This is a re-posting of a post from my former blog.
November 14, 2008
November is National Adoption Awareness month.
To commemorate this month-long awareness campaign, I wrote the following in response to the article by Heidi Hess Saxton, “Anti-Adoption Advocates: How Should We Respond?” Her article appears in an online publication called The Catholic Exchange:
http://catholicexchange.com/2008/11/11/114414/. Seventeen comments by her followers and adoption reformers are included at that site.
Dear Heidi Hess Saxton:
Where are you getting your information? Are you making this up? Do you have personal or professional experience to speak with authority, or are you basing your article on value judgments? Please, learn about adoption before you preach.
Pardon me, I see that you have adopted two children in 2002. That gives you a wealth of experience to draw upon. Honey, your journey is just beginning. Live life a little before you judge others. Remember the Golden Rule. You’ve got a lot to learn.
I am 52 years old. I am not “an adult adopted child”. I am an adoptee. Don’t patronize me as an “adult adoptee” either. Do you hear anyone else in society preface the description of others or themselves as “adult social worker” or “adult doctor” or “adult teacher”? No, of course not. I am a woman who was adopted as an infant. But because of backward thinking, I am called every name and label people want to assign to me. I am a normal person.
I was orphaned by the death of my mother — that’s MOTHER, not “birth” or “first” mother, but MOTHER, as in mother, the one who conceived and gave birth to me, who would have raised me had she not died. But because I was adopted as an infant, the definition of mother gets split. The legal term is “natural mother” and “natural father”. Says so in my adoption papers. Go look it up in any law library.
How dare you ridicule all adoptees and our parents! We are not “the enemy”. If we are your enemies, why do you want to adopt “the enemy”?
When I was 18 years old, and an “only child” in my adoptive home, I was found by a sister I never knew. That was in 1974 — nearly 35 years ago. I speak from personal experience as well as professional. I have been advocating for adoptees’ rights since I was 19. I earned my 2nd Bachelor’s in Social Work 9 years ago.
My loving adoptive parents did not ever want me to know the truth: they lied to me for the first 18 years of my life. It was their responsibility to tell the truth, but they wanted me all to themselves. It was the lie, and their fierce determination to keep me from the truth that made me turn anti-adoption. At the moment I received that phone call, I realized that the love and trust I had with the parents who raised me was gone. They held information about me to themselves, selfishly. There was nothing altruistic, saintly, or even remotely “Christian” about those first 18 years of my life. I also knew that I had to make a decision. I was 18 years old, not out of high school yet, facing a life-trauma that took my life as I knew it, and destroyed it. My parents lied, betrayed me, yet, here on the phone was a woman who said she was my sister. I decided, without having influence from any media or professional (because none existed in 1974) that I have two sets of real parents. Both sets of parents made me who I am. I have never deviated from that logical reality.
Mom was married to Dad for 10 years. They had four older children. Mom’s death made the 5 of us half-orphans. A Catholic Priest told Dad that the baby needs two parents. There was no caring help for the family to stay together, no Christian love, no bags of clothes, no money to help pay for a funeral or burial plot, no financial aid to help pay rent, no caring nuns or priests or missionaries to help with child care. There was no one to come over to help these children cope with the loss of their mother and their newborn sister. No one helped my father in any way. Except the advice from a Catholic Priest to give up the baby to adoption. The reality is that my family suffered tremendous loss. I hear no compassion from so-called Christians.
I do hear the venom with which you address pregnant teens and their babies. In your arguments, you believe that all adoptees come from horrible pregnant mothers who lead such horrible, destructive lives. Where is your compassion for these mothers? Do you know what its like to have your baby torn from you after you gave birth? It is a horrible experience! I have not lived that myself, but I have known mothers-of-adoption-loss for over three decades. I empathize with them, as a woman, and as a mother myself.
I was born in January 1956. I was issued a birth certificate. I was baptized, twice. Once at birth by a nurse because I was near death. After I recovered, I was baptized in a real religious Catholic ceremony at my dying mother’s bedside, one week before she died in March 1956. At my mother’s funeral, people were buzzing about the baby. Who will take care of her? In April, following the advice of a Catholic priest, my father relinquished me to the care of a couple who were to become my adoptive parents. My adoption became finalized one year and one week after by birth. These pre-adoptive parents called me Joan, but my legal and religious name was Doris.
Do you know that an infant hears inside the mother’s uterus? It’s true. I heard my siblings playing, talking to me before I was born. I heard my mother’s voice. I heard my father’s voice. I felt a shocking, empty void, after my premature birth as I lay in an incubator for 6 weeks. I suffered the trauma of losing my mother because of my isolation in that incubator. I was too young to know what happened, but my tiny body knew something was wrong. I did not hear the familiar voices of my siblings, nor my father, nor my mother. I was alone for a very long time.
