Here is her letter to the editor:
Adoption records should stay sealed
By Kathleen Hoy Foley
Many New Jerseyans have heard about the effort to pass legislation to open adoption records that have been sealed by law for decades. Adult adoptees who long to find their biological parents dominate this conversation. But you hear little from woman like me -- women in hiding who live in fear of having their lives irrevocably disrupted and potentially harmed by the revelation of private, personal decisions we believed were in our pasts and protected by law.
If pending legislation passes and adoption records are unsealed, then women in hiding will be found, either by the adoptee pursing them or the state of New Jersey -- probably by both. Either way, we await with dread the inevitable outcome for women whose crisis pregnancies went to term and resulted in adoption: being hunted down and confronted.
The legal confidentiality established when we made our decisions will be worthless if this legislation passes. We don't have laws protecting us from an adoptee who uses bullying tactics to gain contact. We are not covered under the Domestic Violence Law, and even to get a restraining order, we have to appear in court with the offender, whose mission -- contact by whatever means necessary -- is then accomplished.
Appealing to an angry adoptee to please accept our boundaries is an option, but in my case it did not work. At 15 years old I suffered a year and a half of abuse and rape that resulted in pregnancy. Suicidal and wracked with despair, I was incapable of articulating what had happened to me. With no other options available at the time, I had to go through with the pregnancy. What rescued me emotionally was the belief that the birth would be the end of my ordeal and I would be free to rebuild my life.
More than 30 years later, after a violation of my confidentiality, the adoptee obtained my privileged information and sent letters demanding contact. When I refused, she hunted down family members and divulged the secret I had been guarding. Despite my attorney advising her that her continued contacts were causing me severe emotional distress and requesting that she cease all contact with me and my family, 10 years later she still continues.
Women in hiding are hiding for a reason. If a woman wants to be found by an adoptee, she knows how to sign up on mutual consent registries.
The voices of women in hiding are quiet and fearful, and, therefore, unheard. Our silence and dread are exploited by "experts" brandishing statistics claiming we want to be found and by politicians deluded into thinking they can heal the broken hearts of adoptees, refusing to consider the devastating consequences for those of us who need to maintain our confidentiality.
Most of us aren't in a position to come out of hiding, to reclaim ourselves and to speak the truth in our own voices. We have too much at risk to identify ourselves.
I speak out on behalf of women in hiding only because my peace and privacy were already taken from me. Should this legislation pass without strong protections for our privacy, most women in hiding can only live with the daily terror and dread of the letter or the phone call or the knock on the door that will change our lives as we know them.
Rape, incest and tragedy surround many of our pasts. We carried our pregnancies to term and placed a child for adoption with an expectation of privacy. And now, without our having any real ability to fight for our interests, our rights are in the hands of people who don't know our circumstances, our sacrifices or our pain. While the state may be able to facilitate wanted mutual reunions between biological parents and adoptees, it should guarantee every possible protection for the women in hiding who live in silence and fear. The current pending legislation does not provide these protections.
Yet on this list for Columbus Right to Life, you and your husband are on it. First off where exactly do you live? Why are you on the Right to Life group of contributors in Columbus Ohio? Do you realize who exactly you are now associated with? A Child's Waiting. They are on their way to being shut down by the state of Ohio? They have a minimum of fourty five (that's 45) complaints against them. They basically stole a young mother's baby from her and her family. A young girl, Stephanie Bennett, who was raped just like you. Unlike you, she doesn't blame her child for the rape. Her rapist is finally behind bars.
Another dear mother friend of mine, MotherhoodDeleted, would also disagree with you and your intent behind this letter. If Columbus Right to Life would instead support women raising their children instead of giving them up for adoption, they might have more support from folks like us.
So please explain your actions.