October 28, 2014

Ties that Bind

© Photographer: Limcheng-en | Agency: Dreamstime.com

(Originally published on 4/13/11)

Don't stealthily move back the boundary lines
or cheat orphans out of their property (identity),
For they have a powerful Advocate
who will go to bat for them.

(Proverbs 23:10-11, Message Bible)

Memories buried deep within my soul
Hidden from everyday existence;
To protect the mask I hold
Tightly gripped by shaking hands
That hurt and ache like frozen death.
Cover my face ~ the facade.

No life or love or personality;
the soul inside me tried to flee.
The terror of nothingness came
the day they "sealed" my name.

Lost: One "dead" baby at the courthouse;
Certificate of Live Birth "sealed" around it's neck
Tightly riveted to a desk of "this is best".

Found: One imitation life living "the lie"
Created the day they made her "sign".

Gone in a moment
Wake up to reveal
Amended reality
In courts to fulfill.

A shell of existence;
Underground hiding.
Scared to come out ~ revealing
The ties that bind.

The corpse baby comes to life
No tears it cries, it's dead inside;
Just rescued "bastard"
With no real name.

Legitimize me with
These ties that bind;
Undo the lies. 
Resurrection Power
Make me real ~ I plead.

October 15, 2014

Child Welfare or Conflict of Interest?

It seems like every day my sweet son decides he wants to be something different when he grows up.  The other day he came home from school proclaiming he wants to be a bull rider...what every mother wants to hear! 
As I sat through an all-day seminar recently, entitled
"Trauma: How it Affects Growth and Development in Children", hosted by the OK Adoption Coalition,
I felt as if I was getting a taste of my son's desired profession.

Being adopted feels like quite a ride in itself. 
Much less hearing "professional" commentators give the play by play, without any riding experience of their own. 
Adoptees are left to dismount and clean up after the animal ourselves. 


I can't tell you how difficult it is to live in a society which disregards the fact that changing an already traumatized child's name, sealing their history from them indefinitely, and then asking them, as well, to emotionally navigate a role as a "new" member of a family they share no genetic history with, and whose caretakers need to be emotionally and legally seen as "Mom and Dad", only serves to disenfranchise the child's trauma and loss, and piles on an added layer of complex loyalty issues. 

Does adoption, the way it is done today, truly serve the child it claims to serve, or those in the business of "building" families?  

I am certainly not advocating for children who need homes not to have them. 
I am simply asking if adoption may need a second look in order to serve those it claims to serve.

Must a child be required to relinquish his identity, name, and right to his own history in order to receive care? 

"Attachment Theory" labels a child defective if they fail to "attach" to a new care-giver (who get's to define this concept?), because, as the speaker stated...
"It's not in their DNA...babies will 'indiscriminately' attach up to six months old.  That is why it is SO important to terminate parental rights as quickly as possible and provide 'permanence' for these "kiddos". 
I felt more like a goat than a human being after hearing this.
We are not ducks who will "imprint" on the first person we see after hatching from the egg. 

We are humans who experience profound life-long loss when separated from our mothers and families.  Our society gives more respect to the need for animals to bond with their mothers than we do human-beings. 

If DNA and genetic mirroring were not essential parts of our human experience in relational development...why is the internet full of searching adoptees and first families?
And what of this:

This is a visual of a theory which the adoption industry works hard to dismantle. 
Nancy Verrier, a psychologist and adoptive mother, says...

"There exists a great need for legislative action and concern for the rights of adoptees.
Few dare give voice to that which they know in their hearts: that the connection between biological family and child is primal, mystical, mysterious, and everlasting.
Far more than merely biological and historical, this primal connection is also cellular, psychological, emotional, and spiritual."

The defining moment during this seminar, was the moment the entire room erupted in applause when the speaker made the assertion that...

"'culture" is defined only through 'relationship'".   
"Best interest" of a child cannot be undermined in the "name of culture".    
It was obvious, everyone was thinking of the Baby Veronica case and the role ICWA played in that long-drawn out tragic battle over a child's very identity and livelihood.

