California’s Relative CareGiver Law Recognizes Guardianship Over Adoption by Non Family Members

Even though this was made public in 2007, this bit of legislation – now is California Law – has just come to my attention (bold emphasis added): 

 CALIFORNIA STATUTE PUTS EMPHASIS ON PLACEMENT WITH EXTENDED FAMILY

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed the Relative Caregiver Bill (AB298) into law, allowing foster children greater access to permanent placement with extended family members. The statute allows for extended family members to be given legal guardianship as a preference over adoption by non-family members. In addition, the law – enacted in October – requires relative caregivers to be given information regarding the options of legal guardianship and adoption, including the long-term benefits and consequences of each option. To read the law, go to: http://www.legislat ure.ca.gov/ port-bilinfo. html and search by bill number.

            When I searched for the Bill under the above number, I could not find it. Fellow adoption reformer, Cully Ray, confirmed the correct Bill name and number to be Relative Caregiver Bill AB12 (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/asm/ab_0001-0050/ab_12_bill_20100128_history.html).  

             There have been recent amendments made to his law (269 pages can be found at: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/asm/ab_0001-0050/ab_12_bill_20100125_amended_asm_v95.pdf).

            There is even a newsletter. Again, I am late to this, but the information, though late to me, is valuable: Kinship Quaterly: A Resource Newsletter for Relative Caregivers in LA County Written by Relative Caregivers in LA County (PDF – Issue 1 Vol 1 Year 1).   http://dcfs.lacounty.gov/kinshippublic/documents/kinshipquarterlyvol1.pdf.
            This is hope for the children NOW who are faced with temporary family crisis of poverty, job or home loss, parental death of one or parents, or foster care placement, to not only stay together as a sibling group and a family, but to have the decency and respect of care-giving adults to acknowledge that a child’s family of birth comes before ANY consideration of coerced relinquishment to adoption, ANY “placement” for adoption, and that LEGAL GUARDIANSHIP is preferred BY LAW before adoption by a stranger is even considered.
            Imagine that: human compassion, respect, dignity for children who suffer family stress and loss, especially children who have lost one or both parents by death. Real, domestic, half and full orphans in California (USA) from the legal separation by adoption, and protected from the seizure and seal of their birth certificates, and protected from the falsification of facts on a “new” and “amended” birth certificate issued upon the finalization of every adoption.
              If the adults involved in coercing my father (in 1956) into relinquishing me, a newborn infant, to a closed adoption of distant relatives of my deceased mother, had been faced with a law to prevent such coercion, I would have been raised perhaps by my father, or by the distant cousin and his wife who actually adopted me — in a totally open and honest relationship with my father and my siblings.
             Instead, the resulting trauma of losing my mother of birth to her early death was compounded by my loss of my father and my full blood siblings because people thought that they were doing the right thing by: taking me off of my father’s already full plate of worry and obligation, giving me to a loving married couple who were childless for the first 18 years of their married life.
            My idylic childhood of 18 years as the only child of these loving parents in no way is a fair trade-off of the losses I, and my siblings and our father, had to endure for the sake of closed adoption. The love of my adoptive parents and most of my extended adoptive family, was conditional: I was never to know I had siblings, or blood kin, living in the same city. And to be socially shunned and mocked because because I accepted a reunion with my natural family…to this very day…
            Thank you, California, for officially recognizing the sanctity of a child’s family and birth identity.
           Added Information: NOTE — Bill number is AB 12, not AB 298:
           http://www.actnowinc.net/AMUSTREAD.html

ASSEMBLY- MAZE BILL AB 298

ASSEMBLYMAN Bill Maze, R-Visalia, has heard too many disturbing stories about relative caregivers being “strong armed” by social workers to either adopt a child — or risk having him or her taken away.

It’s not right.

“Relative caregivers should be our first line of placement,” said Maze.

The source of these horror stories is no mystery. California judges who are determining the fate of a child are guided by state law to give preference to adoption by a stranger over guardianship by a relative. Also, the federal government rewards the state with a $4,000 incentive payment for each adoption of a foster child above a baseline rate.

“Given the difficult task of finding adoptive homes for the many foster children who do not have a relative caregiver, it is hard to understand why we would want to threaten to remove a child rather than accepting a relative guardianship as a permanent plan and placement … yet existing law allows this exact scenario to arise on a daily basis,” the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles, which represents 20,000 abused and neglected youth, wrote in a recent letter to Maze.

As the law center noted, there are many reasons why a relative caregiver may prefer legal guardianship over adoption. “A grandmother or aunt might view adoption as ‘taking the child away’ from her own daughter or sister,” the law center wrote.

The law center is leading the push for Maze’s AB298, which would adjust state law to make clear that a child living with a relative guardian should be allowed to stay in that home when possible. The best interest of the child should be the guiding principle of these often excruciatingly tough custody decisions — and AB298 helps advance that goal.


 
           

Press Release: Layers of Trauma for Haiti’s Orphans: A Webinar featuring Dr. Bruce Perry

PLEASE FORWARD TO APPROPRIATE PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL CONTACTS
Adam Pertman, Executive Director

Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute

 

 Layers of Trauma for Haiti’s Orphans: A Webinar featuring Dr. Bruce Perry
 
Monday, February 1st, 2010 from 7:00 to 8:00 PM Central Time
(a recorded version will be available subsequently)

 

This free webinar features Bruce D. Perry M.D., Ph.D., the Senior Fellow at The Child Trauma Academy. He will discuss the likely impact of the many traumas children coming home from the orphanages in Haiti have experienced.

The webinar will help prepare families who are now awaiting or have already received placement under the United States’ expedited program.

Dr. Perry will cover the impact of the multiple traumas on this group of kids, explain what parents can expect, and give advice on how they can ease the transition for their child. The webinar will have practical advice for adoptive parents, adoption professionals, and interim caregivers.

Please forward this invitation to any family awaiting a placement from Haiti as well as staff and/or interim caregivers for these children. In order to give priority to families who will benefit the most from this live webinar, we ask that you refrain from inviting those who are just starting to explore the option of adopting from Haiti.

