I want to know who she is and where she is, that big powerful mother who keeps convincing the legislators of this continent that we first mothers want to hide from our children, you know, the ones we gave birth to.
I don’t get it.
The studies say that’s not true. Something like 90% of birth parents want to be found. And among the small percentage of those who say they don’t, 50% change their mind within a year of being contacted.
Anecdotal evidence from the other mothers says that ‘s not true. Mothers want to be found or went searching and have found.
The blogosphere says that’s not true too. Everybody out here seems to be talking about how we can get them to open things up.
But somehow, this mighty mother still convinces law-makers that adoption records cannot be completely open because she made a deal, a contract, with the kind folks who counselled her to relinquish her baby and by god, she doesn’t care about the rest of us mothers and adoptees, she wants that contract upheld.
Now despite being a “troubled and misguided” young lady who went out and got herself pregnant, some where along the way I managed to get a law degree. And one of the things I learned while getting a law degree is what constitutes a contract. By any definition I know, there was no contract that guaranteed confidentiality between mothers and anybody. It’s not in the adoption papers that were signed. As I like to say, it was not a promise made but a punishment imposed. Any suggestion that there were negotiations going on, mother to adoption agency, is laughable.
But that’s not relevant the big powerful mother says because, silly you, it wasn’t a contract,contract, as in legal contract; it was a social contract.
A social contract? What’s that?
According to Wikipedia:
The term social contract describes a broad class of republican theories whose subjects are implied agreements by which people form nations and maintain a social order. Such social contract implies that the people give up some rights to a government and/or other authority in order to receive or jointly preserve social order.
Well we must be on the right track here because Wikipedia is talking about giving up rights. So, just like they taught me in law school, I have to ask, “How are you defining rights? How are you defining social order? What is the social order that wants preserving? Who are the people who want to receive this social order?”
Now from everything I read, it’s not the mothers and it’s not the adoptees who want to receive or preserve this social order. I think we are the people who are supposed to give up the rights, as Wikipedia says, to preserve everyone else’s social order.
Do you think it just might be the adoptive parents who want to preserve this social order?
Here’s an excerpt from “How Adoption in America Grew Secret…” an article by Professor E. J. Samuels of the Baltimore School of Law that appeared in The Washington Post. Professor Samuels seems to think it might be the adoptive parents too.
Legal adoption in America only came into being starting in the second half of the 19th century, and at first all adoption records were open to the public. When they began to be closed, it was only to the general public, and the intent was to protect adoptees from public scrutiny of the circumstances of their birth. Later, as states began to close records to the parties themselves, they did so not to provide lifelong anonymity for birth mothers, but the other way around — to protect adoptive families from possible interference or harassment by birth parents.
Her phrase “to protect adoptive families” is an interesting one because as I read some of the opinions that were expressed in my own jurisdiction with respect to opening adoptive records, it is not just the current adoptive parents who must be protected but also the future, the potential, adoptive parents.
Adoptive parents because they believe a lot of the myths about adoption are worried that if mothers are not guaranteed confidentiality, they will not relinquish their children for adoption. The supply line which is already getting tight might dry up further.
Do you think some of these letters arguing promised confidentiality may not be from mothers. Maybe they are from adoptive parents, current and future.
Or maybe I’m all wrong and there is one big powerful mother out there who has the ear of government. If I could just find her and talk to her, I would tell her not to be afraid. For one thing, coming out of the great void is wonderful. For another, there’s no point. They can pass or refuse to change all the laws they want – we’ll still find each other. Many of us already have.
They only control one of the doorways to information. How does that old saying go about somebody closing a door and opening a window?
Hasn’t the UN said something about every child having the right to know and be raised by its own parents.