[Update of July 2012] This post was originally published a year ago, to announce that the Facebook group that was formerly called “Adopting-Back Our Children” changed its name and expanded its focus to become “Adopting-Back Our Children / Adoptees Terminating Adoptions.” As the Facebook group and the accompanying website have both grown and changed over the past year, it is time for an update.
This group has a history dating back to 2002, when it was an MSN Group of the same (old) name hosted by a natural mother named Scarlett West and myself. When MSN shut down its groups, we moved onto Facebook to continue there. I fell out of touch with Scarlett. Once she had adopted back both her stolen twin daughters, I think she was able to finally able to put adoption entirely behind her and focus on the rest of her life. Her family has been healed from adoption separation, and her daughters are back home with their mother again, healing from the abuse they suffered at the hands of a racist, unbalanced woman who should never have been allowed to adopt.
Anyway, back to the topic of the group. For years, the group and the site focused on the legal process of adopting-back, which of course has always been the “second-best” option, because the very best option would be for all adoptees to be able to terminate their own adoptions as they saw fit. But, we were unable to gather much information about this being done — until an adoptee joined our Facebook group and told us all about how she was able to legally terminate her own adoption via a Private Members Bill in Alberta.
So we found out that terminating an adoption is not only possible, but it has been done with some frequency in Alberta. One of these Acts was passed fairly recently in fact, in 2009, the Beverly Anne Cormier Adoption Termination Act. This excerpt from the Standing Committee on Private Bills proceedings gives some details of why a private members bill was used:
“Ms Dean: Certainly, Mr. Chair. As all committee members are aware, a private bill seeks something that’s not available through the general public law. Bill Pr. 1 is seeking the termination of an adoption order because, basically, the petitioner is unable to get recourse in any other way. A person is unable to set aside an adoption order after one year unless it has been procured by fraud. Now, that’s not the case here. There’s been no fraud, so this is the appropriate tool by which one goes about terminating an adoption of this type. It’s a fairly rare type of bill, but these have come before the Assembly before. The most recent one was in 1998.”
Other adoption termination acts have included:
- Tanya Marie Bryant Adoption Termination Act (1998)
- Kenneth Garnet McKay Adoption Termination Act (1997)
- Satnam Parmar Adoption Termination Act (1990)
- David Michael Skakun Adoption Termination Act (1985)
- Dino Alberto Knott Adoption Termination Act (1984)
- Keith Dial Adoption Termination Act (1980)
In addition, Mike Chalek was able to get his adoption terminated in a Florida court. , which provides a different means that adoptees can try. The problem in Mike’s case is that it took the proof of fraud for the judge to grant the petition. It is uncertain what type of proof other judges may deem to be “sufficient grounds.” Also published this year was an E-How article, “How to Nullify an Adoption for an Adult.” I do not know if this article is actually based on real experiences or not, or is (as many E-How articles appear to be) just a “spam page” having the sole purpose of displaying a profuse amount of advertising.
But I cannot think of why anyone would deny that all adoptees should have the option to choose whether they want to remain adopted or not. If they were adopted as an infant or young child, no-one asked them if they wanted to be grafted into a family of genetic strangers. Some adoptees may choose the termination route, and some may be be perfectly happy with how things worked out in their adoptive families. But all adoptees should be able to make that decision, unilaterally, of their own choosing.
Same URL, same blog, same author … but yes, a different name. Of course, i’m waffling on it. What should I name it?
Thank you, dear readers for your suggestions, and I am open to hearing more of them. I have not completely settled on “Adoption Critique” for the name of this blog. There are many other options:
… Adoption Voice?
… Adoption Trauma Survivor?
… Adoption Words?
… Adoption Critic?
So, what do you think? Do you like “Adoption Critique”? Is something else better?
I thought it was better than “Adoption Analysis” (boring?) 🙂
So, your feedback is always invited.
…. Ten years ago today, our reunion. We hugged for the very first time. I got to touch him for the first time. That right, the right that all other mothers take for granted, the right to hold and hug their babies, had been stripped from me — stolen from me — the moment he was born.
Happy birthday, my precious first-born! I never imagined we’d be reunited for 10 years, 1/3 of your life. Plus i feel far too young to possibly have a son who is 30! Come on, I’m not nearly old enough for that!
I still remember that clerk in the furniture store, when we were buying stuff for your/our apartment, referring to you as “my brother” and when i said with a smile that you were my son, she stated in surprise “How old were you when you had him — four?!?” We had a great laugh over that one!
Anyway, happy birthday, honey. I hope we have many more great years together, back together, where we belong. We have come a long long way in only 10 years, restoring everything we could that was taken from us. But we will never get those 20 long years back, and I think we will both always grieve that loss.
I want to share with my readers how you described to a classmate today the reason why you belonged to Origins: “I was adopted, and it was the most painful thing that every happened to me.” Your words are echoed by so many other adoptees I know. I will forever try everything I can to take away your pain.
