The Art of Dismissing the Adoptee’s Voice (Reblog from theadoptedones)

I recently discussed this awkward topic with a non-adopted friend, and I feel it’s important to share my thoughts here. While the emotional toll of being adopted is real and lasts a lifetime, adoptees who search are often viewed as outliers, rebels, or just plain angry.

In an excellent blog, (see below) at theadoptedones.com, the author discusses how as adoptees, we are forced to discuss our experiences defensively.  No matter how carefully we tread, revelations of our true feelings are dismissed as radical.

Flickr/Daisuke Murase

Flickr/Daisuke Murase

In fact, searching adoptees are honest representatives of what happens when personal records are stolen, or sealed away. (A side note- I heard on the news this morning that a recent IRS hack resulted in 300,000 stolen identities. People are outraged, yet adoptees have their identities stolen and are labeled ‘damaged’ for seeking rectification.)

–Excerpt from theadoptedones.com

The Art of Dismissal must be part of adoption 101 – How to negate any valid information you do not want to hear, especially from ‘adoptees’.  It does not matter what we do or try, the defense mechanism raises that shield and they refuse to read and listen to what is actually written.  I can almost see them composing their reply while skimming the words.

  • I am sorry you had a bad experience.
  • Not all adoptees feel the way you do.
  • How do you know it is because you were adopted – biological children have issues too.
  • Studies show adopted children do just as well as biological children.
  • The reason more adoptees access mental health services is because we worked so hard to be parents that we are more aware and seek help, unlike parents of biological children.
  • How can you feel loss for what you never had?
  • Why can’t you just be grateful for what you have now?
  • My children will not feel like you do.

Read the rest at adoptedones.wordpress.com

Searching adoptees are cast as the emotional slingers of unfounded slams against a system that values the rights of adoptive parents more than those of adoptees.

My recent novel ‘Waving Backwards’ explores some of the soul-wrenching darkness that adoptees experience in search. No matter how ‘good’ your assigned parents are, there is a sliver of every adoptee’s soul that is cut away with the severing of heritage, and identity. Thank you to adoptedones for this poignant blog.

Blessings for a search that heals,
V.L. Brunskill
———-
Follow me on Twitter- @RockMemoir
Like my Facebook page- www.facebook.com/vlbrunskill
Buy Waving Backwards for Kindle $4.99 at Amazon.com- amazon.com/author/vlbrunskill
Waving Backwards book trailer- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_ufjmq0l-U

‘Waving Backwards’ Book Launch Reminds that Family is All

To say I was nervous on Friday July 10th is an understatement. I arrived at the Marriott Riverfront in Savannah a couple of hours early for set up and to  sign dozens of pre-sale books. My niece who was visiting from North Carolina sat in the passenger seat assuring me that it would be a grand success. She was one of many angels who helped me shine that night.

After speaking to spectacular Marriott staffer, Cindy Johnson, about the arrangement of food tables, I was finally able to greet my publisher Terri Gerrell of SYP Publishing. She found me a signing spot at a large table, suggesting that I sit and breath. She reminded me that I was the author.booklaunch5

I watched as the lobby was transformed into a sparkling party place. Musician Greg Williams arrived on time, wearing a guitar and easy smile. The palm rose maker, Peanut (the oldest artisan on River Street) sashayed  in with a shoulder loaded with palm fronds. Plans fell into place. Imaginings became reality.

Like the moment when a storm passes, and a first ray of sunlight appears, the literary launch I had dreamed of was born. Three years prior, as I sat in the same lobby writing Waving Backwards, I had no way of knowing that we would launch the book there. I did not even know if the book would be published.booklaunch9

Perched happily at my very first book signing table on Friday night, I had hardly taken a breath before a stream of well-wishers arrived. Family, friends, new friends, book lovers, tourists, all stopped to say hello; purchase a book; take a photo. When the first reader asked to have her photo taken with me, I glanced over my shoulder wondering if she meant someone else.booklaunch2

An hour or so into the signing, a voice rose above the murmur of party goers. It was instantly recognizable, and transported me back to the age of seven. I said, “That cannot be the voice I think it is.” When I finished signing the book in front of me, I looked up and there stood a woman I had not seen in a dozen years. It was my adoptive mother’s youngest sister. The aunt who taught me about Barbies and The Beatles had traveled from New York to Savannah to attend my book launch.

