Glad I Was

I almost didn’t know what to write today. It seemed as though I had said it all in the last few days. But then an exchange with my mom, not long before she died, came back into my mind. She gave me editing privileges on her Ancestry account. She had done the family tree thing but it was all based on the ancestral lines of her adoptive parents and my dad’s adoptive parents. She admitted to me she just had to quit working on it. It wasn’t real, she knew that deeply, not in the sense Ancestry is meant to record. But quickly, she added, “you know, because I was adopted. Glad I was.”

What else could she say ? She didn’t know anything but her adopted life. Scarcely knew anything beyond her parents names of Mr and Mrs J C Moore – that doesn’t tell a person very much, though it proved to be accurate. She knew her name at birth was given to her by her mother as Frances Irene. Oh, she tried. Tennessee would not give her her adoption file even though she carried a deep certainly all the way to her death that she had been “inappropriately” adopted. Such a careful way she worded that. She knew Georgia Tann was involved and she knew about the scandal. She actually learned about it when it came out in the newspapers in the 1950s while she was yet a school girl.

She was devastated to learn from the state of Tennessee that her birth mother had died. Closing the door to her ever being able to communicate with that woman who gave her the gift of life through her own body.

It is that “Glad I was.” that haunts me today. I didn’t know about adoptee fog until recently. In fact, when I first entered my all things adoption Facebook group, wow, was I ever in it !! Adoption seemed like the most natural thing in the world to me. It was so natural that both of my sisters ended up giving up children to adoption.

What I want to say clearly this morning is – Adoption is the most UN-natural way for a child to grow up. Having one’s birth certificate altered to make it appear that total strangers actually gave birth to you when they did NOT. Having your name changed to suit the desires of your adoptive parents ? It is a fantasy. A pretend life and adoptees feel it keenly, as my mom clearly did “it just wasn’t real to me”.

The thing my mom could be glad for is that she had a financially comfortable upbringing and some perks such as travel along with her adoptive mother. She also suffered some coldness and harsh judgement because her natural body structure would never be lithe and thin as my adoptive grandmother took such pains to make her own. I know, I suffered a humiliating embarrassment in a public restaurant in London from her over the sin of taking a piece of bread and putting some butter on it.

My maternal adoptive grandmother was an accomplished and phenomenal woman. I grant her that. But I am convinced she bought her children when she found she could not conceive. I am no longer a believer in adoption and until I run out of things to write about – I will continue making an argument for family preservation and an end to separating babies from their natural mothers. I will defend allowing such children who are unfortunate enough to be adopted to keep ALL the ties to their identities – their genuine birth certificate and their name (unless and until, it is their choice to change that).

Denial of Paternity

Today’s sticky situation . . .

We have four children, they are all siblings via mom. They are four of her six children.

Child 1&2 are adopted via foster care. Child 3 & 4 we have full custody/guardianship. Mom stated father for child 4 was transient. She didn’t want child with him or his family and wished for this child to be with siblings and have access to her (mom). Her fiancée has claimed this child and child has his last name. He is not the biological father, nor is he listed on the bc due to hospital staff interference. But mom calls him dad to the child.

We had a visit with mom & fiancée over the weekend. She disclosed that her and fiancée broke up recently and during this break she reached out to child 4’s dad and informed him of this child. He denied the child and said he is infertile and a baby is not possible.

We feel very perplexed – do we personally reach out to dad? We had decided before that this was mom’s call – her child, her choice. She values the sibling relationship a lot – and we do have contact with her oldest two children. And contact with the mom regularly. She had feared that if the dad knew, he would take the baby and never let the child see mom or the child’s siblings.

Now that dad has been informed, what is best for this child? Is it best for us to reach out to him? Is it best to leave it and allow the child to decide when she is older (and when is that age?) if she wants to pursue contact and a relationship? We never want to withhold a child from a parent or keep a parent from parenting. We also don’t want to go against mom’s wishes or break apart siblings.

Now some advice . . .

