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What are the true circumstances of Joan Wheeler’s adoption? How about her dirty deeds? Want the truth? Here it is!

by on December 25, 2013

I recently had an article published detailing these questions and more. Here is the full text, of that guest article, including 20 comments. There were a couple comments that Carrie did delete. The piece got 97 Facebook likes. The link, in case you wish to leave a comment is…

Adoption Reunification: When it doesn’t work out

By Carrie Goldman, October 29, 2013 at 8:23 am

At Portrait of an Adoption, I seek to portray many different experiences with regard to adoption.  Some of those experiences are beautiful and positive; others are painful and even ugly.  This is a guest post by one woman whose family has had very negative interactions with her birth sister following reunification.  As always, please be respectful in your comments, even if you disagree with the views or feelings of the guest author.

 By Gert McQueen

Whether one sees adoption as an evil or a blessing, there is a place for adoption in the world of humans.  All cultures at all times have had ways in which they deal with unwanted or orphaned children.  There are many types of people and methods that are harmful, cruel and obscene — no one denies that.  It is also true that there are many wonderful people and methods that provide love and care to those ‘in need’.

Certainly there are problematic issues related to adoption that need attention.  There are right and proper channels for that.  Being adopted is not about anger; I believe anger is a personal reaction to being adopted and the acts of adoption.

I do have the right to speak my truth.

I am the oldest of five children.  When our mother died, I was nine.  The youngest child was three months old.  Our father knew his wife was dying before the baby had been born.  He searched for an option.  His elderly parents were already caring for two of us and the other two were being cared for my mother’s relatives, with young children of their own.

My father proposed an idea to an old friend who had two children of her own. His proposition was: he’d help raise her two children if she would help raise his five.  She agreed but refused to raise the yet unborn infant.

That is when he used the option of adoption, for the infant.  In order for him to actually place his child into adoption, the child had to be ‘psychologically’ dead to him, in his mind, or he couldn’t bear it.  On the day his wife died, his youngest child also died…it is recorded in my mother’s Bible, in my father’s handwriting.  Times were different back then, and so were the ways in which people coped with adoption.

That was my first experience with  adoption — the placement of my infant sister, whom I remembered.  She was placed in a closed legal adoption, via friends of relatives, and so her ‘existence and whereabouts’ were known to certain family members.

The adoptive parents that adopted and raised my sister were older folks, childless because the woman was infertile.  Within one year after the removal of my infant sister into adoption, the rest of us children, my father’s four and one of my step-mother’s, were placed in various orphan and foster homes, due to illnesses of the stepmother.

And so, the fragile home life/guardianship arrangement between my father and step-mother FAILED for all, except, in our view, for the child that was placed into adoption.  Several of us did not return to our father’s care for years and those that were returned had to grow up pretty fast, for there was no one that could care for us while our father was working.

We all thought that the baby who was adopted out got the better end of the deal that life dished out to us.  When our youngest sister turned eighteen years old, we reached out and made contact.  We wanted to know her.  The reunion was not a good one, and within a few short years, major troubles occurred and things rapidly declined.

My next experience with adoption was with my children I birthed, a son and a daughter.  My first marriage ended, and after the divorce, the child support was always difficult to obtain.  When my children were about seven and eight, I became engaged.

I was unable to have any more children.  My fiance wanted to adopt my children.  The father of my children kept telling me to ‘hurry up and get those kids adopted, so I don’t have to pay child support’.  But my fiancé couldn’t adopt my children . . .because he died.  Our worlds collapsed.  My children lost a second father.

My third and last experience with adoption was when a new man came into our lives.  He also wanted to adopt my children.  By this time, they were fifteen and sixteen and had to give their own permission to be adopted.  My children wanted this ‘father’ but my daughter was in the middle of that ‘teen identity crisis’ and she decided not to go for adoption.  The legal document didn’t really matter, though, because my second husband had already claimed both of my kids as his children in all ways that a parent does.

By that time, my re-united sister, the one who had been placed out of the family via adoption, had become militant in her anger about adoption.  She could not abide any adoption, no matter what.  She interfered in all my parental rights and authority regarding my own family.  When I told her to let us make our own decisions, she retaliated by calling in a false child abuse report against myself and my husband.  The case was dismissed because we had just completed the rather intensive background investigations that are required when you adopt.

At about the same time, we had just relocated to another city, for employment reasons, and my daughter, in that teen-crisis, ran away.  A second false child abuse report was filed against me by this re-united sister.  I still have the court’s decision; we were proved to have done EVERYTHING that was right and proper to protect our minor child.  But the interference, the slander, the disruption to my children and to my marriage was devastating.

