Part 5: Response to The Buffalo News 3-Part Series Search for Yesterday: Adoptive, Birth Parents See Reunion Problems: My Natural Father Speaks Out 1984

Appearances are deceiving, or are they?


I honestly don’t know where to begin.

Right from the start there are the two adoptive mothers who are defending their rights to someone else’s child:

“I don’t want to sound unsympathetic to birth parents”

She just did by dismissing their loss of their child.

“I wouldn’t want someone else to say ‘she’s my daughter’.”

Wow, such denial of the facts of life coming from an adoptive mother who probably was infertile so she thought adopting (taking) someone else’s child as her own was the best choice for herself and the child. Guess what? Her Korean girl IS some else’s daughter!

This “all or nothing” thinking is what causes problems in adoption.

“…chances for a reunion with her biological family are lessened. We didn’t adopt internationally because of that, but it’s a fringe benefit of adopting from another country…That’s one problem you’d almost never have to deal with.”

Really? This adoptive mother contradicted herself. She told me, via a phone call back in 1984, that the only reason she adopted foreign children is make sure her children would never have contact from their birth families.

So, the adoptee’s right to know her own natural parents and siblings and country of origin is seen by her adoptive mother as a problem that is avoided because the chances of reunion are next to nill because the birth family is in Korea? How convenient for the adoptiveparents, or at least this adoptivemother. Notice that adoptive fathers are absent from this article, and even in the series presented in my previous post. Also note that natural fathers are absent from discussion involving illegitimate births.

How am I able to write about this now, nearly 26 years later? Because I took notes.

I’d like to know what that cute Korean toddler of 1984 has to say now in 2010 when she realizes that (by the will of her loving, forever, real adoptive parents) she was held in captivity because her adoptive parents didn’t love her enough to give her the freedom necessary to build her own self identity.

There are so many blogs out there now written by adoptees of color who were adopted by white people and brought to America. These adoptees do not like what was done to them.

I sure do hope that this family has done quite a bit of healing for the adoptee’s sake, if not for the sake of the misguided adoptive parents.

“I think it would be difficult for any child to have two real mothers and two real fathers…”

Yes, it is a difficult path, but all adoptees DO have two mothers and two fathers and they are most certainly REAL. Both sets are real in the adoptee’s life. To deny that is to warp the adoptee’s sense of self.

The other adoptive mother said:

“But I’m not in favor of my daughter finding her mother and forming a relationship…I think it would take away from our relationship, and I feel there would be a strain on our relationship.”

I still meet adoptive parents today who feel this way. It’s that “All or Nothing” thinking again. The shades of grey are there in real life, but not in adoption. Or that’s just the way adoptive parents want it. The  adoptee needs both sets of parents, with or without a relationship, because, whether or not adoptive parents realize it, the adoptee already HAS a relationship with her natural parents. It is the bonds of biology, of genetics, of being hard-wired to haveinherent qualities of temperament and talents and allergies and muscle structure and facial features. With such selfishness of these adoptive parents, it is hard to see any real love there. I see possessiveness and desperate attempts to claim “mine, all mine!”, but this does not speak well of adoptive parent attitudes of 1984.

Like I said, this attitude is still alive in adoptive parents today.

“The birth parents don’t seem to realize the relationship has ended once the papers have been signed. I think it’s a real invasion of privacy when they attempt to meet the child.”

No, it’s the adoptive parents who don’t realize that the relationship between the adoptee and her natural parents continues throughout her lifetime, even if there is no contact. The adoptee feels the loss. The natural parents feel the loss. And we’ve seen natural parents coming out by the thousands, in America and in Korea and elsewhere, to put an end to “taking someone else’s child as your own.”

“Giving birth doesn’t make the parents. It’s the caring and loving and growing with the child that does.”

And natural parents have been coerced into giving up their children to adoption out of shame. They were prevented from the actual parenting of their own children because of that permanent separation. We know from organizations such as Origins and Concerned United Birthparents that these mothers desperately wanted to do the natural acts of parenting, but were forced out of the their child’s lives.

Being pregnant and giving birth are natural events and are most certainly the very essence of life itself. It is the adoptive mother in this article who berates pregnancy and birth because she was deprived of experiencing the very events she puts down.

