Grieving Many Times Over

Today, I share a piece by LINK>David B Bohl, who is an author, speaker and addiction & relinquishment consultant. It is titled On Grieving Many Times, And Many Times Over. I was attracted to this because yesterday was my deceased, adoptee mother’s birthday. I don’t suppose we ever get over the grief. I don’t think she ever got over the grief of never being able to communicate with her birth mother, who Tennessee told her in the early 1990s was already dead.

David writes his adoptive mother’s death was the fifth death of a parent he’d had to go through. He explains that he – hadn’t learned of the first two until much later after they’d occurred. The first one to go was my birth father, who died 32 years before I learned about it, the second one my birth mother whose death I did not learn of until 8 years after it happened (very similar to my own mom). Then there was my adoptive father 12 years ago, and now, Joan Audrey Bohl who died twice —first when the dementia robbed her of her mind and memory, subsequently rendering me a stranger when she would fail at times to remember who I was and why I was visiting. There she was another mom who had no idea I was her son. In those moments, in a most sinister coincidence, she was like my biological parents who relinquished me and existed in this world without any specific knowledge of me.

He wants us to understand “What all of this means to someone like me—a relinquishee and adoptee who now has two sets of deceased parents–is that I must face twice(?), five times(?) a yet-to-be determined amount(?) of grief and confusion. Add to that losing my adoptive mom to dementia, and there is plenty to process, a great deal of loss, and certainly much to grieve. I am, of course, not blaming any of my parents for dying or getting sick, and I’ve made peace with my biological parents for giving me up a 62 years ago. But it would be disingenuous to say that I am no longer affected by these losses and that my mother’s recent death doesn’t trigger some new layer of grief where all of those people who contributed to my existence must be acknowledged in how they shaped my life. And so, I think about mothers. The mother I knew and the mother I’ve never met. And then the mother I knew who no longer knew me. I think of fathers, the one who had never even met me, and the one who raised me and provided me with a life filled with opportunities. And I of course, as a father, I think about my children.”

When I try to talk about my own family, my youngest son says to me – you have a very complicated family. It is true. And it is true for adoptees as well. As I have learned who my original grandparents were and have made contact with that novel new experience of genetic relatives that never knew each other existed – it has actually given me a new sense of wholeness – while at the same time totally messing me up with the adoptive relatives and the feelings I have (and still have) and each of them. Very complicated indeed.

There is much more in his very worthwhile article – see the LINK.

A Uterus With Legs ?

The issue of referring to an adopted child’s first mother as the tummy mummy came up somewhat coincidentally today but it did cause me to reflect on this again. Somehow, I always feel a bit of cringe at that phrase and the title of this blog reflects how some other people feel about it. I found that Lori Holden aka Lavender Luz did a poll. She is an Author & Speaker, Diarist & Open Adoption Advocate. She also has a podcast – LINK>Adoption: The Long View.

First what got me here. The commenter is blocked from posting/ responding for a month in a Foster/Adopt group. The reason she notes is that it isn’t ‘kind’ to mention to someone with ‘guardianship’ whose 4 year old child sees her biological parents – that agreeing/ pretending, letting child pretend that the child grew in HER belly vs reinforcing to child that she grew in ‘mama name’s ‘ tummy…. That mama ‘name’ is more respectful than tummy mummy.

Of course, there is also this – that they “saved” the child …. and have done xyz for that child – still does not change the fact that child did not grow inside her. The issue started when a photo was posted that showed a non reading age child in a shirt with letters only stating she loved her as ‘mom’… allegedly the child picked that shirt out and insisted she wear it in front of the tree….again listing all the things ‘she’ saved child from…

The commenter was blocked after mentioning that seemed passive aggressive since the sees her actual parents.

In the LINK>Poll about the term “tummy mummy”, the 300 respondents broke down this way –

  • 66% were adopting or adoptive parents
  • 11% were adoptees
  • 13% had a professional or nonprofessional interest in adoption
  • 10% had placed a child or lost a child to adoption

You might expect that with such an Adoptive-Parent-heavy sample, the results would lean positive toward use of the term “Tummy Mummy” but you would be incorrect.

  • 61% either didn’t like the term (26%) or detested it (35%)
  • 25% were either neutral (12%) or found it acceptable (13%)
  • Only 5% loved it
  • The remaining 9% chose “Other,” which allowed for commentary.

