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

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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

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.

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

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

Help pass NY Adoption Legislation for Adoptee Access to Birth Records

NEWS10 ABC reported yesterday on Legislation that would give adoptees access to birth records. What a wonderful way to head into Mother’s Day weekend!

However, we can’t sit back and celebrate just yet. The New York Statewide Adoption Reform Unsealed Initiative needs your help to make sure this life-altering Adoption legislation passes the Senate.  Call your friends, share and please do whatever you can to make equal access the law in New York.

Below are details from the New York Statewide Adoption Reform Unsealed Initiative  site explaining what you can do right now.New York unsealed initiative

“Contact your legislators in their District Offices. To learn who your state assembly member and senator are, call the Albany switchboard at: 518 455-4218. The phone number in New York City for the League of Women Voters is (212) 725-3541. There are 150 assembly members and the link to the assembly website is http://assembly.state.ny.us
There are 62 state senators. One way to find out who your senator is is by logging on to the senate site, www.senate.state.ny.us
We now have 75 assembly sponsors. Although we have 16 in the senate, we are very hopeful for the future. With more interest and more of us committed to lobby in Albany next session, we are determined to win.
 
A written letter (snail mail) is of more importance with many legislators. However, some value emails. If your email does not get through, go to SEARCH and type in the name of the legislator for access to their website, as many have their own sites. Then send an email from the site. Be sure to include your address and phone number in your mail.A new law recently signed by Governor Cuomo extends participation in the adoption registry to include adult adoptees born in other states but adopted in New York. At last they can obtain non-identifying information from the registry the same as adult adoptees born in the state.”

Let’s go New York adoption triad members!
Let’s get this long overdue legislation passed!

Blessings for making the dream of equal access a reality,

Vicki-lynn

OHIO Equal Access Call To Action: Adoptees/Birthparents Please Attend Bill HB 61 Hearing March 13, 2013

The HB 61 Adoption Bill will be discussed on March 13, 2013, and the group ROAR  (Restore Ohio Adoptee Rights) 2013 needs your help!

Currently, only adoptees born prior to 1964 and after 1996 have access to their birth records.  The bill would allow access for those born in the missing years.

Below is the update and call to action from the ROAR 2013 site.

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Update #9 POSSIBLE COMMITTEE VOTE ON HB 61! WE NEED YOU AT THE NEXT HEARING!

IN THIS UPDATE

POSSIBLE COMMITTEE VOTE ON HB 61! WE NEED YOU AT THE NEXT HEARING!

The next House Judiciary Committee hearing for HB 61 is now scheduled for Wednesday, March 13th at 3pm. A summary of the last hearing is available below. There is a strong possibility that the committee may vote on the bill on March 13th, so it is IMPERATIVE that all proponents attend this hearing- especially adoptees and birthparents! Because there are several other bills being discussed at this hearing, we have been asked by the committee to limit proponent testimony to 4-5 people for March 13th.

Four adult adoptees delivered fantastic testimony on 3/6, but the committee has yet to hear from birthparents. Currently, the action plan is for Betsie Norris of Adoption Network Cleveland, Kate Livingston of Ohio Birthparent Group and three birthparents (each having placed a child in a different decade of Ohio’s closed adoption record period) to testify on 3/13. We hope to have ALL birthparents in attendance stand behind the podium in solidarity with those three birthparents who will be testifying.

 

ACTION ALERT: THINGS YOU CAN DO

  1. Submit Your Written Testimony: Anyone can submit written testimony regardless of whether or not they deliver oral testimony at a hearing. This may be your last chance to submit your written testimony for HB 61. Please email your written testimony by noon on Tuesday, March 12th to:  Jeff.Dillon@ohiohouse.gov
  2. Attend the March 13th Hearing! We need as many people as possible to be at this hearing. The committee could vote on the bill during this hearing, so it is critical that we have as many proponents as possible in the room. If there was ever a date to be there – this is it.
  3. Birthparents Stand Together- Attend the hearing and stand in solidarity at the podium with the three birthparents who will be testifying.
  4. Continue to let your legislator know that you want them to support these bills. To find your legislator, go to: http://www.legislature.state.oh.us

To learn more about ROAR and HB 61, visit their site.

Blessings for Equal Access in Ohio!
Vicki-lynn

Use Search Passion to Fight for Adoption Rights & Equal Access- Here’s How

During my decade long search for common ground, my heart pulsed with anger and outrage over the indelicate, unfair and closeted treatment of hundreds of thousands of adult adoptees.  “In the best interest of the child,” was the mantra of adoption agency representatives. My reply, “Well that child no longer exists. I am an adult, and all  I want is what you have, a familiarity of face, place, nationality and genetics.”

