Three Identical Strangers – An Experienced Adoptee’s Review – Questions and Insights that Others Have Missed

Three Identical Strangers – An Experienced Adoptee’s Review – Questions and Insights that Others Have Missed

Spoiler Alert: This Review contains some details of the documentary and the lives of Robert Shafran, Edward Galland, and David Kellman, so if you don’t want to know details before you see the movie, please avoid reading this now.

 

Background

The three identical triplets – Robert Shafran, Edward Galland, and David Kellmanwere intentionally separated at birth in 1961 and raised by three different adoptive families. Louise Wise Adoption Agency not only arranged adoptions for children “in need” and people looking to adopt, the agency went a step further to team up with a psychologist for a study on identical twins who were purposefully separated at birth to determine whether nature or nurture shapes personality. The adoptive parents were not told that the baby they received had an identical sibling, or, in this case, had two other identical brothers. Additionally, the separated twins and triplets were never told the truth. Furthermore, the natural parents who relinquished their twins and triplets at birth were not told that their infants would be split up by adoption (more on this later). When the truth comes out, the devastating effects of this manipulation becomes clear.

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Triggering For Adopted People and Mothers of Adoption Loss

For adopted people, and mothers of adoption loss, this documentary is more than a shock that reveals the truth. It is downright triggering, reminding us of the trauma we survived.

I remember when this story broke in 1980. I had been reunited with my natural family for six years at the time and attended my very first adoption conference that same year. I devoured anything and everything on adoption, so, yes, when these triplets were in the beginning stages of their reunion, and made a splash on TV, I cheered them on. Like most of the country, I saw their successes as a positive in the bleak world of adoption.

Watching this documentary today, some of that joy came back. As the truth unfolds on screen, however, I became uneasy, twitching in my seat, turning away from the screen and curling my legs in a fetal position in the reclining theater seat. As an adoptee, I knew how it feels to be given up, to be raised adopted, to wonder, to reunite, and to face the joys of finding the similarities in my own siblings and our father. I also knew how it feels to be the target of watching eyes.

I was not part of a psychological study, but I was definitely the adopted one who was secretly watched by two families as I grew up. When the secret was revealed, I was devastated to be the unsuspecting target of spies. I had no privacy. Photos and stories of my childhood were passed back and forth between my adoptive family – aunts and uncles and cousins – who socialized with my natural mother’s siblings and their children (my mother died when I was an infant) – my flesh and blood aunts, uncles and cousins, and my own siblings. I was intentionally kept apart from my own blood kin, my own full blood siblings, my own cousins and aunts and uncles related to my deceased natural mother – all because I was adopted. When I found out the truth at age 18, that my siblings and our father and my extended family lived less than 6 miles from where I was raised, I was devastated.

Being adopted in the 1950s and 1960s means that you are never supposed to know the truth, you are never supposed to ask questions, you are there for the sheer entertainment of those who deem themselves more important to study your every move, your every mistake, and your every success. Being adopted means everyone else can scrutinize you, compare how you walk with this relative or that one, compare your physical features with this separated sibling or that one, and then analyze your emotions, your psychology in their own layman’s terms. That means – without the benefit of a real education into psychology.

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Controlled By the Adoption Agency and Psychologist

As viewers will see in “Three Identical Strangers,” even real psychology can turn its ugly head upon unsuspecting adoptees, and in this case, even using adoptive parents. Each couple had been carefully chosen by the agency who had previously arranged adoptions of girls who were the same age, and each was then chosen by the agency to receive one of the three identical triplet boys. The agency then came by year after year, studying the boys as they grew to determine what shaped their personalities, their genes, or their environment. However, no one told the adoptive parents, or the boys, that there were two other identical brothers involved in the secret study. The adoption agency and the psychologist controlled the lives of children and their adoptive parents.

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Experiments by a Jewish Adoption Agency Raises Questions

As the ugly truth unfolded on the screen, I cringed as I realized something else. This experiment was conducted upon Jewish triplets, their Jewish mothers and fathers, and their Jewish adopters, by a Jewish adoption agency (Louise Wise Services) twenty years after the holocaust. What? Jews experimenting upon Jews? Hadn’t we all learned from the horrors of medical and psychological experiments during World War II? Jews were the victims then, so how could they turn around to victimize their own people in the name of a cruel psychological study in adoption?

As often is stated – that was then, this is now. The dark days of the 50s and 60s, and earlier, paved the way for understanding today.

I hope.

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Mild Interest in Finding Their Mother

The triplets said that they had a mild interest in finding their mother, and for them, searching for her was simple. Because they were born in New York City, birth books were available at that time. They found a reference for their births and paid their mother a visit. They “weren’t particularly impressed,” so she was a one-time visit.

Yet, their mother had been following their story in newspapers, magazines, and TV.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, in general, males who were adopted typically were not interested in finding their natural parents. Today, though, both men and women who were adopted as children have a healthy interest in where they came from and who their parents are, as well as the hope of finding siblings.

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Natural Mother and Father

Getting back to the natural mother who relinquished her newborn identical sons to adoption in 1961, I’d like to know how she feels now after seeing this documentary. Did she give her permission to use her high school photo for this production? The father was mentioned as “a prom date knock-up.” Does he know the truth? Showing that high school year book photo could spark gossip and talk between the former students who could recognize the mother from that photo and deduce who the father is. What about the extended families of the two natural parents? Are the triplet brothers interested in knowing any other siblings they may have?

