Thursday, November 11, 2010

We Bleed Too

This emptiness in my life is so hard to deal with but I pray every day and I know God has the perfect baby and the perfect birthmother planned for us. I must be patient and someday this sadness will be forgotten.”

I hear statements like this over and over again in the world of adoption. Hopeful couples struggling with their desire to have a child while praying desperately for the pregnant woman who will choose them to raise her baby.

And when I run across them, I can’t help but to wonder if they realize, in their grief, they are praying for another women to suffer a terrible loss even as they are struggling with their own.

I know, when we are hurting, it is so hard to see outside that pain that surrounds us, controls us. But, I believe, when what you are praying or wishing so desperately for involves harming another to heal your heart, you must look outside your personal sadness and understand the affects your “answered prayers” will have on another human being.

Because, no matter what you might believe from what others have told you, when a woman gives up her child for adoption, she suffers a great loss. Losing a child, for whatever reason, is a horrid event, something most people would never even wish on their worst enemy. But in the world of adoption, it’s not only okay to wish this on another person, it’s accepted and encouraged.

First moms aren’t some strange creatures who don’t feel pain when they lose their child. They aren’t unknown life forms who can suddenly shut off that emptiness in their heart, that void in their life, when they face day after day, month after month, year after year, empty arms that were meant to hold their child.

And telling us we’re brave or strong or unselfish doesn’t change it. That loss is still there. It still exists and doesn’t ever go away. Because, we too, have a mother’s heart and it breaks just as easily when we don’t have our children.

When I hear other women say how hard it is to see mothers with their babies, how dark things like the holidays can be without a child to celebrate with. How they will go out of their way in stores to avoid anything baby or child related because they can’t handle the pain it causes them, I wonder if they realize the very act of adoption transfers that loss and pain to another women in order for them to move past it.

Because once they hold that baby they have prayed for in their arms, there is then a mother who walks down the street, sees a baby being pushed in a stroller and feels that terrible ache in her heart. There is a mother who hurts deep into her core when Christmas comes and her child isn’t there with her around the tree. When the birthdays hit and she isn’t baking a cake and wrapping the present.

And as an adoptive mother gets to suddenly hit every baby and child section in the stores with a new found glee. The mother who carried that child inside of her for nine months is now the one who will go out of her way to avoid any reminder of the loss she now suffers and struggles with.

Our pain is there. Our loss is real.

We may create ways to avoid it, to deny it, but it still exists within us. It still has a bearing on who we are and who we will become.

We don’t get a pass on that simply because we are First moms. We don’t get a special remedy that makes our heart ache any less for the child we’ve lost.

Even if we sink into denial or close ourselves off because of the shame, it is that loss that brings us to that point. It’s that ache deep in our souls that brings about such ways to somehow try and protect ourselves from that which we can never truly get away from.

Because we are mothers too. We hurt, we mourn and we bleed from the wounds left the moment our children were no longer in our arms.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What Do We Hear In Their Voices

When we hear the stories of many First Moms, read their blogs, watch their videos, there is so much they can TRULY tell us if we listen to what they have to say.

Listen outside of the limitations the adoption industry places on us. Outside of what so many need to believe to make themselves feel better. To carry the belief that there couldn’t possibly be anything wrong with adoption.

Listen without the beliefs we’ve formed through the media. The beliefs that saturate our society and make it okay for a mother and child to be separated. Not only okay, but often, encouraged.

Yes, First Moms do have their own experiences. And, no, nobody should ever try to take that away from them. But in those experiences is a similarity so many of us went through and still go through to this day. A repeat of how we felt, through society’s view of us, of where we searched for help and the counseling we received.

In those areas, it’s not hard to find a pattern. A repeated script, replaying over and over again.

And when you listen to the stories of First Moms and compare it to the research and studies the adoption industry uses to create more babies available for adoption, you quickly see the connection and the same old routine used over and over again.

