Tuesday, December 14, 2010

BFA



Just putting this out there for those who haven't seen it. This is Dian Wellfare talking about the reason for the BFA code used in the charts of unwed mothers. I've written about my experience with this before. This was not only used in my chart it was hung over my bed and taped to the door of my room. They really wanted to make sure I didn't see my daughter!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Art, Adoption and Fear

Solstice Night
colored pencil
14x10


I know the winter solstice is the one we're close to but this piece represents a summer solstice night from years ago and I'm putting it here because it reminds me of the inner work we do as artists (it also reminds me of the warmer temps - I'm not liking the freezing weather we've had in FL lately). The painting was done from a photo I took in my friends yard in Taos NM during our last meeting of The Artist's Way group.

Artist's don't get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working. ~ Stephen DeStaebler

Artist's deal with insecurities all the time. First there is the fear of the blank canvas. There's the fear of putting our work out there, the fear of ridicule or rejection, the fear the gallery director isn't going to like the work, the fear the director won't even look at the work, the fear of spending resources on show entry fees and not getting into the show, the fear of not being able to sell the work, the fear of getting into shows and then not having the funds to deal with the framing, shipping and cartage fees required. Then, even after getting into a show and winning an award, there is the fear surrounding being able to produce that quality of work ever again.

Producing art, showing the work and working as an artist takes stamina, tenacity and facing fears. The basic thought behind all of this fear is "I'm not good enough". Producing art is very revealing. When we paint we put a piece of our soul on the paper or canvas. If you gave the same photo to 20 different artists and asked them to make a painting from that photo, you would have 20 different results. The subject might be the same but every artist's soul is different and the art reveals that.

For me living as an artist takes introspection, meditation and courage - a willingness to be seen. Maybe all these years of learning to be an artist has helped me in living as a natural mother from the closed adoption era. As mothers we were told we weren't good enough to raise our own children. The only reason being that we weren't married. The 2 children I did raise are proof enough that it wasn't true. Finding my worth in the art world/outside world coincided with finding my worth as a mother. I believe finding ways of dealing with fear in creativity also helped me in dealing with the grief that comes with adoption.

It's hard to face that grief. It's hard to live with it every day. It was also hard to start the search for my daughter. Some people were afraid for me. They were afraid that I would get hurt, either by what I found out or by not being able to find her at all. I was afraid too. Searching online in the reunion registries was a simple way to start so that's what I did. I spent years doing that with no success. Finally I got the courage to make the call to Catholic Charities. The pain of not knowing was far greater than the fear of what I might find. I had to know something.

A lot of life as an artist and as a natural mother is about facing fear. The latest hurdle for me was facing the fear of talking about adoption. It still comes down to overcoming the feeling of not being good enough but I'm the only one who creates that feeling so I can change it by thinking a different thought. Now putting the art out there doesn't seem nearly as difficult as it used to and talking about adoption is getting easier. Although the people who used to worry about me during the search phase are relieved, they're now worried about me talking about it. They worry that I might get sick again (last year I was dealing with the big "C" but I'm fine now) As a matter of fact, it wouldn't surprise me at all if the pain of decades of hidden grief was the cause of the illness to begin with. So.... no worries. Painting is fulfilling a need to create and being honest about adoption is fulfilling a need to be free. And, as facing the fears in the art world seems to have helped me in dealing with adoption, adoption has now found it's way into the art.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Birthday Wishes Again


Birthday Wishes
48x36
Acrylic on canvas


Some of you might remember this birthday candle painting that I did a while back. I thought it was finished but recently I received a note from another natural mother who wanted to be added to the canvas. I guess as long as there are moms who want to add their children's birthdate I'll keep it in the "not done yet" section of my studio. This is for moms and their children so I'm putting the mom's name and the child's date of birth. If you would like to be added to the painting send me a comment or message.

Peace,
Carlynne

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How Much is That Baby in the Window?


“But what about adoptive mothers who want to maintain Their privacy.

I changed diapers for all those years. No one needs to know I did not give birth. Because I worked for the OB-gyn It was arranged for me to put on a gown and lie in the hospital bed so my family could visit and see our new baby.

No one needs to know they were adopted.”

The above quote is something I read in the comments to an article about opening adoption records. First I was shocked, then I thought - how sick is that?, then I felt sad for her children. Do they even know they were adopted or are they going to find out as adults when they try to get a passport and are denied or they have problems getting their driver's licenses because their birth certificate is amended? If they do know they are adopted then will they be held to some ridiculous code of secrecy so that no one else finds out? Will they have to live their lives lying to their friends and families? Is she going to remind them of the charade of wearing a hospital gown, lying in bed acting as if she's recovering from giving birth so they feel guilty about sharing their own personal information?

I really question the mental stability of a woman who will go to this extreme to pretend that she gave birth to these children. How does a person like this qualify to adopt a child in the first place? She actually sounds like one of those people who goes shopping and hides the receipts but these are people, not a new dress that cost more than she'd want to admit to.

Here's another commenter from the same article....


“These were very expensive adoptions. Our children have gone to the best schools and gained admission to fine universities­. Their mothers could not have done well for them, as the poor girls had no impulse control and could not even name the fathers.

Medical History is not needed. I know this as a nurse. I worked for the doctor who delivered all my children and their mothers were healthy.”

Gosh, she paid a lot of money for those children. She should certainly be able to hide not only those receipts but their medical history too - "their mothers were healthy". I was also healthy in 1980. Things can change in 20 to 30 years. As a nurse she doesn't realize this?

I feel for the children of both of these women. What's going to happen to the relationship they have with their adoptive parents when the lies are exposed? Parents like these are not doing what's best for their children. They're not thinking ahead or thinking of their children's needs. There is a part of me that feels sad for these parents. I feel sad for the person who feels so insecure that they have to create a fantasy around their family, spend a lifetime living with lies and in the process potentially harm their adopted children. They don't even realize that they're hurting themselves in addition to the pain they're going to cause their children. So, then I think about their adopted children who will grow up to be adult adoptees with problems created by their parents and I just get pissed off! What makes a person feel they can claim ownership to another human being? I want people like this to shop for a therapist instead of a baby.


Friday, December 3, 2010

The Better Life


The Parasol
Goya
1776-1778

"Maybe a better life in the sense of not being neglected, having a roof over their head, a chance at an education, food in their mouths and clothes on their backs. Or the chance to be raised by someone who is not addicted to drugs. I know this is not the case for all mothers who place their children up for adoption but I would say it is a great amount."

Well, there it is again. I wonder how long it will be before statements like this go away. The question posted by someone on a forum was.... what exactly is this "better life" that everyone talks about when giving their child up for adoption? Now, to be clear - I'm not talking about cases of abuse or neglect - and like I opined earlier, I wonder how many years we will have to clarify everything we say about infant adoption with that statement. We might as well do a copy and paste disclaimer on everything we write.

It would be my guess that the majority of women saying they "placed" their children so their child could have a better life are not the ones abusing drugs and their children. I'd say those children were removed from their mothers for their protection. I'm talking about the mothers who have been convinced that this dream of a better life is reason enough to lose their children. Back in the BSE the better life meant being with parents who were married. That was the main reason given to me and that was in 1979,80. Did those people have prophetic visions? Did they think that adoptive parents never got divorced? No, that had nothing to do with it. There were couples who wanted babies and we had to be punished so it was a win/win for the powers that be and the couple.

I don't know why it never occurs to commenters like the one above that adopters are just as likely to get divorced, use drugs, abuse children, lose their jobs, not be able to afford college and generally have the same problems as the rest of the population. And ladies, if you're pregnant and thinking about adoption, don't let them tell you anything different. There is no alternate universe where adoptive parents live free from the problems of the real world.