Their mother felt she couldn’t keep them. Why? The mother’s full story needs to be told. And the father’s story need to be told as well. Did the triplet’s grandparents had a hand in their relinquishment?

Since it has been adoption policy to tell young and naïve single mothers that adoption would provide “a better life” for their children than they can provide, if this mother had known that her identical sons would be separated at birth for the purpose of a psychological study on the development of personality, would she have consented to sign surrender papers? If the other mothers and fathers of the twins that were also separated at birth to be subjects in this study were told what would happen to their twins, would they have consented to sign surrender papers?

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Issues Not Covered in This Documentary

Robert Shafran, Edward Galland, and David Kellman have wives and children of their own. There are generational effects of the trauma of separation and adoption.

What about the stress levels of the mother during pregnancy and birth? We know now that stress epigenetically affects unborn babies. Stress impacts gene expression in the developing fetus during pregnancy. The mother’s hormones, emotional state, nutrition, and drug or alcohol use all affect an unborn baby for life and even effect future generations. We now know that nutrition and stress levels in the father also affects sperm quality.

The bond these unborn babies had with their mother is vital to their survival and development. We know now that unborn babies also feel the mother’s emotions. When infants are removed from their mothers immediately after birth, the mother-infant bond is broken. The triplets, too, bonded with each other in utero. No doubt that these triplets suffered profound separation anxiety when they lost their mother, and each other, due to the forces of society that told this mother she could not parent her sons, and the controlling manipulations of the adoption agency as well as the psychiatrist who invented the secret study of identical twins/triplets separated at birth.

We now know that all adoptees suffer from pre-verbal trauma at the separation of our mothers. Even in the face of evidence, adoptees and our mothers are shot down by pro-adoptionists.

Another factor not covered in this documentary is that reunions between adoptees and their blood kin are increasing with the use of DNA testing in Ancestry dot com, 23 and Me, and other websites. The triplets say they have no interest, but their parents may want to connect now. They may have other siblings. Like everyone else, extended family is out there. None of us exists in a vacuum; we are connected to thousands of people through our DNA.

I understand the limitations of time constraints on making a documentary. In keeping with the premise that nothing else matters but their upbringing, and the separate, staged, environments they were deliberately placed into, I can see the necessity of narrowing the focus.

Still, the more I think about this, the more there is to discuss – and to question.

What about the triplet’s microbiomes? Where did they get their microbiomes from? Their mother, of course, as they passed through the birth cannel. Were these triplets born naturally, or by cesarean section? A sterile birth does not provide the infant to pass through the birth canal and therefor, the infant does not pick up the mother’s microbiome. Then where did these triplets receive their microbiome? They picked up microorganisms from the people who handled them – from nurses and doctors to the adoption agency workers and then, finally, each of their adoptive parents and adopted siblings. This created a vastly different microbiome in each of the separated identical brothers.

With what we are now learning, our guts hold microorganisms that influence our physical and mental health. The bio genomes of the gut bacteria growing in the mouths and intestines and bowels of these triplets as little boys, and as adults, play a big role in the physical and mental health of each one of these triplets. Isn’t it interesting that physical environments play a part in biology?

Life itself is a complex mix of biology and environment. Through the psychology of adoption and different parenting styles, and the individual’s inherited predisposition to personality types, it becomes clear that no one can say with certainty which is more important, nature or nurture.

In the end, though, what is medical history? Is medical history our environment or is medical history our biology? Did your parents die of heart disease or cancer? What you eat and drink influences your body. That’s biochemistry. Where does mental illness come from? Environment or heredity? Or both?

We know now that depression, anxiety, panic, and PTSD are due to stresses in home life, abuse, and socio-economic struggles. We also know that certain types of mental illness are inborn, genetically based. Personal choices can influence our mental and physical health; drugs, alcohol, diet, exercise, and clean living.

As I previously stated, for the purposes of time constraints, I see why the important factors in this documentary are the adopters who were deceived, and these triplets – and other identical twins – who were subjects of an unethical psychological study. This psycho-social experiment was cruel and inhumane.

The lesson learned here is one I hope psychologists and social workers will never repeat. Deceiving people is unethical. Separating identical siblings for the purpose of an unethical study is cruel. This should never happen again. Taking this further, separating a sibling group is unethical – something that is not routinely done in adoption today. Why, then, do we still consider separating newborns from their mothers at birth so the infants can have a “better life” in adoption?

Childhood trauma (Adverse Childhood Experiences – ACE) is now known to be the cause of varying degrees of emotional trauma responses in adoptees – and in our mothers and fathers. Separation from mother at birth is the single most detrimental aspect of relinquishment and adoption. Babies need their mothers – their real mothers. Nothing was said about the trauma these triplets suffered due to separation from their mother at birth.

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Birth Certificates

Something else was not discussed. Their birth certificates. This point can never be brought up too much. In fact, it must be brought up in every single discussion of adoption. Why? Because it is part of the entire scope of lies, manipulations, and intentional deceit that continues in every single adoption – then and now.

New York State revoked and sealed and replaced Robert Shafran’s, Edward Galland’s, and David Kellman’s accurate birth certificates – the ones that were signed by the attending physician who verified their births.

