Here is a link to my latest article published by The Buffalo News:
Another Voice: Cuomo must veto flawed adoptee bill
Don’t forget to add your own comment about adoptee rights, via Facebook app, on The News’ website.
Here is a link to my latest article published by The Buffalo News:
Don’t forget to add your own comment about adoptee rights, via Facebook app, on The News’ website.
This is my response to the efforts of Tim Monti-Wohlpart and company, Friends of “CLEAN” adoption reform, dated Jul 9, 2017.
I am pleased with the petition update and the sound arguments presented in this petition (which you can read here).
I stand by my fellow adoptees in promoting the veto of New York State’s Mother-May-I bills and the advance of the “clean” bills.
However, as my following letter to Governor Cuomo indicates, I do not think that the alternative Adoptee Rights Bills S5169-A / A6821-A are completely “clean” bills.
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Dear Governor Cuomo,
While I applaud, support and defend this effort by “Friends of “CLEAN” adoption reform”, I disagree with it in part. Here is why:
Tim Monti-Wohlpart of Brooklyn, New York and “Friends of “Clean” adoption reform” promote the alternative bills S5169-A / A6821-A as “Clean” reform that “will allow all adult adoptees to gain unrestricted access to their original birth certificates.”
While it is true that the bills that have passed the Senate and Assembly and await your signature (A5036-B / S4845-B) will indeed, if passed into law, further erode adoptees’ civil rights by giving rights to parents who either willingly signed surrender papers that removed their parental rights or their rights were terminated, it is NOT true that moving forward the alternate bills S5169-A / A6821-A will be “clean reform” that “will allow all adult adoptees to gain unrestricted access to their original birth certificates.”
I must be very clear. Unrestrictive access-bills, while significantly better than restrictive access bills and laws, really do not restore any civil rights to adoptees at all. The only right that will be granted is the right to obtain an uncertified copy of the sealed birth certificate. That released document will be issued with some sort of stamped declaration on the front, such as “For Genealogical Purposes Only”, or “VOID Not For Official Use”, or “Pre-Adoption Birth Certificate”, or some other statement which will prevent the adopted person from ever using the document as identification. All amended birth certificates issued to adoptees upon adoption will still remain as the operable birth certificate. That means that the identity theft perpetrated upon adoptees at the signing of the finalization of adoption will still be in effect.
In order for all identity civil rights to be 100% restored to all New York State adopted people, the 1935 law that binds us now must be repealed and replaced with reality-based documentation of birth for all New York State citizens. Non-adopted and adopted alike must have equal rights protecting the civil right to own and use as identification their own medical record of live birth.
No access bill will accomplish this.
If the 1935 law would be repealed and replaced by reality-based documentation of live birth, then, prospectively, no adopter (straight or gay or lesbian) would have the right to overwrite the medical record of live birth with an amended birth certificate that swaps out the name of the child at birth, swaps out the names of the parents of conception and birth, and replaces these names with the new name of the child and the names of the strangers who adopt the child.
The system of recording “births” for adoptees is based upon lies. This must end with the solid conviction that every single human being has the inalienable – absolute – right to the truth of their own birth and to be who they were named at birth.
Reality-based documentation of birth would also mean that, retroactively, all New York State adopted citizens would have the right to obtain a certified copy of their now-sealed medical record of live birth, annul their current birth certificate that was created upon their adoption, change their name back to their name of birth, or, choose to receive an uncertified copy of their medical record of live birth (birth certificate) with words stamped across it indicating that the document is not to be used as identification, and that the amended birth certificate issued upon adoption would remain as the adopted person’s legal identity.
Because adoption changes verifiable reality on paper, we must face facts. Non-adopted people are issued a medical record of live birth which is the record of the facts of their birth. Adoptees are issued this document, too. It is only upon adoption that the medical record of live birth is revoked, and sealed, and a new, amended, birth certificate issued with the new adoption facts replacing the realities of birth. The only statements of truth that remain on the falsified birth certificate are the Registered Number assigned to the child at birth, the birth date (maybe, adopters in some states are allowed to change the birth date), perhaps the hospital in which the birth took place, and the town or city of birth (in some states the adopters are allowed to change this as well).
If mere access is all you want, then, by all means, promote only the “clean” bills S5169-A / A6821-A that “will allow all adult adoptees to gain unrestricted access to their original birth certificates.”
What does “Unrestricted access” mean? It means that the adopted person has the right to obtain an uncertified copy of their now-revoked and now-sealed medical record of live birth without begging permission from the very parents who signed away their parental rights, or to be subjected to the decisions of a judge.
