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Saturday, August 8, 2020

My Friend Jeff

Avon man receives long-awaited answers in search for biological family

Jeff Hancock finally received information he'd waited a long time to see: Information in his search for his biological family (WHAM photo)
Avon, N.Y. - An Avon man’s lifelong search has finally come to an end. His long-sought answer came in the mail, and 13WHAM was there to see it revealed.
The letter to Jeff Hancock held the answers for a man whose journey began as a boy, a foster child adopted when he was four.

“When I first found out I was adopted, I felt like a guest at my own funeral,” he said. “The person I had known my whole life was dead. I felt like my whole life isn’t valid to this point, because I wasn’t who I always thought I was.”

Hancock was 42 when he went to apply for a passport and realized he did not have a required birth certificate.
“I said, ‘Mom, I need my birth certificate,’” he recalled. “I actually had never seen it. And she goes, 'Oh, I don't have that anymore.'"
That was when Hancock’s search for his biological family and his original birth certificate began. He joined a group lobbying to unseal state adoption records, giving adoptees access to their birth certificate.
“We just want what everybody else has,” he said.
In 2019, adoptees won the fight for adoption rights. Immediately, Hancock applied for his birth certificate. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed it for months – but, finally, the day Hancock received his letter finally arrived.
“I was five pounds, seven ounces when I was born,” he said, looking over the papers. “I was little.”
“This is something I’ve been wanting to know for a long time: I was born at Booth Memorial Hospital in Buffalo, New York,” he said. “...I learned something today, and I also have confirmation that’s my mom.”
Now, because of the work by Jeff Hancock and others, adoptees in New York no longer have to wait a lifetime for the paper that's a birthright.
“I felt complete for the first time since discovery,” he said.


Ed. Note: Jeff is an LDA - late  discovery adoptee, one who didn't get told he was adopted until he was an adult.


  1. There are, sadly, many LDA adoptees who to thei day, decades later, do not know of thier adoptee status because , in gross ignorance, the courts and social service agencies advised adopters not to. My sister who -if still alive- knows nothing of her early childo0ohd nor of her DNA family. I, her eldest sibling, could never have been deceived since my adoption was not finalized until I was 5 /2 years old (1950)
    Long before Jeff was refused his passport, I encountered the same rejection by the US passport agency which told me a truth about not being born in the state of adoption and spurred me on to finding the place in which I was born and securing my own OBC and a 3 page copy of the final adoption decree. The only information I had at the time was
    my date of birth and real (aka bio) family paternal surname. Even a non-adoptee will not retrieve information with that scant and very vague knowledge. But with determination ad pluck, I did eventually find the state in which I was born (1945) with help from a bureau of VS staff person who chose to follow the spirit of the law rather than its letter-and the wisdom of the judge who reviewed my petition to the court citing not the adoptee excuse but the fact of being denied what was my right to have the inforamtion just a non-adoptee can have it. The OBC arrive within a week of submission of the petition, unredacted and in exact from and content as was its original.. I was almost 40 years old when I saw my real identity.
    I had to chuckle at Jeff's statement regarding his birth weight.. He has to be the only adoptee whose main focus was a birth weight rather than the names on the certificate-his, his mother's and his father's (if available)
    (My birth weight was under 4 lbs. ... and another sibling was born before me -to my mother's first marriage- and who subsequently died before he was a year of age. My raison d'être to find my OBC was to restore my identity, my culture, my maternal languages, religion, etc. It was another 25 years before I discovered the background story of me, my sibs, our felonious parents and of ancient and modern history, not to mention my broad ancestral migrations and peoples. my mtDNA is a study of who my people are and from whence they traveled and what thier heads, hands and hearts did throughout their lives to make things better for the generations which came after them. Without them, I would not be here to share my story.
    And I must remind all that relinquishment and adoption are only procedures of child custody transfer; in and of themselves they, as inanimate object, have no power of their own. It is humans who harm and cause great distress to some adoptees, and it is society which allows this to continue.
    One last point: To finally achieve equity and justice for some New York adoptees to achieve justice and equity under the law took national and international pleas to NYS assembly and senate and Governor Andrew M Cuomo. It was not just a New York issue, it is a global issue for the c 2% adoptees of domestic and international adoptees denied their birth rights to know who they are and from whence they came. What concerns one adoptee, concerns us all. We either stand together in common purpose or we fail to achieve justice and equality for all.
    And by the way, adoptees born in one state but adopted in another will not have an OBC on file in the state of adoption. OBC is jointly 'owned' by the state's bureau of vital statistics and the child who is named on the document. It is a confidential document -NOT a public one. Only a very few may have copies.

    1. Beautifully said, Gazelle DZ. We do stand together in Indian Country to achieve justice and equality and truth for all. Adoptees, I hope, will read your comment. Thank you!


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As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.


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Why tribes do not recommend the DNA swab

Rebecca Tallbear entitled: “DNA, Blood, and Racializing the Tribe”, bearing out what I only inferred:

Detailed discussion of the Bering Strait theory and other scientific theories about the population of the modern-day Americas is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it should be noted that Indian people have expressed suspicion that DNA analysis is a tool that scientists will use to support theories about the origins of tribal people that contradict tribal oral histories and origin stories. Perhaps more important,the alternative origin stories of scientists are seen as intending to weaken tribal land and other legal claims (and even diminish a history of colonialism?) that are supported in U.S. federal and tribal law. As genetic evidence has already been used to resolve land conflicts in Asian and Eastern European countries, this is not an unfounded fear.

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