Proper Channels: The Rodney Atkins Reunion and Language

National Council for Adoption celebrity spokesperson country singer Rodney  Atkins ,has revealed that he was reunited with his natural mother in 2008. The wire picked up the story and it’s all over the map now.  Just one story, though, so there’s no exclusive interviews, no deep insight into Atkins decision to search.  And, thankfully no primal wounding.  It appears that despite Rodney being a family secret until the reunion, the reunion has gone very well. Oh dear!  Do I hear a shoe pounding on heaven’s floor again? Atkins reunion story is nice, normal, and inoffensive except for one sentence: So in August of 2008, Atkins went through the proper channels and reunited with his birth mother in Nashville. Proper channels?  It’s an odd choice of words. Maybe that was the reporter’s choice of words.  Maybe Atkins, the NCFA spokesperson, chose them, stressing that he is a well-behaved adoptee, not some Christmas Day intruder or porch pisser. However… I’ve never seen that term used in any reunion story. Ever. And I’ve been reading them for decades. Proper channels.  The whole thing sets wrong with me, especially since Atkins was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and his information may have been available to him for the asking, no thanks to NCFA’s legal Continue Reading →


Senator Beauregard Claghorn, the real deal. We all know about adoption and child welfare secrecy: sealed birth recordsanonymous adopteesanonymous first parentsanonymous adoptive parentsanonymous foster parentsstate confiscated identitiesforged government documentsclosed juvenile court hearingssealed juvenile court recordsanonymous tips to CPSsecret adoptionsLate Discovery adoptteesanonymous state-promoted child abandonment baby dump laws And just when you think it can’t get any more secret, we have Rep. John J. DeBerry, Jr, and Sen. Paul Stanley who don’t think it’s the media’s business why they’ve introduced restrictive adoption bills (HB 605 and SB 78) in the Tennessee legislature. The companion bills ( I can’t find the texts, only the summaries) ban unwed cohabiting couples from adopting. Who this really means, of course, is gays and lesbians. “Those people” never come up in the bills’ language, though, except for a passing reference to Tennessee’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Last year these same Junior Claghorns introduced a more strict gay and lesbian ban. Go here for background. Most Tennesseans thought the issue died after an October 2007 ruling by the state Attorney General that there was no legal basis in state law to ban gay couples from adopting. For reasons apparent Continue Reading →


We lost one another of our shining lights Monday with the passing of Tennessee rights activist Denny Glad. Denny reunited hundreds of Georgia Tann’s victims and knew the rot of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society inside out. Trained as an historian, Denny brought the historian’s passion to her work. You can read about her marvelous energy and activities in Barbara Bisantz Raymond’s expose of Georgia Tann, The Baby Thief. In the 1990s, Denny was one of the key people in the passage of Tennessee’s semi-records access law which led to Doe v Sundquist. While we disagree with the contact and veto provisions of the law, and I believe Denny did, too, the court decisions that came out of it have become an important marker for us. The lawsuit broke the back of NCFA bullyhood. (Oregon was the coup de grace.) I met Denny only once–at the infamous March 2001 baby dump conference-that-never-was at the University of Memphis (see “Quick exit following opening remarks at symposium on unwanted babies”–Tennessee Commercial Appeal, paid archives, March 25, 2001) but we occasionally emailed and talked on the phone. She was a walking talking history book. Today’s Commercial Appeal published a lovely article about Denny. Continue Reading →