Sandy Musser, Adoption Reform Activist
since 1976, was sent to Federal Prison in 1993
for her work of reuniting families.
Scroll down to read the narrative of how long the government tracked her and the set-up method used to entrap her.
The charges, the indictment, the trial,
the aftermath, and how it all unfolded
are revealed in her book ~
TO PRISON with LOVE ($5.99)
An Indecent Indictment & America's Adoption Travesty
~~~ Also Author of ~~~
I WOULD HAVE SEARCHED FOREVER ($4.99)
One Woman's Search for the Child she Surrendered During the Mid 50's
WHAT KIND OF LOVE IS THIS? ($6.99)
Adoption Reconciliation & Need for Reform
e-books available through Amazon/Kindle
Began Adoption Reform work in 1976, soon after joining
the Adoption Forum of Philadelphia, founded by Penny Partridge;
In 1976, Sandy was invited to speak to The Children's Bureau in Wilmington, DE (pictured on right) to share her birthparent experience with adoptive parents and social workers. That became the catalyst for her ongoing reform work. During the 1980's she founded the following national organizations:
Adoption Triangle Ministries
(Distributed spiritual flyers written by triad members )
Adoption ALARM Network
(Advocating Legislation for Adoption Reform Movement)
Adoption & Family Reunion Center
(Reuniting families separated by adoption)
In August 1989, at the First AAC March on Washington, she presented a rendition of MLK's Dream speech which was called THIS TIME MUST COME. In that speech, Sandy questioned:
"How many of us are going to have to stand trial, pay fines, and be
prosecuted for demanding or exercising our God-given right to our
original birth certificate or other records concerning our own lives?"
From the day that speech was given, the government began a three and a half year investigation. A state investigator with the N.Y. Dept. of Vital Statistics created a bogus case and a taped phone call to set her up, and finally indicted her in March 1993 for her work of reuniting families. There were 39 charges; the primary one being "conspiracy to defraud the government of confidential information" even though she never had access to any adoption records.
Sandy questioned how any individual can break a law that is illegal to begin with? In orther words, how can a free democratic government, who touts civil rights for all their citizens, seal an entire class of individuals' personal identities by altering and falsifying their birth certificates and then seal them "forever?" This has been America's practice for 75 years. Is this not blatant discrimination against one group/class of people and a breach of their civil and constitutional rights??
She became the scapegoat, albeit a willing one. Those closest to her said she often mentioned her willingness to go to jail for adoption reform because she strongly believed it would take civil disobedience, in one form or another, for real sweeping reform to occur.
During her trial in July 1993, she was true to her commitment. Just prior to closing arguments, the prosecution offered her a generous plea dea which she refused to take. Standing firm in her belief that every adoptee has a right to their true identity, and for refusing their "deal", she was sent to Federal Prison in Marianna, FL on November 5, 1993.
She said that the most difficult part was spending the holidays away from her family and missed sharing her oldest son's 35th birthday, her 55th birthday, and her mother's 81st birthday.
But this indictment was never really about Sandy Musser. It was about the government's effort to slow down or shut down the adoption reform movement and the number of families that were being reunited. In a newspaper article, the prosecutor stated "We hope this will be an example to others who are doing the same thing." Henry David Thoreau in "Civil Disobedience" (1849) said that "Individuals should refuse to obey any government rule they believed to be unjust." - and he went to jail for refusing to pay poll taxes.
Sandy was released from prison on March 3, 1994. After serving a four month term, she was sentenced to two months house arrest (with an electronic ankle device which she was required to purchase); a $50 monthly fine during the three year probation term; and forced to close her office or reunite families. That was the most difficult part of her sentence since she so enjoyed seeing loved ones reunited.
Here are a few of her best friends who came to celebrate following her release from prison on March 4, 1994 release from prison. L-R: Marcia Cohen, Sandy, Lee Campbell, Gail Hanssen, Ann Henry - B.Row.: Terry West, Pat LaMarco, Alison Ward) Because of the date she was released, her good friend, Jo Swanson, called and said MARCH FORTH, SANDY
During her long sabbatical, she continued to receive several reform newsletters and occasional e-mails which kept her informed of the progress being made. She was certain, however, that she wasn't ready to jump back into the fray. In fact, when getting together on a regular basis with her old birthmom friends, Lee, Gail & Alison, the "A" word was hardly ever mentioned!
Around the 20th year anniversary in March 2013, and recalling the horrendous experience, she became re-energized and decided to get reinvolved in hopes of seeing real change occur within her lifetime.
With input from several leaders and members of various adoption activist groups, it was decided that a national focus/directionwas needed. It was then that the Adoption ALARM Network, founded originally in 1987, was re-established.
Become an ALARM Facebook member today (www.facebook.com/groups/AdoptionALARM)
and check out the Files Folder where you can
download documents for your perusal.
Especially download and share the following documents:
Adoptees Restoration Act Proclamation
Calling for An Executive Order / Federal Mandate to provide every adoptee a copy of their original birth certificate
based upon the 14th Amendment and
the Declaration of Independence
Feel Free to Print, Copy & Share ALARM's material!
If you have a talent to share with ALARM or TRIA
(Truth and Reconciliation in Adoption)
or need suggestions or ideas as to how you can become
involved in reform work, please send an e-mail to
Debbie Dorr-Ismail at firstname.lastname@example.org
or private message her on Facebook.
Sandy lives in Cape Coral, FL.
She was reunited with her daughter, Wendy, in 1977.
Raising her 9 year old great-grandson;
and has 12 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.
Co-Coordinator of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
and volunteerd with After the Rain,
an addiction recovery program for women in SW Florida.
This website was created by Sandy's daughter, Sherri Zimmerman
To learn more about Sandy and some of her speeches,
go to her original website created by her Grandson, Dan Craig.