Tuesday, June 02, 2009

When Can It Be About Us?

Ontario has much of which they can be proud, today. With much wrangling and a grudging acceptance of those dumb, disclosure vetoes, adoption records are open for both mother and adoptees. I want to believe that this means there is hope for us, in the US, for equitable access to records for those of us who lost the most during the EMS.

Even though I am reunited with both my adult, surrendered children, I would still like to have a copy of all my records, signed surrender agreements and the amended birth certificate. Fair is fair. With the adoption industry as part of the sacred, American bottom line, we lag far behind other nations in this important arena. If it makes money and is in that good, old spirit of free enterprise and capitalism, then it is one of those things that have to be dismantled, brick by brick, like the Berlin wall, and done with stringent opposition.

For the members of SMAAC, open records is not about reunion, although anyone saying that reunion is not an issue is in denial, nor is it just about adopted adults. It is about a national injustice visited on vulnerable, young women and their innocent babies. The industry and the government, social workers and "the experts" began by throwing our (the mothers) civil and human rights in the crapper and are now doing it to the children who came from us. The thing is, why do they want to control the right to know for adults in their 40's??? My daughter is a grandmother, for Pete's Sake! What is wrong with that picture?

To take it even further, what is wrong with the idea that we mothers need some recognition of just what was done to us? Why is this ignored? Whose ass is being covered? The industry has spent the majority of the time that this issue of open records has been around blaming us and our (fictional) "guaranteed privacy" and setting our children against us. I get so furious when these people presume to speak for us and don't even tell our truth. THE ONLY PARTIES GUARANTEED ANY PRIVACY OR ANONYMITY WERE THE ADOPTERS! Was that loud enough for you or should I enlarge the font?

Ontario has taken a giant leap forward and I applaud the efforts that got them to this place. Meanwhile, we in the US are still being dragged around in 1950's-style hypocrisy. It sucks.


A Canuck said...

This is a very good post, but I think it also illustrates the difference between the Canadian open records movement and the American movement.

Stats: We have opened 4 out of 10 provinces to both adoptees and natural parents over the last 13 yrs, with active open records movements in at least 3 other provinces. This 40% success ratio would be the equiv of 20 out of 50 U.S. states opening records.

"Open Records" here in general means the birth record that is held by the Vital Statistics office. Nothing more. Just because you have "open records" does not mean you receive the surrender form, maternity home or hospital records. Under our province's open records process, I received 2 documents: (1) my child's original Birth Registration with her adoptive name typed on the bottom, and (2) a copy of the 2-page Court Order granting the adoption. I can fax you these if you like.

The second difference is the statement "Open records is NOT about reunion." That is a Bastard Nation slogan through and through, and although they are a well-meaning group, I believe that this statement impedes the movement. Reunion is the elephant on the dining room table. In Canada, we acknowledge that open records IS also about reunion as well as being about rights. As long as we state that it is not about reunion and don't address reunion, legislators (who know better) won't truly listen. The proof: how many people obtain their records with NO interest in searching? Mostly those who have already reunited. No, we do not have statistics, but it's a good guess that 95% of open records applications are made in order to facilitate searches. One has to address the reunion issue, which is why a province-wide reunion counselling and support service is often part-and-parcel of open records legislation packages here.

I hope that the U.S. will eventually see the type of success that we have had here.

Robin said...

I should have indicated that this is from the senior mother's view. For us, it goes much deeper than reunion.

Anonymous said...

I am a senior mother who has been reunited since 92. I believe ALL adoptee's and MOTHERS should have the right to open records, or sealed records, it is a fundamental right to know who your blood is, who you were born to and one's own blood relatives.

As far as open records and reunions. I do think that those who are most affected by adoption mothers and their children COULD and SHOULD be the judge whether they want to reunite for not. Who's business is it anyway, if a
grown adult wants to reunite?

No, ones NOT even an adopters, or legislatures, they need to get their noses out of our business!
Its not like we tell them who to associate with.

I can remember my son telling his adoptress that she knew her mother, guess she couldn't comprehend why he would want to know his, still wonder if she wrapped her adopter head around his words, "KNOW YOUR MOM" she did and he didn't. Of course for her that was ok after all she was thinking of HER best interests, same as all of those who adopt.

Anonymous said...


YOU have been missed. welcome back!
Looking forward to more posts from you and SMACC.

Anonymous said...

You have to sue to make the politicians listen - really, that is the way to go. That, and vote out the ones that won't help you.

The Conservative government was voted out. The Liberals promised that they would open the records if they were voted in. The Liberal government was voted in and they have kept their word on this.

The Ontario government suffered so many lawsuits that it was heading towards bankruptcy.

One example of such a lawsuit;

Adoptees successfully sued the Ontario government for millions because the social workers would not give them a way of getting their medical information in a timely matter if at all. Social workers who were not medically qualified decided to withhold crucial information. Some of them even admit that they with-held the information to get the baby adopted and then with-held it again in hopes that the adoptee would die before being able to sue. Such an adoptee survived and won her lawsuit. She found out that her reunion to which her original mother had consented to had been thwarted by the social worker so that the adoptee could not find out about the rare and serious genetic disease that she had inherited. Her mother had a kidney transplant and had wanted to warn her daughter.

The social workers refused to allow the reunion to happen, telling each of the parties lies about the other not wanting to meet. It turned out that the adoptee had this terrible disease and had almost died because the doctors did not know what was wrong (she had PKD in which cysts grow on the kidneys and then they burst, causing the patient to bleed to death internally without any outward symptoms being present).

The Ontario government realised that it could not survive the onslaught of such lawsuits.

Lawsuits and votes - go for it as ruthlessly as you can until the government can't take it anymore.
It worked in Ontario.

maybe said...

I agree with anon, legal action is the only thing that will get their attention.

Reese said...

Robin, I love your blog, you are amazing. As an adoptee living in Ontario this is an issue that is close to my heart. I have fought for years for open records. Unfortunately, my mother and or father filed disclosure veto, which means I no identifying information (just some medical history if I apply for it and it's there) so I have to keep fighting. I hope you keep fighting Robin, you have many people behind you, including me.