Some of their comments included – Feels like a white-wash term trying to sanitize truth. It diminishes the woman’s motherhood. Original family isn’t reflected in this phrase, which seems intent on removing all important connections and substituting them with a biological detail that isn’t even accurate.

This one was interesting – I hate “tummy mommy.” When people told me babies grew in their moms’ tummies, I pictured babies swimming their stomachs with all the food. And babies popping out of tummies, Aliens-style.

Another one noted – My husband is a reunited adult adoptee. I actually shared this with him and he made a vomiting noise.

Another adoptee noted – young children are not given enough credit for understanding that we can have two mothers that love us, regardless if one can’t be there at the moment. I know for me personally it would have helped me tremendously to have been able to see and talk freely about my mother as this real person.

And this – “Tummy mummy” makes her sound like [my long-gone birth mother] was a surrogate rather than a human being making a difficult decision. It reduces her down to a particular “role”.

Romanticized Christmas Adoption

It’s everywhere, not only at this time of year but throughout the year. One adoptee wrote – be aware of your Christmas movie viewing. The orphan/adoption plot line is strong this time of year! you may be looking for Christmas movies to view with your children. I have personally decided to use this as an opportunity to teach my kids about my adoption status, and help empower them to be educated non-adopted members of society, and hopefully avoid their desensitization/romanticized experience of others’ adoptive storylines. Join me in my campaign to keep the trauma-aware population growing! (Yes, I am part of such a campaign !!)

Regarding Christmas Princess on Amazon Prime: a former foster care youth adoptee whose adoptee status is her vehicle to position herself as a Rose Bowl Parade princess. There are flashback scenes to her addicted first mother’s neglect, their home removal, and some overt/horrifically blatant guilt tripping from her adoptive parents. (The adoptee says – I’m not being sensitive…when she is wrestling with her attachment issues and then *surprise* is approached by her birth mother, she tells her adoptive parents about it. Her adoptive dad says “it’s like you don’t appreciate everything we’ve done for you! When will you learn we’re you’re family!” Pretty tough to watch for me and they just gloss over it like that was excellent parenting and she’s the one with the problem. Needless to say, I was triggered – which doesn’t happen all that often for me.)

The adoptee adds this side note – as a kid I had an obsession with orphan stories. (Blogger’s note – it is interesting that I was too but I thought my adoptee parents were orphans when in reality they were not – there were families out there living lives we were unaware of.) I read every tragic book I could find, and was not triggered—only intrigued—by the plethora of stories I found (in my desire to romanticize my situation.) So, I’m not saying don’t let them watch potentially triggering material. I mean, by all means, if you know they have a trigger, for the love of everything, please respect that. Not all kids are able to articulate their reactions, so I’m just saying, as in all good parenting: be alert, be aware, be available to talk it out. Literally pause the movie and say “that was completely out of bounds for him to be guilting her like that. It really rubbed me the wrong way. What do you think?” and follow it up with intentional discussion “why do movie makers seem to gravitate toward adoption stories? What do you think that’s about? How do you feel about that?” or “do you like movies that involve adoption? Do you ever relate to the characters? I find myself sympathetic to the adoptive mom, I don’t want her to feel rejected, but even more so, I find myself feeling protective of the kid. The top priority should be their well-being, right?” Engage engage engage! If they happen to open up to you, please please be encouraging and sympathetic in your response!!! If I had felt free to express all of my curiosity, emotion, feelings of rejection without dismissive “How could you not feel lovable?! We love you SO much!” I would have processed much of my adoption better along the way.

Other themed Christmas movies – Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer – the island of misfits, Santa Paws (note – my wife watched it and was surprised it has a foster care theme, with it showing the foster mom as mean and evil.), Elf (Buddy is a late discovery adoptee who learns he is not in fact an elf like he had always believed, despite it being very obvious because of his physical size. The whole movie is about reunion with his father and there are some hard rejection moments in there.), Annabelle’s Christmas Wish (is about a boy who is orphaned and lives with his grandfather. There is holiday magic but also an entire plot about how his wealthy aunt is weaponizing Child Protective Services to take the boy away). There are probably others, this is just a short list offered so far.

From an adoptive parent who adopted from foster care – I’m pretty sensitive when adoption is part of a story line, and always concerned about how my adopted child will feel upon watching movies centered around adoption. But yes, my daughter is very intrigued by adoption stories and it gives us a chance to discuss healthy vs. non-healthy relationships and how no two families are the same. She doesn’t yet know everything that happened to put her into foster care. I appreciate hearing adoptees’ perspectives to know how to better navigate parenting her.

