Thursday, May 31, 2012

Trigger is more than a horse.....

As a child growing up I would hear the word Trigger and I would think of the horse that Roy Rogers rode.

I had no idea that the word would have such a different meaning for me now. Earlier today I watched The Good-bye Room. It was an episode of Cold Case and it was first aired 5 years ago. In this show a case re-opened where a 17 year old girl was murdered just one day after giving birth to her baby girl in a home for unwed mothers. I sobbed through a good portion of the show. It was hugely triggering for me.

My situation wasn't exactly like the girl in the show but it was close enough. Yep, I got sent away like the character on the show.  Yes, it was through Catholic Social Services like the characters on the show. Yes, I labored alone like the character on the show. Yes, it was devastating like the characters on the show. No, I didn't murder anyone like the character on the show but my reaction to the show definitely shows how strong the emotional pull can be when it comes to adoption.

I've been thinking about this because my family has been planning a reunion for the summer of 2013 and today is the deadline for getting the deposit in for the location. Normally, that would be great. My problem lies in the fact that some of the family (the main ones planning this event) are adopters and some other family members think that I'm full of crap when I talk about how I feel about adoption. Those were their words, not mine. My opinion of adoption is according the them.... "total crap". 

Now when it comes to this issue some people are saying... "don't let this be the one thing that keeps you from going to the reunion." or "you might feel that way now, but you may feel differently a year from now."

Ok, fine. Maybe I'll feel differently later but, honestly, right now, I just can't see dealing with it. I recently read a blog post by Myst on with the show and I really connected with the last paragraph of the post... 

"If you are looking to adopt, please re-examine why and ask yourself if you would rather build up a family than tear one down. If you are hurting from infertility, I am very, very sorry for your loss. Truly I am. But I urge you to ask yourself why would you want another woman to suffer because you have? You may be able to relate to the words of this song as well however please do not be responsible for making these words someone else's reality. It is not our responsibility. We did not cause anyone's infertility so please do not create a mother of loss. It is a circle that will only ever bring pain and heartbreak in the long run."

It is a huge trigger when you see photos of a child that has been adopted at birth and taken from her family of origin. Every time I see a photo of that child, all I can think of is the mother of that child and what she must be going through. Yes, I know, there will be people who say that maybe that mother really didn't want her child. I know. BUT.... knowing what I know about the adoption industry and it's methods of coercion, how do I know that the mother of that child is not suffering like I've suffered. How do I know she wasn't coerced out of her baby girl like I was. How do I know that this sweet little girl isn't going to grow up with the pain of an adoptee wondering who she is and where she came from. Yeah, I could take the positive road and say that it wasn't coercion that brought that child to my family members but do I really believe it? No. I've learned too much about the industry. I can no longer live with the "head in the sand" approach to adoption. 

Some of the people encouraging me to go to the reunion really mean well and I appreciate that but they have no idea just how deep and how hard this issue is for me. For a while, I thought, maybe I'm over reacting, but after viewing that episode of Cold Case I realize, no, I'm not. There really are things that are extreme triggers to emotional events. Seeing my family members and their cavalier attitudes towards adoption, even though they know my history with it, is very triggering and very difficult to deal with. Do I want to spend a vacation dealing with that? 

No. That's how I'm feeling right now so any decision regarding a family reunion will just have to wait - deadline or no deadline.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I wanted to share an excellent post by a reunited Korean person. In it she answers the question  -

"Why are people who state truths radicals or whiners? Why is it radical to say that parents should raise their own children, and children should remain in their families? Why is it whining to demand that our human rights be maintained?" – Kris Pak

I especially related to the last paragraph of the post....

"Now that I have educated myself about adoption for the past 2 years, when I see an adopted child somewhere, instead of thinking isn’t that beautiful, I am deeply saddened. I don’t have to know the circumstances of what and why, but I see the birth parents that are invisible to everyone else in society. The parents may be good, no good, or there may be complicated and extenuating circumstances, but the loss is about the CHILD- and that loss is real."

An interview

An interview with Peter Dodds on international adoption and the harm it can do.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pets, social media and babies....

