Tuesday

"Adoptees Using DNA to Find Family" My Review

I recently had my attention directed to this transcript of a radio program.

The first blog post that brought it to my attention was highly critical of the contributions of Kimberly Leighton, one of the panel guests on the program. Leighton is assistant professor of philosophy at American University and was, I assume, invited to be a part of the discussion because, according to her bio linked to above, "one question Kim asks is: how might current sciences of identity such as genetics and genomics, and the ethical problems they purportedly raise, affect current political, social, and legal critique, particularly in regards to articulations of rights and freedom?"

Makes sense, no? It's also interesting to note that Leighton herself is adopted and has experienced a successful search for her "birth mother" and says her life was improved knowing her and her story.

Seems to me an excellent choice of a guest for a discussion on adoptees using DNA to find family.

I loved that Leighton asked the representative of Family Tree DNA, Bennett Greenspan, how they "handle the more psychological aspects, as well as the ethical ones, of searching -- because many adoptees -- when they do find, they find more complicated situations than they expected."

I don't love that she asked because I think the Family Tree outfit has a responsibility to provide any kind of assistance to their customers in coping with the psychological aspects of searching, I love that Leighton bringing it up opens up (or should open up) discussion about the ethics and ramifications of searching, negative and positive, because it's a discussion worth having.

A large part of that discussion needs to be about our mothers and fathers and whether they want to be found or not, something that seems to be a terribly conflicted topic in online adoption discussions.

Discussing complications and ethics in adoption search does not deny adoptees a right to know or undermine a parent who wants to be found. It actually could aid in achieving openness. What's the difference between saying most mothers did not willingly give up their kids and want to be found and saying most mothers wanted and were promised confidentiality, anonymity, and have no desire to find or be found?

There is none. They both achieve nothing because both are true and if we try and make one or the other gospel, there will always be someone sitting there thinking "well, I know that's not true because it's not my experience", and when that happens, credibility is affected. Every experience is valid and it does no good to pick and choose only the stories that suit an agenda, does no good to minimize circumstances that are unlike our own.

I find the stats that say that the majority of mothers (sorry dads, nobody talks about you) want to be found and to reunite so far-fetched. We aren't going to see the parents who do want to remain anonymous, want their perceived promise of confidentiality honoured, jumping up and down yelling, "here I am!".

We can talk all we want about the world being so small now, the expectation of anonymity being unrealistic, but it wasn't always. My own bio mother said her being found was never supposed to happen. It's why she went "so far away" to give me up.

I'd like to share and comment on a few things Kimberly Leighton said. I think she's bang on with much of what she says within the context of her role on the panel which was as an expert in ethics and an adopted person who has searched successfully.

"When you go on an adoption search, you're not finding a static piece of information. You're stepping into an ongoing life of an infinite number of people." -Nothing to argue with here.

"So it's not simply the same as doing a genealogy. When adoptees go searching, they're opening up Pandora's boxes of other people's lives."
-Anyone who denies that an adoptee searching is different than real kids searching is in a big fat friggin' fog. It is NOT the same thing as doing genealogy for most adoptees. The only way it would be is if the adoptee was just researching out of interest and had no plans to make contact with anyone.

Leighton was asked, "In one case, at least reported in The New York Times, someone found a third cousin. What use is that?".

She answered, "Well, I think this opens up a large -- larger question, which is, what do we think family is? And I think adoptees who are using these services go in already hoping that they're going to find some kind of some kind of connection. And it raises a lot of questions about what the ethical issues here are. And that's probably where I would want to start, in some ways, in this conversation because, in a contemporary situation, when we have closed records, the women who gave up their children for adoption were, in many ways, promised confidentiality. So we have to think about -- as much as we like the happy ending story that these searches seem to promise, we do have to raise, at the first level, the ethical question of what about these women's or men's or larger families' right to privacy." -I guess if you're of the mindset that the only person worthy of privacy is the adoptee and that no mothers felt they were promised or wanted confidentiality then this comment is complete garbage to you but I think, at the very least, it would be helpful to acknowledge the fact that people/families like this exist and aren't as few and far between as people want us to think. Read a thread asking adoptees if their mothers were open or happy to be found, if they were immediately open and welcoming upon contact. In my experience, it's at least half if not more of the adoptees who were not welcomed by their mothers with open arms. Does it make it right? Maybe not. Is it reality? Yes.

