She's Adopted

They just didn't tell her

Very Inspiring Blogger Award



One of the best things that blogging has brought to me, was the opportunity to meet great and very intelligent individuals from all over the world. The emotional support, the kindness, the love I receive from you are incredible!  And Two days ago, this blog was awarded with the “Very Inspiring Blogger Award” by Gabriel Lucatero from SYL101!!!  How nice is that?

I want to take this opportunity to say a big “thank you” to all the friends of my blog – those who read and liked my posts, those who read and ranked my posts, those who just read my posts, those who read and commented on my posts, those who linked my blog/posts to theirs, those who follow my blog, those who re blogs my posts; those who, like Gabriel, nominated me for awards and those who appreciated my posts/blog and prayed for me during my difficult times.

Please keep coming back and recommend this blog. There are so many people out there clueless of the impact of Adoption on the Adoptees.

Choosing a child to become part of a family can be a warm and wonderful experience for both the child and the parents. My blog is my way of trying to reduce the misconception that an adopted child is somehow better off not knowing they are adopted.

I was born and illegally adopted in Brazil. There is no paperwork; there are no explanations from anyone involved. My adoptive mother doesn’t even talk to me anymore because I “hurt” her feelings by discovering at age of 40 that I was adopted and wanted to know my origins.

I grew up with many health problems. I remember spending hours and hours of my childhood sitting in hospitals and waiting rooms all over the country. I was growing too fast. My heart beat was too fast. I was constantly falling and my vision was failing quickly. I have Marfans Syndrome.

My adoptive family kept all information they had from me and still does.

They had the opportunity to explain to me that people only inherit Marfan’s Syndrome, meaning that they get the mutation from a parent who has the disorder, but my adoptive family chose to hide this information from me. I grew up under the false impression that the mutation started with me, since there was no one in the family with Marfan’s.

My heart started failing in 2000 and I had my first open heart surgery on March 10th.  Coincidentally, On March 10th of this year, I had an Aorta Aneurysm and almost lost my life during a 14 hour surgery. I am recovering very well though J  and my adoptive mother and brothers still doesn’t talk to me about my adoption and who are my birth parents and what is their history.  Apparently I have no rights to know the truth.  My truth.
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 Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, section 1 states:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

 Jo  Swanson says: “Where in the 14th Amendment – or anywhere else in the Constitution – does it give one citizen the right to sign away the rights of another citizen? Where is a parent authorized to sign away certain rights of her child, unredeemable at age of majority? No relinquishment of parental rights document in any state reserves a single right to the mother; not one. It’s not a “contract.” It’s a total surrender of ALL rights with regard to her child. What is done with all documentation from that moment on is totally and forever out of her control, as indeed it should be.

The truth is that while some states grant adoptees access to their original birth certificates (OBCs) and have never deprived them of this right (Kansas and Alaska), other states deny them OBC access, and therefore that civil right. Still other states have passed access-to-OBC legislation in recent years, some with no restrictions and others with varying degrees of restriction.  

So, the bottom line is that the 14th Amendment rights are applied unevenly among the various states, creating subgroups of U.S. citizens. Creating even more subgroups are those from all states whose adoptions took place beyond infancy. They commonly already have copies of their OBCs, particularly if they were used to register for kindergarten. Some adoptees from let’s say, Minnesota are lucky enough to own their OBCs, while others aren’t.

Are you aware that even children adopted by a step-parent get their original certificates sealed?

How would you, feel about the thought of having your name expunged from your child’s birth certificate if you died during her minor years, replaced by the name of another “mother” who had nothing to do with her birth? And if your daughter hadn’t already obtained a copy of her authentic birth certificate before your death and filed it away for safekeeping, she would be denied a copy with your name on it as her mother?

Some people’s family’s experience with adoption, their family’s secrets, and the less-than-ideal relationship dynamics cannot – and must not – be used as a basis for shaping adoption law or policy. Our government must not be in the business of micromanaging family relationships. Adults choose to associate with other adults or not. Is that really so difficult to accept?

It’s time that the 14th Amendment of our U.S. Constitution is applied consistently and evenly to all U.S. citizens, whether raised in their families of birth or in adoptive families. It’s time we repealed the laws that sealed adoptees’ birth certificates and restored the rights they once had but were swept from under them decades ago.

What possible justification could there be for treating adult adoptees differently from the rest of society?  I’ve not found any”. (Source:


And now, that you know what is my Blog about, I would like to nominate the following blogs for this same award:

The Rules for accepting the Award:
  1. Thank and link back to the awesome person who nominated you.
  2. Share  things about yourself.
  3. Nominate 15 other bloggers and comment on their blogs to let them know. 
  4. Add the picture of the Award to your blog




Grown Adoptees and Birth Mothers Building A Relationship

This was in in response to a question that appeared on HubPages “Questions” section:

“I found my birth mother on Facebook and i want to know how to have a better relationship with her?

