She's Adopted

They just didn't tell her

Confortably Numb on November 26

So they say I was born on today’s date. November 26.
Truth is, we all know that Birthdays are different for most of us adoptees. I really don’t think it’s possible for my friends and family to fully understand my feelings towards Birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. All of it got lost since the day I found out I was adopted.
Usually a birthday is a celebration of life and a time to remember the joyous day a child was brought into this world, welcomed by family with nothing but love.
It hurts to not know anything about your actual birthday and the thought that me being born brought nothing but pain to some and no joy at all to others can be overwhelming, specially at this time of the year for me.
Life is precious though. And I can still see how lucky I am to have met some fantastic people during this journey. We are all here for a reason and we all have people we love in our lives. That helps take the sting out of birthdays….


What’s Up With Adoptees and Birthdays?

By Deanna Doss Shrodes

Why are birthdays such a triggering event for a many adoptees? There are a plethora of reasons. To share just a few that come to my mind that some non-adoptees may be unaware of…

A lot of mystery surrounds many adoptees’ birthdays. Most adoptees do not currently have access to their original birth certificate (OBC) and have  what is known as an amended birth certificate (ABC).

Much of what is on an ABC are lies. Some ABC’s even state the wrong date as the day the adoptee was born. When the adoption is finalized, some states give the option of changing the birth date and the place of birth!

Obviously, this falsifying of the OBC covers up the adoptee’s true origin.  Of course, the names of the parents on an amended birth certificate are also falsified. Keep in mind, it is a birth certificate, not an adoption certificate. Should the details of BIRTH not be accurate on a BIRTH certificate? Can you imagine not knowing if your birthday is your actual birthday? Or not knowing where you were really born? Or who actually birthed you?

For many adoptees, birthdays only remind them of all they still don’t know about themselves. It can serve as a painful reminder of losing your first family, experiencing what is known as “secondary rejection,” or a host of other issues.

Almost without exception the adoptees I talk to share with me that on their birthday they think a lot of their first mother and wonder if she’s thinking about them too.

What I’ve just shared is not the entire reason adoptee birthdays are sometimes challenging – it’s just a small part of it.

When it comes to discovering truth about adoption, I’m a huge fan of asking adoptees questions. So I did! The only way you can truly understand adoption is to ask the people who are the ones who are actually adopted.   Many responded in public on the Adoptee Restoration Facebook page as well as in private. Due to the response I am going to break them into two posts. (If adoptees responded privately and requested to reply anonymously, their name was changed.)

Photo Credit: exfordy, Flickr

Ashley M

I turned 45 yesterday…we think.. Aging really doesn’t bother me — but there are things associated with the date they picked out for me that do bother me. You might think that by 45 I would have a good grip on this, but I don’t. I think because there are parts of it that are still new to me. I was in denial about how it was impacting me for about 33 years of my life, and then it took a few more years past that before I started really being honest with myself about what was going on.

There has been a lot of processing and a lot of healing, but I’m still not in great shape when it rolls around. The week before is an interesting mix of emotions that I am struggling to figure out what to do with. I don’t blame those around me –it has nothing to do with them, but the feelings are still there despite what I try to do to manage it. Distracting myself doesn’t help a whole lot either. I know there will be a lot of tears, for one reason or another.

I try to journal everything out and I read out of a book that I’ve been reading for about the past six years (I’m only about 2/3 of the way through.) The book contains letters from Korean birthmothers to the children they gave up for adoption. I’m hoping to gain insight into what Korean birthmothers think about, so that so that maybe I might have an idea of what went through her head with me.

Either way, both the journaling and the book have been really helpful in helping me grieve over what I have lost, which is necessary for me to do. The day after my birthday, I feel bruised all over. I now have a better idea as to why I am a wreck at this time of the year.

I am looking for her and it is doubtful I will ever know her, despite recent changes in Korean policy.

Trying to make it something different, or trying to skip it altogether has failed miserably. Honestly, I am at a loss as to what more I can possibly do with this time.

Renee Lynne

My adopters could never seem to remember my birthday. I always had to remind my adoptive mother, even when I was a child.