Veronica Brown is living her life separated from the blood that created her, the relationships that could have, and did, nurture her very core.  All because of this theory, unethical adoption practices, and the power it has garnered by an adoption community that still sees children as "blank slates" and, unfortunately, possessions.  Talk about (unnecessary) trauma this child continues to endure. 

When will America wake up and ensure an end to the commodifying of children and conflict of interest in our adoption system? 

This entire seminar asserted continual "put downs" of "bios".
According to the people in that room, it seemed as if the only relationships that matter are in man-made "legal" families.
There was not one word or acknowledgement of the need (or right) of a child to be raised in his/her own family if at all possible.

The inherent right of a child to be raised by his/her fit and loving family is often thwarted by a system which gives agencies and foster/ hopeful adoptive parents the legal ability to draw out a contested adoption in court and then argue "best interest" of a child to stay with the "only family they have ever known".

We need to ensure ethical adoption laws which protect natural families who contest adoptions.  Every child deserves his/her own attorney.

We need to ensure that "permanency" isn't influenced by financial federal incentives and tax credits which bring money into states each time they encourage "adoption" placements over reunification efforts with a child's natural family if at all possible.

Are federal adoption incentives influencing child welfare philosophy and policy, because states are rewarded monetarily for each adoption completed, but not for services towards natural families, family preservation, and reunification efforts?  

Building "Swift Adoption Programs" and utilizing "Bridge" foster programs which serve foster parents whose ultimate goal is adopting,  is yet another conflict of interest, in a child welfare system whose first goal should be preservation of natural families and kinship. 
"Attachment" to a caregiver is necessary for survival, but for an adoptee it feels more like dangling over a cliff-edge. 
There are many ways of coping. 
Some are more vocal, others will keep their silent screams inside. 
Whether we were thrown over the edge willingly, or we slipped out of weak, unsupported arms, or maybe even pulled from begging arms by coercive, entitled hands who feel they "love more"....it is survival none the less. 

The last thing we need is a lucrative adoption industry feeding society more myths and flawed theories which further disenfranchise and exploit the very ones they claim to be serving. 
Yet these same "experts" are the ones who seem to have the ear of our court systems, DHS, legislators and behavioral health services. 
The ones making life-long decisions.
It feels like adoptees are perpetual children in the middle of a never-ending game of keep away. 
We are marginalized by being labeled "bitter" if we speak of the injustice of having our names changed, identities sealed, and families separated through coercion or profit.

I once spoke to an adoption attorney who asserted that a new "amended" birth certificate and name must be assigned to an adoptee in order to prevent them from being seen as "second class". 
The more I thought about it, the more I realized, that it is the act of changing and sealing our identities that actually makes us "second class".

We get the message that we are not acceptable unless "amended".

The separation from their biological connections, along with the added trauma of disenfranchised grief a child is forced to endure as their identity is changed and sealed and their survival in a new family is dependent on loyalty to a splitting off of their true selves, could be the real culprit in a child's inability to soothe and

Instead, we now have "professionals" contracted by those who earn their living by adoption, defining terms such as "best interest", "psychological parent", "permanency", and "attachment" based on the perceptions of adoptive parents, rather than protecting the inherent right of a child to their identity, family history and connections.

The fact foster and adoptive parents don't have a biological understanding of their child, the child is more at risk of being abused or drugged just to conform to unrealistic expectations. When a child doesn't have any mirroring of their own self through their family, they struggle with anxiety and hypervigilance. 
It often presents as ADD or even sensory issues. Yet it is termed as "attachment issues" or "RAD" and the child is given a label for a truly natural response, rather than the problem being placed on the system that put the child in the unnatural situation in the first place. 
My heart went out to one mother who stood up asking for help for her eighteen year old adopted son.  She said he had gone through all "the therapy" and was still struggling.  What could she do? 
Out of an entire room full of self-asserted "expertise", she got no help whatsoever.  Instead of being given resources that could truly help her family and son, she was given a "band aide". 

