Assembling Self

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Adoptees Hidden Pasts

Hidden Pasts

How do I see the future when I can not find my past?
How can I build foundations that I know are going to last?
With bits and pieces missing and secrets kept from me.
How do I stop the questions and find serenity?
My mind is always traveling down roads that I create.
Where quests are finally finished and much sought answers wait.
Scenarios repeat themselves with solutions changed each time.
I roll the imaginary film and endings I could find.
My head is always in the clouds my feet not near the ground.
Can you hear my constant secret prayer, the song that has no sound?
My heart will always be tied to another time and space.
Until I find the passage to that secluded hidden place.
Where it started long ago, or once upon a time.
Each day until I find the path I'm searching for those signs.
The ones that will point out the way, the direction I should go.
To solve this life long puzzle, and the past I want to know.

I am a 51 year old adoptee who is not allowed identifying information about my biological family even after 3 court petitions over the last twelve years.  I am now on my fourth.  Even with multiple ongoing health problems since the age of 15 the government denies my right to be able obtain a full family medical background.

I have no idea where I was for the two weeks after I was born and taken from my natural mother without her being allowed to see me or hold me.  I can't get any information from the hospital or the medical clinic I was born in and received prenatal care from.  I have no idea in my biological family who I look like, who I take after, or have the ability to find those who may want to know me because they don't even know I exist.  I have no names, cities, or states to search for them.  I have no idea where many of my multiple health issues stem from.

It is time for the secrecy and falsifications about adoptee's lives to stop.  It is time that we quit lying to adopted children about who they are and where they come from.  It is time that adoption agencies, institutions, and lawyers quit stealing and profitting off of children and making marketable commodities.  It is time adoptees are given the truth.

You can't find peace until you find the pieces.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Echoes - The Internal And Eternal Voices In An Adoptee's Mind

We made it through Thanksgiving YEAH.  As many adoptees know celebrating the Holidays can be extremely difficult.  So many absences felt, ghost of the missing lurking nearby even if unknown missed and thought of, and holes in the whole fabric of "family".

I have not posted this poem because I have to be honest I'm a little embarrassed about it.  I read it now and it sounds pretty sappy and pathetic.  But, I wrote it when I was on the emotional high of the pending reunion alluded to by my natural mother through the confidential intermediary and in the beautiful and emotional eight page handwritten non-identifying letter she wrote me, along with a 40th birthday card.  The reunion never happened.  And even now, eleven years later, I have to admit I still have hope someday it might.  It's a continuing conversation I have in my head with myself often.  I know as an adoptee I am not alone in this.

I mentioned to a friend how different this Holiday was for me.  You see if you count back nine months from my date of birth on August 24th you get, yes, Thanksgiving time frame.  She mentioned, since our birthdays are just a few days apart that she guessed she was too.  I let her know the difference is she has the story of her birth circumstances.  I do not, and the reality is that I may never have them.

What I do know is that if I am thinking about it, there is a good chance my natural mother is too, and perhaps me as well.  And maybe, even with the distance between us, we are still connected by it.  Now, to just get through Christmas and move on to a new year.  Maybe a year my natural mother will actually respond to my letter through the courts.  To hope my natural father will respond is too much to think about, for now.


A child was lost along the way, we once were close now far away.
Time stands still, or so it seems, as I wait to fulfill these dreams.
Floating adrift detached from roots, of life's sweet truths I'm in pursuit.
Dreaming of the day I'll see when my love can be set free.
I'll be released, unfettered to show these feelings that only continue to grow.
Oh mother do you think of me?
Were the ties dissolved?
Are you glad you're free?
To carry on and leave me here?
Is there no bond, no feeling there?
I can't believe you need me not, or my existence you forgot.
Voices of the past still say and echo in my head today.
Connections made between two hearts, can never die nor be torn apart.
Did a simple signature sign me away?
Did it erase the memories from today?
Are there feelings left from long ago?
Is there any love deep in your soul?
For me to have?
I'd surely take, whatever gift you have to place.
Into my life, into my heart where you have always been a part.
I wait for the time that I will know when these two halves will be a whole.

© Karen

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

An Ungrateful Adoptee

Ungrateful: Dissatisfied, faultfinding, ingrate, thankless, unappreciative, unthankful. These are just a few synonyms my Thesaurus gives me for “ungrateful”. A word that is commonly applied to adoptees who dare to speak out about their adopted status, situations, or circumstances, and to those of us who dare to step out of society's preferred role for us in adoption and are labeled “bitter” and “angry” instead in our reactions to the system of adoption. And YES, YES I am ungrateful for all of the injustice that goes on in adoption.

