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 Letter to NJ-ACLU Exec Dir Deborah Jacobs: Not All Adoptees are Illegitimate

If you’ve been following my posts at various sites you know the content of the following letter already. Considering that ignorance is abundant in adoptoland, I thought I’d write directly to the Executive Director of New Jersey’s American Civil Liberties Union to explain, in detail, that not all adoptees are of illegitimate birth.

Here is a copy of my letter to Deborah Jacobs:


Dear Deborah Jacobs: 

This letter will serve as part of your education into the matter of birth, baptism, and adoption of a half-orphaned adoptee: me.

 You are misguided about adoptees’ birth certificates. Please be sure that you copy and share this letter, in  its entirety, with Edward Barocas, Legal Director of the NJ-ACLU, and any other person or agency with which you will determine the fate of adoptees’ lives.

There are obvious limitations that you (and the NCFA, the Right to Life, Catholic Conference) have overlooked.  The law was written to hide illegitimacy:  the adoptee is “legitimized” by the new, amended birth certificate showing two married parents, but adoption is not only about single mothers of loss and adoptees of illegitimate birth, half and full orphans are victimized by sealed and falsified birth certificates, too.

I am a half orphan trapped with illegitimates and their natural mothers. My mother was married and died when I was three months old. At her funeral, a Catholic priest told my grieving father that “the baby needs 2 parents”. What about the other four older children? Didn’t they need two parents? Their mother just died, so, not only did they lose their mother, they lost their newborn sister to adoption. We grew up separated by law — and by six miles. Our family was destroyed by relinquishment and adoption. Family Preservation could have prevented further damage to five siblings and our father. Guardianship was not necessary, and certainly, permanent relinquishment and adoption of the newborn was not necessary. The only ones to benefit were my adopting parents.

My mother didn’t sign relinquishment papers, my father did, so your posse of unwed mothers who want to remain anonymous shouldn’t have influence over my father’s situation, or over me, or others like me.

No one, not one single authority figure, legislator, or priest, has EVER acknowledged my loss or my dead mother’s loss. SHE lost her right to be named on my legal birth certificate! (My OBC was legal for 1 year and 3 months before the finalization of my adoption.) Sure, my mother was DEAD, but, according to the ACLU, the dead do not matter. My mother is named on my OBC because she gave birth to me, but my amended BC states someone else gave birth to me, her daughter via a traumatic life-threatening birth for a dying mother. So much for respect for the dead and my LEGITIMATE mother! 

I am not illegitimate! This law does NOT apply to me or my natural mother. The only aspect that applies to me is sealed and falsified birth certificates. Yet, the ACLU, NCFA, the Right to Life and the Catholic Conference hide behind a bunch of mothers, raped or otherwise shamed into relinquishment, as if they control the entire class of adopted people and all other parents of adoption  loss.

I am not the only half orphan victimized by sealed and falsified birth records. Millions of other half and full orphans (domestic and foreign born) are also held captive by laws made exclusively to cover up illegitimacy.

Anyone who assumes that all adoptees are illegitimate and need to be kept away from our own birth certificates for our own protection and that of our disgraced mothers is not considering all facts. One size does not fit all. I was born legitimate, there is no shame in my birth, yet the ACLU claims that a bunch of whinny women who want to remain anonymous are held in better social and legal status than I am. Where are my civil rights and that of other orphaned adoptees? Get out of my life Right to Life, NCFA, ACLU and New Jersey Catholic Conference: you do not speak for me and you are not protecting my civil rights. There is no need for me and my fellow adoptees (illegitimate or orphaned) to be treated as inferior human beings.

My natural father was NOT promised confidentiality nor privacy. He was verbally told to stay away from his daughter and that he would not contact me until after I turned 18. He signed a court document promising that he would not interfere with my adoptive parents or my life.

