Saturday, August 26, 2017

Baby Scoop Era, "brave" love and fairy dust

This past year I haven't spent as much time in adoptionland as I used to but lately I've waded back into the fray- just here and there, long enough to comment on an occassional group post. 

What's really bothering me? I can't really put my finger on it but it's probably a whole list of things. How can there not be when it comes to adoption- the list is long. For one thing, I started reading Karen's book. I'm only a fraction of the way into it but I have to give it a plug. The research compiled here is mind boggling. And disturbing. I'm highlighting like mad and sticking post-its all over.

Like the history we've all been talking about in politics, with the hopes of never repeating such happenings, this is the history of adoption in the US. And, like politics, there are too many people sticking their fingers in their ears while yelling lalalalalalala- I can't hear you!

Who are these people when it comes to adoption? Other mothers like me, not mothers my age but young ones. The ones who surrendered in recent years, the newbies to this life. Other moms like me get on the forums and groups to try to give a bit of historical perspective to the conversations but more often than not we get put in our place- told we're just bitter because we regret our "decision". We're told that surrendering is the "brave" thing to do. These are the women who encourage other women to surrender their babies. Just yesterday when Saving Our Sisters was mentioned, someone came back saying that they're nothing but negativity and anti-adoption. 

This is the most mind boggling of all to me. Why would someone who is experiencing the most awful grief encourage someone else to willingly jump into that pool of  misery with them. I guess the saying about misery loving company is true. It's incredibly heartbreaking to witness a young mother write about having zero regrets in letting her child go. Does she really believe that? Does she think about how that belief will affect her child when that adoptee is all grown up and reads that her mother was glad she surrendered? Would it make you feel good to hear... "I'm so glad I gave you to strangers when you were born". That's basically what she's saying. I certainly wouldn't want to hear that.

It makes me sad. So very sad to read....

Her children deserved more than she could give them at the time. "At the time" tells me the situation was temporary. She lost her children because of a temporary situation. That's adoption speak for - you don't have enough stuff right now so give your children to people who have more. If that were really the right thing to do I would have handed my son over to someone who had a house. I was living in a small apartment at the time he was born. If that were really the right thing to do I would have handed over my 3rd child to someone who had a house AND a pool, maybe even a horse or two. I had a house at the time but it was very small and we pinched a lot of pennies. Maybe we should all just shift our children to the folks in the next income bracket. The agencies would love that. Imagine how much more money they would make.

I realize we live in a consumer society but isn't this taking things a bit far? It costs tens of thousands to buy a baby and women are losing their babies because they don't have enough. Everything can be purchased here including humans.

Claudia does a great job explaining who these people are - meaning BraveLove. When I first saw the post pictured above there were close to 400 comments. When I checked just now the number of comments was down to 135. Hmmmmm..... could it be they've deleted a few because they didn't fit the narrative they want? They also had 3 one star reviews but now the review section is deleted. I commented and got a screen shot because who knows how long before they delete me too.

This is the mission statement from Bravelove:

"To change the perception of adoption through honest, informative, and hopeful communication that conveys the heroism and bravery a birth mother displays when she places her child with a loving family through adoption."

Deleting hundreds of comments from people who know the truth about the adoption industry doesn't seem so honest to me. It's not exactly informative either is it? They do foster hopeful communication though. The kind that's sprinkled with fairy dust and rainbow colors. Don't you dare question them or challenge them! Why? Because....

This is an agency funded page using young mothers to coerce other young mothers into surrendering their babies.

In the early days of the Baby Scoop Era, single pregnant women were seen as "sick" "unfit" and "deviant", certainly not brave and heroic. From Karen's book, page 60.....

"We know a great deal about the unmarried or natural mother...that she is not bad, but rather that she is sick... Not only is one attempting to help the unmarried mother develop more mature methods of solving her problems than through her solution of getting pregnant, but one  also is usually able to help the unmarried mother give up her baby for adoption... (Littner, 1955)"

According to Karen's research, we were also seen as needing punishment.