For the last twelve years I have been connected with the adoption community I have watched as adoptees and first parents have been lied to, denied access to vital life saying information, and have DIED or their children did trying to obtain it, or to pass it along to biological children. Countless adoptees desperately trying to find answers to their lives with falsified information and little in the way of facts to help them.  So many too, who have spent immense amounts of time, huge amounts of money, and wasted endeavors trying to sort truth from fiction in adoption searches. And, people who have no business in OUR business dictating to us how and what we should feel about adoption.

I have sat, and still sit, ring side to the agony, sorrow, pain, and suffering of adoptees searching and yearning for the truth for far too many days I care to count.

How, could I ever BE "grateful" for this for myself, or anyone else?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Secrets, Deception & Lies OH MY!

I have waited to tackle this most sordid portion of adoption because frankly I didn't know where to start, or better, where to stop.  It's fairly easy for people to understand, in some capacity, an adoptee's need to know where they came from and their search for their families of origin, especially when it comes to health issues.  A little harder it is to persuade others regarding the civil rights stance for adoptee access to identifying information and debunk the birth mother confidentiality fallacy that's hand fed by the adoption powers that be, such as the National Council For Adoption, to the general public.  But what is even more difficult, if not nearly impossible, is convincing people of the vast corrupt nature of the business that is adoption, and the fraud and dishonesty prevalent and ongoing today.  As we who are in the midst of it know all too well, the evidence is disgustingly overwhelming.

I could go on to quote and list numerous agencies, attorneys, and numerous other persons involved in adoption corruption.  I will do that later, but not right now.  However, if you would like to do so please just type "Adoption Fraud" into your search browser and you'll see for yourself.  Most of these cases populated are adoptive parents who were defrauded by agencies or scammed by prospective birth parents.  What I do want to do right now, is relay examples of some of those that fall victim to the unethical practices in adoption.  The most innocent victims, adoptees.

Adoption Agencies Lie pulled up this site, among numerous others.  One blogger wrote about adoption agencies; "They are as noble as a car dealership."  Those of us who know AGREE!

When I first got online and discovered the adoption community I was not prepared for what I encountered.  Right off the bat I began to hear stories of coercion, lies, and duplicity.  I was shocked to say the least.  And, the most shocking of it all was that I would come to find out my own adoption search would be involved in the covert and questionable methods used in adoption.  But, that is for a whole other blog.

I've heard many, many, first mothers state they had left letters to their children they relinquished with the adoption agency if their grown children ever came looking for them.  And parents and searching adoptees discover later after reunion, these letters were "missing", or had vanished as if they never existed.  Add to that the amount of first parents and adoptees who have left letters for consent for contact in their files with agencies only to be told repeatedly upon checking back that no one was looking for them, or no match was found on the state adoption registry.  Later after finding one another through other means they recognize they have been lied to.  Adoptees who in the beginning are so prized become chattel to the adoption system once they are adopted.

I have people tell me that open adoption is far more common now and connections between adoptive children and their families remain intact.  I beg to differ.  Ask the hundreds, if not thousands, of first parents out there who have had the door slammed shut on them after being manipulated out of their newborn children for adoption with promises of whatever it took, letters, photos, and or visits.  There is no legal recourse for a natural parent to pursue the promised terms of an open adoption as adoptive parents hold all the legal rights to the child.  Their children's names have been changed, possibly their dates of birth, and any information about them is sealed by law in the majority of states.

Many times relinquishment is only given by the natural mother and the natural father is left out of the whole equation.  Many of these natural fathers are not even notified they have a child to begin with.  These agencies like to over look minor little "details" like this (as in the recent case of Grayson Vaughn) and continue to come out smelling like a rose because suing an adoption agency is costly, timely, and difficult.   Once again adoptees are treated as property and lose as they are stripped of their biological families.

I hear these stories this over, and over and over again.  All of this is INEXCUSABLE.  It is a disgrace to the institution of adoption and a blatant slap in the face to adoptees everywhere.

These adoption agencies and lawyers should be held accountable for their actions! Many of these adoption agencies operate under the definition of "non-profit" while taking in massive amounts of money for adoptions.  Adoption agencies take our heredity and family histories and sell them, and then deny our requests for our original identities.  Adoption is supposed to function in the best interest of the children it is supposed to provide for and instead, does them a great disservice. 

