Wednesday, February 28, 2007
No Falsified Birth Certificates!
The purpose of this post is to clarify my position in answer to queries I have received.
Am I anti-adoption? Not in the sense that some define that term. I recognize that there will always be children who have absolutely no family who can to raise them no matter how much help they are afforded. These children need and deserve permanent, stable families to love and care for them. They should not linger in or bounce from one foster home to another.
HOWEVER…I am totally against adoption as it practiced in this country, with lies andsecrets, or semi- one-side controlled openness, and as means of filling empty arms. I am opposed to practices which encourage the importation children from their country of origins, while there are thousands of children here needing homes.
I oppose any practice which offers adoption to an expectant mother without first fully exploring all other options and offering all necessary resources for her family to remain together.
And, I oppose all lies and secrecy in adoption – first and foremost of which is the falsification of birth certificates - for the following reasons:
1. It maintains a discriminatory status for those who are adopted treating them differently in regard to their own birth records as compared to non-adopted children and adults.
2. It is unnecessary. Why does a child need to have his/her name changed in order to be cared for? The answer is there is nothing inherent in the name change that benefits the child’s best interest. The “stigma” of illegitimacy that might have faced children in the past bearing a different surname than their parents, no longer exists in a society with a 50% divorce rate and an acceptance of same sex marriage.
3. Rather than serving the best interest of the adopted child, it serves only those who adopt. It creates encourages the proliferation of lies and secrets that meet the needs of those who adopt in order to fill their need to have a family that is the “same as if” it were biologically connected instead of helping to recognize the reality that adoptees already have a mother and father. There is no need to encourage the infant adoption – the demand for which drives a money-driven exploitive and coercive market.
It has been suggested that true open adoption could be met by providing adoptees with their original birth certificate and a certificate of adoption to be used as identification. But why? What purpose does it serve to maintain special laws that apply only to adoptees and no others? Equality is equality.
Those adopting have only one reason to re-name a child who already bears a name given to him/her by his first/original parent(s)…and that is “ownership.”
For the adoptee, especially the foreign born adoptee, it creates only confusion and identity confusion and dysphoria, not unlike what is expressed by men and women going through body image or gender dysphoria.
In any school room today half of the kids have different surnames than those they live with. If a child feels uncomfortable bearing a different surname than those raising him...at the age of 12 (the age a child can have a say in his custodial parent in cases of divorce) he or she, with the agreement of his caretakers, may legally change his name to theirs. As an adult, anyone can legally change their name with no one’s consent or agreement.
The falsified birth certificate is the foundation of the lies and secrecy upon which adoption is built. Adoption cannot be “reformed” into a truly open and honest system while remaining built on this false foundation. It needs to be torn down to its base and rebuilt from the ground up.
Psychologists have for decades said that is it necessary for adopters to recognize that adoption is NOT the same as if the child were born to you but that he has parents. Legally obliterating those parents and certifying that the child was “born to” his adopters is in direct opposition to this goal. It satisfied the needs and desires of those adopting whose demand for infants has created and perpetuates the commodification of children and the exploitation of their mothers as breeders. It needs to be nipped in the bud.
Falsified birth certificates are a flailed social engineering experiment that began in the 1940’s. We got along fine without them prior to that and can again. These draconian laws serve no purpose, are in fact harmful to those they purport to “protect” and serve, and need to be repealed!
As always, I open the flood gates for comments and differing points of view. If anyone can tell me how a falsified birth certificate is in the best interest of an adopted child or adult...please do so.
Proud sponsor of: www.TwiceLost.org
Monday, February 26, 2007
Special Guardianship: A MODEL TO FOLLOW?
David Bedingfield analyses the impact on adoption proceedings of the Court of Appeal's recent decisions in Re S, Re AJ and Re M-J.
Adoption or Special Guardianship? The Impact of Re S, Re AJ and Re M-J
David Bedingfield, 4 Paper Buildings
The historical background to adoption
The concept of adoption, or the irrevocable ending of a child's legal relationship with his birth parents and the beginning of a new legal relationship with the child's adopters, has a troubled history in every legal system that has sought to provide for it.(1) Civil law inherited the Roman concepts of adoptio and adrogatio, and succession rights for descendents became inextricably a part of the legal cultures of those countries. Certain relatives under the civil law are entitled to a legitima portio, or a share of a deceased person's property, a legal concept that does not square with the irrevocable termination of parental rights. It became a part of Roman law that adoption was only permitted in order to provide an heir to the childless. Adopters under Roman law were required to be past child-bearing age and the adoptee was required to be an adult.(2) Islamic law as well does not provide for a complete termination of parent/child ties. Instead, the concept of Kafalah has been developed to provide a legal basis in Islamic law for a substitute family to provide primary care for a child.(3)
The concept of adoption under the common law has a no less controversial and confused history. The modern practice of adoption can perhaps be said to have begun in Massachusetts, in the USA, which enacted an adoption act in 1851. The concept did not gain immediate popularity in other states, however, and in fact adoption was rarely used in Massachusetts for the next half-century. The first adoption act in England and Wales, enacted in 1926, came only after five previous attempts at passing an adoption act had failed. The Hopkinson Report of 1921 set out the dilemma faced by lawmakers: the common law did not provide an appropriate legal solution for children who lived with substitute families. Informal arrangements had become more and more prevalent as a rural society transformed itself into an urban, more diffuse culture and the industrial revolution inevitably transformed intergenerational relationships. The Adoption of Children Act 1926 provided that courts might make adoption orders without parental consent, though as Professor Stephen Cretney has pointed out, the power to dispense with consent was interpreted very narrowly.(4) The Act did not ensure the child's full integration into the adoptive family. Only in 1949 were adoptive children given inheritance rights.
Professor Cretney and others have shown that during the next half century after the Adoption of Children Act 1926 adoption changed from a private or amateur activity to a professional service offered by adoption agencies staffed by trained social workers. The protection of children became the paramount consideration, rather than simply providing a service for childless couples. The Adoption of Children Act 1949 provided that placement of children for adoption would thenceforth be supervised by local authorities.
The changing face of adoption
The last quarter of the 20th century saw a radical change in this country in the nature and character of adoption. Single mothers no longer faced an overwhelmingly negative social stigma; welfare benefits for one-parent families meant that it was economically viable (if just barely) for an unmarried mother to keep her child; and, finally, the legalisation of abortion meant that many if not most unwanted pregnancies were terminated. All of this meant that by the 1990's very few infants in England and Wales were available for placement for adoption.
But from 1949, and the beginning of an adoption system that is driven by social workers and an effort to protect children, an increasing number of older children were removed from the care of abusive parents and made available for adoption. The legal concept of adoption began to be seen as a blunt tool that often did not fit the needs of individual children. A middle ground was sought for children who needed substitute families but who also would benefit from continued contact with their birth families.
The Houghton Committee, appointed in 1972 to consider the increasingly confused law of adoption, recommended that an alternative legal institution ("custodianship") be created to provide legal security for those providing long-term family care for a child.(5) The Children Act 1975 introduced custodianship as a legal concept, but sadly the provision was only brought into force in 1988 and promptly fell into legal obscurity.
The advent of the Special Guardianship Order
Two studies by two different governments — one in 1992, the other in the White Paper of December 2000 — both recommended there be a middle ground created between the absolute termination of parental/child ties and the maintaining of parental rights. The 2000 White Paper introduced the concept of Special Guardianship. The authors of the White Paper anticipated that the order would "give the carer clear responsibility for all aspects of caring for the child or young person, and for making the decisions to do with their upbringing. The child or young person will no longer be looked after by the council." The new order would "provide a firm foundation on which to build a lifelong permanent relationship between the carer and the child or young person," while at the same time "preserving the legal link between the child or young person and their birth family." It was also anticipated that the new order would "be accompanied by proper access to a full range of support services, including, where appropriate, financial support."
