Thursday, February 25, 2010

Open Records; The Final Break in the Bond?

I hate to see hostility between adopted people and mothers. It hurts. To be the object of such resentment is off-putting and frustrating. To see that bond, that has already been twisted by separation and assumptions, broken by an argument on records issues is heart-breaking.

A mother from another country attended a conference of the AAC, not too long ago, and was appalled at the overt hostility, the marginalization of mothers and some of the mothers' assisting in their own marginalization in this one-sided cause. If anyone has watched, one of the provinces in our neighbor to the north has passed an open-records law, imperfect as it may be with the disclosure veto attached, that includes both parties, mothers and adopted people, as having rights to identifying information. They don't share many of our national traits and taboos.

This fact has brought to the attention of some of us, the rigid, unforgiving nature of our American culture. We have two forces at work. One is the capitalistic drive for profit that makes anything (or anyone) a consumable "product." The bottom line is the god here and those that profit from adoption will fight to maintain it. Self-entitled PAPs will fight to maintain the supply.

The other thing is our Puritanical heritage. This is not the way most other nations think, unless you want to count the Muslim nations and even these theocracies are not fans of adoption. We got stuck with the most repressive sort of Christianity and, despite the hard work of the founding Fathers who were free-thinkers for the most part, it still lurks in the minds of the masses. It invades our bedrooms, our right to choose and our legal structures. It makes us a prudish laughing-stock in the rest of the world. It corrupts our citizenry with its assumption of ultimate righteousness. It makes criminals out of unmarried mothers and saints out of adopters and those who facilitate.

It speaks words of hate and entitlement into the ears of our lost children. I remember my daughter telling me, at our first meeting, that "it was OK," if I didn't know who her father was. I think I  must have looked at her like she had just farted in church, because she became very flustered. I tried to put her at ease and told her that I most certainly DID know who her father is. I asked her where she got such an idea and she said, "its just what I had always been told about girls who had babies and gave them up for adoption."

Now that most open-records bids are not "clean" (meaning open OBC's only) and carry with them punitive requirements for the mothers, we are seeing the community of EMS mothers and adopted people growing farther apart. And who encourages this? Sorry, Kiddos...but your adopters and those who facilitate adoption are culpable, no matter what you might want to think. How could a clearly-stated bill, advocating OBC's and identifying records being made available to both adopted adult and mothers be "clouding your issue?" And don't give me that "you spread your legs" and "you made a choice" garbage. That insults my intelligence.

This series of posts has been difficult and emotional for me. I have worked hard, for many years, to get out from under that umbra of shame and unworthiness. I have learned that I am not a bad person now, and I wasn't a bad person then. I have learned that devils can come disguised as saints and that all was not and is not as it seemed or was presented.

I do know  a number of adopted people who are kind, fair-minded and want our help. We want our children's help, too, and it is not in having separate but equal organizations, bills and goals. It may have two sides, but it is one page. Keeping it simple and in one package would be the ideal way to go. It has been asked before, but here goes nothing.

Maybe, we could do it together without all the hubbub? Just think about it.

23 comments:

maybe said...

Adoptees want mothers on their side, and I am happy to help when the bills give equal access to mothers. But I have to wonder why they are not putting the same amount of pressure on their adoptive parents to help with this legislation. I see almost no mention of this by adoptees.

My message to adoptees: get your adoptive parents on board with unsealing the OBC. If we have to be involved in this fight then they should join in, as well. And get them to support an end to altering birth certificates in the first place.

lava said...

Yeah, on clouding the issue, I mean a friend said to me last night something about why are we told to be afraid of clouding the issue?

Because we have been so successful at getting birth certificates unsealed? lol.

I mean the status quo has us all stalled.

I do think mothers would have to ask for an adoption decree rather than the ABC, I think the nexus is easier to draw between the two.

Part of the problem is the conventional wisdom has been only in America, I think, that adoptees must separate themselves from mothers. So therefore, the arguments against separation are still weak and unformed. I am not talking about reasons initiates understand, I am talking about reasons that could translate to the general population and to legislators.

You know we have our talking points, condensed, tiny, small. And they are all shut-downs, you know no room for "yeah buts" in them.

I totally think it is doable, I mean look at all the arbitrary law we accept as fact now. You know an 18 year old in jail for 25 years for mailing a tab of acid to a friend, that is insane, but we accept it.


Joy

Mandy Lifeboats said...

