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Joan Wheeler’s Loss of Reason

by on July 30, 2011
Okay we are back to posting about that book…yes…even with it’s demise we must continue with setting things right…since Joan Wheeler herself refuses to do so.
The following was written, by me, in the spring of 2010 and was emailed to Ruth on Mon, May 10, 2010 2:27:02 PM ….so it has been waiting to see the light of day for well over one year. I have edited it some here. It is  good to keep in mind that there is SO MUCH that can be said about every LINE in that book but alas we can’t address everything. Perhaps after we address the book in the specific areas that we have been doing we can go back and disect it again.  Joan certainly has given us so much to work with.
Yep, the worst thing Joan Wheeler ever did was to publish that book. Now she will have to live with that dead book tied around her neck until we set everything in it straight and right and it starts to stink and rot OR she decides to make it right and remove ALL references to Forbidden Family on her two web sites and apology to us siblings and our parents!
(2) loss of reason
Gert McQueen <
To: Ruth Pace <

My title for this post is called Joan Wheeler’s Loss of Reason and it deals with chapter 25 in Forbidden Family that Joan Wheeler titled Meeting Resistance with Education.

First let’s look at the meanings of the word reason:

1. justification: an explanation or justification for something

2. motive: a motive or cause for acting or thinking in a particular way

3. cause that explains something: a cause that explains a particular phenomenon

4. power of orderly thought: the power of being able to think in a logical and rational manner 

5. ability to think clearly: the ability to think clearly and coherently

6. philosophy intellect as basis for knowledge: the ability to think logically regarded as a basis for knowledge, as distinct from experience or emotions

Looking at the way Joan characterizes her entire life and the people that come in contact with her, how she fantasizes and fabricates the evidence to suit herself, one has to wonder just where is Joan’s reason, that facility of mind that informs a person of their true surroundings. It is very apparent that Joan doesn’t have all her reasoning powers.

Picking up Joan’s narrative of her life, we find…

That after giving an ultimatum to her husband, she feels they are a ‘family’ again. Okay, we all know that a marriage is not made from ultimatums, but Joan believes that with an ultimatum, they are ‘family’! And even with the husband’s low-paying job they set about to build, onto rented property, a ‘writing room’ so Joan can begin her obsession of writing about adoption and her life story, others be dammed…they were familyand she will have what she wants!

For those that have not read the book, don’t despair at not quite following this, you really are not losing anything from NOT reading the book. Know that I do HAVE the book and HAVE READ it all. Joan believes at this point in time that they are a family and since she gave hubby the ultimatum she now can concentrate on her life’s ambition…writing the book! So the first thing she does is to spend money on someone’s home so that she can have a writing room…what’s wrong with the kitchen table like the rest of us have had to work with and on?

Of course this activity, of writing the book, was not bringing in much money, for unless you are on staff of any newspaper you do not get paid for any letters you write to the ‘letters to the Editor’ or to ‘Everybody’s Column’. For perhaps six longer editorials she did receive some money but so have others including Ruth! Being paid $40 for an article makes NOT a paid published author. It’s more correctly called ‘delusions of grandeur’! If she was writing her ‘book’ while raising children that would, and did, take decades to produce any income.  How much has Joan ‘earned’ from this book? I know that my sisters only paid $1.00 for the book and one was given to me for free, it cost more in postage to mail it to me! Thank you. And now in July 2011, the book has been pulled from publication and therefore will NEVER produce an income!

As she describes her radio talk show appearance she is on a ‘center stage’ and goes the full gamut from admiration for an author, to taking a caller on, to being confrontational, to being two-faced and forked-tongue while explaining her ‘being found’, to being sugary sweet, to being argumentive and certainly not telling the whole truth. But she has found her ‘incentive’ and felt ‘connected to like-minded people’, which means she found more people with her militaristic obnoxiousness.

On pg 260 she mentions the birth of her second child and how certain members of her own birth family did not acknowledge their niece. Truth is that Joan had already alienated most of the family! She talks about Ruth having ‘difficulties of her own’ and wonders why it was okay for Ruth to have interracial relationships but ‘…only ten years earlier when our eldest sister (Gert) told me I shouldn’t date a black man and that I’d lose my family if I did. Why was I shunned for interracial dating and my older sister wasn’t.’ 

