23andMe Adoption Reunion- A Sibling Story Sixty Years in the Making

I have been reading quite a bit about adoption reunions enabled by mail order DNA testing.  Most of the stories are about adoptee’s reunions with distant cousins. However, this recent article in the Parsippany Focus tells the reunion story of sisters Sherri Parker and Jan Mattaliano. DNA-Strang 2

23andMe shares similar stories on its customer story page.

As an adoptee, who searched pre-internet, in an decade when DNA was primarly used as a  means to prove paternity, these reunions always amaze me. We have witnessed the moving of mountains in terms of adoption search technology. Of course, if we had access to our records and original birth certificates (OBCs), we wouldn’t need any of these functional family finders to reach the search summit.

A happy reunion story. Please share.

Reunited after 60 years: Florida woman finds her long-lost sister in N.J.

Two sisters, unknown to each other for 60 years, met for the first time in a Florida hotel recently. Sherri Parker, a Realtor from Florida, and Jan Mattaliano, of Fairfield, met after Parker’s decades-long search for her birth mother led to the half-sister she never knew about. DNA testing finally brought them together – and proved… READ MORE at Parsippany Focus

Blessings for a DNA matching miracle,

V.L.

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Waving Backwards, a Savannah novel (SYP Publishing)
Imagine not knowing who you are,
until you find yourself in a statue 800-miles from home.
COMING TO Amazon/Kindle/Nook and a BOOKSTORE NEAR YOU JULY 2015

Why OBC (Original Birth Certificates) Matter to Reunited Adoptees

Last night, as we discussed the editing on my debut novel Waving Backwards, my adoptive mother (an avid reader of this blog) asked me a question that made me consider the way non-adoptees view the quest of reunited adoptees for access to their OBCs (Original Birth Certificates).

Mom asked, “If they already know their birth families, why is it important for adoptees to get their original birth certificates?”

My immediate response was, “Because it belongs to them. It is a document that every other American has access to, and adoptees are denied access because of decisions that were completely out of their control.”

Pondering this further, I added, “Equality, Mom. We adoptees want the same rights as every other American. We want the paper that officiates our arrival on this earth. It may be a simple piece of paper, but for me it a document that makes my existence more solid. It connects me to the lineage that I fought so hard to discover. It is also a document of healing. It does not heal the wounds of separation, but acts as a band-aid covering at least one gaping crevice of my identity.”

As a believer in birth certificate and adoption record access for all adoptees at the age of eighteen, I continued, “We also want any rights that might be tied to our birth certificates.”  In my case, my birth mom is Canadian and as her daughter, I would be granted dual citizenship if I had the birth certificate that proved my lineage.

As a reunited adoptee, my original birth certificate is the first page of my life.

On the promotional page for the adoption search documentary A Simple Piece of Paper filmmaker Jean Strauss quotes adoptee Darryl McDaniels of the musical group RUN DMC as saying, “No one starts a book from chapter one, But adoptees’ live their lives from chapter two. All we want is to know the beginning of our own story.”  (View McDaniels adoption story on Fuse)

Explaining the significance of my OBC to a non-adoptee is difficult. It is easy to describe hunger to revelers at a feast, but few will feel the gut-wrenching pain of lack that adoptees feel everyday.

In an effort to obtain equal OBC access, the New York State Adoptee Equal Access Group has started a photo challenge.  They ask that you post/tweet/blog/share a photo of yourself  (or someone famous) holding a sign that reads- #‎SimplePieceOfPaper‬  and include the url NYAdoptionEquality.org.

NY's Prime Sponsor: Assemblyman David Weprin

NY’s Prime Sponsor: Assemblyman David Weprin

If, like me, you are a New York adoptee, this is a great way to help increase the visibility of our cause. Please post your pic on my FB community page-Adoptees who have found their biological families.

Blessings for equal access,
V.L.

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Waving Backwards, a Savannah novel (SYP Publishing)
Imagine not knowing who you are,
until you find yourself in a statue 800-miles from home.
COMING TO Amazon/Kindle/Nook and a BOOKSTORE NEAR YOU JULY 2015

Happy Equal Access Day Ohio Adoptees!

On this cold, rainy day in Ohio, a line of colorful umbrellas line the walkway in front of the Cleveland Bureau of Vital Statistics. Under each protective canopy stands a hopeful adoptee clinging to the paperwork they have dreamed of for a lifetime. March 20, 2015 is independence day for Ohio adoptees, as they are now permitted to obtain their Original Birth Certificates (OBCs).

