The Ethicist, the Farkel Family, and the Perils of “Maybe”

This photo is completely relevant to this post, but if you are under 50, you probably haven't a clue why. Pity. See below for an explanation.*

One of the reasons I started the Ethics Scoreboard, and continued with Ethics Alarms, was my frustration with the ethics profession’s reluctance to render useful opinions on complex ethical problems…unless, of course, the ethicist was being paid for them. Instead, ethicists are prone to issue obtuse and jargon-filled discussions allowing for every possible eventuality and interpretation, usually concluding with vague, equivocal pablum that allows the ethicist to avoid criticism and accountability. The result of this craven preference for “maybe” as the answer to every dilemma is that ethics are rarely included in public discourse or media coverage, as it solidifies its reputation for being technical, ambiguous, and pointless.

A perfect example of the reticence to make a clear choice occurs in this week’s installment of “The Ethicist,” the New York Times Magazine’s ethics column. An understandably anonymous inquirer writes that he unknowingly fathered a child with a married woman in his neighborhood, who raised the child as the offspring of her and her husband.  The mother asked the biological dad to have no contact with the girl, and he has complied. Now he asks, “Does she have a right to know her true parentage upon reaching adulthood? Sooner? Over the objection of the mother? Only when the husband dies? Who can make these decisions and when?”

Ariel Kaminer, “The Ethicist,” replies with a series of equivocations. After quoting Adam Pertman, an advocate for openness in adoption, that “the right to know who you are and where we come from is basic and core,” and that the daughter must be told the truth, she goes on to say that the consequences of informing the girl about her true parentage “could be devastating” to his daughter, and could cause the entire family to “come apart.” Then again, Kaminer says, “it could be a godsend.” Still, in most cases “only a parent responsible for rearing a child is qualified to make this decision” …BUT the daughter deserves to “have an accurate family medical history, past and continuing.”

“I wouldn’t be the first to say that a lie is a poor foundation on which to build a family (or anything else, for that matter),” Kaminer concludes. “But blurting out some truths may obscure others. If you pursue this, just make sure you are acting on the girl’s need to know, not your need to tell.”

Oh.

But should he tell her, or not?

Here is what Kaminer should have said to the biological father: N-O. No. Absolutely not.

He was an accidental and involuntary sperm donor, and nothing more. Yes, his daughter had a right to the truth about her parentage, just as the man who raised her had a right to know how she was really conceived, but the mother chose to deceive them both, and a family and three lives have been built on that deception. The biological father has no reason, right or justification to roll the dice out of some manufactured sense of duty and risk destroying three lives, or the relationships among them—not after the surrogate father dies, not when the mother dies, never. Lives should never be built on lies, but once built, there must be a better reason to destroy a solid structure than “she has a right to know the truth.”

What is the truth now? The truth is that the secret daughter has a loving father and a loving mother who have raised her. The rest…confusing details and complications that are likely to accomplish nothing but harm if they are revealed. There are anomalous situations where revealing truth is worse than maintaining a lie. This is one of them. It is a classic utilitarian calculation. Which course of action, telling the truth or maintaining the lie, will do the most harm to the most people?  There isn’t any question, is there?

Pertman, therefore, the author of “Open Adoption,” is 100% wrong.

There is an exception, and that is if there was an imminent, serious medical emergency in which the girl’s health would be in peril if the identify of her biological father were not revealed. Other than that, however, this unfortunate ethical problem has a simple answer, and equivocating increases the likelihood of the biological father making an unethical and harmful decision.

Ethicists love to answer difficult questions with “maybe.” Sometimes, that is the most irresponsible answer of all.

____________
*  About “The Farkel Family” : “The Farkel Family” was a recurring sketch on the classic Sixties TV comedy show, “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.” Both of the Farkel parents, Frank Farkel and Fanny Farkel ,  had brown hair and good eyesight. Coincidentally, all their many children had flaming red hair, freckles and had to wear thick glasses, exactly like their “good friend and trusted neighbor” Ferd Berffle…who, as far as we know, never consulted “The Ethicist.”

45 Comments

Filed under Bioethics, Family, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Love, Professions, Religion and Philosophy, Romance and Relationships

45 responses to “The Ethicist, the Farkel Family, and the Perils of “Maybe”

  1. Well said. “Maybe” is the answer to many ethics questions, but not this one. The Ethicist ought to be retired.

  2. tgt

    While I agree with the no to telling the child, but the husband needs to know. Why? A proper medical history for the child. If you wait until an emergency, the daughter may be cooked. If the wife does not tell her husband, I believe the true father has the duty to. Yes, it may cause upset in the family, but the real upset is that the mother committed adultery, not that her partner in crime told her husband what he needed to know to properly care for his daughter.

