On May 13, Erik Smith and I testified before the Ohio Senate Health, Human Services, and Aging Committee in opposition of SB 304 which will expand the time “desperate parents” can legally dump their baby from three days to thirty. This was the fifth hearing. I’ve been unable to attend the others, but I wanted to get a few words in before the inevitable happened. Ohio isn’t exactly adoptee friendly. (see blog below)

Oddly, I was told that no one had presented oral testimony either for or against the bill, though the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services and Ohio Right to Life (who else!) supported it. After our testimony on Wednesday, Greg Kapcar, Assistant Leg Director for the Public Children’s Services Association of Ohio gave proponent testimony. (Jim McCafferty, director of Cuyahoga County CS who loves safe havens, is on PCSAO’s board). Kapcar was especially excited about an amendment added at Wednesday’s hearing to authorize baby dumping promotion, though when asked what kind of promotion was planned he didn’t know–exactly. Prompted by my earlier testimony that there was no evidence that babies 72 hours or older were being abandoned or killed in the state (which falls right in line with the Centers for Disease Control report on infant homicide), a member of the committee asked if he had any figures on that. Well…no, he didn’t, but “it’s better to err on the side of safety.” (Mr. Kapcar also referred to adopton as the “final solution.” I wish my anti-adoption mom friends had been there!)

Sen. Joy Padgett was surprised–even shocked– that anyone opposed safe havens . I told her there is a lot of opposition, and even major proponents of safe havens, at least in California–including Don Knabe (r) (and here), Debbi Faris-Cifelli, ICAN (Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect), California Right to Life Advocates, the LA County Sheriff, the LA County DA,, and California Right to Life Committee (all here) opposed expansion and that Gov. Schwarzenegger had vetoed expansion twice. (and here). I also attached a list of adoption reform organizations that oppose.

Erik’s bombshell that the Ohio law had been ruled unconstitutional recently by Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Judge Peter M. Sikora (though no injunction was issued) flew right over their heads. (re Baby Boy Doe, 145 Ohio Misc.2d 1, 2007-Ohio-7244.)Erik’s testimony is here.

To no one’s surprise, the bill passed out of committee unanimously. The House has a similar bill, HB 485, but with a six day limit. (Note-cosponsors include a substantial member of the Health Committee). So, we shall continue the fight.

By the way, six of the twelve members of the Health, Human Services, and Aging Committee were sponsors of the bill. It’s a non-partisan thing. When current ODJFS director Helen Jones-Kelley (l) was the director of Montgomery County (Dayton) Children Services, she personally named each safe havened baby after herself. Baby Kelley 1, 2, and 3. (Dayton Daily News, paid archives, January 8, 2003, December 15, 2004).


My testimony is too long to post here. Here, though is the second section, which some readers some might find interesting., since it’s about how difficult it is for even an experienced public records researcher to track down. Baby dumps are the gold standard of adoption secrecy. I’ve added a couple sentences that were not in the original. presentation.

On July 3, 2003 the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (r) issued a press release about a “survey” it had conducted in all 88 counties to determine use of the new safe haven law. The press release included basic information: the number of cases and the counties where newborns had been surrendered. but it offered no details of individual cases. Those can only be found in newspaper reports, which tend to be sparse. The Cincinnati Enquirer and the late Post have been the only papers to cover safe haven surrenders in detail. The Toledo Blade also covers them, but without much detail. So, it’s tough going for the researcher.

The ODJFS safe haven survey was not on its website, and I called to get a copy. I was initially told by ODJFS spokesperson Carmen Stewart that it would be dropped in the mail, and I’d have it in a few days. It never arrived. On August 14, 2003, I filed a records request with ODJFS asking for a copy of the survey, a copy of the questionnaire I presumed was used in the survey, and any supporting documents such as safe haven determination standards, data gathering criteria, and information on its promotion budget. I did not request identifying information on safe haven cases. I received nothing, not even an acknowledgment of my request. After my fourth or fifth request I received a letter dated June 10, 2004 from Carrie Anthony, Chief of the Placement Services Section of ODJFS regurgitating the content of the press release. She informed me that “each ‘designated Safe Haven’ was responsible for their own record keeping and reporting.” No survey or questionnaire was attached.

On August 16, 2004, I emailed Rep. Scott Oelslager, who in turn contacted ODJFS about its lack of response, cc’ing me.

Fourteen months after my initial request to ODJFS, I received a letter, dated September 14, 2004 from Dorothy Hughes, Section Chief, Office of Children and Families with about 1/5 of what I requested: A chart of county-by county cases, with a hand-written correction, plus copies of safe haven material already available on the ODJFS website. Ms Hughes wrote that the much publicized “survey” was actually an “informal survey.”

Perhaps the informality of the survey along with the earlier claim that each “designated “Safe Haven” is responsible for its own record keeping explains the discrepancy in the number of safe haven incidents reported. For instance, Katerina Papas, counsel for Summit County CSB, in the September 14, 2003 Akron Beacon Journal (paid archives) claimed that four newborns had been surrendered under safe haven specifications in that county, yet state survey press releases dated July 3, 2003 and November 15, 2004 list only one since the law went into effect. The Dayton Daily News (paid archives), doing its own survey of metropolitan-area children services offices, reported on August 1, 2002 that Stark County had one case, but ODJFS has never included it.

