I have been thinking a lot about Amanda’s recent posts at Declassified Adoptee. Through her experiences as an adult adoptee and her training in social work, she brings a lot to the table on how practices can and should be changed.
But, reading her blogs about adoptee narratives and the responsibilities of social workers to maintain them (here and here), I have to ask: What happens to adoptee narratives when agencies and social workers aren’t even involved?
My private adoption was handled by three people: the delivery doctor, an attorney who took my mother’s relinquishment… and my adoptive father, also an attorney, who handled all other legal aspects of my adoption including the altering of my birth certificate and the sealing of my adoption file.
Someone is going to tell me that a social worker had to get involved at some point. There was a social worker who came and did the home study on my adoptive parents, prior to the finalization of the adoption – which amounted to glancing around their picture-perfect home and declaring everything A-OK. As far as I know there were no social workers or agencies involved in my surrender. Certainly there was no one advising my first mother of her rights or options.
Instead, there were three laymen who had absolutely no interest in maintaining my narrative (or hers), and a vested interest in burying it.
They also had no training in social work. Basically you had three amateurs who were able to use loopholes to facilitate a private adoption, under the radar of those governmental entities whose job it is to make sure kids are safe.
I have no narrative prior to my adoption. I was born, my mother surrendered me to the custody of the delivery doctor, I stayed with him and his wife for a week, I was picked up by my adoptive parents. That’s it. No agencies, no social workers, nobody double-checking to make sure i’s were dotted and t’s crossed.
It took most of my life for me to learn that much. My adoptive father lied to me until I forced the issue in my late twenties. He told me he knew nothing of my past other than the fact that my mother was Catholic and wanted me raised that way. I haven’t been able to confirm that. What I did confirm, and what he was eventually forced to admit, is that he handled all aspects of my adoption and therefore knew the complete contents of my file. He also had a copy of my original birth certificate, which he appears to have ordered destroyed upon his death.
Not only did these men not perserve my narrative, they actively went out of their way to destroy or conceal as much of it as possible.
As it stands now, I’m in limbo. I am legally barred by denial of contact from obtaining my original birth certificate. The narrative these men worked so hard to deny me may be forever out of my grasp.
I worry that, as long as secrecy is a staple of the adoptive process, there will always be situations like mine where the people who control the narrative are the same people who want it suppressed.
The ONLY solution is to cease altering adoptee birth certificates immediately, and to restore the rights of ALL adult adoptees to access their original birth certificates. Only then will the power to control narratives be returned to the people to whom they belong.