Archive for September, 2011

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10 years ago, where were you?

September 7, 2011

Earlier today my good friend Lorraine Dusky asked through a post, “Where were you when you first heard about the attack on the World Trade Center?” I was still teaching art at All Saints Jr. High in Rochester, and 2 days a week I was their computer teacher. I got an email from my wife just before 9:00AM that simply said, “Did you hear about the World Trade Center?”

Of course I hadn’t, and I couldn’t find out anything more as the internet had become overrun and was shut down by traffic. Eventually I got CNN to load, and saw the first tower smoking badly in a photo.

I was the first in our school to hear about the attacks. I printed off the main page of CNN’s site and sent one of my students to the office with it. He had no idea what it was until his return; then I shared it with the kids. On the top of the print out in pen I had written, “Bill, we’re going to need to talk to the kids about this ASAP!” Bill was our principal, and a really good friend of mine.

As I addressed the kids, I told them that I could only share what I knew, and that they would know as much as me or anyone else for that matter. The first thing I heard one of them say was “cool.” Apparently the look on my face was enough to show I wasn’t in the mood, and the kid immediately showed remorse. First the other kids glared at the wise-ass, and then looked at me for more information.

They each knew it was bad. Ironically, one of the kids from that class currently works with my wife. Not too long ago we bumped into each other at Panera Bread, and started talking about 9/11/2001. She reveled to me that back in 8th grade she and the others knew by the look on my face that something monumental had occurred, and that life was no longer ever going to be the same.

Our staff pulled together an impromptu assembly, and our religion teacher Sr. Karlien pulled off an amazing, and heart felt explanation of the days events. The following Friday we were to have the annual tug-of-war competition between homerooms. The thought of it made me sick to my stomach. I remember throwing up a little at the sink in my classroom. As one of two organizers for the Tug-Of-War, I repeatedly thought, “How in the Hell can I condone an act of war by leading school children against each other only three days following the worst nightmare of the new millennium?” I’ll never forget trembling at work, the onset of a panic attack, trying to teach an art class on 9/12/2001 while trying to sort this out.

I went to Sr. Karlien after lunch that day. I told her what I was feeling, and how I simply was going to refuse to be a part of that stupid tug-of-war event. I was overwhelmed with emotion, and trying far too hard not to burst into tears as I shared each of my thoughts with my long time friend and coworker. My thoughts in turn hit her like a ton of rocks as well. It made sense; “Why in the world would we ever want to have a game between our kids that glorified war?” Together after school we spoke to our principal, who was also deeply moved by my thoughts and on board with my feelings and dilemma.

Somehow, someone came up with the idea to plant a memorial garden rather than have a war between homerooms. We each took a few students that following Friday, and planted hundreds (if not thousands) of tulip bulbs on the grounds surrounding the school. Parents, students, families, and retailers each chipped in with bulb donations. The center piece of the planting was a 16 foot wide peace symbol around the flag pole by the front doors of our school.

It always gets me very emotional, mostly choked up when I recall it. Our little school turned a negative into a positive that afternoon. For the longest time after that day, I felt guilty. I couldn’t talk about it. At first I felt bad for causing that damned tug-of-war tradition to be abandoned. The kids always seemed to like it. Then I felt guilty for my part in forcing everyone else in the school to have to run around on this bulb project. Finally, I felt horrible in the end when Channel 10 News of Rochester caught wind of our memorial, and included us during the 6PM report.

I felt lower than whale shit that the local news covered our bulb planting. I was so ashamed that our little event was to become cannon fodder for the media. I hated that a media circus could sprout from this. I couldn’t live with myself out of guilt and shame. We didn’t organize this for attention, glory, reward, or for any other reason than to memorialize the victims of those horrible attacks, and to instill a strong sense of empathy into each student.

Many years later, after the discovery of my adoption in 2007, I began meeting with a therapist. My plate had certainly been full of issues over the past decade, and then some. I had choked down this story of 9/11, and my role in it. My shrink pointed out something to me. She told me that the media wasn’t there to showcase our kids nearly as much as they were serving the purpose to give viewers a tiny glimmer of hope in the face of the worst tragedy of our time.

That’s how I try to remember it, now. In 2006 or 2007 the school was shut-down and now no longer exists. The hallways and classrooms sit empty, the peace symbol bulldozed to make room for a building expansion. However, a couple of years ago I happened past the old school in Springtime and was delighted that a number of our tulips continue to sprout and bloom. Isn’t it cool that 10 years later we still have at least that much?