Dr. Perry will address specific trauma-related questions from the audience as time allows. We ask that you submit questions in advance through the registration form.

PLEASE NOTE: this session is intended for those families who were in process of adopting from Haiti prior to the earthquake and are therefore receiving an expedited placement of their child. The Haitian adoption process itself as well as advice for those looking to start the process of adopting from Haiti will not be covered.

This webinar is brought to you by Adoption Learning Partners, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, the Joint Council on International Children’s Services and Heart of the Matter Seminars.

To register, please click the register button below:

click here 

 

Local Woman and Pre-Adoptive Son Survive Earthquake; Boy and 5 Other Orphans Arrive Miami

Buffalo, New York, USA

1-28-2010

The experience of surviving the earthquake in Haiti is indeed traumatic. I’m glad she and her soon-to-be-adopted-son are alive. They will be coping with that horrendous experience for the rest of their lives.

But that’s not the whole story.

What troubles me is the unsettling details of this boy’s journey from Haiti, to Miami, Florida and then to an undisclosed location, and soon to be in my home town. The pre-adoptive mother is a teacher for a school just down the street from my home. The pre-adoptive father is a lawyer (go figure). They live in a southern suburb of Buffalo.

No indication of where the other 5 children are going when they leave Miami.

One of the Pod-casts below states that there are 254 US families in line to adopt Haitian children. Does this mean these adoptions were already in process? Or are these new families who rushed in immediately after the earthquake?

With all the coverage of adoptions that were in the process before the earthquake, and after, I find this story troubling. Local media sensationalizes and glorifies this couple. Comments of “how wonderful of you to adopt…” and, strangers saying “thank you” to them as if this couple is protecting the larger society’s interests somehow. This just adds more fuel to the fire – to the myths of savior adoptions – that we in the adoption reform community must dispel.

This couple, indeed, had developed a relationship with this three year old boy over the course of several visits and extended time. Links to the pod-casts and newsprint article below tell their story.

It is clear that they had “attached” to each other — not “bonded”as so many people say. Bonding is actually a scientific term. Bonding ONLY happens between a pregnant mother and her child. Bonding is the reciprocal relationship between that mother and her child and NO ONE else. Bonding continues through pregnancy, the birth process, breastfeeding, eye contact, body smells and touch, and continues for about three months. Socialization with the father and other siblings and other family members BEGINS while the infant is in utero as the sense of hearing familiarizes the pre-born infant with voices. Socialization and attachment occur AFTER birth. (Ken Watson, lecture at an American Adoption Congress circa 1989).

So, now, we have a little boy called Geoffrey by his adopting parents. We don’t know anything about his name at birth, the name he went by before his adopting parents came along and spotted him in an orphanage. We don’t know anything about his parents of birth; if he has any siblings nor do we know if he has any extended blood kin family, as in cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents. Nothing is said about his birth certificate in Haiti. Nothing is said about what the adoption process does to his personal identification papers, or his loss of connection with any of his blood kin family, or his loss of his native culture and language. Instead of being a Haitian citizen, he will now be erroneously be identified as an “African-American” by sight-analysis alone.

It is simply assumed that Geoffrey is his American name.

But what happens with his Haitian birth certificate? Is that placed under seal, as any domestic adoptee’s birth certificate is sealed forever from all domestic adoptees? From what I know about foreign-born adoptees, a “new” birth certificate will be made in his new adoptive name, and his parents of birth will be replaced, legally, by the names of the two people who are adopting him.

Something is wrong with that picture.

Should anyone be allowed to alter the material facts of life for a minor child? This is stealing his right to his name, his country and place of birth, his true blood parentage, and his human right to his name at birth and to his parents and family of birth.

We, in America, still hold onto the myth that adopting parents replace the parents of birth. In reality, they do not.

Other countries, such as The Netherlands, recognize the importance of a child’s birth identity. While the child still loses her legal right to her birth name, and takes on the legal right to be given a new adoptive name, such an exchange is legally documented with an Adoption Certificate, not a NEW “Certificate of Live Birth”, as we do in the United States.

One cannot, or should not, tamper with anyone’s facts of life and papers documenting birth, adoption, marriage, death.

The adoptee must cope with the realities of a dual identity in the face of legal documentation that proves she, or he, has only one set of real parents. The legal paperwork contradicts what each and every adoptee must emotionally deal with every day for the rest of her life after being “rescued” by “wonderful” and “generous” adopting parents.

The United Nations Rights of the Child states:

  • Article 7 (Registration, name, nationality, care): All children have the right to a legally registered name, officially recognised by the government. Children have the right to a nationality (to belong to a country). Children also have the right to know and, as far as possible, to be cared for by their parents.
  • Article 8 (Preservation of identity): Children have the right to an identity – an official record of who they are. Governments should respect children’s right to a name, a nationality and family ties.
  • Article 9 (Separation from parents): Children have the right to live with their parent(s), unless it is bad for them. Children whose parents do not live together have the right to stay in contact with both parents, unless this might hurt the child.
  • Article 10 (Family reunification): Families whose members live in different countries should be allowed to move between those countries so that parents and children can stay in contact, or get back together as a family.
  • Article 11 (Kidnapping): Governments should take steps to stop children being taken out of their own country illegally. This article is particularly concerned with parental abductions. The Convention’s Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography has a provision that concerns abduction for financial gain.
  • Article 16 (Right to privacy): Children have a right to privacy. The law should protect them from attacks against their way of life, their good name, their families and their homes.
  • Article 20 (Children deprived of family environment): Children who cannot be looked after by their own family have a right to special care and must be looked after properly, by people who respect their ethnic group, religion, culture and language.
  • Article 21 (Adoption): Children have the right to care and protection if they are adopted or in foster care. The first concern must be what is best for them. The same rules should apply whether they are adopted in the country where they were born, or if they are taken to live in another country.
  • Article 22 (Refugee children): Children have the right to special protection and help if they are refugees (if they have been forced to leave their home and live in another country), as well as all the rights in this Convention.

