Sexism within the OBC Adoption Records Issue

Not folled, not helpless, not needing protection

Birthmothers and Fathers Do Not Receive Equal Concern. Only Mothers Need “Protection”?

I have had this thought running through my head for a few days now. I think it’s perhaps kind of convoluted, but hear me out.

So the main reason these days that people oppose OBC access legislation is that they fear that the poor-living-in-shame-hiding-from-reality- birthmothers will get emotionally compromised and feel some measure of discomfort that varies depending on that person’s particular mindset. And it’s always all about the birthMOTHER. We don’t hear many people’s worries about the birthfather being hiding his secret past to his closet love child. Granted the fact is that too many fathers’ never even knew and then how many were purposely kept out and then how many ran away and aren’t named on the OBC anyway. But we’re not talking facts here. If we were talking facts, then we could just dismiss the mythology that there are mothers quaking in fear who will refuse contact as opposed to mothers, yes, feeling anxious, but also who want contact. So just based on the fears, I began thinking about just how damn sexist they were.

When a man fathers a child and chooses, for whatever reason, to ignore the existence of that child, do we respect his wishes overall and grant him his right to his anonymity?

Dead Beat Dads Don’t Get Government Protection

No. As a society, we mock the “dead beat dad”. He is shamed for trying to shirk his child, yet the birthmother is honored for her “sacrifice”. The government worries about protecting her from her children, but acts in the complete opposite with men. Fathers can be held responsible for their children in many different ways such as paternity suits and child support. There is  the government run  The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), a  federal government agency that oversees the national child support program. Families receive services from the local child support office in their state  and help to locate noncustodial parents, establish paternity, establish and enforce support orders, modify orders when appropriate,  and collect and pay child support payments.

Now of course dear old dad CAN legally get a pass to the free and clear plan IF he consents to the adoption, but that’s if Mom goes the adoption route. If she doesn’t “choose” adoption, then he can’t pull the adoption card. He’s stuck. And he cannot force the adoption and just relinquish his half of responsibility, so if she wants to parent, he’s responsible. Granted, if mom flew the coop, and dad was a custodial parent then the same government agencies would go after her for child support, but fairness in child support enforcement doesn’t equal the same fairness in adoption.

Good for the Goose; Good for the Gander? No

How come fathers and mothers don’t get the same rules?

That father who is, for all intents and purposes, NOT being a dad and ignoring the existence of this child, does not get his “right to anonymity.” I guess because somehow we have deemed this act as “bad” in societal views, he deserves nothing.

But a mother who is, for all intents and purposes, NOT being a mom and ignoring the existence of this child, does get a “right to anonymity.” It’s called “adoption” and we have deemed this act as “good” in societal views, she deserves “protection”.

Now I suppose there could be some argument that adoption is supposed to be all voluntary and all parties are in agreement to it’s happening. And yes, the opposition’s version of their adoption fantasy is that these mothers were “promised’ and assured” that everything would remain confidential, hence OBC access would break that. A “dead beat’ dad, on the other hand, is offered no promises, right? He was promised nothing, unless, that is, he has agreed to the adoption and then, perhaps, he too is extended this unneeded “protection”

Can We Even Out the Sexism??

Well,  what if it is all voluntary and all parties are in agreement to a family separation happening?

Say, a man and a women get together and have  child willingly and both parties are happily named at birth on the OBC.  And at some point they decided to “consciously uncouple” as it is now called.  And let’s say that the child is young and dad moves across the country and they happen to agree, these adults, that dad is not at all involved anymore and mom can do what she wishes to raise the child. The agreement is he doesn’t have to pay and she doesn’t have to answer to him. I do know of times that this very thing has happened in one way or another. There is no legal adoption, but dad basically relinquishes his rights and responsibilities to this child.

Now, when that child grows up and needs to get a copy of his birth certificate, the government does not ask him if he has a good relationship with his father. They don’t care at all what his father thinks, or feels, or how he lives.  They don’t bother inquiring if his mother knows he is getting his OBC and might find out his father’s name. They don’t imagine that this father, now on the other side of the USA, is married with three more kids and perfect life as sales associates at Canon.  They don’t concern themselves with the fact that maybe dad’s new wife doesn’t know or that the children might not welcome a long lost older brother. They don’t care at all about what an estranged father might feel.