Photo by Adoption Network Cleveland

Photo by Adoption Network Cleveland

This photo brought me to tears. They are tears of relief for the 400,000 adoptees who now have the option of knowing who they are, and where they come from. As a reunited NY adoptee, I breath a sigh of relief for the blessed closure that is coming for these adoptees.

I also tear up for the millions of adoptees in the 40+ states where obtaining an Original Birth Certificate (without birth parent approval or court order) remains a hopeful dream.  The road to equal rights and open records is a long one, but Ohio’s success teaches us that it is a road worth traveling and that WE CAN DO IT!

Finally, I weep at the necessity of the line. That any human being should be forced to fight for information of such a personal nature is a travesty. Every American, non-adoptee has an inalienable right to obtain their original birth certificate. Yet, most adoptees are forced to accept amended certificates.  Access to OBCs should be a civil right for all!

The information is ours. Period.

Blessings & equal access for all adoptees,
V.L. Brunskill

——————————————————————
Waving Backwards, a Savannah novel (SYP Publishing)
Imagine not knowing who you are,
until you find yourself in a statue 800-miles from home.
COMING TO Amazon/Kindle/Nook and a BOOKSTORE NEAR YOU JULY 2015

Adoption Search Resources (Facebook & More)

Pleuntje/Flickr.com

Pleuntje/Flickr.com

I realized this morning that I have an abundance of helpful adoption search links bookmarked on my laptop.  Sharing is caring. So here are some of my favorite resources for finding your family.

 

 

Search & Support Sites

People Locator Sites (perfect for surname searches by state/location)

Facebook Resources and Groups

If you are unsure where to start your search- I also recommend these adoptionfind posts-

Letter to use when requesting non-identifying information

How non-identifying information identifies

Organize your adoption search

Step by Step search advice

Please email me if have a resource you would like added or questions about searching.- vbrunskill*at*gmail.com

Blessings for a productive search day,
V.L. Brunskill

——————————————————————
Waving Backwards, a Savannah novel (SYP Publishing)
Imagine not knowing who you are,
until you find yourself in a statue 800-miles from home.
COMING TO Amazon/Kindle/Nook and a BOOKSTORE NEAR YOU JULY 2015

Adoptees- What’s in a Name?

We adopted two pets last year — a dog named Georgia and a cat named Gretel. They were named when we got them, and these youthful balls of energy responded to their names.

Gretel’s brother in the animal shelter was Hansel. We considered calling her Marble. Georgia has eyes that look like they are lined with heavy makeup. We thought about calling her Cleopatra.  We did not change their names. It seemed silly to change names that were understood by our animals. Hello-my-name-is2-720x505

The adoption of our furry friends made me consider the re-naming process in human adoption. Are most adoptees renamed? Do they like their new names?

My foster parents called me Janet for the first 7 months of my life. It was the name my birth mother gave me. Once adopted, my name was changed to Vicki-lynn. I love my adoptive name.  I don’t feel like a Janet. Imagining the four sets of foster parents who called me Janet is impossible since their identities are unavailable to me.

I asked my loyal Facebook community Adoptees who have found their birth parents to help me explore the adoption name game by answering this question;

Was your first name changed when you were adopted?
If yes, which name do you prefer?

