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For Baby Scoop Era Adoptees, Everything is Still NOT Okay! – Part 2

by Laura on October 9th, 2014

So … it turns out that we really like doing these joint blog posts on the things in adoption and Adoptoland that drive us nuts …

… and today Deanna Doss Shrodes from Adoptee Restoration and I are talking about the Baby Scoop Era

[If you missed Part 1, head over real quick to Adoptee Restoration to catch-up, then come right back here (please)!]



The Purples

Laura_wedding headshotLaura: Let’s pretend there’s a minority group, called the Purples. They are like everyone else, in fact, you can’t even notice their “purpleness.”

For archaic and culturally outmoded reasons, this minority group is not allowed to access original birth certificates.

In some states, Purples (who are otherwise law-abiding citizens) are legally barred from even contacting certain people; strangers. It’s as if an imaginary restraining order exists—for no other reason than these particular strangers are actually the Purple’s original father and mother.

Have Purples done anything to deserve such treatment? Harassed or otherwise bothered this father and mother? No. Nevertheless, state law has decided that anyone associated with the Purples’ original birth identity is allowed to remain a secret.

A lawyer friend who I gave the five-minute run-down of adoptee rights issues, listened intently and said, “This is a constitutional rights issue. How can this have happened to adoptees?”



The Problem(s) with Open Adoption

Deanna Face_Laura DennisDeanna: It’s unthinkable for those of us who are adoptees that anyone can believe this lack of equal rights is okay. But, most others see it as perfectly normal. Even noble. It’s bizarre that most of the world has drank the koolaid on this issue.

Open adoption is not the answer to this issue. Plenty of people who begin in open adoptions close them, on a whim. You and I both know a plethora of birth mothers who are in that very situation. They were promised open adoptions and then the adoptive parents closed them, most pretty quickly after adoption. There are a lot of adoptive parents who seem to view open adoption as the gateway to a quicker adoption and then do whatever they want to do after the adoption is finalized. Birth mothers have no recourse to speak of. An adoptee’s correct – factual – history should not be at the whim of a birth or adoptive parent. It’s ours – period. How do we get this constitutional right back, and keep it, is the question? I say ‘get it back’ because God never intended for adoptees to have to live this way. We exist in a man-made structure, an institution where our rights were stripped away. And we need them back.


Laura: I also think a lot about the emotional impact of open adoption—the jury is still out, there are still so few adoptees who have come of age in open adoptions, it’s hard to know what the real outcomes are.

That said, open adoptions ought to be structured as custodial contracts, as with divorce. The visitations are regular, must be adhered to (and can have supervision, should that be necessary given the individual situation), and both parties have recourse should one side not live up to the agreement.

Also, in most states, once children reach an age between 12 and 14, they are often able to state to the court whom they prefer to live with, where they want to spend their time. I know this may be hard for some adoptive parents to swallow, but providing an adoptee the opportunity to decide her fate should be incorporated. Assuming, of course, that the parents on both sides (adoptive and first) are competent and willing.

But I hear stories of adoptees in open and semi-open adoptions seeing their first moms one or two times a year, i.e. infrequently and without guarantee. This breaks my heart. I imagine my child-self, getting to “meet” this person, knowing she’s my mommy, but then not being able to be with her. It’s like continually ripping off the bandage of a fresh wound.

And, no matter the agreement, the adoptee needs guilt-free emotional and logistical support from all her parents, and a professional therapist.

Deanna: For all of this to happen, adoption would have to solely be about the children…

*  *  *  *

We want to hear from you!

What do you think of open adoption? Is it all it’s cracked up to be?

If you’re a BSE adoptee, do you feel “untrendy”?

If you’re not, how do you feel BSE adoptees are viewed within the adoption community today?


From → Adoption

  1. giantpetunia permalink

    Honestly, I go to enraged so quickly on this topic. I was recently talking to someone about this who didn't see what the big deal was because from what he could see adoptees are treated just as well as "natural kids" what does it matter what's on their birth certificate?

    My point back to him was that if we (adoptees) are just the same as "natural kids" then why are we as labeled with "Adopted Daughter/Son". He didn't understand so I gave him examples of how for example when a celebrity has adopted children (and possibly biological children) it is always pointed out if the children are adopted or not. In fact, looking up one celebrity– wikipedia listed her 3 biological children by name and then said she adopted 5 other children but did not list their names. Why? We're equal right?