I often felt alone, singled out and hopeless. However, searching is not odd, uncommon or unique. Just look at the Facebook page- You Know You’re An Adoptee When, and you will be amazed, and saddened by the number of people who are desperately looking for biological siblings, parents, and children. We are nation of missing people. In fact, stats posted at adoption.com indicate that:

  • 2-4% of all adoptees searched in 1990. (American Adoption Congress, 1996)
  • 500,000 adult adoptees were seeking or had found birth families in the late 80’s. (Groza and Rosenberg, 1998)

During my search, one of the things that helped me to persevere was the channeling of my passion to find, into a passion to change the world. Well, not the world, but at least NY state law.

BurgTender/Flickr.com

BurgTender/Flickr.com

If you are suffering the personal plaque of not knowing, it is time to reach beyond your search. As more of us express outrage over antiquated laws, and the lack of access to original birth certificates we grow more influential. The power of social media, and easy access to government officials via email, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, has allowed adoption rights groups to make some headway to change adoption law.

A recent post on the Lost Daughter blog, explains how to channel your passion to know who you are, into action for change.  ‘How to Write to Your Legislator about Adoptee Rights’ explains how to find a Representative in your state, how to contact them, and what to include in yourcorrespondence. There is also a link to Bastard Nation‘s Influencing Legislation page, which includes sample letters.

Blessings for change, and fair treatment for all,
Vicki-lynn

Boston Catholic Charities Insults Adoptees with Search Fees: Time for Penance

Penance

Penance

I just stumbled upon a pdf document titled “Catholic Charities’ Search and Reunion Policy.” The document, posted by Catholic Charities Boston Archdiocese, outlines the rules and fees for adoption reunion services.

Catholic Charities altered adoptee birth dates, and background information in the 1960s-80s, and the organization has been accused of forcing unwed mother’s  to give up their babies.  (See the Dan Rather report). Yet the agency has the gall to charge for reunion information.

In the wake, of national apologies for forced adoptions in Australia, and amid the frustration of searching adoptees stuck in a sea of red tape and lies, you would think that such a ‘Christian’ organization would go out of it’s way to assist the adoptees whose identities they altered- for FREE!

What happened to The Catholic Premise of paying penance for sins committed against God and neighbor?

I am posting the list of fees and rules from the undated document below. Also, I want to mention that I was placed through Children’s Aid Society of New York, and I did not pay a penny for my non-identifying information.

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Catholic Charities’ Search and Reunion Policy

Our Mission: Catholic Charities recognizes that adoption is a lifelong process. Our post adoption program offers a continuum of services that respects the relationships among the adoptee, the birth parents, and the adoptive parents. In all circumstances, confidentiality and our clients’ best interests are our primary concern.

Catholic Charities Serves:
• Adopted persons – all individuals who were adopted through Catholic Charities in the Boston Archdiocese of Massachusetts and all other agencies for which Catholic Charities now maintains the records.
• Birth parents and siblings of persons adopted, as stated above.
• Adoptive parents of adoptees that are still minors, as stated above.

How Massachusetts Law Guides Catholic Charities’ Services:
Catholic Charities’ policies and procedures comply with Massachusetts General Law c.210 section 5D governing the release of adoption information.
The law specifically addresses the exchange and disclosure of adoption information, both identifying and non-identifying, that an agency holds in its records. It states that an adoptee cannot request, without parental consent, non-identifying information before they are 18, and identifying information before they are 21. It states that identifying information cannot be
released without a signed consent from a birth parent or an adoptee. It also states that a birth parent’s release needs to be at least 30 days old before identifying information is released.

However, it does not address or preclude the agency from utilizing that information to locate or contact any member of the adoption triad and inquire as to their wishes regarding contact. If permission is granted, it must be in writing. If permission is not granted, either because the person cannot be found or the party has declined to grant permission, release of identifying information is prohibited by the above law. Siblings and other family members are not addressed in the statute and therefore have no legal standing to information separate from the birth parents.

Confidentiality, with all its rights and responsibilities, belongs to the birth parent(s) and the adoptee, and only they or a court of competent jurisdiction may waive their rights.

In accordance with this, siblings who were not themselves adopted and other family members who wish to receive information or initiate a search cannot do so unless the birth parent is deceased. In which case, the birth parent’s death certificate and documentation from the inquiring party, demonstrating the relationship to the birth parent, must be furnished.

In all cases, the decision to proceed with a search to locate someone is the discretion of the agency. It is also Catholic Charities’ policy to attempt to notify all parties who have a signed release on record to determine if they still want to release identifying information, unless the release clearly indicates that prior notification is not required.

