Family Preservation Lessons Learned from Orphans in My Families Before, During, and After the 1918 Influenza Pandemic and What This Means for Families Surviving Today’s Covid-19 Pandemic

By Doris Michol Sippel, formerly known as Joan Mary Wheeler, BSW, is an American adoptees’ rights activist and author of Forbidden Family: An Adopted Woman’s Struggle for Identity (2016) and Strangers by Adoption: Ten Adoptees Share Their Stories of Rejection or Abuse (2019), both available on Amazon.

May 25, 2020

 

Historical Perspectives from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic on Orphans

My adoptive mother was two years old in October of 1918 when her mother died from influenza during that pandemic’s second wave. Her father recovered. He needed someone to take care of his young children while he worked, but most women had factory jobs to support the war effort of World War I. The only other option was to move his three older children from their family home in Buffalo, New York to live in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Orphanage, also in Buffalo. Married family friends agreed to care for his infant son. The father worked six days a week on the New York Central Railroad as a carpenter. A dedicated father, he paid room and board for his children and visited them every Sunday. He told the Polish Catholic nuns that none of his children would be given up for adoption. [1], [2], [3]

Though safe from permanent separation by adoption, my adoptive mother and her brothers were subjected to the same humiliating treatment that the other children in the orphanage endured. When they were old enough to sing, about one hundred children were “put up” on stage to entertain audiences for charity donations to the orphanage and for spectators to choose the child they wanted to take home for their very own.

This was one of Mom’s favorite stories she told to me when I was growing up. She’d say, “People wanted to take me home because I was the only Italian girl with dark hair and dark eyes, while all the other girls were blond haired, blue-eyed Polish girls.”

My adoptive mother’s father was an orphan himself. Louis Cannell was born in 1883 in the small town of Torricella Pelligna, Italy, in the province of Abruzzi. How and when his parents died is unknown. Louis was raised by family friends until he was seventeen. He was a farmer, tilled the soil, and was a shepherd. One month before his eighteenth birthday, Louis arrived in America by passenger ship in the port of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1901. He then lived with his married sister in Philadelphia, but nothing is known of her, or of any other family member in America or Italy. Though he had no formal education and could barely read and write, Louis quickly learned to speak English. He moved to Olean, New York where he worked as a policeman, a factory worker, and then a laborer on the Pennsylvania railroad.

Louis met his wife, Rose Picone, when he visited Lattimer Mines, Pennsylvania with a railroad co-worker. Rose was born on May 16, 1894 in Lattimer Mines, near Hazelton, Pennsylvania, the oldest of nine children born to Italian immigrants who came from an unknown town in the province of Abruzzi, Italy. Rose was seventeen when she married, Louis was twenty-eight. They had three boys and a girl. Rose died on October 22, 1918 at age twenty-four and was buried in Allegany, New York, near Olean.

Orphan Trains were in full operation when Louis arrived in Philadelphia in 1901. By the time he married in 1911, he had ten years of indoctrination into American society’s scorn for the poor, the wretched, the illegitimate, and the orphan.

The Orphan Train movement ran from 1854 to 1929. During this time, between 200,000 to 250,000 orphaned, abandoned, abused, and homeless children were gathered up by care workers from the streets of Eastern cities and were relocated to foster homes in the American West. Children were “put up” on train platforms or on stages for people to look them over. This is where the phrase “putting up a child for adoption” came from. While many families wanted farm laborers, others genuinely cared for the children they “took in.” Some children were legally adopted, although adoption was much simpler than it is today. Sending children out West became known as “placing out,” which is where the term “placing children for adoption” originated. One good thing that evolved out of the barbaric Orphan Train movement is modern foster care. [4], [5], [6]

The term “putting up” actually has a much older beginning. Cultural norms developed over hundreds of years of slavery in America when slaves where “put up” on stages and platforms for auction. The practice of displaying humans on stages for sale didn’t stop when slavery ended in 1865, nor did the terminology. The act of “putting up” and the use of the words from those years moved with society as people displayed children for foster care and adoption either on stages, or in photo catalogues, and now on websites. One can hear attitudes echoed from the past when people today talk down to adoptees that we “should be grateful someone took you in.” It’s as if someone has done us a favor, that we were lucky to have been adopted, and that we were unwanted and undeserving of love as were the street urchins before they were rounded up and sent out West on the Orphan Trains. Attitudes linger.

Life inside the orphanage was, by today’s standards, primitive, yet, Mom had pleasant memories. For safety, the boys and girls were separated into two residences. Mom said that the only time she saw her brothers was at Church for Mass and every Sunday when their father visited them.

After school, all the children did their chores, dusting, washing dishes, and laundry. As Mom recalled in a letter to me in 1974, “The laundry room held huge pot-bellied stoves with a deck around them and on the deck we placed the irons to be heated by the coal fire. We had no electric irons. For recreation, we had Scouting, camping every summer, swimming in the lake, movies once a week, and a dance once a year in the auditorium for a party with cake and punch.”

One of the most touching remembrances Mom told me was, “All of our communication in the orphanage was spoken in Polish. English was taught in school, but the everyday language was Polish. When I visited with Pa, we spoke in Italian, until one day when I accidentally answered him in Polish and he cried. From that day on we spoke Polish to each other, until I came home from the orphanage, then we spoke English with our father.”

When he saved enough money to travel to Italy, Louis traveled back to the town he was born in to find another wife. He married Rosina DiFabrizio on June 28, 1930 in Torricella Pelligna, Italy. The couple then moved to Buffalo.

Like her older brothers, Doloris aged out of the orphanage at age sixteen and moved back home with her father, step-mother, and younger half-sister, Mary, who was born in 1931. She spent that summer in Pennsylvania with her deceased mother’s relatives and remained close with them throughout the years. Doloris attended business school for two years. In 1938, she married my adoptive father.

Grandpa never talked about surviving the 1918 influenza pandemic. He never talked about his first wife, his childhood in Italy, his parents or what killed them, nor did he talk about his sister in Philadelphia. He was a gentle old man who enjoyed making wine in his wine cellar. Grandpa accepted and loved me as his adoptive granddaughter; my adoption meant that I was part of his family. Now though, in retrospect, I wonder if he ever thought about how unwavering he was in 1918 – thirty-nine years previous to my adoption in 1957 – that his children would not be separated from him or from each other by adoption after their mother died.

Grandma spoke only a few words in English, but she loved me, and I loved her. She was a great cook who made extravagant meals. She was a weaver of fine Italian linen; several of her table runners now adorn my kitchen and living room.

Grandpa died in 1970 when I was fourteen and Grandma died on Halloween, 1974. Because I was adopted, they were the only grandparents I was allowed to know.

Mom never talked about her feelings about her mother’s death.

Before her death in 2011, Mom sang for me: “I’m a poor little orphan, my mother she is dead, my father is a working man, and he can’t buy me bread.” [7]

My heart broke for her.

1918: Louis Cannell holding Jimmie, Anthony standing in the back, Dominic sitting next to two-year-old Doloris. Photo taken after the death of the children’s mother of complications from influenza.

 

 

 

Both of My Adoptive Parents Were Half-Orphans

My adoptive father was also a half-orphan. Born in 1914 in Buffalo, New York, Edward Wheeler was the oldest of eight children born to Victoria Szczepaniak and Alfred Wheeler. Victoria was Alfred’s second wife. She was Polish and Alfred was English. In 1925, when Edward was eleven years old, his father died. Edward quit school, searched the streets of Buffalo for broken tables, chairs, bicycles, radios, record players and engines that he repaired and sold. This is how he made money to help pay for food and clothes for his seven younger siblings and his mother. This sibling group was not separated from their mother, or each other, by adoption. They were a tight-knit family and were allowed to visit with their deceased father’s family.

Edward’s two older half-brothers, Alfred Jr. and Charles, were twenty-seven and nineteen years old at the time of their father’s death in 1925. They were in the military and sent money home to their step-mother and eight younger half-siblings.

Alfred Jr. and Charles Wheeler were also half-orphans. In 1908, when they were boys of ten years and two years old, their mother, Matilda Seeley, died. The boys were allowed to visit their deceased mother’s family, including aunts, uncles, and cousins. Someone helped their father keep his sons; they were not lost to adoption. When their father died in 1925, the younger of the two brothers, Charles, was nineteen, just two years under twenty-one. His father’s death made him a full orphan. [8]

 

Their Desperate Desire to Have a Baby Outweighed Preserving My Family

It’s tragic that my adoptive parents were both half-orphans, but they didn’t appreciate the value of family preservation. Childless for eighteen years of marriage, their desperate desire to have a baby to call their own caused them to inflict emotional trauma and loss on me, my father, and my siblings. My adoptive parents got their wish at our expense.

In 1956, my mother died from cancer when I was three months old. Genevieve Herr was thirty years old. At her funeral, my father, Leonard Sippel, age thirty-one, was talked into giving me up for adoption. The parish priest told my father that “the baby needs two parents.” Twenty minutes later, a woman approached my father and said, “I know someone who will take your baby.” She then told her older brother, Edward Wheeler, and his wife, Doloris, that there was a baby available. Three weeks after my mother’s death, my father made arrangements for my soon-to-be adoptive parents to pick me up.

I lost my entire family on April 22, 1956 when my father handed me over to a husband and wife he trusted to take care of me. He gave them my clothes, blankets, my birth certificate and baptismal certificate. For the next five months, I lived with these strangers one block over and three blocks up from my natural father and my siblings near the Broadway Market on the East side of Buffalo. Though I lived that close to my siblings, they were not allowed to know where I was or what happened to me. In September 1956, my custodial care givers bought a house ten miles away in a northern suburb.

My name from birth was legally Doris Michol Sippel, but my soon-to-be adoptive parents called me by the name they wanted for me: Joan Mary Wheeler. My name was legally changed on January 14, 1957 when the final court order of adoption was signed. I was one year and one week old. With the judge’s signature, I permanently lost my family, my name, my birth certificate, my family history, and heritage all because of adoption.

My birth certificate remained in the name of Doris for the next three months until the director of vital statistics in the state capital created a new birth certificate for Joan. In exchange for my new identity and loss of my family, my adoptive parents lavished me with love and affection. For the next seventeen years, I was raised an only child with a large extended adopted family.

 

My Natural Mother was a Half-Orphan with a Rich Family History

Like my adoptive parents, my natural mother was a half-orphan. Genevieve Herr lost her mother, twice. The first time was when she was five years old in 1930. Her mother, Gertrude Catherine Stoll, left her husband, Jacob Grant Herr, and their seven surviving (out of eleven) children to live in Brooklyn, New York City. I’m not really sure why she left; her siblings, my aunt and uncles, refused to tell me the truth. Someone mumbled that my grandfather was physically abusive to his wife.

When my mother was thirteen years old in 1938, her mother died in Brooklyn. My mother lived at home with her father and her older nineteen-year-old brother, and younger ten-year-old brother. The older siblings were married with children of their own.

Mom’s mother, my grandmother, was an only child, so there were no aunts, uncles, or cousins to visit on her side. The only family she had on her mother’s side was her mother’s mother’s family – her grandmother, three grandaunts and a granduncle, and their children. The children were second cousins to my mother and were twenty to thirty years older. This will make more sense as this story continues.

Mom’s mother’s family were German and French immigrants arriving in Erie and Niagara counties of New York State in the mid-1800s. Their ancestors lived along the border towns between France and Germany in Alsace-Lorraine with documentation going back to the early 1700s.

Mom’s father’s grandparents arrived in the settlement of Tonawanda, New York in the early 1800s.  In 1855, they packed up their children and rode in a covered wagon to the new state of Iowa. Some of their grown children and grandchildren later became homesteaders in Washington State, while one grandson, Jacob Grant Herr, moved back to Buffalo. He was my grandfather. Ancestors in his paternal line trace back to the early 1700s in France and Germany.

