Video Friday: The International Tragedy of Forced Adoption

It’s adoption video Friday. This week’s selections are personal stories of forced adoptions in Australia, Canada and the UK.

As many of you know, Australia apologized for the common practice of forced adoption last year.  However, Australia’s government was not the only country involved in the criminal practice of stealing children.  As Dan Rather reported in the 2012 report Adopted or Abducted, the practice of forced adoption was an international epidemic from roughly the 1950’s to 2000.

These stories are tough to watch, but every victim deserves to be heard.

Australia

Canada

UK

Let us never forget or repeat the shameful, painful and criminal act of coerced adoption.  The cost to humankind is beyond words.

Blessings and justice for all mothers and children,
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

Australia Apologizes for Forced Adoptions: America Next?

There has been quite a bit of adoption buzz this week on forced adoption practices in Australia during the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s.  The news culminated with yesterday’s public apology by New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell.

ABC News Australia reports that O’Farrell’s apology was this:

“We are sorry you’ve had to wait for so long for this apology. We know that you live with the consequences of those practices every day.

We are sorry for the forced adoption practices that severed the fundamental life-giving bonds between mother and child.

We apologise to the mothers who were not asked or listened to and who were never given a choice about the future of their children. We apologise for making you feel ashamed and unfit to care for your babies.

We say sorry for treating you cruelly and insensitively when what you needed and deserved most was care and support.

To the women who have carried the pain of loss, grief and separation throughout your lives, we say sorry.”

Well said, but woefully late and inadequate, the apology has served a greater purpose, in revealing the dirty reality of many adoptions. The news coverage surrounding the apology is an excellent opportunity to educate the general public on the horrors faced by unwed pregnant mothers in the mid-20th century. Not just in Australia, but in America as well.

I recently blogged on the Dan Rather report “Adopted & Abducted” which revealed forced adoption practices in America. Yes, women in our country were also strapped to beds, so they would not attempt escape with their babies. Women in our country were also drugged so that they would never know the gender of their babies. Women in the USA also had their hands held while they were forced to sign adoption papers.

Children were stolen in America, just as they were in Australia.

When will America apologize? Since our adoption practices/laws are governed by state agencies, and most of the forced adoptions of the 50’s-80’s were handled by religious agencies, don’t hold your breath!

Rather than an apology, my wish for all members of the adoption triad, whether forced or voluntarily separated, is for every state to open records for adult adoptees in search. Adoptees did not sign a relinquishment form, and it should be the  civil right of every American adoptee to know their ethnicity, medical history, and roots.

So forget the apology America, we want justice.

Blessings for a speedy reunion,

Vicki-lynn

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.

Blessings,
Vickilynn