    • The mother knows the truth, and unless she is a sociopath, I’d say that is sufficient protection for the child. You are balancing the certainty of a major domestic crisis with the distant possibility of some health problem depending on a genetic link. How common is that?
      I can’t say you are wrong—it’s all how you calibrate the balancing, but I certainly don’t agree…and biological father has no duty at this point at all, any more than, say, his best friend would have if he confided in him. Should the best friend contact and inform the deceived father? I don’t see any difference.

      • tgt

        You don’t think that lying to her husband and getting him to care for and raise a child that is not his is not sociopathic behavior? You think that’s the kind of person who will, in a possibly important moment “I know we both have the lungs of an ox honey, but she can still have genetic asthma.”

        How common are health based genetic problems? Extremely. It’s why I get my eyes checked every year even though I know my perscription hasn’t changed. I have to be on the lookout for cataracts. Some others? Heart disease, alzheimers, dementia. It’s unlikely there will be anything important while she’s still a kid, but that child will be an aging adult one day.

        While the biological father has no LEGAL duty, I still see an ethical duty. The best friend in your example also has an ethical duty as well…get his friend to do the right thing.

        • I don’t. I think the mother’s conduct is chicken, yellow-bellied and wrong, but also a common solution to this problem, and maybe even the most common one. She’s not a sociopath unless she doesn’t feel guilty about it.
          The mantra in these things is to do the least damage to all parties. Let the biological father send his medically history to the mother, and trust her to use it correctly.

          I agree with your assessment of the confidante’s obligation, but doing the right thing isn’t breaking up the family

          • tgt

            Sociopath is a red herring. We still have a selfish, unethical person. Can we trust her to do the right thing now?

            I also don’t see that this information would necessitate the family breaking up. Do you think the husband is not going to care for his daughter anymore? Again, also, informing the husband of the infidelity is not the cause of the problem. It was the infidelity itself. He should be informed, anyway, for his own health reasons. He thinks he’s in a monogomous relationship, and it’s pretty clear his wife is still willing to have unprotected sex with other men.

  3. Romany

    What makes you think the husband DOESN’T know? I know of a similar situation where the husband DID know and vowed to treat both children (his and not his) the same after the inevitable divorce. Fast forward 20 years. Mother is now married to father and they have raised the children (plus another one born later). Ex husband is deceased.

    Is this set of circumstances different enough that a neutral party would advocate for TELLING the truth as opposed to continuing to conceal it? The husband knew, there’s no longer a marriage to break up, and even the kids knew that the reason for the divorce was adultery.

    Then you have other fact patterns. If a child is adopted but the adoptive parents have no intention of telling her the truth, shouldn’t the child be told eventually? When and by whom?

    • What makes me think that? That’s what the biological father wrote. What makes HIM think that? I have no idea. I am basing my analysis on Ariel’s answer, based on the inquirer’s representation of the facts.

      The adopted child should be told, but if the parents choose not to tell him or her, it is their decision. There are thousands upon thousands of adopted children who have happy lives without ever finding out the truth. it is not up to a third party—including the natural parents, to interfere.

  4. Romany

    Even when that adopted “child” becomes an adult? I know several dozen LDAs (Late Discovery Adoptees) who found out from other family members. Many of them had suspected the truth and some had even asked their (adoptive) parents only to be told yet another bold faced lie. Is it ethical for parents to lie to their adult children? What could possibly be a “good enough” reason?

    • I think it’s unfair and cowardly to lie about adoptive status, but if a parent deems it in the child’s best interest, that is the parent’s (unethical) choice. Parents get to make many unethical choices, or choices that others feel are wrong. Nobody has a right to tell my child that there’s no Santa Claus, or that he or she is my natural child. This is ethical vigilantism.
      Unless there is a substantive reason why the adult child needs to be told, nobody has a right to intervene,

  5. Romany

    But you would have no problem with the adult adoptee initiating an inquiry, even contacting the county or state for information?

    If the adult adoptee asks a family member POINT BLANK – should that family member continue to lie?

  6. Tammy

    I can’t believe what I’m reading. How could telling a lie continuously every day for an entire lifetime – no, longer than that, causing a fundamental lie to be perpetuated throughout the lifetimes of every descendant – ever be considered ethical? In what universe?

