Yes oh Yes it is your turn. Its bad enough that you have joined the ranks of Georgia Tann. Interestingly enough, your organization was even for adoptee rights and shock ~ family preservation as seen in this document when the legislation to seal records was place into statute. The governor at the time was an adoptive parent from Georgia Tann. A fellow blogger brought this up herself. Many natural mothers have in fact written in to Catholic Charities about using them as a way to block adoptees from getting their OBCs. As a 1965 adoptee from Indiana, I can attest that I DO NOT have current medical information on file with my adoption agency. It is also NOT listed on the Indiana Medical History Registry. Trust me I have checked. It tain't there. So just in case you ignore the mothers' letters. They will forever be posted on my blog to be retrieved at a moment's notice to remind you. We all really know why you don't want adoptees having access to their records. Between the priests and the unethical practices, you want to protect yourselves from the resulting lawsuits.
From Mary Anne:
Dear Ms. Roger,
I heard that you had asked for the feelings of birthmothers. I surrendered a son in 1968, so I qualify to speak to that issue.
I am also a practicing Catholic, in the choir and parish council at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Whippany. I am very distressed that my church is opposing adoptee rights under the guise of "protecting birthmothers". I neither want nor need "protection" from my own son, who is a 40 year old adult and entitled to the same rights as other adult citizens, including access to his original birth certificate.
When I surrendered my son, I gave up ALL parental rights. I was promised nothing. I certainly was not promised anonymity. I have the surrender paper I signed, and it contains no promises and gives no rights to me. Nobody cared about me when I surrendered. Why is something I was supposedly promised which I did not want and never heard of so important now that it is used to deny adopted adults their civil rights? Why should any parent have this kind of authority over what an adult child may know or see?
I am reunited with my son, and was able to give him information, including medical, in a private way without the state intruding, as one adult speaking to another. This is as it should be. But that is not the point of adoptee rights legislation, which is only about the birth certificate, not about the private and personal matter of any relationship that may develop.
This is issue is not about adoptees versus birthparents, nor is it about competing rights of any sort. I have been active in adoption reform groups since 1976 and have had contact with many other surrendering mothers. We overwhelmingly support adoptee rights, even though our support should not be a major concern. Enlightened adoptive parents also overwhelmingly support their adult children. The "anonymous birthmother" is just a straw figure that our opponents hide behind. I am so glad you have asked for feedback from real birthmothers, as I am sure you will get lots. We are so tired of others using us and our silence to further an agenda we abhor.
PLEASE get beyond the hysteria our opponents have generated and look at states that have always had open records, like Kansas, or the growing number of states like New Hampshire, Oregon, and Maine that have more recently opened theirs. NOTHING terrible has happened in these states. Life goes on, adoption goes on, abortions have not increased.Research it yourself. Although not everyone who wants their original birth certificate searches or makes contact, for those who do, the numbers of welcoming birthparents greatly outnumber those who want no contact. The majority of surrendering mothers are glad to hear from their adult children. Those who are not can express the wish not to meet, and those wishes are honored. The horror stories predicted do not happen. Please look at what is actually happening in states that have open records rather listening to fear-mongers going on about what "might" occur.The sky isn't falling. Chicken Little and those who oppose adoptee rights are wrong.
This issue is about rights, the right of adopted adult citizens to be treated the same as other adult citizens in regards to their original birth certificate. It is not really about reunions. The fact is, sealed records have never prevented search, contact or reunion. Check out any adoptee or birthparent search and support group to verify this.People have been finding each other for years by other means, and will continue to do so. Sealed records protect nobody. They are a mistaken social policy that have caused great pain to many, and it is time the state rectified this injustice to adopted citizens. This is not in any way dangerous, anti-life, or controversial, just an idea whose time is long overdue in NJ and other states. It is certainly an idea that Catholics in good conscience can and do support.
PLease try to see that Catholics should be favor of openness, honesty, charity and love in adoption, not fear and enforced secrets and lies. The truth sets EVERYONE free. If you are honest about wanting to know what birthmothers really want and what their experience has been, I hope this letter and others like it help to open your eyes and your heart.Thanks for your time, and feel free to share this letter with anyone.
