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Pennsylvania is not an open records State.   Adults who were adopted don’t have the same rights as everyone else in obtaining a copy of their original birth certificate.  Even in today’s world, there are still “secrets”.  It’s time for adoption to not be treated as a secret that needs to be hidden.  It should be every person’s right to know their origins.

HB 963, sponsored by Representative Kerry Benninghoff, is an unrestricted access bill that would allow Pennsylvania-born adopted adults to obtain a copy of their original birth certificate. The bill, introduced in March 2011, was assigned to the Committee on Children and Youth. Grassroots groups are lobbying for a public hearing.

HB 963 information -

INTRODUCED BY BENNINGHOFF, BOBACK, CALTAGIRONE, CLYMER, D. COSTA, DAVIS, DENLINGER, EVERETT, FARRY, FLECK, FRANKEL, GILLEN, GINGRICH, GROVE, HARHART, HARRIS, JOSEPHS, KAVULICH, KNOWLES, MILLARD, D. O’BRIEN, PICKETT, RAPP, K. SMITH, SONNEY, SWANGER AND VULAKOVICH, MARCH 7, 2011

House Bill 963, introduced by Rep. Benninghoff, authorizes the Pennsylvania Bureau of Vital Statistics to disclose the original or amended copy of a birth certificate upon the written request of an adoptee age 18 or older.

It has been referred to the Committee on Children and Youth in March, 2011.  Here is a link to the Committee Members and their contact information:  http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/cteeInfo/cteeInfo.cfm?body=H&cde=48  This Bill needs to move out of Committee and back to the House.

Please contact the Committee on Children and Youth and request a Public Hearing. 

Hon. Dan Moul – Vice Chair
G32 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202091
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2091
(717) 783-5217

Hon. Louise Williams Bishop – Democratic Chair
326 Main Capitol Building
PO Box 202192
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2192
(717) 783-2192

I am happy to see that my own Representative, Ken Smith is a co-sponsor of this Bill.

Anyone with an adoption connection to Pennsylvania, or are a resident of Pennsylvania who supports this legislation, please contact Carolyn Hoard, choard@comcast.net.  Carolyn is a Pennsylvania representative of the American Adoption Congress.

Here is a link to American Adoption Congress http://www.americanadoptioncongress.org/

For information for other State’s statutes go to http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/state/

To find out who your Pennsylvania State Representative is go here:  http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/#address

Would I Search Again?


I was speaking to my girlfriend who has known me for the past 30 years or so, and she asked me this:  “Was searching worth it?  Are you glad you did it?  Would you do it again?”  Simple enough questions – right?….

Did I like everything I found?  I don’t consider it a matter of liking – just a matter of accepting.  I suppose if you have true expectations, then you are more likely to be disappointed.  Every adoptee thinks about their birth parents.  It’s when you interject fantasy that you will likely end up disappointed.

The reality is – adoption is profoundly life-altering – to every person involved.  There’s no way around it.  It just IS.

Some choose to never look, some look and end up with a good relationship and some don’t.  And every other possibility in between.  But it is our right as humans to know where we came from.  To seek our truth.  To find peace.

Every adoptee has two sets of parents.  Many adoptees such as myself were raised in a good and loving family.  Many adoptees weren’t. I don’t think either scenario should  necessarily have anything to do with your search and your truth.

Many adoptive parents are scared or threatened by their son or daughter’s search.  There is nothing to be afraid of.  Of course it’s your nature as a parent to worry, but there is no threat.  It is something your son or daughter has to do because it is something they ARE – adopted.  Adoptees sometimes become torn up, feeling they have to “choose”.   Many adoptees are “pleasers”.   They feel guilty.  An adoptee should be able to search without guilt.  There is enough fear within them, and they need your true support and love.

I searched because I wanted to know who I looked like and I wanted to know my medical history.  I already had my family and life, and nothing was going to change that.  I met both of my birth parents, and now I only (minimally) speak to one.  You would expect that it would be your birth mother who you end up having a relationship with, but that’s not always the case.  I will never understand  my birth mother’s need to control, and her disappointment and disapproval at my resistance.  I also don’t understand how she can have grandchildren in this world who she rarely or never sees.  She had started a college fund for her granddaughter, who is now a senior in high school, and apparently is forgotten.  I don’t judge her – because of what happened to her in 1961.  I don’t understand her, but I don’t judge her.

