The File Nazi: A Cautionary Tale

Ever present in our lives,
the Unpossessable Font of Knowledge,
the Holy Grail of Our Children's Identifying Information,
it is . . . . . . .


It's there, in the Shrine of Ten Thousand Files. Approach with respect - but not too close. For to touch The File you must have the permission of

* The Protector of The Files *
** The Stern and Stalwart Social Worker **
*** The Most Powerful Adoption Professional ***

aka The File Nazi.

(C'mon guys, we can take 'er down! She's only 5 foot 3, and can't weigh more than 110! But wait, she's seen us, run, run for the hills!!)

* * * * * * * * * *

I apologize for the silliness, but when I think of the presence The File has had in our lives, it's just too bizarre. I mean, how many of YOU have a picture in your photo album of your children standing next to a filing cabinet - smiling?

The File has a life of its own. It calls you, it promises new details, names, places, photos. It beckons with the possibility of a letter from a mother or father, sister or brother. Even if you understand why you are prevented from reading it yourself (to protect both your child's privacy and that of his or her mother), you dream about it, your child yearns for it. But it's a siren, calling you to your doom.

For anyone who tries to peek at the paperwork or pilfer a picture will be admonished by The File Nazi. She shows no mercy: "Out with you! Who said you could touch The File?!" (Only she says it in Korean.)

I have complete respect for the information in The File, and for the fact that it belongs to my children and their parents, not me. But what I'm getting a little tired of is the imperious attitude the agency takes toward our efforts to put letters, photos and other small items into The File, so a mother, father, sister, or brother seeking information could find them.

For our family's trip to Korea in 2001, our children made the most amazing scrapbooks to take along with us. It was their lives in photos and notes, from their arrival on to the present - their likes, their dislikes, their friends, their pets, school, family, home, activities, as much as we could pack in. One we kept because they were SO CUTE. One was for our children's foster mothers, Mrs. Cho and Mrs. Kim. And one was for our children's first mothers.

Our visit was wonderful. Mrs. Cho and Mrs. Kim were excited to see the kids after so many years, and to have a chance to talk with them. And they were thrilled with the scrapbooks, really thrilled.

So when I turned to the social worker who was translating for us, imagine my horror when there, right before my eyes, she morphed into The File Nazi.

"These scrapbooks are for our children's mothers. We'd like you to put them into their files, in case their mothers come."

I could tell by the stare, she was transformed. "But they're so thick."

I bit my tongue. No meltdown from me, not in the presence of Mrs. Cho and Mrs. Kim. But hear me, oh reader. I will be in Korea in three weeks. And I will ask for a visitation with The Files. And if those scrapbooks aren't in there, there will be hell to pay. I promise you.


KimKim said…
And makes some thin files too, just a suggestion mind, but if a thin one will be accepted and that means the mother has a chance to see it then it's worth considering.
They better have your beautiful ones there too.
I wish all mothers from international adoptions did that, it could just become standard practise.
Melissa said…
Oh, I sure hope they're there - for so many reasons. You'd think they would admire, even appreciate, all the love and care you put into them. Not to mention how much they might mean to the families. But do the families get the same file-nazi reception if/when they want to see the files? Hmmmm.
Margie said…
I think that it all hinges on whether or not the file is marked to show that the first mother wants privacy, which I totally understand. It just seems to me to be so completely self-evident that any mother, even if not in a position to reunite, would want as much as possible from their child. And yet after four visits to our agency in Korea, it's the same thing every time.

suz said…
you think you are annoyed by this? imagine your full grown children when they are on their own and not entitled to it?

imagine US born and raised adoptees who can serve our country, get killed in Iraq, but cannot walk down the street and get their original birth certificate or medical history?

Its just so wrong. Seriously.

I do hope the info is there. I question if it will be but that is based on my agency of record that does not keep info and does not pass on info they said they would. In fact, they have been accused of destroying records. Sick buggers.
Margie said…
Thanks for pointing that out, Suz. As frustrated as I am, I can't even being to imagine what it must be like to be an adult separated from your history, your family, yourself.

I'll definitely provide an update when I'm back - I leave June 27 and return on July 4th, but probably will be jet lagged for a few days.

And Kim - sorry I didn't respond, but I'm doing exactly what you suggested. We've been sending letters and photos all along, and I'll bring another packet.

michele said…
I certainly hope everything you want is there. I've been fighting with the Adoptions Support (ha!) director here in California. I have to write a treatise on why exactly my natural mother didn't raise me in order to get a waiver of confidentiality INTO my natural sister's (adopted at birth) file. I wish you all the luck in the world.
Rhonda said…
I so appreciate not only the way you write, but the way you feel about issues surrounding adoption.

I hope the File Nazi did the right thing and added the albums to the file.
Sheri said…
Marge, I just wanted to stop by and thank you for stopping by and commenting on my blog. Yes, I am blogging mostly to say these things out loud (or write them out loud) but I also appriete all the support I can get.

As for your site. I really think you get it. I really think you understand what your kids need, or will need. I just hope some day when their n-moms want to find them that the file nazis will do as they promised and help them. I know from experence that those people say one thing to your face and do another behind your back.
I remember when I heard you could put things in your childs file, I called and asked and I remember the lady said very rudely, I dont know where you heard that, we dont do that here. It was a state agency.

I have since requested to know what I signed but they said my file was destroyed, that after a certain number of years they do that. How can that be true, when my son asked fo his original bc, (we live in a state of open records) they gave it to him, what file was that in?

Im glad you put stuff in thier files, someday when she looks, if they "let" her, she will be overjoyed Im sure.
Overwhelmed! said…
Good for you! I hope the albums are placed in the file.

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