The Adoption industry has functioned for far too long unwatched, untended, and unregulated.  They are out there now advertising their services, marketing to birth parents, and perpetuating this cycle of greed and covetousness for other people's children.  They turn adoptees into very profitable commodities.  They violate an adoptee's civil rights!  And, it is all being done in the name of "Adoption".

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Adoption And Identity Loss

"We shall not cease our explorations, and the end of our exploring will be to arrive back where we started and know the place for the first time" -- T.S. Eliot

From birth children look into their parent's eyes and mirrored back are similar smiles, eyes, voices, and faces.  In adoption that is missing.  Many people say they feel like outsiders in their biological families and that they don't fit in and try to compare that to being adopted.  I understand that in many cases this is true, but not nearly in the capacity that adoptees do with no shared heredity to the families they are adopted into.  It can make adoptees feel isolated and ostracized especially when the subject is one that is misunderstood, and is refused to be discussed and addressed in adoptive families.

I am just one example of mismatched genetics in adoption.  My adoptive parents are quiet, conservative, introverted, and undemonstrative.  I am talkative, extroverted, nonconformist, and emotional.  Neither is right or wrong.  They just are both very different.  Add to that the lack of any physical characteristics being the same, and include the expectation of an adoptee fit in, and the whole situation is set up for failure. 

When I obtained my non-identifying information and letter from my natural mother through the adoption courts (no names, cities, addresses given) I was overwhelmingly happy and surprised to learn that I am absolutely a product of genetics. From physical description, to hobbies, to personality, and even down to handwriting.  What a wonderful revelation to finally know at least a part of who and why I am.

I have had the privilege over the years to watch hundreds of reunions between adoptees and their families of origin.  To finally be able to see pieces of yourself in others physically is something adoptees appreciate and celebrate more than those who grew up with it.  Knowing where your sense of humor, your habits, likes and dislikes stem from gives you validation of who you are.  I know I am always comparing my friend's family photos and finding similarities between children and parents, sisters and brothers, grandparents and grand children.  I have watched adoptees and natural parents do the same when finally finding one another and the intense jubilation and celebration that comes for it.  Not knowing who and where you come from is a void in our lives that will always long to be filled.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Missing Ties - Adoption Loss

Missing Ties

A missing sock whose mate is gone.
A distant pair apart so long.
A broken bridge never rebuilt.
Like patches missing from a quilt.
An unfinished letter misplaced and lost.
Undotted I's and T's not crossed.
A phone line with connections broken.
Important words that can't be spoken.
And in each stranger on the street.
We search the faces that we meet,
To find out who it is we are.
The distant ties that seems so far.

Short blog today for NAAM as I am battling immense pain from the usual health issues.  Once again today I found myself defending adoptees who were called pathetic and bitter.  I am mature enough, as the accuser pointed out, to realize these accusations come from those who have no true understanding of adoptee issues.  But, the reality is they exist in our lives no matter what "others" try and tell us.  The lines of this poem are symbolic of the disconnections we encounter in this thing called "being adopted.

We have to walk these in these adopted shoes each and every day.  Adoption is not a one time transaction, it is a life time experience.  Adoption is forever not something you "get over".  We learn to deal and heal from the scars and wounds adoption gives us, and go on to hopefully give our understanding to others.

Much thanks and love to my fellow adoption educators, reformers, and activists.  You help make my life worth living.  And yes, somewhere I inherited that sappy gene...thanks first Mom & Dad. :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Adoption And God

I'm steppping into a land mine on this one for sure.  But, I can not resign myself any longer to listen to people prattle on to me about God and adoption.  I long ago stopped being served God and adoption together on a silver platter and acquiesing to it.

I am weary of adoptive parents and others claiming, and writing poems about, God's "will" or "plan" brought adopted children to families.  Really?  Did God show up on the door step to deliver them, and if so did anyone get pictures of this blessed event?  Or, were you notified by God via phone?  Fax?  Email?  And, if so can ya hook me up?  I sure do have a pile of questions for God regarding adoption.

Was it God that chose for me to be taken from my natural mother who wanted to keep me, and to be adopted by two mentally, emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive parents who had a biological child that was loved and adored?  Was it God who then allowed me to be adopted into a system of secrets and lies and then rejected and abandoned by two sets of parents?  Was it God who gave me a body ridden with hereditary and genetic illnesses young with no recourse or help from my adoptive parents to get vital updated medical history for doctors like other nonadopted persons can?  Am I being punished for some original sin, my natural parents perhaps?

