Adoption Support

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Unwed Fathers Fight for Babies Placed for Adoption by Mothers

March 19, 2006
> Unwed Fathers Fight for Babies Placed for Adoption by Mothers
> Jeremiah Clayton Jones discovered that his former fiancée was pregnant
> just three weeks before the baby was due, when an adoption-agency lawyer
> called and asked if he would consent to have his baby adopted.
> "I said absolutely not," said Mr. Jones, a 23-year-old Arizona man who
> met his ex-fiancée at Pensacola Christian College in Florida. "It was an
> awkward moment, hearing for the first time that I would be a father, and
> then right away being told, 'We want to take your kid away.' But I knew
> that if I was having a baby, I wanted that baby."
> Mr. Jones has never seen his son, now 18 months old. Instead, he lost
> his parental rights because of his failure to file with a state registry
> for unwed fathers — something he learned of only after it was too late.
> Under Florida law, and that of other states, an unmarried father has no
> right to withhold consent for adoption unless he has registered with the
> state putative father registry before an adoption petition is filed. Mr.
> Jones missed the deadline.
> Although one in every three American babies has unwed parents, birth
> fathers' rights remain an unsettled area, a delicate balancing act
> between the importance of biological ties and the undisrupted placement
> of babies whose mothers relinquish them for adoption.
> While women have the right to get an abortion, or to have and raise a
> child, without informing the father, courts have increasingly found that
> when birth mothers choose adoption, fathers who have shown a desire for
> involvement have rights, too.
> But to claim those rights most states require a father to put his name
> on a registry. While about 30 states now have registries, they vary
> widely. In some, fathers must actually claim paternity; in others, just
> the possibility of paternity. The deadlines may be 5 days after birth or
> 30, or any time before an adoption petition is filed.
> And registries are a double-edged sword: It remains an open question
> whether they serve more to protect fathers' rights or to protect
> adoptive parents, and the babies they have bonded with, from biological
> fathers' claims.
> "My specialty is contested adoptions, and the most common contest is
> where the mom wants to place the baby and the dad objects," said Martin
> Bauer, president of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.
> "Registries can protect men against birth mothers who won't disclose the
> father's name or actively lie about his identity."
> Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption
> Institute, a nonprofit research and education group, sees it
> differently. "It's all smoke and mirrors," Mr. Pertman said. "How can
> registries work if no one's heard of them? And it's just not reasonable
> to expect that men will register every time they have sex."
> In the early 1990's, the two-year fight over Baby Jessica and the
> four-year battle over Baby Richard highlighted the wrenching dramas of
> birth parents winning custody of babies placed with adoptive parents
> years earlier. The spectacle of those children being taken from the arms
> of the only parents they had known raised an outcry about the need for
> speedy, permanent placement.
> While some states have long had putative father registries — New York's
> registry was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in 1983 — most
> were started in the last decade to head off late parental claims.
> In many states, fewer than 100 men register each year — not surprising,
> adoption experts say, because most young men have never heard of the
> registries. One exception is Indiana, where men are notified of the
> registry when a birth mother names them as the father, and 50 men
> register a week.
> Adoption lawyers say some birth mothers refuse to identify the father to
> forestall interference. There are no statistics on how many unmarried
> fathers seek to raise babies the birth mother has relinquished.
> Mary Beck, a professor at the University of Missouri School of Law, said
> the burden of registering should be the father's.
> "There are men who complain, 'What, I have to file for every woman I've
> had sex with?' " Professor Beck said. "But men are on notice of possible
> pregnancy by virtue of having had sex, and the alternative is leaving it
> up to the women to chase them down."
> Even for registered men, the system is flawed. Because the registries
> are state by state, a registration means nothing if the father or mother
> has moved — or if the baby was surrendered for adoption in a different
> state specifically to avoid a challenge.
> In one case, Frank Osborne of North Carolina challenged his 5-month-old
> son's adoption in Utah. The Utah Supreme Court rejected Mr. Osborne's
> claim, but a dissenting judge found it unfair that Mr. Osborne lost a
> child he had lived with and supported until the mother "unilaterally and
> clandestinely" took the boy to Utah.
> Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, will address that
> problem in the Proud Father Act, which would create a national registry
> and is to be introduced in Congress later this year.
> "In a perfect world, everything would be linked so that everyone could
> find out if a man had registered or filed for paternity," said Jim
> Outman, a lawyer in Atlanta who consulted on the legislation. "But in
> the real world, the left hand doesn't always know what the right hand is
> doing.
> "If there's nothing in the records in their county, their state, how is
> an adoption agency supposed to know there's a father who's going to come
> forward in two years? There has to be some security for the adoptive
> parents and the child."
> One self-made expert on the registries is Erik L. Smith, an Ohio
> paralegal who fathered a son in Texas and fought for paternal rights
> after the baby's placement with an adoptive family. In an unusual
> resolution, the boy, now 13, lives with the adoptive family, while Mr.
> Smith, a noncustodial father, has visiting rights. Mr. Smith was
> naturally intrigued when he heard of the Ohio registry in a class where
> the professor explained that babies born to unwed parents could be
> adopted without the father's consent unless he registered within 30 days
> after the birth.
> "I asked if that meant that, to protect his rights, a man should
> register every time he has sex with a new partner, and he said yes," Mr.
> Smith said.
> So he tried. "I called information and asked how I could contact the
> Ohio putative father registry, but there was no listing," Mr. Smith
> said. "I searched the Internet but couldn't find any address."
> While Ohio's system has improved, he said, "as long as registries aren't
> publicized, I think they just work as a way to get rid of fathers like
> me."
> Glenn Spraggs, a 22-year-old Cincinnati man, was recently caught short
> by ignorance of the Ohio registry. His girlfriend, Sharicka Watson, had
> a baby boy, Thomas, on Dec. 2, and Mr. Spraggs, who also has a daughter
> with Ms. Watson, was with her when he was born. Ms. Watson has told
> reporters that she discussed adoption with Mr. Spraggs, but he said he
> had no warning that less than two weeks after the birth, Ms. Watson
> would surrender Thomas for adoption.
> "No one told me anything," Mr. Spraggs said. "When I found out he was
> gone, I called the police to see if they could help get him back, or
> file kidnapping charges or something, but they said there was nothing
> they could do because it was an adoption. By the time I heard about the
> registry, it was too late."
> Although the Ohio registry gives men 30 days to file, a judge terminated
> Mr. Spraggs's parental rights when Thomas was 19 days old. After Mr.
> Spraggs hired a lawyer, the adoption agency returned Thomas to Ms.
> Watson, who now wants to raise him. A custody hearing in the case is
> scheduled for tomorrow.
> Carol Sanger, a professor at Columbia Law School, said registries
> reflected a deep societal belief that unmarried fathers are
> irresponsible.
> "If we want registries to mean anything," Professor Sanger said, "we'd
> have to teach them in every sex education curriculum in every school,
> and publicize them everywhere."
> In Florida, the 2003 law creating the registry requires the State
> Department of Health "within existing resources" to distribute pamphlets
> on the registry at every office of the Health Department, the Department
> of Children and Families and the Bureau of Vital Statistics.
> But when Barbara Busharis, a professor at Florida State University, sent
> students to find the brochures, they had no luck. "They couldn't find
> anyone who knew anything about the putative father registry," Professor
> Busharis said.
> Mr. Jones's case illustrates the dangers of ignorance. The identity of
> his former fiancée is confidential, but Mr. Jones's court filings detail
> his struggle to prevent the adoption.
> He tried to contact his ex-fiancée, who disappeared from his life when
> her parents took her from school and to another county. He called her
> friends, her brother, her pastor. He hired a Florida lawyer and filed a
> paternity petition the day before the baby was born, in the county where
> she previously lived. But that lawyer, now dead, apparently knew nothing
> of the putative father registry, and never mentioned registering.
> Mr. Jones is appealing the termination of his rights. "I don't think
> there's any greater right that you could trespass on than a parent's
> right to his child," he said.
> In her brief, Allison Perry, Mr. Jones's lawyer, called the Florida
> registry "a well-kept secret," with just 47 registrants for the 89,436
> out-of-wedlock births in 2004. Mr. Jones, living in Arizona, had no
> reason to know of it. The adoption agency that alerted him to the
> pregnancy never mentioned it, and when the agency later sent him a
> letter, it enclosed information on a Florida registry for birth parents
> interested in a reunion when the children grew up, but nothing on the
> putative father registry.
> Jeanne Tate, a lawyer for the adoption agency, said that because it
> represented the birth mother's interests, it could not advise Mr. Jones
> of his rights. Even the call to Mr. Jones went beyond the agency's legal
> obligations, she said.
> "What's good about the law is that it provides clear guidance on whether
> a baby is or isn't free for adoption," she said, "so you don't get into
> those heart-wrenching situations where a baby who's been placed has to
> be removed."
> Generally, fathers who have missed registry deadlines have lost their
> court cases. But Ms. Perry argues that the Florida law, applied as
> mechanically as in the Jones case, is an unconstitutional intrusion on
> men's fundamental rights.
> "Jeremiah Jones did everything he could reasonably do to establish a
> relationship with his child," she said. "It's just inconceivable that
> the government can take away his child because he missed a filing
> deadline."
> Charles Hannasch
> 977 Antigua Avenue East
> Venice, Florida 34285
> Voice: 941-484-1975
> Fax: 941-827-9501
> Email:
Charles Hannasch
977 Antigua Avenue East
Venice, Florida 34285
Voice: 941-484-1975
Fax: 941-827-9501

Saturday, August 20, 2005

LaToyia Figueroa Found

District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham said Stephen Poaches would be charged with two counts of murder and related offenses for the deaths of 24-year-old LaToyia Figueroa and her fetus.

