We adoptees, are, indeed, traumatized by the forced separations of immigrant families. For me, I read, I weep, I cringe, I write. I’m even organizing a movie and educational church service in two weeks to show The Traffickers (Netflix) to a small congregation of liberal thinkers. I odn’t spend every moment on this. My life takes over. Bills to pay, laundry, work, rest, summer concerts. My TV has been unplugged for a few years now, so at least I’m not glued to the talking heads on cable news. Yet, I am glued to my friends on Facebook. And our blogs. It’s our fierce fighting back against the system that empowers me. I think back to the darkest times of my reunion when both adoptive family and natural family fought with me as I rose up against the machine. Yes, I felt alone in the days before the Internet. In many ways now, too, I am alone with no one to talk to in real life who really understands, well, very few people, that is. The general public, too, fights back even now. Especially now. I take comfort knowing we have now built a global community of adoptees. Thank you, John Raible, for reaching out to us.
This is a public rant, set off by news of another 4 priests from the Buffalo, New York area who sexually abused minors.
At first, you may wonder why I’m posting this on my adoption blog. Well, read this and find out.
Here is my comment left in the Comment Section of the Buffalo News article:
The first published list named Monsignor Joseph Schieder who was Monsignor at St. Andrew’s Church in Kenmore in the 60s. I was in 3rd grade when he came on board. He was a bully who beat up on my class mates. When the news hit in March, I went to the church office, grief stricken. I praised Fr. Dan, who came into St. Andrew’s either in 1969 or 1970. He led our youth group, took us to see Jesus Christ Superstar and rock opera Tommy. He took us out for pizza and on weekend retreats. He brought in representatives from other religions who explained their religions and food and culture. Later on, when I married outside the Catholic Church, I asked him to officiate along with our minister. Ten years later, I asked him for advice on my broken marriage and divorce. With all of that on my mind in March, I asked if I could have his address. I wrote him a note to thank him for all he has done for me, my family. He wrote back.
Now, my shock and horror to see his name on this new list…
I left the Catholic Church in the late 70s for many good reasons. Now, I want nothing to do with this crooked establishment. My grade school years and high school years, and most of my lifetime, are now tainted by the revelation that two priests who shaped my life are sex abusers of children. I wonder: which one of my classmates were their targets?
Mitchell Garabedian, the lawyer who has represented 2,000 priest sex abuse survivors nationwide, and who was featured in the movie SPOTLIGHT, should receive an award for going after these men. And so should the lawyers here locally who are handling this. All of these priests belong in jail – and I don’t care how old they are. I’d also like to see exactly what the allegations are and when and what parishes are involved.
The Catholic Church has failed us. This church harbors hate towards many: the nuns twisting boys’ ears in front of us when we were in 2nd grade, treatment of women overall, the “othering” of any group the church deems unworthy (gays, immigrants), is disgusting. The church has a history of mistreating pregnant women particularly, and its disdain of people born as illegitimate bastards (the movie PHILOMENA and the Catholic church in Ireland’s horrendous separation of mothers and their babies, is but one example). The Catholic Church opposes adoptees’ access to our sealed birth certificates (because, don’t-cha know, the Church now must protect the reputation of these “fallen” women who gave birth out of wedlock, yet, the Church doesn’t care about adoptees’ civil and human rights to know the truth of our births. How many priests are actually fathers named on these revoked and sealed birth certificates?). The Catholic Church even had a hand in permanently separating me from my family after the death of my married mother when I was an infant. The priest told my father “the baby needs two parents…” and then my father gave me away to adoption.
I have zero respect for anything Catholic. I will never set foot in a Catholic Church ever again.
And now, a beloved priest who shaped my life has just been publicly accused of child sex abuse. Fantastic. Fr. Dan Palys – I am ashamed of you.
Here is a photo of Monsignor Joseph Scheider: may he rot in hell:
Here is a photo of Dan Palys:
Here is yesterday’s article in the Buffalo News:
Published June 28, 2018
Here is the full article showing photos of the accused priests published March 20, 2018:
I hate that I was forced to go to Catholic school and church. Just minutes ago, local NPR announced your name, Dan Palys, along with the others released yesterday, is on its way to Rome. You deserve more than a leave from the church. I hope you go to jail.
Oh yes, one more mark against the Catholic Church. If lying is a sin, then why did a priest falsify my baptismal certificate? Oh yeah, I forgot. Because the priest answered the higher authority of the law. He followed the request from my adoptive parents’ attorney who wanted proof that I, as Joan Wheeler, was baptized. So, the parish in which I was baptized followed the letter of the law – not religion – to accommodate my name change via adoption so that my adoptive parents could send me to Catholic School.
Who told me that? Fr. Dan Palys. When my then-fiancé and I went to him for pre-marriage counseling, I asked him why a priest would falsify a new baptismal certificate for a child who had already been baptized. Fr. Dan asked me not to blame the priest. He said that the priest was under legal obligation to follow adoption law to provide a baptismal certificate in my new adoptive name. I insisted that the priest lied on an official church document. Well, that little white lie didn’t matter because adoption overrode the truth.