    The indifference and duplicity of people enrages me which is bad because I just want to surrender instead of fighting this battle that no one seems to want to join. I feel like the only thing conservatives and liberals can agree on is that adoptees don't NEED their OBC because it would be too hard for others.

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      Yes, I agree–this question of "whose rights trump whose" usually means that adoptees end up with the short end of the stick. Adoptees are not criminals who need to have something akin to a restraining order against them to keep them from harassing their biological family members! They want medical information, a real name, and an accurate birth document! First mothers were never assured (in contractual writing) confidentiality, but somehow this illusion of confidentiality must be respected at the expense of the adoptee.

  2. larahentz permalink

    So is secrecy protecting the adopter? I think so. And that is what makes this so wicked. Whoever created adoption as an industry saw this coming – and it became more about providing "product' than about the product (adoptees). And the propaganda worked so well, the lobbying groups got into the heads of the legislators who paid them nice campaign funds, it was never about the adoptee: It was about money. It was about amping up the adopters ego and protecting their illusion.
    It seems that adoptees woke up first to this scandal, and know we have to wake up the rest of the world.

  3. I was at a legilative hearing yesterday foe adoptee access issues and wore purple. Now I know why. : )
    Samantha recently posted..Opening the WellsMy Profile
    Samantha recently posted..Opening the WellsMy Profile

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      Ha! Yes! We're the Purple People! We should make it into a meme, and wear Purple for adoptee awareness day/month in November!

  4. Lavender Luz permalink

    Don't forget that sometimes it's birth parents who cease having contact.

    Agreed: " the adoptee needs guilt-free emotional and logistical support from all her parents, and a professional therapist" and "An adoptee’s correct – factual – history should not be at the whim of a birth or adoptive parent."

    And I do wonder about what Laura says about repeatedly ripping off the bandage.

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      That's an important point — sometimes it is the birth parents, and that's not okay either. It's just another problem — there's no legal accountability for the sake of the child if the birth parents' are not held responsible, either.

  5. SarahM permalink

    Thank you for writing about our truth.

    When people want to disallow my lived experience, I ask this: "Show me where I committed a crime that would have resulted in the loss of a right (access to my original birth certificate and the other truths of my origin). No crime? Then how do you think it came to pass that these rights were taken from me?" Most people have never thought of it this way. I also ask, "Show me where I signed informed consent to have my birth certificate altered and the truths of my origin hidden from me". Of course there is no such informed consent.

    And then I might hear that this was all the wish of my natural mother. I was reunited with her for years before she died. Her story? After being convinced that surrender would be best for me and for her, she signed "the papers". She didn't author "the papers" or in any way ask for secrecy. However, she was told she must maintain secrecy for the sake of her child, me. And what was I told? That I must maintain secrecy for the sake of my natural mother. A grand conspiracy to keep us apart.

    The very definition of dysfunction is a relationship built on secrets and lies, yet it is still happening. We must continue to ask ourselves who is benefiting from the secrets and lies, and how we can advocate for the vulnerable mothers whose children are still being taken into the adoption machine.

  6. Christina permalink

    i want to thank all who openly talk n share and express issues of being adoptee!! I feel empowered by every single one . I am 50, have an older sibling , also an adoptee and a younger sister not an adoptee! Had great adoptive parents , my adopted father who was a rare n extrodinary man just passed away after year long struggle with cancer. This brings me to my point! I was shocked to discover that legal language in the will had to specify my brother n me but not sister ! Because well… We aren’t his!! We don’t have lineage !! After a year of caring n taking him to radiation, chemo n holding him till the end , respecting his wishes n enforceing them ( die at home) those words tore a whole all over again!! The detailed language that described two out of three kids IS painful n alienating!!

  7. Thank you very much for writing this very informative and interesting post.

  8. Mary Ellen permalink

    Can someone direct me to the procedure for seeking unsealed my baby scoop Era records? I was reunited with my Mother about 22 years ago, and she passed away a year later. Fortunately in the process of searching, pretty Internet days, I was able to connect with other family. So, I stopped short of requesting a court order in SC. Thanks!

  9. Mary Ellen permalink

    Sorry for the auto complete typos!

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