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.

Not Under But In

One of those platitudes that many adoptees totally hate. This is something insecure adoptive parents say to make themselves feel better.

Another one of those is this one – I was waiting for and hoping for a child for a long, long time and that when I saw my child I knew in that instant that this was the child I have been longing for. To which someone noted – what you just said is extremely gross, predatory and disgusting. Another said, your comment proves once again that whichever child is on offer would be the one that the adoptive parent longed for… and the solution to their sadness.

This one went on to note – We are interchangeable, all the horror we went through, losing our families, losing our names and heritage — it was all something we should be happy and grateful for — our hearts should be full because the adoptive parents got their wish for a child, we are their child as soon as they could lay claim to us.

An adoptee says – The other mottos I despise is that the child is part of God’s plan or a child that is born to a different mother, but was really meant for their adoptive parent. 

Just one last important note for today as I am short on time. From an adoptive mother – I have a seven year old who, although she clearly does love me very much, will still make comments occasionally like- you stole me from my mom, I miss my mom (prior to my fortunately finding her original mother), that’s not my real last name. She came up with these statements all on her own at SEVEN. All of that was before we found her original mother and built the relationship between them that they now have. She doesn’t know any other adoptees, so it isn’t like someone is telling her to have those feelings. So no matter what you think you are doing for your adopted child, they will still grow up to have the same feelings as so many adult adoptees often express. The sooner you, as an adoptive parent, accept this and deal with your own emotions around it, the better you will be able to help your adopted child.

Lament and Repentance

From an adoptive parent’s perspective –

We became foster parents to “help the whole family” and adopted our son (met him at 5 weeks in the NICU, brought him home at 6 weeks, adopted him at 2 years). He was our 8th placement- some families we were able to be helpful towards more than others, I can see my failures or ignorance too.

We have kept a private Facebook page to keep biological parents updated with pictures and an ability to message. Some family members have a recent relationship with our son, and I feel like we have all gained family. BUT, the biological parents aren’t safe (actively using drugs).

I hear you adoptee’s. I hear how you hate adoption. I hear your lack of control, choice, autonomy. Hating that your name was changed, lost culture, lost history, lack of belonging, desire for real change in the system and legislation. I hear you. Your feelings are valid and real. Thank you for sharing with us and allowing us to learn and gain understanding and mourn with you.

As an adoptive parent, I sit in lament and repentance – over my ignorance (even after lots of books and trainings), my savior/rescuer habits and mentality, my selfishness and self centered ness. And I’m just sad with you, and sad with my child.

My question…What were things said to you/done/moments of clarity or understanding that helped you bond and attach to your adoptive parents? I understand it’s a journey and a process, but I still want emotional health and intelligence for my teen.

PS – have been in therapy with an adoption specialist for 3 years.

From an adoptee in response –

Do you have any idea how hard it is to love yourself as an adoptee ? F*** your bonding. Kids will bond to others when their brain says it’s safe. And some don’t at all. At the end of the day, the child may never naturally attach to you but that isn’t saying they won’t naturally attach to others. Trying to have those children identify non-biologicals as being the traditional family roles, when they do not actually fit (mom, dad, etc) is not helping make the kids feel like part of your family. It’s an attempt to replace the family they already have. It’s easier for you but it’s harmful for them. Look into support groups for kids of addicts. Keep learning more about active addiction and what is a threat and what is not. Actively support and promote a bond with the original parents, while teaching your adoptee boundaries and healthy coping.

Never The Priority

From an Adoptee:

Do other adoptees feel as though they have never been a priority ? I struggle to explain it. Often it feels like I am just in the background of the lives of the people I love. Sometimes it feels like I am a tool they use to make their lives better. It rarely feels like people choose to be in my life for me. I can’t be the only one.

And she is NOT.

From another adoptee –  I feel like a ghost, an echo, invisible. It’s as if I am tolerated, even enjoyed sometimes, but not sought out or after. It is hard to explain.

And another – My whole life is basically me being used in one way or another. Even my closest friends mostly only call me when there’s a problem for me to solve. I guess that’s what I get for learning how to be the problem solver, because I learned early that I have only myself to rely on, while others have loving family to support them.

Yet another – Totally get that feeling. I’m in my 30s and still struggling. Except the way I’ve always felt with my family, my in laws, and definitely my biological family is the black sheep of every family. I really don’t feel like I belong anywhere.