And you see where none of us were ever individuals to them with our own experiences deserving personal attention and care. We were merely numbers, herded through the same gates with the same manipulation used over and over again, so that we too would give up our babies.

In so many First Mom stories, we hear things like these women have shared . . .

“I just couldn’t see myself going through with adoption. I couldn’t stand the thought of it. How could I place this baby for adoption knowing how many wonderful things my two sons had brought into my life? I felt like placing the baby for adoption was like giving away an unwanted piece of furniture.”

“I spent the next few months preparing to single-parent, I was set on single-parenting and nothing was going to stop me.”

“I was sure I was going to raise my baby. It made so much sense, I would get to do what I love and I was ready to be a mom.”

“I wanted to parent my little girl so badly, I loved her with my every being, experiencing her life forming within me was the most amazing miracle I had ever witnessed!”

The adoption industry calls these very real, NATURAL feelings, “barriers and/or obstacles” that prevent women from giving their children up for adoption. And because they see this as a “bad” thing, they’ve conducted plenty of research on mothers who have already given up their children in order to learn what best works to push a woman past these barriers/obstacles so she will view adoption as a good thing for her child.

As they say, in their own words . . .

“These recommendations are intended to diminish the elements that inhibit women from contemplating adoption and to enhance those that motivate them.”

“Challenge the assumption that all women should want to keep their unplanned babies and/or want to parent.”

“Inform a pregnant woman . . . Adoption can be a courageous and unselfish decision because you are putting the child above yourself . . . and . . . Adoption is an act of love .”

“Give women sound reasons that will counter the desire to keep their babies. One example is to reinforce the notion that it takes a strong, mature woman to place a child for adoption.”

“Help potential birthmothers see that choosing adoption can be what it means to be the best mother possible.”

And from this counseling, we get statements such as these from the stories of First Moms . . .

“All my reasons for choosing to be a single parent were selfish.”

“I put my son before myself and knew that it was selfish to believe that just because I was pregnant I should be the one to raise him when he deserved so much better .”

“After talking to my counselor I decided that adoption was probably my best choice. I had to stop thinking about myself and start thinking about this baby.”

Do you hear the eerie repeat in what is “coached” compared to what a First Mom says?

And if that’s not enough, let’s look at what is encouraged to tell a First Mom to get her to see that she isn’t good enough for her child and that some other couple is “better” than her . . .

“Enable a Birthmother to choose adoption by helping her see that adoption can provide the joy and security of family life for her child that she cannot.”

“Ask a Birthmother what she believes her child’s life will be like being raised by a single mother compared to being raised by a mother and a father in an intact family.”

“Question the Birthmother on her financial resources, the kind of childhood she desires for her baby and is she able to provide that kind of childhood.”

And in this, we get First Moms who share these kinds of stories . . .

“This baby needed to go to somebody who could give it everything I couldn’t, including a mother and father and a wonderful place to grow up.”

“My baby deserved so much more than I could ever give her. I wanted her to have the perfect childhood and J*** and A***** were able to give that to her when I could not.”

“This little girl not only deserved but needed the eternal blessings of life and the eternal blessing of having a daddy by her side and a mommy who could raise her. I could have given her so much love, but I could not have been there for her in the way I felt was right.”

See, us First Moms aren’t “born” to be failures to our children. We’re told that, over and over and over again, until the message sinks in that we will be no good, that our children deserve more than we could ever give them and that the very thought of keeping them and raising them “on love alone” is so very wrong.

We understand that message loud and clear. It’s shoved at us, pounded into our brains, our hearts, until we believe, as we are expected to, that we would be no good for our own flesh and blood. Our own child that God has blessed us with.

And just to be sure, the adoption industry knows a vital part of it is to create a trust between the expectant mom and the hopeful adoptive couple and to bring the expectant mom to a point where she no longer sees her child as hers but instead as the hopeful adoptive couple waiting to be the “perfect” parents . . .

