Category Archives: Politics

New Jersey Adoptees OBC

I recently wrote in my post I Drank the Kool-Aid that I was so disappointed in my original birth certificate. I did not get the information I was hoping for. It did not list either of my birth parents names. It did not give me a birth name from my birth mother. It was actually illegally completed by my adoptive mother who claimed that she was the doctor. Yes I was devastated and furious at her and at the system for allowing this to happen. 

However, I am thrilled to note that a friend of mine who also knew she was adopted her whole life had a very different experience than I did. She received information on her birth mother who unfortunately passed away recently. She also learned of a birth father and four bio siblings!!! And she was named. I am so excited for her!!

Never give up trying to learn more about yourself. I’m glad I had already learned my truth without my birth certificate. I wish everyone the best in learning their own truth. 

Why Vote Democratic 

I need to vent 

I am proud to be a citizen of the United States of America. The key word here is united. The Republican Party wants to remove the word “United” from our laws. For abortion, they want to toss out Roe v Wade and send that back to the states to decide if abortion should be legal. What does that mean? It means that if a woman wants to get a safe abortion she can. In some states. In New York she would have access, on demand, to a safe abortion.

What about women in Ohio who want to get an abortion? (Don’t forget that this is currently legal throughout the entire country.) Kasich wants each state to decide. He wants his state to make abortion illegal. What would that mean to the women of Ohio? Well, as always, if the woman has money, it would basically just mean an inconvenience. She would have to travel to New York to have a procedure that should be available close to her home. What about a woman that does not have the means to travel at will? She might seek an illegal, unsafe abortion. Or be coerced into giving birth and told that it would be best for her to give up her child for adoption. The conservatives are convinced that women giving away  babies are doing a good thing for the child. Obviously they haven’t asked any birth mothers or adoptees if they are happy for having been separated. Adoption is not the solution to the abortion problem. 

As a matter of fact, better access to birth control, i.e. Planned Parenthood, is one of the best plans for preventing abortions. But the conservatives want to defund Planned Parenthood as well. 

One of my personal reasons for opposing laws going back to the state is is the case of adoptees obtaining their original birth certificates. State by state, adoptees are very slowly gaining access to their OBCs. This is far from acceptable. In Ohio, OBCs are now available for adoptees. This legislation went through rather quickly after years of petitioning the government. However, I was born in NJ. Gov Christie finally allowed access to OBCs two years ago, with a 2 1/2 year wait. Therefore, I’m still waiting. You see, when laws are left to the state, there is no equality. The woman who wants an abortion that might be illegal in Ohio, could, theoretically go to NY if she could afford it. But adoptees born in NJ can’t go to Ohio to get their birth certificates. 

This is my personal issue. The issue that affects my thoughts way too often. But what is truly making me furious these days is how some states are making it difficult for LGBT constituents to be treated with equality, dignity and respect in their day to day lives. I don’t give a damn if someone wants to make a cake for a gay couple. Let them put an anti gay sign in their window so the gay community and any LGBT supporter knows where to stay away from. But issuing marriage licenses! That is a federal law! Not an individual choice. It’s not a cupcake. It’s a law. A right. And this bathroom nonsense. If you had any idea what a transgender person goes through just to feel comfortable in their own body, you would praise the person for their courage. If they might make you feel uncomfortable in the bathroom, get over it. Get over yourself. Have some human understanding. Most likely you have shared a bathroom with a transgender person and didn’t know it. If you are afraid in a public restroom, don’t use it. 

If everyone would just live their own life and stop trying to take rights away from others we would all be happier. We must vote democratic if we believe in human rights. Please. Don’t take away our constitutional rights that should be guaranteed to everyone. It shouldn’t be done on a state by state basis. 

Same Sex Marriage 

Sometimes justice is served. Sometimes things go right. Sometimes it seems we wait forever to get what we should have had all along. Freedom to marry the person you love is a human right.

