Archive for November, 2007

Adoption

November 29, 2007

One of my fellow adoptees, a friend, telling her story.

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TENNESSEE ~ WTF????????

November 27, 2007

Here is the link. Here is the rest of the story.

By Mary Fortune, Staff Writer
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
Monday, November 26, 2007
Chattanooga, TN – When her children are old enough to ask, Dianne Bracken expects they’ll want to know about their birth parents.
“There are some medical issues that may crop up that they may need to know about,” said the Chattanooga woman, who has adopted three sons and is in the process of adopting a daughter. “I can understand the child wanting to know.”
In Tennessee, the records that contain those details will be available to Ms. Bracken’s children when they turn 21. The state is one of just eight that gives adoptees access to their birth records.
Since the law allowing access to those records was upheld in 1999, Tennessee has become a case study in how well the process can work, said Bob Tuke, a Nashville adoption attorney.
“Tennessee, among all states, provides the greatest access with the most sensible protections,” he said. “I talk to my colleagues in the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, and they are constantly amazed at how well it’s gone.”
This month, in conjunction with National Adoption Month, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute in New York released a report calling for all states to open adoption records to people who have not had access to information about their birth families.
Adam Pertman, executive director of the institute and author of the book “Adoption Nation,” said Tennessee’s experience has shown the process can work.
“We now have real information based on Tennessee’s experience to help shape public policy,” he said. “Our research shows … that the overwhelming majority of birth mothers are fine with this and that the overwhelming number of adopted people want this information — and in some cases really need it for medical and other purposes.”
But opponents of the process say the privacy of birth parents who gave up their children decades ago should be paramount.
“It was such a stigma back then. I just think about those girls,” Leslie McWilliams, a Chattanooga family law attorney, said of the mothers who gave up their babies. “We made a contract with these people.”
Reactions of birth parents to the news that someone will see those records are unpredictable, said Carolyn Jones, post-adoption program coordinator for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.
“We have people that say, ‘This is going to turn my life upside down,’ and we have people that are extremely happy that have wondered what had happened to those babies.”
In many cases, birth mothers or other family members simply never reply to requests for contact, quietly ending that part of the process, Ms. Jones said.
OPENING RECORDS
In 1995, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a law allowing access to adoption records after adoptees argued they were being denied information vital to their physical and mental well-being. The law was in effect only two weeks because of legal challenges.
A state court ruled in 1998 that the law was unconstitutional and that the records should remain sealed, but in September 1999 the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the law and the files began to open.
Ms. Jones said the backlog of requests for access was nearly 2,500 when the law was upheld. A large staff of case managers and secretaries chipped away at the list until October 2004, when the department was able to scale back to four workers, she said.
Getting the records takes about eight weeks, though the time varies depending on how long people take to respond and pay the $150 fee, Ms. Jones said. Once they have the records, adoptees can ask department employees to find family members and request communication. Adoptees by law are not allowed to make contact themselves.
“There is a mixed response,” Ms. Jones said of the initial phone call to birth families by state employees.
In fiscal 2007, 109 people consented to contact; 43 refused contact; and 119 never returned the contact form, according to records from the state. In fiscal 2006, 164 people consented to contact; 70 refused contact; and 154 never returned the contact form, according to records from the state.
“We have those that have told us not to call them again,” Ms. Jones said. “My favorite part is when everybody’s happy and they want contact — that’s the most rewarding.”
Adoptees often are driven by a need to know medical information, but they also just want to know the details of where they came from, Ms. Jones said.
But Ms. McWilliams said that unexpected phone call or unwanted letter to a birth parent is what opponents of access hoped to prevent.
“Can you imagine being 58 years old (and) you get a letter in the mail and your husband says, ‘Why’d you get this letter?'” she said.
And with the advent of the Internet, there are other ways now to find people, including online search groups, that ensure everyone involved is a willing participant, Ms. McWilliams said.
“I’m just opposed to (opening the records), even for health reasons,” she said.
TRACING ROOTS
Opponents of opening the records predicted adoptees would track down their birth families, force unwanted communication, and that allowing access to the records would discourage adoption, Mr. Tuke said.
“There have been no significant problems,” he said. “The parade of horribles that those who opposed it predicted never occurred.”
Tennessee reported this month that more than 1,200 children were adopted out of state custody this fiscal year — more than any other year.
Ms. Bracken, a U.S. Postal Service inspector, spent three years as a foster parent to her two oldest sons before adopting them three years ago through the state. She has enough information about their birth parents that she could help them begin any search for information, she said, and the 2-year-old girl she is adopting in December still has contact with a grandmother.
“She will have a direct link to her grandparents and relatives,” Ms. Bracken said. “It’s awesome if you can have it that way.”
Her sons, Darren, 11, Ziggy, 9 and Donovan, 5, have not asked much about their birth parents, Ms. Bracken said. But she expects her oldest son, especially, to ask eventually.
“My oldest son is really the only one old enough to remember, but he hasn’t asked too much about it,” she said. “I am sure he will when he gets older.”
Darren is a talented artist, Ziggy loves math and Donovan is a born entertainer, Ms. Bracken said. Destiny, the youngest of the bunch, is a strong-willed little girl. Their mother expects them to want to know one day where their talents and temperaments may have begun, she said.
“I don’t hide anything from them,” she said. “I don’t think that’s very healthy.”
Mr. Pertman said he hopes the adoption institute’s research will move other states to consider opening birth records.
“I hope we’re in a new chapter,” he said.
Mr. Tuke said he thinks Tennessee’s process and the report from the adoption institute eventually will prompt change.
“(The study) will carry some weight,” he said. “There are more states every year considering it.”
E-mail Mary Fortune at mfortune@timesfreepress.com
ACCESS TO BIRTH RECORDS
n States that have re-established access to birth records for adopted adults since 1996: Alabama, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Tennessee
n States where adults always have had access to their birth certificates: Kansas and Alaska
Source: The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
BY THE NUMBERS
July 1, 2007-Oct. 31, 2007: 135 requests for access to information in Tennessee:
n 2007: 417 requests
n 2006: 485 requests
n 2005: 588 requests
n 2004: 615 requests
n 2003: 566 requests
n 2002: 619 requests
n 2001: number unavailable
n 2000: 929 requests
n 1999: 285
Note: Previous years’ numbers reflect a fiscal year that began July 1 and ended June 30.
Source: Tennessee Department of Children’s Services