“A Birthmother’s positive attitude toward the Adoptive parents can help a Birthmother see her baby as belonging to the adoptive parents and not to her.”

“A Birthmother will feel more confident about an adoptive parents ability to love her child and feel that she is making the right decision if she is able to get to know the adoptive parents through files and meetings.”

“Make sure that birthmothers understand the extensive screening procedures that are followed in selecting adoptive parents so they will believe that their babies will be cared for.”

“When the Birthmother can see firsthand how important adoption is to the family it is more difficult for her to back out and disappoint them.”

And that is why, in their stories, First Moms share this . . .

“I had refused to allow myself to enjoy my pregnancy or even bond with her. I was determined to stick through with my decision so I shut myself off emotionally.”

“I knew I couldn’t disappoint them. No matter how bad I wanted my baby, they were the ones who deserved her with all they could offer her and give her what I could not.”

“After their miscarriage and failed adoption, I couldn’t bear to break their heart and keep my baby. I trust them and I know they will be everything I can hope for him.”

It’s the same old, tired script. Drummed into pregnant moms facing crisis pregnancies and then repeated by them, over and over again. The same feelings of inadequacy, of believing someone else is better than you. It’s that same vision of yourself when you look in the mirror. The mother who first wanted to keep her baby more than anything but, along the way, was forced into seeing herself as less worthy and selfish by the very natural love and desire to raise your child.

Though many don’t want to believe it, the minute a First Mom says . . .

“After a few hard, but caring talks, I was able to make a decision that was right for my situation.”

“I got hooked up with the adoption counselor at the Light House. We met every week and discussed all my options. She really helped me put things in perspective.”

“So I called the 1-800 number and a sweet lady answered the phone and she told me that Jesus loved my baby. I cried and then again I felt not alone. My counselor was loving and kind. We just sat and talked and talked. I did a lot of homework and journaling and a lot of sessions I decided on choosing an adoption plan for my baby.”

It’s very obvious what happened. The minute a confused, frightened women walks into an adoption agency and meets with one of their counselors, it’s next to impossible for her to walk out of there with the decision of parenting her child. Because, though they pretend they are, they aren’t there to help her make any TRUE choice. They are there to make sure she gives up her baby . . .

“There must be solid counsel and encouragement of adoption.”

“She will be guaranteed at least one very positive exposure to adoption on her first visit, even if low-key.”

“Present adoption as one of the most unselfish decisions a birthmother could make. Reinforce the many benefits her child will acquire through adoption.”

There is no choice in any of this. Only a very careful manipulation, designed to convince mothers they are no good for their children while encouraging them to give them up.

And if you are wondering about all those “happy” first moms who encourage adoption for other pregnant women . . .

“Adoption has got to be the most amazing thing ever!! I placed my son for adoption about a little over a year ago and the family that he's with is so freakin amazing!!! God truly works in mysterious ways!!!”

“I love adoption because it is thru adoption that i was able to give my son everything i could have ever wanted for him, and that's what I think being a mom is all about! “

“Adoption is a win-win-win decision. My daughter's parents win by finally getting to become parents, I win by knowing I did what's best for her, and she wins by being able to live a life far healthier than I could've provided.”

The adoption industry knows very well how to use them to get more babies in their clutches . . .

“Deliver the message through other birthmothers that choosing adoption is what it means to be a good mother.”

“Include birthmothers in messages by having them speak directly to pregnant women considering adoption.”

“Continue reassuring birthmothers by putting together a book of interviews with birthmothers and their adoption experience.”

And for those who like to bring up the old adage of . . . she chose adoption before she ever talked to anyone. It was all her decision . . .

“It was interesting because I was standing there one day and it hit me that this baby needed to go to somebody who could give it everything I couldn’t.”

“I knew before I ever talked to anyone that adoption was the best choice for me and for my baby.”