Greg Louganis Adoptee

Greg Louganis and his biological father, Fouvale Lutu, in 2017

I learned about this adoptee from a favorite adoptee blogger, Tony Corsentino, in a recent blog LINK>Beautiful Man. I personally LOVE reunion stories.

I’ll admit I really didn’t know anything about Louganis’ Olympic career. In 2017, People magazine wrote about his reunion with his paternal family – LINK>How He Found His Birth Father by Patrick Gomez. Louganis told People – “I needed to know I wasn’t a throw-away child.” Like many adoptees (my mom included) being adopted filled him with questions about his birth parents. Being told his biological parents had been young when he was born and had no choice in giving him up for adoption, he says “helped ease the question of whether I was loved.”

Louganis’s birth parents met in Hawaii, but his biological mother moved to San Diego while pregnant and Louganis entered the foster care system at birth. At 9 months, he was adopted by Southern California-based Frances and Peter Louganis, who were unable to have biological children. The couple had also adopted a daughter two years before and were always open with their kids about their family history. 

Among his biggest fans was Fouvale Lutu, who for years had quietly followed his son’s life from afar. When an endorsement event for Speedo brought Louganis to Honolulu in 1984, Lutu decided it was time to meet his first-born son. “One of the hosts came up to me and said, ‘Your father’s here.’ And I said, ‘My father’s in San Diego,’ ” recalls Louganis. Then he said, ‘No. Your biological father.’ “

“It was interesting because as the years progressed,” Louganis says, “I saw a lot of similar traits in him that I saw in myself.” He adds, “when I did the DNA testing and found out how we were connected, it validated everything that I knew in my heart.” Through the DNA test, he also discovered the identity of his birth mother. 

Back to Tony Corsentino, his adoptive parents extolled Louganis as a role model for him. This caused him to realize he had resented Greg Louganis as a child. In maturity, he realized that his parents’ tokenizing of Louganis as what adoptees can achieve was mixed in with his resentment. Then, he realized that he would have needed to be able to theorize his adoption in terms that separated his own self and his questions and needs as an adoptee, from his adoptive parents, their motives and their needs as adopters. The idea of adoptee-in-reunion erasing everything that does not support the dominant conception of adoption as child welfare through family creation. The very idea of finding and reclaiming one’s roots.

A bit more about erasure from Tony – the term is a cultural project requiring many interconnecting parts: laws, institutions, ideas. Denial of citizenship to intercountry adoptees is one manifestation of it. Also, adopting children out of their communities; punitive, draconian terminations of parental rights through our systems of family policing; sealing of birth records. More broadly still: ideas of adoption as child rescue, and the presumption of adoptee gratitude, function to enmesh everyone in the project of erasure. Against such a polymorphous force, resistance takes correspondingly many forms. Greg Louganis’s willingness to talk about his reunion and his reassertion of his ancestral identity through inscribing and adorning his body with native tattoos are potent acts of anti-erasure, no matter how personal their meaning for him.

I love reunion stories because I had to make a determined effort to reclaim my original roots for my own self.

Fathers And Custody

One of the cultural changes that has come to pass is fathers asserting their rights when faced with the loss of custody for their child. I am happy today because one battle has finally been hard won. It had been a 6 month battle that cost over $35,000 in legal fees. The judge awarded sole custody of the baby girl to her dad. Everyone is over the moon happy for him.

Today, I read about another father who was lied to about his child. I wonder how often this might happen, more often than I once thought. The way his father found out his daughter was alive was when an adoption agency lawyer called him to ask if he knew about his daughter’s birth. His ex had told him the babies (she had been expecting twins) were stillborn. DNA test results were that 99.9999% she is his daughter. The judge sided with the hopeful adoptive parents who have a 5 bedroom house with a pool, backyard and front yard plus grandma and grandpa living there too. His parental rights are due to be stripped and he will never get to meet his daughter. He mourned the death of twins he thought were stillborn for a year. Now he will lose his daughter again, after never even meeting her.

In more conventional custody situations, as of 2018, nearly 4 in 5 custodial parents were mothers (79.9%). But the statistics go deeper than that: Not only does the mother get custody of the children more often, the parents agree in more than half the cases (51%) that the mother should have custody. However, the number of children living with their father has more than quadrupled from 1% in 1968 to 4.5% in 2020. Many divorced fathers would prefer to have custody of their children but are not actually awarded custody. 65% of the time the female parent is awarded custody.

