Sunday, July 22, 2007


Please click image to see it enlarged!

The image is of a collage I put together after copying surrender papers received through The All names are appropriately blacked out and this was a side project and did not use the original papers submitted - which were submitted for the goal of sharing with legislators to prove that one of our papers ever promised us anonymity. The BirthParentProject is alive and well and has had over 500 respondents to date and i am seeking a statistician to help analyze the results for publication.

Reading through these papers is quite enlightening. I have yet to find any promises made to us in exchange for our rights to ur children...only terms such as agreeing to "never interfere" in the lives of our children.

On our collective surrender papers - ranging from 1965 to 1990 - contain are phrases like "Out-of-Wedlock" "Unwed" and "Not Married; Never Married" making it perfectly clear the importance that legal status held for us in terms of acceptance or not of our being parents. In all of the papers mothers are mothers, while fathers are often "alleged" fathers. An interesting differences, again reflecting the patriarchal marriage law basis that in marriage, there is is never a question, but rather and assumption, that the mother's husband is the father - a situation being changed currently by DNA.

Wording of our "papers" — for those of us fortunate enough to have been given or been able to obtain copies — vary not just over time but also locale, as each state has its own laws and way of wording the relinquishment and consent to adopt. Most contained legal assurances that we "understood" what we were doing, which is in retrospect as accurate as a POW signing a confession of war crimes. How/why would any mother say that in recognition of her single status that she "willingly" preferred to turn her child over to the state or agency to do what it might with her child, "including, but not limited to adoption"? No sane, able mother would ever willingly have done such a thing had any of us truly understand that was what we were in fact signing and had any of us been given any other alternative.

Also interesting is that most recent papers in my possession, from 1990, identify the mother of the child as the "natural mother." Perhaps some pressure to separate her more with language, with an identifying adjective? One can just imagine the discussions that led to the compromise of "natural mother" - with some favoring birthmother or worse on those papers.

Please continue to spread the word about the BirthParentProject survey and encourage mothers to send me their papers!

While I have not seen it but hope to, I am told that one mother has hospital records stamped "OWNK: Out-of-Wedlock; Not-Keeping." I couldn't help thinking how convenient it was of them to come up with an acronym that sound like OINK...the sound of a PIG: Pregnant Indigent Girl. Of course, OWNK also stands for OWN Kid! As such, I think it's a name we should embrace, like adoptees embrace their bastardhood!

Power to the OWNKS!

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