Sunday, June 22, 2008

The BSE, My Mom & Me

Motherhood Deleted has a great entry about learning from our past. Those dark spots in our history some would rather sweep under the rug to be forgotten.

For me, for my life – I not only see it, I feel it. Deep in my heart right there along with the pain of losing my first son to adoption.

We have a very sad, disgusting patch in our history called the Baby Scoop Era. I myself cannot do justice to the crimes brought against the women from this era. Instead I highly suggest you read these personal stories and hear the gut-wrenching heartache they suffered by being victimized in the way they were . . .

Motherhood Deleted
Musing Mother
The Scoop

I also suggest reading the book, “The Girls Who Went Away,” by Ann Fessler.

What happened to these women needs to be known by every human being. Every person who now and will walk this earth. Not only for the justice they deserve for the crimes brought against them and their children, but so that we can take the lessons learned from their era and stop the hideous practice of adoption today.

You know the old saying, “If I had only known?”

For me it rings with an eerie echo when I look back at not only my past and my son’s past but at my mom’s past as well.

I never knew when I was pregnant with my first son, at the mercy of the adoption agencies, such a thing as the Baby Scoop Era existed. I didn’t know their stories, understand the terrible crimes committed against so many women who sat in the same situation I sat in.

It wasn’t until I began my search for my own answers in what happened to my son and I that I learned of those dark decades. And as I learned, as I heard their stories, heard the pain they suffered, I realized how the darkness of what they suffered came very close to shadowing my own life long before I ever lost my own child to adoption.

In 1970, in what was then a small town here, my mom – a teenager with a strong catholic upbringing – became pregnant out of wedlock. (I was the “Senior Prom” gift that kept on giving.)

I never knew, or understood, growing up what she must have faced at that moment. I had nothing to relate to. No stories, no history of what it would have been like for her – single, pregnant, young . . . in a small town with the narrow vision of society in those days and the lack of options women today now have.

Now, I realize the horrors she must have faced. The shame thrown in her face for no other reason than being pregnant with me.

I will never know why my dad stepped up to take his share of the responsibility rather than turning away as so many “fathers” did during that time. It was that one step, I know, that saved me from joining the large ranks of children lost during the Baby Scoop Era.

A quick wedding and a nine-month “premature” baby saved me in every way. And yet I never knew or understood that until I learned the dark history so many want to ignore and refuse to acknowledge.

See, for me, learning the truths and gaining an understanding about what those women went through gives me a brand new thankfulness for the life I had. For every picture I could look at of my mom, my great grandmother, and see myself in. For every Christmas Eve when we had large Italian meals just like my family has done for decades.

I realize how close I came to never knowing the amazing, wonderful woman my mother is. To never have shared the strong bond between us. The very one that to this day keeps us close not only in our hearts, but in where we live, what we do.

In knowing the disgusting facts that was the Baby Scoop Era, I was able to realize more than ever the ugly hand the adoption industry has used on so many for so long. I wish I had carried that knowledge when I was pregnant with my own son. Wish the anger I feel now would have existed then. I would have seen and known their coercion and manipulation for what it was.

I wouldn’t have been easy prey because I would have carried the knowledge, the understanding, of how amazing my childhood was because I WAS NOT adopted.

And yet, the saddest part is, as my mom and I discuss more about our lives and what we have lost, she herself never fully understood what happened to the girls who were victimized by the adoption industry. She recognized the fear inside when she first became pregnant, terrified she would be another one of those that just disappeared from school without explanation. But she never knew their stories either. Never understood the truth society wants so hard for us to keep hidden.

Had she known herself, understood the dark terrors, her “silent” support would have found a loud, demanding voice against those surrounding her daughter like vultures in their quest to take her grandchild away. But our ignorance and the fact our government, our society, refuses to acknowledge the crimes that occurred during the Baby Scoop Era, left us vulnerable to the billion dollar industry that takes and takes and has ruined so many lives along the way.