"We never really know the full story of why someone has relinquished a child, and we can assume it wasn't an easy choice, no matter what. And to enter -- anyone who enters a search has to enter that process knowing that they don't know what happened. They don't know who's been told. They don't know what the circumstances were. And to find a third cousin and to begin a search backwards that way opens up the possibility that you're presenting yourself to family members who have no idea that this woman might have even been pregnant." -Hear this and believe it!

Hmm, reading through the transcript I could pretty much copy everything Leighton contributed. To me it all came across as balanced and realistic, an excellent assessment on adoptees using DNA services to find family.

Leighton definitely did not come across to me as an enemy, a traitor to adoptees, as only caring about herself and her own search. She didn't offer her personal position on the legal issue of one's birth record and kept her comments confined to the topic which was the use of DNA services by adoptees to locate family. She could hardly pretend there aren't ethical questions and concerns surrounding adoptees searching, especially when using a method that can involve 3 and 4 times removed relatives who barely know each other, if at all.

There was only one thing Leighton said that gave me pause and that's that Canada has no secrecy in adoption. Perhaps she meant in new or recent adoption and/or sperm and egg donation because there certainly is still secrecy and closed records in adoption here. I know this because mine are.

Lastly, I explored and enjoyed this link recommended by Greenspan and want to share it. The DNA Testing Guide .

Oh, and personally, I would use DNA to carefully ascertain who my biological father is. At this point, I am well prepared for anything I might find out. Well, except maybe for how much the DNA testing would end up costing.

36 comments:

  1. Campbell, you're brave to challenge the very foundation of Adoption Lore.

    You raise an excellent point that has been mostly passed over on other blogs. Leighton is presenting bioethical arguments of DNA testing, which is different than presenting arguments about sealed records.

    You say you would use DNA testing to find your father, knowing full well he might not want to be found. I hope you get the chance to do that.
    I searched for my mother, totally expecting her to not want to be found.

    The specter of b-parent privacy isn't enough to convince many adoptees not to search. But we consider it carefully, and then plan for the worst and the best. Leighton says, "We do have to raise, at the first level, the ethical question of what about these women's or men's or larger families' right to privacy." She is correct. We do have to raise the question. At the first level, just like she says. One might search anyways after raising the question, because there are many levels to consider. Leighton even acknowledges that she searched, probably after considering the ethics of it.

    According to the theories of philosopher John Locke, which had great influence in the structuring of the US Constitution, people have a "natural right" to life, liberty and property. Knowing one's bio parentage is not a natural right/human right. Is someone's right to privacy a natural right? Possibly.

    Legal rights are different than natural rights.
    Many argue that open records should be a legal right, and I agree for the most part.

    Leighton's comments make sense to me and I too am not threatened by them.

    In the future, DNA testing will be a valuable asset to help transnational adoptees find their birth families. I am prepared to donate money to that cause.

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  2. Great comment Megan, thank you.

    I just think it's an entirely different conversation than legal access to sealed records.

    DNA testing is not going anywhere, and if adoptees plan to utilize it it's best we're prepared and use it as wisely as we can. It never hurts to think actually think about what we're doing, especially in potentially life altering scenarios.

    I would use DNA testing knowing full well bio dad may not even know I exist never mind not want to be found lol. I would also though do all I could to protect his privacy along the way, just as I've done and continue to do with bio mom.