The speaker described an exercise they do with "traumatized" children which consists of handing the child a band aide and asking them to put it on their body somewhere.  This supposedly helps the child feel more comfortable to "unload their baggage" because if they can acknowledge they have an "owie" somewhere on their body, they can then acknowledge a heart issue more readily. 
How willingly will a child (or adult) adoptee acknowledge true heart issues of genealogical bewilderment while also trying to navigate complex loyalty issues in a new role and family they are assigned; and receiving "therapy" which asserts their only "trauma" was caused by the "bios"?

Adoptees are forced to live a life-script written by others.  The conflict of interest issues and the myths perpetuated by those who profit off "placements" skew these narratives.

With flawed theories of "attachment" like defined in the comment below, no wonder adoptee's live a life-time of disenfranchised grief. 

We deserve better.  We deserve an adoption system not driven as a business, run by the economic principles of supply and demand.  The sealing of our records steals not only our identities, but also any accountability over the businesses who profit from us.

If adoption and state agencies are contracting with behavioral health "experts" who perpetuate these myths (and many others) to adoptive parents, what kind of damage does that do? 
Foster and adoptive parents deserve better.  Children deserve better. 

I was blessed with an adoptive family who supported my search and reunion. 
I grieve the time we lost as a family, and found that I could only truly embrace myself when I was able to know and embrace my dual identity as an adoptee...by both birth and adoption.
When I found the courage to grieve the losses that had been disenfranchised my entire life, I was finally able to feel both the good and the bad in life, and embrace my families fully.  Adoptee's developmental tasks are stunted by archaic "sealed records" laws and the myths that hold us apart and at bay in understanding and acknowledgment. 

The only other adoptee I could tell was in the building the day of this seminar was a darling baby boy dressed in business casual being cooed over and passed around the table like fresh meat. 

I pray for him, and for the eighteen year old son of the concerned mother. 
And for all of us.   

October 13, 2014

When Will Adoptees Be Emancipated?


A few days ago, my husband and I were blessed to be at the screening of the new film,
"The Good Lie". 
It is the riveting true story of Sudanese refugee children orphaned during the civil war.  
Brothers and sisters survived a thousand mile trek across the desert, through three different countries to find refuge in Ethiopia.
The eldest brother was tragically separated from the rest of the family, but his siblings never lost hope they would someday be reunited.    
Eventually they were brought to America and found jobs.
Those who helped them rebuild their lives honored and preserved their names,
their courage, and their journey's. 
What struck me the most was the dignity with which these refugees carried themselves, even in the midst of devastating loss. 
Many went on to college and became doctors, engineers and proud citizens of our country.     
Years later, a brother of the lost boy risked his own life to go back and search for him. 
Their only hope of finding each other in the crowded refugee camp was by reciting their names out loud, along with the names of their ancestors, which they knew by heart.  
They never forgot who they were and from where they came.   
Alex Haley wrote, in his classic novel, Roots,
“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage- to know who we are and where we have come from.
Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness. ”
There are over 6 million adopted people in the U.S. who aren't offered the dignity of being able to speak or even know their own birth name, or the name of even one ancestor. 
Adopted individuals are the only group of American citizens who are denied the
RIGHT of owning their original birth certificate.       