The Response to the Above Question by Lisa HW:

Based on your choice of words, your question suggests that it may be hard for you because things didn’t go the way they (ideally) should when a child is adopted. It’s not clear whether your birth mother placed you for adoption as an infant or not, so I’ll assume, for now, that that’s the case.

I think you need to start by beginning at the beginning, in your own mind:

I think one thing you need to keep in mind is that, in so many cases, birth mothers believe (either in their own hearts or because “the world” has convinced them) that the only way their child stands a chance of having a whole, happy, childhood is to place them for adoption. They may believed that the adoption screening process guarantees great parents (or they may know there’s a chance the adoptive parents won’t be ideal but hope the odds of that aren’t great; and feel as if they have no choice but take that chance). The point is birth mothers generally feel they have little or no choice but to place their child for adoption, and the more they care about what kind of mother their child has, the more likely they may be to believe adoption is the only way to do what’s right for their child.


Birth mothers are often young, and it isn’t, by any means, a rare situation for a young girl to be influenced by others, who tell her there’s no way possible she can ever offer her child what a child needs. Sometimes it may, in fact, be true. Sometimes it may not be.

The point is, most birth mothers have gone through the awful process of placing their babies for adoption because they believed it was the right the to do.

One problem is that none of us can ever guarantee our child the kind of childhood we hope she’ll have. A child born to “the greatest parents in the world” and to “the best home-life in the world” can lose a parent to illness or accident. I had “the best (biological) parents in the world”, but when I was six my mother was hospitalized for months because of Tuberculosis. I recall sitting with my father in my mother’s doctor’s office, as the doctor told my father how someone would help him arrange to place me, my older sister, and my toddler brother in foster care. I recall my father saying little at first but then saying he’d work something out. My father had to work full-time. Someone had to watch us. Fortunately, my mother’s sister was able/willing to quit her job and take care of us during the days. Fortunately, my father was willing/able to hand over most of his pay to make up for what my aunt would lose by leaving her own job to take care of us. The point is, even when we’re fortunate enough to spend our childhoods with two, loving, birth-parents; there aren’t always any guarantees; and all any parent can do is her best.

Whether our child is one we have and raise, have and place for adoption, or adopted as our own, parents just can’t guarantee that all will be as they hope, or as they believe it will be, for their children.

I’m an adoptive mother of a son in his early thirties. He’s among the many people who were not voluntarily placed for adoption. He was adopted in infancy, but it was after he had sustained injuries at the hands of birth parents. Even with that, though, the truth is that his birth mother, herself, had been raised in a severely disadvantaged situation and has been said to be “of limited mental capacity”, so I’ve always tried to point out to my son that sometimes women can’t be “the right kind of mother a child needs” through no fault of their own. I never wanted him to think she didn’t want him or was “evil”. I always hoped he’d understand that she, herself, just had too much going against her as she was growing up.

I had my two younger children myself, and I cannot imagine ever having to go through the process of placing either them or their older brother, with whom I’d bonded since his infancy, for adoption. My point is that, for one reason or another, birth mothers have gone through one wrenching thing or another. Few who haven’t placed their babies for adoption could ever imagine what birth mothers go through (not just when they place their babies for adoption, but often for the rest of their lives in a lot of ways).

My sister and I were recently pondering what was harder – losing our mother or losing our father. We went back and forth about the ways it was a little easier in one way with one parent, and a little easier in another way with the other. After simultaneously coming to the realization that it’s generally pretty rotten to lose a beloved parent under any circumstances, we kind of laughed as we said, “Face it. Death is never easy.”

I think that’s kind of how it is with an adopted child’s birth story. There are all kinds of reasons and circumstances a birth mother feels the only thing she can do is place her child for adoption; but regardless of what they are, the birth story always had some difficult and sad element to it.

Comparing a birth story to losing someone through death is, however, not a very good comparison; because the birth of child (often a very wanted child, even when circumstances make keeping her impossible) brings the same kind of joys to all mothers, whether or not they will be able to keep their child. So often, children who will eventually be adopted bring extra joy with them, as their adoptive parents eagerly await their arrival. It’s just that amidst so much joy, there is always that element of sadness when a child is placed for adoption that isn’t there when she isn’t.

My point is that I think you have to start by keeping in mind that what followed after your birth wasn’t how your birth mother would have chosen it. If she could have kept you and offered you what she believed a child needs, she would have. If she had to place you for adoption, you can bet she believed you would be placed with wonderful parents.