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  3. (The following is by me and copied from the previous post where the comment I'm replying to was submitted)

    Robin, I think you may have intended to submit that comment on the post after this one. Anyway, I can't see adoptees ever being denied access to using DNA testing, I doubt you need to be very concerned.

    Of course adoptees have rights and it's not all about what first parents want and need. It's about what they were led to believe and how those beliefs may have directly dictated how they conducted themselves after an adoption.

    It's obvious adoptees had/have no say in being relinquished.

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  4. Campbell -

    I am awaiting the release of the 1940 census so I can create my paternal tree and find out my nationality and history. That is my total goal.

    Canada has no choice but to be open eventually - they signed the convention on the rights of the child 20+ years ago. Their 2009 report indicated they still had to get this done and do more to facilliate that to be in compliance.

    Oregon is a good source to indicate how many wish to be found or not found. *Birth* parents had a year prior to the law changing to file preferences and at the end of the 10 anniversary of open access (11 years in total) there was a grand total of 85 who filed NO Contact preference out of a grand total of 638 contact preference forms filed (yes, via intermediary, no)...and over 10,000 adoptees received their OBC. The study on the first wave of adoptees also found similar results. As more states have their open records long enough more results will be available.

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  5. Thanks theadoptedones.

    Although my saying this might draw reactions of "too bad for them then" I've always considered that many of the people who don't want to be found likely also don't think much about any of it. My point is, I'd bet there are far more people than 85 who don't or didn't want contact, the others just don't bother to file NO Contact preferences or aren't even aware they can or need to.

    Maybe they even have fears that filing for no contact draws unwanted attention to them and their circumstance. If I don't see it, it can't see me kind of mentality.

    Just my thoughts.

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  6. "It's obvious adoptees had/have no say in being relinquished."

    Thanks for pointing this out. It's no argument for or against anything. Babies don't make decisions for themselves.

    I read the transcript and the various posts and comments and agree that people generally conflated the legal right to an OBC with the ethical dilemma of what to do, how to do it, and what the expectations and intentions might be following the disclosure of info. Also don't see the point in glossing over these things, or in insisting that all parties see it one way. Clearly, they don't. Love the idea that open records can make the process more straightforward, less convoluted. The US gov't should give everyone their OBCs and tell people they're not in the relationship business so bye-bye people work it out for yourselves. The civil rights argument is getting totally lost in the vale of sniffles.

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  7. I would imagine the thought and the ramifications of being *found* through DNA testing services could convince people to warm up to the idea of open records, a much more direct route to the parent.

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  8. "And that's probably where I would want to start, in some ways, in this conversation because, in a contemporary situation, when we have closed records, the women who gave up their children for adoption were, in many ways, promised confidentiality."

    Perhaps mothers were told, quite specifically, that they would be given confidentiality - rather than *signing* anything about confidentiality.

    They were told not to search, not to try and register at reunion/search registries, but I don't think that's really the same thing as remaining anonymous to the children they relinquished, as opposed to the concept of a legal document guaranteeing permanent privacy towards the relinquishment itself.

    Does that change anything into how you view the transcript? Because saying a mother's relinquishment can be kept confidential isn't necessarily the same thing as being able to hand over a legal document that a mother can sign to guarantee confidentiality. IMO, anyway.

    Also, I've read over at FMF and many mothers have claimed in previous posts that they don't recall any such promise of confidentiality. I also recall asking you about your own [bio] mother's wish to remain confidential, and I may be recalling incorrectly (it was several months ago when you and I had this quick exchange), but you said something about your mother actually having a legal document with an agreement about remaining confidential.

    I am curious as to if there is any way to find out what this document was called. Your mother never wanted to be found, so it must have been an important document - therefore, is there any way you might be able to (or even ask her?) find out what this document is or where it came from?

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    1. No Mei Ling, that doesn't change my mind about the transcript and you aren't telling me something I don't know and I am not talking about legal documents. The scenario you describe makes it even more questionable ethically because some women would have conducted their lives accordingly which would likely mean never telling anyone about the adoption.