"The applicant who wants none of the agency or the caseworker is obviously the hardest one to reach, engage or even tolerate... [I]t is this client... who is troubling the community's peace of spirit (such as the unwed mother)... What is social work for... if not to make social beings of these unfortunate misfits or to protect society against their depredations? Where can they be helped or dealt with, if they are not to be put in places of confinement and punishment?...Of the several professions that use psychological means of influence, that of social work consistently encounters the problem of the unwilling client. Caseworkers... work out ways by which to engage the unwilling person (Perlman, 1957)."

Just one more paragraph from the book, page 62...

"It was even recommended by the professionals that if an unmarried pregnant female was unwilling to surrender her baby for adoption, the social worker should be 'decisive, firm, and unswerving' in finding a 'healthy solution to the girl's problem' by targeting that woman's mother to make sure the baby would be surrendered. According to Dr. Marcel Heiman, clinical professor of psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, 'The I'm going to help you by standing by while you work it through approach will not do. What is expected from the worker is precisely what the child expected but did not get from her parents - a decisive No!'" (Heiman, 1960)

Wow. Not only did they have their outright shaming techniques down pat, they also used their methods on the girl's family. Now the agencies have trained young "birthmothers" to put us older mothers in our place by calling us bitter and angry while calling new surrendering mothers selfless and brave. They know that calling us misfits just won't work anymore so now we're brave. They just swung the coercion pendulum the other way and have done such a good job of it that they've convinced mothers to convince more mothers that surrendering their newborn is the brave and loving thing to do.

These young mothers fight us when we talk about the truth because in order for them to face the truth about adoption, they have to admit they've been duped and no one wants to admit something like that. Sometimes misery does love company but I think in some of these cases, their defending adoption so vehemently, is nothing more than a shield to protect themselves from the devastating grief that would follow the realization that they were taken advantage of. So the agencies have learned not only how to use women effectively in order to make money from their babies, but also how to use those same women to reel in more targets for adoption.

I've done enough rambling for today. It's too sad to think about anymore.

*Update 8/28*

I've gone back to the BraveLove page and commented again, and yes, all my comments are deleted. This is one of them. I think you can tell why. Of course they don't want expectant moms to read that they're being manipulated. The fact that they continue to delete the truth and cover up their tactics should make it pretty clear that it's hitting a nerve and exposing them for what they are- baby brokers.

This thread was also deleted...

Shame on them for hiding the truth and participating in the legal human trafficking known as infant adoption.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Thank you Margaret Atwood

Last Wednesday I watched the first 3 episodes of The Handmaid's Tale. I did read the book many years ago and I knew the premise of the book but didn't remember some details so I couldn't tell you if the show is sticking to the finer points of the book. Anyway.... it was as horrific as I remembered.

Truthfully, I didn't know if I'd be able to watch it. I signed up for Hulu for the sole purpose of watching it but I wasn't sure if I could go through with it. It felt too close to home and I didn't know if it would trigger bad memories. I watched, wondered if I were a glutton for punishment and it did bring back the memories.

I remembered the feeling of having my child taken from me.
I remembered crying and screaming for my baby.
I remembered the frustration and anger of having the religious authorities make decisions about MY life.

I thought about canceling Hulu and not watching the upcoming episodes. But of course I won't and I will watch. I don't exactly know why, I just need to. Maybe the post I came across this morning on Facebook is the reason. Someone asked a question about the show.

Conservatives; is this show a dystopian or utopian view of the future?

I was curious about the reactions so I scrolled down and found this one. I had to respond.

A lefty fantasy? Does not remotely apply to American Christians? If I remember correctly, Margaret Atwood said in an interview that although the book is a work of fiction, she only wrote about events that have actually happened somewhere.

I guess a lot of people think this story is just the author's wild imagination and don't realize just how close some of it was to reality right here. What's that saying? 

Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.

The religious extremists in this country would love to return to the era of single women surrendering children to the wealthy and infertile. Why else would they want to defund services like Planned Parenthood that provide contraceptives to women? Why else would they be so anti-choice? Why else would they put as many restrictions on abortion as they can get away with?

Why would they do those things when common sense tells everyone that birth control, education and access to reproductive health services are what prevent abortions. They don't want us to have these services AND they want abortion to be illegal. What's the result of that kind of policy and regulation? Lots of unplanned pregnancy. 

