (including parenting) and about the impact of adoption; and to adherence by all parties to agreements with them. These rights/responsibilities should be in documents that all practitioners provide and sign.
All states should establish legally enforceable post-adoption contact agreements. And, since research clearly indicates the vast majority of birthmothers want and would benefit from more information about the children they placed, all states should change their laws to allow adults who were adopted to have access to their original birth records.

A parent should be legally afforded at least a few weeks after childbirth before her adoption decision becomes irrevocable; the exact times for signing a relinquishment and for being able to revoke it should also reflect that other considerations – most notably including the needs of adoptive parents and the best interests of children – be addressed. But it is clear that longer and more uniform periods are needed.

Birthfathers’ rights should get stronger protection in law and practice, including mandating their identification whenever possible and notifying them of pending adoptions. In states where putative father registries exist, serious flaws in their current use need be remedied.
The body of research about the era when adoption was highly surreptitious and stigmatized demonstrates a negative impact on many birthmothers’ lives, particularly by causing chronic grief, difficulties in intimate relationships, and complications in the parenting of subsequent children. But the Adoption Institute offers this caveat: In today’s more-open and honest adoption climate, many women and men make successful post-adoption adjustments and feel pride and confidence about their choices. So, in addition to needing more competent and current research on birthparents’ needs and adjustment issues, greater understanding is also required of those who adjust well and of which processes help them to do so.

“Adoption’s history of secrecy has left us with too little accurate information with which to shape the most ethical and humane laws, policies and practices,” said Adam Pertman, the Executive Director of the Adoption Institute. “With this project, we have set out to change that reality and, we hope, to instigate improvements in the lives of millions of people.”

The Adoption Institute is the pre-eminent research, policy and education organization in its field. Its mission is to provide leadership that improves laws, policies and practices – through sound research, education and advocacy – in order to better the lives of everyone touched by adoption. It is a nonprofit entity that is independent of any interest group or cause.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please call Adam Pertman at 617-332-8944 or 617-763-0134, or email him at apertman@adoptioninstitute.org. “Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birthparents,” along with other reports produced by the Institute, are on its award-winning website, www.adoptioninstitute.org.

LACK OF REUNION

November 16, 2006

I originally posted this in April of 2006. I posted it just like I received it from Katrina. Even though I recommend Katrina highly and very positively, I still believe the call should have been made by me.

Another friend of mine, Mia, brought up some points about my inability to immediately share this with my adoptive mother. I very honestly didn’t want to hurt my mom. To have someone speak with such disrespect about her daughter would have hurt her. When I finally did read all of this to her, it did hurt her. I did this only after showing this blog with my sisters. It angered them. My husband and my mom both have a great deal of faith in her. They think it will be the granddaughters that bring her to me. They also believe that she can’t resist her daughter. As I said previously, I don’t hold much hope on it. I hope now she is cruising through the first mom blogs. I hope that she has read Ann Fessler’s book. I hope that she is beginning to realize that she does indeed has support. That is where I do hope. If she is anything like me, once she comes out of that closet, she won’t go back in and she will be very vocal.

The question still remains. How come I never shared my feelings about my own adoption with my adoptive mother? It was hard for me to even define them or even put words to them. I just know at times that it hurt. I had guilt feelings that I could not even begin to explain where they come from. Its funny I don’t feel those feelings now. I don’t like being discounted as an angry adoptee. I don’t like being considered a radical. All I ever ask of my readers is that they think, listen, read, and consider. Realize that this thing called adoption needs changes. Although I may not have been born to my adoptive mother she is my mother. Although I was born to my first mother, I am still her daughter. Nothing can change these facts. Might as well accept them, be open and honest about it, and deal with the emotions of it as they come up. Don’t hide them. Let them be out in the open.

This was written down by Catrina, my adoption search specialist. She spoke to her and I didn’t.

