This is wrong on so many levels. These letters are making it seem like they are out to protect these mothers. They want adoption to continue in its happy yappy dance. They do not want folks real live folks to realize that what they are spewing is lies, smoke and mirrors.
Subject: Callous Disregard from Jane Doe #7
This is a letter from Jane Doe #7, anonymous birth mother plaintiff in the lawsuit against Oregon's Measure 58. It was filed along with her affidavit in the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment filed in May 1999.
I recall the very instant I made the decision that I would give the child I was carrying up for adoption. I remember this crystal clearly as if it were yesterday-despite the fact that it occurred some thirty odd years ago. I was young, unmarried and after weeks of turmoil and distress, it came suddenly down to something very simple and fundamental-what was best for the child? Discounting my preferences, wishes, desires, did I have all the necessary resources to give this child what he or she needed to have the best possible start in this world? If no, then how about a fair start? The fact of the matter was that the answer to both of these questions was, 'No."
My story isn't unique. There were thousands of us then as there are now- engaging in sexual activities and making serious mistakes by, depending on how you look at it, either first being sexually active at all without the benefit of marriage, or at least by not using reliable methods of contraception. We were young, sometimes irresponsible and considered pretty much 'bad" by society in general back then. Boys/men weren't held to the same level of responsibility-they were just responding to their hormones. But it was different for girls/women-it was our job to remain "pristine;" keeping both genders' hormones in check. If we didn't well then, we just kind of deserved what we got.
When a pregnancy occurred, some women got married and lived happily ever after, maybe. Some got married too early to the wrong men, only later to find themselves left with at least one child and no real way to support themselves or the child. Some didn't get married, keeping the child, and dooming themselves and not only this child but all their children to a life of poverty. That's been statistically proven time and time again.
Some young women responded by getting illegal abortions. Some worked the angle getting a legal abortion by "convincing" a psychiatrist their emotional well-being was seriously compromised by the pregnancy. If one had the necessary funds and sought an evaluation by a sympathetic mental health professional, one could easily access a gynecologist who would perform the necessary procedure "to maintain psychological health."
Some chose to give their child up for adoption. It wasn't an easy choice. It's hard to carry a child for nine months, give birth, hear the first few cries, then silence as the child is whisked off the arms of the waiting adoptive parents there are no words to describe just how hard that was.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself here... Once the decision was made, based on the welfare of the child as the paramount factor, I researched who might be able to help me with this very difficult choice. I found an obstetrician who said he could arrange a private adoption where the suitability of the potential parents would be assured. He could refer me to an attorney, who would ensure the process was "legal." Expenses would be paid by the adopting family. I saw the referral attorney to discuss the possibility. He assured me that the state would carefully evaluate any adopting family. He advised me of the adoption process - the birth certificate of the child would be sealed and a new birth record would be issued to the child and the adopting family. The original record of the birth parents would be sealed and could never be opened. In fact, I should ensure that my decision was carefully made because it would be final, once I signed the papers giving my child up for adoption I would not be able to find the child and would never be able to reclaim the child as my own. The rights of the adopting family were ironclad. This was to ensure the welfare of the child, the deal was final.
The ensuing months were very difficult. I was miserable dealing with the ambiguities of the decision I was making. I kept reminding myself that the most important issue was the welfare of the child-not my own. Finally the time came and in total despair, I signed those papers-I couldn't see what I was doing because of the tears. The attorney told me to forget this pregnancy ... this child. With the documents he had created, I would never see this child again. I shouldn't even try. He told me to forget 'what happened" and go out and make another life for myself. He just didn't tell me. . . how..
One doesn't create a new life for themselves after giving a child up for adoption without leaving a few critical things about their past out when they develop new relationships. Life goes on. One never, ever..forgets. But one doesn't disclose or discuss it.
Although there isn't anything I wouldn't do change the circumstances of the birth of my first child, reflecting back, I really think I did the right things after I became pregnant, I took responsibility for my actions. I put the welfare the child before that of anyone else-including myself. I didn't share my personal circumstance with anyone other than the one individual with a right to know - the father. I didn't default on my education loans and become a welfare mom relying on society for financial support. I abided by the legal options that were open to me. I signed the adoption papers knowing full well that I could never attempt to impinge on the rights of the adopting parents nor interfere with the private life of the child. I was told the records would be sealed and no one would be able to gain access to the birth record - not even me. I began living my life relying what had been told from the attorney and physician based on Oregon law.