    • It isn’t ethical. It also isn’t ethical to hijack the parents’ judgment of how to raise a child. I think it’s unethical for some kids not to be seriously punished for their conduct, but that doesn’t excuse my going up and whacking some else’s kid. I think raiding a child to be a fundamentalist, evolution-denying fanatic is unethical, but It’s not up to me, to undermine the child’s parents.

      • tgt

        I was with you until that last example. It is definitely up to you and all sane individuals to keep evolution in science classes. The overall point though, still stands.

  7. julie j

    I can’t think of any “substantive reason” why an adult adopee would NOT need to be told (or a child adoptee too for that matter, but certainly by the time they reach adulthood at the latest). Nobody else has the right to make that person live a lie their entire life. Others who would collude in such a conspiracy might give the illusion of kindness, but it’s really one of the cruelest thing you can do to another human being. Actually, ANYONE has the right to gently & discreetly intervene, as a humanitarian act, on the adoptee’s behalf, if the adoptee has reached adulthood and still does not have vital information about themselves. This is far more important that some Santa Claus myth.

    It cannot possibly be in a person’s best interests to be permanently deprived of their authentic identity, heritage, medical info, ethnicity, extended family, etc. Every individual owns their own identity & should be free to make their own informed decisions. Adopters do not own that information about the adoptee. They are trustees of it. It is their ethical & moral obligation to pass that all on to the adoptee. To steal that away from another human without their knowledge or consent is really about what someone else thinks is in their own selfish interests that they are trying to project onto being good for the adoptee. Nobody would choose that treatment for themselves. I bet you wouldn’t either. Apparently it’s acceptable for you to advocate doing that to others though, keeping them in the dark their entire lives. Please seriously rethink that one. Thank you.

    julie j

    • “It cannot possibly be in a person’s best interests to be permanently deprived of their authentic identity, heritage, medical info, ethnicity, extended family, etc”

      Saying it does not make it so.

      A person has a right to peace and happiness, and if not disturbing the reality that a person has been raised in is the route to that happiness, nobody has a right to interfere.
      If someone, adult of not, wants to know everything about their past and heritage, they have a right to ask, and to be told the truth. Some people don’t want to know, and to tell them because YOU have decided there is some pointless right is arrogance and irresponsible.

      Should every child be told that he was an accident, or the product of a ruptured condom, or a foiled abortion, or a rape? Why?

      • julie j

        I’ll tell you where the line should be drawn. It really doesn’t matter if a pregnancy was planned, accidental, a one time event, a daily event, or even what sexual positions the parents used to conceive. That’s their own business and none of those answers will ever change the newly-created individual’s identity. However, if someone else’s sperm or egg is used or the person was bought, sold, or otherwise transferred through the act of adoption, then that DOES change the entire DNA genetic make-up of the person & they certainly have a right to know that information about themselves. They should NOT be led to believe that strangers are their genetic relatives. Can you see the difference now?

        What’s that you say – it doesn’t matter? To you or to them? We know how you feel. You would certainly be free to disregard such information if it ever applied to you. You don’t know how they feel. The only way to know if information is important to them or not is to let them know & then decide for themselves what to do with that information. Who is anyone else to make such an important decision for anyone else? To take away that opportunity entirely from another adult is cowardly, condescending & patronizing. I too, know of many LDA’s. You have no idea what that type of systematic deception does to a person. It’s unforgivable to put anyone through this, particularly someone an adopter professes to love. Honesty is the best policy & that needs to start early in life & continue. If not, entire relationships are fake, based entirely upon lies. The difference is one person in the relationship knows this & the other does not. Not equal. Not fair. Not ethical.

        I maintain that withholding such vital information from a person is a form of abuse. Any prospective adopter who proposes to participate in such a sneaky, despicable plan should automatically be disqualified from the adoption process altogether since they clearly do not understand it is meant to be about what’s in the child’s best interests. I would question their mental health as well. Adoption is not a service for adults to purchase children and then lie to them about who they really are. There are very long waiting lists to adopt & it should not be difficult to find those homes that will be honest with the children. The mentally unstable ones should be screened out.

        julie j

        • “What’s that you say – it doesn’t matter? To you or to them? We know how you feel. You would certainly be free to disregard such information if it ever applied to you. You don’t know how they feel. The only way to know if information is important to them or not is to let them know & then decide for themselves what to do with that information. Who is anyone else to make such an important decision for anyone else? To take away that opportunity entirely from another adult is cowardly, condescending & patronizing. I too, know of many LDA’s. You have no idea what that type of systematic deception does to a person. It’s unforgivable to put anyone through this, particularly someone an adopter professes to love. Honesty is the best policy & that needs to start early in life & continue. If not, entire relationships are fake, based entirely upon lies. The difference is one person in the relationship knows this & the other does not. Not equal. Not fair. Not ethical.”

