Thank you to those who were able to participate in our February 3 conversation with Gabrielle Glaser and national adoptee rights activists Shawna Hodgson and Tim Monti-Wohlpart. It was a fun, profound, and at times disturbing discussion, particularly around the experiments on infants who were in that liminal state—where many of us were—of being relinquished by a mother but not yet placed with future adoptive parents, if placed at all.
And a special thanks to Margaret Katz for joining us. Her strength in coming forward to tell her personal story allowed Gabrielle to tell it so beautifully and powerfully in American Baby. It also now allows us to move forward and hold more truth to power in all of our work. We encourage you to read American Baby if you have not already done so. You can buy it from Amazon or from one of many local independent bookstores.
As we do after most Adoptees United events, we send out more information about the things we discussed, along with the links that we posted in the chat. We hope this is useful.
Thanks so much, and we will definitely see you again soon. Cheers!
Greg, Annette, Shawna, and Erica
P.S. If you find our work valuable, please consider making a tax-deductible donation. We want to bring more programs like this to everyone, and financial support enables us to do just that. Donate here.
Resources and Discussion Links
Adoptees United Inc.
That’s us. We are working to bring all adopted people together, as in this event. Adoptees United is a national non-profit organization dedicated to securing equal rights for all adopted people in the US. If you have not signed up to help with our efforts and to be notified of upcoming events and issues, please sign up here.
American Baby: A Mother, A Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption
You can purchase the audio book, Kindle or hardcover versions of American Baby here.
THE KARELITZ EXPERIMENTS
You can find one of the actual published Karelitz studies involving the rubber band gun here. A footnote at the end indicates some of the sources of funding, including the National Institute of Health.
This 1962 published study has a picture of the rubber band gun used in the experiments as well as a description of the infant children used in the experiments.
Dr. Joyce Brother’s comment on the Karelitz study in 1966 seemed to be a bit blase about the whole thing, advising her readers that a study shows that crying could really be an indicator of intelligence. Here’s that story.
Dr. Harry L. Shapiro
Article in the New York Times about Harry L. Shapiro, in which he mentions his power to alter a birth certificate. There is more detail about Dr. Shapiro’s assessment tools for adoptive children in American Baby.
Viola Bernard Papers
Though not specifically discussed last night, Gabrielle obtained a great deal of information for her book from the The Viola Wertheim Bernard papers, 1918-2000, which is at Columbia University.
newbauer twins and triplets studies
The movie Three Identical Strangers, which is mentioned in Gabrielle’s book, is available on multiple streaming services for rent. Here’s the Wikipedia entry on the story involved in the movie.
A New Yorker piece from 1995 was one of the first publications to write about the Neubauer study, but it didn’t raise the true ethical issues with secretly separating twins and triplets for study and adoption.
The Neubauer records and documents are sealed by agreement with Yale University until 2065. Here’s what Yale says about that.
Another experiment on infants who were in that liminal state of being relinquished to foster care but not yet adopted is the “Practice Babies” projects at universities and colleges across the country. This blog provides an introduction. More information is in Gabrielle’s book.
Rickie Solinger’s Book
Rickie Solinger’s book, Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race Before Roe v. Wade, examines how race influenced and treated single pregnancy (and adoption) far differently as between white women and Black women birthmothers. You can find it in your library or here. It is essential reading.
Legislative Advocacy and Other Resources
You can always follow legislative updates that Adoptees United provides. Our legislative pages track state and national legislation that impacts domestic and intercountry adoptees in the United States.
The Texas Adoptee Rights Coalition (TXARC), in which many of us are already involved, is working to change Texas’s discriminatory law that currently denies the original birth record to adult adopted people. Shawna, who is TXARC’s spokesperson, spoke briefly last night about current Texas advocacy efforts.
Capitol Coalition for Adoptee Rights, like TXARC, is a coalition of state and local organizations working to change discriminatory vital records laws in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. An equal rights bill in Maryland currently has a solid chance for passage and enactment.
Adoptees for Justice is an intercountry adoptee-led organization whose mission is to educate, empower, and organize transracial and transnational adoptee communities to achieve just and humane adoption, immigration, and restorative justice systems. It is working to secure U.S. citizenship for all intercountry adoptees who were adopted by U.S. citizen parents.
Concerned United Birthparents is the largest national organization dedicated to the issues of birthparents in adoption. It has a private online forum for people to discuss their experiences.
Margaret also mentioned ALMA, known as The ALMA Society, which is one of the oldest mutual registry programs in the country. It continues to operate an online registry to help people connect with their birth relatives.