Chicago Tribune’s Article “Open to Interpretation” and My Response

The Chicago Tribune published this article on birth certificate access and reunions:

Open to interpretation

Despite new laws granting access to birth records, many adoptees struggle in search of their past

While people are catching on that it is descriminatory to keep adoptees’ birth certificates sealed, many are missing the point that illegitimacy may have been the cause of the sealed and falsified laws, but there is much more going on.

Because I have been lumped into the category of being illegitimate when I am not, I resent the stigma placed upon me. I resent the stigma placed on my fellow adoptees because this is an out-dated stigma. All humans have value, no matter what the circumstances at birth and childhood.

Here is my posted response to the above article:

The stigma of illegitimacy does not apply to all adoptees. There are adoptees who were adopted by their step parents, adoptees who were taken from married parents and put into foster care and fast tracked into adoption, there are adoptees who were half or full orphaned by the death of one or both parents. In all of the above cases, none of these adoptees were from illegitimate births.

To hold all adoptees in the legal prison of sealed and falsified birth certificates based solely upon the social stigma of illegitimacy is truly discrimination against the class of people known as adoptees. Clearly, it is not the condition of illegitimate birth that makes the government seal and then falsify a new birth certificate for each adoptee, it is the condition of being adopted that sets the series of events into motion that automatically seizes an infant’s or older child’s birth certificate, seals it, and replaces it with a falsified document that states that two biologically unrelated people (to the child) created said child and gave birth to said child.

To stop the discrimination, we must end the process of automatically sealing and falsifying birth certificates of adoptees. Retain the birth certificate as an operable document and then issue an adoption certificate: that is how it is done in more progressive countries, such as The Netherlands.

~ ~ ~ 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.

Not illegitimate

Not illegitimate

Humboldt Beacon

Posted: 09/16/2010 10:47:21 AM PDT


  

  

Dear Editor,

There are obvious limitations of the current debate on adoptees’ access to their birth certificates, but people rarely think of adoptees as legitimately born.

Adoption is not only about single mothers of loss and adoptees who were illegitimate bastards. Half and full orphans are victimized by sealed and falsified birth certificates, too. The law sealing adoptees’ birth certificates was written to hide illegitimacy. Adoptees are “legitimized” by the new, amended birth certificate showing two married parents.

But I am not illegitimate! I had two legitimate parents before being relinquished and adopted! The original intent of the sealed record law does NOT apply to me or my natural mother, or my known natural father.

I’m 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.

Joan Wheeler born Doris Sippel

Reunited adoptee found by full blood siblings in 1974 at age 18

Buffalo, New York

Editor’s note: this in response to a Letter that appeared in last week’s Humboldt Beacon by Mara Rigge of Trinidad, Calif.

~ ~ ~ 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.

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 Mothers.mov … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NC1aP2JnpU4. 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.

Predatory Pedophile Catholic Priests Fathered Children

Much has been written about the now-worldwide phenomenon of predatory pedophile Catholic priests who molested young boys, but it is important to note that priests also molested young girls and older teens. These girls and young women (how many?) were also impregnated by these priests.

A recent NPR audio caught my ear on Tuesday, April 20, 2010’s Morning Edition: “Priest’s Dual Legacy: Transgressions And Money”. The transcript can be found here: http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=126116570

NPR hosts Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne use these statements to introduce the story:

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Father Marcial Maciel built the conservative Legion of Christ into a
powerful Catholic order. Over several decades, Maciel raised millions of dollars for the church. Some estimate the order’s assets are worth $20 billion. After Maciel died in 2008, his order revealed that he had fathered a daughter. Others have come forward claiming to be his sons.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

There were years of allegations ignored by the Vatican that Father Maciel sexually abused seminarians as young as 12. Our next guest has reported that Father Maciel hid his secret life by buying the protection of key Vatican officials.

The fact that Father Marcial Maciel fathered children does not seem to be an issue; discussion of the money and assets followed. The adult children get an “honorable mention”, but the mothers of these children get NO mention at all. The story focuses on the MONEY but is missing crucial details.

While this story focuses on just one priest, it raises the as-yet-not-publicly-addressed topic of what happened to the children of these predatory priests? What happened to the mothers of these priests’ children?