Although (or maybe because?) there was never really any fuss made, I always secretly liked my birthday. It was the only connection I had to my mother.

When I began searching in earnest and realized the info on my birth certificate had been changed, I was so shocked and frightened to think that my birthday might be off. It would have been a pretty profound injustice for me; taking away the one thing I had left after losing it all.

The birthday card my aunt (mom’s sister) sent me on my birthday (age 51) after we finally met read, “Happy 1st Birthday!!”

Sigh. If only.

Rob D. McClintock

I never really had a problem about my birthday. My adoptive family has always celebrated my birthday with decent fanfare. However, last year months after my birthday, I was given some paperwork and it listed a date of 08/08 instead of 08/16 as my birthday. This was paperwork when I had a minor medical procedure done at four months old and my identifying info had that date.

As these dates approach I am now confused and wonder what else about my life may be false. I am still processing coming out of the fog and still not sure what to do next. Fear of the unknown is strong and that other me — the pre-adoption me — still wants to stay hidden and safe. Whose birthday have I really been celebrating all these years? Some will say it’s just a date but adoptees know it is much more than that. Thank you Deanna, for allowing us to share.

Karen Brown Belanger 

It’s only something adoptees can get, really. And it’s such a different day for so many of us. Another reason to ponder your belly button.

Rebecca Hawkes

It may be a symptom of lingering fog, but I didn’t strongly associate my birthday with my b-fam until recently. This coming birthday, however, I will be spending the day at a blues festival with my b-dad, b-mom, b-brother, and some other folks I love. And that feels RIGHT. 🙂

Yvonne Bernath

Birthday = pain, abandonment, resentment, brokenness, sadness, an unfilled longing. I still struggle with my birthday and would gladly erase it from the calendar. Years ago I referred to it as ‘Abandonment Day’ which made people so uncomfortable with no response.

Lorene Wages Fairchild 

When I became a teenager I dreaded my birthdays. I usually had to put on a big smile and pretend everything was wonderful so as not to disappoint the people around me. I was secretly wondering if my real parents were thinking about me on that day and that hurt so much. The truth is I felt so rejected by them and birthdays just magnified those feelings.

Carolyn Sandifer Espina 

Consciously, I never thought my adoption affected my feelings regarding my birthday. However, I wound up getting married on my birthday. I realize now that I chose to do that subconsciously to ‘cover up’ my birthday and turn it into another celebration. On that day every year I make it all about my relationship with my husband – and not at all about myself or my birthday. I even feel ‘bad’ when people offer birthday wishes – I usually ‘correct’ them and say “it’s also my wedding anniversary” instead of just accepting their well wishes.

Karen Brown Belanger 

This is the poem I wrote about my feelings as an adoptee on my birthday.

Unhappy Birthday

There were no birth announcements.

No cigars were handed out.

No newborn baby pictures.

No parent’s joyous shouts.

No counting toes and fingers.

No comparing eyes and chins.

No nursery decorated.

No proud grandparent grins.

Instead the day that I was born,

a mother silently wept.

While in a room close to her,

her newborn daughter slept.

So close we were together.

So far we’re now apart.

Two lives were separated.

A love doomed from the start.

And so each year since I was born,

this day has been the same.

No one can know the sadness.

No one can know the pain.

No candles ever bright enough

to light my darkened soul.

No happy birthday party.

No heart that can be whole.


Health and Heredity

I grew up with many health problems. I remember spending hours and hours of my childhood sitting in hospitals and doctor’s office  getting x-rays, casts on and off my feet, sometimes on my arms, fingers, wrists… you name it.

Even without broken bones, I was constantly in pain. Migraines, back and feet  hurting me almost everyday… Plus I was growing too fast. My heart beat was always working too fast. I was constantly falling and my vision was failing quickly.