And, is it God's will that woman are impregnated through rape, or first mothers/parents murdered or killed tragically, so others can have a child?  Was it God that made adoptive parents infertile so they would have to covet other people's children and buy them?  Is it God who ordains subsidies and tax breaks for adoption? I have a hard time believing any "God" would do this to, or for, anyone.  I have a harder time believing God has anything to do with adoption.

There are certain sites on Facebook and the internet proclaiming over and over how adoption is preordained by God.  And OH how I wish these people would stop quoting bible verses to me about adoption.  I fail to see how a loving God would cause so much pain and suffering for adoptees and natural parents to create families for adoptive parents.  The bible can be used for anything you wish it to mean.  I've read it front to back several times and I'd love to apply “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” to the adoption industry.

Here are just a few more statements that just make me cringe and writhe in anger and frustration:

"Adopted children are a gift from God".  Really?  I thought gifts were supposed to be given freely.  So, if we see a child as a gift from God, then isn't adoption "regifting"?  Also, I have never received a gift I had to pay large amounts of cash for.  Then, it wouldn't be a gift it would be a possession I bought outright, for myself.  And certainly to me and others adopted children thought of as gifts, taken from their natural parents, erasing their biological identities, and given to strangers does not seem ethical or Godly.  How does one rationalize these behaviors and decisions with God's plan?   I fail to understand.

“God answered our prayers with our adopted child".  Do prayers as adoptive parents take precedence over the prayers of a biological parent or grand parent to keep that child within the family?  Is it God's will then that these children lose their families of origin to answer the prayers of adoptive parents?  Does this mean adoptive parents are higher up on the prayer chain?

How will it be handled when adopted children begin asking about, and searching for, their biological family, IF that is they are ever told they are adopted to begin with.  So many adoptive parents believe that hiding the truth and concealing adoptees from their identies is ok and their right as the "real" parents to their adopted children.  So, it's stated in the ten commandmants “Thou shalt not lie”.  I don't remember any loop hole containing "except in adoption".  I was taught at a young age in Sunday school that lying was a sin.  Is it ok to eliminate the truth for your adopted children if you believe your intentions are good?

A comment now from the adoption book “How God brought us you”; “I appreciate how clear it's made that God brought mother and baby together.”  Clearly?  Really?  Because it doesn't seem clear at all to me.  In fact, it's pretty damn muddied.  I didn't get any announcement from the adoption court judge or confidential intermediary about God placing me where I was, nor was it in my non-identifying information.  Adoption agencies and lawyers arrange adoptions for profit and try to coerce mothers out of their children through propaganda and pie in the sky promises.  Government policy and law allows for falsifications of birth certificates for adoptees.   I sure hope “you reap what you sow” applies to all of them.

“Honor Thy Father and Mother”. Which set?  The ones who abused and rejected me, or the ones who refuse contact with me?  I'm confused on this one.

And lastly, “God doesn't give you more than you can handle” in relation to being adopted.  I call bull S&%$ on that one. No further elaboration needed just read the stories of adoptees and first parents out there, and those that have taken their lives out of sheer pain from it.

So either this is all a huge crap shoot, or this was a path that I chose to enter in life on this earth for whatever lessons and growth I needed spiritually.  The latter makes a lot more sense to me.  But I have no right to dictate to anyone else what is God's will and plan or not.

My faith, and I am stating it is MY faith and no one else's belief system, has gotten me through the difficult times of my life.  As an adoptee I am not a gift, I am not an answer to anyone's prayers, and I don't thank God for being adopted.  I don't believe God had anything to do with my being adopted.  My experience is that the era of stigma and shame over women becoming pregnant out of wedlock and unmarried, and a social experiment that was created by government agencies and institutions called closed records adoption, were.

So, if you believe God brings people children through adoption that is your right.  Just remember that does not give anyone the authority to decree what is God's intention, or not, when it comes to adoption.  No one can claim to have proof or the answers, nor will we ever.  None of us.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tales From The Adopted Side

Most of my life I was confused, lost, and without anyone who understood why I felt about adopted life as I did. I was given comparisons to bad biological families who were as dysfunctional as mine.  I was accused of wallowing in self-pity and to forget it and not think about being adopted.  If they only knew how I wished I could.

