Sunday, July 22, 2012

I don't need Oxygen

Well, I've been gone a while. Lots happening since I posted last. Rhode Island became the 7th state to unseal adoptee birth records. Congrats to them! Now there's only 43 states to go. I'm making some more progress on the Silent Voices painting series. I'll post the newest one soon. I flew to Ohio to spend a week with my daughter and 3 grandsons. It was a huge relief to see her and the boys. Three years is far too long to go without seeing them. Hopefully the next trip won't be so far away.

Then of course there's the new Oxygen TV show "I'm Having Their Baby". This show follows young pregnant women as they go through the coercion process of adoption agencies. Of course it's being described as showing us the process from the mothers point of view. She will be painted as being brave and selfless in the face of this very difficult "decision" while the young mother doesn't realize how she's being manipulated. I can't remember the last time I was so disgusted by a program. This is Oxygen's lame attempt at justifying the show. They're trying to say that - see? women love adoption. Who did they ask? Who was surveyed? It certainly wasn't anyone who knows anything about adoption. It certainly wasn't anyone who has lived it from the mother's or adoptee's perspective. If you just pick up a phone and make random calls to names on a list, they're going to repeat the same garbage that's been taught to them over the years from the big business propaganda machine. So, read their survey. Be sure to read the comments and add your own. Here is the Facebook page for the show. You can comment there also. If you're interested in doing more to let Oxygen know your thoughts on this show, join us on The OFFICIAL Mothers and Adoptees Boycotting Oxygen's "I'm Having Their Baby" Facebook page. Below is the email I sent to a director of Oxygen Media who is involved with this project.

Hello Ms. McIntosh,

This is the comment I left on the Facebook page for the show "I'm Having Their Baby".

A mother and her baby being separated is a trauma and a tragedy, NOT entertainment. These women are not only being exploited for their infants, they're also being exploited for ratings! People are willing to spend money to make a show so everyone can watch a woman being coerced into surrendering her child and grieving her loss. Where are the people willing to help these mothers with the support they need in order to keep and raise their own children? Adoption in this country has sunk to a new low. Disgusting! 

Let me tell you why I left the above comment. I am a mother of adoption loss. I lost my daughter to adoption in 1980. Although 1980 was not considered to be during the Baby Scoop Era (google it if you're not familiar with it) of adoption which occurred between 1945 and 1973, I was still treated as though it was. I was sent away to live in another town, my files were coded BFA - meaning "baby for adoption". When a mother has that code on her file it means that the hospital staff is alerted to not allow the mother to see, hold, or be with her baby at all. I was told nothing about my own child, not even the sex of the baby I had just given birth to. The minute she was born she was wrapped in a blanket and taken out of the room. The only memory I had of her was the sound of her cry. Adoption at this time was filled with lies, secrecy and shame. It was a completely closed adoption meaning I was not allowed to know anything about my own child. For 22 years I didn't know if my child was alive or dead. Some people liken the loss of adoption to a death. I liken it more to a kidnapping. You know your child is out there somewhere but you know nothing about her life. Is she ok, is she being treated well, is she sick? The questions go on and on. The pain goes on and on. You were simply a vessel for the child and your motherhood was erased. Living day to day with that reality is horrific.

I always knew I would search for my daughter. Ten years ago I found her. I also found that her adoptive parents divorced when she was only 3 years old. After the divorce her adoptive mother never remarried. She was raised by a single mother - something that I was told wasn't good for my child. I lost my daughter because I was single and pregnant yet no one suggested that a divorced mother raising a child alone should surrender that child for adoption. Why is it ok for a divorced single mother to raise a child but not a single mother who never married? One year after losing my daughter I got married. I've been married to the same man for 31 years and had 2 more children. If my daughter had been able to stay with me she would have been raised with her own mother, a father and her 2 siblings - an intact family. She didn't end up having a better life, she just had a different one. There are no guarantees. Adopting couples have the same problems as other people. They're not saviors. They get divorced, they have drug problems, they lose jobs, they lose homes, things happen.