I’ve recently been told by a friend, Mary L. Foess (Bonding By Blood, Unlimited) that this a major reason why The Catholic Church and its organizations oppose the opening of birth and adoption records to adoptees. This makes sense, but is not addressed by main stream media — not even NPR.

Mary adds:

The main reason which I believe is responsible for lobbies for adoption agency, owned by Catholic Church organizations, ones which keep blocking the release of original birth certificates to persons formerly adopted as children, is this: Once the mother is found by this adult who was adopted,  she will then tell her adult ‘child’ who his/her father is. This may lead straight to the priest. There are adoption agencies funded by Catholic church sources; they have powerful lobbies. The Associations for Lawyers, too, block these bills, too, by opposing them when they speak in committee meetings (public hearings). Some birthdads, too, are ‘married men’ who had an affair with these birth mothers.

The Catholic Church’s opposition to unsealing birth and adoption records to adoptees is based upon the unspoken and unacknowledged problem that many, possibly thousands, of priests are indeed fathers — and not just “men of the cloth” religious fathers. The Church wants to keep under wraps the identities of priests who sired out-of-wedlock babies.

For the girls and young women involved, the cover-up means that they remained silent for decades because they conceived outside of marriage. The shame of conceiving through the rape of a priest is even more horrifying. These girls and young women were, of course, forced into relinquishing their illegitimate children, sentencing both the mothers and their adopted-out offspring into lifetimes of shame, degradation and guilt.

But that shame, guilt and degradation doesn’t belong on the young mothers and their children. Let’s put the shame and blame where it belongs: on the not-married fathers — priests — who, not only molested children, but broke their vows of celibacy, destroyed trust, mocked their vocational priesthood and took away the innocence of thousands of children, and their own children.

A very long time ago, I watched the romantic movie series The Thornbirds, about a priest and his love for a woman. Romantic and melancholy, this story tugged at my heart. That was when I was much younger than what I am now. Now, decades later, the thought turns my stomach. Not because I don’t think priests ought to be married, but because if marriage were allowed, perhaps some of the sexual problems of priests might be solved.

We have real-live adoptees who want their birth certificates unsealed, who want their adoption records unsealed, and who want to know who is responsible for giving them life. Because the Catholic lobby is so strongly opposed to opening these records, these adoptees will never know the truth. Correction, these specific adoptees — and millions of other adoptees not produced by predatory pedophile priests — are forced to live life not knowing the truth of their births because protecting the identities of these flaky fathers is more important than fessing-up, telling the truth, admitting to the sins committed and going about the business of rectifying the wrongs. Opening birth and adoption records would help millions of adoptees answer their questions of personal identity, but the Catholic Church says no.

Perhaps the reason the world has not heard about this issue is because The Catholic Church cannot cope with more public scrutiny.

I want to know why more Senior Mothers, and perhaps younger women who were impregnated by priests, do not step forward. The shame is not on you, the shame belongs on the perpetrator. Your adult children need you to step forward and step up to the plate to rally with adoptees to open birth and adoption records. Let’s start naming names of the priests who first committed the rapes, and then causing pregnancies, and who then forced the relinquishment of thousands of their own children.

Father Marcial Maciel of the conservative Legion of Christ is not the only priest to have fathered out-of-celibacy and out-of-wedlock illegitimate children. Who are the others?

 

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

~ ~ ~

By coincidence, the following was sent via Adoption News Service about the fight for open records in New Jersey where adoptees are being held back by the Catholic Conference:

http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/91678409_The_Record__Letters__April_21__2010.html?c=y&page=2

At adoption standoff’s center

Regarding Contributing Editor James Ahearn’s “Battle to open adoption records” (Opinion, Page O-2, April 18):

The true battle is the adoption community (to include birth mothers) against the Catholic Church.

Ahearn has written on priestly abuses in the past, so it is especially frustrating that he did not make the connection that the church wants secrecy in adoption to protect clerics who are, well, fathers.

Ahearn goes on to say that there are Democrats and Republicans on each side. Really? That’s funny. In the state Senate, only one Democrat voted against the bill to give adult adoptees access to their birth certificates and family medical histories of their birth parents.

The adoption community longs for a brave editor or reporter who might think it a bit funny that the Catholic Church is advocating for secrecy over transparency.

Peter W. Franklin

Haskell, April 19

The writer is associated with the Web site AdopteesWithOutLiberty.com.

http://adopteeswithoutliberty.com/