ODJFS’s stonewalling and confusion is emblematic of the secrecy that surrounds Ohio’s safe haven procedures. Certain legal “privacy” mandates are understandable. It is puzzling, though, that nothing but a yearly press release is available for public scrutiny—and that the public and the press is expected to accept what ODJFS says, with no proof of accuracy and no mechanism to check ODJFS “facts.”

What, in fact, constitutes a legal “safe haven—at least the way it way intended to be used?” I ask this, since it appears that safe haven is routinely abused. As we all feared, instead of an “emergency solution” for panicked parents, it’s turned into a fast-track “adoption plan” for those who find counseling, paper signing and informed adoption surrender tiresome. Of the cases I’ve been able to research though public records and other sources, a good number of Ohio safe havened newborns appear to be born in hospitals to identified women, not women in hiding. Dean Sparks, director of Lucas County Children’s Services, was quoted in the December 1, 2005 Toledo Blade (paid archives) that all three of his county’s safe havened babies were born in hospitals. “The cases I’m familiar with are cases where the mother’s gone to the hospital, she’s delivered the baby in the hospital, and she said, ‘By the way, I don’t want this baby. I want to claim my Safe Haven privilege.”

By the way?…


Only the Juvenile Court can declare a case of safe haven, and information about safe haven cases, of course, is never available. Docket numbers are not released and hearings are closed except to “interested parties;” thus, forcing parents to default their own hearings. County Juvenile Courts don’t even release the number of safe haven cases heard each year, nor do they release the number of cases that been have been actually adjudicated as safe havens and not neglect or abandonment cases.

How any of this protects “privacy” is a mystery.

How many babies have been returned to parents or other family members is another mystery. According to Columbus Dispatch (paid archives) reporter, Catherine Candisky, by the end of 2005. four out of 8 Franklin County cases ended in infant retrieval. I know of one other Franklin County case—in 2006– in which a safe havened boy was returned to his natural mother about 3 months after his birth. It appears that the baby was born to an identified teen mother at a local hospital. In Dayton, a woman went to court to try to reclaim her son, safe havened on Christmas Eve. The Juvenile Court judge put a gag order on the proceedings for among other reasons, that a mother re-gaining custody of her child might discourage other women from using the safe haven law. (Dayton Daily News, paid archives, March 28, 2002).

I am, skeptical of ODJFS statistics. Though some county prosecutors and hospitals have developed their own safe haven promotional material, the state has only offered brochures, posters, and a website. Yet a reported 54 babies in seven years have been safe havened. That is an astounding number for a state the size of Ohio and a program that isn’t advertised. Compare this to Pennsylvania, which has had five cases in six years–and a 28 day timeframe. A Florida adoption lawyer who has worked pro bono to help parents retrieve children from the safe haven system told me that nearly all safe haven mothers in that state are identified. “There are only enough walk-ins to make it look like it works,” she says.

Some safe haven cases appear to be nothing more than old-fashioned boarder baby incidents, in which babies, usually born to identified mothers, are left at the hospital after the time of discharge due to the unwillingness or inability of parents to care for them. In 1998, according to the National Abandoned Infant Resource Center at UC-Berkeley, there were 13,400 boarder babies. These babies are sometimes retrieved; some are adopted, and some go into fostercare. Their parents are seldom if ever prosecuted for abandonment and the state picks up the often hefty tab for their care. Due to educational efforts by federal and state governments, the boarder baby population has decreased substantially in recent years. The high number of safe haven surrenders in Ohio suggests that the safe haven system is being abused and that the safe havened are the new boarder babies.

Moreover there is growing anecdotal evidence nationwide that women are advised to safe haven their babies rather than go through an adoption plan or to seek services to assist them in parenting. The director of a San Antonio adoption agency, for example, told me last year that nurses in every hospital in her city advise women undecided to parent and considering adoption to subvert ethical relinquishment procedures. “Just safe haven it. It’s easier.” Even more disturbing are stories coming out of some states in which safe haven advocates claim to work with women throughout their pregnancies, with every intention of carrying to term and doing no harm to their children. In 2004 I appeared on the John Walsh Show with a woman who began to work with the New York safe haven program AMT Children of Hope when she was two months pregnant. She she was hardly “in crisis.” We can only wonder where these kitchen-table “crisis pregnancy” and adoption counselors got their training. NCFA’s old 2-day Infant Adoption Awareness Training Program? A California blogger writes proudly about how she researched options when pregnant and decided to anonymously abandoned her daughter, whom she claims to love, because she didn’t want to be treated poorly by an adoption agency and end up “bitter.” If so, this is a gross abuse of the law—which was promoted as a way to save newborns from death and their panicked and frightened mothers from jail. It is highly unlikely that a panicked girl or woman contemplating killing her newborn is going to make plans ahead of time to deliver at a hospital or worry about being made bitter by an adoption social worker. Safe havened babies were never in danger of discard or death….


And finally, please ask yourself this question:

As a matter of policy, should Ohio be making it easier for parents to give up their children anonymously?

