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.

Legitimacy

“In the soul of every adoptee is an eternal flame of hope
for reunion and reconciliation with those he has lost
through private or public disaster.”
~ Jean Paton, Orphan Voyage

The blankness of our past is like a constant gnawing at our heart. It creates a hole that can’t be filled, a vacuum for which there is no substitute, it is a piece of our soul that was taken from us. It is like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces missing, the center of a wheel missing two spokes. My mom was not unique in her yearning to know who her original mother was.

The withholding of birth information from adoptees is an affront to human dignity. Most Americans assume that the falsification of adoptees’ birth certificates arose from well-meaning social workers anxious to relieve adoptees of the stigma of illegitimacy.

However, my mom’s parents were married at the time of her conception and her birth and at the time she was taken for adoption by my adoptive grandparents.

Of greater concern was the possibility of the original family tracing such a child and disrupting a well established adoptive relationship. Especially if the surrender had been forced, as was the case with my maternal grandmother.

The rationale was that in order to be secure in the position of adopting children, anonymity was essential.

“We never tell the natural mother or reveal to others where the child is and where it is being placed for adoption,” Georgia Tann told a reporter for the Commercial Appeal in 1948. Her letter to my original maternal grandmother certainly revealed nothing about my mom having been taken from Memphis to Arizona.