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Declaration of Independence
This Fourth of July we will again celebrate liberty, one of the unalienable, natural rights with which we are endowed by our creator as declared by a small group of men in Philadelphia 236 years ago. This Declaration gave rise to thee greatest nation the world has ever known. Subsequently the authors of the United States Constitution declared through the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments that liberty could not be taken away without due process of law, that is through fair procedures.

In a long series of cases, the United States Supreme Court has held that the right to liberty includes "the fundamental liberty interest of natural parents in the care, custody, and management of their child."

Bill of Rights

Nevertheless states effectively abrogate this right through laws allowing natural parents to lose their children through procedures that are far from fair. States allow mothers to sign irrevocable consents to adoption, often within minutes of birth, or even worse, to sign consents before birth with only a short revocation period. States do not require any counseling for mothers about the effects of adoption on themselves or their children or about services which would help them nurture their children. States effectively deny fathers any process at all. Once children are adopted, most states deny them the right to know who their natural parents are.
Lost Daughter Megan and Jane with Abe

On this Fourth of July, as we enjoy our hot dogs and beer and fireworks, let's dedicate ourselves to passing laws to protect parents' fundamental right to the care, custody, and management of their children and to the right of children to be raised by their human creators.

"The right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children is among the 'unalienable rights' with which the Declaration of Independence proclaims all men...are endowed by their creator." The late U. S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. 

The above post is from 2012. Our moral conviction is bolstered by scientific research documenting the harm to children from separation from loving parents in a new report from the American Bar Association Children's Rights Litigation Committee. Separating children from loving parents causes trauma and leads to worse outcomes for the children. Although the report is designed to help attorneys representing children and parents separated at the border by President Trump's immigration policies, it's written in layperson's language and well worth reading by all who support family preservation.

So while you are celebrating with friends and family over the long weekend, take a moment to consider how cruelly families--refugees from climate change and the gang violence that results from starvation-level poverty--are being separated today at our border. The pictures of people crowded with only mylar blankets for warmth and privacy are heart-breaking.--jane

 Trauma Caused by Separation of Children from Parents (May, 2019) 


Federal Inspectors Release Photos to Blast DHS for ‘Dangerous’ Overcrowding at Border Facilities

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Too shy to push myself totally into the shot...
Some people have said they can't adequately reach the Albany Times-Union site where the piece I wrote that my assemblyman, Fred Thiele, referenced in the New York Assembly in the discussion just before the Montgomery/Weprin bill giving New York adoptees the right to their original birth certificates at age 18. It's at the end of this note about what has been happening since. 

As most know by now, the bill passed both the New York Senate and Assembly with an overwhelming margin, and now awaits Gov. Andrew Cuomo's signature, which is expected. For reasons that baffle me on the one hand and are not surprising on the other, the emotional passage of this bill in the Assembly--the Senate passed it first the previous week--did not receive nearly the coverage it merits. Many of the speakers were highly emotional--not just three three who are adopted--and when the vote tally was first announced, a cheer went up in the hall. Yet media coverage has been scant. The NY Times so far has ignored it. Newsday did not. The big three news stations in New York City seem to have ignored it.  My local television station (Long Island Channel 12) did a good job, and another spot is scheduled, this time with an adoptee looking forward to getting his real not amended birth certificate in a day or two. I'll post the link when it appears.

Jane and Lorraine, summer 1983; I did
not wait for unseal legislation to find her
New York will be the largest state to have open records, no veto, when Gov. Cuomo signs the bill, and the feeling is that with a large state on the list--now grown to ten--the others will fall, if not like dominoes, but they will fall. Decades ago, when I first got into this fight with Florence Fisher, the founder of ALMA and the energetic, fiery springboard to the adoption reform movement, our most prominent opponent was the founder and first president of the National Coalition for Adoption in Washington, DC, William Pierce. 

He was usually the naysayer that the media phoned up for a quote about the destruction and damage that unsealing the records would cause. And he had that nice-sounded foundation after his name. When Judy Klemesrud wrote a story for the New York Times about my reunion with Jane in 1983, Mr. Pierce was quoted saying that he opposed giving adoptees their real birth certificates because ''The potential for human sorrow is great....''A lot of women do not want to have a meeting. These women may have had their child through rape or incest, and a meeting could be very harmful to them.'' He also estimated that only one to two percent of all natural mothers wanted to meet their children. In another story in the Washington Post, he said that the women like myself who wanted to meet their children were the "same 2,000 people who belong to each other's groups," and claims that 95 percent of those who make the adoption decision are happy with it.

Well, we know that is baloney. William Pierce* died in 2004. 

Yet Bill Pierce privately told Florence that he believed that one day the records would be open. 

We are still riding on euphoria in New York, waiting to hear when the bill will be signed, or has quickly been signed. I keep thinking of the time I was on the huge stairway in the Capitol and engaged a lobbyist on another issue. He listened and asked: What are other states doing? At the time, only two or three states were open. He took the information in and said: You need another nearby big state. 

Well, that didn't happen, but let us hope we are the "big state" that will push this over the edge elsewhere. Connecticut has a crazy quilt of laws but they still leave a little slice of the pie where adoptees are held hostage by a veto that effectively denies them the right to their own simple piece of paper. We got close there this session, but not over the finish line. Again, it was held up because of "birth mother privacy." 

Back to the Times-Union. Back story: I originally submitted a piece in early May at around 800 words; told that if I wanted to get it in soon, I'd need to trim to 725. I did that. Then a week later, I was told that to get it in while the session was still going, I had to trim to 625 words, including the tag line. I realized I had basically to write a whole different kind of piece and began again, writing the following one Sunday afternoon. Then it sat around again. I had to urge the editorial page editor--he has a lot of submissions, limited space--to hurry up, and it ran on a Friday when the legislature was not in session. However, Fred Thiele sent it to everyone in the Assembly. In case you are wondering, many newspapers, including the Times-Union, do not pay for commentaries or op-eds. 

The blog's headline is what ran in the Times-Union.

By Lorraine Dusky 
Published 4:55 pm EDT, Thursday, June 6, 2019

Debate over whether the original birth records of adopted people should be opened to them as adults always comes down to a "promise" made to the women who relinquished those individuals when they were infants and could not speak for themselves. The New York Senate voted Monday to do away with this outdated regulation, but the Assembly has long ignored it.