She’s been raised by another family all of her life.I always wondered if I would get a call like this some day.I have a family and they don’t know.Its not a lack of concern. What I did was the best thing I could do.There’s no reason to tear my family apart. I don’t think its selfish of me.I have to think about my family.My husband knows but my kids don’t. But we have never talked about it over the years.I just don’t think its a good idea. She’s old enough now and mature enough to deal with this. She has her own family. She has a good family.As much as my curiosity is peaked, this would be too disruptive. I don’t want to have to tell my kids.This girl already has parents.My youngest son is an athlete and a medical student. He was a valedictorian. Both my boys are extremely intelligent.I’m glad she is doing well. I think I did the right thing.I always wonder, I always think about her. It is not a lack of concern. But i have to balance that with concern for my kids and how this would affect them. My husband would have a fit.She has a family. Biology is just an accident. I don’t think this is a good idea.I guess I could talk to my husband about this. No, I’m not doing this. I am not going to open all of this up.MEDICAL:Her dad died at age 82 from pneumonia.Her mom is still alive but suffers from kidney failure as a result of her arthritis medicine. She also has high blood pressure.Birthmother has high cholesterol and takes meds for it. She began taking the meds in 1999.Her sibs and her children are all in good health.

HER CALL BACK TO THE AGENCY:

Birthmom called again. She said:How confidential is all of this. Is she going to come knocking on my door?This is just too painful. This was 40 years ago, excuse me!Its too late. I thought about getting her letter but it is just too painful.It was painful to begin with. It took me 3-4 years to get my life straightened back out. It was not a fun experience. I don’t want to revisit it.I’m sad in a way. I am not being calloused.It would be too difficult to bring her into my life. It would be too painful to my family. They might accept it but why even go through all of that?It would bring a lot of grief.I never heard from the father ever again. He never paid any of my expenses. He took advantage of me and then walked away. I was a big fool. I know he wanted to raise the baby but that would have never worked out. He lived in the same town as my parents. I think he is probably dead. I tried looking for him once and couldn’t find him. He must be dead.My parents were always concerned with their public image, not their private one.My dad was a terrible man. He was selfish and evil and did things I can’t even talk about. My husband doesn’t even want our sons to know what he did. He was physically abusive and other things.My mom was a mouse around my dad. My mom believed every word he said and he never had anything good to say about any of us.I have only been able to put all of that behind me since my dad died and now this has dredged all of this new stuff up.I do her housework, yard work, and get her to the doctors. We have to go to the cemetery 6 times a year. I choke on it, but I go. She lives alone. My brothers want her to be able to stay out of a nursing home as long as possible.I’m deciding I am not going to do this and I won’t change my mind. Curiosity is not good enough reason to tear my family apart. What would be the point of me getting that letter except to make me cry.I did the right thing. I couldn’t take care of a baby and my folks would not help me.I can’t think of any more medical information for her. There are no genetic disorders. My mom has osteoporosis, but I don’t. But, I exercise and eat right to stay healthy. I am allergic to cats and seafood.Tell her I am sorry. I am glad she’s fine but I can’t do this.I should hang up, I’m rambling.My biggest concern right now is can I keep this out of my life. How can I be sure she won’t hire a private investigator and show up some day. I don’t want to tell the boys. I know they are her half brothers but I am not going to tell them. I haven’t told my husband that you called. I am not going to. I don’t need to turn their lives upside down. I could give them a choice but they don’t need to have this choice. They don’t need to know every mistake their mother has made. They think I am this good person.I just wanted to make sure that this would stay private. I don’t want to have to sit my husband down and say this girl has found me.It is a comfort to know she is okay.There wasn’t anything else I could do. My parents kicked all of us out of the house at one time or another. I was on a real downer back then. I don’t know what I was thinking. I dropped out of college.I have a lot of baggage and I don’t want to deal with it. My dad did horrible things. That I can’t talk about. I don’t want to dredge this all up. Since dad has been dead I have shut the door on it. I have been a nervous wreck since you called me.Hope you all find this interesting and somewhat cold as I did.

MY FEELINGS ON ADOPTION

November 15, 2006

In 1992, I realized that adoption hurt for the very first time. I was up late watching CMT as usual. I couldn’t tell what I did that day but that night was something that forever changed me and what I felt about adoption. A video came on by Michelle Wright. It shows a blond haired woman driving her car around a high school stadium. You actually hear the high school kids screaming and hear the band playing. The words to the song floored me. I was crying hard tears that night. No one else was around. My family was all sleeping. So no one knew what I was doing, thinking, or feeling. So I was left with pure raw emotion to figure out on my own.


