Category Archives: Lifestyle

Enact Leelah’s Law to Ban Transgender Conversion Therapy

Reprinted from Transgender Human Rights Institute/Facebook

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Supporters

On Sunday, December 27, 2014, Leelah Alcorn a 17 year old transgender youth wrote a suicide note, posted it on Tumblr and then walked out to a highway and out in front of a semi-truck tragically ending her life.  In her last post, Leelah explained how her parents had forced her to attend conversion therapy, pulled her out of school and isolated her in an attempt to change her gender identity.  One of the last things Leelah wrote is as follows:

“My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s fucked up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.“ -Leelah Alcorn

In the pursuit of honoring Leelah’s last request we the petitioners call upon the President of the United State- Barack Obama, and the Leadership of the House and Senate to immediately seek a pathway for banning the practice known as ‘transgender conversion therapy’.  We ask that you name the bill in memory of Leelah as the Leelah’s Alcorn Law and protect the lives of transgender youth. 

‘Conversion therapies’ have been documented to cause great harms and in this case, Leelah’s death.  Therapists that engage in the attempt to brainwash or reverse any childs gender identity are seriously unethical and legislation is needed to end such practices immediately.  Transgender youth have one of the highest suicide rates in the nation.  We must not allow therapists to increase those rates with therapy methodologies that have been demonstrated in harming trasngender youth.

All major psychological associations speak to the heart of harms that can happen to transgender youth when attempting to discriminate and change their gender identity.

From the American Association of Pediatrics

“According to the study, “Characteristics of Children and Adolescents with Gender Identity Disorder Referred to a Pediatric Medical Center,” in the March 2012 Pediatrics (published online Feb. 20), gender-dysphoric children who do not receive medical treatment or counseling for GID can be at high-risk for certain behavioral and emotional problems, including psychiatric diagnoses. Of 97 patients younger than 21 years who met the criteria for GID, 44 percent had a prior history of psychiatric symptoms, 37 percent were taking psychotropic medications, and 21.6 percent had a history of self-mutilation and suicide attempts.”

From the American Psychological Association:

“APA calls upon psychologists in their professional roles to provide appropriate, nondiscriminatory treatment to transgender and gender variant individuals and encourages psychologists to take a leadership role in working against discrimination towards transgender and gender variant individuals.”

From the National Association of Social Workers:

“People seek mental health services for many reasons. Accordingly, it is fair to assert that lesbians and gay men seek therapy for the same reasons that heterosexual people do. However, the increase in media campaigns, often coupled with coercive messages from family and community members, has created an environment in which lesbians and gay men often are pressured to seek reparative or conversion therapies, which cannot and will not change sexual orientation. Aligned with the American Psychological Association’s (1997) position, NCLGB believes that such treatment potentially can lead to severe emotional damage. “

From the American Counseling Association:

Standard A.1.a. (“Primary Responsibility”),  states that “the primary responsibility of counselors is to respect the dignity and to promote the welfare of clients.” Referring a client to a counselor who engages in a treatment modality not endorsed by the profession and that may, in fact, cause harm does not promote the welfare of clients and is a dubious position ethically. This position is supported by Standard A.4.a. (“Avoiding Harm”), which says, “Counselors act to avoid harming their clients, trainees and research participants and to minimize or to remedy unavoidable or unanticipated harm.”

 Please consider sharing and signing this petition. Together we can make the world a safer place for transgender youth everywhere.


Letter to
President Barack Obama
Senator Harry Reid
Representative Nancy Pelosi
and 1 other
President of the United States
Enact Leelah’s Law to Ban Transgender Conversion Therapy
Recent updates

Petition Update
President of the United States: Enact Leelah's Law to Ban Transgender Conversion Therapy
President of the United States: Enact Leelah’s Law to Ban Transgender Conversion Therapy
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Who Would Have Guessed?

We never know how life is going to turn out. All we can do is make plans, try our best, then be prepared to make changes when necessary.
When I started my search for my birthmother, I hadn’t realized that she had passed away the year before. However, during my search I came across a fabulous women, her family historian and self-proclaimed romantic, who wound up helping me sort together the pieces of my life. She helped me get a story. My story. The story I go into detail in Call Me Ella. You see, Ella was Elaine’s favorite aunt. She missed her favorite aunt. In a way, I think I brought her favorite aunt back to life.
And where am I now? I’m totally awestruck that I am sitting on my new porch, enjoying lunch, overlooking a golf course, in the condo I just bought right above my new, favorite cousin Elaine.
As we were watching TV last night, both of us missing our husbands, mine is out of town on business and Elaine just lost hers to cancer, Elaine looks over to me, smiling, “Fifteen years ago when you sent me that first letter asking if you looked like anyone in my family, did you ever think we’d be sitting here today, living next to each other, watching tv?”
“Never in a million years,” I replied.
I never did meet my birthmom, but sometimes things do work out. Just not the way we ever imagined.