Several states have passed legislation, recommended by the
Child Welfare League of America,
restoring the unconditional right of all adult adoptees to have access to their original birth certificate.  
Kansas and Alaska have NEVER sealed original birth certificates from adult adoptees.  
There are two common myths surrounding adoptee access ~ the myth that abortion rates will rise if adoptees gain access to their birth information,
and that of "birthmother confidentiality". 
The good news is that data shows in states which have passed adoptee access laws, abortion rates have actually declined more than the national average.  
And to address the myth of birthmother confidentiality,   
in the past, just like today, if a mother surrendered her child for adoption,
but for some reason the child was never adopted,
his/her original birth certificate was never sealed or amended.   
"Sealed records" were not even implemented in OK until 1939  ~ 
not to ensure privacy for mothers. 
These laws were enforced upon mothers and adoptees, specifically to protect the newly formed adoptive family.
They fail adult adoptees, because they deny us and our children, 
the life-giving knowledge of our genealogies and on-going medical histories. 
Foster children "age out" of the system and are emancipated into adulthood,
but archaic sealed record laws treat adult adoptees as perpetual children, or even criminals, having to go around the law, to obtain even the most basic information about ourselves that every other American citizen takes for granted. 
Research has shown that as a whole, mutual consent registries and intermediary programs are not successful. 
My first mother, for example, was not allowed to see me after giving birth in 1968,
and was told that she had delivered a boy.  She passed away when she was 32, after having signed up on several registries; but they failed to provide a successful match.
Our first families have no way of knowing our new names, and sometimes even birthdays and birth places are changed during adoption proceedings. 
State adoption codes have evolved from a child-centered service model into a business-based economic model, legalizing fees and marketing strategies designed to increase the number of "available" children, rather than serving those already in need of care.
Who is the true customer in adoption when it is being used as a tool to "build families",
and has grown to an unregulated billion dollar per year industry?   
When unethical practices can be hidden behind a sealed record, we have reduced human-beings into commodities. 
This makes adoptees feel less than human.
I once spoke to an adoption attorney who asserted that a new name and "amended" birth certificate must be assigned to an adoptee in order to prevent them from being seen as "second class". 
This gives adoptees the message that our very being is shameful; 
 our identity must be "amended" to be accepted into society.   
The more I thought about it, the more I realized: it is the act of changing and sealing our identities that actually makes us "second class". 
Whose interest does this serve? 
Along with many other adopted people, I have realized that I could not fully understand and accept myself until I found and embraced my dual heritage...
by both birth and adoption. 
Every U.S. citizens deserves the dignity of access to their own unfalsified and accurate original birth certificate. 
I pray our lawmakers realize the importance of this issue and restore this human right for millions of adult adoptees and their families. 

September 24, 2014

Opening the Wells

Little Baby Child Reaching For Water Fountain
                                     © Photographer: Ansebach | Agency: Dreamstime.com

                                                      (Post originally published in 2010)

It was a true privilege to attend an OK Legislative Interim study (2010) on adoptee access to original birth certificates this week. Hearing the heart of the amazing people who spoke on the importance of restoring the human right of all adoptees to know their identity and histories was an inspiration and joy.

Thank God for the opportunity to be there, know them, and work beside them. Even though it wasn't heavily attended, it felt right.

We were able to dispel some common myths surrounding adoptee access, sharing the good news that in the states which have implemented this law, abortion rates have actually declined more than the national average, and that birth mother "confidentiality" was also a myth perpetuated by the adoption industry. In fact, birth mothers were never promised (nor asked for) confidentiality in the law. It was enforced upon them.

The TN and OR Supreme Courts have both ruled on this issue. "Sealed records" were not implemented until 1939 in OK ~ to protect the newly formed adoptive family, not birthmothers. In fact, even today, if a birthmother relinquishes her child for adoption, but for some reason the child is never adopted and remains in foster care, his/her original birth certificate is never sealed or amended.

I returned home so thankful to be able to spend time with my son and husband for a few hours that evening before bedtime. It was one of those nights of light sleep with many dreams, but not really remembering any of them.

When I woke up the next morning, "Genesis 26:18" was impressed on my heart and mind. Having to get up quickly and prepare my son for school, I didn't give it much thought, but briefly wondered what it meant.

Later that morning, as I sat in a Women's Bible Study I have attended for several years, I remembered the scripture reference, and quickly looked it up, curious as to what it said. I froze in disbelief when I read it, almost too shocked to believe what I was reading, but so encouraged.

"He reopened the wells his father had dug and restored the names his father had given them."

This scripture hit me so strongly, after just attending the interim study the day before, and waking up with this reference (which I've never read before) in my mind and before my eyes. Could it be that God is encouraging us? That He is the One who stands with us on this issue?

After all, names and genealogy are extremely important in Biblical text, and God is renown for restoring and redeeming (buying back) the lives of those separated from their God-given identities and people ~ Moses, Joseph, and a host of others.