Once you begin at the beginning, maybe spending a little time considering the middle might help too:

If your parents (adoptive parents) were horrible, evil, and abusive people; the people you should be angry at are them and anyone involved in missing their questionable “issues” when they were being screened – not your birth mother.

Any time anyone is “pure evil” and just abusive to a child (whether that’s a birth mother who loses custody or an adoptive one), there’s no excuse. I think all anyone can do is “write them off” and be glad to be done with them.

A good part of the time, though, most parents who mess up in some ways aren’t really unfit (and truly aren’t evil). So often, parents and kids run into difficulties (whether or not the child is adopted). It can be easy to point to adoption as the reason for the problems, but sometimes it’s more a matter of adoption’s complicating problems that would have otherwise existed anyway.

Sometimes, too, well meaning adoptive parents just don’t know exactly how to handle some issues their child may have. In fact, what’s the best thing to do with one child may not be the best thing to do with another one. So, as even “the best parents in the world” who are raising their birth children often do, adoptive parents can do one thing or another isn’t the best for one particular child.

What I’m getting at here is consider the overall childhood with the adoptive parents and ask if those parents were “just horrible people” (in which case, they and the adoption agency should be blamed and, ideally, held accountable), or were they generally good, loving, people with whom their child ran into family disagreements and difficulties? If that’s the case, that kind of thing can happen in all families. A whole lot of kids with their birth parents end up in foster care, not because the parents are abusive or negligent, but because kids start to rebel and parents don’t know what to do but seek help outside.

Stepping back and considering that it may have been more of a family problem than an adoption problem may help make the unfortunate circumstance of being in foster care seem a little more understandable (and a little less reason for anger in some cases).

Why even bothering “looking at the middle”? Because sometimes it’s easier to move past the past if we understand how things happened a little better. Sometimes it’s easier to forgive and see something things as “unfortunate but not really anyone’s fault or intention” than to think, “I was the victim of people who were nothing but horrible”.

Before thinking about moving on to the future with the relationship with a birth mother:

I think you have to also keep in mind that a lot of time and growth has passed between that birth story, that “middle” (childhood), and the present. While some adoptees will report “clicking” with their birth mother almost immediately, many don’t. In fact, many can’t relate to their birth mother at all.

My son was glad to have some “blanks” in his birth story and birth family filled in when he met his birth mother, but he certainly didn’t “click” with her. He said she expected more from him than he was able to offer in terms of a relationship. He was glad to have some of those “blanks” filled in by his birth mother’s sister, but his birth mother was a disappointment to him. She had been a troubled person when he was born, and she remained a troubled person. For lack of a nicer way to describe them, her family was “a can of worms” when it came to “issues”. My son didn’t quite know how to process a lot of it. After about a year of all the “newness of it all”, things gradually soured, and my son “phased out” first the birth mother and later the siblings, as well.

Maybe it was good that he saw how troubled she was, because I think it was clear to him that she wasn’t really “mother material”. Her other children had issues with her as well. That one aunt was the one among the whole group who gave my son the answers he needed and whose answers seemed most to him to match (and complete) the information I’d given him when he was younger.

In my son’s case, it was the birth mother who wasn’t able to keep in mind how much time had passed, or how different he would be after 21 years with the family he felt closest to. In some situations, though, it can be the adoptee who expects a little too much once reuniting, especially, perhaps, if there have been problems between the adoptee and her adoptive family. It’s natural to believe that finding one’s “real” mother might fill any emotional voids. Sometimes some voids are, in fact, filled. Sometimes none are.

Either way, I think it’s important for adoptees to realize that while they can certainly expect their birth mother to fill in all those blanks that need to be filled in when it comes to their birth story (and their birth mother’s story), it is often unrealistic to assume that it’s possible to immediately have some of those emotional voids filled in by being reunited.

On the one hand, there will always be that unique connection between a birth mother and the adoptee. On the other, much of the time there wasn’t that bonding that takes place after a mother brings her baby home and over the months that follow, as she cares for her baby and grows to love her more and more. So, in spite of that undeniable and permanent connect that will always exist as a result of a birth mother’s being the one to have given birth to the child, there’s a kind of break “in the order of things” when it comes to the adult adoptee and the birth mother.

I think (and this is only my own opinion, although I’ve read about this issue and am not offering an opinion based on nothing but my own experience) there can be a “damned-if-you-do/damned-if-don’t” thing when it comes to an adoptee’s feelings toward the birth mother in adulthood, as it applies to how “warmly” the adoptee can feel (at least immediately) toward the birth mother. Why? Because if the adoptee has had all the things that non-adoptees have between the child and the parents, that relationship would lead the adoptee to have fewer, if any, voids that needed to be filled. Such a person wouldn’t be very open, emotionally, to the birth mother in a lot of ways, simply because she wouldn’t feel that kind of need.