The U.S. Census and Adoption

I don’t want to dwell on being adopted. It really shouldn’t affect my life. I got the family I was meant to have. I believe it. However, I’m surprised how I’m constantly reminded I’m an adoptee.
I got a form from the census bureau in the mail today. I was instructed to go online and answer some questions. One in particular really surprised me. They wanted the relationship of children living in the house. They listed the usual: son, daughter, parents, etc. then they added step children and adopted children. What does being adopted have to do with the census? I thought, by the process of adoption, one became the “real” child. Why make this distinction?
Then, they wanted to know my ethnicity in detail. The country of my origin. What about adoptees who don’t know their background? They don’t have a check mark for “don’t know.”
Really.
This morning on The View, actor Jay Thomas announced how he recently reunited with his son. And they were so much alike. What about the non-celebrities who can’t find their birth families?
My favorite. I just received test results warning me that I am pre-diabetic. After cutting out almost all sugar from my diet and adding exercise, my numbers are getting worse. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I have recently learned this condition, for me, is genetic. My two bio half-sibs had, have diabetes. One passed away very young.
Like it or not, an adoptee rarely forgets they are adopted.
I know I don’t.

What reminds you about your adoption?

My memoir. How I found my bio family.

My memoir about how I found my bio family.

Happy Father’s Day – Adoptive and Bio Dad

Happy Father’s Day – adoptive and bio dad.

I was one of the lucky ones. But I didn’t know it. It wasn’t until six years after he passed away that I learned my adoptive dad was actually my bio dad.
How often does that happen? So many times I read that the dad was denied rights to his biological child. The birthmother relinquished her child, either without telling the dad she was pregnant or giving him no choice in the matter.
I read about fathers trying to reclaim their children every day. To no avail. It breaks my heart.
My situation was different. I was told I was adopted. I believed I was adopted by both of my parents. Who wouldn’t think that?
Years later, after uncovering a photo of my dad’s high school graduation, and placing it next to my son’s graduation picture, I realized the two were identical. Almost as if they were twins separated at birth. Unbelievable.
I wanted to know a story.
Why did my son look like my adoptive dad? Why did I, in retrospect, look so much like my adoptive dad?
It took years to figure it out. And to figure out why my mom seemed to hate me.
Writing my story in Call Me Ella was very cathartic. But it doesn’t change the fact that my dad never got to tell me he was my bio dad.
I know it’s a little late but I want to take this moment, this Father’s Day, to say I love you dad. Although you couldn’t tell me the truth, you were always my real dad. In every way that counts.

Adoption – It’s Not Just My Story

I selfishly thought my adoption was about me. Just about me. I had asked my mom so many times about my birthmother. What happened to her? How did she die? (Mom always insisted she had died in childbirth but I learned years later she hadn’t died at all. They lied to me.) Did Mom know anything about this woman who “sacrificed” her life for me to be born? About the woman who gave my parents the ultimate gift? Me.

Yes, my questions were all about me. Questions my parents apparently didn’t have the answers to. I didn’t even know what time of day I was born. I never cared about those genealogy exercises in school because I didn’t have any blood relatives. I didn’t worry about my health since my father’s heart problems and my mom’s cancer weren’t inheritable, because I was adopted. I didn’t have any brothers or sisters. No one understood how I felt. Alone. No one looked like me. I cried when my aunt said I looked like I should be her daughter since I was short and fat like her, not tall like my mom. Why did she feel it was necessary to point out my weight in the same sentence that she reminded me that I was adopted? I was different. I didn’t belong.

I felt inadequate when I’d go to the doctor since I couldn’t provide the medical history they requested. Me, me, me. When I learned my birthmother hadn’t died in childbirth like I was told, I was more determined than ever to find this woman. To find out who she was, what she looked like, and why she gave me up. Since I learned she hadn’t died, I needed to know a reason. And I wanted to know why they lied to me.

Once I found out who my birthmother was, and I must say it took some amazing of detective work on my part, the focus was no longer just about me. It became about my birth mother. My first mother. Who was she? And why didn’t she, or couldn’t she, keep me?

After finding my adoption papers after both of my adoptive parents passed away, armed with only a last name, I wrote and mailed out letters. I included a picture of me and a short bio. I received a response from a woman, Elaine, who was the family historian. Yes, my birth family was so cool they have a historian. She and I set out to find out who I was. Where I came from. And why.