Personal confession – I was awarded custody of my daughter in my divorce case. However, due to financial hardship (with no child support asked for nor rendered), my daughter was raised by her dad and a step-mother. It was simply an agreement that to the best of my knowledge was never court ordered. It was not an easy role in the 1970s to be an absentee mother. Thankfully, I continue to have a good relationship with my daughter and her assistance to me when my parents were dying can never be adequately repaid but continues a source of deep gratitude for me.

Within the legal family court system, women are viewed as generous, trustworthy and friendly and there is a belief that they will have more time to spend with their children but this is not the reality in either single mother families or in families where both parents work. As of 2015, joint-custody arrangements were more common than sole paternal custody but less common than sole maternal custody. With regard to joint-custody arrangements: occurrences of domestic violence on the part of husbands was reduced.

It is surprisingly easy to find stories of fathers having to fight for custody against adoptive or foster parents. In a case I had looked at before, which was ruled just this 2022 year, the father had sought custody in a divorce petition filed in Iowa before his then-estranged wife gave birth. A judge ordered DNA testing and prohibited the child’s permanent placement or adoption. She gave birth in Michigan and a judge terminated parental rights of the birth mother and father, who was considered a non-surrendering party because he failed to respond to a generic legal notice published in a newspaper. The Michigan Supreme Court justices said the case presented challenging legal issues, with some concerned about the father’s due-process rights. Even so, the state’s Supreme Court sided with the adoptive parents of the nearly 4-year-old boy whose birth father had sought custody. That court reversed a decision by a state Court of Appeals panel that said the birth father’s parental rights were wrongly terminated, which provided the birth father with a chance at gaining custody.

If the topic interests you, you may wish to read this analysis – LINK>The Strange Life of Stanley v. Illinois: A Case Study in Parent Representation and Law Reform provided by the NYU Review of Law & Social Change – Legal Scholarship for Systemic Change. Thankfully, there has been dramatic and important growth of parent representation in child protection cases. In Stanley, the Supreme Court addressed Peter Stanley’s efforts to regain custody of his children from the Illinois foster care system after the death of his partner, Joan Stanley, to whom he was not married. Stanley became a canonical case regarding the rights of unwed fathers, and, crucially for the child protection field, it included a broader holding that only parental fitness can justify state action to remove children from their parents’ custody.

The Words Are Wrong

Often it would be better not to say it at all. Today’s story –

I wish my parents wouldn’t say shit like my son is going to take after them when it comes to genetics, even something as silly as toe nails. It makes my story feel insignificant to them. NO, I have my own story and entire genealogy behind me that I don’t have the privilege of understanding. I don’t know what my son takes after when it comes to me, then saying things like that is a reminder that my story was wiped clean and brushed under the rug. My mom constantly reminding me that she nursed me when she was pushing 50 and wasn’t lactating does not feel good, another reminder how out of touch she was with my reality. Why would latching a baby when they are hungry with no food to offer ever feel like a good idea? And if they mention my weight and how worried they were that I was going to not lose any pregnancy weight I might just scream. They spent 3 hours here with my son (5 weeks old) and I am emotionally exhausted. So many small comments that felt so heavy for me. I’ll tell ya, having a baby sure slapped me in the face with adoption bs. I kind of thought I was out of the fog for the last 2 years, NOPE! Thrown right back in full force. From seeing someone related to me for the first time in person, to not understanding how in the world someone gives a baby away for money alone. Crazy time lately!

It’s bad enough when total strangers say stupid things but people who ought to know better . . . sadly too many don’t – know better.

It’s The Insecurity

Two people talk about seeing their daughter but the adoptive parents won’t let them now, even though they agreed to an open adoption. If you are an expectant mom being given promises of an open adoption, I would caution you not to believe them. It is so common for an adoption that starts out “open” to quickly become closed. Some adoptive parents are so insecure. It seems like they are afraid that when the real parents are in the picture, the kid will love them too much and that it’ll just remind the child that the adoptive parents aren’t the real parents.

From an adoptee and former foster care youth who is in love with someone who is a First Dad. His ex gave the baby up out of spite and religious differences. It was an open adoption and they involve his ex but not him. He has to beg for updates and has never seen his daughter. He doesn’t know what to do and feels helpless because they are lawyers with lots of money. 

