New challenges unite adult adoptees

  • Article by: KATY READ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 2, 2011 - 8:07 AM

As society's views about adoption have become more open, a new state program is helping adoptees share their own complex feelings about their experiences.

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mnmaggiemnAug. 2, 1111:16 AM

I think that parents are too happy to blurt out that their kid is adopted. Also, while I believe that medical history of the family is important, there may be many reasons why a parent would want the adoption sealed. However, there should be a way for the adopted kids to know their history such as a separate file

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katevoglAug. 2, 11 5:19 PM

Deborah Jiang Stein articulates so well the internal struggle an adoptee faces: the yearning to know biological roots, the attachment made with those who raise us. The loyalty and love felt for adoptive parents may be what keeps many adoptees from searching for their biological parents, but that doesn't mean that the need to know is any less present. Self-discovery is an essential part of being human, why would an adoptee be any different? Kudos to Katy Read and the Star Tribune for bringing light the breadth of concerns facing adoptees. And many thanks to AHA for the services it provides. Too often, adult adoptees feel they are alone in their experiences. Being adopted is not something we wear on our sleeve, but we certainly do carry it in our hearts. And it's important that others understand the vital concerns of adoptees. Thank goodness this article offers just that; it's not those in the adoption triad who need to be informed on the issues here as much as it is the public (a point I'd made in my interview with national ABC news). One point that may be helpful to bring further into focus: Based on years of research from around the country, adoption experts at the Evan B. Donaldson Institute recommend that adult adoptees be provided with unfettered access to their birth records. Not only does this information improve the emotional health of adoptees, but researchers also found that those states that provided such access also enjoyed lower abortion rates and higher adoption rates. Adoption is not a single transaction, but a life long relationship in which the best interests of the child should be and must be paramount. I learned yesterday of a man who'd found out he was adopted when he was 78. 78! If only his parents had been happy to talk of his adoption, of the whole of his existence. To be told so late in life can be devastating to any sense of self. It was too late for him to ever meet his birthmother, but he was able to meet a couple of biological cousins who, upon seeing him, could not dispute the blood relation. As for me, I have been lucky to be in reunion with my birthmom for almost 17 years - I just talked with her today and my daughter was able to share her thoughts about her upcoming senior year. How wonderful to have the chance to do so, in addition to everything I share with my dad. There is enough love to go around. Kate St. Vincent Vogl Author, LOST & FOUND: A MEMOIR OF MOTHERS

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leighann68Aug. 3, 11 6:56 AM

Great article. I agree with everything Kate says in the above comment. Two good books for adoptees are Adoption healing by Joe Soell and The primal wound by Nancy Verrier

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romany777Aug. 3, 11 1:37 PM

To mnmaggiemn: The desires of the biological parents do not determine whether the records are sealed or not - it depends on state law. Relinquishment does not seal records, only adoption does - even in step-parent adoptions. Any confidential "workaround" is meaningless. If the adoptee gets "family medical history" that is 20 to 50 years out of date, it is useless. Getting updated family medical history requires finding the family first - which can be cost-prohibitive if the state requires the adoptee to pay for an approved searcher. The rest of society can simply follow the recommendations of the US Surgeon General - ask your family. Only adoptees must either pay for the government to do the asking or do without, or both as paying the state for the search and contact is no guarantee that the information will be obtained. Adults, even adopted ones, are perfectly capable of managing their own personal relationships. For the state to put adoptees in a separate class is to treat us as perpetual children.

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mnmaggiemnAug. 3, 11 2:36 PM

In some states it is up to the parent to have a sealed file or not. All I am saying is that if a biological parent wants the files sealed it is their choice and there may be reason behind it. Many adopted children find their birth mother just to be hurt and let down. There should be a way to get medical history I am not disputing that, and it is unfair that and adopted child would have to pay to find out their medical history.

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dadofadoptAug. 3, 1110:15 PM

mnmaggiemn your ignorance is frightening and offensive. As a two-time adoptive father I will not teach my children that it is shameful to be adopted. Your suggestion that it should be is personally offensive. Both of our adoptions are open. We make sure our children see their birth mothers and know the tremendous and painful decision they made for them so they would have better lives. Yet, we carry the fear that our children will have the sense of adoption loss. But like any other parent who fears a child's pain we will do whatever we can to help them cope. Adoption while it may be challenging, even in ways we don't yet see, is the most wonderful gift a family can receive. The resources available today we hope will help our children throughout their lives. And for the record my wife and I will continue "to blurt out that their kid is adopted" because there is no shame in it no matter how many ignorant fools are out there.

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eunilen78Aug. 4, 11 4:17 PM

As an adoptive family we eagerly share our adoption status. That is, if we remember it as reuniting makes adoptive families so normal. No big secrets out there. We also freely share the joy of the three birth mothers, waiting and wanting to be found so they can reunite with their first born. It is so hard to listen to biological families expounding on something they know nothing about. If you were in the triad you know something so big that others don't know so we need to share our lives. If we remember to do so.

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dibnzaydAug. 7, 11 2:00 PM

It is mind-boggling to me that after finally reading an article that speaks of the Voice of adoptees, we still have to listen to APs who can only ever speak in the first person singular or plural. The whole point of this article was to say: "Our turn is come". This means, basically, "Be quiet and listen for once in your life". Because we have a lot to tell you. And not a lot of it is nice to hear. You've had your narrative, now is the time for the Correction that is long, long past due. For all adoptees out there who are looking for information and similar places to allow their voices be heard, I highly recommend the following sites: Adult Adoptees Advocating for Change http://www.adultadoptees.org/ Transracial Eyes http://www.transracialeyes.com/ They go a long way in dispelling the myths of adoption we've been forced to live our whole lives. Join us!

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apple234Aug. 8, 11 8:47 AM

Speak up, adoptees. Well-meaning or perhaps self-gratifying adults made decisions about you when you could not speak. They decided what would be "in your best interest". They tried their best or not. Sometimes your history was carefully preserved, while other times preservation did not serve their need. Your story is your own and now you get to tell it. Teach what adoption is about from the adoptees' perspective. You do not risk yourself but may instead discover who you are.

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RalphMAug. 14, 1110:13 AM

I am 60 years old, white, adopted at birth. I just found and visited a full sister, a half sister, a half brother, 1 nephew and 2 nieces. We all share the same mother. It was a great experience. They showed me the church they attended as children, we visited my Bio mother's grave and the graves of my bio grandparents. We visited the neighborhood where my Bio mother, and grandparents rolled cigars for a living. It was the first time I had met someone who has the same DNA as I do. I now know my roots, my nationality, my medical history....It was a wonderful experience, and now I am satisfied to know who and where I am from.

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