It took years. Twenty-four years for the two of us to piece together the puzzle to the point where we were certain who my birth mother was. Unfortunately, this woman had passed away about the same time I started looking for her.

This family historian, Laney, as I now called her, and cuz, as she called me, was so excited about the book I wrote about finding my birthmother. She told all her friends and family about my story. After one of her friends read my book, Call Me Ella, they posted this status on Laney’s Facebook page: “I loved the book,” she said to my cuz. “It’s about you!” I smiled. Yes, my new cuz Laney is the true hero of my book. Thank you for your help, your encouragement and your love! Without your help I would never have learned how I came to be!

Adoption is not just about the adoptee. It’s about the whole family. It’s about the adoptive family. It’s also about the birth family. When a child is put up for adoption, there are so many people involved. Potential siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins. The sad part is most of the time, the majority of people who are affected by adoption don’t even know an adoption took place. They have no idea there is a person in this world who is feeling alone. Different. Perhaps unwanted. No matter how much they might be loved by their adoptive family, there is still the underlying truth that at some point, they were separated from their blood. What can we do to help? The first step is honesty. Everyone deserves a story. Their own birth story. My adoption might have been the right option. Perhaps the only option. But growing up believing a woman had died who hadn’t? That’s the part that hurts the most. I learned about the lies after my adoptive parents, after my birth mother had passed away. It’s sad. There are so many things I may never know. So many unanswered questions.

January 1, 2017 is the day that I am expecting to be able to request my original New Jersey birth certificate for the first time. I wonder what it will say. Will I learn anything that I haven’t figured out already? If nothing else, perhaps I will learn what time of day I was born. That would be nice.

What do you hope to find when you finally get to see your original birth certificate?

Call Me Ella - An Adoption Reunion Memoir

Call Me Ella – An Adoption Reunion Memoir

New Jersey Original Birth Certificates to be Unsealed!

I just received a “personal” email from Gov. Christie about unsealing adoptees’ original birth certificates. I’ll share it with you.

Office of the Governor

Office of Constituent Relations

Post Office Box 001

Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0001

 

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE ELECTRONIC RESPONSE 

April 30, 2014 

Dear Ms. Kaufman: 

Thank you for writing to share your support for Senate Bill No. 873 (S873), which would permit adoptees and certain others to obtain an adoptee’s original birth certificate and other related information.  I appreciate hearing from you on this important matter.  

I agree that New Jersey should take a new, open approach to adoption records that would eliminate the requirement of obtaining a court order to access birth records while respecting and protecting the interests of adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents.  Thus, have recommended additional safeguards to balance the needs of adoptees seeking critical records of their identity with the expectations of birth parents in years past who may wish to remain private. These recommendations would allow birth parents to select a preference for contact: direct contact, contact through a confidential intermediary, or access to medical records only with continued privacy.  

Adoptees would be able to obtain an original birth certificate without involvement from the courts beginning in 2017. For adoptions finalized before the effective date of this bill, birth records will remain confidential through the end of 2016.  During that time, birth parents may choose to file a preference for contact with the State Registrar.  For adoptions finalized after August 1, 2015, long-form birth certificates will be available without redaction, and birth parents are permitted to submit an information statement electing their preferred method of personal contact.  Providing these transition periods will permit for appropriate educational campaigns on new open adoptions and avoid altering the settled expectations of parents and children without notice.   

have returned S873 to the Legislature with these suggested changes and look forward to their swift approval of the amended bill.  Again, thank you for writing to share your views on this legislation. 

Sincerely, 

 

Chris Christie

Governor

I can’t wait to finally see my own birth certificate! Not one that was created over a year after I was born.  Even though I’ve already figured out who my bio parents are, I’m dying to see what is on my actual birth certificate. I realize, false information might be there because knowledge of my birth could potentially have destroyed two families.

Who else is excited about getting their original birth certificate? What do you think you will find? What do you hope to find? Medical information? Family? Answers to questions like “who am I?”

Call Me Ella - An Adoption Reunion Memoir

Call Me Ella – An Adoption Reunion Memoir

Who Does an Adoptee Meet in Heaven?

Proof! According to Hollywood movies, recent bestsellers and tabloids, we have proof, from recorded near-death experiences, that not only is there a heaven, but your loved ones, even those you have never met, will greet you upon arrival. Do you believe in an afterlife? I don’t know if I believe or not, but it makes me wonder. I wonder who would greet me when I arrive.

