Adoptee Rights On WINY Radio – 9/15/2017

(Gary): Okay picture this if you will, two people go into the office of vital records somewhere in the state of Connecticut one of them is adopted the other is not adopted, the person who is not adopted is first in line and they go on and they say, how may I help you and the person who is not adopted says , ah yes, I will like a copy of my birth certificate please, sure no problem, there is a fee, there is an exchange and they give that person the birth certificate on that birth certificate is the name of that person mother and father, the mother is the person who gave birth to that person asking for their birth certificate that is the birth certificate most people have, I would imagine most people listening this morning whatever birth certificate you have perhaps you carry it with the names on that birth certificate are your biological parents. So, they are all set, they step aside. Next, second person comes up, this person is adopted says the same thing, I will like a copy of my birth certificate, they get a birth certificate that’s been changed, has been altered. On their birth certificate is the name of their adopted, adopted parents. The man, woman whatever the family set up, who adopted person. The adopted person says I already have this, I will like my original birth certificate, that the one that shows who actually gave birth to me, the document that was filled out, the day I was actually born in the hospital, that shows the person who gave birth to me, that’s the one I’ll like and the person behind the counter has that information. The have that document in their possession chances are they are looking right at it and they say oh am sorry we can’t give you that information and you stand there and you are stunned, you are absolutely stunned all you are asking for is what the other person who is not adopted received with no problems whatsoever. A birth certificate they list your biological parents. That’s what happens in the state of Connecticut right now and my guest today is trying to overturn that, trying to change it. So, adopted people are not discriminated against so they also can have the same information that pretty much everyone else has. Karen Caffrey is here, she’s the president of Access Connecticut, Access CT now adoptee rights. She’s also a very knowledgeable person on this topic and fighting very hard for adoptee and adoptee right. Karen Good morning to you.

(Karen): Good morning Gary

(Gary): Do I paint an accurate picture?

(Karen): You paint a completely accurate picture, I couldn’t have done it better myself and what you really paint the picture about is discrimination under the law. I would say in Connecticut it wasn’t always that way. Until the mid-70s the little scenario you described, the adoptee who walked up to the clerk would have gotten there original birth certificate, that law changed in the in mid 70s and we have been working to change it back and actually a little bit of good news, in 2014 our organization was successful in getting the law partially changed. So actually, younger adoptees, those born and adopted after October 1983 can get their original birth certificate. What we are trying to do now, what we are working towards is trying to restore this right for the more mature folk like you and I


(Gary): You also, you were adopted

(Karen): Yes, I am

(Gary): I was also adopted and you discovered your birth family on your own at a young age.

(Karen): well, you know because of the law, my adopted parents were actually given my birth name so I had my birth name as teenager, I did search the law had changed at that point it was a little harder than it was supposed to be took me about 3 years to find them but yes, 40 years ago I did a search and found my birth family but I always had my original names. I was fortunate on that regard.

(Gary): I was also adopted in the state of Rhode Island

(Karen): Yes

(Gary):  and am 59 now and I was 37 years old I pretty much did the scenario that I just laid out, I felt that at that stage in my life 37 years old man doing everything right an living life the way we were supposed to live our lives or whatever and  I was ready at the point in my life to explore  and to try to find out the answers of my heritage and who I am, where am originally from, not a fourteen  years old  running away from home because I don’t like the rules of my adopted parents and I may be I’ll go knock on my birth mother’s door. None of that stuffs, these are grown. These are adults …. They are not children and I went to the vital record at Rhode Island and asked I was born in Rhode Island Providence and they pretty much said no and they had that information. It is maddening Karen

9karen); Oh sure, you are standing in front of a government official who is holding information about and they are not allowed by law to give it to you. It is discrimination. It is shocking and t when we talk to younger people they are like what do you mean what are you talking about. How is this possible. It shocks people. You know and we only discriminate against people when somehow, we value them differently we treat them differently under law because some way they are devalued. In society, in the law reflects that… so they are… we sort of had this myth in our society that adoptees are this kind off special people and they have been chosen but the reality is the law discriminates against us and treat us as lesser than, lesser right, lesser legal rights than everybody else.

(Gary): Again, a clerk at the vital information records office has your information about your life. It is your stuff. It is your information

(Karen): Mine

(Gary): You are asking for it the person in front of you who is not adopted they got theirs they know the answers, the same answer you are looking for and you are told no … you are told no because there is a law. Fortunately, five years ago Rhode Island smartened up, they opened the records and I was able to finally at age 50, I asked for it when I was 37 Karen, ok, for 13 years you just wait and they open the records, and I went one time and got it and then reunion with my birth mother and birth father family. Am so grateful to the state of the Rhode Island for just the enlighten approached to say what you know what these laws are out of date, these laws are ….  this is like cold war era thinking here. This is not how it works anymore, we need to open these records. They opened the records, it’s been five years, the people who opposed opening the records all had the same objections, we won’t get in to that here today and its all sky is falling kind of stuffs and there is data you can look back, the states that borders Connecticut were right next door about 5 miles from where we sit right now. 5 years the record has been open nothing bad has happened there has been no disaster, no meltdown, the sky didn’t fall, heads did not explode. The fact is what happened is that adults connected and when I connected with my birth mother, I reached out with a letter and with no malice in my heart. You know what was in my heart love and that’s how adult reach out, that’s how adult adoptees reach out when they do receive this information, there are those who object in the last session here in Connecticut you got close. Tell me what happened

