Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Insert Baby Here

I set up a Google alert for "infant adoption". Today a new one came in. I know this has been talked about many times before but for some reason this one just irritated me more than usual. I won't post the link here because I don't want them to get the attention but it's for a couple who struggled with infertility and have now gone to "plan B". We all know what that is... infant adoption. In order for that to happen they've set up a page on a crowd funding site.

On the site they posted a short video showing them with their dog, showcasing their hobbies like putting together a jigsaw puzzle and playing air hockey. They also listed their expenses for the hoped for new addition to their family....

A Homestudy $1,500-2,000
Agency Fees $10,000-20,000
Birth Mother Expenses $1,000
Attorney Fees $1,000-5,000
Travel Expenses $500-1,000

In addition to the list of expenses that would be required for buying a baby, of course there were the usual wedding photos and "see how much we love each other" photos. The one photo that got under my skin was the picture of the two of them pretending to hold an infant. They're both cozy on the couch and her arm was bent as if holding a baby, he was sitting beside her with a baby bottle in hand as if feeding the infant in her arms. A word bubble over head said... "Insert Baby Here". I just don't know where to go with that. I ended up thinking of ads for other products so I did a Google search for that advertising term, that use that technique to sell an idea. What I found was anything from green roofing solutions to art and creativity to pornographic images. I'm not only disgusted and angry, I'm sad. I'm sad for this couple because they feel such a need to be parents that they would resort to this. I'm sad that they won't even consider the option of foster parenting or mentoring a mother so she can keep and raise her own baby. I'm sad that we have an industry in this country that encourages this behavior (of course they do, it's for their bottom line) and exploits these couples for tens of thousands of dollars. I'm angry that there is an industry just waiting to exploit a mother so they can "insert" a baby into that scene. I'm angry that human beings are treated as products that you can just "insert here" for the benefit of others.

Overall, I find crowd funding in adoption offensive but so far, this one takes the cake.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Please Wait

I've been thinking a lot about birth. My daughter just gave birth a couple of weeks ago. This is her first child and my fifth grandchild. I got to spend a few days with them at home, helping her around the house while she recovers. I watched her deal with the emotion of postpartum living, the extreme emotional ups and downs of becoming accustomed to being 2 separate beings as opposed to one connected. Living pregnancy and delivery is an emotional roller coaster and it's understandable considering what a woman's body must go through. When we have a new mom going through the early days of motherhood we want to be there for her, support her, understand her, help her. My daughter has a wonderful husband, friends and all of her family for support. This is the ideal for having a baby yet she still has to cope with the hormone changes that come with being a new mom. These moments can be hard.

So what about the women who don't have the ideal situation? They may be single or in a bad relationship, they may lack resources or information about where to get resources, they may not have family support. What they need is someone by their side to help them find what they need. They need an advocate, someone to tell them that they can do it and help them find out how they can raise the baby and be ok.

But what does the adoption industry do? They actively look for young women who don't have these ideal circumstances and uses them for their gain. They literally spend millions of dollars in this active search. If a business (that's what it is -a business - it certainly isn't some benevolent organization with a mission to help people) can spend millions looking for the source of it's products, then you know they're making many billions on the sale of the products. Instead of seeing an opportunity to help a young mother get on her feet and care for her newborn, they convince her that she's not good enough for her own baby. They use the postpartum hormone changes against her by insisting that adoption consent forms must be signed within days of giving birth. Many times she hasn't even left the hospital yet. Seeing the emotional roller coaster that is postpartum life in the best of circumstances makes me even angrier at the system that coerces women in this way. The fact that they push her to sign so soon after giving birth is, in my eyes, nothing less than evil.

If you're considering surrendering your child to adoption, PLEASE WAIT! There is no law, in any state, that says you have to sign a consent soon after giving birth. A consent can be signed at any time! Wait at least 6 to 8 weeks. Give yourself time to heal. Give your hormones time to level out. Give yourself time to meet your baby and discover what it is to be a mother. You have to know who you're giving up before you can sign away your rights. No matter what an agency or a prospective adoptive parent says, give yourself time with your baby before making a truly life altering decision. Think about you and your baby's needs, not the wants of the PAP. Talk to other mothers but not just the ones that the agency wants you to connect with. Seek out people who are not connected to the agency in any way. Don't solve a temporary problem with a permanent solution.

It's been 27 yrs for me since I gave birth to my youngest daughter but watching her now with her new baby reminds me of what it was like after the births of my children and just confirms my commitment to stopping this business of using woman as breeding machines for money.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Random thoughts on thankfulness......

Memories. A lot of them have been flooding back recently. Last month one of my Facebook friends  mentioned a folder next to the messages Inbox that said "other". I didn't know that this folder existed. It was there but I never noticed it before. I decided to check it out and see what was in there. It said I had 99+ messages. Most of them were from pages I had "liked" or people I had some kind of connection with. What possesses FB to just randomly dump messages into another folder? I don't know but it pissed me off! As I was scrolling down the list I discovered a name of someone I hadn't seen in 33 years. The message was sent to me over a year ago and I'm only now seeing it. That's just plain wrong. Facebook was mucking about in my personal life. Ok, yeah, I know it's free and I do love FB. I'm just grumbling because I've missed out on a full year of communicating with this person because THEY decided that the message belonged in "other".