First, Gert, that’s me, never told Joan that she would ‘lose’ her family. I have already corrected, in other posts, Joan’s misrepresenting my role regarding her interracial activities. I never was any kind of  spoke’s person for either the adopted family or the birth family, as Joan states I was. All I said and pointed out was that at the time Joan was doing interracial dating it was for purely rebellion reasons, against her adoptive parents, and not from any position of maturity. For Joan to bring this issue up again and naming me as the responsible person proves that she has set me up as the ‘bad guy’.

For the second time we readers are subjected to Joan’s inner ‘aching’ for the baby inside that was now in her arms! There must be some kind of touchy feel good thing about this…no wait ‘…the baby was free, unattached, separate from me. Anyone could take her….’ Don’t let her fool you. She wasn’t feeling empathy, or sympathy. She was feeling fear!

She tells us, pg 264, that ‘…after much scrimping and saving, borrowed my mother’s car, drove to Boston for my first adoption conference…was immediately impressed…my deepest fears, emotional scars, sadness, anger and rage at being abandoned and lied to…were understood…began to realize that I was normal, that family dynamics were more damaging than the adoption-reunion itself…sharp criticism at home didn’t matter now…knew I wasn’t crazy…these people validated what others mocked…felt whole.’

Jesus Christ! She has to go to a conference to feel whole, what a sad commentary on a life! Thank god she is ‘normal’ but ‘family dynamic are more damaging’, again what planet does she live on! Not only is she in a marriage that has loads of problems, two young children, and no job her self, a ‘low-paying’ job for the husband and yet her priority is to ‘scrimp and save and borrow to go to a conference’. There were many years in my life were I never went anywhere or did anything because there was no money, no one to borrow anything from and no husband with or without a low-paying job. What does this woman want from her readers? Sympathy for a hard life? Well take a number and stand in line, Joan, you are not the only one who had a hard time of it. You are not the first nor the only person who wondered if they were normal or about family dynamics, or had fears, emotional scars, sadness, anger and rage at being abandoned and lied to, whether you are adopted or not! Get a life!

‘Where ignorance is our master there is no possibility of real peace.’ Dalai Lama

She writes that she is having a conversation with our father, but pg 261 to 264 contains much information that is wrong. Dad was never a machinist, he was a draftsman working for the city of Buffalo since 1953 and was working a second job as a bicycle repairman at the time our mother began ill before Joan was born. On pg 262 she is quoting Dad who says she should believe him, okay, but she obviously didn’t take her notes down right because she has quoted Dad wrongly, mainly this time about his second wife, Josephine. This is an example of how Joan puts words in the mouths of others to prove that she is telling a true story…it is called…creative writing or fiction!

Contrary to what Joan states, that Dad said, about his second wife, specifically how he ‘dated her when they were 17’ and later Josephine married and then got divorced, is all wrong.

Truth is; Dad and Josephine knew each other during the war in Washington DC and then they lost touch with each other for years. Josephine was never married and therefore never divorced! My father was her only husband and they didn’t divorce! My father did not believe in divorce. She was raised Italian Catholic by an overbearing mother and older sister. She had an ‘indiscretion’ that resulted in a boy-child out of wedlock, who was also raised by same overbearing (grand)mother and older (aunt) sister. She then had a second ‘indiscretion’ that resulted in a second boy-child out of wedlock. I really don’t know if my mother ever met Josephine or not and I really don’t know the circumstances as to how my father and Josephine ‘got back’ in touch with each other after my mother died. But they did somehow and married for convenience sake, not love. The marriage was to provide them each with not only a helpmate but also a parent for each of their children. As I have stated in another previous post, marriage is a contract and this marriage was a contract for each of them and their young children. It is true that Josephine’s first son stayed with his grandmother, he was beyond any help that my father, as a father figure, could do to help him, but Josephine’s second son was young enough to gain from having a father, which was  my father.