I do believe they would love to have all those unplanned pregnancies (they're not seen as women, they're walking wombs) funneled back into the maternity homes of the past so they can feed the adoption machine once again. It's gotten so much harder to get those unplanned pregnancies to cooperate with their little plan. They've had to come up with sneakier ways of coercing the walking wombs into handing over their babies and too many caring people are interfering. Adoption agencies are closing their doors because more and more women are keeping and raising their babies.

Some of us see this as a good thing. And it's not a left/right thing, it's a human thing.

Unfortunately, there are still too many people like this commenter who are unaware of our past and don't understand why The Handmaid's Tale is so familiar to us and amazingly relevant. Thank you Margaret Atwood, we need your book and this show right now. I guess I'll keep watching and commenting because those religious extremists have wormed their way into our politics and if we're not careful, some of what we see on that show could very well go from fiction to fact.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

I was trying to pretend NAAM didn't exist

So here it is November 3rd and another National Adoption Awareness Month is underway. My plan for this year was to just ignore it all. I didn't really want to get into any of this stuff on the heels of the most ridiculous presidential election season ever. But - I got pulled back in yesterday and this morning by some comments on Instagram.

Many months ago I posted this picture. This is a painting I did as part of my Silent Voices series that I exhibited in Macon GA earlier this year.

I didn't post any comments with it other than the usual info about the exhibition. Yesterday began a little conversation.....

just_in_nashvegasChoose closed adoption!!!

  • carlynnehershberger@just_in_nashvegas Closed adoption is a horrendous and inhumane system. Everyone is entitled to know their history and it's horribly cruel to keep a mother in the dark about the well being of her child.
  • just_in_nashvegasMedical history yes and it's no longer her child when she signed the rights away k
  • just_in_nashvegasAnd if she wanted to know the child so well she should keep it.. Let's be honest too broke to raise it but still thinks she is a mommy when she signs her rights away
  • carlynnehershberger@just_in_nashvegas What's your connection to infant adoption? I'm a mother who's newborn was taken at birth and an adoptee. Babies are taken and sold every day through the corrupt, coercive infant adoption system. It's big business bringing in over 13.5 BILLION dollars a year for agencies. Without babies to sell the agencies can't pay salaries or keep their doors open.
  • just_in_nashvegasWell you shouldn't have gotten pregnant that's on you! And im infertile I believe in a closed adoption very closed no pics no visits only letters
  • carlynnehershberger@just_in_nashvegas Do you care at all about the adult adoptee voice when it comes to adoption or just your selfish desires? I suggest you read the many, many books and blogs written by adoptees. They speak loud and clear about the damage done to adoptees by the closed adoption system. Every single adoption begins with trauma and loss for the child. Please do your research before considering adoption.
  • just_in_nashvegasWell the girls need birth control and they would be fine but they open wide don't they
  • carlynnehershberger@just_in_nashvegas Well I tried. You're just going to be nasty so there's no point in continuing the discussion. I hope for the sake of any future adoptees in your life that you have a change of heart and look at adoption with compassion in your heart for what a mother and child separated by the system have to suffer.
  • just_in_nashvegasYour know it's true the sluts get what they deserve!
  • just_in_nashvegasSo pay 30,000 in fees raise the kid pay the bills and never be considered the mother never getting that respect from a birth family it's disgusting how whores wants open adoption maybe if they won't open their legs they wouldn't get what they damn well deserve
  • carlynnehershbergerIf you have adopted or plan to adopt I hope you don't refer to your child's first mother in that way. You can call me all the names you want- it's obvious you have a lot of anger- but please refrain from bashing your child's biological family. It would cause unimaginable pain to that child.@just_in_nashvegas
  • just_in_nashvegasI'll be up front with what the mother is not my fault my kid has a whore as a bio match... Those women can get pregnant 6 weeks later do what's the big deal that's why i believe in closed they get it all
Years ago that conversation would have upset me. Now I recognize it for what it is. There's a lot of pain and anger behind this woman's words. I don't know what the circumstances are surrounding the adoption of her child but it seems to me that it wasn't good and obviously she still hasn't dealt with her infertility issues. Having said that..... that does NOT excuse her attitude. From what she wrote she is the perfect example of what we call an adoptoraptor. I know adoptive parents hate to see that word but there really are those who fit the description.

