February 28, 2015

 

tears
fall softly
as snowflakes
whispering your name
drift gently home



 
  untrained ears bend toward earth
listening for the melody of your song...
 
  a frozen heart melts
 giving drink to thirsty eyes  
  searching for your glance
   

 
 
 little bird beckons outside my window


 
 
written 2/28/15
  ~ watching the falling snow ~
on the 35th anniversary of my mother's death

February 20, 2015

Perspective



 

 (Originally written September 1, 2009)


I work for an amazing network of parents raising kids with extra needs.
 
We support new Mom's and families who are experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, have a baby in the intensive-care unit, or whose child has just received a diagnosis of some type of health issue, disability or delay.

 It is the perfect way to "give back" a tiny bit of the support others gave me when my son was born very early.

It seems amazing, though, how (as an adoptee) everything is interlinked and interwoven in my journey.

I visited a young Mom on bed rest in the same hospital that my son was born and hospitalized four years ago.
It was surreal to walk those long halls and enter the familiar room where my son and I literally fought for our lives.

I remember hearing women giving birth at all hours, while I lay hooked up to monitors and magnesium sulfate praying to live; listening to them push and cry out in joy when they held their babies.

So when I entered the room today and saw her laying there, my heart broke.
Showing her the birth picture of my one pound son and watching her face react in surprise and HOPE that he made it (and so can her baby);
it was empowering and healing.

The strange part of this experience was the exchange I had at the "check-in" desk for visitors, before I could go back to visit her.

Waiting in line, I over-heard an adoption agency "mentor" asking questions regarding the "protocol" for when she brings her "mentee" in for a scheduled c-section.  She was concerned about where the "adoptive parents" would "wait" to see the baby.

As the older lady asked these questions, I noticed the pregnant Mom playing quietly with her other young child, who was with them. The little girl was so sweet and cute, and as she walked by we made eye contact.
I looked into her innocent eyes and wondered how she will someday deal with the reality that her Mother "placed" her sibling for adoption. 
 When will this young mother REALIZE the huge life-altering decision she is making? And why aren't there more resources available for mother's like this to receive support, without encouraging her to surrender her baby?

I happened to KNOW this "mentor." 
 When she turned around, I re-introduced myself and we talked.
She is the wife of a former state senator, whose district I happened to live in a few years ago, and we also attend the same church.
I went to one of their open houses and enjoyed talking to her about adoption and the IMPORTANCE of adoptee access issues.
She shared with me her passion for "orphans" and how she someday would like to be involved in helping more than she was able to while her husband was busy with politics.

I guess her "someday" has come.
We are both at a place in our lives with roles of "helping" but with completely different perspectives.
 
As an adult adopted person, my idea of "helping" a young mother does not involve "encouraging" her to be a hero by "gifting" her own flesh and blood, simply because others are married, or have more money, or badly want a child.

The gravity of separation between a mother and her child ~ whether to miscarriage, prematurity, or adoption ~ is profound.

Adoption should never be "encouraged" to provide a child for another,
even if they have waited and hoped for a long time.

Support (in my mind) would involve equipping young mothers with the knowledge and tools to embrace the miracle of Motherhood.

I WISH there were more resources available to pregnant mothers, that did not involve the "option" of surrendering their babies.
When this "option" is included in pregnancy "counseling" it seems to be ripe with conflict of interest and serves only to plants seeds of doubt and low self-esteem in an already vulnerable mother and baby. 

Stranger still is this all occurred not only in the hospital my son was born, but also the same hospital I was born and lost my Mother in, in 1968.
My records (that I have had to fight for) mention "prolonged crying" in the new-born nursery the day I was discharged to the attorney.

Maybe I already knew.

The day I gave up hope of being "me" with the Mother and family God originally ordained me to be. The day that would start the journey of life-long search & necessary healing.

As I experienced this day, I found myself empathizing with the feelings of so many ~ the way my first Mother must have felt (like the pregnant mother awaiting the birth of the child she would turn right around and relinquish to others); the loss her small daughter will feel someday as she realizes the minutes, days, and years she lived without her sibling; and the fear I saw in the eyes of the other expectant Mother, 26 weeks pregnant and praying for one more day, one more month of carrying her precious infant close.
Having to surrender her child to metal beds, loud noises, sharp sticks, and bright lights in the NICU ~ so many emotions.
 
All interwoven and all involving the most primal, important, and profound relationship of all ~ Mother & baby.

My son (born 3 months early) STILL doesn't have a strong sense of self.
His use of pronouns ("I", "me", "you") are all mixed up, especially when it comes to conversations involving me (his Mom) and him.
We are ONE (still) in his little mind, because his development is so delayed from being born premature and being separated from me so early.
Not to mention his anxiety, attachment, and trust issues.
It breaks my heart and reinforces the profound importance of the early mother/baby bond that is lost with premature birth AND adoption.