It is interesting to note that the United States has NOT ratified the international treaty of The United Nations Rights of the Child. Could it be because we Americans profit by the multi-billion dollar adoption business that deals with the trade of human children from one family to another, from one country to another, without giving FULL consideration and respect due to the rights of the very children Americans are so quick to snatch up?

I urge all people who read this post to read the very important statement issued yesterday by Adoptees of Color Roundtable. This is clearly an appeal by adoptees of different races who oppose the rush to adopt Haiti’s children by white, affluent people. There IS racial discrimination in America, and these Haitian children, whether we want to admit it or not, will face the indignation of racial tensions even with the best of intentions of their adopting parents.

Now, here is the information on the couple from Buffalo, New York (USA) who is in the process of adopting a Haitian toddler:

 Series of 3 NPR Pod-casts tell their story:

 A print story appeared 1-27-2010 in The Buffalo News online, Comments needed.

Guest Post- HAITIAN ORPHANS, ADOPTEES & THEIR UNKNOWN U.S.BABY BROKERS & TRAFFICKERS

by Lori Carangelo of AmFOR – Americans For Open Records.

http://www.amfor.net/babybrokers/#haiti

     Haitian born adoptees currently being adopted in the U.S., Canada and France will have a difficult time when they begin searching for answers to “Who am I?” and “Are my parents looking for me?”  On 1-7-10, a 7.0 earthquake destroyed Port-au-Prince, Haiti, killing an estimated 200,000 inhabitants and leaving [at least] tens of thousands of children assumed orphaned, in addition to about 380,000 pre-earthquake orphans (estimates are by UNICEF).  American would-be adopters, the Catholic Church, international adoption agencies and independent adoption facilitators applied pressure on the Haitian government in order to airlift the alleged orphans before anyone could confirm whether their parents or relatives are still alive — At this writing, the first 500 or so alleged orphans were airlifted to the U.S. (according to the U.S. State Department)and 900 children were in process of being adopted from Haiti and placed in U.S. homes.
     According to The Toronto Star (in “First Haitian Orphans To Arrive Today” by Allan Woods, 1-24-10), “In all, 154 Haitian children were approved in a fast-track adoption process, agreed to by the Canadian and Haitian governments…  Officials suspect many orphans, either given up for adoption at birth, or those who lost parents in the earthquake, are being illegally spirited out of their homeland by childless families or organized traffickers [or sexual predators] hoping to profit from Haiti’s administrative chaos… making it difficult to say how many children may have been snatched from hospitals, streets or orphanages in this battered city, or where they are going… The earthquake brought down the government building that housed all those records; it also killed the judge responsible for giving final approval to adoptions.”
    It is known that 53 children were airlifted to Pittsburgh (ABC World News, 1-19-10) and Catholic leaders pushed both Haitian and U.S. governments to airlift [an unknown number of]children to South MiamiHaitians have long been frustrated by what some call a “double standard” that allows Cubans who touch dry land [Miami] to stay in the U.S. while Haitians who came illegally must hide in the shadows or face deportation. “Haitian parents with American-born children have been deported, even if there is no other parent in the country to care for them,” said the Rev. Roland Desormeaux of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, a Delray Beach church with a large Haitian membership. Children born [or adopted] in the United States are automatically U.S. citizens, so they get to stay.  [AmFOR Note:  At this wriing, Haiti has halted the “free for all” airlifting of children for U.S. adoptions but given the high numbers of unattended children, they will continue to be taken whether Haiti approves or not.  

The U.S. is the largest market for stolen children in the world [as reported by the United Nations Rights of the Child Project].  One wonders whether the same number of Haitian children would be stolen for “legal guardianships” that would allow future changes and are not as profitable or as politically correct as the “done deal” of permanent, sealed adoption.]

Email from Lola – An Adoptive Parent Repulsed by This Blog!

Lola writes:

I would be ashamed to post the awful things you have on your blog.  I hope you get flamed constantly!  There are orphans in this world that need homes.  Why don’t you adopt some and stop whining?!  Learn what it’s like from the other side as an adoptive parent!  You make me sick!  You need therapy, not a blog.  Being so anti-adoption may be good for your mind, but it certainly hurts all those kids in foster care.  Don’t they deserve a home away from the abusive people that gave birth to them?  Those kids are taken away FOR A REASON!  Hello! Get a clue!  You may be unthankful for being adopted, but ask a 10 year old in the foster system or in an orphanage if they want a Mom & Dad…ask a kid waiting to come home to the US in Haiti right now where they would rather be!  I think you would be surprised by the answer!

Dear Lola,

Getting flamed is not an issue for me since I am paying for this website and am in constant contact with my webhost tech support.

I lived a life of torture and still am — at the hands of my adoptive family and natural family, too, not all, but enough to cause me considerable pain and anguish. Read my book for full details of the crimes committed against me by my adoptive family and others.

Lola, you are the one who is having an emotional reaction to my life. If you can’t take reading the terrible things done to adoptees (I’m not the only one) you are the one who needs therapy. There are thousands of adoptees and our natural parents who have been organizing since 1955 in America and around the world to expose the disgusting treatment we have received: examples: Adoptive parents who are lawyers have destroyed paperwork on their own adoptee’s birthparents. That’s a crime against that lawyer’s own adopted child! Adoptive parents who treat their adoptees like slaves and sex objects – like the rich couple who imprisoned a girl from a foreign country to do their household chores like Cinderella, and the Russian girl, Masha, was adopted by a pedophile and repeatedly raped and then she was freed and adopted by another woman who gave up on Masha and voided the adoption. So much abuse in adoption.

Lola, criticism from people such as you does not bother me. You only have an opinion of what you read. You do not know me personally and you do not know how this adoption has affected me and my children. They were also abused and mistreated by the relatives who mistreated me. The destruction of adoption lies and discrimination and prejudice scars adoptees and their children for life.