In rare moments, when I was able to pause from signing and look around that booklaunch6night, I witnessed my biological and adoptive families in a wash of commonality that sent shivers down my spine. My birth mother posed with my adoptive mother. My adoptive and blood brothers discussed movies and shared a toast. My nieces from both sides of the adoption triad chatted, smiled, shared.

I searched thirteen years to find my biological family, and while they have met my adoptive family before, this was the first celebration we shared as one brood, one clan, one bright reminder of the importance of nature and nurture.

My friends too, joined the fray of family that night as they learned who I look like, who I grew with, who I love, and who loves me back. From our local book club; to a group  I spend Sundays with exploring the world via documentaries; the night was a perfect celebration of the ‘Waving Backwards’ message.booklaunchbertice

Family is all. No matter how they come to join you, family is made of the connections that define us. 

Open records for all adoptees at age eighteen, and access to Original Birth Certificates (OBCs) is essential! All adoptees deserve to experience the completeness and co-mingling that permeated my book launch.

The time for adoptee rights is now.

Blessings and thanks to everyone who attended the Waving Backwards book launch. Thank you city of Savannah, friends and family!  I love you!
Hugs, V.L.

——

Twitter- @RockMemoir
Facebook- www.facebook.com/vlbrunskill
Waving Backwardshttp://www.syppublishing.com/waving-backwards/
Amazon author page- amazon.com/author/vlbrunskill

March 20, 2015- Independence Day for Ohio Adoptees

Spring arrives in celebratory style for Ohio adoptees adopted between 1964 and 1996. On March 20, 2015 these adoptees can request a copy of their original birth certificates. Adoptees born before 1964, and after 1996 already had access under state law. The new law extends access to ALL adoptees in Ohio.

Much of the credit for this long awaited, equal access triumph goes to Adoption Network’s Betsie Norris, who worked 24 years on a series of proposed adoption access bills, before the Ohio Senate finally passed Bill 23 on December 19, 2013. To learn more about the lady and her superstar efforts to restore rights to adoptees, check out this Cool Cleveland interview.

For Ohio adoptees wondering how the process works, there is a short explanatory film on YouTube (embedded below) by superstar adoptee rights advocate, author and filmmaker Jean Strauss. For more information on the process and forms for requesting your original birth certificate, visit the Ohio Department of Health site.

Blessings and thanks to the adoptee advocates who worked so hard to make this dream a reality!

Hugs and congrats Ohio,
V.L.

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

34 Years Later- NJ Equal Access Bill Inches Forward

New Jersey adoptees may finally be closer to obtaining their original birth certificates and health records.
Bill A-1259, which has been bandied about for more than three decades was recently approved by the NJ Senate Health and Human Services Committee, and the Assembly Human Services Committee. This is the same bill that was passed by both legislative houses in 2011, only to be conditionally vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie.

Check out the full story at NJSpotlight.com.
Bill Would Give Adoptees Access to Medical History, Info About Birth Parents (via NJSpotlight)At a time when the understanding and treatment of inherited disorders has grown by leaps and bounds, one group has not had access to any information about their family’s medical history – people whose biological parents’ names were sealed when…

Continue reading

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

MPNnow News: Adult Adoptees seek Answers

Sharing a wonderful article from MPNnow.com on one adoptee’s need to know and pending NY legislation that would allow adult adoptees equal access to their Original Birth Certificates (OBC’s).

Adult adoptees seek answers

Adults adopted as children hope for legislation to make it easier to learn about their birth parents

Only first page of article is shared below. Read the rest at MPNnow.com: http://www.mpnnow.com/topstories/x1910063270/Adult-adoptees-seek-answers#ixzz2VRwOwqC1

A card in Dottie O’Neill Marble’s baby book read: “I wasn’t expected, I was selected.”

Marble’s adoption shortly after she was born was never a secret, said the 42-year-old East Bloomfield resident — but details of her past were a secret.

“My adoptive mom was very supportive,” said Marble. In her teen years, Marble said she began placing ads in newspapers in hopes of finding her birth mother. “It was an overwhelming feeling of not knowing who you really are,” she said.

A possible solution to her identity crisis came one day in 1995 when she got a call from someone with information about a baby born at Genesee Hospital on Sept. 19, 1970, a girl given up for adoption. It led to an eventual meeting with a woman Marble believes is her birth mother.

“It closed a big hole for me,” said Marble, one of a growing number of adoptees and others seeking more openness in the New York state adoption law.

