Adoption—what’s in it for the social worker?

Adoption Detective | Judith Land

The vintage file cabinet behind the social worker’s desk was filled with secrets, concealed documents, lies and cover-ups that contained the names, addresses and social security numbers of hundreds of adoptees and their birth parents, grandparents, siblings and biological family members. I wondered how many adoptees from closed adoptions around the world would like to see their records? It amazed me that a stranger knew everything about me. She had complete control over my files—documents to which I was denied legal access.

True story…when I was thirty years old I discovered the name of the social worker who handled my adoption. I telephoned her office and requested a meeting. The building was drab without windows, photographs, flowers or ornamentation of any kind. She was a spinster at the end of her career. Her hair exactly matched the color of her faded gray suit. She ordered me to sit on a cold metal chair beside her desk. Reminding me of a boxer attempting to intimidate the opponent before a fight, she glared at me with a furrowed brow from behind her antique desk. She slowly and deliberately opened the top drawer of a vintage metal file cabinet and removed a manila folder. Ms. Schweinhaus tightly clutched the folder with both hands that contained the names, addresses, nationality, occupations and social security numbers of my birth mother and father and grandparents. “I remember you because you were the first child I placed for adoption. Your case was the most complicated of my thirty-year career—but this information is private. I can’t share any of it with you.” Miss Schweinhaus had determined my fate thirty-one years ago, and she was still controlling my destiny. She was holding my adoption files in her wrinkled hands with crooked fingers right in front of my face. They were my files, more important to me than anyone else in the world, yet she steadfastly refused to share the information with me. Wild thoughts rushed through my head. I weighed the advantages of going postal and forcing her to give me what was inherently mine. What if I jumped out of my chair grabbed the manila folder out of her bony hands and ran out the door? Who would stop me? What crime would I be committing? Why should a social worker be allowed to know the names of my birth parents, when I couldn’t?

Impulsively, I wrestled Ms. Schweinhaus to the floor while desperately trying to gain control of the manila folder. Inadvertently, I woke my husband by kicking him firmly in the back. I was having a nightmare. I had slept fitfully that night after being terribly disappointed and emotionally distraught following my meeting with Ms. Schweinhaus. I awoke with a clearer vision about what it really meant to be banished forever from my true heritage, self-identity and God-given birthrights. Secrecy laws for children from closed adoptions were designed to isolate and pound children into submission and prevent adoptees from ever coming home again. Secrecy laws denied them the simplest of rights, their true self-identity, inheritance and the names of their own birth parents. American society was Orwellian. I was being told how to think and act and stop asking questions. My views as an individual meant nothing to others. My words and thoughts had no value and carried no weight in a court of law. I arrived at a simple conclusion—it was humans who signed my adoption papers, not God. If I followed His will, perhaps He would help me.

Until that day, I had never understood the significance and powers of attorneys entrusted to social workers to make monumental life-altering decisions governing the lives of adopted children and their families. The social worker that handled my case had made it perfectly clear to me that she was adamantly opposed to open adoptions, adoption searches and adoption reunions. She never smiled and had offered me no empathy, sympathy, condolences, remedies, or hope for the future.

Once again, I was acutely reminded of the painful effects of the primal wound, and the lifelong psychological harm done to infants when bonding opportunities with their birth mothers were denied, because they were the same adverse symptoms I had displayed as a child. I had sorely and existentially missed the opportunity to bond with my birth mother, and I was still projecting the same sorrowful maternal deprivation yearnings, as one of Harry Harlow’s hapless rhesus monkeys desperately clinging to a rag doll in one of his psychological laboratory science experiments. Nobody really cared about me as long as I obeyed the law. The social worker and the legal system were never going to help me. If I really wanted to discover my roots—it was up to me and me alone.

Judith Land

Adoption Detective Book | Judith Land Quotes | Adoption Reunion FAQ’s

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About Judith Land

Judith Land lives in Colorado and Arizona with husband and coauthor Martin Land. Judith is a former nurse, retail shop owner, college instructor and avid outdoor person. Her book "Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child" is a true story detailing the journey of Judith Romano, foster child and adoptee, as she discovers fragments of her background, and then sets out to solve the mystery as an adult. She has reached readers in 192 countries. "Mothers and fathers everywhere in the world need to understand that children are forever and always." --Judith Land
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21 Responses to Adoption—what’s in it for the social worker?

  1. frogotter says:

    I find your blog fascinating. I have two adopted children and, though they are still little, already I find myself worrying a lot about the questions of how to explain their past to them and handle their feelings about their birth families. Being able to hear how it can feel to be an adopted child really helps me as I try to help my children come to terns with their identity. Thank you for sharing your feelings and thoughts so honestly.