The Adoption and Children Act 2002 brought into being the new concept of a Special Guardianship Order. The Act's provisions were brought into effect on 31 December 2005. Some 14 months later we now have from the Court of Appeal the first appellate consideration of special guardianship orders, as well as detailed commentary from the Court regarding whether the new provisions successfully transform the recommendations of the White Paper into a viable legal structure. According to the Court, the results are somewhat mixed.
The Court of Appeal judgments
The Court of Appeal on 6 February 2007 handed down three separate judgments, not connected save for presenting similar issues (primarily, the difference between an adoption order and a special guardianship order)(6). In the case of Re S (A Child)  EWCA Civ 54 (CA), Lord Justice Wall explained the Court's decision to hand down the judgments together. Wall LJ stated that each of the three appeals was heard by a different bench and on different dates. Only one member of the court (Wall LJ) sat on each constitution. Because this was the first time that the question of adoption vs. special guardianship has reached the Court of Appeal, all five members of the court involved in the three appeals took the view that the cases presented an excellent opportunity for the court to consider the underlying principles to be applied in considering SGO's, and to give guidance to courts of first instance on the proper approach in these cases.(7) All three judgments are therefore to be considered judgments by the Court of Appeal. Re S, in particular, requires close reading by all advocates.
Wall LJ sets out in Re S in detail the provisions of the White Paper and the resultant provisions of the Adoption and Children Act 2002. Wall LJ identified four specific issues present in the three cases before the Court:
1) whether SGO's should be confined to existing family relationships;
2) the need, under a Special Guardianship Order, for leave of court before a parents seeks to apply for a section 8 order;
3) the dispensing with parental consent to adoption;
4) whether it is ever appropriate for a court to impose a Special Guardianship Order on a party who states that this order is not in the child's or carer's best interest.
Wall LJ notes that the White Paper gives helpful illustrations of some circumstances in which SGO's would be useful:
1) The case of older children who do not wish to be legally separated from their birth families;
2) the situation where a child is being cared for on a permanent basis of members of the child's wider family;
3) the case of a child from a particular ethnic or religious community where cultural difficulties with adoption make adoption orders less likely to be honoured;
4) the situation where an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child needs a secure, permanent home, but maintains strong attachments to a family abroad.
Wall LJ notes that "the statutory provisions draw strong and clear distinctions between the status of children who are adopted, and those who are subject to lesser orders, including special guardianship."(8) Section 1 of the 2002 requires the court to address the question of the child's welfare throughout the child's life. In Wall LJ's view, the consequences of this are significant.
Section 14C(1) was inserted into the Children Act 1989 by virtue of the Adoption and Children Act 2002. The provision gives to special guardians exclusive parental authority, but the entitlement is subject to a number of limitations. The fundamental differences between the status and powers of adopters and special guardians, according to Wall LJ, must be borne in mind when the court is applying the welfare checklist under both section 1(3) of the 1989 Act and section 1 of the 2002 Act.
Wall LJ made three other crucial points here:
1) the carefully constructed regime for SGO's, including the requirement of notice, the role of the court, and the report from the local authority, demonstrates the care required before a court makes a special guardianship order;
2) nothing in the statutory provisions limits the making of SGO's to a given set of circumstances, and courts must decide each case on its particular facts (making the normal common law comparison of fact situations in appeals particularly useless);
3) the key question the court must answer will be whether an adoption order or special guardianship order better serves the welfare of the child whose future is at issue.
Wall LJ then set out requirements for courts considering these issues:
1) a court must give full reasons for making one order rather than the other;
2) trial judges must be given a broad discretion to exercise their judgment regarding which order is appropriate, and therefore appeals will be discouraged;
3) in most cases the issue will not be the placement of the child, but the nature of the order required; therefore there is little need to go through the exercise of considering the no order principle;
4) for the same reason (the child will have already been placed), the delay principle is not as important as in other cases where placement remains at issue.
Wall LJ notes that the SGO regime's primary distinction is that it is "less intrusive" than adoption. It involves a "less fundamental interference with existing legal relationships." This analysis of course also fits well with the exercise required of all courts after enactment of the Human Rights Act 1998. The court must consider, in cases where the Article 8 right to family life is at issue, whether the interference with family life is a proportionate response to the harm the child faces. Wall LJ notes that in choosing between adoption and special guardianship, Article 8, ". . . is unlikely to add anything to the considerations contained in the respective welfare checklists. . . However, in some cases, the fact that the welfare objective can be achieved with less disruption of existing family relationships can properly be regarded as helping tip the balance." (9)
Wall LJ discussed the "skewing or distorting" of family relationships inevitably caused by adoption in a situations where there are pre-existing family relationships. A birth parent after an adoption retains no legal rights. The birth parent cannot apply to a court for any order regarding the child under the Children Act 1989 without leave of court. Under a special guardianship order, however, leave is only required by a birth parent if that parent seeks to apply for a residence order or a discharge of the special guardianship order. An application for further contact, or an application for a specific issue order regarding the exercise of parental responsibility, does not require leave. Wall LJ notes that of course courts might utilise s 91(14) of the Children Act 1989 to impose a leave requirement, but this provision is rarely used and there is a low burden imposed on the applicant, who must only show "an arguable case with some chance of success." (10)
Wall LJ notes the seeming anomaly of a statutory regime that is supposed to provide security but allows a birth parent untrammelled access to the courts with applications that may interfere with the exercise of PR by the special guardian. As Wall LJ states, "the need to invoke section 91(14) to protect special guardians and children from the anxiety imposed by the prospect of future litigation is a possible weakness in the scheme."
Nevertheless, as Wall LJ states, ". . . it must be accepted that special guardianship does not always provide the same permanency of protection as adoption. In our judgment, this is a factor, which in a finely balanced case, could well tip the scales in favour of adoption." (11)
Wall LJ and the court were clear that the new provisions brought into effect do give the court power to make a special guardianship order of its own motion, where no party has actively sought to apply for the order. The court must first, however, order and then consider carefully a report by the local authority. The requirement for the report is mandatory; it is unlawful for the court to make a special guardianship order without first considering the report made by the local authority. The contents of the report must follow the guidance set out in the relevant statutory instrument. (12)
But the consequences of the imposition of the order on an unwilling party must be given close and careful considering by the trial judge. As Wall LJ put it, "The jurisdictional position is very clear: the court has the power to impose a special guardianship order on an unwilling party to the proceedings. Whether or not it should do so will depend upon the facts of the individual case, including the nature of the refuser's case and its inter-relationship with the welfare of the particular child."
The facts of the three cases before the court are perhaps not as important as the Court of Appeal's approach to the cases and Wall LJ's analysis of the new Act's provisions. As Wall LJ notes, most cases require the court to make two decisions: With whom should the child live? What order should govern the outcome?
S (A Child)
In S (A Child), what impressed the trial judge was the close relationship between the proposed carer of the child and the child's birth mother.(The two were unrelated.) The mother was not deemed able to care permanently for the child, who required "more than good enough parenting." The experts agreed that the foster carer (who sought adoption) could provide this care; the mother could not.