      Just because no legal document exists doesn't mean mothers weren't, at worst, blatantly told they adoption would be confidential, or at best, had it vaguely implied. I am sick of people bringing up the argument that any confidentiality wasn't legal. Neither was it legal to tell women their baby died when it didn't. Doesn't mean it didn't happen, doesn't mean the mother didn't believe it. Doesn't mean they didn't go on and live their life in a much different way than they would have had they known the day of truth would come.

      If women were naive and/or oppressed enough to be stripped of their babies they were certainly naive enough to believe nobody would ever find out. To me, its disgusting that people, most especially other mothers who felt lied to about other things, completely minimize or dismiss this aspect of the parents' experience in adoption. We're asked to, and do, understand and have compassion and empathy for mothers ...except for when it comes to this aspect. Then it's gloves off, who cares, show me the paper! Horrible.

      I have no clue what documents my bio mother has.

      Delete
  9. "The US gov't should give everyone their OBCs and tell people they're not in the relationship business so bye-bye people work it out for yourselves."

    This. Hit the nail on the head.

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    1. Totally agreeing with the comment Mei Ling quoted. Reunions and relationships should not be the concern of the government. Everyone should be able to get their original birth certificate, including adoptees. What they do next is their own business, and the ethics of contact and reunion should be separate from legal issues.

      Ms Leighton was talking specifically about DNA searches involving contacting relatives who may not even know each other, a messy and questionable undertaking, not about legal documents, and I can see her concern with ethical issues in that situation. I do not think many adoptees would search this way, and doubt that those that do would be very successful. They certainly could stir up a lot of pain in families they are not even related to by asking for DNA. I agree with an earlier poster that the threat of this kind of search in the future is another good reason to open access of birth certificates to adoptees, so that those who do choose to search can go right to the source, their mother.

      I would like to know more about Ms. Leighton's feelings about her own search and the separate subject of access to OBCs before condemning her.

      Delete
  10. Agreeing with those who have pointed out that restoring OBCs and records to all adoptees would make the 'searching backwards' scenario redundant in the vast number of cases.

    Whether promises of confidentiality were given to surrendering mothers remains a matter of dispute. B.J Lifton in her afterword to "Lost and found: the adoption experience" writes that the word "implied" was added because "there is nothing to attest to such a promise". And even if a promise CAN be tacitly inferred, bad laws are meant to be broken. It is a matter of recognizing and correcting the injustice of denying adopted people the same civil right as the non-adopted. Access one's personal and bio-familial history is not a privilege. It is a right.

    As Maryanne Cohen wrote in "Confessions of a weepy birthmother' more than ten years ago, " If birthmothers really did have an implied promise of confidentiality--so what? White bigots had an implied promise they would never have to eat lunch next to an African-American in the pre-civil rights south: it was written into the law. But once that law was seen to be a violation of civil rights, that which anyone had wanted or expected before, went out the window, and a lot of fine southern ladies and gentlemen were real uncomfortable!"

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  11. Thanks Whoever

    Obviously I am not on page with "so what?" when it comes to birthmothers having been given an implied promise of confidentiality but Maryanne, just like everyone else, is entitled to her point of view. Most people don't agree on every thing in life : )

    I think it's a very big deal and influences mothers'/ parents' actions when it comes to how they conduct themselves after adoption and as a result how they react in reunion and/or react to, what they perceive as, the threat of open records.

    Hah...it would be nice if a parent who wants anonymity, fears open records, and believed they'd never be found is reading here could find the courage to speak up and comment. If I could I would ask my bio mother to write us all a little something to try and help people understand (believe) people like her exist but I can't see that ever happening.

    If you're an anonymous parent and reading here feel free to comment anonymously about the subject. I guarantee your privacy here.