  2. Judith Land says:

    The most important thing I learned from my adoption search is, if a parent can love more than one child, then a child can love more than one parent. This simple parable is the most endearing way of addressing the idea of choosing between birth parents and adopted parents (which really isn’t necessary and no adoptee should ever be forced to do so) because it is possible for an adoptee to love everyone equally, just as parents unconditionally love all of their children.

  3. Judith Land says:

    Knowing that a parent can love more than one child, and a child can love more than one parent helped me become a better person. After my adoption search I had more people to love in my life, and more people to love me. (Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child, p. 261)

  4. Kim Cakes says:

    “most complicated” indicates to me some possible digression from lawful practice on her (the social worker’s) part. I haven’t read all your book as yet, did you find your mother and family?

  5. Childcare Proceedings Exposed says:

    Reblogged this on C C P Exposed.

  6. zoozig says:

    I am sure that many others have had some of the same thoughts about the social worker who handled their cases. The dreams I had before and after the adoption had to do with the child disappearing.

    When I started reading I didn’t realize this was a dream, and I was thinking: GO POSTAL. GRAB THE DAM FILE AND READ IT AS FAST AS YOU CAN. IT’S YOURS.

    • Judith Land says:

      Dear Zoozig, Thanks for your thoughts. My adoption was highly unusual because normal protocols were not followed. My adoptive father was adept at getting what he wanted. I don’t know if any laws were broken, but it was clear that he bribed the social worker causing her to nefariously remove me at age one from a wonderful loving family where I was already closely bonded. In my case, there was a financial reward for the social worker and the adoption agency.

      • sounds like what happened with my sister. Her birth father ripped her away form my mother. To this day I still can’t find her

      • Judith Land says:

        Karen, Without a sister, there is a void. A broken heart lasts forever. Love is immortal and eternal. If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them. Judith

      • 5288chandler says:

        This is a great fear of ours regarding the two little ones we fostered that we had hoped to be their permanent/adopted family.

    • Judith Land says:

      Zoozig, I will never forget the meeting I had with the social worker. It was a pivotal event in my life that I will never forget. I was surprised by the coldness of her character, her lack of empathy for my concerns, and her desire to intimidate, dominate and subjugate her will on me. Her actions and opinions caused me to wonder how many other children were sent to live with couples offering substantial contributions. Her clever ways of doing business were obviously profitable for the adoption agency and that was the motivation for her actions. Judith

  7. Loni says:

    It is so interesting reading this and the additional comments. I was adopted, given to my adoptive parents at 6 months of age, in 1963. My adoptive parents wanted everything very secretive. I was told not to tell anyone I am adopted. I was not told anything about my birth parents. It just was not permitted to talk about. And, I did not bond well at all with my mom, because 5 years after they got me, my mom got pregnant at age 42 and they had a “miracle child” and from then on we were treated totally different – enough that so many people noticed – many telling me after I was married and how they wished they had done something. I found my birthparents in 1987/1988. I knew what social services my parents went through, was able to contact them – they were able to find my birthparents, and my birth parents released their names. I met them. We lived two states apart – about a 6 hour drive. It was so good to meet them, thank them for giving me life, and see who I looked like. I am a lot like my birth mom – loving to do crafts and knitting. I found I have 7 siblings – all from same parents. My birthparents gave me up cuz my mom had an affair and my birthdad did not believe I was his. When we met, there was no doubt I was his child, and I could have passed as a twin with one of my sisters. However, my birth siblings got jealous of the attention my birth parents were giving me and apparently caused some family frictions. Also, I am a strong Christian believer, and they did not like our convictions. So, things drifted. I stay in touch with a brother and sometimes a sister. I am thankful to have met them. My adoptive parents – has been a struggle. When my adoptive mom died, my name was not even in the obituary. I now have a better relationship with my dad, who is dying. This is my very short story of my adoption.

    • Judith Land says:

      Loni, You have a very interesting story to tell…seven siblings. Wow! We adoptees share so many common feelings and emotions in response to the circumstances and pivotal events in our lives. When I first learned the identity of my birth parents, I stayed focused on getting to know them first. Over time, as I got to know my expanded biological family better, I was able to branch out and make friends with other aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives in the family tree. Our opinions and ways of thinking are not always the same, but even these relationships are especially enjoyable when we share common interests. Social media have really increased our communication and helped us stay in touch. I am sorry about your father. When someone you truly care about becomes a memory, the memory becomes highly valuable. Judith

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  12. 5288chandler says:

    Reblogged this on fromtheheartx2 and commented:
    Had to share…

  13. Ian Minielly says:

    Reblogged this on Emily's Tears and commented:
    Reading about this callous social worker sure hurts in the feels, I am sorry she dealt with you in this manner.

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