Monday, June 9, 2008

A Confidential Intermediary?

As some legislators in IL uphold the Confidential Intermediary (CI) program I often mutter to myself as to how much help they would have been to me. A kind sympathetic judge opened my court file to me during the early years of my search because my M.D. felt it might help to learn my origins. There was no more information in it than what was on my adoption decree. So I know for a fact that my court records would not have led a CI to my birth mother. My birth mother's given name and surname is so common and her middle initial was not on the adoption decree. Maybe Catholic Charities would have given a CI my birth mother's birthdate but I suspect they would not have. I can't imagine Catholic Charities' social workers being too cooperative about providing identifying information to a CI. I suspect a CI would have taken money from me and then said, "sorry, your birth mother's name is just so common that it is impossible to complete your search". I recall too well how a professional searcher who I consulted finding it hilarious that I would pursue a search for a woman with such a common name and not even knowing her middle initial. A CI might not have laughed but completing my search, I highly doubt it. It was a search that required alot of digging, grasping, and going with my gut feeling. A CI would not have done that.

I feel blessed that I never went through the IL CI program. The stories that I've heard about them are not good. They seem to have no regard for the feelings of the adoptee. They don't represent the adoptee in a capable manner.

One has to wonder too how many birth mothers who refused contact might not have if it had been their son or daughter contacting them instead of a cold CI. Some birth mothers need some time to adjust to the shock of being found and some need time to think about how they will tell family members about their long kept secret. For an adoptee to contact their birth mother an agreement can be reached that the birth mother will return their call at a later time but the door is not shut forever like it can be with a CI calling the birth mother. But I have found that the majority of birth mothers do want to be found. They want records opened so their offspring can find them. Some have been looking to no avail but then an adoptee's entire name is often changed by the adoptive parents.

So let's do away with the IL CI program - it is past time for records to be opened in IL.


Grannie Annie said...

Mary, you are right on target!! I know how long and hard you searched for your birthmother. No CI would ever had done all that work. They would have taken youtmoney, done a search and then told you that they couldn't find anyone. Case closed.

I can attest to how much digging you did over the years. You never gave up and that's why you found your birth family. A CI will give it just so much time, and then she will give up.

You mentioned gut feelings. You had yours and some of then led to real progress. Had you been using a CI, you never would have been able to even communicate those feelings to a CI because it would have been considered discussing identifying information.

Great blog!Thanks!

Triona Guidry said...

Mary Lynn - Your post is spot-on. Participants have no control over the CI process, and to the CI it's just a job. They may miss key details and quite honestly have no better idea how to search than anyone else. As you know, my CI told me they did not have enough information to find my birth father. Why should they be the ones to make that evaluation? I could easily have more experience searching than they do. Maybe there is something they're missing.

And the "one chance at contact" policy is just plain cruel. After what many birth mothers went through, how do you think they're going to react when some representative of the same government that took their children comes knocking on their door? The CIs claim they act with all due compassion, but in reality they are outsiders.

Why should adoptees be forced to pay good money only to be treated second best?

It's time to do away with confidential intermediary programs and restore adult adoptee access to records.