Adoptees Beware: Religious Agencies Changed Birth Dates & Data

Last week, I was mulling over the relinquishment of the main character in my novel ‘Waving Backwards.’ The feelings and difficulties of being an adoptee in search are easy for me to explore, since I found my birth family after a 12 year search. However, the  birth mother’s experience is somewhat of a mystery  to me.

As I considered the relinquishment scenes for my book, I was blessed to turn on the TV to find Dan Rather reporting about forced adoption in the 60’s & 70’s. His report titled “Adopted or Abducted” opened my eyes to the questionable practices employed by many adoption agencies during the adoption boom.

During the 60’s & 70’s, waves of families moved to suburban neighborhoods, becoming what we now know as the middle class. At that time, social standing and reputations were extremely important.

According to Rather’s report on AXS TV, the increased focus on social standing, coincided with a change of attitudes among young people about sex, dating, and experimentation. Therefore, the rate of unwed pregnancies rose.

Families eager to protect their daughter’s reputations (and their own) often sent these unwed teens away to have their babies. Maternity homes were popular, and many were run by Catholic organizations.

Rather’s report focuses on the experiences of birth mothers sent to live in maternity homes, and how they were forced to give away their babies. Birth mothers were often tricked or forced into signing relinquishment papers. Some were even told that their babies had died.

The part of the report that is most important to those of you in search is the revelation that agencies (like Catholic Charities) often changed the identifying information in adoption records. They did this, so that the birth mother would never be able to locate her child. They also changed the nationalities of children, to better match the nationalities of their adoptive families.  Thereby creating a perfect fit by falsehood.

If  you are searching for your birth family, this could be a crucial fact. If the agency that placed you changed your birth date, your internet searches could be omitting crucial information.  When you search online or register for reunion registries, I suggest using the year and state of your birth, in addition to the city and date of birth that appears on your amended birth certificate. Someone could be looking for you with information that is different than the info you have.

Troy Dunn, AKA The Locator, who was interviewed for the report, has heard from thousands of birth mothers who were forced to give up babies. He has also found birth date changes to be  commonplace. (Sickening, I know.) Dunn cited Catholic Charities as one of the biggest culprits. Therefore, if you were placed by Catholic Charities, I would question every bit of information provided in a letter of non-identifying information.

I highly recommend that birth mothers and adoptees view the show. Birth mothers may find some solace in knowing that they are not the only ones who had their babies stolen, and adoptees may find a new perspective on the horrible process, and what it means to their searches.


6 thoughts on “Adoptees Beware: Religious Agencies Changed Birth Dates & Data

  1. Bless you for educating and guiding others in search. And congratulations on gaunt closure on your own search! Well done!
    I saw you listed a few registries but missed ours. It can be found at TroysList.ORG, is and always will be free of charge, is the fastest growing registry in existence (thanks to the constant tv exposure) and there are reunions daily in TroysList.

  2. My daughter and I were reunited in 2008. She was born in the early 70s and I went to Volunteers of America in Shreveport, LA. They changed her birth date to Feb. 1st although she was born on Feb. 2nd. The agency used religion and shame to influence the girls into signing the adoption papers. I tried to change my mind and was shut down and told it was too late. They lied and told me she was already gone after I reluctantly signed the papers. I found out she was still there for at least a week after I left from a high school friend that was also there and saw her. Especially the changed birth date did not sit well with my daughter. I hope she will forgive me one day for giving her up. My heart is forever broken. The decades of lies in America surrounding adoption go on even now with the myth of open adoption. Thank you for trying to tell part of our story.

    • I am so glad to hear that you were reunited despite the lies, and that you know that your daughter is alive and well. It sounds like she is angry about being given up, and that has to be very hard on you. I have to say that as an adoptee, who is in touch with my birth mother on a regular basis, forgiving to the core is difficult. Even though, I rationally understand the reasons I was given up, and that the times were different then, there is always going to be a part of me that is the one who was given away. With the idea of abandonment comes a tsunami of issues related to self-worth, and self-esteem. I have half-siblings as well, and that makes the issue even more complicated. There is pain on every side of the adoption triangle, and I thank you for sharing your story here. It will help other birth mom’s to know that they are not alone.
      Blessings for healing, Vicki-lynn

  3. Im searching for sibling born 1963 July 27th in Portland Oregon we have always thought something like that had to be with cause we knew our grandparents and they always hated our father so i need help I’ve been looking for about 17 years

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