This happens a lot with foster care adoptions. Sometimes it’s offered as a deal – if the parents sign away their rights, they get a say in who adopts their child, or they get to keep the older child and are promised an open adoption with the baby. Some parents don’t even bother trying to get their kids back, they just sign away their rights. Willing relinquishment is rewarded, while parents who put up a fight get punished for being uncooperative, even selfish.

One adoptee shares – I wasn’t supposed to mention being adopted to teachers, doctors, therapists etc. We lived hard in the fantasy… except for when my adoptive mom got pissed… then that fantasy was shattered and my adoption was thrown in my face. So this is how I now picture every adoptive parent who closes an open adoption. That they are being like my adoptive mom firmly trying to shame the genetics outta me and brainwash me to view her and only her as someone who cares.

A birth father who was also a former foster care youth shares his experience – my daughter’s mother is in active addiction and had been told Child Protective Services would not let her keep our baby. She had adopted out her first child, and we decided it would be best to at least have two siblings together, and the adoptive parents have been great with keeping in contact with her… but she is very low contact. She feels tremendous guilt, so she does not make contact and does not reply most of the time. I was promised throughout the entire pregnancy that it would be an open adoption and my daughter would live with them but she would have a relationship with me and with the children that I have full custody of myself, that I’d get pictures and video calls, and she would learn about my family and carry on the traditions we follow. But after they left Texas, they sent me a letter saying they would be severing communication with me because they wanted my daughter to grow up with “less confusion.” They did not go into any further reasons but did tell me they knew it wasn’t fair to me. They thanked me for all that I did to care for her during the pregnancy. I was told quite bluntly by the doctor that our baby only made it because of my involvement in caring for her and her mom. I got to hold my baby once – for an hour supervised at the adoption agency – two days before they flew out. The adoptive parents send photos to her mom, and she forwards them to me once and a while. One of the workers at the adoption said they know it’s unfair but they are powerless after the adoption is finalized. She told me that adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents cause “as much damage, if not more” than birth moms and that they are very selfish. My daughter’s mother lives in poverty and has little contact and no means to ever visit Virginia in person. They don’t see her as a threat. I’ve been sober for ten years and I work hard. They see me as a threat, even though I am not, therefore they cut me out.

An adoptee suggests – Please keep tabs on them, I wouldn’t stop reaching out either. I see dads who stop all action due to where they stand legally. But who you are biologically matters to your children, not legalities. Journal and document everything you can now, keep them included in your journey and future plans. One day you can present them with the truth vs the fairytale.

Here’s a little story for you about dads’ impact through biologies: My daughter is almost 4, her father is an addict and has not been in her life since before she was one. She knows dad is unwell and does not think like we do right now. Tonight before bed she said she wanted to see her dad. I told her I wasn’t sure where he was right now but one day she’ll see him. She asked if she would see his house. I said “maybe, but don’t you want to talk on the phone to get to know him first”. She gave a little giggle. “I do know him, it’s my dad. He’s our family.” I snuggled her tighter and told her “yes he is”. That small conversation spoke volumes to me. I could understand and relate. This was why I personally felt the way I did when I was little as I had the same longing and family feeling about relatives I’d only ever heard of. They were in fact my family. Those adoptive parents that have your baby may try to mask those feelings and reality but they are tucked inside. I hope one day you get to see you’ve never been forgotten.

I know what an enormous impact it had on me personally when I learned that my mother’s original father’s family knew about her and often longed to have contact with her. It turned my perceptions of that branch of my family totally around.

One about male domination – my children’s father signed away his rights, after intentionally getting the kids put back in foster care. He’d told me if I ever left him, he’d manipulate Child Protective Services to make sure I lost the kids forever. That they’d be brainwashed to hate me. His sister adopted the kids and has allowed him to see them. She throws a fit if I post anything about them on Facebook. I’m just hoping they’ll see through the toxic fog eventually.

“My child is confused” is the favorite justification by adoptive parents when they’re about to close the adoption.

Closing An Open Is Common

Don’t believe the promises. Today’s story.

At 16 years old, I found out that my father and stepmother had given a child up for adoption. I believe that happened about 8-10 years prior to my finding out. I’m 39 and so, I think, she’s 31 now, according to a people search but it may not even be her.