No one really knew what was wrong with me until, at age 9, an endocrinologist finally came to the conclusion that I had Marfan Syndrome.
From that point on, my days being a lab rat for cardiologists, orthopedists, ophthalmologists and everything else was just starting it. It was a living hell for me. I was only a child. I had no clue of why I had to be going to so many doctors while my quality of life was degrading severally due to lack of explanation given to me about Marfan and how to live with it. I was not allowed to say or ask much because my adoptive mother wasn’t a very patient and loving mom. Her habit of constant hitting me on my back, head and legs was not very helpful to my already achy skinny body.

But I grew up and went through high school and College forcing myself into sports I loved: Volleyball, Handball, Soccer… and with that came more broken bones and pain.

My adoptive family kept lots of pertinent information from me. They had the opportunity to explain what they knew about this heritable disorder of the connective tissue that affects many organ systems, including the skeleton, lungs, eyes, heart and blood vessels. They could have save me a lot of trouble but they chose not to.

Obviously there was no history of Marfan in the family, so they opt to keep me in the dark, living like nothing was really wrong with me.

I guess they were under the fear that I could, put two and two together about being adopted and start digging about my origins and eventually discover that I was illegally adopted.

Having a child under their roof with serious heart problems, chronic pain, anemia, and predisposition to glaucoma wasn’t enough justification for them to tell me that I was adopted and needed to understand the effects of it to me and a future child, if I ever lived to have one.

It took 40 years and several life threatening surgeries for me to understand the importance of knowing my health history.  I know now what Marfan really is and how it can affect my blood kin.

My adoptive family still refuses to give me any information about where I came from or a lead to someone who could help me to discover what else is hidden in my roots. And the question that often takes over my sleep remains: “What else should I and my 9 year old daughter watch out for it?”

Well, I guess that door is closed to both of us.


Over 4,000 diseases are caused by single defective genes. Missing and sketchy health histories put adopted persons at risk, particularly as they age and need to know the risk factors for common killers such as cancer and heart diseases.

Albinism (ocular form)
Alzheimer’s Disease
Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease
Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia
Familial Amyloid Neuropathy
Familial Polyposis of the Colon
Growth Hormone Deficiency
Hemophilia A
Incontinentia Pigmenti
Manic Depression (bipolar type)
Muscular Dystrophy (Duchenne type)
Osteogenesis Imperfecta
Polycystic Kidney Disease (adult type)
Spinal Muscular Atrophy Thalassemias
Von Willebrand Disease
Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome
Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency
Chronic Granulomatous Disease
Cystic Fibrosis
Familial Hypercholesterolemia
Fragile-X Syndrome
Huntington’s Disease
Lymphoproliferative Syndrome
Muscular Dystrophy (Becker type)
Muscular Dystrophy (myotonic type)
Ornithine Transcarbamylase Deficiency
Retinitis Pigmentosa
Sickle-cell Anemia
Tuberous Sclerosis
Wilms’ Tumor

“Morally, there is no family, and no person planning to have a child who can ignore the new genetic discoveries and techniques for preventing genetic disease. Your health and welfare and that of your (future) children are at stake. We all have a right and, indeed, an obligation to know about our particular genes and to consider the options available that increase our chances of having healthy children. We should also all have the freedom to exercise these options as we wish and as rationally as we are able.”

“Knowing your family’s health history can save your life,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “By having the information readily available, doctors can more closely monitor a person’s health for common diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, or even rare disorders like sickle cell anemia or hemophilia, that can run in families.”
– Aubrey Milunsky, M.D.   


The picture above is from the film Roots: Unknown by Zara Phillips. And speaking of Zara, here is the trailer for her movie:







When you’re not good enough

This video came to me through my Facebook news feed yesterday. Today I’ve decided to watch it one more time thinking that i may have been a bit too over sensitive last night. Result: Tears again.
Here is the post:

“I really wish I could be one of those cool kids who can say awesome things about their birthmothers and/or adoptive mom’s. But I can’t. Rejection hurts really deep some days.
I try to live my life always looking forward, I try not to look back. But some days my heart does nothing but hurt. I was rejected at birth, mistreated and lied to for 40 years and to top that, after I’ve found out about being adopted the “family” turned their back away from me. Completely. There is only one person who stands by. He lied too. And I went through my share of hell being the little sister of an aggressive unruly boy. But he is the only one who still talks to me. He says I’m his sister. But he doesn’t help me to understand why his mother, (my adoptive mom) and her mom and sister and cousins treated me like I was a worthless good for nothing piece of crap.
He doesn’t help me to find out where I came from neither. And just like the rest of the family, he doesn’t see how important it is for me to have something to relate to. Anything that can give me some sense of purpose, belonging.
But I’m not worth the truth.”