At the same time, if an adoptee had a far-from-perfect adoption in which her relationship with her parents left little else but one kind of void or another, she might be looking to her birth mother to fill voids that cannot be filled once a person is an adult. I’m not implying that all is hopeless when it comes to building a new relationship with a birth mother, but I’m saying I think it’s important to keep in mind that it may have start out slowly and build naturally, and on different terms than the adoptee may be hoping for. One easy example might be the adoptee who had an adoptive mother who never showed up for school events. She may have been left feeling short-changed in this (and other) ways and may kind of hope her birth mother would, in some way, make her feel less short-changed.

Having a second chance at a “new and better” mother may seem to hold a lot of promise (and may, especially in the case of a bad adoption) contribute to making the adoptee feel more whole. What I think adoptees need to be careful about, though, is that there is no returning to those years when a child waited for his mother to show up at school events, only to have her not show. The birth mother can’t give that time back and make it better next time. So, there will always be things (some less significant than others) that a birth mother may not be able to offer.

I think, too, this is another example of why it’s important to understand the birth mother’s circumstances when she placed her child for adoption; because I think it’s important an adoptee keep in mind that the birth mother can’t be blamed for the fact that the adoptive mother didn’t show up at those school events.

My point is that these kinds of issues are all the kinds of things I think an adoptee needs to sort out before moving too far into a new relationship with the birth mother. I don’t intend to make it seem as if any challenges to the relationship are challenges that can’t be overcome or even that will be all that big. The reality is, though, that once a child is part of that “triangle” associated with adoption (the birth mother/parents, the adoptive mother/parents, and the child) there are those extra issues that need to be understood, sorted out, and resolved by the adoptee.

I think it’s also important for adoptees to keep in mind that while some reunions lead to great relationships with the birth mother, many don’t. Based not only on my own son, but on other adoptees I’ve known, as well; there are times when adoptees (especially those not entirely “thrilled” with their adoptive parents) may discover they feel as if they fit more (even if only in some ways) with their adoptive parents than with their birth parents. Whether the adoptee once believed she was completely alienated from adoptive parents, or instead once believed she couldn’t possibly feel she belonged with a birth mother who is a “stranger”, there can be surprises (both pleasant and unpleasant).

It’s important, I think, for adoptees to be prepared for some surprises and to be open to the idea that building a relationship with the birth mother will be a process of further growth, as a human being (one way or another). Just as no one can guarantee that a newborn child will have a perfectly wonderful childhood, no one can guarantee that the road to a relationship with a birth mother will be a smooth one (or even that it will lead anywhere farther than some initial meetings that eventually answer what questions the adoptee needs answered before the adoptee and birth mother start to notice they have less in common than they believed they would).

So how does an adoptee build a relationship with a birth mother?

There’s not a simple and easy answer to that question. I suppose one simple answer would be, “Don’t expect too much too soon, and let the relationship start out slowly and build from there (the way any new relationship needs to).” I think it’s important to keep in mind that although an adoptee’s history with her birth mother dates all the way back to the day she was born, the interruption in the relationship means that, in so many ways, reuniting and building a new relationship will very much be just that – building a new relationship. I also means, I think, defining that new relationship in a way that helps the adoptee see that her life (and identity and self) has remained one, continuous, life that began at birth, continued through her childhood, and continues to build, grow, and change with time. In other words, adoptees need to see their life as a play, starring them. (In fact, the birth mother needs to see their life the same way.) In a play, the set changes and/or the scenes change. Actors come and go on the stage. The name of the play remains the unchanged, and the one aspect of it that doesn’t change is the actor who has that starring role. I think seeing that continuity is important for adoptees and birth parents (even though one actor has been missing from most of the play until now). Somehow it seems to me that reconciling that short period between birth and adoption, the longer period between adoption and the present, and the “new” period when the adoptee and birth mother meet again is one way from allowing what is sometimes a fragile and shaky new relationship to crumble under the weight of too much expectation too soon.

The “Star of My Own Show”

I’d like to begin winding down this discussion with a story about my son and me. My son was about seventeen, and he and I had gone through a time when we were arguing pretty much most of the time. It didn’t help that my mother (and his beloved grandmother) had recently died and made us both pretty much on edge and not in the best of moods, to say the least. Both of us had gone through some awful, awful, things while my mother had been bedridden; and as his mother, I was absolutely heartsick to know what he had to endure in terms of sorrow. Still, he was a frazzled and sometimes rebelling teen at the time, and there were times he could be pretty unreasonable.