But, I couldn't, most adoptees can't either. I had heard about people finding one another on the internet, and as I had gone back to school, a computer seemed to be the answer to help handle both.  At first, I got lost in chat rooms, big surprise huh, but one day I plugged “adoptee” into the search box. What I found forever changed my life.

Not only did I find resources to begin my search for my biological family, I found those who were working to change the system of adoption.  I became obsessed, not just with searching, but with these groups who seemed to be making significant progress in adoption reform.  I had been a person fairly home centered with my family. Most of my life revolved around them, and work, and school.  But my life was about to drastically change, and for once, for the better.

I joined a local support and activism group on and offline.  I was attending monthly meetings, reading, learning, and absorbing everything I could.  It was announced, in 1999, that there would be a rally at the capital in support of adult adoptee access to original birth certificates.  I decided then I was going and no one was going to stop me.  So, I promptly told my husband I was driving to Austin for this event.  He scoffed and said he didn't want to go.  I told him fine, I was going anyway.  He seemed a bit shocked, but doubtful I would actually go, but I was adamant I was really going to do this.  I remember starting to pack a couple of days previous to leaving and he commented “You are really going aren't you?”  I said YEP, and you and our son can either come with me or not, the choice is yours.  This was the beginning of the new person I was about to become.

So, we packed up the car and headed out for Austin.  I was nervous, anxious, and excited at the prospect of what I was about to experience. I got to the capitol and met up with “my people”.  I was in awe of the stir of emotion and activity taking place before me. I remember meeting a fellow adoptee outside and exchanging stories.  I was FINALLY in the company of those who GOT IT.  It was absolutely spine tingling and amazing being in the presence of adoption reformers who were actually trying to change adoption law!

At the rally outside the Capital Christina Crawford was there to speak in support of our legislative efforts.  I was about to meet the author of “Mommie Dearest”, someone who I had identified with since I had seen the movie.  She began to take the podium and I asked my husband to watch my son.  I was mesmerized by her speech and hung on her every word.  That was, I until I realized my son had run up on to the steps where she was speaking and said “Hi”. Christina stopped, looked down, and paused.  All went silent.  And, what does an insecure adoptee hate more than being the focus of unwanted attention?  Yeah.

I turned about seventeen shades of red and went and got my son.  I thought, well there ya go the woman you wanted SO badly to meet now won't want to meet you!  I was wrong because when I approached her to apologize she was most gracious and understanding.  In meeting up with her again a year or so later at an adoption conference I said “Do you remember me, my son was the one who interrupted your speech in Austin?”  To which she smiled and immediately replied, “Oh yes, how are you?”  We conversed over a glass of wine and shared an elevator ride.  So, I now am memorable in Christina Crawford's life. How cool is THAT?

Before I knew it I was getting to do newspaper interviews,, a brief snippet on local TV (it was only about one minute so I have fourteen minutes left on my claim to fame), The Seeker Radio show several times and a couple of times as guest host.  I was traveling to regional and national adoption conferences and events.  I was elected and asked to represent and lead adoption activism groups.  I wrote and published my adoption poetry book (in bad format I know never EVER sign off on a manuscript when you've been in at Children's hospital for a week with your son in ICU on NO sleep) called "Assembling Self".  I was invigorated each day I got out of bed and I had a sense of accomplishment and pride I had never had before.

I am not usually some one who brags, but I am proud.  Proud that I could be a part of the progress that is adoption reform in whatever capacity I can. I have not been able to be as active in the past few years due to personal issues and health problems.  So many others have done so much more than I think I could ever do.  But, I learn from their work and their examples daily.  I meet new people every day signing up, donating their precious time, energy, and stories for the greater good.  We have so much to do and anyone can advocate for adoptee rights, not just adoptees, or natural parents, or adoptive parents, or those with direct connections to adoption.  PLEASE JOIN US!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What Adoption Means To Me

A friend posted a link to a site where the question was asked "What does adoption meant to you?"

It was prefaced with the comment "I wanted to find out from the most important people in the adoption conversation – the parents, what adoption means to them."  I take offense to that!  Once again the most important people in adoption, adoptees who adoption is supposed to be in place to provide for, were left out of the equation.  Natural parents, par for the course, were not included either.

The first comments are from adoptive parents and the usual "Adoption is love" blah blah blah.  One left me wanting to puke "adoption was our dreamcatcher."  Well, as an adoptee glad to be of "service".    What a burden to place upon the head of a child to complete other people's dreams and lives.  Perhaps that is not what was meant but that has certainly been my experience, and the experience of others.  Do I believe that there are adoptive parents who adopt to support the dreams and lives of adoptees?  Absolutely.  Unfortunately, the reality of what adoption does to adoptees is most frequently either denied, dismissed, or harshly judged.