(Karen): Oh Gosh, we got so close. Really what this is, this is a process of education because there is no, this a non-partisan issue, there aren’t … it’s not like a republican and democrat issue, we have supporters on both part of the aisle. We labor under is just this … this is this ton of weight about misunderstanding and a lack of knowledge about the history of what these laws are

based in you and I are the are living as there was living in the sort of a product of a social experiment in secrecy basically a 50-year social experiment in secrecy it was not always the case that this kind of legal discrimination and secrecy was the law for adoptees. Matter of fact years ago there was none of

this, if a child needed to be placed in another family everybody knew where the kid came from and where they were going it was just known but there was tremendous shame tremendous shame about

being born out of wedlock the stigma of illegitimacy it used to be the case for example in Connecticut in the early 1900s that if a child is born to a woman who was not married that child’s birth certificate

was stamped in red illegitimate and for the rest of that child’s life when they became an adult they went to get married and they went to join the military and they needed to produce their birth certificate they had to produce a birth certificate that said you are pardon the word a bastard

(Gary): Yeah

(Karen): Shocking but that’s what the law was so that this was sort of what happened with the secrecy is it was kind of like a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in adoption we’ve got this great idea. We feel bad for these kids who have had this unfair stamp a village in Tennessee that marks them their whole life we’re going to give them a second per certificate we’re going to give them a clean slate we’re going to pretend they sprung from the head of Zeus and they’re going to they don’t have these tainted bad blood origins and we’re going to give them a clean slate we’re going to pretend they came from their adoptive families

and everybody will be happy and no one will have any questions and we’re going to pretend it never

happened this was a social experiment 50 60 70 years ago and living beings you and I sit here with the end result of it the end result of liking our medical history the end result of being treated less lean and discriminated against under the laws the end result of you know a legacy of shame that in today’s

world makes no sense at all

(Gary): mmm-hmm so you’re saying that records used to be open

(Karen): Yes

(Gary): States started closing the records to protect the child from the stigma of being labeled illegitimate and that kind of rolled out became pretty much an …ooo… practically a nationwide experiment.

(Karen): Yeah pretty much

(Gary): and so that was that was the primary the leading reason I understand there was

another reason also and that was to protect the adoptive parents from interference from the birth mother expand on that.

(Karen): Yeah and this is innocent this is another one of these educational things the thinking is what we were and this is societal that the people being protected with the women who were relinquished because they were so shamed and I hate this word but I’m going to use it these were I’m not going to use it these were shaming laws let me just say that but really what was driving a lot of the secrecy as well was protecting the adoptive family from interference as they called it from their birth family as a matter of fact everyone has this I did that there were these agreements made with birth mothers you were going to keep you your secrecy we’re promising you privacy no…. no one’s ever shown a written

agreement yes promising a birth mother privacy 40% of the green of the pieces of paper these women signed actually said you will respect the adoptive families’ privacy you won’t try to interfere with them when you feel sad in six weeks or six months or six years because you can never see your child again you can’t go and try and find them it was about protecting the adoptive family yeah that’s what the secret that was another big factor driving secrecy.

(Gary): So, Mr. and Mrs. middle-class John Doe the young couple they’ve just been married they tried to have children they can’t conceive they decide hey let’s go adopt uh and then they speak up and say hey

we’re concerned about the birth mother knocking on our door someday saying hey I want to see my child I want my child back we need to be protected that is the second reason why records were closed

and that was nationwide. Okay

(Karen): Almost, to a couple of exceptions yes mostly yes

(Gary): So, what we’re giving here are facts this is facts about why adoption records slowly were closed in most states. Why is it that every time you to stand up during a session here in Connecticut to get these records open and it’s debated an open session most recently the Senate and it’s so painful to watch the debate is so incredibly painful it tears my heart out to watch this debate you can see it on

CTN by the way it’s still there. Why is it that all these people today in 2017 speak senators elected officials with such certainty they’ll say those birth mothers were protected privacy why was that such a such an engaging enduring myth?

(Karen): It’s the narrative of the adoption system that wanted to place children and adoptive families if that was that was the cultural narrative it was the myth basically the you know the

mid part of the myth is that the women who relinquished children wanted this secrecy wanted to be shamed wanted to be sent off to maternity homes that’s not what happened in the vast majority

of cases, these women had no choice it’s not it’s not a choice when you don’t have another option it’s not a choice when your mother and father say you have shamed this family you we are going to send

you to a maternity home we’re going to tell everybody you went on vacation to your aunt Ida’s oh and you know Wisconsin you’re going to have that baby you’re going to give that baby away you’re going to come back here and we are never going to talk about it again now in spite of this kind of treatment the vast majority of these women actually consent to their identity being known to their adults as you point

out their adult offspring a tiny percentage don’t they’ve kept the secret they’ve kept the line they’ve kept the trauma wrapped up inside of them and I think that’s the sticking point for legislators what about these women who’ve been shoved so far into the closet they don’t they they never want

to be touched to seen and what we say is first of all these laws don’t force anybody to have a relationship this isn’t about constructing relationships or forcing people to do something they

don’t want what this is about is treating people equally no one you know when you go about going back to your example of the adoptee and the non-adopted at the Department of Public Health the non-adopted person didn’t have to get a permission slip from their parents to get their birth certificates right the whole argument is based on the idea that one private citizen has the right to deprive another of their civil and human rights.

(Gary): mm-hmm their heritage

(Karen): Their Heritage

(Gary): And their offspring heritage

(Karen) Yes exactly and you know and I simply don’t just subscribe to that believe we’re adults you know we don’t you know you don’t have the right to deprive me of my human right to a government document that everybody else there else has the right to.

(Gary): My original birth certificate should not be a state secret

(Karen): Right

(Gary): The issue today is adoptee rights and Karen Caffrey has been working

tirelessly with her group access CT now adoptee rights you can learn that a lot on their website.

(Karen):  Yes and I want to mention (Am sorry to interrupt). You’re on our Advisory Council we have a

brand new Advisory Council with about a dozen members and you are one of our folks so it’s a big team of people it’s not just it’s an honor to be involved to.