Now single people can adopt so the notion of the married couple providing the better life doesn't carry as much weight as it used to. What's the better life now? It's money of course. It just makes sense, look at the consumer society we live in. We judge everything by it's monetary value. We judge each other based on some ridiculous standard of beauty and we spend, spend, spend to make it happen. We must have the most beautiful face, body, house and car. We must have the latest and greatest gadgets and the biggest tv's. If the child is in a bigger house with the newest stuff surely the child will be happier. It makes us happier doesn't it? So it just stands to reason that the child will be happy too. While the child is living the better life the mother can then pursue living her better life. She can follow her dream of having more but is her life really better? Is her child's life really better? She will be missing her child. Her child will be missing her. How is this better? The adoptive parents have it better because they have the child. The agency has it better because they the money.

When I see statements like that commenter made there's so much that runs through my mind. I get angry because it makes assumptions about me and my daughter and it's demeaning to the other natural mothers I know. It reminds me again just how well the happy adoption propaganda works. And it makes me sad that there will be more mothers who will believe this lie of the "better life".








Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Connections

It's December 1st. National Adoption Awareness Month is over and that's a very good thing. There was lots of posting going on during the month but I didn't do very much of it myself - just couldn't bring myself to write anything. I did a lot of reading though. There were some who posted every day - kudos to them! I hope they take a much needed rest.

December always gets me thinking about this lovely lady to the left. She's my grandmother and this was taken in 1938. Her name was Anadelia and her birthday is coming up on the 11th. She died in '03 and I still miss her terribly. Over the years she told me lots of stories about growing up in Puerto Rico but the saddest was hearing about her being orphaned at a very young age and moving from house to house as different people took care of her - some family, some not. As you can imagine family became very important to her.

During my teen years we lived far apart - me on the east coast, Grandma on the west coast. When I was pregnant with my firstborn - the one lost to adoption, she knew nothing about it. At the time, us "unwed mothers" were instructed to keep this secret. It's easier to keep a secret when you're 3000 miles from someone but I was very close to her so it was hard to keep something like this from her. Years later, after I had gotten married, she moved east to be near us. One day I was hanging out with her in the kitchen and she asked if I was going to have any more children. At this point I had my son and youngest daughter. I told her no, we're not having any more. She then told me about her dream. She said.... "I just don't understand it. Years ago I had a dream that you had 3 children, 2 girls and a boy. The boy has dark hair, one of the girls has dark hair and the other girl has lighter hair - it has some red in it". Now normally that would be when I'd get chills and think holy shit - how did she know, but this was Grandma - she just knew things. It was time to fess up and tell her the story. I knew that was the moment; it was time to tell her about my oldest daughter (whose father is a redhead btw).

As you can imagine, many tears were shed. It was hard to tell her but once it was done the relief was immense. She told me that if she had known, she would have flown me to CA and helped me raise her. That was one of those "what if" moments but I can't dwell on that - it hurts too much. For years after that day we'd talk about finding my daughter. She'd tell me that all she wanted before she died was to meet my baby. Well, the timing couldn't have been more perfect. I found Liz, we reunited and just a few weeks before Grandma was gone, Liz was able to fly down and meet her Great Grandmother. I'll never forget the look on Grandma's face as she walked into the room. Liz stood at the edge of the bed in the nursing home, held Grandma's hand and I saw the family together at last. I knew this meant the world to my grandmother and it was amazing for me to see them together.


What I know now is I want to be the grandmother that my grandmother was to me. She understood family connections. She loved fiercely, she didn't care what the neighbors thought about anything, she protected her own, she was always there with a hug and a smile and a plate of food.

I have four grandchildren now and I can only hope that I can live up to her example.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gratitude



This is another one of my pieces, it's colored pencil on illustration board. I put this one up today because the leaf reminded me of a heart.

Today my heart is full. I've been struggling lately with a lot of stuff - creative blocks, stress stemming from the lovely health insurance industry, the economy, our *&^%$ car and dryer, but as I'm getting ready to bake the pumpkin roll for my contribution to tomorrow's Thanksgiving dinner, I'm also thinking about what's happened this year and I'm grateful for so much.

As of this month, I'm one year past the cancer! I'm above ground and that's truly a wonderful thing. Five months ago my son's daughter was born - an amazing little person! Maxine has all of us wrapped around those 10 little fingers. My kids are healthy and happy and what more could a mom ask for. My oldest is back in my life for 8 years now (yes, that's a correction from the last post - no, apparently I can't count). My husband is still putting up with me :) I have the best BFF in the world in Kelli. I also have a great group of art students. I had a class with them this morning and they are so kind, loving, funny and talented. They make class time a real joy.

And finally.... this year I've met a great bunch of ladies. Robin, Celeste, Hanne, Lorraine, Jane, Cedar, Claudia, Lori, Linda, Jeni, Stephanie, 2 Karens, Beth and there's lots more. These are natural mothers and adoptees, they're wonderful women who have taught me so much about not only the adoption industry but myself too. Although I've only had the pleasure of meeting one of them face to face, I'm stronger because of them. I've been able to start speaking out because of them. I no longer feel so alone with this. I spent decades not having anyone who could really relate to what I had been through and now there are people who understand, who get it.

Life is good.

So, thank you and have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Family Reunion


Family Reunion, Frederic Bazille, 1867, oil on canvas.

This looks like the idyllic reunion day. How nice to gather with family and celebrate that connection with each other. That's what a family reunion is - celebrating that we have connections. Unfortunately, for adoptees and their original families, those celebrations are few and far between.

Today, November 14 is the day I received "the call". It was the day I found out that my daughter had been found and she wanted to have contact with me. That was 9 years ago today. So, as you can see, November has quite the significance for me. It's not only National Adoption Awareness Month (grrrrrrr.... I hate the way it's used by so many in the industry to promote infant adoption) but it's also the month when I got my daughter back. It's the month of my first grandson's birthday too. Yesterday was J's 13 birthday. He turned 13 on the 13th. It was his golden birthday. I wasn't there when my daughter was pregnant with him, I wasn't there when he was born, I wasn't there during his first years. That makes me sad. Now that I'm watching my son's baby girl grow it really drives the point home that I missed out when my daughter was having her children. She has 3 boys. I wasn't there for the births of the first two. We didn't know each other then. I missed out on seeing my daughter become a mother. This is just another item on the long list of what adoption does to families.

One of my Facebook friends posted this article and it made me think about my grandchildren. So many people don't realize how much the rest of the family is affected when an adoptee doesn't know who they came from. That could have been my grandson, it could have been any adoptee's family. I've heard people say that records shouldn't be opened because an adoptee is just curious. What about life and death? Is that a good enough reason? Why should anyone have to jump through legal hoops to get their own information in order to save their child's life? Besides, what's wrong with being curious?

That day 9 years ago was one of the happiest days of my life - to find out that my daughter wanted to know me, that she was willing to be found. To all the legislators out there who hide behind the skirts of mothers like me - open the records! I was not promised anonymity, I didn't want anonymity, I wanted my daughter. Give people their family reunion. They have the right to know who they were before adoption. It's not your life, it's theirs.

Happy 9th reunion anniversary Liz, I love you.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

It's a miracle!

Miracle of Newborn Child, Titian, 1511 Fresco.

I see this phrase a lot.... "the miracle of adoption". When did the man-made notion of adoption become a miracle? The religious like to put God into the equation to make it seem as if adoption is a sacred thing. How convenient to use a person's faith to convince them that adoption is part of the divine order.

Here's a definition of the word miracle I found online. "A miracle is an unexpected event attributed to divine intervention. Sometimes an event is also attributed (in part) to a miracle worker, saint, or religious leader. A miracle is sometimes thought of as a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature. Others suggest that God may work with the laws of nature to perform what people perceive as miracles."

Well, adoption is not an unexpected event and the only ones intervening are humans. Look at the line I put in bold - ....a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature. Now that makes sense. Adoption certainly IS an interruption of the laws of nature. Natural law creates a bond between mother and child that is sacred. This is the miracle to me. This is what people have lost sight of. This sacredness has been sacrificed for the almighty dollar. The "almighty" didn't create adoption. The adoption industry calls taking a newborn infant from his or her mother and giving him to a couple who are strangers a miracle. I see adopters writing all the time about God bringing a child to them, that it was meant to be. If all is created by God then why was that child created in the womb of the other woman? Was that woman not meant to be the child's mother? She is then told by people who like playing god that she isn't good enough to raise her own baby. It's not too difficult to believe that if you've been raised to believe that you're a sinner to begin with. Maybe for some, the brainwashing started long before the pregnancy.