“As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I knew in my heart that adoption was God's plan for my baby.”

“The more I thought about it, the more I knew I wanted to choose adoption. “

Remember this very important fact, the adoption industry knows that one of the best ways to get more women to give up their babies is to feed the “greatness” of adoption into our society in any way they can and they have no problem targeting the youngest of victims . . .

“Influencing children must be the highest priority. First impressions of adoption tend to last a lifetime. To be effective, any public-relations effort must encompass programming and media that are child-friendly. A consistent, national message directed toward the next generation could help permanently change the value this culture places on adoption.”

“Work to include adoption in sex education classes. If young women are aware of adoption, they are more likely to consider it as an option.”

“Educate adults who work with young people. Make them aware that adoption is a positive option for women with unplanned pregnancies.”

“Use the media and public relations to help potential birthmothers understand the positive message of adoption in advance of unplanned pregnancy.”

See, all we have to do is listen. Listen to what first moms share in their stories. Listen to what the industry teaches others in their hopes of getting more babies.

By doing that, we see the connection in what happens to so many mothers out there who never deserved to lose their children. We see how this . . .

“Choosing adoption enables birthmothers to see themselves in compassionate, noble and heroic terms, righting the wrong and correcting the mistake of their unplanned pregnancies.”

“In doing what is best for her child, she fulfills her need to see herself as a good mother and can accept the pain of relinquishment.”

Has so much to do with first moms who share this . . .

“It makes me very proud. I made a mistake, but made the best of it.”

“I’m proud to know I sacrificed my own feelings, put my own feelings aside to help a complete stranger. I was like a hero.”

I was pregnant and not married. So I had to make it right and started looking at adoption.”

“I know I messed up but knowing I did the right thing by placing my daughter for adoption makes it so much better.”

The truth of adoption lies here, in the voices of those who have lived it and in the coercion of those who use it for their own profit. We can’t keep turning a blind eye to what is happening. We can’t continue to accept such practices as okay.

If we don’t stand up and speak out then we condone, and in many ways, encourage, this kind of treatment against mothers and their unborn children. By keeping our voices silent we are exactly what the adoption industry wants us to be . . . pawns who will do and believe whatever they tell us.

Is that who we want to be? Is such treatment of pregnant mothers really what we want to support?

In my book, the answer is simple.

What’s the answer for you?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'm Sorry

Those of us who speak out about adoption have become very, VERY used to the “cookie cutter” responses we receive, over and over again. And one of the classics that I hear ALL the time is . . .

“I’m so sorry you had a bad experience but . . . “

The rest is always a mix of things but the plain and clear message that is there is – What you have to say really doesn’t count because your opinion, feelings . . . whatever . . . is jaded by your “bad” experience. Your voice should really just be ignored and disregarded because you aren’t talking from any true kind of knowledge, only from those screwed up emotions inside of you that really don’t mean much of anything to anyone and are nowhere near the experience the majority has had.”

And to think, I once let such a response get to me.

But when I step back and look at it logically, I almost have to laugh at the ridiculous nature of it. Because the truth of the matter is, my experience, in so many ways, mirrors that of so many of the other mothers who gave up their children, years ago and right into the present day.

But still, some will cling to whatever they can find. Most often, that ends up being the abuse my son suffered at the hands of his adoptive mother and first step-father. People are notorious for grabbing on to that, the worst heartache and horror I have ever known, and twisting it around to use against me.

And yet, that wasn’t even a bad experience. That was a nightmare. That was hell on earth. And for everything it was to me it was a hundred times worse for my son who lived it. Was hurt by it in a way nobody should ever be.

Of course that doesn’t matter to those who see it as their chance to discredit whatever I have to say. That’s their easy out. Their “winning hand” to make sure I mean nothing in the wonderful world of adoption.

Except for one thing, if I were speaking only from that nightmare and letting it jade my feelings and views of adoption, my blog would be full of post after post stereotyping all and every adoptive parent into a abusive maniac.

