Adoption: The Making of Me. An Oral History of Adoptee Stories

Rudy: Fighting for Adoptee Rights

May 30, 2023 Louise Browne & Sarah Reinhardt Season 3 Episode 27
Adoption: The Making of Me. An Oral History of Adoptee Stories
Rudy: Fighting for Adoptee Rights
Show Notes

Rudy Owens is a Detroit native, born in the mid-1960s at Crittenton General Hospital of Detroit, one of the country’s largest maternity hospitals dedicated to supporting and promoting adoption. He was relinquished to his adoptive family shortly after his birth from his single mother and placed with another family after spending nearly five weeks in foster family care. His adoption story typifies many of the adoptions that were promoted by the Florence Crittenton Association of America, which ran the hospital and dozens of maternity homes and hospitals in the United States through the 1970s.

Owens successfully found his birth families in 1989 after several years of searching, working from minimal non-identifying information he found in records that he was able to obtain from the state of Michigan and the successor adoption agency that controlled his adoption and vital records. Michigan’s adoption laws then, and to this day, deny most Michigan-born adoptees their original vital records. Twenty-seven years after finding his biological kin, Owens obtained his original birth records, by court order, in 2016.

Owens has advocated for decades that all adoptees and birth parents are entitled to equal treatment under the law. His search for his records and biological kin revealed how adoptees in seeking their true records still face opposition from friends, family, state agencies, religious institutions, and a mostly pro-adoption public. His experiences with the state of Michigan and its vital records staff, the Wayne County
Probate Court, and his former adoption agency demonstrate how adoptees are denied basic legal rights granted to all other citizens.

Owens’ lifelong journey to answer life’s basic question, “Who am I,” inspired him to write his public health memoir, You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are, published in 2018. In it, Owens shows how millions of adoptees and birth parents still face prejudice rooted in historic stereotypes and biological mechanisms that show “blood is thicker than water.” Owens strongly believes there is no such thing as an illegitimate

To find Rudy (Blog & Website):

Also in this episode, Sarah and Louise discuss Megan Culhane Galbraith’s “The Guild of The Infant Saviour”.

Joe Soll & other adoptee resources

"The Guild of the Infant Saviour" by Megan Culhane Galbraith

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