My grandfather’s mother had English ancestors on her mother’s side that supposedly date back to settlers in New England in the mid-1600s. I traced my grandfather’s mother’s Scottish ancestors to a young, Scots-Irish couple who arrived in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania in 1772 from Northern Ireland. Even though their line ends with them because there is no paper trail leading back to ancestors in Ireland and Scotland, the male line of descent traces back to Hugh of Sleat, Uisdean McDonald, of Isle of Skye, Scotland in the 1400s.

 

My Father’s Decision

When his wife died, my father was essentially alone. He was the only child of a second generation Polish-German-American mother and a second generation German-American father. Mary Barbara Wisniewski was born in Buffalo on July 25, 1893 and her husband, Leon Joseph Sippel, was born in Buffalo on December 17, 1892. My grandparents were too old to take care of an infant and my father’s cousins were married with children of their own. No options were presented to him to keep his family together. Instead of help, his deceased wife’s brothers and sister, and their spouses, clamored for his children:

“I’ll take the baby.”

“I want the boy.”

“I’ll take the two older girls.”

“I’ll take the three-year-old girl.”

My father said no. He didn’t want his entire family to be split up. He knew his deceased wife’s sister and brothers blamed him for his wife’s death by cancer; they resented him. My father weighed his desire to keep his family together against my needs. He didn’t want to give me up, but he couldn’t provide the round-the-clock care I needed. Years later, when he told me his side of my relinquishment and adoption, Dad said that he didn’t want me to be confused, nor did he want me to be near the bitterness my mother’s family had for him, so he made the decision to make, what he thought, would be a clean break for me.

While I would be taken care of, Dad still needed help with his four older children. Two months after my disappearance to adoption and three months after my mother’s death, my father married his former high school girlfriend to take care of his older children. She died ten years later in 1966. That’s when my siblings were split up between foster homes and the same orphanage that my adoptive mother had lived in from 1918 to 1932.

 

Distant Cousins and an In-Family Adoption

On February 17, 1897, my adoptive father’s father, Alfred Wheeler, married his first wife, Matilda Seeley. Matilda’s sister was Catherine Seeley. Catherine Seeley was the mother of one child, Gertrude Catherine Stoll (born 1888, died 1938). Gertrude Catherine Stoll was the mother of Genevieve Ruth Herr – my natural mother.

Catherine Seeley (born 1871, died 1930) was my mother’s grandmother (as stated in a previous section). Her sister, Matilda Seeley (born 1880, died 1908), was my mother’s grandaunt. Matilda Seeley’s two sons, Alfred Wheeler Jr. and Charles Wheeler, were 2nd cousins to my natural mother. They were twenty-some years older than my mother, but they were family. (In my research, I found three different charts to calculate cousinship. A second chart indicates this relationship as 1st cousin once removed, and a third chart indicates this relationship as 2nd grand cousin. To simplify, I will use 2nd cousin.)

In 1985, when Charles Wheeler was seventy-nine years old, he told me a story of how he felt bad for my mother when she was a young child. As stated in a previous section, my mother’s mother left her children behind when she ran away from her abusive husband in 1930 to live in Brooklyn, New York City. A year later, when Charles was a young man of twenty-five years, he took his six-year-old 2nd cousin, Genevieve Herr, for a day of fun at the Canadian amusement park, Crystal Beach, just across the Niagara River from Buffalo. Charles had great affection for his younger 2nd cousin because she didn’t have her mother with her, first by abandonment and then by death.

Genevieve grew up knowing Charles and his older brother as her 2nd cousins and their eight younger half-siblings as her half 2nd cousins. Genevieve Herr and her seven siblings were close in age with the Wheeler siblings. They lived in the same neighborhoods on Buffalo’s East Side for generations. First, second, third, and fourth cousins went through grade school and high school together because they were one large extended family. It continues on this way today.

My siblings and I are 2nd cousins once removed by blood to the two older Wheeler brothers, Alfred Jr. and Charles, and we are half 2nd cousins once removed to all eight of the second set of Wheeler siblings.

I was adopted by my half 2nd cousin once removed, Edward Wheeler. This means my adoption is an in-family adoption. My blood-kin 2nd cousins once removed became my uncles by adoption. Seven of their eight younger half-siblings became my aunts and uncles by adoption.

Are you confused yet? Good. Now you know how I feel. I’m not even sure I counted that all out correctly, even after studying several different cousinship charts.

Always remember that every in-family adoption legally re-arranges the adopted person’s family.

This distant connection between my adoptive father’s father and my natural mother’s grandmother’s family created controversy with my adoptive father’s seven younger siblings. Some of them decided that this was the terrible secret I didn’t need to know. Their older half-brothers, Alfred and Charles, didn’t want any part in bickering, but they kept the secret from me, too. They were afraid to tell me the truth for fear of overstepping their half-brother’s authority as my adoptive father. I hardly knew my Uncle Alfred because he was fifty-eight years older than me, but I looked up to my Uncle Charlie, who was fifty years older than me. I enjoyed his children as my first cousins by adoption. I didn’t know we were actually distant cousins by blood until I was eighteen years old when the secret came out.

You may be asking yourself, why is this important? How many people really pay attention to their distant cousins?

This matters. This was such an innocent family connection that it should be celebrated, if for no other reason than history, but it was used as a weapon against me by a few of my adoptive father’s younger siblings who believed that an adoptee should never know the truth. They also believed that they could continue to be distant cousins with my blood relatives, but if I ever did the same, and if I had a reunion with my natural father, that I would be disloyal and disrespectful to my adoptive parents.

 

My Adoption was Finalized in Court Between My Father and My Adoptive Parents and No One Else

Before my adoption became final, my father learned that the man who would become my adoptive father was distantly related to his deceased wife. He was not told that there would be communication between his deceased wife’s family and his relinquished daughter’s adoptive father’s family. He had no reason to suspect that a distant family connection would cause intense problems for me.

If the surrogate court judge had known that this was a distant cousin in-family adoption, he might have court-ordered sibling and parental visitation with me. Or, he might not have approved of the adoption at all. Open adoption, with varying degrees of contact between adoptive parents, natural parents, and the adoptee, wasn’t an option back in 1957. Open adoption wouldn’t be common until the 1980s, and since then, many adoptive parents close the adoptions soon after finalization, or they choose closed adoption because they don’t want any chance of a reunion between their adoptee and the natural parents.

The judge handled my adoption like any other closed and sealed adoption. In 1957, the surrogate court judge told my father to stay away from me and from my adoptive parents.

My father abided by the law. He stayed away, and his extended family stayed away as well.

 

Who Broke the Confidentiality of My Closed Adoption?

In the years before her death, my adoptive mother admitted that she played a part in passing photographs of me to my natural mother’s family. Mom explained, “In the first few years after your adoption, I wanted to let your natural mother’s family know how you were doing so I passed photographs of you on your birthdays, Christmases, Easters and Halloweens to Aunt Helen Wheeler. She then gave these photographs to your natural mother’s only sister, Catherine Herr. In return, Catherine passed a photograph of your family – your mother, father and your sisters and brother – back to Aunt Helen, who then gave the photo to me. I kept it in the box of our Wheeler-Cannell family pictures.”

I found that photo in a box of adoptive family photographs when I was fourteen years old. I didn’t know this family, so I paused, shrugged my shoulders, and put it back. I had no idea that I was looking into the faces of my mother and father and siblings as they were a few months before my birth.

My adoptive mother, Doloris, stopped passing along photos of me, but three of my adoptive father’s younger sisters and one younger brother continued to gossip about me and trade photographs of me back and forth with my natural mother’s siblings. Then their children, my adopted cousins, joined in, causing me decades of incredible pain and suffering from their judgements of me, their meddling into my life, and their cruelty. One adopted aunt in particular was very cruel to me – the one who orchestrated my adoption at my natural mother’s funeral. She felt she held some sort of power over me.

My natural father, Leonard, was not aware that this was going on.

I’m not sure if my adoptive father, Edward, knew what was going on with his meddling sisters and brother. Too bad he died eight years into my adoption-reunion. Much of the harassment I endured from some of my adoptive aunts and uncles occurred after my adoptive father’s death in 1982.

Four years after I had seen the photograph of a husband and wife and their four children, I had the shock of my life when my eldest sister called me on the phone on March 5, 1974, reuniting our family. Because my adoption was a private, non-agency adoption between distant relatives, it was only a matter of time before my older siblings convinced our deceased mother’s only sister, Catherine, to give them my adopted name, address, and phone number. They did this without consulting with our father first. A few weeks later, I met most of my siblings and my father for the first time since our separation in 1956.

During our first meeting in 1974, my father showed me several family photographs. When he brought out his original print of the family taken in 1955, I was stunned. This was the same photograph I’d seen in the box of Wheeler family pictures four years earlier.

Words cannot convey the feelings of betrayal and resentment I felt at that moment toward my adoptive mother and others who were involved. At age eighteen, during the beginning stages of my reunion with my father and siblings, I confronted my adoptive mother as to why she hid this photograph – and the rest of the truth – from me. Mom answered that she didn’t know how to tell me that I had four older siblings, three sisters and a brother, so she decided she didn’t want me to know about them. My adoptive father went along with whatever his wife said. Decades later, through therapy, I learned that my adoptive parents were in a dysfunctional, co-dependent relationship with my mother the domineering and controlling parent and my father the enabler.

During my seventeen years of childhood as the isolated adoptee in my otherwise normal, caring, and loving adoptive family, I was unaware that the meddlers in both my adoptive father’s family and my natural mother’s family gave themselves permission to pass information and photographs of me, the adoptee, around while excluding me, my siblings and our father. We were deliberately kept apart. The judge told my natural father to stay away; no one else minded their own business. The gossipers decided that because my father gave me away, he didn’t want to know and didn’t need to know how I was doing. To them, my father was irrelevant. Apparently, so was I. My life was not my own. I had no privacy. I was a child who grew into a teenager and then an adult who was, for all of those years, the circus act for the meddlers and gossipers to watch and whisper about behind my back. Decades before the movie script was ever written, I lived my own real life The Truman Show. [9]

The meddlers and gossipers broke the confidentiality of my adoption.

 

Warped Perceptions

These same meddling relatives then freaked out when I was eighteen in 1974 and was found by my full-blood siblings. The gossipers in the Wheeler family were shocked and angry with me as the truth unfolded day by day. They held on to the belief that an adoptee should never know the truth. Relatives presumed I was disloyal and disrespectful to my adoptive parents and blamed me for “stabbing my adoptive parents in the back” because I accepted “THAT MAN” and my siblings back into my life.

THAT MAN was my natural father, Leonard Sippel.

My natural mother’s family were equally as shocked that I suddenly knew the truth. The Herrs hated my father and believed he killed my mother by not allowing experimental cancer treatments. That hatred toward my father, Leonard Sippel, was transferred to the Wheeler family siblings. Since about half of my aunts and uncles in my adoptive family, and all of my aunts and uncles in my natural mother’s family hated my father, they assumed that I should not have anything to do with him. This hostility had been brewing since my mother’s death in 1956.

What the meddlers didn’t realize was that both of my fathers greeted each other with a handshake and a smile when they first met each other again in the beginning of my adoption-reunion in 1974. They genuinely liked each other, had respect for each other, and even recalled memories and people they knew when they were younger.

The hatred for my father from both the Herr family and the Wheeler family was so deep that when my adoptive father died of cancer eight years into this adoption-reunion in 1982, I was confronted by one of my same-age Wheeler cousins. She was one of four daughters of my adopted aunt – the one who arranged my adoption when she approached my natural father at my mother’s funeral and said, “I know someone who will take your baby.”

