Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Tale of One who is Adopted and one who is not

These are the stories of two, real people, with their names changed on this blog.

Alex was born in the 1950's.

Haley was born in the 1980's.

Alex's mother found it impossible to continue on living with her alcoholic husband.  But back in her day, women couldn't always just take their children and leave.  Divorce and single motherhood were heavily stigmatized and treated harshly by surrounding society.  So she left tearfully one day and moved across the country, leaving two-year-old Alex and his younger brother to be raised by her husband's mother.

Haley's mother experienced an unplanned pregnancy as a teenager.  Unable to qualify for welfare because she was considered the dependant of a family who themselves could not qualify for welfare but could not readily afford to raise a baby without assistance either, Haley's mother sought out the help of an adoption agency.  But the agency pressured Haley's mother into thinking that the only way to do right by Haley was to surrender her to a family that could raise and support her.

Alex's mother remarried and started a new family.

Haley's mother graduated high school, married, and started a family.

Alex's mother's identity was never hidden from him.  It was never questioned whether or not he should be able to know the name of his mother.  Correspondence from his mother was in a letter here and there, rare, and discouraged by his family.

Haley's mother's identity was hidden from her.  It was questioned whether or not she should be able to know the name of her mother.  Haley had no way of contacting her mother and her mother was forbidden from knowing who Haley was or trying to contact her.

Alex saw his mother again for the first time since age two when he was 21.  He visits her every other year with his wife.

Haley saw her mother again for the first time since she was a few weeks old when she was 24.  She talks to her a couple of times per week.

Alex does not need permission from the state to speak to his mother.  His birth certificate is his own, the state makes it available to him without question, and no one can revoke it from him.  Alex is seen as normal for embracing his roots and loving his mother.  People treat him like a normal person, with normal reasons for accessing his birth certificate, and a normal son of his mother.

Haley needs permission from the state to speak to her mother.  Her birth certificate is not her own, the state does not make it readily available to her and questions her repeatedly when she wants it, and it is able to be revoked at any time.  Haley is seen as abnormal for embracing her roots.  People treat Haley like a novelty, think she is disloyal to her parents for loving her mother, and have called her names for her interest in her heritage.


Haley was issued a decree of adoption.  Alex was not.

There are people who live "adoptee-like" lives everywhere.  It's why the horror "what if your mother...____enter dramatic scenario here___" objections to adoptee rights are irrelevant.  Living separately from your mother and not being raised by her, hard family situations, and controversial conception circumstances are not exclusive to adoption.  It's your decree of adoption that sealed your information and made you legally different than everyone else---not the "controversial" details that may have allegedly surrounded your life pre-adoption.  It's the decree of adoption that chopped you off at your roots and sealed your OBC; period.  Don't let a legislator or anyone else tell you otherwise.


Kris said...

Really good point.

Anonymous said...

thank you for explaining this issue in very understandable terms.

Lori said...

YOU BET YA! I know that from experience. I have to petition the court to get the records that are actually MINE from the courts because I was a foster child.

I was ill, some kind of blood disorder, for many years, no one would ever tell me what it was, but I have had more blood tests than anyone I know.

I have no idea who the psychologists I saw were - even though I know where their offices were at the time.

I never had parents and while I never have the secrecy and lies about who I am, I certainly have them about my life and where I was and who the people involved in my life were.

Christine said...

I too see the "adoption-like" scenarios. Even in my own family. My brother fathered three children, two of which he did not parent. Now at age 17, his daughter has come to us, hoping for a relationship. My brother died 3 years ago. My adoptive father and my adoptive sister both had the reaction of "what does she want??"
They were scared and leery of her intentions.

Yet these are the same two people who encouraged my reunion when my first mother found me.

You explained this very well.

Gaye Tannenbaum said...

The other thing that drives me crazy is being told "your mother CHOSE a closed adoption" and that's why I can't get my OBC.

Right. Sure. I was born in 1953 in New York. No one CHOSE a closed adoption. Closed adoptions were (and still are) the law in most states.

Even now, with my mother's permission, I am not entitled to my OBC without a court order for "good cause shown" which is NOT "because it's mine and my Mom says it's okay".