Not that I care about my baptism.
All I care about is that the facts of my personal history are not changed. But the lies that the priest certified as true on a new baptismal certificate for me changed the facts of my religious baptism. Joan Wheeler was never baptized. Doris Sippel was baptized. Yet, the new baptismal certificate said Joan Wheeler was baptized. This false document was to be proof that I, as Joan Wheeler, was sanctioned by god to attend Catholic Church and to receive the sacraments.
Please note: that the priest who baptized me is not the same priest who falsified the new baptismal certificate. You can see both documents here:
Several points of absurdity here: If I were to follow the Catholic religion exactly, I would be sinning by participating in the sacraments under a name in which god did not recognize me as. In baptism, a child is named and presented to god in a sacred ceremony. A child can be baptized only once, in the eyes of god. So I should have only one baptismal certificate, right?
Moving on. My adoptive parents sent me to the best Catholic grade school and high school in the area, or so they thought. In addition, when my father gave me up to them in adoption, he stipulated that both he and my mother were Catholic. I was baptized at my dying mother’s bedside. My father wanted me to be raised Catholic.
And I was.
Lotta good that did. Now, my grade school years and high school years are tarnished because of two priests who served back to back (maybe they liked it that way) terms of service, one right after the other.
I’m so glad my parents are dead (all 4 of them), so that they won’t have to know about this.
Oh, another thing. When I met my father for the first time, he introduced me to my dead mother through her photos and life on paper. One paper was her high school diploma. Guess who signed it? A new priest by the name of Joseph Scheider. Twenty-some years later, when he presided over my 8th grade graduation, he signed my diploma, too.
He never touched me. Did he touch my mother?
I’ll never know.
Child sex abuse. Two important Catholic priests who shaped my life.
Thank god I am an ethical atheist.
(The above was edited and expanded this morning, July 1, 2018, and again on July 3rd)
Spreading the word on the petition for adoptees’ rights in New York State:
What can I say here?
I remember meeting Alicia’s mother, Mirah Riben, at my very first adoption conference. Adoption Forum of Philadelphia, 1980. I was 24 and had six years of reunion behind me. But I had never before met a mother who lost her first born to adoption. That was the same day I met Sandy Musser, too. My eyes were shocked open. Their emotions, their pain, laid bare.
Here we are in 2018, 38 years later. Still activists. Still banging our heads and screaming. Is anyone listening? Does anyone care?
Alicia, I didn’t know you. I wish I did know you. I wish I could have walked with you, arm in arm, carrying our protest signs at the March on Washington DC in 1989 when your mother organized the speeches at the podium in front of the Reflecting Pool. I spoke. So did others. Your voice should have been heard that day.
Your mother carries on, for herself, and for you. RIP dear Alicia.
Sincerely, I’m the Ghost of Alicia
I was born in The Summer of Love, 1967. But love was not enough to help my mother. No one helped her. They told her that I would ruin her life. Me, a tiny, helpless newborn infant!
My mother fought hard to keep me. She wouldn’t give up on me. She wouldn’t sign. I went to a wonderful foster family who really loved me – especially my two big teenaged foster sisters! Mom visited me but it was hard and the pressure was on her. After six months I never saw her again.
Then just a week before my first birthday my foster Mom put me in my car seat and she was crying. They took me to the house in New Jersey with the plastic covers on the furniture. They handed me over to my “new Mommy.” I had three big brothers. And…
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To this re-blog I will add: why on earth does any state government, any country, continue to revoke, annul, cancel, rescind, then seal the medical record of birth for adoptees? Why is replacing the facts of birth with false-facts of adoption considered to be legal, moral, and just? If YOU would not want this done to YOU, why are YOU accepting this done to adoptees?
Editor’s note: Adoptees like me born during the era of closed records are effectively in a kind of witness protection program. We are typically not allowed access to our original birth certificates but instead get amended birth certificates, which list our adoptive names and the names of our adoptive parents. It is against the law to know our true identities, but slowly that is beginning to change.
As DNA testing and social media connect adoptees with their natural families, laws that keep adoptee records sealed from public view have become moot. In recent years nine states have changed their laws to allow adult adoptees unrestricted access to their original birth certificates. Other states are beginning to consider changing their laws, too. New York has taken up adoptee rights reform for years without success, and is doing so again this year. Maybe this year will finally be one that works.
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In addition to the points raised by this blogger – that not one adoptee was interviewed, not one birth parent was interviewed, that adoptee Hana Williams’s death was glossed over, and much more – I would like to highlight the fact that this Ethiopian adoptee was issued a false birth certificate stating that these white Americans gave birth to her. And since they murdered her, her American death certificate also names her adopters as her parents of birth. There is a hidden crime in all adoptions – and that remains the falsification of facts.
NPR recently did a soft story: “In Ethiopia, A New Ban on Foreign Adoptions Is About National Pride.”