As I stood up and out of my car at the funeral parlor the day we buried my adoptive father, Edward Wheeler, in 1982, this adoptive cousin condescendingly snapped at me, “I heard through the grapevine that some of our cousins thought you wouldn’t show up at your adoptive father’s funeral. You don’t belong here, Joanie. You OPENLY declare that you’ve had a reunion with your biological father and you have two fathers so you must not love your adoptive father anymore.” [10]

This was a punch to the gut. I was raised an only child so I had no one to lean on in grief over the death of the man I loved as my Daddy.

I became the scapegoat of both adoptive and natural families who also criticized me for becoming an outspoken activist for adoptees’ rights. “Stop writing in the newspaper,” they said, “no one wants to read your crap!” I endured hate mail, hate phone calls, and other forms of harassment for decades.

What is particularly insidious is the sense of entitlement, power and control, manipulation, and invasion of my privacy by others who took advantage of my father, my siblings, and me, for their own gain and amusement.

It was important for the Herr family, the Wheeler family, and the Cannell family to keep their families together when one parent died. The luxury of family connectedness was important for them, yet they decided it wasn’t important for me. They prevented me from having those same connections, first by relinquishment and adoption, and then by social constraints and psychological manipulations during my childhood, teen years, and throughout my lifetime.

As you might imagine, I distanced myself from the abusive relatives in both the Wheeler family and the Herr family, as well as the Sippel family.

Manipulations and cruelty even extended down to my children. In the 1990s, my son came home from school one day, saying he was assigned a science project with another third grade boy. When I met the boy, I figured out that he was the great-grandson of one of my natural mother’s brothers. My uncle and I weren’t close. I didn’t even know his children, grandchildren, nor did I know his great-great-grandchildren, but that didn’t mean that the two boys couldn’t be close. They were, in fact, thrilled to be distant cousins by blood.

The next day, however, my son came home from school disappointed, hurt, and angry. The other boy, his newly-found distant cousin, told him that his mother said that she didn’t want her son to be near my son because she “heard some rumors about me through the family grapevine.” My son was humiliated. Because of the rumors that were spread between the Herrs and the Wheelers and the Sippels, my son was punished. I don’t know what was said about me and certainly had no way to defend myself. [11]

As the years went by, sadly, some of the younger generations in the Wheeler family and the Herr family also experienced the death of one parent. In each case, they grieved the death and the remaining parent kept the children together as a family.

One such family just happened to be the youngest daughter of the cruelest aunt in the Wheeler family. Aunt Gerty Wheeler was the one who arranged my adoption in 1956 when she approached my natural father at my mother’s funeral and said, “I know someone who will take your baby.” She was also instrumental in spying on me all of my childhood, gossiping about me to the Herr family, and she taught her daughters to despise me as well. It was one of her older daughters who threw her weight around (literally) at me the day we buried my adoptive father. She snarled at me that I “OPENLY declare I have two fathers…” as if I had been committing a crime by acknowledging the fact that I DO have two fathers. Needlessly to say, I cut off all ties with all cruel relatives in the 1970s.

In 2004, this cruel family was struck a devastating blow. The husband of the youngest daughter died suddenly. He left his wife a widow and their two teenage daughters half-orphans.

Because my adoptive mother was still alive, I had to drive her to the funeral. I can assure you that no one – NO ONE – approached my adoptive cousin at her husband’s funeral and said, “I know someone who will take your youngest daughter.”

Is that because not many childless couples want to adopt teenagers (they all want womb-fresh infants or cuddly toddlers), or is it because no one in their right mind would approach a grieving mother at her husband’s funeral to arrange the adoption of that couple’s youngest child?

And yet, that’s exactly what happened to my father in 1956 – by a woman who scouted for a baby for her childless brother and his wife to adopt. It’s not normal to troll for a baby or an older child to adopt at the funeral of a dead parent. Not only was my future Aunt Gerty unsympathetic to my father’s grief, but she was deviously audacious. She played into his need to find someone to take care of his infant. Offering to babysit, to clean house, or to make food would have been more appropriate.

Now it was her time to grieve that her two granddaughters would go on in life without their father.

Those girls joined the club of half-orphans, a club that their grandmother (Aunt Gerty) was initiated into when her father, Alfred Wheeler, died in 1925 when she was only three years old.

It’s not adoption-reunions that cause trouble, nor is it activists like me who speak out against unnecessary child relinquishment and against unnecessary adoption; it’s uneducated people who make judgements and then gossip and harass the adoptee, and that adoptee’s children. This is a common problem that other adopted people also experience.

Only a handful of my adoptive father’s siblings, their spouses and children in the Wheeler family were either neutral or supportive and loving to me. We continue today as cousins while I cut off all communication with the ones who were cruel to me for decades. I cut off ties with most blood kin relatives for the same reason, only a few cousins remain dear to me, and I to them. All of our parents are deceased.

My closed and sealed adoption was harsh and completely unnecessary.

I’m not alone. Thousands of adoptees are abused emotionally, psychologically, physically, and sexually by their adopters, some adoptees are murdered by their adopters. Many adoptees complete suicide rather than live with abuse and psychological torture. Our spouses and children suffer, too.

 

Apologies

In 1974, when I was found by four older siblings I did not know I had, my adoptive father said through his tears, “I’m glad the secret is out.” Though he didn’t say it, I knew he felt remorse for not telling me the truth.

My adoptive mother, however, never once apologized. She held firm to her belief that adoptees should never be told the truth.

In the last few years of her life, Mom and I were able to resolve some issues. After forty years of arguing, Mom finally understood the politics of adoptees’ falsified birth certificates. She said, “You’re right, my name doesn’t belong on your birth certificate. I adopted you. I didn’t give birth to you.” Mom understood that we could love each other as family without that false birth certificate.

Mom also spoke with respect, almost reverence, of my natural mother, referring to her as “your mother” in conversation. Mom also admitted that it was cruel to leave my father out of the line of communication to receive photographs and updates on me during my childhood.

A week before she died in 2011, I asked Mom, “You had your siblings, why couldn’t I have mine?” She did not answer. All I got was a blank stare.

Still, as death drew near, Mom asked me to hold her. I held her as she slipped away. I loved her. [12]

That love doesn’t compensate for the traumatic losses I’ve suffered. Most days, radical acceptance of the things I cannot change is all I can do.

In early December 2003, my natural father had open heart surgery. During a visit with him in the nursing home while he recovered, he was agitated. His eyes filled with tears as his voice cracked, “If I had an education, I would have kept you! No one told me what to do to keep you. I gave away my youngest child! How could that be okay?” [13]

He felt guilty. I never held it against him. It wasn’t his fault.

My natural father died in 2011.

 

42 Half-Orphans

Three of my four parents were half-orphans.

The only one of my four parents who was not a half-orphan was my natural father. He had no family history of orphan-hood other than experiencing the death of his wife which left him with five children.

The following statistics were first calculated in 2009, updated in 2013, and corrected in 2020. [14]

I’ve counted all the full and half orphans, illegitimate births, and adopted people in my 4 families that occurred within a 130-year span of time. There were 128 people in my natural mother’s family, 35 people in my natural father’s family, 20 people in my adoptive mother’s family, and 209 people in my adoptive father’s family. The total number of my combined relatives is 392 people.

Out of the total of 392 people, there were between 6 and 8 illegitimately-born children. The exact number is unknown to me.

Out of the total of 392 people, a total of 12 were adopted: 2 were adopted into my adoptive father’s extended family from a stranger’s family, an estimate of 6 children were adopted by a step-parent in my natural mother’s extended family, and an estimate of 4 children were adopted by a step-parent in my extended adoptive father’s family.

From the first occurrence of orphan-hood in 1883 to the last in 2013, there were 2 full orphans and 42 half-orphans. This is an unusually high occurrence of half-orphans. Statistically, this is nearly 10% of my total number of relatives in 130 years.

One would think that because of this high occurrence of half-orphan-hood in three of my four families, that the half-orphans who enjoyed family preservation after the death of one parent would not want to inflict the pain of permanent separation on another half-orphan.

In 2009, at age fifty-three, I finally figured out that my adoptive parents – two half-orphans who were not adopted and were not deprived of their siblings or their remaining parent, and who were not deprived of their deceased parent’s extended family, and who were not deprived of knowledge of the deceased parent as a person, and who were not deprived of knowledge of that parent’s death – dictated over the life of the half-orphan they adopted. My adoptive parents deprived me of my siblings and my father, cousins, aunts and uncles, and deprived me of any knowledge about my mother and her death, deprived me of a timely, honest, age-appropriate grieving process of my deceased mother, and then, my adoptive mother (not my adoptive father) became outraged when I was found by siblings she decided I was never supposed to know.

I was deprived of the same rights that all the other half-orphans in three of my four families had – family connections. The collective mindset in three of my four parents’ families was to treat me differently because I was the only half-orphan who was relinquished out of one family and adopted into the other. They treated me as if I had no right to know the truth and no right to know my blood-kin – a human and civil right they had, but adoption decided, and they decided, that I didn’t have that same right.

 

Here are the numbers in list form:

 

Total Number of Relatives in My Four Families: 392

Natural Mother’s Family: 128

Natural Father’s Family: 35

Adoptive Mother’s Family: 20

Adoptive Father’s Family: 209

 

Half-Orphans (under the age of 21): Total: 42

Natural Father’s Family: 0

Natural Mother’s Family: 14

Nuclear Natural Family: 7

5 in 1956 (myself and 4 siblings)

2 in 1962 (step-brothers to my siblings lost their mother)

Adoptive Mother’s Family: 4

Adoptive Father’s Family: 17

 

41 half-orphans out of 42 were:

  • kept by their remaining parent
  • allowed to stay together as a sibling group
  • allowed contact with their deceased parent’s family

 

Half-Orphans relinquished to adoption: 1: me

I am the only half-orphan out of 42 in 3 of my 4 parents’ families who was:

  • relinquished by my remaining parent to adoption by a distant relative of my deceased natural mother
  • deprived of a life with my own siblings and my own father
  • deprived of a timely and compassionate, age-appropriate process of grieving my mother’s death
  • lost everything
  • given a new name, new parents, a new home, a new life
  • birth certificate revoked, sealed, and replaced upon adoption

 

Adoption Does Not Provide the Mythic “Better Life” for Adopted People

Adoption provides a different life from the life adoptees would have had with their natural parents. No one can predict what will happen in the nuclear adoptive family, or the extended adoptive family, or the natural family. While you may think that all adoptions are happy and successful, it is wise to remember that every adoption begins with traumatic loss that leaves permanent scars on the relinquishing parents, any kept siblings, and the relinquished adopted person. The adoptee must cope with grief and loss and integrate both identities, whether in search and reunion, or not. This is a lifelong process that non-adopted people do not have to deal with.

 

My Personal Family History of Orphan-hood is a Cautionary Tale

In early in March 2020, a week before New Yorkers were told to shelter-in-place, I ran into a childhood friend whose mother lived in the orphanage with my adoptive mother when they were young girls. Just like my mother, Marsha’s mother and two aunts were half-orphans; their mother died from influenza in 1918. Their fourth sister was adopted out of the orphanage and was never seen again. I’m not sure what happened to their father. Marsha’s mother and her mother’s two sisters, and another girl, a full orphan, and my adoptive mother remained close friends for ninety years until they died. These women helped shape my life.

We’re now experiencing a new viral world pandemic, Covid-19. To stop the spread, businesses closed in March 2020. As a result, the economy is collapsing world-wide. Experts are now saying that the financial downturn may be worse than the crash of the Great Depression.