On their accurate birth certificate (Original Birth Certificate) is a line with the question, “Is this birth a single birth, a twin, or a triplet?” and a check box “Single,” “Twin,” or “Triplet.” On each triplet’s birth certificate, is the question, “If Twin or Triplet, is this child born, “1st, 2nd or 3rd”? A check is placed for the corresponding answer.

This is a detail close up of my accurate birth certificate (Original Birth Certificate):

There is also a line with the question, “Children previously born to this mother – How many OTHER children are now living?”

This is a detail close up of my accurate birth certificate (Original Birth Certificate):

On my amended birth certificate, it is easy to answer simply, “This is a single birth” (Ignoring that fact that I was not born in my adoptive name to my adoptive parents. It is all a lie. All except my birth date, time, and place.)

This is a detail close up of my falsified birth certificate (Amended Birth Certificate):

Did the New York State Department of Health’s Vital Statistics Bureau in Albany intentionally check the “Single Birth” box for each of these triplets on their new, amended birth certificates created after they were adopted?

I can guess that the State did not want to indicate their true birth order, so the adoption agency lied and so did New York State by stating that each birth was a single birth. I’m speculating, of course, but remember, amended birth certificates issued after an adoption contain false-facts, so information is made up to suit the facts of the adoption, with the toss-in of the date and place of birth. Yes, for some, even the birth date and place are falsified. Add all of this up and the end result is a sea of disaster.

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Suicide

I am very sad to hear about Eddy Galland’s suicide in June of 1995. He’s another adoptee statistic.

In this article, Eddy’s “wife says that he was never able to get over the separation and the loss. … Nineteen years that he didn’t have with his brothers.”

As an adoptee who was separated from my four older siblings (not identical) for eighteen years, I can attest to the pain of that loss.

This article states that sometime in 1995, Texas Pulitzer-prize winning writer Lawrence Wright began writing an article on twins when he came upon an article on twins separated at birth. He eventually found that Doctor Peter Neubauer, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at New York University, started this study. An assistant, not the doctor himself, told Wright of the “size and complexity [of the study], and told him there was a set of triplets, which lead him to Kellman, Shafran and Galland.”

Another article (which I cannot find now – I know, a big mistake to lose information on source material) stated “At the time of his death, Eddy Galland was not aware that the three brothers were intentionally separated as part of a psychological study to determine how personalities are formed.”

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Identical Quadruplets

Just when this story can’t get any worse, it gets worse. In this snippet from Edward “Eddy” Galland’s obituary published online at Find a Grave, a 1980 New York Times article revealed that the “Louise Wise Adoption Services reportedly confirmed that David Kellman, adopted by another family, is 3d sibling, 4th identical boy reportedly died at birth. (S) S 23, III.10:1.”

The documentary Three Identical Strangers did not mention this sad fact. They were four identical brothers – quadruplets – a natural miracle of conception in which one egg splits into four separate embryos. This unique wonder of nature would have been celebrated had these identical quadruplets been born to married parents. Tragically, they were born to a high school girl who was under society’s pressure to relinquish them to a closed and secret adoption. Her grief must have been overwhelming, particularly since one of them died at birth.

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Scenes From An Italian Restaurant

One more not-so-tiny detail that certainly stuck out was Billy Joel’s 1977 song, “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” that highlighted a fictitious story about “Brenda and Eddy.” The documentary suggests that Billy Joel wrote that song about the real Brenda and Eddy, but the names, in fact, were coincidental. A quick check on the Internet proves that the song was released in 1977. The identical brothers did not meet until 1980.

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No One Should Be Faced With Integrating Nature vs. Nurture

Non-adopted people can walk away from this documentary; they’ll recover in a few hours. But it didn’t happen to them. This particular situation didn’t happen to me, either, but adoption did. The effects of adoption on adoptees is life-long. No one should be faced with the daunting task of integrating two identities – the one of nature and the one of nurture. The one in which you have a name and one set of parents and could have been raised with your siblings – and the other in which you have a new name and a new set of parents who were hand-picked by agency workers according to their wishes and the luck of the draw.

None of this is a feel good story.

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Will society ever learn not to let this happen again?

Nope. Not a chance.

The same thing will happen again, and again, and again.

The Dionne Quintuplets – five identical girls – were born to married parents on May 28, 1934 in a small village in Ontario, Canada. The Canadian government took the five girls away from their parents and made a spectacle of them for show and tell, speculative and comparative analysis of their appearance and personalities, and circus-side-show gawking profit. What happened to them should never have happened. The parents and siblings left behind suffered. The quintuplets suffered; all for greed, profit, and curiosity of what these five identical girls would grow up to be. Yes, the world watched, like in the movie “The Truman Show.”

It happened to Robert Shafran, Edward Galland, and David Kellman, their parents, and their adoptive parents.

It happened to the sets of identical twins who were also subjects of this study.

We now have children being ripped away from their parents at our USA/Mexican border as punishment for their parents entering our country illegally.

But what of their humanity?

Every day, infants are stolen at birth from their mothers because of coercive tactics used by adoption agencies and adoptive parent wanna-bees who gloat as they wear T-shirts proclaiming “I’m paper pregnant” or “My son is in Nepal” (a slogan for gays who buy the rent-a-womb services of poor women in Nepal as surrogate mothers to bear their children).

Stupid people will come along again, and again, and decide what is best for parents and their children who are seen as lesser-than. It happened before, and it will happen again.

Damn it.

