Tuesday, December 14, 2010


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

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
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.


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

"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


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.