To the best of my understanding after our mother’s death, Joan, as an infant, was being care for by relatives of our mother. Ruth was with another relative of our mother’s. Dad’s parents cared for myself, Kathy and Leonard Jr. The arrangements that Dad and Josephine had were that Josephine’s younger son John, only, would come with her and that she could not or would not care for the infant, ie Joan. Dad knew that the best for the infant and the rest of the children was adoption of the infant and the Wheelers were brought to his attention. Certain members of my mother’s family wanted to take and adopt Leonard Jr. and Ruth and my father refused any further splitting of his children.

The fact that my father refused to give up two more of his five children in addition to the infant already taken was yet another reason my mother’s family hated our father. The main reason for that hatred was that certain members of her family blamed Dad for her death because he, going on Mom’s wishes, did not have her go through extension ‘experimental’ treatments; it would have been pointless and she was already in too much pain. Spouses have authority OVER other family members, but, some people don’t understand that.

LISTEN UP: This is a very big reason for everyone to have a living will and your own personal wishes on paper before you get sick and die!

So now on pg 263 Joan tells how Dad told her about how we all went into a foster home and an orphanage. She again has many falsehoods and misrepresentations. Dad’s marriage to Josephine wasn’t a good one, there were several very unhappy events, that I vividly remember and there were many that I don’t know about. But, Joan’s narrative has Dad saying ‘…the marriage worked for a few years…’  Wrong!   He would never had said that!

 Time table: Dad’s first wife dies in March of 1956, he marries 2nd wife in June or July 1956, both Kathy and I remember that we went to summer camp and upon returning home we had a new mother we were expected to call Mom. During the years of 56 and 57 there were many unpleasant things that happened and eventually Josephine had to be placed in a mental institution. Joan writes, having Dad say that ‘…he had to arrange for an ambulance to pick her (Josephine) up on a school day at around noon. The kids were coming home for lunch. I met (Josephine) on the street in front of the house. The ambulance attendants took her away in front of the kids. They took her to the City Hospital… that’s when the kids got split up and placed in foster homes and the orphanage…’      Wrong, Wrong, all Wrong!

Joan certainly likes sensationalism, it sells books! But not in this case!! Why I ask you would the arranged pick up be timed to be ‘in front of the kids’, such does not happen and it didn’t happen that way. The arrangements were made between Catholic Charities for the placement of us kids and the hospital for the removal of Josephine but not at the same time period nor in front of each other. I never saw Josephine removed from the house and placed in an ambulance. We were taken from school not home and taken, Kathy and me to the foster home, Leonard, Ruth and John to the orphanage. Joan writes NOT truth but sensationalism!

Joan writes, that she ask Dad when all this happened and has him say they were married ‘…for about six years before this occurred…your mother died in 1956 so this must have happened in the early sixties, around 1962…’

She writes that she ask him how old we all were and has him say ‘…Gert was 15, Kathy 14, Leonard 12, Ruth 9 and John 12.’ this is wrong! Dad is not stupid! He would never have told Joan such crap! What Joan has done is to have taken bits and pieces, from several people, and tried to put them all in one place but by doing so she has gotten so confused and mixed up that what she has published is very HARMFUL and not FAIR to the family members.

Time table again: Josephine and Dad married summer of 1956 and we were placed, out of the home, in 1957. I started school in the foster home in Sept 1957, repeating 4th grade and I was 10 years old! That of course changes all the ages of all us kids, now doesn’t it? It also changes the year, it was 1957 NOT 1962! I stayed in the same foster home till I was 18, in January 1965. I then moved to Dad’s home, the apartment on Smith St., in February 1965 only to move out just before I married in July 1965. There is a group picture of the 5 of us kids taken at the orphanage in 1959 and none of us look the ages that Joan states we were at that time period. Photo evidence disproves ALL of Joan’s assertions that she wrote a true story!

(Ruth’s note: I have already placed a photo on my blog that was taken in 1959 on the grounds of the children’s home. timeline  – in 1958, I was in first grade and my brother Len and I were living with our paternal grandparents. Johnny was with his maternal grandmother and I am not sure where Gert and Kathy were. I think they were home on Smith St. with my father and stepmother. Since this was only a few blocks from our grandmother’s house, and our school and church was only 2 blocks from there, and we went to church all the time, and we kids all saw each other all the time. Until the time we went to the foster home an orphanage. I vividly remember that day. Because not only were the social workers with me and my brothers, but my father. I remember him holding my hand as we entered the building. There were nuns there.