This brings me to the next point. You're probably thinking that adoption has changed since then. Now there's open adoption and women have more choices. It may appear to be so. Open adoption sounds good. It looks good, but is it? Did you know that open adoption is not legally enforceable? Did you know that the adoptive parents have all the power? Did you know that 80% of open adoptions close within the first 2 years? An adopting couple can disappear with a mother's child and there's nothing she can do about it. She could try and fight through the legal system but that costs a lot of money and the chances of success are minimal. If she had that kind of money, would she have lost her child to adoption in the first place? Usually adoption happens because of 2 things - marital status and financial situation. Both of these are temporary situations and adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Since the time period of the Baby Scoop Era the rate of babies surrendered for adoption dropped dramatically. Because of that the adoption industry had to find a way to encourage more young, vulnerable mothers to surrender their children. Adoption is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. There is a lot of money to be made on babies. It's a supply and demand business. In order to fulfill the demand they had to convince pregnant women that they're unfit to raise their own children. This is done in very subtle coercive ways. The coercion of pregnant women happens this way....

1. Using the term "birthmother" for a woman who is pregnant sets her up psychologically to separate her from her infant. It puts her in the position of being simply a vessel carrying someone else's child. She is an expectant mother, not a "birthmother".

2. An adoption agency providing counseling for a pregnant woman is unethical. It's a conflict of interest. They are paid by the people who will benefit monetarily from the surrender of that baby.

3. An adoption agency providing legal counsel for a pregnant woman is unethical. See above for reason.

4. When you title a TV show "I'm having their baby" it's coercive. As long as she is pregnant and until she signs the document surrendering her rights, she is the mother of that child. It's HER baby, not theirs.

5. Matching a pregnant woman with a prospective adoptive couple is coercive. It puts her in the position of feeling indebted to the couple who has spent many hours and dollars preparing "birthmother" letters (aka... slick advertising brochures portraying them as superior to her as parents for the baby), preparing for bringing home a child, bonding with the mother, etc. The more she bonds with the adopting couple the less chance there is of her changing her mind and deciding to parent her own baby. This is also why mothers like me were kept from our babies when they were born. The agencies knew that if mothers spent time with their babies they were less likely to surrender.

6. Adoption agencies have a lobbying group working on their behalf - NCFA, National Council for Adoption. They have been instrumental in keeping adoptees from accessing their own birth records. It is every person's right to have access to their own personal records. The NCFA hides behind the skirts of women like me to deny adoptees what is rightfully theirs. They claim that we as mothers were promised anonymity and privacy in the closed adoption era. This is a lie! Closed records were closed to protect the adoptive parents. We were never promised this. We were told not to try for contact because we would cause damage to our children. Of course we didn't want to do that so we waited...... Over 95% of mothers want to be contacted by their children.

7. Did you know that we have stricter laws governing the separation of puppies and kittens from their mothers than we do humans? It's against the law to take a puppy or kitten from it's mother before the age of 6 to 8 weeks because it's in the best interest of the puppy or kitten to stay with it's mother, yet it's ok for a human baby to be taken from it's mother at birth. An adoption consent can be signed in some states within 48 hours of birth, while the mother is still dealing with drugs in her system and while she is still dealing with post-partum hormone changes.

Coercion takes many forms. Unfortunately I feel that your show contributes to the coercion of young, vulnerable, pregnant women. It's incredibly sad to me that our country finds entertainment in the separation of mothers and babies. Adoption is damaging to not only the mother who loses a child, but also to the child who loses her natural family. You may think that you're showing the world what a difficult decision adoption is for the mother but what you're really doing is contributing to the coercion of that mother and contributing to the damage done to the child. Adoption is not a one time event. It's a life sentence for both mother and child. The only real winners in this scenario are the adoptive parents who get the coveted baby and the agency who makes the money.



  1. Absolutely one of the best revealing of the reality of the adoption world I have seen on a blog. The story does not stop here, there are horror stories about child stealing, coercion, mothers being told their baby died, when it was alive, and it goes on and on and on for the sake of a dollar, and the egos of those who are willing to pay for a child.

  2. Thanks Linda and yes, there are so many more stories and letters that we could write. This is just a drop in the bucket but we have to keep writing and educating people. It's going to take a lot more of us to counter all the propaganda about happy adoption.

  3. Beautifully written. Thank you so much for writing and sending that. I only disagree with one point, and that's your last one. I think adoption only has one winner: the agencies or industry itself. Adoptive parents typically have their fantasy blown out of the water pretty early on. Once they realize that little square peg isn't actually willing to be pounded into their round hole, family life tends to devolve into dysfunction--for everyone. I saw it in my own home (my older brother and I were both adopted and neither of us were able to follow our parents' scripts, because we were GASP human beings with actual identities of our own GASP), and in interacting with literally hundreds of other adoptees through my life, I've realized it works that way in many families.