 

When I think of mom and dad, I think of the parents who raised me. I didn’t think of them as my “adoptive” parents. To me, they were my parents. However, I did spend a lot of time thinking about the woman who gave me life. I wondered if she was pretty. I wondered if she had been happy as a child. I wondered if she had been in love with the man who helped create me. I wondered if he had died as well, and that’s why he couldn’t keep me. Sometimes I wondered if my parents wouldn’t tell me anything about my birthmom because they were afraid I would get hurt. Maybe the secret they were keeping from me was that I was a product of rape.

 

Since I always thought my birthmother died in childbirth, something that made me feel guilty my entire life, I never spent any time thinking about if she ever thought about me. She was gone. That question was off the table. Until my last birthday. Now that I know who my birthmother was, and why she put me up for adoption, and the fact that she had actually died around the year that I started looking for her, now I have questions. Now I wonder, did she think about me? This year on my birthday, for the first time, I wondered if she ever thought about me on my birthday. I wondered if she ever regretted giving me up. If she was anything like I am, she must have. I have an obsessive personality, still thinking about things that happened twenty, thirty years ago, wondering if I could have done something different that would have changed the trajectory of my life.

 

Now that I’m thinking about the past, I’m wondering, if there really is a heaven, and we do see our “family,” our loved ones, who I will see in heaven. Will my parents, the ones who raised me, greet me at the gates, with open arms and tears in their eyes, and hug me, trying to make up for all those years apart? Or will my birth mother be there? Will she push my adoptive parents out of the way, finally getting to be with the daughter she never knew? Or did she know me? Had she been watching me from afar? From heaven? Guiding me along, helping me find her. It took me twenty-four years to confirm who my birthmother was. Perhaps it was she who was leaving clues along the way, helping me find her.

 

I still have so many questions about my birth. I’m sure I was an accident. But was I also part of a love story? A one night stand? Why did everyone keep the story of my birth from me? After death, then, would everyone finally reveal all the secrets that they held for so many years?

 

Adoptees have so many questions. Who do you think you would meet in heaven and what are some of the questions you would ask them?

Call Me Ella - An Adoption Reunion Memoir

Click on picture for free sample or to purchase book.

Original Birth Certificates for New Jersey Adoptees

The headline in NJ.com read: Bill opening birth records for adoptees approved by NJ Assembly panel.

The main story in NJCARE read:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Adoption Hearing was heard before the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee. It was voted out of committee 4-0. You can listen to the hearing by going to the home page of the NJ Legislature and click on Archived Hearings.  Ask your Assemblyperson to support A1259 which will give adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates.

Are we, adoptees born in New Jersey, finally getting closer to getting our original birth certificates? My birth certificate, the “official certified copy” of my birth certificate, is dated one year after my birth. It lists my adoptive parents’ names as if they had given birth to me. Yes they raised me. Yes, they were my family. My mom and dad. But they were not my birth parents. They were not responsible for bringing me into the world. Isn’t it illegal to falsify documents? Doesn’t the state realize that they are depriving me the right to know who I am? Where I came from?

In 2011, Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the adoptee birth certificate bill, insisting anonymity for mothers. He said the records should be released but insisted that women who gave their kids up to adoption should have their anonymity preserved. What will happen this time? Will he veto the bill again?

Hasn’t he seen the movie Philomena? How many birthmothers would give anything to know the child they relinquished, many of whom where relinquished against their will, is healthy? Happy? Alive? Gov. Christie claimed birthmothers want anonymity. Maybe some do. From what I’ve read, most want to learn what happened to their child. Their flesh and blood.

I admit, I am not a birthmother. So I can’t speak for birthmothers. But I can speak as an adoptee. When I began my search twenty-something years ago, I wrote letters. Who did I write to? I lucked out, if I can use the term “luck.” Right before my mom passed away, she told me where she kept her important papers. In that box I found my adoption papers. This was the first time I learned what my birthmother’s last name was. Armed with that information, I wrote letters to people with my birth name. I finally hit pay dirt when my letter was passed on to a woman who was considered the “family historian.” (I thought it was so cool that my birth family had a “historian.”)Each letter I wrote included verbiage such as, “I don’t want to intrude on anyone’s life, I just want to know who I am.” Eventually, and this took many years, the historian and I fit together the pieces. We figured out who my birthmother had been. A woman who had passed away the year after my mom passed away.

I’m worried. Is Gov. Christie going to insist on protecting the anonymity of a woman who died twenty-five years ago? Whose husband has passed away and most of the children she raised? What if he insists that we get permission from the birthmother? Will this be a catch-22? She can’t give permission because she is dead. She can’t deny permission because she is dead.