          You don’t know how they feel, either. The truth is not an absolute benefit. Sometimes by taking a bullet out, you kill the patient. Sometimes the truth does more damage than maintaining the lie. It is not your choice to make. If the truth is going to be told, then it must be told by someone with a legitimate duty and standing to tell it, who is concerned about the individual, not some abstract principle.

          If a child was the result of a rape by a violent criminal, but was raised to believe that she, like her siblings, was the offspring of a loving couple, you, by your description, would feel that the child HAD to be told. I think that is certifiable. THAT is child abuse. If the secret could be kept, then I would keep it. If there was any chance that it would be discovered, then better for the parents to do it, and as quickly as possible. But it’s still their call. THEIRS.

          Not yours.

          • julie j

            Why are you assuming that adults would not be able to handle that type of information? We all have good & bad things that happen to us. We are all related to someone who is a bit off one way or another. It’s called life. We are adults. We all deal with it. Nobody ever died from the truth. Truths can be dealt with. The truth sets you free. It is better to live an authentic life based upon reality than with a pretty lie. If an adoptee makes it to the age of 18 without knowing their true status, it’s clear the adopters have no intention of ever telling them. They have had plenty of chances to do so. If they failed then at that point, it’s fair game for anyone to step in as a kindness to let the adoptee in on the bad joke.

            I know you think you have good intentions by hiding the circumstances of conception when they include rape, but guess what? No child is responsible for the actions of their father. They are 2 separate people. Plenty of other people on this planet have fathers who are rapists and that’s not a bad reflection upon themselves, only upon the one who committed the crime. Everyone still has a right to know who their parents are, both of them. That’s not abuse. It’s honesty. It’s a separate issue if they wish to have a relationship with them based upon the type of people they are. You’re right – the mother should be the one to reveal that. Better someone else though than nobody, if mother fails there.

            Where is the shame in adopting? What you seem confused about is that adopting (or genetic donation) does not come with the option of lying. Why lie about it? The truth always has a way of getting out eventually anyway, especially in this easy age of DNA testing. Adopters who would set up such an elaborate lie need to realize that first they have serious issues, and secondly, that life has consequences. People need to face those when they make decisions that affect others so profoundly.

            And by the way, yes I do know exactly how people in these situations feel. Not one has ever said they would prefer to be back living in a fake fog of artificial happiness. They are not sorry they know the truth now. They only wish they had known sooner. The very people they thought they could love & trust had betrayed them. That type of trust is very difficult to earn back. Are you sure that you have never been a party to this type of deception?

            julie j

  8. Romany

    “If someone, adult or not, wants to know everything about their past and heritage, they have a right to ask, and to be told the truth.”

    But you would have them ask their parents, be lied to (as I was), and not have the right to know unless and until they (1) know or sense they are being lied to, and (2) ask someone who WILL tell them the truth. If they are satisfied with the lie (not knowing it is a lie) then that’s okay in your book?

    Here’s yet another real life example. I know of two situations where the spouse of the adoptee was told (by the adoptive parents) but was told to keep the secret. In one instance, the spouse gave her in-laws an ultimatum – tell him or I will. In the other, the spouse kept the secret for decades. Which spouse was more “ethical” in your opinion?

    • That happened TWICE? Unbelievable.

      The spouse has an independent duty of loyalty to her husband that transcends any duty to the in-laws. Unless the spouse thinks, with good reason, that the truth will cause a psychotic break or something similar, yes—the spouse has an absolute duty to tell the deceived adoptee, and as close to immediately as possible.

      Easy call.

      • Romany

        So there appears to be some sort of hierarchy. Spouse first, parents second, other family and friends last. It’s not the telling, but WHO tells that is the problem. Can a family member threaten to tell to get the parents to act?

        My story – my first cousin (adoptive family) told my younger sister first and they discussed whether and how I should be told. My cousin had known for decades. My sister is the biological child of my adoptive parents. My sister insisted that I be told and she was the one to tell me. In all fairness, she posed the question “If someone knows something about someone do you think that person should be told?” I said yes. It took me three guesses to come up with “I was adopted”. Did she act ethically, or not? I was 31 at the time.