Now here is something interesting. About 15-20 years ago, Gert and I were talking on the phone about Josephine. And Gert told me about her being placed in the ambulance, screaming. I had never heard this. I was in my 40’s and just finding about it. Gert never told me. SHE found out about it when she was a late teenager and Freddy’s (see below) mother told her. The neighbors witnessed it, including our landlady, AND NOT ONE OF THEM TOLD US KIDS – TO SPARE US.Freddy’s mom only told Gert years later, and then it took another 40 years for ME to find out about it. I was crying when Gert told me. DAM YOU JOAN FOR DRAGGING THIS HORRIBLE STORY OUT IN PUBLIC WHICH HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR ADOPTION OR YOUR ADOPTION REFORM WORK. I HOPE JOSPEHINE BEGINS TO HAUNT YOU. LET THE POOR WOMAN REST IN PEACE – JOAN YOU WILL ROT IN HELL FOR THIS – TO TRY TO EARN INCOME OFF THE STORY OF THAT POOR WOMAN – WHO I WILL DEFEND AS MUCH AS I DEFEND MY OWN MOTHER.

 In 1959 I spent my second grade in the orphanage. I was born in 1952, so I was 7. Len was born in 1950, so he was 9. Johnny was born in 1951, so he was 8. Joan has been told over and over these basic facts. She was shown the photo. She knows dam well her birth siblings ages and years of birth along with our stepbrother’s. For her to include this erroneous listing of our ages shows us what a poor writer she is. and may  I point out something and ask a question? Joan was adopted out of our family in Jan 1957. She did not see us again until 1974. Joan says that her book is about HER adoption and HER adoption reform work. So what the hell does our ages, (RIGHT OR WRONG) or where we lived from 1957 – 1969 have to do with HER adoption or HER adoption reform work? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING AND DOES NOT BELONG IN HER BOOK!!! Got that Joan? MY CHILDHOOD DOES NOT BELONG IN YOUR BOOK! Anything that happened to us between 1957 and 1974 is IRRELEVANT to your adoption and your adoption reform work!) now, back to Gert’s narrative:

Joan continues on putting words in Dad’s mouth. ‘…on one visit, Gert asked to come home, she also asked why I didn’t get an annulment, my answer was I couldn’t…marriage vows were from sickness or in health, till death and I took that seriously.’ This is partially true, Dad takes vows seriously, but I would not have asked him about an annulment. I didn’t know anything about such a thing until I was much much older. This is another example of Joan’s wrongheaded thinking and mixing things up. Remember, that Joan has stated earlier, in this book of lies, that at age 9, living with my grandmother, I tried to keep the family together! Speaking of my own memories, and for myself, yes I asked Dad when could I come home…wouldn’t you? I was always ‘packed’ waiting for Dad to take me home on any week’s visit. It didn’t matter that I had a dresser and a closet to put my things in; I was going home to Dad next week! The point here is that when Joan wrote this fanasty she saw me as an adult, that she knew, NOT the child that I WAS at the time of the episode that she is writing about. Obviously Joan is incapable of keeping time, events, and people in an chronological order!

After I went to the foster home, I never ‘lived’ on a regular basis with Josephine but I do remember many things about her, things that the other kids don’t know or wouldn’t have had any particular reason to have know about nor have memories such as I do because I was older. Of course, each one of us, as individuals, have our own memories of this woman and others. Joan NEVER KNEW this woman!

I remember a couple of visits to see Josephine, at the mental institution; they were not very pleasant because the place was scary. At the time I didn’t know it but she had paranoid schizophrenia. I remember a couple of home visits when she was herself on a home visit. On one particular shopping and movie date that I had with Josephine, we went cloths shopping and she told me that ‘shoes make the outfit’. That advice has  always been correct! We saw the movie Come September staring Gina Lollabrigida, Rock Hudson, Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin.