SB 304 is open season on Ohio children and their families….


  1. I find it interesting that you found a California blogger who used the Safe Haven laws and yet made no attempt to get her story first hand by requesting an interview. Instead you make uninformed assumptions about her then quote “anecdotal evidence” as truth. Evidence provided by an adoption agency that clearly does not benefit by the use Safe Haven.

    Or could it be that you read other entries in her blog and saw that she did not fit Dean Sparks mold of Safe Haven birthmoms who so casually say “By the way, I don’t want this baby”? How ridiculous and irresponsible of Mr. Sparks to make such an off handed comment based on hearsay at best… Was he actually in the room in all three cases? Doubtful…. And his flippant attitude leaves him with very little credibility in my book.

    This blog is riddled with inaccuracies, false assumptions and one basic truth – Safe Haven laws are not perfect – But they are necessary. I agree, the vast majority (if any) of the women who chose Safe Haven would not have murdered their child but you confuse legalities with marketing. The fact remains that many women have a need to surrender in anonymity. Traditional adoption does not allow for this nor do agencies hold to any strict code of confidentiality as a general rule.

    I wonder if you really care about newborn or birthmom’s safety or state of mind. Obviously you are not willing to educate yourself on the other side of the story when given an opportunity. You would rather run down a Safe Haven birthmom, than listen to her story… This is the problem with blind advocacy IMO.

    It’s no secret what keeps “Bastard Nation” up at night. The only thing worse than closed records is no records at all… Everyone else be damned…

  2. I also find it intersting that you have clearly done your homework, but then go ahead and link to a blogger and make assumptions about her reasons for using Safe Haven to fit your own agenda. And to callously question her love for her child was quite unnecessary, seeing that you don’t know this blogger, nor are you that familiar with her story, as if you were, you would know that her “claim” to love her child is the absolute truth.

    I wonder why you felt the need to include her in your crusade when you clearly could have made your point without it. You are entitled to your opinions on Safe Haven, and good for you for standing up for things you feel strongly about. But not at the expense of others that you have clearly used to further your cause. And innacurately at that.

    I also wonder exactly what you stand for, I can’t tell if you are advocating for open records, or have an anti adoption stance, if you are pro adoptee, pro ethics or all of the above. But your misrepresentation of this blogger makes me wonder what other things that have been written here that have been manipulated to further whatever cause you feel strongly about today. If you want to be heard, led by example and be responsible, and ethical in your own words. You’ll be heard a lot clearer that way.

  3. If you don’t know my stand on safe havens then you’ve in a cave since 1999. And if you don’t know that every adoption reform organization in the US oposs SH, then you’re really in a cave.

    The current baby dump movement was instituted by my late friend and colleague Dr. William Pierce 1998-1999 as a response to our vitories in Oregon and Alabama to restore the right of records and identity access to adoptees in those states. This is not a figment of my imagination. Bill said so repeatedly, and NCFA has carried on the tradition. SH not only thwart adoptee rights, but they serve as a conduit to move undocumented baybees into the adoption mill where no pesky parents can come back to muck up the works.

    Baby dump laws are blatantly unconstitutional since they deny due process. When they are ruled unconstitutional, there is a potential for hundreds of void judgments.

    Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court judge Peter Sikora already ruled Ohio’s law unconstitutional, but didn’t order an injunction. However, ODJFS had 30 days to appeal and did not. Now why could that be?

    The fun is about to begin.

  4. I’ve been to the calimoms blog a couple times, but it was a bit triggering for me. I found myself curious though, I don’t know her story. I do know that it appeared she cares about her son, and from what I read it didn’t appear like she would have hurt him in a dumpster sort of way.

    You’ve given us a lot of compelling information here Marley, as usual. Regardless if you got the origins of the surrender “wrong” or “right” evidence CLEARLY shows that safe havens are being abused. They’re not being used for what they were intended to be used for.

    No, safe havens AREN’T necessary. The reasons behind putting them into “law” haven’t been “dented” by their existance. They’re being abused for the wrong reasons and too many innocent children are being raped of their identity because of it.

    There is a group on Facebook of teens that talk about the way to surrender an unexpected pregnancy would be a safe haven because they could hide it and get away with it easier that way.

    This is not why the law was put into place, but it is a reason the pro-adoption-agency cronies worship them like the NCFA.

    No, many women DON’T have a “need” to surrender in anonymity. Take a look at the “no contact preference forms” from the open record states from around the country.

    Women and children have been separated by adoption for YEARS, history shows “how many” feel anonymity is their only option and its really a pinch.

    Nevermind the fact that anonymity completly violates the childs RIGHTS.

    When in the hell will it be about the child?

    What oceans is missing is that many of these cases of “no records at all” didn’t HAVE to be that way.

    And I’m pretty offended about her last paragraph too, “everyone else be damned” excuse me but millions of us have been damned for generations thanks to these crap laws. Since when have adoptees had rights EVER?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! In the history of adoption?!?!?!?!?!

