Chicago Tribune’s Article “Open to Interpretation” and My Response

The Chicago Tribune published this article on birth certificate access and reunions:

Open to interpretation

Despite new laws granting access to birth records, many adoptees struggle in search of their past

While people are catching on that it is descriminatory to keep adoptees’ birth certificates sealed, many are missing the point that illegitimacy may have been the cause of the sealed and falsified laws, but there is much more going on.

Because I have been lumped into the category of being illegitimate when I am not, I resent the stigma placed upon me. I resent the stigma placed on my fellow adoptees because this is an out-dated stigma. All humans have value, no matter what the circumstances at birth and childhood.

Here is my posted response to the above article:

The stigma of illegitimacy does not apply to all adoptees. There are adoptees who were adopted by their step parents, adoptees who were taken from married parents and put into foster care and fast tracked into adoption, there are adoptees who were half or full orphaned by the death of one or both parents. In all of the above cases, none of these adoptees were from illegitimate births.

To hold all adoptees in the legal prison of sealed and falsified birth certificates based solely upon the social stigma of illegitimacy is truly discrimination against the class of people known as adoptees. Clearly, it is not the condition of illegitimate birth that makes the government seal and then falsify a new birth certificate for each adoptee, it is the condition of being adopted that sets the series of events into motion that automatically seizes an infant’s or older child’s birth certificate, seals it, and replaces it with a falsified document that states that two biologically unrelated people (to the child) created said child and gave birth to said child.

To stop the discrimination, we must end the process of automatically sealing and falsifying birth certificates of adoptees. Retain the birth certificate as an operable document and then issue an adoption certificate: that is how it is done in more progressive countries, such as The Netherlands.

~ ~ ~ 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.

Natural Mother’s Birthday Today

Happy Birth Day Mother. May you smile from the spirit world, knowing that you were, and are, loved, and missed.

My mother would have been 85 years old today, if she lived. She died 54 years ago at her age of 30 years, 5 months and 24 days. Mom lived long enough to have to five children, four girls and one boy, but not long enough to raise us. Mom gave us life and then she was gone.

I mark her birth day with both celebration of a life and a mourning of her death. Mom was born carrying the eggs that would produce her children.

I lived inside her body for 32 weeks of a difficult pregnancy. Mom  was dying while pregnant with me.

There are some who claim that a baby does not know and cannot remember that far back, but they are wrong. As I nestled inside her, I heard her voice and that of my father and my four older siblings. I heard her heartbeat. Mom’s body moved and with each step she took, I rocked back and forth. An unborn baby does not forget these primal beginnings.

I wonder what my mother’s primal memories and childhood memories were.

My mother died before she could share her stories with  her children. She died before she could fully enjoy being a mother taking care of her children throughout their lifetimes. A mother’s love was cut short when she died.

Not a day goes by without me thinking of my mother’s birth and death. A life cut short. And when she was gone, the lives of her children would be forever damaged by events that further destroyed our family: coerced relinquishment of the youngest child to an arranged adoption, displaced younger children, a sudden marriage for our father that forced thee remaining children into simultaneously grieving their mother’s death and having a new step mother to raise them.

If only our mother had lived. If only she could  have celebrated 54 more birth days with her children and her husband. The possibilities, gone now, remain mysteries. My mother’s birth remains a chance event in the scheme of life. Her innate talents and intelligence, hard wired in her genes, passed down into me, and into her grandchildren I bore. Perhaps one day, my children will have children of their own, passing millions of years of evolution through genes from my mother.

I don’t have my mother’s birth certificate. I do have her death certificate. It states her birth date and death date. Concrete evidence of her birth and her death anchor me to reality. These are the facts withheld from me because of my adoption. I wrote my book and write this blog as a testiment that no adoptee should have to suffer from  the lack of information neccessary to come to grips with life and death in order to live a productive life. No adoptive parent has the right to withhold this information from  their adoptee as my adoptive parents did when they adopted me. They knew the whole truth and deliberately lied to me. The adoption system and society’s mythical beliefs worked together to make sure I was denied pertinent facts of my personal life history.

~ ~ ~ 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.