Posted on May 3rd, 2011 by David R. Ford
As an advocate for adoptees’ rights to access their original birth certificates (the ones that show the names of the birth parents), I’ve had the chance to talk to birth mothers and learn more about organizations that support them in their efforts to connect with their birth children. My informal study of the issue tells me that most birth mothers have a strong interest in knowing how things turned out for the kids they gave up, and would encourage some level of contact with their adult birth children. That’s not to say that they are looking for a full relationship with the adoptees, but that they would at least welcome contact from their birth children.
Posted on April 10th, 2011 by David R. Ford
Only 10 states currently have laws that give adult adoptees access to their original birth certificate (much less full access to their adoption records): Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon and Tennessee). Two more (Connecticut and Rhode Island) have legislation pending, and there are efforts underway in others to give adoptees this right to basic information.
There are honorable arguments for and against granting adult adoptees access to their original birth certificate—as opposed to the second one issued for them, naming their adoptive parents in place of their birth parents. The American Adoption Congress (www.americanadoptioncongress.com) strongly supports access, while the National Council for Adoption (www.adoptioncouncil.org) takes the opposite view. I personally support the efforts of the American Adoption Congress.
Posted on April 7th, 2011 by David R. Ford
Back in the mid-1980’s, I had finally worked up the nerve to call the Virginia state agency that had my adoption records. I knew that Virginia treated those records as confidential, but hoped that I might be able to get even a little bit of information that would help me in my search for my birth family.
The bureaucrat I finally spoke with seemed cold; maybe it was just because she got so many calls like mine, from people asking for something she couldn’t give them. But I was surprised that she said I could have sanitized versions of my records, even though she told me there wouldn’t be much of interest in them. The “sanitized” part would be anything that might identify my birth parents, which she said would be cut from the documents.
Posted on April 4th, 2011 by David R. Ford
In my last post, I mentioned that I’d known for most of my life that I had an older brother out there. I had been told that he was seven years old when I was given up for adoption and, at least as far as I knew, was being raised by my birth parents.
I had made half-hearted attempts to find out about my birth family over the years, but only got serious about it after a friend told my wife that she’d seen someone who “looked like my twin, only older,” riding on the DC subway system one morning. By then I was a partner in a law firm in downtown Washington. The idea that my brother might be walking down the sidewalk in front of my office building shook me out of my hesitation to find him.
Posted on March 23rd, 2011 by David R. Ford
One of the great things about writing Blind in One Eye: A Story About Seeing the Possibilities, or just talking to people about finding my birth family, is that the intimacy and emotion of it seems to encourage people to tell me their stories. Often the stories relate to adoption, but sometimes they’re about variations on the theme of “family secrets.” I’ve learned not to be too surprised by the reactions I get to my story, and have learned much about the complexities of families.
Posted on March 21st, 2011 by David R. Ford
I spent forty years scribbling the word “adopted” across the medical history form whenever I went to a new doctor. That one word answered all of the questions, but didn’t tell the doctor anything. At least it saved me time, not having to check the boxes that would have said whether either of my birth parents had heart problems, diabetes and the like. And every time I faced those unanswerable questions, the process left me wondering how much what I didn’t know was affecting the quality of the health care I got.
Posted on March 20th, 2011 by David R. Ford
When people hear (or read) the story of my birth parents—a married, middle-class couple who secretly gave up four of their seven children for adoption at birth—they often ask me, Why?” As in: why would my birth parents have so many children that they weren’t going to keep? It’s hard to imagine how difficult it would have been for a woman to be pregnant for a big part of seven years with four children she would serially give up for adoption.
The second half of my book explores the “why” question. But my adoptive mother has a touching answer of her own: “Your birth parents kept having those babies until they created you for us.”
Posted on March 17th, 2011 by David R. Ford
I started writing Blind in One Eye: A Story About Seeing the Possibilities just so that I could keep the memories of my search for my adoption history in one place. By the time I’d finished, though, the book had a bigger purpose for me. Yes, I do tell the startling details of finding my secretive birth family—and it’s a story in which I’m very happy to have played a role.