But oh, you better protect that poor, poor mother! Better make sure she is Ok with her kid getting a hold of her name!

How Comes Mothers Get this Special Treatment? Do We Assume that All Women Need Protection?

I mean why? Why are we ONLY concerned with the mothers? If this fear was legitimate, then wouldn’t it be fair and expected to extend that concerned to the father’s as well? Should not all people be protected, then, from long lost relatives that might infringe upon their lives and seek out relationships with them?

I mean heck, if the concern is that people might be somehow emotionally compromised from speaking to another person then shouldn’t the government be concerned about all our interpersonal relationships? I mean, hell, there are times my own husband is the most emotionally difficult person to me and I don’t see anyone giving a rat’s ass about it.

Or is it expected that grown ass adults can somehow manage to navigate through life’s challenges in a way that suits them best? Or as it really is, everyone is given that confidence unless you happen to be an adoptee or a birthmother. Somehow we image that all adoptees turn to stalkers and all birthmothers cower in fear.

How is it that the legal process of adoption has the ability to require different human responses to essentially the same social situation? It’s not a brain implant, so really, people who are adoption affected are going to  have basically the same types of feelings, reactions and responses to the exactly same kinds of  sometimes socially awkward scenarios that we all must face.

Why does adoption relinquishment render only the female sex into a quacking mass of fear in people’s minds?

Only Birthmothers Get This Special Treatment?

So the rest of the world can feel free to get in contact with anyone from their past.
I can and did friend my best friend from nursery school on Facebook. No one was concerned that a reconnection might not be wanted by her or that I might stalk her.

My husband can, and did,  connect with his half sister and they can dredge up rather unpleasant stories about their mutual father.  That was indeed emotional upsetting, but there was no government law that restricted them in any way and no one was concerned about their feelings of unplesantness.

After not speaking to my own father for over 20 years, I can, and did,  get a copy of my birth certificate with his name on it and no one warns him. I can decide to contact him if I wish, even though he seems to have hidden the fact that he ever had children from his life now. No one is worried about HIS secrets coming to light an if that might make him feel uncomfortable.

Heck, I can open a phone book and pick a name. I can research that name and find out what I can online and then contact an actual stranger and be a real bitch to them if I so chose to and really, the same laws that are around to protect everyone form threats, harassment, and stalking, would apply to me just like they apply to everyone. Equally. Like adoptees who might be searching for those mythical birthmothers, the 1%, that are too fearful to deal with reality.

And What Are We Protecting Birthmothers From?

If it’s not the actual adoptee as we know that adoption doesn’t turn people in crazed stalkers. (except for Miki) So it’s the “secret” that will harm the mother?

The main opposition to continuing sealed  records and against the Adoptee Rights bill in Indiana, Steve Kirsh, adoption lawyer with Kirsh and Kirsh, says:

“They kept it a secret. That’s how they came to peace with their decision,”

Really? I don’t know of any counselor, therapist, life coach, or anyone who will tell you that a secret is healthy. Secrets cause pain. Secrets are built out of shame. We do not help a mother in any way by enabling her to remain in an unhealthy fearful place.   It certainly is NOT peaceful to be carrying around such a loaded gun for decades and living with the fear that the truth might be found out.

Granted there is often anxiety and fear of what people will say and if a mother will be, again, judged.  However, there is a huge difference over a  younger mother in a current crisis and what her fears are at that time verses an older woman who has had more experiences and often is not concerned with the same issues as her younger self. There is also excitement and great desire to know the outcome of our children’s’ lives which overrides the fear. And a desire to do what is right for our children and do what they need even if it is hard. Let’s face it, birthmothers, as a whole, have been trained to put the needs of others first. Oh, and that’s what mothers do naturally anyway!