My natural father gave my certified birth certificate (in my birth name) and my baptismal certificate to my adopting parents at the time he relinquished me to them. My adoptive mother kept them, and my Final Order of Adoption, and my falsified Baptismal Certificate in my adoptive name (I was baptized at the bedside of my dying mother) in a safety deposit box. After my siblings found me in 1974, my adoptive mother threw all of my personal documents at me in a fit of rage. There was no need for this rage as I did not cause the problem. The onus of secrecy (and damage done) was and is on my adoptive parents and the court.

Though I have all of my documents, and have been reunited for 36 years, and there is nothing in any sealed birth certificate that would pose any threat to anyone, I am still legally banned from obtaining a certified copy of the record of my own birth. (Some states allow for adoptees to receive an uncertified informational copy, but that further erodes adoptees’ civil rights by not certifying the truth of their births). There is NO justification in preventing me, a 54 year old American citizen, from my own birth record! This affects not only me, but my two grown children and their future children, too.

The human cost in preventing adoptees from accessing the truth of their birth can be measured in emotional deprivation, mental health, physical health, spiritual health, religious beliefs, and death and dying. Let’s put the shame where it belongs: on governmental bodies, adoption agencies, attorneys and religious entities who claim moral and legal superiority over others. It is time for moral and legal justice in adoption and birth certificate law to prevail in favor of adoptees’ civil and moral rights.

I am not the only half orphan victimized by sealed and falsified birth records. Millions of other half and full orphans (domestic and foreign born) are also held captive by laws made exclusively to cover up illegitimacy. Because I am made to be a bastard by the law that confines me, I stand up for other bastards and half and full orphans who are adopted.

Though I live in New York State, orphanhood is universal. Adoptees’ rights to our sealed birth certificates are also universal. Unseal adoptees original birth certificates NOW and put a stop to falsifying new birth records that replace adoptees true record of birth. Instead, issue certified Certificates of Adoption. Leave all birth certificates intact, free from governmental confiscation and falsification.

In America, for no other reason than the finalization of adoption is a person’s birth certificate taken, sealed from view except by court order, and a falsified document issued to replace the true facts of birth. There is something fundamentally wrong with that universal practice. However, it is not universal across the globe. The Netherlands respects the births and adoptions of all adoptees by not issuing a changed birth certificate upon adoption and by both the birth certificate and adoption certificate open to all adoptees and parents. Adoptions in New Zealand and Australia are being phased out in favor of guardianship and family preservation.

I am enclosing scanned images of all of my birth, baptism and adoption records. Here is a list of what follows this letter (note no information is deleted). Though I have all of these documents, I am STILL legally banned from obtaining them in New York State, and, the New York Mutual Consent Reunion Registry is of no use to me as my mother is dead and cannot give her written permission for any information to be released to me. This is so even after a 36 year reunion.

This is a list of my birth, baptism and adoption records (no information deleted):

  1. Hospital Birth Certificate
  2. Certificate of Birth Registration (Short Form) Name at Birth (Front and Back)
  3. Certified Birth Certificate – Name at Birth
  4. This is To Certify – (Short Form) Name After Adoption
  5. Certified Certificate of Birth – Name After Adoption
  6. Certificate of Birth and Baptism – Name at Birth and Baptism 3-4-56
  7. Certificate of Birth and Baptism – Name After Adoption 5-27-1959
  8. Petition to Adopt – names of all parents, description of natural family members and ages of children, results of investigation of adopting parents
  9. Petition to Adopt and Consent to Adoption – names of all parents
  10. Final Order of Adoption – names of all parents and both names of adoptee

Now that you have read my letter and have seen my documents, do you still believe that a few whinny women whom you claim (their letters to you could be faked) want to be anonymous shall dictate over my life? Abortion has nothing to do with my birth circumstances, unless you want to consider that a medical abortion was offered to my parents to save the life of my dying mother. Guess which way my married parents chose? Their decision had nothing to do with illegitimacy and getting rid of an unwanted pregnancy. The women you seek to protect have a beef with their life circumstances — they need to seek professional therapy to deal with their feelings over being raped and relinquished a child to adoption —  but they created children who are American citizens. Civil rights of autonomous individuals supersede the rights of any parents, except in adoption, and that is wrong. Adoptees should not be bound by adoption contracts. Because they are bound now, this is modern day slavery.