You know, I can’t understand how come some people are incapable of loving. I do not know the circumstances of my adoption. I know nothing about my adoptive parents motivation to adopt me. And much less I understand how can a person raise a child and have ZERO affection for that human being.

I’ve tried. I did every thing a child could possibly do to earn affection. I did great in school. I was obedient, nice, stayed away from drugs and alcohol. I followed “the book” accordingly. but that wasn’t enough.  I don’t remember one single hug or a kiss on my cheek from my mom until the day I got married.  I guess she was relieved that I was going to finally go away.
And my question remains unanswered: ” Why adopt a child if you aren’t willing to raise her as one of your own kids?

I think this song sums things up pretty good:

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Coping With Adoption Stress

It’s essential for families to develop the ability to cope with the stress that adoption can place on parents and kids.
by Debi Grebenik


It is through the expression, processing and understanding of our own fears that we can calm our stress. Both parents and children experience stress, so it is imperative that we understand the role stress plays in our relationships, particularly the unique stresses for adopted children.

Stress is triggered through a sensory event, and when this trigger is activated, the amygdala responds with a fight, flight or freeze reaction. This alarm reaction activates the central nervous system. Without the subsequent release of cortisol, the child may become hyper vigilant toward all situations, perceiving every event as a threat. This arousal can be mitigated through positive repetition in the environment and in relationships.

For example, a child adopted at age five goes to a department store with his mother, walks through the cologne section en route to the clothing department, and then immediately becomes agitated and starts crying and yelling. The mother, unaware of what is going on, finds herself angry, scared and frustrated and easily displays a negative behavioral reaction to her son. She may respond by yelling at him or grabbing him roughly and leaving the store.

A mother who understands that trauma occurred in her son’s first three years of his life demonstrates emotional flexibility, not rigidity. The first step she could do, whether she understood the trigger or not, would be to sit on the floor in the store and say to her son, “I’m not going anywhere, you are safe.” The child calms after a few minutes because the mother is calm. She doesn’t react to his behavior with her own stress but attempts to discern that his behavior has a reason behind it. Many adopted children cannot express their pain or prior trauma through their words, so they use their behavior.

This mother may later discover that her child was around an angry man, the boyfriend of his mother, who wore the cologne he smelled. This smell acted as a trigger to his stored trauma memory and caused him pain, which manifested in his behavior. But whether she ever understands the reason, she has calmed his deeper fear with her reaction. Your own stress regulation during these acting out episodes is vital. You are calming the child as he expresses his pain.

Also important to consider is that adoptive children will trigger any unresolved issues adoptive parents may have. These issues may include child abuse, family death, uncontrollable anger, a parent’s absence, failed marriage, relative incest, alcohol dependence, generational trauma, financial difficulties, spiritual warfare, emotional depression or unresolved infertility. Because these traumatic events may be stored unconsciously in the state level of memory,1 they rear up as ugly monsters when triggered.

Trauma must be expressed and processed to be understood. Once understood, the trauma may be integrated into our lives, without holding us captive to its power. While most of us strive for resolution because we want our lives to be neat and tidy, the focus must be on integration rather than resolution. If these traumatic events of the past are not processed, parents will continue to be triggered by their child’s behaviors.

The best gift an adoptive parent can give her adopted child is to be regulated and to create a regulated environment. To be regulated means the ability to experience and maintain stress within one’s window of tolerance. In contrast, if one member of the family is dysregulated, the entire family system experiences the ramifications. When a stressor event is prolonged, overwhelming or unpredictable, or if the events continue on unexpressed, unprocessed and misunderstood, additional stress occurs.2 Only when these traumatic events are processed in the context of a loving, regulated relationship can the adoptive parent be free to parent from a place of love, not fear. Then she can truly respond, not react to her child’s behaviors.


