CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

November 9, 2014

“The Other Day…Welcoming an Adopted Child”

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

“THE OTHER DAY…WELCOMING AN ADOPTED CHILD”

THE REV. MONTE W. HOLLAND, COLLABORATIVE WRITER

1300th POST ON CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

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NOTE: It’s a New Day was a daily (Monday-Friday) radio show broadcast in Connellsville, Pennsylvania in the late 1990s. My husband Monte, a local pastor, and I presented the following program on July 23, 1997. Names have been changed in this piece.

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Monte: Good morning. Welcome to It’s a New Day. This is Reverend Monte Holland of Wesley United Methodist Church on South Pittsburgh Street in Connellsville. My wife, Carolyn, is joining me in  sharing something that happened “the other day” when we were privileged to be part of a group of folks who gathered at the Pittsburgh International Airport to greet the arrival of a Chinese toddler and her first meeting her adoptive father.

Carolyn: We have known Grace for a number of years. She’s always known how to throw a celebration, but in this airport party she, her husband, and their new daughter were the guests. It was a celebration of the transformation of their family.

Monte: Grace and Mike have been dealing with the fairly common problem of infertility. This day was the culmination of the long wait to become parents. Grace and her mother were arriving from China with their new daughter.

Carolyn: On the way home you mentioned to me that while we were sharing in this 7:00 a. m. party you were observing several areas of caring. You indicated that there were at least four Scriptural imperatives being responded to. The most obvious Scripture applicable is that we are to care for the orphan.

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Monte: Grace’s mom shared that this child had been abandoned on a park bench so that the police would find her and see that she was cared for. This apparently is quite common in China where boy children are highly valued, but girl children are not.

Carolyn: That is why Grace and Mike were almost certain they would be adopting a daughter. We waited while all the passengers  disembarked the plane, then we waited a few minutes more until we saw Grace disembark with Marie in her arms.

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Monte: After Grace introduced the child to her new father and grandparents she sat on the floor and allowed the child to play with some familiar things. She did not subject her to more than casual interaction with those of us there. She allowed the child to be a person coming to a new place instead of (more…)

August 17, 2014

The PA Senate Hearing on HB 162: Open Records for Adult Adoptees

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

THE PENNSYLVANIA SENATE HEARINGS ON HB 162:

OPEN ADOPTION RECORDS FOR ADULT ADOPTEES 

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NOTICE:

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS moved to

Carolyn’s Online Magazine (COMe) in January 2015.

I invite you to visit the new site and encourage you to Follow it.

New and updated articles on adoption will be posted on COMe

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A DISCUSSION

Through the years I’ve seen how adoption has affected all members of the adoption triad—the adoptee, the birth mother, and the adoptive parent.

Adoptees struggle with belonging issues, with identification issues. They lack a biological tie to their cultural and medical histories. They struggle involves, for some, feeling worthless because “someone didn’t want them, someone threw them away.”

The birth mother struggles with her inability to raise her birth child, for whatever reason. I’ve seen birth mothers sob soul deep at releasing their newborns. Statistics are overwhelmingly high for these women, who wonder what happened to their child, if they made the right decision, and hold a desire to find them.

The adoptive parents struggle with helping their child understand, with not knowing their child’s cultural and medical histories, with others who consider the adoptive child as a second choice.

I was fortunate when my husband Monte and I adopted our daughter. I landed a job doing adoption home studies in a neighboring county. I didn’t know anyone else going through the adoption process, but I could make appointments and interview prospective adoptive parents.

The job ended after nine months, when Catholic Charities placed our daughter with us.

In later years my husband and I became foster parents for women planning on releasing their infants for adoption. We also provided support for adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth parents.

ASSURANCES OF CONFIDENTIALITY

During our adoption process the Catholic Charities caseworker assured us of confidentiality—that is, we would not know the birth mother, nor would she know us. That’s the way it was done in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s—it was something one didn’t question.

While doing home studies, I too assured the potential adoptive parents of confidentiality, as well as the occasional birth mother I had contact with. Again, that’s the way it was done at the time.