What could be more of a miracle than feeling your child move within you, feeling the kick of a baby as she grows? Being connected to that life on a cellular level, being one with that person for all those months is the closest connection any two human beings can have on this planet. That is the miracle! Seeing that child's face for the first time and knowing who she is, is the miracle. That experience was denied me when my daughter was born. I was physically connected to another human yet seeing her and touching her was denied me and she was denied knowing me. That's not a miracle, it's a tragedy.

Scripture is thrown around to justify the idea of adoption like these verses on an adoption site:

Deuteronomy 10:18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. Giving him food and clothing means just that - food and clothing. It does not translate into giving him new parents.

Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. What is the cause of the fatherless? To be cared for and loved by their own tribe. If not the mother or father directly then another from their family. That would be seeking justice for the child. Working to keep the sacred connection between mother and child unbroken is seeking justice. Helping the mother IS helping the child.

People are using God to justify taking a child from a mother. If this so-called miracle is meant to be then does that mean God meant for the child to suffer the loss of her family and the family to suffer the loss of their child? How does this jive with the being who is supposed to be all-knowing and loving? When people pray for God to bring them a baby they are praying for something they want; they're asking to have their own needs satisfied. They are not praying for what's best for the child because what's best for a baby is her own mother. If their prayer is answered that means they got what they wanted and what they wanted translates into pain and loss, a sacred bond being broken. When you break it down it just means they're praying for someone else to lose so they can win. In adoption that means many people lose, not just the mother and child. An entire family is damaged.

I think I prefer this verse - Exodus 20:1-17 You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's. That includes their children.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What's it all about?

Adoption Week started in November of 1976 and became National Adoption Awareness Month in a proclamation by President Clinton in 1995. Here it is 15 years later and I'm wondering ~what is this month about?

Here's an example of what should be done with National Adoption Awareness Month. Not once does the article mention the "loving option" of adoption for an unplanned pregnancy. The writer is focused on children who are currently waiting in the foster care system because their parents rights have already been terminated. They're not trying to convince teenagers that they're not capable of raising their children so they can "give" them to couples willing to pay the price. They are focused on children who truly need homes. Good for them.

I did a search for the specific phrase National Adoption Awareness Month and one of the first sites to come up was this one. They apparently own this name for their website so let's take a look at what they have to say about November and adoption. The first thing they want you to do is celebrate! Let's celebrate adoption even though it starts with a tragedy, hmm...... Then they tell you how. This is what you can do - support Lifetime Adoption Foundations, a non-profit charity that offers grants to help people adopt. They offer $1500 - $4300 per adoption. They also "...proudly offer educational scholarships in deep appreciation to birthmothers who have chosen adoption for their children. They have enabled others to experience the joy of becoming parents...." So, this is another group offering girls help with an education IF they give up their babies.

Another suggestion they have for celebrating is to get some books about adoption out there where the public can see them. They want you to contact your libraries to make sure that books like this are available - Adoptingonline.com. The plug for this one says - "It contains the road map, the advice, the resources, and the working knowledge you need to find the baby of your dreams" Is it just me or does this sound like she's selling a car?

The woman behind these sites (and the author of the book mentioned above) is Mardie Caldwell. She is an adoptive mother, adoption facilitator and owner of Lifeline Adoption Center LLC. Here's her opening paragraph from the "our wings" page on the site.

How Adoption Became My Life's Work
"I remember when we decided to adopt. My personality was and is "I've made the decision so let's do it - NOW!" In my life if I wanted something, I could pick up the phone and call in an order, sign a check or ask my secretary to have it on my desk by noon. So here I sit with this overwhelming desire to be a mother and all this love to share with a child asking, "How do I complete this 'task' of parenthood by my deadline?"

That paragraph not only speaks volumes but turns my stomach and the more I delve into this site and the affiliated sites, the more disgusted I become. I also found a calendar for the month, giving ideas for daily activities dedicated to promoting adoption. Here's a sample of what they'd like us to do:

* Ask high school principals if adoption is shared with students facing unplanned pregnancy.

* Call woman's rights groups and encourage them to include the message of adoption.

* Ask clergy to include message of adoption for unplanned pregnancy into a service.

* Call TV stations and radio stations to encourage them to feature the message of adoption as a pregnancy option.

* Share adoption with your employer and ask them to add adoption benefits to encourage adoption.

What is this company getting out of all the National Adoption Awareness Month hype, the hype they're helping to create? Are they working toward finding homes for children that are currently in foster care, the ones who really, really need help? Or... are they focused on newborn adoption and the $ those adoptions bring?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Being aware

Tomorrow begins November, Adoption Awareness month. I've been well aware of adoption for 31 years now. It hasn't been a good thing and it's not a good thing for many millions of mothers and adoptees. This November I hope more people become aware of what's wrong with adoption. I want to share an article with you that I first saw on Peach's blog. When you go to her blog be sure to catch the videos she has posted there. They're worth watching.

Maybe we should have a Family Preservation Awareness month.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just thinking, it's my blog - I'm entitled.

We talk a lot about the PAP's and the sense of entitlement to other people's babies that some of them have. They're the ones who drive the demand for infant adoption. In my last post I talked about what adoptees are entitled to. Lately, I've been thinking about mothers and their entitlement. Well, of course they're entitled to raise their own children. That should go without saying. Unfortunately, it seems we do have to remind people of that fact. What's even sadder to me is it seems like we need to remind mothers of that.

Girls and young women are being convinced to let their children go. You know the coercive tactics that are used against them - language, pre-birth matching, etc.... but I wonder sometimes about the ones who absolutely insist that they're handing their babies over to other people to raise because they're just not ready to parent right now. They claim loudly that they have no regrets and how dare anyone suggest otherwise. Is not being quite ready a good enough reason? How are their children going to feel about that when they find out why they were left behind by their mother? Have any of them thought about that? This is once again, more proof that the adoption industry is not about children.

So, when a mother says she's "not ready to parent"(I see this line all the time) what is it she's going to do instead of love and care for her baby - go to school? get a different job or work on the career? take time to play and be young? Well yeah, that all sounds good. Then when she's done getting the degree (the one she got with the scholarship given to her in exchange for her baby) she's left standing there with a diploma framed nicely on the wall and empty arms. Will she think it's worth it then? I have a hard time comprehending anyone who can be comfortable trading their child for a degree. Maybe down the road she'll wake up and realize what she's done. Of course then it's too late, the damage is done.

I remember hearing that it would be selfish to keep my baby, that she would be much better off with other people. This is the line still being used but when I hear women say "I'm not ready to parent", who's needs are they talking about here? They're not talking about the needs of their child. They're talking about what they are ready to do or not ready to do. They're still talking about their own needs, not what's good for that child, which is to be with their own natural family. Oh, they say they're doing it for the sake of the child but then say.... "I'm not ready". There was a time when women got pregnant they spent those months getting ready - physically, emotionally, mentally, financially, whatever she needed to do she did it. Once a baby is born you learn how to deal with motherhood one day at a time. Everyone is nervous about being a parent. It comes with the territory but you learn. There's a part of me that feels so sad for these mothers and knows that they've been worked over by the industry and when they do wake up years down the road, what they've done is going to hit them like a ton of bricks. Then there's the part of me that just wants to shake them and tell them to quit being so damned self-absorbed. Grow up and deal. Think about what this is going to do to your children.

So, here's the industry telling PAP's that they have the right to a child - someone else's child. They encourage that sense of entitlement. Then they're telling the young pregnant woman that she has the right to her freedom unencumbered by the hassle of child rearing. They encourage that sense of entitlement by reminding her of how hard it's going to be, how much she'll struggle and they'll conveniently leave out the info about the resources available to help her keep her child. And.... there sits the agency in the middle feeling very entitled to the cash.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Missing Pieces

I've heard people say recently that they didn't understand why adoptees have a need to find their original family. "They have a family, why do they need to know about the other one?" I don't understand what they don't understand about that.

