Happy Adoption Day, my eyeball. The only ones happy were my adoptive parents.
Fifty three years ago, today, at age 1 year, I lost my legal right to be a part of the family I was born into. I lost my legal right to have the birth certificate that documents my birth. I won the legal right to own a birth certificate that says I was born to a woman who factually adopted me: that is misrepresentation of material facts, which is fraud.
Fifty three years ago, today, my dead mother lost her right to be my legal mother. Bad enough she faced dying knowing that she’d leave behind five children, one of whom was a newborn, but she did not know that adoption would not only take away that newborn, but adoption would prevent her from forever being named on her child’s legal birth certificate.
Fifty three years ago, today, my father walked away from Surrogate’s Court in Erie County Hall, Buffalo, New York, a defeated man. He did what was told to him. He gave away his newborn because a Catholic priest said these words to him at his wife’s funeral ten months previously: “The baby needs two parents.” On top of that, a woman whom he did not know came up to him at his wife’s funeral and said, “I know a couple who will take your baby.”
And to this day, there are members of my dead mother’s family who believe that my father “didn’t want” me.
My father gave me up because he believed I would have a better life with two parents. At the time he relinquished me, he was a single father of five children. There was no help to keep his family together, only vultures swarming to descend and take away the children. “I’ll take the boy”, said one brother of my dead mother. But my father said no. My mother’s brothers got mad at him. My father was an only child. He had his sickly aging parents to help him. His own cousins had children of their own and did not help him keep his family together. Relinquishing me, letting me go, was his only option to save the rest of his family, and himself.
To expect a man in deep, profound grief to make life-altering decisions for his child and himself at a point of personal crisis is cruel. If he had been told the truth: that his dead wife’s family would hold this against him for eternity, that they would spread filthy rumors about him, that the adoptive family into which he relinquished his child would continue ongoing relationships with select members of his dead wife’s family and continue the gossipy rumors, all the while HE was told to stay away, he would never had agreed to relinquish his child to such an adoption. If my father were told that relinquishing his daughter to this permanent adoption would result in the utter destruction of his daughter’s personal papers, personal identity, emotional and psychological well-being, and that adoption would destroy her birth certificate, he would never have agreed to relinquishment and the adoption of his child. My father does not understand the true depth of destruction that adoption has caused me: he does not want to know because the pain is too deep.
That pain is what the adoptee experiences. That pain is not worth the benefits of Happy Adoption Day.
I am a defeated person, a shell of what I could have been. To live my life each day knowing that the very people who professed their love for me, who devoted their lives to me as my adoptive parents, loved me so much that they willfully and knowingly kept me apart from my own father and my own sisters and brother, kept me apart from my own cousins and from even knowing where my dead mother was buried, just so that they could have the luxury of raising a child “of their own”, knowing that my adoptive parents told so many lies to me for the first 18 years of my life, to know all of this was done “for my benefit” makes me so sick I want to vomit.
My adoption wasn’t love. It was possession.
I am supposed to feel grateful. I am supposed to feel happy that I wasn’t raised with my father and my siblings because “what kind of life would you have had with them?” This is the indoctrination said to me, the adoptee, by my adoptive parents and believed by extended adoptive family and the general public’s accumlated “knowledge” of adoption.
The adoptive cousins with whom I have had meaningful relationships in childhood have been what I cling to. Though we are not blood, we know each other as cousins. There are blood cousins with whom I share closeness also.
But there is also this pervasive undertow of deception, rumor and gossip. What was it that my adoptive mother said to me just a few weeks ago as she lay in her nursing room bed? “Oh, by the way, there are people who believe that you had affairs with two of your adoptive cousins.” What? Who the hell is spreading this filth around? Again? Still? Many people in my extended adoptive family and natural mother’s family, that’s who. They are the ones who are sick. Manipulative. I want no part of perverted minds. I am tired of being the brunt of their jokes.
While Jaycee Duggard has had the unfortunate experience of having been raped repeatedly by her abductor, having two children by him, she is not alone in her captivity. How can I possibly cope with the misinformation and gossip that is said for decades among family members because they “think” or “believe” something is true?
I was raised in a beautiful middle class home in the suburbs of Buffalo, an only child, with all the attention my adoptive parents could give me. It was conditional love: I was never supposed to know my own siblings and certainly not my own father and I should never know about the truth of how my mother died. My happy childhood memories come with a price: no childhood with my own siblings. Yet my adoptive parents had theirs. I loved my parents. I loved my extended adoptive family. Only to find out at age 18 that my life was one lie built upon another. After my Reunion, a shock that sent me into oblivion for years, I was expected to bounce back, to recover, to build my life as an adult as if this shock did not “bother” me. I was accused of “living in the past” and “being obsessed with adoption” and “pulling that stunt” and “knowing my siblings all along”. The ones who “pulled that stunt” were my adoptive parents and extended adoptive family. The ones who were mad that I “was living in the past” had the luxury of knowing their own personal histories while growing up. The ones who accused me of “knowing my siblings all along” were guilty of preventing me from knowing my own flesh and blood: my adoptive parents and all who backed them in their secrecy and deception.