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“Rejection vs. Acceptance” or otherwise known as “Life Sucks if You’re a Late-Discovery-Adoptee”

September 1, 2011

In the four+ years since the revelation of my adoption, I’ve been much more in touch with feelings of abandonment, rejection, and yet acceptance. For those of you who have followed, or are aware of my story, you know the many emotions I’ve had to deal with since the day of my adoption discovery. Many of you who are my fellow-adoptees instantly nod in complete understanding whenever words like “Denied, Rejected, Abandoned, or Accepted are mentioned. I have been no exception to this trend.

Recently I have experienced yet another life-changing event. In March of 2011 I received the worse physical pain that I have ever known as a result of spinal cord trauma. In specific, I experienced “Cauda Equina Syndrome” as a result of designing, constructing, and painting stage scenery for a local high school drama club. My spinal cord had become compressed, and was over 70% cut off from the nerves leading to my lower body. I faced the very real potential of never walking again.

“How in the world did this happen, Jeff?” has been the most commonly asked question. The answer is complicated, but I will do my best to explain.

Working for theater and drama club types of people is an entirely different environment than, let’s say, lumber-jacking. In a lumber camp, when one man goes down with an injury the others tend to jump in and be supportive. In contrast, when you are severely injured working for a small-town drama club, you’re fucked. In exchange for the show “having to go on” this late-discovery-adoptee came within a micron or two of spending the remainder of his life wheelchair bound.

As much as I pleaded for volunteers, only 3 people rose to the call. Two of these three wonderful people were unable to assist until the final dis-assembly of the scenery. Working against me were the club directors and producers. To fulfill their own hidden agenda and selfishness, scheduling preempted me from having my usual crew of workers. While my crew was always there for me, the directors forbid me from accessing them. In addition, they specifically demanded that I no longer use them at all, but rather cast them aside. They had selfishly hidden motives that I only learned of from past volunteers during the weeks following my operation. Several families who used to volunteer for me apologized to me for not being there for me this time. It’s due to them not being able to tolerate the “Directors Team” or “Power of Three.” At least it had nothing to do with me personally.

Four times I reconstructed the stage setting to the harsh review of the “Directors Team” (a title the theater threesome gave themselves). I did this entirely alone working 14-15 hours daily through the months of February/March 2011. The physical pain was insufferable; my requests for assistance ignored. I was told, “It’s your problem, handle it.”

Anger, frustration, and overwhelming emotions of many types now prevent me from elaborating on any further detail of the events leading up to my pain. Sorry, there’s no story more disappointing than one that skips from chapter 4 to chapter 9.  I’m not ready to share that yet; it’s too soon. The wound is too fresh.

The pain I had was the most severe I have ever experienced. I couldn’t go into work anymore, and eventually lost my other jobs. For three weeks I tried everything from pain killers, TENS units, massage, chiropractic care, patches, and sedatives. Nothing relieved the pain. Nothing relieved the convulsions, either. The only way I can explain these convulsions is to encourage you to imagine someone taking long, flaming hot shards of broken glass and ramming them downward from the top of your hips all the way down to your toes. Imagine this happening randomly throughout the day, yet quadruple occurrences and pain throughout the night.

It’s 6 months post-injury as I write this. I’m extremely bitter, angry, enraged, and rejected in my feelings. Mysteriously, these feelings do not extend to my fellow adoptees and the moms who created us. I’m pissed at the ungrateful “Directors Team” in ways that I know are not healthy for me. Still, I cannot help myself. I want little more than to show each of them personally what having a spinal cord injury is like!

Then there’s the experience with my other paid jobs. Being an hourly tutor at Monroe Community College, I had to forfeit my pay when pain prevented me from going in to work. However, my permanent employment as an art teacher for St. Agnes School and the Catholic Diocese of Rochester, NY likewise took a hit. Upon my very first sick day due to this severe pain, I was demoted from a salaried, part-time position of which I held for 23 years, to hourly. All of my personal days and sick time were rescinded on-the-spot. They took for themselves not only my accrued sick pay (over 60 days worth) but selfishly grabbed every dime of  pay I had deducted for our summer living expenses.

Then matters got worse. I learned that my teaching position was to be completely eliminated at St. Agnes School. A 24-year-long career ended “just like that.” No thanks, no severance package, no back-pay, no “anything.”

