The last few days I’ve been attempting to catch up on my Google Alerts. I use the term loosely. I had over 38,000 of them. See, I hadn’t looked at them for quite awhile. Quite awhile. I’m now down to under 35,000. I’m not going through them all, just a handful that merit interest. Subjects like “safe haven, babies,” “Sara Feigenholtz,” and “Greiner.” I get quoted sometimes. Yesterday, in my May 29, 2015 “birth certificate” alert I found the story of Andy Christman, a 29 year old adoptee searching for his birthmother. Andy had recently became a father himself and got the search bug three weeks after the birth of his son. By May 29 his picture and information had gotten 6000 FB shares. I just checked Andy’s FB page and it’s up to 12k but, it looks like he’s gotten no hits yet. There is nothing particularly special about this story–it’s simply the Adoptee’s Plight. But then Catholic Charities stuck its snout in the story, and things got interesting. At least I think they’re interesting.
Adopted in 1985 through what was then the Catholic Social Agency of Allentown, Pennsylvania, Andy went back there to ask for help. Of course, the now called Catholic Charities, which works hard all over the country to keep OBCs sealed, demanded $500 ransom to do a search with no guarantee of anything. Andy, for practical (he can’t afford it) –and I think for smart reasons, too– declined the offer.
Now I’ve never known why agencies, especially Catholic Charities which is notorious for its bank-busting search fees and its pay-to-play therapy racket that forces adoptees to prove they don’t have an ax down their pants before they meet Mom, charge so much.
Searching bastards are cash cows–yes. $500 is excessive by any standard. though. You’d think there would be a polite limit to greed, but this is AdoptionLand where $ flow like the Mississippi. Not to be concerned, though! Allentown CC, explains it all. According to the article:
Catholic Charities charges $500 for a search because they use an online service that costs $175 a month and some searches can take thousands of staff hours, said Matt Kerr, spokesman for the Diocese of Allentown, Catholic Charities’ parent organization.
Thousands of staff hours on a search?. Is the CC internet powered by tin cans and a string?
This is well….crazy,and dare I suggest a lie.
Catholic Charities already holds the Rosetta Stone: the adoption file, the mother’s and possibly father’s name, and the family background. With some exceptions (God help you if you’re a Smith,Johnson, a no name or Mom gave a fake name at the hospital) good search angels and paid searchers alike usually can identify and locate somebody in a few days or a couple weeks. I actually know of a few searches that took under 5 minutes! And those searchers didn’t have a name to start with. I’ve done a few searches myself using no other tools that the Ohio Birth Index, Google, online search pages, online local government pages, newspaper archives, and maybe ancestry.com. The pre-internet search for my birthmother took about a day and cost $20 for copies of legal papers. The online search for my bdad, took 20 minutes and cost $5.00 to verify what I’d found..
(Side note: I worked with a woman whose husband was employed at what is now Ohio Jobs and Family Services tracking down deadbeat parents to collect back child support. He reported that the fancy-schmancy software the State of Ohio wasted taxpayer money on was so bad that he had a better rate of success with Google and the old Switchboard. Perhaps ODJFS sold its old software to Allentown Catholic Charities.)
So who is Catholic Charities trying to kid? $500 to open a file?
I think this explains it all: the April 14, 2015 testimony of Francis Vigilietta, Director of the Social Concerns Department of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference before the House Children and Youth Committee, against the then clean HB 162 (scroll down). If passed the bill would have restored the right of all Pennsylvania-born adoptees, without condition or restriction, to their own original birth certificates. Vigilietta fails to mention that CC gets $500 a pop for opening a file, plus another couple hundred for mandatory “counselling,” but his message is clear. CC opposition to OBC access and any form of identifying information is about its own need to control and manipulate the adoptee-birthparent narrative as well as preserve its own, framed in lliberal terms of humanitarian- intervention-by-trained-and-compassionate- social workers. Adoptees and their biological families just can’t come together without them/ The fox in the henhouse.
PCC continues to maintain that it is very important that an intermediary be available to help all parties involved in adoption work through the issues and strong feelings that arise during a search. Although many birth parents are not opposed to being located, there are some who may not be ready, and may never be ready, to deal again with the pain and emotions they experienced at the time they placed their child for adoption. …Thus, when confronted without warning or preparatory counseling, the relationship may get off to such a bad start that it has no chance of flourishing. The counseling provided by an experienced and trained intermediary is essential to address the needs of the many people involved in the adoption search process.
A quicker fix would be to donate $500 to a campaign to open records in the state that will guarantee you your original birth certificate and that you’ll not be humiliated at the same time.
Good luck, Andy! We’re rootin for ya! You deserve your OBC. We all deserve them.