I’m naively surprised the decision was 5-4. The same way I’m surprised by how many people still fight to display the confederate flag. I’m saddened that there are so many people who want to keep the Constitution the way it was written, forgetting, or maybe remembering, that when the Constitution was written there was slavery and women couldn’t vote. I don’t want to go back to those days.

We, as a country of individuals from all walks of life, need to learn to love and respect, and perhaps embrace our differences.

I’m especially pleased that the SCOTUS made this landmark decision on the anniversary of the day I met the love of my life!

Next, how about the Supreme Court rules that every adoptee has the right to their original birth certificate.

What’s in Your Closet? Coming Out in 2015

Bruce Jenner came out of the closet. At sixty-five, he’d been there for a long, long time. (I’m using the pronoun “he” because, although he identifies as a woman, he told Diane Sawyer to continue referring to “him” as “he”. I assume “he” will become a “she” after the upcoming documentary.

Cristela Alonzo came out today on The View. She came out as having grown up as a poor child.

What does a “closet” hold? A lot of baggage. Stuff we don’t want anyone to know. Stuff we are ashamed of. What’s wrong with being poor? Why would anyone have to hide that? Why would a child feel shame that their parents don’t have money, you might ask? It’s not the child’s responsibility to earn a living. To provide for their family. But put yourself in that child’s shoes. Literally. Imagine for a moment how the “poor” child feels looking down at their own hand-me-down shoes with the worn-out soles glancing down at the new Converse/Vans/Sperry-clad feet of her classmates. I said classmates, not friends, because the cool kids are friends with other kids in their same socio-economic-sports-click class. Yes, kids, like adults, are snobs.

Our closets are chock full of shit.

OK, my closet it chock full of shit. My issues that I had to deal with myself as well as others issues, have been locked away, in my closet.

Relating closely to Bruce Jenner is my newest. No, I am not transgender. At least I don’t feel I am even though most of my thought processes are what society deems as male. I’m good at math. If you tell me a problem, I want to find a solution, not just offer comfort. And if asked what I see myself in, I most likely would tell you about a cool car rather than a fancy dress or piece of jewelry.

Society is weird. If Bruce Jenner wears a dress, he must be trans/gay/cross-dressing. If I wear pants, I’m comfortable. But I digress.

Coming out of the closet means you are ready to tell someone something they don’t know about you. Something you feel they might judge you about. Something that might make them not like you. Something you fear will change your life.

In the past I came out as a binge eater. Embarrassed to eat my  favorite foods in front of others, I literally hid food in my closet, my drawers, to eat while alone. So no one would know. I found comfort in Weight Watchers where there were other people like me. Others who could relate to my problem. Others who would not judge me, but accept me as I was; a person struggling day-to-day with an eating disorder. In turn, I spent years counseling others with their food addictions. Helping others helped me. I still have an eating disorder, but it no longer controls my life. I can accept that I have good days and bad days. Coming out of the closet made a tremendous difference in my life.

Sometimes your closet is full of other people’s issues. What is, or should our role be in coming out for someone else? Bruce Jenner felt tremendous relief coming out as transgender. No longer having to hide, he is now able to live his life as a woman. Dressing as a woman. Wearing makeup. More importantly, not having to hide from his family and the public. But what about his family? They must be relieved as well. The whole world suspected Bruce was transitioning. We saw the changes in facial features. The long hair. The nails. We speculated. So did his family. But it wasn’t their story to tell. They had to keep quiet. They had to keep his secret. Now they don’t. I imagine that would give them a tremendous sense of relief.

I don’t just imagine this. I know it.

For years I kept secrets that tore me up every day. Married to an alcoholic, I didn’t want anyone to know about the dui’s, the job losses, the car accidents. I couldn’t tell the few friends I had for fear I’d lose their friendship. And I definitely couldn’t tell my parents. They would have insisted I leave him. Since I was confident I could fix him, I led a secret life, struggling in the background, hiding money and emptying bottles. His addiction was not my story to tell. Until Al-Anon. There I could open up. There I could be myself. Share my struggles. Get advice from people who understood my problem. People who had been-there/done-that. Al-Anon members told me it wasn’t my job to fix the alcoholic. That I couldn’t even if I wanted to. They helped me break free. Eventually I realized that I could no longer subject my children to the life of living with an active alcoholic, so I ended the marriage. I was finally free to rid my closet of another large piece of baggage.