Expectant mothers and parents of young children face unemployment, poverty, lack of child care, homelessness, and death while financially secure childless couples wait for their chance to make someone else’s child their own.

Don’t let them take your children. The vultures are out there, trolling for babies and children, right now, while the pandemic is raging throughout the world. Several “feel good” adoption stories have made their way into main-stream media like The New York Times, National Public Radio, and CCN, as referenced in the May 14, 2020 article online at http://www.adoption.com, “Adopting During a Pandemic – Dreams Can Come True, Even During Pandemic.” (15)

Author Samantha Flores, like others who focus on adoption only from the point of view of the adopters with the money to achieve their goals, paints a pity party picture for the trials and tribulations experienced by hopeful adopters as they agonize over their longing for a baby to call their own in the midst of shelter-in-place, lockdowns, and canceling international and domestic flights. Explaining the plight of one American couple who were in India at the final stages of the adoption process at the time the of international shutdown, Flores describes the amazingly quick action of professionals processing the adoption paperwork as the waiting adoptive couple “did the impossible and finalized an adoption in a matter of two days – a process that should have taken a minimum of one week.”

In reality, no adoption’s paperwork is processed in one week. Six months is the usual time frame to move through all the steps to finalize an adoption. And after that, it takes another three months for the adoptee’s birth certificate to be revoked, sealed, and replaced, as I discussed earlier using my own adoption as an example. But no one wants to think about that. Or the grief of the surrendering parent. Or the circumstances that led up to child abandonment in third world countries.

The adopting couple in Flores’ article, the Mosiers, and the girl they were adopting experienced emotional anxiety. Flores writes, “As if the emotional separation of a 2-year old Selvi [the name of the Indian child being adopted] from her caregiver whom she had known her whole life wasn’t stressful enough, now the Mosiers faced being stuck in a country that was unfamiliar to them.”

In the United States, Flores writes of an adoption that was finalized without in-person court proceedings due to the closing of courts while we wait out this pandemic. The adoption was finalized “through a Zoom video call.”

Flores highlights that “hopeful adoptive parents are encouraged to continue their plans of adoption amid the crisis. … there is still hope that one day all these families will report their unification with their adopted children among a pandemic.”

For one thing, these children are not their children. These children are the children of other parents. They have families. Until an adoption is finalized, hopeful adoptive parents do not have legal claim to the children not of their blood.

So now, with adoptions being processed during a pandemic, these children will forever hear their “adoption stories” or “Gotcha-Day stories” as frantic, emotional, heart-wrenching dramas of all that the adopters went through to bring home their little one. These stories are missing the biographies of the mothers and fathers, siblings, extended family who will no longer have this child in their lives. Adoption stories during this pandemic will, undoubtedly, not include adoption from the adoptee’s point of view.

Flores ends her piece with the mental image of the dream came true for a little girl in her new home with her new parents, all smiles, happiness, and love. That is the picture everyone thinks about when they think about adoption. By focusing on love and happiness, journalists ignore the harsh realities of the other side of adoption.

Remember that every relinquishment and adoption begins with emotional and psychological traumatic losses that lead to life-long problems for relinquishing parents and adopted people. Remember that adoption’s built-in identity theft of adoptees’ facts of birth create both an existential conundrum for adoptees and are legal nightmares for those who want to change their names back to their names of birth. Adoption is the legal possession of someone else’s child – to make that child “our own.”

What adoption reformers are saying, and no one seems to be listening, is that one can love a child through custodial guardianship without identity theft, without permanently destroying that child’s family.

There is also family preservation, as practiced by the families of the full and half-orphans I’ve highlighted here.

And what of orphans, you ask, the children in third-world countries who are “languishing” in orphanages?

We had a third-world experience right here in America in 1918 when the influenza pandemic took the lives of young parents. My own adoptive mother was a half-orphan who lived for fourteen years in an orphanage in Buffalo, New York. She and her friends survived, their identities were not stolen, and they were allowed to know their own siblings and their own extended families. In each family I outlined here, and the ones in my extended families I did not expand on, no one dared to give up one of their children to adoption after the death of one parent.

As I pointed out, I was the only one given up and adopted out, and adopted into a family not of my flesh. And because I’ve spent every day of my life as an adoption reform activist since being found in 1974 by siblings I should never have been separated from, I face the scrutiny of others who want to believe in fairy tales.

Don’t let the baby-hungry people near your children. Put your wishes in writing by securing a lawyer as soon as possible. Safeguard your children by making family preservation arrangements now. Assign other family members, or close friends, as legal custodial guardians for your children in case of long-term parental poverty, homelessness, or death by Covid-19, or death by any other reason.

 

Endnotes

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). 1918 Pandemic Influenza Historic Timeline, United States Department of Health & Human Services, USA.gov. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/pandemic-timeline-1918.htm
  1. Sippel, D. M. (1974). History of the Cannell and Wheeler Families, personal papers.
  2. Sippel, D. M. (2016). Forbidden Family: An Adopted Woman’s Struggle for Identity, Buffalo, NY: Identity Press. 214, 217.
  3. National Orphan Train (2020). Museum and Research Center, Concordia, Kansas. Retrieved from https://orphantraindepot.org/history/
  4. Blackmore, E. (January 28, 2019, updated April 4, 2019). ‘Orphan Trains’ Brought Homeless NYC Children to Work On Farms Out West, History Channel. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/news/orphan-trains-childrens-aid-society
  5. Giarrosso, M. (2019). What Is the History of ‘Putting a Child Up’ for Adoption?, org. Retrieved from https://adoption.org/history-putting-child-adoption
  6. Sippel, D. M. (2016). Forbidden Family: An Adopted Woman’s Struggle for Identity, Buffalo, NY: Identity Press. 214.
  7. Sippel, D. M. (1974, 1985, 2013). History of the Wheeler, Herr, and Sippel Families, personal papers.
  8. The Truman Show, Full-length movie. (1998). An insurance salesman discovers his whole life is actually a reality TV show. Director: Peter Weir. Writer: Andrew Niccol. Retrieved from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120382/
  9. Sippel, D. M. (2016). Forbidden Family: An Adopted Woman’s Struggle for Identity. Buffalo, NY: Identity Press. 173.
  10. Sippel, D. M. (2016). Forbidden Family: An Adopted Woman’s Struggle for Identity. Buffalo, NY: Identity Press. 239.
  11. Sippel, D. M. (2016). Forbidden Family: An Adopted Woman’s Struggle for Identity. Buffalo, NY: Identity Press. 317-326, 339-345.
  12. Sippel, D. M. (2016). Forbidden Family: An Adopted Woman’s Struggle for Identity. Buffalo: NY: Identity Press. 306.
  13. Sippel, D. M. (2009, updated May 1, 2020). “Unequal Treatment of 1 Half-Orphan Out of 42,” Blog Page on personal website, Forbidden Family: Promoting Adoptee Identity Civil Rights Since 1974. Retrieved from https://forbiddenfamily.com/forbidden-family-the-book/unequal-treatment-of-1-half-orphan-out-of-42/
  14. Flores, S. (2020). “Adopting During a Pandemic – Dreams Can Come True, Even During Pandemic,” adoption.com. Retrieved from https://adoption.com/adopting-pandemic

Eight facts about adoption from Lorraine Posner Zapin

Eight facts about adoption from Lorraine Posner Zapin.
1: Infants are not “gifts” to bestow on people who cannot have them.
2: Waiting 10 yrs or 20 or 50 does not entitle one to a baby born to another or make someone more worthy to have that baby.
3: Most natural mothers have been subjected to some form of coercion.
4: When a child is lost to adoption it has NOTHING to do with God.
5: The only reason a baby is lost to adoption is that there is insufficient support of a mother in crisis.
6: The percentage of women who happily surrender an infant, experience no regret and peacefully zip along in life is less than 5 per cent.
7: The concept of an adopted child being “the same as” a natural born child is a myth.
8: Adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

NEW BOOK PUBLISHED: Strangers by Adoption: 10 Adoptees Share Their Stories of Rejection or Abuse

Strangers By Adoption: 10 Adoptees Share Their Stories of Rejection and Abuse

by Doris Sippel (Author, Editor), Sandy Musser (Author, Editor), Patricia Yarrow (Editor)

This is a book about what happened to a handful of adoptees, relinquished for adoption as babies, during a time when society dealt with “unwed mothers” harshly.

Because of the religious mores of the day, it was unheard of for a child, born outside of marriage, to remain within their family. The days of “shotgun weddings” had passed and a new experiment was in the wind.

Young pregnant mothers were sent out of town, away from their entire families and friends. The shame they bore was unbearable, and giving birth completely alone was cruel and unusual punishment – normally one of the most important events in any young woman’s life.

How were those babies who were “given up” for adoption ultimately affected by being permanently separated from their families of origin? Was it an easy adjustment for them? Did they sense something wasn’t right? Did they wonder about the mother who had given birth to them?

It has always been believed that a newborn baby could be raised in the home of strangers and not be affected by that experience. This book offers a starting place in pursuing some of these answers.

  • Sandy Musser, author of I Would Have Searched Forever (1979, 2013), What Kind of Love is This – A Story of Adoption Reconciliation (1982, 2013), To Prison with Love: The True Story of Sandy Musser’s Indecent Indictment & America’s Adoption Travesty (1995, 2013), and My Last “Love” Letter to President Obama: Exposing an American Institution (2016).

The common narrative of adoption is that of the illegitimate baby born to a teen or young adult mother, but many adoptees were legitimately born to married parents. Some of us lost one or both parents to early death; we are full or half orphans. Some of us were removed from our married parents due to neglect or abuse, relocated to foster care, and then adopted. Some of us were children of divorce and remarriage who were then adopted by our step parents. Some of us were adopted by our grandparents or other family members. Some of us were re-homed and adopted more than once.

No matter the circumstances of birth and adoption, there are common threads that run through the lives of adoptees that are often ignored by society. Turn this book’s pages to read about the seeds of emotional and psychological stressors experienced by adoptees, including many types of rejection, physical and sexual abuse by natural parents, adoptive parents, extended family and others.

  • Doris Michol Sippel, author of Forbidden Family: An Adopted Woman’s Struggle for Identity (3rd edition, 2016). Since 1975, she has written numerous articles on adoption and adoptees’ revoked, sealed, and replaced birth certificates published in social work journals and newspapers. This is her second book.

SEE ALSO: Identity Press

 

Two Major Adoption Conferences This Weekend

There are two major adoption conferences held this weekend. Due to a combination of private matters, I’ve been unable to attend a conference since 2014.

I highly recommend that adoptees, natural parents, and adoptive parents, other family members, and spouses attend these conferences next year. Hopefully, both of these conferences will not be held on the same weekend again!

Here is a Facebook post by American Adoption Congress showing a photo of, and quoting, New York State Assemblyman Robert Carrol:

2019-4-6 Asbly Robert Carroll speaking about NYS Adoptee Rights Bill A5494

 

Keynote Speaker Assemblyman Robert Carroll speaking about New York Adoptee Rights Bill A5494

“This is about dignity, about allowing adopted people to self actualize.”

 

Here is a news article about this weekend’s conference hosted by The Indiana Adoptee Network:

The non-profit was vital in the passing of a law releasing adoption records in Indiana. They’ll help people working through the process of getting their records from the state.

The Indiana State Department of Health has received more than 4,200 requests for adoption records. The wait to receive records is more than 20 weeks due to high volume. Organizers of this weekend’s conference said they encourage people to remain patient and to contact them if they need help through the process.

“We’re going to help them here at the conference with their information and then once they get their file, we will help them with that, too,” Pam Kroskie, president of the Indiana Adoptee Network, said.