 

 

Father’s Day Remembrance of 2 Fathers and an ignorant, arrogant ass of an adoptive cousin

My adoptive father died in Roswell Park Cancer Hospital in 1982. At age 67. At that point, I was in a reunion with my natural father, 4 older siblings, 2 step brothers, 2 step sisters, a younger half brother, lots of aunts, uncles and cousins. The reunion began in 1974, when I was 18 and still in high school. By the time Dad died, we had 8 years of reunion behind us. Unlike most of his family, Dad was not only apologetic for lying to me, but he readily accepted my natural family back into my life. He spoke with my natural father with joy in his eyes and voice and a smile on his face. My two fathers had mutual respect for one another.

I had been worn thin, not much time to devote to all of those people, plus, resolving my internal identity struggles, plus coping with anger and rage I felt at the entire adoption system, not to mention the constant bickering I faced from relatives and strangers who didn’t approve of my reunion or my activism. I barely scratched the surface to develop relationships with the key people in my life and reshape relationships with my adoptive parents. I was just a kid myself. I had no guidance, no real support systems to carry me through the adoption stress. I sent away for ALMA (Adoptees Liberty Movement Association) newsletters, joined a local adoption support group in 1976, attended my first adoption conference in 1980, and began writing about adoption in 1975 in newspapers.

When my adoptive father died of brain cancer in 1982, I lost my Daddy. I was raised an only child. I wasn’t living at home when he died, so Mom drove by herself to the funeral home. I drove myself there on the day we buried him.

As I stepped out of my car in the funeral home’s parking lot, I was dry-heaving, choking at saying goodbye to Daddy.

One of my adoptive cousins, DA, waddled her fat body up to me and snorted, “You OPENLY declare you have two fathers, therefore, you must not love this father. Your other cousins and I don’t want you here.”

I don’t recall if I said anything to her. All I remember is feeling shocked that this fat thing I shared a childhood with could be so cruel to me. And,who were those other cousins who hated me so much? They never identified themselves.

I sat next to my adoptive mother, feeling unwanted.

My natural father stayed away as he held in his own grief; funerals were tough for him. He buried his wife of 10 years, my mother, three months after she gave birth to me in 1956. He died in 2011. Three months later, my adoptive mother died.

And, for the record – my natural father IS/WAS my father, and my adoptive father IS/WAS my father, too. Just because certain people can’t understand my reality, does not give them power over me. Go to hell DA!

My hope for all adoptees is that you can feel love for two mothers and for two fathers, and step parents, too, if you have them. Don’t listen to the cruel remarks of ignorant souls who don’t know your feelings, your life, or your truths.

Announcing the Kindle World Release of FORBIDDEN FAMILY: My Life as an Adoptee Duped By Adoption

I am thrilled to announce the Kindle edition world release of my memoir, Forbidden Family: My Life as an Adoptee Duped by Adoption on Saturday July 18, 2015.

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Raised as an only child of my adoptive parents, when I turned 18 in 1974, I was found by full-blood siblings I was never supposed to know. Less than a year later, I joined Adoptees’ Liberty Movement Association and began researching and writing about adoption. All the while, my adoptive family and natural family opposed my activism.

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Please join me in my journey by picking up your copy of Forbidden Family: My Life as an Adoptee Duped by Adoption today at one of the Kindle online stores listed below.

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Thank you,

Joan Mary Wheeler
Born as
Doris Michol Sippel

“The death of my married mother when I was an infant led to my closed adoption. Eighteen years later, I was found by family I was never supposed to know.”

2015-4-24 Kindle Book Cover.

US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00X520CGW?ie=UTF8&tag=forbifamil01-20

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Canada: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00X520CGW?ie=UTF8&tag=forbifamil01-20

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00X520CGW?ie=UTF8&tag=forbifamil01-20

Australia: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B00X520CGW?ie=UTF8&tag=forbifamil01-20

The Netherlands: http://www.amazon.nl/gp/product/B00X520CGW?ie=UTF8&tag=forbifamil01-20

Brazil: http://www.amazon.com.br/gp/product/B00X520CGW?ie=UTF8&tag=forbifamil01-20

Mexico: http://www.amazon.com.mx/gp/product/B00X520CGW?ie=UTF8&tag=forbifamil01-20

Spain: http://www.amazon.es/gp/product/B00X520CGW?ie=UTF8&tag=forbifamil01-20

France: http://www.amazon.fr/gp/product/B00X520CGW?ie=UTF8&tag=forbifamil01-20

Germany: http://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B00X520CGW?ie=UTF8&tag=forbifamil01-20

Italy: http://www.amazon.it/gp/product/B00X520CGW?ie=UTF8&tag=forbifamil01-20

India: http://www.amazon.in/gp/product/B00X520CGW?ie=UTF8&tag=forbifamil01-20

Japan: http://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/B00X520CGW?ie=UTF8&tag=forbifamil01-20

How do adoptees feel about Shel Silverstein’s book “The Giving Tree”?

Ahhh… another review about the book The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

The author of this article mentions, among other things, the fascination of orphan-hood to children who aren’t orphans.
As adoptees, we don’t know our conception and birth truths. We grow up not knowing.

