February 2, 2013
Sleezy Sales Tactics & Adoption
Wow ~ 1976 was such a lonnnggg time ago! I remember the year well because of the hoopla surrounding the Bicentennial Birthday of America.
I was 8 years old and fondly remember getting our first microwave oven that year! Isn't it weird what you remember as a child??? lol I still remember a family-friend visiting us and proudly showing him the new, fascinating contraption that actually cooked food without getting hot! Wow! He about freaked when I stuck my hand in it after it "dinged", thinking I would surely get burned ~ but NO, that was it's beauty. At least we sure thought so back then. Of course, now we hear how dangerous microwaves can really be to our overall health.
Kind of like another social experiment (bill of goods) that has been cleverly "sold" to the American public.
I was "touched" by it also ~ the big myth is that adoption is harmless, win-win, and certainly won't burn. As far back as 1976 the NY State Commission of Child Welfare was hearing the warning ~ how detrimental the social experiment of sealed adoption really was. But here we are in 2013 and still only 7 states have heeded the call to provide adult adoptees with the simple and equal right to their original birth certificates.
Wonder how many MORE years it is going to take before our society can look back on this sad span of adoption history and finally be able to say that ALL citizens have the same right to know their genealogical histories and identities. I hope it doesn't take another centennial, for sure. So many adoptees, and their children after them, DIE without knowing or being given the simple dignity of identity. Please join me in NEVER GIVING UP with this important work and message...THANK YOU to so many who have gone before us and paved the way in this road to winning adoptee access to their own records.
The following is testimony offered in regard to sealed adoption records
and the search for identity. This testimony was given in 1976 to the
New York State Commission on Child Welfare by Vincenette Scheppler. It
is still pertinent today.
"My testimony today is based on my experience as a psychiatric social
worker who has provided therapy for adolescents, many of whom were
adopted. I have also been involved for seven years as a director of adoption
programs. My work has been with unwed mothers and fathers, adoptive
parents, adoptive children and adult adoptees. While all of this
experience has convinced me of the need for open records as a contribution to
the mental well-being of adoptees, nothing has persuaded me more than the
testimony of my own adopted children.
Although the original sealing of adoption records was perhaps
understandable on the basis of an earlier lack of knowledge, what we have since
learned makes the concept today truly inexcusable.
For a long time it was a rather generally held view that only the
disturbed and/or unhappy person would want to seek out his biological
parents. It was honestly believed adoption created a totally new life for a
child and there was no need to seek out information about his biological
heritage. Now we know this is simply not so. Every adopted child has
to face what I have chosen to call the adoption dilemma. The essence of
dilemma is in the fact that every adopted child has two sets of
parents. He must somehow come to know them both and to settle for himself what
his relationship is to be with each. Although some of this may be
beyond his control, he will try. Knowledge of his biological parents may be
actual, it may be by way of information that is enough to satisfy him,
or, if neither of these is possible, it will be imaginary. But know
them he must if he is to resolve his dilemma and thus free himself to be
all he is capable of being.
All humans, in order to grow and become mature adults, must resolve
their relationship with their parents. By daily contact they learn the
reality of that relationship and grow in their ability to move away and
become independent individuals. This task is complicated for the adopted
child who has two sets of parents. Some may tend to deny one set or the
other, but this is often accomplished at a very high emotional cost.
Let those of us who have some authority to act not be responsible for
further complicating this difficult task by keeping from adult adoptees
information the rest of us accept as a matter-of-course. Let us not
force them to waste valuable time, energy and emotional stamina better used
for the building of a creative, productive life. Spare them the
necessity of obtaining this vital information in an illegal, frustrating and
perhaps unsuccessful search.
The social work profession, undoubtedly composed of dedicated, sincere
workers who certainly want what is best for all parties concerned, must
now face the fact that the sealing of records has been responsible for
much unnecessary heartache for everyone involved in adoption. Let us
consider some of the reasons for this sealing.
Perhaps the most frequently given reason is the respect for
confidentiality. This is based on the myth that parents who surrender their
children do, indeed, want to be protected from them. The fact is that at the
time of the signing of a surrender, parents have had to be convinced
the only way they could provide a home for the child was to completely
relinquish their right to any future knowledge of it's existence. Many
have written frequently to ask about the child's well-being. Others,
believing they could not obtain any information, have agonized in silence.
Another argument against open records has been the felt need to protect
the adoptee from unpleasant information. There are, in truth, no happy
circumstances that lead to adoption. The very fact that a child needs
to be placed in an adoptive home tells us something unpleasant has
already happened to him. He may have been born of unmarried parents who
were not prepared to take on the responsibility of caring for him. He may
have been the product of rape or incest or an extra-marital affair. He
may have been forcibly removed from his parents by the courts because
of neglect or abuse. He may have been abandoned. To try to protect
people from such information is truly naive. The unknown frequently holds
far more horror than any truth. Both social workers and adoptive parents
have been guilty in the past of fostering a vague, meaningless
'explanation' to all adopted children that has, in effect, left all with the
feeling there is no way to learn why their placement was necessary. Your
ther gave you up because she loved you, we told them all, as if that
made any sense whatsoever. She wanted what was best for you so she gave
you to an agency to make sure they found the best possible home for you.
And now adults who were adopted as children are telling us that such
answers will not suffice. Their message is clear. they must work out
their dilemma. . . their own dilemma. This is a very personal matter and
can best be accomplished when the adoptee is able to understand the
reason for his placement.
All of this has led to society's continually treating the adult adoptee
as if he were perpetually a child. It is certainly possible the adult
adoptee who seeks out his past may encounter rejection and
unpleasantness. This possibility - not probability - is in no way a justification
for denying adults their right to know. The idea that some adults can
decide for other adults what part of their own person they can be allowed
to know is reprehensible. Every individual has a right to come to
grips with his own past.
Finally, there is the objection that open records invade the rights of
adoptive parents. Surely, while children are still minors, adoptive
parents and children need to be protected from custody suits. This
argument can no longer hold when those children become adults. The
parent-child relationship which has grown over the years need not be threatened
because the adoptee now seeks to explore that other part of his being.
The parents who understand the need for their children to work out their
dilemma will recognize it is in no way a repudiation of them.
Some adoptees argue they feel no need to seek out information about
their biological background. That is their right. But hopefully this will
not be a basis for denying equal rights to those who do.
The question arises, how to make information available. Some have
suggested third party mediators. If adoptees have the right to grow and
handle their own problems as mature human beings, free of the need for
continual parenting and protection by all of society, we must accept the
fact mature people can make their own arrangements without third party
involvement. Indeed, one of the most tragic aspects of adoption as we
know it rises from society's unwillingness to recognize we are not
speaking of children.
In closing, I would like to share with you the words of my twelve year
old son. When he learned I was coming to this hearing, Tom said, Mom,
please make them understand. We don't want to run away. We just want to
- Vincenette Scheppler, M.S.W.
So, 1976. 1976. Just think about that for a bit.
Copied from http://www.arvinpublications.com/adoptionrecords.html. The
site says it can be freely quoted by anyone working to achieve open