The question presented was whether adoption or special guardianship should now govern the placement. The trial judge (HHJ Kushner QC) first determined that on the facts of the case, the child's welfare did not require adoption. Therefore there was no need to go forward under the 1976 Act to determine whether the mother was withholding her consent unreasonably. The trial judge carefully considered the factual circumstances of the case, noting the close relationship between mother and foster carer, the special difficulties posed by this child and her requirements for "more than good enough parenting," and the need to provide some security to the foster carer while not completely terminating parental ties. HHJ Kushner opted for making a special guardianship order, coupled with a section 91(14) order restricting the mother's right to make an application for contact or for specific issue orders.
On appeal, the focus was whether it was right in principle to impose a special guardianship order on a carer whose application is for adoption. The argument was also made that SGO's should be limited to those situations identified in the White Paper — that is, "wider family" placements, or placements of older children, or placements within a religious or ethnic culture that frowns on adoption, or the placement of asylum-seeking children with strong ties to families abroad. HHJ Kushner rejected that submission, as did the Court of Appeal. There are no limitations placed on judges considering whether to make the special guardianship. Instead, as always, the best interests of the child will be the paramount consideration by the judge, who should of course consider carefully the welfare checklist under s.1(3) of the Children Act 1989.
The Court in particular noted that HHJ Kushner had been entitled, on the facts, to consider that the child's welfare was best served by the making of a special guardianship order. Therefore no analysis of the reasonableness of the mother withholding her consent for adoption would be required.
The Court did hold, however, that a trial judge must order the local authority to prepare a report before making a special guardianship order, and must consider that report before the order is made.
Re AJ (A Child)
In the case of Re AJ (A Child)  EWCA Civ 55, the trial judge made the child AJ subject to an adoption order in favour of his paternal aunt and uncle. The case was heard under the provisions of the Adoption Act 1976. The issue on appeal was whether the court should have made a special guardianship order rather than an adoption order.
The child at issue had been placed with his paternal aunt and uncle shortly after birth. AJ's parents were involved in numerous criminal offences, and the father had been violent to the child's mother. Those problems remained apparent to all at the time of final hearing. Placement with the aunt and uncle, in other words, was not really at issue. A final care order had been made in September, 2002, with the care plan including permanent placement with aunt and uncle. The plan was for long-term fostering, with regular contact to mother and father. The parents were not consistently attending contact, and in 2004 the local authority sought to change its care plan to adoption. The aunt and uncle issued an adoption for adoption in August, 2005 (before the effective date of the 2002 Act).
The trial judge focused in his judgment on the fact that the aunt and uncle knew that the parents had a right under the provisions of a special guardianship order to make applications to court for further contact, or for specific issue orders. When the parents' consent would be necessary, the aunt in particular feared there would be little cooperation. For this reasons, the aunt stated in evidence that she would prefer the child remain under a care order than be made subject to a special guardianship order. In the former case, at least the local authority could both finance any litigation and act as a buffer to keep the parents at bay.
For those reasons, in particular, the trial judge was convinced that an adoption order would be preferable. The Court of Appeal did not disturb the judge's findings or the resultant order.
M-J (A Child)
The case of M-J (A Child)  EWCA Civ 56 involved a child born in June, 2003. The child's mother accepted she could not care for the child. The child was placed with the mother's half-sister. In November, 2006, an order for adoption was made in favour of the aunt by the Newport (Gwent) County Court. The child's mother sought appeal, arguing that a special guardianship order should have been made.
In this case, just as in AJ, the placement of the child was not really at issue. The mother had a long history of abusing narcotics. She accepted she could not care for her child. The local authority had sought rehabilitation of the child with the mother, but in 2005 the mother again began using narcotics and the plan was abandoned. Shortly thereafter, the mother's half sister, supported by the local authority, sought an order for adoption.
This application was made under the 2002 Act. The recorder who heard the matter regarded it important that the aunt had long offered the child a permanent home, and had insisted throughout that the placement be governed by adoption rather than a less intrusive order. The relationship of the mother with the child's aunt had become fraught, in part because of the mother's relapse, in part because the mother changed her mind regarding whether an adoption order should be made. The recorder found that in fact the mother really never accepted that adoption was in the child's best interest. The recorder noted that the mother was "a highly intelligent and highly impulsive woman who displayed little insight in her evidence until the very end of the consequences of removal of M-J from [the aunt's'] care. . . It was clear in her evidence that this mother sees herself very much as a victim, and much of her evidence focused on her own feelings of rejection and isolation from her family."
The mother argued that the court should make a special guardianship orders, and should make a s 91(14) order to give to the aunt the security that she desired. The recorder refused to do that, and instead made an adoption order. The recorder reasoned as follows: ". . . the fact remains that those orders do not give total security or extinguish permanently the parental responsibility of the mother." The recorder was concerned that in fact the mother really harboured a desire to reclaim the child at some point in the future. This in the recorder's view tipped the balance in favour of adoption.
The Court of Appeal dismissed the mother's appeal. Wall LJ, for the court, noted that the recorder had considered carefully the mother's submissions regarding the "skewing of family relationships" that would be caused by the making of the adoption order, and had reached the conclusion that the need for security and permanence outweighed those considerations. On the facts, and given the wide measure of discretion that must be given a trial judge, the court of appeal could not say the trial judge was wrong.
Matters arising from the cases
Several matters are made clear by the three cases:
1) Appeal in a finely balanced case where the trial judge has considered carefully the arguments for and against a special guardianship order, and considered carefully the welfare of the child, will almost inevitably fail;
2) There are no legal presumptions regarding when it is appropriate to make a special guardianship order; instead, the welfare checklist must be analysed and the court should make the order that is in the best interests of the child;
3) The local authority report is a crucial and central part of the statutory scheme, and a report is required in every case where a court is considering whether to make a special guardianship order;
4) The relationship between the carer and the birth parent will often play a determinative role in the court's considerations, in particular with regard to whether the further security afforded the carer by adoption is necessary.
5) A court making a special guardianship order should at least consider whether it is also necessary to make an order under s 91(14) of the Children Act 1989.
With regard to the section 91(14) order, it is of course NOT a legal presumption that the court must make the limiting order. But it will likely be argued that where legal security can be given to the carer by the making of a section 91(14) order, the trial judge must at least set out the reasons why the judge rejected these submissions and instead made an adoption order.
The Court of Appeal also specifically refused to give guidance in these three cases regarding the consideration by trial judges of the birth parents' refusal to give consent to adoption under the 2002 Act. Further consideration of this issue must await a case where the issue was crucial to the outcome.
(1) See, generally, Barbara Tizard, Adoption: A Second Chance (Open Books 1977).
(2) Women could not be adrogated populi auctoritate, because they could not take part in the proceedings of the comitia. Adrogation was intended to keep a Roman family alive by providing for its continuance in the male line of descent. See R.W. Lee, The Elements of Roman Law (4th Ed) (Sweet & Maxwell 1956), p. 71. See Tizard, pp 3-8. Until recently, most European countries required adoptive parents to be childless and more than 50 years of age.
(3) See Pearl and Menski, Muslim Family Law (3rd Ed 1998), p 410. See Cretney, Masson and Bailey-Harris, Principles of Family Law (7th Ed 2002), p 792.
(4) See Cretney, Family Law in the 20th Century (2003).
(5) See Cretney, op cit, pp 705-706
(6) See Re S (A Child)  EWCA Civ 54; Re AJ (A Child)  EWCA Civ 55; Re: MJ (A Child)  EWCA Civ 56.
(7) See Re S(A Child)  EWCA Civ 54, at 55, Wall LJ.
(8) See Wall LJ's judgement, para 44.
(9) See Wall LJ's judgment, para 49.
(10) See re P  Fam 15, at 38, Butler Sloss LJ
(11) See Wall LJ's judgment at para 68.