The suspected dad isn’t about to pop up and make trouble. Just leave it for now. Let mom manage this how she sees fit unless it becomes necessary to intervene. If he’s denying the child to her, and isn’t interested in the child, then it should be the mom that communicates the reality to the child in question. It isn’t your place to take matters into your own hands. You can let the mom know that he can reach out to you, if he desires to. Is this man afraid he will be saddled with child support ? That is often a big disincentive to involvement.

That said, any child deserves to know who their biological father is, especially if there aren’t any safety issues as to why they shouldn’t. Maybe after he has some time to cool off and calm down, he would be willing to do a paternity test. It is easy to understand that he is right to be angry and irritated. A child that is potentially of him was purposely kept from him. Ask mom for basic information, so you have it for the child.

Finally this, Are you willing to pay for a DNA test ? If so, I’d reach out and offer to pay for that, so he can have peace of mind (and your child can know). You can do cheek swabs by mail without meeting up. If you’re not willing/ able to pay, I would leave it alone for now but save any information you can acquire for your child as they grow up.

Blossoms in the Dust

Not having a Netflix dvd available in our house last night, for the second time, I watched this dvd that my brother in law (an avid classic, old tyme, movie fanatic) suggested when I shared with him all I was learning about my family’s adoption stories.  Not long ago, I actually met online a woman who was adopted through Edna Gladney (not the woman herself but the organization that continues to this day).  My oldest son asked if the text that appears with a patriotic musical background has held up well since 1941 and I told him not really.

It is a feel good story and I did enjoy the historical scenes of life in a different time period which is usually what I enjoy most in any really old movie.   It tells the mostly true but fictionalized story of Edna Gladney, who helped orphaned children find homes and began a campaign to remove the word “illegitimate” from Texas birth certificates, despite the opposition of “good” citizens. The movie was well-received in it’s 1940s time period.

When the film premiered at Radio City Music Hall, Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote “There is a shade too much of shining nobility in this film, too often tiny fingers tug deliberately on the heartstrings. And the dramatic continuity seems less spontaneous than contrived. The career of Mrs. Gladney is drawn out over a tedious stretch of time. But it is an affecting story and one which commands great respect … As pure inspirational drama with a pleasant flavor of romance, ‘Blossoms in the Dust’ should reach a great many hearts.” I find that an accurate assessment.

I am ready to GIVE away FREE my dvd copy of Blossoms in the Dust.  If you would like to receive this (given the flaws acknowledged above), you can email me at dhyemm@hughes.net.  Please put “Blossoms in the Dust” in the subject line.  I will respond as soon as I see your email.  I generally monitor it often.

 

Is It Really Possible ?

A discussion in an adoptee’s group caught my attention yesterday but it wasn’t the first time I have pondered this coincidence (which I don’t actually believe is one).

A woman noted that on her first Christmas in her new adoptive home she was given a doll.  She named her doll Carol.  Decades later she learned her natural mother’s name was Carol.  Her adoptive family said it was only a coincidence because she was so very young could not have known.  The good ol’ blank slate theory.

My mom died never knowing her natural mother’s name (she only knew her parents were Mr & Mrs J C Moore which hardly told us anything at all !).  My husband and I have theorized that she named my sister LOU Anne because she had heard her mother’s name while in the womb since we know that fetuses in the womb can hear.

My grandmother signed her name on my mom’s original birth certificate “Lizzie Lou” and in letters to Georgia Tann after losing my mom to that master manipulator and in a divorce from my mom’s natural father, her first name is listed as Elizabeth.

However, imagine my wonder in coming into contact with my mom’s cousins (the children of my grandmother’s youngest brother) and hearing them refer to my grandmother as Aunt Lou !!

Not only that but the first time I saw a photo of my grandmother I thought she looked a lot like my sister Louanne.  I believe.

I’m OK With It

The truth is, some adoptees will tell you they are okay with having been adopted.  Far be it from me, to say they are not sincere.  My own father was like that and my niece and nephew probably were as well.