  9. Romany

    I guess it’s a foregone conclusion that you don’t believe that a donor-conceived individual has any rights to know either.

    • I think the right thing is to tell him. I don’t think everyone has the right to tell him, if the parent decides otherwise. You are using the term “rights” to loosely for me.

      • tgt

        Jack, is this an accurate summation?

        – I have the right to know where I come from.
        – My parents have an ethical duty to tell me what is best for me, though it should normally be the truth.
        – Neighbor Joe should not be involved.

  10. Romany

    “It also isn’t ethical to hijack the parents’ judgment of how to raise a child.”

    We’re not talking about children, we’re talking about adults. When does the adopted “child” become an adult? You are saying that the adoptee DOES have a right to know, but not a right to be told if it is contrary to their (adoptive) parents’ wishes. Does this mean the adoptee should not be told the truth when they ask another family member – because it goes against the parents’ rights? Can the adult adoptee apply to his/her state of birth for information from adoption records, even if that is against the wishes of the adoptive parents?

    • I also said quit using “right.’ A right is enforceable by law, and recognized by law as well. I think a child SHOULD be told who his parents are, if he or she wants to know, by his parents, and only by them. An adult who wants to know—the same. An adult who is happy and healthy not knowing—who has the standing to tell him, other than the parents that raised him? You? Obviously, the parents telling a spouse changes the equation, because a spouse should not keep that kind of secret or be expected to.

      I’ve answered your questions, which are far afield of the issue at hand. If an adult wants to know any of this, he or she should be told, and should certainly have all questions answered: the adoptive parents’ wants and needs don’t matter. But to presume that an adult wants to know in a setting where it would upset a stable family situation is unethical.

      This is why, of course, The Ethicist and others duck this kind of question. The ethics ARE clear, but the mystical “a person is not a whole person without his genealogy and heritage intact” extremists act as if not knowing your birth parents’ DNA sequence is a spiritual tragedy. It just isn’t. And the attitudes you convey add to the prejudice against adoption, help cause over-population, and keep children institutionalized rather than being taken into loving homes.

      My son had been given up for adoption months before we adopted him. Had he remained where he was, he would have probably not been adopted in country at all, and if he had been, would have been raised in poverty. He knows he was adopted, but has no interest in his birth parents whatsoever, which is good, because I don’t know a thing about them. He is happy, and 100% American in every way…though he has always been fascinated by his birth country, and wants to learn the
      language some day, which we certainly encourage. It remains morbidly fascinating to me that the single most generous and loving thing I have ever done or will do is regraded as the equivalent of child abuse by the anti-adoption fanatics.

  11. Tammy

    International Convention on the Rights of the Child

    Article 8

    1. States Parties undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognized by law without unlawful interference.

    2. Where a child is illegally deprived of some or all of the elements of his or her identity, States Parties shall provide appropriate assistance and protection, with a view to re-establishing speedily his or her identity.

    And under Article 20, which references adoption:

    When considering solutions, due regard shall be paid to the desirability of continuity in a child’s upbringing and to the child’s ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic background.

    As of November 2009, 194 countries have ratified, accepted, or acceded to this international law, including every member of the United Nations except Somalia and the United States. Somalia announced that it would eventually do so. The US is the one lone standout to refuse.

    The ethics of this issue are pretty clear, to everyone else in the world.

    • 1. The United States is right, and the rest of the world is wrong, just as it was regarding democracy, just as it has been many times. This argument cuts no ice with me, and shouldn’t with anyone else. It is an “everybody does it” argument, and invalid.
      2. The law, as written, is so vague as to be useless. It would be unconstitutional in the US.
      3. It still doesn’t apply to the case under discussion. Nothing unlawful has been done to the child by not telling him his biological origins.
      4. Nationality, name and family is nothing magical or mystical, as this silly resolution presumes. Children can and are raised healthily and happily by those of different races, nationalities, religions and ethnic backgrounds. What matters is the care and love the parents bestow. Yes, the ethics or the issue are clear, but the resolution tries to muddle them with racism, bigotry, bias and superstition.

  12. Romany

    “3. It still doesn’t apply to the case under discussion. Nothing unlawful has been done to the child by not telling him his biological origins.”

    Not unlawful, but you yourself said it was unethical for parents to lie to a child about his/her biological origins. In most cases, it’s not even a lie of omission as children like to hear about the story of their births.

