Monday, December 1, 2008

Adoptee Linda Zoblotsky on Texas law reform, her story and play "Luvchild"

I am Linda Zoblotsky.I lived in NYC for 18 years and then I moved to Texas 4 years ago in 2004, where I was born, to help my adoptive brother in Dallas with his computer business. I was born in El Paso, Texas. My adoptive parents were allowed to take me to Oklahoma, where I grew up, when I was only 8 days old.

Birth records are sealed in Oklahoma and in Texas. In 2005, after many years of the lobbying efforts of the triad community in Austin, Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill to open birth records, but only if you know the name of your natural parents, then you can apply for your original birth certificate.On the application, it says if you commit perjury, you can be fined up to $10,000.In a few weeks you get a Xerox of your birth certificate and it costs $10.00.

I had reunion with my natural parents in 2003. When Rick Perry signed this bill, I was just curious, so I sent in my application and $10.00 and now I have a Xerox copy of my original birth certificate.But for people who are still searching, I find this law cruel and inhumane.It is a tease to people in the position that I was once in, when I had no idea of the names of my natural parents.

I was very very lucky in that when I started searching in 1993, it took a while, but ALMA, the Adoptee Liberation Movement Association, matched me with a man and a women who were looking for a girl born in El Paso born on my birth date. By the time the letter with the match from ALMA arrived in 2001, I knew it was my natural parents, just because I figured there wouldn't have been a whole lot of Jewish children surrendered for adoption on my birth-date in 1963.

When ALMA sent me the information, after so many years, after I registered and my natural parents registered in the 1980's, the addresses and phone numbers were old. I had to use a combination of intuition, nerve and determination,like so many adopted people, to begin dialing. One day in 2003, when I turned 40, I encountered a voice that I liked on an answering machine in Berkeley. It took me a while to get the nerve to leave a message and when I did, I found my natural Mother. She contacted my natural Father immediately and it has been a very happy reunion. Both of my parents were thrilled!

While I was in New York City, I performed in 5 national musical theatre Broadway tours. It turns out that my parents met each other while they were students at the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago.My Father is a professional actor, writer and theatre critic in L.A. My Mother sang and acted in Chicago and NYC. My adoptive sister, who lost her 2 children to adoption, and a dear friend of mine who went to the Goodman School predicted that I would find my natural parents 10 days before I turned 40 and that's what happened.It turns out that my good friend from the Goodman was beginning school there, as my natural Mother was finishing, but he didn't know her, however, he came to realize that he knew my Mother's sister. And when I found my natural Father, an actress friend in NYC told me she knew him from when she was making the auditioning rounds in L.A. While I was making phone calls looking for my natural Mother, I was writing a one woman play about searching for my natural parents called Linda Zoblotsky is Luvchild. I'm glad I had to change the ending and I am thankful that my play has a joyous ending.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pending Lesislation for adoptee rights in New York Gains Support

Pending Legislation will Give Adoptees The Right To Know

by Joyce Bahr

A strong lobby by activists with New York Statewide Adoption Reform's Unsealed Initiative has brought the assembly bill A2277 to 75 sponsors and 31 supporters. This issue has taken a long time to be listened to because, adoptees who wanted to know their origins were vilified by some who disliked the idea of adoptees and birth/natural parents searching. Adoptees whose birth certificates were sealed beginning in 1935 include those who were adopted near the time of their birth and some who were adopted at older ages by stepfathers or stepmothers. Bill Aronis was adopted by his stepfather at age 19 and his original birth certificate was sealed at that time making it impossible to obtain a copy. Bill who is 80 years of age is not the only adoptee in the same predicament.

Adoptees began searching in large numbers in the 1970's and as of now there are many adoptees and birth/natural parents who already know their origins or the child they relinquished but adoptees are still denied the right to know. With this issue becoming more mainstream legislators are more aware of the issues and many have come around to support this long overdue right. However there are a small number of legislators who feel adoption policy should remain as it was 30 years ago. Adoption Social Workers will tell you adoption practice is always ahead of policy.There are many social workers in New York State along with members of the Child Welfare league of America who support the right to know.

New York State's adoption policy for adoptees and birth/natural parents who want to know pertains only to the New York Adoption Registry, meaning both parties must register and if that doesn't work too bad. The policy says do not search. This is an outdated policy in which human nature is not considered. Human beings have needs and they must be recognized. With current New York law adoptees and birth/natural parents have no say in the matter leaving them frustrated and humiliated.

A comprehensive report by the foremost think tank on adoption issues, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute released on November 12, 2007 found adoptees must be able to learn their identity, and urges all states to follow the path of the 8 states that allow adoptees access to birth certificates. The report depicts adoptees as the only class of Americans not permitted to routinely obtain their birth certificates. Kansas and Alaska never sealed birth certificates and four states, Maine, Oregon, Alabama and New Hampshire have passed legislation similar to New York's Bill of Adoptee Rights.