My family unit was torn apart; because an adoptee who was angry at the institution of adoption took it out on me, my husband and children.

I severed all ties, mentally/emotionally divorced, the re-united sister.  I attempted twice to reconcile with this sister, once after ten years, then again after another fifteen years, but was betrayed after each attempt.

Then the unthinkable stuff happened.  The reunited sister took everyone by surprise by writing a book against every member of both the birth and adopted families.  The book was proved to be libelous and pulled from publication.

Adoption is not a crime.  Death of a parent and the need to care for minor children are not crimes.  Stepparents adopting is not a crime.  Children wanting and needing loving parents in a secure home is not a crime.  If there is need for reforming the adoption laws, then there are right and proper channels to do so.

But browbeating, name-calling and other forms of hate activities are not right and proper and are crimes.  I am pro-adoption, and I will not be bullied.

Gert McQueen writes, “I am a retired certified dental assistant, mother of two, grandmother of seven, and great-grandmother of two.  My parents, Leonard Sippel Sr and Genevieve Herr, and my siblings are in the family photo below.  I and my remaining two siblings wish to restore the honor that is due to our parents, as well as the good faith that our father had in his heart when turned to the option of adoption.  We wish the same restoration for the parents who adopted our youngest sibling.”

 Gert Mcqueen I would like to share another comment, I received from a friend who doesn’t have social networking.

“As usual, Gert McQueen, a good friend of mine, tells it exactly like it is. I suspect there is probably a lot more that she could have said, but held off on saying out of a desire to avoid unnecessarily prejudicing any of the people she is talking about here. Her life experience has been such as to know the issue of adoption both up close and personal and at a perspective, from many many angles. Her sharing of this experience sheds light on the issue of adoption and its many ripple effects that simply could never be seen and understood by the rest of us in any other way.”  · November 4 at 11:11am

Gert Mcqueen would like to share a comment I received, via email, from a friend…
“I read your article, a very good piece–straightforward, objective, but still sensitive and humane. It makes a good case for adoption being the right choice in some cases, and that it’s just the people who can mess it up. I think it does give your parents the honor they deserve, and shows that good people can make the honest choice for adoption for the best of reasons.” · October 30 at 7:09pm

Alice Bengel ·  Top Commenter · Berea College

The authors who have shared their stories on Carrie’s blog are sharing very personal and often painful information. They’re exposing themselves to help others have a better understanding of adoption from different perspectives. It’s okay to have strong feelings about adoption, but absolutely not okay for you to insult or demean the author. Carrie has made that clear. Please stop.  · November 13 at 7:42am

Ruth Herr Sippel Pace · Following ·  Top Commenter · Queen at Buffalo General Hospital

Dana, you weren’t around my father – you don’t know him – so do not judge him. Especially by today’s standards. 1956 was a lot different than 2013. There were no day care centers. Welfare did not exist as it does now. My father, with 5 children to feed needed to work. How else would $$$ come in? And who would take care of an infant? His parents couldn’t. They were elderly, my grandfather had one leg – my grandmother worked. My other grandfather was also elderly – several of my mother’s siblings stepped in, but also had 5-6 kids of their own – the aunts were all getting pregnant at the same time – three had infants. Everyone was struggling. The kinfolk did what they could.
So what was my father supposed to do? Leave 2 kids age 8 + 9 on the street after school, the 5 year old and the 3 year old and the 3 month old alone in an apartment while he was working?
Unless you know the EXACT circumstances of what happened, do not condemn my family.  · November 13 at 7:52am

Gert Mcqueen

Dana Seilhan I know your position against adoption and your friendship with my sibling, but you missed the points or choose to see only one point. How nice of you to inform me that I am wrong and so was my father, you being there and knowing all! Taking responsibility for one’s own actions instead of blaming others is something that perhaps you and she ought to look into a bit more.  · November 13 at 8:02am

Ruth Herr Sippel Pace · Following ·  Top Commenter · Queen at Buffalo General Hospital

We have always taken the time to do things right. Like cross-referencing court documents, letters, photos, scanning and posting these documents to our blogs – to not give out blanket and vague accusations or statements. And when necessary, have taken the time to produce concrete evidence of harassment to my employer, when false accusations of computer fraud were sent in Nov. 2012 by our adopted out sister. After being investigated in December 2012 and found innocent again, my employer knows that I have been and probably still will be – experiencing false accusations from her.
I don’t know why I am her main target. As I said in my first comment, I “divorced” myself from her, but she absolutely will NOT let me go. I have lived a nightmare repeatedly since 1990.
I suggest that anyone who is considering a reunion with an adoptee, hire a private investigator.· October 31 at 11:05am