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  12. Campbell, thank you for articulating so well the concern of birth parent privacy. I won't try to speak for birth parents, but i can tell you what my birth father told me about privacy. The first time I contacted him, he was married with two teenage daughters at home and had a busy law practice in a small town. "I'm not your real father. Your real father was the one that raised you," he said. He was kind enough to write a letter to give me some information, but did not want a relationship with me. He developed an expectation at the time I was relinquished that I was gone forever, and he has not regretted it. I have to respect that. Years later he did consent to meet me. I tried to correspond with him after that, but he eventually stopped responding. He has a very structured routine, which allows him to functon whilst maintaining his steady state of alcoholism.

    I think that he just doesn't feel anything familial for me. I don't think he's in denial. I think he also doesn't want to be reminded about his 2-year relationship with my birth mother. I was a break-up baby, conceived after they were officially "through." But I don't want to speak for him.

    He is now in his late 70's. He's not going to change, most likely.

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  13. I just want to say thanks for the DNA testing guide link. I went there and am looking forward to becoming better educated in this area. I'd like to know more about my ancestry and am planning to get some testing done in the not too distant future. This is all so cool.

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  14. I don't see how the "implied privacy" argument can carry weight unless there is evidence that the implication has been heard and understood.
    For instance, I can imply a thing to you, but if you don't pick up on the implication it doesn't really amount to anything at all. No connection has been made. A tacit agreement can't be proven.

    My interpretation is that given the nature of the times, it was considered to be so shameful that an assumption was made on the mother's behalf. So that effectively, it was imposed rather than implied.

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  15. "I think that he just doesn't feel anything familial for me. I don't think he's in denial."

    I think we ALL really have to wrap our heads around this one and accept that this is one way to feel. It is not a right way or a wrong way, but some people's way. "I do not feel anything familial for you" may be unacceptable to some people but it does not amount to "denial" or "fog" and as a reponse to an inquiry, it must be accepted for what it is unless you truly intend to force that parent (or adult child) to capitulate emotionally. Not the greatest ground upon which to start a relationship.

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  16. Fruit of the Loon, thanks. There are no "shoulds" when we're talking about how people in adoption reunion feel. I think it is the expectations that get us into trouble. Leighton addresses the issue of expectations in the radio interview.

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  17. Sorry I found this late.

    Megan says: "According to the theories of philosopher John Locke, which had great influence in the structuring of the US Constitution, people have a "natural right" to life, liberty and property. Knowing one's bio parentage is not a natural right/human right. Is someone's right to privacy a natural right? Possibly."

    Really? Natural rights are founded upon property rights. The basis of this is the principle that we own our own bodies. DNA testing is the perfect proof of our natural right to know our own identity. I own that DNA that I had tested. I can do with it as I please. Furthermore, according to Locke, the government exists as a social contract. In an effort to establish justice and promote peace, individuals transfer their individual executive authority to a collective known as government. The legitimacy of government is confined to its equitable exercise of this executive power.

    In other words, the government is responsible to protect the rights of the individual, and those rights are rooted in self-ownership. The minute anyone claims adult adoptees do not have the right to use our own DNA to coordinate with other willing individuals to discover our origins and identity, a cause contrary to Liberty and Natural Rights is being advocated.

    Jean

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    1. Jean,
      I hadn't thought about DNA being included in property rights. Very interesting argument! I love it. Another thing about Locke was that he was a believer in Tabla Rasa, or that we are a blank slate at birth. This theory is the foundation to the concept of equal rights. Kings and nobles have the same rights as those of common birth. Blank Slate negates the importance of DNA to some extent. But the idea that DNA is propery makes it fit together better.

      Delete
  18. Interesting. Thanks all.

    I just want to clarify that nobody has said adult adoptees don't have the right to use their own DNA to discover origins and identity and if they did, I wouldn't support that.