Never mind if the law as written never intended to "protect" those women. Never mind the rights of those children, now adults. Never mind their need for medical histories, or an innate, unquenchable quest to know the truth of their origins and where they fit into the tree of life. Never mind that DNA matches may find one's original family. Never mind that television shows highlight the deep comfort that comes in knowing one's genealogical history, where even people who aren't adopted sometimes break out in tears when they learn about their ancestors

Despite the overwhelming reasons to do away with an outdated 1936 law in New York, it stays on the books. There is that supposedly legal promise of "anonymity" made to mothers.

I want to scream.

When I relinquished a child in 1966, I railed against sealing my daughter's birth certificate — from her — until my exasperated social worker said that unless I agreed, "we can't help you." That "right" to anonymity was a mandate forced upon me by a law written when Franklin Roosevelt was president, before I was born and four decades before my daughter was. I had to agree to let the state take away her right to ever know her true identity, for her birth certificate would be sealed for all time, even to future generations. Her true history would be erased.

That knowledge was the absolute cruelest part of signing those papers.

I speak not for all birth mothers, but I do speak for many. We are the women who wait and hope our children will one day find us. For myself, I paid someone a hefty sum to find my daughter decades ago, and discovered that for medical reasons her parents were already trying to locate me.

But whether we mothers who want no privacy from our own flesh and blood are few or many, any such "right to privacy" loses all moral authority stacked against an adopted person's right to their own, true identity.

Yet in the arguments that keep original birth records sealed from people whom they most concern — the adopted — their well-being is conveniently swept under the dusty rug of old law and settled practice. Opponents of unsealing the birth certificates don't argue that sealed records are in the best interests of the adopted. Instead, they demand birth mothers keep a "right" that the law never included or intended, and courts have ruled is not constitutionally protected.

No other law exists that holds binding a contract between one person (the relinquishing mother) and the state over a third person (the adoptee). In doing so, the state treats adopted people as no more than chattel over which the state retains a lifelong bondage of anonymity.

No just government should exert such invasive and degrading control over any group of people, people otherwise equal under the law. Adult adoptees can marry, enlist, vote, get a driver's license, divorce, in short, do everything the rest of us can as fully functioning adults without anyone else's permission, but what they cannot do is have an unamended copy of their original birth certificate. Not only is this social engineering at its worst, it is immoral and unjust.

There ought to be a law against such mindless cruelty. And there could be, if only the Assembly would act.
__________________________________
Lorraine Dusky is the author of Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption
______________________

ORDER ANYTHING FROM AMAZON THROUGH THIS SITE AND IT PUTS A FEW PENNIES IN OUR POCKETS. Thank you for remembering to do so. 

*Google William Pierce without the word "adoption" and you find another William Piece, a white supremacist neo-Nazi who died two years earlier.)

REFERENCES
MOTHERS FIND THE CHILDREN THEY GAVE UP

Focus
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Lorraine 
UPDATED 11 P.M. JUNE 21, 2019

Adoptee right bill passed!!!!!!!! 
The vote in the Assembly was 127-2.
Senate voted last week, 56-6.

Many of the people we expected to vote against it folded, and two who had been our staunch opposition in the past spoke about changing their minds. Joe Lentol, for one, who had held up the bill in the past, as he is chair of Codes. Yesterday, however, when Codes passed it, he voted for it then, and spoke today on the floor passionately and eloquently about having his mind changed.

Assemblywoman Debra Glick did the same. In the past, she always spoke of birth mother privacy, but her tune was different today, about how times had changed. I couldn't believe it. Even Danny O'Donnell, who we have excoriated in the past for his attitude when we lobbied him, in the end voted Aye for the bill. Totally surprising!



First up however, was a Republican, Andy Goodell, speaker of the minority, who spoke it seemed for the full 15 minutes he was allowed, against the bill. Birth mother privacy, promises made to birth mothers, the incredibly ineffective registry, yadda yadda yadda....I was wondering if we were going to hear from Helene Weinstein, who had just spoken about one of her own bills so I knew she was there...but NO!

My mother, Victoria Dusky, daughter Jane in
rear, her daughter in front, and me.
Then began a number of speakers for the bill, including three adoptees: Pamela Hunter, incredibly passionate and teary, who is still waiting for her information from the state, after sending in her money to the state registry; Monica Wallace, whose desire to find her biological parents became critical when she began thinking about having children herself and wanted to know her medical history; and Carmen de la Rosa, who was born and adopted in the Dominican Republic and was able to find her siblings because she had a piece of paper with her natural mother's name on it. "Sometimes you can be in a roomful of people and still feel like no one is with you when you don't know where you come from," she said. That sums up a whole lot.

Adoptive more Didi Barrett spoke how sad it was that her child, adopted from Russia in 1992, would never be able to find her family. Republicans commended David Weprin for shepherding this bill with tenacity, Joe Lentol, who had been opposed to this bill for years spoke eloquently and passionately about how he came around to support it. Richard Gottfried, who chaired the first hearing I spoke at in 1976 in Albany, spoke, as did my own assemblyman, Fred Thiele, who  got up and gave me a huge shout out. There were others, and you can watch it all below on the video.

I was sitting in the kitchen, watching it on television, messaging The Good Adoptee playwright Suzanne Bachner in the middle of it, posting on Facebook that it was on, crying, holding my husband's hand, who was also teary--I was really crying at times, not just teary, and then the immediate vote. At first it appeared to be 126-2, then 127-2, but today when the final votes were in, it was 140-6. There are 150 assembly persons, so four did not register a vote.

I have been praying for this day since I signed the relinquishment papers, April something, 1966. I remember reading a piece by Enid Nemy in the New York Times on July 25. 1972 about Florence Fisher, who had started ALMA (Adoptees Liberty Movement Association). The piece was headlined: "Adopted Children Who Wonder, What Was Mother Like?" Reading the piece, learning that adoptees did want to know where they came from, I felt less alone from
that day on, and I took what ability I have and put it to use in this cause. The 1936 law is archaic, outdated, cruel, unjust, prima facie absurd, immoral--there is so much wrong with the sealed-records law in any state where it still stands--that I could list all the noxious synonyms in Roget's International Thesaurus and they would all suit.