With my niece and nephew, they did want to discover their own origins and both were able to do that.  And it was their own initiative.  One can be okay with how they were raised and even come to understand the reasons why it may have been for the best in their particular circumstances.

That does not deny the reality that separating children from their parents causes deep psychic wounds.  It simply does.

And that doesn’t dismiss the possibility that as a society we can do better than we have in regard to children’s welfare – because I also sincerely believe we can.

For one thing, there is no justification for taking a child’s identity away from them and for falsifying the information on their birth certificate.  That is simply wrong.

There is also no reason for keeping adoption records sealed and locked away from adoptees after they reach adulthood.  There are real reasons – such as family health history – for an adoptee to know their background.

And it is every person’s right to know their true story, even the sad stories, even the hard stories.  No person has been handed a perfect, comfortable life.  Even if it appears they have.  There are always issues, even when we don’t know they are there.

Hopeful Adoptive Mother

I already knew that trans-national adoption is problematic and a global problem.  I was riveted reading a OLD story in Mother Jones magazine from the Nov/Dec 2007 issue titled – Did I Steal My Daughter ? by Elizabeth Larsen.

She started a journal to document her daughter’s adoption.  In this she writes, “I feel so sad for the pain your birth mother must be in since she is not able to raise you,” I wrote. “But I believe now that I am your ‘real’ mommy.” Reading those words now sparks a flash of shame. Because even though my daughter was, as is required by U.S. immigration law, legally classified as an orphan, she had two Guatemalan parents who were very much alive.

People have been parenting children not born to them since the dawn of time. But adoption as an irrevocable severing of a child’s relationship with her biological family is largely a European and American practice.

“Informal adoption and kinship care have always existed, but our form of formalized adoption by nonrelatives is very, very new,” advises Hollee McGinnis, policy and operations director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a research and advocacy organization.

The push toward secrecy and sealed records took hold in the postwar culture, when adoptions were increasingly run by social workers. Confidentiality was thought to shield both mothers and children from the stigma of illegitimacy, and it allowed parents to hide their infertility even from their own children—birth certificates were simply changed to list the adoptive parents.

As more women gained access to contraceptives and legal abortion, and the stigma of unwed pregnancy lessened, fewer American women placed their babies for adoption, and those who did had more power to get what they wanted, including knowing their children’s fate. Today, almost no American woman deciding on adoption seeks anonymity; roughly 90 percent of mothers have met their children’s adoptive parents, and most helped choose them.

While society has belatedly acknowledged the trauma of American women who were forced to surrender their children, birth families abroad have remained shrouded in mystery, allowing parents and professionals to invent the narrative that best suits them. “Practitioners 20 years ago assumed we were rescued from these horrific nations and would never go back,” says Hollee McGinnis, who was adopted from Korea when she was three and has been in touch with her Korean family for more than a decade.

More in the Mother Jones article if you are so inclined.  Here’s the link – https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2007/10/did-i-steal-my-daughter-tribulations-global-adoption/

Open Adoption

One good in our modern time is an effort to do adoption better, to consider the impacts of mother/child separations and not to change identities and birth certificates to make the adoptive parents feel better.

Here are some preconceived notions about open adoption –

  • Open adoption is basically co-parenting.
  • Adopted children grow up hating their birth mothers.
  • Adopted children grow up hating their adoptive parents.
  • Most open adoption relationships between adoptive parents and birth parents eventually break down.
  • When they’re older, adopted children eventually return to live with their birth parents.

Are these myths or truths?  They are myths.  Here are some accepted understandings about what open adoption is and is not.

In open adoption, the line between family members is clearly defined. The adoptive parents and birth parents do not have shared custody. Adoptive parents are legally responsible for all decisions relating to their child’s welfare. Birth parents are often involved in the children’s lives, but they do not have legal rights over the child.

Children understand the difference between their adoptive parents and their birth parents, and what their roles and responsibilities are. And so do both sets of parents.

Open adoption allows adopted children to having an ongoing relationship with their birth parents. As a result, they have the ability to ask their birth parents questions surrounding their adoption, making them less likely to have doubts or to feel bitterness towards their parents.