I look a lot like my mother - and I mean a lot. I've had total strangers come up to me and ask if I'm related to Jo because I'm wearing her face. There was never any question where I got my curly hair from. My youngest daughter knows she has my eyes and my grandmother's nose. My son has my eyes and his father's mouth. These are things we take for granted. There's other beings in the world who when we look at them we see a piece of ourselves looking back.

When I talked to my oldest daughter - the one I found - about this issue she said that she always felt like she had a family, she loves them and they love her too but she felt she wasn't really them. There was always a piece of her missing. This is what the rest of the world, the people who don't live in that skin, don't get. Although I haven't lived her experience I can certainly understand the part about the missing piece. There's absolutely nothing unusual about her experience from what I've read. Adoptees all over the world feel the same way no matter how loving a home they ended up in. They're not only missing a piece of themselves but if they never find their natural family then they never know the true nature of who they are. Physical appearance characteristics aren't the only thing that gets passed down through generations. Seeing my oldest child with her siblings for the first time was proof enough of that. Watching the 2 girls using the same gestures, sitting in matching positions, using their voices the same way, seeing the connection between all of them that was practically instantaneous told me that the biology of family is huge.

And, of course, you have the medical issues. Every time an adoptee goes to the doctor and has to fill out a form for medical history - what do they write down? My daughter didn't know that her grandmother had breast cancer. If I hadn't found her she wouldn't have known that I had endometrial cancer or that there's a history of heart problems in the family. Everyone else has this knowledge to help them and their doctors figure out how to heal them or just keep them healthy. Everyone else knows if there's a genetic predisposition to certain diseases and from there can decide whether or not to have children of their own. They know what they might have a chance of passing down to their offspring. Why can't adoptees have this information too? Even the basic paperwork of who they are in the eyes of the state they live in is hidden from adoptees. No original birth certificates for them - only the fake ones. It's just too much. It's too much that they're missing. It's not fair to them.

From my place in the picture I saw what I was missing and it was agony. It was the only thing I could focus on because the pain was so big. Since it's been almost 9 years since finding my daughter I've been able to learn more about what she's been missing by listening to her and reading what other adoptees have written. As mothers we want what's best for our children. If adoption is going to be about the children (notice I said "going to be" since it's really about $ at this point and I can hope can't I?) then I think natural mothers owe it to their children to meet them, give them not only the medical history they need but also the answers they need no matter what the questions are. I don't care who searches for who, the adoptees deserve answers. Our kids didn't sign up for this.

When I was ready to start on the next painting in the series I remembered that I had some of my daughter's pictures from her childhood. The photo I used for a reference really struck me because of the large empty space behind her and that's when it hit me to leave her face an empty space also. For our kids there's too many missing pieces.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Anger and adoption

Today Tyler Perry said something on the Oprah show that I could relate to. ~ "Anger is good, bitterness is not". He was talking about dealing with the abuse he suffered as a child and using the anger about that for a positive change. This was such a timely interview for me to watch because this also applies to us in adoption world. There are people who call us bitter and mean when all we're doing is speaking our own truth. I think they do that because they don't want to see what they're doing, what their role is in this world of adoption. It's easier to throw the blame somewhere else than look in the mirror.

Then there are people who worry about us because they worry that our anger will turn to bitterness. They're afraid that because we deal with hard issues and people who throw blame our way we'll lose our smiles and get swallowed up by the pain. I think for me it'll be the people who care about me who will help me keep my anger from becoming bitterness. It's scary to talk about this stuff. It's hard to write these things and put them out there for anyone to read but all I'm trying to do is point out the truths of the past and the truths of what's happening now.

Coming out of the adoption closet has been a relief. I can't speak for other mothers but I know that for me, painting the paintings, writing the blog posts, commenting and writing letters is something I do for me and hopefully a side benefit will be helping to change things for the better. It's hard to talk about my experiences and relive it each time I do but there's a certain freedom to it. Once it's done and out there it's very freeing. I have no idea if anything I do, paint or say is going to make any difference but it helps me to know that if I'm at least trying then the crap I went through wasn't in vain. If I thought that it was then I think it would be too easy for the anger to become bitterness and that wouldn't be good.

*****************************************************************************
Just wanted to add something to this post. I was flipping through Ann Fessler's book The Girls Who Went Away and I found a paragraph that I had highlighted when I first read it. This is on page 301.

"I feel lucky. I feel lucky because I know my daughter is out there and she's fine, and healthy, and productive, and beautiful. I feel lucky that she says she loves me. I feel lucky that my children love me and understand what happened. I feel lucky that I survived cancer. And I feel lucky that I now have a voice. I didn't for so long, but you're not going to shut me up now. Keeping things inside kills you. You rot from the inside out. I did a great job of punishing myself for thirty-two years. But you just have to set yourself free, and that's what talking about it does." ~ Ruth

I was amazed when I read that.... I could've written that paragraph myself. Thank you Ruth.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reflect Here


"To the women who worked in the Magdalen Laundry Institutions and to the children born to some of the members of those communities ~ reflect here upon their lives"

The above paragraph is taken from a plaque that's mounted at a convent in Ireland. Many of you know of the Magdalen laundries but unfortunately too many people have no idea these places existed. For the estimated 30,000 women and children who passed through those convents in the 150 year history of the laundries, their stories should be told.... and told.

I worked in my studio all weekend and I think I've finally finished this piece. It's in memory of the Magdalens. As you know I'm working on a series of paintings about adoption and in the course of my research I learned about the laundries. When I learned of this the first thing that came to mind was -it's just a matter of geography.

It's simply a matter of geography that I didn't end up in one of those laundries. I was raised Catholic. So were these girls in Ireland. I was pregnant without being married. So were the girls in Ireland. The last of these laundries didn't close until 1996, my daughter was born in 1980. The girls who were there because they were pregnant had their children taken from them at birth. The same happened to me. What the geography did save me from is the physical abuse - the long hours of servitude and the beatings. For that I'm thankful.

It wasn't that long ago that women and children were being treated as slaves, and in some countries, it's still happening. Why were they treated this way? For the simple reason that they were human, they were female and they were not allowed to experience that which is perfectly natural. If she did, and if she carried the evidence of her actions for all to see, she must be hidden and punished. Some became prisoners because they were deemed too pretty - how dare they, they might attract the attention of some poor boy who can't be trusted to control his urges. We must save him from himself by punishing the girls. Some were forced to work as servants because they were raped. Again, where was the boy's responsibility in this. It was all her fault so she was to be locked up until she was purified of her sin, or until a male relative came to get her released. For some, the day of their release never came. They lived their entire lives there in the convents and there they died. They lived their lives being abused by the very people who proclaimed to live for God's love and were supposed to be expressing God's love. I included the image of a pope's mitre in the painting because as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church he is the head of state of Vatican City and as such the crimes of the Magdalen Laundries are on his head and the heads of the popes before him.

Today, as I was on my way home from the store, I passed a church sign that said "Flee from sexual immorality". Flee? I found that kind of humorous. Are we to run screaming in the opposite direction? And what exactly are we to flee from, who's definition of sexual immorality? Who gets to decide what is moral behavior and what isn't? We are sexual beings, it's just a fact of biology. We express our love for each other in a physical way. Can't we decide for ourselves what is sexually healthy? Can't we base those decisions on our own judgements and not take the word of another human who may or may not have their own hang ups about it? I think our inner compass is perfectly capable of figuring out what's right and wrong without blindly following the dogma set down by the men of centuries past.

Some of you may be familiar with Stephen Fry, the actor and comedian. Last year he spoke eloquently at a debate about whether or not the Catholic Church was a force for good in the world. In part of his talk he was referencing the church's teachings on homosexuality, AIDS and the use of condoms but I thought what he said was also relevant here.