    I have to admit, I just don't have a while lot of sympathy for adoptive parents. They're buying children. They can spin that any way they want, but the bottom line is THEY'RE BUYING CHILDREN. People go about adding to their families by buying human beings are NOT on the side of the angels. They're morally corrupt. As far as I'm concerned, they deserve all the misery they will almost certainly get. The adoption industry is despicable, as is this show and everyone involved in it.

    1. Unknown, you're right. Many adopting parents do find out that it's not all they thought it would be. After spending last week with my daughter and seeing the difference in personalities between her and her adoptive mother it's a good example of your point. She is so much like me and so unlike her amom that the difference is striking and I believe that the extreme difference in their personalities has greatly affected my daughter's life.

    2. I was adopted through Department of Social Services so I wasn't purchased. As an adoptee I don't like being a pawn. I just want to be loved and I should have the right to be. You have 3 choices. Have an abortion, keep your baby or place the baby up for adoption. If you choose life that is fantastic but make a choice and deal with it. If I sound cold-sorry but I have the right to a life and the right to be loved.

  4. As an adoptee my perspective is different. A part of me gets really tired of the biological parents anger about what choice they made. Children need to have the right to be loved and if you choose not to be there then someone else should be. I would rather be given a chance at life than be an abortion. You cant have it both ways. Be the mom but not be there. There are no perfect families or perfect parents. I am reunited with my biological parents and it is a roller coaster of a relationship. I have a right to be loved! I absolutely hate the show concept. Open adoptions don't always work. Sometimes it is too much. It's funny I was born in 1969 and at any point my biological mother could have said I don't want to do this. She bought into that I would have a better life but at the time her life was in turmoil and her mother wanted her to give me up. I would never let my child give her baby up for adoption. Let 's not turn this topic into the adoptive parents are evil bullshit.

    1. Dear Anon,
      1. Abortion vs adoption is not the discussion so I won't go into that point.
      2. No one said adoptive parents are evil. My daughter's adoptive parents are not evil people.
      3. Yes, every child deserves to be loved and cared for. Some original parents AND some adoptive parents abuse or neglect children. It's a sad fact of life. The point is that there are no guarantees when a child is place in the hands of another family that the child will be cared for properly.
      4. The main point of discussing this show is the fact that women are coerced. In my situation, I did not make a choice, it was made for me and it left me no options. It takes more than one viable option to be able to make a choice. We are angry at the adoption industry that uses reproductive exploitation to make money. We're angry for us AND for you! I don't know what your mother's specific situation was but in her time period the coercion of pregnant girls was horrific. Unfortunately many who have not been in our shoes don't understand what it is to be coerced and forced to do something under duress. You said your mother "bought into that I would have a better life". When you're young, unsure of yourself and faced with caring for another life, it's easy for others to pressure you into doing something, especially when the pressure comes from your own family or your church or your counselor or society in general. In so many of our cases all of those elements came together to tell us that we're not good enough to take care of the child we loved dearly. From the little bit you did tell me about your mother, your mother really didn't have a choice.
      5. I'm also an adoptee.

    2. My mother had a choice she chose adoption. She chose to give me up and let me be someone else's child. You cant have it both ways. You can't give your child up and still be the mother. I am a mother, I am there everyday to care for my kids, feed them care them financially support them. Teach them guide them. You can't give up your child and have the same place as the parent that raises them. I will always feel unwanted-always! I know my birthparents and they are not perfect parents either with perfect kids. There is no such thing.

    3. I'm sorry you feel unwanted. It's very sad for anyone to feel that way. I understand that feeling, my natural father wanted nothing to do with me. He left when I was a baby and I never saw him again.

      I don't claim to have the same place in my daughters life that her adoptive mom has. My daughter has 2 mothers who love her. I'm forever connected to her through nature and love. I wish I had been the one to raise her but I can't change that now. Her childhood is forever lost to me but I can have a relationship with her now as her first mother. The other thing I can do is do my part to speak out against the business of adoption to maybe prevent other mothers and babies from being unnecessarily separated. And no - no one is perfect.

  5. Well my mother chose to give me up and two years later had another child that she kept then another and another and another. Where was your family? Why did you go to the social worker to begin with? Not everyone who becomes pregnant even thinks about giving their child up. How old were you? I was a young mother-there was nothing that anyone could have said to me to get me to give them my child. My birthmother had me for days and then decided. I don't know what state you are from but in 1980 there was a whole lot of young single parents.