One night he was (as they say) mouthing off at me. I was angry that he was “giving me a hard time” after all I’d been through. As I said, I was heart-sick to know what he’d been through, but I thought it wouldn’t have killed him to think of me too. In any case, he got me angry and I spoke to him in an uncharacteristically loud and firm voice, in my attempt to get him to realize that he wasn’t the only one who had gone through so much. Not generally being someone to assert my own “importance”, I angrily said to my son, “I’M THE STAR OF THIS SHOW!!” My son was taken aback at my uncharacteristic behavior but immediately replied in his own angry tone (but also in an uncharacteristic assertion of his own “importance”), “WELL – I’M THE STAR OF MY OWN SHOW!!!”

When he came back with that I suddenly realized that I, too, had been wrapped up in my own sorrow and loss (and worry about him) and that, in fact, he was the “star of his own show”, just as I was the “star” of mine.

The thing is, birth mother or adoptive mother, child or adult, biological child or adoptee; each of us is the star of own show; and everyone else in “our show” is, at least from the perspective of “self”, supporting cast (even if extremely important “supporting cast”). Sometimes, when it comes to emotional events or circumstances, it can be pretty easy to forget that the other person is also the star of his own show.

My personal belief is that in the adoption triangle, it is always the child’s needs that should come first. That’s not how it always is, but, ideally, that’s how it should be. A good part of the time mothers (birth or adoptive) will make the child the “star” of their show if at all possible. Sometimes, for one reason or another, they can’t (or won’t). As adoptees (or non-adoptees, for that matter) grow up, a shift has to occur that involves the grown child’s sometimes realizing that her mother is also the star of her own show, complete with all the pressure, expectations, and demands that come with being the star of any show.

When a reunion between an adoptee and birth mother takes place it’s pretty much a matter of joining someone else’s “show”, already in progress, as not only a new cast member but a new character. To add to the challenges, there isn’t just one “show”. There’s at least two (that of the adoptee and the birth mother). Sometimes (usually, perhaps) a whole bunch of different people’s “shows” suddenly have new characters and cast members in them. It can be a complicated time that isn’t easy for anyone involved.

That’s why, I think, people need to take things a little slowly at first, be willing to learn, be willing to try, and be careful about expecting too much of any new characters and/or cast members.

None of this is intended to imply that a great relationship cannot be built between a birth mother and an adoptee. The world is full of adoptees who have gone on to have wonderful relationships with their birth mother. There are also those times, though, when the relationship can never be quite what the adoptee hoped it could be (or even when it turns out there can be no relationship at all). While no adoptee deserves to be disappointed, it’s especially important that those who have had a less than ideal relationship with their adoptive parents not set themselves up for yet further disappointment and emotional trauma. Being prepared, taking things slowly, and keeping expectations within reason can, I think, help build a more solid foundation on which to build whatever relationship will be built.

As for my own son, his world was pretty much rocked (and not for the better) because he went into the reunion with a little too much haste, after initially being reluctant to even meet his birth mother. The warm welcome he received from her and her family made him feel like the long-lost child he was to them. There was, however, an “all-that-glitters-is-not-gold” aspect to the warm, initial, reunion and months that followed it; and my not quite-mature-enough, 21-year-old son was eventually disappointed, a little at a time, as was his birth mother.

As an adoptive mother, I’ve so often heard or read things about how adoptive mothers are cautious or reluctant when it comes to their child’s meeting the birth mother. I’ve also read or heard adoptees say they worry about even raising the issue of a reunion with their (adoptive) mother because they don’t want to hurt her. In my case (and I think this is true with a lot of adoptive mothers), the idea that my son would most likely one day want to meet his birth mother/family was something I’d always just taken for granted as part of the “adoption factor” and wasn’t something I was either insecure or emotionally fragile about that he would have needed to worry about “hurting me”.

Back then, when my son was 21 and contacted by an agency who invited him to meet his birth mother, I did believe he wasn’t quite emotionally mature enough to handle it. When he said he wasn’t going to follow up I was the one who said, “At least let her know you’re OK. She deserves that much.” That’s what began the reunion process, and the fact that he wasn’t quite as mature as would have been ideal is what made him dive a little too quickly into waters that would turn out to be far too deep for him. Had my son had just another two or three years to mature, I think his reunion with his birth mother may have turned out more successful than it did.