It’s a lifetime journey that is always evolving – you may find your truth, and you may always struggle.  Nothing can change being adopted.

Would I search again?  Without a doubt.

2011 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,500 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


As some of you may or may not know, Apple giant Steve Jobs was an adoptee. If you’re a member of the adoption triad, then you know the feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood that it entails. The world lost one of the most important visionaries of our time, a magnificent contributor, and Steve’s family lost a husband and a father and a son.

This post is a tribute to Steve Jobs – fellow adoptee.

Steve’s estranged birth father John, who had given him up for adoption, had been hoping that Steve would call him. John did email Steve, but the emails went unanswered. Pride kept him from calling Steve because, understandably, he feared that Steve would think he was after his fortune. Sadly, pride kept them apart, and now it’s too late.

Steve was born February 24, 1955 to two graduate students, John and Joanne who gave him up for adoption. It’s been said that John did not want to give Steve up for adoption, but Joanne’s family would not approve of their marriage, and they weren’t financially stable. They married in December of 1955 and 2 years later they had another child – Mona Simpson (novelist). I do wonder what changed for them that enabled them to get married 10 months after Steve’s birth.

——————-

A snippet from the Wikipedia page on Mona Simpson (Steve’s full biological sister):

She is the biological sister of the late Steve Jobs, co-founder, former CEO and chairman of Apple. Jobs, the eldest sibling, was placed for adoption by their then-unmarried parents (who married 10 months later). Her 1987 novel, Anywhere But Here, is dedicated to her mother and “my brother Steve.” She first met Jobs when they were adults, after she invited him to a party promoting Anywhere But Here where she revealed that they were siblings; Jobs was 32. The two of them forged a relationship where he regularly visited her in Manhattan. Simpson said “My brother and I are very close, I admire him enormously.”

Jobs said “We’re family. She’s one of my best friends in the world. I call her and talk to her every couple of days.” The interactions between Simpson and Jobs, and learning how similar they were, had a major effect on Jobs. Steve Lohr of the New York Times wrote “The effect of all this on Jobs seems to be a certain sense of calming fatalism — less urgency to control his immediate environment and a greater trust that life’s outcomes are, to a certain degree, wired in the genes.” A few years earlier, Jobs was staunch on most of his character having been formed from his experiences, not his birth parents or genetics (Jobs frequently referred to his adoptive parents as “the only real parents” that he ever had). From Simpson, Jobs would learn more details about their parents, and he invited his birth mother Joanne Simpson to a few events.

———-
Steve was obviously very loyal to his adoptive parents, Clara and Paul Jobs.

Quotes from Steve’s birth father:
“Now I just live in hope that, before it is too late, he will reach out to me, because even to have just one coffee with him just once would make me a very happy man”.
“I really am not his dad, he said – Mr. and Mrs. Jobs are, as they raised him. And I don’t want to take their place. I just would like to get to know this amazing man I helped in a very small way to produce.”

How very sad.

We need to take something from this. If you’re questioning yourself, or your dreams, or if you should seek out a parent, sibling or relative – do it.

“Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011


I’ve been reading both “The Primal Wound” and “The Girls Who Went Away”.  I’ve also been talking to adoptees and birth mothers from around the world since starting this blog.  It’s amazing how one thing leads to another, to another, isn’t it?

One of the topics we were discussing on a Facebook group I belong to was memory – Is it possible to remember being born?  Is it possible to remember the first months of your life?  You would think not at first, but could it be possible?  Here is a link that was posted to an article discussing this:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/notesandqueries/query/0,,-2899,00.html

I was visiting my parents today and asked them for more details about myself as a baby.  Something my mom told me stopped me in my tracks.  When I was very small – maybe 5 – we had a conversation where I told  her “my mother has black hair” (and my birth mother did).   Isn’t that odd?   I feel as if there’s “something” buried in my memory.  I don’t know what that something is, but the feeling is getting stronger.

“The Primal Wound” discusses the repercussions of a child being taken from their mother.  It got me thinking.  Birth mothers went through horrors of which most of us can’t fathom – and they carry it with them for the rest of their lives.  Adoptees suffered trauma by being taken from their mothers, but they, of course don’t remember their birth and relinquishment.  But it’s got to be buried in there somewhere – doesn’t it?

Our adoptee group discussed hypnotism – would it be possible to access these memories?   What would happen if we did?