For me, I hated stories and movies of orphans because I grew up knowing that my mother died and that’s how I became adopted by two people who became my parents. The horrible truth actually happened to me. Other kids could hide in their fantasies, relieved that they aren’t orphans after all. But not me.
I never read The Giving Tree until recently. I do not like this book. I look at it from an adult’s perspective. And from an educated adoptee’s perspective.
I see the anguish on the old man’s (the boy) face as he sits down on the tree’s stump. Is he realizing his or the tree’s life as a wasted life? Is he saying, “ What did I do?”
A tree (mother) who gave everything. An unselfish mother or a mother who lacks confidence to say no?
Would a male tree do the same? Would a little girl growing up do the same?
As adoptees, what does this say about our adoptions?
As adoptees, do we see this book differently?
What do mothers of children lost to adoption think of The Giving Tree?
Afterthought:
In reading the Comments Section, one stood out:

“I rather thought the point of the story was that we sometimes don’t realize how much the people in our lives love us and appreciate them as we should- but the ones who truly love us continue to love us anyway. i thought it was to teach a child appreciation and awareness.”

To which, I replied:

“Yours is the only response that redeems this book to me. Thank you.”

In retrospect, yes, I suppose The Giving Tree does teach a child appreciation and awareness. That is what my daughter said she felt about this book when she was a child. She read it at summer camp.

The Real Philomena: NPR Radio Interview and Commentary

A radio interview with the real woman named Philomena who lost her three year old child to a forced adoption in Ireland. The movie, Philomena, is a fictionalized version of her search for her son.

I am glad that the discussion of intercountry adoption has been slowly turning in favor of examining what adoption means to the natural parents and their lsot children. This is a start. Discussion leads to action.

The movie depicts the result of barbaric behavior from Catholic nuns in intentionally separating a mother from her toddler son – because the mother “sinned” for being pregnant “out of wedlock”. The lesson? Realizing a mother loves her child, with or without marriage.

The further lesson? Bringing out to the open the cruel treatment mothers received in Ireland is not limited to Ireland. It has happened, and still does, all over the world. Babies are stolen and given up in forced adoptions all the time.

This movie, Philomena, quietly invades the viewer’s heart and mind. What are we doing? Why are we doing it? How can we stop it? What are the humane solutions to teen pregnancy? What are the solutions to religious indoctrination that persecuted Philomena way back pver 50 years ago ? How can we educate deeply religious people and institutions as to the damage their social control has had, and still does, on vulnerable mothers and their innocent children?

There has to be a better way. Punishment of mother because she got pregnant before marriage is not the way to go. Removing her child from her caused Philomena a lifetime of pain. Her son, like millions of stolen children, grew up believing his mother didn’t want him.

This should not happen.

Now that you’ve seen the movie, do something. Get busy. We need you to help put a stop to stories like this. Contact American Adoption Congress, Adoption Crossroads, as a start. There are other groups, such as Origins USA. Find a local organization that is set for social and political action.

This is a side note to Mannix Flynn: the questioning has begun. People are starting to ask why this happened. People are asking who should be held accountable for this tragedy.

 

Another Dead Mother as Proof that Adoption is God’s Will and Destiny

This post is written as a response to an article in The New York Times in which the writer addresses adoptive parents who think adoption is God’s Will, part of God’s Plan, and their adoptee came to them by destiny and that “it was meant to be”.

After reading the article and a few comments, I dug out a photo, and wanted to write, but left the house for other obligations.

Turns out, while I was away, kostvollmersblog on Land Of Gazillion Adoptees, wrote his own blog post, Dear People Who Believe Placing Children For Adoption and Adopting Children Into Your Families is Destiny and part of God’s Plan. He posted a photo of his mother’s grave.

He had the same idea as I did.

And so, I have been moved to write my own answer to those adoptive parents who believe that adoption is God’s Will and destiny.

Yes, it is God’s will that my mother died, too.

This is my mother:

Mother's Grave, taken 1974-9-1

It was God’s will and His Plan for my widowed father that he relinquish me, his fifth child, born in January of 1956, to be raised the only child of my adoptive parents. Yes, it is destiny that my mother was dying while pregnant with me and her only purpose was to stay alive long enough for me to be born. But she lingered for three more months.

I was two months premature, almost died at birth and was placed in an incubator for two months. Then, I was taken to my dying mother’s bedside where my godparents, a priest, and my mother witnessed the Holy Sacrament of Baptism. I was Baptized under my legal and religious name, recognized by Jesus Christ himself, while my father was at home with his four older children. Three weeks later, his wife, and our mother, died.

The priest said to our father, “The baby needs two parents.”  At the funeral parlor, a woman came up to my father and said, “I know someone who will take your baby.” So, my father, being the obedient Catholic that he was, took the priest’s words to heart. A woman who knew his deceased wife came to pay her respects. It must surely be God’s will, it must surely be destiny, that this woman appeared to my father at the exact moment that his newborn daughter needed a new family because, after all, the priest said that the baby needed two parents. And so it came to pass that my father handed me over to my pre-adoptive parents nearly one month after my mother’s death.

Praise the Lord, Alleluia!

My adoption became final one year and one week after my birth. Within the following three months, the government confiscated my birth certificate and placed it under seal, never to be opened, forever. Paperwork was sent 400 miles away from Surrogate’s Court in the city of my birth to the State Capital where all birth certificates created for NYS adoptees are made and filed. One year and three months after I was born, the Registrar of Vital Statistics set forth a new birth certificate in my  new adoptive name, naming my new parents as my parents by birth, naming my hospital of birth, the time of my birth, and stating that I was a “single” birth and not a twin or a triplet. The Registrar then signed his name and affixed the raised State seal to this new birth certificate certifying that the facts stated were true. He lied. He knowingly created a false government document. He committed fraud and perjury as lying under oath is a crime. But, it was God’s will. It was destiny. He just had to do it since it was God’s Plan.