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  19. As for the matter of privacy which, in the case of adoption, is not so much privacy as anonymity, this and all other rights is rooted in self-ownership. Because we each own our own body, we also own the fruits of our labor. That includes ownership of our actions and decisions. We do have the right to keep some of those actions and decisions private. However, when the fruit of our labor is another human being, we do not maintain the right of ownership. If we did, no one would ever be able to do anything without parental permission.

    At the age of majority (18 or 21), each individual becomes a political equal to his or her parents. Even before then, people do not have the right to keep their offspring hidden. That's not part of the right to privacy.

    My right to throw my fist ends where your nose begins. The same is true with conflicting rights between parents and offspring. A parent's right to privacy does NOT supersede the right of his or her adult offspring to achieve political equality. In other words, no one has the right to treat another person as nothing more than their own dirty, little secret.

    With rights comes responsibility. People have the right to reproduce. They do not have the right to produce political slaves. In fact, according to Locke, parents have a duty toward children. Signing a piece of paper then anonymously walking away forever is NOT a fulfillment of that duty.

    Jean

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  20. @Campbell,

    Well, if you choose to believe that Leighton wasn't acting as a shill for the all too familiar cabal of interest groups who wish to promote confidential intermediaries with the force of law, feel free. We can debate the ethics of searching until the cows come home, but it does little good without first debating the ethics of government forcing a child to develop without the knowledge of his or her origins. So long as people attempt to justify the authority of government to grant a select group of parents the "right" to anonymity from their own offspring, adoptees will continue to be treated as inferior citizens. That treatment may very well result in the regulation of genetic genealogy. Ms Leighton certainly didn't advocate against that possibility.

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  21. I do...choose to believe Leighton isn't acting as a shill. So far there's been nothing I've seen to indicate anything different.

    I think it does very little good to ignore ethics in searching and dismiss select groups of parents who want anonymity in the fight for open records. Pretending something doesn't exist doesn't make it so.

    If I ever get the chance I'll ask Ms Leighton about regulation of genetic genealogy. I imagine you're not including regulation like we have here in Canada that now prohibits anonymity of donors. You're not against all regulation in genetic genealogy, are you? Just regulation that would prohibit adopted people from obtaining their own DNA and using it to search.

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  22. SomeoneNeedsToTakeHerMedsFebruary 8, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    Leighton's a theorist. Her interest in this issue is about the boundaries of family-making and the ethics of choice. She hasn't offered any opinion on your right to investigate your own DNA or, as far as I can tell, your right to your OBC. It would be interesting to see what she does say about those things.

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  23. Shill? An unsubstantiated allegation made by an anonymous commentator. One for the trash bin.
    CIs have nothing to do with this particular issue.

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  24. Leighton's "theories" automatically throw everyone who was adopted into the same second-class bin. I am an adoptee. I found my parents in 1987. Yet, according to her, I'm unleashing evil (opening a Pandora's Box) by engaging in genetic genealogy. I find her remarks more than a little offensive.

    She has an Ivy League education, yet she quickly stereotypes and is not afraid to make blanket statements regarding persons who were adopted. She did question the ethics of adoptees making contact with distant family members. She made the statement that family is defined by LAW. Is it ethical to suggest we should consider our own existence scandalous and therefore remain in the closet when it comes to bio family members? She has an agenda. It would be wonderful if you could ask her just exactly what that agenda is.

    Jean

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  25. I've searched and found and believe there are ethical considerations in searching. I don't get what's so wrong with this belief.

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  26. Oh, and I also think that searching has the potential to open "up Pandora's boxes of other people's lives" and that it's not the same as just simply doing a genealogy like regular folks. Although, I imagine regular folks can also open up some pretty nasty boxes when doing genealogy, it's just not as likely.

    Forewarned is forearmed.

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  27. Opening a Pandora's box means to unleash evil. Do you really think that having one's offspring recognized is evil? Sounds as if the culture of reproductive shame is thriving here.