""My message to adoptees: get your adoptive parents on board with unsealing the OBC. If we have to be involved in this fight then they should join in, as well. And get them to support an end to altering birth certificates in the first place.""

I agree with you 100%! I too have wondered time after time why adult adoptees do not demand full-tilt the positive active participation of their adoptive parents (in huge numbers)in their quest of legally changing laws to gain access to their OBCs and eradicating the ABC. Wish we could hear the reasons from Adult Adoptees why so many adoptive parents are not fully engaged with their Legal adult children's mission to obtain that which they seek and are lawfully denied. Or if anyone else could explain, I really am listening.

legitimatebastard said...

It is rare to get adoptive parents to understand teh OBC/ABC issue, much less to have adoptive parents involved in the fight to open records. Adoptive parents have a sense of entitlment and possessiveness over the adoptee. Until we get tot he point that adoptive parents accept that we need AND ADOPTION CERTIFCATE for each and every adoption, NOT a falsified birth certificate as is automatically given to the adoptive parents as if it is ther god-given right, then we may see adoptive parents comprehending that that they actually adopted a son or daughter and that they did not give birth. Rught now, they have ABCs that PROOVE that they, the adotpive parents, gave birth, so their minds believe the false hope printed on the paper.

Robin, I have always supported mothers because I am a woman. It is not difficult to understand pregnancy and society bias against not married mothers. For me, at least, my womanhood came before any sense of shame. I was always this way, even as a young teen.

Robin said...

lb, I don't know how old you are, but in my teens, in the late 50's, early 60's, your worth as a woman was measured by your "purity" in my culture. It's how I was raised and it took me years to shake that shame. Thank heavens I did. I totally agree that an adoption certificate would be much more honest than an ABC.

Sandy Young said...

I don't think I "feel" the same sadness about this issue as you do, feeling more outraged at the further violations imposed on mothers as if we are a bottomless well to be tapped when it is convenient.

But, I am stymied by the idea that some adoptees have that our issues are not complimentary. We are the parties of loss, who have been deprived of rights by the parties of gain. By working together, both parties of loss will succeed. Alone, we will keep on beating our heads against the walls because the laws that are written FOR adoptees violate Mother's rights and are unnecessarily punative and provide for further exploitation.

Let's suggest that the Amended Birth Certificates be repealed and a Decree of Adoption be used to augment a birth certificate. Base adoption, finally and from this day forward, in truth.

Lori said...

Something I have learned while attempting to teach others. If they won't learn, then stop teaching, just do.

Instead of telling someone they are hurting you, show them.

My husband taught me over the last 27 years that actions speak louder than words.

I believe that.

To stand firm against oppressive measures against mothers.

To stand together as women.

To stand for allowing OBCs.

To stand......

Anonymous said...

hi Robin
Sorry for contacting you here on comments I wasn't sure how to reach you directly. I was wondering if you are in touch with anyone in Canada (Mississauga). www.canadaadopts.com are big kool aide drinkers - one AP (and author of a book on happy adoptions) is looking for "A birthmother that would be interested in coming to speak on her perspectives as a birthmother". Not trying to stir up trouble or anything but I was thinking you might know someone from SMAAC who is in that area and would be interested in sharing perspective. Warning- hostile audience expected. Here's the link www.canadaadopts.com click on "discuss adoption" then on the left "birth mothers" and this is the second subject down. I really hope you don't mind me bringing this to your attention. Just thought you might know some people interested in sharing their experiences by commenting or even participating. thanks I really have learned a lot from your site. Clare (sorry- trouble with google had to post anon)

Robin said...

Clare, I wish I could help, but we are just not geared up for that, yet. Our membership is mainly US-based. Check with Musing Mother. She might be able to suggest someone. I won't go anywhere where they call me a "birth" mother.

Anonymous said...

thank you
I will check with Musing Mother and let you know
Clare

Anonymous said...

Kitta here:

I have worked on access to OBC and equal access for mothers, for many years, and have testified in the state legislature for bills that would have given access to all parties to the adoption.

One law I worked on resulted in the opening of records, a judicial decision, to all parties, sealed during the BSE.

One reason why we do not have laws in the USA like those in Canadian provinces, is because the provinces have "contact vetoes" in their laws. A "contact veto" is much worse than a disclosure veto(a disclosure veto keeps the records sealed as they are).