HERE’S TO YOU ~ TOM ATWOOD

November 24, 2007

I have read recently that you think that we are attacking you and your group, the National Council for Adoption based on religion. I am here to say ” Duh, no! I don’t think so.” It really irritates me that you think we attack you based on the organization’s religious preferences.

Why we do attack you fiercely? You say you speak for natural mothers. Uhhhh No you don’t. You don’t have a clue. This is coming from your factbook III. It tells me that you don’t support natural mothers period. They are the mere vessels in which you and your adoption agencies reap great financial rewards. This is an actual quote from that little “factbook.” It is hard to believe that your group would ever say anything like this. It really shows how you feel about adoptees and their families. Shocking isn’t it.

But what about my first mom?” Bobby says quickly. “What happened to her? She didn’t want me? You mean, she didn’t like me?” Bobby looks confused and maybe even a bit hurt-or maybe even a lot.”Well, first of all,” Bobby’s mom says in a matter of fact tone, “that woman who gave birth to you never had a chance to know you, not the real you. You were just a baby. You couldn’t talk. You didn’t play, have any ideas, or even talk back. In fact you could have been any baby. It didn’t matter because that woman had chosen not to be a mother and not to be a parent. So it wasn’t that she didn’t like you because she never took the time to get to know you.”No,” Bobby’s mom replies in a matter-of-fact but non harsh manner. “She didn’t love you. She chose not to be a parent and not to get to know you, and not to take care of you.” If, later, Bobby should use the conventional expression “biological mother/father/parent” Bobby’s mom will gently correct him and say “No, he/she chose not to be a parent, so you mean the ‘biological stranger.'”