(Gary): great Facebook page to a lot of good information here and there we’re coming back we’re coming back in the next session of the General Assembly

(Karen): Oh yeah

(Gary): Next year and we’re not going away

(Karen): Oh no

(Gary): We’re just not going away we’re going to take a break your phone calls are welcome also. I’m here for the first hour with this topic Bob Young will be in after 10 o’clock this morning with open phone lines 9281350 – 1800246WINY and we’ll be right back

(Gary): So, there you go after running today with Karen Caffrey this is a great topic obviously I’m very passionate about these topics and hopefully some people will call. Josh anybody checking in on Facebook here.

(Josh): Yes, we have a Rise Cook, he said it should be overturned everyone should be able to know who their parents are. Naomi Murray Pompeo, she said if the father’s name is even on the stiff kiss she also meant to add she added I finally found bio family through DNA at 46 years old unfortunately certificates are not the only discrimination towards adoptees and Michael Burton also commented and said Gary thanks for doing this piece I’m going through the same things right now.

(Gary): Thank you Josh, Thank you

(Gary): Gary O with you first hour of the WINY talk show Bob young after 10 o’clock and open phone lines this morning our guest is Karen Caffrey the president of access CT now adoptee rights and their website a great Facebook page your calls are welcome at 9281350. Karen is working very hard with her organization to open original birth certificates in the state of Connecticut’s for all adult adoptees so you can know this information the fact is people are dying their adoptees are going to their graves never knowing always wondering never knowing because we’re aging men and we got to get these records open. Don’t we?

(Karen): Yeah, it’s tragic you know is I’m going to restate like in Connecticut we did get a bill passed so that younger adoptees born after 1983 can get their birth certificates the older adoptees like

Ourselves. So frankly face more medical issues often than they than the younger ones you know we are part of a national movement but we if Connecticut will….when Connecticut fully restores this right will be the 10th state there are nine states already in the country that have restored this right you know that the movement is towards ending this discrimination you know if you think about it I want to expand a little bit on this Gary, we are being we as adoptees are being surrounded by laws social morals, behavior of people when that were based they were done things that were done to us when we were infants.

(Gary): Yeah, we had no say obviously. A bunch of adults made critical decisions.

(Karen): About our lives about our identity about our future about our health

(Gary): Yeah

(Karen): And we had no voice in it at all it like it’s inherently unfair cause it just twists your gut we know we like fairness as people we do … we think this isn’t fair and this is not fair

(Gary): And it would be fair if so at age 21 now you have some rights but what happens is we never get

any rights we’re eternally infants we’re eternally children

(Karen):  You know and under the law …. I was a practicing attorney I’m a psychotherapist now but

there’s a there’s a term that applies to contracts made by minors and there voidable what that means is when a minor becomes an adult they can back out of a contract as you figured their mind is there they shouldn’t be bound by things that happen to them as children when they become adults

(Gary): Yeah indeed …. Now ….  also, we want to talk about DNA also

(Karen): Yeah

(Gary): And DNA has been kind of a game changer here tell me about that

(Karen): Yes, well most of your listeners probably if their media aware I’ve seen about commit

consumer demon a DNA testing 23andme different tests that you can buy to test

your own DNA now the thing about that is your birth parents for example don’t have to take the DNA test in order for you to be able to find them if you take a consumer DNA test anybody if a first cousin shows up a second cousin a sibling whatever you’re able to contact that person and find out a lot and discover a lot of your biological relatives the so we just had a Facebook person say you know I’ve been able to do I’m taking a DNA test this is working for me the problem with that is that is

a very unprivate way to locate a person because other people in the family tree find out about the adoptees existence and therefore this circumstance of the birth parents without the birth parent or even knowing that’s the advantage for example of giving an adoptee there but if they actually do want to find their birth parents or giving them their birth certificate because then they have a name they can privately seek out their birth parent and contact him and I think Gary that’s what happened with you you were able to make a private connection

(Gary): I was so careful with the search and I can’t underscore enough what I said earlier I set out with love in my heart Karen okay and I’m an adult I’m again I’m not a fourteen-year-old kid running away

from home here trying to reach out to a birth mother I thought about this because that’s what thoughtful adults do and as records are open and as in different states where these scenarios are carried out turns out adults are acting like adults

(Karen): Unlike private citizens who don’t have the government input you know interfering and their family relations

(Gary): why does the government have to be here

(Karen): I don’t know

(Gary): Pardon me for saying this, if there are any state of elected officials listening what are you doing in this arena you have no business

(Karen): what’s the public policy …… what is the public policy here

(Gary): yeah

(Karen): It is the public policy to protect health because it’s not protecting health

(Gary): it is not

(Karen): is it public policy to treat citizens equally because it’s not treating citizens equally. What is the public policy?

(Gary): So, turns out I didn’t need the state of Rhode Island holding my hand to walk me through how to reach out to the person who gave birth to me and I reached out very carefully and very lovingly and very discreetly okay and getting back to the DNA it’s funny because after our reunion I took I did the 23andme I get a hit with a first cousin a first cousin which is a close hit as DNA hits go that’s a very very close. Hey let me tell you how that scenario would have worked out instead of me being discrete and sending a carefully worded letter to – so now it’s just the two of us the old a people corresponding is me and my birth mother that’s it. if they never open the records I still would have had this DNA test and now it was said oh here’s an opening for me I just found a first cousin. Here’s how this would have rolled out I would have contacted him through 23andme and perhaps we would have exchanged information and then and then talked off of that platform Hey I see that that we’re first cousins I’m an adoptee I was born in 1961 in Providence Rhode Island and it says that my birth mother was from the Midwest or whatever and cheese do you know have you heard any family stories okay I’ll check into it so my first cousin what’s he gonna do it’s gonna call mom and dad which who would be my uncle say hey I got this hit on the DNA and I got a guy saying he’s the first cousin well when was he born

you know October of 1961 where in Providence Rhode Island hmm now all the brothers and sisters and siblings and aunts and uncles they all get on the phone and they’re all chatting and they’re all saying well you know so-and-so was doing this and that that time a Bubble Boy. How long would it take a family to put this together give me a break okay now a whole bunch of people are in the loop and they finally figure out we think that this is this is the situation we think this is your birth mother now I reach out to my birth mother and she’s been out.