(Related post, for visitors who have not read how this all began: February 20, 1980)
I have a friend, Rowena, who is a natural mother who lost her son to adoption.
Rowena was only 17 when she gave birth to her son Blaise, and in Grace Hospital in Calgary, they only allowed her to see him sparingly for few days after his birth, and then one day the nurses took him away and refused to let her see him ever again. That was the power that hospitals had over us unwed mothers. The professionals around us, often government social workers, we trusted as no-one else showed any care for us. Little did we know of our rights to our babies – the same as the rights of any older or married mother – or that the hospitals’ actions were illegal. Beaten down emotionally and psychologically, and often cast away into exile by our parents and society, we did not know we had any rights at all.
So, in 1967, Rowena’s son was born. And the government social worker that came with the surrender papers made her believe that her only option was to sign, that an unwed mother could not be a mother at all. The growing list of “waiting parents” was more important to the worker than the emotional trauma she was doing by dismembering this one young family. Rowena wanted to keep her baby, and he was taken from her.
Because of the traumatic loss of her son, Rowena never had another child. She yearned for him for what seemed like unending years, thinking of him every single day, and doing what she could to deal with the PTSD and unrelenting grief.
As soon as Alberta set up an adoption reunion registry, Rowena signed up for it. Her name was on that registry for over twenty years as she waited to hopefully find Blaise again. All she had known was that he was supposedly adopted into a “good home” with a stay-at-home mother and a professional father.
Rowena began coming to our monthly Origins Canada support group meetings early this year, and we offered to help her find her son. Thanks to adoption records opening in Alberta (after a hard-fought campaign by people separated by adoption), she was able to apply for and obtain her son’s full adoptive name.
The search began in March 2009, and forty-two years after Rowena lost her son to adoption, he was found again!
The break came when we found Blaise’s adoptive family’s genealogy listed online, including an adoptive sister, “Alice.” We found her in the phonebook, and Rowena phoned her.
Yes, it was the right Alice. Yes, her adoptive brother was Rowena’s son. But, no, Rowena could not contact him as he was a drug-addicted homeless person living on the streets of a city far away. The sister promised to pass on the message to him, if he eventually got a contact number.
Eventually, when Blaise got a temporary cellphone, Rowena and Blaise were finally able to talk on the phone. He told her how his adoptive parents had divorced when he was young, and his adoptive mother was cold and distant. He had little contact with the adoptive father. No, Blaise had not graduated from high school. Yes, he was doing hard drugs, and when Rowena asked what drugs he used, he told her, “Anything I can get my hands on.” Rowena was shocked that her beloved son had been treated this way and was in this state, as she had been forced to surrender him by a system that had told her that these parents were fit and deserved her son more than she did.
Rowena and Blaise talked on the phone three times, when he was able to temporarily get a phone. By the second call, he was calling her “Mom,” and hoping to travel out to the coast to visit her and even live with her. He wanted to start a new life. Rowena offered to send him the bus fare for him to come out.
Rowena sent letters and photographs to Blaise through Alice. Unfortunately, Alice and her family opened up Rowena’s mail to Blaise, which hurt Rowena a lot.
In her third and tragically last phone call with Blaise, Rowena was happy to find that he had finally received the photographs and letters.
In early October, a phone call came from Alice. Blaise was in hospital with a serious heart infection, and Alice said that if Rowena wanted to see Blaise she had better hurry out to Edmonton fast. Alice offered to put up Rowena at her place. Rowena bought the tickets to travel the 1300 km trip and packed her bags, but 20 minutes before she left the house, the phone rang. It was Alice, who told Rowena in an angry voice that she “couldn’t have Rowena staying there” and that she would have to stay elsewhere.
Rowena phoned the hospital to find out how her son was doing. The staff there told her that they were not allowed to release any information, other than to people on the visitors list, and she was not on it. The adoptive father was in charge of the list. Even if Rowena had travelled, she would not have been allowed to see her son.
Last week, the final phone call came. Blaise’s adoptive father told Rowena that her son had passed away. When she asked, he stated firmly that, NO, she was not permitted to come to the funeral, as “They had enough people already.”
Thanks to adoption, Rowena never saw her son nor held him in her arms since his birth 42 years ago. Thanks to adoption, she will never have that chance. The adoptive parents had the right to ensure she would never be able to be there in his final days. Rowena is devastated. The hope of reunion with her son, the hope that sustained her for 42 years, has ended.
I write this post in dedication of the love that Rowena and Blaise had for each other, as mother and son. She never forgot her son. I hope that I am not the only one who sees the tragedy here.
