December 12, 2013

Santa's Antithesis?

Santa Claus
© Photographer: Aguirre_mar | Agency: Dreamstime.com

(Originally published in 2010...we ate at the same restaurant today and I was reminded of this day...)

Something happened today that I still can't believe...the timing, especially.

I had been wanting to pay the attorney that was involved in my adoption way back in 1968 a visit for a long time, but it was one of those things I just kept putting off. I knew he was still "in business" and wanted to talk to him personally while I still had the chance...to see if he might remember something...anything...about my original mother. She died of breast cancer at the age of 32 while looking for me but was somehow under the impression she had given birth to a son.

The only other contact I had with this attorney was several years ago when I was trying to get my adoption records opened at the court house. I had already obtained a court order for my obc and reunited with my entire original family years before. But I wanted the adoption records themselves...

The Judge had approved my request, but every time I called to see if the records were available yet, the clerk stated that they could not find my file. Finally, after several calls I started to panic. They kept saying it could not be found...

So...I called this attorney to see if there might have been a chance that the adoption was finalized in a different county. As soon as I told him that I was reunited with my family and explained the situation about the file not being located at the court house, he became defensive. He asked how I ever got the information to find my original mother and then said, "If I had done my job right, you would have never been able to find out anything." Needless to say, he wasn't much help.

I made one last attempt at the court house and finally they found my file "in the basement." It was so surreal reading my own file...my parent's home study (barely 2 typed pages), and my mother's signature on the consent.

I had to give all that background information to get back to my story...So today my husband and I had met for lunch at one of our favorite Thai restaurants. The tables in this place are really close together and it was packed. I noticed a nice-looking older gentleman at the table next to us, but didn't pay any attention to him. He even offered to share his table with another man who needed a place to eat (it is a great buffet), and I guess my husband overheard them introducing themselves to each other.

He didn't mention this to me until we were up at the cash register paying for our meal...casually, he mentioned, "Does the name O.G. mean anything to you?" What?

Why yes...immediately I told my husband I had to go back and find out if he was THE O.G. who had done my adoption...

Sure enough, he was. He invited me to sit down and we had a wonderful conversation...I'm sure it was a huge surprise when I pulled out of my purse a picture of my first Mom...He slowly took his glasses off and examined the picture, but said he couldn't remember that far back. He said he did 35 adoptions a year back then...and "did everything possible to keep things secret."
He said he wrote the same non-identifying information on every file...all his "birthmoms" were 5'3, weighed 120 pounds and were Baptist. It hit me that is what was in my file, and I always wondered why my first Mom's pictures made her look taller than that. Now I knew.  I was so flabbergasted that I forgot to ask him why my First Mother thought she had given birth to a boy.  She was awaiting the return of her son, up till the day she passed away.  That makes me so sad.

I have heard other reunion stories where the first mother had been told she had given birth to the opposite gender as well.  Some have been livid that their names were changed on the birth certificate, and dates of birth as well.  All to prevent the first mother from "interfering" or "coming back". 

He admitted that back then he "didn't even think about" the consequences of his actions. He said he gets calls all the time from adoptees and first mothers, but cannot help them at all. That's when I gave him my card...he seemed genuinely pleased and said he would definitely give them my name. It felt so good to "come full circle" yet again and have this chance encounter. Especially right now...the week of a great conference being held in our state..."Life...Adopted!"  

(This is now 2014 and I have yet to receive one call from anyone he referred to me for search help.)

As he drove away in his shiny, white Lexus, I tried hard not to be judgemental.
How could a man, so polite and warm (he reminded me of a small-statured, sweet-mannered Santa Claus) have done what he did so many years ago...I have to believe it was ignorance. Society dictated so much (see "The Girls Who Went Away")...and yet was so wrong.

He is still a practicing attorney and has been for 52 years he said. I'm sure for many adoptive parents O.G. WAS Santa Claus...at some point, however, we all must grow up. Santa Claus and sealed records create quite an illusion, one more innocent than the other.

One has to wonder WHY the adoption industry fights so hard against restoring the civil right of adult adoptees to obtain their birth records...especially when we find story after story of past and current unethical practices being perpetuated against first mothers, adoptees, and even adoptive parents in adoption. (See "The Girls Who Went Away" by Ann Fessler, or "The Baby Thief" by Barbara Raymond.

I can only pray that as adoptees and original mothers continue to tell our stories that laws will be changed so the actions of ignorance cannot continue to affect those "touched" by adoption. We can't rely on piece-meal legislation and adoption codes that fail to protect the identity rights of adoptees (both the generations of the past, as well as today).

We need laws to ensure ethical practices are being followed...not just hope against hope that adoptees will even have a factual birth certificate on file. Ensure that right for every adoptee and individual born through assisted reproduction...genetic truth, heritage, and history.