HE WOULD BE SIXTEEN
SUNG BY MICHELLE WRIGHT
WRITTEN BY JILL COLUCCI, CHARLIE BLACK, AND AUSTIN ROBERTS

She gets in her car, October Friday night
Home from work, down 31, past Franklin High
She can see the stadium lights, she can hear the band
A thousand crazy high school kids screamin’ in the stands
Quarterback and Homecoming Queen
Love too young to know what it means
She goes back in time, oh in her mind, it’s like a dream

He would be sixteen
The son she never knew
It hurt so much to give him up
But what could she do
He would be sixteen

A child should have a home, she knows her folks were right
She never heard the couple’s name, just that they were nice
She wonders if he’s taller than his father was
Does he drive a car by now, has he been in love
She shakes back to reality ~ she knows
Things turn out the way they should be
But she can’t help but ask herself
Does he know about me?

He would be sixteen
She never even got to hold him
And nights like this it hurts to miss
A son she’s never seen
He would be sixteen

Since then I bought the CD. I listen to it every now and then. It still brings tears to my eyes. All these types of songs do is bring issues to the forefront for me. My weekend was a hard one. I got into an argument with a family member over my search. Granted I have pretty much stopped. I gather information and put it aside to look at when I have time to dedicate fully. This individual felt that I should just give up and forget it. Quit fighting and move on. I did stand up for myself not as agressively as I normally would. This is a family member. Even the previously mentioned friend would have blown a fuse. She believes in that part of my stuff. Just is very concerned over my anger towards adoption. I did spend my day fuming. I spoke with a coworker about it. We got into a conversation about foster care and adopting through foster care. A supervisor joined the conversation. She told my coworker to go to the local high school, speak with the counselors, and find a pregnant teen. At that point I am trying to get her to listen to me. She totally ignores me. My coworker was absolutely disgusted at the suggestion. It is not the only time that I heard of such a thing. Another coworker was looking into adoption himself. He told me the exact same thing. He didn’t like the way it made him feel. All desparate and icky. After all this, I was livid absolutely livid. People like this person make us feel like we are merchandise to be purchased and owned. That alone is enough to make me anti-adoption. My chief concern for my former friend’s daughter is that she will suffer the side effects of adoption. She will become a birth mother. I don’t want that girl to suffer those side effects. If anything, I feel that they should keep the baby. Even though I am pro-choice, I am personally pro-life. I consider this girl almost a daughter. The side effects of adoption on a birth mother are: depression that can be very severe (there is usually no counseling for it and most of the agencies do just blow her off once they have the baby), secondary infertility, extreme low self esteem ( ya think she has a low one now, what till this all blows over and she goes through the adoption -society tells a birthmother that she is doing the loving thing and then once its done – how could you give your baby up – no I don’t want her to go through that) and so many other things.

Other issues to think about:

1) Open adoptions do close. The adoptive parents shut things done when they have the baby. Not all mind you but quite a few. You and your family have no rights at that point. Texas doesn’t protect birthmothers and their families. You as a grandparent have absolutely no rights once it is final.

2) Private/Agency adoptions charge the adoptive parents at least $20,000 per child. Most of the time its $50,000. The agency gets that money. The adoptive parents get the baby. The birthparents and their family get jack shit.

3) The birth father could yank your chains all together as well. He could hold up the adoption as a form of control over the mother. Especially in cases of abuse. I again don’t want that for her.

If you are going to put a child up for adoption, you are going to have to deal with a visit 18-21 years down the road at a minimum. That child is going to be angry. They are going to wonder why. They are going to want answers to the father even if he is a jerk or rapist. I also don’t want adoptive parents trolling the halls of any girl’s high school. I believe it needs changing. It needs reform. That is why I fight so hard. That is why I argue for changes. That is why I write and write. I want them to hear all of us. If you want to know what it feels like to be a birth mother read Ann Fessler’s book, The Girls Who Went Away. Agencies and attorneys view women and children as a marketable asset. What happens after it is all done – well they just don’t care. The reason why they want closed records is to keep their unscrupulous tactics secret.

The changes:

1) Allow access to all members of the plane/triad.

2) Take the money out of adoption. The money should only be used to cover legal and medical expenses.

3) Make open adoption legally binding subject to mediation and provide adoptee, birth parent, and adoptive parent specific counseling. Not counseling provided by single minded adoption agencies. Social workers need to be open honest and fair to all not coercive, dishonest, and corruptive.

NEW LINKS AND NEW SECTIONS

November 9, 2006

I have added two whole new sections. I have also added many new links. While I may not agree with everything these people say, I believe that they should be heard just as I want to be heard. So please read them and enjoy. Make up your own mind about adoption. Think about what is said. Come up with your own ideas for changes in adoption. I know that I have. I voice my opinions on my blog, writing letters to newspapers and legislators, and informing everyone I meet.