This beginning leg of the journey requires flexibility in expectations about the child; coupled with the ability to change your expectations to match the capabilities of the child you adopt. When we are flexible and adaptive, we can demonstrate a true acceptance of the child, her differences and her needs. In the book, Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You, James Friesen states that “wounded people heal in relationships . . . Growth, repair, maturity, and faith development are all intimately tied to relationships. People do need to achieve wholeness in a fractured world.”3

When a child is removed from his birth mother, he experiences trauma. This trauma can be mitigated through an authentic relationship with the adopted parent. You must be aware of the trauma first and then understand the power of relationship — how it must be a lifelong commitment with flexibility and acceptance during the journey. You may adopt a child who is older and did not have a nurturing home environment the first years of his life. These children may take longer to heal, however, all healing takes place in the context of relationship.

This healing is parallel to the healing Jesus promises when He says to us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).



Bonus content originally excerpted from Handbook on Thriving as an Adoptive Family, published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., © 2008 by Sanford Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

1Heather T. Forbes and B. Bryan Post, Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control (Orlando, FL: Beyond Consequences Institute, LLC, 2006), 4.
2Ibid, 16.
3James Friesen, Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You (Pasadena, CA: Shepherds House Inc, 1999), 13.

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Adoption: Writing the Letter That Explains ‘Why’ to Your Child

They Will Want to Know Where They Came From

Giving up a child for adoption can be very trying, even for the strongest person you know. Whether you did it so the child could have a better life, or so that you could, every child deserves to know why you did it. All cases are different, being that some adoptions are closed so the option of communication between the child and the biological parents isn’t allowed. But then again, when that child turns 18, they can look you up. And when they do, you should be ready. So whether it’s closed or open, there will always be one thing both cases will have in common, and that’s the curiosity of that child.

Put yourself in their shoes. If you were adopted and brought up around a family that isn’t biologically related to you, you would want to know. You would want to know where you came from, what your biological parents were like, where you get those freckles. As the woman that carried that child for nine months, or the man who helped father the child, the least you could do is take the time. Take the time to think about this child that has spent years in the dark not knowing. Take the time to write down some words that explain why.

I recommend doing it when the child is at an age where they can understand the information you will be giving them. Before you even start writing the final letter, its always best to brainstorm or chart things that you want to cover in the letter. Don’t be afraid to share how scared, selfish or how not ready you were at the time. Details won’t always be pretty, but expressing the truth is where it’ll all count in the end. Start from the beginning, explain to them who you are first. They will want to know what kind of traits you had, how good you were in school and if you excelled at sports while growing up.

Secondly, whether you are the biological mother or biological father, talking about the person who helped you create the child is perfectly okay. If you want, you can explain how you met each other. Let them know what kind of personality they had and what kind of relationship you had with one another. This will let the child tap into a part of your life that led up to the time that they were created. I imagine it would put them at ease to know who you are before they find out your reason(s).

Next, it’s time to go into the time when the adoption took place. Go deeper than the surface and really touch on things that help them understand you completely. Take yourself back to the time when it all happened. Remember the emotions you felt at the time. If you weren’t ready, explain the circumstances that made it so you weren’t ready. If the thought of raising a child scared you beyond belief, tell them that. If you were young and selfish at the time, you have to let them know. Being able to admit being selfish is one of the most grown up things you will do in your life.

After that go ahead and tell them how you’ve grown as a person after it happened. How the whole situation impacted your life. Tell them your goals not only with your own life, but with them. Lastly, let them know where you stand. If you want to work on building a personal relationship with them, tell them so. Even if they are not interested in going that route, you will feel a weight lifted for trying. If you just take the time, then they will know.