Then, I heard my new name of Joan. My pre-adoptive parents called me Joan for 10 months before my adoption was finalized.
The seeds for life-long psychological trauma were set for me pre-birth. The damage was compounded by adoption separation.
It is my opinion that you need to study the dynamics of pregnancy and birth, and separation trauma experienced by all adoptees.
My father was not given any paper to sign that guaranteed him to any privacy or confidentiality. Nor was he verbally promised confidentiality. He was not hiding in fear that I’d track him down. No, he never wanted to give me up in the first place. The judge told him that he could look for me when I turned 18. Yes, that’s right. Even my adoption papers say that after 18 years, my father could contact me. When I reach the age of majority, I would become an autonomous being, free from the legal binds of adoptive parental control over me. My father loved me. He anticipated my birth. I was his youngest child.
I lived 5 miles away from my natural family. My Catholic adoptive family, with all the extended family, knew the truth. They even knew my natural mother’s extended family. Photos were traded back and forth. Stories of “Joanie’s phases” were traded from adoptive relatives to natural blood kin. I, and my siblings, and our father, were kept out of this spy ring. While my father thought he relinquished me to a private, legal transaction between he and my new parents, he did not know that there would be contact between his deceased wife’s family and my adoptive family. He was purposely kept out of the communication. He was told to stay away, to not interfere, and he did not interfere. All of the other relatives interfered.
In divorce, and re-marriage of parents, there is no sealed birth certificate. The child is shared by two parents and their respective new spouses. Blended families are made adding half siblings, enriching lives by diversity and continuity. But in adoption, a hard break is made. For no clear reason. No one owns their children. We are innocent children whose lives are manipulated and mangled by others who are supposed to looking out for our well-being. Children are victims of sealed, closed adoption. Adoption in America is a severe trauma to children. Adoption in America also is a trauma to adoptees later in life as we are forbidden, by law forever, to know from whence we came.
Three years after my birth and baptism, my adoptive parents asked the Catholic Church to issue a baptismal certificate in my adoptive name so that I may go to Catholic Schools. That’s right. The Catholic Church lied! A priest took the date out of the Church book in which my baptism was recorded. He wrote in my new adoptive name, and the names of my adoptive parents, but, because the godparents were ever-important, he named them on my new, amended, fake and phony and fraudulent baptismal certificate! My godparents were related to my deceased mother! OH NO! The identities of my real, factual, godparents were named on the fraudulent baptismal certificate! Joan Wheeler was not baptized. Doris Sippel was baptized.
For the Catholics out there, no, for the non-Catholics who do not know, listen up. When a Catholic child grows up and partakes of religious rites of passage, it is with the name at baptism—the name that God recognizes—that a child receives Holy Communion, receives Confirmation, takes vows as a nun or a priest, or takes vows in matrimony.
Do you understand what I just wrote? How many violations to my personhood is the Catholic Church going to inflict upon me? And other adoptees?
My birth certificate (notice I said “birth certificate” and not “original birth certificate”) was sealed and a new, fake, phony, fraudulent birth certificate was issued in its place. The parents named on this “birth certificate” did not make love to create me. The mother named on this “birth certificate” did not give birth to me. Yet, the document clearly states that this mother gave birth to me on my birth date, at the hospital in which I was actually and factually born, and that I was a single birth, and the time of my birth was indicated. This document is not my birth certificate at all! It is a government-perpetrated fraud!
My adoptive mother and father were infertile. Does it not strike anyone out there that pretending to give birth is a psychological denial of facts? When the Registrar of Vital Statistics issues a fake birth certificate, adopting parents believe the lies. They can live in their happy dream world because the law created falsified birth certificates: adopting parents are following the law, so they believe a falsehood.
To be absolutely true, an adoption certificate should be issued upon the legal finalization of adoption. An adoption certificate would state the facts of the adoption. The birth certificate states the facts of birth. Both documents should remain open to the person named on it: the person born and the person adopted.
Any minor child who is not adopted has the legal right to ask for a copy of her birth certificate. It is the obligation of the parents to show the document to the child and to give the document to the child at the age of majority. Up until the age of majority, the parents are legally responsible for minor children; a child cannot apply for school attendance, parents do that. In a healthy parent-child relationship, the child is told the facts of birth.