You teach adoptive parents to spew this crap, but turn around and say this crap to natural parents.

After working through their fears and conflicts, birthmothers choose adoption because they believe that it is best for their children. They realize that adoption is not abandonment; it is a loving, responsible act. By choosing what is best for their children, birthmothers see themselves as good mothers. Instead of feeling like bad mothers for abandoning children or “giving them away,” they now begin to see that placing their children with loving couples is what it means for them to be good mothers. They redeem themselves, transforming their mistakes into positive outcomes. Adoption allows them to recover their self-esteem, restore their identity, and renew their dreams and goals

So which is it? Are natural mothers good birthmothers or biological strangers who don’t want their children? While you are it, why don’t you give your answer to Michelle Edmund’s question? “If adoption in itself holds potential to create citizens who are presumed to cause harm, then the government should explain why it has an adoption system! ” I surely would like to know that answer.

COMING UP ~ THEY CAN’T STOP US NOW.

November 17, 2007

Illinois, Utah, Michigan, Iowa, and many other states are reading this report for the first time. We have newspapers all over this country putting this information out.

Adam Pertman was on NPR radio. Grannie Annie was in two newspapers. I was in the Houston Chronicle. We are coming up and fighting back. We shall be heard. We will make our choices known. Its time to act folks.

Michigan.
The Associated Press. Thank you Mr. Crary. His article was in many newspapers in this country.
Utah is looking to curb baby selling. How about shutting down the American Center of Choice first? They are despicable for what they are doing to these fathers.
Utah newspapers are also supporting adoptee access.
Illinois is doing it big time.
Texas, right in the heart of Gladney country.
Iowa is also pushing it in their newspapers.
Fraud in adoption. Like this is a new one on us.
New York. Support their fight by going here.
New Jersey.

We are coming out full force. We as parents and adoptees are letting our opinions known.

Notebook: Are You My Mommy?

November 16, 2007

Thank you, Katie Couric. It is not about reunion though. It is about the civil rights of those living adoption. Natural mothers are not allowed access to those OBC’s. Adoptees are not allowed access to those OBC’s. Adoptive parent don’t have access to those OBC’s. Again I ask who are we protecting with this imposed secrecy? Oh that is right we are protecting the agencies.

ADOPTEE FOES VS. ADOPTEE FRIENDS

November 14, 2007

Did anyone listen to NPR radio yesterday? I did. I liked it. Adam Pertman held his own against Tom Atwood. The thing that I didn’t like is that they didn’t ask any adoptees to be on the show. Marley Greiner wasn’t on the show. She should have been as the executive chair of Bastard Nation. Ron Morgan nor Kali Coultas were not on the show as representatives of the Adoptee Rights Organization. All three would have been good examples of adoptees. Sandy Young, Bernadette Wright, Mirah Ruben, Mary Anne Cohen and others would have been good examples of natural parents on the show. Adam Pertman was a good example of majority adoptive parents today. So that part was good.

Sadly the direction of the show was about reunion and medical records. Its even in the comments portion of the show. What the average Joe Public doesn’t understand is that is a civil rights issue. Point blank. The state is holding my OBC under illegal search and seizure which is against Federal law and the Constitution. You just have to look at the fourth amendment to understand that one.

As someone who is denied access to her original birth certificate on the basis of her birth, I honestly can’t tell you what I would do if I had that document in my hands. I couldn’t tell you if I would make contact. Still no matter what, it is my right.

As an adoptee who has an incomplete amended birth certificate, I would not be allowed to get a passport. I am now a prisoner of my own country on the premise of my birth. A friend of mine, Michelle Edmunds, mentioned something that I found interesting correct and a good counter point. I quote from her.