Authorities did not provide a motive or say what led them to suspect Poaches, 25, who police said was wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a pistol when he was arrested.

The remains were recovered in a grassy, partially wooded lot in Chester, 13 miles from Philadelphia. A few dozen members of the Figueroa family and supporters arrived at the scene shortly after daybreak, clustering close to the police tape and embracing each other.

"Now she can rest in peace," said the woman's father, Melvin Figueroa. "All I want is justice with that peace."

The woman's uncle, Jose Figueroa, said as terrible as the discovery of the body was, it puts an end to the weeks of fear and not knowing about LaToyia, who was five months pregnant at the time of the disappearance. "We can actually try to go back to a normal life," he said.

Relatives and friends have papered the city with flyers and held large-scale searches for any sign of Figueroa, recently marking one month since her disappearance. A reward fund for information had reached $100,000, including donations from the restaurant where she worked.

The case attracted a brief flurry of television attention after several Philadelphia-area bloggers waged a campaign urging networks to give the same attention to Fugueroa, who is black and Hispanic, as they did to Natalee Holloway, a white woman who disappeared in Aruba.

Poaches' lawyer, Michael Coard, has repeatedly spoken to journalists on behalf of his client, including national television appearances in which he noted that Poaches has spoken to investigators voluntarily and that he has consented to have his home and his vehicle searched.

Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson said Saturday that Coard's public relations moves would not hold up.

"He has an attorney who has basically tried this case in the news media and has depicted him to be innocent. We are saying today that he is not innocent and we are going to convict him and he will go to whatever he deserves to get," Johnson said.

Coard did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment after Saturday's news conference.

Figueroa, who also is the mother of a 7-year-old girl, was last seen on the afternoon of July 18 in West Philadelphia.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Latoyia Figueroa Still Missing

The Philadelphia Citizens Crime Commission, Philadelphia Women that is pregnant is miss. What happend to help and where is she. There is a a reward fund for information leading to Latoyia Figueroa, a 24-year-old pregnant mother.

The Search for 100 Million Missing Women

The Search for 100 Million Missing Women
An economics detective story.
By Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt
Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2005, at 3:42 AM PT

What is economics, anyway? It's not so much a subject matter as a sort of tool kit—one that, when set loose on a thicket of information, can determine the effect of any given factor. "The economy" is the thicket that concerns jobs and real estate and banking and investment. But the economist's tool kit can just as easily be put to more creative use.

Consider, for instance, an incendiary argument made by the economist Amartya Sen in 1990. In an essay in the New York Review of Books, Sen claimed that there were some 100 million "missing women" in Asia. While the ratio of men to women in the West was nearly even, in countries like China, India, and Pakistan, there were far more men than women. Sen charged these cultures with gravely mistreating their young girls—perhaps by starving their daughters at the expense of their sons or not taking the girls to doctors when they should have. Although Sen didn't say so, there were other sinister possibilities. Were the missing women a result of selective abortions? Female infanticide? A forced export of prostitutes?

Sen had used the measurement tools of economics to uncover a jarring mystery and to accuse a culprit—misogyny. But now another economist has reached a startlingly different conclusion. Emily Oster is an economics graduate student at Harvard who started running regression analyses when she was 10 (both her parents are economists) and is particularly interested in studying disease. She first learned of the "missing women" theory while she was an undergraduate. Then one day last summer, while doing some poolside reading in Las Vegas—the book was Baruch Blumberg's Hepatitis B: The Hunt for a Killer Virus—she discovered a strange fact. In a series of small-scale medical studies in Greece, Greenland, and elsewhere, researchers had found that a pregnant woman with hepatitis B is far more likely to have a baby boy than a baby girl. It wasn't clear why—it may be that a female fetus is more likely to be miscarried when exposed to the virus.

Baby Dumping

Baby-safety bill ignores reality of teen pregancy

Daytona Beach News-Journal Editorial

Florida's leaders have done their best to convince teen-agers that birth
control is shameful and sex can't be discussed.

Is it any wonder that teen mothers are concealing pregnancies and leaving
their babies on doorsteps and in garbage dumpsters?

Six babies have been abandoned in Central Florida over the past five
weeks. Those were the ones who were found. There may be others that nobody but the mother - almost always a teenager, in a baby-dumping case - will ever know about.

The baby-dumping epidemic has forced lawmakers to consider legislation
that would give parents the ability to leave a newborn in a safe place, no
questions asked.

The language of the bill is almost horrifying in its mundaneness. Babies,
which must be less than 72 hours old, would be put into the custody of the
Department of Children and Families. Parents would have 30 days to come forward. No criminal charges would be filed.

The bill also provides for a hotline for pregnant women who fear they
can't care for their infants.

Safe-baby legislation is a sad necessity, and it should be approved. But
it doesn't address the real problem - why a teenage girl would conceal her
pregnancy and then abandon the child to live or die. Why she didn't reach
out for help. Why she was pregnant in the first place.

Those are questions that lawmakers have long chosen to ignore. Sex
education is mandatory in schools, but over the past several years state leaders have worked to strip reality from programs and replace it with idealistic fantasy.

Talk of contraceptives is forbidden. Teachers are bound by law to discuss
only abstinence as the only sure method to prevent disease and pregnancy.

Now, Secretary of Health Bob Brooks wants to set aside $10 million for
private groups to teach abstinence. Much of the money would go to
religious organizations.

The goal of abstinence-based sex education is laudable, and it might
bolster some teens' resolve not to have sex. But for others, it doesn't work.

Sociologists say today's teens can't be reached by a preachy message that
ignores their raging hormones, broken families and exposure to the
constant bombardment of sex-related ads and entertainment. An irreverant, up-front approach, on the other hand, might have limited success. The success of the ongoing TRUTH campaign against tobacco shows that public-service spots that address the realities of teens' lives can make a difference.

Studies show that only two things are truly effective in lowering teen
pregnancy rates: counseling and readily available contraception. Neither
is available in schools. Instead, teens are forced to rely on their parents
and friends, many of whom still believe that drinking a certain kind of soda can prevent pregnancy.

And so residents of Florida are left to wait for news of the next
abandoned baby, to wonder if she will be found in time, to mourn if she dies. And the Legislature is forced to discuss safe havens for babies that never should have been conceived - and would not have, if lawmakers had faced reality.

Safe Havens for Abandoned Infants

After 13 infants were abandoned in the Houston, Texas, area within a 10-month period in 1999, state lawmakers acted to encourage desperate parents to leave their children in a safe location rather than simply abandoning them. Since the Texas law was adopted, 34 more states have enacted so-called "safe haven" laws. All the statutes generally promise that women who relinquish unharmed infants in designated safe places will not be prosecuted or provide that abandonment in compliance with the law constitutes an affirmative defense to prosecution.

So far, the effects of the new laws appear to be limited. Although some newborns have been left at hospitals or police and fire stations, others continue to be found in unsafe places. Serious concerns remain regarding the general lack of research on abandoned babies and their mothers, the implications of these laws on states' adoption and child welfare practices, the rights of the infant's father and the relatively small number of infants involved. Some child welfare experts have expressed concern that the laws do not include an examination of existing statewide child abuse prevention strategies and services for women at risk.