Another factor that I don’t think helped was that none of the birth family seemed to realize it may not have been helpful in his relationship with the birth mother for them to “swoop in as a group” (well intended as they may have been), overwhelmed him, made him feel (for lack of a better words) like a “Big Cheese”, and then proceed to tell him all about all the mistakes and flaws of his birth mother. His birth mother is an individual who has had many disadvantages and who was said to have challenges aside from some of those external disadvantages. My son is an accepting person and a person who is fairly good at understanding that people can “have issues” or make unintended mistakes. I think if he and his birth mother had had some time to get to know one another better before quite such an onslaught of “welcoming” by the rest of her family began he may possibly have developed a better relationship with her. Since my son relating to the extended family members was easier for my son than relating to the birth mother was, it was, I guess, natural for the family members to step in, make my son feel more welcome, and – in the end, and without intending to – discourage his forming a better relationship with his birth mother.

Whether or not his birth mother is someone with whom he ever could have formed a real relationship is something I don’t know. For all I know, it may have been good that the extended family stepped up and played the role they did. I do know, though, that with their good intentions and haste at making my son feel “like one of them”, they did put down some roadblocks when it came to any potential relationship with his birth mother,

This is why I’ll end this discussion by suggesting that adoptees, themselves, limit (at least to some degree) intensity and time when it comes to meeting and spending time with other birth family members. . It’s one thing to meet them, and I’m not suggesting adoptees not do that. It’s another thing, however, to have a large extended family start having one get-together after another, involving different combinations of people or time spent with individual family members alone. I’m just suggesting taking it slow and limiting numbers when it comes to birth family members.

It may seem natural to welcome back a “long lost” child to a whole family, and it, of course, seems like a nice thing to do to have a big get-together in order to do it. Celebrating meeting an adopted child in this way is celebrating the happiness with which that child is received. I do think, however, that it lays a foundation for a set of dynamics that may not necessarily be conducive to stronger relationships (especially with the birth mother, given that she is the “star” of her particular “show”) in the long run.

To me, it just seems like common sense to realize that when a baby is placed for adoption in early infancy the mother cannot form the same kind of bond that mothers form with babies after they bring them home, care for them, and become increasingly attached to them over the the first few years of the child’s life. I had children, as well as having adopted one. The connection I had with them at the time of their birth was “nothing” compared to the fierce and intense bond that would grow once I brought each one home and began to nurture him or her. When a baby is separated from his birth mother in early infancy there’s never the chance for this kind of bond to develop, so the birth mother’s bond with the child is very limited. Even though she may have her own love for, and thoughts of, the child over the years; it cannot be a “relationship” when the two are not in one another’s lives.

This is why it seems to me that when a reunion is to take place it may be more important than people generally realize that the birth mother and adoptee have a good, solid, chance to begin to build on whatever connection they have; rather than allow extended family members to play too big a role in the early stages of the reunion. I don’t pretend to be an expert on this matter, and I don’t even know if I’m correct in my beliefs. What I do know, however, is what did create fractures in whatever potential there was for my son to form a relationship (even if not a perfect one) with his birth mother.

If nothing else, these are things I think people who are planning a reunion, or who are in the early stages of the reunion process, should consider.

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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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Reunion and Expectations