    1. Anonymous, instead of re-writing the info you're asking about, please read this earlier blog post that I did. It answers some of your questions.

      To add to the story.... I was 19 yrs old when I got pregnant. I live in FL. My baby's father was out of the picture, I had no job, no money and no where to live if I kept my daughter. I was told by my family that I couldn't bring a baby back to their house. I grew up in a very strict and rigid Latin, Catholic household where you did what you were told no matter what. I was then taken to the Catholic Social Services office where the brainwashing continued. As soon as I started to show I was shipped out of town to live with strangers until she was born. In the next town, when I was alone with the woman who took me in, the SW in that town got me to sign a consent for adoption when I was only 6 months pregnant. They did that so they could take her from me in the delivery room without having to allow me access to her. They do that because they know that the mother is less likely to surrender if she's been able to spend time with her baby. I had no idea what my rights were at the time.

      Yes, there were some young single parents at that time but not many in my area. It was repeatedly drilled into me that they were the selfish ones - they didn't think about what was good for their children.

  6. Open adoption was created to give a biological family more power in her decision. How do you think the adoption should be structured? It has forced perspective parents to feel like they need to come across as perfect so that they may have a chance at being chosen. I wouldn't do it. I think domestic adoption has too many flaws to count. I thing the time frame is too long. It is important to bond and be connected to their parents. It doesn't matter whether you are adopted or if you are a biological child you may be a square peg in a round hole regardless.

    1. Open adoption was actually created to be a carrot on a stick to get more young women to consent to adoption. It has the illusion of giving the mother more power but in reality the adoptive parents are the ones with the power. They can close an adoption any time they want to and there's nothing the mother can do about it. It's not legally enforceable. This was done because after the BSE the rate of babies available for adoption dropped dramatically and it was hurting the bottom line.

      I'm not clear on what you mean by the time frame being too long. Could you clarify for me?

      This post I did in March gives you some info on how I think the system should change. It's a comparison between our country and Australia. We have a lot to learn from them.

      An example of what I think should change in adoption:
      1. All profit motive should be removed. No for-profit, commercial adoption agencies should be allowed.
      2. Pre-birth matching of pregnant woman and prospective adopting couples should not be allowed.
      3. Adoption consent should not be signed until a minimum of 6-8 weeks have passed after the birth to allow the mother to recover from the birth and post-partum hormone changes. This allows her also to have time with her child and know exactly what she is giving up.
      4. If after that time period, she still feels she wants to go through with the adoption, then a new family can be found.
      All efforts should be made to keep the child within the biological family. If the mother can't take care of the baby then maybe a grandparent, aunt, sibling etc....
      If all those options have been exhausted, then the child can be placed with another family.

      Agencies want mothers to believe that they only have a certain time frame in which to sign consent for adoption. This is untrue. A mother can sign an adoption consent anytime up until the child is 18 years old.

    2. I get really tired of how long biological parents should have rights. As an adoptee I want a family. I don't want to be sitting in my perspective parents arms waiting for you to make up your mind. I see children in DSS through the public school going in and out of the families home. You should have the maximum of 8 weeks and that is it. Children should not be taken back after a year or two that is selfish. The pawns are the children. Adoptive parents can't take on all the guidance and financial care of a temporary child. I don't agree with open adoption private agency adoptions. I think women should be well informed and supported to make a choice that is their choice and give them the opportunity to gather tools to keep their children. But once you make that decision you should have a time frame to change your mind and then that is it. Children need stability It can't be all about your rights as some point the child needs to have a voice. I am saying this from an adoptee perspective and as someone who is reunited with my biological parents.

    3. If you're referring to the foster care system and parents getting themselves together to take their children back home, then I think the time frame depends on the specific situation. I can't speak from experience on this but from what I've heard there are times when children are waiting for years and the parents still can't get it together. In that case then yes, the time frame is too long. Those children need a permanent home. I do feel the child is the most important one in the scenario. I also feel that a child has a right to know and be with their natural family and every effort should be made to make that happen. If every option for that has been exhausted and the family can't or won't take care of the child then by all means get the child into a permanent home as soon as possible. I also believe that when that happens it should NOT include sealing the child's records that severs all ties legally from his natural family.