Affidavit of Jane Roe
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT
VERIFIED COMPLAINT FOR INJUNCTIVE AND DECLARATORY RELIEF
COMES NOW, the affiant, JANE ROE, and being duly sworn according to law does hereby depose and say as follows:
1. That I am an adult citizen and resident of the State of Tennessee, am fifty-seven years of age, and do make this affidavit based on my own personal knowledge, except where otherwise indicated.
2. In the Spring of 1956, at age seventeen years, I discovered that I was pregnant. I moved with my mother to Memphis, Tennessee, and went for treatment at a clinic at St. Joseph's Hospital.
3. During my pregnancy I contracted the German measles and was advised that as a result of this illness that in all likelihood, my child would be born severely handicapped and was not expected to survive.
4. When we learned of this prognosis, I was encouraged by my mother to surrender my child for adoption. I would not agree to this. My mother insisted on this, however, and we visited St. Peter's Orphanage in Memphis, Tennessee, and met with a social worker there.
5. The first thing I remember after my child's birth was my mother telling me that the child was dead -- or that the child was handicapped, blind and deaf, and was not expected to live.
6. 1 never saw my child, but do recall signing some papers in the hospital prior to my release.
7. Within days following my release from the hospital I was advised that the child had died soon after I left the hospital.
8. Thirty-two years later, in October of 1988, I and my husband and one child were living in Cody, Wyoming, when I received a certified letter from a Mary Alyce Lamb, Program Specialist with the Tennessee Department of Human Services informing me that they were conducting a "search" into my personal background and needed verification from me of certain information contained on my birth certificates (A true and correct copy of the first such letter I received from DHS is attached hereto as Exhibit A).
9. On October 12, 1988, 1 telephoned Ms. Lamb and inquired about why they needed this information. Ms. Lamb refused to provide me with any explanation stating that it was confidential.
10. On October 26, 1988, 1 received my second letter from Ms. Lamb implying that DHS had been contacted by an individual over age 25 who was asserting that I was his birth mother. As stated in the attached Exhibit B, Ms. Lamb requested a letter from me: "Your letter needs to contain information to verify that you are the birth mother." (See Exhibit B, at ¶ 8).
11. Following the news of the sudden appearance of a child whom I had long ago thought dead, I went into a deep state of severe emotional distress and experienced shock, depression, guilt and despair over whether to comply with this request and permit the release of any identifying information to this individual. I came back to Tennessee and sought professional counseling from several sources including my priest, my physician and an attorney about what I should do.
12. Ultimately, on November 23, 1988, 1 authorized my attorney to respond to Ms. Lamb declining her request for this identifying information, and reiterating my strong desire to preserve my anonymity. A true and correct copy of this letter with identifying information redacted is attached hereto as Exhibit C.
13. The events surrounding the birth and supposed death of my child in 1956 were among the most difficult and emotionally painful I have ever experienced In my life. It took several years for me to overcome the anguish and despair which I endured following this tragic event from my childhood. I was forced to re-live this emotional trauma in 1988 upon learning for the first time that the child had survived. Recently, I learned that under the provisions of the 1996 amendments to Tennessee's adoption law scheduled to take effect on July 1, 1996, 1 will no longer have any choice in the decision of government officials to release identifying information to the individual claiming to be my child. Moreover, once this information is released, I have will have absolutely no control over his publication of this information to third persons including my children and other family members.
14. Despite the provision of a "contact veto" in the new adoption law, my greatest fear is that the release of identifying information and other confidential records surrounding the events which occurred in my life some forty years ago, will cause yet another emotional relapse of the pain and mental anguish I have had to endure as a consequence of this tragedy. For me, this has become a nightmare that will never go away.
15. I therefore beseech this Court to enjoin the enforcement of the most recent amendments to the Tennessee adoption law, and to preserve inviolate my privacy rights and protect my anonymity and the confidentiality of any records pertaining to my surrender of this child.
Further affiant saith naught.
© 1996 American Adoption Congress