Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dear Prospective Adopters

I woke up early this morning and the first thoughts that went through my head were about the comments I've seen on news articles about Veronica Brown and other similar cases. I've noticed a common theme among the comments by prospective adopters - the idea that "birthparents" can come back at any time to reclaim their children. I've seen many say, and I've personally heard people say, that's why they would rather adopt from over seas than adopt from within the U.S. They don't want to run the risk of parents wanting their children back. They want complete ownership.

Why is it that the child's original parents are always the ones vilified instead of the adoption agencies? Cases like Veronica's and others give the impression that parents can choose to just walk in and demand their child be returned to them. These people are either misguided by untrue news reports or are willfully ignoring the truth. I don't know of a single state where that is possible. Some states have a time period where a mother can change her mind. It  might be 3 days or 30 days and there are some, like my state of FL, where there is NO revocation period. None, zip, nada. Once you sign on the dotted line and you can do that only 24 hours after giving birth, there is no going back. You can change your mind on buying a car but you can't change your mind on forever altering yours and your baby's life.

Then why do I keep seeing these comments about the evil "birthparents coming out of the woodwork YEARS later to take the children"?

Dear prospective adopters,

Of course the first thing I would say to you would be - don't adopt. Don't take another woman's baby. You have no idea what that will do to her and the child.

Do your research. Really think about why children like Veronica end up in a tug of war. Instead of blaming the original parents, how about looking at the adoption agencies and how they operate. Really look at their practices for what they are - unethical and coercive. Really research and understand coercion. Understand that most infants were gained that way, through coercion. Notice I said most, not all. If you don't do this and you just go along with whatever the agency tells you, you run the risk of taking a baby from a family that wants and loves that baby. You run the risk of traumatizing a child for no reason other than your wants.

If you were duped out of your baby wouldn't you fight back? Instead of just blaming the parents, how about following the money. Take a closer look at what the agency is doing. If you find out after only a few weeks or months that what the agency did was wrong or that either of the parents wants to raise their child, do the right thing. Give that child back to the parents! Don't drag it out in court trying to hang on to someone who doesn't belong to you because the one who is getting hurt the most is the child. I know it will hurt you but there are other children out there who really do need you and that baby only has one natural/biological/original family. He or she has the right to be with them.

Please stop making this about what you want. Make it about the child.

If you want to do something, stop looking for pregnant girls who aren't wearing a wedding ring and start looking for the children who really need help. There are plenty of them out there. Yes, there are some really bad parents who abandon, abuse or neglect their kids. Those kids need you. They need your help but they don't need their names to be changed or their identities wiped out. They need your love, not your ownership.

Stop believing whatever the adoption agencies tell you. I know how much you want to believe them but don't. They lie. And please realize that your demand for an infant is what's keeping this horrible adoption industry going. They're not only still going - they're thriving to the tune of 13 billion $ a year. That's your money! Can you think of a better way to spend it besides lining the pockets of people who think it's ok to lie, cheat and steal babies?

There are some adoptive parents out there who get it. They've come to understand what the industry does to families and exactly how they make their billions. Please, please read what they have to say. Read what adult adopted people have to say. Read what original families have to say. It's easy to do, just google. The list of blogs is long. Don't just read what adoption agencies have to say. The agency is just catering to you and telling you what you want to hear because, of course, you're the one paying them. It's all about the money and it's not supposed to be. It's supposed to be about the children.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Myths, Opinions and Facts

Settling back into the day to day routine after the Atlanta trip meant getting back to work, visiting the kids and grandkids and spending time with hubby. It was a very short trip but it was long emotionally. It was all good until about 2 days after getting home and it hit me. A lot of us deal with this kind of thing. You get really immersed in the adoption topic for a while - whether reading about it, writing about it or talking about it and then you hit a wall and have to take a break. It was kind of like that for me because the trip was not only about our right to our birth records but about meeting people I had come to love and admire but only met online AND it was about meeting with someone I hadn't seen in 34 years. He happens to live near Atlanta where the demonstration was held. Having a reunion with the one person who was there for me during the pregnancy with the child I lost was intense, to say the least. I wrote about him here.  It was a wonderful experience. I loved being there and meeting everyone. I loved being able to participate in such an important event and I'm so awed by the strong women and men who make it happen. I loved seeing my dear friend and having a little time with him. It was all great but I was also reliving some hard times. Dealing with the emotional aftermath is just something that gets done. What do I do when it's meltdown time? I throw paint. This is my therapy canvas.

