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.
If you want evidence of how badly broken agency-administered searches are, read this report.
That Catholic Charities lies was proved to me during my own search. I had obtained a JUDGE’S ORDER that Catholic Charities search for my birthmother, and I was checking in weekly with my caseworker, who was reporting no success. I located my birthparents by other means, and Catholic Charities’ lies became immediately apparent.
My birthmother had not relocated from Cape Cod in the thirty years since my birth. She was still in the same city where she had been when she got pregnant. Just before my breakthrough, Catholic Charities told me that a DMV search had come up empty, which was also patently a lie. My birthmother had maintained a driver’s license throughout, and while her name had changed when she was married during the intervening years that change was easily picked up by checking the marriage registry in the same town where she had always lived.
In fact Catholic Charities was doing nothing at all, simply defying a judge’s order and lying to me on a weekly basis while waiting for me to get discouraged and give up.
Additionally, I found a letter in my records from when I was five years old. My basic nature must have been the same then as when I was in my thirties, because I had apparently pestered my adoptive parents sufficiently thoroughly that they had written to Catholic Charities to ask my ethnic background on my behalf. My adoptive father was Italian and Polish, my adoptive mother German and Norwegian, and I apparently wanted to know what I was.
The letter from Catholic Charities reads simply that I was “Irish, English, and French.”
This, too, was a lie, based on mere guesswork. My birthparents last names were plainly English, my birthmother’s mother was from Canada (hence the guess at French,) but my single Irish ancestor, I have since learned, came across on a famine ship in the 19th century.
Catholic Charities consistently and routinely lied to me during my adoptive search.
Catholic Charities tried to run their extortion racket on me in 1996 ($400 at that time) when I sought my daughter. Thankfully, I was snarky and wise enough to suggest that a) they are, after all, called Catholic “Charities”; b) I was a young widow struggling to raise two young children; c) they had back-handled my own adoption from Ireland in 1961 as well as directly orchestrated my daughter’s, so surely well more than enough money had changed hands from our collective families; and d) considering they themselves told me my daughter and her adoptive family had contacted them not two years prior seeking contact, I felt $400 a rather exorbitant fee to “search” as far as a filing cabinet for the letter and recent contact details they’d provided.
We agreed to call it a day at $25, and as it turned out, weary of the never-ending letter-writing exercise CCS put us through, my daughter and I pulled an end run around them and found each other outright via the Internet.
Now CCS Philly calls me on searches involving Irish national mothers who relinquished in PA. I don’t see a dime of that $500.
Their fee is lower than DePelchin’s (the agency that “placed” me). No guarantees. And in talking with other reunited DePelchin adoptees, we have proof that they search, find, and then discourage any kind of reunion, telling the mother that the adoptee is angry and bitter and not worth knowing, and telling the adoptee that the mother doesn’t want contact. When neither is actually true.
The fees suggested by Catholic Charities is NOT mandatory if the client cannot afford them.
After decades I discovered one one of my MIA sisters daughters via close family DNA match-only the 2nd I ‘ve had in the multiple DNA data bases I am in specifically to find my sister from whom I have been separated since 1948.
I had been in contact with CC a few years ago about my sister (also an adoptee) but they found no records on either of us. But unbeknownst to them and to me, my sister gave birth to a daughter who came about because of a casual sexual encounter with a man not her husband in the early 1970s. Her daughter was born at CC and remained her mother’s custody until funds dried up due to no support and no employment found. Reluctantly my sister who fought for over 2 mos. for a way to to keep her daughter had no other choice than to relinquish her daughter’s custody to the state & CC.
When my niece told me the fee, I promised her that I would contact CC on her behalf regarding her inability to pay the amount stated. When I sent a lengthy email to the woman, the same person I was in contact with earlier, she responded within 48 hours. She remembered me well.
In the email I had offered to pay the fee if I could do it in payments at a pre-determined and agreed upon manner. Over the phone I simply explained that I couldn’t afford the fee either, but this was my niece and I felt obligated to do all possible to secure her OBC and other documents because everyone should know their own origins, parental names, as well as access to OBC and adoption files, not to mention that it is natural, international, federal civil and constitutional law that gives us equal rights under the law.
CC would not take my money nor did they take my niece’s given the fact that she has no way to pay it.