    Many LDAs report feeling “out of place” but just can’t quite figure out why. Some are treated very differently by members of the extended adoptive family. One friend of mine was taunted by kids at school, his birth was not recorded in the 200 year old family bible and his grandmother made a baby quilt for every one of her grandchildren – except for him. He repeatedly asked his (adoptive) parents for the truth and was told that his questions were upsetting them.

    • tgt

      Taunted by kids at school? For not knowing (s)he was adopted? I’m calling bull on that one.

      So, even believing that, essentially what you’re doing is finding a case where it might be ethical for an outsider to get involved. Since none of those details are in the story at issue, they are completely irrelevant to this discussion.

      • Romany

        Taunted for BEING adopted. The kids didn’t know whether he knew or not. In that case how would “an outsider” have known what the adoptee was going through without (1) knowing about the adoption and (2) knowing what the adoptee was experiencing?

        • tgt

          Taunted for BEING adopted. The kids didn’t know whether he knew or not. So, everyone else knew, but he didn’t? What kind of f’ed up world is this? Clearly not the simple case of the letter.

          In that case how would “an outsider” have known what the adoptee was going through without (1) knowing about the adoption and (2) knowing what the adoptee was experiencing?

          By (1), apparently you need to know you’re adopted to know what you’re going through when you don’t know you’re adopted. That makes the simple tautology of (2) look almost useful.

          You also seem to be arguing against your stated point. If the “outsider” doesn’t know anything about what the kid is experiencing, then, clearly, they shouldn’t be interfering, right?

          • Romany

            “So, everyone else knew, but he didn’t? What kind of f’ed up world is this?”

            That is usually the case. My first inkling of being adopted was when my (adoptive) father’s sister-in-law’s sister-in-law (not a typo) told a friend of hers. This friend was married to a friend of my fiance. The friend told her husband who told my fiance who then discussed it with my best friend and they figured out that I didn’t know or surely I would have mentioned it to one of them. Then my best friend told me. When we tried to get more information from my fiance’s friend and his wife, they denied saying anything about my being adopted.

            “Clearly not the simple case of the letter.” I agree.

            I started the “who should tell if the adoptive parents refuse to” question. What I’m seeing now is that Jack has backed off his statement:

            “I think it’s unfair and cowardly to lie about adoptive status, but if a parent deems it in the child’s best interest, that is the parent’s (unethical) choice. … Unless there is a substantive reason why the adult child needs to be told, nobody has a right to intervene.”

            Apparently the term “nobody” has exceptions including spouses and siblings.

            • You can’t say I backed off my statement given that it was, reasonable, in the specific context of the post involved.

              Parents, spouses, siblings are in the immediate family and have co-equal duties to the adoptee. I would put in-laws, cousins, family friends, employers, doctors, lawyers, neighbors, grandparents, uncles and aunts outside that circle…with regard to their right to over-ride the parent’s wishes with regard to a minor child. Some of that group, such as grandparents and close fiends, enter the circle when the individual is an adult because the parent’s parental authority is done.

              The biological father with no other parental connection is always outside the circle.

    • You quoted international law as ethics, then you cite ethics as law. You need to get your terms straight.

  13. Romany

    I’ll never understand why advocating for TRUTH in adoption is thought to be anti-adoption.

    I want to be told the truth. I want to know who my biological relatives are. I want a copy of my original birth certificate. I never said I didn’t want to be adopted.

    I’m not against adoption. I just want to know things about myself that everyone else takes for granted.

  14. tgt

    There’s advocating for truth and there’s intruding in other people’s affairs. No one has said that an adoptee shouldn’t be told the truth. You seem to be arguing against a strawman.

    • Romany

      My sister was the one to tell me the truth, not a stranger. Should she have kept it to herself because our parents never wanted me to know?

      • No. Family members are obligated to tell family members about important matters of direct importance. She did the right thing. Why should she know about your parentage, and not you? If she were a non-familial sister, brought up in another family, and happened to know, she has the standing of a stranger, in my view. Just like the biological father who wrote the letter.

      • tgt

        I’m having diffulty reconciling your statements:

        Then my best friend told me.

        and

        My sister was the one to tell me the truth

        • Romany

          No problem.

          Age 22: My fiance and my best friend hear a rumor that I’m adopted. My best friend tells me. We ask the people who spread the rumor for more information. They deny saying anything. I let the matter drop.

          Age 31: My favorite cousin decides “it’s time” and tells my sister. My sister tells me. I talk to my cousin and her mother (my favorite aunt) and confirm the story. My adoptive mother is several years deceased at this point. My adoptive father denies that I’m adopted and says my aunt “doesn’t know what she’s talking about”.

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