What We Offer Adoptees
• Adoptees can update their birth family/adoptive family’s files with personal information and their wish for contact with their birth parents if their birth parents were to contact us. There is no cost for this.
• Adoptees who are 18 or older can request that their birth family/adoptive family’s records be reviewed for a signed release. There is a $25.00 fee for this.
• Adoptees who are 18 years or older can request only medical information contained in the record. The cost for this service is $50.00.
• Adoptees who are 18 or older can request non-identifying information from the file, including all background information that is in the record, and copies of medical or psychological reports relating to them. The background information would be documented in summary form. The cost for this is $150.00.

Adoptees can request a search for their birth parents providing they are 21 years or older, or have their adoptive parent’s permission.

• When a search is requested and there is no consent to release identifying information in the record, the Adoption Department’s clinical team will determine whether to grant such a request. If the request is approved, Catholic Charities will make all reasonable efforts to locate the identified individual and will act as an intermediary to determine whether that person is agreeable to contact. The agency will discuss search-related issues and concerns with either party as needed. If the identified person is agreeable to contact, CatholicCharities will facilitate contact between the two parties. The parties will be responsible for the nature and extent of continued communication. The fee for up to five hours of work on each birth parent search is $250.00. Additional work will be billed at $50.00 per hour.
• When a search is requested and there is a consent in the record but the information is not current, Catholic Charities will attempt to locate the identified party to establish their current disposition. If the identified person is agreeable to contact, Catholic Charities will facilitate contact between the parties. The fee for up to five hours of work on each birth parent search is $250.00. Additional work will be billed at $50.00 per hour.
• When a search is requested and there is a current release in the record, Catholic Charities will notify the parties involved and facilitate contact as requested. The fee for this is $150.00.
• If an adoptee has the identity and whereabouts of their birth parent, they can request that an adoption professional make the initial contact. Catholic Charities will verify the information that is provided, and contact the birth parent to determine if they agree to contact. The agency will discuss search-related issues and concerns with each party and facilitate contact. The cost for this service is $150.00.

Birth Parents
• Birth parents are encouraged to update their file with personal information and their disposition regarding contact with the child they placed for adoption. There is no fee for this.
• Birth parents can request that their record be reviewed for a release from the adopted child. The fee for this service is $25.00.
• Birth parents can request non-identifying information regarding the family that adopted their child. The background information would be documented in summary form. The fee for this service is $150.00.
• Birth parents can request a copy of their birth parent record. The cost for this is $25.00.
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Blessings for a speedy and  FREE reunion!

Vicki-lynn

New Jersey Adoption Reform: A Circus of Assumptions

Marissa Babin/Flickr.com

Governor Chris Christie

Keeping up with all the news on state adoption legislation can be difficult, as things change faster than you can say, “found.”  The latest state with on again/off again legislation debate is New Jersey.

Blogger Susan P. of the Family Rights blog, brought to my attention Governor Chris Christie’s fumble on what could have been truly monumental legislation. The proposed open records law in NJ (as originally drafted) would have free adoptees from years of forced secrecy and gut-wrenching searches.

Adoption Reform is on the  move in NJ, and it seems that Christie and other legislators are twisting what should be a straight-forward, open records law, into a political nightmare. Fears of increased abortion rates, and the overzealous assumption that all birth mothers want secrecy,  has turned  NJ Adoption Reform  into a three-ring circus of church, state, and stupidity!

According to a blog titled, ‘Christie’s ‘compromise’ on Adoptees’ birthright bill unfair’ at NJ.com, Christie “conditionally vetoed the Adoptees’ Birthright Bill (A1406) in June 2011,  suggesting that legislators write in  a loophole for birthmothers to opt-out of the release of original birth certificates to adult adoptees.  From what I understand, this would come in the form of a one-year grace period before adoptees can act on the open records law. This would allow birth mothers a year to deny access.

Susan of the Family Rights Blog recently wrote, “Other states have successfully passed “clean” bills (Oregon, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island), and it sickens me that some adoptees will be hurt by a concession to the fears of some legislators.”

I wholeheartedly agree! Adoptees deserve the same rights as every American. The availability of our original birth certificates should not open for debate.  Chris Christie has his original, unaltered birth certificate, and every person born in NJ deserves the same.

Adoptees did not sign away any rights. Therefore, access to records should be allowed without clauses of birth parent protection, or interference from the same “Christian” organizations that  forced many of the adoptions to begin with.  In response to criticism of his actions, Christie said, “Adoptees want it all.”

You got that right Christie!  We want all the same rights that you take for granted.

Keep the Faith NJ adoptees. Your truth is coming!

Vicki-lynn

UPDATE: Please note the comments section for a better understanding of Christie’s actions.  Turns out that while the circus continues, I had a few performance details askew!