What happened in our past needs to be known today. The longer these heartbreaking facts are denied, the longer our society lives in denial of the truth of adoption. We can’t continue to try and silence the voices of the women who lost so much. We need to hear them, know their stories.

Until then, nothing will change and the dark hand of adoption will only continue to grow stronger and stronger.

How many more lives are we willing to lose for the sake of silence?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Smiling Through Tears

Though it has actually been less than two weeks, it feels like a wide stretch of time has passed since I’ve added any new thoughts or musings here.

Part, I know is time. Life has changed so much in the past couple weeks and I am still running a step behind myself, trying desperately to catch up, never quite getting there even with the best of efforts.

But another part, is this struggle between emotions. A constant contrast that lingers in the fact that I am, at the moment, in the best time of my life and yet still feel a pain and a hurt that at times, brings a tear (or two or three or more) to my eyes.

“The glass is half full.”

That’s how I like to believe I view most things in life. It does no good to dwell in the bad, to always wonder what evil lurks behind the next corner. What heartbreak might be waiting in the next week . . . month . . . year.

And yet, it seems, when it comes to the messy, confusing maze of adoption, I have a very hard time with that philosophy. It’s difficult to see the glass as half full when it has been dumped over, broken, and kicked to pieces for so many years. It’s a jumble of shattered pieces that takes time to glue back together to even resemble a container that can actually hold the liquid to be “half full.”

So, I sit here in the most amazing miracle – having my oldest son back in my life again. Being able to talk to him, hold him, love him in every way. To reach out and actually feel him, know him, be a part of everything he is and, hopefully, will become.

And yet, there is always a reminder too. An ugly knowledge of what he has faced through his childhood, become a part of without any decision of his own. A fate placed before him before he ever became a part of this world.

And I, no matter what I have learned and come to understand, still hold a part of the blame in not being old enough, strong enough, wise enough, to save my own child . . . my own flesh and blood . . . from a fate he never deserved and never should have been forced to face.

And that is where the battle of emotions come into play. It is there where I can smile greater than I ever have. My heart full of a joy . . . a completeness . . . I never imagined possible. And yet, still find the tears blurring my vision as I watch ALL my children together. The painful tug on my heart as my oldest son jokes and laughs with his brothers and sister, steps into that part of our lives that has always been empty without him.

He should have always known that. It was his right from the moment he was born. He is a part of us just as much as we are a part of him and he should have NEVER been denied being surrounded by his family, loved and accepted for who he is and what he is because he is one of us in every way, shape and form.

He is my son. Loved with all my heart. Cherished with everything I have inside me. And I look back and question why?

Why was he taken away from that . . . from us? Why did they tell me he would be better off without his family? Without the love and loyalty we share with every member, no matter who or what they are?

He deserved to know all of us from day one. Deserved to be a part of what he was robbed of for almost two decades. He didn’t do anything wrong. Didn’t ask for the separation, the denial of who and what he was. His only act was being born to a mom who was sixteen and . . . shock, gasp, dismay . . . had sex with his father before marriage.

He did nothing and yet was cheated from everything he deserved. Cheated from parents who love him for who and what he is. Cheated from siblings who are so much a part of him, share so many traits and talents he never had the chance to see in another.

Cheated from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, who love him and treasure every moment they have with him in their life.

WHY?

Where do I ever find those answers? How do I ever explain to anyone that over twenty years ago my oldest son was robbed from all of that the minute I placed him in the arms of another woman?

I have to stand up and take on my shoulders the heavy reality of what my son missed out on . . . was denied for no other reason than being born.

And yet, the giant billion-dollar adoption industry – growing stronger and stronger by the day – will never stand up and admit their hand in my son’s fate. They will never look him in the eye and tell him that they truly didn’t give a crap about his well being but cared only about the dollar signs and the childless couple willing to pay whatever it took to have a child of their own.

They won’t, because they never cared from the start about the innocent baby I carried inside of me. They didn’t care if it took lies and manipulation and coercion to be sure he lost everything that was his right so that he could fill the needs of another woman and take the place of a baby she could not have on her own.

