Letters have been pouring in to Respect Life Today and the New Jersey Catholic Conference since we and others posted the NJCC request for natural mother stories. The conference had hoped the letters, replete with horror stories of the speculative knock on the door and ruined lives, would boost the Catholic Church’s sealed records agenda. Well, letters were written, but not the kind the conference was looking for! Instead of cowering in the closet, proud and unafraid mothers have come forward with the universal message: We don’t want or need your protection. Unseal our children’s records!

Many letters have appeared on lists. I have been thrilled and moved at the wonderfulness and honesty of the writing. Though I’ve probably heard hundreds of first mother narratives, none of those has moved me as much as these articulate letters written by mothers on behalf of their surrendered daughters and sons–and themselves.

One has to wonder if the church hierarchy and its policy wonks have any concept of what was done to women who sought their help in time of personal crisis and indecision. Or do they care?

Adoptee Amy, with permission, has posted a selection of these letters as a blog entry, aptly titled, Hey, Catholic Charities, It’s Your Turn!

If you haven’t yet written to Respect Life Today or contacted Marlene Lao-Collins at the conference, I urge you to do so. Contact information is available on the link to Respect Life Today article. And send a copy of your letter to Amy.


  1. Here’s mine.
    It’s in the mail:

    To Marlene Lao-Collins, Patrick R. Brannigan and Lois

    I am a reunited birth mother and an adoptive mother.
    Here is my response to your invitation to birth
    parents to tell their story and give their opinion with regards to the “confidentiality” issue.

    I surrendered my first born son In the U.K in 1962 when I was 18. I was forcibly separated from my son’s father (who wanted to marry me) shortly after we informed my parents that I was pregnant. I was then sent to a maternity home in London where I lived until six weeks after the birth of my son, at the end of which time he was grappled from my arms.
    I had no knowledge of him until 39 years later.

    Although I’m not a Catholic, I was brought up in a religious Christian family. My father was an Anglican clergyman. He was also chairman of the regional Moral Welfare Society. Consequently he was in an ideal position to make clandestine arrangements for me to be hidden away until my son could be born and removed from my care, which he did. Secrecy was the sole object of the exercise. My son’s father was led to believe that I was not pregnant, and such was the situation that he had no way of questioning that lie.
    It was only many years later that he began to doubt the appearances of the time, and it is greatly to his credit that he had the courage and integrity to trace me to Canada where I now live in order to discover the truth and get the information that was necessary to find our son.

    It saddens me that things have changed so little in 45 years that your church continues to oppose adoptee rights, and especially that it does so under an aegis of concern for the well being of women who supposedly relinquished in part because they were promised anonymity into perpetuity.
    I did not want anonymity from my child. I did not ask for it and I wasn’t promised it.
    It was imposed upon me.

    An adopted person’s right to their original birth certificate is NOT about the mother, no matter how poignant her story or how vulnerable her situation. It is about the adopted adult being accorded the same rights as their fellow citizens. It is a civil and
    human right that must not be breached.

    Adoption records were opened to adopted adults in the U.K in 1975. I don’t think I need to tell you that the dire prognostications of the Chicken Littles were not fulfilled. The sky didn’t fall, found mothers didn’t leap from tall buildings to their deaths and solid families were not destroyed. Despite what many think, it does women who’ve lost children to secret closed adoptions no favor to enable them to continue living a lie. That only allows the toxic seepage that is a by-product of such duplicity to continue to work its detrimental effects on their lives and those of their families.

    My son, who was found by his father in 2000 and who was subsequently reunited with me, had his original birth certificate restored to him in 2002. In fact he has *better* than the original birth certificate. He has a complete revised version, revised in response to a request made to the U.K government by my son’s original father, our son and myself, to include his original father’s name where it had been previously omitted.
    So he now has a true and complete historical record of his birth, as is his right.

    While we celebrate this as a victory for openness and transparency, it underscores the fact that our son who was adopted by my husband and myself in Canada 25 years ago continues to be denied access to his original birth certificate.
    He, and others like him, are being done a grave injustice in being deprived of their rightful heritage. An individual’s knowledge of their family history is integral to their personhood. It is truth and only truth that sets people free, and the church should no longer be complicit in perpetuating the lies of the past. The family into which an adopted person was born is as much theirs as the family in which they were raised. Some might even argue that it
    is even more so.
    That which God has joined together, let no man (or institution) put asunder.

    The open records movement is not, as many would have us believe, about competing rights.
    It is about freedom and justice for all.


    Sara E. L Sainsbury

  2. Kippa,

    So you are saying
    that “god” put you and your adopted child together?

    “That which God has joined together, let no man (or institution) put asunder”

  3. Anonyma’am said ” Kippa,
    So you are saying
    that “god” put you and your adopted child together?”

    Thank you for asking, Anonyma’am.
    No. I was making a facetious comment directed towards the Roman Catholic Church.
    But if it was too subtle for you perhaps it will be too subtle for them.
    Ah well. Win some, lose some.

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