I’ve come to regret ever believing that teaching and working with children is rewarding. Sure, you get the “warm-fuzzies” and admiration of kids. Overshadowing this, however, is the back-stabbing, low-ball, deceitful, dishonest, fraudulent, conniving, cheating, devious, lying, and just plain fucked-up adults with egos and selfish ambitions who stop at absolutely nothing to have their way in life.

Due to these recently “former” employers, our family has suffered in ways that no family should ever need to suffer. It’s been months since my last paycheck. My personal savings was extinguished within the first month of post-surgical rehabilitation. Physical Therapy alone cost me over $200.00 monthly.

We’ve had to do without such luxuries as natural gas, electric, phone, cable, internet, healthy groceries, prescription medications, needed car repairs, physical, occupational, and psychological therapy, car registrations, car insurance, school supplies, footwear, home repairs, family day trips, along with many, many others.

Our family car was repossessed with only three remaining payments and our home foreclosed upon. As much as it has sucked doing without, it’s nothing new. It’s been the story of my life. Those who know me well likewise know it’s true. However, the most devastating of all our recent sacrifices was not being able to attend the Adoptee Rights Protest in San Antonio, Texas. If I need to walk to Chicago in 2012, and sleep in a cardboard box behind the convention center, I’ll do it if it means being with my adoption peeps.

My adoptee friends and the moms who created us are more than just friends. They are an extension of me.  They understand me. They empathize with me. They know rejection. They know pain. En massed together we are like one being. As corny as it is; they “complete me.”

During the weeks prior to my emergency surgery, I felt a kind of pain I’d never experienced before. Optimistically I believed it would go away as had previous experiences with back and leg pain. I was clearly wrong. Though I had received minor surgery for wisdom teeth, a severed finger, and carpel tunnel release, I’d never been hospitalized before this. I sheepishly admit it was a scare.

As I lay on the operating table waiting for my back to be cracked open, my neurosurgeon asked me, “Does Back Pain, Spina-Bifida, Scoliosis, Sciatica, or any other spinal conditions run in your family?” I laid there for a minute trying to think of what to say. The best I could do was say, “I’m Adopted.” His face lost all expression as he explained my condition. “There are two forms of Stenosis; the kind that happens from old age, and the genetic kind.” I have the genetic kind.

There was plenty of time for me to contemplate my life as I lay in that recovery ward for 7 days. Perhaps I thought too much? I got into a terrible funk, and was hit by trauma both emotionally and physically. Not having medical history left me feeling totally hollow inside. For the second time in my life, I felt as though I didn’t have a soul. The first time was Easter 2007 in the days following my late-discovery-adoptee experience.

During my third week in the physical rehabilitation wing I received countless phone calls, text messages, and visits from some wonderful friends in the adoption community. Two calls in particular completely overwhelmed me with emotion. Edgar Carlstrom and Christine Paugh simultaneously called me at the hospital and Mary Anne at home to tell us they created a Facebook page for the purpose of soliciting donations for my medical costs.

Just as there were no words to describe the horrible pain I had before surgery; there are no words that I can speak of to describe the wave of emotions this act of  love brought into me. It was emotionally very overwhelming for me.

Over the past several years I’ve had one trauma after another. Likewise, what happens to me also flows downhill into my wife and kids. It’s been rough around here for a long time. The emotional trauma of Late-Discovery and the feelings of betrayal towards my adoptive family for a lifetime of lies are etched deeply in my mind. The cause of my spinal pain was likewise created by the betrayal I experienced from the directors I was building sets for. Then the final betrayal of my primary employer rescinding my paid sick-time and demoting me to hourly status was the worse kick to the crotch. I had become accustomed to only the worse things happening to our little family.

I rarely ever display emotions; it’s one of my greatest weaknesses. Neither of our kids has ever seen me cry. However, after I got off the phone with Edge, and then Chris immediately after, I got choked up. You see, it’s the very first time I have ever felt valued and loved. This hit me like a tidal wave, and I cried harder than I have ever cried before. It was a weird kind of tear; it was spurred by love and joy rather than sorrow. The only other times I’d ever had a tear or two of joy were when the Bills got into the 1991 Superbowl, the birth of our two sons, and when the Sabres entered the 1999 finals and later again when they were purchased and saved by Tom Golisano.

