Concerning Jack Ryan’s Wedding Announcement in The New York Times and His Mother Carol Schaefer

In defense of my friend, Carol Schaefer, who wrote this article today on Huffington Post: “The Right to Love: Two Social Movements Converge on One Family”, I wrote the following Letter to the New York Times.

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To: Society@nytimes.com
Cc: editor@nytimes.com

Dear Editor:

To deny Jack Ryan’s mother , Carol Schaefer, who gave birth to her son in 1966, the joy, respect and dignity of being named as his mother alongside of the parents who raised him is to, again, slap her with the stigma of being “an unwed mother” the way she was so many decades ago.

New York Times: Your high society newspaper has chosen not to publish the names of the two people “who did the dirty” and who “had” to give up the baby to avoid being disgraced for life. Your staff has just reinforced those old stereotypes.

The shame now is on the editor and publisher and all the staff of the New York Times for disrespecting Jack Ryan’s mother and his father – the very two people who gave him life. Yet, come Mother’s Day, you will publish sentimental words honoring “all” mothers. It appears that only legal mothers are honored by your paper.

You have robbed Carol Schaefer of a once-in-a-lifetime event — of being named in your extremely-prestigious newspaper for the honor that belongs to her. Just because The New York Times is decades behind the times, does not mean we all are.

Joan M Wheeler, born as Doris M Sippel
Reunited Adoptee since 1974, Reform activist

Another father fights for his rights to his child

Please visit this Facebook Page to learn more:

https://www.facebook.com/events/290872121107148/

***We are in the 4th quarter at the 2 min warning*** Trent is in his final extension to file his appeal. He has been going at this alone. It has been a struggle to find an attorney to take his case but we have FINALLY found one. We have an attorney set up for him and we need to get this money to him ASAP so he can start working on what needs to be filed. Please…$1, $5, $10, $20…what ever you can donate to help would greatly appreciated.

PLEASE INVITE EVERYONE YOU KNOW…so another father does not lose his child to unethical adoption. He deserves the right to raise his daughter as he has fought so hard for!

Please…We can not let Trent and his daughter go down with out a fight!

My Response to Jayne Jacova Feld’s article on New Jersey’s Fight to Unseal Adoptees’ Birth Records

This undated article by Jayne Jacova Feld appeared in my email inbox on October 31, 2014: Opening Up – Bringing the fight to unseal adoption records to life.

This is my response:

Typically, this article confuses reunion with civil rights. The civil right to one’s sealed birth certificate is not the same as reunion or contact. A person who wishes no contact has a right to be left alone. A person who wishes to unseal their sealed birth record still must ask a court for permission, or abide by restrictive laws that allow release of uncertified sealed birth certificates under specific restrictions.

Closed adoptions are indeed performed today as many adoptive parents request no contact at any time with the natural parents of their adoptee.

Open adoptions do not mean open records.

Adoptees are not only illegitimates born to not-married parents. We are legitimates born within a marriage, half orphans, full orphans, adopted by step parents, and older children adopted out of foster care. To lump all of us under the umbrella of persons born to “unwed” mothers is to keep the stereotypes alive.

Except for Kansas and Alaska, every single adoptee in America suffers the injustice of their actual birth certificate automatically sealed at the finalization of adoption. Even in Kansas and Alaska, every single adoptee in America is automatically issued a new, amended, birth certificate indicating, falsely, that the new parents gave birth to the child named. Many adoptees’ actual birthdates are changed, as well as birthplace, and most adoptees’ names at birth are changed to reflect new identities picked by adoptive parents.

In the few states that have passed laws “allowing” adoptees “access” to their sealed birth records, these adoptees are not given certified copies of their actual birth certificates. They are given uncertified copies which are stamped on the front with one of the following in big bold letters: “VOID”, “Not For Official Use”, “For Genealogical Use Only”. While many adoptees jump for joy over the fact that they are able to unseal their previously sealed actual birth certificates, their elation over seeing their birth certificates for the first time in their lives should be tempered with the realization that their legal birth certificate (the one that was falsified at the time of finalization of adoption) overrides the uncertified birth certificate that they now have in their hands.

There is a big difference between a mere knowing the truth of your origins (by “winning” the right to an uncertified birth certificate that was previously sealed) and actually reversing the oppressive laws that instituted sealing and falsifying adoptees’ birth certificates around the USA beginning in 1930, state by state.