(12) See Special Guardianship Regulations 2005, SI 2005 No. 1109, in particular Regulation 21, which sets out the matters to be dealt with in all reports for the court.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Adoption Tax Credit
Adopters may be able to take a tax credit of up to $10,960 in 2006 for qualifying expenses paid to adopt an eligible child. The adoption credit is an amount that you subtract from your tax liability. Qualifying adoption expenses are reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, traveling expenses (including amounts spent for meals and lodging) while away from home, and other expenses directly related to, and whose principal purpose is for, the legal adoption of an eligible child. You can't claim expenses that violate state or federal law, or expenses that are for the adoption of your spouse's child or a surrogate parenting arrangement. Your adoption agency expenses would be qualifying expenses.
If the child is a U.S. resident or citizen, you can claim the credit on the expenditures whether or not the adoption becomes final. You only receive a credit for a foreign child in the year the adoption becomes final. For the American child the credit should be claimed in the year following the expenditure if the adoption is not finalized and the final-year adoption expenses in that year as well.
The amount of your adoption credit or exclusion is limited to $10,960 for each effort to adopt an eligible child. For this purpose, an attempt that leads to the successful adoption of a child and any unsuccessful attempt to adopt a different child are treated as one effort.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
THE STORK MARKET: NOW AVAILABLE!!!
Stork mar·ket. (stôrk märkt) n.
1. exposé of the corruption in the adoption industry; the fine line between black and gray market adoption; scams, coercion and exploitation. 2. an in-depth report on the domestic and international markets where children are the commodity and prices are based on quality (i.e. color, age, health). 3. an examination of myths that put the needs of adults, and those who profit from their desperation, before the needs of children who need homes. 4. an extensively researched and documented book that asks if adoption can be fixed—the money aspect removed—or abolished in favor of permanent guardianship, or informal adoption sans the issuance of falsified birth certificates. 5. goes further than Riben’s groundbreaking award-winning “shedding light on...The Dark Side of Adoption” (1988). 6. reveals, for the first time in print, Riben’s role in the notorious Joel Steinberg murder case.
“Riben has done it again. Once again, as in Dark Side, she has pulled back the covers and exposed the unpleasant truths and problems that need to be addressed in American adoption practices. While difficult, when we remove the rose-colored glasses many view adoption through, the conclusions that Riben comes to are inarguable. Most impressive on every count….well researched and thought out.” Annette Baran, M.S.W.,L.C.S.W., co-author The Adoption Triangle
“Mirah Riben writes that she refuses to give up. This book — a wonderful and well-integrated mix of approaches—part analysis, part case studies from the front lines, part handbook, part up-to-date law and policy review — is a testament to Riben's powerful and enduring commitment to the rights and needs of vulnerable women and their children. Riben's book is a clear, bright blueprint for change.”
Rickie Solinger, historian and author of Pregnancy and Power: A Short History of Reproductive Politics in America.
“Combines the historical and legal perspective with really hard hitting journalism.” Maureen Flatley, political consultant and media adviser specializing in child welfare and adoption.
AVAILABLE AT: www.AdvocatePublications.com
Library of Congress Control Number: 2006939682
Advocate Publications is the proud sponsor of: www.BirthParentProject.org
Monday, February 19, 2007
A disgruntled found adoptee is trying to get a bill passed authorizing $5000 penalties for contact between adoptees and first parents. Although the bill number is from 2006, the woman who is pushing this is working on a draft bill for 2007 that is even worse.
If you have contacts in Wisconsin, now is the time to activate them: adoptees, first parents, searchers, genealogists, whoever.
Copy and forward widely! Get the word out on all adoption blogs and lists.
Details at: http://tinyurl.com/2mzmnh
MaryAnne Cohen has asked numerous questions and raised every conceivable argument AGAINST what I am suggesting. I have decided rather than answer her in the comments section to begin a new post so that others who might share her concerns could have their questions answered as well.
MAC “A lauadable [sic] goal, but one that many of us have already been working on for many years from several different groups and points of view.”
To my knowledge, no one has ever tried to do anything federally, and no one has tried to ban falsified BCs. Again, I bow to you as being far more knowledgeable about the history of adoption reform than I.
MAC “You keep saying you support open records but want recipropal [sic]support for your proposals, even when the intent of what you are proposing, as far as I can see, is very different and more in the realm of the anti-adoption, replace it with guardianship view.”
Yes. Exactly. As my last post stated I think we can work from both ends at the same time and only help one another by garnering additional public support and sympathy. The perfect analogy is doctos who TREAT cancer patients and try their best to forestall death, and researchers who at the same time, work on a cure to prevent further suffering. Neither one is morally right without the other.
MAC “When you gather these people, will it be to try to pass a federal law or even a constitutional amendment outlawing amended birth certificates as you state is your goal?”
Yes. As I have said, I am THINKING right now in terms of using the ERA as a model. But of course attorneys and others with more experience may suggest another approach. Experts in these fields have done studies, research and written book ad nauseam to “educate” the public and law makers. Where has it gotten us? Not too far. It’s time for a radically new approach!
MAC “And how will that take the money out of adoption??” That would undoubtedly require separate, additional legislation, to outlaw the virtual sale of human beings as human trafficking. That could, however, also be worked on simultaneously. Cancer and AIDS researchers work on many different theories at once.
You yourself said: “I doubt that even those adoptive parents who want this information would support legislation that said adoptees had to go through life with name on their original birth certificate, first and last.” Very true. If adoption were totally open – truly enforceably open, with no false BC, similar to guardianship it is LIKELY to reduce the numbers of people wanting to adopt to those who are more concerned in truly helping a child. This combined with a great deal more effort placed on family preservation and this far less need for adoption to begin with.
MAC “I find it inconsistent that on the one hand you state that laws can be passed in small increments, "baby steps" and you take to task those who criticize this in the realm of open records, yet you are asking for support for legislation that has not got the chance of a snowball in hell to ever pass, citing a string of "dream the impossible dream" type quotes.”
Yes, it seems a daunting challenge – like climbing Mt. Everest blindfolded. It is! What I propose in terms the ERA model is perfectly consistent with taking “baby steps.” Look at how omen’s rights have improved – especially in the workplace despite it never formally “passing” federally. I think taking the tobacco industry is another fine example of grass roots teaming up with professionals to incrementally, and in a variety of different ways, greatly reduce their power and influence on future smokers while also helping past smokers.
Who is to say it hasn’t a snowball’s in hell? How do you know until you try! For myself, success it not always in reaching the exact ideal goal. Success comes from DOING instead of sitting around wringing my hands, but knowing I gave it my all. Thirty years ago you and I were 30 years younger. Twenty years from now we will be twenty years older. We can chose to either be octogenarians bemoaning the fact that all that happened in those last two decades was perhaps one more state opened their records to adults, or I can look back at the end of my days and believe that I started a ball rolling in a new direction. Did Jean Paton complete her goal in her lifetime? Was it a pipe dream? Did he follow her dream? Did it start a revolution! Yes, I am a dreamer! And proud of it. Without dreamers and visionaries nothing would ever get accomplished! What if Martin Luther King thought that integration was impossible and gave up without even trying? The list of so-called impossible things have happened just in our lifetimes is exhausting!
Here’s another quote: “Hope has two beautiful daughters, their names are anger and courage. Anger that things are the way they are.
Courage to make them the way they ought to be.” ~St. Augustine
I am ANGRY at the status quo. I see wrong and I cannot simply turn my back to it and walk away and let go on and on and on. My anger fuels my courage and resolve. I KNOW there is a better way.