Adoptive parents usually introduce their child’s adoption story at a young age. Unlike in the past, it’s not something hidden from them. Because children know their adoption story, there is less chance of them creating a fantasy about their origins. And also there is less resentment about their adoption since it is something that is openly discussed and a part of their life from an early age.

Although some open adoption relationships do break down because of disagreements between adoptive parents and birth parents, the vast majority of them are successful. Because most open adoption agreements are NOT legally binding, the key is to create lasting relationships based on mutual understanding and respect. For the sake of their children, birth parents and adoptive parents must be willing to not only acknowledge but honor each other’s role in this relationship.

For most adopted children, home will be considered that which was their home with the adoptive family. That’s where they were raised and that’s where they usually live, until they are old enough to move out and live independently as an adult. Adopted child are almost always interested in their birth family, but they usually do not go back to living with them, except in cases of family reunification.

Ownership

“Naming is claiming – go for it!!!”

There’s power in a name, naming and claiming a child for yourself.  So many adoptive parents, re-name the child they adopt, and thereby seek to make it something the child was not born as – their own.

Tied like charms to a ribbon are thorny bits of memory…perhaps pre-verbal.  A sense that one had been someone else “before” adoption.

There’s far too much power given to adoptive parents over a child.  When they endow you with a name of their own choosing, you become their property.

An adoptee was always who they were born as.  No one thought to ask their permission before they changed the child’s birth certificate to create a false identity for them because they were simply too young to ask.

Of all the reforms I have been learning about from the adoptees themselves, not changing the names they were born with or re-doing their birth certificates to take ownership of them, like one would with the title to a car, would be a respectful and considerate decision.

If they want to change what the world calls them when they are old enough to understand the power that is their own name, then that is their choice, not someone else’s.

Equal Citizenship ?

Adoptees are less free than other citizens of the United States.  Most citizens take for granted the right to know who they were born as.  Adoptees have their birth names taken from them to be replaced by the name their adoptive parents want them to have.

Most citizens have their original birth certificates.  Adoptees are given a falsified birth certificate making it appear that their adoptive parents actually gave birth to them.  With some, even the location of their birth is changed to make it more difficult for them to learn about their true origins.

All adoptees endure a form of culture clash – for some more extreme than for others.  Some adoptees are affected by ethnic, socioeconomic or regional differences than what they would have experienced if they had remained in the families they were born into.

Our society is adoption-focused.  It is NOT adoptee focused.  In other words – the focus is on the people who want children instead of on the children themselves.

Always A Child

My Mom After Adoption

Children grow up into adults.  That is their only real occupation through almost 20 years of life.  Some children have to grow up early.  My mom gave birth to me at the age of 16.  I married at the age of 18 and had my first child at 19.

When I look at my 18 year old son, I can’t imagine him married with a child.  He is intelligent and has an abundance of common sense but as his mother, he is still a bit of a child to me, though the maturing is obviously taking hold and he spends much of his daily waking life doing men’s work with his dad on our farm.

There is a subset of humanity that is never allowed to grow up – adoptees.  Certainly, they pile on the years and mature, just like any other human being but society and governmental agencies treat them as though they were still a child.

Why do I say this ?  Because they are denied rights that any other citizen takes for granted.  When their adoption is decreed by a court of law, their identity is stolen away from them.  Often, their name is changed and their original birth certificate is amended to make it appear that their adoptive parents actually gave birth to them.  Sometimes, even the place where they were born is changed.

Then, when they become an adult at 18 or 21 years of age and because they know they were adopted (or for some who were never told the truth and take a DNA test and receive the unpleasant and sudden surprise that they do not derive their origins from the people they believed were the source), when they attempt to learn the truth of their identity, origins and heritage – they are denied the very normal and simple human right of knowing who they really are.

It is time for the LIES to end and for ALL states in this country (United States of America) to open their files to the adults who were once a child that was adopted by strangers to raise as their own.