"It's the strange thing about this church, it's obsessed with sex, absolutely obsessed. They will say we with our permissive society and rude jokes are obsessed. No, we have a healthy attitude. We like it, it's fun, it's jolly. Because it's a primary impulse it can be dangerous and dark and difficult. It's a bit like food in that respect only even more exciting. The only people who are obsessed with food are anorexics and the morbidly obese and that in erotic terms is the Catholic Church in a nutshell."

The tragedy of the laundries is a result of a cruel society and a harsh, judgemental church. When will people move beyond this? When will churches stop shaming people for simply being human?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pieces



I painted a self-portrait a few years ago. For those of you who get involved in creative endeavors you understand this feeling. You go into the studio, or sit at the computer and in a flash the entire day is gone. That was the day I painted this. I started it in the early morning and didn't come out of the room until it was done later that evening. I don't even think I ate anything that day (I should paint that way more often).

This was done post-reunion and in a way it was about a reunification of my fractured self. When you lose a child a piece of you is missing. You go on with your day to day activities, you laugh and love and you raise your other children but there she is. She's always there, in the hair color of a little girl you see in the grocery store or the eyes of a child you see at a party and you wonder..... could she be? How can I find out her birthday? How can I find out if she's adopted?

Like I mentioned in my earlier post about looking back and not recognizing the letters I had written - the self-preservation mode - living life with adoption is like that. One part is living a life that's happy while the other part is always on the look out, always searching and longing. This portrait was not only about the experience of a mother but about the pieces of a life finally coming back together.

While reading some articles and blogs I see this quite a bit.... adoptees need to quit whining, adoption is a miracle, mothers need to get a life and stop being hateful and bitter, everybody needs to just shut up and be grateful for the generosity of the adopters. In fact, here's a real gem of an article that puts all these attitudes together in one place. The writer of this...... thing.... obviously has no clue about what really happens in adoption. She just sees one tiny piece and comes to the most ridiculous conclusions. Unfortunately this happens a lot, people only see one little segment of the picture so let's look at some more pieces of adoption world.

This is a very, very short list of adoption agencies - some big, some small. If you look through these you'll see the machine in action. These are the people who make the money, the ones who use vacation packages and college scholarships to entice young, vulnerable, pregnant women through their so-called "birthmother" outreach, one of these spends millions a year on advertising to mothers. These are the people who use counselors to advise mothers - counselors who are paid by the adopters through the agency who stands to make the money. Can you guess what they're advising them? Questionable ethics here? These are the people who claim they can get a baby in 4 months because they are results driven!

http://www.adoptionnetwork.com/adoptiveparents/domestic-adoption.shtml?h_ap_t
http://www.adoptionsfirst.com/BirthMothersSite/index.php
http://adoptionshepherdcare.com/pregnant.html
http://www.littleangeladoptions.com/
http://www.abondoflove.org/Birth_Parents_Who_Chooses_Adoption_and_Why.html
http://lifelineadoption.org/pregnant/not-consider-adoption/
http://impregnant.bethany.org/index.php/adoption/adoptionmyths

These are the tools the agencies use. They teach the hopeful couple how to advertise. There are now businesses popping up that help with the marketing to the mothers. If the couple doesn't have that artistic flair these folks can make their brochure stand out among the crowd.

http://www.littleblessingsadoption.com/
http://www.foreverfamilydesigns.com/main.php#about%20us/
http://www.ourchosenchild.com/

This is big business so there are now lots of ways to finance buying a baby. Grants and credit cards are available and the government now gives a tax credit of 12,000.00+ to couples adopting a baby. It's amazing how willing everyone is to help adopters get a baby but when a mother needs help to keep and raise her baby it's frowned upon.

http://www.nafadopt.org/faq/faq.shtml
http://www.oneworldadoptions.org/financing.html
http://www.adoptionfinancinginformation.com/grants.html

Then you have the very many reunion registries that adoptees and mothers are pouring over for years, hoping and praying that they can find the part of them that's missing. The powers that be don't think that adults should be able to have their own personal histories. Adoptees are not "allowed" to have their original birth certificates. They're treated as if they're still children and can't be trusted to handle their own relationships.

http://www.adopting.org/adoptions/free-national-world-adoption-reunion-registries.html
http://www.nationaladoptionregistry.com/
http://www.isrr.net/

When you put the pieces together, adoption doesn't paint a very pretty picture.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

One Life, Two Minds



Just recently my friend Robin at Motherhood Deleted mentioned dissociative disorder on her blog. I was thinking about that same thing.

"Dissociative disorders are so-called because they are marked by a dissociation from or interruption of a person's fundamental aspects of waking consciousness (such as one's personal identity, one's personal history, etc.). Dissociative disorders come in many forms, the most famous of which is dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder). All of the dissociative disorders are thought to stem from trauma experienced by the individual with this disorder. The dissociative aspect is thought to be a coping mechanism -- the person literally dissociates himself from a situation or experience too traumatic to integrate with his conscious self. Symptoms of these disorders, or even one or more of the disorders themselves, are also seen in a number of other mental illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder."

When I was in the maternity home I wrote letters home to my folks. I have those letters now. My mother saved them and gave them back to me just last year. What an odd feeling. When I read them it was like I was reading the letters of a stranger. I didn't recognize the handwriting, I didn't recognize the words on the page, I didn't know the person who wrote them. It was like I was another person altogether. It was also interesting to me to note that on papers that I had written on previous to going to the home and after the adoption, my handwriting was completely different. In those letters I was telling my family what they wanted to hear. They wanted to hear that I was okay. They wanted to know that I was handling things. They were the only people in my life who actually knew where I was and why I was there. I didn't have anywhere else to go afterwards but back to them so they were my safety net. I had to keep them in my world and on my side, where else would I go if not back to them?

Over the course of the years when I looked back to the girl I was at that time and the situation I was in, I know intellectually that I did the only thing I could do but there still remained the thought that I beat myself up with - the thought that I was 19 when I got pregnant and 20 when she was born and why couldn't I stand up to everyone around me and say - stuff it.... I'm keeping my baby! Why wasn't I strong enough? Do other mothers have this residue of guilt hanging around like some guest who's overstayed their welcome by about 20 or 30 years? Now as a middle aged adult (ok, slightly passed middle age) I know that going down the road of shoulda/woulda/coulda does nothing but hurt me.

Looking back now is like looking back on two people - the girl I was inside who was scared, sad and out of options and the girl who was working to make it to the other side. It was like I had divided myself in two in order to protect myself. It was a defense mechanism for my psyche. I was in survival mode. Understanding this and knowing that I did what I had to to survive helped me realize that I could let go of any last feeling of guilt that was hanging around. I could allow that I was young, naive and believed what I was told. Under those circumstances I did the best that I could with the experience that I had. It's easy for so many of us to look to the past and say... well, I would've done this or that. It's really easy for other people to tell us what we should have done. I've learned so much over the years about not only myself and how to heal from the damage done, but also about the adoption industry and the damage it does. The me of now needs to let the me of then off the hook. Does that make any sense?

The mind is a fascinating thing.

Monday, September 20, 2010

1980? What?!


There are many who are amazed when I tell them that I surrendered my daughter to the adoption machine in 1980. They think that because it was 1980 I surely had a choice in the matter, that it was my decision. WRONG! Some people think - how can that be? The BSE (Baby Scoop Era) was over then. Was it? Really? It was over for a lot of the country but there were many pockets of our fine nation where it wasn't over, not yet. The attitudes of the BSE still prevailed.

Some are amazed because they just don't know what happened to young women during the time of the BSE. They know that girls went away but they didn't really think anything beyond that. What happened to those girls when they went away? They have no idea of the treatment that so many were subjected to. They know that they left. They were told that their friend or neighbor went to take care of an ailing Aunt or they got a job in a different city, that was the story. There were probably some who believed the story and some who whispered behind their hands ...I'll bet she's "in trouble". What they didn't know was that those girls and young women were abused, humiliated, had their rights violated, were isolated and imprisoned, were punished for basically being human. They were kept separated from their babies, not allowed to see or hold their own children, labeled with signs stating BFA - baby for adoption - that told the hospital staff how to treat them. This happened in the 50's, 60's, 70's and yes, the 80's.