I am actually about to write my own letter to my daughter. She will be 10 this summer and I feel it is the right time to do it. The night that I decided to write my letter was a night that she stopped by my dad’s house with her adoptive mother (one of our close family friends) and asked my dad, “Do you know where my birth mother is?” Luckily I was right up the street at work and she surprised me with a visit and her beautiful smile. She has always known me as her “Tummy Mommy,” and for that I am grateful. But now it’s time for her to really know me. I’m excited to get to it. I hope this has inspired you to do the same. (by )

Suggested reading:

The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade

The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade

Amazon Price: $7.73

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Our names are part of our identity

For adoptees, knowing the name their parents gave them at birth can have a permanent positive impact on their personal identity.

The adoption social worker Deborah Collins , recalls working with a family who was adopting a little boy and was able to find out the story behind the child’s birth name from his birth family.

As it turned out, several names had been handed down from many generations and from both sides of the extended family. The birth family wished to tell the adoptive family about the significance of the names, and it comforted them to know that the adoptive family incorporated those names into the child’s adoptive name.

As a result, the boy’s first and last names fully reflect his personal journey and relationship with both his birth and adoptive families, thus supporting and contributing to his growing sense of self.


I’ve also known adult adoptees who uncovered the history of their birth name later in life. Some even reclaimed their birth name as adults, not to offend their adoptive family but to salvage a key part of their identity in a meaningful way.

Historically, surnames and family names were handed down to subsequent generations, like a legacy, so individuals could tell the world who they were and that they belonged to a certain “clan.”

For adoptees, knowing their birth name holds a lot of significance:

  • They know that someone took the time and cared enough to name them.
  • They may feel more connected to their birth family.
  • They may be able to identify their heritage or search for their birth family later in life.
  • And, knowing their birth name helps them develop their overall identity.

So, what about changing a child’s name after an adoption?

The short answer is: Changing a child’s name is a big deal.

From a child’s perspective, a shared last name is one of the differences between being a foster child and an adopted child. Giving a child a new and shared last name can offer him or her a genuine sense of belonging.

On the flip side, children may experience identity problems with a change in their first name, as indicated by pediatrician and psychotherapist Dr. Vera Fahlberg, author of A Child’s Journey through Placement.

What should adoptive parents consider if they want to rename their adopted child?

  • Depending on age, does the child recognize and identify with his or her first name?
  • Does the child have an opinion about his or her name?
  • What about changing or adding on to the child’s middle name instead of changing his or her first name?
  • Does the child’s given name or new first name have a negative connotation that may result in bullying from peers?
  • Is there a special tradition or cultural identity that’s important to maintain or pass on?
  • Is the decision to change the name based on the child’s best interests or your own?

Our names are part of our identity, which we continue to develop throughout our lives. For an adopted child, knowing his or her birth name and family history is just one step toward self-discovery. Although a name change — first, middle, or last — may modify an adopted child’s identity, it should never deny it.


About the author: Deborah Collins, adopted as a child, has seven names and knows firsthand that adding and changing names can go hand in hand with adding more purpose and meaning to a person’s name and his or her identity.

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Do Birth Parents Have A Right to Privacy?

One of the main concerns raised by those who oppose opening records to adult adoptees is that doing so violates their birth parents’ right to privacy. Open records proponents have long argued that there is no right to privacy that extends to birth parent anonymity, and on February 11, 1997, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision confirming this view. [106 F.3d 703 (6th Cir. 1997)]

In 1996 the Tennessee legislature passed a law granting certain adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates, subject to contact vetoes and significant exception clauses. The law was halted by a court injunction when a group of birth mothers, adoptive parents and an adoption agency filed suit claiming the law violated their constitutional rights under both the Tennessee and Federal Constitution. The federal case ended in 1998 when the United States Supreme Court declined to overrule the Appeals Court ruling in favor of the defendants and open records. The courts rejected the plaintiffs’ claim that their right to privacy was infringed upon, stating, “A birth is simultaneously an intimate occasion and a public event — the government has long kept records of when, where, and by whom babies are born. Such records have myriad purposes, such as furthering the interest of children in knowing the circumstances of their birth.” The judges of the Sixth Circuit Court further found that “if there is a federal constitutional right of familial privacy, it does not extend as far as the plaintiffs would like.” The court also cited a 1981 decision in which the appeals court found that “the Constitution does not encompass a general right to nondisclosure of private information.” More directly, the Court found that the interest of an adoptee to know who his or her birth parents are is “an interest entitled to a good deal of respect and sympathy.”