Proverbs 23:10-11 says,

"Don't stealthily move the boundary lines
or cheat orphans out of their property (identity),
For they have a powerful Advocate
who will go to bat for them." (Message Bible)

As I read on in Genesis 26, I noticed that the entire rest of that chapter was concerning "rights":

"Isaac’s servants also dug in the Gerar Valley and discovered a well of fresh water. 20 But then the shepherds from Gerar came and claimed the spring. “This is our water,” they said, and they argued over it with Isaac’s herdsmen. So Isaac named the well Esek (which means “argument”). 21 Isaac’s men then dug another well, but again there was a dispute over it. So Isaac named it Sitnah (which means “hostility”). 22 Abandoning that one, Isaac moved on and dug another well. This time there was no dispute over it, so Isaac named the place Rehoboth (which means “open space”), for he said, “At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.”

Several U.S. states have passed Adoptee Access Legislation (supported by The Child Welfare League of America) restoring the unconditional right of adult adoptees to access their original birth certificate, just like every other American citizen. Wouldn't it be a miraculous wonder if Oklahoma became the next state to restore the identity rights of it's adopted citizens ~ a new beginning, setting a national example for restoring the dignity of over six million adoptees and their families. After all, Kansas, our neighbor to the north, has NEVER sealed obc's to adult adoptees.

It was really interesting to me the way the chairman of this committee ended the interim study. Even after listening to middle-aged (or older) adults speak for over an hour about the human right of identity, and how "sealed records" in adoption made adopted people "perpetual children" in the eyes of the law, she sincerely thanked us for coming and then went on to share how "special" adopted "children" are, being "chosen" in our families. (In reference to the term adoptees hear often, "chosen child".)

As I sat in Bible Study that morning, I thanked God for giving me this dream. It was such an encouragement in the midst of the journey. We left Bible Study that morning with these words and a prayer.

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him through all generations forever and ever! Amen."

September 23, 2014


In honor of Veronica...


 Don’t steal the land of defenseless orphans
by moving their ancient boundary marks,
for their Redeemer is strong;
He himself will accuse you. 
Proverbs 23:10-11

As difficult a year it has been for the Brown family
and all those who care about Veronica...
how much harder it must have been for her

We cannot even fathom.
A year ago she wasn't worth an interest hearing
or civil rights lawsuit filed on her behalf. 
Now we are being told to remain silent on the anniversary
of her abduction from her family. 
(see Adoptive Couple versus Baby Girl). 

Baby Girl is a picture of what adoptees endure their entire lives...
systematic silencing through the sealing and erasure of our very identities.

Our God-given personhood is stolen and silenced. 

  She was silenced in the back of that car on September 23, 2013
and must continue her dance of loyalty in order to survive. 
Eventually she may forget what really happened and her little mind will be forced to live inside narratives completely incongruent with her inner reality.

She now has an amended birth certificate,
and an adoption decree which forever defines her.


Last September 23rd my family sat praying around a lit candle
 in complete disbelief, for a little girl
taken away from her family in the dark of night.   

This September 23rd, adoptees everywhere
cry silent tears for her again.  alone  
Because it might make people too uncomfortable. 
And us disloyal.


As I was pondering this sweet child, I was reminded of another little girl made famous, named Virginia O'Hanlon who wrote a newspaper in 1897 asking about Santa. 

"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus ...
Papa says 'If you see it in The Sun it's so ...
please tell me the truth."           
A man named Francis P. Church, was working as an editor for his brother's
(William Church, a commissioner and founder of the National Rifle Assoc) newspaper,
the New York Sun

He was asked to respond, and, of course, his definitive editorial became famous.
"Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Clause."

"Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. 
It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIA'S." 
Although Virginia had specifically asked for "the truth"...she,
along with the rest of the nation, was led to believe a lie. 
Just an "innocent" fantasy. 
A warm and fuzzy, feel-good myth.  
A man in a suit who could give us anything we want.   
The sweet little narrative missed one thing...the truth.
Back in 1897, Virginia, and the rest of the nation, 
ate it up like cookies and milk. 