  5. Tobit said…

    Another excellent post. Thank you for demonstrating how SH laws aim to undermine adoptee rights. While reading your report, it struck me that parents who take advantage of SH laws, solely to ensure their anonymity, fail their children not once but twice: first by abandoning them to an uncertain fate, and second by denying them any chance of claiming a history, a basic connection to humanity that everyone else takes for granted.

  6. Regardless of one individual’s motives in exploiting the laws on abandonment, so-called safe haven laws are being abused, as we know. That adoption agencies are in favor of them is a given; after all, they provide more helpless, untraceable victims for their baby mills. And it furthers the aim to placate, and reap profits from, adoptive parents who want a child they can pretend is their own.

    Even when the sums exchanged are negligible, undocumented abandonments fit squarely into the practice of withholding vital personal information from adoptees and bolster the barbaric practices of closed adoptions. Agencies most definitely DO benefit from this, either directly or indirectly.

    Beyond all that is the fact that no matter where the adoptee comes from, s/he certainly does have a heritage, a history and true parents. To pretend otherwise and intentionally inflict harm by denying someone their identity is to commit human rights and civil rights violations against someone simply for being born. This aspect of surrender is preventable and yet we’re perpetuating the ignorance of closed adoptions. Unconscionable and beyond selfish.

    As gershom pointed out, adoptees are truly the damned. Safe Haven laws are set up to protect the privileged adoptive parents at the expense of the helpless and less resourced.

    History will prove that these are the dark ages for adoptees. Future generations will shake their heads at all the machinations, including safe haven laws, foisted upon us all by those who are NOT acting in the best interest of the child, safe haven apologists notwithstanding.

    Not interested in playing nicey-nice just so the apologists won’t have to feel too uncomfortable reading this, either. The anger and frustration are valid and real. Don’t like it? Don’t adopt. And don’t perpetuate ignorant, barbaric practices that harm adoptees.

  7. Marley: I can not argue on your opinion. I respect that your opinion is yours and I just happen to disagree. I can argue on matters of law and constitutionality which (in the end) will also probably come right back to two differing opinions but here goes…You said that:

    “SH not only thwart adoptee rights, ….” So I must ask, which right (specifically) does it violate?


    “Baby dump laws are blatantly unconstitutional since they deny due process.” So, I ask, who is being denied due process?

    I can guess your answers but I would prefer to hear them directly before I respond…

    As far as the judge is concerned, (and this is ONLY my opinion), it sounds like he didn’t have confidence enough in his ruling to put any teeth behind his opinion.

    So why didn’t the appellate court get involved? I can only hazard a guess but quite frankly, why bother if there was no change to the law… What you probably construe as agreement, I can argue as dismissal. While not familiar with Ohio’s appellate court specifically, I would argue that in general, it’s not the appellate court’s place to argue a non-binding (and therefore personal) opinion of judge – only the change of the law itself – which did not happen due to his refusal to issue an injunction.

  8. Well,I think Erik will address the legal issues in more detail than I will. You might want to check out his webpage in the meantime http://www.eriksmith.org. He’s got lots of baby dumping stuff.

    1) What rights are being violated? The right to identity, heritage, and records. Equal treatment under law. SH is a continuation of the sealed records system formulated and promoted by NCFA and its socialist cronyies in high places. They blatantly state that SH is their response to the restoration of our rights. We should shut up and be grateful.

    (a) Who is denied due process?
    1) the non-custodial parent (usually the father)
    (b) the dumper parent(s).
    They are not told they will be sued and end up defaulting their own hearing.

    I think the judge had confidence in his opinion. The appeals court never got involved because ODJFS never appealed. Who knows why. It is hardly of sterling reputation. They’re still carrying A Child’s Waiting.

    I”m curious. Why do you feel a need to defend baby dumping and the the\ degradation of adoptees to chattel class? We are not a consumer choice.

    Baby dumps are open season on families. If men were doing the safe havening, you can bet that these laws would disappaer over night. Just more namby-pamby do-gooder statist crap.

    I’d really like to know why anonymous abandonment is beneficial to adoptees or adoption. Any comments?

  9. As far as Gershom’s comment about reading the California Bmom’s blog… Well, you couldn’t have read much of it because it is quite clear in just about every post that she had a daughter… Not a son.

    Again, I have to ask, specifically, what constitutional or civil right is being violated by a closed adoption?

    It may surprise you that I am a bmom of the closed era. I could care less if MY records were opened for all to see – publish them in the Wall Street Journal for all I care. However, the fact remains that opening records is not about a name it’s about compelling someone to give personal information about themselves. Morally is this the right thing to do? IMO, as a bparent ASOLUTELY!!!

    Legally – no…

    It’s mind boggling to me that so much time, money and effort is spent trying to unwind the closed era of adoption when the mechanisms for reunion and/or transfer of information, between 2 consenting individuals are already in place… The idea just need to be marketed a bit… I do stress CONSENTING. Someone mentioned the rape of identity of the adopted child… Did it ever occur to you that a bmom may feel the same way?

    As far as the Safe Haven Laws are concerned, I have already admitted they are not perfect but I do believe they are a necessity for some. To claim that those who surrender under Safe Haven but had no intention of murdering their child is acting unlawfully, well… that is based in emotion not fact.