It was supposed to be an open adoption but the adoptive parents quickly stopped that. They made it impossible to see and or contact her (I only recently learned this part). So I know who adopted her and a general idea of where they live(d). I don’t know anything more than that except that they’re deeply religious, like very hypocritically so.

Around the time that she was 16, and it still wasn’t legal for me to try and initiate contact, I found her on Facebook. I made a public post expressing my desire to meet and get to know my sister. I also PMd her, saying “I can’t tell you who I am directly but I hope you read my public post”.

Well, her adoptive father saw it and wrote back. I cannot remember exactly what he said but after that, contact was abruptly cut. (Not sure if it was me or him who did it – it was so long ago.)

Not sure how much later but I found out my current (and new) stepmom had found her and even friended her on Facebook. I seized my moment and sent her a friend request and a message explaining who I was. I do not remember the exact details but we did text a few times and the last time we spoke I was telling her she might be an aunt (I never did go through with that pregnancy unfortunately – I was 24ish at the time). If memory serves me accurately, she mentioned me to either her adoptive mom or dad. Then, I suddenly lost contact again (my guess is they made her cut contact with me). I never was able to contact her again and she didn’t contact me.

Fast forward to the present day, I am truly heartbroken. I want to know what happened so long ago. Does she even want to know me or know that she’s an aunt to two crazy kids ? I don’t know what crap her adoptive parents have put in her head about me. I want so much to approach her adoptive “father” and demand to know the truth.

What’s fucked up is that her entire childhood she grew up one street behind our father (out in the country, so actually a good 5 miles apart). Her adoptive father owns a local HVAC business and I know where it is.

What should I do next ? As far as I can tell, I cannot find a Facebook or number. The only address I can find is that people search one, which may not even be her. I don’t want to just roll up unannounced. My only option is to approach her adoptive father and I am admittedly extremely terrified. I’m 100% positive he’s followed me over the years (my various social medias) and hates me, as I’m clearly pro LGBTQ+ and an atheist. Everything he stands against, as a Orange clown voting douche canoe (LOL). Anyway…

I’m lost. He could either be all “I’ve been waiting for this, here’s her info” or a big old FU “you’ll never meet her” and the anxiety is killing me because I fear I will absolutely curse him out and make a major scene, if he denies me.

Do I have any right to try and establish contact ? I don’t want to push anything on her but judging by the past he’s going to be a major roadblock – he always has been. I don’t know how to approach this.

A response (and I really like the humor in this one) – If she’s 31, you have the exact same legal right to meet her, as you do any other legal adult. She may choose to ignore you – due to the influence, manipulation or other coercion by her adoptive family. My unethical life pro tip (I have used this successfully, though never in an adoption scenario) is to approach dad*. Your name is <most common girl name of your generation, region> and you went to high school with Sister. You’ve just moved back to this area and you remember her as so kind and she taught you about Jesus and you’re looking to reconnect. Could he please pass on your phone number to her? *If he knows what you look like, or you don’t look like you could have gone to high school with her, have a friend do this instead.

Another suggestion was this – I would send her a letter, but if she still lives with her adoptive parents and they know your name, then I would actually put a different name on the return address. It may even be a good idea to use a different return address. if possible. One where the adoptive parents wouldn’t be able to search it and see you or your parents name connected to it. Maybe even get a PO box.

In your letter, explain the situation exactly as you remember it, making sure that she knows that you only found out about her years after the adoption took place. Let her know that you’ve always had a desire to meet and know her. Just be honest and share your feelings. Let her know that you’ll respect whatever she decides but that you fear her adoptive parents have been making the decisions regarding allowing contact with you. However, maybe that’s not the case. Maybe it’s actually been her decision all along. Let her know, you’ll respect her wishes but you just wanted to reach out to make sure that neither of you were missing out on a much wanted relationship.

And of course, do a DNA test !! It certainly helped me in my own family genetic roots discovery journey.

He Did Not Give Birth

There is some push back on calling him the “birth” father. After all, he didn’t give birth. Often, the father isn’t actually known or is misrepresented by the woman giving birth. I know of situations where these kinds of circumstances exist.

Birth father has commonly be used to refer to a man who’s child is being or has been placed with an adoptive family. The actual man is certainly the genetic father. Some adoptees will derogatively refer to him as their sperm donor and that is accurate too. Others refer to him as their biodad. More than one will say simply that he should be referred to simply as “dad.”