Freddie and Eddie were brothers that lived across the street where we lived on Smith St and on occasion they would ‘watch’ us kids when Dad and Mom went shopping, in other words we knew them well and before Josephine came into our lives, they were the ‘big kids’ to us. When Freddie went into the Marines around 63 we exchanged letters. In 1963 I was 16, Dad took me to see the movie Cleopatra, staring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. I remember feeling ‘embarrassed’ with my father, sitting next to me, watching the sexual tensions in the movie. Later I asked him about ‘french kissing’; he said it was for married people. I knew nothing. When I was about 13 my foster mother had told me I would start to bleed ‘down there’ and she gave me a box of kotex and a belt leaving me to figure the rest out. I was always in the dark.

No one had explained to me what was the trouble within Josephine’s mind. I was deemed at 16 to be too young to understand, anything. But if I was told anything, I could have understood better that the woman was trying to reach out to me in the only way she knew, as she herself had been raised, so that I would not make the same mistakes that she made.

When Freddie came home on leave we ‘went steady’; I had his Marine ring, he would walk me home, from the Catholic school I went to, and we would hold hands. We would go to his house to visit with his brother and father; I knew them all, it was common for us all to visit with each other. But Josephine didn’t know that and she had watched me when she was at home. She called me a whore because I walked hand in hand with Freddie and that I was ‘alone’ in his house, across the street. No one talked to me about sex; I didn’t have a clue and I didn’t understand why Josephine called me a whore. Heck I didn’t know what it meant but it meant something not good.  Neither she nor Dad knew that Freddie and I frenched kissed and did some necking. I didn’t know what any of it meant myself outside of the fact that it felt good.

Josephine died from cancer in November 1964 within a few months of Dad’s mother, (March 1965), who never was told that Josephine had died, also from cancer. Dad received insurance monies, from both their deaths and that was how he was able to purchase a house. So Joan lies when she states, on adoption reform forums, that she missed out on having a HOUSE with the birth family. We did not have a home…we had apartments…I was 18 and married when Dad finally had a house.

Contrary to what Joan states on pg 264, I was never in the orphanage! I did not get pregnant at 17 nor marry a 16 year old in 1964! I was 18, he was 17 when we married in July 1965 and our first child was born 3 weeks before I was 19. And yes I did go home, I just stated that above. When I turned 18 I was still in high school and moved back home with my father at the old home apartment on Smith St, this was BEFORE he purchased the house. I had gotten special permission to finish out my senior year at my same school even though I no longer resided in that school district. I had to take two buses to get there. I never lived with Dad or my siblings at the new house. The other kids were back with Dad long before he purchased the house.

Everything Joan wrote about, in that book and elsewhere, are lies, misrepresentations and exagerrations and figments of her imagination! Joan insists that I, Gert, got married so early just to get out of foster care and away from my step-mother and father. This is totally wrong. It is worth repeating the truth…my step-mother Josephine died in November of 1964, I turned 18 in Jan 65 and lived with my father for about 3 months, once he brought us all home out of foster or orphan homes. I graduated from high school in June, married in July and had a baby in Dec 65.

Its obvious to me that Joan is, and was, totally confused, she never really did any real fact finding or checking of her facts. She admits, pg 264, that the whole conversation she has just related, in the book and which I just corrected, was ‘…over a cup of tea while my children played in the living room.’ She is a very sloppy writer and worst she places everyone in the family in very negative terms. She has no conception of who any of her siblings are or what we went through, the traumas that we suffered, because it’s all about her and her version of the story. The only reason she wrote this book is to satisfy some need in her to make us, the birth family, all deemed by her, to be lower than her self, therefore less significant. That is her reason, her justification!

From pg 265 to 284 Joan relates several stories that I know nothing about, I was not there nor never heard about them. Even so, seeing how Joan fabricates and mixes things up I would NOT give much or any credence to her versions as she presents them. If new information comes to me I shall address it later, or perhaps Ruth and Kathy may have other insights for they were there or knew about them.

Pg 270/271 Joan relates an event at Aunt Catherine’s funeral. According to Ruth, in Joan’s account there is only one statement that is true; that Dad said ‘…hardest part of the funeral is the long, slow drive behind the hearse.’ Everything else in those three paragraphs is totally false. According to Ruth, Joan picked up Dad, and then Ruth and they went to the funeral together. Joan’s 18-month-old daughter was NOT there; her adoptive mother was NOT there and therefore did not say what Joan had written that she said to Dad! Our Uncle Mike did NOT say anything to Dad and Dad did NOT say anything to Uncle Mike. Any conversation between the two men did not happen at this time, but about 2 years later at a cousin’s funeral and it was nothing to remark about. There also was some problem between Uncle Mike and Joan about a week before the cousin’s funeral, something Joan neglects to mention for she never tells of her own misdeeds!