    I hate the closed era as much as the next person… that doesn’t mean closed adoptions don’t serve a purpose and agencies are notorious for breaking that trust…

    Additionally, those who question a bmom’s love for her child as a general rule… I can only say you are wrong… You are welcome to your opinion, but believe me… You are wrong!!! Most of us cry the same amount of tears…

  10. Hmmmm, a baby dump “adoption” is an anonymous adoption, not a closed adoption. You had a closed adoption. The agency or whoever has files. There are names attached to it. Safe haven surrenders do not. The whole idea is anonymity.

    How are open records compelling somebody to give information about themselves? It’s about the right of adopttes to obtain their own birth certificates–just like the not adopted do. How does that compel you to give information about yourself unless you are offended that the law requires you to place truthful information about yourself on a birth certificate. It’s illegal to do otherwise.

    I agree that “To claim that those who surrender under Safe Haven but had no intention of murdering their child is acting unlawfully, well… that is based in emotion not fact.” At least I think I know what you mean by that.

    The fact is, that’s how these laws were marketed to politicians. If it saves just one. There is no epidemic of neonaticides in the US–only in the mind of the baybee marketers who won’t give up their power. People who will kill their babies keep on killing them. There is absolutely no reason for the state to facilitate baby abandonment.

    I have no idea where you got your information that adoption agencies are notorious for breaking trust. Certainly not with adoptees they don’t. We are shit to them. But this is about rights, not reunion. I could care less if somebody finds each other. That’s a personal choice that has nothing to do with the law.

    OK a truce until later. I may be gone all day tomorrow anyway.

  11. I agree SH screws adoptees and I don’t think they work. It just so happens that the blogger you linked to is a wonderful, compassionate SH mom who is now in an open adoption doing everything she can to help her daughter know her.She is not anonymous now. Like Gershom, reading SH stories can be a huge trigger for me (adopted person) and yet getting to know her has shown me that her daughter has more of her Mother than I ever had growing up in a closed adoption.Not because of SH, but because she talked with many adopted people afterwards and has tried to do well by her daughter even at her own risk.

  12. How much time does a mother have to get her baby back after she surrenders to a SH or reconsider her options? Is there a common thread among mothers that are doing this?

    How much (anonymous)counselling is the mother given when she brings her child to a baby dunmp and who offers it? Does she get a lawyer or an advoacte representing her and her child?

    Baby dumping laws are horrific. And that it’s done anonymously…how can the recipients be sure that the baby being surrendered is that mother’s child?

  13. The revocation period, if it exists, depends on each state law. Parents simply cannot return and get the kid. They must go through counseling, and maybe even a home study. In Franklin County (Columbus) at least 5 babies who were SH were returned to their mothers or families (and it appears that more than that throughout the state), but the parents have to go through juvenile court a to do it.

    The only case that I know that went quickly was a bogus drop-off in Euclid earlier this year where an aunt took the baby to a hospital and said the teen parents, who already had 2 other kids (!) couldn’t handle a third. The cops were called since Ohio doesn’t permit a designated dumper. I don’t know what happened, since everything is a big secret, but within days or a couple weeks the baby was back with its parents.

    We believe that courts are returning kids to avoid constitutional challenges. Once somebody with standing, such as a dad, challenges, the whole thing will crumble.

    There was a case in Andalusa, AL last year where a married woman dropped her kid off. She’d hidden her pregnancy from her husband, but he suspected she was pregnant. When he heard about the case, he went to the police. He was right. I never heard what happened. But if the paper hadn’t picked up the story, he’d have never known about it.

    SH parents receive no counseling. They can walk into any SH drop-off and leave the baby with no questions asked. “No blame, no shame, no name” market slogan. Also, nobody will ever have to know you had that child. If the parent(s) ask to talk to somebody they can, but by law it is not required and under no circumstances can a dumper be hindered from leaving the baby. There is no lawyer and no paper signing. In some states the law says that by leaving the kid, it is an expression of termination of parental rights. In the Cleveland case, it was the ad litem who brought up the constitutionality of the law.

    Hospitals in Cal and AZ have a baby drop off box where the kids can be deposited with no human contact, even though that’s not what the laws allows.. Dumpers can pick up a brochure about the probram at the box. A friend of mine visited the California box and there were no brochures in the display.

    Nobody knows if whoever leaves off the baby is the parent. In some states anybody an drop it off no questions asked. IN states like Maryland “any responsible aduult” is a safe have drop-off. So if you’re standing at the bus stop minding your own business, you are “required” to take the kid no questions asked. A few years ago, NY State Sen. Huffman suggested in a Newsday article that super markts and gas stations be designated as drop off points, snce people are always there! New meaning to the phrase, found under a cabbage patch.

    Ohio doesn’t permit designated dumping. In Euclid, the aunt was only 22. If she hadn’t announced that the baby was somebody else’s she could have left it there and nobody wold have known the difference.

  14. For bless58, the point is that the blogger wrote how she felt at the time. She may be in an open adoption now, but that came later. She wrote that she feared she’d become “bitter.” Actually, I don’t much blame her for what happened, but anon abandoning a baby legally isn’t done because somebody doesn’t want their overbearing mother to find out. It’s the whole baby dump industry that harvesting newborns out of fear that my gripe is with.