Unrestricted access does not make adoptees completely equal to non-adopted American citizens.
In order for all adoptees to be completely equal to non-adopted people, our birth certificates must be restored to their original intent: to be the official record of our births. We must be free to obtain and use this document without interference from adopters, parents who relinquished their rights, and state governments that would remove our rights to the truth of our births.
These have been my views since March of 1974 when I first laid eyes on my two different birth certificates. I KNEW at age 18 that this theft of my identity was morally, ethically, and legally wrong. I will fight till my dying breath for the return of my birth rights and that of all adoptees in New York State, in America, and the world – because adoptees’ true identities have been legally erased.
Governor Cuomo, yes, please veto and reject A5036-B / S4845-B. Please support and advance S5169-A / A6821-A, the New York Bill of Adoptee Rights. Please continue to advance the partially clean alternative bills as they promote the civil right of adoptees to act on our own behalf as competent adults. But please know and understand the gravity of the present system of identity theft that is built into New York State adoption since 1935. True equality cannot happen without proper examination of the history behind the present system, the consequences of the present system, and the proper action from our lawmakers.
Governor Cuomo, I was born January 7, 1956 and adopted as Joan Mary Wheeler January 14, 1957. I legally reclaimed my name of birth June 13, 2016, but my medical record of live birth is still locked up by New York State.
I lost my mother at my age of three months due to her early death. I lost my entire family due to adoption. I lost my identity due to adoption. Haven’t I lost enough?
Governor Cuomo, I hope you realize what all adoptees lost because of adoption. Please establish a committee to begin to dismantle the 1935 law that forever strips all New York adoptees of our birthrights.
Please restore adoptees’ civil rights to be who we were born to be.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.
Doris Michol Sippel
New York adoptee born, adopted, reunited, and currently living in Buffalo, New York
A video from Gregory Luce of Adoptee Rights Law about the New York State bad adoptee bill which really is a mother-may-I bill.
“Rise with us to demand a veto of A5036B and to assure equal rights for all adoptees.”
Even though this was written for April Fools Day 2015, this is still an excellent blog from Elle Cuardaigh.
Back in 1974, when I answered a phone call from a woman I did not know, I was a high school senior. I was 18 years old. This woman said she was my sister.
I knew I was adopted, but I was never allowed to speak of my feelings or my questions. I buried it all deep inside. So when this woman said she was my sister, I knew immediately that she really was my sister.
And at the same time, I knew that all I had lived for those 18 years of my life, was not real. I felt like a fool. How many people knew? Why was I the last to know? I wasn’t the person I thought I was.
Imagine being a high school student with final exams and the prom and picking out a college and making life-altering decisions, well, I went through the motions of all of that, but I was in deep, psychological trauma.
My parents KNEW and chose not to tell me! How could I trust them again? And then there were the rest of my relatives who all knew…
So, for me, I am not the total unsuspecting person who finds out late in life that she or he is adopted. I knew that I was adopted. I knew there were unknowns about me that were somehow going to be revealed. But that did not soften the blow as to how I felt that day in 1974, and for years later, and even now.
The shock of finding out the truth, and not from the adoptive parents who ought to have had the guts and maturity to tell me themselves, is something that I never recovered from, Betrayal, lies, fear, mistrust, radical acceptance… yes, this is being A Late Discovery Adoptee.
Imagine everything you thought you knew to be true was a lie. Imagine the parents you loved (or hated, or both) had deceived you your entire life, either with outright untruths, or lies of omission. And not about some small thing that can be compartmentalized, but something that permeates everything: Your origin.
This is what some adoptees must deal with. They find out when they’re a teen, or going into the service, or parents themselves, or at the funeral of their mother or father, that their identities have been based upon a lie. And let me stop you right there if you are objecting to your computer screen. Systematic lying, even with silence, is still lying. No matter how “noble” the reasons for doing it, it is still wrong. It is a betrayal that many can never recover from.
The lengths people will go to to “protect” the adoptee from…
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So good to read what all wannna-be-adopters and adopters should comprehend. But they never will.
One that you forgot, Elle Cuardaigh, is “Gotcha.” As in “Gotcha Day.”
Many years before that term became popular by adopters, my adoptive mother used to say,”Well, that happened years before we got you.” She was referring to family events that were important for me to learn because I became part of the larger family and I should know the family history. Which I did learn because I was the innocent child growing up the only child of parents who were old enough to be my grandparents when they adopted me. It was their history being imparted to me. It was their memories, their culture, their happiness, their wants and dreams. And there I was, soaking it all in. I had no choice. It felt real enough to me because I did not know my own history. I was the captive audience.
