April 9, 2012
Family history, forever hidden: Adoptee seeks clues
by: JACLYN COSGROVE World Staff Writer
7/6/2007 12:00 AM
One of the men who was prominent in Oklahoma's move toward statehood decided after retiring from his work as a politician to adopt a baby girl in 1926.
Bird S. McGuire, one of the first Oklahoma congressmen, and wife Goldie traveled to Kansas City, Mo., in early 1927 to pick up their new daughter, Marie Amundson.
The McGuires then took their daughter on a train back to Tulsa.
And now 80 years later, with both of her adoptive parents having died, Kathleen Grove, once known as Marie Amundson, has begun to ask questions about her history.
"If the family that's left doesn't want to talk to me, that's fine," Grove said. "I would just like a little health history."
Grove, 80, experiences vertigo at least twice a day.
Even after she endured several hours of testing, doctors aren't sure what is causing the problem.
Grove said she would like to know her biological parents' medical history and ask living relatives questions to determine what might be causing the vertigo.
She also could tell her two sons, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren what to expect as they get older.
However, Grove has run into a problem.
"If your parents are dead and there's no one to OK it, you can't see" records, Grove said.
Because Grove was adopted in Jackson County, Mo., she must follow Missouri state laws for obtaining adoption records.
Missouri statutes define what information may be released from a closed adoption record and under what circumstances, according to the Missouri Family Court division.
When the law allows, the family court division of the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Mo., provides a person known as a confidential intermediary as a means of contact between adult adoptees and birth parents.
Sandra Sperrazza, of Edina, Minn., has worked as a confidential intermediary for Missouri for the past 10 years.
Sperrazza said she charges $300 for her services.
She contacts the adoptee's mother, if alive, and other family members.
Sperrazza is unable to disclose to anyone other than the adoptee's mother the identity of the person she is helping.
Sperrazza tells the adoptee's family member that she is helping a friend with geneology and needs some medical history.
She said people are usually forthcoming with the information.
However, Grove's biological mother is probably dead.
If her mother is deceased, under current Missouri law, Grove will never have access to her mother's name.
"She could apply for a court order, but I don't know if a judge would ever grant it," Sperrazza said.
Grove said along with medical history she would like to know her biological parents' country of origin.
Through nonidentifying information obtained with the help of Linda Colvard, a local woman who helps adoptees find birth records, she knows her birth parents' last name is either Amundson or Amundsen.
Grove said she thinks her mother's name was Bernice Amundson, with a questionable spelling on the last name, but she has no way of confirming that.
Linda Colvard of Tulsa, who has worked for the past eight years with adoptees looking to obtain adoption records, has been helping Grove in her search to find out her history.
Among all the people she's helped, Colvard said Grove has one of the more difficult cases because of the laws in Jackson County, Mo.
"I'm not ever going to give up," Colvard said. "Anybody who's 50 to 80 years old -- for them not to have the right to their own records -- I just don't understand people's thinking on that. They simply want to know the truth to their birth."
Colvard said she contacted Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe's office in May in hopes that he could help her receive a waiver for the Missouri law that prohibits Grove from being able to obtain her mother's name.
Colvard said she was told about a week ago that one of Inhofe's assistants in Washington is working on Grove's case, but Colvard hasn't been updated recently on the status.
Meanwhile, through all the phone calls, the letters, the e-mails, Grove waits.
But for Grove, time could be running out.
Grove doesn't know the cause of her illness and therefore isn't sure how it will affect how much time she has left.
Grove said the struggle to obtain her adoption records has been maddening.
"This woman I talked to in Kansas City, she said, 'It's just the way the law is,' " Grove said.
Colvard said she believes most adoptees attempting to obtain records are treated like "second-class citizens" unable to obtain their medical history.
"I truly believe their civil rights are being trampled," Colvard said. "Anybody has the right to know where they came from."
Jaclyn Cosgrove 581-8300
Labels: Oklahoma Adoption