Amazing day indeed.

8 comments:

Just Me said...

Heh... maybe you should speak to the lawyers who handled my adoption. I couldn't make them have a change of heart. One still practices family law. The other works for the State or the County and I've heard she continues to be unethical.

Nice post.

Toyin O. said...

wow, interesting post.

Sunday Kofffon Taylor said...

Life is so crazy; you can look and look for something. You can bang your head trying to put it together, and then you just run in to the guy at lunch. Wow!

Amanda said...

Wow, what a day! Thanks for sharing this.

It seemed as though my agency did all they could to keep things a secret, even though they promised my First Mom that NOTHING would be a secret. Horrendous, absolutely horrendous.

marilynn said...

Hey my name is Marilynn and I've been a free search angel for families separated for all kinds of reasons some of those separations ended in adoptions, others in black market adoptions that fall under other deceptively worded headings like "donor conception" and "quasi-marital" (where step or quasi step parents wind up on the certificate). I'd like to talk to you off line because I am an activist against the issuance of fraudulent medical records and I had an idea. A new idea of how to get the people I've helped what they need and I'm asking them to do something new.

It occurred to me that adopted people and people whose parents abandoned per the terms of gamete donor agreements are framing their requests as an equal rights issue but they are asking the government for changes that leave them in an unequal position still. Why not just ask to be treated the same as everyone else instead of asking for access to your original birth records or access to a donor's identity? Nobody else has biological parents who have the right to conceal their identities. We need changes to equalize the obligations of people with offspring so that all people born have the same rights from birth forward and so that the rights of their relatives are not interrupted by the actions of parents who do not wish to raise their children.

marilynn said...

Just ask to have the certificates you have corrected so they are medically accurate. The federal government mandates that states collect information on the parents of every child born as vital statistics - it is a public health issue that all people with offspring submit to and a few are exempted from as donors and that causes major problems. The health of the citizens is largely determined based upon their fertility rates and of course the circumstances of their deaths. The people with the most kids (doners) appear to have no children or very few and the people with health problems or age issues appear to be healthy and reproducing. Tax dollars go to fund medical research on heritable disease and yet we have laws on the books like marital presumption of paternity that undermine the accuracy of that research. The CDC does not collect your certificates ammended with adoptive information because they are medically worthless to them. They are also medically worthless to you and to any relatives that might attempt to find you.

marilynn said...

Everyone, even you as an adopted person, has the right to access the vital records of your immediate relatives without their consent or permission because those records are vital to defining the kinship identities of people who are related to one another. Any time the information on a certificate is not accurate with regards to parentage, the rights of an entire family to information about their relatives is compromised. CDC and the surgeon general want people to go get the vital records of their relatives to put together comprehensive family medical histories because informed citizens won't inbreed and have daft offspring with hapsbar jaws and low foreheads; untrainable simpletons with congenital deformities don't help the government compete in the global market place. False information on medical records interferes with your rights and the rights of anyone related to you. Ideally an adopted person would just have an adoption decree that would give rise to adoptive kinship rights within their adoptive families without interfering with the legally recognized kinship within their biological families. The fact that you were not raised by your parents does not alter the fact that you and your relatives still need access to one anothers vital records for medical purposes. I have reunited more than 200 families which is lovely they are happy and there are 10000 matches on the donor sibling registry but none of these people are legally recognized kin. They can't sponsor siblings or offspring for citizenship, can't claim them as relative dependents on tax returns, can't take time off work to attend their relatives funerals etc. I have a list of the numerous rights people in reunions are denied. Well they are denied these rights whether in reunion or not. My goal my thoughts is that the people I know in reunion rush their vital records offices requesting corrections to their birth records which are medical records. Don't ask for the originals just ask that the one you have be corrected because it is incorrect, it's not valid as a vital record.

marilynn said...

You are human and people don't have the right to conceal their vital records from their relatives. Sorry nobody else has a magic right to privacy in that regard. You don't need permission to get the birth record of an under age grandchild. This system of familial information only works when people don't lie. So I'm hoping that if people start getting even little corrections made it will give rise to a larger change in policy about not falsifying info to begin with. Two people have had their records corrected in the UK now. I'm going to be trying in California and Alabama and Georgia this year with some families that I have in reunion. Please spread the word to people if you also think its a good idea. It can't hurt to try it just takes being willing to not worry how the social family will feel. I don't even think they need to consent. You did not consent to the falsification, why should they be asked to the corection?n the UK now. I'm going to be trying in California and Alabama and Georgia this year with some families that I have in reunion. Please spread the word to people if you also think its a good idea. It can't hurt to try it just takes being willing to not worry how the social family will feel. I don't even think they need to consent. You did not consent to the falsification, why should they be asked to the corection?