However, LGBT is different. So many people are still in the closet because of fear they will be judged. Bruce Jenner hopes his coming out will make a difference. I pray Bruce Jenner’s coming out will make a difference.

Being gay, identifying as a gender other than the one you were assigned at birth, is not a choice. It is who you are. The way you were born. There should be no more shame in being gay than there is in having blue eyes or red hair. Or yes, being chubbier than the Hollywood ideal.

The statistic that forty-one percent of transgender people attempt suicide is a percentage I can’t wrap my brain around. That figure is “attempting” suicide. Not “thinking” about suicide. This has got to change!

Why is gender so important in this society? We are all people. We are part of the human race. Get over it. People are people. Accept it.

You don’t have to be LGBT yourself to come out. When someone in your life announces they are part of the LGBT community, you wind up being part of their story. For instance, if your brother has a boyfriend, when talking about your brother’s boyfriend, you are essentially telling the world your brother is gay. The way you present that information, the way you convey someone else’s “story” tells a lot about you. Not about them. Be proud. Just as you would telling about a girlfriend your brother might have. If you don’t make a big deal out of it, others won’t. (This is positive thinking. I’m not naïve enough to believe everyone will be accepting. But I can hope.)

As I said, I am not Lesbian or transgender. However, I now feel I am part of the LGBT community. I used to have to most beautiful, talented, intelligent granddaughter in the world. Now, after a lot of reading, and with the help of outspoken celebrities like Laverne Cox and Bruce Jenner, I’m now starting to understand a little more about what it feels like to be transgender. To identify as a different gender than the one in which you were assigned at birth. It’s not my position to “out” anyone. I just want to share that I am now the proud grandmother of the most handsome, talented, intelligent grandson in the world. And he identifies as transgender.

If you or a loved one has issues that are stuck in a closet, find help. There are many support groups  online and in person that are there for you. Reach out.

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.

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

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.

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

23andMe Has Changed

Now on the 23andMe.com website:

Welcome to 23andMe.

At this time, we have suspended our health-related genetic tests to comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s directive to discontinue new consumer access during our regulatory review process.

We are continuing to provide you with both ancestry-related genetic tests and raw genetic data, without 23andMe’s interpretation.

If you are an existing customer please click the button below and then go to the health page for additional information, including information about refunds.

We remain firmly committed to fulfilling our long-term mission to help people everywhere have access to their own genetic data and have the ability to use that information to improve their lives.

Upon entering the site, please confirm you understand the new changes in our services.

I first got interested in the 23andMe DNA testing after hearing about Angelina Jolie having a preventive double mastectomy. Most adoptees don’t have the genetic information of their ancestors that would lead them to go to their doctors and order the specific test required to see if they carried the gene that could lead to breast cancer. We have to rely on regular mammograms and doctors’ visits, hoping that cancer would be caught in time. However, since annual mammograms are not recommended until age fifty, and many cancers start well before fifty, we adoptees could be in added danger without knowing our family history.

I procrastinated. I was a little nervous to get tested. I’d already done a DNA test with Ancestry.com and found many distant relatives. None genetically close. No 1st or 2nd cousins. After seeing so many people “like” the website on Facebook, I finally got the nerve to order the test from 23andMe. The immediate reply I got was that the test was not available in Maryland, where I live. When my daughter moved to Virginia I decided to order the test using her address. That would fool them. They’d never know. I’d finally get a little, long overdue, genetic information. Haha, they fooled me. Again, I waited too long. By the time I went online to order the test, it was too late. The FDA ordered them to stop testing.

I wondered why. Are they afraid we wouldn’t know what to do with the information? Are they afraid we’d all go out and do something rash, like see a doctor, if we learned we had a potentially dangerous gene? Most people who aren’t adopted have an alcoholic uncle who shows up at family gatherings. Do they stop having children because they might have an alcoholic gene? Or if their aunt died from ovarian cancer, do they run out and get a hysterectomy?  What is the FDA afraid of?