Some folks don't want to believe that this happened in the 80's. That's their prerogative. I know what happened because I lived it. I know that this horrible treatment of women and children was still going on in the 80's because I was there, I experienced it. I've read stories from other mothers who surrendered after I did and they were treated the same way. All those things that I just described above happened to me. I don't say this to gain sympathy. I say this and talk about it because too many people just have no idea what happened. And many, if they do know what happened during the BSE, have no idea that this stuff was still going on into the next decade.

What I don't understand is there are some people out in adoptoland who say yes, there is coercion going on and they would like to see reform happen BUT if you surrendered in the 80's it was your choice, you could have run and taken off with your baby. I just read this on a blog recently. Wait a minute. If there's coercion going on now that means that there are girls being brainwashed and signing surrender papers under duress. If that's the case in 2010 then isn't it possible that that is what happened to girls like me in the 80's? We were coerced as well. So does that mean we had a choice? I didn't have a choice and I'm sure I wasn't the only girl in the whole of the United States who was in that position at that time. The difference is it was actually more abusive back then, and the industry was more open about it. They have new and different techniques now. They've studied us to see what works and what doesn't.

Just recently I had an email conversation with a woman who works in a pregnancy center. Every time she responded to one of my letters it was as if she never even read them. I got back the usual adoption lingo - you know the words.... adoption is a loving option etc..... She called me closed minded and unfair. She said I couldn't go back decades and try to second guess what happened and that I needed to take responsibility for what happened. It's amusing to me when the pot calls the kettle black. It's insulting to me when someone who has not walked the same path that I did presumes to tell me how I was treated and what I could have done.
oh well.........

Peace


Saturday, September 18, 2010

From the heart of an adoptee

I thought I would share someone else's blog post with you. Karen at Assembling Self writes lovely poetry. I also like what Judge Weatherford had to say. Moms aren't the only ones who feel the loss.

Birth Bonds - The Severing of Biology in Adoption

As leaf to tree, as flower to bee, as cloud to sky and rain.
Like foot to toe, and face to nose, and person to a name.
Together these, like fish to sea, forever will belong.
Just as notes an artist wrote, or lyrics to a song.
Like tracks to a train this perpetual chain is what the world is based on.
There are links between each living thing and dusk that turns to dawn.
A stopped hand on the clock, a lost key to a lock, are vital connections gone.
Like pasts left behind, that we need to find, in order to carry on.
I hope you know what I'm trying to show, the point I'm attempting to make.
Like a child to it's mother, or sister and brother, some bonds aren't meant to break.

It still continually surprises me, after 12 years of involvement in adoption reform and education, that people do not grasp the vastness of having your genetic and biological foundation taken from you when you are adopted. Only through our eyes, those that can clearly see, can anyone comprehend that the world revolves around family and heredity everyday, and through generations that came before them. It was said best by the honorable Judge Weatherford to an adoptee upon their petition to open adoption records.

"The law must be consonant with life. It cannot and should not ignore broad historical currents of history. Mankind is possessed of no greater urge than to try to understand the age-old questions: "Who am I ?", and "Why am I?" Even now the sands and ashes of the continents are being sifted to find where we made our first steps as man. Religions of mankind often include ancestor worship in one way or another. For many the future is blind without sight of the past. Those emotions and anxieties that generate our thirst to know the past are not superficial and whimsical. They are real and they are "good cause" under the law of man and God." - Hon. Wade Weatherford, S. Carolina Circuit Court Judge

Thankfully there are those out there who are recognizing an adoptee's right to their biological background. I've seen great progress in the last few years. But, it is far from enough. Money has and is still playing the largest part in separating children from their parents and extended family. I was sickened recently in finding an adoption website that claimed to do extensive "birthmother marketing". Along with the claim "Some of our adoptive parents had babies within as little as four months". What is next "negotiable down payment", "money back guarantee", or "low monthly payments"???

Those in charge of this have no real understanding of the life long devastating effects of closed records adoptions. Wait, strike some of that, they do but are too caught up in the profits and benefits from the adoption machine and they refuse to listen those harmed by this system. Why are people who have no true understanding of any aspects of adoption involved with the daily function and perpetuation of it? They act as sheep blindly being hearded by groups such as NCFA who are wolves...and yes...as you guessed it...in sheep's clothing. They profit off of our our pain and suffering in the guise of creating "families".

Let the voices of adoptees be heard. We are more numerous than you think. So many are out there feeling lost, alone, and misunderstood seeking and searching, as I was for so many years, who have not found their voices yet. Until that time we will speak for them.

Thank you Karen

Friday, September 17, 2010

Moms and Stereotypes



This painting to my left is a collage piece done by my dear friend Kelli. Kelli is my closest friend, my co-author on our art instruction book and my teaching partner. She's also an adoptive mother.

This piece is a portrait of me. You can see the letters BFA very clearly on my forehead in the painting and the words they represent are running through the background. It's about me and my story as a first mother. You see, Kelli has been my friend for over a dozen years. She knows everything about what happened, she's lived it with me, cried with me and she was sitting there when I got the call from the agency telling me that my daughter was found and wanted to have contact with me. As I sat there listening on the phone and crying with relief she was motioning me with signals - do I get the tissues or do I get the tissues and the champagne?

In adoption world there's a lot of animosity toward adoptive mothers. I understand why. I see the sense of entitlement, the selfishness and the cruelty of many of them. I know that they are the people who create the demand part of supply and demand in the adoption industry. Without the demand of the adopters there wouldn't be the agencies willing and able to exploit young, vulnerable women out of their infants. Now here comes the "but"..... I also know that this is not the story for every single adoptive mother. There are some who "get" us. They understand, as well as they can, what we've been through and support our efforts 110%. There are some, like my daughter's adoptive mother who was there with open arms, making me part of the family from the moment I found them. It really bothers me when mothers like me - mothers of adoption loss - assume that ALL adoptive mothers are responsible for the evils of the adoption industry.

There's lots of stories out there and not everyone's story is the same. In Kelli's case, she adopted her niece when the girl was 6 1/2 years old. Kelli didn't start out wanting a baby. She and her husband had no intention of having children but when a family member was in trouble, in an abusive situation and needed a permanent home they stepped in and took over. Their niece became their daughter but that little girl always had contact with her first mother. She stayed in her family, she knows where she came from and she's always had contact with all of her original family. Kelli was called Aunt Kelli for a long time. She left it up to her daughter to decide when and if she wanted to call her mom. She eventually did decide to do that but Kelli left it up to her. This was kinship care. This is what I wish would happen more often for kids who are in trouble. In my opinion, my friends saved this girl's life. This is what the industry ought to be about, finding family first who can take care of children that are truly in need.

We, as first mothers, don't like the stereotype of the unwed mother as crack addicted slut who can't get her act together long enough to take care of her children. There are a few adoptive mothers out there who don't appreciate and don't deserve the stereotype of the selfish, greedy woman who thinks of no one but herself and her needs. There are also adoptees angry with first mothers and make the assumption that all of us just gave away our children without even looking back. Hogwash. Another assumption made, another roadblock to getting something done and fixing things. There's a lot of anger out there from all sides. I don't know what the answer is. I wish I did. I just think we all need to do a little more listening and a little less assuming.

Peace

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Adoption Bullet

It's Sunday morning and I'm relaxing, eating breakfast and listening to the quiet in the house. I got on line and read Robin's blog about the night she last saw her daughter. She wrote about signing the surrender papers and it was like I was transported back to 1980. There I was again, sitting in a room with a large desk, the woman behind the desk with her bobbed grey hair, looking at me with no expression. As I sobbed my way through the signing she said nothing to me, just pushed a box of tissues across the desk. Now here I am, 30 years later and reunited with my daughter, and this scene in my head can still reduce me to the sobbing girl I was then. The pain comes rushing to the surface screaming. It stops at my throat choking me until I let it out and have a meltdown.