Lola, you can attack me all you want, but remember: in my book, I have published proof that our government has defrauded millions of adoptees by the practice of seizing our birth certificates, sealing them permanently, issuing materially false statements on a new, amended Certificate of Live Birth in the new adoptive name and naming the adoptive parents as parents of birth. This is fraud and perjury. If that happened to you, you might feel a tad bit offended, pissed off, and disgusted.

I was 18 years old when I had the shock of my life, and then my adoptive parents yelled at me, threw pots and pans at me, and acted as if I had done something horrific. No, I was found by siblings that they knew I had and they prevented me from a continued and meaningful relationship with them because my adoptive parents wanted me all to themselves. Any parents who would do that today would be up on child abuse charges. The only reason they got away with that is because my father signed relinquishment papers.

Do not blame my natural father for it, either. He was used, first by the good old Catholic Church and then by a child-stealer who was procuring a baby for her brother. No one helped my father in his grief that he lost his wife to an early death. No one helped my father keep his kids together. And all you, Lola, can think about are the so-called orphans in orphanages.

I have said this before but it needs repeating: Children who need homes can very easily have those homes through legal Guardianship and not adoption. Guardianship provides a legal guardian (a single person or a couple) who provide a safe, loving, and permanent home for children who need a home. If children cannot be raised by their natural parents, this is a far better alternative than total and complete adoption. Even “open” adoption is not a safe alternative due to the sealing of the child’s birth certificate and a replacement, “new” birth certificate in the child’s new adoptive name and adoptive parents named as parents by birth. Adoptive parents cop an attitude of ownership over the child and see the parents of birth as inferior.

With Guardianship, a child’s legal birth name, legal birth certificate, and status as the child of one and only one set of parents is protected. The legal guardian is under legal obligation to act legally and lovingly for the child as a parent would, as foster parents do, and as adoptive parents do, but they do not have the “advantage” of the law sealing the child’s birth certificate, replacing it with a new one with the guardians’ names on it and changing the child’s name and identity for all eternity.

In situations where the safety of the child is concerned, better to remove a child from the danger, but retain the child’s identity and relationships with that parent or parents. Adoption erases the existing problem as to why removal of children seems necessary, but, the adoptee faces lifelong harm from adoption and must face those issues later in life.

Yes, I am completely anti adoption. No adoption under any circumstances. Not even to save the Haitian children from starving to death after the earthquake. Good grief I hear that refrain already…Family Preservation at all costs, even if their parents are dead, there are other relatives who would be lost to them in adoption by foreigners.

I am not ashamed for anything I write. The only people who are flaming me are my own stupid family members who do not want me to write about my life. Foreign governments and Social Service Agencies throughout America and other countries are reading my website: Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, to name a few. Why? Because there are active adoption reform movements in those countries who have achieved what America needs: drastic reform in adoption.

I worked in foster care and in homeless shelters where I have seen kids removed from their parents solely due to poverty, not abuse. Even in the cases of abuse, those parents are still parents and those kids were born of those parents. By your way of thinking, Lola, adoption should totally erase the past and give these poor kids a new and better life. Wrong. Kids do not forget what has happened and they must cope with it all. Subjecting kids to the total identity change of adoption and forbidding them any knowledge of or contact with their own blood kin is child abuse. I’ve been at this adoption reform activism and advocacy for very near 36 years. I’ve worked in and around foster care, troubled youth, homeless families, crisis centers and disadvantaged families for my entire adult life. I went to court with an 18 year old that aged-out of the foster care system and went out on his own because he had no family. He bought me a rose from a street vendor because I cared enough to see him through that last year. He faced the reality of his life and was a strong young man. I did the same for an 18 year old young woman. She was all alone at the end of the court proceeding. Both of these kids went through foster care with their parents in what-ever state that left them incapable of taking care of their children, but both of these young adults had their birth identities intact, had their personal histories, had the rough experiences of foster care, but they also had a determination to press forward and do something with their lives. They also were free to establish some type of relationship with their parents, which they said was important for them to figure out. And they both thanked me for being at their sides when they stepped out of that court room to face the world. Adoption would have stripped them of their names, their birth certificates, and their families. Guardianship would have provided a home and loving family while giving them the right to their own birth identities. Guardianship conveys freedom, adoption conveys possession.

Oh yes, and lets all go over to Haiti to adopt all those poor orphans! That will solve these black kids’ problems, right? No it won’t! Being adopted by foreigners of a different race is an inner struggle for Transracial Abductees: go see their website under my Links page and here. They will face prejudice in this lily-white biased country of ours who hates Obama for being a “light-skinned black man”. You prospective adoptive parents who think it is the loving thing to do to go to Haiti and adopt their children — do you know what emotional damage that will do to these children who have lived through the trauma of an earthquake? They have seen their parents and other relatives die and you want to put a band aid on that by taking them away from that devastation? Do you not see that taking care of them in their own country is the best solution? I suggest you read some other blogs about taking kids for adoption out of Haiti. The Daily Bastdardette: HAITI: OPERATION PIERRE PAN POSTPONED; POLITICIANS PANDER. In that blog post alone, Bastardette has many links to a wealth of information.   You will be shocked by what you read. World organizations are advising against adopting kids out of Haiti for the very reasons I have just stated, and more.

Lola, be thankful that you have led a most comfortable life. Do not suggest that I adopt! I wouldn’t do such a horrible thing to a child! My life was ruined because of adoption.

My goal is to change adoption laws and social policy so that what happened to me will never happen to another child, ever. To be lied to, to be prevented from knowing my own siblings, to be forbidden to grieve the death of my mother, to not ever be taken to her graveside — those are crimes of child abuse perpetrated upon me by my own adoptive parents. That is sick perversion and possession of a human being.