Marlene Lao-Collins, Director Patrick R. Brannigan, Executive Director Lois Rogers, Features Editor
New Jersey Catholic Conference
149 North Warren Street
Trenton, New Jersey 08608
Dear Marlene Lao-Collins, Patrick R. Brannigan and Lois Rogers:
As a birth mother, I'd like to thank you for giving us an opportunity to speak for ourselves. Too often it is those outside of the experience but with an agenda of their own, who purport to speak for us and do so erroneously. I surrendered a child in 1979 after nine months of directive counseling provided by my mother, her priest, Catholic Charities and others who said that it was in the best interest of my child to go to a two-parent home. It was never asked what I wanted, which would have been to keep my child and trust that God would provide. In the end I didn't surrender through Catholic Charities, but through my doctor instead, as I couldn't bear the thought of total anonymity. It felt as though I'd be sending my child into a black hole where I would know nothing about where he was going and who he'd be with, and they would know nothing about me. With the doctor, there would be a mutual contact; this way they (or as an adult, my son,) could contact me if they/ he ever needed anything. Many birth parent's did not have this opportunity and consequently live with the 'black hole'. As so many birth parents, I have always welcomed future contact with my son. I had told my future husband about him before we married and in accepting this, he was accepting my son as a part of me.It is deeply grievous to me, that those who would promote the continuation of sealed records, often because of what the adoptive parents and adoption agencies want, not birth parents, do so under the guise of "birth mother privacy".They are projecting the wants of others, onto us. This must stop. Those who do this are in effect telling the world that we would "reject" our children a second time, when it was not the truth the first time around, nor the second. Is this in an adoptee's best interest? I know it is not. Proverbs 6 says it is an abomination unto God to sow discord among brethren (family). I appeal to the New Jersey Catholic Conference to promote the truth; and endorse unconditional access to original birth certificates for ALL adoptees, leaving no one behind, no one left out.
There is nothing on my surrender documents that says I was promised privacy, and I feel it is unjust to deny adoptees in New Jersey their original unaltered birth certificate. If you read the Bible, you will see that God thinks geneology is important. There is a small minority of birth parents who have kept the matter hidden due to the deep shame and condemnation put upon them years ago, when mercy was not shown. Restoring adoptee access to their original birth certificates, for those who wish to contact their birth parents (not all will), will be for many, an opportunity for openness, honesty and resolution, rather than a perpetuation of secrets poisonous to the spirit, health and mind. Give them a chance to be freed from this prison, by unlocking the original OBC's for adoptees.
Luke 12:2 For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Isa 49:15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Prov 6: These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: . . . a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren
Thank you again for being willing to hear from real birth mothers.
Hi there Ms. Roger,
I understand you are curious to know what birthparents want. Thank you for asking - most people never bother to check.
Volumes could be written to answer your question, but the bottom line is, just like any other parents, we love our children and we want them to be happy. Naturally, this involves honesty - giving them their own truth so that they grow into happy and healthy individuals. I do not understand the sheer persistence of the myth that birthparents have been promised anonymity. My surrender papers say nothing about this topic. I can think of few of us who would have wanted such "protection" from our own offspring (the rare exception might be cases of rape, but I know birthmoms who were raped who still maintain open adoptions with their children). We don't want secrecy or lies because we want our kids to have access to their heritage, since we know that this is a simple human right as well as the foundation of a healthy identity. My rights to privacy do not include the right to deny my own child, or to deny him the facts of his conception, birth and identity. Nor should the government have the right to alter history and conceal the truth from an entire segment of the population. Please let me know if you have any additional questions that you'd like to ask a birthparent.