MAC “in the real world there would be very little support for federal legislation such as you propose.”
Perhaps in YOUR “real” word reality that is so. It is not in mine! I dare say that only you and Karen B. of OUSA are the only two people I have heard from who are not “onboard” with this.
MAC “This is not a matter of law but of agency policy and the prevalence of open adoption today.”
The falsification of someone’s most basic identifying legal document is very much a matter of law.
MAC “And contrary to what you have stated, it would make a difference that many adult adoptees would not support this kind of legislation, because who else could legislators ask what its effect might be?”
Your sarcasm about children voting aside,…please try to understand that seeking open records for those adopted a generation ago who are now adults is in column A and seeking to stop the continuation of children waiting from birth to adulthood is in column B. Perhaps BB Church can explain this better to you than I. They are different and yet do not in any way contradict one another. It is just that we cannot go back and retroactively not falsify certificates that have already been done that way, so for those people they can be given the truth as they reach whatever age the state they are in sees fit to give anyone their birth certificates. But there is no conceivable reason on earth to continue to make adoption the secret mess it has made into since the 1940’s which hassled to it’s corruption by baby brokers. I am seeking REPEAL of these outdated laws. Does that make sense to you? Or so you think it a child is better off living a life of lies, or half lies. Knowing that he is adopted and knowing nothing more???
For me, it is a simple question. Is adoption, as it is being practiced in the US today optimal? Can it be better? Does making it better require more than simply returning access to adoptees when they are adults or is there more we can do to improve it? It IS BROKE, so let's roll up our sleeves and fix it!
I hope have addressed all of MaryAnne's questions and given a fuller understanding of my goals (which BTW, are still fermenting and forming as I write - FAR FROM not cut in stone.)
As always, I open the discussion ot more questions and comments...
Saturday, February 17, 2007
The Sometimes Sharp Edges of the Adoption Triangle
“Adopted person’s civil rights invariably become subordinated in those groups and organizations that combine the disparate goals of adopted persons, (birth)parents, and adoptive parents. Repeat: Adopted person’s civil rights invariably become subordinated in those groups and organizations that combine the disparate goals of adopted persons, (birth)parents, and adoptive parents.” Joann Wolf Small, The Adoption Mystique
So important did Small believe this message to be, that she not only put it italics, she found it necessary to repeat it! It is true that adoptees’ civil rights are subordinated by some adoption reform groups. But this is not, however, dependent upon whether the group is made up of and/or designed to serve (birth)parents, adoptees, adoptive parents, or all members of the triad.
Organizations such as Bastard Nation, on the other hand, has a stated goal of a legislative change to provide more equal rights for adult adoptees. They are strictly legislative in nature, with humor and support being an aside.
Other groups and organizations, such as Concerned United Birthparents, by the nature of their mission statement have as their primary goal, support for triad members in search and ongoing reunion, or lack thereof. This is especially true of many of the newer online email lists, forums and chats. All such groups that I am aware of support open records legislation for adoptees’ rights and encourage members to write letters to the editor and to legislators, while remaining primarily supportive in nature and goal. In this sense the civil rights aspect is subordinate to support as indicated in the mission or goals of such groups.
Small’s statement is true of these groups, not because they primarily serve parents who have relinquished, but because they choose to put support first. Support groups may be triad or singular as each type of support serves a different purpose. In individual support groups, people are able to be freer about their anger while many feel that they learn a great deal of understanding and compassion for their counterpart in triad groups.
There, is a need for both support and legislative groups as they serve different purposes without in any way negating the importance of the others’ role. There is likewise a need for both joint and separate support groups.
What about politically?
Is it just the press that pits us against one another, or are the goals of adoptive parents, adoptess and (birth)parents totally disparate? Are we natural “enemies” in the “war” to humanize adoption and restore adoptee rights? Do adoptees “need” (birth)parents and/or adoptive parents to win their battle for civil right? Are (birth) and adoptive parents a help or a hindrance toward that end?
Small seems to imply that (birth)parent groups intentionally or not, trump their issues over the rights of adoptees, or have divergent issues that place adoptee’s issue in less focus. She sees their desire to find their children as disparate with the goals of adoptee civil rights.
Different, yes, but in opposition to or harming one another, I think not. Clearly there is overlap. Birthmothers support open records because it is the right thing to do and also because it will help our children find us, even if we have no right to find them. Parents who have relinquished have never spoken out against a pending bill because it does not give them the right to access of records on an equal footing with adoptees, as BN speaks out publicly opposing bills that do not go far enough to suit them.
There are nuances of differences between triad activists members as to the best and most expedient strategy to restore adoptee rights. This again, is across the board—not (birth)parent v. adoptee. Some are, understandably very hard line in their position and will openly denounce any legislation that starts out or becomes mired in “compromises” to their rights (vetoes, intermediaries, age restrictions, etc.). Others, adoptees who have worked in the trenches for decades and feel they have a firm grasp on the politics within their own state, are reluctantly willing to accept something, rather than nothing. The purists argue that once they get a so-called “compromise” bill they will “never” get more. Yet, if we believe that once a law is passed it can never be changed, why would any of us fight to reverse sealed records in the first place? Laws do change. Prohibition came and went in just 13 years.
Small uses civil rights and separate but equal education as an example of legislation, which while it took over sixty years, was reversed. There are, however, examples of laws affecting the rights of one group of people being enacted in increments. A prime example are the anti-smoking laws which began by requiring restaurants to provide smoking and non-smoking areas, then required that the entire restaurant be smoke-free, and are now seeking—in many states—to rid bars and even gambling casinos of smokers to protect employees.
Inasmuch as any legislation we seek and hope to see enacted – whether pure or with dreaded restrictions – only applies to those adopted between the time records were sealed and who are now adults…it seems that all of it is but a first step. No proposed legislation, no matter how “pure,” addresses the continuing injustice faced by younger adoptees or those being born right now who will still be facing the exact same challenges of living in a genealogical and medical void until they reach some magical chronologic age when they are thought to be mature enough to handle their dirty little secret – if in fact they live that long. This seems analogous to civil rights activists having asked only to integrate colleges, allowing black and white children to continue with separate but equal education until then. After all, as some argue about adoptees, they all become adults eventually.
A widening gap?
Perhaps the fastest widening and least addressed gap between activists concerns a very basic belief in the institution of adoption. Those who focus only on the wrongs done in the past – to adoptees and/or to mothers – are perhaps unaware that their message subtly supports the status quo. By requesting rights be restored to adoptees only when they reach adulthood, such groups intentionally or not, are sanctioning the practice of keeping the records sealed for adolescents and young adults and for the parents of younger children who might need such access. They are subtly endorsing and condoning the claim that the truth is potentially dangerous and is “adult only” material. The ignore the fact that every adopted person is at the mercy of his/her adoptive parents to even know that they are in fact adopted, while objecting to be infantilized and jumping through hoops such as having to pass a psychological evaluation to gain access to their records.
Small discuses at length the dysfunction inherent in adoptive families because of the pretense of being the “same as” if they were biologically connected. This pretense begins with a certified government document that states that the adoptee was in fact born to his/her adoptive parents, by nature of it being a certificate of “birth” nor adoption. Yet advocating for openness only for adults ignores the fact that adoptees’ rights are broached, not as adults, but at the time their records are falsified.
Adoptee and (birth)parent activists have survived the grief of loss and the shame we have had to live with have come out stronger for it. But we each see the situation from opposite ends, not unlike the three blind men feeling an elephant.
Many adoptees are angry about their lack of equality with non-adoptees in terms of their birth records, but otherwise are neutral to, or positive about, adoption in general.