He was used in every ugly, disgusting sense of the word. Used for money. For selfish needs. For justification in a world that sees nothing wrong with separating mother and child from the moment of birth.

And now it is he over all others who pays the steepest price. It is my sweet, dear son who will face realities even I myself cannot imagine. Not because he was saved from some awful fate. But because the adoption industry saw in him a great commodity – a white, healthy infant boy.

Above his head was not his heritage, blood and rights as a human being. Above his head was dollar signs. Blinking for their greedy hands. A parcel, a mere being, they were more than willing to force great sacrifices on for the good of their pocketbooks.

They never gave a damn about my son!! Never did they care about him then and they sure as hell don’t care about him now. He is nothing more than a product. Another lost soul in their continuing quest to make money off of selling babies to couples who are willing to pay for them.

Adoption did not give my son the “fairy-tale” life. It did not save him from a dark, undeserved childhood of unmentionable terrors.

It robbed him of his family. Took away the acceptance of those who love him unconditionally. The understanding of what it is like to look at others who share your blood, your heritage, and understand everything you are and have become because of that.

In my world . . . my son’s world . . . adoption was not the answer. It was the crime.

One he has to pay the greatest consequences for.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Pick A Side

It seems to be a never ending circle running around these days. I said, you said. They said, we said.

Everyone is supposed to pick a side in this adoption debate, see it as black and white. You agree or you don’t.

So if you dare and speak out about adoption, suddenly you are accused of wanting to leave TRULY needy children wallowing in foster care. You are a monster who dares to put light to the truths because those truths somehow mean you want the children to suffer.

And yet – the TRUE meaning of adoption should ALWAYS be what is in the best interest of the child. That’s it. Plain and simple. Nothing complicated there.

But if this is true, why do over 500,000 children remain in foster care to this day? Why are those who TRULY have no family and no home to call their own overlooked by so many and yet there are close to fifty couples waiting for one baby?

Where is the best interest of the children reflected in these numbers?

I don’t understand the reasoning behind - if a woman wants to adopt a baby she should be able to adopt a baby. That sounds more like the best interest of the adults than the child, when you think of the abundance of children who are overlooked or ignored because of this thought process.

I’m not blind to the fact that the foster system needs reform as well, that desperate changes need to be made all the way around when it concerns the best interest of the child. I know there are many difficulties and risks couples face to adopt a child from foster care. But, again, if it is in the best interest of the child, aren’t these difficulties and risks worth it? Doesn’t EVERY child out there deserve to have someone fighting for them, facing every opposition no matter what it may be? Why are infants worth this but not older children?

What I see in today’s world, what I come up against when I speak out about my own experience, is a large majority of hopeful couples who say they want to offer a home to a child who really needs one. They are following in God’s way. Doing what the scripture guides them to do. Except these words are only meant for infants.

And the sad reality is many of these infants are coming to them through coercion and manipulation, both here in the United States and abroad. Mothers are being lied to, taken advantage of for their age, married status, financial need, in order to feed more infants into the demand.

And what happens when first/natural mothers and adoptees speak out about these crimes . . . we get attacked by those who want us to remain silent, to not put any kind of negative light into the reality of infant adoption today.

They tell us, the very ones who have lost so much, how we will be the ones responsible for leaving children in foster care. It is because of our actions, because of speaking the truth of what happened to us, that so many children are in such desperate need for a family.

We are the ones to blame, not those who overlooked those children in their quest to adopt the “perfect” baby.

And lately, this debate seems to be gaining strength, the back and forth of picking a side, saying yes or no to what you believe.

But maybe the debate should not be – “I’m wrong and you are right.” Maybe it should be what can we do to help those children who are TRULY without a family? What can we do to protect young woman in both our country and others from the manipulation and coercion that comes from infant adoption? And how can we find a way so that ALL sides are fighting for what is the most important argument of all –

What is best for the children.