  15. I guess it’s time to make an appearance…

    Just to clarify (as I did on my own blog already) I only brought up the “bitter” argument several SEVERAL months post-placement when asked if I had to do it all over again would I. At the time of pregnancy a selfish fear of bitterness never entered into the equation as I was naive and had absolutely no idea how manipulative and unethical adoption agencies had the potential to be. The one and only time I ever mentioned bitterness was in pure hindsight – another statement of mine that’s been taken grossly out of context.

    I’ve said many times that all initial decisions were rooted entirely in fear. Hippa laws had failed me before, something I haven’t spoken publically about yet, and I was afraid of what that would mean should it happen again.

    Finally, I was told I had ten days to change my mind about placing my daughter. I was asked and strongly encouraged to fill out medical background forms (which for the record, I did).

    I never claimed what I did was perfect. Not by a long shot. All I ever asked was that I be represented fairly and accurately. I’ll answer to anything that’s stated in such a way, but I can’t watch my name – and most importantly my love for my daughter – get dragged through the mud.

  16. Marley wrote: “SH parents receive no counseling. They can walk into any SH drop-off and leave the baby with no questions asked. “No blame, no shame, no name” market slogan. Also, nobody will ever have to know you had that child.”

    You’d think in 2008, in a the US, that talking to a mother in crisis would be the frist thing people would think about. Mothers and children can go to shelters when fleeing abuse – their privacy is repsected. Why not have a safe havens where mothers can receive support, unbiased counselling and legal representation? Where her child won’t be doomed to a life of anonymity from its own family.

    I don’t see how promoting anonymous baby dumping benefits anyone. Try promoting places to go with a baby when in crisis. I’d say the US is ranked with countries that are considered uncivilized if they’re encouraging women to dump and leave their babies at fire stations and super markets, who will then be sent to strangers and cut off from their families forever. What an completely inhumane concept.

  17. Marley – I am going to address your questions in a follow up post (right after this) but I want to make something clear…

    I’m arguing these points from my and several attorney friends understanding of the law as we have debated it in the past – I am not an attorney btw. Personally, I don’t agree with all of these arguments from a moral perspective.

    IMO, every adoptee has moral right to their personal information and any “found” bparent has a moral obligation to provide said information. My issue is that the adoptee’s moral right trumps bparents privacy (is that a right?) when it comes to opening records…

    TO BE CLEAR – I don’t think there is anything wrong (from a moral standpoint) with SH. Morals need to be argued on a case by case basis – The moral issues arise with SH when it is used to

    1) Skirt bfather rights (which I doubt happens very often – there are easier ways to do that and go the more traditional agency route – unfortunately)
    2) Cover up an issue of child molestation – As horrific as that is, personally I am glad the infant is out of the environment to be honest.
    3) Surrender a child that is not yours… However, as a bmom, it’s pretty easy to go looking if someone steals your child and you will have legal remedies and protections.
    4) There are probably others I’m not thinking of… btw: these ideas came from your site and I couldn’t agree more that they violations of a law… (not the SH law as long as you are a bparent) No law is perfect and obviously SH is no exception.

    Why am I doing this?

    Personally… You indicted a SH mom for surrendering in anonymity. If you read her blog you would understand that had SH not been in place, she may be in a far different situation today. Most likely she would have been pressured to parent and/or pressured into a relative adoption (my understanding from her blog). It is neither my place nor yours to say what was in her best interest at the time. As far as the best interest of her child… She determined that to be adoption (which is her right). Could she have used an agency? She says no so I take that at face value – who I am to second guess or debate… She could not risk the possibility of her family finding out – It is a perfect example of why anonymity is needed.

    Furthermore, you questioned the love that she has for her child… Again, not your place nor is it mine or anyone’s to question the love any bparents has for their child b/c they chose adoption – regardless of the route. IMO, you owe her an apology. If you have an opinion, fine, state it as such but when you argue the point as fact, and call her actions illegal, I will defend her and every other SH mom on the planet.

    That is why I am here…
    I’m not trying to offend or trigger anyone.

    My apologies if I have…

  18. oceans – i read some of it months ago, and yes, after I went there for the first time since then last night, i realized that HE was infact a SHE.


    have you ever made a mistake before? Probably not eh?

  19. Now to address your specific questions/answers…

    What rights are being violated? The right to identity, heritage, and records. Equal treatment under law.

    The right to ID, heritage and records is not a constitutional or civil right. It’s arguable that it is a basic human right or natural right due to the cultural aspect but legal right… no. Adoptee’s have equal treatment as defined by law.

    Who is denied due process? The non-custodial parent (usually the father)

    The father is not denied due process if he steps up and claims the child. You already gave examples of how the rights of the non-custodial parent WERE protected (above). If a father is aware of a pregnancy and the baby is surrendered (via SH or adoption) without his consent, he has legal remedies. If he is aware and unsupportive (either emotionally or financially) those rights may be limited but he still has legal remedies. If he is unaware of the pregnancy and the child is surrendered then yes, I believe there is an argument that his legal rights were violated by the birthmom. But, this is not unique to SH. One does not need to use SH to place a child for adoption without BF consent. It is a terrible practice IMO but it can be done legally (unfortunately).