I mean, that is what they are suggesting, isn’t it, every time they give me that condescending pat on the back with the even more condescending, “I’m sorry you had a bad experience but . . . “

I must not be speaking with anything other than my emotionally challenged and prejudice view because of the nightmare my son faced and had to live with for so many years.

But then show me, in that train of thought, where has that prejudice that clouds my judgment brought me to speaking out about adoption because my son was abused and therefore, all adoptive parents must be abusive. Show me just ONE instance where I have let my emotions rule in such a way that I have said adoption needs to be changed because it causes adoptive children to be abused and mistreated like my son was.

You won’t find a post like that. Not even in the hardest and darkest moments that I have blogged about, will you find anything where I have ever declared that I speak out about adoption because my experience, my son’s experience, makes it very clear that adoption is bad because adoptive children are abused.

Infact, if anyone were to take the time, they would find that, even here on my blog, I began speaking out about adoption BEFORE I knew the horrible abuse my son faced.

And the thing that makes me laugh, brings me to shake my head in total bewilderment is . . . outside of what my son suffered . . . my experience is actually the exact same as so many. And that could be easily discovered if some actually took the time to read what I have posted.

I was THAT woman. I faced an unexpected pregnancy. I dealt with the fear and confusion. I went through the adoption agency counseling. Was told the EXACT same things pregnant women are still told today. The exact same things that come right out of their “instruction” manual Birthmother, Good Mother.

I met the adoptive parents early in my pregnancy, formed a relationship with them, trusted them. The adoptive mom was there when I gave birth, in the delivery room. I saw her and her husband, the adoptive father, as an amazing couple who could offer my child the kind of life I could never dream of. I was thankful for them, for all the “wonderful” things they could offer my son. And I believed my son would understand and be grateful for everything I had given him by giving him up for adoption.

For fifteen years, I lived a life where I claimed adoption was the most wonderful, loving option. I saw myself as better than those other First Mom’s who didn’t believe as I did. I felt sorry for the ones who had a bad experience because I was so much better in what I had. So much more special to be “happy” with the way my son’s adoption was.

I was oh so proud to be a birthmother.

Do you hear an echo here of what so many other First Mom’s say? I sure do. I know that. I lived that. That was MY experience.

And yet, today, that experience is labeled “bad.” It had to have been. It’s the only explanation for why I wouldn’t embrace adoption with all that love and joy and encourage it for everyone.

So what’s bad if my experience is so similar to so many others?

Is it bad because after fifteen years I began to slip out of my denial and question what had happened?

Is it bad because I started to wonder how in the world I had ever let anyone convince me that loving my child meant giving him away?

Is it bad that I found an amazing therapist and wonderful support group that finally gave me the freedom to be true with my feelings and work through them and realize the core of their existence?

Is it bad that, after four years of telling myself I was crazy, that nobody felt what I did, that I actually found others who shared my experience and began to read and research EVERYTHING I could find about adoption to try to come to some kind of answer to what had happened?

Is it bad that I took the initiative to learn what the adoption industry feeds into our society and realize just how much control they have over First Moms, Adoptees and Adoptive Parents?

Is it bad that I now realize that the best thing I could have done for my son was to stand up and fight for him with everything I have inside me? To give him what he deserved, a mother who would do whatever it took to keep him and raise him to the best of my ability?

If that is my bad experience, then I will take it.

Because I am them. I am one of those First Moms that so many hail and praise and use as an example to encourage more adoptions.

The difference is, I found a courage I never knew I had and I began to heal in the way I needed to. In a way that allowed me to begin to truly heal from the loss of my child. And I did it without having to worry if it was a good or bad thing. I did it because I knew it was time and I just couldn’t continue to live with the masquerade I had for so many long years.