I hear both moms and adoptees say to enter into reunion with no expectations. I believe this is misguided advice. I also believe it is impossible. I cannot count the number of times I have read or heard adoptees and moms say I had no expectations but it isn’t long before I hear them say what they found wasn’t what they expected! Remember, you are entering into reunion because YOU believe you are ready. Expect that there may never be the perfect time for those you find and they may not be ready.
From my experience and research, here is what I believe we can reasonably expect.
We can expect to find a wounded soul. I know it seems obvious but it’s important to remember because we need to be kind, gentle, and compassionate with the trauma survivor. We can expect that there may be some sort of self-medicating for the pain. Be it drugs (prescription or illicit), alcohol, workaholics, or food. It’s natural for humans to self-medicate and we should not condemn or judge them for it.
We can expect that our “other” (I use the term ‘other’ when referring to adoptees or moms. It is for brevity and not intended to diminish anyone) may not be able to face their pain thus unable to acknowledge ours. It isn’t their fault! People are ready to face it at their own pace and we must respect that. Setting an example of facing our own is all we can really do. Tell anyone who isn’t ready that they might have ‘adoption issues’ and you’ll likely be met with rage. Haven’t we all seen someone scream ‘I’m NOT angry’ complete with the red face, vein pulsing in their forehead after you ask them why they are so angry? It is easy to believe they are being self absorbed, don’t care how we are affected, flawed for not being strong enough to see their own let alone our pain but it is simply fear. There is no value, comfort or healing in taking it personally because it isn’t.
We can expect that people don’t understand the difference between feelings, beliefs, and the truth. This certainly isn’t isolated to adoptoworld. Understanding the differences is critical! By far, this is the most important thing I’ve learned in my journey. It made the difference of feeling crushing pain and despair to understanding and compassion.  Feelings and beliefs fluctuate. The truth is constant. Feelings are happy, sad, angry, shame, etc. Feelings are never wrong, they just are. We need to honor, and validate them. Beliefs are a different matter and it is healthy to question them, it isn’t disrespectful. I find myself explaining these differences most often when talking with moms and adoptees about rejection and abandonment. I am very careful to challenge beliefs, not feelings. I challenge those that say ‘I feel rejected. I feel abandoned’. I do that because those aren’t feelings, they are beliefs! I strongly believe that there is no rejection of people in reunion – ever. It is a rejection of the pain, not us. 
We can expect that trauma victims may not know what the truth is. Just because our other says something doesn’t make it true. You will be told their beliefs but they could be false and can’t be assumed the truth. This is counter-intuitive, I know. The brainwashing by society and the adoption industry affects us all at some time to some degree. I lied to myself and lived in denial to survive. The fog is very powerful. It wasn’t long ago that I would’ve said I had a choice, that I had no regrets. Those were my false beliefs and not the truth. As with everything with adoption, you can’t take anything at face value and must look deeper.  Does anyone out of the fog really believe the adoptee that says adoption had no affect on me? Do we believe the rape victim that says it was her fault?
We can expect that we, or our other, may unconsciously sabotage our reunion. This can happen when we believe inherently (often unconsciously) that somehow we are unlovable, that we don’t deserve good things in our life, we can’t trust anyone. How can one not have a seed of the belief of being unlovable when the one who was supposed to love them the most left them? Moms tell themselves they are unlovable because what kind of person gets themselves in a position to lose a child to adoption? We may believe we aren’t worthy of a relationship, that they are better off without us. Our misguided belief of ‘rejection’ may terrify us and give us any reason to ditch our other. A get them before they get me defense mechanism. What can be most confusing is that a pullback can come when reunions are going well. It’s the realization of all that we’ve lost and will never get back that can cause some to put the brakes on. Again, it’s the pain being rejected, not the person.
We can expect that reunion will bring grief to the surface. I didn’t start to grieve the loss of my son until after we met face to face. Grief can cause us to lash out at our other or anyone else. It is akin to having psychological sunburn. Things that would not normally hurt, the slightest touch can cause an extreme pain reaction. The grief can seem never ending. I found making a list helped. Putting it down on paper stopped it from being free-floating. It allowed me to give it the respect and acknowledgement it deserved. I don’t hold back the tears anymore. I hope that one day I’ll discover I don’t need to add to the list anymore.
We can expect that social graces we give and receive from those close to us may not apply in adoptoworld. For example, a friend would return your call or email in a day or two. We need to understand that our other may need time to process, may have an uncontrollable urge to prove that you aren’t that important. You see, we convince ourselves that it hurts less when we diminish the value and importance of our other. Another false belief because trying to ignore our pain certainly doesn’t make it go away. We’d all be pain free if that actually worked!
We can expect that if setting healthy boundaries is hard for us it will be exponentially more difficult with our other. We all have the right to be treated with respect and dignity. It is natural for adoption to cause ‘nuclear’ rage and it could be directed to our other instead of the adoption industry where it belongs. It isn’t fair or right but understandable. Moms need to have compassion and patience for their kids that vehemently exclaim that we had a choice; there wasn’t a gun to your head. Expect that the miniscule exception to the rule, the ‘dumpster babies’, women who just don’t want to parent, abortion will be referenced. 
We can expect regression. Moms will often regress to the age when they lost their child. I’ve seen my son regress to the contemptuous teenager, raging toddler and then to the kind, contemplative adult in mere moments. I couldn’t believe the youthful energy I had upon reunion. The downside was that some of the immature attitudes came through as well. The world was once again black and white and not the spectrum of gray that comes with experience and maturity. This wasn’t constant but my younger ‘inner child’ would come through when triggered.  I’m grateful I was able to recognize that when my son said he never wanted to see or speak to me again it was his inner child coming through. If I took him at his word, face value, I would have left him alone and it could’ve been decades before we reconnected again, if ever. I followed the advice of a wise adoptee and continued to send my notes of loving and missing you every month or so. After over a year of silence, he has responded. I know there will be mountains and valleys on our path but I will never give up hope!
We can expect that we can’t travel this journey alone. We need the support and compassion of those that are on the same journey and those that have traveled before us. It takes work to know something intellectually and to know it in our bones. I believe it is our responsibility to face our own pain. I believe we have a duty to learn about our other’s experience and pain, too. Above all, we cannot judge and condemn them for not facing their pain or healing on our schedule. We need to accept where they are. We can only change ourselves.
We can expect that our capacity for love, compassion, and empathy can carry us through. “Perfect maturity is when a person hurts you, and you try to understand their situation and don’t hurt them back. – unknown”
by Charlene Verishine
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Will Adult Adoptees Ever be Treated like Grown-ups?