Three and a half years later, when my adoptive parents wanted a new baptismal certificate for me in the name they had given me, they asked their lawyer to do something. He did. He requested that the parish that performed my baptism in 1956 issue a new, amended, baptismal certificate in my adoptive name so that I could go to Catholic Schools and receive the rest of the Catholic sacraments. The parish pastor created a new baptismal certificate that stated that I, in my legal adopted name, was baptized on the date of my actual baptism in 1956, he named my adoptive parents, named my godparents who were my deceased mother’s brother and his wife, and then issued the new baptismal certificate in May of 1959. This Pastor knowingly issued a falsified baptismal certificate, yet he, being a representative of God, committed a sin by signing his name in witness and testimony that all the information was true as taken from Official Records of that parish church.

Yes, it is all God’s will. It is all destiny. Praise the Lord! I am Saved!

No, it is manipulation, magical thinking, and delusion. My mother’s cancer was not a gift. My father’s grief was not God’s Plan. My living a life devoid of my four older siblings, and they of me, was not destiny. The Lord did not save me.

The woman who told my father she knew of “someone who will take your baby” was the sister of the man who became my adoptive father.

The priest who said that the baby needed two parents was not concerned that the other four children needed two parents, too, he was only thinking that the newborn needed more immediate care. The immediate care could have been found by some charitable ladies coming into our home while our father was at work so that his family could have been kept together.

The only ones to have benefited out of this arrangement were my adoptive parents, Surrogate Court, the Registrar, and the lawyers.

Oh yeah, I forgot. I was raised a spoiled brat, got everything I ever wanted, lived in a house in the suburbs, went to private schools, had a bedroom all to myself, and my Mom made me dresses. Got “everything I ever wanted”? Except for my siblings and my father, except for my name at birth and baptism, except for peace of mind.

Because of this, I left the Church many, many years ago.

Now, all of my parents are dead. I spent part of the day visiting their graves, all of them, because of this magical thinking.

As for the government…

What a Day for Adoption Contradictions

On one hand, we have the new reality cable TV show “I’m Having THEIR Baby” (https://www.facebook.com/#!/ImHavingTheirBaby) (OXYGEN premiered Monday July 23, 2012), which promotes the separation of mother and baby for the benefit of waiting adoptive parent wanna bees, and supposedly, for the pregnant non-mother and her newborn who will become an adoptee.

And on the other hand, we have these two contradictory reports about James Holmes, the gunman at the at the midnight movie premier of The Dark Knight Rises in the Denver suburb of Aurora, Colorado (Friday July 20, 2012). One says that he was adopted (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2178304/James-Holmes-Gunman-used-police-evidence-bags-hand-puppets-mother-admits-feared-disturbed-years.html#ixzz21aOHJZdz), and the other says that his lineage goes way, way back to the beginning of American history. (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/22/colorado-shooter-james-holmes-family-history-goes-back-to-the-mayflower.html)

So, which is it? Was James Holmes adopted? Or was he born to the parents who raised him? Hmmm. I suspect that, if he was adopted, then the story on his lineage just might be true. After all, his adoptive parents have a birth certificate for him that says he was born to them and that he is their biological son. That makes the lineage real. If his lineage is “real”, might this adoptee be confused about his identity? And what of his two sets of parents? What were adoptive parents like? What happened that his natural parents relinquished him? If he is adopted, and his birthdate is now known publically, perhaps now his natural parents will want to make contact, or hide in despair and grief. And guilt.

And where do the baby brokers fall in this picture?

Let’s dig a little deeper.

Or maybe he really wasn’t adopted and this was just someone’s snide comment, like in The Avenger’s movie (He’s adopted – oh that explains everything! Laugh laugh, giggle giggle – Don’t be offended, it was just a joke!). Yeah, blame it on the adoptee. Everyone knows adoptees have “bad blood”.  See a few bloggers’ takes on the subject: http://adoptedintheuk.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/all-joking-aside/ and http://73adoptee.blogspot.com/2012/05/avengers-why-is-making-fun-of-adoption.html.

Let me get this straight. People are making money off of pregnant girls and women, convincing them that they can’t possibly be good enough parents to their unborn baby so it would be so unselfish of them to give up their baby to older, wiser, and financially better off — more stable people, and then the adoptee grows up to be “disturbed”?

Something in this equation isn’t right. And that is adoption itself. Adoption is legalized kidnapping, especially pre-birth and at birth, as is promoted and exploited in Oxygen’s “I’m Having THEIR Baby” TV series. Adoption is legalized fiction, legalized lies, as in amended and falsified birth certificates. Adoption forces the adoptee to live a lie, and a series of lies. If this doesn’t mess with a person’s mind, I don’t know what does.

Suppose adoptive parents never tell their adoptee that he was adopted? And he finds out later in life, at age 40 or 50 or 60. What might that do to the adoptee’s psyche? Suppose adoptive parents tell half truths, such as, you were adopted, but then withhold vital information from the adoptee that he finds out during his early adulthood? My adoptive parents told me I was adopted, but they left out a critical detail: that I was the 5th child born to married parents and my mother died when I was three months old. I can tell you, when I was found by these siblings I was never supposed to know, that lie my adoptive parents told, or rather the omission they committed, had a profound and lasting effect on me. Nothing like discovering that your parents lied to you: that destroyed my trust and self esteem. Not to mention a childhood in which I was raised an only child and deliberately prevented from knowing my own siblings. Now that is definitely a head trip.