Many (birth)parent activists, on the other hand, see the pain our children have suffered, feeling abandoned, and do not wish that on others. We see too many unnecessary adoptions and do not see adoption as something to be “promoted”–especially not in its current form. (Birth)parent activists tend to openly support open adoption (if enforceable) while adoptees are more silent on this issue. Some mothers want adoption done away with and replaced with permanent guardianship. Some adoptees agree with this but have not as of yet become organized.
In some sense, Small is right on the money. There is no one position that identifies all parents who have relinquished – not even what they call themselves – or all adoptees or adoptive parents. There is for some of us, perhaps a growing number of us, a realization that civil rights of adult adoptees is one of many things wrong with current American adoption practices.
I am not adopted. I am the mother of a child who was. I am a mother who made the greatest sacrifice a mother can make - to give her own firstborn child to others to raise because I was brainwashed into believing that I was totally incapable of being a mother alone. I was led to believe that in making such a painful choice for myself I was doing the “right” thing and offering my child a “better” life. I was never told that adoptees appear in disproportionate number sin all types of mental health facilities, and have a disproportionately higher rate of suicide.
Adoptees, such as Small and those in BN, very much dislike being pathologized when in fact they are simply reacting to a crazy-making system of lies and pretense. They therefore, made a very conscious decision several decades ago to keep “psychological need to know” out of the argument for open records and to fight for them strictly as a violation of their civil rights. This is fine for those who want the records only for adults.
As a mother, however, from day one, all through my search for my daughter, and now 39 years after the fact...what I want is support for family preservation and as few as possible unnecessary family separations. What I want is for any child who truly must be separated from his/her parents and raised by others...for it to be done in that child's best interest! For it to be done humanely and in the least harmful way.
I cannot condone under the best interests of the child, any practice that torments a child by telling him that he has other parents and then denying further knowledge of them – even such a right is granted to them as adults. I see such a practice as cruel and unusual punishment for having committed no crime. It is totally contrary to the best interests of the child.
This does not mean that I do not also support open records for adults. I would NEVER oppose such a bill and would advocate my support in terms of letter-writing and testifying for ANYONE's right to the truth!
I long for the day that those who were adopted during this secret shame-based period cans stand tall. Gay men and women were also pathologized. They have been seen as immoral, maladjusted, even perverted. For centuries they lived in secret shame knowing that "coming out" could cuase them great loss of respect, jobs, and love of family. Yet the day came when the pain of shame was greater than the fear of the truth. Adoptees are not maladjusted - the system is!
"And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." Anais Nin
Friday, February 16, 2007
Quick Trigger Adoptions
Adoption and Safe Families Act tearing families apart
The Adoption and Safe Families Act is a federal law that was implemented in 1997 to help child welfare agencies in providing homes for children in their care. Under this law, the process adoption is accomplished quickly due to limitations placed on the biological parents of children. These limitations are actually time constraints within which the parents are required to achieve reunification with their children. “The act mandates that states file termination of parental rights petitions if a child has been out of the home for 15 of the most recent 22 months.”
The time constraints have caused the act to have a tremendous affect on incarcerated parents and their children. Incarcerated parents can easily lose their parental rights. “The AFSA simply exacerbated the difficulty of reuniting families, both by providing little guidance and little time to realistically address family problems. The law signaled to states that whatever minimal efforts they chose to make to reunify families were fine with Congress, so long as they ended on time, either through family reunification or, more likely, family severance.” The Agency is not required to facilitate a visit between child and incarcerated parent. They are only required to make “reasonable efforts”, which is left to the interpretation of state agencies. Caregivers may not even want child to have contact with incarcerated parent. Drug relapses and financial struggles will also impede child-parent contact. The courts do not encourage contact with incarcerated parents. The whole legal system seems built to isolate children from incarcerated parents.
The Agency is also not obligated to make “reasonable efforts” if the child was put under state’s care due to aggravated circumstances such as abandonment, sexual abuse, torture, chronic mental injury, or chronic physical harm. Another circumstance is that of an “enumerated felony”, such as “murder of another child of the parent, voluntary manslaughter, aiding, abetting, and conspiring to commit such murder or voluntary manslaughter, felony assault”. Agency will also overlook reasonable efforts if parental rights were terminated before prior to the current incident. The problem with this is that anyone who falls in these categories is viewed as undeserving of having a child. Their rights are automatically, mostly involuntarily, terminated. “Lastly, involuntary termination is unconstitutional. Involuntary termination generally punishes a parent who refuses to consent to sever his or her rights and who exercises his or her constitutional right to trial and is unsuccessful”.
Read the following for more information:
Lu, Lynn D., & Allard, Patricia E. (2006). Rebuilding Families, Reclaiming Lives. APA Monitor 31(1). Retrieved September 07, 2006
Brainstorming Equal Rights for Adoptees
As the title of this posts suggest, I am opening up a discussion into ideas for obtaining Equal Rights for Adoptees. I would like us to think outside the box of what has been tried since Jean Paton first spoke pout on behalf of adoptees being denied their rights.
I would like us to think outside the box that says that this is a state issue.
I would like us to think outside the box that limits asking for rights only for adults, as this is NOT true equality with non-adopted persons.
I would like us to brainstorm a means of WORKING TOWARDS the end of falsified birth certificates. Working Towards may mean never reaching that goal but simply bringing public awareness to it. Working towards
may mean it taking a very long, long time...but long is better than NEVER, if we do NOTHING!
This is best exemplified by the Equal Rights Amendment for women's rights which was first proposed in 1923. While it is still not part of the U.S. Constitution, the ERA has been ratified by 35 of the necessary 38 states. When three more states vote yes, the ERA might become the 28th Amendment. AND, no one can deny the public awareness and change in status of women's lives in the twentieth century.
Earlier this month I put out a plea for attorneys who would help us with a class action suit. I learned through a triad attorney who contacted me privately that this really was not a good idea. BUT...
What about an equal rights amendment for adoptees??? ERAAP - Equal Rights Amendment for Adopted Persons. OR: Equal Access Amendment: EAE??
Here is my FIRST ROUGH brainstorming idea on this:
WHEREAS, all individuals have a unique identity that is legally required;
WHEREAS, one's certificate of birth is most often the basis of all other forms of identity;
WHEREAS, it is one's certificate of birth that not only names an individual but also names his parents of birth;
WHEREAS, theft of such identity is a crime;
THEREFORE, be it unlawful for any person or entity to destroy, withhold, or change said identifying information from the person whom it identifies, without their clear and willing consent to do so.
OR: WE could follow more closely the ERA which states: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex" and simply change the last word to "birth status or adoption."
I put this out as food for very serious thought. Let's kick it around and see how it flies. I KNOW it will not be easy. I KNOW it will take decades. I KNOW it will take money. I am not asking for naysayers. I am asking for those who are will to TRY!
AND...let me clear: I am not asking anyone to do this INSTEAD of any other things they are currently committed to, i.e. open records for adults, search and support, inquiries, etc..
I think we can all contribute some of our time and effort to more than one cause simultaneously. This is not an either or. It is not a put-down of any other goal. It is an ADDITIONAL goal and strategy I am suggesting.
Every fight starts with a first step!
"Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do." William Faulkner
"You cannot cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water." ~ R. Tagore
"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do." ~ Edward Everett Hale
"I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." ~Henry David Thoreau
"No one knows what he can do till he tries." ~ Publilius Syrus
"There is only one thing more powerful than all the armies of the world, that is an idea whose time has come." - Victor Hugo
"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic." ~ Dave Barry
"Change starts when someone sees the next step." ~William Drayton
"The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you. They are unique manifestations of the human spirit. "~ Wade Davis
"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly." ~ Einstein
Do ya' need more motivation??? I've got more! :-)
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Who's on Top? And, Who's NOT!!