And this – Only after I found out I was adopted did I start feeling like this. I question so many aspects of my life thanks to my adoptive mother and her controlling ways, I got so sick and tired of people defending her, saying she did it because she didn’t want to hurt me. As much as I hate to speak ill of the dead and given how much I loved her, (she died when I was 11, I didn’t learn the truth until I was 17) I can’t help but resent her and sometimes hate her because I feel like I was some sort of possession or weapon to be used against my biological mother. It’s a long and painful story to be honest, my family is pretty damn toxic, maybe I’ll be able to put it all into words one day, but right now…I just feel too much anger and resentment to be able to do so.

Another example –  I never felt like I wasn’t a priority to my adoptive parents with to their own biological children, I wasn’t accepted. I’m older now and it’s even more apparent the last 15 years. My adoptive parents adopted 5 kids in total and their biological children didn’t want anything to do with any of us. Always shunned us out. Even now, they never want us around their kids etc. It’s sad. I think they were jealous in some way. But I always felt like I did something wrong or I wasn’t good enough. Rejection trauma hurts.

This response is all too common (my mom was like that and passed it down to us girls) – I think my insecure attachment led to this. I am such a people pleaser and I tend to hide my emotions, so I’m not ‘a burden’. I’m deep down scared that if I act in or feel a way that others don’t approve of, people with leave me. With therapy, it’s gotten a lot better but my first instinct will probably always be to fawn. Another agreed – I think part of it is my people pleasing nature, I let people walk all over me and put my own stuff aside.

As the child of two adoptee parents, who now knows what my parents didn’t, who our original families were, this has been my experience too and on some level I understand – I don’t share life history with these people, it feels more like an accident of my parents’ birth – “I am a part of 4 different families. After finding my biologicals, I still don’t “fit” anywhere. It’s not at all a negative reunion story, I just don’t fully belong,” and that includes my adoptive relations. It has been the surprising downside of learning our truth.

Another adoptee perspective – I rarely even prioritize myself. I find more value in those around me than myself and feel I’m wasting time when I focus on me. I end up thinking that’s probably how others view me too. I’m also not sure what being a priority would look/feel like… I question if I’d recognize it or accept it, even if it were happening.

It is so universal, the wounds are deep and it never seems to get better – Even when I can look at how someone is treating me and can logically tell that I’m valued and a priority, I still don’t feel it. For me I think that it comes from feeling like an outsider in my family, I’m always waiting for the rejection.

I feel like I have to be super helpful just to get recognition that I’m a good person. It’s screwed up. I don’t feel good enough or worthy, even though I know I am… I still do these things to feel noticed and wanted.

Finally this admission – I am a reunited adoptee, very much integrated into my birth family. I was raised the youngest of four adopted children in a family that contentiously broke up when I was three. I was left out so many times in adopted family and am now having the experience of feeling excluded from something in my birth family. It has totally triggered my abandonment issues. The fact that I generally feel left out and am often alone, in general, with friends and family. Once again, I turn to forgiving others for not being who I wanted them to be and forgiving myself for wanting them to be people they are not. It’s tiring though. 

Back To School Tips

From an adoptive parent – just a brief reminder to people raising other people’s children and preparing for back-to-school. A lot of educators are well-meaning but not adoption-competent. Elementary school teachers will often do Mother’s and Father’s Day crafts, middle and high school teachers will tell kids it’s rude to refer to their parents by their first names.

The child’s classroom teacher or school counselor, depending on grade level, may benefit from a brief rundown on honest adoption language. Kids adopted at an older age, often don’t share their adoptive parents’ surnames. These young people may refer to their adoptive parents by first name or even a nickname. (Another one shared how she became “Banana” due to giving the fruit to her young charge.) Many do not keep their foster care or adoption status a secret from their peers. This mom found a heads up + “please don’t tell them they’re lucky” to be highly beneficial. For Americans, note that 504’s / IEP’a / BIP’s should be written from an adoption or foster care trauma-informed perspective.

A trauma-informed plan would take into account that your child may not react the same as other children to classroom management styles, classroom discipline, etc. (Of course not every child is 504 or IEP eligible, in that case you can just talk to the teacher.) Here are some examples: No isolation as discipline including closed lunch, being sent to the hallway etc, minimize interactions with teachers / staff who have triggering characteristics, no timed tests, big clock in view at all times during tests, preferential seating, excused from certain assignments or alternate assignments (lots of triggers in middle and high school ELA assignments), no taking contraband from student unless it poses an immediate safety risk, instead have parent come to take it. It all really depends on the child’s needs to begin with.

