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

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.

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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 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.

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

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