My adoptive mother is dying in a nursing home right now. She has not once acknowledged the damage she caused me. But she is happy that I used a photograph her brother took of me as an infant for my book’s cover. She gets tears in her eyes because she is happy that I have reached my goal of publication. Maybe she cannot accept the horror of the crimes she and others committed against me, but she is happy for me to be published and encourages me to attend the next AAC Adoption Conference. Mom has realized the importance of the falsified birth certificate as being fraudulent. She has realized that her actions and that of other adoptive relatives and my dead mother’s relatives “were cruel” to my natural father, she said so this past summer. My mother now knows the destructive words said to me by my loving adoptive cousins: “Joan, you OPENLY declare you have two fathers, so you must not love this father. We don’t want you here…” at my adoptive father’s funeral in 1982. I had been in a reunion with my natural father and many other relatives for nearly 9 years at that point. The hate directed at me from prejudicial relatives was their inability to let me live my own life.

My adoptive Mom has also lived the destructiveness and spiteful hate from my own full-blood sisters who not only attacked me because they (like you) did not want me to write anything about my adoption (see my horrible articles in the Buffalo News in MY ARCHIVES page) that they repeatedly abused my mother and my kids and my ex-husband by hate phone calls and hate mail and false child abuse charges. Normal people will let go and let the other person live free from contact. Continued harassment because I am an adoption reformer is completely out of line. There is no reason for my sisters to attack my adoptive mother, but they have. My mother is dying. We need to resolve what we can and live in peace, yet, my sisters are still out there harassing me. I have no contact with them for a number of years into our reunion, and do not want contact from them because of their destructive behavior to me, my children, my adoptive mother, and my ex-husband. Why would I want to build relationships with people who have mocked me for decades and now want in on the action because my book is published? Or because they now want to be a part of adoption reform when they mocked me for being in adoption reform since I was 18? They are filled with nothing but malicious slander and defamation toward me. Every word I write is the truth. Even my ex-husband and my young adult children will attest to the hateful behavior of my relatives toward me and to them. Even my adoptive mother deserves respect as my mother, instead, she was mistreated by my blood sisters by false child abuse charges claiming she was sexually abusing her own grandchildren! Adoption and its aftermath has negatively-affected entire family systems — but you, Lola, want to sing adoption’s praises!

Adoption, in its present form, has been and is, a destructive social and legal device that splits up families.

Lola, are you under 36? If so, I have lived more trauma since 1974 than you have as a non-adopted person. You sound like a young kid who does not know beans about adoption reform. Keep reading. Visit other adoption reform blogs. See the kinks on the side bars. These links will lead you to other links in adoption reform. Better yet, show up to our Conferences and really learn what it is like to be adopted and to lose your child to adoption:

American Adoption Congress

Adoption Crossroads:  Adoption Healing, Baby Scoop Era Research Initiative, Origins Inc. Australia, Origins Canada are proud to announce: Shedding Light on the Adoption Experience VI an Educational Conference About Realities: The Lifelong Effects of Adoption and the Need for Family Preservation.

Lola, you are living in a fantasy world. You need to wake up and smell the coffee. It is people like you who make me sick.

Happy Adoption Day 53 Years Ago Today

Happy Adoption Day, my eyeball. The only ones happy were my adoptive parents.

Fifty three years ago, today, at age 1 year, I lost my legal right to be a part of the family I was born into. I lost my legal right to have the birth certificate that documents my birth. I won the legal right to own a birth certificate that says I was born to a woman who factually adopted me: that is misrepresentation of material facts, which is fraud.

Fifty three years ago, today, my dead mother lost her right to be my legal mother. Bad enough she faced dying knowing that she’d leave behind five children, one of whom was a newborn, but she did not know that adoption would not  only take away that newborn, but adoption would prevent her from forever being named on her child’s legal birth certificate.

Fifty three years ago, today, my father walked away from Surrogate’s Court in Erie County Hall, Buffalo, New York, a defeated man. He did what was told to him. He gave away his newborn because a Catholic priest said these words to him at his wife’s funeral ten months previously: “The baby needs two parents.” On top of that, a woman whom he did not know came up to him at his wife’s funeral and said, “I know a couple who will take your baby.”

And to this day, there are members of my dead mother’s family who believe that my father “didn’t want” me.

My father gave me up because he believed I would have a better life with two parents. At the time he relinquished me, he was a single father of five children. There was no help to keep his family together, only vultures swarming to descend and take away the children. “I’ll take the boy”, said one brother of my dead mother. But my father said no. My mother’s brothers got mad at him. My father was an only child. He had his sickly aging parents to help him. His own cousins had children of their own and did not help him keep his family together. Relinquishing me, letting me go, was his only option to save the rest of his family, and himself.

To expect a man in deep, profound grief to make life-altering decisions for his child and himself at a point of personal crisis is cruel. If he had been told the truth: that his dead wife’s family would hold this against him for eternity, that they would spread filthy rumors about him, that the adoptive family into which he relinquished his child would continue ongoing relationships with select members of his dead wife’s family and continue the gossipy rumors, all the while HE was told to stay away, he would never had agreed to relinquish his child to such an adoption. If my father were told that relinquishing his daughter to this permanent adoption would result in the utter destruction of his daughter’s personal papers, personal identity, emotional and psychological well-being, and that adoption would destroy her birth certificate, he would never have agreed to relinquishment and the adoption of his child. My father does not understand the true depth of destruction that adoption has caused me: he does not want to know because the pain is too deep.

That pain is what the adoptee experiences. That pain is not worth the benefits of Happy Adoption Day.

I am a defeated person, a shell of what I could have been. To live my life each day knowing that the very people who professed their love for me, who devoted their lives to me as my adoptive parents, loved me so much that they willfully and knowingly kept me apart from my own father and my own sisters and brother, kept me apart from my own cousins and from even knowing where my dead mother was buried, just so that they could have the luxury of raising a child “of their own”, knowing that my adoptive parents told so many lies to me for the first 18 years of my life, to know all of this was done “for my benefit” makes me so sick I want to vomit.

My adoption wasn’t love. It was possession.

I am supposed to feel grateful. I am supposed to feel happy that I wasn’t raised with my father and my siblings because “what kind of life would you have had with them?” This is the indoctrination said to me, the adoptee, by my adoptive parents and believed by extended adoptive family and the general public’s accumlated “knowledge” of adoption.