Many adoptees, like me, advocate for the total restoration of our civil rights. We want our actual birth certificates to be reinstated and certified by our government. And we want our falsified birth certificates to be rescinded. Some of us want adoption certificates to replace them, others want to rescind their adoptions altogether.
As for the Catholics who want control: I was conceived within a marriage, yet your one-sided attack on “unwed” mothers devalues my birth, and that of adoptees who aren’t in your narrow focus of being born bastards.

As for “birth” parents who want to redact their names from birth certificates: your name, whether you want it there or not, was recorded within five days of birth on a government document recording the fact that you gave birth. When you signed relinquishment papers in the courtroom, you lost all rights to the person you gave up for adoption. You did not retain the right to dictate to that person 50 or more years after birth. All persons over the age of 21 are of legal age and are not bound by parental authority.

Lastly, the first advocacy group was not Adoptees Liberty Movement Association, as stated in this article (Opening Up – Bringing the fight to unseal adoption records to life), but rather Orphan Voyage, founded in 1953 by adoptee and social worker Jean Paton.

I was very fortunate to have known Jean Paton. She was a delightful lady with a quiet sense of reserve. She deserves recognition as the one person who started the adoptees’ rights movement in America. Others followed and we now have a very extensive network of activists and organizations. Readers may be interested in reading about her life in a hardcover book written by historian E. Wayne Carp: Jean Paton and the Struggle to Reform American Adoption (January 2014).

 

 

 

 

Incorrect Medical Information Given to My Adoptive Parents in 1956

Lorraine Dusky’s post

“Who serves ‘Adoptees’ Best Interests’?”

spurred me to write this in response:

When my adoptive parents “got me” in 1956, my natural father told them that my mother died less than a month previously from uterine cancer. Because of this, as a teenager, I had twice yearly PAP tests, looking for uterine cancer.

 
I was reunited with my father and siblings and extended family (natural mother’s family) in 1974. No one talked about health issues. They were too busy comparing me to the others as to who I looked like, who I sounded like. Meanwhile, my father handed me my mother’s death certificate. Cause of death: cancer of the kidney.

 
My grieving father had given the wrong cause of death to my adoptive parents (I do not blame him in any way – he had just lost his wife of ten years and the mother of their five children). They (my adoptive parents) in turn, gave me the wrong information. I, in turn, had been tested for the wrong medical problem.

 
In college in the 70s, I developed very frequent bladder and kidney infections. I asked my gynecologist if it was possible that these were indications of cancer. That is why we petitioned the hospital for my mother’s records, and mine, at my birth and during the three months prior to her death. To my relief, no, my bladder and kidney problems were due to stress and not inherited tendency to cancer.

 
My full blood siblings, however, drilled it into me that I “did not have my facts straight”. They told me off, saying that Mom died of cancer of the uterus and that I was lying. Apparently, our grieving father had told them that our mother died of uterine cancer.

 

Apparently he had never given them our mother’s death certificate.
Additionally, the judge who presided over my adoption never bothered to ask my father for my mother’s death certificate. This was in 1956, a time when society believed that babies were “blank slates”. Environment meant more than biology.

 
My father was not required to fill out medical history forms during the months before my adoption became final. Nothing was mentioned about his medical history, nor of his parents, cousins, aunts and uncles. My father was not required to provide any medical history of his deceased wife’s family. My father finally told me in 2003 what his parents died of a few years after he relinquished me. His father had gangrene in his leg. His mother died of colon cancer.

 
Health care is vital. We adoptees need to know the truth.

The Real Philomena: NPR Radio Interview and Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

This should not happen.

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

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

 

Backing Up Mannix Flynn on the Meaning of the Movie “Philomena”

After seeing this movie — Philomena — I now know what the writer of this blog post means. He is dead on: script writing and movie making need to be followed up with social and political action. The writer and star of the movie needs to take this further into real action to put an end to this torture of mother and child, and the millions of women and infants and children torn apart by adoption. When will we stop seeing this as fodder for films, but additionally as an introduction to real social and political change? Get involved! This tragedy did not only happen in Ireland, but all over the world and in domestic America: the Catholic Church stealing babies from girls and women because of the notion of being “fallen women” — punishment for being pregnant outside of marriage. This is barbaric treatment of women and their babies.