Know all men by these present: That_____________ the undersigned, being the parent of _____________, a minor child born in the state of ________on the ___day of_____, 19-- being unable to adequately provide or care for said minor, hereby surrender the custody of said minor child to Catholic Social Service________ a child welfare agency duly authorized under the laws of the state of ______ to care for, maintain or place children in family homes for care or adoption; and I also hereby relinquish to said agency all rights to every kind or nature which I may have to the custody services, earnings, or control whatsoever, over said minor child and hereby consent to the adoption of said child by any person or persons deemed by said child welfare agency to be fit and proper as adoptive parents. To the best of my knowledge said child _____ was/was not born out of wedlock. [Signatures, Witnesses, acknowledgement, date. This relinquishment has been duly recorded.] NOTE: bottom of page: “The parent or surviving parent of a child, or the mother of a child born out of wedlock, may relinquish the child to a child welfare agency licensed to place children for adoption by a written statement signed before 2 witnesses and acknowledges before a representative of the child welfare agency. No such relinquishment shall be valid unless a copy be approved by and filed with the State Department of Social Security and Welfare.
By Trace L Hentz (author of One Small Sacrifice) (the following was written for my memoir)
Many adoptees have not seen the relinquishment contract, when a mother
“Know all men by these present…” Men wrote this decree and decided this for me, not even knowing me? Had religions invented a moral code just for women? The rules of SIN (seven deadly ones) were apparently handed down by an infallible Pope (directed by God) to his holy men like Jesus who spread the word to cardinals, bishops and ordained priests, all of them men.
Wait, it’s not complicated. I just wanted to know my name, my identity, my tribe. It has nothing to do with religion.
Who might invent this torture and sell it so convincingly and completely, and a few centuries later, still get away with it. It boils down to this: Sacrifice your baby and save your reputation. Who might write such an edict affecting the innocent?
Apparently these holy white men.
It took me years to comprehend and recognize the depth of strength needed to heal this misery. I prefer not like to think of myself (or any baby) as disposable.
Raised Roman Catholic, I could see myself boxed in - knowing what I’m doing is evil (opening my own adoption file), wanting to know more, committing egregious sins, potentially hurting people – especially my moms and dads, and I’m violating someone else’s privacy, exposing the secret that I am alive so that others might be exposed and judged. Great! By all accounts, I risk eternity in hell.
All true, but I’d do it again. To unlock my Wisconsin and Minnesota adoption records meant taking serious legal risk. In other words, my illegal search could get me thrown in jail. Phone calls, letters, a potential lawsuit, all my attempts could get me locked up. Back then it looked possible to break through America’s barrier of secrecy.
I used to think of my adoption as an accident, like a derailed train car sunk in mud and muck. I could barely see the river where it happened, let alone the wrecked car, or where my disease, disconnect and blocked memories had submerged. I was living in a daze, not really knowing what happened that I happened. I’m talking numb, almost completely.
To top it off, my search meant I’d face my birthmother. I’d risk rejection a second time. This was most terrifying, even after hell and prison. Whatever her reason, what lead her to abandon me, I had no clear explanation after reading my adoption file. I had no idea where to find her or if I should find her. I didn’t know if she was shamed into silence like other birthmothers.
Obviously, there are more questions than answers when it comes to adoption. There are many more variations now: open-closed, kinship-stranger, transtribal-transracial, or national-international.