The adoptive cousins with whom I have had meaningful relationships in childhood have been what I cling to. Though we are not blood, we know each other as cousins. There are blood cousins with whom  I share closeness also.

But there is also this pervasive undertow of deception, rumor and gossip. What was it that my adoptive mother said to me just a few weeks ago as she lay in her nursing room bed? “Oh, by the way, there are people who believe that you had affairs with two of your adoptive cousins.” What? Who the hell is spreading this filth around? Again? Still? Many people in my extended adoptive family and natural mother’s family, that’s who. They are the ones who are sick. Manipulative. I want no part of perverted minds. I am tired of being the brunt of their jokes.

While Jaycee Duggard has had the unfortunate experience of having been raped repeatedly by her abductor, having two children by him, she is not alone in her captivity. How can I possibly cope with the misinformation and gossip that is said for decades among family members because they “think” or “believe” something is true?

I was raised in a beautiful middle class home in the suburbs of Buffalo, an only child, with all the attention my adoptive parents could give me. It was conditional love: I was never supposed to know my own siblings and certainly not my own father and I should never know about the truth of how my mother died. My happy childhood memories come with a price: no childhood with my own siblings. Yet my adoptive parents had theirs. I loved my parents. I loved my extended adoptive family. Only to find out at age 18 that my life was one lie built upon another. After my Reunion, a shock that sent me into oblivion for years, I was expected to bounce back, to recover, to build my life as an adult as if this shock did not “bother” me. I was accused of “living in the past” and “being obsessed with adoption” and “pulling that stunt” and “knowing my siblings all along”. The ones who “pulled that stunt” were my adoptive parents and extended adoptive family. The ones who were mad that I “was living in the past” had the luxury of knowing their own personal histories while growing up. The ones who accused me of “knowing my siblings all along” were guilty of preventing me from knowing my own flesh and blood: my adoptive parents and all who backed them in their secrecy and deception.

What is it that the psychologists say that Jaycee Dugard must undo? Is it called “Stockholm Syndrome”? Perhaps other adoptees have not had a life so entrenched with turmoil as I have had, but other adoptees sure do have sealed and falsified birth certificates. Many adoptees and adoptive parents will be screaming: “What? She can’t be comparing adoption to what Jaycee Dugard experienced!”

Oh, yes, I can.

I was held prisoner in my sheltered home for 18 years in an idyllic life away from the “crappy” life my siblings lived on the opposite side of the city. (again, indoctination from my adoptive parents against my own family of birth). I should feel grateful I didn’t live with them because they had rags for clothes, or so I was told by my adoptive mother after I was found by siblings she so intensely did not want to me ever know.  Who gets to torture an adoptee like that? I feel very much that Stockholm Syndrome fits my life, too. I was abducted from my own family by adoptive parents who selfishly kept me to themselves, knowingly and willfully depriving me of relationships with my own siblings. That is nothing less than child abuse. Beyond the mixed feelings of love for adoptive parents who “took care of me”, there are a myriad of conflicts I must cope with on a daily basis: the circulating rumors of sexual misconduct, feelings of being tricked by so many people whom I am supposed to love, feelings of wondering what other misconceptions people built up around me because they knew my blood family and I did not, feelings of shame and guilt because other relatives do not approve of my life.

There was a definite rift in my life when I was found by siblings I never knew. Certain members of my adoptive family sank away from me as if I were a leper. I am one person, people. If I am as bad as my relatives say I am, then I surely do deserve the hate mail and the obscene phone calls that have permeated my life since 1974 because I dared to accept a reunion with my father and my siblings. Form my point of view, this is gang-mentality against one adoptee.

Check out the Page on this blog “My Archives” to see the “dreadful” adoption reform newspaper articles I wrote. These articles are my way of defending the rights of adoptees, the rights of the donor-conceived, and the rights of our natural parents. I stuck up for Mary Beth Whitehead, the infamous surrogate mother, and her daughter. I got hell for that from my family members, people who are not in my direct social circle. I wrote against sperm donation. I got hell for that, too, again from family members who did not approve of my public statements against procedures that harm the chidlren created by these means. The general public’s stupidity is to be expected, but to be mistreated by my own families in the form of hate mail and hate phone calls and whispers behind my back and dirty looks and snide comments — all from my own families because I did what was right for me. This is the life of an adoptee well hated for being who she is: an adoptee advocating for humane change in the restrictive, discriminatory and de-humanizing adoption practices in America.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: for all the hate and disrespect I have been given because I was born to a woman who died and then relinquished to adoption, was found by siblings I never knew and was hated for that, endured criticism because I was slow to recover or did not do what other people wanted me to do: get over being adopted, I would have rather been born a bastard. Bastards get more respect than this adopted half orphan has ever received.

Happy Adoption Day — Fifty-three years of hell.

Are you catching the drift as to why I am anti-adoption?

Birthday Vandalism, President Millard Fillmore, and Adoptees

I just got back from a very unusual birthday celebration at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York: US President Millard Fillmore was born this day 210 years ago. I attended a memorial service at his gravesite to honor him.

There was a wreath presented by the current US President’s Representative, and other government officials, as well as dignitaries from educational institutions that owe their beginnings to Millard Fillmore. Since Millard Fillmore was a Unitarian, the minister of the Buffalo Unitarian Universalist Church gives the invocation prayer. Today’s service was not as cold as in other years. There was no bitter wind or snow falling. TAPS was played by a lone trumpeter and a military flag guard opened and closed the ceremony.

The first year I attended was 21 years ago. I brought my toddler daughter. A TV camera took her picture as she played in the snow. Then, the TV reporter asked the guests why they were there. The usual important people gave their usual official comments on this President’s contributions to end slavery and start hospitals and the University of Buffalo just 13 years after the British burned the village of Buffalo to the ground in 1813. In 1989, I was trying to duck the reporter, but he caught me and asked me why I was there. I said, “I share Millard Fillmore’s birthday and I was born in the hospital named after him. I am also a member of the church he belonged to. I came here to honor a man who became the 13th President of the United States”. The reporter thanked me.

