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.

Washington State Bill to Protect Adoptees from Abuse: Why Not Enforce Current Law for ALL?

While well intentioned, a new bill introduced in Washington state has me wondering about the way America measures the worth of its children.  The bill, sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Mary Helen Roberts, is aimed at protecting adopted children from abuse and neglect.

I believe that adoptive parents should be held to a high standard of behavior because they are given the monumental responsibility of caring for a child who has already faced tremendous loss. However, it doesn’t make sense to single out adoptive parents with a new child abuse law.  Instead,  laws that are already in place need enforcement.

I’m pretty  sure that Rep. Roberts would agree that:

Every child, no matter its race, country of origin or parental connection should be guaranteed a safe home in America.

A recent Washington Herald article, states that the proposed bill would “require prospective parents to disclose their planned approach to discipline and punishment.”

Totally Sever/Flickr.com

Totally Sever/Flickr.com

This is a lovely notion, and in a land of lollypops and rainbows every prospective parent would be honest about their intentions.  I can just hear them at a home visit saying, “Well Miss Social Worker, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna beat the crap out of the kid everyday, lock them in the closet when they get on my nerves, and starve them occasionally for a hoot.”

Let me say from personal experience, that several home visits and screening did not stop my adoptive parents from adopting two infant children, and that my adoptive father had a track record of domestic abuse under his big, bad belt at the time.

Some will defend that at least Roberts is doing something, and I agree. Her Bill is bringing attention to the tragic stories presented in the  September 2012 “Severe Abuse of Adopted Children Committee Report.”  This State of Washington report details the abuse of 15 adopted children, two of whom died at the hands of their adoptive parents. Plus, her adoptee protection bill calls for several screening practices including; the assessment and training of prospective parents, and the establishment of adoption support services.

The problem with the proposed law is that it will no more stop adoptees from being abused, than current child endangerment laws prevent biological parents from neglecting, maiming  and killing innocent children everyday.

I was particularly offended by a quote in a Capitol Record article  in which David Gusterson of Adoptive Parents of Ethiopian Community says, “We have a duty as a society to be doing a much better job, in particular when we’re bringing in children from other countries. We drag children in from other countries and they end up locked in closets, abused, starved or dead.”

Does this mean that a child adopted into America from a far off land, rather than being pushed out on American soil, is more valuable and deserving of protection?

I don’t think so. How about you?

Learn more and contact Rep. Mary Helen Roberts.

Blessings for violence free homes for all,

Vicki-lynn

Dear Gov. McDonnell of Virginia, Thanks for the Life Sentence aka ‘Adoption Conscience Clause’

Here I am, a five-year-old foster care kid, hoping for a forever family. My birth parents, who signed away all rights to me, are out of the picture. They do not send money, gifts, or even best wishes for my birthday.

zax14/flickr.com

For two years, I have waited for a forever family to adopt me.  I have met a couple of families, but so far noone has chosen me. Everyone says that it is  hard for us older foster kids to find a family. I hear that once I get to eight-years-old, my chances of being adopted will be even worse.

I have no real family, no place to lay down my roots, or feel safe, Yet, I am expected to thrive in a world that values family above all things. There have been a couple of nice couples in to see me. One was a couple of ladies, the other was a Jewish family who seemed so loving. I sure wish they could have taken me to my forever home.

They are not allowed though, because I happen to live in Virginia (or maybe its is North Dakota). In these states, the Catholic agency that holds my destiny in their hands, has decided that it’s better for me to remain in foster care, rather than be placed with anyone who is not Catholic.

My drug addicted, abusive birth parents were Catholic, and since they were such upstanding members of  society, I have to be placed with other Catholics. That’s what they wanted. Sure, they left me here and are living proof that claiming a religion does not make you a decent caregiver, but laws in my state say that my Catholic agency can choose to leave me in foster care, rather than allow me to be raised by non-Catholics. It is called an ‘agencies’ freedom of conscience’.

So here I sit, wishing for a forever family, while loving, caring, financially secure, and responsible couples wish for me.  To the politicians, the new laws are a victory. For me, it’s a life sentence.

Thanks for nothing Gov. Bob McDonnell!

Agency Sued for Placing Child in Abusive Home

The Anchorage Press recently reported on an adopted child, who is suing the Alaska Office of Child Services and the Anchorage Police Department, for the being placed in a home run by accused, abusive single mother- Anya James.

photograsaur/Flickr.com

Six children were removed from James’ home in October 2010, after kidnapping and assault charges were filed. The children were denied nourishment, and use of the bathroom, and the accuser (one of six children placed in the home) ran away several times, only to be returned.

The suit seeks more than$100,000.

As an adoptee, placed in an abusive home, this suit is certainly an eye-opener. I informed the police about the abuse in our home, yet no one ever questioned my placement. Background checks are needed, but frequent ‘forward’ checks are crucial to the safety of adopted and foster children.

Three years after my placement, my adopted brother was placed (by the same agency) with the same family. A simple check of ambulance and police records would have uncovered my adoptive mother’s medical treatment, and  the reports of domestic abuse. She never pressed charges for fear of retaliation, however abuse was clearly present.

I wonder what the statute of limitations is for suing those tasked with acting in the best interest of the child?

You can read the details of the case at The Anchorage Press.