    The other side of that coin is if bfathers were required to sign it is likely that many children would like out their lives with no permanent legal parents – only guardians. That is far worse than sealed or no records if you ask me.

    the dumper parent(s): They are not told they will be sued and end up defaulting their own hearing.

    ??? – Are you referring to the hearing to terminate parental rights? The fact that you surrendered anonymously (and did not come back to re-claim or identify yourself) is a waiver of your right to notification.

    I”m curious. Why do you feel a need to defend baby dumping –

    This started because you were questioning the legality of a SH bmom actions (among other things). It is legal and it does not violate any constitutional or civil rights of a child… Natural or Human rights with regards to their culture – Maybe – but even that is arguable under most definitions of culture.

    What I am defending is the ability of a parent to surrender their child in anonymity. I can think of many hypothetical situations were this can be a necessity not only for the safety of the bmom but for the safety of the child. Should it be a routine practice suggested by nurses in hospitals as you pointed out – NO WAY… but it does guarantee anonymity which I believe can be necessary.

    Agencies are not held accountable for any violation of privacy of a bmom. I have heard several examples where a bparents name “slipped out” or documents were released that had bparents names on them – and vice versa. Agencies (or any other facilitator of adoption) need to be held to the same standard as the medical profession is for HIPPA (for example). You point out that the closed era is different than surrendering in anonymity because records exist… That statement in itself makes my point. There is no guarantee of anonymity now or in the future.

    I’d really like to know why anonymous abandonment is beneficial to adoptees or adoption. Any comments?

    I never said it benefited the adoptee or adoption. It can benefit a bparent.

    How are open records compelling somebody to give information about themselves? It’s about the right of adopttes to obtain their own birth certificates–just like the not adopted do.

    Opening records is not ONLY about access to your original BC. To argue otherwise removes the entire case of entitlement to medical history and family origins. I can tell you your father’s name on your original BC is John McGregor. Does that tell you that you are Irish? No – John may have been adopted by his step father and his original name was Smith – that wouldn’t show on your original BC. Does the name John McGregor give you your medical history? No…

    Your original BC has personal value – It has no legal value whatsoever. What can you do with your original BC that you can not do with your amended BC?

    It’s not that I am completely against opening records, I’m not. I think there are better ways to go about it tho…

  20. “What can you do with your original BC that you can not do with your amended BC?”

    A birth registration will provide the name of an adopted person’s mother, her maiden name (if there is one), her date of birth, ethnicity and maybe the father with his personal information.

    The amended (long form) birth certificate has the the adopters personal info on it.

    Adoptees, I think in most jurisdictions, get a long form birth registration, which is what is used to create a birth certificate. Adoptees don’t get another birth certificate.

    The birth registration belongs to the person who was born. Every non-adopted person has access to their birth registration. Adopted persons do not. That’s discrimination.

    Let’s say that all women over 40 are not allowed to possess a passport because the government says these over-40 women can destroy lives if they have a passport. There’s no proof this will happen, it’s not written into any laws – you’re simply told that that you have the ability to cause harm if you have a passport. Yet, all women under 40get a passport. What would you call that?

    Adoptees are classified as a distinct group who do not have access to the same docuemnts non-adopted people have. The reason why, we hear, is because their mothers have the “right” to privacy. Yet it does not appear in any legislation or adoption contract.

  21. Jeez oceans you made your points over and over, one of the problems with safe haven,is it doesn’t even have to be a relative, it could be a boyfriend. It could not be the child’s parent at all, no questions asked.

    So you think the rights of the mother to dispose of her infant however she sees fit trumps all others.

    As far as the California mom, her story is recorded on the internet, I would see no reason to interview her, the safe haven laws were enacted to save babies lives, not to circumvent legal abandonment, ie adoption. It is legal to abandon your child, that is what adoption is for. The California blogger repeatedly says she would not have harmed her child, but that she didn’t want her mom to find out.

    I find it very interesting myself that you cannot see past your blind loyalty for your friend and have such complete disregard for the children who are subject to these laws.

    Babies/Infants/Children are actually people too, not just their mothers. I find it alarming how this concept seems out of reach to so many of you.

  22. Oceans said
    “I never said it benefited the adoptee or adoption. It can benefit a bparent.”

    So Oceans, I know we are here to defend TGMom who is NOT anonymous anymore. She learned she could hurt her child in the long run by this and she corrected that. It seems like you are saying it is okay for Mothers to purposely hurt the adoptee “forever” by withholding the basic need for identity,just for the Mother’s convenience at any cost to the child. Am I misunderstanding you,I hope?

  23. Lavendar, you bring up a good point. That I have recorded my story on the internet. SO, having put the time and effort into recording it, I would hope that I was quoted accurately and described accurately. Those things haven’t been done, so a lot of good my “recording” of the story has done, yes?

    Again, you’re right! I would never have hurt my child. I wouldn’t.

    But you don’t know everything do you? The things I’m not comfortable with recording for everyone to read? Then don’t assume this was simple convenience.