Government seizure of birth certificates for infants who are in the process of being adopted is certainly a form of slavery. A birth certificate records the facts of a specific event. Those facts cannot be changed physically because the genes live on in the adopted person and future generations, with or without factual documentation. When a person’s birth certificate is changed by the government under the guise of protection from illegitimacy, the individual is thought to be reborn through adoption. Illegitimate infants are “legitimized” by the adoption process, giving a fatherless child two legitimate parents on a new Certificate of Live Birth. The idea reeks of eugenics of decades long gone in which unwed mothers were considered imbeciles (Three Generations, No Imbeciles: Eugenics, the Supreme Court, and Buck v. BellGoogle it), so why does this practice continue? Both practices need to be abolished: the continued sealing of birth certificates of adoptees, and, falsifying new birth certificates. To add injury to this barbaric legal practice is the fact that not all adoptees are of illegitimate birth: millions of adoptees were born to married parents and one or both parents died, resulting in the adoption of the half or full orphans whose birth certificates are also seized, falsified and kept from the adopted person for life. It is not the circumstances of birth, but the condition of being adopted that perpetuates these atrocities.

I suggest you and your comrades also watch the following video: Response of Origins Inc to Apology of Western Australia to Unmarried … No mother (and you might be a mother) can watch this educational video and not be affected by the atrocities committed against not married mothers whose infants were violently ripped from them. This continues to this day in American Crisis Pregnancy Centers run by religious organizations. Adoption is a crime against women and children BY other women who want other women’s babies.

Yours Very Truly,

 Joan Wheeler born Doris Sippel

 Adoptee reunited in 1974 at the age of 18 when found by full blood siblings my adoptive parents never wanted me to know

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

Two Important Discussions on Adoptees Civil Liberties and Debate with ACLU-NJ

Sorry, the two comments I quoted in the previous post were not made by Deborah Jacobs, executive director of ACLU of New Jersey, they were made by a prickly commentator. I was so disgusted and personally offended by the comments, I misread the names.

This is the letter written by Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey. Pay a visit and leave your comments. As soon as I recover and can take a breathe, I’ll be heading over there, again. This has been going on for days…

ACLU critic ends up praising the organization

and don’t forget to check back with Peter Franklin’s Letter and discussio over at the following link, about the same topic:

Where are adoptees’ civil liberties?


The blatant disreguard of adoptees’ civil rights based on mythology is pathetic…

Part 1 in a 5-Part Series: Has Anything Really Changed Since 1984 in My Reunion and Adoption Reform?

Today, I embark on a 5-part series of a look back into time. I will be reflecting on a slice of my reunion as well as adoption reform 26 years ago and relating it to the present situations.

Here’s Part 1 of my 5-part series: 

Part 1: Registry Law Unjust to Adoptees

I begin with an article I wrote 26 years ago today: “Registry Law Unjust to Adoptees”, published as a Letter to the Editor in The Buffalo News. This article can also be found in My Archives Pages in this website.

 1984-8-8 RegistryLawUnjust


The New York State Registry has undergone a few changes since 1984. What I do know has changed is that adoptees no longer must seek written permission from their adoptive parents and natural parents to obtain basic information about themselves. However, I do believe the provision still exists that dead people cannot register, therefore, the past and current New York State Registry would do me no good at all because my natural mother died 54 years ago and cannot file to a mutual-consent registry. Mutual consent registries do not give adoptees access to their sealed birth certificates. Also, media still addresses adoptees as “adopted children”.

For more information on the current adoption reform legislative efforts in New York State, please visit Unsealed Initiative online at Please be aware that their Home Page Link is broken, but you can search through the rest of their website.