Here’s what went wrong with it:
In a story about Ethiopian adoptions, not one adult adoptee was included for perspective. Nor was an Ethiopian birth parent quoted, if any were even consulted.
The tragic death of Ethiopian adoptee Hana Williams was glossed over. Her murder by her adoptive parents was considered homicide by abuse, and roiled the Ethiopian adoption community as well as Ethiopians in Ethiopia and in the diaspora.
Fraud and corruption didn’t even get a mention in this story. Staff from one agency were indicted by the US Justice Department, pled guilty, and were given jail time. That’s not insignificant. Many adoptive families and adoptees from Ethiopia have learned that the reasons that adoption agencies provided for their adoption were not true or accurate. For example, many adoptees have…
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Want to know what it feels like to live every day of your life knowing that you were rejected from the moment of your conception, and then your adoption?
This is how one woman feels. And I see this in many other adoptees as well. For these adoptees, each day is a reminder that your pregnant mom didn’t want you. And that sets the stage for a lifetime of self doubt.
Petition by Tim Monti-Wohlpart, Brooklyn, New York.
This petition has 3,447 online signatures. Let’s bring the count up to 5,000.
This is about adoptees’ civil rights. We are urging Governor Cuomo to veto A5036-B / S4845-B and to support the true, multi-partisan and “CLEAN” New York Bill of Adoptee Rights (S5169-A / A6821-A).
For details, see the Petition Site here.
And here is the point I am desperately trying to get across to the rich, white women I know who think they are feminists:
“Intersectionalists want adoption and surrogacy available for their sociopathic convenience; they want someone else to endure the pains of pregnancy and childbirth while they focus on their careers. And this, folks, is evil. A choice is not a choice when it is the only option, and when coercion is the driving impetus. Adoption is not a reproductive right; no infertile/wealthy woman or LGBT has a right to the uterus, vagina, and baby of a girl or woman. This is exactly what present-day feminists ignore: YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO TELL A GIRL OR WOMAN WHAT TO DO JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE A VAGINA. YOU DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO ANOTHER WOMAN’S CHILD.”
Thank you, post.for your
Before college, I wrestled with the term “feminist,” as second wave feminism had barely hit my home – the American South. My forward-thinking family members didn’t embrace the term despite being pro-woman. I didn’t understand why. But I came to understand when I realized it is women, not men, who cause girls and women the most heartache and trauma. There’s more female-on-female violence, be it mental/psychological or physical, that goes unreported than unreported male-on-female. Whether it’s dangerous cultural “hen-pecking orders” that incorporate barbaric practices such as female genital mutilation, or for-profit private adoptions driven by women of means coveting children of the poor and marginalized, women are womankind’s own worst enemy.
I once clarified I was “second wave” in a feminist sense, yet second wave feminism ushered in a lot of toxic attacks on femininity, motherhood, heterosexual sex, and privacy. Second wave feminism created the “supermom” syndrome that has now…
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Yes, Amber LaShea Geislinger, you are very beautiful. Unfortunately, your natural beauty is a threat to some women.
My 31 year old daughter and I had a discussion about the #MeToo Movement yesterday. Both of us noticed that some women are over-reacting, or covering up (as in your post here) the legitimate complaints of sexual harassment and sexual assault made by other women.
This #MeToo movement, and the take-down of prominent men has another unfortunate side to it. That is, our friendships are at stake. What do I mean by that? Men are afraid of women now.
Two situations occurred to me over the weekend. One, a long-time male friend of mine confided in me that this has gotten out of hand, that he feels any little gesture could be misunderstood. Here is a man who always has a bright smile on his face, never has anything bad to say about anyone, and is as sweet as pie. I could never see him harming any woman, yet, he is even afraid to ask a lady to dance with him.
The other situation was a case of mistaken identity by a professional musician. After the show, fans gathered around, talking with each other and the band. Someone came up from behind me, put his arm lightly around me, but when he saw I was not the woman he thought I was, he backed away and repeatedly said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry…I thought you were someone else.” I hope that he felt better to see my smile and to hear me reassure him that I took no offense.
What are we becoming? It is good that sexual harassment and sexual assault are finally being recognized and taken seriously, with consequences for the perpetrator, well, for the most part.
But the back-lash from other women, as Amber LaShea Geislinger points out, and the uneasy atmosphere between men and women who are genuinely simply socializing, is putting a strain on us all.
Last week, my state – Alabama – held a special Senate election. And the entire world watched. Doug Jones, prosecutor of the 1963 16th Baptist Church bombing, won over the child predator Roy Moore. My husband and I got up early and voted to save the rest of America from the influence of Alabama’s infamous resident racist misogynist. Roy Moore, a creepy evangelical, pulled support from counties it’s best to just drive through: St. Claire County and Cullman County, the latter was the seat of the KKK for decades.
I support the women who have spoken out and tweeted #MeToo. Yes, it’s a gutsy thing to take up for yourself. And let me tell you how that went for me just over a decade again in a small college town in Alabama: It didn’t. I was passive-aggressively threatened by the administration, primarily the office of Human Resources and its Director…
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