(Karen): she’s been, she’s the last one and to find out that everybody else knows something that was personal to her

(Gary): she’s been out addressing all these people because naked this becomes a mystery of course it’s a it’s a compelling mystery everyone wants to know geez what the heck’s going on here that’s what’s happening now with DNA testing which is a runaway train that’s a runaway train to me that’s

another reason to open these records

(Karen): it is it’s taking away any justification that I can think of to keep to keep this going and as you mentioned before Gary you know we’re running out of time these are older adoptees. Connecticut law actually allows every adoptee to get their original birth certificate once their birth parent has died isn’t that  sort of an odd thought of course you gotta prove they’re dead which is another process but many adoptees who wants to find birth parents or biological relatives are meeting graves are finding graves instead of people or the adoptees are dying themselves I mean we’re not getting any younger these again these are the older adoptees and by the way if you’re older you’re even that much more mature yeah we’re talking adoptees who are over the age of I don’t know 35 or so at this point so a DNA is forcing the issue it’s not it’s not preferable it’s happening technology is driving the law at this point and we’re just trying to help who we can before it’s too late

(Gary): 50 states in the Union how many states can an adoptee go and get this information right now

(Karen): 9

(Gary): 9 out of 50

(Karen): 9, completely what we call clean unrestricted every single adopt a then there’s a mishmash of states where you can like in Connecticut we’re in one of the mishmash now some can some can’t there’s different time periods you know and that’s the other thing that’s incredibly unfair you’re right as an adoptee to get your history your government document is arbitrarily determined by what state you happen to be born in

(Gary): that’s right

(Karen): You live here in Connecticut but you happen to be born in Rhode Island congratulations

yeah you have your civil rights bummer for me I was born here I don’t have mine crazy…. crazy

(Gary): Here in New England Rhode Island has opened the records. Who else is open records

(Karen): Maine, Rhode Island Maine in New Hampshire Massachusetts it’s like we are they have

what we call they have a different time frame they have a bill pending to close their gap so like we will hopefully do cover all adoptees so Newt you know New England is in pretty good shape there are adoption adoptee rights reform movements in a lot of states I mean this is what’s going to happen the thing is Gary and however many years it’s gonna take five years 10 years 15 years this is one of those things that history will look back and say oh my goodness I cannot believe we cannot believe they

did this we cannot believe for example that women didn’t have the right to vote we cannot believe that people of color didn’t have the right to own property we cannot believe that they treated adoptees as lesser citizens and didn’t let them know who their who their what their identity was what their

history was …. it’s a shameful thing and it’s based in shame history will judge us on this

(Gary): indeed, and again a phone line so open by the way at 9281350 1800246WINY. We’re only here till 10 o’clock this morning my head is just swimming here I have ….

(Karen): A lot of things. A lot of things we trying to cram in here


(Gary): So many different things to talk about back to the session our local session the this will be brought up again yeah and it’s a very organized group and you know there’s lobbyists and everything there’s a but this cost money to have this and I wonder if I could just take a moment and make a plea to anyone listening to perhaps consider and I know there’s a lot of requests for donations particularly with the Hurricanes coming through and everything yeah that’s a there’s a lot out there and I respect that and understand that but if you could find something in your heart for this organization you’re trying to raise money for one

(Karen): Well thank you Gary there’s …. if you support this if someone donor your listeners support

this ever there’s really two things going on first of all we are an all-volunteer organization we don’t get paid a cent every single dollar we have goes to advocating for the legislation a great portion of it goes to our lobbyists who is essential because frankly I have a full-time job you know everybody else we all have lives so our lobbyists Matthew Hallisey of Matthew Hallisey government affairs who by the way is an adoptive uncle that’s his connection because by the way this is very personal work. People who get involved in are personally involved. He’s there our boots on the ground daily at the legislative office building and it costs money to hire a lobbyist so that’s where that’s where a good deal of our fund

goes it goes to public education we’re having two wonderful events in National Adoption Month which is November coming up this is one of our it’s our fundraising and our education it’s there at lyric Hall in New Haven when is November 12th it’s a three-hour birth parent forum we’re going to have birth mothers maybe a birth father from the talking about their experience it’s from 2:00 to 5:00 at lyric hall and then an adoptee panel on Thursday November 16th. So, yes this is what the funds go to is to educate and advocate for adoptee rights the other thing is frankly for people to contact their legislators. Religious leaders respond it has been amazing

(Gary): They listen you send them an email you reach out they’re gonna read it

(Karen): we have had we had a single person a single constituent contact their legislator and tell them

their story or say I support this and it’s affected that person’s vote.

(Gary): Yeah

(Karen): So, I’m a big believer in democracy and a big believer in civics and citizen. It is you. We are fortunate to live in a country where you or you have the right and the ability to contact your legislator express your opinion and ask them to do something that you want to do so everybody go

(Gary): And you know in a world of partisan politics

(Karen): This is not partisan politics

(Gary): There’s nothing partisan about this. This is as human as it gets yeah this is human this is about people it’s not a Democrat thing it’s not a Republican thing it’s not a liberal conservative thing nothing no there’s no label on it it’s about people and lives

(Karen): I have been amazed we have supporters on both extreme forget both parties …. extremes

(Gary): That’s right we do

(Karen): Extreme right

(Gary): And we are thankful

(Karen): And I think what they have in common is that they I think they’re people who have sensitivity to

Discrimination sensitivity to government interference in private lives

(Gary): yeah

(Karen): Sensitivity to equality you know the fundamental fairness

(Gary): I do … yeah …. would you put the headphones on I think we have a phone call here let’s go to the phones you’re on the air WINY. Good morning.