    As bless said, I’ve corrected what I can, and I work every day to do more. Not for me, but for the child whose rights you seem to think we don’t care about.

  24. Bless58 – I’m not really here to defend TGMom at this point. That would be speaking for her and she is capable of doing that herself. I support her choice and feel she did nothing wrong by using SH. I am speaking on my own behalf now…

    I am greatly opposed to any form of bparent anonymity as a personal choice. That said, I can see a potential need and am not willing to limit choices based on my personal experience or opinion. I am against abortion as a personal choice but politically I am pro-choice. Not the same thing but the same philosophy or line of thinking.

    I am sorry if it hurts adoptees forever but I have a hard time believing that every SH bparent was so callous that they could not be bothered with counseling or paperwork and thus choose SH. I believe that there is a great deal more to their stories that we don’t know. Again, SH is not perfect and steps can and should be taken to facilitate more outcomes like TGMom’s. The law was the first step – programs supporting the law can improve SH and ensure that it is used properly.

    SH should never be used as a matter of convenience. If this is how it is being used in Ohio, then yes, someone needs to look at the laws implementation. That doesn’t make the law bad however IMO…

  25. As far as original BC’s are concerned I really am on the adoptees side. That said, I stand by my comment that they serve no legal purpose. While I am sorry that adoptees may have trouble getting passports, SSN’s etc from time to time (not as a rule) but the mistakes can be rectified – mistakes happen on non-adoptee BC’s as well.

    Do adoptee’s have a constitutional or civil right to their OBC – I don’t believe they do. Do bparents have a legal right to privacy under sealed records – Yes. However… that right can be protected by the few (?) that want protection.

    My opinion (from a basic human rights standpoint) is that all OBC should be opened with the exception of those whose bparents choose to remain anonymous. Give bparents 90 days (or whatever) to send in their objection, ask them to provide medical history and a request for no contact. Then open them up… If the adoptee contacts the family while the bparent is alive then they open themselves up for civil suits IMO. I guess the next best thing to this would be to keep a few closed – which is not a good option but would at least help the majority.

    Here’s my argument for open records.

    I’m half adopted. I know that on my bdads side I am Scotch-Irish. I know I have people who fought in the civil and revolutionary wars. I know things about my ancestors that I am proud of and things that I am not so proud of. THAT is my heritage and arguably my family culture and knowledge of my family history/roots/culture is a basic human right IMO. It’s cruel to deny anyone that basic foundation… Again, my opinion but human/natural/cultural rights are what should be argued here – not the constitutionality or legality of sealed records.

    I am for open records, I just argue that bparents have rights as well and they should be protected… Probably semantics in the end…

    I have learned a great deal from this conversation but it’s probably time to give Marley back her blog 🙂 Marley, I appreciate what you do and admire your passion. I have learned a great deal. Hope you don’t mind if I stop by from time to time – I promise not to start this again – or a least as a general rule!! Take care and thanks again for fighting the good fight… even when I disagree

  26. Oceans there is so much I want to say to you because I think you are confused about *rights* but I don’t think Marley’s blog is the place to do it.
    Ive written my perspective (yesterday) on SH..Please have a read of my blog (click my name)
    Feel free to email me..
    PS How are you *half* adopted ? Perhaps if you were *fully* adopted you might understand about *rights* 🙂

  27. “”PS How are you *half* adopted ? Perhaps if you were *fully* adopted you might understand about *rights* :)””

    Good question…how can anyone be ‘half’ adopted? And no so-called ‘half’ adopted person would ever be able to fully appreciate the concept of being ‘fully’ adopted by strangers. I was born illegit..raised by my mother and a step-father. I have my original birth certificate, yet I was raised to believe that my step-father was my ‘real’ father. But the basic fact remains, I was not forever closed off from my OBC or ‘half’ of my original heritage/information..that of my mother. Do the so-called ‘half’ adopted get ‘half’ of an OBC or ‘half’ of a ABC??? How does one get ‘half’ adopted in a court of law? I am assuming this is a step-parent that was allowed to adopt the child of his/her spouse. That is not the same as being ‘fully’ adopted.

    Also ‘oceans’ needs to tell all of us where she has read the ‘legal’ law that protects burfparents anonyminity, those from the closed record era. It may be a ‘promise’ a ‘concept’ from days of yore, but I have yet to read where there is ‘legal’ protection of burfparents from their now adult children, unless they live in a state that has passed a law in regards to open records and a veto about contact. From my experience with other mothers…it is a minute fraction of burfmothers that want their ‘privacy and confidentiality’ from the children they brought forth into this world. I am quite glad that I cannot be counted amongst that minute fraction of burfmothers. And for those burfmothers/burfodders in hiding..one can still be found without any documents. I searched, I found..with nothing other than a date, sex of child and the hospital name, that was held for 34 years in my brain!

    Not everyone wants a reunion, that is an individual choice. But all people, everywhere, should have the right (natural, morally, legally or otherwise) to their original birth certificate. The amended birth certificate is a legalized lie. All this privacy and confidentiality crap…what is everyone (to include the Adoption Businesses)so afraid of?????

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