Unless you are a birthmother or an adoptee, you can't "get it." No one whohasn't been there can.I highly recommend a couple books. One, "The Other Mother" by Carol Shaferwas written several years ago. Ann Fessler's "The Girls Who Went Away" ismore recent. The former is just one birthmother's experience; the latter ismore of a scientific study woven into the stories of many a birthmother.Do you know how many girls relinquished? The number is in the millions!Shocked? I was, and I'm one of them. We never received any counseling andmost of us were made to feel ashamed and disgraced.Are you a mother? If so, how would you feel if your baby were taken fromyou? You probably think that our babies weren't actually taken from us.Maybe not. But we had no other choice. I was told I could not go home if Ikept my son.Google one of the many registries. Adoption.com has one. Look at how manyare searching.Another thing, as a birthmom I know my son's parents are his adoptiveparents. I would never do anything to take that away from him or them.Most birthmothers feel that way. But we still would like to know if ourchild is okay. Of course, most of us will never get the opportunity.Myself, I support open records for adult adoptees, unless there is a goodreason for opening the records sooner.Never assume birthmothers do not want to be found. That is untrue. 95% ofus DO want to be found.One example for open records is for medical information. For the pastcouple years I (and three search groups) have attempted to help a young man"Matt" find his birthmother. He knows his maternal grandfather died veryyoung during open-heart surgery. His two young daughters have heartconditions. Despite letters from his daughters' pediatrician andcardiologist, they judge was unable to unseal the records. What's wrongwith this picture????I fully expect you will get numerous responses. Mine may sound angry. Myanger is not for myself but for those like Matt who would benefit from thoserecords. Matt's quest is not just for medical. After I recommended AnnFessler's book, and he read it, he told me that he no longer feels "so discarded."The adoption industry has hurt so many people. Adoptees and birthparents.So many of us are screwed up beyond belief. Drugs, alcohol, abusive relationships, etc., etc. I can't believe that a good God could have wanted this for us. Can you?
Has anyone even been paying attention to the ABC newspoll ?? or any other polls taken over the years ??
The vast majority of adult adoptees and yes, even birthparents want OPEN RECORDS.......
I am a reunited birthmother and birthaunt who relinquished thru Catholic Social Services and was NEVER PROMISED CONFIDENTIALITY....in fact we were PROMISED THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE REUNITED once our children were of the LEGAL AGE OF 18 !! If the very concept of FINAL and NEVER were given to me I would have never parted with my child if that was even an option .., I would have found a way .....So many lies and cover ups on behalf both Religious and Political have come up with the MYTH of CONFIDENTIALITY .to PROTECT THEMSELVES ....it may apply to a minority under circumstances and they in fact should have to file for the right of confidentiality ............not the opposite..................we have been jumping thru hoops here for years !!
Wake up people and listen !!!!! We have been shouting on deaf ears for years and have yet to follow in the footsteps of other states ....the vast majority of birthmothers want to be found . Check online and see the thousands of search and support groups ...do the numbers count for anything?
Its people and their lives that are at stake here..grown adoptees , their children .......even a purebred dog comes with paperwork , ....shouldnt a grown human being be allowed to know their beginnings???? their genetics??? their medical histories?????? Shouldnt' two grown adults that want to find be able to legally ??
Lets finally end this Myth ....
Just a few random thoughts ..
Marlene Lao-Collins, Director
Patrick R. Brannigan, Executive Director
Lois Rogers, Features Editor
New Jersey Catholic Conference
149 North Warren Street
Trenton, New Jersey 08608
Dear Marlene Lao-Collins, Patrick R. Brannigan and Lois Rogers:
I am responding to the article “Calling all birthmothers…” I understand that you are looking to hear from natural mothers who have relinquished their babies to adoption. I am an adoptee and ask that you read my letter.
My three remaining parents are: 92 year old adoptive mother, 83 year old natural father and 73 year old step mother. None of them are adoption activists. They do not want to come forward to talk publicly, but they have given me permission to speak for them. I’ve written a book that will be published in a few months. My parents are well aware of what I wrote.
A mutual consent registry would not give adoptees their civil rights to their birth certificates. Adoptees are the only segment of American society discriminated against because they cannot legally obtain their original birth certificates. Reunions are a separate issue.
Adoptive parents who adopt “in good faith” ought to adopt with the full acknowledgment and understanding that they are taking in someone else’s child. This means that they ought to be open minded toward their adoptee’s need to know their histories, with the complete acceptance of a possible reunion someday. All adoptees have two sets of real parents. If pre-adoptive parents can’t accept that fact of life, they shouldn’t be allowed to adopt. Selfish adoptive parents cause tremendous guilt, anxiety and identity confusion in their adoptees. Adoptive parents who accept the facts of life support their adoptees in their unique status in life.