“If adoption in itself holds potential to create citizens who are presumed to cause harm, then the government should explain why it has an adoption system! “

One natural mother, Susie, called in and said that she got pregnant because her father raped her. So her child is the product of incest. UHMMMM excuse me, that is something that your daughter should friggin know. She might have children that have issues that could be traced back to that. I know that I would want to know. In fact there is a hint of that in my adoption records. My biggest fear is that I have passed something onto my children that could have been prevented.

Something that my own adoptive mother has taught me is that honesty is always the best policy. Natural parents and adoptees need to get that this is about human lives. The choice to reunion, relationship and medical information are just that, choices. The right to the OBC is an civil right that is denied to all living adoption. It is our right to privacy that these fools like the NCFA continually violate.

DEAR INDIANA LEGISLATOR

November 13, 2007

My name is Amy K. Burt. I have been writing you for years now about allowing adoptees access to the very document that accurately records our birth. As an adoptee, I feel that you as legislators are allowing adoption agencies, attorneys, and the state itself to violate my right to privacy. I am being denied access to the very document that records my birth on the basis of my birth.You have been sucked into the mythology and misinformation that the adoption industry wants you to believe. I am here to tell you that you are wrong and I can prove it.

The right to privacy is based and has been contested on the basis of governmental interference into our lives. I read recently in an newspaper article about this issue. I found this part very interesting.

Privacy no longer can mean anonymity, says Donald Kerr, a deputy director of national intelligence. Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguards people’s private communications and financial information.

Now I don’t want my natural mother’s private communications nor her financial information. I want my original birth certificate. My adoptive mother and I want the adoption finalization paperwork. Its ours. It records important information about OUR lives. The state has no interest in it. The state of Indiana continues to keep it from us.

Another interesting tidbit is the Fourth Amendment. You are denying me my papers. It is an unreasonable seizure based upon the status of my birth. If anyone continues to shame my natural mother, it is the State of Indiana. I, for one, am sick of it. I will not have her humiliated again by the actions of both the state and the adoption industry.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Have you read this new research paper put out by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Research Institute? What about this one? Both of these reports debunk the theories, mythologies, and misinformation put out by the NCFA. Read the statistical information in both of these studies.

As I continue to research, I wonder how does Indiana protect prospective adoptive parents. Everything that I have read confirms in my mind that adoption is win/win/win for adoption agencies alone. They ply on a prospective adoptive family’s money and infertility. They ply on a woman’s right to raise her own child. They seal it all up away from the prying eyes of the public under the guise of protecting everyone living adoption. Meanwhile, they continue to profit under the guise of non-profit status. We no longer want protection from each other from the state of Indiana. We want our choices given back to us.

It will always be hard for me to know how the adoption agency treated my natural mother. It is her dignity that I fight hard. It is the dignity of my adoptive mother that I fight hard. It is my own dignity that I fight hard. I do this not just for me but for 10% of this nations’ adoption people. It is time for you to give us back our right to privacy. Its time for you as a state legislator to remove both the state and the adoption industry out of our personal lives. It is time for you to improve adoption for all living adoption.

Sincerely,
Amy K. Burt

The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and their report.

November 12, 2007

The report can be found here. Please read it and write your state legislators immediately. This is just one step in reforming adoption.