Nope, not much to look at but sure feels good to slap the brush on the canvas and drip paint and then sand back the layers while releasing layers of tension and grief. This is actually just a small portion of the painting. The canvas is 4 feet square so it felt good to work big and get physical. It's very therapeutic. I'll probably set it aside now and bring it back out when I need another release. Who knows where it'll end up or what it'll look like. 

Another thing that came up while I was in Atlanta was the feeling that I was finally hanging out with people who understood. That doesn't happen often. It's rare to be in the physical company of other mothers who lost children to adoption. I've probably been around many of them over the years but didn't know it. Being with those other moms was healing and needed.

Do you ever feel - even within your own family - that no one gets it?

I guess what I don't understand is why so many can't even come close to feeling empathy or compassion. When we see someone we care about lose a child to disease or an accident, as a parent, we can feel for them. We may not have been through the same thing but we can imagine how horrible and painful that would be. Why are people so surprised then that mothers who lose a child to adoption also feel tremendous pain and grief? Because they've been conditioned by the adoption industry to believe that we all made this "loving" choice. They've bought into the idea that it's a wonderful thing to surrender your child. They've bought into the consumer culture that says money is everything.

Money trumps a mother's love.

They're conditioned to think - 

Birthmothers are so brave and selfless.
She'll go on with her life, get married and have more children.
It will hurt for a while but she'll find joy in knowing that her child is cared for in a forever family.
Adoption is a win/win.
All those babies are going to end up in foster care anyway.

Wait a minute.... if she's so brave and selfless and it's a loving thing to do to relinquish her baby then why is it that her baby would have ended up in foster care anyway? Some people hold both of these ideas in their heads. How can that be? She loves her baby enough to give him away but she doesn't love him enough to take care of him? She gave him away because she loves him but if she kept him she would have neglected or abused him?

When it comes to adoption, the list of myths and lies is long. Myths, opinions and facts. It's funny how those get confused. Myths are heard or read. They are shared by people online. They're told to the very women who are in need of help and need to know the facts about adoption. Myths become absorbed into our psyche to eventually turn into opinions and then the facts end up lost somewhere, left behind and forgotten, replaced by the lies. Just yesterday someone said to me that everything turned out fine after all since I'm now in reunion with my daughter. It was said in a way that meant - you're fine now, nothing to complain about. Another myth. Of course it's great that we're together and have a good relationship and yes, that certainly helps with healing a lot of the wounds but no way does it minimize what happened. It doesn't bring back 22 lost years. It doesn't give me her childhood. It doesn't give her a history of life experiences shared with her mother, brother and sister. Not having that history means it's not the same as if she were raised with us. It's a different kind of relationship. It will never be "as if". Just like her relationship with her adoptive family will  never be "as if" she were born to them.

Not so long ago I was told that I shouldn't let "petty" differences of opinion come between me and other people in my life. When an adoptive parent says that to a mother who lost a child to adoption and the difference of opinion is actually about adoption, the word "petty" isn't so petty. When you share facts about adoption and what you get back are myths and lies, it's not just a difference of opinion, it's a huge disconnect. Petty is defined as something of little importance. It's trivial. It's something that should be of little concern. The fact that these myths and lies continue is a monstrous concern to me. Nothing petty about it. When an adoptive parent says to me that these differences are petty it says that her concerns are above all others. It says that my concerns are insignificant, trifling in relation to hers. Is this a matter of opinion? Yes. She looks at things through a certain filter just as I look through my own filter. The difference is.... what she knows about adoption is skewed through the lens that the adoption agency put in front of her. What she thinks are facts are actually lies. What I know about adoption comes from personal experience and researching the facts.