A couple of days ago I wrote a message to a young pregnant woman who wrote on a public page that she just decided to give her baby up for adoption. I felt odd writing to her, a complete stranger. I wasn't sure I was doing the right thing by saying anything to her. I don't know her situation. I don't know if she's being pressured (after her reply to me I think she is). Now after re-living that moment in the adoption agency, remembering once again what it was like to leave the hospital without my daughter, I know I did the right thing by contacting this girl. She's still pregnant. She has no idea what's in store for her if she follows through with this. She needs to know what this will do to her and her child and you know the agencies aren't going to share that info with her. It's up to the moms who have been there before to tell her what she's going to face. It's also up to us to share with her any knowledge we have of resources that can help her if she decides to keep her baby. My guess is that the agencies aren't that forthcoming with that info either. I'm starting to compile a list of websites that might be a help to her. If any of you know of some good sites I can add to the list please let me know.

www.keepyourbaby.com
www.singlepregnancy.com
www.singlemothers.org
www.singlemothersoutreach.org
www.singlemom.com
www.whattoexpect.com

Girls/women in this situation need to know that there is help out there. It such an overwhelming feeling to be in the position of being pregnant and alone. What an easy target for the agencies and their greed. Every time I hear of another infant adoption all I can think about is that mother sitting in an office or even her hospital room still recovering from the birth, signing that paper and what it's doing to her. I think about that baby crying for his/her mother. I see the posts from the happy, smiling couples who are advertising that they want a baby. I want them to leave that mother alone. I want her to know that there's other options besides the so-called "loving option".

The girl I contacted may never write to me again. I may never know what she decided but I had to at least give her the information I never got. I had to tell her what I wish someone had told me. I couldn't dodge that bullet but maybe there's a way to keep other moms from getting hit.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Marketing Madness

In my recent travels through websites and Facebook pages I've come across more and more stories about folks advertising that they are looking for a child to adopt or agencies that are marketing to the unwed, pregnant mother. When I'm on my own Facebook page I see ads popping up on the sides that are advertising adoption agencies. Simply because I look at pages on this topic it automatically generates these ads. When they appear I can feel my blood pressure rise and my teeth grind.

This webpage called midwest voices has a guest columnist talking about his volunteer work with a Kansas City adoption agency.

"As a volunteer for a local Kansas City adoption agency, my caseworker supervisor has been training me to assist her as a “child scout”; connecting children with people who wish to adopt. Based upon the family and individual requirements (some are potential single parents), I search upon national websites, like AdoptUSKids to help connect “forever families” with children seeking homes."

The first sentence alone had me twitching - "child scout"???? Doesn't that just say it all? Scouting for babies. Isn't it obvious who the agency is working for? It's all about the PAP's. ......."with children seeking homes." Do you really think that those newborn infants - if they had a voice - would be asking to go home with strangers? Are these babies seeking homes? Who do these babies really want holding them?

"Presently, given the many State and private databases, I prepare search documents in MSWord, tables that are the result of “screen-scraping” data from the websites; tedious but crucial and much appreciated by adopting people with whom we work. But, what if we had a national “Facebook-like” platform to help fuse all of this information and share it? For the techies out there, yes this begins with a comprehensive “requirements document” to explain what everyone needs.

What if Facebook donated some of their time, talent, and treasure to this human endeavor?"

So, now they want to get FB to donate their time to help them find babies to sell. Why am I still amazed by this? I'm continually appalled at what people will do but this shouldn't surprise me. Sandy at Musing Mother came across another agency trolling on Craigslist. I've even heard of prospective adoptive couples handing out business cards to pregnant women who are not wearing a wedding ring. Just how low will they go? Well, it seems that all I've managed to do in this post is ask questions. Some of the answers are obvious but how low will they go? I hope we've already seen the lowest.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pain Wars

My pain is greater than your pain. I see a lot of this kind of thing going on in the adoption world. I just read another great post from Declassified Adoptee about adoptees supposedly not understanding the pain of infertile couples. Like Amanda said, adoptees live in the real world too and have the same issues that everyone else deals with. The same can be said for us first mothers. Many, many first mothers deal with infertility later on after losing their children. That child they lost to adoption may have been the only child they will ever have. They certainly know what that pain is like.

I understand what the pain of wanting a child is like. I lived with that pain for 22 years before I found my daughter. I had 2 more children after the adoption but that doesn't lessen the pain of losing the first one. Children born later are not replacements for the first. They are beings in their own right, separate from the first. The longing for the first one doesn't go away. This is what I want to say to people who say that we, as first mothers, don't understand the pain of yearning for a child. I think people who say such things haven't really thought that through. Unfortunately I know it all too well.

People on all sides of this issue have a tendency to live in their own little bubble of self-interest. I think we all behave that way at times, not wanting to hear what the other side has to say. We all want validation of what we've been through and there's nothing wrong with that but we also have to listen to other people's stories. Not all adoptive parents are demanding, greedy and filled with a sense of entitlement to other women's babies. Not all first mother's are drug addicted whores that can't be bothered to clean up their act for the sake of their children. Not all adoptees are angry with first mothers. You know that the big business beast known as the adoption industry is just eating it up. It probably loves to see the animosity between the 3 sides of this triangle. We end up playing this game of "I went through worse stuff than you went through" and then end up bickering with each other.

What is the point of that? Shouldn't we be focused on the children and what's good for them? While there's all these little battles going on out there in the field, there's the industry and it's weapons of manipulation taking more and more prisoners. Those of us affected by adoption all have pain in one way or another. In order to make people aware of what the industry does we have to talk about that pain and show them what the tools are that the industry is using. Maybe I'm dreaming, but wouldn't it be nice if instead of bludgeoning each other with our pain and complaining about how we don't understand each other, we could work together and use it to change the source of the pain?

Peace

Friday, September 3, 2010

Peddlers of Flesh

I came across this site on Facebook today and just had to post it here. When I told my hubby about it he called them flesh peddlers and he was right! I sure hope there's some other people out there that find this just as offensive as I do. I'm not just talking about first mothers either, it should be offensive to everyone. They make this look like a vacation package. Look! Absolutely free! All for the simple act of giving us your child. Take a look at the photos on the left of the page, there's actually a smiling young mother holding her very pregnant belly with one hand and shopping bags with the other as if to say.... look at me, I'm out shopping and having a good time, yay! All I have to do is give birth and then I can go back to my life without any hassles.

This is not the only place that offers packages and deals. After seeing this I really don't want to hear anymore about the industry no longer being coercive or manipulative.

OK, time to go back to Robin's blog and know that life CAN be good. Make sure you visit, you've got to see the photo she posted.

Peace and have a good holiday weekend.

Tattoo Tales


I never thought in a million years I would ever get a tattoo! Not me. Nope. Never.
Well, as you can see, never say never. After 2 major events in my life in the past 8 years I decided I would do it. The first event was finding my daughter. After I found her I started thinking.... maybe. Then last year was the cancer diagnosis and surgery. I had radiation early this year and now I'm fine. That was event number 2.

Since I decided to get the tattoo, I thought, I want to be able to see it all the time otherwise I'm not going to bother so I put it on my forearm. I came up with the idea for the design and my hubby did it in photoshop for me. It's lovely having a hubby who does graphic design. The design is a triquetra, for me representing mind, body and spirit. The red ribbon running through it forms my 3 children's initials - E, A and S. For me this celebrates life and the reunion of my 3 children.

So now I'm curious. Are there any other moms out there who got tattoos relating to the adoption of their children? If so and you don't mind sharing, what did you get?

Peace

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Expectations

Danger - warning - some people who are sensitive to religion talk may be offended, but it's my blog......

We live with expectations all the time. What people expect of us at work, in our families and from our friendships has a lot do with how we run our lives. We're taught to behave a certain way so that we fit seamlessly into society. As children certain conduct was expected of us and of course that makes sense. I know what it's like to be out in a store or restaurant and be around children who aren't taught to behave - the kids are having fun but the adults around them are swearing a blue streak under their breath!


I appreciate the standards we set for ourselves, we need rules and we need to raise our children with rules for them to follow but....... where do we draw the line and when do we say - I don't think so, I'm going my way and making up my own mind? Sometimes we need to take a look at what we believe and the rules we follow and see if it's really in our best interest to keep believing and keep following. A re-evaluation of our values can be a good thing.