New York was the closest to my heart, of course--it's where I lost my daughter and where I still live today--but the issue is larger than one state. There are others to go, but with a huge state like New York finally doing the right thing, can the others be too far behind?

Out to dinner with friends tonight, my eyes still slightly burning from the tears, but tears of joy. Peace and love and gratitude in my heart for every vote, every person who has lifted a phone to make a call in support, every person who wrote a letter, an email, a fax. Kudos to Joyce Bahr, who has worked tirelessly for this day to come, and Adam Pertman who has always been a staunch supporter, and Annette Marie O'Connell and Megan Mary DePerro and Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy, and Tim Monti-Wolpat, and everybody in Unsealed Initiative and New York Adoptee Rights Coalition and the rest!

The bill, A5494/S3419, now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature. We have good reason to believe he also wants to be on the right side of history, and will sign the bill in law. As of January 15, 2020, adopted people in New York will have the right to a copy of their unamended birth certificate for the first time in 83 years.

We did it! The rest of the closed or "semi-open" states look out. The tyranny of closed birth records of adoptees is falling. Freedom for adoptees is coming.--lorraine
__________________________
Want to watch the hearing? Grab a tissue, for here it is:

http://nystateassembly.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=7&clip_id=5185&meta_id=94776&fbclid=IwAR0yTXk4GIP986AD4o5rA5uS0uBwS8h9QJEn8FCRp8Y_e16w-8a0DBStmUc


From the New York Times:
Adopted Children Who Wonder, ‘What Was Mother Like?’
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Lorraine at 2018 Indiana conference with fellow New Yorker,
Suzanne Bachner, playwright,The Good Adoptee 
If surrogacy--renting a woman's womb for a high price--is legal, why isn't prostitution?

Both commodify a woman's body as a product to be sold, bartered, rented, call it anything you want, it offers for sale the use of a woman's body. If the surrogacy is unpaid--except for the expenses of the procedure itself and the birth of the baby--it's not quite the same. Family members--even mothers for their daughters, sisters for siblings--sometimes have offered to become impregnated with related DNA as sperm or egg or embryo and carry a fetus to term. I have no objection to that.

But the paying for the use of a woman's womb, and having her incur all the medical challenges of pregnancy and birth, changes everything. It takes advantage of impoverished women as well as students facing enormous college costs their families can ill afford. In fact, the better the school one is attending--think Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the like--and the fee can skyrocket to $200,000.

This isn't about surrogacy
per se, but it covers the
same issues for the children. 

You read that right.

Poverty and money force women into this inhumane practice. Until recently, India was a hothouse of surrogacy where "fertility tourism" was an industry that brought in $400 million a year. Poor women from outlying villages could make enough money for their families to buy a house. Videos of the horrid and cramped conditions the women lived in while pregnant gave the country a bad name, and the government acted. In most of Europe, paid surrogacy--just as paying for sperm--is outlawed.

While adoptee rights in New York seem to be in no one's sights in the legislature right now--at least to judge in press reports datelained Albany where there is not a single mention of them--paid legal surrogacy has grabbed Gov. Andrew Cuomo's attention. This morning I had an email from him--sign up on his contact page and you will get missives from him too--urging me to support LGBTQ rights, and part of that package is to legalize paid gestational surrogacy.

Our issue of adoptee rights somehow runs smack into this miasma of murky bioethics, the business of making babies for profit. Why so? Because gay and lesbians who wish to have children need outside help to make it happen. And that is where the exploitation of poor women enters the picture.

Excellent history of the tangled,
tortured route of sealed records.
I consult it frequently. 
Offer no money and it's unlikely many women will be lining up to turn over their bodies for the use of someone else--and then lose all rights to the baby. According to the New York Times this morning, 47 states allow surrogacy now through different kinds of laws, or no law at all, which basically permits unregulated surrogacy. In Albany, a strong lobby for gay rights has the support of some of the same legislators who support our legislation to unseal birth records of the adopted. Sen. Brad Holyman (D, NYC), who is openly gay, had two children via surrogacy in California, is one. He said the legislation showed "the importance of the LGBTQ community to the State of New York." I wanted to add, so what is the adoptee community to the State of New York? Chopped liver?

And one staunch opponent of adoptee-rights legislation (Assemblyperson Deborah Glick, also gay, also from NYC) is strongly opposed to legalizing surrogacy in New York. "I'm not certain that, considering the money involved, that this is an issue for the broader LGBTQ community," she said. "This is clearly a problem for the extraordinarily well-heeled." Well said, Ms. Glick.

What is the most infuriating part about the surrogacy issue is that it shows how adoptee rights get swept under the rug, after all kinds of bills, commotion, committees and lobbies over the DECADES, while LGBTQ rights move forward in our "progressive" state. There is a week left on the legislative calendar in Albany. We have been cautiously optimistic but there are no rumblings of any kind of action yet. After our bill (S3419) passed in the Senate, we cheered.

But we wait and worry while the Assembly dithers. We have the votes for our legislation to pass in the Assembly, but it is held up by a few powerful legislators. Right now our bill (A5494) is in the Codes committee, a final stop before it reached the floor for a vote. Joe Lentol (Brooklyn, D) chairs that committee. He is against it, and unless the Governor pushes him, Lentol has the power to kill the bill for yet another year by simply letting it die in Codes. Yet we are confident we have the votes in that committee to pass it.

I want to scream.--lorraine 

In other news related to our bill, here is a link to a piece I had last Friday in the Albany Times-Union.

Commentary: Allow adopted people right to know their true identity

and a link to a television spot on Channel 12, Long Island TV. 


Please feel free to share widely. 

And if you order anything through the portal of this blog--TVs, underwear, vitamins, face cream, garbage disposals--we make a few pesos and it costs you nothing. It's one way to support keeping this blog alive. Click on a book here and once at Amazon, search for what you want. 
_____________________
SOURCE
Surrogate Pregnancy Battle Pits Progressives Against Feminists

To READ
Lethal Secrets
By Annette Baran
The psychology of donor insemination presents both problems and solutions. In the world of alternative means of conception, donor insemination is the parent procedure, the most available, successful and egalitarian. Breaking the bonds of silence and ending secrecy is necessary, the authors believe, to address the inherent psychological problems. As the world continues headlong down the road of high-tech procedures and methodologies, there is a need to maintain a strong sense of importance of the human element and historical, genetic connections.