What do these have in common? They're all adoptable. I don't have a new painting finished yet in the Silent Voices series so I was looking around Google images for some kind of picture to add to this post. When I Googled images for "adoption business, what did I find? I found business cards for greyhound adoptions, images for Fuzzy Faces Pet Adoption Services, sites about adopting social media for your business, ads placed by couples looking for their "forever children" and of course, pictures of Brad and Angelina.

So, what was the original intent for this post? This website. I am offended by this website on several levels. In fact, there have been several things going on online that are offensive. Is that a surprise? Of course not. That's just par for the course in adoption. There are stereotypical one-liners in movies that are insulting to adoptees, there are advertising agencies who guarantee they can find a baby if you just sign up with them, there are people with Ph.D.'s who think that adoptive parents are not given the respect and support from society that they need and it's her job to encourage that support. Maybe it's the mood I'm in but I'm in no mood to see this crap.

First things first. Someone shared the Adoption Advertising site on FB today so I thought I'd take a peek. These folks say they're not an adoption agency but....

"We know the adoption business well. Our backgrounds are both in adoption marketing and social work. And we have a heart for what we do. We carefully screen all our birth mothers to minimize your financial risk and have a very high percentage of placements. If you work with us, we guarantee that we will find you a baby!"

This is on the page where they talk about the costs of adoption....

"The following is a range of total costs and the minimum budget we require to work with us.. It does not include your homestudy, adoptive parent travel costs, and some states birth mother medical expenses, but does include our fee, travel costs for the birthmother, living expenses, social work and legal fees."

Caucasian: $25K - $40K   Min. Budget of $25K
Biracial: $18K to $25K      Min. Budget of $18K
AA: $15K to $20K              Min. Budget of $15K

On another page they do recommend that PAP's develop a relationship with "their birthmother". Why is that?

"Talk to Your Birthmother
There is no substitute for your personal interaction with your birth mother. From experience, we recommend that you call her regularly. A genuine rapport with the birth mother of your child is a common denominator of most successful adoptions. This may be a new experience for you and stretch your comfort level, but it’s worth it. It increases your chances of getting your baby and will give you valuable information, which you can share with your adopted child as he/she gets older. Of course, you must respect any boundaries that your birth mother has and always be gracious."

Well, certainly the PAP's need to be kind while they're working on the mother to get her baby. Of course if the PAPs are unsure of their skills they can always rely on the advertisers to provide the name of an attorney who can take care of it for them.....

"We have one adoption attorney we work with that gets surrenders on almost every birthmother he works with, whether in his backyard or across the country."

They may not call themselves an adoption agency but if it talks like one and charges like one.........

So now, on to the Ph.D. and her article Stigmas About Adoption Remain, and Hurt Families. She begins by talking about the comment in the movie The Avengers and it reminds her that there are still stigmas to deal with about adoption. She then spends the rest of the article talking about what the adoptive parents have to deal with and how they can cope. Wait a minute. I thought this was supposed to be about adoptees. As is typical, the author ends up sounding like just another mouthpiece for the adoption industry. Be sure to read the comments along with the article. As soon as I commented and mentioned that coercion still going on I got slammed by a very defensive AP. The discussion is still going on and is getting interesting.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Today is not my day

Some are celebrating what's called Birth Mother Day today. This is not to take anything away from the women who find comfort in that kind of celebration. If you are a natural mother of adoption loss and you feel this helps you to deal with whatever feelings Mother's Day conjures up for you then so be it. It's not for me to stand in your way and I'm not judging. However, for me, I am a mother. I'm not that term. My motherhood is not going to be relegated to a separate day from other mothers. I am not less than. That's what the Saturday before Mother's Day means to me. It means I'm not worthy of being included with the other mothers who didn't walk this road and they got to raise all of their children.

The three beautiful people in the above photo are all mine. I birthed all of them. This photo was taken 10 years ago, the day they met for the very first time ever! Liz is the one on the left. She's the one I did not get to raise. I raised the other two but I'm still the mother of all three. I treasure this photo because it was a dream come true for me. I dreamed for years of the day when all my children would be in one place at the same time. I dreamed of what it would be like to see them studying each other's faces, recognizing each other in their features. I dreamed of seeing their 3 faces lined up and searching for the similarities. 