And for me, there isn’t anything “bad” about that.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Beware the Awareness

You know, I find it a bit fitting that after a night of ghouls and monsters . . . a night of trickery and masquerading . . . National Adoption Awareness month begins. There’s not much more I could think more fitting for such a campaign shrouded in lies and deception with the constant hope of tricking others into believing adoption is all sunshine and roses.

I understand there are many different views and feelings when it comes to adoption. I’m not blind to the different sides, the different feelings and opinions. I expect that with something that brings so much gain for some and so much loss for others.

But how in the world can you have an “awareness” of anything if the only thing you want to portray, and the only thing you will allow yourself to believe in is the “happy, happy, joy, joy” that this month shoves at us, over and over . . .and over again?

And boy, do so many jump up on to that bandwagon and ride it to its fullest extent while kicking fiercely at those of us scrambling below, trying to change the route its taking by bringing awareness from all sides and experiences.

See, that’s where my problem lies in this month. That’s where my hatred stews for thirty long days as we are bombarded over and over again by all the “wonderfulness” of adoption. How in the world can you build awareness of anything if you shove the darker truths into a corner and do your best to silence them?

The only people we are helping with that are the ones who want to live in a bubble and believe everything is so great in adoption world so they don’t have to face the harder truths. And the industry, so greedy to deposit that next check and continue to make their billions off the backs of frightened, desperate women and their children.

Truth is rarely one-sided and it isn’t always pretty. And you sure as hell can’t have true awareness without truth. It just simply isn’t possible.

And, for the record, half-truths don’t count.

You can’t say adoption is all good and great, when there are so many out there who have suffered with what adoption has brought into their life.

You can’t declare that it’s always a “loving” option, when so often it’s full of fear and desperation, heartache and terrible loss.

You can’t claim it helps all children and is better for them, when there are so many adoptees who are standing up and speaking out about their own struggles.

You can’t call it choice, when there is a very clear and deceptive practice created to insure more women will give up their children without having any choice at all.

If you want to build awareness, you can’t do it by encouraging the majority to keep their head stuck in the sand and not face EVERYTHING that exists in adoption. By encouraging the same antiquated beliefs that have existed in our society for far too long.

Awareness should come with the sharing of the many who have been coerced and manipulated into giving up their children right along with the stories of the mothers claiming they are happy with their choice.

It should come with those who felt they had no choice but to give away their child because of the relationship they had formed with the adoptive parents speaking in the same breath as those who proclaim how much it meant to them to have the adoptive couple so much a part of their pregnancy and in the delivery room and becoming “just like a part of their family.”

There should be the very real fact of the many who are denied their rights and can’t obtain their OBC’s shared in the same way as the stories of all the great things adoption can offer a child.

Everyone should be encouraged to read the studies and the books and the classes the adoption industry uses to convince more mothers to give up their babies just as they are encouraged to read books such as Dear Birthmother and So, I Was Thinking about Adoption.

There should be just as much said about a child’s loss of their heritage and roots as there is about how wonderful international adoption is and what a “savior” you can be by "rescuing" a child.

And there should be a constant reminder that adoption is suppose to be about a child TRULY in need of a home and family in the midst of those who talk about their own infertility and desire to become a parent through adoption and then are hailed for how wonderful they are for adopting.

These truths, and so many more (I know I’ve only touched the very tip of everything that exists) should be an absolute must in this month that claims to build awareness for adoption.

If you aren’t going to share all sides, all experiences and all feelings. If you insist on hiding the very real truths that so many know and have experienced along their own journey . . . then you aren’t building awareness.

All you are doing. All you are accomplishing and believing in is a myth concocted by those whose only desire is to continue to gain and profit from something that is full of just as much corruption, pain and heartache for many as it is full of joy and happiness for others.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

You Said What?

I can’t, I don’t, and I’m not sure I even want to understand the thought process of so many when it comes to the world of adoption.

Can they not hear how ridiculous and wrong some of their statements are? What happens in the minds of some to actually convince them of certain things, like this . . .

