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.