On pg 267 Joan mentions Uncle Matty and a grandchild who lives near Joan and how Joan’s son was in the same childhood program as this grandchild. What Joan fails to mention is that there were some unknown falling out between Joan and these birth relatives. It is the usual pattern with Joan. She meets people, family or friends, starts a friendship and within months there is fighting and Joan is dropped, leaving her wondering ‘why don’t people like me?’ or she says ‘they hate me because I speak out about adoption’. Is there something here that Joan ought to pay attention to?

We are treated to more ‘blow by blow’ accounts of a bad marriage with money problems. Without her husband’s steady employment she couldn’t ‘…accomplish my goals’. He didn’t see that she was managing a home and the care of the family. They are not talking to each other and she ‘…retreats deeper into frustrated depression, anxiety and anger…had no money to travel…missed Conference…devastated me…it was necessary for my mental health…’ In other words, more of the same. She then wants to go back to Liverpool and she ‘…secured a personal loan through my husband’s credit union…’ If Kathy wants to comment on this story she may, but I find it incredible that Joan is always crying she has no money for the basics and yet she always manages to get someone to pay for a trip for her.

There is another ‘blow by blow’ account of illness with her adoptive mother that demonstrates the sick dependency that Joan has with this mother, her fear of being alone, her fear of death, as well as various forms of hospital dramas that are played out by and with adoptive family members, all giving Joan more reasons to wallow in her ‘…family friction that caused more stress…convinced she was hated…deep-set resentments…mistreatment of me…never healed…’

Most of this chapter contains much repeated material that I don’t see how it relates to the chapter title of ‘meeting resistance with education’ unless you count the episode in the beginning of the chapter where she is on a talk show and berates people for now agreeing with her and the personal visit of Dr. Rene Hoskbergen. I say personal visit because the visit was limited to Joan and meeting some members of both of her families. I didn’t read anything that would indicate to me that that visit was used to ‘educate’ instead I read about a visit of a person who attempted to get adoptive and birth members to ‘see’ how valuable Joan is and thereby creating more resistance not less. Another reason this visit was personal was because this eminent doctor ‘babysat’ Joan’s children! 

I strongly suspect that the ‘visit’ was one of two things…a layover between flight connections and/or a very very personal visit. Knowing Joan’s ways of viewing and relating events this visit is very very suspect in nature.

Whatever the real reason for Dr. Hoksbergen’s visit to Joan was it certainly did not have any resemblance to what Joan has related in regards to Ruth. According to Ruth, she stopped by at Joan’s one day and he was there, she never knew the reason why, he was quite pleasant. They did not talk about anything outside of the usual pleasantries of a hello. Ruth never had such a conversation and confrontation as Joan has portrayed. Furthermore, Dr. Hoksbergen was never at Ruth’s home and did not meet her husband John. The incident, as presented by Joan, resembles more of that Joan speak and Dorothy speak I have pointed out in previous posts. One wonders whether my father and his wife actually did meet the guy or whether that is also another addition to the vast amount of lies that Joan has told. 

Joan repeats again fantasies that are in her head, imagining scenes that ‘may have happened’ it’s totally unnecessary to moving a story along and is quite boring! Then Joan describes a play session her children had, playing house, acting out what they have learned from their mother. After the daddy and mommy play with the dolls, the ‘mother’ lies down and dies and then gets up, goes to the other side of the room and becomes the ‘other’ mother. And Joan thinks this is their way of ‘…understanding how their mother (her) came to be…they (the children) accepted different ways to make a family.’   This is sick sick sick!!

From David McCullough’s book John Adams……“Benjamin Franklin, describing someone as ‘bad-tempered and extremely difficult to work with’, said that he was one of those ‘who went through life quarrelling with one person or another ‘til they commonly ended in the loss of their reason.’ ”


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