The right to privacy, an implicit right that is not found specifically within the United States Constitution, requires case law to flesh it out and define it further. Our nation’s courts have spoken clearly that the right to privacy does not extend to withholding birth information from the very person to whom it primarily pertains — the adoptee.

Birth parents could have had no reasonable expectation of anonymity. The original birth certificate is sealed when the adoption is finalized in court, not when the birth mother signs relinquishment papers. A child relinquished but never adopted has an unsealed birth certificate. If protection of the birth mother were intended, the original birth certificate would be sealed upon termination of her legal relationship to the child, not at the beginning of the legal relationship of the adoptive family. Nearly all states have provisions for opening adoption or birth records for good cause without the consent or even notification of the birth parent. Birth mothers signed irrevocable relinquishment forms, but there have been no contracts produced promising that an adoptee’s original birth record would remain sealed.

Despite the finding that birth parent privacy rights do not extend as far as keeping their names secret from adoptees, opponents of open records have continued to claim that some birth parents, particularly women, would be harmed emotionally if they were to be contacted by a relinquished child who had reached the age of majority. In addition, some reproductive rights advocates believe that permanently sealed birth records should be an option for pregnant women who choose not to raise a child.

In reality their adult children, raised by others, are not the enemies of birth parents. Our laws and policies should not deprive one group of their rights in order to protect others from possibly having to face the consequences of their past choices. In the event that an adoptee chooses to contact a birth parent, both people should consider the feelings and concerns of the other. When birth records are opened to adult adoptees, a woman who relinquishes an infant will have eighteen to twenty-one years to decide how to answer a possible phone call from that adult child. Even today, with records still sealed in most states in the United States, birth parents must consider their responses to being found, since a network of search consultants has arisen to circumvent sealed records. Most birth parents are happy to be contacted by their adult children. A right to privacy that prevents the disclosure of birth parents’ names to adult adoptees does not exist in law or in the real world.

Source: Bastard Nation



Lying is done with words, and also with silence.

Hidden Past
How do I see my 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 all 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 the secluded hidden place.
Where it started long ago, or once upon a time.
Each day until I find my way 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 need to know.

Adoption is a life long journey, one that never ends especially as an adoptee.  And unfortunately in being adopted, these emotions and issues are not addressed or discussed, allowed to be acknowledged for the most part, or ever understood by adoptees themselves.  Living a life under the weight of nondisclosure, secrets, and lies can impact an adoptee in a great variety of ways.

For me it’s not just about my biological parents who want nothing to do with me in their lives and no relationship.  I got over the need to be a wanted child long ago I am an adult now.  But I am continually reduced to being treated as an unworthy child by the actions of adults who with hold vital life altering information from all of their children, not just the one they relinquished.

It’s not just about the separation from the parental factor in adoption most people who are not adopted think about.  I  have grandparents, great grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, but most important to me are the siblings who have never been told I exist.  Have we ever crossed paths, has their FB profile blinked across the screen at one point in time, do we have mutual friends, and what would they do if they were told about me?

These decisions that are OURS to make have been taken from us and are being controlled by people without our consent or say.  Our rights are being trampled over and on continually.  And, when will it be too late?  There is no guarantee of reunions decades from now life happens and it happens in adoption each and every day as people are losing one another, the knowledge of each other, and the chance to FIND one another.

When abandoned and rejected by family, friends, and significant others  in life, even if not intentionally done, there are several choices one can make.  Long ago the choices I made were forced denial, suppression of emotions, addiction, and codependency.  Now I speak, I write, I talk, I promote adoptees rights when and anywhere I can and hopefully help other adoptees in their journey and in healing.  I also cry, my heart bleeds, and I quietly and internally pray that someday and somehow I will find the people who are the answers to my questions and connect my past to my future with whatever time I have left.

by Karen Belanger

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