(Caller): Hi, Is this WINY

(Gary): Yes, it is.

(Caller): Thank you, good topic. In 68 my girlfriend and I at the time had a child and you know the parents opted to send my girlfriend at the time to Massachusetts you know we were living in Connecticut so she gave birth in Massachusetts but you know from Connecticut so I was curious about the you know the protocol to get that birth certificate from Massachusetts because that’s where the child was born and because later we married and we have you know two children so the child that

was given up for adoption is a blood you know it isn’t like she’s a half related you know she’s full related thought I didn’t know how I could contact Massachusetts to get a birth certificate as the father can the father do anything or is it just is for the mother

(Karen): well, well I’m not an expert on Massachusetts law there is an adoptee rights organization in Massachusetts

(Caller): There’s a what? … Say it again

(Karen): There’s an adoptee rights organization in Massachusetts it’s called OBC for MA.

(Caller): O …..

(Karen & Gary): OBC for MA

(Karen): So, I think OBC which is original birth certificate for MA. They have a website and a Facebook page and they would give you the best information. Generally speaking, by the way both parents have far far fewer right for getting adoptees birth certificate.

(Gary): That’s correct

(Karen): To my knowledge, there’s one or two states that allows birth parents when their child becomes an adult to go and get for example the birth certificate or information. One is Oregon and I think Colorado may have similar rights and maybe Hawaii they are just passed a law. Contact the Massachusetts people, go back to the agency through which your wife relinquish the child

(Caller): Well, well no she stayed at a home in Dorchester that was organized by the Catholic Church and that facility has closed along you know a long time ago so you know I was writing to her a long time ago and facility in Massachusetts you know forfeit forfeited the letter not forfeited related letters to her so…

(Karen): Well I’m sorry to interrupt in Connecticut when an adoption agency closed the records are transferred to the government to the Department of Children and Families and I would guess that Massachusetts has a similar process those records were under law typically adoption records are not to be destroyed

(Gary): I want to I want to thank you very much for the phone call and for sharing that story too and final recommendation if I may repeat that OBC for MA is that we’ve said OBC which stands for original birth certificates for F O R MA

(Karen): Yes, and if that doesn’t work contact me through the website of access

Connecticut I’ll talk to you offline and get that

(Caller): Thank you for your time.

(Gary): I want to thank you for sharing that story to see there’s so many angles to this

(Karen): oh, my goodness

(Gary): There’s so many angles and also personal

(Karen): Yes no story is alike everybody has a personally different story but the common theme is there has been differential treatment discrimination not just against adoptees but against birth parents under the law

(Gary): And shame

(Karen): This is the only thing driving these legislative structures

(Gary): Yes

(Karen): About shame and again it blows the younger you talking about how can you wanna do this but it’s hard for us now with our sensibilities today to understand what it was like for people back then the horror the you know what would it take for you to force your child to give up your grandchild

(Gary): Yeah

(Karen): What amount of social pressure what amount of of judgment would it take to make a parent do that you know this is why by the way there are there’s so few domestic adoptions now because most people women choose to parent their child they’re not being ashamed whether you think that’s a good idea or not that’s what’s happening

(Gary): Indeed, and again every story different every story very personal and it’s real this

is real the this these are people out there and they wonder you know we’re coming at it from the point of view of the adoptee we want to know about our heritage about our you know medical history and things like that there you just heard from a birth parent you know and you heard that story that there’s tears my heart out so yeah everyone it’s a secret to everyone why is this a state secret why is who gave birth to me as an adoptee why is that a state secret and why can’t my neighbor who’s not adopted go get that information and they can have it but I can’t

(Karen): Right why does the sexual behavior of a teenager and you know 1962 mean

that I don’t get treated under law the same way someone else

(Gary): You mention shame also just a personal story first of all it was delightful for me at age 50 after

being reunited 2 at mine I get an annual physical every year and it was I can’t tell you how I feel it was to fill out family history for the first time in my life at age 50 with my doctor but I will tell you all my previous visits to the doctor Oh family history is blank you need to fill that out I don’t know what the deal is I was always find that I was adopted it was no big issue for me at all I would I would say to my doctor almost like put my head down and say oh I’m adopted I don’t know why I did that and I did I

would say oh I’m adopted like there’s something wrong with me I I know everyone else has their family history filled out but I don’t because I’m adopted and it’s a slight just I don’t know why I did that took me I’m confused about that but it is as if I was I would put my head down when I said that

(Karen): Yeah and it’s not only joyful to have your medical history it’s important to your health to have your medical course because what happened was with that blank medical history sure a doctor will see u they’ll treat you but there’s things that they will or won’t do I’ll give you example prostate cancer

(Gary): Yep

(Karen): Prostate cancer guidelines which is by the way have just recently been changed but for younger men under a particular age sixty if you don’t have a history of prostate cancer they don’t give you a PSA it’s not done whereas if you have your medical history you can go in a doctor says oh you have that in your history I’m going to do that test it can be life-saving to have correct accurate up-to-date medical history.

