A Solemn Duty


Ms. Feverfew –

Today at church, the lesson was on the conference address I wrote about a few weeks ago, “LDS Women are Incredible!” It was taught by my old Visiting Teaching partner.

It was a tough lesson to sit through.

Oh, not because I don’t think LDS women are incredible – I think the women who make up the worldwide membership of this church are an amazingly diverse and exceptional group of women.

It was hard because she was teaching on this particular lesson.

Last fall when we were new Visiting Teaching partners, we were at the home of one of the women we visit. Somehow, the subject turned to adoption and I made the comment about how important it was for adoptees to have access to their first families if at all possible. With the hiss of a viper and the sting of a scorpion, this woman turned on me in an instant. She pointed her finger at me and angrily said, “Those people don’t deserve to know about the children they abandoned and adopted children don’t need to have anything to do with their birth families.”  She then proceeded to tell me how her mother had taken in three children because their birth mother was a “promiscuous junkie” who didn’t deserve to be in the same room with “those kids.” Eventually her mother legally adopted all three of the children but they had “turned out to be just as disastrous as their birth mother because my mom let her continue to see them.”

Today, she stood at the front of the Relief Society room with tears streaming down her face as she talked about her great-great grandmother’s journals and how when she read them, she felt connected to her across the generations. She told of how just like herself, her great-great grandmother didn’t get married until later in life (38), didn’t like doing housework, wasn’t a very good cook, and would rather spend her time reading and writing than taking care of more mundane daily activities. Her voice caught in her throat and she had to stop several times as she spoke of the comfort she found in knowing she was a decedent of this woman. She told of how knowing her great-great grandmother’s history helped her figure out that she was doing OK in life, that her journey through life was normal, even in the context of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I wanted to raise my hand and call her out on her hypocrisy – on her vehement feelings about denying her adopted siblings access to their heritage while bawling over how grateful she is to have access to hers.

I didn’t though because it wasn’t the time or place to enter into a heated argument about this topic.  I just sat there and simmered in the irony of the moment. I looked around the room at all the other women and wondered how many of them felt the exact same way: Adoptees do not have a right or need to access their true genealogy or history.

It’s a lie though. It is a complete and total lie. Adoptees have an absolute right to their true genealogy and history. They have an innate need and right to know and to connect with the generations of parents that formed them. Anyone who says differently is selling something – and that something is generally another human being (under the guise of adoption services).

Adoptees have the right to clear, clean, and unfettered access to their factual birth records. Period. Anyone who says differently is selling something (confidential intermediary services, perhaps?)

I can somewhat forgive the woman giving the lesson today – she doesn’t know any better and I haven’t had the chance to have a “come to Jesus meetin’ ” with her over the issue. Her attitude was still full of hypocrisy, but I am willing to allow that it might be an unintentional hypocrisy on her part.

But what of first mothers who think that because they are in an “open” adoption, their children do not need access to their birth certificates? Do they not realize that even if they were advised by adoption professionals to secure copies of it before the adoption was finalized the fact of the matter is that records are sealed for their child. These sealed birth records are an injustice for their child, an injustice in which they took part.

The other day, Cassi who blogs at Adoption Truth posted a brilliant response to this question and so I will let her eloquent words speak for me:

How hypocritical can we be if we believe the rights we have just aren’t all that important for our children to have after it was our own actions (for whatever reason) that placed that fate on our children’s shoulders?

First Moms have more than a responsibility, they have a duty to fight for their children to be given the same equality they receive. They have an obligation to create change in the life their child will face in their adult years.

I pledge to you, Ms. Feverfew, that I will work towards repealing or replacing the laws which prevent you and millions of other adoptees free access to your birth records. It’s the least I can do for you.

Much love,

M.

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