Consciously, I’ve been avoiding writing this blog. I cannot begin to write or say the proper words that define the acceptance I feel from my adoption community. I think about each of you everyday and how much your thoughtfulness has meant as well as helped out. Truthfully, over the past several weeks I’ve been trying to avoid triggering such an intense wave of emotion again; it’s really hard for me to admit and to deal with, especially in the shadow of so many bad experiences.

With this being the last day of summer vacation 2011, I am filled with remorse. I regret all that I’ve been physically unable to perform over these past many weeks. I regret that our family is without a dime, and that I have been unable to take our 6-year-old out for ice cream or a matinee. I’m sad that I can’t buy nice back-to-school clothes for him, either. I’m frustrated that in our yard sit two vehicles that are undriveable. The cost of repairs is far out of our reach, as are the costs to register and insure them.

I’m depressed that for the first time since 1969 the first-day-of-school doesn’t  in any way involve my participation. I regret ever trusting people in the non-adoption world. Specifically, I hate myself for trusting the directors of the Avon Central School Drama Club, the Catholic Diocese of Rochester, and the many others who have taken advantage of my trust and good nature. Most of all I regret the hurt that my physical and emotional pain has placed on my wife and kids. Just as I’m denied by life, thus so are they.

Life has blindsided me since the day I was born. I’ve grown to hate life. Yet somehow I’ve managed to have a great wife, two good kids, and acceptance from those around me who have had to walk in the same toxic shoes I walk in. For those people I trust. They trust me, so it’s only fair.

One day I’d like to feel “normal” again – whatever “normal” is. I’d like to not have anesthesia related paralysis in my feet or amnesia to my short-term memory. I want our family to be able to rely on our vehicles for transportation, or know that if one of us becomes injured or sick we can access the therapy or medications we need. I’d like to eat healthy foods, and not the crappy, cheap generic starch-bombs we’ve had to gulp down for weeks now. I want our kids to know that we will always have our home, and with it working utilities.

I’d like to be the same as everyone else.

 

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Adopted Me: My Life as a Late-Discovery-Adoptee

September 1, 2011

Adopted Me: My Life as a Late-Discovery-Adoptee

By Jeff Hancock

I learned the truth just before I turned 42 years old: I was adopted. Over the years prior to my discovery, I had suspicions about being adopted. From my earliest memories as a young child, I had an instinctual feeling that I didn’t belong where I had somehow found myself to be. As a child, several times over the years I would purposefully open the door for my parents to break the news to me. However suspicious I felt, they were always very quick to deflect my inquiries toward another topic.

By the time I was to begin my senior year in college, I still felt the presence of that large white elephant always trailing behind me whenever I was in the company of my family. Sometimes it was a feeling of rejection or non-acceptance. There were times I felt ashamed to be around my extended family, as I never once felt as though I fit in with any of them. This feeling I have had throughout my entire life is defined as “the primal wound” [Verrier, 1993].

In her book by the same title, Nancy Verrier defines the primal wound asthe trauma each adoptee is burdened with that begins as a newborn infant, and continues throughout our lives. Every child who is separated from his or her biological mother will experience abandonment and loss.”  By the summer before my senior year in college, I was ready to shed away my white elephant, and directly find out once and for all if I were indeed adopted.

There was a lifetime of evidence to support my adoption conspiracy theory:  the kids at school, on the bus, and at church who teased, bullied, and called me “foster child”; the lack of a quilt from my paternal grandmother (she hand made one for each of her grandchildren except me); my exclusion from the Hancock family bible (a book over 200 years old with detailed names and relations); and finally, a faded Polaroid snapshot that said, Jeff, our foster child on the back.

Though it occurred during the summer of 1986, I remember it as though it were last week. I called home and I asked my mother directly, “Am I adopted?” Optimistically, I was expecting to hear a simple “yes” or “no” response. I was quite stunned at her reply, “Why, of course you’re our son!” Then Dad took the phone. He told me that I should speak to a pastor or a shrink because I had “gone off the deep end.” Both parents made it clear to me that I was their son and that I never should bring this up again as I had hurt them very much by questioning our relationship.

I immediately felt guilty for bringing up the matter. I hated myself for having upset them, especially Dad. He had a long history of heart disease, and I grew up with the daily reminder from my parents and sister that he “could die at any moment.” At the same time I was hurting from their criticisms. No part of this conversation made sense to me. I still felt adopted and even more rejected, unwanted, and unworthy than before.