(Gary): We’re gonna take a break we’ve got loaded phone lines here we’ll be right back with Karen Caffrey and access Connecticut’s adoptee rights


We’ve a loaded phone line here, our guest Karen Caffrey, she’s the president of access CT now adoptee writes that’s our topic here today Bob Young is in the studio has been gracious to stick his head in and say if you want to go a little a little longer after 10:00 to get all these calls in go right ahead so we really want to get your phone calls in so let’s get to the phones you’re on the air good morning

(Caller 2): Hello yes good morning you’re next on the WI my talk show go ahead hi Gary Brenda Bob Rhian

(Gary): Hey Brenda good morning to you

(Caller 2): Fellow adoptee

(Gary): Indeed, what’s your story today Brenda what do you want to talk about

(Caller 2): Well you know I have a question because she was just mentioning that website and the

grassroots effort to change the laws in Massachusetts because that’s where I was adopted so I went on and I looked and it said the law is from July of 1974 to January 2008 that you couldn’t get your what original birth certificate from born in 68 and when I went to the town hall they wouldn’t give it to me yeah and I’m not within that that those days and then I’m kind of confused. They gave me the altered version

(Karen): That’s confusing to I definitely be following up on that because as a pre 74 adoptee

in Massachusetts is my understanding you have the right to do that now the fact the matter is that doesn’t mean that every town clerk and every town is aware of that I’d cut there’s a the one of the

leaders of the messages this group is named Eddie Davis and they do have a Facebook page message them and ask them because that is confusing to me as well

(Caller 2): Eddie David, has the bill been changed. Any idea?

(Karen): I don’t. I know that they have a bill pending by the way to close that sandwich …. that gap

(Caller 2): Ready?

(Karen): Yeah

(Caller 2): Through I did find my father’s family and I now have 10 half-brothers

been in contact with. I am the baby, I am the 11. When I go to buy a cigarette oh you look like

that so we don’t talk to him I got that we got to speak you don’t touch me you got to look like her

(Gary): And like tell me the joy it is Brenda – for the first time in your life meet people with whom you resemble

(Caller 2): You know your family tree is a branch until you find somebody you look like other than your

children you look like no one you. You don’t … you’re not sure of your heritage which turns out it was completely wrong and to meet them we I was invited to Massachusetts I was born in Pittsburgh

and they live up in that area some of them stayed and some came down from Vermont and some came from all over the place and it was pretty wild walking in and they’re all baby sister and I’m looking and going here for complete strangers but I see the resemblance in our faces and it was wild and some of

the like I found out my father died of diabetes I didn’t know that no I helped records always

(Karen): Critical information

(Gary): Yeah

(Caller 2): Yeah and the elder daughters and my daughters and I have which is like this rare weird joint disorder thing and it turns out with two of them have it and my eye color I found my eye color and

two other people are like oh my god we look like people we actually what my family is now branching off

(Karen): So, here’s an example I’m going to be a little advocate here if you haven’t already been to this this would be great information to tell your legislators that you had medical history that is frankly potentially life-saving especially diabetes one and this other disorder let them know let them know these matter

(Gary): Actually, that’s great advice would you please do that for us and call our local state legislators and tell them give them the brief rundown of your story and say please …. please open these records. I’m doing I mean I have I got mine I’m good man

(Karen): I got mine too

(Gary): I’m in réunion

(Karen): I got my birth certificate

(Gary): And I got a really busy calendar a lot of things to do but it’s important to me to help with this effort thank you and speak up speak

(Karen): Yes, and anyone who doesn’t know because a lot of people actually don’t know who their state

legislators are you can go to our website You put in your home address and it will

tell you not only the name of your senator and your state representative but their address their email you can do it

(Gary): Brenda thank you for the phone call that’s Brenda Bob Rhian checking out so here’s an adoptee a

through reunited with ten … Karen …. 10 half-brothers and sisters and all the joy that goes

with that. No thanks to state government why is the state and in our case the state of Connecticut why would the state of Connecticut say no to that scenario. Why will they say no to them?

(Karen): That story also points out is it’s not all about just the birth parents why is the birth

parent getting to say yes or no for example about all these siblings these are these siblings have rights you know they have a right to we don’t we don’t the state shouldn’t be in the business of amputating somebody from the family tree

(Gary): Let’s go back to the phones you’re on the air with our guests, I think we lost that call and how about you you’re on the air with our guest. Karen Caffrey good morning

(Caller 3): Hey good morning guys

(Gary): Okay what do you have for us today?

(Caller 3): Well I want to know what kind of rights the birth parents …. do they have the right to unlock your birth certificate or a lock it wouldn’t that be the first option?

(Karen): No, they actually don’t. They have some search rights they can go to the agency and request a search but they don’t yet and I frankly I think they’re there I think I mentioned that earlier they’re a little behind us legally they you know they were the … the …. The gist … The point of this whole secrecy structure was to make them go away they were told you have no rights you have no responsibilities go away disappear and don’t ever interfere again now I think also with DNA testing frankly that’s how a lot of birth parents are themselves trying to find their children because they take a DNA test I had no adoptees they take a test I go oh my goodness my birth mother tested it that’s how they are looking but

they’re right situation is a lot behind

(Caller 3): But shouldn’t they give it be given the opportunity to unlock the birth

certificate in other words

(Karen): oh yeah sure of course …. yep

(Caller 3): The state doesn’t let them do that right

(Karen): Not yet and not yet in most states not yet. You know again this is this is where we’re dinosaurs this is this system is dying out first of all adoptions now are not conducted this way no they don’t do it

this way they figured it out they figured out this is a terrible system there’s much more openness I’ll say an adoption now than there was and commercial DNA is going to kill this system it’s gonna completely kill secrecy oh let’s all face it

(Gary): So that might make someone say so well what’s the point of this the DNA

(Karen): Why are you harming us for no reason that’s my response

(Gary): And the point is people are dying people are dying going to the graves never knowing this

(Karen): and why are you discriminating against me if there’s absolutely no reason to do it

(Gary): We’re out of time on this hour. I want to thank you for the phone call. Karen can

you stay for a little bit for the next hour

(Karen): Absolutely

(Gary): Okay because we want to get your phone calls in at 9281350 1800246WINY. There’s someone on hold on line five thank you for being so patient and we’ll come back to that and we’ll get that call in to we’ll be right back in about seven minutes