New York bill A2277/S235 gives all adoptees at age 18 the right to a copy of their birth certificate and has a contact preference option for birth/natural parents. Meaning they can choose Yes, I want to be contacted, I want to be contacted but only through an intermediary and No, I prefer not to be contacted at this time. Those birth parents who choose no contact are asked to fill out an updated medical history form. Many adoptees have no medical history, even though the U.S. Surgeon General stresses the importance of knowing one's medical history and doctors say most people die from genetic diseases.

Maine Senator and adoptee Paula Benoit who lobbyed for passage of the recent Maine legislation urges you to join the fight in New York to end discrimination to adoptees. Spokesperson for the adoptee rights movement Darryl McDaniels says non adopted persons begin their lives at chapter one while adoptees begin theirs at chapter two and have the right to know the first chapter. New York activists are demanding the right to know now!

Joyce Bahr is President New York Statewide Adoption Reform's Unsealed Initiative

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Brazil joins list of countries unsealing birth certificates

England gave adoptees rights in 1975. A new movement to end adoption scecrecy and lies was born. many countries have followed and changed laws unsealing birth certificates for adult adoptees. some countries give birth parents rights too.

read more | digg story

Friday, October 31, 2008

A progessive push needed for rights of adoptees and birth/natural mothers

by Joyce Bahr

How can we as members of the American society expedite passage of laws allowing access to identifying information and original birth certificates.? The history of adoption has a scary side to it filled with secrets, lies and shame. According to the Journal of Social History pregnancy out of wedlock was not a traumatic event before the Victorian Era. It was shortly after this time unmarried pregnant women became known as ruined and shame lowered their self-esteem. Adoption agencies sprung up to process the offspring of the guilty women who were destined to lose their child, and for some their first and only child. In the 1970's the Women's Movement and the Adoption Reform Movement instilled in both adoptees and natural parents a sense self and empowerment to emancipate themselves by searching.

Today is Halloween and I have to say the word horror comes to mind for women who were forced to surrender children by manipulative social workers who rode brooms on their way to church. The Protestants, Catholics and Jews were there to let pregnant women know if they loved their baby they would do what was best for it. Religion played a big part in adoption and adoption laws and does so to this day. I surrendered at a Lutheran agency in Chicago, an agency which opened it's heart to the injustice perpetrated against women and adoptees, and reunited me in with my son in 1986. A handful of Catholic agencies have been kind enough to help adoptees and natural/birth mothers reunite over the years and Catholic Charities of Albany supports the New York Bill of Adoptee Rights. However the Catholic Conference of New Jersey wants birth certificates sealed forever which is a mystery to be unraveled. Will we ever know the real reasons they want birth certificates sealed?

Did agencies promise surrendering mothers anything? No, and have most agencies offered to help birth/natural mothers reunite with the surrendered child now an adult? No.

Imagine Margaret's situation, the horror of learning forty years later there was no order adoption processed. She surrendered her son Tommy as an infant in Atlanta, Georgia in 1969.After giving birth to Tommy in Palm Beach county, Florida she relocated to Atlanta where she befriended a woman who helped arrange the supposed adoption. The friend is now deceased and all she remembers is meeting the adoptive mother who had dark hair and may have been of Costa Rican descent. She remembers receiving a photo of Tommy about age two from her friend and remembers he was well dressed and looked healthy. The state of Georgia recently changed it's law to offer search help for both adoptees and birth/natural parents through the state adoption registry and this gave her hope. However, her hope has turned to horror in her search for her only child born in July of 1968--there is no record in Georgia.

Perhaps he was adopted in another state, perhaps the adoptive parents raised him as if they gave birth to him. Of course Margaret has no record of anything she signed as it was common practice for a surrendering mother not to obtain a record. Margaret surrendered Tommy because she felt she couldn't give him what two parents could, and actually there was no reason for her not to have received a copy of whatever she signed.

There are only three states assisting birth/natural parents in their search, Illinois. Tennessee and Georgia. There are six states giving adult adoptees rights to a copy of their original birth certificate, Alaska, Alabama, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire and Oregon. Maine's law passed in June of 2007 and will be enacted in January of 2009.

Alaska and Kansas are two states which never sealed birth certificates and have direct or unfettered access laws. Alabama, Oregon, Maine and New Hampshire have laws giving all adult adoptees at age eighteen a copy of their birth certificate, and giving birth parents the option of a contact preference. The contact preference option is a choice of yes. I would like to be contacted, yes, I would like to be contacted but through an intermediary and no , do not contact me.

New York's Bill of Adoptee Rights has a contact preference and is very similar to the four states with contact preference laws. It's time for adoptee rights and an end to a law which has out lived its purpose. A law which discriminates against the very people it was meant to protect.

Please support Bills A2277 sponsored by New York Assemblymember David Koon and S235 sponsored by Senator William Larkin.