Posts Tagged ‘adoption search’

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 –


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


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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.

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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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Jeanne and I first met in Scranton, as I have written earlier.  Our first meeting went quite well.  My parents were sweet and welcoming to her.  My mom always said she felt thankful towards Jeanne, and she gave her a special gift.  We all got together several times, Jeanne met my family – my brother, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Jeanne and I exchanged gifts.  She also brought me a photo album of her past and her family.  She brought me a pin that was her mother’s.  Things went as well as anyone could  have hoped for. 

I then travelled to Michigan to meet Jeanne’s family.  Her husband, son and daughter as well as her brother – my Uncle Leon. 

Michigan was great – as was meeting everyone.  Jeanne loved cats and had two beauties :).  My brother and sister, Tracy and Todd and I hit it off.  Everyone was so nice!   

Here are a few photos from our trip –

Meeting Tracy and Todd for the first time 🙂

Tracy, Jeanne, Me, Ray, Uncle Leon, Todd and Jack

Jeanne and Uncle Leon had also arranged for me to meet my birth father, Charlie during this trip.  We would meet the next day at a local restaurant.  Time to get nervous again!  I had no idea who, or what to expect.  As a woman, you can sort of relate better to what your birth mother went through.  I had no clue whatsoever how Charlie was feeling about all of this, but he HAD agreed to meet me – so that was a good thing – right?

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re·linquish·ment n.

    Synonyms: relinquish, yield, resign, abandon, surrender, cede, waive, renounce
    These verbs mean letting something go or giving something up. Relinquish, the least specific, may connote regret: can’t relinquish the idea.
    Yield implies giving way, as to pressure, often in the hope that such action will be temporary: had to yield ground.
    Resign suggests formal relinquishing, or acquiescence arising from hopelessness. Abandon and surrender both imply no expectation of recovering what is given up; surrender also implies the operation of compulsion or force: abandoned all hope for a resolution.


Two weeks after giving birth, Jeanne had no choice but to surrender all hope, and it was decided that I would be relinquished to St. Joseph’s.

She went back to Michigan with her mother, and life went on. I don’t know, nor can I imagine her heartache.

I was in St. Joseph’s from October, until December 22nd. Which is where my story began. I was adopted by my wonderful parents. Merry Christmas Mary Christine! They had applied for adoption in August, and surprisingly, they got their baby four months later.

I have pictures of the day I was adopted – red-haired baby bundled up in my grandmother’s laundry basket, where we were visiting. I will look for them, and post them here. I will also post pictures that pertain to individual parts of this story:)

Jeanne and I parted ways in early October of that year, and we wouldn’t meet again until 31 years later….

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Jeanne had avoided going back to St. Joseph’s. She gave birth to me at a hospital in Scranton. After a few days, she and her mother and I went back to their apartment in Clarks Summit. It was still her hope that somehow, she’d be able to keep me.

She had me baptized at a beautiful church in Clarks Summit – “Our Lady of Snows”. The gown I was christened in is the gown she would keep for 31 years. The gown she gave me when we met. It was the gown I had my beautiful daughter, Nicole christened in.

She had named me too – Veronica! (I will say, I’m happy my name didn’t stay Veronica! lol)

Jeanne kept me for two weeks – all the while hoping that she’d somehow be saved. Hoping that my birth father would come through. She knew her time was up and decisions would have to be made.

One day, Jeanne was holding me and was going downstairs. I guess an argument with her mother ensued, and her mother pushed her on the steps while she was holding me. I can’t imagine what she must have been going through all these months, feeling trapped, hoping she wasn’t in this alone.

But she realized she was. She was a 19 year old girl, with a baby and no support system. Her mother apparently wasn’t the answer. My birth father wasn’t going to come through.

With that push on the stairs, Jeanne knew it was over.

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Jeanne was left with no alternative but to tell her mother. I don’t know much about that conversation, but I do know Jeanne was “sent away”. From Michigan to St. Joseph’s in Scranton, PA. The “home for unwed mothers”.

We drove to St. Joseph’s together and sat and talked. It looks so institutional there.

She described a desolate place filled with unhappy girls and strict nuns. You could go out for a walk – if you were “good”. Being good meant that you sucked it up and didn’t CRY or show emotion. Very Christian place. So, you’d cry at night after the lights went out, and hoped that you weren’t caught “being bad”.

Jeanne begged her mother to get out of there. She couldn’t come home, but her mother agreed to come to Scranton. They got an apartment together in Clarks Summit. This is where she waited out the rest of her pregnancy.

In the meantime, she held out hope that my birth father would somehow come to her rescue – you know – “do the right thing”. I believe his parents were supportive of her, and I imagine, but am not sure, that they would have encouraged him to step up. She told me they were extremely nice people. So, she held her breath, and waited.

I was born on September 15th.

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