Family Matters: Secrecy and Disclosure in the History of Adoption
By E. Wayne Carp
Carp has a lot of great information about adoption agencies' and social workers' policies concerning the release of birth and adoption information to adult adoptees. It was fascinating to see all the quotes regarding their acceptance of adoptees' desire for identifying information up until the 1950s or so.
...Those who want further insight into the issue of sealed versus open birth and adoption records, this book is not just a necessary read, but a necessary purchase.
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In Roseburg, Oregon, a small town 175 miles south of Portland, a woman I do not know will deliver a baby within the next 30 days and give her infant to the clients of Portland attorney, Scott Adams. An adoptee himself, he is a long time adoption practitioner.

Perhaps she responded to a "Dear Birth Mother" ad, perhaps she knows the prospective adoptive parents, friends of relatives, a couple she met while waiting tables, or a couple referred by her pastor. I do know that unless a miracle happens, she will leave the hospital with a flat stomach and searing lifelong pain.

An attorney she has met only recently perhaps for only an hour, hired by Adams and paid by the prospective adoptive parents, will within a day of the birth present her with a consent form prepared by Adams. Once she signs, the attorney will send the paper immediately through electronic means to Adams who will file it as soon as possible at the courthouse. Once filed, the consent is irrevocable.

An adoptive mother on the
real cost of adoption--to the
child

Oregon law like the laws of all states provides two paths for "voluntary" infant adoptions. Best known are adoptions through state-licensed adoption agencies. Separate social workers work with expectant parents and prospective adoptive parents. Parents surrender their baby to the agency for adoption by signing a consent form presented by their social worker. The agency then processes the adoption.

More common, though, is the path being taken by the expectant mother in Roseburg, often referred to as a "private adoption," that is, without agency involvement These adoptions are promoted through such books as "Fast Track Adoptions" and "Adopt the Baby You Want." Attorneys, like Adams, connect prospective adoptive parents with expectant mothers, typically by running ads for "birth mothers," working with doctors, or by advising those wishing to adopt how to locate "birth mothers" through contacts, Facebook, Penny Ads, local  newspapers, even paper placemats in casual restaurants. The attorney's staff may coach them on writing "Dear Birth Mother" letters. Unlike agency adoptions, the child is relinquished directly to the adoptive parents.

Once the attorney lines up the mother-to-be and the prospective adoptive parents, the attorney prepares the consent and the open-adoption agreement, if any. In states like California, the attorney represents both the prospective adoptive parents and the natural parents, at least until something goes wrong. Then the attorney represents only the adoptive parents.

A birth mother on the
personal devastation
of giving up a child
In states like Oregon, mothers in private adoptions must have their own attorney when they sign the consent. Her attorney, however, is selected by the prospective adoptive parents' attorney and paid by the prospective adoptive parents. The mother's attorney may take the baby from the hospital and deliver the baby to the prospective adoptive parents or their attorney. So while it may appear that the mother has her own representation, in actuality, the prospective adoptive parents' attorney orchestrates the whole event. It is not much of a stretch to liken this to a situation where a prosecutor pays an attorney for the accused to get his confession.

A few days ago, Adams posted a request on the Oregon Family Law list soliciting an attorney for the expectant mother in Roseburg. His post is set forth below. It makes me angry just to read it. To Adams, the mother's consent is not a life-altering event, but a mere legal formality. The mother's attorney is not obligated to help the mother find resources to keep her baby. The attorney is not obligated to tell the mother she can negotiate the terms of the open-adoption agreement, allowing her to believe, for example, that a picture and a letter once a year is standard. The attorney is not obligated to tell the mother that the open adoption can close at the desire of the adoptive parents, and she will have no legal recourse in most states.

And, later, if the mother wants to contest the adoption for misrepresentation, or assert her rights under the open adoption agreement, the attorney will tell her he/she doesn't represent her.

These appalling events happen every day all over the country. ---jane

Scott C. Adams' 5/23/19 post on the Oregon Family Law list: "I am looking for a referral to a Roseburg attorney to explain adoption consents to a birthmom (woman placing her child for adoption) and potentially birthdad expected to give birth in Roseburg within the next 30 days. I represent the adoptive parents and will prepare all the paperwork.

You would generally meet with her/them once prior to her giving birth to go over the papers--this meeting is often in a more casual place than your office depending on her needs. Then when she does give birth you will take the papers to her/them in the hospital, explain them, get them signed and get them back to me electronically. Working with birth parents requires a lot of out of the box lawyering; you have to be available to take or respond to a birth parent's phone call/questions within a few minutes (they may be standing there with a nurse or doctor needing your input) and you may have to be available for an evening or weekend trip to the hospital (with a day's notice usually), and then be able to immediately send those consents to me. Experience in other adoptions/paternity helpful but not a must. It usually takes 2-3 hours which the adoptive parents will pay for. (emphasis added)

Self-referrals are welcome."

FROM FMF: 
Are Laws Tilted Towards Adopting Parents? Well, yes, even in Oregon
Finding babies through Facebook. And your manicurist. And ...

SOURCES
Scott Adams
US Dept of Health and Human Services, State Laws on Domestic Adoption

TO READ
The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child
June 26, 2017
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I knew I had some subconscious or unconscious "issues" from having been adopted, but I didn't truly understand them until I read this book. If you are adopted, get this book. If you have adopted children - or are even thinking about doing so - get this book. I learned a lot about myself while reading this - it explained a lot of my behavior as a child, and even as an adult. Being adopted IS traumatic, no matter what age it happens at - I was adopted as a baby, but still had issues because of it. My parents used to tell me that I was "chosen," and while they were trying to make me feel good and "special," it always made me sad to hear. Not because I didn't like my adoptive parents, but because - even as a child - I knew inside somewhere that to be "chosen," I first had to be given away. I didn't understand those sad feelings as a child, but thanks to this book, I understand them now.

Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption
April 6, 2016
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I recently read this book and want to say that it left me with many emotions - some I could deal with & some that were a bit harder. That's because I'm an adoptee. Lorraine Dusky's Hole in my Heart is about a first mother who gave up her baby to adoption and the consequences of that decision. Not only that - but it goes way beyond just that portion of her life. This memoir goes on for decades. Which I liked.

I like the fact that Lorraine has shared with us in this book all the various parts of the reunion years....'The rest of the story' so to speak. Because often times there are many ups and downs over the years following reunion and the important thing for people to understand are these years. You might watch some TV show about people finding their families - and they are all tears and hugs and wonderfulness. However, what happens next is what matters most. What happens 5 yrs down the road - 10 yrs - 20 yrs? That's where the story is.

My first mother has been dying for awhile now. I have all sorts of emotions about this ending. Reading this book helped me in many ways while I'm going through this process of letting go of the woman who gave birth to me 62 yrs ago. I'm glad I had already bought it several months before and had it ready on my Kindle to start when I needed something like this to help me get through.

One last thing: Lorraine has been part of the adoptee rights movement for years. She is well known in the adoption world that consists of so many of us inside the so called 'triad' and outside. Her book is not just about her own personal story - but it's full of facts and information about adoption laws in various states and all the various groups that are out there. She's a speaker as well as an author and is still active to this day. Check out her FB page if you want.

If adoption has been in your life in any possible way, this book can help you examine your own personal situation. Kudos for Lorraine's honesty and courage to share her story with the rest of the world.
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Press Conference on steps of NYC City Hall, with Sen. Velmanette Montgomery,
 Assemblyperson David Weprin, and that's me with the big green bag to the left.
WE SHALL OVERCOME ONE DAY....
Today's Jeopardy Question: He once said: “In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage... who we are and where we have come from.”

The answer is Alex Haley, author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family.

Then in the Style Section, there is a story about two black lesbians "Seeking a Sperm Donor Who's Black" about the difficulty of finding a black sperm seller, or donor, as is the common parlance. They won't use the sperm of any of their friends because he--even if he signs papers terminating parental rights--might want to be involved, ya know, one day. One of the woman was up for using a friend's sperm--it would be free, for one thing, "donated" sperm costs $1400--but the other states "I do not want to co-parent with anyone but you," referring to her partner. They have a very limited choice, and one of them is picky about the one good candidate (for health reasons) they finally settle on. She doesn't particularly like his looks. His skin tone isn't as dark as theirs, and she doesn't like that--but from the photo, they both clearly have some white genes intermingled with the black. 

What is missing here?
Any single mention of whether they will know the child's father so that child one day can find out who he or she is! This kind of stuff makes me crazy, and it should you too. With what we know about the hunger to know one's heritage, it is immoral today to bring a child into the world without making available for them a full and complete history about who they are. Yet by this story with this omission published in the Times, our culture accepts and encourages blind sperm purchase to create a living human being. It is wrong on its face, it is wrong ethically, it is wrong morally. Just because science allows this, and our culture encourages it, does not make it right. One day this will come tumbling down, and it will be seen as failed social policy, just as sealed birth records are.   

Speaking of that, mothers who relinquished are needed to add your name to a list of mothers who support unsealing birth certificates. This request comes from New York, where we have a clean bill that might actually pass this year (!) and we need all the names of mothers we can find. You do not need to be a New York mother! More than 200 mothers have signed on already, but more is more, and more is better! 

Decades ago when the question of unsealing the records went to the public in a voter referendum in Oregon, more than 500 women from around the country added their names to be in a full-page ad in the newspaper. I signed, of course, and not only did Jane Edwards, she was one of the Oregon women photographed for the page. (If we can find it, we will post it here later.) 

We may be coming close to the finish line in New York this year, and if New York goes, it is likely several other states will follow, so PLEASE take this action, and if you can, post the link on your Facebook page or your own blog. And let us know you did here. The opposition to unsealing the records ALWAYS COMES DOWN TO "PROTECTING" THE MOTHER. Let us not be the stumbling block to passage.

No one should be denied a heritage because it will embarrass someone. 

Do your part today! Here's the link:

From March 19 in Albany 
NYARC is at the LOB today in Albany, working for all of you! Bob Brader, Suzanne Bachner of The Good Adoptee, Lorraine Dusky, author of hole in my heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption, Kimberly Saxen, Adam Pertman, Author of Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming Our Families -- and America  and Unsealed Initiative Adoptee Rights New York, Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy and Toff. All in for the Weprin/Montgomery bill. 2019 is the year. 

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Lorraine
Here it comes again, Mother's Day, impossible to delete from the calendar or ignore totally because of the incessant ads that pop up everywhere, from the internet to the newspaper to the super bargains on the Today show that are just "perfect for mom." I got my hair cut today and as I was paying the bill, I heard the receptionist say to the woman ahead of me--Happy Mother's Day. I happen to know the woman for years, and know she is the nicest person. But the woman ahead of me said, I never had children. Neither, it turned out, did the receptionist, she just thought it was a nice thing to say. When I paid my bill, I said, You know, Mother's Day is a painful day for all women who gave up a child. I hope you will stop saying that to everyone who comes in. I rather surprised myself because in years past I probably would just have let it go, but she had three more days to remind, once more, other first mothers that this godawful holiday was upon us. 


But hear or not hear it, all if it reminds us of our own fractured motherhood. I've been through the gamut of emotions about Mother's Day, beginning when I did not know where my daughter was (call it a nightmare), and my own mother did not even know my daughter existed (no one to share the blues with), to those years after reunion when I tried to ignore the hoopla the week preceding the big day hoping she would remember me in some small way, but alas, she often did not. (A good day to dig in the garden.)

A photo of the card Jane
sent one year. Sweet. 


While I was feeling sorry for myself, I always imagined a big celebration going on with her adoptive mother--card, flowers, dinner, what-have-you. My daughter had siblings, one adopted, two not, and the patriarch was not likely to let any of them forget about Mother's Day. I never knew if the day went off as I imagined because I never asked. Though I tried to remind myself that the day was a made-up holiday, designed to help Hallmark and florists and restaurants, that never really worked. Everyone else was celebrating Mother's Day--hell, I was too as long as my own mother was alive. After I left Michigan, I sent flowers, I called, I remembered. 