IEP refers to Individual Educational Program. Here’s one resource – LINK> Trauma-Informed Practices: Considerations for the IEP Meeting. Another adoptive parent added – In first grade, we asked for access to a calm/sensory space whenever needed, access to noise reducing headphones as needed, access to food/snacks as needed.

Yet another adoptive parent writes – I have written into their IEPs that, when confronted directly about something, they will lie. Connection and safety have to be established first, prior to discussing a situation with them. If a teacher skips this step, then I will advocate for my kid that an honest response cannot be expected. However, in response to this a former foster care youth noted – There just has to be a better way. If my teachers didn’t believe me I would have gone hungry some days. If they hadn’t believed me I wouldn’t have spoken about my sexual assault. If my teachers hadn’t believed me they would have failed me. If they hadn’t believed me the kids in my classes would know just by the nuances they threw that they weren’t listening or giving me the time of day.

You Don’t Owe Them

Today’s perspective – Now that I am an adult, I have decided to NOT have a relationship with my adoptive parents. How do you deal with people that say I ”owe” them a relationship with myself and my kids? “After all they’ve done for you…” is the one I get the most. How would you respond to this?

You owe them nothing. You didn’t ask to be born, and you certainly didn’t ask them to adopt you. That is conditional “love.” I would answer that with, “Goodbye. Do not ever contact me nor my family again.”

Profiles In Adoption

National Council for Adoption recently conducted this survey of adoptive parents. They are supposed to be surveying birth parents and adoptees next, but it’s clear from this survey who has the loudest voices and is viewed as most important when it comes to adoption. This organization is the face of what can be viewed as the adoption machine in this country.

You can read the 48 page report, based on the results of this survey, at their website. Look for the “Read the Report” link in the orange bubble here –>National Council for Adoption. The paragraphs below come from the report’s highlights, as excerpted on page 3, with some additions from my current perspectives.

Adoptive parents tend to be very highly educated and have relatively high household incomes. According to their adoptive parents, adoptees have very positive educational outcomes. Some have an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). This is a plan or program developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives specialized instruction and related services. Some have a 504 Plan. This is intended to help kids who need more support in public school. This plan’s name does not clearly identify its purpose. A 504 plan makes changes at the school level, so that the child can learn. Some people mix up 504 plans with special education. They’re not the same. Special education is special instruction for kids who need more than standard teaching. A 504 plan, on the other hand, is about making sure the classroom fits how your child learns.

Anyone who has been at all involved in broad based adoption related communities (that is one that includes adoptees, adoptive parents and birth parents) would not be surprised to learn that due to the trauma involved in adoption generally, many adoptees will receive an impact diagnosis of some sort during their childhood. They will also therefore require therapeutic services after an adoption has been finalized.

The current trend in our modern times is that, eventually, adoptees will regain some contact with their original birth parents, siblings and other extended genetic family. In the best circumstances, the adoptive parents encourage and facilitate these reunions.

Also related to modern trends is that adoptive parents with a child of a different race/ethnicity will seek activities in which the child and their adoptive parents can participate so that they may become familiar with cultural aspects related to their biology and/or country of birth.

Today’s blog is simply to make your aware of this survey and resource for information you may not find through other avenues.

Loved In The Womb

A woman writes – Feeling so selfish. I want to keep my baby. I’ve been matched with a family. But now I feel my baby kicking. Also, my life is getting better and I want to keep my child. What do I do, please tell me ? They’ve paid my rent and helped me out. I don’t want to be selfish. I have grown so much in love with my unborn. This prospective adoptive family is well off financially. I am troubled by thoughts that they cannot possibly love my baby more than I do.

Right off – No one will ever love your child better than you. Ever.

Keep your baby, and block the adoption agency, don’t answer calls don’t sign anything, heck change your phone number if necessary. Your baby, not theirs. They will be able to steal another baby, don’t put yours thru that.

No, they cannot possibly love your baby more than you do. I am adopted and I ache for my birth mother daily and I’m 26 years old with two kids of my own.

It’s not selfish to keep your baby from experiencing adoption trauma.

No “open adoption” agreement is legally binding.

Forget about this couple, any baby will do. 

From a birth mom – I wish I hadn’t let those around me pressure me into feeling like I “owed” someone else MY son.