Think Open Adoption is the answer? Think again. Open adoption is a legal adoption, complete with confiscated birth certificate which is sealed forever, a falsified birth certificate, a Final Order of Adoption, and a verbal agreement between the natural parents and the adoptive parents. The adoptive parents have all the control, the natural parents have none. This is not the same as a divorce and visitation court order. This is a total and complete makeover of identity and possession (not simple custody) of the adoptee. If the natural parents and the adoptee are lucky, and they are allowed to visit each other, perhaps there are siblings living with the natural mother who do not live with adoptee in the adoptive home. How does that adoptee cope with that? How do those siblings cope with the loss of their sibling? How does the natural mother cope with the loss of her child? She is, and isn’t, the mother. And where’s the father in all of this? Many adoptive parents deliberately derail his knowledge and consent for the adoption of his child because, well, it’s THEIR child, not his, in their eyes.

None of this is healthy. Everything about any form of adoption is traumatic and deceptive.

Want me to be more specific about that falsified birth certificate? The adoptee’s actual birth certificate is confiscated, not upon relinquishment, but upon finalization of adoption. The court places it under protective seal and the adoptee can never have it, ever. Then, the court sends orders to the State’s Capital where the Registrar of Vital Statistics takes the information given to him and creates a new birth certificate for the adoptee under the child’s new adoptive name. This new birth certificate is officially called an amended birth certificate. The adoptive parents names are substituted for the names of the actual parents, and the date and time of birth are recorded, thus giving the impression that these parents gave birth to this child. They did not. The Registrar knows they did not. But he signs his name and embosses the State seal on the certificate certifying that the information on the document is true. But the information is false: he created false facts on a government document. This is perjury: lying under oath. The adoptee thus receives a fraudulent birth certificate. And, the physician’s signature is not on this amended birth certificate: he did not witness this birth because this birth never happened.

So the adoptee grows up with lies. And contradictions. This is enough to drive anyone crazy.

So Oxygen promotes baby stealing in their new cable TV series “I’m Having Their Baby”.

So James Holmes may or may not be adopted.

Which is it? Is his lineage a correct bloodline? Or was he really adopted? That would negate the published report of his fine lineage of good America stock. And if he was adopted, that means he is somehow tainted, and we have a massive crime that needs explanation and blame.

But then we have the rainbow farters and the cool-aid drinkers who believe that separating a baby from his mother at birth and then adopting him into a loving home is a very, very good, great, wonderful thing.

And we have mothers who give up their babies fully believing that they “did the right thing”, but they are traumatized for the rest of their lives.

And we have babies who grow inside their mothers (http://findingchristopherfindingmyself.blogspot.com/2012/07/why-our-birth-matters.html) only to be ripped away from her forever. They are traumatized for the rest of their lives.

And please, don’t ask me to talk about adoptive parents. We hear too much from them.

And then, we have a Facebook message that reads: {A little late but this is the confirmation that he isn’t adopted: Just had a tweet from NY Post’s @Clayton_Sandell: Lawyer Lisa Damiani:”James Holmes is the biological son of Arlene and Robert Holmes. Even if he was adopted, they would love him the same.” Hope the media’s got it now.}

Really?

“Even if he was adopted, they would love him the same”. That sounds like an admission to me.

If it is true, that James Holmes is not adopted, then New York Post’s Clayton Sandell better publish a formal retraction in his paper for this tweet to be newsworthy, believable, and valid. And perhaps this lawyer, Lisa Damiani, better make sure that UK’s Daily Mail publishes a retraction as well.

The shootings happened. People are dead. Their loved ones are grieving. A man is in custody. All of this is very sad. I do not want to diminish what happened in any way.

So please, clarify. Is he adopted or not?

Oxygen: take your disgusting reality TV show off the air. Stop exploiting women, pregnancy, birth, fathers, siblings, and adoptees for your TV ratings and income. Baby selling is human trafficking.

Season of Sadness

With the recent passing of my adoptive mother and my natural father now four of my five parents are dead. Only my step mother survives.

Today marks the 55th anniversary of the death of my natural mother.

So I sadly mark their memories:

Genevieve Herr Sippel (natural mother) died March 28, 1956 at age 30.

Edward Wheeler (adoptive father) died February 15, 1982 at age 67.

Leonard Sippel (natural father) died January 11, 2011 at age 86.

Doloris Cannell Wheeler (adoptive mother) died March 12, 2011 at age 95.

The pain of loss is real. All four parents are real. All adoptees have two sets of real parents.

Rest in Peace, Mom

My adoptive mother, Doloris T. Wheeler, passed away early in the morning of March 12, 2011 after a long battle with leukemia.

I love you, Mom.

 

To My Mother

by H. Phelps Clawson, 1923

 

Death! Is there some wild terror in your name

That causes mortal men to tremble so?

Your scythe spares neither poverty nor fame,

Nor saint nor sinner, yes, they all must go.

And I, who stood beside my Mother’s bier,

 Felt you cold fingers clutching at my heart,

Trying to force a cry, some sign of fear,

 To show I’d play for you the common part.