This report examines what is known about infant abandonment, provides an overview of key aspects of the legislation, describes state experience with the new laws and discusses some policy implications for lawmakers

Child Abuse Hurts Everybody

The most important relationship for all beings is that with their parents. Through this relationship, a child is expected to receive love, support, and learn important values and lessons about life. Unfortunately, an alarming number of parents do not understand the importance of the parent-child relationship. They are often too young or unprepared for such responsibility. Their inability to commit to good parenting techniques causes serious detriment to the lives and well being of their children. Irresponsible parents practice multiple forms of abuse and neglect, including abandonment, physical and emotional abuse and /or neglect. In addition, teenage parents are not able to sufficiently care for their children, poverty, drugs and broken homes plague the surroundings of such families.

The indirect results of child abuse, neglect, abandonment, and maltreatment include such phenomena as increased school dropout rates, drug use and teenage pregnancy. It is true that some children survive neglect with only a few scrapes and the trauma of growing up in a less than perfect environment. However, an ever increasing number of neglected and abused children are responding to their traumatic childhoods by resorting to violent behavior. Ultimately, we all suffer the from the effects of poor parenting ,thus, neglect and abuse are everyone's problem. I believe that we, as a society, must fulfill the obligations that irresponsible parents cannot. We can promote the importance of good parenting by supporting nationwide programs to educate parents. Through educational programs, we can uphold and instill a value system that has been lost, and re-emphasize the importance of good parenting.

Teenage pregnancy is a source of irresponsible parenting and often is the result of irresponsible parents not teaching proper education or values. Since 1991, the teenage birthrate has declined by 20 percent, however, the US still holds the record for the highest rate of teen pregnancies in developed countries at nearly half a million according to “Why the Number of Teen Mothers is Falling” by David Packard Kent printed in The Christian Science Monitor on August 15, 2000. Irresponsible parenting has manifested itself in so many other ways than I have the opportunity to explain. School-drop-out rates, low-test scores, crime, drug use, school shootings and nearly every social dysfunction has its roots in the home, we must transform America's future in changing this tainted background.

Preventing irresponsible parenting is all of America's responsibility because of the important roles parents play in their child's life. As reported by Sechrist in the August edition of The Journal of School Health, children "remain trapped in circumstances which rob them of the safety, security, and love which is their birth right." When parents maltreat their child they in turn give up their rights as parents, and society must step in to protect the child's rights, prevent crime, instill desirable values and secure the child's future. Better yet, legislation meant to protect children, can prevent the neglect and abuse negatively affecting a child's life. Child maltreatment and abandonment are crimes; thus, prevention could save lives and prevent crimes from occurring.

Child abandonment normally occurs when "women are pushed to the brink, with seemingly no exit option, and therefore abandoning their baby is their exit option," says Gordana Rabrenovic, a professor of sociology at Northeastern University. In a related article appearing in the Los Angeles Times (January 28, 2000) titled, "A Warm Safe Place for Unwanted Babies" written by Edith Stanley; John Tyson Jr.,a Mobile County Alabama district attorney, states that "prevention is a far better alternative than prosecution (of mothers who abandon their babies)." It is important here to not judge these women abandoning their babies as depraved low-lives, but rather look to the fact that their babies' lives will be saved. Prevention programs would help to increase the value society places on good parenting. In The Christian Science Monitor (May 2000), Wood also recognizes this value stating "…society becomes less tolerant of violence against children." He continues, "that cultural shift has made preventing child maltreatment a top priority for lawmakers nationwide…". Sechrist recognizes in his article that "child deaths, permanent neurological injuries, and disabling emotional trauma are experienced by children every day because we, as a nation, do not make the prevention of child maltreatment a priority." He continues, "the consequences of abuse are so serious and so enduring for many survivors that children suffering maltreatment deserve our attention".

A study reported in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence (2000, volume 9) in an article by Renae Duncan entitled “Childhood Maltreatment and College Dropout Rates: Implications for Child Abuse Researchers” of 210 freshmen, followed through 4 years of college, 60% of non child abuse victims graduated, 50% of sexual abuse victims graduated and 35% of those experiencing more than one kind of abuse graduated. Child maltreatment should be America's responsibility because of the lasting impact on the lives of children. Rather than looking for who to blame, we must all take responsibility create laws and programs that prevent abuse and abandonment.

The existence of abuse and neglect prevention programs and legislature help to publicize the importance of good parenting. These programs, which help to raise the importance and significance of child rearing in American culture, offer: information, education, counseling and support for children and parents in need. In junior high and high schools, educators teach about the importance of contraception, and the wide variety of birth control options available. Our generation's attitude about sex and teen pregnancy must change; a stigma around unsafe sex and teen pregnancy has already begun to form, and dialogue on issues that were not spoken of in the past has started. According to Kent’s article in the Christian Science Monitor (August 2000), teens appreciate being able to talk openly about sex, and the communication helps them in their choice to be responsible. Similarly, an important aspect of all the legislature and support programs aimed at preventing child maltreatment revolves around human interaction, be it counseling, education or general support.

As explained above, child abandonment occurs when women feel they have no other options. However, a woman who has access to counseling may have a better understanding of her reality and options, and not feel the need to abandon her baby. "If you provide [mothers] an alternative to abandoning the baby, they will do it," says Gordana Rabrenovic in Teicher's January 2000, Christian Science Monitor article. In Mobile, Alabama; the legislature allows mothers to safely abandon their babies. In addition to safe abandonment programs, counseling programs provide mothers with support and information. "One young mother even reclaimed her baby after getting counseling… [and] that underscores the goal not only of saving the babies, but also of helping the mothers tap into support services," says Teicher. This can also help skeptics to understand that the laws which legalize safe abandonment do not encourage this behavior, they will always be accompanied by counseling centers where mothers can learn of all of their options and make the best decision for the lives of their children. Safe abandonment laws are offering a "last ditch" option for mothers who may be incapable of more responsible behavior. These are the parents who would abandon their babies even with no safe abandonment laws in place. Because of the safe abandonment laws, their babies have a much better chance at life.

Child abuse can be prevented through education and support from schools. According to Sechrist in the August 2000 edition of the Journal of School Health, child abuse victims do not know where to turn, they feel shame, they feel trapped and they are unaware that anyone cares about what happens to them. Introducing support systems or curriculum into the school day could provide these children with what they would feel is a safe ground to speak up about something on. Programs offering prevention by way of instilling values, providing education, counseling or support are needed to help the children of this country do for them what they can't do for themselves.

Experimental programs have begun to shape and produce results, decreasing rates of teenage pregnancy and child abandonment. As already noted, the rate of teenage births was down 20 percent from past years and experts link the trend to more frank teachings in schools and young people knowing how to be responsible. While the numbers are still not acceptable, the steps are in the right direction. The experimental programs and laws for the safe abandonment of newborns have been successful in the cities that have set up the counseling services. According Teicher’s article in the Christian Science Monitor (January 2000), in Mobile, Alabama; since the safe abandonment "program started in November 1998, no dead infants have been found, and three newborns have been brought in by their mothers for adoption. By contrast… there were 19 infant deaths in the area in the previous 1- 1/2 years." With the country's focus on developing and strengthening existing programs which help heal the scars of abuse or prevent child maltreatment, teenage pregnancy or irresponsible parenting from happening, we can make a difference.

People's views differ greatly amidst topics of teen sex, abortion and child abandonment but I hope we can all contend that the welfare of children should be our priority. Instead of accessing blame or deciding who is right, let us focus on changing the futures of our children. A handful of states and various programs have started to find ways to protect children from abuse and abandonment even if their parents are too depraved or inexperienced to do so. It is necessary for society that we follow their lead. We must not fail abused, neglected, and abandoned children though their parents might. Through these responsible actions, we will create a safer nation for all families.

Diary of a Birth Mother
from Terri Rimmer

Moving Out of Gladney
I placed you today. It was the hardest thing I've ever done or will do, I think. Last night another resident and I cried together. Her placement was after mine on the same day. I'm spending the night at my best friend's to get away. I can't stop thinking about you. I wonder what you're doing right now.

I got an email from your AP mom about you telling me how protective your brother is with you. I cried again last night and took something to sleep, reluctantly. Then I had a bunch of dreams about Jon. I'm supposed to meet the birth mom who placed six years ago tomorrow. My best friend said all this has been hard on her, too. I guess I never grieved anything. I always drank, took a pill, had sex, or ran. It's hard not to do those things now.