Having more money does not mean they can be better parents to your child.

No one paying your rent or for anything else is entitled to your baby because of it.

They have a motive and that motive is self serving and is totally selfish. None of it is in the best interest of your child.

Their disappointment will fade, your love will only grow. Do the best for you and your baby.

I’ve mentioned this organization before and will mention them again because they have helped so many women keep and therefore raise their own babies – Saving Our Sisters. They are dedicated to supporting all members of expectant families who are considering adoption to NOT apply a permanent decision to a temporary situation.

It Happens

It is surprising how often this happens and it is never intended but . . .

First the question, then the answers –

So a couple adopts a child because they believe they will never be able to have a biological, genetic child. Then, surprise – the adoptive parents actually discover they have conceived. What effects do their having an adopted and then a biological child have on that first child who was adopted ? Question for adoptees, is there anything that your adoptive parents could have done to make it better for you ? Is there anything they did specifically that was harmful to you in relation to the new sibling ?

Responses –

[1] The short one – I have two brothers that are biological to my adoptive parents. This effects me everyday. I ask birth mom, why me ? I wonder what might have changed her so that she could have been a better mother to me ?

[2] The longer, more detailed perspective – Stop pretending biological and non-biological children are the same. Educate yourselves and take the burden off the child. I was adopted as an infant. My adoptive mother became pregnant 5 months after my adoption was finalized. My “sister” was always the much preferred, longed-for first choice. With her birth, I was superseded. I will admit that I was “a difficult child” (due to an un-recognized infant trauma. My “sister” was easy (with her natural parent/child connection). I grew up with a front row seat view of what a healthy, biological connection looks like. The way human evolution intended it to be.

What my adoptive parents did do right was treat us outwardly and monetarily the same. We both had the same opportunities and resources. What was chronically neglected were my unseen needs, which were instead passed off as troublesome personality traits. So, although my adoptive parents KNEW I had “problems,” they did nothing to address those. What I wish they had done is what they would have done if their biological daughter was chronically ill: move heaven and earth to help her and thoroughly educate themselves on her issues.

I wish they had understood the different needs of a non-biological child and not burden themselves with the expectation I would ‘heal’ simply through therapy, while they themselves did nothing. Instead I wish they would have proactively learned how to be effective, gentle, therapeutic caregivers to a child living with early grief and loss among genetic strangers. I wish they would have gone the extra mile for me that my “sister” did not need from them.

Surprising Reunions

Holly Shearer and Benjamin Hulleberg

Benjamin’s birth mother, Holly, was only 15 when she gave birth to him. When she was 6 months into her pregnancy, she began to search for adoptive parents for her baby. She feared that she would not be able to provide adequately for him.

Benjamin was given up to Angela and Brian Hulleberg on the day he was born, which just happened to be Thanksgiving Day in 2001. His adoption was never hidden from him and his adoptive parents talked to him about his biological mother.

Like many adoptees, including my own adoptee mom, Benjamin had always had a deep desire to meet his birth mother. He searched for her for many years. He’d written letters to adoption agencies of Utah, had his DNA tested and registered with the adoption registry. Nothing came of his efforts.

Like many birth mothers, Holly cared deeply about the baby she had given up for adoption and did a google search which found him on Facebook. 2 days before his 20th birthday, she took a risk to message him on Facebook – “You don’t know me but 20 years ago I made the hardest decision of my life and placed my beautiful little baby up for adoption with a beautiful family.”

Like many birth mothers, she was concerned about disrupting her son’s life, yet she simply wanted him to know that she had thought about him every day of his life. So she admitted that she finally found the courage to send him a message. She simply wanted to wish him a happy birthday.

When Benjamin saw the message, of course he wanted to meet her right away. So, they planned to have dinner and agreed that both of their families should be there to support them. On National Adoption Day, his wish became a reality. He discovered he had 2 half-siblings and that he was actually working at the same hospital that his birth mother worked at.

His mother is a medical assistant at the heart center at HCA Healthcare’s St. Mark’s Hospital. Hulleberg volunteered at the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. She notes that “Every morning, I would come in through the women’s pavilion to come into work. So, I passed right by the NICU every single day. We parked in the same garage, could have been on the same floor, had no idea that we were so close.”

After their reunion, Benjamin moved in with his mother, Holly. He also shares a coffee break with her each day before his shift in the NICU. He will leave soon to attend school in another Utah town.

~ today’s story courtesy of The Huffington Post.