A contact veto is a permanent restraining order with criminal penalties, which can be placed by either the natural mother or the adopted person, or the kin of the adopted person if adoptee is deceased. The contact veto extends to all relatives in the family.

There are large fines and prison terms if the mother or other relatives violate the contact veto. Contact vetoes can be placed on relatives who have *already been reunited* just because someone gets angry and wants revenge/control/to alienate the family/.

A mother could place a contact veto against her child years after the reunion and prevent her child from talking to any other natural relatives, even though they already know each other. An adopted person could place a contact veto against the entire natural family years after the reunion, and cut the mother off from her grandchildren, even though they already have a relationship....and a spiteful survivor of a dead relative would also have this veto power. Contact vetoes are inherited in the law.

We have been offered contact vetoes in the USA. Only Tennessee has one, and it has caused terrible problems for people there.

As long as I work with records bills, I will work against anything with a contact veto in it.

"Right to Associate" is a First Amendment right and is too important to disregard. Putting contact vetoes in laws shows no regard for the rights of people to contact their relatives, if they can find them. Most people can find their relatives, even with sealed records in the USA.

Anonymous said...

Kitta here:

adoptive parents have worked on getting access to OBCs...for themselves. That is why adoptive parents have access to OBC in Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio (some years) Montana (some years), Kansas, Colorado (some years), and others.

Natural mothers, and fathers if their name is on the OBC, do have a 'direct and tangible connection" to the Amended Birth Certificate because the facts of birth(date,time, hospital, city,etc.) recorded therein, are the same as on the OBC. And the "registrant" is still the same person that the natural parents gave birth to(although with a new identity). These facts and events connect the natural family to the ABC, and to the OBC.

although, the natural parents could claim a connection to the adopted person on the adoption decree, the connection is less clear.

In a fully open law, all court records would be open to all parties.

joy said...

@ Kitta:

Why do you think the connection is less clear on the Adoption decree?

My line of thinking was that at least the mother could know that her child was in fact adopted.

I am just curious.

Mandy Lifeboats said...

Joy...

The question and/or thought has been commented on a few times here in regards to the eradication of the ABC..yet you still have not commented on that. Personally I don't care about the adoption decree. If a child is never adopted, the OBC is not sealed. It is the Amended Birth Certificate that is the proof in the pudding that the child was adopted and the OBC sealed. The ABC is created AFTER the adoption is finalized. I visit many places on the internet, yet still have not found any discussion about ABCs by adoptees, wherein they would like to see the ABC eradicated. That is the document that steals away your true identity, your culture and your heritage. It also steals the natural mother's medical history, that of giving birth to her own child and giving that medical history (birth event)to the adoptive mother/parents..'as if born to'. What is your take (or those adult adoptees you communicate with) on the ABC and the eradication of?

Anonymous said...

Kitta here:

to Joy: the amended birth certificate is issued after the decree of adoption, and it has the actual connection to the natural mother's medical history and the birth history of the child, which they both share.

I have a copy of my son's Amended BC..and all of the medical/historical facts are correct. My ob/gyn's name is on there, along with the time I gave birth and the city/county/state and the hospital. My son's birthdate and time of birth are exactly correct. There are also additional health factors recorded.

All of that was lifted from his OBC, which I had originally signed myself...the day after he was born.

The two birth certificates connect us exactly, in time and place, and also give the new name of the adopted person...who is still the same person I gave birth to.

I have seen one adoption decree, and it was a very simple document, but had no connection to the natural mother's own history at all. In reality, yes, the mother and the adopted person are connected, but the Amended Birth Certificate actually has factual historical/medical information on it that still belongs to the natural mother.

So, it is easier to show that the 'direct and tangible connection' requirement can be met.

Anonymous said...

Kitta here:

If a child is never adopted, then the OBC remains in effect, and the natural mother can get a copy of it at any time. Surrender does not seal birth certificates.

the natural mother would still be the "mother of record" with a "direct and tangible connection' to the birth certificate.

OBC's are only sealed upon the issuance of a final decree or order of adoption, and then the adoptive parents must file a request for a new birth certificate, if that is what the law requires.

Not all states required an amended birth certificate during the 'baby scoop era" but I don't know what the states' requirements are now.

joy said...

@ Mandy:

The reason I haven't commented on the eradication of the ABC is because that is a very new idea to me. It is not one I have considered or formed an opinion on.

It is an interesting idea, but at this point, that is all I have got. I am not interested in having a knee-jerk reaction to an idea I am not really familiar with.

