Reunions Not Always Sweet -- I read Michael Bowen's article on adoption in your Jan. 10 edition with great interest. I, too, am thinking about adoption. I am a single mother by choice and was given the miracle of giving birth to a healthy little girl at the age of 42. Now, at 46, I find childbirth less likely an option and adoption more realistic. Thanks to Bowen for laying out a rough road map on behalf of us novices to the adoption game.
However, I have had some experience with a half-sister who was given up for adoption finding her way back to our mother, and witnessing their relationship, which I wanted to share with your readers.
Sherry was born in 1959, but I did not know of her until I was in my twenties. Actually, I did not know a lot of things about Mom's life because I had gone to live with my dad while still very young. My two brothers and I used to go down to stay with Mom some summers, but she kept many worries to herself. She was always poor, always struggling, and seemed to have one string of bad luck after another. She was raising two boys by herself after each of their fathers had died. Somehow, she managed to keep her head just above water.
I remember catching my mother crying one August morning while I was visiting and asked her what was wrong. She said that it was "Sherry's birthday" and she always cried for the child she was coerced into giving up. She already had the three of us, and while formerly separated from our father but not legally divorced, she had "made an error in judgment." The difficulty wasn't that she was an unwed mother, but that she already had her hands full. Her parents, her sister and an uncle talked her into giving the little 18-month-old up for adoption to a nice family they knew in the next town. Though Mom loved each and every one of her children, she often had to rely on immediate family to help her raise them. Sadly, my mother did as she was told and gave Sherry up, but always regretted her decision.
Sherry was told she was adopted at the age of 16, when her parents divorced. Like Bowen, she went in fits and starts with the idea of ever meeting her birth mother. Finally, in her early thirties and with a family of her own, she used her adoptive father's position as a retired police officer to gain information on the whereabouts of her birthmother. Some contacts in a detectives' division led her to her birthmother. I will never forget the happiness that filled our mother's heart when she finally met with Sherry. Like many birthmothers, Mom had done some reflection about what her child had grown up to be; Mom wanted to know all about her daughter's life, her husband, her children, her past, everything. The void that had been caused by Mom relinquishing her baby was finally filled!
Unfortunately, Sherry had many problems to deal with. Months later, when confronted with the fact that Mom had just as many, including health problems, Sherry backed away, saying she "just needed a little time." After all, Sherry had had a lifetime to fantasize about her birthmother; accepting the reality of who she was turned out to be another matter. Mom had always loved her children and would always take whatever she got, if only given the opportunity.
Mom's heart broke when Sherry cut off all communication. Now Mom mourned the loss of a daughter, a son-in-law and three grandchildren. She told me that losing a child once was bad enough, but to lose her a second time was practically unbearable.
Soon after, Mom died of a massive stroke. I can't help but feel that her intense sorrow was a factor. Now Mom's five other children are left with the sense of her loss but also a feeling that some element of the drive of adopted children to re-enter their birth parents' life may be based on fantasy and selfishness. I believe this is an area where one should tread lightly and in which many can get hurt.
Lisa A. Cochran
Adoption and Deception -- I have a bizarre story as it relates to my being an adult adoptee here in Spokane, Wash. I was born in 1962 to a large family (Jeske) in Washington State during a time when having children out of wedlock was a total and unacceptable social disgrace. My biological grandmother and mother chose to get rid of me rather than bear the embarrassment of being seen with a bastard child.
As a 39-year-old, typically obedient adoptee, I never dared to ask questions or even give the slightest inclination of interest in my birthmother. Yet nothing, other than the birth of my two children, has meant more to me in life than finding my mother. I found her two-and-a-half years ago, along with many relatives. Some of these relatives attend the same school as my children. Several years back, before I had ever dared to think about finding my birth relatives, I met an aunt and uncle in Warden, Wash., and had no idea whatsoever we were related by blood. My 39 years of life have been veiled with secrecy and shame.
Having spent so many years needing to know where I came from, what diseases I might carry and who gave me life has been like living in a bubble. My parents told me I was an adopted child when I was 12. I instantly felt a sense of deep guilt and a longing to find my birthmother. I sobbed quietly for days and still do, even to this day. The most difficult part of being a person who was given away is having society and lawmakers tell you, "You don't need to know" or better yet, "You don't have a right to know." In addition, my need to know has others thinking that I must be ungrateful for the wonderful parents I was graced with. Please note, my search was never meant to replace my mom and dad (the parents who raised me).
My story is very long and difficult to explain. I have reunited with a birthmother who doesn't want to interact because of guilt and shame. Her last words to me were, "I don't hate you, I just can't deal with this."
My mother was treated poorly by society, and now she and I both are victims of a socially Puritanical system that, to this very day, continues to punish children of unwed mothers with sealed birth records. Opening records is about equal rights, not about reunion.
Beware Antiterrorism Measures -- I picked up your paper on a recent trip to Coeur d'Alene, and this is in reference to your article in the Jan. 10 edition, "Jumping on the Paddy Wagon."