What upsets me about this is thinking about what a woman like this is doing to her adopted child. She's going to be up front with her child by calling his/her first mother a whore and a slut?! I don't care if she calls me that- no skin off my nose and it's not like it hasn't happened before since starting this blog- but can you imagine being a child dealing with the knowledge of your adoption, trying to figure out who you are and hearing your mother call the woman who gave birth to you those terrible names? I'm so sad knowing that this woman is going to hurt her child like this.

I don't care if the child's first mother really is a crappy human. I don't care how deep this adoptive mother's issues go. There is never a reason to speak to a child about their family that way. That child is a piece of that family. When you talk about their family in those terms it's like you're talking about the child the same way. How much damage is this woman doing? Just the fact of being adopted causes enough pain. What kind of pain is her attitude toward the child's family going to cause?

This is another adoptive parent who believes the minute the papers are signed they take ownership of their prize human. Besides, she paid 30,000. She's entitled. The product is bought and paid for.


AND.... the jealousy is coming through crystal clear. What does she care about the mother? That woman has the audacity to be able to conceive so all adoptions should be closed. That's what she deserves. She deserves to live in agony the rest of her life, never knowing what happened to her child, simply because she got pregnant in the first place and she might be able to get pregnant again. In fact, she could just spread her legs and pop out another one - what a whore!

So much nastiness and hate. Such a shame the child is the one who will pay for it. Like a friend of mine just said.... I hope she has good insurance for the therapy the child will need. I wish she had spent some money on therapy for herself before adopting.

I don't know if I'll get more comments from her. I thought about writing some more but seems to me anything I say is just going to get blown off anyway. She doesn't exactly come across as one who is willing to learn. I am grateful for the adoptive parents out there who are willing and able to take in the experiences of others and understand that adoption is NOT about them. It's supposed to be about the child.

Well, so much for staying away from NAAM this year. Time to go back to my happy place - the easel.

Friday, June 17, 2016

News, politics, adoption.... ugh

Sad and tired. I'm just sad and tired of everything right now. I want the election to be over, I want infant adoption to go away, I want people to stop shooting other people, I want people to stop victim blaming, I could go on and on. I think it might be time to hide under a rock for a while. I don't understand what's happened to people. Maybe nothing's actually happened and we're just seeing more of the hatefulness than we did before because of social media. I guess it's always been there, it's just more visible now. People are more vocal and public with their nastiness. Not only that.... they're trying to pass off the hate as humor and then blame the target of their hate for being too sensitive- "see, they're offended- can't take a joke".

This political meme has been making the rounds.

I'm guessing this is supposed to be funny but all I see here is the result of corporate owned newscasters/journalists entertainers creating a divide in our beautiful country. It's "us" vs "them" thinking. If we're too busy fighting each other we won't pay attention to what's going on. Is this really who we are? 

Too many people are buying into untruths or not bothering to read beyond headlines and are happy to jump to conclusions about others. It's easier to look at the headline and judge someone than it is to fact check, read or talk to people. Take a look at the way people have been judging the family who lost their 2 year old in the gator attack in FL. All you have to do is read the comments on articles about it. The horror of what that family must be going through right now is unimaginable yet there are people standing in judgement of them, blaming them, as if those parents aren't already doing that to themselves. I've lived in FL for over 4 decades. I know how dangerous gators are and I know they're everywhere. If there's a body of water there's likely a gator nearby but not everyone understands that, especially if not from the area.What the hell happened to compassion? As parents we've all made mistakes and children can get away from you in the blink of an eye. There but for the grace......

It's the same in adoptionland. First mothers are constantly being judged. Either we're brave and selfless or we're whores who should have kept our legs closed. Adoptive parents are either saviors or greedy adoptorapters. Adoptees are ungrateful children if they want to know where they come from. 
There are fights between first mothers over terminology. There are fights between adoptees over birth certificate legislation. There are fights between first mothers and adoptees over who can say what. And all the while the adoption industry is laughing it's way to the bank with that fat deposit.

Whether it's politics, adoption or a news story, the paintbrush has gotten way too broad. We're all guilty of it at times and it's time we cut that shit out and pay attention. I wish we could just stop and think before running our mouths and have some compassion for our fellow humans. Talk to people. Find out what the story is and really listen. Check the facts. We need to save our wrath for the ones who deserve it.

Crawling back under that rock now....