ITS OUT……

November 12, 2007

Unseal adoptees’ birth records, report urges
By DAVID CRARYAssociated Press http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/5292860.htmlNEW YORK — It’s among the most divisive questions in the realm of adoption: Should adult adoptees have access to their birth records, and thus be able to learn the identity of their birth parents?In a comprehensive report being released Monday, a leading adoption institute says the answer is “Yes” and urges the rest of America to follow the path of the eight states that allow such access to all adults who were adopted.”States’ experiences in providing this information make clear that there are minimal, if any, negative repercussions,” said the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. “Outcomes appear to have been overwhelmingly positive for adult adopted persons and birthparents alike.”Opponents of open access argue that unsealing birth records violates the privacy that birthmothers expected when they opted to give up their babies. They raise the specter of birthparents forced into unwanted relationships with grown children who have tracked them down.But the Donaldson Institute says most birthparents, rather than being fearful and ashamed, welcome contact with the children they bore. Its report says the states with open records have found that most birthparents and adoptees handle any contact with maturity and respect.Kansas and Alaska never barred adoptees from seeing their birth certificates. Since 1996, six other states — Alabama, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Tennessee — have decided to allow access to all adult adoptees.However, the progression has been slow, and open-records legislation has been rebuffed in many states by a determined and diverse opposition.Opponents in Connecticut, where bills have failed in each of the past two years, included the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. It depicted itself as a voice for birthmothers who opposed the measure but were reluctant to speak out publicly.In New Jersey, where a long-running campaign to pass an open-records bill was derailed again this year, the opposition includes New Jersey Right to Life and the New Jersey Catholic Conference. They argue that eliminating the prospect of confidentiality might prompt a pregnant single woman to choose abortion rather than adoption.Marlene Lao-Collins of the Catholic Conference said she knew of no data supporting the concerns about abortions, “but even if it just happened once, that would be one too many.”Nationwide, one of the major foes of open records is the National Council for Adoption, which represents many religiously affiliated adoption agencies. Its president, Thomas Atwood, says any reconnection between an adopted adult and a birthparent should be by mutual consent — which is the policy in most states.”I empathize with anybody who feels the need to know their biological parents’ identity,” Atwood said. “But I don’t think the law should enable them to force themselves on someone who has personal reasons for wanting confidentiality.”The Donaldson report says evidence from the states with open records rebuts every argument against the concept. Notably, it says there is no proof that abortions rise, that adoptions decline, or that birthparents are harassed following a switch to open records.”There has been no evidence that the lives of birthmothers have been damaged as a result,” the report says. “In the states that have amended their laws … few birthmothers have expressed the desire to keep records sealed or the wish not to be contacted.”The most recent state to opt for open records is Maine; a law signed in June will allow adult adoptees to access their birth certificates starting in 2009.One of the bill’s main sponsors was state Sen. Paula Benoit, an adoptee who personally lobbied all her colleagues. While working on the bill, she uncovered her own biological background and learned, to her amazement, that two Democratic lawmakers she was working with were her nephews.”There are so many adoptees who want to know who they are,” she said. “Can you imagine being denied your identity?”Among the many birthmothers grateful to have been found by children they relinquished is Eileen McQuade of Delray Beach, Fla., who is president of the American Adoption Congress and a fervent advocate of open records.”Secrecy was the way it was done at the time — it was not a choice or a preference on the part of the mothers,” McQuade said of the 1960s, when she placed a daughter for adoption. “We treat adoptees as if they’re forever children — it’s absurd.”The Donaldson report depicts adopted people as the only class of Americans not permitted to routinely obtain their birth certificates.Giving them full access “is a matter of legal equality, ethical practice and, on a human level, basic fairness,” the report said. “It is an essential step toward placing adoptive families, families of origin, everyone connected to them and, indeed, adoption itself on a level playing field within society, without the stigma, shame and inequitable treatment they have experienced in the past.””The mythology around adoption is based on the notion that you should be protecting someone from something,” said the institute’s executive director, Adam Pertman.”But that’s not the reality,” he said. “Adoptees are not behaving poorly, they’re behaving very respectfully, and birthparents do not appear to be a frightened class that wants to hide.”

THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY?

November 11, 2007

The Right to Privacy.

What exactly is this right? Is it even protected by the Constitution? There are many definitions of it. Each person has his own definition of it. I read in this article that our U.S. Senators and Representatives are being asked to reconsider what the definition of it should be. One particular part of the article really struck out at me. Interestingly enough, adoptees don’t want financial nor private communication access to our natural parents information. We just want our original birth certificates.

Privacy no longer can mean anonymity, says Donald Kerr, a deputy director of national intelligence. Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguards people’s private communications and financial information.