Thank you for bringing this antiterrorism act, which may in fact be aimed more at the American people than at terrorists, to my attention.
You may be interested to know of another version of this attempt to take away American freedoms through what is called the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act, or MSEHPA.
Here are some highlights for any state in which MSEHPA passes. (This is a condensed version of a letter to be found at www.vaclib.org/legal/shortltr.htm.)
During a real or contrived public health emergency: Citizens will forfeit rights and civil liberties. Citizens can be rounded up by the National Guard, then transported to detention centers or quarantine facilities. Citizens can be forcibly drugged, medicated and/or vaccinated by the "public health authority" at the point of a gun. Private property may be confiscated by the state or destroyed. Citizens will be subject to mental health "re-education" for objecting to any of the above.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has released model legislation that proposes these provisions and more! MSEHPA is now being pushed on all state legislatures. I understand that the Idaho Division of Health-- under guidance of Dr. Christine Hahn -- is developing a radical emergency plan that could incorporate many of the odious provisions found in MSEHPA.
If you or your readers are interested in signing a petition against this act, links to source documents for MSEHPA, news articles, general petition letters usable in any state as well as specific letters for Idaho and Montana may be found at www.vaclib.org/legal/modelindex.htm.
Thompson Falls, Mont.
Love Your New Look! -- I must say I wasn't sure quite what to expect regarding your new look. You hit the nail on the head when you said people generally don't like change. I know I usually don't. But having said that, I must say I was extremely impressed with what you have done. The paper is much easier to read than it was before, which I appreciate, being extremely near-sighted. The bolder print, and just the whole layout looks and feels more like a paper one would expect to see in Seattle or Portland; it has more of a big-city feel.
I haven't missed an issue of your paper since 1993, and now I look even more forward to picking up each issue.
Congratulations, and keep up the outstanding work you have been doing.
Settle Yardley Fight Fast -- The Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce would like to go on record opposing the City of Spokane's appeal of the Boundary Review Board's (BRB) decision in the matter of the proposed City of Spokane Valley. Regardless of the City's reasons behind the appeal, their action takes away the Spokane Valley citizens' ability to vote on the City of Spokane Valley incorporation issue in March.
It is interesting that the "Intent to Incorporate" document was officially presented to Spokane County in August 2000. Jurisdiction for the process was handed over to the Boundary Review Board in September 2000. Since that time, there have been numerous meetings to solicit testimony from interested parties over the boundaries of the new City of Spokane Valley.
Only after BRB made their final decision to include the Yardley area as part of the Spokane Valley City limits did the City of Spokane voice any sort of protest, and they did this in the form of an appeal. In effect, they had over a year to make their voice heard but never did so until the 11th hour. We feel that this is unfair to the Spokane Valley citizens who have worked very hard to get the Incorporation issue on the ballot.
We are hoping that the City of Spokane and the BRB can work out an equitable solution to this dilemma fairly quickly so that an amended April vote date can be maintained. The Yardley area is important both to the City of Spokane and to the City of Spokane Valley proponents. The Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce feels that there is room to compromise so that the solution is advantageous to both parties. Time is of the essence. If the appeal drags on, it inhibits the Spokane Valley residents' ability to control their own destiny. In the end, it's the people who lose.
Chair, Valley Chamber of Commerce
Palestinians Human, Too -- Joseph Harari, in his letter on Jan. 10, can barely contain his anger that you dared to publish an interview with Hassan Mallah (former president of the Spokane Islamic Center). But I applaud The Inlander's courage in recognizing that Palestinians are people.
Harari insists that "Israel is NOT the problem" and offers a list of "solutions": "force" the Arab states to take in the Palestinians, and, through economic intimidation, enforce sufficient censorship to ensure that Arabs never hear anything about the U.S. or Israel that we'd rather they not hear -- whether it's true or not.
As for "bringing to justice all terrorists," does Harari mean to include those Israeli terrorists who slaughtered the entire populations of Palestinian villages, or who assassinated Palestinian mayors, or who murdered, with the criminal complicity of Ariel Sharon, defenseless women and children in Lebanon? It is Harari's kind of naivete and blindness that is the problem.
Some threescore years past, the Palestinian people were forcibly dispossessed from the land in which their ancestors had lived for thousands of years. Now confined in poverty to a few frail slivers of sand, the Palestinians face the opposition of Israel, which continues its illegal occupation and daily outrages, destroying homes and erecting new settlements in violation of United Nations' resolutions, as well as their own agreements in Oslo.
It is probably too much to ask that most Americans will take the time to educate themselves regarding the complex geo-historical issues of the Middle East; for those who are interested at all, perhaps the best place to start would be with Dee Brown's Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. I say this because the current situation, which has lately become so extremely dangerous, is very similar to U.S. policy when our government was energetically committing genocide against Amerindians. Maybe Americans can understand that.
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