I am writing this post from the home of my mom, Susan Perry, whose blog this is. She has asked me if I could keep it going, with a post now and then, since all of her energy is focused on being with those she loves and those who love her. Love is what is carrying us all through. My mom has been fighting for adoptees finally to be treated with justice and humanity for the last 13 years of her life. That fight continues. Tomorrow, the NJ Senate and Assembly vote on the Adoptees' Birthright BIll, and then it will go on to Governor Chris Christie, who vetoed it last time but now has a chance to do the right thing. Below is the letter I sent to the Philadelphia Inquirer in response to their February 23rd article on this bill.
My mom skiing with my two girls, Grace and Genevieve, last year.
Letter to the Editor: I am the daughter of Susan Perry, who was profiled in Sunday’s front-page article 'Bills in Pa., N.J. would open adoption records.' I would like to make a few important clarifications. The first sentence reads, “Not knowing the identity of her real mother was always a painful, unresolved issue, but when Susan Perry was diagnosed with melanoma, finding out became a medical necessity.” I know my mom objects to the term “real mother.” Most involved in this movement use the terms "original mother" and "adoptive mother." My grandmother (my mom's adoptive mother) was very much her real mother, as the brother she grew up with is also her real brother. They are also very real to, and loved by, me. That said, the biological sisters she found this September are also real to her, and to me (and I love them too). Secondly, not knowing the identity of her original mother was not always a cause for pain. My mom is an accidental activist. It was only when she was pushed by my sister, a doctor, to search for her roots 13 years ago and then subsequently treated like a second-class-citizen (having to pay $600 to an “intermediary” just to ask if her mother would like contact and to have access to extremely limited, if not completely erroneous, medical information), that she felt this pain (and outrage). Finally, though being diagnosed with melanoma was what prompted us to search for her original family, the “medical necessity” for all adopted people is really before they are diagnosed with catastrophic diseases, so that they can take preventive measures. My mom found out from her sisters that an uncle had melanoma (this was NOT on the medical form she paid $600 for). Had her doctors had this information 16 years ago, would they have misdiagnosed the melanoma on her toe for two years, allowing it to develop into Stage 2 cancer (now Stage 4)? We’ll never know.
The bills pending in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are about rights, not reunions. My mom now has all the information she needs (no thanks to current law), but she is fighting for others, even as she fights for her own life. I am proud of her, and of all those involved in fighting for this right, just law.