Here we are some years later. I'm in the middle with my girls on either side - my oldest and my youngest. There is no secondary label that I can put on my feelings about my children depending on who I raised and who I didn't so I won't accept a secondary holiday. Happy Mother's Day to me and all the other mothers out there whether you were blessed with the opportunity of raising your children or not.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Please don't thank me!

"Thank you for my child" This is one of those statements that makes me want to hurl. I see it all the time on adoptive parent sites and articles about adoption like this one. In this situation the adoptive mother says that the reason the natural parents of this little boy was surrendering their rights to him was because they couldn't afford a second child. Then she says...

"On the way to the hospital, only silence. The couple was so excited, but the two couldn’t express their feelings with words. So they stayed quiet during the car ride. The two knew the mother could change her mind at any time, and that her family did not want her to place the baby for adoption."

This child has extended family that want to be with him. They don't want to lose this little person who shares their DNA, who is part of their family. If they're expressing their desire for the mother to keep the baby then maybe they would be willing to help the mother. Yes, I know that this is ultimately the decision of the mother and father of that child, not the decision of the extended family but what I want to know is... were the parents coerced by an agency? Will they regret this in a very big way and regret it soon? 

Another thing I'm seeing online is people complaining that there's so much coercion going on in the other direction, meaning women being coerced into keeping their children. Frankly I have a hard time imagining anyone being coerced to keep their own baby. I know there are some mothers out there who really don't want their children. They do exist but I'll bet they are few and far between. In my case, all it would have taken was one sentence from my family - bring her home, we'll handle this together - that's it. Seven little words would have made all the difference in the world for so many lives.

"The baby was in a little bassinette next to her. I thought, ‘Oh no, the baby is right next to her.’ But then she said, ‘There he is.’ And so I walked over to her first and I hugged her. Then I went around to the bassinette.
“I peeked in, and I saw him. Oh, I just melted. I thought, ‘That’s my son.’ Like there, that’s him. He’s ours. And so at that point the papers aren’t signed yet. She has 24 to 48 hours to change her mind. But I picked him up and I held him."
My first thought here was - no, that's not your son, that's her son. 'Oh no, the baby is right next to her' - that tells me that her first thought was fear. Fear that if the mother got too close to her own baby she might change her mind. And, she only has 24 to 48 hours to change her mind - something else that is morally and ethically wrong with adoption as it is now.
This entire article was about the wants of this adopting couple without any regard whatsoever for the child OR the natural family.
“We got back to the hospital and Hannah meets us downstairs. She tells me that the birth mom was upstairs crying. She said that was the first time she ever saw her cry, and she said the birth mom looked down over Mason and she cried over him, and, um, that was sad. Because I thought, I could never give up my child.”
While telling the story, Rachel wiped tears from her cheeks. The memory is intensely sad to this woman who waited so long to have the chance to be a mother.
and, um, that was sad. Because I thought, I could never give up my child.”  
"That was sad."
"I could never give up my child."
Then why are you asking this mother to do it? What is it that's happening in your mind that makes it ok for you to put your needs ahead of this child's right to be with his mother. What is it in your mind that makes it ok for you to take a newborn baby away from his mother while she cries her heart out in agony? Do you think that your desire to be a mother is more important than the connection between this little baby and his mother? Apparently so. The author of this article thinks it's intensely sad for this woman who waited so long to be a mother. I'm sorry. I'm having a bit of trouble sympathizing with the author or the adoptive mother right now. What about the sadness of the natural mother and the pain she'll be dealing with for the rest of her life? What about the sadness of this child who has lost an entire family?
From this mother of adoption loss, I don't want to hear 'thank you'. 