MISREPRESENTATION

Neither agency informed me that, at that time, and what would become a period of 60 years, Pennsylvania born adult adoptees could access their original birth certificate (OBC). It wasn’t until 1984 that adult adoptees were blocked from accessing their OBCs.  Thus, confidentiality promises made to the members of the adoption triad during this time were…seemingly…a (more…)

June 12, 2014

An (Internationally) Adopted Adult Tells His Story

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

AN (INTERNATIONALLY) ADOPTED ADULT TELLS HIS
STORY

Most
international adoption stories are of cute babies being placed with American  families. This is the story from an  interview  with an adult adoptee in the international adoption triad.

Although Mark celebrates his birthday on July 6, his exact birth date is a mystery. He was abandoned in Seoul, Korea in August, 1965.

“Instead of being taken to the shelter I was placed on the steps of the police station,” he said. “The police saw the note in the basket and took me to the orphanage.”

July 6 became his birth date when Korean authorities estimated he was a month old when he was abandoned, and assigned him that date.

His abandonment not only denied him knowledge of his birth date—it deprived him of information others usually have about their biological parents, their racial make-up and their medical background.

Mark said he was “sick, real sick,” when he was abandoned. Soon he was in the hospital having surgery. “I needed medical care or I would have been six feet under.”

At the time of his abandonment a Pennsylvania missionary couple was dealing with the postwar poverty, disruption and rebuilding in Korea. Sam and Annette met Mark when they visited a Seoul hospital to visit parentless children
undergoing (more…)

January 26, 2014

Open Birth Record Legislation Now (1/25/2014) in PA Senate

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

OP-ED SUPPORTING LEGISLATION

ON

OPEN BIRTH RECORDS IN PENNSYLVANIA

HB 162 Passed PA House, 1/25/2014

Now in PA Senate

UPDATE: HB 162 Senate Hearing

held by the 

Senate Committee on Aging & Youth

on March 18 at 10:00 a.m. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Continue to support HB162 by contacting

  • Bob Mernsch, chair of the PA Senate, Aging and Youth Committee:www.senatormensch.com , 717-787-3110 or 215-541-2388
  • LeeAnna Washington, minority chair: Washington@pasenate.com , 717-787-1427 or 215-242-0472
  • Kim Ward, Westmoreland County, vice chair
  • Your PA state Senator

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Adult adoptees are everywhere.

They stand in line behind you in the grocery store, sit beside you at conferences, celebrate with you at concerts. It’s likely they are in your family. Perhaps you know this, and wonder about these hidden persons. Perhaps they are a family secret.

Adoptees are in my family—I have an adopted daughter and nephew. Two sisters my mother released for adoption discovered me in 2010 and 2011. They were able to make connection with me because New Hampshire and Massachusetts have open birth record laws for adult adoptees.

They lacked medical/genetic and social/cultural history for more than 60 years. The first thing I said to each of them on our first phone contact was If we never speak again, I want to provide you with your medical history.

On October 23, 2013, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed HB 162 (Benninghoff), which allows Pennsylvania-born adopted adults to obtain their original, factual, birth certificate. There were no “no” votes. It is currently currently in the PA Senate, Aging and Youth Committee.

I encourage you to support HB 162 by contacting your state senator.

If the Senate passes HB 162 it will allow Pennsylvania adult adoptees the same access to their original birth certificates as non adoptees have, and as my sisters had in New England.

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Adoptees are the only people in the U.S. that are, as a class, denied the right to view their own birth certificate. This denial of “adult adopted persons access to information related to their births and adoptions has potentially serious, negative consequences with regard to their physical and mental health, according to a 2007 study written by Madelyn Freundlich, the former general counsel for the Child Welfare League of America,

Prior to 1984 things were different. Adult adoptees born in Pennsylvania could access their original birth certificates just as all non-adopted adults who were born in Pennsylvania. In 1984 this equality under law changed upon the enactment of the Adoption Act 195, which took away the right for adult adoptees to obtain their original birth certificates.

As a result Pennsylvania adoptees hold false birth certificates that state they were born to their adoptive parents. Their biological parents’ names are a state secret.