(Gary): Thank you to Karen Caffrey a president of Access CT now adoption rights; great Facebook page too. Access Connecticut’s adoptee rights looked that up and really useful and

valuable information about the plight here to open original birth certificates in the state of Connecticut. Karen was kind enough to just hold over for a few more minutes, we had a bunch of phone lines going some people had to move on but if you got to get in now, now is the time to call with your question let’s go right to the phones you’re on the air. Good morning

(Mike Bowers): Yes, good morning Gary, Karen this is Mike Bowers

(Gary): Good morning mike

(Mike Bowers): I’m an advocate for the people I know I usually call in I don’t remember when but I know there’s a different situation. I think you know that’s not because people of the state of Connecticut or anywhere out there you know not being able to know about the Heritage. Actually, the question I have to ask you and there’s one other thing I want to mention also. Wait, are you guys taking names like you

know I got out there you know means to be turned into the state of Connecticut because I could always somehow get in touch with Danny possibly or you know something

(Gary): oh, names of our state legislators okay the best place to go for that is the contact information

(Karen): (Cuts in). Actually, Dan Rivero is a great supporter so but every phone call matters so it you know it people think all these supports that are oh she supports that I don’t have to do anything every call strengthens their support. So, yeah, we have a newsletter you can sign up for it at you keep informed of our events, of our action initiatives yeah so yes please do sign up because what’s really important will be sitting there I’ll be standing there at the legislative office

building next you know ever March 22nd and I’ll be face to face with some legislator and they’re gonna

say well I’m not sure or I had this concern I haven’t heard from a single constituent or enough constituents I need to go to our database and say hey we got 10 people who live in your town I call them they call the legislature we get the vote.

(Gary): so, yes, so again please and do go ahead and reach out to our elected officials and we cannot

underscore enough how valuable that is. I mean a couple of action items if you do support this effort. Yes, indeed please reach out to your elected officials your state senator your state representative

tell them you support this because it will come up again and we’ll be pushing hard next year to

finish the job and open the records for all and not just this limited these limited years that we have now so that is definitely in play the other thing of course is if we’re gonna raise some money here because although it’s an entire volunteer organization including Karen there was a lobbyist and when I

don’t there’s no way this is happening without a lobbyist that hat we have to

have a lobbyist and we learned that the hard way…… Bunch of volunteers.

(Karen): Right exactly like lawyers they laid people think I owe a lobbyist their dream first of all we have a wonderful lobbyist full of integrity but they do a couple of things having a lot us first of all they get their boots on the ground like I said you know we you know we’re unpaid we work we have jobs he’s there and there’s also a skill set there’s a there’s that there’s a reason lobbyist get paid money and it has to do with having skills and communication and knowing how to reach out to the legislators and being there so with the success we had in 2014 and getting that partial bill passed, a huge community of people contacting their legislators supporting us financially and having met housing on the ground pro-

(Gary): A pro

(Karen): Pro

(Gary): So again, if you’d like to make a monetary donation any amount would help go to their website and check out their Facebook page to access Connecticut adoptee rights to learn more information so again the myths the myths that continue to come up and I will bet the farm that they will come up in the next session. Those birth mothers were promised privacy

(Karen): Well I’ll say to that first of all if they were before 1975 they were shall I say it nicely misinformed misadvised we could say lie too because that was not the law before 1975 it was not the law and then secondly and I would say two wrongs don’t make a right I learned this in kindergarten. Even if that were

the case and I don’t mean privacy from the public because it was true that this is not for public consumption we’re not saying let’s out them to the public …let’s. We’re saying the people involved

the family members the adoptees the people who were personally affected have the right to know a private right to know that’s different than public but even if they were misadvised misinformed. (laughs)… whatever two wrongs don’t make a right the fact that that was what was thought what the people thought that what was right in 1959. For example, when I was born to deprive me to attempt to

permanently deprive me of my ancestry that was wrong and we know that now you know we in this country, the great thing one of the great things about this country is when we realize we’ve made a


(Gary): we fix it

(Karen): we fix it, we fix a mistake it doesn’t make it we can’t change the fact that these terrible things were done to men and women in the in the earlier years that they were shamed that they were judged that their children many of these relinquishments were forced these were not voluntary we can’t change that we can just fix what’s right now.

(Gary): and the fact is the fact is that there there’s no document anywhere that ever existed

(Karen): No

(Gary): know where it says we the state of Connecticut promise you birth mother name here that we will keep your secret forever now there’s no such document that example anywhere ever from any state

(Karen): Yes, there may be all you…. Getting your hands on those documents because these

women were not given the documents because who would want proof that they were a shameful horrible woman they weren’t given them but the very few you can get your hands on they’re either

silent in other words they don’t promise this woman anything or and this is fascinating about 40% of them admonished the birth mother not to interfere with the adoptive family in other words

they’re protecting the adoptive families’ privacy

(Gary): That’s correct

(Karen): The final thing, we’ve talked about this on the break most adoptive families and parents support this they support this my mother my adoptive mother was completely supportive she didn’t want to take anything from me she didn’t want me to be treated as lesser than. Yeah, she wanted me to be treated just like everybody else she supported my rights, who wants to have their child discriminated against yep

(Gary): So again, that is a myth and that comes up over a big one

(Karen): That’s the Big one, that’s the Big Kahuna

(Gary): that’s the big one that we have to fight with

(Karen): Right and it is a myth it is misinformation

(Gary): Yeah, the other thing along the way too and I heard this in the in the last when it was being argued on the floor of the Senate and it just tore my heart out. It made it crushed me and made me see red simultaneously when one of the people opposed to it a state senator said basically said as adoptees you should just be happy that your parents or your mother chose life you should judge…. This was said into a microphone on the record in the state Senate debating this issue and quite frankly adoptees should just be happy that their birth mother chose life. (translation) hey adoption, just be thankful that your mother didn’t have an abortion that’s what that means… that’s… we’ve heard that before yeah, I’ve

heard that that’s not one time this happening that comes up of course we have to control ourselves and not flip out when we hear that but how insulting … how insulting is that