Writing at Lost Daughters

The other day my friend Amanda from Declassified Adoptee asked me if I'd like to participate as an author on the blog Lost Daughters. This is a blog written by a group of female adult adoptees who share their ideas and views of adoption and also share their own stories. I was honored to be asked. I have so much respect and admiration for the authors included at Lost Daughters. Even though here at this blog, my focus is on my role as a natural mother who lost a child to adoption, I'm also an adoptee. I'm a late discovery adoptee raised by my natural mother and adopted by my step-father. That's not quite the same situation as most of the other authors there but I imagine I still share some of the same thoughts and concerns that they do, particularly about the adoption industry. Anyway, the link above will take you to my first post there and more of my story as an adoptee.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Reel to Reel

Sometimes I see speculation online about natural mothers and how we feel. Others speak for us. They make assumptions about what we're thinking. They certainly make assumptions about what kind of people we are and it's usually based on someone they knew who adopted and "their" mother feels this or that. Sometimes people speak for us out of sheer meanness but sometimes it's just because they don't know or understand the position we're coming from. The public has been fed a line about us for so long and many of us were in the closet for so many years that there was no way any other perception could have developed. If we're not there to tell people the truth, how are they going to know?

As a mother from a closed adoption, the emotion can be so devastating and overwhelming that it can be hard to explain. It's a lifetime happening whether there's a reunion or not. For most of us it's not something that we move on from or get over. For me it's like a constant reel of questions that keeps playing in a loop over and over again. There are actually 2 reels. The pre-reunion reel and the post-reunion reel.

What are these questions and what do natural mothers worry about? I don't know about you or anyone else but this is my list. For those who have not been in these shoes, try to imagine all the emotion that goes along with questions like these.

Before reunion: 
Where is my child?
Is she alive?
How is she? Is she ok?
Is she being treated well by the people who are raising her?
Did they tell her she's adopted?
Does she wonder about me?
Does she like school? Did she go to college?
What color hair and eyes does she have?
Does she live near me or did they move out of state?
Could that child I saw this morning be my daughter?
Would people think I was weird if I asked about their child's birthday?
How does dealing with this affect the children I'm raising?
When do I tell my other children about their sister?
What about the rest of the family, when do I tell them?
How is this going to impact them?
How is it going to impact my relationship with them?
Is the trauma of my firstborn's birthday causing pain for my hubby or my raised children?
How do I get through the day at work on my child's birthday without falling apart?
Are they worried about me?
How do I hide this pain?
How do I duck out of conversations about adoption without giving myself away?
How do I deal with the family who did not welcome my firstborn when they're so excited about my second born and third born?
Who do I tell?
Why do I have to keep saying I have 2 children when I really have 3?
How do I cry without anyone seeing?
How do I get through another Mother's Day?
How do I get through her birthday year after year?
When should I start looking for her?
What will she think of me when I find her?
Is she looking for me?
Will she even want to see me?
Does she have siblings?
Will she be excited to find out she has a brother and sister?
Is she opening Christmas presents right now just like her brother and sister?
What is her other family like?
Is she happy?

After reunion:
What is she thinking?
Am I going to fall apart in the airport?
Is she going to like me?
Is she as excited about meeting as I am?
What will her adoptive family think?
How do I deal with this new role of mother to a daughter I haven't seen in 22 years?
How do I jump into being grandma to two little ones I've never met?
I'm her mother but at the same time I'm not. Where do I draw the line in this new relationship?
Do I act the same way with her that I do with my other two children?
Do we take it slow and just develop a friendship first?
What is she thinking?
How do I endure her adoptive mother when she's overly critical of my daughter?
How do I deal with things that are done that I strongly disagree with?
How do I get close when we live so far apart?
What is she thinking?
Why haven't I heard from her?
Why did she sound different on the last phone call?
Did I say something on the blog that bothered her?
Could I lose her again?
How could I endure that?
How would she feel if I started a blog about adoption?
Sometimes I'm talking about us on the blog, will that bother her?
Did I overwhelm her with my own emotion when we met?
Am I putting too much pressure on her?
What is she thinking?
If I back off will she think I don't care?
How do I deal with close family members who adopted a newborn and are shopping for another?
How do I deal with family who, when I tell the truth about adoption, tell me that what I say is total crap?
How do I now deal with this new feeling of loss when I see the entire childhood I missed?
How does she really feel?
Why didn't she answer the text message?
How long before we see each other again?
Am I just being paranoid?
Am I over-thinking?

