Friday, November 7, 2014

VIDEO National Adoption Month? The Lost Daughters #flipthescript

Headed by @mothermade, Lost Daughters is flipping the script with this awesome round table style video by Bryan Tucker.



Click here for the full length version and remember to share with the tags #NationalAdoptionMonth and #flipthescript.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

PA, Adoptee Rights, and an Amended Bill--What now?

Photo (c) Julie Stromberg
On Tuesday, September 16, 2014, the Pennsylvania Senate Aging and Youth Committee held a voting hearing for HB 162.  As drafted, HB 162 would restore the right of PA-born adult adoptees, nineteen years or older, to access a copy of their original birth certificate (OBC) with the same regard under the law enjoyed by every other PA-born citizen.

When a child is adopted in the U.S., a amended birth record replaces their OBC that lists their adoptive parents as their biological parents.  In 48 states, the OBC is sealed.  Every single state has a law on the books providing for the release of the OBC to the adoptee at the discretion of a judge in addition to other avenues of access. However, only six states honor the right of adult adoptees to access their OBC with the same regard as all other people.

The history of how HB 162 came to be is peculiar. Until 1985, Pennsylvania was one of three states that allowed adoptees equal access to their OBCs.  Following the passing of Roe v. Wade, concerns arose in religious pro-life communities that adoptees accessing their OBCs would increase abortion rates. They first questioned the interpretation of the law. In 1978, the PA Attorney General issued an official statement identifying OBCs as separate from sealed adoption records and confirmed that Vital Statistics should continue to release OBCs to adult adoptees.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Adoption and Fundraising: When Money to Breaks Down Systemic Barriers for Families

Aselefech runs for family preservation.
There are a number of factors behind why I was placed for adoption.  Economics by far is one of the most pervasive.  My narrative is one among countless that attest to the way in which economics constricts the choices families and parents have--to keep their children, to not experience the removal of their children, to not become pregnant if they do not wish to be.

I have been outspoken for the past five years against adoption fundraisers.  I have been asked countless times over the years to donate my written word or official endorsement to adoption fundraisers, and each time I have declined.  According to my mother's narrative, at the time she stepped off of the plane in her sister's home state where she would birth me, she owned just one change of clothes. It seems irreverent for the wealthy to exchange money for inspirational adoption t-shirts among themselves, too expensive for my own mother to have worn herself, to raise money to adopt her baby.

Hierarchies of power and privilege push impoverished children into orphanages and care and trap them there with their families on the outside looking in, the empty arms of biological families aching.  One adoption fee could vaccinate tens of thousands of children or fund an entire medical center for a village.  The average cost to adopt a newborn from a struggling parent could pay the TANF allowance of a family of four for three years.

Friday, May 23, 2014

As Rightful Narrators: Adoption, RAD, and Storytelling


Recently, the New York Times Motherlode blog posted an essay by author Tina Traster entitled, "You're not my Real Mother."  The essay processed her gut reaction to hearing the infamous "you're not my real mom" phrase from her daughter.  Traster retorted "well who is then?" and directed her daughter never to say the phrase again.  Traster described her own hurt feelings while disclosing her daughter's adoption narrative and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) diagnosis to readers across the globe.  Her daughter's narrative and diagnosis are also embedded in the premise of her book Rescuing Julia Twice.  The reaction to the article exposed sincere concern in the readership regarding the level of information-sharing on the child's behalf in the article.  One Motherlode reader conversely posed the question: shouldn't parenting essays show the challenges of parenting, including a parent's raw and honest revelations however imperfect they may be?

In this entry, I will not comment on the RAD diagnosis (or diagnoses as reflected in the DSM-5) or that how it is popularly portrayed and understood often varies dramatically from the diagnostic criteria.  Rather, I want to respond directly to the above question by explaining specifically why RAD narratives like Traster's are troubling to me.

What do I mean when I call stories like Traster's as one among countless "RAD narratives?"  It has to do with the fact that these stories reinforce the dominant adoption discourse where adoptees and first parents are the topics of discussions that distance the reader from understanding by pathologizing them and issuing second-hand disclosure of their lives.  Rather than being informed of what relational trauma and attachment disruption are like from the perspective of a person who experienced it, these particular narratives tell the child's story on their behalf and the child's role is that of a problem to be solved.  To be rescued.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

"I do not Have to Help Them": Pushing Back Against the Apathy of Those With Power


"The Representative would like to meet with you," came a young woman's voice over the speaker of my cell phone. "It is urgent. You must come to Harrisburg as soon as possible." I agreed to attend, and quickly contacted two other adoption activists. It was the summer of 2010. I was relatively new to adoption activism and knew better than to go by myself. I knew why she had called.  This legislator had submitted a bill that competed with a pending original birth certificate access bill.  After his office ignored our attempts to engage with him personally, we launched a social media campaign in opposition of the bill.  We knew he had heard our voices, yet nothing prepared me for what I walked into that day.

Joined by two other activists, I nervously sat down at the large oval table. Several Representatives were there, including the bill sponsor. He was flanked by numerous staff.  No one looked happy.

"Can you tell me what this is about?" he said sternly. "My offices received so many calls from your organization's call-to-action that our phone lines went down."