ABOUT SEARCHING FOR BIRTH FATHERS
Most often, the information in your file concerning your birth fatherwas supplied to the
agency by your birth mother. The information is frequently skimpy andsometimes faulty.
Most adoptees find that it is easier to search for their birth motherfirst. After reuniting with
her you can ask her questions about your birth father in order to searchfor him.
Don't be surprised if she doesn't rememberlots about him. Even birth mothers who
were in long time relationships with the fatherof their child forget many things about
him. Time of course plays a role. So often,the birth mother tries to block it all out. This
goes back to a very traumatic time in herlife. It is part of human nature to try to protect
ourselves by forgetting traumatic events.She may in time remember more but don't
count on it.
One more thing to remember is that your birth mother carried you fornine months, went
through labor and delivery and so does have a bond with you. Whilesome birth fathers were
involved during the pregnancy, most were not. There is a greater chancefor rejection with
your birth father than with your birth mother. You may find that yourbirth father does not
know of your existence.
READ FOR UNDERSTANDING
It is often difficult to put ourselves in someone else's position, especiallywhen we are
emotionally involved in a situation. It really is critical that adopteesdo everything they can
to understand how birth mothers feel about their decision to relinquishtheir children for
adoption. It is important to know what the world was like twenty yearsand more ago. It is
equally as important for birth mothers to try to understand the feelingsthat adoptees have
about being put up for adoption. Please don't forget to take into considerationthe feelings
of the adoptive family.
Reading books on the subject will help you now as you are searchingand very definitely will
help at reunion time. In the Triad Reading List There are excellentbooks recommended for
better understanding among all members of the Triad.
A Brief History of ADOPTION:
For centuries, in Europe and North America, "adoption" was establishedand
intended to protect property rights. If a couple (or individual)did not
want their property to revert to the state on their death/s, an heirwas
necessary. Consequently, "adoption" most often took placewith ADULTS,
not children, to circumvent the property laws. This wasof particular
import to male land owners since their wives almost always outlivedthem,
and a woman could not be a land owner. "Adoption" protected her
financially by extracting a promise from the person adopted to providefor
When, in the 1920's, mothers whose children had been placed on Orphan
Trains discovered too late that the promise of contact and/or returnof
their children was a lie, adoption (altho in existance for childrenby
then, of course) took on a different timbre. The governmenthad lied,
breached a verbal agreement and, so, had to look at covering their
backsides. The government then began establishing "policies",not laws.
(Among them was the dictum to never tell the child s/he was adopted.)
Circa 1930, both NY and CA passed the "Nosey Neighbor Law". (Not
so-called in CA, but the principles were the same.) TheNNL's intent was
clear: To shield the details of an adoption from the public. The NNL
did NOT seal the records from any of the parties concerned - birthand
adoptive parents OR the adoptee. All parties had access.
Part 2 -
In the early 1930's Edna Gladney, exceptionally proficient in PR and
organization, wanted to expand EGH and build up her baby business. Edna
has visions of becoming the largest baby broker in the country. To do
so, she had to concoct a foundation that would be solid enough to 'hold'
her empire. Edna was very political, very social to thatend.
In 1935, Edna and the few APs she recruited went to the Texas legislature
and convinced them that in order to *encourage* adoption, the records
should be sealed "to protect the child from the stigma of illegitimacy".
Her presentation and argument was sufficent to BS the legislators (her
"ties" were all in place), and the TX legislature gave her what she
wanted. It was a law Edna touted all over the country and,as a result,
the NNL was replaced by TX "model act" in other states.
What is most interesting here is that in *truth*, Edna was having a
problem getting couples TO adopt. In that era, societylooked at
infertility as being "less-than", so to adopt was to admit infertility.
It can not be over-emphasized here how pervasive it was in societythat a
"man" be a total "man" . . . He was not only the provider financially,but
to fit the societal image, he must also be verile. In short,Edna
hook-winked the legislature by using the *child* when, in fact, shewas
protecting the future of her empire and *that* depended on persuading
couples to adopt.
Note: Following passage of that law, Gladney began opening maternity
homes (and co-operative housing for pregnant women) across the country.
In the late 1940's she was nailed and her wide-spread promotion (basedon
revenue) was severely curtailed. Altho she fought it in court,Gladney
was finally threatened with potentially being forbidden to operatein many
Part 3 -
* The instrument of relinquishment typically states a motheris giving
up her parental rights "of the MINOR child". It, then,begs the
question, what happens when the child is no longer a minor?
It is NOT the relinquishment that provides "confidentiality", but the
adoption law itself. Our laws are proscriptive in nature(meaning the
law says what we can NOT have, be or do). Thus, we often seean adoption
law state that adoption records, once sealed, shall not be madeavailable
"to any person without a court order" and often adding "for just cause".
(Records are only sealed *after* the adoption is finalized, and that
includes the facilitator and court records; it *sometimes* includesthe
hospital records, and does prohibit anyone from providing information
other than a licensed adoption agency, the state, and/or the court.)
The definition for "just cause" will not be found in the law itself,but
it can be found in the records during the time the bill was being
discussed prior to its passing into law. (That is referred toas
"legislative intent", and can be requested of any state legislature.)
Most judges are unaware of what the intent might have been and, so,take
it upon themselves to determine what "just cause" means.
* In a few states (often the midwest), we have seen in the instrumentof
relinquishment the following phrase: "I promise not to search. . . and
understand the penalty may be jail". This has discouraged*many* older
birth mothers from searching. It overwhelmed them withguilt, for it
said to them that by giving up their parental rights (whether out of
wedlock or not), they were nothing more than common lowlife criminalsin
the performance of parental relinquishment. Since the lawdoes not make
searching a crime, the question arises: Was the relinquishmentever valid
to begin with?
* Obtaining documents under the Privacy Act. It shouldbe noted that
acquisition of such documents includes a "condition": the documentsmust
be held by an agency that is funded in the majority by federal revenues.
It would not include a copy of the relinquishment by a birth mother,but
*may* include foster care records by an adult adoptee; however, many
states destroy the foster care records after 15 years. Moreover, if the
foster care records become a part of an adoption file, the sealed record
law of adoption will include them.
Although most state adoption laws do not address confidentiality *as
such*, and/or spell out in plain English any such *guarantee*, the
sealing of records itself IMPLIES confidentiality for everyone unlessas
exempted (i.e., adoptive parents of a minor, adoptee at majority, etal)
and within the frame-work of the "exceptions" when such exist (i.e.,
state reunion registry, CI system, et al).
Still, there is no *guarantee*implied, mandated or otherwise
insured. Nowhere is this *lack* of guarantee more obvious thanin the
fact many Adoption Decrees include the birth mother's surname; theAPs
may have been given the birth mother's name; a more than fair-shareof
APs were given a copy of the relinquishment . . . The factthe birth
mother's identity can and has been revealed more often than not means
such revelation was in the 'shadows' of sealed records' laws, i.e.the
identification was most often made known *before* the adoption was
finalized - but not always.