Americans think that adoption means the legal possession of a child. In the Netherlands, a progressive society, adoptive parents know their place. They are respectful of the adoptee’s natural parents; they have the legal responsibility to tell the child the truth. The minor child has the legal right to ask for the birth certificate and adoption certificate. The adoptive parents are issued an adoption certificate for the minor child. Dutch adoptive parents know that they are not the only parents. There are no sealed nor amended records in Holland. Openness gives freedom of communication in a loving, respectful adoptive home.
Just so you understand, as a social worker, I’ve worked with homeless people. I’ve worked with many women who have had abortions, and they were all in financial straights, unable afford a child. Many women were married and had other children. Some women are too old to carry a pregnancy that would result in maternal harm, and the fetus has defects because of the age of the egg at fertilization. Some women are taking medicines for existing health issues of their own and an unplanned pregnancy happens. Prescriptions often interfere with the developing baby, rendering the baby a deformed mass of fused or missing bones with no brain or missing internal organs. Some women were beat up by their boyfriends or fathers and had no other option. Only a pregnant woman and her doctor can make an informed decision about what to do with an unplanned (not unwanted) pregnancy. Many women chose abortion rather than adoption because they could not see going through a pregnancy to lose a baby to an uncertain future with strangers; punishment upon punishment. The finality of death was a better choice than to send their baby to strangers and know that they would never see that baby again. A person can grieve a death, but the agony of losing a child to adoption is a loss women never recovery from. Closed adoption and closed records are very damaging. Open adoption is not enforceable; the records are still sealed and falsified.
Why is it that Catholics preach love, but treat adoptees as villains? Why do you see us as the enemy? If we are your enemy, then please, don’t adopt! Stay away! We don’t want adoptive parents such as you! You treat our natural parents and our siblings as villains also. We come from these people so don’t make them out to be evil! If they are evil, then so are we! And if we are evil, we should not be adopted! You wouldn’t want us if we that bad! And then, to top it off, you demand that adoptees should be forever banned from the truth of our births? How cruel! You do not speak of loving kindness, decency or respect or honor. You are spewing hate and prejudice with every word written by Heidi Hess Saxton!
And yes, the rights of the adoptee trump the rights of either set of parents. Why? Because an adoptee was a minor child when the adoption took place. No other autonomous adult must ask permission of any parent to do anything. No adult should be held as prisoner by either adoptive parents or natural parents. You do not play god over adoptees! According to you, you think you have the right to own adoptees. That’s slavery. Discrimination—Violation of our civil and human rights! The United Nations in UNICEF has a global mandate: to register the BIRTH of all children in the world.
When my adoptive father died of brain cancer in 1982—8 years after my reunion began—my adoptive cousin got out of her car and came up to me as I was preparing to see my father in the casket at the funeral home. She said, “You OPENLY declare that you have another father, so that means you do not love this dead father. You do not belong here.” This cousin, whom I played with as a child, treated me with such hateful disdain! She certainly is not a good, Christian woman!
Notice that she said OPENLY as loud and as disgusted as she could! Why, she made it seem as though I was OPENLY having sex with the funeral director!
Here is another lovely Catholic bit for you: Bastards are forbidden into heaven! Yes, it’s true! It’s even in the bible! We all know, if it’s in the Bible, it must be true! Deuteronomy 23:2—“No bastard shall enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord.”
How’s that for loving kindness?! Now, think about what it is you want! You want unwed mothers to give up their illegitimate bastard kids so they can be free from the stain of the curse of their birth, yet, the Bible says bastards won’t get to heaven. You want these bastards to grow up ever grateful for the blessings of being cared for by people who feel that the very people who conceived and gave birth to us, are evil in some way. You want to prevent us from contact with our own blood kin! Is this family values? Is this done in love? I don’t think so.
How many of you have the hobby of genealogy? Feel Proud? Well, don’t prevent adoptees from tracing their family trees for the sheer joy and curiosity of it. You enjoy it, so can adoptees. Butt out of our lives. When we are adults, we are not subject to the constraints of parents. We ought to have ongoing visitation with our blood kin during childhood and into adulthood. That’s what happens in divorce, so why treat adoptees and our blood kin any differently?
Is Sarah Palin’s 17 year old daughter pregnant? Yes! Why isn’t anyone coercing this pregnant teen to give up her baby to adoption? Isn’t there a needy couple out there who would benefit from being blessed with the ‘gift of life’, the ‘bad seed’, the ‘illegitimate bastard’ from such a prestigious, ‘good quality family stock’? The child’s birth certificate will be amended, the original birth certificate will be sealed, and no one else would ever know! Oh, and, best of all, that baby will never know that his grandmother was a Vice Presidential candidate as the Governor of Alaska! Why would the adopted bastard child want to know that anyway? He’s now adopted and has a whole new set of parents and extended family and family history! Adoption wipes away his need to know anything about his blood kin!