I am interested in learning more about it.

I can say my very first thought is all the times my birth cert. was used as a child, to sign up for soft-ball for example, I wouldn't really want to have to share my adoption information with all the nosey biddies at the community center.

That is just an initial reaction. It takes me time to mull over new information before I want to spout off about it.

Anonymous said...

Kitta here:

Joy, just to give you some more information about general birth certificate laws, and what applies to toher people.

Children born to a single mother who are not "legitimized" on the birth certificate, would submit a birth certificate to the coach that would indicate they were born to a single mother. Children whose parents divorced and re-married would also have a different name from their mothers, unless adopted by step-father. And foster kids would have a completely different birth certificate from that of their care-givers.

Many, many children are already living with these situations, and adoptee activists have pointed them out as examples of people who have their *true* birth certificates. Their birth certificates have never been altered. They live with the truth.

The truth that is on the birth certificates is about their natural parents.

A person cannot both hide the truth and demand the truth at the same time.

If adopted people feel they need an amended birth certificate to keep old biddies from talking about them, then that is no different than the natural mothers who say they were "promised" confidentiality....because both are hiding the same thing.

The old biddies are going to talk anyway..better that we learn to live with the truth, than try to hide from it.

Mandy Lifeboats said...

""I can say my very first thought is all the times my birth cert. was used as a child, to sign up for soft-ball for example, I wouldn't really want to have to share my adoption information with all the nosey biddies at the community center. ""

Joy, are you ashamed of your adopted status? You say you don't want to 'share' your adoption information with 'the nosey biddies', maybe there are some nmothers that don't want to share their private medical info via State Mandates for the same reason. You and I certainly don't know in/at these state levels who has access to (can read) state mandated private medical info submitted by nmothers about herself, her family, etc. Could be any manner of 'nosey biddies', from anywhere. What would you (or others who have given thought to the ABC) suggest as a truthful replacement for the ABC?...which is nothing but a legalized lie, created by adoption proponents to 'hide' the adoptive parent's truthful relationship to the child they adopted and to 'hide' the adoptee from his/her ownself.

Marley said...

The ABC has been discussed. It's still a fairly new topic, but the general consensus would be to develop a Certificate of Adoption to go with the bc. That would take care of legal problems.

The only problem I see with this is that it's really not anyone's business if someone is adopted or not. And in cases where adopted people are pathologized--like schools, I'd not want some moronic teacher to know. Schools are bad enough without that.

Nebraska actually had a abc eradication bill up a couple years ago. It actually had a decent amount of support I hear, but it died in committee and the sponsor was term limited out.

Anonymous said...

Kitta here:

schools are moronic at times, agreeing with Marley. However, like most other gov't agents, they know more about children than children often think they do.

I was a public school teacher and I was often told which students were adopted..and not by the students themselves nor by the adoptive parents. I was told by school authorities.

If adoption is something that needs to be hidden, then another means to hide it needs to be developed.

If adoption is something to hide, then the arguments about 'truth" need to be re-visited.

I have listened to years and years of testimony from adopted people in my state legislature who say that 'birth mothers" have no reason to hide the fact that they surrendered a child. Yet, these same adopted people say that they want their records to stay sealed. they want "confidentiality."

If adopted people want confidentiality, what is the reason and what is the justification. And why shouldn't mothers have privacy too.

Why do adopted people insist that truth is freeing if they don't feel that way about their own truth.

joy said...

@ Mandy

Yes, I am ashamed to be adopted. More ashamed of being adopted than any other experience in my life, which includes being a coke-head. Nope, not ashamed of being a former coke-head at all. Adoptee, yes. Oh Mandy, I could curl your toes with some of things I have been. Being adopted has by far and away been the most hurtful.

Does that help you to know?

Robin said...

Joy, the reason why your shame is ironic is that, in berating mothers into surrender in our era, they used the argument that you would be much more ashamed of being the child of an unwed mother; in other words, a bastard. It still gets my goat that, in trying to spare our children the pain of being raised by old, toxic, slutty us, we were forced to expose them to a different pain. Young, isolated, scared, blamed and shamed, it was easy to brainwash us.

One of the things my daughter told me when we reunited shook me to the core. I related to her how the issue of her "illegitimacy" was pounded into my head by the SW's and how, if I kept her, it would be a constant pain for her. Well, when she started school and told her classmates she was adopted, guess what they called her? It's a f***ing lose, lose situation.