So let me state it loud and clear what adoption means to me.

Adoption to me means being taken from my first mother who wanted to keep me and given to a family who abused me verbally, mentally, and emotionally. Who later, had a biological child who was loved and adored. It means rejection and abandonment two fold.  It means becoming ill in my teens and suffering multiple genetic and hereditary health issues with no family medical history to give doctors and languishing for decades in ill health with hit or miss, mostly miss, tests and treatments, and losing a great majority of my life in and out of doctors and hospitals without answers, unable to work.  It means trying to obtain vital medical background for doctors with only an amended birth certificate in hand filled with falsifications and lies, and adoptive parents who did not care to try and help me.  It means years of court petitions to a judge through an adoption court to try and get as much updated family medical information upon doctors urgent requests and adoption laws and policies that treat me as a perpetual child unable to handle the truth about my own biological family.  Adoption for me means loss, and pain, and immense sadness.

These are not stories the adoption industry wants to acknowledge.  These are not emotions adoptive parents want to hear.  These are not experiences the general public understands as truths that exists in adoption.  But they are ours, and they beg to be heard and acknowledged.  Adoptees are speaking loudly, and clearly, that the system of adoption is in need of a major over haul.

Adoption is separating natural families to create new ones.  Adoption is based on loss and pain.  Adoption is the government stealing our identities, issuing us false ones, and profiting off of that!  THESE are the facts and truths that need to be listened to and heard in the month of National Adoption Awareness.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Great “State” of Texas & Child Welfare

The recent facts and statistics for families and their children growing up in Texas are pretty grim. It's some of the worst and most depressing news I've had the displeasure of presenting. This all has a direct impact on children who can be separated from their biological families, placed in the foster care system, for simply having parents who are poor. Biological parents should not be deemed unfit and have their parental rights terminated because of poverty. Children who are adopted out of the foster care system can lose their biological family ties forever, and in Texas upon adoption birth certificates are sealed to adoptees, biological parents, and adoptive parents.

Four out of ten people in Texas classified as living in poverty are children (about $22,000 per year for a family of four in 2009). Texas’ aid system, which includes programs like food stamps, unemployment, and Medicaid, ranks second to last in the country for the share of needy, eligible people, who receive benefits. Only about two percent of Texas’ poor children receive benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, in part due to the difficulty of accessing funds.

Texas has little funding for CCMS (Child Care Management Services) for low income families to help parents with child care to enable them to go work. And ours, is a state that has the highest rate of children without health insurance and access to decent medical care. To qualify for child care or medical help extremely low income requirements and asset limits restrict eligibility. Texas has the highest rate of children at the risk of becoming homeless, or living homeless in the country. "Women and children are the fastest growing population of homeless nationally and in the Dallas area," said Mike Faenza, president and chief executive officer of the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance.

I've been told that child poverty in Texas occurs because of our immigrant family population. But, six states with equal or higher percentages of children in immigrant families than Texas have lower, and some cases much lower, child poverty rates. People say those who can't afford children shouldn't have them. These children are already here, let's not punish them for it.  Parents who are divorced in Texas can be bound by child custody laws that prohibit them from leaving the county or state with their children, which can bar them from moving in with, or near, extended families members for help.  Anyone can easily lose their financial stability through one job loss, one illness, or through divorce. I am not suggesting life long reliance on welfare I am asking that help families stay together with temporary assistance.

As of January 2010 79.7% of children were in foster care for the reason of neglect and medical neglect. “Neglect” can be simply be determined as failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical care. Poverty is not a reason to separate families. Here in Texas families have the chance of falling into poverty at a greater rate than nearly any other state in the nation. Pulling yourself up by your proverbial bootstraps can take an overwhelming, if not impossible effort. Foster parents, are often given and offered resources, such as financial subsidies, help from social workers, physical and mental aid for the children.  Adoptive parents can receive tax credits for adopting and can be eligible for benefits such as CCMS.  Why first instead aren't resources offered to biological parents to help keep families intact?