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Sealed adoption records are a relic of outmoded depression-era laws created

  • to protect the adoptee, for which there was an underlying fear and stigma that the illegitimate child would be ostracized because of the mother’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy.
  • to   maintain the prerogative of adoptive parents who didn’t tell the child about the adoption and to protect the adoptive family from exposure to embarrassment due to the illegitimacy.
  • to prevent pregnant women from choosing abortion over adoption for fear their relinquished children would be able to discover their birth mothers’ names in eighteen years’ time.
  • to create an adoptive family that are indistinguishable from those formed by birth

Overriding these factors is the need for many adoptees to discover their heritage—medically and socially, and the need of many birthmothers to confirm their child’s status.

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I maintain that adult adoptees have a right

  • to information needed to understand of their identities – including the identities of their birthparents and information about their births and adoption. There’s a great solace in even knowing a [birthparent’s] name.
  • to information that can provide them with family, genealogical, and medical (more…)

January 16, 2014

WP Daily Prompt 1/13/2014: Ice Skating Competition & A Stored Memory

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

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Hugs for my sisters

WP Daily Prompt 1/13/2014:

RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINE

AN ICE SKATING COMPETITION & A STORED MEMORY

The WordPress Daily Prompt for January 13, 2014, was Ripped from the Headlines : click over to whatever website you visit most frequently to get news. Find the third headline on the page. Make sure that headline is in your post.

I’m cheating a little bit on this Daily Prompt, as I don’t know if I’m using the third headline on the page. However, I was watching for an article with information on which ice skaters were chosen for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
IMG_6535 140111 E“You missed the first ice dance,” my husband informed me.

d been distracted and missed the dance being aired on NBC on January 11th . The 2014 Prudential U. S. Figure Skating Championships pairs competition, would determine the United States participants in the Sochi Olympics. I expected to view the entire program. Five couples competed for 2 Sochi Olympic spots (it was not official that the top two would be chosen—this will be announced at noon Jan 12).

The first skaters I watched were Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, performing their Pairs Short Program. They were first after the Short Program, with a “record total” of 73.13.

Perhaps I was meant to see them first. She is from Cranston, Rhode Island near where I was born and a site we visited September 2013. He is from Boston, having arrived in Sudbury at age 18 months old. He is Russian and speaks the language. They were skating at the same ice rink where they practiced.

The Boston venue added to my interest in this competition It was happening at perhaps at the same ice rink where I witnessed a skating show in December 1948 when I was 4 years old (just about the time I turned 5…Or perhaps I was 5).

I learned later that the original Boston Garden was (more…)

March 21, 2013

Why Oppose Adult Adoptees Accessing Their Original Birth Records

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS
OPPOSITION TO ADULT ADOPTEES
BEING ABLE TO
ACCESS TO THEIR ORIGINAL BIRTH RECORDS

I have seven sisters and six brothers.

Sister Lee is fifteen months older than I. Although we weren’t close (another post?) we do share the same history— the town of Portsmouth and Wallis Sands Beach in Rye, both in New Hampshire. And together we welcomed Jane, the oldest child in my mother’s second family, into the family when I was eleven years old. We were together in a move to Buffalo, New York, in November 1955.

Jane was the oldest child in my mother’s second family—brother Hugh arrived in ‘56; sisters Cynthia and Sally ’58 and ’59, and brother Pete in ’63.

When I was in my thirties I met another sister and three of four new brothers, my father’s family from his second marriage. It was akin to the adoptee meeting their bio-parents, since I had no contact with or knowledge on my father or his new family until this time.

In January 2011 I was contacted (through CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS comments) by a sibling ten years younger than I. She was released for infant adoption by my mother.

Likewise, in February 2012 I was contacted the same way by a sibling five years younger than I. She too was released for infant adoption by my mother.

I was fortunate that I could meet both my new sisters, although each lived several states distant.

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I was also fortunate that the reunions, in all cases, went well, and that we are all undergoing the difficult and tedious task of getting to know each other.

My experience provides a positive attitude towards opening adoption records for adult adoptees, although I recognize that this is not the case in all reunions.