While Marble’s efforts led to some sense of closure — as well as connecting with a grandmother and an extended family she didn’t know before — it also called attention to New York’s adoption law that prevents adoptees from obtaining an original birth certificate to learn about their past.

Proposed legislation in Albany addressing this issue is called the Bill of Adoptee Rights. It clarifies language and procedures for obtaining birth certificates and medical histories of adoptees; permits an adopted adult to access certain records when they reach the age of 18; and creates a contact preference to be filed by birth parents, giving those parents the right to state whether or not they want contact with the child.

“Right now, any adopted adult over the age of 18 cannot get access to their own birth certificate, and this creates obvious problems for the adopted adult,” said Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua. Kolb is a sponsor of the bill.

“This is an important bill to remedy that, and I believe they have a right to know and a right to gain access so they can meet the many identification requirements they have to provide their birth certificate for in their adult life,” he said.

Marble said that while the current law protects parents who give up a baby for adoption, it leaves the adopted person “without any rights.” When she sought to find her birth mother, “I wasn’t out to disrupt anyone’s life,” she said. What she did want was the truth about where she came from and to be able to provide that information to her own children, she said.

Read the rest at: http://www.mpnnow.com/topstories/x1910063270/Adult-adoptees-seek-answers#ixzz2VRwHUveJ

Blessings for equal access,

Vicki-lynn

Closed Adoption System: 50+ Years of Stolen Biological Rights and Broken Identities

The closed adoption system in America is broken, and has been for more than fifty years.  Just look to Facebook for proof of the lifelong wounds inflicted by the closed adoption system. Everyday, hundreds of desperate adoptees post photos embellished with birth dates and non-identifying information in hopes of finding family.

The closed adoption system steals identities and often results in lifelong personality issues.  Even after reunion, many adoptees report a sense of not feeling bonded or belonging 100% to their biological or adoptive families.  We adoptees live in a limbo that tests the concepts of nature vs. nurture and like a science experiment gone horribly wrong, many of us can only guess at the biological tendencies that define us.

Having experienced the all-encompassing sense of loss that adoption brings, and knowing that my birth mother suffered the same emotional trauma, I have been thinking about the origins of closed adoption.  Who first decided that it was ok to take a child from one woman, charge a fee, and hand it over to another family to raise? Who decided that stealing and sealing away the medical and birth records of adoptees was a just legal procedure?

Adoption in America started informally in the mid 1800’s, as a way to place orphaned children. According to InfoPlease.com, “In 1851, Massachusetts passed the nation’s first adoption statute. It required that judges determine if adoptive parents had consent from the adoptee’s guardian or parent, “sufficient ability to bring up the child,” and that it was “fit and proper that such adoption should take effect.”

Two years later, Charles Loring Brace founded the Children’s Aid Society of New York in 1853. The Children’s Aid Society was meant to serve orphans, and created the Orphan train phenomenon. InfoPlease writes, “Between 1859 and 1929 some 200,000 orphaned children were transported from coastal cities to rural areas in the Midwest.”orphan train

After World War I, modern day adoption methods started to take shape. The choice to close off the records of adopted children was not a result of too many unwanted babies. It was a decision born of married couples wanting babies with no strings attached.  Adoption and social agencies supplied well-off couples with children and promised that biological families would not contact them.  Agencies claimed that closed adoptions would protect children against the social stigma of being illegitimate, and help them to bond.

Those of us who have searched or are currently searching know that the real stigma of closed adoption is being citizen with less inalienable rights than American’s who were raised by their biological families.  The idea that sealing away records would help a child to bond is the most laughable aspect of the closed adoption model.  Books like ‘Primal Wound‘ and ‘Being Adopted‘ chronicle the lifelong search for self, and the biological need to imprint that is inherent in all animals.

In the 1970’s, Roe vs. Wade and a change of social attitudes allowed for some open adoptions, but by then an entire generation of adoptees had been damaged. Many states are now considering laws that will allow adoptees to obtain their original birth certificates (OBCs), but for some the awakening of America will come to late.  How many biological mother’s went to their graves without ever once looking at their child? How many adoptees have searched in vain for information sealed away in their best interest?

It is sickening that in a country that prides itself on freedom of religion, protection of civil rights and freedom of speech, adoptees are still denied the right to know. Slavery was a broken system based on inequality, oppression and denial of basic human rights. It was abolished and slaves were freed.

When will adoptees be freed?
Blessings for equal access,
Vicki-lynn