Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Revised Trailer

Cleaned up and more first person:

I am a Jane Doe with three families: my birth parents, my adoptive parents, and my stepmother' family. I belong to them all - yet none claim me as their child. When I visit the doctor's office, I force back a wave of tears as I draw an X through the section asking for my family medical history. If I let the wave crash, I fear I would drown in my own tears.

Maybe the part of me that cries at Volkswagen commercials is hereditary. Maybe I am at risk for certain diseases; maybe I should be checking a different box for my ethnicity. I'm filling in the blanks for my own history. Adoptees are denied the right to their historic and genetic identities. This is what I know - I am made up of three parts: what my life has made me, what I've made out of that life, and the one who gave me life. According to the New York State Adoption Registry, her name is NOT APPLICABLE.

There's a way to buy anything - even a child. In the US, there is a dirth of healthy white babies available for adoption. When something is in demand, a rare commodity, there's always someone looking for a way to profit from those who are willing to pay the price. But at what cost to the couple, the child - how far would someone go to get the goods? I was purchased by a couple with the highest bid – the price that was right for a baby broker who in the 1970’s revolutionized the adoption industry in the United States. Three years later that couple divorced, and at age 8, my mother was deemed unfit to raise a child and my father was granted full custody.

With my birth certificate sealed, I posted and searched through countless internet message boards to find my birth parents. While I found no information about my own family, I did find adoptees and birth mothers whose adoptions were orchaestrated by the same lawyer. I'm in touch with a Knoxville police officer and birth mother Jaymie who is now a professional searcher. According to Jaymie, my mother was coerced into giving me up for adoption. She's been tracking the lawyers business for 30 years. She says that birth mothers are misunderstood - and most want to be found. I'd just like to know where I came from, what my ethnicity is, and if she looks like me. It's human to want these answers. It's inhumane to keep them a secret.

Jaymie's not the only one who supports this notion. (This is from a book - need reference) "Methods of procuring the babies include obtaining signed relinquishments from mothers under duress or coercion, admitting a pregnant woman to a hospital under the name of the adopter or falsely telling the mother "the baby died" shortly after birth and falsifying the original birth record, and actual purchase from economically disadvantaged parents in the U.S." Did this happen to my mother? Does she think that I am not alive? Many adoptees and birth parents, those without a tribe, post on message boards on the birth day. Not a year has gone by where I haven't looked.

JAYMIE: "In my searches I have found several natural mothers who had committed suicide on or near the birthday of their relinquished child. I don't think these women did this out of fear of their identity being discovered one day in the future. I think they did this out of total despair. Despair over a system of closed adoption, a system that didn't allow them to have the hope that one day they would get to know the adult that once was their child."

What I do know is that there are people who have revised my history. There are others, thousands of me, looking for where they came from. So I'm going to meet with them and visit my adoptive parents, longtime family friends, and the lawyer behind the curtain - people who know more about the historical me than I do. At the same time, Jaymie will begin her search for my mother. The woman my stepmother thinks is named Mary Mayo, the woman my father said grew up in Long Island, the woman I met only once the first time I ever cried. Maybe I'll find her, maybe I'll find another family in my birth and adoptee friends scattered across the country, maybe I am Marnie Mayo. Maybe I'm not.

The end of the story is not about seeking one adoptee’s history, but about relationships lost and found, those who unknowingly sold their children, the others who’ve learned that they came with an expensive price tag, and those who set the price and profited from a profoundly personal and painful experience.


Teri said...


First and foremost: Register at the International Soundex Reunion Registry, ISRR. At

Go to and fill out the free Waiver and Non-Id request forms. Print the completed forms out, get them notarized and mail them in.

One of the partial tips found in the Adoption Records Handbook: Old newspaper archives for the 3 days before and after your birth will list all the births on those days. Perhaps one of those women was a roommate of your first mothers. Someone will remember if one of the mothers gave a baby up for adoption. Call as many of those women as you can find via online phone books and search engines. People remember the day they gave birth and who they may have met there. Maternity Ward gossip is always a good resource.

Good Luck!

maybemarniemayo said...

Hi Teri!

thank you for your invaluable tips and advice.

I have registered with the International Soundex Reunion Registry. I am pursuing all search avenues but I have a sneaking feeling that I will obtain information in some very untraditional ways. I believe my mothers name is in the 1978 court transcripts of the trial against the laywer. My father is in the book - that was an odd finding.

My birth record states what city I was born in but this info may be false. I'm already searching through old newspaper archives for other materials so I will absolutely follow up on this tip - it's a great one, and another way to connect with other birth mothers.

Btw, how did you find me?

maybe said...

Good luck, don't every give up!

Funny, I post on blogs under the name "maybe." This pseudonym is partly my name, and partly my belief that "maybe" this whole thing will work out by the end of my life. By that I mean successfully building a relationhip with my only child who was adopted 25 years ago.

I have hope!

maybemarniemayo said...

As you should, Maybe.
I really want to include the hardships and real stories of birth mothers who gave their children up for adoption and are searching. It is commonplace to believe that the majority of birth mothers do not want to be found, although studies and internet boards certainly suggest otherwise.
Please let me know if you would like to share your story. This is not a search for one person, it is not my journey; I'm just driving the bus so to speak. Funny, that's my other pseudonym :-)