Adoption conferences are more than helping adoptees access their original birth certificates in their state (provided their home state has laws that allow adoptee-access). There are workshops on searching and reunions, adoption psychology, adoption research and family systems, state by state legislative efforts, networking, and learning in general why adoption as we know it, must change.

Many non-adopted people are not aware of how adoption affects adoptees throughout their lives. Many non-adopted people have mis-perceived notions about mothers of adoption loss. For this reason, I suggest that the general public attend these conferences as a learning experience.

You can contact The Indiana Adoptee Network at their website here.

You can contact the American Adoption Congress at their website here.

An Open-Adoption Adoptive Mother Tries to Explain the Anti-Adoption Movement – Here is What I Said to Her

In April of 2018, an adopter named Amey wrote a blog post – The Anti-Adoption Movement – What Does It Look Like?

I will open this post with a hats-off to adoptee Marilynn Huff who made an extraordinary comment to Amey’s post in that blog post’s comment section on adoptees’ birth certificates. Marilynn’s comment is one of the best I’ve ever read, including my own writings.

I will break down Amey’s blog post one phrase at a time.

Under the heading “Adoptees” Amey said:

Adoptees often resent the idea that they were “given up” for adoption. I hate that phrase. We say “placed’ or “made a plan.”

It doesn’t matter what YOU say – that you hate the phrase “given up” – that “We” (meaning infertile people, or adopters) say “placed” or “made a plan” – what matters is how adoptees experience the permanent separation that adoption actually is. The adoptee, as a newborn or an infant too young to have verbal and mental cognition, experiences the sudden loss of Mother as a terrifying break. This Primal Wound is internalized as the infant cries out for Mother. (Read The Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier). The Primal Wound creates brain damage in certain areas of the brains of infants who are taken at birth from their Mothers. On this basis alone, adoption should be seen as extreme child abuse. With new studies being done, hopefully, it will be, and we will see a stranger movement to end adoption as we know it on a global scale.

Be sure to read this blog post and be sure to read the comments for links to scientific studies.

Amey said,

Maybe the birth parents had a problem with substance abuse or were young and not ready to parent. It doesn’t matter. The adoptee still feels unwanted and alone.

Again, it does not matter what the parental circumstances are at the time of birth, the newborn is traumatized by sudden removal of the nurturing mother within whom the infant lived for nine months. The pre-born infant hears mother’s voice and knows her emotions, and is influenced by her emotions. The pre-born infant is happy when mother is happy and feels anxiety and distress when she is nervous or angry. These are proven facts.

The pre-born infant feeds by mother’s food intake – both mother and baby share a symbiotic relationship. The unborn infant needs mother for sustenance, nutrients (in addition to feeling her love), and even receives her bacterial microbiome as she passes through the birth canal during birth. There is now evidence that the infant and mother exchange body and brain cells. The mother’s cells live on inside her offspring’s body and brain, and conversely, the infant’s cells also live on inside the mother. Scientists believe that these cells aid in immune functions.

Such phrases as

the birth parents had a problem with substance abuse or were young and not ready to parent

are a form of distancing the natural parents from their child. This is dissociating, detaching, and distracting from the primary relationship. These words are weapons meant to evoke emotions in observers who then internalize the message that adopters are then “better than” the child’s natural parents. This psychological twisting is then passed down to the adoptee who grows up feeling indebted for being saved from a life of hell with unfit parents. This distorted message permeates society’s belief that adoption saves infants and children.

I hope you, Amey, can now see that your last two sentences in that first paragraph:

It doesn’t matter. The adoptee still feels unwanted and alone

are quite true of the facts of life as experienced by a newborn or an older baby.

The first sentence in Amey’s next paragraph states:

Adoptees sometimes feel that everyone who makes this decision is selfish, while everyone says that they are selfless.

This reflects upon adoption as it happens in today’s society. Adoption has been warping and changing over the last 9 decades. When I first joined the Adoptees Rights Movement in 1975, nearly a year into my reunion with my natural family, I met mothers from the Baby Scoop Era. Here is a blog post I wrote about honoring their contributions.

I might add that you, Amey, should try to avoid words such as “everyone.” There are many adoptees out there who do not see relinquishment, or surrendering, a newborn or older child as selfish. Many adoptees understand that many mothers and fathers of adoption loss are not given proper counseling of all options available, and this includes ways to sustain keeping their child.

As a social worker, I worked in homeless shelters where our clients where homeless mothers with children or were entire families. We had a checklist of goals that we helped our clients obtain one by one – including parenting classes, finding apartments, finding employment and child care – so that the young mother and/or father could raise their own infant and older children.

Still, I have seen just the opposite – where certain social workers are hell-bent on removing children from their parents just to fill their monthly quota of “placing” children for foster care and adoption.

By using your words of “selfish” and “selfless,” I can only guess you are part of the Brave Love Movement. This Christian movement is deleterious and demoralizing to the expectant mother and the mother who has just given birth. It goes against natural to feel obligated to strangers to “make an adoption plan”- specifically because a pregnant woman or teen is already a mother. Her first and foremost obligation is to the infant she is carrying. Pre-birth adoption plans are immoral and ought to be illegal.

It is sad that modern adoption practices, even those that promote and practice open adoption, make it a point and a goal to instill unnatural feelings and beliefs in the minds of pregnant teens and young women. The idea that it is “unselfish” to give your infant to strangers is brainwashing. Many of the women who now boast that they, too, are proud mothers whom selfishly made an adoption plan for their baby, will one day wake up to the horror of what they’ve done. When they do wake up to realize that they were tricked and coerced into giving their babies to strangers, we will see them in the Anti Adoption Movement.

I’ve seen the jewelry line for Brave Love. I’ve seen T-shirts for pre-adoptive-parent- wanna-bees that state “Paper Pregnant” or “My baby is in Nepal” (for those who are waiting for a baby who will be born to a poor woman in a baby farm who will get paid to gestate a baby for strangers so she can use that money to sustain herself and her family).

Such baby farms exist so that wealthy gay men, lesbian women, heterosexual couples, or even single men and women can make a baby through buying sperm and eggs via contract and then rent the womb of a poor woman for their selfish motives of making a baby at extreme means for the pleasure of experiencing parenting.

Buying and wearing a t-shirt that state the words “paper pregnant” with the drawing of a pregnant belly is an advertisement of the absurd ego-mania that exists in today’s wanna-be-adoptive-parents. Only narcissistic, selfish women with too much money to spend would demean themselves to the point of walking around wearing such a t-shirt, let alone actually using a vulnerable young pregnant woman for the sole purpose of taking her baby upon birth.

Amey, your next sentence:

The Expectant or Birth Parents don’t want to parent; the adoptive parents only want a baby.

seems to accept the myths that are out there today. Most unexpectedly pregnant girls and women actually do want to keep their babies and to parent their child. True, there are some mothers who are, indeed, drug addictions, or are involved in crime, or are completely detached to their pre-born infant. I saw a few of these mothers in the homeless shelters I once worked at. There are mental illnesses that won’t allow a mother to be a mother. There are addictions and criminal behaviors that warrant the removal of newborns or older children from such parents.

Children born to these mothers and raised in foster care in safety carry with them their own birth certificate. They may be raised together with their own siblings. One or two of those siblings may eventually be adopted. However, the one who ages out of foster care maintains the birth certificate created upon her birth, even when her parents are dead beats, drug addicts, in prison, or do not want to have anything to do with their children. Meanwhile, the siblings who were then adopted are given new names, new birth certificates, and new parents. The siblings are still full-blood siblings but are not legally siblings.

Amey, I must challenge you to re-examine your words:

The Expectant or Birth Parents don’t want to parent

How do you know that? According to the natural mothers I communicate daily with on Facebook  and on their websites say that they wanted to parent their baby, but many were coerced and many were de-babied during birth by harsh birthing methods of the attending physician and by nurses who took the baby immediately upon birth.

Amey, your next words:

 the adoptive parents only want a baby.

say it all. Wanting a baby and then using a pregnant girl or young woman to meet your desires is the worst form of anti-woman, anti-feminist beliefs and behavior. Rich and powerful women should not abuse and use disadvantaged pregnant women to satisfy cravings to be a parent. Coveting another woman’s baby and actually going through with the plan to obtain her baby for your benefit is a very selfish act.

And your next words, Amey:

In an infant or young child adoption, they are the only people in the triad who don’t get a choice. Other people make it for them, decide what is best because they’re too young to understand. They resent that, too.

Of course adoptees resent the actions of adults who made life-altering choices and made legally-binding contracts over them when they were too young to say no. The world is now facing a great uprising. Adoptees are gathering together to not only voice opposition to what was done to them, but to end adoption altogether.

Then your next paragraph, Amey, is about adoptees:

And it doesn’t matter if they had a wonderful home life with an adoptive family. Often, they’ll say that they love their adoptive parents, but that they resent them for taking them away from their birth family. They recognize that they were given opportunities that they might never have had, yet they feel incomplete, never whole.

Yes, many adoptees do feel this way. It is a burden to walk through life knowing that you may have had “a wonderful life” and that you do love your adoptive parents, and at the same time feel that loss, feel that resentment. While many adoptees have been raised in economically superior adoptive homes, adoptees are split in half feeling guilty for wanting to know their natural parents and to know why they were not kept. Yes, many adoptees know that they were bought at a high price – thousands of dollars – $25,000 or $50,000 or $75,000. When the realization sets in as to the truth of baby-selling, baby-trafficking, and that adoption agencies make their living this way, many adoptees are disgusted as to the means they became adopted.

And yes:

For them, the loss is more powerful than the gain.

Amey, your next section is about Expectant Parents. I will only say this – that pressuring expectant mothers and fathers into a pre-birth matching contract with adoptive-parent-wanna-bees is just that – unwanted and unhealthy pressure for both the pregnant mother and her unborn child.

Your next section, Amey, is about Birth Parents is actually correct in your assessments of the situation for many natural parents.

You are correct in assessing that many Adoptive Parents are:

Adoptive parents are affected by the anti-adoption movement, but I find that they are more often Anti-Open Adoption. I think it’s pretty obvious that this isn’t me, but I understand the sentiment.

This “Anti-Open-Adoption sentiment exists because many adopters feel that they are the adoptees ONLY parents. Many adoptive parents do not want to know that there is another set of parents who has more than genetic ties to the adoptees in their care. They believe that the adoptee owes them loyalty and elegance. Often times, these types of adoptive parents are very possessive over their adoptees. Some actually believe the false-facts stated on the amended birth certificate – they are living in a delusional fantasy, believing that they gave birth to someone else’s child.

Amey, now I will tell you what happened to me.

My mother was dying of cancer while pregnant with me. During her 7th month of pregnancy, my father took his wife to the hospital. She was very sick. It was two days after Christmas 1955. The doctors x-rayed my mother’s abdomen. There they saw me and a cancerous tumor the same size as I was. Two weeks later, in early January 1956, I was born at 8 weeks gestation – two months premature. My mother died on March 28, 1956, at age 30.

My 31 year old father was left with a deceased wife and five children. His parents were old and sick. He was an only child, so he had no family to lean on. His wife’s siblings were married with several young children, and a few had newborns of their own.

At my mother’s funeral, two things happened very close to one another. The parish priest came up to my father and said, “The baby needs two parents.” A few minutes later, a woman approached my father and said, “I know someone who will take your baby.” My father was given no options. No one offered help to keep his family together. My father was a deeply religious man so he followed the priest’s suggestion. He contacted that woman and arranged for her brother and his wife to come and get me. When he gave me to my future adoptive parents, he also gave them my birth certificate, baptismal certificate, and my clothes. I was 4 months old.