  In 2014, I worry about the not so innocent myths
Those so powerful, they erase little Veronica's...
no longer nourished by God-given identities and bonds;
 surrounded by strangers throwing gotcha parties;
fed sugary sweet tales that can't satisfy.   
Crisis-pregnancy and adoption agencies continue to recruit
 and even coerce vulnerable mothers
with promises of "openness" (which are legally unenforceable)
 and the heroic belief she is giving an ultimate "gift".  

That's the sugar-coated version.

We fail to address the underlying motives of highly profitable
and politically well-connected "professionals" 
helping themselves to babies...
even if the child's family gets in their way.
 We legalize recruitment strategies to increase
the number of "available" children,
rather than serve those who already need homes.
In current adoption law, infants and children are used as commodities
to supply the discontented...those willing to pay into unethical systems
for a child to call "their own."
Some believe they are saving the world.

Truth be told, we'll never really know how many children truly need homes,
until adoption no longer functions as an economic "family building" industry
with no regard for human rights.

Our legislators across this nation legalize a business model to "serve" children, 
complete with "experts" whose real customers are shiny new "psychological" parents.

Re-defining, for their own purposes, terms such as "family",
"attachment" and "best interest";
but stripping the God-given right of a child to their own lineage and kinship.


If for some reason a child must be cared for
outside their family of birth, 
shouldn't it be a last resort? 

Why ask any fellow human-being to give up their identity
 on an "amended" birth certificate? 
The practice of "sealing" and "amending" birth certificates,
along with monetary incentives that create an environment 
riddled with conflict of interest and profit, 
turns the very definition of "adoption"
into glorified child-trafficking and "ownership" of a human-being.
Whose interest does this serve?

There is a relatively new term being discussed in our world of 2014..."identity privilege".
How appropriate for the millions of adopted individuals who are deemed
identity(less) through "sealed" and "amended" birth certificates. 


On that cool September evening in 2013, we, as a nation, 
watched in horror as a four year old girl was stripped unnecessarily 
from her home and family. 

We will never understand how a so-called "adoption"  
could be "finalized" on July 31, 2013  
in a state and by people Veronica had not lived near for two years.
Without a "best interest" hearing.

Veronica's father, Dusten Brown had fought for the right
 to raise his daughter since her infancy and she had been living in Oklahoma,
surrounded by the love and security of her real family for almost two years.   

Sadly, the demand for babies and children
 is legally protected in this country. 

The entire situation was fraudulent from day one.
Veronica is paying a life-altering price
for the unregulated and unethical business 
(we call "adoption").  

And so...like every adoptee, Veronica Brown is now legally non-existent.   
We can only speculate of her emotional existence...
merely a shadow of her true self
Since her government-sanctioned abduction one year ago,
we cannot even imagine what she has been asked
 to believe.
Whatever she is being told,
it must grate against everything within her. 
Not only has her civil right to identity and family been stolen,
but also her inner congruence.

If her fellow Lost Daughters could write a letter to Ronnie,
it might sound something like this.
 "Yes Veronica, You Are Real"

Santa is just a tale, Sweetheart, but you are very real. 
In our world, some people in suits hide behind masks of greed. 
They have stolen our dignity and sealed us to a lie. 

Although the world may seem like merely a stage;
and you may forget who you really are,
Please remember this.
No matter what role we are asked to play,
you and I are not the imposters.    
Deep inside, though we hardly recognize our own cries...
we still exist.  And we know.

You are deserving, Veronica, to be yourself. 
Your worth is not based on the needs you meet for others;
the daughter you can be for someone else. 

We may feel like aliens and strangers...
but we carry with every ounce of our being
 the pain and triumphs of our forefathers. 
They run this race with us through our veins.
That, my sweet Veronica, can never be taken.
There is a Father you will never lose.
Though He may feel far away, know that He holds you
Just look up
There you are, Little Star.

You are surrounded by a throng
who will help you find your way home.    
Lost & undone, but shining on. 
We love you.