Even as a very young child, I recoiled when I heard my adoptive mother say those words, “when we got you…”. I knew I was adopted, but did not know the details of the mother and father and anyone else I lost, but I felt that loss. It was like a punch in the gut to hear those words. My life, my history, began when they got me.
Yeah, so this newer, modern version that has morphed into “Gotcha Day” is a slur upon the only way adopters know how to tell their version of events that took place that led up to the main event of how each and every one of us came to be adopted.
Oddly, my adoptive mother was not aware that this term developed in the early 1980s and is now full blown, nor was she aware that the special day could have been celebrated as it is today. In that regard, I’m happy that the day I arrived in their care, or the day I was legally adopted, has never been set aside as a special celebration. My birthdays were hard enough as I always wondered who birthed me.
If you find yourself somehow involved in adoption, you will need to learn a new language: Pro-Adoption Language. These same words in the rest of society have completely different meanings. It is very important to know the correct terms, or people get their feelings hurt and the Culture of Adoption suffers.
Adoption: The act of legally severing ties to biological parents and replacing them with strangers who become the Real Parents.
Abortion: 1) Terminating what would have been the perfect child that the Adoptive Parent always wanted. 2) The thing all Adopted Children have been saved from.
*Adopted Child: Baby who was placed in the Wrong Tummy and was saved from Abortion by the Real Parents.
Adoptee: Newer, discouraged term for an Adopted Child.
Adopted Adult: ….what?
Birthmother or Birth Mother: A lesser mother, inferior to an Adoptive or Real Mother.
Birth Father: The man who gave birth to the…
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Thank you for writing this.
James 1:27 “…. to look after the orphans and widows in their distress …”
Yeah. I never held it against my 31 year old father for making the hard decision to relinquish me into adoption less than one month after my 30 year old mother died. He was a devout Catholic and followed the advice of his parish priest.
It is the PRIEST who I fault. He said to my father at my mother’s funeral, “The baby needs two parents.” Sure, if you look only at the constant care of an infant, but wouldn’t it have been so much more loving, so much more caring and helpful if the PRIEST had offered help in the form of suggesting that volunteers from the church come in and help to care for me and my older siblings? How about donations of food, clothes, diapers, money? My grandparents were sick. Other family members had babies of their own. My father was stretched to the limit. He gave away his 5th child because a PRIEST put the idea in his head.
Oh, and, minutes after the priest spoke, a woman came up to my father and said, “I know someone who will take your baby.”
Her brother became my adoptive father.
Nice going, lady. Swoop down on a grieving husband and father. Take the baby off his hands, free up one more child that he didn’t need to feed so that you could pride yourself on procuring someone else’s baby for your brother. Nice going, Aunt Gertie, mighty Christian of you. May you rot in hell along with that priest.
This is not to say I didn’t love my adoptive parents, this is to say that my adoption was arranged by Catholics who were anything but Christian. I remain, and always will be, a “good without god” atheist; how I became adopted is just one of many reasons that I am no longer “a believer.”
I’ve heard these phrases often:
“We always felt called to adopt.”
“We never felt compelled to have our own children, so we chose to adopt.”
“Adoption was laid on our hearts.”
“We prayed about it and decided we would adopt.”
“We prayed for this child.”
“Adoption was God’s plan for our family.” etc. etc. etc.
Each of these comments prompt me to ask this question: If you knew you were called to adopt your children, if this was your prayer, then is it remotely possible that you misunderstood what the Lord was saying? And if you misunderstood, then how is it so many are misunderstanding what He is trying to say?
I am asking.
I know so many women that have struggled with the pain of infertility, even so, is it possible that maybe, just maybe, the desire of your heart is louder than the voice of the Lord? See…
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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s letter to me arrived in today’s mail. His diplomatic response tells me that he will weigh “the merits” of the bill and will take into consideration the points I raised in my letter to him.
Without any actual dialogue, I have no idea if he and his staff understand this adoptee’s perspective. I can only hope his logic and reasoning will prevail.
There are thousands of activists in New York State who have written to him. There are thousands more adoptees throughout this nation who have also written in opposition to the current New York State bills waiting for the Governor’s signature to become law.
This is not over yet. I have hope.
Governor Cuomo, the evidence is before you. You must veto Senate Bill 4845-B and Assembly Bill 6821-A. It’s the right thing to do.