My father married his second wife very soon after. His second wife helped take care of my four older siblings. Meanwhile, my adopting parents lived just one block over and three blocks up away. About nine months later, they moved six miles to the north.

By the closed adoption practices of the time, my father was told to never contact my adoptive parents. He was to stay away from me. My adoption became final when I was one year and one week old. My name was changed. My birth certificate was revoked,  sealed, and replaced by one that states my new name, and my new parents – as if I was born to them in that hospital. The Catholic Church even changed my baptismal certificate.

It is these lies and cover-ups that I resent.

I also resent my adoptive parents’ possessiveness.

In 1974, at my age of 18, I was found by siblings I did not know I had. My adoptive parents knew I had siblings, but they did not tell me. They knew where my mother was buried but never told me. Why? Because I belonged to them. I was theirs.

There is much more to my adoption/reunion story; too much for this blog post. That is why I wrote a memoir: Forbidden Family: An Adoptee’s Struggle for Identity.

There are many reasons why I am anti-adoption. I did not need a new home. I already had a home. I had parents. I should have been allowed to grow up knowing my Mom died and visiting her grave. I should have had my siblings and my father with me. Adoption took all of that away from me.

What did I gain from adoption? I was raised an only and lonely child. I had my independence. I had material middle-class things that my siblings did not have. This created resentment in them when we were reunited. While I loved my adoptive parents, I mistrusted them ever since 1974 when I learned that they lied to me for the first 18 years of my life. I spent the next few decades as the adoptee who belonged to two families, who had the burden of integrating two identities, and the burden of taken the brunt of everyone else’s opinions as to what I should feel and what I should do. It was bad for me to be an anti-adoption activist.

All four of my parents are dead now. I have no contact with any abusive relatives – that means my siblings as well as extended family by blood or by adoption. I do have close relatives on both sides…

My life was ruined because of adoption. I am very resentful, and I will fight to my dying breath to end the revocation, sealing and replacement of adoptees’ birth certificates. I join thousands of adoptees around the world who say that adoption should end.

I will close with this thought:

Amey, your last token of a misguided message is this meme:

death-is-not-the-greatest-loss-in-life.png

I don’t know who this person “Tupac Shakur” is, or was, but that meme is extremely hurtful. My mother died when I was three months old. That loss was the single most devastating event in my life. My mother’s death led to my adoption. I am not grateful for this.

On the other hand, maybe the meme is right. I lost my name, my family, and my birth certificate all because of adoption. I am supposed to be grateful and happy. I am not.

Adoption has left me fighting for my civil rights to my factual birth certificate. I fight not only for myself, but for millions of adoptees worldwide. I fight for the humanity of all pregnant girls and women, and for all mothers, and fathers, of adoption loss.

As for adoptive parents – you reap the benefits of adoption. I don’t see any of you running to legislators to turn in those amended birth certificates to demand adoption certificates instead, nor do I see any adoptive parents demanding that the revoked and sealed birth certificate of the child in your care is reinstated. I don’t see any adoptive parents willing to, and actually returning the child back to the natural parents after they rebuild their lives.

Why? The answer is because you now have what you want: ownership of someone else’s child.

That just about sums up the need for the anti-adoption movement.

 

 

 

My Response to “The twilight of closed adoptions” published by The Boston Globe

S.I. Rosenbaum wrote this sort-of good article titled, “The Twilight of Closed Adoptions.”

I say, “sort-of” because of the “birth” terms used repeatedly. When will reporters stop insulting families in this way? My father sired me, he did not birth me, therefore, he is not my “Birth father.” Stop it. Just stop it.

The research is good, interviews good, content and intent, all good. Go read it for yourself. If you feel compelled to subscribe, please do, because that is the only way you  will be able to comment. I cannot afford to subscribe, so I will comment on this article here.

“…states refused to open birth records even when petitioned by adoptees who were searching for relatives because they needed organ donors. Only recently have states begun to reverse course; Massachusetts still doesn’t give all adoptees access to birth records.

But by now, it almost doesn’t matter.”

Ah, but it does matter.

Yes, adoptees and our natural blood kin are being reunited through DNA and social media, but adoptees’ birth certificates are revoked, sealed, and replaced by false-fact birth certificates meant to simulate our real births. Except that they don’t carry real facts. In some states, even birth dates and places can be falsified.

Think about it. My current amended birth certificate states that I, Joan Wheeler, was born to D and E Wheeler. Nope. Not true. I was not born as Joan Wheeler, nor was I born to the parents named. In reality, I became Joan Wheeler one year and one week after my birth when the final court order of adoption changed my name and finalized my adoption. Three months later, New York State revoked and sealed my birth certificate, the one that is the medical record of my birth, the one that names me as Doris Michol Sippel, the daughter of G and L Sippel. Upon my adoption, New York State issued a new, amended birth certificate in the name of Joan Wheeler. Sixty years later, I legally changed my name back to my name of birth, but my legal birth certificate remains in the name of Joan, and the adoptive parents of Joan. But no where in that birth certificate is the word “adoption.”

That does not sit well with me.

To some who are eager to reunite with blood kin, fine, if reunion is all you want, then by all means, seek out social media, order your DNA kit, spit in the tube, and get your DNA. I understand your needs and wants.

I also understand the push for legislative access to sealed birth certificate because that will give adoptees knowledge of who they were born as and to whom they were born.

But for those of us who are purists, we must fight to our dying breaths to end this oppressive system that annuls our birth certificates as if our births didn’t happen, seals these documents, and then replaces them with fabricated lies.

These amended birth certificates are the condition of adoption – today and decades past – that legally severs adoptees from our blood kin forever. We are, whether born bastards or not, legitimized through legal adoption by a married mother and father. The laws were written at a time in history in when babies who were born without a legal father were considered to be born illegally – illegitimately. What better way to hide that shame by creating a new identity for such an unfortunate child?

Trouble is, children who were born within a marriage were also adopted when one or both parents died. Or when grandparents adopted their grandchildren. Or when step parents adopted their step children. And older children were adopted out of foster care.

All adopted people suffer the same identity theft perpetrated by the State – and by adoptive parents.

The State then pretends that this horrendous secret must be kept from us. Our birth certificates continue to be revoked and sealed; no matter if we have been in reunion for decades, no matter if our natural parents (Please STOP using that disgusting word “birth” mother and father) give written permission to release the sealed birth record, no matter if all natural and adoptive parents are dead.

What’s worse, States will continue to do this to every new adoptee today and tomorrow, too. It doesn’t matter if we all get our DNA tested, if we all find close or distant relatives via DNA matching, or if we search on social media, or if we search in State registries or global registries. Annulling, sealing, and replacing our birth certificates with false-fact pretend birth certificates will continue to be the default of all adoptions – closed and open – unless we change the laws.

Adoptees of color were not born to their white adoptive parents, yet their legal birth certificates state that they were. Adoptees who were born in Korea or China or Africa are issued birth certificates that state false facts that they were born to white American parents in their country of origin.

Many white adoptees can “pass” as if they were born to their white adoptive parents because the race or ethnicity is not that far off. Sure, an adoptee with dark hair and eyes won’t fit in very well with blonde, blue eyed adoptive parents, but white is white. Adoptees can “pass” as their adoptive parents children.

But “passing” is not what we should be forced to do. We should not be forced to pretend  to be someone we were not born to be.

Non-adopted people have rights to their factual birth certificates. Adopted people do not have those same rights. Our identities were changed for the sake of being adopted.

Legislation to provide access to our revoked and sealed birth certificates will only achieve access – and hopefully without compromising parental controls, permissions, and redactions. Access legislation will not stop the problem.

The problem is the law that continues to revoke, annul, cancel, rescind, invalidate and vacate the medical record of live birth. The law then seals the medical record of live birth, then refers to it as the Original Birth Certificate, and then replaces it with a piece of fiction created upon the finalization of adoption. Adoption is the process of legally appointing strangers as guardians who are assigned the title of “parents” by adoption.

Legislation must repeal, rescind, annul or replace the old laws from Victorian days with new laws that will achieve full equality of adoptees to that of non-adopted people: the right to one birth certificate, the right to name of birth, the right to parents of birth, and the right to extended family. Even when parental rights are involuntarily terminated, even when natural parents voluntarily sign surrender papers giving up their parental rights, the child has rights of identity. Adoption destroys those rights.

If three siblings are in foster care, parental rights terminated, and two siblings are adopted into separate adoptive families, the third child retains her name and birth certificate when she ages out of foster care. Meanwhile, her two siblings are required by law to be stripped of their identity rights when the State revokes and seals and replaces their birth certificates by adoption.

This legal game of pretend must end.

My Take on Texas woman who sexually abused adopted daughter, forced her to be surrogate gets 33 years in prison

I’ll let the title and opening paragraphs of this story give you your first impressions:

Texas woman who sexually abused adopted daughter, forced her to be surrogate gets 33 years in prison

Laura Castillo, 33, left, was sentenced to 33 years in prison for forcing her adopted daughter to carry husband Eusebio Castillo’s children. Eusebio is awaiting trial in Bexar County. (Bexar County Jail)

A Texas woman arrested with her husband for subjecting their adopted daughter to more than decade of sexual and emotional abuse has been sentenced to 33 years behind bars.

And this

Alvarado, now 28, told police the couple had been abusing her since she 9 years old. Around that time, she’d been taken away form her alcoholic mother to live with her relatives on an Army base in Hawaii. The Castillos would go on to legally adopt her.

In an interview with San Antonio-Express News, Alvarado recalled how Eusebio would climb into her bed and molest her in the middle of the night. When she turned 13, he started to rape her, she said.

Castillo initially dismissed the girl’s abuse allegations and would go to participate in forced threesomes with Alvarado and her husband, the victim recalled. The ongoing assaults resulted in three children, all of who were raised to believe Alvarado was their older sister, not their mother.

 

You can read the full article for the other details.

Now for what’s missing.

How were the births handled? Did Abigail Alvarado go in to the hospital alone to give birth? Did she name the father? Did she insist that the father is unknown? Was the young mother threatened by her adopters, Laura and Eusebio Castillo, to tell lies to the doctors as she gave birth, and on the children’s birth certificates?

The birth certificates of these three children should state the truth, if not naming the father, then the mother – the real birthing mother. If those children continued to believe the story that the older woman was their mother, by the time they become young adults and their birth certificates become known to them, they would discover the truth of who is their real mother.

And then there is DNA and medical necessity.

Then there is the age factor. Laura Castillo is 33 years old. Her adopted niece is now 28. That’s a close age range for someone so young to adopt a 9 year old child. That would have made Laura Castillo 15 years old when she and her older husband, Eusebio, adopted the niece of one of them. Which one is the biological aunt or uncle – Laura or Eusebio? How old is Eusebio?

But back to DNA. This case proves my idea that DNA testing of an infant at birth should become mandatory law – not mere hospital policy – but State and Federal law. If mandatory DNA testing is done on every infant born, then the identities of the mother, and father, will be confirmed.

But hold on. As I wrote this blog post earlier this morning, a friend in adoption reform called me about something else. I brought this situation to her attention. She told me that pharmaceutical companies own the DNA people willing give to online companies to trace DNA to provide information on from where a person’s ancestors originated, and to provide connections to close genetic relatives.

I did not know that our private DNA is not our own. I did not know that Big Pharma claims they own the DNA of individuals.

While I’m trying to settle that shock, I’d like to know the rest of this story.

Is the mother still the mother of her children, or did the State remove these children into foster care?

Are the victims (Abigail Alvarado and her three children) of these two master-minds of depravity (Laura and Eusebio Castillo) provided with therapy free of charge? Are the therapists competent?

The young mother, Abigail Alvarado, certainly needs help to cope, but her three children do as well. They will have to deal with this for the rest of their lives.