We all know the foster care system is ridden with problems and abuse for children as well.  We will always have parents who have no desire to parent, who are unfit to parent, and children that need to be removed from homes because of it.  But, foster care, and foster care adoption, should occur for children who have no biological family member who wants to and can care for them, are in imminent danger, and in cases of outright abuse. We should be promoting family preservation NOT family separation.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Land of Adoption & Politics

I am not feeling well today and have to deal with the CI and adoption courts, and that always makes me sick to my stomach and gives me a headache, but I felt the need to blog about this. So, below is what it is. There is so much more I could expand upon but just not right now please excuse typos and grammar I am exhausted.

I was a little surprised, and at this point anything about adoption does not really surprise me much, at the reaction of some towards President Obama's proclamation on National Adoption Awareness month. He was accused of leaving out the real issues in adoption and ignoring adoptee rights. This is true, as usual, that adoptees and first family were ignored and it's all about adoptive parents and the families they are creating. But, President Obama's National Adoption Awareness proclamation was nothing much different than George W. Bush's proclamation in 2008. Same spiel, rhetoric, and homage paid to the adoptive parents and the adoption industry as a whole. I guess I am a little more used to this than many others, as I reside in the land where adoption and politics are bedfellows, more than usual.

I am lucky enough to live in the great state of Texas, the land of The Gladney Center for Adoption, where adoption and politics have had a long and incestuous relationship. George W. Bush and his wife Laura at one point in time were going to adopt from The Gladney Center for Adoption until they got pregnant with twins. George Jr.'s brother Marvin and his wife adopted two children from Gladney. Gladney and the Bush family have a connection of supporting the raising of funds for Gladney, contributions, and supporting the perpetuation of the closed records system of adoption.

In 1997, and 1999, when adoptee rights groups were advocating legislation for adult adoptee access to original birth certificates in Texas, George W. Bush, as Governor of Texas, took the unusual step of attending a House committee meeting to alert lawmakers that he would veto the bill if it passed.  In 2007 a representative from the adoption agency using the Gladney name was the only speaker at both the House and Senate hearings on the identical companion bills, HB 525 and SB 221, to speak out against this legislation (Thank you Bill Betzen I took this from your Gladney site) for adoptees right to access to their OBC's. Gladney is the only real opponent we have in Texas working against adoption reform. The Bushes continue to this day to donate money and time to Gladney.

Once again, it's not about what's right in adoption it's about profits and what money can buy in the way of children, and votes.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Access To Adoption Information... or better put, the lack of it.

In National Adoption Awareness month there are so many subjects and issues to tackle it becomes difficult to attempt to even pick just a few.  So today, I will focus on the problems and frustrations of adoptees attempting to obtain records and information on their biological families since I am there, yet again.  It is a vast issue to cover in one blog so I will touch on a few key points to help those that are anware of the struggles adoptees deal with.

Most people I have talked with believe you can walk up to a counter and order your records with a simple request.  That is a fallacy.  Requests can be time consuming some taking months and can be costly, depending on where you were placed for adoption out of.  It is especially difficult for those of us who have little or no infomation from our adoptive parents, armed with only an ammended birth certificate in hand filled with inaccurate and false information.  Some adoptees are told they don't exist in any records sytem at all.  Add to that adoptees who were born in one state and adopted into another and it can become a convoluted frustrating process.  I also have heard numerous times "What do you mean you can't get your original birth certificate?"  Once again, so much of the general public is unaware how bound adoptees are by unjust adoption law and policy.

Adoptees can obtain non-identifying information from either from the state, the agency you were adopted out of, or sometimes from the lawyers that handled your adoption. But this non-identifying information, which is the social, ethnic, medical, and educational background taken from your biological family when you were born, is not clearly defined. Some people get little perhaps two or three sentences, whereas some get pages, and some get none.  It depends on the person, or agency, that took it down and it is to their discretion what they record, and what they do not.  I won't even go into the amount of adoptees I know who found out later that this information was in fact not even true.  Suffice it to say, we can not even be assured our non-identifying information is accurate.

Obtaining identifying information about our biological families is even harder, if not impossible.  Only a handful of states allow adoptees unrestricted access to their original birth certificates.  The majority of states do not.  Adoptees have to petition courts, and sometimes incur court costs as well, and be dependent on a judge's ruling to decide what is "just cause" to open your records.  Some adoptees like me, even with dire health issues and an absolute need for updated medical information, are turned down.  I am on my fourth court petition and have received zero identifying information about my biological family, even with doctors willing to provide letters for medical need.  We are yet again, at the mercy of others who hold our vital life information, and decisions, in their hands.