I went home and watched the News at dinner time. Less than 5 minutes later, the phone rang.

“Hello, Joan. You pig! What the hell are you doing, talking to a News Reporter and plastering your face on TV?! You are an ego-maniac and have no business showing off!”

That call came in from an adoptive cousin. She and her sisters and their mother have hated me for “OPENLY declaring you have two fathers” since 1974.

This is the kind of stuff that makes me want to die. Because THEY out number me, they have the power. I am alone. Can I not celebrate my birthday in the way I choose? Who are THEY to judge me? What harm have I done to THEM? THEY do not approve of my reunion with my father — a man THEY have never met — a man THEY hate because, according to THEM, he gave me away so he does not qualify to be honored by me as my father. BUT HE IS MY FATHER. Without him, I would not be alive.

So much for family values – so much for adoptive family values. The adoptee only has value if she honors and obeys the adoptive family’s rules and ignores from whence she came.

My MOTHER gave birth to me today 54 years ago in Millard Fillmore Hospital in Buffalo, New York. Her name, and that of my FATHER, is on my hospital records, my hospital birth certificate, and my true birth certificate. But the State of New York seized that birth certificate in January of 1957 and by March of 1957, the State of New York BASTARDIZED my legitimate birth by issuing a falsified, certified as true, Certificate of Live Birth with a raised State seal and a stamped signature of a City of Buffalo Registrar of Vital Statistics. This fraudulent piece of paper is my legal birth certificate. It desecrates the honor of the woman who gave her life so that I may live.

Thank you, New York State, for dis-honoring my birthday.

I will fight till my dying breathe to avenge the violation of my MOTHER’s honor as the woman who nurtured me in her body and then died so that I may live. I will fight to my dying breath to win back my birthright and re-build after the destruction by State-sanctioned vandalism of my true birth certificate — the official documentation of my actual birth.

HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER, so says a Catholic Commandment.

Where is the honor befitting my father and mother of conception and birth?

A Catholic nun in my Junior High School used to say, “Look ashamed!” when she caught some unruly student misbehaving.

I say to all who violate adoptees’ sacred bonds of birth: Shame on all of you who mock adoptees and our natural parents!

Thanks for a wonderful life, you lousy relatives. I am ashamed to have been adopted into YOUR clan. Family values, indeed. The values you proliferate certainly are not Christian values of love. Only a few of you are worthy of my love.

I take away valuable lessons from President Millard Fillmore. He had the tenacity, strength and the personal integrity to stand for honor and justice, to stave off the American Civil War for a few more years, and to stand up to end slavery.

There is a quiet civil war going on right now: the US and State governments are imprisoning all adoptees by seizing our birthrights and birth certificates by forcing us to live lies every time we are forced to present fraudulent birth certificates as the real documentation of our births. Stop the vandalsim of adoptees’ true birth certifcates.

Poll Started by Mara – Should Kids Given Up for Adoption Have Their Rights Defended in Court?

WOW! Best Birthday Present EVER! Thanks, Mara!

First, take the poll:

Should Kids Given Up For Adoption Have Their Rights Defended in Court? (CASA)

Then, leave a comment.

I was the first to do so on my BIRTHDAY, thanks to Mara!

Here’s my answer: YES!!!

And my Comments, spelling mistakes and all:

If my rights had been defended in court by an independant attorney who was looking out for my true “best interest of the child”, my adoption might have been handled diffeerently. One solution to my pre-adoptive parents’ petition to adopt me could have been to totally negate their petition on the grounds that it would be illegal and immoral to remove an infant from an existing sibling group and change her name and her identity to conform to what the adoptive parents want for “their” adopted child. Another solution could have been was to modify the petition to adopt by restricting the pre-adoptive parents to Legal Guardians. That would have kept my legal and my birth name one and the same (thereby preserving my Birth Certificate), and at the same time, given my Guardians the joy of raising a child with the knowledge of and visitation with that child’s one remaining parent (mother died) and visitation with her older siblings. The third option — which is what actually happened — to sever the ties completely with the father and siblings of the adoptee and raise the child 100% as the “only child” of the adopting parents which completely cut off my ties to my natural father, wiped out my chance for a timely and appropriate grieving of my MOTHER’s death, and wiped out any relationship that could have developed with my full blood siblings. It is a crime what happened to me! NO CHILD SHOULD BE PERMENTENTLY SEPARATED BY ADOPTION. This is cruel and is child abuse!!!! I blame the adoptive parents and the adotpive family for lying, manipulating the system and lying to the relinquishing natural father who was vulnerable at age 31 because he was grieiving the loss of his 30 year old wife who was the mother of five children.

Oh, yes, another solution would have been to compelety restore my father AS my father, restore my siblings AS my siblings, negate 100% the Petition to Adopt by my pre-adotpive parents and provide emotional and financial support for this FAMILY to stay together.

Still another solution would have been to give me back to my father, but, since my pre-adoptive parents had taken care of me for 10 months prior to the Final Court Date securing my closed and sealed adoption, that would have been cruel to them. This last option would have validated those legal guardians’ rights to have contact with the child they had grown to love.

These situations happen all the time. Played out quite well in extended family within my adoptive family: my adoptive parents took care of a number of sinling groups who did not have a father (he ran off). But, my adoptive parents (years before I was born and adopted) had respect for the remaining parent, knew their own boundaries and limitations as Parent Figures, and loved the children anyway.

Love is best when it is honest and respectful. Closed and sealed adoption destroys family relationships for generations.

Children who are Relinquised for adoption and who are being Petioned to be be Adopted, SHOULD have legal cousel to prertect their best interests.

Had my legal rights been protected from the very beginning, I would have had a happier life.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak.

Joan M Wheeler of http://forbiddenfamily.com .

………

Now, all you good little adoptees, go raise some hell on this fabulous poll started by MARA!!!!

