Rebuttle from Yesterday’s ABC Article

This post, too, will be quick. No time for editing. This is written in response to this article:

I agreed to be interviewed, but I DID NOT say I would have preferred to be in foster care!!! The foster care and guardianship topics came up in my interview when the reporter asked me, “You’re not anti adoption, are you?”

I said, “Yes, of course, I am!”

The reporter said, “Well, what would you like to see done differently?”

I said, “Preserving the natural family is the first step. If a child cannot be raised by her parents, then kinship care,, and after that option, then guardianship.” I DID NOT SAY THAT I WOULD HAVE PREFERRED TO BE RAISED IN FOSTER CARE!

That kind of twisting my words has resulted in, again, more misunderstanding abaout adoption.

Of course I enjoyed my childhood. I was raised by doting, loving parents who gave me everything a child could want: a secure home, tucks in bed at night, good meals, snuggles and cuddles as a young chid, a good education, family get-togethers with extended family at other homes and at parks, and emotional closeness. I loved my parents while I grew up and they loved me.

But that love was destroyed when I got that phone call from a sister I never knew. It was at that moment at age 18, and a high school senior, that I realized a rush of information and acceptance. The two most trusted people in the world to a child are her parents. And mine lied to me. Not only did they lie, but they willfully prevented me from knowing my siblings during the time when it is most crucial for a child to have siblings: childhood.

The reporter made me out to be some kind of uncaring nutcase. I resent that characterization.

Foster care would not have been my preferred choice to the childhood  that I did have. However, finding out at age 18 that I actually had full blood siblings, devastated me.

Here is what I wrote in the onnline comments to that article. I acnnot stay to read comments waitiing for psoting, or to answer email. I need to go back to  hospital for my dying adoptive mother. Mixed feelings? Yes. How would you feel if your parents lied to you and prevented you from growing up with your siblings?

My reprints from online comments:

Part 1

The responses to this story reflect the ignorance of adoption that still exist. It is appalling what people perceive adoption to be.

 I will be posting a series of posts (due to space limitations) to correct mistakes in the bad reporting and mischaracterization of my adoption and reunion. First, it is not the reunion that went bad, it was my entire adoption that was wrong. Reunion, itself, is not a bad thing, and in miss-representing what I said to the reporter gives the wrong impression. Reunions are a good thing, if handled appropriately. Adoptions can be a good experience, if handled appropriately.

 I was an 18 year old high school senior, raised a socially isolated only child by parents who chose to keep secrets from me. They knew I had siblings within 5 miles of our home, and they chose to prevent me from access to them. Meanwhile, members of my adoptive father’s family and members of my deceased natural mother’s family socialized with each other, passing around rumors about my natural father and secret stories of me growing up. I was unaware of this and so was my father. This was social engineering and certainly not the proper way to handle a “relative adoption”. I was treated as an outcast by most of my adoptive family after my reunion – good enough to be in the family while my adoption is secret, but toss me out after I reunite with my father and finally grieve the death of my mother. I did not create resentment – adoption myths and taboos did.

 Part 2

When my older full blood siblings found me, it was a shock. Of course it would be: to learn that the most trusted people to a child lied, on purpose, and treated me as a possession. My siblings and I and our father had as good a reunion as could be, considering I was at everyone’s mercy for they told me their versions of the truth and assumed that I should get on with life quickly.

That does not happen. The shock of being found, the shock of lies, and the growing turmoil of both families putting me down because I chose to become an adoption reform activist, resulted in life-long psychological trauma. Do not twist my words around to make it seem that I had a “Bad Reunion.” THAT is mischaracterization of what I told this reporter.

It is the total accumulation of misinformed relatives, societal myths, and definite discrimination against adoptees in general that made my life difficult. How can one person defend herself against an adoptive family network of rumors and disgust, a split natural family (one side believing that my father was responsible for my mother’s death from cancer, and my father not knowing the full extent of the involvement of other people in the adoption of his child. There was total lack of concern for him as my relinquishing father, total lack of concern for the five children at the death of our mother.

  Part 3

The only thing that mattered was that I, the adoptee, had a so-called better life to be away from wretchedness of the father and siblings left behind. I paid for the “sin” of accepting my father back into my life by having hate mail sent to me and hate phone calls from anonymous adoptive relatives who took it out on me that I even dared to have a reunion with a man they hated. THAT is what was wrong in my adoption and reunion—distortion of beliefs surrounding adoption. I DID NOT say to this reporter that I wished I was raised in foster care or was under guardianship. THAT is a twist of what I actually said.   

If my adoptive parents were truthful to me while I was growing up, if the judge had realized that there were four other children involved and made it a part of this adoption to have ongoing sibling and father visitation, and if there were no hateful rumors spread for 53 years, then there would have been a cooperation in visitation for the sibling group, I would have known that my mother died and where she was buried. Better yet, my family should never have been separated by adoption in the first place. Family preservation should have prevailed, but no, adoption was seen as the only solution.

 Part 4

I said that, adoption as a social practice should be replaced by family preservation. IF a child cannot be raised by her family, then guardianship should replace adoption because adoption creates a new identity for the child and destroys the natural family connections. Adoption itself causes distortions in peoples’ attitudes.

This reporter misrepresented what I told her. And she chose to ignore the very real birth certificates I sent her. All adoptees’ birth certificates are seized by the government and a new, falsified, birth certificate is issued claiming the parents of adoption actually gave birth. The reporter was shocked when I told her this, “They don’t still do that, do they?” she asked me. “Yes, they do!” I responded. I sent her copies of all of my fraudulent birth and baptismal certificates, and true birth certificates. But she chose to ignore my message.

This is why I have written a book — because reporters are too casual with information given to them. I have told my story to numerous reporters since 1975, and it is always the same. They report a twisted version of what I actually said.

  Part 5

This adoptee has faced a variety of discriminations:  1st in my relinquishment that could have been prevented, then my adoption that was full of lies from the very beginning, and the lies told behind me as I was growing in a social circle similar to The Truman Show. Do not place the burden on a “bad reunion” upon me. Remember this: an 18 year old faced with psychological shock of this magnitude does not emotionally heal well, nor do the adoptive parents who lied for 18 years and defended their right to lie by screaming and yelling and blaming the adoptee, nor do the siblings of that adoptee, and, the relinquishing father who was talked into giving up his newborn at the funeral of his dead wife.

Adoption itself is wrong. Morally, ethically, humanly, wrong. Adoption is a no-win situation.

This reporter was more interested in getting a decent photo to put my face in her story to prove the bad side of reunions, without printing the evidence I gave her to expose the worst discrimination of all: sealed and falsified birth certificates that all adoptees suffer. Creating new and fraudulent birth certificates for each adoptee, and forcing us to beg for our truthful birth certificates, is the biggest discrimination in adoption today.

Joan Mary Wheeler, born as, Doris Michol Sippel

November 23, 2009