Throughout history, men have had the easy path in human reproduction. Their contribution takes almost no time at all, whereas a woman must devote as much as 9 months of her life for a completely new human being to emerge into the world. Technically, what is referred to as a birth father is one who pays no child support. Often an adoption is finalized without the birth father’s knowledge or consent. If you are not married to the mother of your child at the time of birth, you are considered a ‘putative father,’ meaning reputed to be.  Often a genetic father denies he fathered a child until forced to do a paternity test which proves the truth (or not) of the situation.

And realistically this – being called birth father or bio father does not diminish what you as the birth mother have gone through. And this came up repeatedly – it really is up to the child what they chose to call their father. Also, the birth mother who started this was reminded that she needs to be very careful whenever she expresses disagreement because her relationship with her child could be snatched away, at any time – for any reason, that the adoptive parents see fit to do that. Don’t risk it over this because if she gets cut off her child will experience yet another loss. She does not get to be a gatekeeper regarding her child’s relationships. Her issues with her child’s father shouldn’t become her child’s issues. It doesn’t matter when his relationship with his child started because at least he has one now.

Vital Record Fraud

One of the issues that disturbs adoptees the most is that their original birth certificates were changed to make it appear as though their adoptive parents actually gave birth to them and usually their names were changed as part of that. This happened to BOTH of my own adoptee parents.

Some one adoptee asks – If birth certificates are such a “vital” record – why are the vital records of adoptees sealed and fraudulent ones put in their place?

At the Adoptee Rights Law Center’s LINK> The United States of OBC anyone can search the status for their state. There you can find out about any restrictions that limit an adult adoptee’s right to obtain an original birth certificate. Only in eleven states (indicated by checkmark) do adult adopted people have the right to obtain their own original birth certificates upon request. Early in my own roots discovery journey, I bumped my head against both Virginia and California who said I would have to get a court to approve my request (thanks to my mom’s adoption being part of the Georgia Tann scandal in Tennessee, when I received her full adoption file records, her original birth certificate from Virginia was there). The birth parents, the adoptive parents and both of my parents were already deceased. As their descendant, under such circumstances which would reasonably mean no one who had reason to object was still alive, I was still denied.

I enjoyed the answer from one adoptee – Because it is vital to maintain the “as if born too” facade. It is much like entering a witness protection program.

Initially the original birth certificates were sealed only from the public. Eventually, the reasoning became to protect the adoptive family from interference by the birth family. According to a document in the University of Michigan Journal of Gender and Law titled LINK> Surrender and Subordination: Birth Mothers and Adoption Law Reform

For more than thirty years, adoption law reform advocates have been seeking to restore for adult adoptees the right to access their original birth certificates, a right that was lost in all but two states between the late 1930s and 1990. The advocates have faced strong opposition and have succeeded only in recent years and only in eight states. Among the most vigorous advocates for access are birth mothers who surrendered their children during a time it was believed that adoption would relieve unmarried women of shame and restore them to a respectable life. The birth mother advocates say that when they surrendered their children, their wishes were subordinated and their voices silenced. They say they want to be heard now as they raise their voices in support of adult adoptees’ rights to information in government records about their birth mothers’ original identities.

Opponents of restoring access, in “women-protective rhetoric” reminiscent of recent anti-abortion efforts, argue that access would harm birth mothers, violating their rights and bringing shame anew through unwanted exposure of out-of-wedlock births. Opponents say they must speak for birth mothers who cannot come forward to speak for themselves. Birth mother advocates respond that the impetus historically for closing records was to protect adoptive families from public scrutiny and from interference by birth parents, rather than to protect birth mothers from being identified in the future by their children. They maintain that birth mothers did not choose and were not legally guaranteed lifelong anonymity. They point out that when laws that have restored access have been challenged, courts have found neither statutory guarantees of nor constitutional rights to, anonymity. They also offer evidence that an overwhelming majority of birth mothers are open to contact with their now grown children.

One had some interesting contemplations – thinking all about adoptees and how we basically prove a large side of nature bs nurture. And I mean the nature part. Our world likes to think that nurture is most important and that we always have a choice. We are a puzzle piece that society and the world doesn’t want us to fit into the big picture, we challenge people’s beliefs that they think are naturally instilled in them, when really it’s all just a bunch of bullshit that has been shoved down everyone’s throats. Even with doctors – good luck getting into the genetics department. The whole thing is gate kept. Really makes me wonder if our existence proves something scientifically that we are aware of, that would change the way people see things.