Being a mother can be overwhelming at times when you actually get to raise the child. Imagine being a mother who had a child taken away at birth. Imagine what it would be like if your child were kidnapped. That's what it feels like - a kidnapping. There is no end in sight. The questions are always there no matter what is going on, no matter how many other children are born, no matter how happy a life may appear on the surface. Open or closed adoption, makes no difference. The open could close at any time resulting in another kidnapping.

This is the life of one natural mother.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Another day in the life

Opening up more conversation. This is what happens when word starts getting out. Documentaries start getting made and people start talking about it. I have family visiting from out town right now and when they ask about my daughter and how she's doing, it's another opportunity to share what I've been up to with this blog and about the Dan Rather Reports program. I did share and was able to help some loved ones understand more about what goes on in adoptoland. It was a good talk, they were receptive to what I had to say. They were compassionate and understanding.

Today we got together again and of course like so many other people, every one knows someone who either adopted or is an adoptee and has a story to share. This happened today. I don't usually mind. Sometimes I can use that as a lead in to a discussion about adoption reality but today it just didn't seem to be the right thing to do. Maybe because my mother was sitting right there with us. It's always difficult when that happens. The talk then turned to someone they (meaning my parents) knew who had adopted 2 children and then got pregnant. The natural child of the couple then died. Resulting comment - "that child was so wanted". What does that mean? Does it mean that the 2 adopted children weren't wanted? Does it mean that the adopted children were wanted but not quite as much as the child they gave birth to? Does it mean that if they HAD to lose a child why did it have to be THAT one - the one that they gave birth to instead of adopting? Maybe I'm reading way too much into the comment. I don't know but that's how it comes across to me.

Then I hear... "there's nothing worse in this world than losing a child". Well of course that's true whether it be through death or adoption. When I hear those words coming from my mother, that's when I shut down. All I could say was - "uh yeah, I know". Result = awkward silence. Other family member changes subject.

Another day in the life of living with adoption.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Adding insult to injury

Well, I watched the program tonight. I thought Dan Rather and his team did an excellent job bringing our stories to light. Although in this one he was focused on the BSE, I still think of them as my story too because of the way I was treated. So anyway, glad to see a clerk who worked in two agencies come forward and talk about how records were falsified and of course incredibly thankful for the moms who were interviewed.

Here you can see a couple of the clips from the show if you weren't able to catch it tonight. There are also statements from The National Crittendon Foundation, Salvation Army, National Association of Social Workers and of course Catholic Charities. This is what Catholic Charities had to say....

April 24, 2012 
Statement from Rev. Larry Snyder, President of Catholic Charities USA in response to request from “Dan Rather Reports” regarding Adoption Services: 
“Catholic Charities agencies have a long history of providing support to birth parents and finding loving homes for children. While some of the personal experiences reported by birth mothers in the 1950s and 1960s are heartbreaking, as the social stigma of being an unwed mother has changed, so have adoption practices. Our practitioners have always utilized the best practices of the day in their dedicated work supporting birth parents and our agencies remain focused on the best interests of the child while supporting birth parents and adoptive parents in their decision making process. “We must not lose track of the tens of thousands of adoptive parents who will be forever grateful to birth parents for the sacrifices they make to ensure that their children’s lives will be filled with the love and opportunity they may otherwise not have received.”

Wow, really? They are great at spin. Of course they take no responsibility at all, according to them it was only about the social stigma. They claim 3 times that they provided support. I say bull. There was no support, no information, coercion, falsified records, dismissal of the mother after the baby's birth and I could go on.

On top of that they say.... “We must not lose track of the tens of thousands of adoptive parents who will be forever grateful to birth parents for the sacrifices they make to ensure that their children’s lives will be filled with the love and opportunity they may otherwise not have received.”

After being used, abused and tossed aside we're supposed to be thinking of how grateful all those adoptive parents are?!? Our children would not have been loved or had any opportunities?! Their lies and arrogance know no bounds.