Dad passed away from leukemia in 1990. He wanted for me to never know I was adopted. He told my family that he never wanted me to feel rejected for having been adopted.  (Knowing Dad, I now believe that he feared I would reject him as my father.) I remember being annoyed with my mom when she refused an autopsy following his death. My wife was six months pregnant with our first child, and I was scared that there might be something genetic in association with my father’s leukemia. I kept explaining to her why I needed to know the exact cause. Mom kept brushing it off. Now I understand why it didn’t matter.

My parents were blind to how other family members never accepted me. My mother and other family members continued to allow me to live the lie until late March, 2007.

In late 2006 there was much talk in Western New York State regarding an upcoming requirement that all US citizens travelling to Ontario, Canada would need to provide a US Passport. Entering Canada was a common practice for us. We have several college friends along the Niagara Peninsula, and we visited many times a year. I wanted to be the first to obtain my passport.

Quickly, I began asking my mother to supply me with my birth certificate, a document I’d never had in my possession. Each time I asked her to dig it out and send it to me, I was met with various excuses as to why she couldn’t find it. After several weeks I grew weary of asking her until I delivered my only other recourse: to pay New York State for a new copy. Once Mom realized that one way or another I was going to own my birth certificate, she was very quick to spill the beans and provide me with all the adoption related paperwork she had in her possession.

What Mom gave me wasn’t a birth certificate at all; it was a Certificate of Live Birth, otherwise known as an Amended Birth Certificate. Amended birth certificates vary in information they contain. The information on mine was sparse. An Original Birth Certificate (sometimes referred to as an “OBC”) contains a wealth of knowledge in comparison. This information may include the person’s weight and length at birth, parents’ names, hospital, physician, time of birth, a hand or finger print of the infant, religious faith, ethnicity, and in some cases the birth place of the parents.

In stark contrast, the amended birth certificate typically states the person’s adopted name, date of birth, the names of the adoptive parents, city and state of birth, and a raised state seal. The purpose of an original birth certificate is to certify that you were born into a specific family, faith, heritage, and ethnicity. The amended birth certificate is the only version that adoptees in New York State have a legal right to.  It states only that a person was born, and it lists the adopted parents as though they are in fact the person’s biological parents.

Ironically, had I simply gone beyond requesting my mother’s paperwork, and applied directly to the New York State Department of Vital Records, I’d have received an amended birth certificate with my adopted family listed as my birth family. Never would I have discovered my adoption.

After my discovery, and obtaining my state-censored birth certificate, I began my US passport application process. I was shocked at what I went on to learn. Passport requirements include submitting a certified birth certificate as proof of American citizenship. This birth certificate has to have been filed within a year of the person’s birth.   But my birth certificate – the amended version that the state will give me – was not filed until I was four years old.  Why?  Read on.

Before my parents adopted me, I was in their care as a foster child. Though I was born on April 18th, 1965, the only birth certificate I have access to (the amended version) was not filed until after my adoption on February 27th, 1969. Because the only acceptable birth certificate for passport application had to have been filed within a year of my birth, my application was rejected; my birth certificate was filed four years after my birth, when my adoption was finalized.

It is worth noting that In New York State, a foster child could forever remain in foster care until he or she becomes an adult at the age of 18. During those 18 years the original birth certificate is never sealed. However, once a child is adopted from foster care, whether that age is six weeks, six months, or sixteen years, the original birth certificate becomes sealed forever, with legal access only to the amended version.

Please try to imagine my frustration.  First my family denied me of the truth for nearly 42 years. Following this, I learned that my country is denying me issuance of a US passport. Finally, my lifelong state of residence, New York, continues to deny me access to the one and only item that stewards my very identity.

Beyond the aforementioned denials, I am also denied my non-identifying information as well.  “Non-ID,” as it is commonly called, is information that a social worker culls from adoption records to provide the adult adoptee information on his or her background, circumstances of birth, and so on, but stripped of any details that could allow that person to identify his parentage.

Through the New York State Department of Vital Records I was informed that the agency responsible for my foster care placement would furnish me with a report of my non-identifying personal information within four to six weeks. After many years of hoping for my information, I have recently given up of ever receiving it. Several times I have spoken with the current director of the Cattaraugus County Department of Social Services, and each time I receive a sympathetic explanation from her.

The absence of information about my life is due to a decades-old lack of structure to their archive storage practice. None of their foster care or adoption files are in any specific order. To complicate matters even further, the caseworker responsible for our records in the 1960s never noted dates, locations, employment information of the families, or any sibling information.