This will affect future generations, too – medically, socially, psychologically, emotionally and perhaps financially.

Another thought: Gotta love the role religion played in this. How ignorant people must be to believe such ridiculous crap as the dribble coming from the mouths of two people who started a church in their back yard? Who would believe that the first-born child is a healer? And who would be stupid enough to donate thousands of dollars to this church who uses a child in this way?

The family moved to Texas in 2001 before settling in San Antonio, where they established the St. Peregrine Chapel behind their home. They solicited thousands in donations from those who believed Alvarado’s first-born was a healer. … They duped dozens of people into believing the little girl was a “Miracle Child” with the power to cure cancer.

Obviously not much education, or common sense, in this community at all.

Is this entire situation the result of uneducated people, and/or the result of mental illness?

To me, this tragic situation is more evidence that adoption distorts people’s already twisted minds. If their niece at age 9 needed a home to be safe from her alcoholic mother, then there should have been safeguards to allow only temporary legal custodial guardianship. This would also include visitation with and knowledge of her mother.

It is unclear from the scant details if 28 year old Abigail Alvarado’s mother was able to become sober from alcohol and if she is in contact with her now adult daughter and her three grandchildren.

The whole thing is a sham from the start.

On that note, I’m wondering about the now-28 year old adopted daughter’s real birth certificate. Her name appears to not have been changed upon adoption. This is unusual. Was her birth certificate confiscated and revoked, sealed, and then replaced to name her adopters as if they actually conceived and birthed her? This is what happens, by law, in adoption. Did the adopters allow her to keep her own name while the State carried out the law to replace her birth certificate with a false one? That is what happens in adoption. The new, amended – falsified – birth certificate is proof that these court-appointed guardians are assigned as legal parents. But you wouldn’t know they were legally signed because the falsified birth certificate names them as parents by birth.

What does this lie do to the minds of people who adopt – especially ones with already twisted minds? These lies on a false-fact amended birth certificate perpetuates the belief that someone else’s daughter magically became their own child. The adopted niece not only has a false identity as the biological daughter of her adopters, this was an in-family adoption, so this means that her three children also have false identities as well. This is  because their mother’s identity was officially falsified. If she were allowed to keep her full original name (and that seems to be the case), her parents’ names are falsified on the amended birth certificate issued after adoption. Therefore, the father of the children is factually Eusebio Castillo, but legally he is their grandfather. And, depending on who is the blood relative (Laura or Eusebio, the aunt or uncle by blood, one of the pair is the biological aunt or biological uncle of the adopted daughter/niece. This makes one of them the biological great aunt and uncle of the three young children.

If you are having trouble following this, so am I. If I somehow have managed to incorrectly map-out the relationships, will someone from my readership correct me?

I think you can see my point. Adoption distorted this family’s perception as to who is who in their rightful place on the family tree. A therapist will need to help them diagram this out on paper.

Problems started in this extended family long before this adoption and before its twisted forced rape and surrogacy occurred. Treatment for alcoholism in the 28 year old’s mother, temporary separation of mother and child may or may not have been warranted (not enough information here), but certainly, family reunification should have been the first priority.

The second priority should have been to prevent compounding the problem by allowing this adoption.

Then, if legal custodial guardianship was, in fact, needed, then safeguards should have been put into place to protect the now-28 year old niece from further harm. Did anyone conduct a home study on these two adopters before finalizing this adoption?

There is no remedy here. Prison time will only remedy the crimes. The victims will be addressing these issues imposed upon them for the rest of their lives.

The situation provides more evidence that Adoption Must Be Prevented.

They Used Instagram to Adopt And So Can You, OR, Naw, This Isn’t Child Snatching, It’s Adoption

Earlier this morning I saw this on Yahoo News under a different title. But you know Yahoo, they allow you to read a snippet and then send you to another link. The yahoo title (which I forgot the exact wording) sent me to this on the New York Post:

We used Instagram to adopt our baby

By Rachelle Bergstein

Here is the beginning of this article:

Jaimie and Brian Dorn used social media to find a baby to adopt.

Last June, high-school English teacher Jaimie Dorn found herself facing down an unexpected challenge: how to make an Instagram profile that would convince a pregnant stranger that she and her husband, Brian, would make good parents.

The 39-year-old from West Islip, NY, created the account, @JaimieAndBrianAdopt, then began uploading cheery photos of herself, Brian and her two stepchildren (from her husband’s previous marriage) engaged in fun, family-friendly activities such as fishing and celebrating the Fourth of July.

“We were told [by friends in the adoption community] to post every day, because that’s what would keep you active and out there,” says Dorn. “And then I would just hashtag like crazy, things like #adoption, #adoptionrocks, #hopetoadopt.”

Just six weeks after she created the page, Dorn received an email from a 21-year-old woman in Kansas, who was then in her first trimester and wanted to place the baby with a loving family. After months of close communication, their son Christian was born in December 2017, and the adoption was formalized five days later. “Social media is amazing in this sense,” she says. “We completed our family because of it.”

Since the New York Post doesn’t have a comment section, I went back to the Yahoo article to post this comment:

In view of the forced separation of infants and children from their parents at the border, and the outrage over this, WHY is this adoption story, and the methods used to pry infants from their mothers, considered to be happy, normal and encouraged? I am beyond disgusted.

It is now about 4 or 5 hours after my discovery of this article. I can’t find the Yahoo article at all. My guess is that Yahoo realized their mistake and removed the article completely. But you never know. It could resurface there.

Maybe my complaint resonated with a Yahoo editor. I hope so.

Still, this piece on How to Advertise on Instagram and Other Social Media to Adopt exists over at the New York Post.

And stupid people will fall for it. They will think, “Oh yeah! I want to adopt! So, of course Social Media is the way to go to avoid the expensive traps of agency adoptions! Gee, private adoption can’t get any easier! Yeah! I DO want a child to raise! This’ll be so much fun!”

And these same people will later read the News, or watch videos, or hear it on the radio that thousands of infants, toddlers, and teens are separated from their parents at the border and shipped thousands of miles away. These are the same people who want to troll the Internet for pregnant women so that they, too, can “make an Instagram profile that would convince a pregnant stranger” that they will “make good parents” will be, or are already, outraged by this forced separation of immigrant children from their parents.

These are the same people who think adoption is so great and wonderful. And these are the people who expect adoptees to be grateful for losing their families because, damn it, adoption IS wonderful!

Cant’ you people think? Do you NOT SEE that border separation of children from their parents and trolling for pregnant girls and women on Instagram to adopt their infants at birth are exactly the same thing?

No, adoption is not wonderful. It is not fun. Advertising to adopt may be your game so that you can build your family on the pain and suffering of those less fortunate than you, but to the mother and her infant, relinquishment and permanent adoption separation will result in a lifetime of emotional and physiological trauma for them both. It will also be identity theft for the child.

Absolute stupidity is out there. And these people are out to get your unborn baby. Don’t be as stupid as these predators are. Don’t give your baby away. Seek help to keep your baby.

As for you baby snatchers – your time in hell will come.

 

Adoptee Activists Revolt Against Adoption in USA and Globally

The following article was published online at Huffington Post on October 29, 2017. Written by Angela Barra co-authored by Dr Hannele Nupponen, Why #Adoptee Activists Are Reclaiming National Adoption Awareness Month (NAAM 2017) #AdopteeRightsAwareness!” states that “Adoptee issues and rights are often ignoredaddresses the points lost by most people.

It’s true. Society clings onto the praise and glorification of adopters who are seen as “saving children” from poverty, crime, or abusive parents. At the same time, society ignores the rights of the very children who are adopted. These children grow into adults who have no recourse to gain back their lost human and civil rights.

The article reads, in part:

“It’s that time of year again, National Adoption Awareness Month, where you will hear emotive catch cries via glossy marketing campaigns in the mainstream media by lobbyists. You will see celebrities spruiking the word permanency which appears to be the new euphemism for adoption. You will hear dire accounts of children being shifted around foster care and how permanency (including adoption), will be the panacea.

Further, and inexplicably, what you may not hear throughout this month is the voice of adult adoptee activists who speak about a range of issues including but not limited to:

  1. How adoptee issues and rights are ignored. What are these? According to the Australian Adoptee Rights Action Group (note that some American Activists are also members) these rights include:”

Follow this link to read the full article.

Exposing “Mothers Against Anti Adoption”

I had never heard of the Facebook page, “Mothers Against Anti Adoption,” so when an adoptee posted a link to one of their posts, I was surprised.

 

“Mothers Against Anti Adoption” added two new photos, each a meme:

 

A discussion followed. Some anti-adoption people commented. Some of their comments were deleted.

“Mothers Against Anti Adoption” posted this comment:

“There are literally THOUSANDS of success stories that I’m sure our members are willing to share. It’s not that we don’t think there are also bad experiences – that is the case with virtually everything in this world. But again, disparaging people who have had positive experiences is counterproductive to your underlying message. That being one of awareness and education about the POSSIBILITY of trauma resulting from adoption and perhaps how to avoid it by openly discussing these issues with your child/children.”

To which I say, as with other pro-adoption groups and individuals, “Mothers Against Anti Adoption” uses either/or thinking and black/white thinking when pointing out the “success stories” in adoption to compare with the “bad experiences” of anti-adoptionists. They gloss over the trauma every adoptee experiences at separation from mother at birth, claiming that there is “the POSSIBILITY of trauma resulting from adoption”. They do not want to deal with the real issues.

After reading the back and forth dialogue, I added my comment on Thursday Oct 5, 2017:

My mother died when I was 3 months old. A priest convinced my father that “the baby needs two parents” so, when a woman he did not know approached him at his wife’s wake, he followed up with her offer. She said to my father, “I know someone who will take your baby”. This woman’s brother became my adoptive father. I grew up an only child, loved, and loved back; until the truth was made known to me at age 18 (in 1974) when I was found by 4 older full blood siblings who lived 6 miles from me. My birth certificate was voided and sealed, a new one falsely states that I (in my adopted name) was born to the two people named, in the hospital in which no medical birth records would be found under these names. There is no reason why I lost my identity, lost my entire family, and then was (and still am) ridiculed and harassed for over 40 years because I rebelled against adoption. Before her death in 2011 at age 95, my adoptive mother understood that adoptees’ birth certificates should never be annulled and replaced. But she has never apologized for removing me from my family. No, open adoption is not the answer. Why? Because adopters still want to replace the child’s real parents. You can’t. Nature provided us life and inheritance. My real mother died at age 30, fully believing she was my mother. How cruel to remove her as my legal mother. I will fight every day of my life to end this horrible global institution of modern adoption. All you want is to have the experience of parenting – and while you gloat, you leave a trail of destruction in your wake. I am not harassing you; rather, I am educating you on the realities of adoption.

A day later, my comment was removed. So I re-posted it. “Mothers Against Anti Adoption” deleted it immediately and blocked me. They could not be bothered addressing the trauma and issues I brought to their attention.

This is a group of legally-appointed guardians of other people’s children who want to “combat online harassment of eMoms [expectant mothers], HAPs [hopeful adoptive parents] & adoptees targeted by anti-adoption”.  See their “About” page here.

Their goal is to report Anti-Adoption Facebook groups that they claim harass “hopeful adoptive parents” (HAPs) and adoptive parents, eMoms (expectant mothers), and “happy” adoptees. The truth is that they simply do not like what we have to say.

So, in writing this blog post, it is my goal to expose “Mothers Against Anti Adoption” and their faulty beliefs.

I’ll begin by addressing new eMoms who are proud to be “birthmoms” after agreeing to pre-birth matching and then gave away their newborns to waiting PAPs (pre adoptive parents). Your decision is not brave, nor is it loving. If adoption is so wonderful, then all parents should give away their children at birth so that better parents can be found as replacements. Your child will certainly be confused by your loving decision to give away your baby out of “love”.