CHILD WELL-BEING TABLE
9. Republic of Ireland
15. Czech Republic
20. United States
21. United Kingdom
The UK and United States are in the bottom third of the rankings for five of the six categories covered. The six categories are material well-being, family and peer relationships, health and safety, behaviour and risks, and children's own sense of well-being (educational and subjective).
GEE, you'd think with adoption making life so much better for kids in the US (and UK) they'd rank higher!
Could it be that the countries that do not make adoption a secret are have healthier kids??
Bizarrer and More Bizarre!
I knew the adoptive parent study (see previous post) would be picked up the media far and wide...but, I was not prepared for this!
RUSH LIMBAUGH has said the following weird convoluted things about this study:
"So what they're saying is essentially that, "Hey, you know, same-sex marriage and gay adoptive parents, why, yeah, they're much better than even normal parents, much better than natural parents. Because they really want kids, and they'll go all the way and they'll fight all the taboos and so forth. They'll really, really be much better parents." This is standing everything on its head. This is what liberalism has to do. In order for liberalism to succeed -- and make no mistake, that's what this is.
This is just another arm of liberalism. This has nothing to do with true child rearing, what's better or not. What has to happen for liberalism to succeed is that the cultural norms that have been in place for thousands, gazillions of years, have to be overturned. Liberalism is a direct contradiction to the natural, to the normal, in many ways, and this is just glaring, glaring proof of it."
In addition to his totally bizarre connection to liberalism, he totally misses the meaning of "The only category in which adoptive parents fared worse was the frequency of talking with parents of other children." WE know this means they ISOLATE and do not feel "normal" and like they fit it and want to avoid difficult questions like: "How was your labor?"
Monday, February 12, 2007
You might want to write to your local newspaper and point out a major inconsistency in the analyzation of a new survey that claims: "Adoptive parents invest more time and financial resources in their children than biological parents, according to a new national study challenging arguments that have been used to oppose same-sex marriage and gay adoption."
In particular, the researchers said, adoptive parents had a pronounced edge over single-parent and stepparent families.
The researchers noted that adoptive couples, in general, were older and wealthier than biological parents, but said the adoptive parents still had an advantage — albeit smaller — when the data was reanalyzed to account for income inequality.
The researchers said their findings call into question the long-standing argument that children are best off with their biological parents. Such arguments were included in state Supreme Court rulings last year in New York and Washington that upheld laws against same-sex marriage.
THE PROBLEM with this odd cause and effect argument is in comparing apples and oranges. The first statement says that (two) adoptive COUPLE parents have an "edge" over single (and step) parents. Well two would have an advantage over one! DUH! The second sentence refers to biological prents (TWO)! Not a single parent.
NOTE: Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, welcomed the study’s findings, but cautioned against possibly exaggerated interpretations of it.
The study was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation and the American Educational Research Association. Powell’s co-authors were Laura Hamilton, a doctoral student at Indiana University, and Simon Cheng, a sociology professor at the University of Connecticut.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Dannielynn's Life, So Far...
Her half brother died days after she was born and her mother five months later. Now this tiny baby, who stands to inherit a fortune, is living with her mother's most recent boyfriend and the man named as father, in a mansion in Nassau Bahamas, that Smith said was given to her by U.S. developer and former boyfriend G. Ben Thompson.
Thompson, however, said he had only lent it to her — and on Friday his lawyer had the locks changed. But boyfirned Howard K. Stern changed the locks and moved in with baby Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern.
Smith, in a lawsuit, had asked a court to recognize her as the owner and reject Thompson's claim on the house in the exclusive neighborhood.
The island chain's Supreme Court has scheduled a Feb. 26 hearing on the matter.
In addition to three men claiming to be the father of this child, The New York Daily News also reported Saturday that a manuscript it obtained by Smith's half-sister, Donna Hogan, says Smith froze the sperm of her late 90-year-old husband, Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, before his death and may have used it to become pregnant.
Friday, February 09, 2007
Dannielynn: Everybody's and Nobody's
While nothing to do with adoption,I was moved to comment about 5-month-old Danielynn, the infant daughter of Anna Nicole Smith. This child's life began bu being born to a well-known sex-symbol. Just days after her birth, Dannielynn's half brother Danny, for whom she is named, died of a drug overdose in their mother's hospital room, leaving Smith in a deep depression.
To cheer herself up, she had a televised commitment ceremony on a yacht in the Bahamas with her boyfriend, attorney Howard K. Stern, who is named Danielynn's father on her birth certificate. However, smith's ex-boyfriend photographer Larry Birkhead is waging a legal challenge, saying he is the father.
Now, as a cause for Smith's sudden collapse and death in a Florida Hard Rock hotel is sought a third claim for paternity has appeared. Prince Frederick von Anhalt, 59, the husband of actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, 90, for some twenty years, said Friday that he had a decade-long affair with Anna Nicole Smith and may be her infant daughter's father.
All three men await DNA testing.
Meanwhile - where is little Daniella while all of this drama is going on? It seems Mommy went to NY leaving her infant in the care of in the Bahamas by the mother of Shane Gibson, the Bahamian immigration minister who is a close friend of Smith's.
Danielynn stands to inherit whatever Smith's case against her deceased husband's estate finally settles for.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Interesting New Film
Six-year-old ragamuffin Vanya (Kolya Spiridinov) must choose between letting himself be adopted by an affluent Italian family, or running away from the children’s home run by a corrupt headmaster (Yuri Itskov) with the help of greedy adoption broker Madam (Maria Kuznetsova), to find the mother who abandoned him. Seeing that the older children must resort to stealing or prostitution in order to survive, plucky little Vanya decides to teach himself to read in order to steal his records and his birth mother’s address. Once he finds the address, Vanya sneaks out of the orphanage and boards a commuter train headed for the city. Fearing that Vanya will make them lose a very lucrative adoption deal, the orphanage master joins forces with Madam to find the runaway child by any means necessary.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Adoption as a PLEA BARGAIN!!
Deadly breast milk gets mother 9 months in jail
Her 5-month-old daughter died after being fed cocaine-tainted milk
Updated: 5:56 p.m. ET Feb 7, 2007
WEST BRANCH, Mich. - A woman accused of causing her infant daughter’s death by feeding her breast milk tainted with cocaine was sentenced Wednesday to nine months behind bars on a reduced charge.
Sara Shelby pleaded guilty last month to a charge of attempted manslaughter in the Aug. 21, 2005, death of 5-month-old Karie Lee Bowman.
She originally was charged with involuntary manslaughter, a felony that could have meant 15 years in prison, but she agreed to a plea deal in which she would terminate her parental rights to her other child, a 5-year-old girl.
Police said Shelby, 24, of West Branch, told them she had used cocaine two or three times the day before her daughter’s death.
A medical examiner ruled that the girl died of cocaine intoxication.
While children need protection, this sets a dangerous precedent for all nursing mothers. What about those who drink or smoke while breastfeeding?
AND...why should the infant suffer PERMANENT separation from her mother when rehab has not yet even been tried???
Coercion? This is adoption by extortion. Give up your child or sit in jail for 15 years! Attempted manslaughter?