Cancer Christmas Memories

In watching a rerun of an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” the other day with my daughter, we watched a man suffer the symptoms of a brain tumor called gleoblastoma. Perhaps I misspelled it here. My daughter knew that my adoptive father died of that particular type of brain  cancer about four years before she was born. I told her how he died, and that what we saw on the TV show was not exactly how the disease manifested in her grandfather.

My adoptive father came home for Christmas 1981 with his head bandaged from brain surgery. His personality had been compromised and he could not tell us how much pain he was in. He died several months later in 1982.

My natural mother was very pregnant with me at Christmas 1955. She went into the hospital two days after Christmas and never came home again. Neither did I. Mom died several months later in March of 1956.

My adoptive mother was diagnosed with a type of leukemia two weeks before Christmas in 2004. She lived at home until 8 weeks ago when she fell. She is in a nursing home, waiting for me to bring her some items from home.

I read about sad Christmases from my adoption reform friends.

Somehow, may you find love and comfort.

Coping With Grief After Death of A Spouse or Parent

A few times over the past 10 years, I have met fathers who were raising their children after the death of their wife and the mother of their children. I was the outsider looking in at both of these families. As their stories unfolded, the loss of my mother so soon in my life was a shadow. Because of my adoption, I was not ever allowed to grieve for her loss in any way, so to hear and see these families cope with the death of a mother and spouse was painful for me, yet enlightening.

In both situations, the husband/father was clearly still in grief over the loss of his wife. Evidence of her was everywhere in the home: photographs, home decorations, crafts that she made, clothes still hung, shoes and boots still neatly arranged along with other family members’ footwear. Both of these men had lost their wives between 2 and 10 years in the past. Their grief, and their love for the wife who had died, showed clearly in their conversations, their wistful facial expressions, and their concern for their children who had lost their mother. In the one family, the children were older when their mother died and coped with her death by throwing themselves into schoolwork. They became achievers, goal-oriented, never-wavering in their path to success from high school to college and employment. In the other family, the youngest child never outgrew her mother’s loss, grieving to the point of near-suicide, over and over and over. Her wish to become a child psychologist to help other children cope with the death of a parent may never be realized until she goes through her grief and emerges on the other side, still in grief, but with strength to move forward with better coping skills. Falling back into grief is inevitable. It is how a person handles that grief — and rage — is what is important.

As for the fathers, the father in the first family is alive and well, and employed. The father in the second family is slowly dying from an autoimmune condition. His daughter sees this. She is imploding. As a child of ten, she witnessed her mother die, slowly, and, for the last several years, this now 20 year old has been watching her father slip away. She needs help, fast.

The process of death and dying is not easy. Family members react in different ways. Some block their feelings and funnel the energy into work. Others succumb to the grief and sink into deep, profound sadness, unable to climb back up to find a place for themselves. Others react in anger and rage and misdirect those negative feelings toward others.

Finding a place for oneself after the death of a spouse or parent can be done.

Twenty-five years ago, a father I knew as a friend had two teenagers, a boy and a girl. We were members of a community social dance troupe, studying Native American culture, song and dance. The teens fit right in and the girl and I grew close. We danced in my living room – Native dance beat on cassette tapes from our group’s singer/drummer, or even in rock music. (Led Zeppelin’s D’yer Maker, 1973, Reggae Rock)  We held my toddler son, swung him around, as we danced. I was in my late twenties at the time. I did not think of this friendship as the profound friendship that it actually was: this fifteen year old looked up to me as a mother figure. I look back now to realize this, for she had lost her mother when she was two years old. It happened fast. Mother was dead in a flash in a car crash. The father, somehow, kept his children with him. He was a hard worker. And he loved the Native beat, so when he joined the Buffalo Indian Dancers, his teens loved the beat, too. We were whites who joined with Natives in mutual admiration and respect for a rich culture.

But what struck me most of this family was that the very essence of their grief in the death of the husband’s wife and the mother of his children was not stated outright. The story was told matter-of-factly, then, the kids joined the adults in social interaction. Not one person uttered the words “half orphan”.

Not one. Including me.

But then, one horrible night, the father fell asleep holding a lighted cigarette. I awoke that morning listening to the news on the radio. What a way to learn that my friend had died and his body was carried away in the freezing cold of a winter night, on a stretcher, with his teens watching in the street after they escaped that burning Riverside Buffalo apartment. Those kids were now full orphans.

That morning, I raced to the scene, but all was quiet. The fire was out, the apartment was vacant. The kids were taken to the Red Cross. Extended family took them in. The funeral was a shocker. I reached out as best I could to maintain a friendship with those teens, but they left Buffalo soon after high school graduation. Sue and Chris, if you read this, I am looking for you. Sue: you went to school with my younger brother and neither you nor I knew that at the time.

At the time of Sue and Chris’s father’s death in 1985, I had been reunited with my natural family for 11 years. I identified myself as a “found adoptee” or, put in other words, “an adoptee found by my natural family”. That point being emphasized: I did not search for my natural family: they found me. Not that I did not want to know them; I was at that time in 1974, beginning my search when they found me.

But I had no time in eleven years of reunion to focus on the loss of my mother to an early death. I did not identify myself as a “half orphan” until years later. The impact of those words did not have clear meaning for me. I would hear my adoptive mother talk about her life in the orphanage, or when we’d visit with her aging friends who were orphaned as children, I would listen to their stories, but did not understand how orphanhood affected me.

I had claimed the words “half orphan” to describe myself only within the last two years.

When you open your eyes and ears to really see and hear other people’s stories, the grief of losing a spouse to an early death, the grief of losing a mother or a father to an early death, is there. All one has to do is look and listen.

Compound that loss with adoption loss, and that spells traumatic psychological and emotional injury to the self. Trauma therapy helps; grounding, meditation, activities, schoolwork, working hard, playing hard, focusing on life goals, helps. The grief does not leave, but the person left behind after the death of a spouse or a parent must find a way to go through the pain.