Their replies-

  •  “I didn’t know it growing up, but my biological family kept me for 9 days before the paperwork as finalized. They called me Bright Eyes, – the Bonnie Tyler song Total Eclipse of the Heart (turn around bright eyes…) Was the #1 hit two months before my birth. They referred to me to my siblings as Bright Eyes – said I had died- probably to avoid a sad truth- I’ve never liked the name Elizabeth- I go by Liz.”
  • “I was originally Mandi(after the song) then changed to Alicia. I prefer Alicia. Throughout childhood I really disliked the name Mandi, I had no reason for it, every Mandi I knew was nice.
    I didn’t know it was my original name until I was 18, I have always wondered if my dislike of the name was just an odd coincidence. I met my bio mom when I was 18, I love her dearly but will never love the name Mandi.
  • “My birth mother named me Princess and she was actually shocked that my name was changed to Amy . When the agency first located her and asked if she wanted to know my name, bmom was quite surprised it had changed. I’ll keep Amy although Princess isn’t that bad.”
  • “My name was changed to Susan when I was adopted. I just found out last year that my birth name was Diane. They’re both okay. I feel like I am Susan-Diane. It’s a very strange thing to discover about yourself. Not too many people understand what it feels like.”
  • “I found out at age 24, my name was Karen before adopted. At 13 days old the adoption agency had taken first letter of my bio Mom’s last name & created a first name for me. but my other name growing up is actually Janet Michelle, but from day I was adopted, my adoptive mother called me Chelle (shell) & it stuck; and I embrace all the names.”
  • “I have yet to find my b. family but have a strong notion that I had a different name. The name my a. parents gave me (Erika) is not a bad name whatsoever but I have never liked it for me or felt like an Erika.”
  • My birth name is Hope, but my adopted name is Rosemary. My birth family calls me Hope, everybody else calls me Rosemary. I answer to both. Doesn’t matter to me…
  • “CRAZY STORY…..both my birthmother and my adoptive parents named me Jennifer Lynn. When my adoptive parents went to pick me up from the Children’s Home, my adoptive mother changed it (because she was freaked out that it was the same).
  • “Mine was changed. Took 18 months for me to accept my new name.”
  • “My real name was Marjorie and it was changed to Lorene. I kept Lorene because I thought it was prettier and more original but I did change my adopted surname back to my real surname when I was 16.”
  • “Mine was always Lisa and I liked it. B mom was happy I my first name was kept.”
  • “Well, since my name was Baby Girl C I guess anything is better than that!”
  • “My bio mom named me Samantha. The adoption agency told my parents I was un-named. I would have preferred being Samantha.”
  • It was originally ‘Julie’, which as a kid from my era, I would have preferred. You can’t tease / poke fun at ‘Julie’. I had so much teasing and dumb statements made about my name as ‘Paige’. Now it’s trendy, but not so much in 1962.

So what’s in a name? What do you think of the renaming process?
Is it OK to rename a baby that knows his/her name after adoption?
Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Blessings that all adoptees might know their names,

V.L.

———————————————–
Waving Backwards, a Savannah novel (SYP Publishing)
Imagine not knowing who you are,
until you find yourself in a statue 800-miles from home.

COMING TO A BOOKSTORE NEAR YOU JULY 2015

 

 

 

 

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. No Adoptee, there is no Birth Certificate

Twenty-two years after finding both sides of my birth family, I am still denied access to my original birth certificate.  As I approach a milestone birthday, I once again ponder the meaning of the document, and the preposterous system that sealed away my most personal paper forever.adoption

The paper that recorded my birth on Christmas Eve all those years ago, floats in a bureaucracy of secrets that are no longer sensible to keep. In my daunting 12-year-search for family (pre-internet), I shattered all of the myths and subterfuge sold by social workers along with the right to parent me.  I know my real story. I have stood face-to-face with the sources of my physicality. The shadow identity that was sliced away by adoption is reattached. I am wholly aware of who I am, and where I come from. Yet, I don’t have a single document to prove it!

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. 

virginia

No adoptee, there is no birth certificate.

 

Most American’s believe that access to one’s own birth certificate is an inalienable right. I recently told an American friend that I don’t have access to my birth certificate, and she laughed, “Of course you do, we all have a right to that!”

When I explained that adoptees are a different class of citizens, not governed by the same natural rights, she scoffed again, “I thought that antiquated practice was done away with years ago. I mean it’s 2014, Right?”

Adoptee’s birth certificates do not belong to any court. Nor, do they belong to the adoption agencies that sealed them away with the rest of our identities. This most personal document belongs to the human being to which it refers. As adoptees our history is re-inked on a new birth certificate after adoption. We are expected to live with that document as our new reality. We are to believe in what can never be true.

Whenever I think about the practice of falsifying birth certificates in America, I can’t help but think of the Jewish people who were forced to live as non-Jews during the Holocaust. In order to survive, they required false identity papers.  The world has come to know that forcing people to be who they are not (so that they may survive) is outrageous and unjust. We can all agree that this was a hideous practice that robbed Jewish citizens of their most precious belonging- identity.  Yet, until the 1990’s, America formally embraced the practice of falsifying birth documents through adoption.