What is it that the psychologists say that Jaycee Dugard must undo? Is it called “Stockholm Syndrome”? Perhaps other adoptees have not had a life so entrenched with turmoil as I have had, but other adoptees sure do have sealed and falsified birth certificates. Many adoptees and adoptive parents will be screaming: “What? She can’t be comparing adoption to what Jaycee Dugard experienced!”
Oh, yes, I can.
I was held prisoner in my sheltered home for 18 years in an idyllic life away from the “crappy” life my siblings lived on the opposite side of the city. (again, indoctination from my adoptive parents against my own family of birth). I should feel grateful I didn’t live with them because they had rags for clothes, or so I was told by my adoptive mother after I was found by siblings she so intensely did not want to me ever know. Who gets to torture an adoptee like that? I feel very much that Stockholm Syndrome fits my life, too. I was abducted from my own family by adoptive parents who selfishly kept me to themselves, knowingly and willfully depriving me of relationships with my own siblings. That is nothing less than child abuse. Beyond the mixed feelings of love for adoptive parents who “took care of me”, there are a myriad of conflicts I must cope with on a daily basis: the circulating rumors of sexual misconduct, feelings of being tricked by so many people whom I am supposed to love, feelings of wondering what other misconceptions people built up around me because they knew my blood family and I did not, feelings of shame and guilt because other relatives do not approve of my life.
There was a definite rift in my life when I was found by siblings I never knew. Certain members of my adoptive family sank away from me as if I were a leper. I am one person, people. If I am as bad as my relatives say I am, then I surely do deserve the hate mail and the obscene phone calls that have permeated my life since 1974 because I dared to accept a reunion with my father and my siblings. Form my point of view, this is gang-mentality against one adoptee.
Check out the Page on this blog “My Archives” to see the “dreadful” adoption reform newspaper articles I wrote. These articles are my way of defending the rights of adoptees, the rights of the donor-conceived, and the rights of our natural parents. I stuck up for Mary Beth Whitehead, the infamous surrogate mother, and her daughter. I got hell for that from my family members, people who are not in my direct social circle. I wrote against sperm donation. I got hell for that, too, again from family members who did not approve of my public statements against procedures that harm the chidlren created by these means. The general public’s stupidity is to be expected, but to be mistreated by my own families in the form of hate mail and hate phone calls and whispers behind my back and dirty looks and snide comments — all from my own families because I did what was right for me. This is the life of an adoptee well hated for being who she is: an adoptee advocating for humane change in the restrictive, discriminatory and de-humanizing adoption practices in America.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: for all the hate and disrespect I have been given because I was born to a woman who died and then relinquished to adoption, was found by siblings I never knew and was hated for that, endured criticism because I was slow to recover or did not do what other people wanted me to do: get over being adopted, I would have rather been born a bastard. Bastards get more respect than this adopted half orphan has ever received.
Happy Adoption Day — Fifty-three years of hell.
Are you catching the drift as to why I am anti-adoption?
6 thoughts on “Happy Adoption Day 53 Years Ago Today”
Your pain and experiences are real. But the generalizing in adoption has got to come to an end. Some adoptive parents generalize happy happy stories of kids being better off and craft horror stories of what “would have been”. Adoptees with real experiences like yours generalize those experiences to other adoptees and all adoptive parents. The broad generalizations cause both sides to lose credibility, as does the often complete inability to acknowledge the other side of the coin.
And from what I have seen almost every pro and anti adoption premise is based on infant adoption. Almost all of the arguments fall apart when applied to the adoption of older children with conscious memory of their birth parents and culture and, in many legal systems, a right to consent to adoption. At that point, “adoption” itself has almost nothing to do with the outcome, and the people involved have everything to do with it.
Jerry, you make good points. However, if adoption were to be completely abolished, as is the case in many more progressive countries, the end result will be possitive for the main concern: the child who does not have to be adopted at all!
Australia’s adoptions have been nearly completely phased out of existence by promoting Family Preservation, Kinship Care and, when neccessary Guardianship.
In America, we promote adoptions as if this was the total saving grace and the only acceptable means to an end. Even in adoptions of older children, the child’s birthh certifcate is seized by the government and placed under seal. A “new” falsified document is created to replace the only real birth certificate for the adopted individual. And then, the child/adoptee lives happily withh the new step-parent adoptive parent, or, an older chidl is adotped into a new family.
Do you realize what you are saying, Jerry?