If you are a mother considering the surrender of your newborn infant, please realize that you are losing the right to ever see your beloved child again. Even open adoptions may close at any time (they are not legally enforceable), and not only will you not have the right to see your child, but not even the right to know about his or her welfare. That is a right only the adoptive parents have, and even if your child is an adult — as next-of-kin — they have the right to deny all information or contact to others in case of a medical emergency. Adoption loss is a tragedy in so many ways. Please consider if you can live with this loss as well.
In Memory of Blaise
Loved and missed by your natural mother, Rowena,
even since you were born
This is a true story about a natural mother and her son, and how forced adoption separation led to a heartbreaking tragedy. Every time a mother and child are forced apart for adoption purposes, it is a tragedy; but for Rowena, the hope of seeing her son again was forever lost.
See Rowena’s article “Reunion Attempt“
I decided to participate in the “Adoption Carnival III: Photos of Adoption,” presented by the blogging network “Grown In My Heart,” which encourages bloggers to share blog posts related to adoption.
I thought about what photographs to share, and decided that posting photos of people may be a bit more personal than I would like to be. So, I took a photo of a print-out of an “e-card” mounted on the wall of my office. Along with the adoption certificate from when I adopted-back my son, and his original birth registration, this is the most precious adoption-related document I have.
My precious son turned 19 in 1999. Thanks to Open Records and Freedom of Information legislation in BC (which enabled me to obtain his adoptive name plus the adoption case file, and all birth and court records), I found him in November of 1999, and we reunited in-person in February 2000, one day before his 20th birthday. That Mothers’ Day, May 2000, he sent me an unexpected e-card that blew me away. “Here Mom! A Bunch of Love Happy Mothers’ Day” it read:
I was blown away by this card. After twenty years separation, in a closed adoption, I had assumed that perhaps we would be friends, if I was lucky. I knew the bond and love I felt for him, loving him as deeply as I loved my other three children, but I had no idea that he would feel similarly. But he did. Unfortunately, he had to hide his feelings from his then-adoptive parents, and they reacted very negatively (understatement) when he let slip about a year later that he considered me to be his mother, when recounting a story to them about introducing me to one of his friends. They laid down the law that they were his only parents and that he may not consider me to be a mother. In their eyes, i was not a mother to him, only a “birthmother.”
But, this e-card is very precious to me. It shows that the natural mother-child bond can endure through decades of separation, that my son felt this bond very early in our reunion, and that it will last no matter what. It shows that even then in his eyes I was not his “birthmother,” but that he loved me as, and considered me to be, one of his mothers.
An new initiative by the Chinese government to try to find the homes of stolen and trafficked children was in the news this week (see “Chinese crackdown nets thousands of ‘stolen’ children“). The news is about the creation of a website, named “Baby Look For Home.” You can find it at http://www.mps.gov.cn/n16/n983040/n1928424/index.html.
As the newpaper article states:
“Many, if not most cases are not formally listed because local police are unwilling or unable to investigate crimes that usually involve crossing provincial borders. As well, many of the parents think police might be complicit in the kidnappings. It is a lucrative business that can net about $4,000 for each boy sold and about $1,000 per girl… The abducted children are mostly boys and are sold to families who want a son. The girls are often sold into marriage or to agencies that arrange foreign adoptions.”
The sale of children within China has made the news as far back as 2001 (see “China’s Baby Traffickers“) and kidnapping since 2006 (see “Stealing Babies for Adoption“) Despite this sordid history,China is lauded as having an “ethical” international adoption system that prospective adopters can have confidence in:
“For a family looking to adopt from the most ethical country, China is the best choice. They are highly regulated and have increasingly good orphanage conditions” (Thome, 2007)
But, given China’s history of not enforcing laws against the sale of children within China, how is any Westerner able to guarantee that the child they are adopting from China is not stolen? From the above quote, it appears that little girls in China, those same girls that are supposedly abandoned, are selling for up to $1000: not exactly a price that would be charged if there were a surplus of “product” on the market.
But agencies and orphanages stand to make a lot of money on each transaction, so unfortunately they have a financial incentive to hide this information from “clients.” (Perhap more “ethical” adoptions ( an oxymoron?) will only occur once no-one’s paycheque depends upon the transaction being made, where there is no financial incentive to kidnap, abduct, or coerce.)
“Mr. Peng … said some of the girls were sold to orphanages. They … often end up in the United States or Europe after adoptive parents pay fees to orphanages that average $5,000.” (New York Times, April 4, 2009).
Anyway, I wonder if this new website may be able to serve those who have adopted a child from China and wonder if that child has been abducted? Many people adopted children from China, trusting in the assurances of baby brokers whom they now realize may have been lying or omitting the truth, and some of them now want to search, to find their child’s natural parents and discover if that child really was abandoned, or whether the child was kidnapped or the parents were coerced to surrender. Maybe a photo-listing of that child on “Baby Look for Home” may be at least provide a small chance of finding the child’s natural parents and the truth? I wonder if the Chinese government would cooperate?