Last night and this morning I thought about you but didn't cry

Thoughts from the Forum

Thoughts from the Forum
"I think most men do not realize how important a part they are in children's lives, what an influence they have on shaping a lot of basic values and lessons for life. And what it does when they leave and do not invest any time in their child's(ren) lives." ~ quinnandellie
"My biological father - I've never met him, and from what I know, he doesn't know that I exsist. I do hope someday to meet him. There are so many questions I want to ask, and things I want to say. Mostly, I want to tell him that I don't harbor any anger towards him for how I came to exsist or where I ended up (being adopted). He wasn't really given any more choice than I was about my adoption. As far as my conception, well, we all do stupid things when we're young." ~ Theresaxxx



Planted in June 1998

In Loving Memory of Blanche, who passed from this world on Sunday, May 9, 1999 -- Mother’s Day. One of the first Birthmothers to rest under this Tree, her life is an example to us all. Our tears will water the roots while her love and warmth will nurture this Tree as it continues to grow.

This Tree is a place of contemplation, reflection, and healing for all Birthmothers


Dedicated to all Birthmothers
Words and Music © 1994, 2003 by Mary McCarthy

Many are the years that passed us by
Since the day you left my side
Did you know I love you still
Do you know I always will

To hear a sample of the song, Click Here

This song is available on Binky's CD Squirrely Girl
For more information visit

For many years I've wanted to do something to honor not only my loss, but the losses that all birthmothers suffer when we surrender our children for adoption. We've been kept silent and in the shadows for too long. We've done nothing wrong, and nothing to be ashamed of. In the Bible it is written: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...". We who love our children so much that we gave them a better life despite our own pain deserve to be recognized and honored for making the ultimate sacrifice.

Some day I'd like to have a REAL tree which we can all visit to honor ourselves and help us heal.

Bless you all.... Binky.

In Honor of Unknown Birthmothers
Many adoptees are searching for their birthmothers and do not know their names. This is a special place to honor those women. This was submitted by an adoptee.

Birthmother's Name: Unknown but Loved
Birthmother's Age at time of Relinquishment: Wise beyond years
Date of Relinquishment: Hopefully never from your heart
Searching: yes
Date of Reunion: Soon????


Not all reunions turn out the way we hope and dream. Sometimes the person we are searching for does not want to be reunited with us. Sometimes the person we are searching for has passed away before we can find them to be reunited. And, sometimes we never find the person we so long to see again. For all those whose searches end in sadness, I offer you love and hope, and the acknowledgement that your search was not in vain.

Birthmother's Day

Birthmother's Day Created Out of Love or Just More Adoption Propaganda?
from Rebecca Hernon

The Saturday before Mother's Day is not a holiday marked on calendars, nor is it one in which Hallmark makes a card. It is not a holiday recognized by general society. It is Birthmother's Day.

A little background information for you. Birthmother’s day was actually created by birthmothers; a group of Seattle area birthmothers, in an effort not only to educate, but more importantly, to honor and remember. This group of birthmothers decided to create Birthmother's Day. The first gathering was on the Saturday before Mother's Day 1990.

I had never heard of Birthmother’s Day until the year after I placed my daughter. I was invited by the adoption agency to a gathering at a park. We had lunch; we shared our stories, poems… our tears. We lit candles and said a prayer.

I know that that first year was very hard for me.

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The need to be acknowledge and reassured that I had made the right choice was a very big part of my life. I believe celebrating that first Birthmother’s Day was helpful for me in being acknowledged and sharing my pain and tears with others who could understand me best.

Since that time, I have not acknowledged or been acknowledged on Birthmother’s Day. I had not given Birthmother’s Day another thought until this year, when asked for help in preparing an article for it.

There has been debate on the celebrating of Birthmother’s Day. It goes along with the debate over using the term “birthmother” for a woman who has placed a baby for adoption. What is really behind celebrating the day separate from Mother’s Day?

In all families, every member is identified by a term, such as mother, father, sister, brother. Today, we all know more then one family with step parents, half siblings, etc. Adoption blends two families forever and like it or not there needs to be some way to determine who is who.

Let’s think a little about adoption in itself. Those of us involved in the adoption community; whether we are a birthparent, adoptive parent or adoptee, we all have our opinions and feelings on how we like or do not like to be acknowledged as one of the above titles. For some of us, adoption plays a big part of who we are, what we were and what we will become. For others, it is like comparing it to the color of our hair or our shoe size, it is a very small part of our personalities.

Let me tell you a little about myself and my feelings now, eight years into an open adoption. I think about my daughter at least every other day. A big, secret part of me will always wish to be known as more then just her birthmother. If we look at the real meaning of the word “birthmother”, I do not want to be known as only the woman who gave her life, I feel like I am so much more to her; I want to be so much more to her.

That is the fine line in adoption that is drawn between birthmothers and adoptive mothers. As a mother in general, how many of us would like to have to share our children with “another” mother? Or is deciding to take on such a feat inherent in one deciding to place a child and one deciding to create their family through adoption?

Here we are back to the original subject; Birthmother’s Day and should or shouldn’t it be celebrated? And why or why not?

My opinion is any birthmother, first mother, natural mother, WHATEVER you decide you want to be known as has the right to do what makes her feel right about her choice or lack there of. For some, Birthmother’s Day can be a day to celebrate giving birth and making a choice to place and making it about the need to be acknowledged for that choice.

Some can use the day as one to educate others about adoption and what it means to them. The grief, the loss, the pain of losing the chance to mother ones child and how it affects the rest of one’s life, for the better, if there is such a thing, and the worse, which we all know there is some really strong “worse” feelings involved.

I think Birthmother’s Day should be more about women who have placed acknowledging each other and supporting one another, no matter whether it was a real choice or something that was forced upon us. We should stand together as mothers who have lost a child that cannot be replaced. We should say “Here we are, this is our pain, our sorrow and it is real.” And we should hold each other and know we are not alone.

If you feel like Birthmother’s Day was created as part of the adoption propaganda that takes place, MAKE A CHANGE this year. Make it about Birthmothers, it is Birthmother’s Day.

Rebecca J. Hernon
Birthmother To Natalie, 8 yrs. Old
Mama to Quinn, 9 yrs. Old and Ellie, 5 yrs. Old.
Do not copy without permission.

A decade ago, adoptees' knowledge of our own origins and history was completely controlled by adoption brokers and the state. Reunion was, at best, an unattainable dream.
Most adoptees could not consider searching. Our mothers were unknown and unknowable, living in a secret world we could never find. We were irrevocably separated and isolated from each other -- and, often, from ourselves.

We are now in a world where the rules have changed, no longer alone, no longer isolated, no longer limited to little more than a hidden wish to find each other.

It is, at last, possible to bring that wish into consciousness, to transform it into a decision, and to act on that decision.

We now have hope.

Generations of separated families have taken our histories and our choices back into our own hands. We are working together to transform our possibilities, expectations and reality, despite the resistance of those who do not know what it means to ask, "Who am I?" or "Where is my child. . . my sister, my brother?"

By searching, your world is likely to be transformed, in ways you cannot yet imagine.

Whether you consider yourself conservative or liberal, a risk-taker or a person who never breaks the rules, by recognizing your irrevocable rights despite the rules, you are rebelling, and you are participating in a very real, very powerful, and very effective revolution.



The Premise

The authority of the federal government to collect its income tax depends upon the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the federal income tax amendment, which was allegedly ratified in 1913. After a year of extensive research, Bill Benson discovered that the 16th Amendment was not ratified by the required 3/4 of the states, but nevertheless Secretary of State Philander Knox fraudulently announced ratification.

Watch the Benson Video

Text of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:
"The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration."


NEW! The "Theory"

The federal government is once again going after Bill Benson to, in his own words, "Shut down the truth from the American people." Read the news article by clicking here.

Click here to read Bill's Motion To Dismiss.

Would you like to help in this fight for justice? Send a donation to help with the legal fees that fighting the federal government incurs. Click here to learn how.


The Discovery

Article V of the U.S. Constitution specifies the ratification process, and requires 3/4 of the States to ratify any amendment proposed by Congress. There were 48 States in the American Union in 1913, meaning that affirmative action of 36 states was required for ratification. In February, 1913, Secretary of State Philander Knox issued a proclamation claiming that 38 states had ratified the amendment.

