The Real Philomena: NPR Radio Interview and Commentary

A radio interview with the real woman named Philomena who lost her three year old child to a forced adoption in Ireland. The movie, Philomena, is a fictionalized version of her search for her son.

I am glad that the discussion of intercountry adoption has been slowly turning in favor of examining what adoption means to the natural parents and their lsot children. This is a start. Discussion leads to action.

The movie depicts the result of barbaric behavior from Catholic nuns in intentionally separating a mother from her toddler son – because the mother “sinned” for being pregnant “out of wedlock”. The lesson? Realizing a mother loves her child, with or without marriage.

The further lesson? Bringing out to the open the cruel treatment mothers received in Ireland is not limited to Ireland. It has happened, and still does, all over the world. Babies are stolen and given up in forced adoptions all the time.

This movie, Philomena, quietly invades the viewer’s heart and mind. What are we doing? Why are we doing it? How can we stop it? What are the humane solutions to teen pregnancy? What are the solutions to religious indoctrination that persecuted Philomena way back pver 50 years ago ? How can we educate deeply religious people and institutions as to the damage their social control has had, and still does, on vulnerable mothers and their innocent children?

There has to be a better way. Punishment of mother because she got pregnant before marriage is not the way to go. Removing her child from her caused Philomena a lifetime of pain. Her son, like millions of stolen children, grew up believing his mother didn’t want him.

This should not happen.

Now that you’ve seen the movie, do something. Get busy. We need you to help put a stop to stories like this. Contact American Adoption Congress, Adoption Crossroads, as a start. There are other groups, such as Origins USA. Find a local organization that is set for social and political action.

This is a side note to Mannix Flynn: the questioning has begun. People are starting to ask why this happened. People are asking who should be held accountable for this tragedy.


Betsy Norris, Adam Pertman, Jodi Hodges, and Carol Sanger Interviewed by NPR Radio on Ohio’s New Adoptees’ Birth Certificate Access Law

Congrats are in order to Betsy Norris of Adoption Network Cleveland for her role in advocating for Ohio’s Adoptee Birth Certificate Access Law, which was signed into law last week. NPR radio had a 17 minute special report on air in the morning of Christmas Eve. You can listen to the Interview here, as well as read the article. “Guest host Celeste Headlee takes on the topic with law professor Carol Sanger, birth mother Jodi Hodges, and advocates Adam Pertman and Betsie Norris.” This interview is a good one to listen to to hear the most current debate on adoptees’ access bills/laws. I came across this interview  by accident. I was driving along on Christmas  Eve while listening to NPR when two people I’ve known for many years were interviewed: Betsy Norris and Adam Pertman. What a thrill to hear my friends and colleagues on National Public Radio! Great job on the interview. Great job on the victory for Adoptees’ Rights.

Backing Up Mannix Flynn on the Meaning of the Movie “Philomena”

After seeing this movie — Philomena — I now know what the writer of this blog post means. He is dead on: script writing and movie making need to be followed up with social and political action. The writer and star of the movie needs to take this further into real action to put an end to this torture of mother and child, and the millions of women and infants and children torn apart by adoption. When will we stop seeing this as fodder for films, but additionally as an introduction to real social and political change? Get involved! This tragedy did not only happen in Ireland, but all over the world and in domestic America: the Catholic Church stealing babies from girls and women because of the notion of being “fallen women” — punishment for being pregnant outside of marriage. This is barbaric treatment of women and their babies.

I Miss You, Mom, I Wish You Lived

This is the 57th anniversary of my mother’s death. Had she lived, I would have been raised by my mother and father. I would have been raised the 5th child of these parents. I was three months old when I lost my mother.

Mom, not a day goes by that I don’t think of you. With every breath I take, every time I look in the mirror, and every time I close my eyes to sleep, I think of you.

You will always be my mother.


Your daughter,




Genevieve Herr Sippel

1925 to 1956



How Much Did My Adoption Cost?

Someone asked this question to adoptees a few months ago.

My Bill of Sale: $250.00 in legal fees paid by my adoptive parents to the attorney who represented my adoptive parents in this transaction.

That was my answer a few months ago.

I thought about it today and it occurred to me that there were hidden costs.

In addition to the hand-scrawled receipt in pencil from my adoptive parents’ attorney, there were these monies paid:

The Surrogate Court Judge of Erie County in the City of Buffalo, New York was paid for ten months of work, from the time that my father gave me to the care and custody of my pre-adoptive parents to the time the Final Order of Adoption was signed. All of the court staff that processed paperwork received pay checks also. The court-appointed attorney also received a pay check for his ten months involvement as he conducted an investigation (not called a home study in this private adoption back in 1956) of my pre-adoptive parents, and, as he researched my family background as to why my father agreed to relinquish his fifth and youngest child to this adoption. After the Finalization of Adoption was signed, the Surrogate Court Judge sent an Order, and that Order was handled by a chain of staff members who processed the paperwork and mailed out the Order to the Registrar of Vital Statistics in the State capital of Albany, New York. The Director of Vital Statistics for the entire State of New York became involved, and received a pay check, when he received the Order from the Surrogate Court Judge of Erie County. He then created a new birth certificate according to the information sent to him in the Order from the Surrogate Court Judge. That means that the Director of the Office of Vital Statistics of New York State, a man with a PhD in the Executive Division of the State of New York Department of Health, knowingly created a false document using false facts, then signed his name to it and affixed the raised State seal of New York State, thus certifying as true the facts set forth on the new birth certificate. He lied. He committed perjury by lying under oath. And he was paid to do so. Additionally, the Surrogate Court Judge of Erie County in the City of Buffalo, New York also sent an Order to the local Registrar of Vital Statistics in City Hall of Buffalo, New York to encode my actual birth certificate in some way to indicate that I had been adopted and that this birth certificate, still kept in the books in the local Office of Vital Statistics, was now under seal. This means that I (and the two parents named on the birth certificate) have been banned from obtaining a certificated copy of this true birth certificate forever.

And every person in the linked chain of authority received a pay check – a government pay check.

So, actually, to respond correctly to the question – “How much did your adoption cost?” –  I can now say that I don’t know for sure.

I would need to find out the salaries of all the people involved, tally it up, and convert the 1956 – 1957 value of the dollar to 2013 inflation rates. When all of this is taken into consideration, I choke at the salaries paid and the income made at the transfer of a four month old baby to a new set of parents and a new life.

I struggle with how it feels to be given away freely yet other people – government employees – were paid to make sure this adoption was completed. These people were able to support their families with the salaries they were paid.

My father could not financially support all of his five children since he had to hold a job. The baby was too young and needed two parents, so my father relinquished me. The employees in charge made money off of his loss of his child and my loss of my entire family and the joy my new parents felt in receiving a new baby they could call their own.

How much money did my adoption cost?

I don’t really know.

But tax payers paid for it by supporting the government employees voted in office and civil service employees hired to keep the system working.

And the government employees were also paid to keep the records sealed and this adoption closed.

The human costs are incalculable.