 

For all of you “happy” and “well-adjusted” adoptees who criticize those of us who are “not happy” and “angry”, I have news for you. While you hide behind your cozy façade of happiness, of financial security, and of denial of the truth, those of us who are aware of the issues can see how very fragile you really are. One of these days you will realize what adoption took from you, and the cold, hard reality will hit you like it hit us.

 

Anti-adoption adoptees are angry at the system, and at the policies, and at the attitudes and ignorance of those who glorify adoption. Adoptees who have come out of the fog are the experts who have survived displacement from our families. We survived government-enforced identity erasure and replacement due to the revocation and falsification of our birth certificates.

I’ve written extensively on adoptees’ birth certificates and identity theft, and so have other people who are referenced these articles here, here, and here. I present my own medical record of live birth and my amended birth certificate in this blog post.

Adoptees continue our fight to access our now-sealed birth certificates. (AAC – American Adoption Congress and Bastard Nation, to name two proactive organizations). Many more people, adoptees, natural parents, some adoptive parents, and professionals advocate for the legal practice of erasing our identities to stop altogether.

 

Despite the growing numbers of adoptees who are rising up against these inhumane practices, we are continually beaten down by those who do not approve that we are speaking out against the institution of adoption. We are seen as ungrateful brats who must be silenced.

 

On Sunday October 8, 2017, I returned from a church service in which the speaker wrote and delivered a sermon on “Invisible People.” John Snodgrass spoke on

“…people who have long been forced into ‘social invisibility’ because of their race, gender or sexuality. In recent years, many of these people have been emerging into social visibility, inspiring a heated cultural debate about who gets to be socially and politically visible.”

John Snodgrass addressed the separate but equal social practices that segregated American black people from white people. He highlighted how women struggled for the right to vote, and even now we struggle to gain wage equality with men. The plight of gays and lesbians to gain marriage equality is now the law of the land. Native Americans have recently lost their fight against an oil pipeline through their land.

 

I will add here that Native peoples fought for hundreds of years against white supremacy that not only took away their lands, but also took away their children. We whites bullied our way throughout the Americas, slaughtered Native people, and enslaved African natives.

 

The ending message of Sunday’s sermon was one of unity, of how we can start to see ourselves in people we might see as “other”, to see their humanity, and they, in turn, can begin to see themselves in us. We are all one people, one human race. We ought to be seeing each other with open eyes, treating each other with dignity and respect, instead of derision and oppression.

 

Though the gist of the sermon was meant to bring about a consciousness-raising awareness of invisible people who are traditionally thought of as invisible, I, being an adopted person, saw two classes of people who have been continually invisible for generations: mothers and fathers who have lost their children to adoption, and adoptees.

 

When the service was over and we broke into small groups for discussion, I sat with two women. One said she was worried about a 16 year old girl who came to Canada as a refugee, moved to New York State across the Niagara River separating Canada and United States. This woman’s daughter is now in the process of adopting this 16 year old girl. While she hoped, for the girl’s sake, that she would be protected from deportation along with her family, she was concerned that her daughter will be breaking up an existing family if and when the adoption goes through. She said,

“I don’t’ approve of this adoption. Yes, of course, I will love her as my granddaughter should it happen, but I would rather that this teenager stay with her family. The family stands a chance of being deported, but at least they will continue to be a family, parents with their 16 year old daughter.”

This is a humanist approach to adoption.

The other woman disclosed to me that her partner had completed suicide some time ago. She did so because she couldn’t cope with the guilt she felt all these years. At the age of 16, she had been forced by her parents to give up her first born child, a boy, at birth. He was adopted away from his mother. Her parents disowned her; they shammed her for getting pregnant. Even though it was not her fault, this mother never forgave herself.

 

That son and grandson is now a grown man, an adoptee.

 

If you are a man who was born on June 16, 1966 in the Buffalo, New York area, please contact me via my website contact form. There is a woman who loved your mother who would like to meet you and tell you about your mother.

 

But this adoptee may not know he is adopted. And that is another tragedy that many adoptees face – to be told about their adoption late in life. Some may never know they are adopted.

 

It is for people like this invisible mother and son, and that 16 year old girl who may be adopted to stay in America with a new adoptive mother while her parents face deportation, that I continue my fight against the multi-billion adoption industry.

 

This is not an isolated mother and son. Sometimes, mothers of adoption loss do complete suicide because, well, they lost their child. Forces out of their control told them that they are too young or not worthy to raise their own children.

 

In just one example, the mother of a child relinquished to an open adoption killed herself when she found out that the adoptive mother of her child wrote a book instructing other pre-adoptive parents to follow her advice. The book, Fast Track Adoption: The Faster, Safer Way to Privately Adopt a Baby; How to Quickly Adopt a Child-and at Less Expense, was written by Susan Burns, Psy.D., and was published in 2003.

 

Among the appalling advice given in this book, on page 220, is author Susan Burns’ advice for worried HAPs (Hopeful Adoptive Parents):

 

“Before your birth mother is discharged from the hospital she will be asked to complete the baby’s birth certificate. Don’t worry if she records a name different from the one you have selected. A new birth certificate will be issued once the adoption is approved by the court. The new certificate will replace the original one and will indicate your choice of names.”

Does anyone else see that this is totally negating the actual facts of birth? To knowingly and willingly re-name the child is to obliterate the child’s true name. This is a direct attack upon the person-hood of that individual who has the natural right to be who she or he was born to be. To knowingly and willingly erase the child’s true parentage, is not only re-writing actual facts, it is creating false-facts that are demeaning to both the child and the actual mother. The actual mother is stricken from the official record of birth in favor the woman who is adopting her infant. The mother and father become invisible. By intent, the child’s true natural-born identity becomes invisible.

Many adoptees complete suicide as well because the pain of being adopted is too great. Adoptees belong to two families, but many adoptees are shunned, ridiculed, bullied, misunderstood, harassed, betrayed, snubbed, told we should be grateful we were not aborted, told we should feel this way or that way, told what we should or should not do. Many adoptees are held as domestic slaves, taking care of menial tasks and laughed at like Cinderella. Some of us were orphaned and made to feel we owe our very lives to those who took us in. If our adoptive parents didn’t drive in the point, then our extended adoptive relatives took turns verbally reprimanding us. Some adoptees are brutally murdered by their adopters.

 

Yes, “Mothers Against Anti Adoption” will throw it in my face that natural parents torture and murder their children. Yes, that is true. But it is even more barbaric to seek out vulnerable children to prey upon, knowing that the very reason you want to adopt someone else’s child is to sexually molest or rape them, impregnate them, or torture and murder them.

 

In addressing you who are admins of the Facebook page “Mothers Against Anti Adoption”, I say this: You do not like what we anti-adoptionists have to say about adoption so you try to shut us down by reporting our pages to Facebook in an effort to silence us. Do you think you can shut down or censor a growing global movement? You think you can silence us when we are gathering strength in numbers in many countries. We are changing the landscape of adoption. We are reclaiming our names of birth. We are annulling our adoptions. We are standing up for our human and civil rights.

 

Being anti-adoption is pro-family, pro-woman, pro-child and pro-equality. We support pregnant mothers, educate them on the one-sided approach to adoption you advocate, and give them safe alternatives to help them keep their babies. We also support fathers whose babies have been given up for adoption without their knowledge or consent.

 

We are the victims of adoption. You are the benefactors of adoption.

 

You claim that love equals parenthood, that your adoption decree, new birth certificate, and your love for a stranger’s child supersedes the natural love a mother has for her child, that the fathers are naturally devoid of love for the children they sired. You claim that the love you feel for someone else’s child replaces the child’s natural parents, that you have the right to behave and believe as if you are that child’s ONLY mother. You believe that the babies and older children you covet do not have a natural connection to their parents of conception and birth.

 

These beliefs are signs that you live in a fantasy world. Adoption creates a delusional world. You don’t see it because you want to believe that adoption is salvation. As adopters, adoption is beneficial for you; you’ve got the baby.

 

So that you may know what the victims and survivors of adoption experience, and that you may know a little bit of the delusional cognitive distortion and cognitive dissonance created by adoption, I will re-post something that the Facebook group, “Is Adoption Trauma”, posted. The organization, Origins Inc., is credited as the source of this quote:

 

“Mothers Against Anti Adoption”, your Facebook group targets “Is Adoption Trauma” in your fight against those of us who have been traumatized by adoption.

 

“Mothers Against Anti Adoption”, you dismiss our trauma. Go ahead, demean us. Your adoptlings will eventually see what you truly are and judge you by your character and your selfish intent. You can try to silence us, to humiliate us, but you will not win.

 

You will be, or are, social and legal parents to the children of mothers and fathers who, for whatever reason, gave up those children. For the duration of their childhood, you will be entrusted to take care of the children of others. If you do not tell the truth, if you belittle the natural parents of the children in your care, if you lie and deceive, if your names are on a new, amended birth certificate, if you renamed the child, then you are guilty of some of the atrocities we anti-adoptionists fight against. Be careful, your little adoptling may grow up to resent adoption, just like we do.

 

If your adoptees adore adoption and they continue to drink the Kool-Aid, that does not make it alright. Adoptees who have not yet come out of the fog to their own self-realization will continue to spout adoption’s platitudes. Or, they may be too afraid to come out of the closet to personally and publicly stand up for themselves.

 

“Mothers Against Anti Adoption”, shame on you. The shame belongs solely upon you for destroying families so that you can create your “own” through selfish means and by legally erasing reality. You are the ones who want a baby to call your “own” by means of legal kidnapping and by revocation and replacing the facts of birth of the child you claim to love. No loving parent would do such cruel things to an innocent child. You are the ones who are inhumane. You are the ones who are bullying us by not listening to us or seeing the evidence we place in front of you.

In a very timely article published October 1, 2017 on Huffington Post, author and natural mother, Mirah Riben, writes in “Predatory Adoption Practices: What is an Adotoraptor?” that

“Predatory adoptions are generally those arranged through “baby brokers.” These can be adoption agencies – both for and not-for profit – or attorneys or adoption facilitators who find loopholes in the patchwork of state laws and encourage practices such as advising mothers-to-be to move out of state – often to Utah – and/or to lie to the baby’s father or withhold information about the mother’s plans to place their child for adoption.

Those who pay for and agree to such services are predatory adopters and prospective adopters. …

… With eyes glazed over, focused on the brass ring, the prize, the “desperate to adopt” (as many define themselves, sharing their “painful journey” through infertility treatments) – along with the adoption practitioners who profit from the transfer of children, as well as society at large – justify “gray” and “black” adoption practices by making themselves believe that the end justifies the means. They perpetuate the myth that adoption is a win-win and that the children will be “better off” with their newly created families than with those they were born into, no matter how obviously loving and capable the actual parents are.”

“Mothers Against Anti Adoption”, I urge you to broaden your own personal understanding of adoption. You are uninformed and as such, you attack those of us who are anti-adoption without comprehending why we are opposed to adoption. Once you open your eyes, you might begin to see the personal pain of adoptions’ victims, you might see the moral and ethical problems in adoption, and the legal contradictions that adoption’s invisible people endure.

By your own words, you paint yourselves as obsessed baby-grabbers. So are these HAPs, Jeremy and Jenny, and this adopter who sent me a private message on Facebook pleading with me to take down the post I wrote about Jeremy and Jenny advertising to adopt.

I recommend that you read An open letter to APs, PAPs, and anyone who has even considered adoption”

In closing, modern adoption is a punishing and corrupt institution that should be replaced with family preservation, kinship care, and legal guardianship.