I image that Mother's Day for women who have had other children is different than it is for me, one of the approximately one third who never had another child after relinquishing. First of all, just as co-blogger Jane, they have the children they kept to be honored and celebrated by. Many of those children--no matter their age--will not know about the missing child, but the mother will, and it is likely she cannot help but think about her/him at some point during the day--if not several times--wondering who she/he is and what mother he/she is honoring. So it will be a day of bittersweet happiness, as well as a reckoning how this day fits into their lives. 

SPEAKING UP TRUTHFULLY
But that was not my fate. I was without another child and so you just suck it up and wait for the damn day to be over. When my daughter was older and married, she did a whole lot better remembering--especially after I told her that her ignoring me on the day--bothered me. Bothered me a whole lot, in fact. Once I got a wonderful handmade card that said: To my Other Mother. Inside it says: "I couldn't find a card that defined our relationship, but then all truly matters is that is that I let you know, I Love You. Happy Mothers day LORRAINE, love Jane." It must have come with a present, because there is a note on the back about using whatever she sent to "relax after a long hard day." 
Lorraine on a good day with her daughter Jane, and her 
daughter, now out of college and an art teacher in Michigan 

Now my daughter is gone--she died more than a decade ago--as well as my mother, and I realize the day is ours to deal with as we choose. I could mope all day. Or not. It is a given that throughout the day I will let thoughts of my mother, and my daughter, flit pleasantly by with a kind of sweet sadness. My mother died two decades ago. We'd fought a lot when I was growing up, but she was the rock I leaned on to go to college against some odds, and later, when I began writing and championing unsealing birth certificates, and became known for that, she encouraged me, and was proud of what I was doing. "Everyone must want to know where they came from," she said to me the day I told her everything. She held her head up among the people in the senior living apartments in our home town she lived in, and I loved her courage for that, for I know there must have been a lot of gossip, and most of it not nice. 

I had a daughter, gave her up, found her, had a 26-year relationship, and then lost her again. As a friend of mine said, We've all got something. He'd  been caring for his wife with advanced Alzheimer's for several years at home, and trust me, that is not a simple thing. Because of his devoted care, she lived more than a decade with Alzheimer's. She died last summer. Now their house is for sale because he wants to move to a new place, where every room is not a reminder of her. Yes, we've all got something.

We've all got something. But I will admit that since my daughter's passing, the way I handle the day is different from when she was alive. For dealing with her death was a matter of mourning, of accepting and accommodating grief, but also knowing that she was at last at peace. The grief wasn't trapped in some damn limbo of closed adoption that leaves you wondering if your child is dead or alive, and you are supposed to just stuff it down, pretend that you are not dying inside. That kind of grief is insanely consuming, and never changes. You can stomp it down--otherwise you will go crazy--but it's still there like a sore that will not heal to the scar phase. When she died, I could grieve publicly, I did not have to pretend that I was "okay" within days or weeks of her dying. 

DON'T JUST STAND THERE AND WEEP...
While I can't put myself into the head of an adopted person, I imagine that if you are longing to at least know your original mother, or have a relationship with her, you also endure Mother's Day rather than celebrate. For both mothers and adoptees, the day is bound to be fraught. One can be honoring one's adoptive mother, but how can you not be thinking at least a little bit about that other mother? Does she ever think of you? Is she thinking of you on this day? Without answers, with birth records that stay sealed beyond human compassion, the questions remain, peace is impossible. 

So for those mothers without children who will be a part of your life on Sunday, and children whose original mothers fill their thoughts, make a plan: Call a friend or someone else who might otherwise be alone. Do something else besides go to lunch in a crowded restaurant. Go to the movies--a funny movie! no weepers!--go shopping, go to a museum, pursue your hobby, go for a a long run or workout at the gym, splurge and have a spa day with all the trimmings for once, or--work with me here--clean out your closets. If that last one sounds like a chore, it is, but remember that the rewards of feng shui are so energizing. To let new experiences in your life, you need to get rid of the old. Tidied closets end up feeling like a metaphor for your life. Tidied up. Cleaning closets is highly underrated. It leaves space in your life for new experiences to come in.  

And remember, come Monday it will not be Mother's Day for another blessed 364 days!--lorraine

PS: I began writing an addendum about the noxious idea of "Birth Mother's Day," which is the Saturday before Mother's Day, but I was just getting annoyed about such a ridiculous day, designed to normalize giving up a child, that I quit. Supposedly it was started by a first mother herself, and when Googled her, it led to Amazon where you can buy a "Birth Mother's Day Planner.' Which also made me gag. However, there was no picture or anything, and it, blessedly, is not available. Here's what I found in some dumb article in Minneapolis:

"With the growth of open adoption, birth families and adoptive families tend to stay in contact for the benefit of a child. Placing a child for adoption has come to be considered an act of love. (Emphasis added) But many birth mothers felt they continued to be ignored. In 1990, a group of Seattle birth mothers sought to change that by creating a day of their own....
______________________
July 1, 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Hole in My Heart is many things. First of all, it’s the captivating, first person story of the author’s journey from unwed mother to revered spokesperson for adoption reform. Along the way she reunites with the child she gave up for adoption. Through decades of up and down relationships with her daughter and the girl’s adoptive family, Dusky helps readers understand the challenges and trauma of adoption from all sides.

Along the way, the author pauses her personal story to inform us about the world of adoption through Facts and Commentary chapters. A longtime advocate of adoptee rights, Dusky gives us the insider’s scoop on everything from shady adoption practices to the latest research on adoption issues.

An adoptee and writer myself, I thought I knew a lot about adoption. But I discovered some surprising facts between the covers of this book. With nearly a hundred footnotes, Hole in My Heart is a great starting point for anyone wishing to explore this subject.









PRIN

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Daughter Jane and Mother Lorraine
1983
"My little girl said to me one day, 'I wonder what my mother was like,', she recalled."It struck me that she had a feeling of loneliness....I knew the need was so strong I couldn't reject it or pass it off...adopted children have the right to know about their natural parents. They are people, not puppies or kittens that one takes in. You can't deny the existence of the people who gave birth. You might like to but you can't."--Adoptive mother who joined ALMA, quoted in "Adopted Children Who Wonder, 'What Was Mother Like?' by Enid Nemy, The New York Times, July 25, 1972. This is the piece that changed my life. Within a month I had met Florence Fisher and set a new course to my life.