That is very interesting indeed. I have always heard that the right to privacy is about the right to be free from governmental intrusion. Yes for adoptees, natural parents and adoptive parents, that is exactly what the government is doing. They are interfering with our private lives.

This is what the Fourth Amendment states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

As an adoptee, I don’t have the right to be secure in my papers and effects. The state laws in non adoptee access states do exactly this. They are violating my fourth amendment rights.

I found this here. It is more about reproductive rights and preventing the government from raiding the privacy of married couples.

The privacy doctrine of the 1920s gained renewed life in the Warren Court of the 1960s when, in Griswold v Connecticut (1965), the Court struck down a state law prohibiting the possession, sale, and distribution of contraceptives to married couples. Different justifications were offered for the conclusion, ranging from Court’s opinion by Justice Douglas that saw the “penumbras” and “emanations” of various Bill of Rights guarantees as creating “a zone of privacy,” to Justice Goldberg’s partial reliance on the Ninth Amendment’s reference to “other rights retained by the people,” to Justice Harlan’s decision arguing that the Fourteenth Amendment’s liberty clause forbade the state from engaging in conduct (such as search of marital bedrooms for evidence of illicit contraceptives) that was inconsistent with a government based “on the concept of ordered liberty.”

What exactly do these amendments state?

The Ninth Amendment states:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The Fourteenth Amendment states:

No State shall… deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.

This came from that previously mentioned page.

The most frequently quoted statement by a Supreme Court justice on the subject of privacy comes in Justice Brandeis’s dissent in Olmstead v. U. S. (1928): “The makers of our Constitution understood the need to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness, and the protections guaranteed by this are much broader in scope, and include the right to life and an inviolate personality — the right to be left alone — the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. The principle underlying the Fourth and Fifth Amendments is protection against invasions of the sanctities of a man’s home and privacies of life. This is a recognition of the significance of man’s spiritual nature, his feelings, and his intellect.”

Another quote from this same website:

Read Barron v Baltimore (1833). Barron settles the question of whether Bill of Rights guarantees that do not specifically limit their application to the federal government (The First Amendment, e.g., expressly says “Congress shall make no law…”) might also protect citizens from the actions of state governments. The answer Chief Justice Marshall gives, in case involving an alleged taking of private property by Baltimore without compensation to the owner, is “No.” The decision in the case was Marshall’s last on the Court and, interestingly, Marshall cuts off his successor as chief justice, Roger B. Taney, before Taney has a chance to argue the case for Baltimore–Marshall believed that the argument for Barron had been sufficiently weak that there was no need to hear from the lawyer representing the city.

There has not ever been one piece of paperwork proving this so called natural parent right to privacy. Now they are stating that it was implied. They told the women, “to go on with their lives and to forget that this ever happened.” It was implied on them. The women never forgot. The women for the most didn’t go on with their lives. They weren’t allowed to grieve their loss. It was a suck it up and drive on. What state legislators must realize is that this right to privacy is about the right for adoption agencies/attorneys to cover up their wrongs, their acts of coercion, and their acts of deception.

I have been researching adoption from all angles now. The question popped into my brain. How do prospective adoptive parents research an adoption agency? I know that Texas has its own website. It helps but how much is really buried? How much does Joe Public really get to see about adoption? What is Adoption Awareness Month really about? Is it about foster care adoption or is it about infant adoption?

I read this post on Paragraphien’s blog. It is really enlightening. Some other very interesting reads. These are adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents calling for adoption reform. All I can think is HOLY SHIT. These are just folks adopting from Vietnam. They are calling people to the mat. They are doing it with style and class that I truly respect and appreciate.

Pho for Four.
It Only Takes One Step To Begin A Journey.
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.
Stepping On Legos.

Check the links to the side. They too get it. I need to add these folks as well. Adoption agencies and attorneys need to be AWARE because we are all issuing the Adoption BeWareness month to them.