To her it's all a win/win/win/win
 agency makes money/infertile gets baby/mother moves on with her life/baby rescued.

To me it's win/win/lose/lose
 agency makes money/infertile gets baby/mother loses child/child loses entire family and identity is legally erased.

Don't dare tell me it's "petty".

After the fact, the agency is gone. They don't care about anything but the bottom line. The other winning party doesn't want to hear from the 2 parties that lose. They don't want to hear about the lifelong grief of the mother or the identity/medical history/birth record/genetic info/family loss of the child. If they really did hear it and absorb what it all meant, it would no longer be petty. They could no longer ignore the issues because the pain would be too great. Acknowledging the trauma involved in the creation of the adoptive family would put quite the damper on the joy that adoption brought to them. It's much easier to dismiss us as just having a petty difference of opinion. When sharing factual information with people who don't want to know the truth it gets twisted into a difference of opinion. When that's all it is, it's set aside as unimportant. Just as people who have differing political or religious views - it's easier to not talk about it. Maybe for politics and religion it works but for adoption it ends up allowing the myths and lies to continue and the list to get longer. 

This is not a matter of opinion - 

Coercion still happens. Read about it here and here

Infant adoption is a multi-billion dollar industry. Read about it here

Original birth certificates are court sealed resulting in discrimination against adoptees. Read more here

Children are sold every day. Read about it here

There are price lists for babies (AKA adoption situations) on adoption agency websites. Read about it here

Baby brokers have their own lobbying group in Washington - the National Council for Adoption. They have a training program to teach agencies how to counsel pregnant women out of their babies.

so don't dismiss what the two losing parties in adoption have to say because we're getting louder.
I  hope more people open their minds and hearts and realize that we're trying to make things better. I'm so grateful for the other moms and adoptees who share their stories. We need each other.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Picture time at the Adoptee Rights Demonstration!

Sunday was the day. I was taking off for Atlanta to take part in the Adoptee Rights Coalition 2013 Demonstration. Me and two wonderful ladies hit the road. We've never met in person but we've been friends online for a while so of course when you have 6 hours to spend in the car you spend it talking. And talk we did! All the way!

                                                           Me, Tonja, Lynn and Claudia 
When we arrived, we got checked in and it was time to make signs. I can't begin to tell you what it meant to me to be able to meet these lovely ladies. I've been following Claudia's blog for a long time. Her blog was one of the first ones I read when I discovered the adoption community online. And Lynn, my goodness, there's no one more dedicated to family preservation than this woman! Finding other mothers was incredible. It meant I wasn't alone. It meant I could connect with others who understood me - that's huge!

Do you see what Claudia's shirt says?
it pretty much sucks!
I want this shirt.

My other sisters.
It was great to meet Julie and Karen, my adoptee sisters. Being a step-parent adoptee along with being a mother of adoption loss, puts me in the position of having a double reason for being at the demonstration. My birth certificate is trapped in New Jersey and my daughter's birth certificate is trapped in Florida. Of course we also had to use this opportunity to show our support for Veronica and her father. If you're not familiar with the case, please read up. It's astonishing what people are trying to do to this child.

 Why was free speech restricted to this pen? I'm sure there were reasons but still made me wonder.

 In front of CNN

Back at the World Congress Center

A final supper after a good day of walking, chanting, sharing and educating (and sweating, damn it was hot!)

Our fearless leaders, Julie and Claudia, ready to talk to the legislators at the conference - because that's how they roll! We had to head home but that doesn't mean the demonstration is over. They're spending several more days with the booth sharing info and stories (and candy) so more people, more legislators will hear us. Ladies, thank you for all you do!!!