I have lots of other questions.  What was it like being a baby living at St. Joseph’s?  Who took care of us?  I’ve contacted St. Joseph’s to find out more.  I will be blogging about these questions and more in days to come.

 

 

 

P.S.

It annoys the crap out of me that everywhere you type in the word “adoptee” it’s unrecognized as a word.  Type adoptee and it’s underlined in red.


I will be turning fifty on September 15th.  Age hasn’t bothered me much, – okay – fifty is a bit hard to swallow!  I remember 25 being difficult too for some reason – 30 no problem and 40 was okay as well.

This year, I was secretly (well maybe not so secretly lol) hoping that somehow we could do something which would be “surprising” – something fun and different.  I realized that probably wouldn’t happen unless I just did it on my own, but that would defeat the “surprise” factor.  I just felt I wanted a “surprise”.  I can’t explain why.

I have found through the years though and looking back, that there is a pattern with me when it comes to my birthdays.  Usually around the very end of August or the beginning of September, I start feeling “off” – sort of down, and blah.  It increases as my birth date approaches.  I’ve always thought it must be because this time of year marks the end of Summer, and before you know it,  it’s Winter which I don’t particularly care for.  But since blogging about my adoption, and thinking more about things, I’m considering there may be another reason.

Could it be because I’m adopted?

I recently started reading “The Primal Wound” – which is a book about “understanding the adopted child”.  It seems to be a very polarizing book within the adoption community – many adoptees do not think it has ANYTHING to do with them – and, many think it has EVERYTHING to do with them.  I think I fall somewhere in between.  In a nutshell, for those of you who don’t know about the book – the theory is –  that being separated from your mother at birth is so traumatic, that you are “primally wounded” – whether you know it or not.  It is an interesting theory.

As a mother, I cannot imagine the horror of losing your child.  As an adoptee though, how would I remember how I felt when I was an infant?  I do believe that there would have to be some sort of damage done to a child who was separated from their mother and put into an institution for a few months before being adopted.  I just never really thought about it before.  But – what if?  What if being adopted has shaped my life in ways I have never realized?  It is certainly something to consider and look at.

There is a sub-chapter which covers birthdays and birthday parties.  The book claims that “there seems to be a memory built into the psyche and cells, an anniversary reaction (often also felt by the birth mother), which sends many adoptees into despair around their birthdays.”  Wow.  Okay – well this is something new to consider isn’t it.

So, surprise or no surprise – I have a wonderful family for which I am grateful for.  This year, the “feeling” seemed to be building up, but thankfully it has abated somewhat, and possibly, I am coming closer to understanding why I feel the way I do, and in understanding, there may be peace.

And, that – is a gift.

Hey – maybe I surprised myself… :)

 

 

 


I haven’t talked to Jeanne in 13 years.  Life went on.  Nicole is 16 now, and I have a wonderful husband and life.  Yet – I’ve felt something missing, and I’ve never attributed it to being adopted.  Being adopted was just something I was – like being female, or being funny. 

Writing this blog has seemed to open things up for me that I’ve never considered.  It’s made me think more about the circumstances surrounding my being and it’s making me realize that all might not be as it seems.  Maybe there’s something to the “primal” theory – that a person is irrevocably changed when removed from their mother.  That a mother is irrevocably changed when forced to give up their child. 

Being a mother myself, I cannot begin to imagine how my life would have been ripped apart if my daughter was taken from me at birth.  How could a person ever recover from that? 

Women – especially women “back then” – didn’t even get to talk to anyone about their pregnancy – they were shamed and sent into hiding.  Who could they talk to about their feelings?  My birth mother, like many – was “sent away” – as a young girl – to experience pregnancy on her own, and forced to “behave” by not even crying.  They went through one of life’s most changing experiences – alone, and then were expected to just go home and get on with living. 

There is a book called “The Girls Who Went Away – The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children in the Decades Before Roe vs Wade”.  I intend to read it. 

I believe now that something that happened to you at birth, of which of course you have no memory of, can have effects of which you won’t understand – unless you try to understand – if that makes sense.

I have been having conversations with my sister – Jeanne’s daughter, which has made me realize that Jeanne never recovered from her experience as a young woman.  I don’t think Jeanne realizes it herself.  I will talk about these conversations with my sister in another post.

Maybe, in trying to understand Jeanne – I am trying to understand myself.

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