In 1984, William J. Benson began a research project, never before performed, to investigate the process of ratification of the 16th Amendment. After traveling to the capitols of the New England states, and reviewing the journals of the state legislative bodies, he saw that many states had not ratified the Amendment. Continuing his research at the National Archives in Washington, DC, Bill Benson discovered his Golden Key. This damning piece of evidence is a 16 page memorandum from the Solicitor of the Department of State, whose duty is the provision of legal opinions for the use of the Secretary of State. In this memorandum sent to the Secretary of State, the Solicitor of the Department of State lists the many errors he found in the ratification process!

The 4 states listed below are among the 38 states that Philander Knox claimed ratification from.

The Kentucky Senate voted upon the resolution, but rejected it by a vote of 9 in favor and 22 opposed.
The Oklahoma Senate amended the language of the 16th Amendment to have a precisely opposite meaning.
The California legislative assembly never recorded any vote upon any proposal to adopt the amendment proposed by Congress.
The State of Minnesota sent nothing to the Secretary of State in Washington.
When his year long project was finished at the end of 1984, Bill had visited every state capitol and knew that not a single state had actually and legally ratified the proposal to amend the Constitution. 33 states engaged in the unauthorized activity of amending the language of the amendment proposed by congress, a power the states do not possess. Since 36 states were needed for ratification, the failure of 13 to ratify would be fatal to the amendment, and this occurs within the major (first three) defects tabulated in Defects in Ratification of the 16th Amendment. Even if we were to ignore defects of spelling, capitalization, and punctuation, we would still have only 2 states which successfully ratified.


Bill Benson

After serving time in federal prison for not paying his United States income taxes, Bill Benson still does not pay income taxes and yet our federal government chooses not to arrest him. Why? Because now he can use this book, which he has written : 'THE LAW THAT NEVER WAS' in his defense. To this day, Bill Benson proclaims, just as loudly, that he will not pay an unjust and corrupt federal income tax.

Adoption Fraud in California

By Richard Alexander


The Alexander Law Firm has unique experience helping parents and their adopted children in special cases where county social workers have withheld important information which has caused emotional and financial disruption to families. The details of our casework and a special article on adoption fraud can be found on our websites.

Under California law parents have a lifetime duty to maintain a child who is unable to maintain himself or herself.

If your family is facing major medical, psychiatric, or residential care bills for your adopted child because of a failure to disclose information before the adoption, we may be able to help you.

To hold a county responsible for an adopted child's special needs a claim that complies with the requirements of California's Government Code must be served on the County Clerk within six months [or one year for a late claim] of the parent's learning of fraud or misrepresentation by adoption workers.

If a parent learns of fraud, but does not file a claim or files late, California law is brutal: both the parent's rights and the child's rights are lost forever. Make no mistake. There is no second chance for your child. This law is brutal in the extreme.

If you suspect adoption fraud, do not contact social workers without first understanding the law.

If any critical information was concealed from you or if you suspect that has been the case, under California law you must file a claim against the county the was responsible for the adoption within six months of discovering fraud or misrepresentation.

If you are interested in learning more, please complete the following questionnaire. With The Alexander Law firm there are no charges unless, and until, we prove you were defrauded and secure a recovery that is acceptable to you and approved by the Court for your child. All of our work is on a contingency basis. Recoveries for a child are supervised by us in conjunction with the Superior Court to assure the child receives full benefits. As long as our clients follow our advice if there is no recovery, there are no fees, no costs, no charges. We guarantee it in writing.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Shasta Greone

Natalie Holloway has not been found. We do not have a web site for her but we have for Shasta Greone -

once there there is a link to our criminal files site:

and the site we have for Joseph Duncan:

5:31 PM

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Adoptees' Rights

Adoptees have the right to know who made them and created them. Adoptees have the right to know where they were really born. Adoptees have the right to know what time of day they were born.
Adoptees have the right to know why they were placed for adoption,
but some adoption agencies have taken away this right!! Fight for open records


Adopt Search Registry ADOPT SEARCH REGISTRY - Free search forum & registry.
Adoptees Database ADOPTEES DATABASE - On-line searchable database.
Adoptees Internet Mailing List AIML - Is an Internet mailing list where adoptees can gather for advice in conducting a search and have discussions of varied reunion outcomes.
Adoptees Miracle Search Network ADOPTEES MIRACLE SEARCH NETWORK - Offers information and services for adoptees and birth parents including searchable database.
Adoptee Search Center ADOPTEE SEARCH CENTER - One of the largest online databases available on the net. Many other additional resources as well.
Adoptee Searcher's Handbook ADOPTEE SEARCHER'S HANDBOOK - Numerous Canadian resources for the adoptee or birth parent.
Adoption Connections Project ADOPTION CONNECTIONS PROJECT - A growing group of individuals dedicated to bringing together birth mothers, adopted daughters, adoptive mothers, foster mothers, step mothers and other women and men who find themselves within non-traditional families.
Adoption Records and Queries ADOPTION RECORDS AND QUERIES - WWW bulletin board.
Birth Quest BIRTH QUEST - Online international searchable database dedicated to searching adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents and siblings.
Black Market Adoptee's Registry BLACK MARKET ADOPTEE'S REGISTRY - Large listing of black market adoptees.
Canadian Adoptee FAQ CANADIAN ADOPTEE FAQ - Ultimate resource of contact numbers, information and tips for those searching within Canada.
Canadian Adoptee Registry CANADIAN ADOPTEE REGISTRY - Here you can perform various Canadian searches, register your information or use various other tools that they have made available.
Find Me FIND ME - Online adoptee/birthparent registry sorted by decade.
International Soundex Reunion Registry INTERNATIONAL SOUNDEX REUNION REGISTRY - The world's largest reunion registry.
Jules' Search and Reunion Site JULES' SEARCH AND REUNION SITE - Consists of inspiring stories and valuable information about search, reunion, national adoption legislation and the vast online adoption community.
Kindred Pursuits KINDRED PURSUITS - a free registry available to anyone searching for kin in Canada or the United States.
Locate Me LOCATE ME - Professional locate service.
Lost Connections LOST CONNECTIONS - Many adoption resources and a reunion registry.
Lost n Found Adoption Registry LOST N FOUND ADOPTION REGISTRY - Provides a database for the sole purpose of registering an adoption or for searching for matching adoption records.
Lycos Birth Parent Search LYCOS BIRTH PARENT SEARCH - Message board.
Merry-Go-Round Search Registry MERRY-GO-ROUND SEARCH REGISTRY - This Registry DOES NOT POST e-mail or postal addresses nor does it post telephone numbers.
Metro Reunion Registry METRO REUNION REGISTRY - Registrations include nearly every State, Canada, and 17 foreign countries. Information is entered into the database upon receipt. In the event of a match with existing data, or a match with new incoming data, you will be notified immediately.
My Adoption Page MY ADOPTION PAGE - Article that is about adoption, adoptee issues, birthparents, adopting, and searching.
National Finders Adoption Registry NATIONAL FINDERS ADOPTION REGISTRY - Online fee based registry.
PBN Reunion Bureau PBN REUNION BUREAU - Online message posting board which can be accessed by state.
Relatively Seeking RELATIVELY SEEKING - Allows you to search for relatives, as well as, leave entries within the database.
Relinquished Registry RELINQUISHED REGISTRY - Registry, message board and other resources.
Reunions Magazine REUNIONS MAGAZINE - Content focuses on reunion organizing, searching and helping organizers be well-educated and wise reunion consumers.
Reunion Registry REUNION REGISTRY - Provides a free "Search Assistant" that allows you to search their registry with ease.
Seekers Of The Lost SEEKERS OF THE LOST - Claim to have the largest search registry online with over 42000 records.
Shea's Search Series SHEA'S SEARCH SERIES - An online guide to self-empowered adoptee search methods and other related information.
The Difference THE DIFFERENCE - Registry and numerous other resources.
The Reunion Network THE REUNION NETWORK - A complete network of services for adoptees and birth parents including a search registry, books, FAQs, and a locator service.
Volunteer Search Network VOLUNTEER SEARCH NETWORK - provides a worldwide group of volunteers who offer search help to people touched by adoption.
Who? Me? WHO? ME? - Search registry for those searching for others.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Child Given up for Adoption Can Still be an Heir

Child Given up for Adoption Can Still be an Heir

I’m an avid reader of yours. I’d like to know about adoptive children being heirs to their biological parents’ estates. The child was given up at birth and was legally adopted through an agency. He has not had contact with his birth mother for over 50 years, but has now located her. Can he still legally claim rights to her estate when she dies? -- A.D.
Texas law is very clear on this point: a child who is given up for adoption is still entitled to inherit from the biological parents. This is true even though the biological parents meant to completely remove the child from their lives.