Ruth Herr Sippel Pace · Following ·  Top Commenter · Queen at Buffalo General Hospital

I am one of the birth siblings in this family. I was three and a half when our mother died. In 1974 I was 22 when we were reunited with our adopted-out sister. I welcomed her into my life and heart.
We do not have any concrete proof that any physical abuse happened to our sister, but we have suspicions. We do know – because we witnessed it – mental abuse by the adoptive mother.
We enjoyed a reunion with our sister for only a few short years. By the early 80’s signs were apparent that things were not right with her. Along with the abuse that Gert endured by her, I was subjected to mental abuse when I was dealing with my miscarriage in 1985. I “divorced” myself from her in 1987, but reconciled with her a year later. BUT then in 1989, I was the victim of theft by her. I “divorced” her again in 1990 – only to be the constant victim of various harassments that have continued to this day. My blog Refuting a Book of Lies – Forbidden Family chronicles my attempts to stand up to this bully and regain my honor, as her libelous book contains many damaging lies about me. – and to regain the honor of my long-dead mother, my recently dead father, and other members of my family that our sister slandered in her book.
I also am pro-adoption, although I never chose it when after I lost my son in miscarriage, I could never have another child. Re-uniting with our adopted-out sister was the worst mistake we ever did. · October 29 at 2:43pm

Dana Seilhan ·  Top Commenter · Martian anthropologist at Life the Universe and Everything

You didn’t make a mistake in reuniting with her. Her adopters made a mistake (a bad word for it–pretty sure some intent was involved there) in mentally abusing her. If she’d grown up happier, which some adoptees do, your situation would have turned out very different.

For any adoptees or kept siblings reading this who are now terrified to pursue reunion–take steps to protect yourself in case the worst should occur, but pursue reunion anyway. Don’t expect unicorns and rainbows, but don’t expect a serial killer either. Actually, don’t expect *anything*. Just take it one day at a time. November 13 at 1:47am

Ruth Herr Sippel Pace · Following ·  Top Commenter · Queen at Buffalo General Hospital

I understand what you’re saying Dana – but do YOU understand what I’M saying – yes, the fault lies with the adopters – BUT does that give my sister the right to abuse me? NO. My sympathy for her “plight” ended when she sent me a false letter telling me my husband got the next door neighbor pregnant (house was vacant), when she wrote to him and asked him when he was leaving me, when she called me job repeatedly with false accusations in an effort to get me fired – almost daily for six months in 1994-95, and again a year ago. I’ve been at my job 41 years, been with my husband for 27. NO one, and I repeat NO one, has the right to do this to me – and I don’t care WHO they are, or why they are “messed up.” Another judge (July 2013) dismissed my charges – they think “sisters should get along.”
These things could happen to even siblings that were raised together, yes, but when you are entering into an reunion, you are dealing with a STRANGER – doesn’t matter if they share DNA with you – they are a stranger – I stand with my advice to hire a private investigator. · November 13 at 7:45am

Gert Mcqueen

Dana Seilhan people should take responsibility for their actions…if they want to blame their behavior patterns on others, like who and how their were raised, that is a cop-out! as an adult, in reunion, it was the adopted-out sib that did cause troubles with the birth family. · November 13 at 8:22am

Denelle Beauchaine · Follow · Cashier at Michaels Stores

Gert’s sister reminds me of my ex-husband and his sister. It made me realize I’m not against adoption- I’m against people using money/connections/social status to hurt and control people, and treat children like commodities, a prize to be won, not as little human beings with their own thoughts and feelings.
I’ve been reading these stories, and love when everyone involved can work together to do what’s best. I get upset when anyone gets treated disrespectfully. My kids were school age when they were taken from me and adopted by their aunt, who changed their names and won’t allow any contact with me. The judge said it because I, as a low income single mom working 2 jobs, couldn’t give them everything that their aunt and uncle, a married couple who work at Disneyworld, could. I had divorced my abusive ex, and did my best for my kids, but I couldn’t compete with a house in the suburbs and unlimited trips to Disneyworld. · November 25 at 12:35am

Kimberly Cain · Kalamazoo, Michigan

Adoption is the only trauma in life, where people say you should be grateful for. Why do we get so caught up in charitable act of the adoption itself, more than the needs of the child who was separated from their birth mom or dad?. Yeah, no biggie. Just ripped from the womb, the breast, and off to a happy life right?.Those feelings need to be addressed, and worked through before you search, let alone re-unite. I am adopted, and have yet to find my birth family. I often wonder, why haven’t they tried to find me?. Its ok. There could be plenty of reasons.I already know every reunification will not got over well, but like anything in life you have to have a certain mind state to handle what ever comes your way, and know what you are getting into. And the crazy part is, have to be ready for the same rejection all over again. · November 9 at 12:52am