Did you know that John Lennon lost his older sister to adoption? How would YOU feel if you were adopted and found out now, in 2008, that your younger brother was John Lennon? He was shot to death 28 years ago, but, hey, you are adopted and you don’t need to know anything about your blood kin!
I am proudly anti-adoption. I am proudly anti-Catholic, too. I openly declare that I have two real sets of parents — that is the bare truth of all adoption.
The next debate will be “embryo adoptions”! There is no legal adoption; embryo adoptions are actually swapped. Because the recipient mother of a frozen embryo gives birth, she is named on the birth certificate, but she is not the only mother. Nor is her husband the only father. How many Catholics out there donate their sperm? Eggs? How many Catholics depend on the prostituted services of sperm and egg donors to make their children? What lies are you telling your children?
For GOD’s sake, people! Get an education! No, sorry, correction: for ADOPTEES’ sake, and our natural parents’ sake, GET AN EDUCATION!
Ignorance is at the root of all prejudice.
Joan Wheeler, BSW
born and baptized as Doris Sippel
This is the article to which the above responds to —
“Anti-Adoption Advocates: How Should We Respond?”
by Heidi Hess Saxton, printed online in The Catholic Exchange:
November 11th, 2008
… … … …
Comments From Last Year:
Submitted on 2008/12/05 at 7:12pm by Lisa Kay, Fla
I stumbled onto your blog via a link on the 73adoptee blog. Wow! You hit the nail on the head on so many points that I won’t even try to comment on the ones that ring especially true to my own opinions and experiences, or are otherwise noteworthy.I’m laughing as I ponder whether you should be an attorney, a media pundit, or a politician. Regardless, I’m glad that I’m on your side of the argument.Hope you won’t mind if I recommend your blog in a post on Adoption Database’s message board about blogs the members should check out. [If you don’t want me to, please contact me.]A new fan,Lisa KayFL Adoptee Searchingb. Jan 2x, 1963Gainesville, Florida
2008/11/18 at 4:04pm janet blue
Thank you for speaking the truth about adoption. I wonder if my adopted children will feel the same when they are allowed to come and find me. They are not allowed to write to me at the moment but I keep looking for them. Janet UK
2008/11/16 at 8:45am mommaL3
THANK YOU! Your article was painful at times to read ,but oh so refreshingly honest and if there is one thing this reunited Mother of adoption loss insists on is honesty no matter how painful .I had enough lies ,when in my youth ,I was made to believe I had nothing that my daughter needed and the love for my daughter was used against both of us. Ms.Hess is no different than the other profiteers that have their own agendas for separating infants from their Mothers .Again they are trying to use us to keep business as usual. BTW,I never was promised confidentiality nor did I ask for it. I didn’t need protection from my own child.The real question should be “what do they need protection from? I see they also are not above trying to use God to continue this evil industry.. If anything many churches should apologize for what they did to us instead of justifying their actions and trying to make the victims the ones at fault. But than that is what abusers do, isn’t it? My God ,have they no shame???That was a rhetorical question. Thanks again Joan and I am sorry for your losses caused by adoption. Linda Webber
2008/11/15 at 10:55am Sandy Young
Doris, Send a copy of your piece to her. I did. She needs to hear this stuff from various sources. She needs to know that mothers and their children are hurt by these unnecessary separations. If you haven’t yet read them, her comments on The Daily Bastardette, Adoption and its Triad, and my own,Musing-Mother are worth reading. Her head is clearly spinning on her shoulders about now, and her veneer is slipping! Thank you for your very impassioned and lucid comments. I hope she gets a chance to read them. firstname.lastname@example.org
2008/11/14 at 9:20pm jimm
Excellent post. Like Pennegal, I doubt they will print your comment; they wouldn’t print mine. Truth and the Catholic Church don’t go hand-in-hand.
2008/11/14 at 7:42pm triona
Joan, thank you for speaking out against this load of drivel. I bet they won’t post it, either, but at least by posting it on your own blog you will be heard.
2008/11/14 at 7:34pm Web2.0PRDude
You might want to cross-reference this article with the reference material by John Syrtash, a Toronto based Family and Divorce Lawyer http://www.freemychild.com/fl_articles.html
2008/11/14 at 6:41pm Pennagal
Excellent commentary, Joan. I seriously doubt they will allow this to appear on the website because it countradicts the rosy picture they have of adoption as the cure for all ill. But it needed to be said and, I hope, that Ms. Saxton will read it.