members in New York State are working for equal rights in adoption law and awareness of
adoption issues. We are a writing, lobbying and media effort. Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Joyce Bahr and her son, Ed
This photo is of me and my son Ed at our reunification in Chicago during the spring of 1986. I was forced to surrender him for adoption one week after he was born. My mother was present when I signed because I was not yet 18 years old. And as I was only 17, in Illinois I had no time to revoke the consent, meaning I could not change my mind. I was manipulated by the social worker and told: If I loved him, I would give him up. I was also told to go home and forget about it and never think of him as mine again, as many unwed mothers were also told to do.
All his adoptive parents told him about me was that I was unable to keep him.
Immediately after meeting Ed face-to-face, I explained to him what happened to me. His reply was that even nowadays, sex before marriage was considered to be a sin by some. He needed to be told the truth.
Yes, it was common practice for social workers to lie about the profession of the adoptive parents. I was told my son's mother was a schoolteacher, but she was not. I was shocked to learn I was lied to by a worker at a Lutheran agency, even though I knew other unwed mothers were also lied to.
Like others, I had to inform my son what I knew about the secrets and lies of adoption and let him know I understood he would be angry.
His adoptive parents were surprised but not shocked when the social worker called, saying I wanted a reunification.
Sadly, Ed died in 2016 from an overdose of alcohol + prescription drugs. He was 50 years old.
Margaret Walczer and Joyce Bahr
Joyce Bahr with Dirck Brown (social worker and American Adoption Congress member) at the Williamsburgh Regional Conference (1998). Everyone loved Dirck, our favorite advocate!
The National Council for Adoption, a well-funded, anti-open records organization, maintained that only a few adoptees searched — and those who did were misfits and degenerates — making it difficult for adoptee voices to be heard. Joyce was an AAC Regional Director in the mid-1990s, when thousands were searching and phone numbers of Regional Directors were on the internet. She received 10–20 calls almost daily from those seeking for information and support.
Ellen Durant (left), a natural mother who got NY politician Scott Stringer to sponsor our bill in the Assembly in 1993; with Joyce Bahr (third from left).
The Adopted Break Silence by Jean Paton
[Out of Print, Limited Availability from Amazon]
The Search for Anna Fisher by Florence Fisher, advocate for adoptees' right to know and the need for open records;
buy from Amazon here. Florence Fisher, an adoptee, founded the Adoptees' Liberty Movement Association (ALMA) in 1971 after locating her birth parents. Her organization held monthly meetings and set up a reunion registry. She focused in Italian searches and was on television in Rome, Italy. In the evening, she attended the Italian opera, her favorite thing to do. She had some Italian search stories to tell at ALMA meetings. She wrote a book called "The Search for Anna Fisher", published in 1973. In 1976 she went with a group to attend a hearing in Albany for open birth records. They were told that all they would ever get would be a new law for those born after the law would be enacted, and upon their 18th birthday; there would be no retroactive law, ever.
Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption by Lorraine Dusky
buy from Amazon here
I Would Have Searched Forever by Sandy Musser
buy from Amazon here
American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption by Gabrielle Glaser
buy from Amazon here Read the Sunday NY Times Book Review: Adoption Used to Be Hush-Hush. This Book Amplifies the Human Toll., and listen to an interview with the author here.
You Don't Know How Lucky You Are by Rudy Owens
Author's website: www.howluckyuare.com/
Somebody's Daughter by Zara Phillips
buy from Amazon here
Melinda Warshaw's book A Legitimate Life has recently been published.
To purchase, visit http://melindaawarshaw.yolasite.com/
Building Bridges and Fighting Battles to End Sealed Records in New York - Melinda Warshaw and Joyce Bahr
Janine Baer, feminist and
adoption reform activist, writes on the history of sealed records and the detrimental
consequences of years of secrecy to everyone touched by adoption. Her book, "Growing
in The Dark: Adoption Secrecy and Its Consequences", documents adoption law from
the 19th Century to the 21st.
To order her new book, email: Orders@Xlibris.com
or visit this website: www.xlibris.com/growinginthedark.html
Adoption: Uncharted Waters, author & psychologist
Becoming Patrick, author adoptee Patrick McMahon
author Barbara Bizantz Raymond
Authors: Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein
The Adoption Mystique, author, social worker
adoptee Joanne Wolf Small
The Girls Who Went Away, Author Anne Fessler
l.5 million mothers never wanted to give up their babies
webtalkradio.net - Author Sara Saffian discusses her memoirs of being found.
Review of Adam Pertman's book Adoption Nation - Mr. Pertman, former Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, has recently started a new organization: The National Center on Adoption and Permanency (NCAP), a unique "one-stop" organization that provides a broad range of information, resources and multidisciplinary services relating to adoption, foster care and child welfare. Contact:
email@example.com or 617-903-0554.