I’ve been in the adoption reform movement for 34 years. For over three decades, many adoptive parents told me that they adopted from foreign countries because they didn’t want their children to seek out and find their “real” parents --- with a foreign adoption, adoption is “safer” for adoptive parents.
Adoptees do not need parents’ consent, written, or spoken, to: vote, go to war, drink, get married, have children, give up a baby to adoption, associate with a political party, change religions, get a divorce. Adults have their own freedoms in this free country. Except adoptees. (In fact, minor children can give up a baby for adoption without parental notification nor permission)
My 31 year old father was talked into giving me, his youngest child, up for adoption three months after my birth and one month after the death of my mother in 1956. A Catholic priest suggested adoption because the baby needs two parents. Why didn’t the Catholic priest find ways to keep this family together? Didn’t the other four children need two parents, too? No one came forward with grief counseling for the family. No one came forward with money, clothes, volunteers to help with childcare or housework. The Christian advice was: give the baby up for adoption so you can go on with your life and the baby could have two parents.
My father reluctantly relinquished me to a sealed adoption. The court judge verbally told him to “stay away from the adoptive parents” and “you may look for your daughter when she turns 18.” My father did not sign a contract of confidentiality, nor was he promised that his identity would remain sealed forever and his secret would never be found out. For the sake of the four other children, he pressed on. But he thought of me every day and wondered how I was and he thought of me in the name he and my mother gave me at birth. My siblings never forgot that Mom was pregnant and that the baby never came home.
Why was my widowed father told he could find his daughter in 18 years when not-married-mothers were, and are, told they will never see their daughter or son again?
My 4 older siblings found me when I turned 18 in 1974. Even now, 34 years later, at age 52, I cannot legally obtain a copy of my original birth certificate because birth records of adoptees are sealed in New York State. Note that I am not an “adopted child”.
Clearly, sealed records protect the adoptive parents, not the identity of natural parents, and not the adoptee.
All adoptees have two sets of real parents. All people are products of sperm and egg. And someone has to give birth, which is a natural act. Adoptees also have adoptive parents who took on the social role of parenting. Both sets of real parents are important to the identity of adoptees.
Adoptees have two birth certificates: an amended birth certificate (a false document) and the original birth certificate that gives the facts of birth.
My amended birth certificate lists facts of my birth (date, place, hospital, time, single birth) and lists two people who are not responsible for my conception and birth. The mother named on this certificate did not give birth to me.
“I did not give birth to you,” Mom said recently. “I missed out on all of that. You are right. This birth certificate clearly states that I gave birth to you, that you were a single birth, and that the birth occurred in this hospital. This is wrong.”
How does my natural father feel about seeing my amended birth certificate? Terrible. He created me with my mother. The birth certificate that states so is sealed, not legal, so he is not my legal father. But he is my father.
My adoptive father passed away in 1982, eight years after my reunion with my natural family. He accepted the reunion better than my adoptive mother did at the time. He said to me, “I’m glad the secret is out.” For him, the guilt had been lifted. For Mom, she held onto the irrational fear that I’d run away from home and denounce her as my mother.
The reality is: adoptees do not forget their childhood and their upbringing. A reunion with another set of parents does not erase the foundation of a family life. But adoption does wipe out the existence of the first family. I still have a hard time accepting that my adoptive parents knew the truth and deliberately chose to lie to me for the first 18 years of my life. And then treat me with contempt for accepting a phone call from a full-blood sister I never knew. There is no justification for that.
Amended birth certificates should be illegal and immoral. A truthful adoption certificate should be issued instead. Adoptees, like all other American citizens, should have one, and only one, birth certificate: the one legally recorded five days after birth—the one that names who the parents are who are responsible for their conception and birth. All citizens ought to receive equal protection and civil rights. The truth of our births belongs to us. Our parents (all 4 of them) have the responsibility to tell the truth. The State should not stand in the way of honesty. Nor should the Church.