Dana Seilhan ·  Top Commenter · Martian anthropologist at Life the Universe and Everything

One possible reason you haven’t reunited yet is if they ever read a story like this and freaked out, thinking that’s how all reunions are. · November 13 at 1:47am

Ruth Herr Sippel Pace · Following ·  Top Commenter · Queen at Buffalo General Hospital

not all reunions are messed up like ours – because not all people are messed up like our sister. Not all people harass other people. People should go into a reunion, as they do with meeting ANY stranger – with eyes wide open. · November 13 at 8:50am

Alice Bengel ·  Top Commenter · Berea College

Wow! That’s not how I thought the story was going to go when I started reading it. What a tragedy. I didn’t really get this from the story… Did the sister who was adopted at birth have a terrible upbringing (abuse, neglect, etc.) that could somewhat validate this anti-adoption stance? Not that I think that would justify her venom against the rest of the family, but at least I could sympathize with her being an angry and/or confused person. But if not, then she’s taking the “I’m confused about my identity because I’m adopted” to an unreasonable extreme. What a shame.

Also, I have to remind myself in my daughter’s case that every problem she has isn’t because she was neglected and abused, or because she was in foster care or because she was adopted. She may have had some of these problems and quirks anyway. Probably, in fact. It’s the same with the youngest sibling in this story. This sibling could have ended up being toxic even under ideal family circumstances, and they could have ended up estranged anyway. It’s a shame when families break apart, though. I feel for everyone involved.  · October 29 at 10:03am

Dana Seilhan ·  Top Commenter · Martian anthropologist at Life the Universe and Everything

You’d be surprised how much it messes some people up to have lost their mothers at birth. People think babies are blank slates who don’t care who takes care of them but that’s just not true. November 13 at 1:49am

Alice Bengel ·  Top Commenter · Berea College

Every person is different. After a certain age, a person choses what they do with what they feel. If they use it as a weapon against other people, that’s a choice. Being messed up is no excuse.

I adopted my daughter when she was seven and she’s now 13. Her birth mother abandoned her when she was a couple of months old. Her birth father and the woman he later married profoundly neglected her and the child they had together. The younger child died and the parents went to prison. There’s not much you can tell me about what messes a person up. Still, she’s perfectly happy to be raised by me. I’m her mom and she has no interest in her birth family whatsoever. Her birth mother didn’t want her, I did, and that’s all she cares about. · November 13 at 7:30am

Ruth Herr Sippel Pace · Following ·  Top Commenter · Queen at Buffalo General Hospital

Dana Seilhan says “You’d be surprised how much it messes some people up to have lost their mothers at birth. People think babies are blank slates who don’t care who takes care of them but that’s just not true.”
yes, and you’d be surprised how much if messes some people up to have lost their mothers at the age of 3 – I never had a mother to give a mother’s day card to. And sadly, as an infertile woman, who lost her son to miscarriage, I don’t have children to give me a mother’s day card. This does not give me the right to abuse people. as I have been abused just because they were adopted, and I was not. — thank you. · November 13 at 8:20am

LeAnna Lyons · Eccentric Haus Frau at The House at Cat Valley

I was adopted at the age of 10 by my maternal grandmother and her 4th husband. I still have issues with it, but I’m not anti adoption. There was a lot of competition with my mother and grandmother and my grandmother, while she meant well (or at least thought she did) was incredibly hard to live with (by the time of her death, she had been married 6 times.) After age 18, the paperwork didn’t matter except to this day, I have to use grandma’s maiden name for proving identity instead of my mom’s…but over all, for me, the titles of everyone in my family reverted back…although I have one aunt that introduces me as her sister and I introduce her as my aunt. The above story…so very sad. I’d like to hear the adoptive daughter’s side of the story (even if it is slanderous.) I know for myself that from the time I was a teen and even now, that I felt there could have been another way to have legal guardianship of me WITHOUT the adoption paperwork, however, I do know that what my grandmother was trying to avoid was me being bounced back and forth between her and my mother. She had fairly good motives, she just didn’t count on me at age 12 demanding to see my mother. I heard a lot growing up from grandma that she should have adopted me when I was a baby…and maybe that would have made some difference, but then again, part of the problems with my particular case was that my mom and grandma were constantly in competition, especially with me. It took me forever to figure that out. No, I’m not against adoption. I feel so bad for the writer of today’s piece. · October 29 at 12:21pm

Russell Thomas · SUNY Fredonia Very well written. Thank you for taking the time to do it right.  · October 31 at 8:37am


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