I,, and many other adoptin activists, do not want adoption to continue because adoption erases a person’s birth identity and family. Living within a “happy” adoptive home can and does happen. (I was happy for my first 18 years) Many, many adoptees must live with the knowldege that theri adoptive parents donot want their adoptees to know or have any relationships with thir birthfamilies. This is a selfish attitude, but very common, in many adoptive parents.
The fact remains: adoptive parents own their adoptees.
The same goal of protecting the legal interests of the child who needs care can be provided by Legal Guardianship. This provides for the child’s immedidate needs while providing a loving environment. Guardianship also keeps the child’s birth certificate intact, provides for visitation with siblings, visitation with parents, and other relatives. The Legal Guardian is under legal obligation to comply with visitation guidleines, just like a non-custodial parent in divorce.
When you look at the tamering of a child’s personal identiy documents, and in adoption, that is waht happens – the identity of the child is changed, then it is obvious that it is in the child’s best interest to protect that child’s identity, integrity, and rights to personhood, and rrights to know and keep relationships with the family of birth.
That is the heart of the matter.
Adoption destroys the family of birth. Adoption destroys the adoptee’s personal identity. And creates lifelong identiy issues that go well beyond the family dynamics of the adoptive family unit.
A happy family unit can be consisted of a family unit inwhich a child is protected by a legal guardian and still have connections to the family of birth and still be loved and cared for in a different household. Guardianship frees up people to be honest and cooperative.
Identity issues that go beyond a loving “adoptive” home are: legal constraints agaisnt adoptees that prevent adoptees from obtaining drivers’ licenses, the enhanced ones neccessary to cross into Canada rewuire proof of birth and biological parentage. Because adopteesa re forbidden access to our birth certificates that proove who we were born to, we cannot prove who we are. Unles, we provide out Final Order of Adoption. This document may or may not be legally obtainable because all adoptionn records are sealed from the adoptee. Passports are also difficult for adoptees to obtain because we have to prove who we were really born to ebfore we are allowed to get a Passport to leave the country. I was able to provide all of my sealed documents beccause they were given to my adoptive parents at the time my father relinquished me. Other adoptees do not have their real birth certifcate and they do not have their Final Order of Adoption.
It is a difficult emotional and psychological task to go through life like this, for all adoptees. In legal guardianship, children who need homes and parental figures can be providfed with that, develop love relationships with those who care for them, maintain contact with sibling groups and other blood kin, and still maintain the integrity of their birth name, birth certificate and personal identity.
If you don’t understand this, the onus is on you. Not me to keep explaining it.
Only adoptees who live this hell of other people taking over their lives — the government that manipulates the facts of birth on “new” brith certificates and then prevents us from obtaining the documents the government says it needs to prove who we were really born to — can understand the personal rammifications of losing control of your own life.
This should be avoided at all costs. Adoption should be abolished.
Many other countries are light years ahead of America in this. Read the United Nations Rights of the Child – an international treaty that the US has not ratified. Why? baby trade, that’s why.
It is not only the adoptive parents that want to hear only happy adoption stories, it is also natural parents who want to believe that adoption was good to the child they lost. It is the hope that the lost child “had a good life” that clouds the reality when the cold hard facts are laid bare to reveal the not-so-good-and-perhaps-unsavory-realities of adoption in a closed system. Life is a progression of ups and downs. Some of us have more trauma to deal with than others.
When we get to the point of telling the truth on documents that prove birth, relinquishment, and adoption, then all the truth is lais bare. No one cacn lie. No one can fake it. Open records mean so much more than access to the “original” birth certificate. We are so used to saying these words because we are forced into it, however, when you look at reality: there is only one, true birth certificate and there is no “original” birth certificate because the second one is a government-imposed legal lie pawned off as true.
I think people who don’t want to hear the unsavory aspects of adoption are afraid of what they might find if they look more closely. They want fairy tales, not reality. I agree with imposter–the right to the documentation of one’s birth is a civil right that belongs to everyone.
Thanks DV for your comments.
Wonderful adoption stories and wonderful adoption lives do not make up for the falsification of birth certificates that occur with every single adoption in the United States. That is a crime against every single adoptee whether there is a happy and wonderful adoption story or not.
As for your second paragraph, wow. Thank you. Understanding and compassion for half orphans and what to do for a family in that situation is the issue. My adoption should never have happened.
To be fair — there were adoptive relatives who warned my adoptive parents to tell me the truth. There were those who fell in the middle and went along with it because it wasn’t their place, or so they felt. This just goes to prove that the behavior of people changes when a child is adopted. Had this been a guradianship or step family with ongoing visitation, none of this would have happened. There is the mentality that adoptees should never be told.
There are alot of people who are NOT adopted who had sh*tty parents and sh*tty childhoods too. And there are people who had wonderful adoption stories. I don’t think one thing necessarily has to do with the other.
The crux of the matter is that all the people involved in your situation were not good human beings. Adoption or not adoption isn’t the issue. If they were good people they would have understood you, desired to help you. THAT is the issue.
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