I was baptized on March 4, 1956, in the Roman Catholic faith by a priest at the bedside of my dying mother. I was given the name of Doris Michol Sippel. A baptismal certificate was issued to my parents with their names on it and my name and the names of my god parents.
Three years later, in 1959, my adoptive parents needed a baptismal certificate for me so I could go to Catholic schools and receive Catholic sacraments. Their attorney wrote to the head of the Church in Buffalo who contacted the church from which I was baptized. The priest, a different one from the one who wrote out the original baptismal certificate, wrote out a new baptismal certificate giving the date of my baptism, the new parent’s names, and my new adoptive name, as well as naming my god-parents. The priest signed his name to this paper. He was fully aware that he lied. Not only did he lie and officially issue a falsified religious document, but he also gave my adoptive parents the names of my god-parents ---- my natural mother’s brother and his wife (my aunt and uncle). By virtue of this being a closed, sealed adoption, the priest gave out confidential and secret information to adoptive parents who should never have been given that information, according to the strict adherence to closed and sealed adoption practices.
My god-mother died this past summer of 2007. No one told me she was alive and living a few miles from me. She was divorced from my god-father. At her memorial service, my god-father sobbed in my arms. He and his first wife took care of me for several months while my mother was dying.
Because this was a private adoption, when my natural father handed me to my new parents in court, he gave my adopting parents my newborn photo, my original birth registration, my original baptismal certificate, and my hospital birth certificate. With no guidance from anyone, my adoptive parents were terrified to tell me the truth. They pampered me for 18 years. Then, my eldest sister telephoned me a few months after I turned 18 --- on March 5, 1974. With that phone call, I was reunited with my first family. A few days later, in a fit of anger, my adoptive mother dumped these documents out of a manilla envelope onto a table. Also inside were my final order of adoption, my amended birth certificate, and my amended baptismal certificate.
I was baptized as Doris Michol Sippel, not Joan Mary Wheeler. Joan is my legal name, not the name God recognizes to get me into heaven. At one time, I wanted to become a nun. To take final vows, nuns must use the name given to them in the eyes of God. How is an adoptee supposed to do that when adoptees aren’t supposed to know their true name on their baptismal certificates because of sealed record laws?
Is it any wonder why I left the Catholic Church at age 14?
You don’t need the testimony of the mother to render a verdict. We don’t live in biblical times. We live in a complicated world with ever-more complicated life issues for adoptees and donor-conceived people. Take the wisdom of adoption researchers, social workers, psychiatrists, attorneys and today’s adoptees and today’s natural mothers and fathers: Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Fess up to that truth. Stop fooling yourselves, for the ones who suffer for the sake of their parents’ misguided possessiveness, selfishness, niavity, hopelessness, guilt, and lack of help, are the children. Children grow up to be adults to make sense of the troubled mess their parents and the government and the Catholic Church made for them.
These issues are deeper than open records or reunions. What about the Snowflake adoption agency and other embryo adoption centers? There is no legal adoption taking place. Those embryos are given to another couple, gestated inside a mother who is not the genetic mother, and then the baby’s birth certificate lists the mother who gave birth as the mother and her husband as the father: no legal adoption and all lies. And the parents go about their lives, happy that they saved an embryo from destruction, but because they can lie on the birth certificate, they can lie to the child and never tell the child the truth, ever. And this is done by Christians!
How about the lies told when parents use sperm or egg donors? Same thing. Mother is carrying a baby fathered by an anonymous sperm donor. Baby is born and the husband is named on the birth certificate as the father. Wrong. Did he adopt that baby? No. The name of the sperm donor should go on the birth certificate of a person conceived by a sperm donor. If her husband wishes to adopt that baby, they know to take those steps, and then that child will have two fathers. When a mother gives birth to a baby conceived by an egg donor, two mothers should be named on that birth certificate along with the husband, if his sperm was used. If not, then the sperm donor’s name should go on the birth certificate.
Solomon was not prepared to answer these questions of who the “real” mother is. To simplify today’s complex adoption and reproductive technologies by tossing around the wisdom of the mother in Solomon’s times is to completely ignore the facts of adoption today: Not-married mothers and sometimes widowed fathers never wanted to give up their babies to adoption. Adoptive parents selfishly and possessively lie to their children, as does the government and the Catholic Church. Adoptees and donor-conceived people have more than two parents. Is it morally correct that young women and men sell their gametes so that others can have their children?