No matter how many "professionals" (making their living from this 'business') want to gloss it over or completely deny it ~ it affects every aspect of an adoptee's development and life-long perspective. EVERY ASPECT.

If organization skills are really a picture of our inner-life, no wonder it has been so hard to live by the rule I grew up with ~ "everything in it's place". 
 Some things may never find "it's place." 

 This adopted woman's life was forever blessed,
the day I became a Mother. 

 Yet I profoundly felt my son's pain of being separated from me. 

 My hormones screamed for him while the primal inner child in me wept
 knowing his cries were for his Mother, and yet not able to hold him in the place we both longed for. 

 My womb. My arms. 

 I shudder with memories of walking away from that incubator each evening feeling intensely broken.

It's taken me 2 hours to write this. 
 I've been blessed to hear a little voice yelling "Mommy" every few minutes ~ my son wakes from napping and realizes I'm not beside him.
Thank you, God, for that voice. Thank you...

February 5, 2015

...if any?

 
 
Every January I do a search of bills introduced in the Oklahoma legislature dealing with adoption. 

This year, along with a few others, OK SB 110 came up under a search regarding "birth certificates".
   
Kansas has never sealed original birth certificates from adoptees. 

Oklahoma, however, has failed to ensure this right to its adopted citizens. 
In fact, some of the language of OK SB 110 is quite concerning.   

"The State Registrar shall seal and file the original certificate of birth, if any, with the certificate of decree of adoption...the State Registrar, upon receipt of a certificate of a decree of adoption, shall prepare a supplementary birth certificate in the new name of the adopted person with the names of the adoptive parents listed as the parents...

"IF ANY..."  

Two little words can bring big consequences. 

Not only is it ridiculous that adopted people are issued a new "amended" (falsified) record of birth which lists parents who never gave birth to them, but also their original birth certificate (if any) is "sealed" from them indefinitely. 

 

It is unlawful to falsify official documents in America except for the birth record of adoptees. 
 
In fact, laws do not ensure that we even have an accurate and unfalsified original birth certificate at all.  At times adoptive parent's names are put on an original birth certificate, before an adoption is even finalized. 
This is a travesty.  
 
It strips us and our children of important on-going family medical histories, genealogy, and identity.  
 
The only ones "sealed records" laws protect are those who lobby government officials and make their living from the supply and demand based billion-dollar per year adoption industry in America. 
 
Adoptees are made to feel like commodities when money exchanges hands in the "sealing" of our identities, and unethical and coercive practices can be hidden behind "sealed records" laws.
 
 
 
   Adoption touches almost every family in America in some form or another.  Genealogists have predicted that within another few generations NO American will be guaranteed an accurate family tree or genealogy because of "sealed record" laws in adoption.  
 
They were enacted during the "Baby Scoop" era of the 40's, 50's and 60's to protect newly formed adoptive families, when vulnerable unwed mothers were given no other choice but to surrender their babies for adoption. 

The Supreme Courts of both TN and OR have determined that restoring the right of adoptee's access to their original record of birth is constitutional because first mothers were never guaranteed (nor asked for) perpetual "confidentiality" under the law.  
 
In fact, if a first mother surrenders her child for adoption, but for some reason the child is never adopted, but remains in foster care, the original birth certificate is never sealed. 

 
They only serve to protect the adoption industry and the newly formed adoptive family, while they fail to protect the rights of the very children they claim to serve. 
 
Statistics have also shown that abortion rates in states which have passed adoptee access legislation have declined more than the national average, while adoption rates remain consistent.        

Interestingly enough, this proposed bill also states,

"To protect the integrity of vital statistics records, to insure their proper use, and to insure the efficient and proper administration of the vital statistics system, it shall be unlawful for any person to permit inspection of, or to disclose information contained in, vital statistics records, or to copy or issue a copy of all or part of any such record except to the person who is the subject of the record or in such person's interest unless ordered to do so by a court of competent jurisdiction..." 
 
Adoptees are "the person who is the subject of the record", yet sealed records law in adoption prevents us from accessing our own records.
 
We are the only U.S. citizens denied access to our own original record of birth. 
 
OK SB 110 goes on to propose... 

"Each month, the State Department of Health shall transmit to the Department of Human Services a record of all registered births that have occurred within the state for the immediately preceding month. The Department of Human Services shall use such records for the purpose of assisting in the administration of programs related to children, including but not limited to child welfare, adoptions..."
 
This bill would require the OK Bureau of Vital Statistics to automatically forward every child's birth certificate born in Oklahoma to the OK Department of Human Services...whether that child and family is a client of DHS or not. 
 
To me, this seems like an over-reach of power. 
 
Even more so, it further disenfranchises every Oklahoma born adopted person, who is still denied access to their own records.   

January 25, 2015

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 a recent OK Legislative Interim study on adoptee access to original birth certificates.

Hearing the hearts 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.

Birth mothers were never promised (nor asked for) confidentiality by law.   

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."