Texas law is also very clear on a different point: you may always select your heirs, and you may always exclude anyone from being your heir.

Can we reconcile these two viewpoints? Yes. The difference is action on the birth mother’s part. Only if she fails to make a Will or other plan can this man make a claim against her estate. He is entitled to make a claim under the laws of intestacy. If she dies without a Will, he can share equally in the estate. On the other hand, if she has a Will identifying her heirs and disposing of her entire estate, she is not intestate so he has no claim (unless she wants him to).

An excellent illustration is found in Texas case law. A son named Russell was born to John and Mildred in 1945. They divorced in 1954. Russell went with his mother Mildred, who eventually remarried. John gave up his parental rights, and Mildred’s new husband adopted Russell. John also remarried and started a second family.
John died in 1984, never having given Russell a second thought. He also never gave a thought to making a Will, and thus died intestate. His second wife, and the daughter from that marriage, went to court to probate his estate. They did not mention to the court that Russell had ever existed.

In 1987 Russell discovered that John had died. It seems John had acquired a tidy sum of money, so Russell appeared to claim his share. The trial court applied the law that a child given up for adoption is still entitled to inherit. Russell was awarded $250,000. John’s second family disagreed, and appealed the case.

The court of appeals upheld the trial court’s ruling. Russell inherited from his birth father even though he had been given up for adoption 30 years before John died. If John had made a Will, he could have left his fortune to his second family. So the answer to your question is: yes, a child given up for adoption can still inherit, but only if the birth parent takes no action to prevent it.

Who's your daddy?


The FOX Network's new reality show, Who's Your Daddy?, which premiers January 3, 2005, has sent the adoption world into a tizzy. Bastard Nation directs its outrage against the sealed records system, which makes such a show possible in the first place.

Tremendous thanks to adoptee rights activists from Cal Open, Arizona Open, and Nevada Open, who are participating in the "Honk if You're My Daddy" Rally on Sunday, January 2nd!!

Who's Your Daddy
Uproar Links:

Marley Greiner's Statement to "Honk if You're My Daddy" rallyers in Los Angeles
Bastard Nation

Adoption charities slam U.S. Network
TV Today in the UK

Adoption Institute Seeks Meeting With Fox, Urges Protests to Fox Affiliates
Press Release from the Adoption Institute published by Yahoo Finance

TV Station in North Carolina Censors WYD?
PR Web Press Release

Daddy Debate
Newsday Article

Private-Eye Behind Fox’s “Who’s Your Daddy” Speaks Out
PR Web Press Release

The 'Daddy' of TV Tastelessness
Op/Ed by Adam Pertman of the Adoption Institute, published in the L.A. Times

Bastard Nation supports this demonstration organized by the Adoptee Rights Organizing Project against the sealed records system in conjunction with the airing of Who's Your Daddy?




WHERE: FOX TELEVISION STUDIOS, 10201 Pico Boulevard (at Avenue of the Stars), Century City, CA.

WHY: Fox Televisions new reality show "Who's Your Daddy?" has galvanized the communities of adoption with its promise to sensationalize and exploit the culture of secrets and lies perpetuated by the sealed records system of adoption. "HONK IF YOU'RE MY DADDY!" is a provocative action that places "Who's Your Daddy?" smack in the middle of the political landscape of the sealed records laws that created its premise.

WHO: "HONK IF YOU'RE MY DADDY!" is organized by the Adoptee Rights Organizing Project,, dedicated to teaching adult adoptees the tools of community organizing to achieve full civil and human rights. "HONK IF YOU'RE MY DADDY!" will be open to all supporters of adoptee rights and dignity, and will be hosted by adoptee rights activist BB "Baby Boy" Church (AKA Ron Morgan). The wearing of sperm costumes, question marks and accessories appropriate to protesting is highly encouraged. Bring you own signs or wave one of ours. If you represent a group that wishes to participate in this action, please let us know in advance so we may acknowledge you at the action.



Read BN Executive Chair, Marley Greiner's, Statement to "Honk if You're My Daddy" rallyers in Los Angeles
Bastard Nation

BASTARD NATION makes the news over Who's Your Daddy?

Bastard Nation Executive Chair, Marley Greiner, was interviewed by E! Online News for their article, Fox Adopts Daddy, published December 15, 2004.

Bastard Nation is mentioned in Newsday's December 30, 2004 article entitled, 'Daddy' Debate.

Bastard Nation Executive Committee member and Legislative Co-Chair, Anita Field, had a letter to the editor about Who's Your Daddy? published in The Chicago Tribune:


The hoopla is beginning over the upcoming show, 'Who's Your Daddy?'" I am an adoption expert too. My credentials: I am an adopted woman. I ask myself why any adoptee would subject herself to finding her birth father in front of millions of viewers on TV. But I know the answer. In 45 states, including Illinois,adopted adults cannot get their original birth certificates without permission from parents or the courts.

All adopted adults must be able to unconditionally request and receive their original birth certificates in the same manner as all other citizens. Then I'd wager that the list of contestants for reality shows such as Who's Your Daddy? would dry up.

Bastard Nationals Voice Opinion on Who's Your Daddy?





"Fox not only gored the adoption community's sacred cow, but barbequed it."

"Put Who's Your Daddy? in the crosshair of adoptee rights!"

CONTACT: Marley Greiner, Exec. Chair, Bastard Nation
614-571-2999 (direct)
415-704-3166 (BN Voice mail)

Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization is one adoption organization that has NO interest in joining the coalition to shut down Who's Your Daddy? the new Fox reality series in which an adopted woman will win $100,000 by picking out her birthfather from an 8-man line-up. We totally understand the spate of BLARGH responses to the show--we have some of those ourselves--but the preachy, self-righteous reaction of the so-called "adoption community" BLARGHS Bastard Nation even more.

The doom and gloomists declare WYD "dangerous," "exploitive," "sickening," "revolting," "manipulative," "cheap," "traumatic," "voyeuristic," "callous," "abusive," and "perverse" with dire warnings that the show will create new "isms" and phobias (as in race, sex, and homo). To the best of Bastard Nation's knowledge, the producers of WYD haven't staged midnight raids on the homes of adult adoptees and their birthfathers forcing them to participate under threat to life limb, and the pursuit of happiness. Nor have they suggested that adoptees be lynched, beaten up in nightclub parking lots, denied jobs, legacy admissions to Yale, gated communities, equal pay, or the right to marry someone of their own sex.

Get with it: the real problem is sealed records-not Fox!"

We wouldn't mind the hand wringing so much if these politically correct spokespersons at least brought up something instructive, for instance pointing out that 45 states hold the birth records of about 6 million American adoptees hostage under archaic "privacy" laws which legally wipe out the identity, biology, and genealogy of adopted persons. Instead, these "experts" (some of whom have done little or nothing to open records, and in some cases actually obstruct open records progress), flog their insecurities about "forever families. " Typically, they revert to sentimentalisms about "private moments" and "real parents," which not only do nothing to forward the civil rights of adoptees, but actually blow-off those rights through their emphasis on emotional issues and personal relationships. The collective WYD meltdown simply reflects the inability of the "adoption community," especially "reformers" to reflect upon their own complicity in this secret system that ultimately creates the conditions in which Who's Your Daddy? is produced.

The truth is that "experts" and "reformers" are mad that Fox didn't consult them before producing WYD. They're mad because they can't control the content. They're mad because Fox has turned adoption into a tacky reality show rather than a PBS lecture. Fox not only gored the adoption community's sacred cow but barbequed it just in time to ruin the holidays for them.

That a ""reform" movement which ostensibly supports openness in adoption, free association and free speech thinks it's OK to demand the removal of a television show because it might hurt somebody's feelings and doesn't meet its warm and fuzzy "educated" standards is troubling. Protest the show by all means. Protest is fun! But pre-emptive for-your-own-good "censorship" reeks of the very secret system that" reformers" claim to deplore. And that's not fun!

Put Who's Your Daddy in the crosshair of adoptee rights!

Who's Your Daddy? ain't nothin' next to the ultimate reality show: Adoption: Secrets and Lies. Every day adoptees face down the corrupt adoption system, negotiating a gauntlet of paternalistic and "protective" laws, hypocritical adoption agencies, do-good adoption "experts," bored judges, insensitive bureaucrats, sell-out politicians, adoption trade lobbyists, religious zealots, and snotty records clerks that even the brightest program developers and Fox producers couldn't dream up. Who's Your Daddy? --maybe the greatest send-up of adoption since the film Reno Finds Her Mom--simply commercially exploits and exposes, in a way that no open records Bastard can, the absurd in-place government-enforced sealed records system that infects contemporary US adoption policy. Why cry over it when you can coat-tail it!