Non-adopted people have no moral, religious or legal right to continue to play games with the lives of adoptees and donor-conceived individuals. Government and religious documents ought to tell the truth. All parents have the moral and ethical and religious and legal responsibility to tell the truth. Give adoptees the legal right to their own true birth certificates.
Since I’m writing to the New Jersey Catholic Conference, I’d like you to know that, outside of writing about this in my up-coming book, I’ve not written to any other Catholic Church entity about this topic. You are the first. Years back, I questioned a family friend who is a priest about it and wrote about what he said in my book.
I’d like the Catholic Church to be held accountable for fraud and forgery. I’d even like to take this all the up to the Pope. Lying is a sin.
If this letter results in a published article, please contact me. If this letter results in real dialogue to end discrimination against adoptees and donor-conceived people and their natural parents, please inform me of who is informed so that I might be a part of history making changes to improve Catholic understanding of adoption, and to end falsified birth and baptismal certificates.
Ms. Joan Wheeler
(born as) Doris Sippel
Buffalo, New York
reunited adoptee since 1974
adoption rights activist
I relinquished my daughter in 1966 (we were reunited on the 32nd anniversary of the day I signed the papers). Since our reunion in 1998, I have not only worked tirelessly for open records, I have also done extensive research about not only adoption, but about the experience of relinquishment. I am current the Texas Representative of the American Adoption Congress, and working toward my Master degree in Women's Cultural History at the University of Texas at Arlington. I graduated from UTA with an Honors BA this past May. My honors thesis, entitled "Sisters from the Society of Secrets and Lies," centered on women that relinquished children between the years 1950 - 1979. Over two hundred women participated in my study. I am attaching a copy of this paper.
I would like to respond to two issues in your email.
"The assurance of secrecy regarding the identity of the natural parents enables them to place the child for adoption with a reputable agency, with the knowledge that their actions and motivations will not become public knowledge," Brannigan testified. "Assured of this privacy by the State, the natural parents are free to move on and attempt to rebuild their lives after what must be a traumatic and emotionally tormenting episode in their lives."
Many of the adult adoptees seeking open records are children of women who relinquished during the 3 decades of my study. Most of us were not given choices. We did not have options that young women have today. There was no choosing a "reputable agency" - there was no "making an adoption plan" - there were no options of open or closed adoptions. We were NEVER promised confidentiality, and especially not from the children we felt forced to give up. We did not want our neighbors or people around us to know of our pregnancy because of the stigma and shame associated with single motherhood. Most of us did not give up our babies because we did not want them. There are many very reputable studies about the history of sealing records. The records were sealed to protect adoptive parents -- never to protect the birthmother. Adoptive parents were promised by agencies that birthmothers could not and would not ever return.
"The adoptive parents, he noted, also have an interest in having the birth records under seal. "They have taken into their home a child whom they will regard as their own and whom they will love and raise as an integral part of their family unit."
First of all - open records is not about reunion. It is about an adult having access to their OWN records-just like every other (unadopted) citizen has. Thousands and thousands of adult adoptees and birthmothers have found ways to search and find each other. Addressing the quote above, the reuniting of an adoptee with his or her biological family does not destroy or alter the adoptive family's relationship. There is something that the best, most loving adoptive parent cannot give their son or daughter--that is their roots, their heritage, their bloodline.
My daughter was raised by wonderful parents. She and her mother share a close, intimate and loving relationship. Our reunion and relationship has in no way altered or diminished that relationship. Her parents and I share a beautiful loving bond. When Juli married this past May, her parents insisted that I sit on the front row with them. Both of Juli's mothers lit her Unity Candle together. Juli is the product of BOTH of her families.
There are two wonderful books you might want to read. The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler and The Baby Thief by Barbara Bradford. The first book features 100 women that relinquished babies from 1950 – 1973. The second book is illustrates how amended birth certificates and sealed records came to be the standard for adoptions—through the infamous Georgia Tann of Tennessee.