Without a court order, I cannot have my original birth certificate, the only existing proof of my original birth name.  I cannot know the time of my birth. I cannot gain a dual citizenship with Canada, which is available to me based on my birth mother’s lineage. I cannot prove my Native American heritage. I cannot hold the first document that set in motion this marvelously complicated life.

I am blessed to have found my birth family, but the documentation of my existence should be mine as well. It seems that I will spend another birthday and Christmas denied the most basic of all American Civil Rights…equal access.

Blessings for access to your ‘real’ papers and love to all,
V.L.

P.S. My Savannah novel ‘Waving Backwards’ has been picked up by a publisher and is scheduled for release in the Summer of 2015.

Imagine not knowing you you are, until you find yourself in a statue 800-miles from home.

Big Win for New Jersey Adoptees- OBC Access Coming in 2017

There are few things that make an adoptee rights advocate happier than when a state grants equal access to Original Birth Certificates (OBCs).  So I am hop, skip, and jumping in joyous reaction to the news out of New Jersey this week. A legislative agreement has been reached that will allow adoptees to begin accessing their original birth certificates on January 1, 2017.  Sweet! celebrate

While the nearly three year wait is ridiculous (and will make reunion impossible for some who will find to late) the law has lingered in legislative limbo for years. If it did not pass this time, who knows how long it would have been stalled.

The insane waiting period is meant to give birth parents time to  have their names removed from their biological child’s birth records. I wholeheartedly disagree with this option as it casts adoptees’ civil rights as less important than the civil and privacy rights of the parents who relinquished them. However, every state that grants equal access is a step in the right direction.

Read the details of this celebration worthy event below-

As soon information is released on the process for requesting NJ OBCs, I will post the details.

Blessings for equal access in every US state,

Vicki-lynn

 

 

 

NY, NJ, PA Equal Access Bills Give Adoptees Hope (Act Now)

Spring bursts forth hopeful for thousands of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania adoptees who hope to obtain their original birth certificates.

As ancient adoption rules and perceptions get a proper lashing in mainstream movies, books and television shows, the legal landscape for adoptees is also changing. For the first time in decades, society seems to be moving away from fear, and towards understanding that it is every human’s right to know their genetic, historic and social identity.

At this very moment, there are three equal access bills proposed in influential northern U.S. states. These include:

To get these adoption bills signed into law, interested adoptees MUST take action NOW. You must write, call and be vocal about your support for equal access. In order to hasten participation by adoptees, here are the links to action sites in NJ, NY and PA.  We-Can-Do-It

These groups/links offer specific steps that you can take today to help adoptees in your state (or state of adoption) get equal access.

WE CAN DO IT Adoptionfind readers! Please act today.

Blessings for legislative action and equal access,
Vicki-lynn

Great News for Ohio Adoptees

Get ready Ohio adoptees born between Jan. 1, 1964, and Sept. 18, 1996. An open records bill has passed in the Ohio House and is heading to Governor John Kasich, who is expected to sign it into law.

All members of the adoption traid are encouraged to contact the Governor using the contact form link here- http://www.governor.ohio.gov/Contact/ContacttheGovernor.aspx 

Let him know why this law is important to you, and be sure to thank him when he signs it into law!

Read the full story here-

Bill granting 400,000 adoptees access to birth records clears General Assembly, heads to Gov. John Kasich for signing

Blessings for a season of hope, and reunion,
Vicki-lynn

Washington State Adoptees- Original Birth Records to Open July 1, 2014

State by state and crumb by crumb, adoptees continue to gain access to their God-given rights.  Today’s good news comes from top left side of our fabulous country. Washington State adoptees will be able to obtain their original birth records starting on July 1, 2014.washington

According to a News Tribune article published in May 2013 when the legislation was approved, “House Bill 1525 — allows those adopted before October 1993 to obtain copies of their original birth certificates identifying their birth mothers and possibly fathers, provided those parents have not filed papers to prevent the release.

Under the state’s old law, those adopted after Oct. 1, 1993, can access original birth records without court orders. Records can be requested once the adoptee turns 18.”

For more on how to request an original birth certificate, visit the Washington State Department of Health Site. There is a full  description of the law and who is allowed access here.

As usual, the new open records legislation comes with an ugly  ‘opt-out’ option for birth parents who do not wish  to be contacted.  If only adoptees could opt-out of having their heritage stolen and their lives mired in secrecy. Open records should apply to everyone!

Blessings for a country where freedom-for-all finally includes adoptees,
Vicki-lynn