I'm living a life that includes family, friends and professional associates where this child exists only in my heart. I've pondered utilizing existing processes to put my name out there so this child could contact me if he/she wanted, Before it would be fair to anyone involved, should this child even be interested in a meeting, there would be a lot of preparation for the child, their family and my family that would be required before the chances of a positive result could materialize. Any meeting would need to be carefully orchestrated. I would never consider trying to find this child and meet with anyone in their family without his/her consent.
Now, the voting public has determined that the record of this child as well as all other adoptees should be open and accessible by simply a unilateral request of the adoptee. The majority of Oregonians feel that adoptees have the right to default retroactively on rules that applied when their birth parents made the decisions to give them up for adoption. I'm not so sure why they feel this is such a good idea. Is it because they had no opportunity to hear from birth parents as to how this actually might affect lives of the involved parties? How could we, as birth parents, possibly unite and/or speak out telling anyone of our concerns? Our life has been one of secrecy-to openly discuss, educate or petition against the passage of this bill would have been to publicly acknowledge that which we have kept private-that which I was told to forget because I would never be able to change. And why, at this time, is it appropriate to open these birth records without even consulting the birth parents? What have I done so that I should not even be given the opportunity to have a say about whether information about me is going to be released, particularly in light of the fact I was told the information would never be releasable even to me? Now, the child may have access, but I may not? How is it possible that the "majority of Oregonians," who have never been in my shoes, can change the terms of an agreement I entered into over thirty years ago? Was that agreement only for the benefit of the adopting family? Was anyone in this legal agreement representing me or my interests? Is my life as a birth parent, so inconsequential in comparison to that of the adoptee that I should have absolutely no say nor any notification when or how this information may be released?
Does the Oregon public and furthermore, do adoptees think that walking into the unprepared and/or unwilling family of birth parents is going to automatically result in acceptance and happiness? Specifically, how is acceptance and happiness to result when the birth parent will not know if, how, nor when this might happen? No provision for preparation of the birth parent or family has been included or ensured. What is going to happen to the adoptee psychologically when they are not necessarily met with open arms? How about when they're met with shock, denial, hostility or rejection? What about birth mothers who live in situations of domestic violence? What's going to happen if a partner, prone to verbally or physically abusive conduct, finds out "his woman" committed sins of the flesh and gave birth and adopted out a child regardless of how long ago or under what conditions it might have happened?
A proposed reasoning for the access of the birth parent is for medical reasons. There may be a legitimate need for the a person to contact a birth parent; however this would not require the release of all birth records by a unilateral request of all the adopted children in the State of Oregon. Other mechanisms could be instituted to provide for first accessing the birth parent, informing them of the need and requesting their cooperation.
There is no doubt that adoptees and birth parents often decide to meet after the adoptee becomes an adult and develop enriched relationships that are positive and constructive. These relationships begin with a foundation of mutual willingness and are fostered by dialogue that is entered into by two or more parties who want to proceed. Reuniting under these circumstances makes sense. Opportunities for these mutually agreeable meetings should be encouraged.
However, to proceed with a change in Oregon law allowing adoptees free access to previously sealed birth records so that they may contact unprepared and/or unwilling birth parents is just plain wrong. It won't help adoptees access the information regarding their birth which they may be seeking. It will do nothing to foster a positive relationship with birth parents or extended families-in fact, it will do just the opposite. It is in direct conflict to agreements made between the birth parents, adopting parents and the State of Oregon over the last forty years creating unfairness to the birth parents with the potential for devastating effects on all party's lives.
I was told my decision was final-I could under no circumstances change it. I was promised the records were going to remain sealed from everyone, including me. I lived by the rules of the agreement I made never attempting to open the birth records nor interfere with the adoptive parents or the child. I was told to forget what happened and build a new life. I took responsibility for my personal actions, I put the welfare of the innocent child before my own. I became a productive tax-paying member of society not relying on the public to raise my child. Why now, should the circumstances of the agreement I made over thirty year ago change? Why should this record be released in any manner without my consent?