 But Death! You are a fool; you could not see

 With your dull eyes that it was I who won,

That from above she had sent down to me

A wondrous Mother-message to her son;

A glorious light of peace, eternal rest,

And happiness that she had never known.

I saw her smile, and to my tortured breast

Came the great knowledge—I was not alone

But nearer her dear self than I had been,

And she was more my Mother than before.

Oh! All the mighty vision I have seen

Since she flung wide that sacred golden door,

And showed to me the fullness of her love,

A staff to guide my footsteps through the night,

And though she’s with the brilliant stars above

She’s nearer me to help me towards the right.

Again, a little child close by her side

I seem to walk and look into her face,

For she is still and ever was my guide,

And I with manhood’s wisdom now can trace

Each act of Mother-love, and all she gave

To me to carry onward through the years—

A courage that makes beautiful her grave,

And robs our earthly parting of its fears.

 

 

 

 

Newly Discovered Family Keepsake: 1956 Baby Shower Card

In clearing out the attic over the past several months, I’ve discovered a few items that hold opposite meanings for myself and my adoptive mother: Greeting cards. But not just any type of greeting card. There are Baby’s First Christmas, Baby’s First Birthday, Baby’s First Valentine. The one that struck me the most, however, was the 1956 Baby Shower Card that reveals the promise of “increasing” happiness with the addition of a baby girl but ignores reality of loss of that baby’s family of birth. Such is the reality of adoption.

Here’s the front of the card:

1956 Baby Shower Card

Here’s the inside showing the cut-a-way window. The last names of the “girls at the shop” have been deleted.

 1956 Baby Shower Card - inside 1a

Here’s another view of the inside of the card with the secondary card opened:

1956 Baby Shower Card - inside 2 

 Note the words:

“A darling little baby girl

To steal your hearts away —“

 Evidently, as a child, I stole their hearts away.

Definitely, they knowingly stole me from my family.

I gained an adoptive family, but lost the family that I had.

It is inhumane what was done to me and my siblings in the name of adoption. They did it – my adoptive parents – knowingly, willfully and intentionally. They did it out of love. And with Jesus’ blessings. Good Catholics they were.

And for this I am to be grateful.

No question about it, for me, there is no way to get through this pain but radical acceptance of the reality. Do I need to mention that I have no forgiveness for the parents and extended family involved with the coverup of the truth at my expense? I am not required to give forgiveness as it was not earned, nor even asked for, except by my adoptive father immediately after he spoke with my natural father on the phone in 1974 just days after I was found.

For whose happiness did I enter their family? Theirs. I was manipulated and tricked into believing the life they fed me. I developed close attachments and love with aunts, uncles and cousins who later turned out to hate me (but other cousins and aunts and uncles were not that way). I loved my adoptive parents, but I was cheated out of life with the siblings I was never supposed to know. Meanwhile, my natural father lost his newborn daughter and his other children lost their baby sister.

Let this be a lesson to adoptive parents everywhere: be as honest as you possibly can with your adoptee. Honesty is the best policy. For when there are secrets and spiteful rage to keep the adoptee from ever knowing the truth, the adoptee suffers at the hands of the very people who are suppose to love that adoptee unconditionally. Withholding vital information and preventing a minor child contact with full or half siblings is a cruelty worthy to be called child abuse of both the adoptee and her siblings left behind.

Yes, today my elderly adoptive mother shares her joyous memories with me of the day she and my father “got” me. She talks of the baby shower that welcomed me into the family. I acknowledge her joys. This is her journey through life. I try to make her as comfortable as possible by listening to her.

I also acknowledge my profound sadness at what I lost: my entire family of birth. My father, my siblings, my aunts, uncles and cousins, and I lost my natural mother due to her early death, a death that lead to my father’s mistaken belief that the only course of action was to give me up to a completely closed adoption. We lived less than six miles apart, but this magical social construct of adoption robbed me of my family, robbed my siblings of their baby sister, and robbed my father of his daughter. The only ones who got away with any happiness and security were my adoptive parents. They got the baby they could not produce on their own. Eighteen years of infertility and voila – a baby is suddenly available by the death of her mother. Take the baby and run. Have a baby shower and pamper that baby girl with all their love. And for what? For 18 years of lies to the adoptee and 36 years of hell to pay after I was found by the very siblings my adoptive mother so adamantly declared I should never know.

The past 36 years have been filed with accusations that I have been disloyal and ungrateful. Why? For accepting the truth of my birth and adoption? Why is it always the adoptee who is expected to accept other people’s viewpoints and opinions? Is it worth it to be permanently separated by arbitrary laws and social constructs to create a falsehood within  which the adoptee is expected to live? No, it is not.

I have been told with flippant comments from non-adoptees that “that’s the way it was done back then”.

So? That doesn’t make it right. I am the one to suffer the consequences of other people’s actions. My life as an adoptee was not worth the cocoon-sheltered childhood and the emotional and psychological abusive adult life I have had to endure because of adoption.

Now I must slowly say goodbye to a misguided elderly adoptive mother, make her journey to life’s passing as gentle as possible, and struggle to comprehend the devastation left behind.

~ ~ ~ Joan M Wheeler, BA, BSW, author of Forbidden Family: A Half Orphan’s Account of Her Adoption, Reunion and Social Activism, Trafford Publishing, Nov 2009.