Anyway, this is someone I dated, in what seems like eons ago. He doesn't want to hear that it's decades but it actually is. If you've read my blog from the beginning then you've probably figured out the timeline. My daughter is 32 years old. No it's not my daughter's father, it's someone I dated shortly before meeting my daughter's father.We had dated when I attended our community college, before attending art school. He moved away and the romantic relationship ended but the friendship didn't. This is someone who was there for me when I had no one else. This is someone who, upon finding out about my pregnancy, asked me to come visit him so I could get away from the situation for just a little while. He was someone who cared.

He was attending a very conservative school at the time. He was concerned about what I was going through and not about what other people would think of me being there - in my very pregnant condition. He was the opposite of what I was dealing with. I was about to lose my firstborn child because of what society and the "neighbors" would think yet, there he was, doing his best to make me comfortable no matter what anyone said about him. There was talk I'm sure. I figured the rumor mill was working overtime. I worried about what people were saying about him. I stayed in the girl's dorm during the week of my visit. The looks I got!'d think the devil had moved to town. Did it faze him? No. He didn't care and that's exactly what I needed at the time.

He said to me the other day that he worried about me after I left from that visit and he wished that he could have done more for me. I don't know what that would have been. Some would say that a 22 year old college student doesn't know much about the world but from my perspective now, he knew a hell of a lot more than the adults around me did. He knew about the need for living in the moment. He knew about living for what's important and not for what other people think of you. He knew about the importance of connections and family. He knew what it meant to be there for someone.

My connection with him didn't change the outcome of the situation, I still lost my daughter to adoption but that was certainly not from any lack on his part. It pains me to think that he would feel any guilt or responsibility for the situation. As a matter of fact, I think at that point Catholic Charities had already gotten me to sign the adoption consent. They had me sign a consent for adoption when I was only 6 months pregnant - illegal, by the way and not just by today's laws. He did his best to help me and I will always love him for that. My point is... there are people in your life that you should cherish. There are 2 men in my life who understand me more than anyone. One was there for me when I was pregnant and the other was there for me after I lost my daughter. Both of them are cherished. Both of them mean the world to me. The first one was in my life for just a brief moment in time and now has another life, a life he loves and I'm so happy for him. I'm fortunate that I get to share part of that life again thanks to the internet. Ok yes, thanks to Facebook even though they pissed me off.....  The second one is the man I married. We've been married for 31 years and thanks to him I'm relatively sane :) Thank you to both of them. I don't know that surviving the loss of a child would have been possible without them.

Monday, January 7, 2013

It doesn't get old

I was going through my sketchbook looking for ideas for another painting and came across these notes. It was about a small interaction that would seem to be insignificant to the ordinary person who hadn't experienced what we've experienced. It was a moment of real simplicity yet something that could mean so much in the heart of a mother.

An exchange between me and my daughter-in-law about going to the movies to see the latest in the Twilight saga became something more. My daughter lost and found, expresses a desire to go along says.... "If you and mom go see it let me know how it is!"

"If you and mom".... there are the magic words. It's been 10 years in reunion and I still get a thrill when I see or hear the word mom or momma come from her. It doesn't get old. I don't think it ever will.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A good read

I just read this book The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman. It wasn't my intention to sit on my butt all day last Sunday and read but once I started I just couldn't stop. I started and finished this story in one sitting. It wasn't adoption themed but in a way it was. It was the adoption loss core of me that it touched. Through the story you see isolation, grief, joy, prejudice and what happens to a child caught in the middle of adults who are grieving, overwhelmed, needy and delusional.

*Spoiler alert*

A woman still grieving the recent stillbirth of her baby hears a cry. She finds an infant crying and left alone with what appears to be the body of the child's deceased father. They're in a small boat that washes ashore an isolated island where the woman is living with her lighthouse keeper husband. She convinces her husband that they don't have to report finding the dead man and infant. In her grief she tells herself the story that the child's mother surely must have drowned and God brought this child to her to raise. She decides she is meant to be this little girls mother through divine intervention. Where have we heard that before?

A few years later, back on the mainland a mother is still grieving the loss of her infant daughter and husband. The small boat is found but no bodies. Of course all assume that both are dead until she receives a note telling her that her baby is alive and well cared for. With new hope she fights to find her child and finally succeeds. By the time the mother is reunited with her daughter, the girl is 4 years old and of course doesn't understand what's happening. She has no memory of her mother and all she wants is to go back to the woman who found and kept her. The scenario brought to mind all the recent articles of parents fighting for the return of their children from people who were trying to adopt them, people who know the child is wanted by their mother and/or father but still hangs on to the child along with the delusion that the child is supposed to be theirs.

This is the story of 2 grieving women and the little girl caught between them. It's also the story of a man caught between his love for his wife and doing what he knows to be right - returning the child to her mother.