I would like to get tested. For $99, I’m sure I wouldn’t get the same info that Angelina Jolie got for $5,000. But this test might lead me to go to my doctor and ask more questions. Perhaps order more tests. Or specific tests. It’s the unknown that scares me. I want to know more. Please.

What do you think? Maybe the government, or the FDA, could offer a basic gene screening with the results going directly to our doctor. That way, when the doctor asks me for the hundredth time, is there anyone in your family…? I don’t have to answer, “I’m adopted. I don’t know.”

What are your thoughts?

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To Angry Adoptees

I am an adoptee. I believe I have the right to my original birth certificate that has been denied to me by the state of New Jersey. That being said, I need to point out that I am not an angry adoptee. Yes, I did have a love/hate relationship with my mom. Notice, I said “my mom.” I didn’t say, “My adoptive mother.” My mom was my real mother, whether she gave birth to me or not. Giving birth doesn’t make a person a mother. What makes a mother is someone who feeds you, takes you to the doctor when you are sick, cares for you, makes you study, scolds you when she feels it’s necessary, or just when she loses her temper as we all do. A mom does your laundry, cooks chicken soup and cries at your wedding.

My mom was not perfect. She had a bad temper. And she made me practice the piano far too many hours for someone who obviously did not have enough talent to become a professional pianist. Maybe she had more confidence in me than I had in myself.

My mom was a great cook. I did not inherit my mom’s metabolism, or thick curly hair. I did not inherit my mom’s artistic abilities. But when my children beg for more of my chocolate cake, I tell them their grandma taught me how to bake.

By accident, I joined a Facebook page for people who are against adoption. People who hate their adoptive parents. Every time I logged on to the site, I read about adoptees who hated their a-mom. Despised their a-dad. They spent countless hours waiting to meet their bio-mom or dad. They fantasized about the woman who gave them life, then let them go. They put these people on a pedestal, assuming that they have spent countless years praying for the day when they would be reunited with the child they had to give up.

There are far too many women who were forced, or coerced, to relinquish their babies. This is one of the worst tragedies ever. How dare someone, a stranger, a relative, tell any woman or young girl that it would be better for another family to raise their child? How could anyone say that getting a college degree is more important than keeping your baby? Your flesh and blood? After she gets the degree, she could spend the rest of her life analyzing how she sold her soul, her child, for a piece of paper. A piece of paper that could have been postponed.

Shame on all the “grandparents” who refuse to help their daughters, those who didn’t plan on getting pregnant, raise their child and instead, force them to relinquish a part of them. A part of their family.

A greater shame on any politician who even dares an opinion on a subject that is non-of -their business.

Yes, I believe that adoption should be the last choice. The first choice would be for the birthmom to stay with the child.

That being said — I need to point out that the birthmother does not always want to meet the child they gave away. Yes, that may be hard to swallow. But for many, and I have read countless stories of heartbroken adoptees praying for the love of their birthmoms, who have experienced great disappointment. Many birthmoms, unfortunately, have moved on. Many have a new life. A new family. They don’t want to meet the child they relinquished for adoption. Or perhaps, they just want to know they made the right decision. They want to meet, but not have a relationship. Many adoptees have trouble accepting this.

For those who dislike their adoptive moms, I want them to know there are, I’m sure, just as many people who hate their bio parents. As I said before, giving birth doesn’t make one a parent. Pick up any newspaper, go online any day, and you’ll find stories about birth parents, natural parents, beating their children, locking them up, starving them, tossing them out on the street, or allowing a “boyfriend” to have his way with them.

Giving birth has nothing to do with parenting. Adopting has nothing to do with parenting. Parenting with love is all that matters. We need to do away with the labels. A mom is a mom. A dad is a dad. The only thing that matters is love. And remember — ultimately, we make our own families. We choose who we love. We need to love ourselves. We need to let others be human.