To carry things to the next step, that caseworker also assigned aliases to each child, and possibly to some foster/adoptive families. Though there are thousands of files in the archives, it is virtually impossible for today’s caseworkers to find a paper trail to follow to the information they are seeking for me now.

The only other source of potential non-identifying information lies within the vaults of the Cattaraugus County Family Court system. While New York State has kindly provided forms that enable adult adoptees to petition their prior Family Court for a copy of their “Original Order of Adoption” to my awareness not a single Family Court Judge has honored a single request. In my own experience, I continually petition regardless of each previous denial. There are only two family Court judges in Cattaraugus County; neither is willing to grant my request.

In a letter included with a recently denied petition, Hon. Michael Nenno suggested that if I really must know my personal information, I should consider hiring a private investigator. Beyond my familiar feelings of rejection, this incident angered me. Why should I have to spend a minimum of $2,500.00 to hire someone to gather information for me that my state and county governments can easily give to me, should they choose to do so? In my most recent petition to Justice Nenno’s court, I suggested that he and his staff do what other family court justices do, and that is to simply photocopy the files, and white-out any identifying information. Many months have now passed with no reply.  Next time I petition I will offer to pay the standard 15-cent-per-page photocopy fee. Perhaps that will finally sway him.

Not knowing the information on my birth certificate is like reading a book that has chapter one ripped out of it.  For much of my life I thought I had chapter one, but now I have to read my life all over again, but starting with the second chapter.  I want my first chapter,  just like everyone else.

It is for these very principles that in 2008 I became involved in the Adoptee Rights Movement. As a Late-Discovery Adoptee, I believe that my story is unique. Sadly, it is also representative of a bureaucratic sector of our society that fails to serve the very people it was meant to support.

Since discovery I have had a million thoughts battle in my head. Sometimes I feel grief, as if someone has died, yet I don’t know who. It’s like attending a funeral for my own sense of self, an identity that never was. I get angry sometimes; other times I’m depressed. Part of me wishes I’d been adopted by someone else. Some days I wish I’d been aborted. I don’t feel I know who I am anymore. I am so different from everyone else in my family. I’m always wondering if there is anyone on earth who may be like me.

Everyone in my small hometown, my parents’ church, my family, and my school knew of my adoption except me. I feel betrayed and taken for granted. I’m a very different person post-discovery. I was happy with the person I was before my mom’s revelation. I have no explainable way to describe who I am sitting here now.

So many things make sense to me now; countless odd little experiences over the years that suddenly now appear crystal clear. One such memory from when I was ten years old. My sister had married an emotionally and physically abusive man. On more than one occasion while they were living with us in our parents’ home, he referred to me as “the living abortion.” Even this sorry excuse of a human being was privy to my personal adoption story – 30 years before that story was shared with me.

As time continues to pass, I occasionally remember more details from my childhood. I now understand comments made to me by bullies at school and on the bus so many years ago. The many remarks, innuendos, and peculiar things spoken to me, or overheard at church, family picnics, and around town seemed odd then. Today I see why I was never accepted or included in family plans, invited to join clubs or groups at school, and avoided at church.

Because of my late discovery, I now fully understand the phrase “life-changing event.” I haven’t been able to describe just *who* I am anymore. I have only two known blood relatives: our sons. I fear for their futures not having the privilege of knowing half of their heritage or family medical history.

The most positive experience that I’ve had since my discovery has been knowing the countless other adoptees and first-families I have met through the Adoptee Rights Protest, the NYS lobby team, adoptee Facebook users, first-family members and adoptees who attend my monthly support group meetings, and several members of various state legislatures who agree with our cause and who labor to restore our right to access our original birth certificates.

I currently volunteer as an activist for restoring adoptees’ access to our original birth certificates statewide with New York’s Unsealed Initiative Project and nationally with the Adoptee Rights Coalition. Also, I am a volunteer facilitator of monthly support group meetings with the Hillside Agency’s Adoption Resource Network in Rochester, New York.

Like most Americans, I had no idea that we adoptees are denied our equal rights until after my story unfolded. We each deserve to know who we are, just as each non-adopted adult is allowed to know.

Work Cited

Verrier, Nancy (April 1993). The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child. 1st Ed. Nancy Verrier Publisher.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State [online].

http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html  Retreived:August 21, 2011.