My additional experience with access to open records for adult adoptees comes from a variety of angles. I’ve been an adoption home-study case-worker, I’m an adoptive parent and aunt.

A friend of mine, who once leaned towards open adoption records, may be retracting her opinion. She is deeply pondering the issue.

Her main fear is (more…)

January 22, 2013

Pa. House Bill 162: Adult Adoptees Right to Access Original Birth Certificate

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

PENNSYLVANIA. HOUSE BILL 162:

ADULT ADOPTEES RIGHT TO ACCESS THEIR ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE

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Sign to Support Adoptee Rights to Their Original Birth Certificates

CURRENT STATUS OF ADOPTEES RIGHT TO

ACCESS THEIR ORIGINAL BIRTH RECORD

UPDATE: HB 162 will be heard in the

Senate Committee on Aging & Youth

on March 18 at 10:00 a.m. 

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NOTICE:

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS moved to

Carolyn’s Online Magazine (COMe) in January 2015.

I invite you to visit the new site and encourage you to Follow it.

New and updated articles on adoption will be posted on COMe

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WHAT YOU CAN DO: Support HB162 by contacting

  • Bob Mernsch, chair of the PA Senate, Aging and Youth Committee:www.senatormensch.com , 717-787-3110 or 215-541-2388
  • LeeAnna Washington, minority chair: Washington@pasenate.com , 717-787-1427 or 215-242-0472
  • Kim Ward, Westmoreland County, vice chair
  • Your PA state Senator

UPDATE 140212:

A letter to the editor was published in the Greensburg Tribune-Review (southeast of Pittsburgh)—read Open Birth Recordshttp://triblive.com/opinion/letters/5540321-74/adoptees-adult-birth#axzz2sxbs4fI1

UPDATE 01/24/2014:

On October 23, 2013, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed HB 162 (Benninghoff), which allows Pennsylvania-born adopted adults to obtain their original, factual, birth certificate. There were no “no” votes. It is currently currently in the PA Senate, Aging and Youth Committee.

I encourage you to support HB 162 by contacting your state senator.

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If the Senate passes HB 162 it will allow Pennsylvania adult adoptees the same access to their original birth certificates as non adoptees have, and as my sisters had in New England.

A child adopted in the state of Pennsylvania receives an altered (or amended) birth certificate to make it appear as though the adoptive parents actually gave birth to the adoptee. There is no indication on the amended birth certificate that an adoption even occurred.

The original, factual birth certificate is sealed away.

This original birth certificate is not legally recognized. Thus, Pennsylvania-born adult adoptees (age 18+) are not allowed to access it.

PRIOR TO 1984

Prior to 1984 things were different. Adult adoptees born in Pennsylvania were able to access their original birth certificates just as all non-adopted adults who were born in Pennsylvania.

In 1984 this equality under law changed upon the enactment of the Adoption Act 195, which took away the right for adult adoptees to obtain their original birth certificates.

UPDATE 2010-2011

In 2010-2011 Pennsylvania created an Information Registry for the receipt and retention of medical and social history and the distribution of authorization forms. Adoptees (18 and older) and birth parents may authorize or refuse the release of identifying information. If no authorization form is on file, a state-trained representative shall use reasonable efforts to conduct search. The law provides for the release of a summary of the (more…)

January 21, 2013

Sign to Support Adoptee Rights to Their Original Birth Certificates

SIGN TO SUPPORT

ADOPTEE RIGHTS

TO THEIR ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATES

Adoption Loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful The Reverend Keith C. Griffith, MBE

IMG_1041eI invite adoptees, their families (both adoptive and biological), friends, and professional workers who support OPEN ADOPTEE RECORDS to add their names to the list below by placing the appropriate information in the comment box at the end of this post. Strength is found in numbers. Show our strength.

Feel free to distribute the link to this post Sign to Support Adoptee Rights to Their Original Birth Certificates on your FaceBook or other social network accounts, and/or to copy this post and email it, including the link, to persons on your email list.