(Karen): yeah you know there’s a few responses to that first of all, if you take that as a premise everyone should be grateful that they weren’t deported because actually the fact the matter is 2/3 of abortions

are performed on women who are already mothers so if you’re alive that means your mother made a choice not to abort you. (number one)

(Gary): yeah

(Karen): Number two it’s a false equation there is this belief that women if they don’t have an abortion this that you can there’s a choice between abortion and adoption there’s a and really the statistics don’t bear that out there’s a choice between having bearing a child than not bearing a child and those are the choice between parenting that child and not parenting that child. Those are two separate decision points and states that have access law the abortion rate actually interestingly is slightly lower

(Gary): yeah

(Karen): We don’t believe there’s any correlation but if you actually think there would there is a correlation that you know abortion rates are gonna go up if you let adoptees have their birth

certificates in those states should have higher abortion rates they do not.

(Gary): They do not and that comes up also I’ve heard that argument in in in previous debates it right here in Connecticut that are at our state capital I’ve heard that. Well won’t abortions increase?

(Karen): The fact of the matter is that they won’t you know we don’t have an official …… we do we’re not in a we don’t have an opinion on abortion actually we have people on both sides of that issue who are our advocates because there is not a correlation between those two there is no fat there is no statistical correlation between those two issues and so their information for your listeners

(Gary): I want to thank you so much for being here today

(Karen): My pleasure

(Gary): and thank you for the phone calls so here’s the bottom line gain. First of all, thank you for

listening to this because talk about a micro constituency we a tiny–tiny group of people

(Karen): You know we are we’re only about 2% of the population but we, but if you put if you involve if you say everybody who’s impacted by adoption; adoptive parents, adopted siblings, birth Parents, their siblings, extended family. Frankly about 60% of the population is in some way affected by adoption so you know adoptees are tiny but we have a broad impact.

(Gary): And before …. and sometimes you can get lost in the weeds on the argument but please I beg you to get back to a very very basic human right in here in the United States of America and there’s one of a country and our Declaration of Independence our Constitution all of these great documents how is it that in a country formed under these laws and these rules, how is it that here in the state of Connecticut the state has the right because they do right now to tell an adopted person that you can’t have this information …right there ….. That’s discrimination

(Karen): This is about discrimination based on the circumstances of a person’s birth, if a person was born a certain color, if a person was born in a certain town, if a person was born a certain gender; we

would say you can’t discriminate against them based on that, that’s wrong

(Gary): Give them their information

(Karen): emmm, right so we are being discriminated against based on the circumstances of our birth and that is not American that is not theirs not democratic it is not American is not accordance with our values.

(Gary): So, as we sit here today in September of 2017 there is on this particular issue state-sponsored discrimination and it’s and it exists and adoptees are being turned down to get information that that they should have.

We have a phone call okay squeeze one more

you’re on the air good morning

(Danny Rovero): Good morning Gary oh and good morning Karen

this is state representative Danny Rovero

(Gary): Thank you thank you and thank you Danny. Danny has been supportive by the way

(Karen): oh yes

(Gary): Representative Rivero has been supportive right from the get-go

(Karen): yes

(Gary): and Danny I love you, I loved you before this. Danny, I love you even more what’s on your mind today

(Danny Rovero): I just want to say Karen I must admit that you are probably the most honest and the most dedicated person that I met at the Capital and I mean that sincerely I’m not trying to butter you up you come in you know the facts the lights you know what is hurt you in your life and you explain to it to me you explain to me what happens to the mother and father that doesn’t want to know who the parents are especially the mothers later on and the pros and cons and I can’t I can’t thank you enough enlightening me on what happens to people to know who the parents are and I gotta say. Like I said the

most honest the most dedicated person up there and you keep up the good work

(Gary): Thank you

(Karen): Oh, thank you so much that deeply touches my heart and thank you for listening

(Gary): Hold on I’ve got Bob young our talk show host who’s chomping at the bit to get back in here on his show thank you for being patient with us

(Bob Young): Hey Danny

(Danny Rovero): Yep

(Bob Young): Danny stay on the line for a minute give me give me the Reader’s Digest version of what’s happening with the budget in Hartford right now

(Danny Rovero): With the what

(Bob Young): With the budget

(Danny Rovero): I can’t hear you my ears aching right now


(Gary): I tell you what, Danny could you hold on the line and we’ll get back

(Danny Rovero): okay yeah, when you get off Karen and Gary call me on my phone, you got my phone number give me a call and I will talk then.

(Gary): We’ll do that okay

(Danny Rovero): What Karen’s talking about is probably just as important as the budget so keep up the good work

(Karen): Thank you thank you so much

(Danny Rovero): Talk to you later

(Gary): We are going to wrap up here today and again Karen Caffrey president access Connecticut’s now, access Connecticut adoptee rights access, check out their website, check out their Facebook page and if you can help in any way. Two things we are asking you today; One, is call your state senators, call your state representatives and let them know it is important and your phone call your email means a lot they read it believe me they listen they pay attention

(Karen): They do

(Gary): They do and there’s a good example right there from state representative Danny Rivero and number two, if you could make a donation any amount and you’ll find the information on their website Karen Caffrey is the president

(Karen): Can I add a number three

(Gary): yes

(Karen): If you’re interested in this sign up for our newsletter follow us on Facebook there’s a lot of information that comes out we’re having events we keep apprised

(Gary): And I am also on the advisory board and thank you for asking me to be on a board and that’s where I’m coming from, that’s my point of view plus an adoptee so that’s full disclosure for you today. Thank you, Karen, and let’s do this again sometime. The talk show and open phone lines and Bob

Young is next stay with us