Governor Pat Quinn today presented a 73-year-old Illinois adoptee with the first non-certified copy of an original birth certificate made possible under a new law which Quinn signed in late May.
"When I was born in 1937, adoptees' birth records were never sealed," said Joel Chrastka of Berwyn. "But, by the time I was an adult and had learned about my adoption, my original birth certificate had already been retroactively sealed for 100 years."
“I feel like today is a part of history,” Quinn said. “And a very special part of history. This new law is making a difference for families everywhere.”The magical moment was captured on video and put up on YouTube. The link got sent out on a number of adoption listserves and was hailed as an emotional appeal for access....watching this elderly man well up with tears as he discovered at long last who HE really was!
I saw that emotional impact, but any and all joy of the moment was instantly shattered as he went on to read, not just his own name...but his mothers full name AND ADDRESS!!
I was dumbfounded! My immediate thought: So much for his mother's confidentiality ... announcing it on the Internet for all to know before she is contacted and asked how she feels about it.
I quickly dashed off my concerns to the list and was immediately hit with rebuttals there (and on my now deleted blog post about the video) saying: "He's 73. She's probably dead."
And yet, she also might still be alive! And she may also well have family who had no idea, including other children. What a way to find out that your mother had a child she never told you about!
Others, on Facebook, pointed out that "he was born before records were sealed so HIS mother never expected privacy/anonymity/confidentiality" again, as if they were all one and the same. And AS IF any woman while losing her child and making the hardest "choice" ever knows - or is told - anything about the laws!
I was also immediately struck by the double standard hypocrisy of the use of the mother's confidentiality as THE major excuse to keep this information from adoptees and this public outing being sanctioned by some adoptees. Seems like total ignorance and an inability to understand the difference between confidentiality and anonymity.
This should be a private, family matter.
Fortunately, Jean Strauss was on the list and she understood my concerns. She agreed that it could not only hurt the individuals involved in this one case, but it could cause many other mothers to be less inclined to release their information for fear of being treated this way. Jean said the footage was shot by someone who was not personally involved in adoption and she herself had not thought of the consequences of that public revelation when she viewed the footage and made it public. She thanked me for pointing it out.
Jean immediately pulled it from YouTube to be edited.
It is sad and shocking that enlightened adoptees could be so wrapped up in their own side of the search that they totally disregard the human person who is at the heart of their efforts. So absorbed in THEIR rights being taken from THEM that they see THEIR birth certificate and all of the "files" as THEIRS and theirs alone -- just names and dates...pieces of paper...facts, data...
This is seen in the way some adoptees find their mothers, dragging little old ladies out of the peace and tranquillity of their denial, having them reveal their deepest secret to their husbands and children..and then disappear as suddenly as they appeared, leaving a heartbroken, outed mother filled with a flood of old memories long held in subconscious abeyance... and now rejection on top of that...all left behind in the dust after obtaining "their information." And we see this over and over.
WE are human beings, not file cabinets any more than we were incubators for your adoptive parents!
Many adoptees think they have a RIGHT to all of OUR medical information and the file of private counseling sessions we had while in the throes of crisis and still trying to decide what to do; hoping we'd be rescued by parents or boyfriends. PRIVATE counseling that under any other circumstances would remain private. But adoptees think it is all part of THEIR file...something any child we birthed and raised does NOT have a right to. It's outrageous how we are treated in this equation.
Canadians are cannot understand the one-sidedness of the adoption reform movement in the US. Theirs has always been bilateral. Rights for BOTH adoptees and their mothers. By presenting it that way - unilaterally and together - there was never an us against them dichotomy that we have allowed the NCFA to create and play upon...blaming mothers for wanting our privacy and wanting the records to be kept sealed from our children, while all the while most adoptive parents knew our names.
It is viewing it all as an adoptee issue that has once againdehimaized us in the issue. We are nothing but a source of information. Feelingless creatures with no rights of our own - after all, bottom line, we got what we DESERVED! Whores and wanton girls that we were...
We deserve nothing because we signed away our rights...and we should willingly accept being treated badly as our adopted-out offspring spew their passive aggressive behavior on us for rejecting them.
This view is NOT universally accepted. It is a uniquely American view. It is not so in Canada or Australia. Just in the US... land of the free...free to be hated and mistreated. What is it about this country that allows us to be less humane and caring human beings? Could it be years of unending war? Our capitalistic upbringing that teaches us that people are poor because they are lazy? Something is a askew here...But I digress.
If those of us active in "the movement"- touched by adoption personally - cannot understand the difference between wanting soem level of confidentiality in the public arenawhile not wishing anonymity from our children...
If WE cannot understand wanting, expecting some respect and privacy, from public scrutiny of our lives...some huamn decency... while not wanting to deprive our children of the "better life" we were promised they'd have and want for them by depriving them their own original birth certificate and the right to know us if they chose to...how can we expect anyone else to?
If we have no respect for one another as human beings, how can we ask others to?