Some states and agencies will do a search for adoptees as mine did.  I was "lucky" mine was done for free probably due to my health problems and need for updated family medical history.  So many other adoptees are not as lucky.  Some, even with emergency medical need are quoted hundreds of dollars or more in cost and well over a year to recieve any records, IF they can locate the biological family and get their "permission".  And, there are no guarantees for your money you will receive anything at all.  This is UNACCEPTABLE.  There is no uniformity with regard to disclosure or access to current family medical or identifying information for adoptees.  It is a hit and miss, mostly miss, system.  Adoptees, and their children are languishing in ill health having to plead and beg for information.  Biological parents are dying in an effort to try and forward important genetic and hereditary to adoptees.  I won't even approach right now the subject of the failure of state adoption registries we are referred to, to help us.

Lastly, adoptees should have the ability to contact their own family and not have a third party in control of communication.   I should not have to sit on the phone listening to an inept or judgemental confidential intermediary trying to read and discern MY family information to me.  Adoptees should not be bound and hindered by an adoption system that dictates to us what we can and can not know about our own biological families.  We are not adopted children, we are adults!  Get the GOVERNMENT out of our way!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Myths and Misconceptions in Adoption

It is very apparent to me that adoption is a very misunderstood subject for most who can only base their opinions from misinformation or small portions of truth and reality. Myths can be deceiving and misleading. Misconceptions can be harmful and devastating. Remarks stemming from these myths and misconceptions can run the gamut from being hurtful, emotionally crippling, and even to damaging to important relationships.

I've had comments about adoption and being adopted that have stuck in my craw (that saying sounds so old fashioned but then again I am old) for days. I have been stung by a few statements by well meaning people who had no true idea of how adoption affects us. I have had more people than I can count over the years attack me and call me ungrateful, whiny, and selfish. I am here to address these remarks and present them in hope those that are not adopted can gain some understanding of what being adopted means to us, and for us.

If I never hear the comment “You were chosen” again it won't be too soon. To this one my response remains, “But first I was unchosen”. And, the ever so popular “Aren't you glad you weren't an abortion”. To which I get a lot of shock value of saying that no, many days I would rather have been aborted than given away to be abused and rejected. Tends to make me not very popular with the Pro-Life crowd but hey, I long ago lost my need for mass approval.  Don't even get me started with “so just don't think about it”.

Many people think my problems with adoption are because of my personal adoption situation which was not good, huge understatement there. People think there are a small percentage of adoptees with adoption "issues". Example, I was speaking about adoption to a very dear friend who stated, "I know many adoptees who are perfectly happy with their adoption situation." I asked him if these adoptees had any current genetic family medical history for themselves, or their children and their grandchildren? Or, did they know they may or may not have siblings and other first family members out there they are crossing paths with or, God forbid, could marry into their biological family since many relinquishment's and adoptions are done locally? Did they know if their biological family was out there searching for them, or mourning their loss? That adoption laws could prohibit them from ever obtaining any identifying information about their first family if they ever wanted or needed it. I told him he was only seeing one facet out of the whole HUGE scope of adoption. He finally replied that any discussion he had about adoption made him feel ignorant. I told him that I applauded him for his honesty.

I have been told that I am lucky I will never have to know what it is like to lose a real parent because I never knew them.  If I tell someone I lost my mother when I was born their natural reply is one of sympathy for my loss.  If I tell someone I was adopted the usual response is regarding how lucky I am.  They are both the same thing.  Adoptees may have wonderful adoptive parents but that was proceeded first by a profound loss.  Doesn't a child who loses a parent young, before they have memory of them, not mourn and grieve throughout life?  Many adoptees who are finally able to locate their biological family members find they have passed. Many find their families had been searching for them as well.  They are left only with photos, a gravesite, and stories, and left with intense agony and sorrow. Lost and forever gone are the irreplaceable people who will always be a part of who they are.

It was alluded to last week by a very close friend that I am used to not having family. I never get used to it, or the loss of it. I never will.

Our pain and loss are unacknowledged and denied as real by others, who impose their preferred reality and expectations of what adoption should be onto us.  Mostly, due to the myths and misconceptions that surround adoption.  It's nearly impossible existing in a world that revolves around family connections, family events, and family holidays, to not have the absence of what we have lost magnified. Our lives are severed by adoption and missing critical pieces.  So much of this is preventable and avoidable with a change to present day adoption law and policy.  This why I can't give up adoption education and reform and attempting to make the world more aware of the vast and broad brush strokes adoption paints our lives with each and every day.