Is anyone else as disgusted as I am at the slow pace of the adoption reform movement — specifically the state-by-state efforts to allow adult citizens who happen to be adopted access to their own birth certificates?

The New Jersey Coalition for Adoption Reform and Education (NJCARE) tries valiantly year after year to get an adult adoptee access bill passed, and year after year it is thwarted by last-minute back room deals driven by the opposition — Catholic Bishops, NJ Right to Life, the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) and the NJ Bar Association.

These groups continue to oppose adult adoptee access even though we now have years of experience from the open-access states and from other countries that shows their fears are completely unfounded.  Meanwhile, everyday people who have an ounce of common sense just shake their heads in disbelief when I explain to them that most fully-grown adoptees have no access to the document that records their true and actual birth.

Apparently, by law, adoptees in this country are still expected for life to be somebody other than who they really are.  When a child’s adoption in the US is finalized, an amended birth certificate is issued that lists the adoptive parents as the child’s mother and father.  The original birth certificate is “sealed” by the state, and adoptees must petition the court and show “good cause,” a condition that has never been legally defined, should they desire to know the truth about their own genetic roots.

Of course legions of adoptees search for their origins in spite of the legal obstacles.  Search angels and some private investigators specialize in the field.  But isn’t it ridiculous and unjust that an entire class of people must jump through all kinds of hoops in order to find out the most basic information about themselves?

The adoption industry has been quite successful in convincing people that the practice of adoption is just fine exactly like it is.  Their propaganda, aimed at selling the concept that adoption is a win-win situation for all the parties involved, has been effective.  Most people seem to assume that adoption is always a wonderful and positive option that leads to happily-ever-after endings for all.

The lifelong loss that so many original mothers feel?  We don’t hear so much about that.  The identity struggles that many adoptees face as they come to terms with their relinquishment?  A secondary concern.  How much easier it is to just assume, as I did as a child, that love will conquer all.

My guess is that most people aren’t even aware that the original birth certificates of adoptees are sealed for life in most states.  And if they are aware, they probably assume, incorrectly, that adoption has always been conducted this way, and that the secrecy is necessary for the “protection” of birth parents.  Those who oppose adult adoptee access talk a great deal about the need for birth parent protection, although hordes of original mothers have come forward to tell us that they were not promised, nor did they ask for “confidentiality.”

As I have written in other posts, allowing adopted adults access to their original birth certificates is not a novel and untested concept.  In England and Australia, adult adoptees have had access to their own birth documents for over 30 years!  Here, a few states have opened up access, but progress across the country remains slow, and the quest for adoptee rights is always a frustrating, uphill battle.

What is really galling is that the press for the most part does not challenge the propaganda of the power brokers in adoption.  These groups insist that original mothers were promised anonymity, when an examination of the history and of the surrender documents themselves shows clearly that records were sealed to hide the identity of the adoptee, not the identity of the original family.

And why are birth records sealed for one of the most common types of adoption, that initiated by step-parents?  In these cases, and in adoptions out of foster care, the children for the most part already have their original information, and yet still, their original birth certificates are sealed.  Domestic infant adoptions actually comprise just a tiny portion of all adoptions finalized each year, yet the power brokers in adoption ask us to accept that original birth certificates are sealed across the board to preserve the “anonymity” or privacy of original parents.

The most telling statistic, of course, is that fewer than 1 percent of original parents have a preference for anonymity, according to combined statistics from those open-access states that maintain records (American Adoption Congress, Statistics for States Implementing Access to Original Birth Certificates).  Just who is it that adoption facilitators are so intent on protecting, even as they continue to violate the rights of the person that adoption is supposed to serve — the adoptee?

It is apparent to me that they are either trying to protect themselves by keeping their files under lock and key, or they are responding to the desire of some adoptive parents to begin with a clean slate, adoptive parents who want nothing whatsoever to do with the original families.  Whatever the motivation, it is clear that it does not center around the best interest of the child.

Sometimes, I wonder whether I am wasting my time writing these posts, when we see so little progress in the legislative arena.  I am a rational, logical person, and it drives me crazy that the opposition to Adoptee Rights Bills is not based on any established fact.  As far as I can see, the opposition is based on a misguided ideology, power and money.

Will adult adoptees ever be treated like grown-ups by law?  Sadly, I am beginning to doubt it.


Article written by Susan P. @ (Susan, you’re awesome!)


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