About Cheerio

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In general I am a cheery and energetic person. But I am enshrouded in a cloak of iron. That cloak is the weight of greiving my son, whom I've lost to adoption.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Searching for Identity & Ridiculous Red Tape

Adoptee Rights Demonstration – Day#2, Searching for Identity & Ridiculous Red Tape (Day #2, Part i of iii) Tuesday morning I wanted to sit outside to drink my coffee. What a big difference of sitting on the steps of my deck on the side of a small mountain, versus sitting on a park bench on Christopher Columbus Bldv, Philadelphia. The landscaping here was nice, but the view of the Municipal Pier didn’t compare with the blooms and flower gardens at home. The constant flow of traffic didn’t bother me, but I did miss the early morning quiet out on my deck. While drinking my coffee, Jimm came outside and joined us. We’ve only known each other since probably November of 2008, when he found my blog. Soon after he found my blog, he invited me to the ARD. I quickly agreed to go – before I knew what it was all about. It was just so very neat to sit and chat with him person to person. If he had not invited me, I’d be at home, well at work –pulling my hair out and beating my head on the wall. After quite some time, went inside and ate breakfast with some of the folks we met the night before. Jeff was there, as was Jack, who are both from NY. I was very thankful there were other guys for my Hubby to talk/listen to. We had breakfast together. It felt like we were a big family as sat and we chatted about all kinds of stuff. There was so much laughter, and so much warmth. An observer would’ve been surprised to learn that many of us had met only the day before. After breakfast we all went our ways until the next planned gathering. *** About lunchtime a herd of us gathered in the lobby, and we walked down the waterfront for a place to eat lunch. Let me rephrase that, we walked and walked and walked and walked and walked to get to the place where we could eat lunch outside on a pier. Ahhh, what a special memory that one of the guys in our group was not allowed in because he was wearing a plain white t-shirt. The strict dress code does not allow guys to wear plain white tee shirts, or anything resembling a plain white tee shirt. As a group we paid $5 to buy one of the restaurant’s black t-shirts, and we ate lunch outside. What irony that we were their ONLY customers and would have been fine with his plain white tee shirt. If he had not just bought the t-shirt, his wife (Itty Bitty Loud Mouth) said she would’ve written, “I’m with b@stard” on it. And of course there was a chorus of laughter. Once the food (finally) arrived, I was content to just sit and listen to their stories, their perspectives. Two in our lunch group had recently found their natural family, and so much of the conversation revolved around searching for the n-family, and the ridiculous amount of red tape they have to go through. There is a special title reserved for a large group of adopted people. They are Late Discovery Adoptees. I was feeling agitated as I listened to Romany talk about this point of her journey, as an LDA. I think I was agitated, because I feel it is so wrong & because it is totally unnecessary for her aparents to hid the fact that she was adopted. Unlike most adoptees, she had no clue. She was 31 and had two children a dear friend blurted out the fact that she was adopted. When her friend told her, Romany sat there stunned. Then she found out that everyone else in her family, even to the point of a relative of an in-law’s in-law knowing, while she did not know herself. How dare they all keep a secret like that from her! There was discussion about how common [and I believe very wrong] it is to lie to a child well into adulthood about the truth of their own identity and heritage. She also described one state’s law. Even with an attempt to address the rights of an adult adoptee to their Original Birth certificates (OBC), there is a clause at the very end that states the aparents are not bound or obligated to inform the adoptee that they are indeed adopted. Why? Why would an aparent keep a secret about something like this? We’ll go over the ‘why’ question in another post later on about the Itty Bitty Loudmouth standing her ground later in Day #2 part ii. The next part of Romany’s journey is one that can be played back again and again and again. I’ve heard it from adoptees from all parts of the country (and beyond). In fact as she was sharing, it was like d’javu to me. She started the description of theses disturbing encounters by saying “my problem was that I tried playing by the rules.” And that is a problem, because the rules are designed to keep adoptees in the dark and to keep original families apart forever.

Why should an adult adoptee have to pay money to find out the 'non-identifying information' about their original family? The information is rarely helpful. "Your mother was average height, brown hair, and under 20 years old." Gee, why don't they include "your mother was a female." That would be just as helpful. So, adoption agencies/professionals and social services gather all kinds of information on the original mothers, but won't give it to the person who deserves it the most.

It has come out of such groups destroying or discarding the records. There are also problems where the information was falsified. This Jack's heart breaking situation. Unless there is a miracle, he will never be able to find his original family, as the the mother's name was falsified on the records.

While she was talking, I could not help but think of my friend that I’ve know for several years. We met on an adoption forum just before she turned 18. We’ve met f2f a few times, talked on the phone a lot, and have kept in touch throughout the through the years. As Kimamalika was approaching her 18th birthday she voiced her greatest desire over and over and over again. She wanted some kind of contact with her original mother. She did as Romany, she played by the Rules – she contacted the agency that handled her adoption. She learned that a few years prior to turning 18, her original mother inquired about contact with her, but the response she was given was “that we’re not interested.” I can hear her voice in my head now, as she told me about this over the phone. “Exactly who is ‘we?’ No one ever asked me!?!? I would have been interested!” There was another phone call with her that I’ll never forget. She was 19 and wanted desperately to just see a picture of her original mother, but it was a ‘closed adoption.’ She was on the phone with the agency, again. She’d sent a letter to them to forward to her original mother. Her letter included a picture of herself. And as she was talking to the agency worker, she had a hard blow. She tells the woman, “All I want is to see, to know what my mother looks like.” The woman replies, “Well, I’m sitting here with a picture of you, and a picture of her, and let’s just say that when you look in the mirror, you’re looking at her.” This memory of her experience has been the reason I fight for Adoptee Rights. What happened to her was wrong, morally wrong. Why is it that a stranger could look at a picture of her mother, but she could not? Why should a complete stranger have the right to know her mother’s name, yet she does not? Does any of that make sense to you? I’ll never forget that phone call with her, she was furious. Yet below all the fire and steam and fury, she was hurt. It brings tears to my eyes even now as I remember and write about it. Adoptees having rights to their Original Birth Certificate is about way much more than a mere piece of paper. It’s about a piece of themselves, their history, their origins, their heritage. It’s a piece of their very soul. Why should it be trapped in a tightly sealed jar hidden in a dark cold cellar? Let's bring it out of the darkness. Let's let unseal the lid, open it up and let that piece of their souls out into the fresh air and breath life, their life.
Searching for Identity
Ridiculous Red Tape
Links to other Cheerio ARD related posts: Day #1 Meeting on-line Friends Funky light patterns on the Benjamine Frankliln Bridge

1 comment:

  1. "An observer would’ve been surprised to learn that many of us had met only the day before."


    Outside of the event itself, that was the best part for me. We were talking about that in the car the day we drove over to do the booth setup. We had just met for the first time only minutes before, yet I felt more comfortable and more at ease with them than I can remember in a long time.