Use Who's Your Daddy? to protest identity erasure and sealed records, not to support the status quo!

Texas Bastard National, Marlena Villers, spoke out in response to an Op/Ed article on Who's Your Daddy? entitled, Fox Finds New Way to Stoop Ever Lower, authored by Virginia Rohan and published by the North Jersey Media Group on December 20, 2004.

If adoptees are vulnerable and exploitable, as Virginia Rohan suggests in Fox finds new way to stoop ever lower, it is because most states (and apparently Ms. Rohan) see us as perpetual children, not because a network is shamelessly looking for ratings.

The Who's Your Daddy? participants are all adults. If they choose to make a game out of their reunion, that's their business. The premise of this show is no more offensive than eating pig anus for money or undergoing massive quantities of plastic surgery to improve one's image. There were no boycotts or moral outrage over the exploitation of those reality show contestants.

Try looking a little deeper into your soul, Ms. Rohan. Perhaps you'll find that you've bought into the state-sanctioned discrimination and infantilization of adoptees. We don't remain the tiny "Desperate Orphans" that were left on your doorstep. We grow up. We are able to manage our own affairs and make our own decisions - both wise and foolish - just like everyone else. We don't need the outrage of you or even the Evan B. Donaldson Institute. We need equality.

Treat adoptees like every other law-abiding citizen. Restore our right to access our original birth certificates upon reaching the age of majority. If the secrets and lies were removed from the adoption system, Fox would have to look elsewhere for a cheap ratings grabber.

Marlena Villers, adult adoptee

Searching for birth mother

Searching for Birth Relatives: A Factsheet for Families
Author(s): National Adoption Information Clearinghouse.

Year Published: 2004
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While interest among adopted persons in finding their birth families has always been high, the percentage of adult adopted persons who take action to initiate a search appears to be on the rise. This trend is accompanied by a growing interest on the part of many birth parents in searching for their (now) adult children who were placed for adoption many years earlier. The expanding number of organizations that advocate searching for birth relatives and provide advice and resources for doing so indicate both increased interest in and acceptance of this process. New legislation in some States permits more access to birth information, and new technology has the potential to make the searching process faster. A recent study shows that adopted persons are more likely to seek out information about their birth families now than in the past (Harris Interactive Market Research, 2002). And a study that reviewed estimates abroad and in the United States suggests that 50 percent of all adopted persons search at some point in their lives (Muller & Perry, 2001a).

The purpose of this factsheet is to provide some guidance on the search process and information access, as well as resources for further help in conducting a successful search. This factsheet is designed to address the concerns of both adopted persons who are searching for birth parents or other birth relatives, as well as birth parents (both mothers and fathers) who want to locate a child who was adopted. While not a complete "how to" guide to searching, this factsheet provides information on:

The decision to search
Steps in the search process
Hiring a professional searcher
International searching
Reunion issues

In addition, a list of resources is included at the end. The list includes websites on searching, books and articles, and more. The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (NAIC) website is a good starting point for resource information.

The Decision to Search
Adults who were adopted as infants or young children are the most common group of people searching for adoption information and birth relatives. This group most often searches for birth mothers first (Muller & Perry, 2001b), but may later seek out birth fathers, siblings, or other birth relatives. An event in the life of an adopted person, for instance, the birth of a child or death of an adoptive parent, may trigger the actual search (American Adoption Congress, 2002).

Other groups that search include birth parents searching for children placed for adoption years earlier and a growing number of adoptive parents who search in order to know more about their adoptive children's background or medical history (Freundlich, 2001). In addition, some national organizations that work with children in foster care report increased interest by siblings in finding their siblings who were placed with other families.

The question of why an adopted person or birth parent searches for birth relatives has as many answers as there are searchers. Some of the more common reasons include the following:

General family information. Searchers may want to know the names of their birth relatives, where they live, and what they are like. Birth parents may want to know whether their birth children have been happy and well treated.
Family traits and personalities. Many adopted persons and birth parents want to know how their birth relatives look and act and whether they share similar traits.
Medical history information. Information on genetic diseases and conditions can be crucial for safeguarding an adopted person's own health and the health of their biological children. (The desire or need for family medical history is sometimes the only reason that will compel a judge to open sealed adoption records.)
Circumstances of the adoption. Often, adopted persons feel a need to know why they were placed for adoption or why the rights of the birth parent were terminated and how that decision was made. Birth parents may want the opportunity to explain the circumstances to their child.

Steps in the Search Process
Every search is unique in its unfolding, but there are a number of steps and resources common to most searches. This section of the factsheet addresses the steps in the search process, including:

Emotional preparation
Assembling known information
Researching relevant State laws
Registering with reunion registries
Obtaining missing documents
Filing court petitions
1. Emotional preparation. Both adopted persons and birth parents should expect to prepare emotionally for the search process. Such preparation may include reading about other adopted persons' or birth parents' search and reunion experiences and talking to others who are going through or have gone through the same process. Support groups for adopted persons or for birth parents who are searching can be extremely helpful, not only in providing emotional support, but also in sharing practical information. (For a State-by-State listing of support groups, see the NAIC's National Adoption Directory.)

Gathering emotional support from family and friends also can be helpful. Adopted persons may be reluctant to share their decision to search with their adoptive parents for fear of hurting their feelings. However, in many cases adoptive parents can be an enormous source of support, as well as a source of information. Adoptive parents may take some comfort from knowing that an adopted person's decision to search usually has nothing to do with dissatisfaction with the adoptive parents (Brodzinsky, Schechter, & Henig, 1992).

The search process may trigger a number of different emotions at different stages for the searcher. At certain stages, some searchers may feel that they need more emotional or moral support than they are receiving from family, friends, and support groups. In these situations, they may want to talk to a professional counselor. Searchers who seek professional counseling will want to ensure that the counselor is familiar with adoption issues. (See the NAIC's factsheet on selecting adoption therapists.) In addition, some State laws require a meeting with a counselor before a reunion takes place.

2. Assembling known information. Once a decision has been made to search, the first step involves gathering all known and easily obtainable information. For adopted persons, this may mean talking to adoptive parents to find out the name of the adoption agency, attorney, or facilitator involved in the adoption. It also means pulling together all readily available documents, such as the amended birth certificate, hospital records, and any other information, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time. Birth, death, marriage, divorce, school, church, genealogy, health, military, DMV, and property records related to the birth kin all have potential usefulness for leading to a name and location of a birth parent or birth child. It may be helpful to organize and record all information in a central place for easy reference.

3. Researching relevant State laws. Searchers may want to become informed about State laws regarding adoption and records access in the State(s) in which they were born and adopted, keeping in mind that some State laws vary according to the applicable years. Access to information about State laws as well as which States offer reunion registries can be found at the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (NAIC) website. (Other websites that maintain databases or updates on State laws are included in the Resource List at the end of this factsheet.)

4. Registering with reunion registries. A number of States, as well as private organizations, offer reunion registries that allow adopted persons and birth parents to register the fact that they are searching for each other. Most of these reunion registries are "passive," meaning that both parties (e.g., the adopted person and the birth mother) must independently register in order for a match to be made. When both parties register at the same passive registry and a match is made, registry officials share the mutual information and help to arrange for contact. Passive registries do not actively search for the other party.

The largest passive registry is the International Soundex Reunion Registry. This is open to all adopted adults over 18 years of age, all birth parents, and all adoptive parents of adopted children under 18 years of age.

There are also a number of "active" registries that charge fees to actually go out and search for the birth relative. Some of these are State registries that will initiate a search for a fee. Others are maintained by private search and support groups.

There are few reliable statistics on the success rate of these registries; however, as expected, passive registries tend to show a much lower match rate than active registries. One study of passive State registries found an average success rate of less than 5 percent in 1998, with only two States showing double-digit success rates (Mitchell, Nast, Busharis, & Hasegawa, 1999).