I can’t begin to explain the feeling I’m anticipating the day I’m finally able to get my original birth certificate. To hold it in my hands. To see my name as it was written the day I was born. To finally feel whole. I’m anxious. I’m excited. I hope this bill passes before it’s too late. Before I’m dead.

I’d love to hear from other adoptees about how you will feel when you finally get your OBC. What are you expecting? And from birthmothers. Have you been looking? Are you hoping to be found?

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Click to get sample or purchase book.

Adoptee Commits Suicide

When I got the tragic news that a sixteen-year-old girl died, I was horrified. Jumping to conclusions, I assumed she had been in a car accident. A victim of a drunk driver. Or perhaps she was drinking behind the wheel. Why are sixteen-year-olds driving anyway? Or drugs. Too many kids use drugs these days. This was not just any sixteen-year-old, however. This girl was the daughter of a man my husband had been friends with many many years ago. A man who also passed away, way too young. We wanted to know why, how, she died. My husband, who hadn’t been in touch with the girl’s mother for years, couldn’t ask. We looked up her name online. Her obituary did not list a cause of death. But it did list her age and her school. She was my granddaughter’s age. She attended my granddaughter’s school.

I called my granddaughter to find out if she knew any details. She was the one who told me it was a suicide. The school was providing counselling for the students. Now that we’ve ruled out driving, drinking and drugs, my mind immediately leaped to another conclusion. “She was adopted,” I said to my husband. That’s all I had to say, as if the word “adopted” covered it all.

Why did I link the suicide to adoption? I don’t know what type of relationship this young girl had with her family. With her adoptive mother. Most teenagers are filled with angst. With existential angst, wondering why they were born. An adoptee has the additional angst of wondering why she was given up. Abandoned. Is that enough to cause someone to commit suicide? There must be more.

When I was a teen, I often thought about committing suicide. I even got as far as holding a razor blade in my hand. Dumping a bottle of aspirins (I know, very lame) on the bathroom vanity. I was brought back to my senses when my mom, my adoptive mom, yelled, “What’s taking you so long in the bathroom?” I stopped my foolishness and reminded myself, if I killed myself, I’d never know how things would turn out. Maybe it gets better.

Since this suicide, I started thinking about how many events in my life revolved around my mother. My mother criticized me. My birthmother might have done the same. My mother hated that I did things differently than her. That I looked so different than she looked. She tried to change me all the time. She even tried to get me to dye my hair like hers when I was 12! We fought over trivial things all the time. I might have fought the same with my bio mother. We also might have been very different. I’ll never know. She passed away before I learned who she was.

I married when I was only eighteen, to get away from mother. Is this common among adoptees? I married an addict. Is this common among adoptees? After my divorce I remarried right away. Was this my fear of being abandoned because I was given away at birth? I only have questions. Not answers. But it still haunts me that I immediately jumped to the conclusion, adopted, when I heard about a suicide.

The point is not that adoptions cause these problems. The point is, how can we avoid potential problems that might be brought on by adoption? First and foremost I believe that adoptive parents must remember that their child is unique. Their child has a different bio-identity. Different blood. Do not try to mold the child to your ways. Teach right from wrong, as you would with any child, but embrace their differences. Embrace their uniqueness. They might be brilliant, creative, talented in ways you’d never had imagined. Ways you’d never have expected. Their DNA might lead them in directions you’d never dreamed of. Enjoy your children. Love them. Let them be the best they can be. If they want to know their heritage, let them. Encourage them to learn who they are. Where they came from. Never feel threatened. If they grew up knowing you loved them, that won’t change.

What were some issues you faced as an adoptee? What would you like to tell adoptive parents?

I discuss my own adoption issues and my twenty-four year search in my memoir, Call Me Ella. This is available in paperback, Kindle, Nook, iBooks and more. I’d love to get your feedback.

The Adoption Reunion

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I must say, it feels good to see my book, Call Me Ella, in print now as well as Kindle, iBooks and Nook. This search took twenty-four years. Was it worth all the work to find out who I am? Yes, a million times over.

When I started searching, the Internet was in its infancy. Throughout the years, clues gradually popped up. In the end, it all made sense. I made sense. I feel a great sense of relief and accomplishment. I feel whole.

My search most likely would have been much easier if I had my original birth certificate. Hopefully, someday soon adoptees will have their birth certificates unsealed. In the meantime, you too can be your own detective. Never give up!

The paperback version: Call Me Ella -adoption. http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1494713993/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1388730568&sr=8-1&pi=SY200_QL40