So while it might be hard.. and it is.. it’s also a good thing to face the past and what we fear.  Reunions are often not fairly tales, but building a new relationship on a foundation of loss. Yes, in general, a birthmother, especially if she has not dealt at all with her loss and has buried her feelings, will have a rush of grief that conflicts with the positive feelings in reuniting. We don’t all call adoption reunions emotional roller coasters for nothing!  Yet, that pain and loss was still there. It isn’t the reconnection with the  adoptee that has caused it, but has given it a valve to be released from. And THAT is MUCH healthier.  Buried emotions such as anger, loss, pain, grief, etc all manifest themselves in other ways if not properly processed.  Depression is anger turned inward.  A higher cancer rate has been connected to people with more stoic personalities to keep emotions in. All this “protection’ really seems unhealthy to me!  I know that I firmly believe that reunion, even under unpleasant circumstances, give people the opportunity to work out their issues and come to a resolution. The truth is much healthier than lies, so why are some so gung ho on keeping the status quo?

Why Are Only the Birthmothers the Helpless Victims?

In the end, I do believe it’s all smoke and mirrors and the birthmother is a handy scapegoat. Say she needs this protection, make her all helpless and victimized, and keep the secrets hidden away.  It just continues to piss me off as I know we were not promised confidentiality, we don’t need it and it is unhealthy and unfair.  The adoption industry used us once to create the product they need for their profits and they are using us again to keep their secrets, not ours, but theirs.  It’s amazing how the same folks who will scream now that birthmothers were NOT taken advantage at the time of relinquishment and are perfectly capable of making a sound “choice“, then being helpless waifs of fear.  It’s just incredible how they will fight that we were at all exploited and victimized then, happily project that we will be victimized if   our kids have access to their legal documents. Add in that fathers’ are not given equal concern and the whole thing is a huge sexist slap in the face.

Where are feminatzis when you need them?

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About the Author

Claudia Corrigan DArcy
Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy has been online and involved in the adoption community since early in 2001. Blogging since 2005, her website Musings of the Lame has become a much needed road map for many mothers who relinquished, adoptees who long to be heard, and adoptive parents who seek understanding. She is also an activist and avid supporter of Adoptee Rights and fights for nationwide birth certificate access for all adoptees with the Adoptee Rights Coalition. Besides here on Musings of the Lame, her writings on adoption issue have been published in The New York Times, BlogHer, Divine Caroline, Adoption Today Magazine, Adoption Constellation Magazine, Adopt-a-tude.com, Lost Mothers, Grown in my Heart, Adoption Voice Magazine, and many others. She has been interviewed by Dan Rather, Montel Williams and appeared on Huffington Post regarding adoption as well as presented at various adoption conferences, other radio and print interviews over the years. She resides in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, Rye, children, and various pets.

2 Comments on "Sexism within the OBC Adoption Records Issue"

  1. Cindy Aulabaugh | February 14, 2015 at 8:52 pm |

    Yes, “smoke and mirrors and a handy scapegoat”. Many of us know full well who those are who are truly hiding in shame/secrecy. They can no longer use the ”we’re protecting the adoptee” / “best interest of the child” any more as so many adoptees want access and/or to find their parent/s. Soooo they have turned on us.

    Truth –will– prevail. Lies, oppression, abuse and tyranny don’t win in the end. Hopefully they (and we all) will ”come to the light” sooner rather than later. It is so much better for everyone involved.

    Truth works. Lies and cover-up (shifting responsibility-aka falsely blaming and shaming) don’t work.

    You notice how the ””industry””/ adoptive parents also have the added ”perk” of many adoptees sourcing their anger or frustration at us.. (again, still, instead of) due to the ”(birth)mother confidentiality” lie. …………..oh, whoops, wait it’s not a ‘lie’ we can show you were we (now) have it on the books, in the contracts…. poor deceived masses… wanting to believe it’s ‘always’ been that way (sigh). But wait, adoption is ”done differently now”. Huh? “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive”, and then try to cover it up and cover it up and cover it up.

    Truth will prevail.

  2. Let’s not forget that back when adoption laws were first being written and enacted, legislators – by far – were men. Not only were they intent on protecting their oats-sewing secrets, but in some instances embarrassment over their own infertility.

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