5. Obtaining missing documents. At this point, the searcher may want to attempt to acquire some of the missing documents that could help with the search. There are many types of documents that may lead to locating a birth parent or child or provide a breakthrough to this information. The following is a list of potentially helpful documents:

Adoption agency records-If the name of the adoption agency is known, the searcher can request nonidentifying information or even records. For instance, in her 1998 book, Search: A Handbook for Adoptees and Birthparents, Jayne Askin provides an extensive list of possible questions to be addressed to the agency, including questions about siblings, medical information, and consent to release information. Askin also recommends that the searcher supply a waiver of confidentiality to the agency, so that information about the searcher can be provided to the birth child or birth parent, if that individual also contacts the agency.
Hospital records-Hospital records, when they can be obtained, may provide information on the birth mother, birth father, attending physician, and incidental health information. Adopted persons generally need to know their birth name, as well as the hospital's name and location. If the searcher has difficulty obtaining these records, a request made by a doctor may have a better chance for success.
Birth records-Most adopted persons will not have their original birth certificate but will have, instead, an amended document listing their adoptive parents' names. However, there are a few States that allow adopted adults to have access to their original birth certificate. (See the NAIC information on access to family information by adopted persons.) In other States, the original birth certificate may be available if the adopted person petitions the court.
Court adoption file-The court adoption records consist of a number of documents, including the original, unaltered birth certificate; petition to adopt; finalization papers or final decree; consent to adopt from birth parent(s), relinquishment papers, or orders terminating parental rights; and any agency or attorney papers, including information about birth parents. Many of these documents may also be available elsewhere. For instance, adoptive parents should have copies of the court proceedings finalizing the adoption, although the final court order will not provide the names of the birth parents. If this is not available, an adopted person searching for birth parents may be able to contact the attorney or law firm that handled the adoption to obtain it. A request may also be made to the court. Often, identifying information will be blacked out of the court-supplied document; however, there may be some remaining clues that are helpful. The final adoption papers should provide the name of the attorney, judge, and agency involved in the proceedings. This information may lead to discovering other useful clues.
Other court records-While most or all of the court records may be officially sealed, in some cases a searcher may be able to view the court's Docket Appearance Book, a daily record of who appeared in court and why on a particular day, or even the Minute Book log, with the results of each court appearance (Culligan, 1996). Also, local newspapers from the time of the adoption may carry a notice of the filing of the Petition to Adopt in the classified section. This normally includes the name of the couple adopting, as well as the birth name of the child/infant and the name of the social worker assigned to the case (Culligan, 1996).
Other types of records-Other potentially useful records may include physician records, newspapers (for birth announcements), cemetery and mortuary records, probate records, Social Security information, records of military service, school records (including yearbooks), marriage licenses, divorce or annulment papers, DMV documents, and death certificates.
6. Filing a court petition. If none of the above have been successful, adopted persons may petition the court to have the sealed adoption records opened. Whether this is successful may depend on the State, the particular judge, the reason given for the request, and any number of other factors. Petitioning the court does not require an attorney's services, but a petitioner may choose to hire an attorney.

The judge may deny the petition completely or agree to release only nonidentifying information or a summary. In some States, the judge may appoint an intermediary, such as the original adoption agency or a professional searcher, to locate the birth parents and determine whether or not they want to release information or be reunited with the adopted person. In other cases, the petitioner may be able to request the appointment of a confidential intermediary, who will conduct a search (for a fee) and determine if the birth parents are willing to be contacted.

Following these steps may lead the searcher to enough identifying information that birth relatives can be located. In cases in which the search seems to be leading nowhere, the searcher may want to review information or begin to research such things as alternative spellings of names or places. In some cases, information may have been falsified, making it difficult or impossible to continue the search without new information.

Hiring a Professional Searcher
Adopted persons or birth parents searching for birth relatives have the option of hiring a professional searcher. In some cases, it may be useful to hire a professional searcher if specific information needs to be located in another State. For instance, a professional searcher may be able to search courthouse or church records in a faraway locality. This limited professional help may be enough to allow the adopted person or birth parent to continue his or her own search.

Individuals who choose to hire a professional searcher should research the reputation of the searcher or company. There are some searchers who have a certification from Independent Search Consultants, a nonprofit organization that trains in adoption searching. Other searchers may be licensed as private investigators by a particular locality. Individuals should ask whether private investigators have specific adoption search experience before making a decision to hire them. Other professional searchers may be experts in a particular locality or a particular field but may not have a certification. Before hiring anyone, it is crucial to call references and to check with the Better Business Bureau. In addition, support groups can be a ready source of information about professional searchers.

In some cases, a court or agency may refuse to open sealed records or provide full information in response to a petition or request; however, the court or agency may appoint a professional searcher. In such cases, this professional searcher serves as an intermediary whose job is to locate and contact the birth parents (or birth child) and to find out whether they want to have their name and address revealed and whether they want to resume contact. The professional is given access to sealed records, but the petitioner (who generally receives no access to records) pays the fee of the professional searcher. If nothing is found, or if the found person refuses to release information or agree to contact, there is generally no recourse (except that the adopted person or birth parent can continue to search on his or her own).

International Searching
People who were adopted from outside the United States (through intercountry adoptions) face unique challenges in locating birth parents. Each country has its own laws governing information access. In addition, there is great variation in record-keeping practices across countries and cultures, and in many cases, searchers will find that no information was ever recorded, that records were misplaced, or that cultural practices placed little emphasis on accurate record-keeping. However, in a very few cases, it may actually be easier to gain access to an original birth certificate in a foreign country than in the United States, since some countries do not seal their vital records.

The child-placing agency is the best beginning point for an international search. The U.S. agency should be able to share the name and location of the agency or orphanage abroad and, perhaps, the names of caregivers, attorneys, or others involved in the placement or adoption. The agency, or its counterpart abroad, may be able to provide specific information on names, dates, and places. They also may be able to offer some medical history, biographical information on parents, and circumstances regarding the adoption.

Some other resources for international searchers include the following:

Adopted persons seeking documents (such as a birth certificate) that the U.S. or foreign child-placing agency is not able to provide may want to apply to government agencies in the birth country. Mailing addresses of offices of vital records in foreign countries can be found on the U.S. State Department website.
Searchers adopted from another country can contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to receive copies of their immigration records.
An international agency that may offer help is International Social Services, which provides a broad range of social work services, including helping adopted persons find birth families abroad. Their U.S. branch has a website at
Support groups for adopted persons from particular countries may be able to offer help and information on searching. Countries that have placed a large number of children with families in the United States, such as Korea, have support groups and organizations with websites and search information. (See the Resource List at the end of this factsheet.)

In general, searching overseas is more difficult than searching in the United States. In cases in which the search for the birth parent is unsuccessful, some adopted persons may derive some satisfaction from visiting their birth country and experiencing their birth culture. Many agencies and support groups have begun to organize homeland tours for adopted persons and adoptive families. These tours generally provide an introduction to the country and culture. Visiting the birth country for the first time as part of such a group may provide searchers with some emotional security, because the people in the tour group are often looking for answers to similar questions. (The National Adoption Directory lists groups that offer homeland tours.)

Reunion Issues
Reunions between long-lost birth family members have been the subject of books, articles, and television shows. Two important themes emerge from these accounts:

1. Participants should be emotionally prepared for the reunion experience. Adopted persons and birth parents may carry a picture in their mind of the perfect family, but the reunion experience may not live up to that ideal. In preparing for contact and reunion, adopted persons (and birth parents) should prepare for a whole range of realities, including rejection. Although most birth parents are agreeable to further contact, research indicates that a minority, perhaps 9 to 15 percent, reject any contact (Muller & Perry, 2001b).

2. Pacing the contact can be key to having a successful reunion and relationship. In a small study of adopted women who experienced reunions with birth kin (Affleck & Steed 2001), it was found that successful reunion experiences were associated with (1) preparation with a support group and (2) a slower pace between initial contact and actual meeting, involving letters and phone calls. This interval between contact and meeting allowed information to be exchanged and gave the "found" relatives some time to become accustomed to the idea. Such an interval can also give the found relatives time to share the news with spouses and 2. children in their family, if they desire.

Some factors that may increase the possibility of a successful longer term relationship include (Muller and Perry, 2001b):

The establishment of limits regarding each others' lives
Support from adoptive parents
Minimal expectations
Similar lifestyles and temperaments
Acceptance by other family members
In many cases, a successful reunion with a birth mother may prompt the adopted adult to continue the search process for the birth father. Meeting with birth siblings also may occur, and each reunion experience requires preparation and time to evolve.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

How to open adoption records

Many times adoptees ask "How do I open my adoption records?". There are a few ways to do this. You first need to call the courthouse where you were adopted out of and ask them if they have a c.i. program. The second thing to ask them is how to petition the court to open up the records. You can usually get a petition from the law library. Fill the petition out and submit it to the courts. LOOK AT THIS URL. IT CAN ALSO HELP YOU