The request is supported by a years-long Adoption Institute examination of relevant judicial and legislative documents; of decades of research and other scholarly writing; and of the concrete experiences of states and countries that have either changed their laws to provide these documents or never sealed them at all (see below for further information).

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THOSE IN FAVOR OF ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATES FOR ADULT ADOPTEES

(e-mail chollandnews@yahoo.com , with ADOPTION NAMES in the subject line, to obtain an electronic or a  paper copy to collect names to add to this list):

Adoptees and bioparents, please add your signature on the list by adding the appropriate information in the comment box below—your email address will not be published).

List your name and status (adoptee, their families (both adoptive and biological), friends, and professional workers)

Adoptee and bioparents: please include the state of the adoption. Others should include the state holding the records you are concerned with.

I will move your information to the appropriate listing below:

PENNSYLVANIA

1/21/2013         Adoptive-Parent       Carolyn Cornell Holland

1/22/2013         Adoptee                     Sandra Murawski

1/28/2013        Bio-parent                 Thomas Furman

2/16/2013        Adoptee                     Hewlet Jerry Harris

5/1/2013          Adoptee                      Kay

11/20/2013      Adoptee                      Mary Berenics

GEORGIA

2/3/2013          Bio-parent        Linda Marie Bondurant

NEW YORK

OTHER STATES

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The lengthy study by the Adoption Institute (For the Records II: An Examination of the History and Impact of Adult Adoptee Access to Original Birth Certificates) noted that efforts to accelerate the rights of adoptees to their original birth records is impeded by misunderstandings about the history of this controversial issue, misconceptions (more…)

January 20, 2013

Adoptees Right to Original Birth Certificate in Pennsylvania

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS
ADOPTEES RIGHTS TO ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE

IN PENNSLYVANIA

In mid-January 2011 I was contacted, through CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS, by a sister my mother released for adoption. In early February I was contacted again, through this online magazine, by a second sister my mother released for adoption.

They were able to locate their biological family—mine—because they were released for adoption in the two states which have opened original birth certificate access to adult adoptees over 18 years of age—New Hampshire in June, 2007 and Massachusetts since May 2007.

MY EXPERIENCE IN ADOPTION
Since my husband and I moved to Pennsylvania in 1969 I have been involved in many aspects of the state’s adoption process.

  • In August 1969 my husband and I became involved in the adoption process in Butler County. We endured the necessary home study, completion of documents, and waiting period. A tiny three-week old baby girl was placed in our home on June 10, 1970.
  •  Between September 1969 and June 1970 I worked part time at an adoption agency in Mercer County. My job was to decrease a backlog of adoption homestudies.
  • For three years I served on the board of Catholic Charities in Butler County. Adoption—working through the adoption triangle—was one of their services.

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Looking back I consider it strange that in my pre-1984 experience in the adoption field I was totally unaware that Pennsylvania adult adoptees had access to their birth records. I assumed, wrongly, that records were (more…)

June 19, 2012

Desperation Pregnancies

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

DESPERATION PREGNANCIES

Below are four scenarios based on true cases (names and locations are changed, situations altered). The four women released their children for adoption. Consider what you would do if you were in their situation.

     Julia’s fourteenth birthday occurred just two months before she gave birth to her first child. She wasn’t a bad girl, just a vulnerable teenager whose mother left her alone with a nineteen year old after they moved into his parent’s home. Nowadays, he could be charged with statuatory rape.

     This was a responsible young woman with the adult role in her family home. She knew she couldn’t keep the child, and followed through with an adoption plan.

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     Gwen’s mother Ursula was in ill health. It was Ursula’s heart, Gwen was told.

     Gwen’s two children had lived with Ursula since the youngest was an infant and the oldest was a toddler. Gwen worked as a secretary in an adjacent state, living about an hour away from her parents and her children. She and her husband were divorced several years earlier.

     The children were now seven and nine. Gwen’s mother told her that she could no longer care for them. Her health was failing. Gwen must take them.

     Gwen moved to her home town, rented an apartment a block away from her parent’s home, and located a secretarial job. Within two years she found herself pregnant.

     She no longer had parental support. She had two preteens. She had a low paying job, and was barely making it financially. How could she (more…)

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