Hurray for Dr. David Brodzinsky — a former Buffalonian! — for his professional statements. Dr. Brodzinskihas gone on to be a prolific writer on the psychology of adoption. He is the co-author or co-editor of five influential books on adoption,  including The Psychology of Adoption (1990); Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self (1992); Children’s Adjustment to Adoption: Developmental and Clinical Issues (1998); Adoption and Prenatal Drug Exposure: Research, Policy, and Practice (2000), and Psychological Issues in Adoption: Research and Practice (2005).

Still, Dr. Brodzinsky’s statement in this 1984 article raises concern:

“He doesn’t see the issue in terms of ‘rights’. Adoptive parents have the same rights or lack of rights as all parents have…”

Auh, what about the adoptee’s rights?

The International Adoption Reform Movement has made great progress since 1984: Bastard Nation, the American Adoption Congress, Council on Equal Rights in Adoption, Adoption Crossroads, Origins, Concerned United Birthparents, Senior Mothers and hundreds of adoptees’ blogs, mothers of loss blogs, oh, and The Evan B Donaldson Adoption Institute, to name a few entities out there promoting adoptees’ rights.

Now, about my natural father’s photo in the paper and his statements.

First thing that must be said: He did not want to be identified in my book, so I changed his name and any other identifications that could lead to him today. BUT, he chose to go public in 1984. He called the newspaper to defend himself. For what? I have always had respect and love for him, and especially his third and present wife, my loving step mother. Nothing I ever wrote put him  down in any way.

As a result of this article, at that time in 1984, my natural father and I healed a five-year period of silence between us. We continued in a growing and loving father-daughter relationship. He was actively involved with my two children, two of his many grandchildren, and we shared tender moments. My father tearfully relayed to me what happened when my mother died — a story he had not been able to tell me in detail until after 1984. He cried when he told me that he “gave the baby — you — up, up, … up for adoption.” I could see remorse in his face and in his heart.

Since the printing of this article, my father and I talked of how newspaper reporters make situations worse by exaggerating points. He wanted to be sure the public knew he “abided by the law” and stayed away from me while I was growing up.

My father and I talked of how the articles did not accurately portray how the adoptee and her adoptive family and natural family are effected by a reunion that went out of control. Too many people butting in, saying harsh words, trying to interfere with the adoptee adjusting to her reunion.

When this article was written, there were unspoken words between my father and I. In 1979, he thought that all I wanted was to get my hands on my sealed records, to talk about the past, to ask about my deceased mother. His worst fear was that I’d hate him for what he had done. After the publishing of this article, we came together to discuss our sore spots, coming away with a greater understanding of each other. We have spent an immense amount of personal energy since then in building a personal relationship that is much different from the relationships he had with his other children from his first wife and the children he has with his present wife. We accepted each other and what the past has done to us.

One summer night in 1987, just shortly before midnight, I knocked on my father’s door. I was despondent because my adoptive mother had just been diagnosed with cancer. I told my father I can’t bear to lose another parent to cancer. My first mother died of cancer, my adoptive father died of cancer. Slowly, my adoptive mother’s cancer went into remission, only to resurface in recent years, but that night my natural father said to me:

“I will always be here for you. We may not have the legal binds, but we have something stronger. We not only have the ties of blood, but we have the emotions in our hearts.”

Sadly, through the passage of time, and the realization that I went full steam ahead, completed and published the memoir I said I was going to write since 1976, those old fears and resentment rose up again. When asked to, my father read a rough draft of my book in 2004. He clarified points. I made corrections he asked me to make and said I represented him in a clear manner. He read another draft of the book again in 2008. This time he said it all could have been avoided if he had gotten some help. I agree. He was alone in his decision to split up his family.

Then, in 2009, I added a Social Work Assessment, of which, my father did not understand. He reacted out of emotion and fear that I do not love and respect him. That is not true. I do love him and respect him. The Social Work Assessment of my adoption was written in analytical style and encompasses all parties to my adoption. My natural father did not understand it. There were other aspects that entered into why we are again not speaking to each other: a disagreement between my natural father, my adoptive mother, and myself; so, my natural father and I parted ways again.

I went ahead with my goals. The book is out now. My adoptive mother doesn’t like it. My natural father doesn’t like it. No one looks good in this book, including me. The true destruction of adoption in my life had to be told, with or without the approval of others.

I wrote it to prevent another family from being permanently separated by adoption.

I wrote my book to make sense of my life with the facts as they were presented to me.


~ ~ ~ Joan M Wheeler, BA, BSW, born Doris M Sippel, author of Forbidden Family: A Half Orphan’s Account of Her Adoption, Reunion and Social Activism, Trafford Publishing, Nov 2009.