Wendy Barkett's new book Shadows of a Dark-Alley Adoptee: An Adoptee's Search for Self
Video: CeCe Moore Explains How Genetic Genealogy Works
Video: Local woman discovers biological father through 23andMe. WSYR-TV, June 20, 2021
Breaking News for Women's Rights: March 2012, The Australia National Post: Australia urged to compensate, apologize to unwed mothers forced to give up children for adoption.
Video and article: some women want apologies but some are demanding reparations! Report on Australian Senate Inquiry into forced adoptions expected this week 2/25/2012.
Video: Adoptees Access to Records
Adoptee Larry Dell, PR Director for Unsealed Initiative offers $1000 for help in finding his birth family!
video: Adoptee Thomas Brooks,
author of A Wealth of Family
video: Adoptee, Singer, Songwriter Mary Gauthier performs her song "Blood is Blood." After many years and many recordings she expresses her feelings about her adoption and acknowledges the movement for open records.
video: Darryl McDaniels, Zara Phillips,
video: Promo by filmmaker Jason Darnieder
All My Life
Recent video: Mothers who deal with depression for many years after giving up children for adoption speak out
I Want My Baby Back - HuffPost Live
Video: The Woman in Black 2 - woman is also haunted by child she gave up for adoption.
Adoptee Tales from the Sealed Record Era
Michael Potter's blog, Navigating the Present and the Future Without A Past: A collection of 12 essays published in The Kindle Edition. "The Last Invisible Continent: Essays on Adoption."
Queens Catholic Priest Father Tom Brosnan, a reunited adoptee, blogs on Adoption and Faith.
Adoptionfind blog: Rhode Island adoptees age 25 will get a new law and the right to know!
Family Ties Blog: Are Adult Adoptees Worthy of Respect
Lost Daughters adoption blog...it's a sisterhood
Native New Yorker, Adopted
Person and Experienced Searcher,
her "Words of Wisdom" for doing your own search.
For further search help email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Make it easy to find
yourself - list your phone number under your maiden name and/or birth name if you are an
adoptee; list your phone as your name when you relinquished. My Mom was in the phone book!
2. Register with the International Soundex Reunion Registry (702) 882-7755, and the
state registry in the state where you were adopted or relinquished. Write for Non
Identifying information from the agency used and the state. Visit the agency!
3. In NYC there are birth indexes for both the NYCity and NYState births. NYS indexes are in the
National Archives on Houston and Varick Streets. Although NYC indexes were recently removed from the New York Public Library on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, they can be found elsewhere. Please follow this link for further information.
4. Keep a log of everything you do for your search - jot down every insignificant detail -
it may be a key that will open a door later on.
5. Be kind to yourself and others - a smile gets more out of someone you want information
from than a fist slammed on a desk - tried both :>)
6. Take a rest but do not give up - you will find if your information is correct - took me
four and a half years - I had my birth name (Female Hopkins), that my mother was 40 and
Lutheran and a housewife - which the latter was not correct.
7. Check the old phone books for your birth name in the year you were born and the year
you were adopted - my birth mother was in the book. Do an address search (reverse phone
book) to find out if she lived with someone.
8. If you are an older adoptee, the census is wonderful.
9. If you are a younger adoptee the census is good, but you are looking for grandparents.
10. You need at least two pieces of information to confirm a find. I had a couple of false
hits because I wanted to find so badly. Some people may fit the mold but in the end you
Adoptee Rights Coalition's booth at The National Conference of State Legislatures Annual Conference.
The booth brings awareness and the opportunity to meet with legislators from all states.
Aside from the booth, there is a march and demonstration.
Last year's conference and demonstration was held in Chicago, and activists invite you to attend Atlanta in August of 2013. Stand up for adoption reform and adoptee rights!
Recently Jeff Hancock, UI Regional Coordinator from Western New York, became President of the Adoptee Rights
GOING ON AFTER REJECTION
you're likely to be hesitant about taking another chance for reunion... that's
understandable. Here are some tips on coping.
yourself to be disappointed.
punish yourself with expectations of what you think you should be feeling.
that everyone gets rejected sometime in life.
that the rejection usually has little to to do with you. It has more to do with the person
who rejected you.
superstitious. Rationalizing that "this was meant to be" is not a positive
make all wounds easier to bear, and the person who rejected you could change their mind
after a while.
completely recover from rejection...you accommodate. You become a different person by
living through experience.
really helps to talk to others who have experienced the same rejection and work through
your anger and grief, which are natural reactions.
She was ahead of her time in
1954. Challenging the shroud of secrecy surrounding adoption with her book THE
ADOPTED BREAK SILENCE, Jean Paton founded Orphan Voyage and the first reunion
registry in the USA. She helped thousands search and never stopped speaking out about
The below Adoption Quilt section (part of a larger quilt) was started by adoptees and mothers of adoption loss in 1989, and added to over the next 10 years:
Remembering marchers from New
York to Washington DC, birth mothers Marilyn Burson and Sharon Bell.
Marching to protest laws that present birth parents with a life long sentence of
separation from children surrendered to adoption. Nancy Horgan and Judy Taylor also marched.
This will soon be
changed to include New Hampshire