"The way it is now," she said, "there is just something missing from my life." Adopted woman at a conference on sealed records in Washington DC, quoted in "Who Is My Daughter," by Dusky, Newsweek, Oct. 15, 1979.



"....[T]he opening of records to adult adoptees in England and Wales since 1975 has produced none of the dire consequences which critics of the Children Bill had predicted prior to its passage. Those dire consequences are the very same which opponents of the Model (Adoption) Act are now predicting if it should be adopted."--Florence Fisher, President of ALMA, June 14, 1980, in a letter to Diane D. Broadhurst, executive secretary of the Model Adoption Legislation and Procedures Advisory Panel.

"I am confident that there will come an epoch when we understand the separation of the mother and child as an event very efficient in producing neurosis, confusion...."--Jean Paton, Western Journal of Surgery, Views and Reviews, 1955. Galley, sent to me by Paton, no page number.

"A Tribune Syndicate health article by Dr. Timothy Johnson recently answered a question about the likelihood of adoptees having emotional difficulties. In his response he said that ten to fifteen percent of the children seen by child psychiatrists are adoptees, compared to one to two percent of all children being adoptees. He says that many health professionals 'now suggest that adopted children might benefit from knowing more about their birth parents.'" --CUB Communicator, date unknown but the copy I have is yellow with age.

"...[T]he mother's assurance of anonymity should not be preserved at the expense of the adoptee, for it is unjust that a child should suffer for the transgressions of its parents..." In re The Estate of Jensen, 162, NW2d., 878, North Dakota, 1968.

"Determining identity is a difficult process for someone brought up by his natural parents; it is more complex for the individual whose ancestry is unknown to him.... There is ample evidence that the adopted child retains the need for seeking his ancestry for a long time....What he is really seeking is to achieve a  unity and persistence of personality in spite of the break in the continuity of his life...." American Academy of Pediatrics, Identity Development in Adopted Children, 47 Pediatrics, 948, 1971.

"I think it is hard to know where you are going when you don't know where you came from," "Brave New Babies," Dusky, Newsweek, Dec. 6, 1982.

"...[N]umerous young and not so young adoptees come for assistance in learning of and understanding their feelings about their roots. Many have not been told of their adoptions by their adoptive parents, but have nevertheless known or learned on their own, and then curiosity is compounded by anger and resentment...and the rage of which Ms. Dusky speaks becomes understandable when one comes to know the inner workings of people denied their heritage and denied the truth about their very selves."--Carolyn Esperza, MSW, Dec. 10, 1982, in response to a piece I wrote for Newsweek called "Brave New Babies, letter sent to Newsweek. Copies of all letters received were sent to me.

"Lorraine gave her biological daughter a gift of love when she relinquished her in 1966....I believe her guilt has gotten in the way of her daughter's clear message: Lorraine is Lorraine and her adoptive other is Mom, not her "other mother." --Letter to Newsweek from an adoptive mother in Salem, OR, March 27, 1992, responding to "The Daughter I Gave Away," Newsweek, issue date, March 30, 1992. Some Newsweek editor has written on it, "Excellent letter." I am not sure if it was published, so I am not revealing her name. The woman must have written it as soon after the issue arrived in her mailbox.

"In July the state legislators in Illinois succeeded in passing a bill that will keep adoption records sealed forever. I was behind this effort 100 percent and am delighted it succeeded." Ann Landers column, Newsday, undated yellowing clip in my files.

"[R]esearchers offered an overview of the pilot study and suggested that 'adoptive agencies should begin to re-evaluate their position in regard to the sealed record,' at least as far as adult adoptees are concerned. This may be the minority opinion. The Child Welfare League and its 400 member agencies continue to support the sealed-record policy. But Florence Fisher...says that 'People today are finding secrecy evil. They are more open and they want to know the truth.'" --"Unsealing the Records," Time magazine, June 24, 1974.

"I thought you'd never come for me," Jeff said to his mother. Julie, in tears, took him into her arms. The headmaster admits that he wept--and so did all the other adults watching form inside the main house." A week after that meeting, Jeff went home for good."--Julie is Julie Welsh, the mother who found her son being shuttled from boarding school to boarding school, even spending holidays there, or going home with one of the other students. His adoptive mother died, his adoptive father remarried, and the step-mother did not want to Jeff. Julie Welsh found Jeff when he was 16. "The Incredible Homecoming, by Elizabeth Keiffer, Family Circle, March 6, 1984.

"Our findings suggest that interest in birth parents is very widespread among adoptees and that a sizable minority will attempt to make contact with their birth parents. It is not possible, as William Pierce of the National Committee for Adoption has attempted, to dismiss the interest of adoptees in their birth parents etns as confined one one or two in every hundred."--"Young Adoptees in Search of Their Roots," Arnold R. Silverman and William Feigelman, professors of sociology at SUNY's Nassau Community College, letter to the editor of The New York Times, reporting on a seven-year study of more than 350 adoptive families in the U.S. with adolescent adoptees. More than 20 percent had already taken steps to obtain records which would permit them to contact their parents. Sept. 7, 1983. The piece that the precipitated the letter was the one about the reunion of me an my daughter, as well as CUB member Alison Bond and her daughter, Holly. "Mothers Find the Children They Gave Up," Judy Klemesrud, August 29, 1983. I am later quoted in Rickie Solinger's book, "Wake Up Little Suzie," but she only refers to me, at 41, as a "young mother." ? The title of my first memoir, Birthmark, was kept out of the story due to the objections of another writer at the newspaper, who would later write about adoption reunions with a less than favorable attitude.

In working on the 2nd edition of Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption, I have been looking through my copious files on adoption that I have kept--not only the stories I wrote over the years--but all kinds of files--CUB Communicators, stories from newspapers and magazines, Origins newsletters, a file or papers that I did not realize I had from Jean Paton, one of the very early pioneers and the founder of Orphan Voyage, journal articles by all kinds of doctors, copies of suggested laws from the National Council for Adoption (NCFA),  letters written by Florence Fisher when ALMA was bringing suit in Federal Court in the Seventies, and so on. It is overwhelming, and I know that it is but a small pile of the mountains of words that have been written.