The painting above is about being caught in the web of the rules of religion. The white lilies are the girls like me - unmarried and pregnant, the girls who were expected to remain virginal until they began their lives of wedded bliss (I'd like to know who coined that term) no matter the age. The background shapes aren't legible here but they're bible pages. The web itself is done in gold leaf. Isn't religion many times wrapped in opulence? Religious organizations are very involved in the adoption process. Catholic Social Services facilitated my daughter's adoption. Did they do what was right? NO. Because of this connection, this was the first painting I did in the series.

As humans we want to be part of the crowd and fit in but sometimes we need someone to be bold, say no I'm not doing it that way and maybe wake everyone else up from the herd mentality. Surely, out of all those people involved in the cruel treatment of mothers and children over the decades, someone had a gut feeling or a thought as they were going to sleep at night that what they were doing in adoption was wrong. Surely, there was a family member who had the thought.... the hell with what society or the neighbors think, that baby needs to stay with us. We'll help take care of her. I know I wanted to tell everyone to just stick it, I'm keeping my baby, but I was too scared. Is that what happened? Was everyone too afraid to speak up?

Maybe if a few people had spoken up and said - hey! that's wrong, you can't just keep babies and mothers apart, you can't take that infant from it's mother right there in the delivery room, things could've been different. Maybe if people speak up now, things can be different.

One of my favorite new words is "unchurched" thanks to my friend Robin. It's a good word for how I think of myself. I've been unchurched for a very long time. For me it began when I was a senior in high school but it really took root after my daughter was born. No longer was I going to follow man's rules about morality and to me that's what religion is, a collection of man's rules put in place to control people. If there is a god, he/she/it is probably wondering why more people don't stand up for what's right. (I know the question is going to be... how do you know what's right without religion? I believe we all have an internal compass that if listened to we know what is harmful to ourselves and others and if we pay attention to that our conscience guides us) I don't think any organization has the corner on the market when it comes to morality and ethics, that's been proven time and time again in the news.

When it comes to this issue, deep down in our hearts most of us know that mothers and babies belong together and shouldn't be separated for any reason other than neglect or abuse. At least that's my hope. The Beatles had it right... all you need is love..... and compassion.... and empathy.

Peace

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Baby for Adoption



Sometimes when doing these posts it feels like I'm preaching to the choir. The wonderful mothers I've met online know what I'm talking about, they've been there, they understand and thank heavens for them. After 30 years I've finally found people who get it. It hasn't taken that long because they weren't out there, it's taken this long because so many of us have been silent. We were too ashamed to talk about it or too hurt to talk about it.

Now, I'm seeing a new type of mother out there, the happy mother of adoption loss. These are the mothers who have no idea what happened in the past. They don't understand why we speak out. They call us "meanies" for just speaking our truth. Even if we just express an opinion in a kind, civil tone we are called names, deleted and dismissed. They don't understand that if we as a society don't acknowledge the crimes of the past we might be doomed to repeat them.

When I was in the hospital giving birth to my first child, the one I lost to adoption, that red sign above is what I saw on the door to my room and on the wall above my bed. There were 2 of them, they glared at me, they mocked me. BABY FOR ADOPTION: the standard code for decades. It let the staff at the hospital know that they were not to let us see our children.

Because of that sign I never saw my daughter. I wasn't allowed. I was her mother, I had every right to see her, hold her and feed her. Did I know that then? No. I was a good girl and I did what I was told. I was told that seeing my baby would make it harder for me to deal with the adoption. What they actually meant was.... it would make it harder for them to take her because they knew that if I held her the chances of me letting her go dropped dramatically. Even in the delivery room I wasn't allowed to lay eyes on her at all. As soon as she was born they whisked her away and quickly wrapped her up in a blanket. I got a peek of a little arm as she flailed and I heard her cry. It didn't last long, her cry got weaker as she got farther and farther away. That was my last contact with my daughter. It took over 24 hours to find out if I had a girl or a boy. It took 22 years to find out how much she weighed.

No one could be bothered with what I was going through. I only found out the sex of my baby because I was walking down the hall in the hospital and one of the nurses asked my last name. When I told her she said with a big smile...."oh, you don't have to worry about signing the form for circumcision, you had a girl". She didn't see my scarlet brand. She didn't know I was one of those girls - BFA. If it weren't for that little slip up I wouldn't have found out it was a girl until 4 days later when I signed the papers. What a way to find out the sex of the child you've given birth to. How could women be treated this way?! And by other women? This happened to so many of us and so many people have no idea. This is why I comment and blog and run my mouth now. The young mothers coming up behind us need to know what happened then AND what's happening now.

And, to the mothers who know..... thanks for being here and understanding.
Peace

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Building families? - no, building bottom lines

In my travels through the blog world I came across a letter that Sandy at Musing Mother posted in her blog called Sinners and Saints. This letter is from the then president of the National Council for Adoption and it was written in 2006. He titled it Reviving the Institution of Infant Adoption. That line alone was enough to get my back up. I'll give you a few pieces from that letter here but I encourage you to go to Sandy's blog and read the whole post.

"This choice of parenting over adoption is often the default decision, due to the mother's lack of understanding of and information about adoption. She bore the child, so, of course, she should "keep it." and how can any mother "give away her baby?" Due to this common instinctive reaction, frequently reinforced culturally and by those around her, the woman with an unplanned pregnancy is often unable to consider adoption freely and make a fully informed decision."

When I first read that paragraph my breath literally caught in my throat. Then it made me laugh. Default decision?! What else would it be? That's how it's supposed to be! Seems to me like the NCFA just doesn't like that women might actually be getting some support from friends and family, support to keep and parent their own children. They would much rather convince her that "making an adoption plan" is a much better decision. And, isn't it funny that this is what we've been saying from the other side..... women in the position of facing an unplanned pregnancy aren't getting all the information they need regarding the consequences of surrender. Maybe women are getting more informed and the NCFA just doesn't like the direction that the information is taking them.

"NCFA is expanding its efforts to revive the institution of infant adoption through sound pregnancy counseling and public communications that promote infant adoption awareness and understanding. NCFA's infant adoption awareness training program teaches pregnancy counselors how to present the adoption option to women with unplanned pregnancies."

Yes, they're going to "counsel" women right out of their babies lives. Who is paying for this counseling? Who is training the counselors? They are, so what kind of spin do you think they'll put on this counseling? Follow the money. They make money when a woman surrenders so how do you think the counseling will go? They will gear it towards encouraging a woman to surrender her baby. This is where the so-called positive language comes in - see what I wrote a couple of posts down below in Language and Lures. They are expanding their efforts because they've been hit in the wallet since the rate of infant adoptions has declined.

"A recent study commissioned by NCFA and the Family Research Council revealed valuable insights into the birthmother's choice of adoption. In-depth interviews of 45 birthmothers addressed the emotional process, thoughts, and feelings they went through in arriving at their adoption decisions. Some findings came as no surprise. For example, in order for birthmothers to feel right about their decision, it was necessary that they made the decision voluntarily. Many who felt they had been coerced or tricked into adoption, mostly older birthmothers, were bitter about it."

So this is how they learn their techniques. They study us, find out what buttons to push and then gear the counseling and advertising that they do to steer young, vulnerable women in the direction of adoption. So, they don't want mothers to be bitter - is this what I'm supposed to take from that last line? I don't feel I was coerced, I know I was coerced. Now, instead of just being open about their agenda, they've gotten sneaky about it. If they play the game right these young women will come away from this experience thinking this was all their idea and gee, they're even happy about it. Then they use these happy surrendering moms to convince more mothers to do the same thing. This is how they "build families" and bottom lines.

The last paragraph...

"For the sake of children, birthparents, and families, NCFA seeks support for advancing counseling, media, and policy strategies to revive infant adoption in America. Will you partner with us in this vital cause?"

Well, sorry NCFA, no support here. They actually strategize on how to separate mothers from their children. They want a revival! They make me sick.