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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

PERSONAL VICTORY

Ok, you remember me writing on this blog I wanted my adoption file. (“My Top 5 Reasons”)
Back in September I had mentioned this to Jackie, who I visited on my recent mini-book-tour. Jackie helped Ben get his adoption file so she gave me the email for the state office in Madison, Wisconsin. I live in Massachusetts so this was super-convenient. I’d simply write an email!
Wisconsin, by law, allows adoptees in a closed adoption (like mine) to request and receive their non-identifying information. You simply fill out their form and request it (and pay them $75 an hour).
Let me clarify: your non-identifying information is a bit of history with no names.  It will not help you locate your tribe or your missing natural parent(s). In fact, it’s so vague, it’s really no help at all!
I decided to request my identifying information (aka the real deal, my sealed adoption file.) They emailed me that I would need a court order. I needed to fill out their form, have it notarized and mail it back to them so I did.
Within a month, I spoke to a woman on the phone who proceeded to fill out the paperwork for a court order. She would present it to the judge and I didn’t need to be there.
Now this was weird. She asked me why I wanted my file? Why was this so hard for me? I have a million reasons. But I didn’t know what the judge wanted me to say. What was a good reason?
I said I wanted my adoption file to help me understand my early history and where I was the first months of my life: that is what I think she wrote down. (I told her I was nervous).
Ok, I’m sure the most used reason for such a request is the need for family medical history.
(I could have said I was nervous dating strangers who might be my real brothers but this was too twisted a reason for a judge. And I’m married.)
There are many good reasons, yes. But what did the judge want to hear? I didn’t know.
If the judge read my form, he’d see I already knew the names of both my natural parents.  (Remember I read my adoption file when I was 22.) Heck I knew their birthdays and when each of them died.
So like all adoptees, I waited and prayed. The un-named judge would review my request. He or she could deny me.  But the judge didn’t.
Because I wrote my birth parents are deceased – that is why I believe the judge granted my request.  It’s only a guess. And if they considered my age – 54, I’m no kid. Maybe that is why.
So this white envelope arrived the day after Thanksgiving and I was too emotional to open it. Yes, I was a wreck! I knew it would hit me like a ton of bricks. It did.
My friend met me for breakfast on Sunday morning and since Loud Blood is an adoptee, she said she would read it to me. That was better, we thought. It was best to do this with a friend who was also adopted. So she read and I cried (in a restaurant)!
The worst part was not my crying. There was family history on one page and a small post-it note that said the next part was not on microfilm. Pages were missing. I did not receive the entire context and testimony my natural mother Helen gave to the social workers. I do not know what more was written down.
So I am processing that I am the daughter of Helen - who, by the way, did want to keep me. This broke me up so hard - my emotions are still ragged and raw. It was 1956 and she was not able to keep me, no way. There was no support for keeping me.
So, if someone in
Wisconsin does want to do this - and if they need tribal information - it is on the form in Wisconsin and the only way an adoptee can do this is through a court order. And pay $75 per hour.
When I was 22, I’d asked a judge to read my file but the one I have now (this file) is different than the one he let me read. He had more legal paperwork in his file.
The effect on me now is greater - plus my fathers version was different than my mothers.
One of the reasons I didn’t mention: 
I was in a foster home. Who were they? Now I have their name and address. That was huge for me. Now I know where I was the first days and months of my life.
I feel so fortunate, so blessed I was able to get my adoption file when so many are still in the dark about their identity and name.
Every adoptee on the planet deserves this information, absolutely. And it's criminal that we can't in all but 6 states in the USA.


NOTE: I do not have a copy of my OBC- original birth certificate. Wisconsin said I'd have to get it from Minnesota where I was born. Minnesota is a sealed record state so I may never see it.


Lauren emailed:  6 states have unrestricted access- Alaska and Kansas never sealed, Oregon was opened by the ballot measure appealed up through the courts; (Bastard Nation, among others, were very key to sparking effort) Alabama, New Hampshire and Maine all opened legislatively. The other conditional access states, IL, TN, & DE all continue to treat adoptees as second class citizens, forcing them to jump through hoops like confidential intermediary systems and parental vetoes. The states and their subcontractors- often religiously based maintain control and dole out whatever number as they see fit. TN has actually criminalized contact if a veto was signed. OH, MI, and MA all have tri-black hole systems, that grant access to some at the direct cost of access for others. None of them can be considered "open records" states.

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where were you adopted?

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To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.