I see articles where the writer went out of their way to not include mention of Birthmark, as if to trivialize it and to make me seem more like a loner, a single voice, not someone emblematic of millions of teens and women who relinquished their children to adoption when they felt desperate and without a choice. The material goes back decades, more than half a century. Television shows routinely now have stories about adoption, and more often we see that it is dealt with in a realistic manner. Then we have the stories of glorious adoptions such as Hoda Kotb's, as if nothing had changed in the last half century.

And while nine states now how completely open records to adult adoptees, in New York, where I reside and gave birth, nothing has changed since the 1930s when the records of all adoptees were sealed.--lorraine dusky
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Lorraine
Hoda Kotb of the Today show adopted again. I caught the end of the reveal on Today this morning, and all the women sitting around the table had tears in their eyes, and an indication that they guys did too. Later, the after Today Show, the Hoda and Jenna Show did another spot, this time with Samantha Guthrie and Jenna Bush--since Hoda is taking some time off--which I caught in replay.

So many tears, a box of tissue drops from above on the set so the women can wipe their tears away. Samantha says they need to go to Costco and buy a carton! Hoda on the phone is talking about love and hope and how much she wanted a second child. Hope Hope Hope, she put it out in the universe (and apparently in a book) that she wanted a second child to adopt, and now she is naming her Hope. Samantha says, now you have a family of four--now her family is complete. More tears. Hoda repeats how she hoped and dreamed and prayed for a second child.... Everybody on the show knows how much she wanted this baby, a second baby to adopt, and the set is overflowing with love for Hoda--who does exude a warm, inviting persona--and the joy because of this child....
A man finds his original
family through DNA

I can't help but turn it around, how Hoda was hoping and praying a woman would come along for her who could not keep her baby because of poverty, most likely. That adoption was her answer to "complete her family." Can't I just feel joy for Hoda, and not think about the other woman who just gave birth? No, I can't. I am the other mother, and to double down on this, my daughter's birthday was a little more than a week ago, she was born on the Tuesday before Easter, and Easter is Sunday, she is in my head more than usual. 

Out there it is not unlikely that the mother of the child is also watching. She is weeping too, but not with tears of joy, but with the soul crushing tears of having just given birth and then given up her child because she could not keep her. Hope came through an adoption agency and she, Hoda, was waiting for the call, now she is bursting with love. The baby is the answer to her prayers, it was up to God if it was going to happen. Yes, I can't help myself, God picked out a woman to be the mother of your baby is what I hear.

Hoda is 54. She has a partner, so there is a daddy too. Certainly with her schedule and income, she has all the help she needs, and the girls will be given a good, rich home. I don't hate Hoda, her joy is certainly real. I want to believe she will be a good mother--a good adoptive mother who understands the issues of being given up that any adoption means. For on some level, adoption is always sad.

Birth is so different today from my times, when it wasn't so difficult to get pregnant, when chemicals didn't raise the specter of infertility, when women--and men--didn't wait forever to have a child to the point where it becomes problematic. Hoda is old enough to be a grandmother. Hoda does address the age issue, saying that she will be not around forever to watch over the other child, Haley, and now that they will be sisters, Haley will have someone to watch her live her life, and the implication is, be as close to her, Haley, as Hoda's sister is to her. Maybe, I think. Maybe they will be close. It is not a given. 

I have no idea how Hoda is about the reality of adoption for the adopted, or if these are open adoptions, or what the stories of the girls' natural mothers are.  Hoda says at some point that she tells Haley that she didn't come from Mommy's tummy, but then the girl says "Her" but there is no explanation of what she means. Haley is only two, so she is not really aware of what any of this means yet. 

There will always be adoptions. Not all mothers can keep and nourish their babies. But celebrations of celebrity adopters, no matter how likeable they are, encourage more adoptions and that puts pressure on the adoption machinery to produce more babies for adoption, instead of finding ways to allow mothers keep and raise their own children.--lorraine
_______________________
Why I'm not bullish on celebrity adoptions

TO READ
Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA
By Richard Hill


I enjoyed this book so very much. It told a good story and yet shared some great information regarding research into ancestry. I found myself highlighting so many passages that will aid me in my look into my past. However, my excitement is peaked over all the info regarding the research for an adopted child. My 13 year old granddaughter is adopted and her birth mother was also adopted. We know who my granddaughter's birth mother is but we know nothing about the birth father. We have no information on the birth mother's birth family...but now I feel that we have a starting spot. This research into her birth ancestry will be a great gift for my granddaughter. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction!



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Kelly Hansen
It's always thrilling when someone not a first mother or an adoptee gets it. Kelly Hansen, a high-tech professional in Portland, Oregon not only got it, she turned what she knew into a film.

Kelly was looking for a subject for a film she planned to make as part of an amateur video group.  She happened upon Ann Fessler's compelling 2006 work The Girls Who Went Away which profiles mothers who lost their children to adoption in the decades before Roe v. Wade.

Kelly sought first mothers through Concerned United Birthparents
Jane
and eventually connected with Holly and Hannah, a reunited mother and daughter, and me. In the course of the film--only 12 minutes long--myths are shattered. I do a brief intro about adoption, then and now. Then we meet Hannah, a young woman who contacted her mother on Facebook while still a teenager. She met her mother, her mother's husband, and three siblings. Two years later she made the difficult but right decision for her to move in with her new-found family.

Like most of us, when I see a film of myself, I cringe. Kelly says I did great but I think I should have talked more clearly, explained things better, sat straighter. But then I think hey, I did it, maybe made a small contribution to letting people know about the dark side of adoption.

Here's the video on YouTube.  An Adoption Story.  Please pass it along!--jane

PS What's with my right eye? It was removed twenty years ago because I had a tumor attached to the blood vessels which fed my eye. The doctors tried to remove the tumor several times but were not able to and thought it would become malignant. I make the patches myself in various colors so I can try to coordinate with what I am wearing. I do have a false eye is sitting in my bathroom cabinet. It doesn't look real because I have no eyelid and the false eye doesn't move. It's held in with glue and always in danger of falling off. It's good for Halloween, though.
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