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Facts Remain

Yesterday we left home early to drive to Macon GA and pick up my paintings from the Silent Voices exhibit at the 567 Center for Renewal. It's a 4 hour drive each way so I knew it was going to be a long day but I was excited to get there and hear about how the show went after the opening. I was only there for one night so Beth was there for me interacting with the public during the month of the show.

Artists have a job. Sometimes that job description is about beauty- sharing nature, bringing it indoors for us to enjoy and sometimes that job is about telling truths, provoking thought and emotion, waking people up, educating or making a statement about a particular societal problem. When you put paintings out there that tell a story - a painful, uncomfortable story - it can bring a huge range of responses so I was not at all surprised by the reactions to my work.

There were other first mothers who saw the show and were deeply affected. There were many tears as people related to the poetry and the images. Some of those who were just as deeply touched were coming from completely different experiences, some not even related to adoption at all but were still about loss in a big way.

Some people were curious about the meaning behind the paintings and wanted to learn more and some people were looking from an artistic standpoint.

To me the most interesting reactions were the ones from people reacting with anger. One person in particular was so upset by the images that he called it "crap" and didn't understand how that "shit" could be exhibited.

There was also a group of people very insulted and offended by my work. New City Church shares space in the building with the art center where the show was held. They were so offended in fact that they forced the art center to remove 3 of my paintings every weekend before their services and then they were displayed again afterwards. They censored my show every week in February. That's how uncomfortable the truth is to some people. Which pieces couldn't they handle? Of course the 3 in this post. Every week these paintings had to go into hiding.

Funny how these 3 were the most obvious about the corruption of the adoption industry. I could pour my heart out in the other pieces about the personal price that first mothers AND adoptees pay because of adoption but don't let anyone see anything negative about the industry or any religious connection to it. Do you think I touched a nerve? Do you think there might be more than a couple of adoptive parents in the church? Yes and yes.

It's certainly not my intention to go around insulting and offending people. Anyone who knows me, knows that. My intention is to share my personal story because it's also the story of millions of others like me and most of the general public doesn't know about this part of history. It's the truth for them and it's my truth. My other intention is to make people aware of the other truth- the one about the corruption in adoption. I wasn't merely sharing my opinion. I was stating facts in picture form. What's on those canvases is a visual representation of the facts.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but hiding the facts, being insulted by facts, being offended by facts, doesn't change a thing. The facts remain.

Adoption is a supply and demand business making $$$billions$$$ for an industry.

I was a little disappointed in the turn out for the opening reception last month but after hearing about the reactions of people since then I'd say I did my job. The work made more people aware and no matter what their reaction was it made them think about it.

I want to say a giant thank you to Beth Smith for curating the show and being there to answer questions and be my voice for the duration of the exhibit. She was not only my voice for the rest of the month but she was also able to add to the show with her own voice as an adoptee. Thank you a million times over for being so strong and taking the leap with me.

So now, I'll continue to add more pieces to the Silent Voices collection and hopefully someday another curator will take the leap.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Well at least.....

Recently I was talking with someone about adoption and the different types of adoptees- adoptee-lite (step-parent adoptee like me), LDA or late discovery adoptee (like me) and of course adoptees who have always known they were adopted.

Anyway, we were having this discussion and I shared about someone I know who found out quite late in life that he was adopted. I felt that what was done to him was wrong. I understand what kind of upheaval that can create in a person's life. When hearing about the adoptee's situation this person's first reaction was to jump to the conclusion that the adoptee was just playing the "poor me" card. Apparently he just needed to choose a more positive outlook on life- look at the bright side- at least he didn't have major medical issues that were compounded by a hidden genetic history. At least he had adoptive parents..... at least.... at least......

I said that I thought this attitude was very dismissive of what the adoptee had been through. I expected more compassion from someone who knows me and knows what adoption does to people. The response was to actually say that he refused to give compassion when a positive outlook could be chosen. It was a refusal to put himself in another person's shoes. It was a refusal to even try to understand the feelings of another.