    Forewarned? Don't you think we were all forewarned when we grew up not knowing where in the heck we came from? I didn't need Leighton to explain that some folks might be surprised I exist. I've never met an adoptee who thought they were relinquished because their birth was met with a chorus of "Hallelujah!" Nonetheless, I never felt as if I should consider myself an embarrassment to my mother. I certainly never felt as if my finding her would be the equivalent of unleashing evil upon her.

    I agree, there are ethical concerns here, but my ethical concerns are apparently in stark contrast to yours. Even though I know my ethical concerns will again be ignored, I still take it back to the beginning when an infant is surrendered and automatically stripped of his or her identity. That is the root of the ethical dilemma. It's wrong. It should be illegal.

    Unfortunately, Leighton chooses to lament over, "the definition of family and the definition of health as being so determined by genetics." Just what does she think a family is? "And as we know, family is a product of relationships and law." Law? Really? I'm sorry, but I didn't get pregnant by reading the administrative code. What in the world is ethical about ignoring the fact that families are, indeed, a collective of genetically similar individuals and that the law is not a powerful enough force to eradicate family ties? Our genes are proof of this.

    Leighton certainly could have broached some profound ethical issues. She chose instead to pile all the responsibility for the insanity generated by closed adoption squarely upon the head of the adoptee. Despite the complete lack of ethics in adoption, we must now place the concerns of others above our own needs. Let us call that ethics.

    I'll pass.

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  28. Personally I don't think I, as an adoptee, should have to place the concerns of others above my own, just that I should consider the concerns of others.

    Other adoptees are free to do what they think they should do when it comes to concerns of others.

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  29. Pandora's box is frequently used as a metaphor for unanticipated consequences, particularly in the fields of scientific and technological development.
    I have no doubt that is how Dr. Leighton meant it.

    BTW, not everyone who goes to an "Ivy League" university is raised with a silver spoon in their mouths.
    Some actually get there by merit alone.

    Enough already.

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  30. "Opening a Pandora's box means to unleash evil."

    Anon, I don't think so. I think it means to unleash knowledge--a pagan theme which was transmuted into the Christian story of the tree of the forbidden fruit, aka the tree of knowledge. Even for Christians, the Garden of Eden incident is not all bad. It means the end of innocence, but love and relating are not only possible with new knowledge but also the whole purpose of living. Seriously, who would want to live in a state of "innocence" their whole life?

    Knowledge is always dangerous, and always essential. There is no way to remove the danger.

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  31. The last thing to fly out of Pandora's Box in the original myth was Hope. It was meant to comfort the no longer innocent world into which all the stinging evils had been released. Adoptee and poet Penny Callan Partridge has even written a book of adoption poems entitled "Pandora's Hope".
    So Pandora's Box is indeed a dangerous thing, but also a source of hope and promise.

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  32. A certain blogger thinks this thread is directed at her. That's too bad. The comments that took issue with Jean were directed at her specific words, e.g., "Ivy League education". And it was all pretty respectful too. Also, I agreed with some of Jean's points and thought she presented them well.

    Am still a bit taken aback by the Pandora's Box issue. This phrase has been used so many times by adoptees and first parents to represent all of the stuff "that can fly out at you," to use one writer's words, when questions start to be asked and reunions begin unfold. Here are just a couple of instances:

    http://splitfeathers.blogspot.com/2011/01/pandoras-box-opening-adoption-stages-of.html

    http://forums.adoption.com/open-adoptions/189741-pandoras-box.html

    http://forums.adoption.com/search-reunion-stories/332839-can-pandoras-box-closed-advice.html

    I don't think Leighton meant anything by that phrase other than it's extremely complicated and there may be issues to deal with on all sides that no one anticipated. That should not obviate an adoptee's right to information or birth certificate.

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  33. It's so naive to think that adoptees search just for the birthparents. We want to know grand-parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, the whole crew. Adoption didn't just cost us our birth mother. It cost us our whole tribe.

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