"The law generally differentiates between levels of criminal culpability based on the mens rea, or state of mind. This is particularly true within the law of homicide, where murder requires either the intent to kill, or a state of mind called malice, or malice aforethought, which may involve an unintentional killing but with a willful disregard for life. The less serious offense of manslaughter, on the other hand, is the taking of human life but in a manner considered by law as less culpable than murder. Manslaughter is usually broken down into two distinct categories: voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter....involuntary manslaughter [as opposed to voluntary] sometimes called criminally negligent homicide in the United States or culpable homicide in Scotland, occurs where there is no intention to kill or cause serious injury but death is due to recklessness or criminal negligence." Wikipedia
A Doctor's Obligations
A disturbing number of doctors do not feel obligated to tell patients about medical options they oppose morally, such as abortion and teen birth control, and believe they have no duty to refer people elsewhere for such treatments, researchers say.
The survey conducted by University of Chicago, of 1,144 doctors around the country is the first major look at how physicians' religious or moral beliefs might affect patients' care. According to an American Medical Association policy statement, doctors can decline to give a treatment sought by an individual that is "incompatible with the physician's personal, religious or moral beliefs." But the physician should try to ensure the patient has "access to adequate health care."
And one can only wonder how many of these docs find it well within their "obligation" to suggest and arrange adoptions!
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Monday, February 05, 2007
The Exploitation of Mothers for Their Babies
DISGUTINGLY BLATANT EXPLOITATION OF THE POOR
American couples head to India for cheaper fertility serhttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifvices
MUMBAI, India - Jyoti Dave is pregnant, but when the 30-year-old gives birth in March the baby will not be taken home to bond with her other child, but will instead be handed over to an American couple unable to conceive.
For her trouble, the Indian surrogate mother will be paid. She won’t say how much, but she says it’s money she desperately needs to feed her poor family after an industrial accident left the family’s only breadwinnner unable to work.
“My husband lost his limbs working in the factory,” Dave told Reuters. “We could not manage even a meal a day. That is when I decided to rent out my womb.”
Surrogate motherhood is among the latest in a long list of roles being outsourced to India, where rent-a-womb services are far cheaper than in the West.
“In the U.S. a childless couple would have to spend anything up to $50,000,” Gautam Allahbadia, a fertility specialist who helped a Singaporean couple obtain a child through an Indian surrogate last year, told Reuters.
“In India, it’s done for $10,000-$12,000.”
Fertility clinics usually charge $2,000-$3,000 for the procedure while a surrogate is paid anything between $3,000 and $6,000, a fortune in a country with an annual per capita income of around $500.
But the practice is not without its critics in India with some calling it the “commoditization of motherhood” and an exploitation of the poor by the rich.
“It’s true I’m doing this for money, but is it also not true that a childless couple is benefiting?” said Rituja, a surrogate mother in Mumbai, who declined to give her full name.
Money meets convenience
For the surrogates — usually lower middleclass housewives — money is the primary motivator.
For their clients it’s infertility or — some claim — educated working women turning to hired wombs to avoid a pregnancy affecting careers.
But there is also a social dimension to their service, an empathy with the childless in a society that views reproduction as a sacred obligation, and believes good deeds performed in this life are rewarded in the next one, experts say.
“Surrogate mothers are giving their (the eventual parents’) lives a new meaning. For them the money they pay is just a token gesture that by no way substitutes their gratefulness,” said Deepak Kabir, a Mumbai-based gynecologist.
While there are no official figures it’s estimated between 100-150 surrogate babies are born each year in India, though the number of failed attempts is likely to be far higher.
Yashodhara Mhatre, a fertility consultant at Mumbai’s Center for Human Reproduction, says that while there are no comprehensive figures available perhaps 500-600 surrogate babies are born each year throughout the world.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
WANTED: Lawyers, Law Students, Legal Assistants...
"IDENTITY FRAUD - also known as document fraud, is the manufacturing, counterfeiting, alteration, sale and/or use of identity documents and other fraudulent documents to circumvent immigration laws or for other criminal activity. Identity fraud does not itself confer lawful status upon the perpetrator. Identity fraud often underlies or supports the crime of benefit fraud. Identity fraud in some cases also involves identity theft, a crime in which an imposter takes on the identity of a real person (living or deceased) for some illegal purpose."
Is it not illegal in any state to manufacture or use a false driver's license or other form of official ID? If it's illegal for an individual to manufacture false ID, what about the state that issues false birth certificates?
WANTED: anyone with a legal background or the know-how to find laws pertaining to state-issued fraudulent documents.
Once we have found the exact law that is in violation...we need an adoptee in each state to challenge the state in a class-action suit on behalf of all adoptees in that state who have been issued false birth certificates.
If we lose in any state, we take it to the U.S. Supreme Court and force a decision - with public support - that the federal government make it illegal from this point forward for any state to issue a certificate of birth with people named as parents who did not conceive and birth the child. People are not born into their adoptive families. It requires a legal action which should be duly noted.
Since this would affect only adoption moving forward from this point, it would not detract from the quest of those adopted in the past seeking open records. It could only help as it will generate a great deal of public understanding, sympathy and support to an issue that is very much misunderstood. It takes the issue totally away from "birthmother versus adoptee."
Some claim that a class-action suit was tried and failed, referring the ALMA's suit in NY. However, this is totally different. ALMA's suit was to gain access to records for those already adopted.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
SHOW YOUR SUPPORT!
SUPPORT Adoptee EQUALITY!
SUPPORT Aoptee EQUAL RIGHTS!
Get your Red, White and Blue OVAL
Two babies that no Safe Haven could have saved:
Newborn baby found dead in Brooklyn
Teenage mother allegedly thrown the baby
WABC By Jim Dolan
(Brooklyn - WABC, February 3, 2007) - In Brooklyn tonight, a teenage girl is accused of giving birth in her parent's apartment, killing her newborn son and then trying to hide it.
The tragic events played out in the Crown Heights and that's where Eyewitness News reporter Jim Dolan has more.
There is nothing about this story that won't break your heart. The 14-year-old girl who gave birth to the baby and the newborn baby itself, it's numbing in its sadness.
Medical examiner was brought to the scene Saturday to claim the body of the new born baby.
A 14-year-old girl had the baby last night apparently by herself in her bedroom. Her parents claim they had no idea their 14-year-old daughter was pregnant.
Alone and truly frightened, police say, she threw the baby out the window and in to the courtyard in the back of the building.
The girl was sick after the delivery and went to the hospital where they realized right away she had delivered a baby.
They called the police and the baby was found dead in the courtyard where the 14-year-old mother had allegedly thrown him.
"I was stunned," one of neighbors said. "I'm not thinking this would happen in my neighborhood."
"She was unable to talk to her family. If she was unable to, she should go to the church," the other neighbor said.
Police Find Family Heirloom Is Mummified Baby
Investigators To Study Mummified Baby Kept By N.H. Family
UPDATED: 11:38 am EDT April 24, 2006
CONCORD, N.H. -- A family heirloom is not going over well with police.
The mummified body of a baby kept by a Concord, N.H., family has drawn attention from investigators. (Click here to see an image of the mummified baby. Warning: The image is graphic.)
The current keeper of the baby, Charles Peavey, said the tiny mummy has been passed down in his family for many years. Concord police recently got word of the remains and they took them in for testing. A forensic anthropologist will examine the tiny corpse.
Peavey said the mummy belonged to his great-great uncle, who was born in Ashland in 1850. The family estimated that the mummy is 90 years old.
It was discovered among the uncle's possessions in 1947 in Manchester, N.H.
Police said the testing on the corpse could take a month or more.
The medical examiner is conducting an autopsy to find out if the baby died from the fall or from the frigid temperatures or something else all together.
The 14-year-old mother has not yet been charged but is in custody.