I'm sorry but that's not being positive or having an optimistic outlook, that's being condescending and dismissive of another person's story and the impact that story has on a life. I understand the importance of having a positive outlook. Choosing to use the pain of my own experience in a positive way is what's gotten me through the last 36 years of living with adoption. I get that! What I don't get are the assumptions- assuming the adoptee is using the experience to play "poor me", assuming the adoptee doesn't have a positive outlook, assuming that the adoptee is wallowing. He doesn't know the adoptee, has never had any contact with him whatsoever but was willing to assume that the adoptee just hadn't chosen the correct attitude.

This is no different than people assuming that first mothers and adoptees are all bitter and angry and should just get over themselves and quit talking about it. If you dare talk about the negative side of adoption you're just wallowing in misery and must have a terrible life. If we would just choose to be positive then of course the industry will fall in line and fix itself. Sure it will.

Isn't it possible to be positive and compassionate at the same time???

Does choosing to have a positive outlook mean that you're no longer allowed to express pain and anger? When you've been hurt, traumatized, had an awful thing happen to you, you will experience sadness and pain. What happens to those feeling then? They get bottled up, shoved down deep to eat away at you from the inside and who knows what kind of havoc that's causing your body. Have you every heard someone say they need a good cry? A cry can be good for you. It's releasing, it's cathartic, you feel better afterwards. What you don't need in that moment is someone telling you that you just need an attitude adjustment. The more positive feelings will happen after you let go of the crap that's built up.

Yes, we can choose to be positive. We can choose to be grateful for what we have and that's hugely important!! AND it's important to recognize the hurt that someone might be going through and empathize with them. Don't dismiss them as just having a poor attitude. Do some people wallow and spend their lives in misery when they can make another choice? Yes. Just don't assume that everyone who expresses pain is doing that.

Brene' Brown said "Rarely does an empathic response begin with- at least" Watch this short video from Brown about empathy and sympathy.

The discussion I had left me feeling sad and disappointed that this person didn't even want to understand what I was trying to say about empathy. I not only felt my friend was being dismissed but I was also dismissed as not having the proper attitude. Living with adoption is not a one time event. It's effects can be felt every single day of your life. You can choose to be positive in how you deal with it day to day and be a happy, productive member of society and there will still be days when it gets you down. Those are the days when a little understanding can get you through.

I think I'm coming to the conclusion that fear is at the bottom of this. People don't want to stand in another's shoes and empathize because that means feeling something painful themselves. It's much easier to wave it away and just say they need to be positive. What they don't realize though is what a huge, POSITIVE impact genuine empathy has for a person who is in pain.

Monday, February 8, 2016

It's all about awareness

Well it's done. The opening of Silent Voices happened and I survived it. Of course I was a nervous wreck for a little while but still I was pleased with how everything turned out.

This was the gallery space before the reception. I was thrilled with how well everything came together. The paintings fit the space beautifully and hanging didn't take very long at all. The poetry worked along side the artwork.

There was a lot going on in Macon Friday night so the turn out for the reception was not what I had hoped it would be. The people who did come were genuinely interested in the story behind the work, they took the time to read about each piece and asked me questions about the adoption industry. Several people were shocked by what they learned.

I spent quite a bit of time with one couple who were curious about the topic because friends of theirs were considering adopting. They had gone to agency websites and were appalled at the prices they saw there. They wanted to know what was behind it so they got an earful and a new understanding of the industry.

There were two points I wanted to get across with the exhibit. 1. Explain what the BSE was and how pregnant women were treated. 2. How and why the industry has morphed into what it is today. Maybe I only got to speak to a handful of people but if those few learned something about the other side of adoption then it was a success and well worth doing the show. It's all about awareness.

These 2 pieces were the last ones I painted. I couldn't get a good picture because of where they were hanging- there was a post in the way. These are called Adoption Situation, referring to the listings on adoption agency websites where babies are listed along with a price.

Scared and alone she reached out.
Come with us they said.
I’m in a situation.
We’ll take good care of you they said.
I can’t afford a baby.
We know people who can they said.
I don’t know what to do.
We’ll help you make a “plan” they said.
My family doesn’t understand.
We do. We can take care of that situation they said.
I don’t know if I can do this.
You’ll be brave and selfless they said.
This looks like a nice couple.
The couple in the brochure is better than you they said.
I’ll miss my baby.
You love him so much you’ll let someone else raise him they said.
I want time with my baby first.
But they need to bond with him they said.
I can’t do this. I want my baby back.
Too late, the check has been cashed they said.