“Birth parents can be wonderful loving people, in fact the most loving people when they do a very loving thing by giving their child to a family.”

Excuse me!!! What???

So as one of those “oh, so wonderful beemommies,” I’m a wonderful, loving person – in fact the MOST loving person – since I gave away my child to another family to raise as their own. Really? That’s what makes me loving?

Cause, you know, I just don’t see it that way. You know . . . me . . . the one who gave away her child to another family. That “wonderful beemommie” who “CAN” be wonderful and loving (as opposed to what . . . terrible and hateful?)

I wasn’t a wonderful, loving person and I sure as hell don’t want anyone to see me that way for giving away my child.


Please tell me how that is wonderful and loving.

I was terrified, confused, numb and convinced that I would be the worst of all failures as my son’s mother. I loved my son so much that I wanted to keep him. But I was told that love was selfish and wrong. That loving him like that put him at risk for being abused and neglected. That my love wasn’t enough and could never give him all the wonderful things he deserved.

I didn’t give up my son because I was so wonderfully loving. Who, in their right mind, really does that? Who really believes that you can love your child enough to give them away?

But, I believed it too, didn’t I. Even though it went against everything I knew. Was a painful rub against what I was feeling inside . . . I said, “Okay, you’re right. I must not love my child enough if I want to keep him. To prove how much I love him, I must give him up.”

Oh, and lets add even more to my love for my son since, when I held him in the hospital room and wanted to keep him, take him home with me and yet didn’t because I was worried about the feelings of his adoptive parents, I then felt as if maybe I really didn’t love him enough because who in the world puts the fate of their child on the emotions of someone else?

And I secretly lived with that one for years!

Really, if someone wants to suggest that I, or any other parent, love their child enough to give them up then I suggest they be the first to do it. Go ahead, admit there is somebody out there better than you. Somebody who is richer, more successful, happier . . . whatever . . . and is more worthy of raising your child and the only thing you have to do to prove how much you love him or her is give them away to this person.

I mean, what would be stopping you? It is the ultimate act of being a wonderful, loving person. So do it already.

And when you do, please come back and let me know just how wonderful you feel. Let me know how that rush of love for your child is affecting you. Please share and give me an insight to just how much love you feel now that your child is no longer yours and you left him or her in the arms of a stranger.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Does He Have The Right?

I’ve said it on Facebook and I’ll say it here . . .

If you are a mother with sons and you support, in any way, the actions, situations or precedents that diminish a father’s right to his own child, then, if in the future, your own son faces such a terrible tragedy and loses the right to his own child, you only have yourself to blame.

Yes, that is my opinion, and yes, I stand strong and firm by it. If you fight now to deny a father his rights to his own child, no matter the justification you might use behind it, then you have absolutely nothing you can say or do to change it if your own son, the one you have raised and loved and cherished from day one, finds himself fighting desperately to be a father to his own son or daughter.

If you stand up now and call a father a “sperm donor” for no other reason than he is fighting to raise and love his own child. If you claim he should just “give up” and leave his son or daughter with the couple who has refused to give him back his child, than you have absolutely NO RIGHT to say anything if, down the road, your own grandchild, the flesh and blood of your own child, is just as horribly taken from your family!

Because you decided that a father’s rights don’t matter and you never took in to consideration how such a stand would affect your own son, your own grandchildren still to come.

You never stopped to think that what you supported in the here and now may very well affect your own child and the future he faces.

For weeks now, I have read, over and over and over again, yet another case of another adoptive couple, Jason and Christy Vaughn, who has fought, since close to birth, to keep a child away from his father. Though Benjamin Wyrembeck was never told he was even the father, and fought for his son, Grayson, from the moment he did learn he was indeed the father to his son, the overwhelming opinion seems to be that he is the monster, the terrible one, who dares to fight for rights that should have been his from the very start – raising and loving his OWN child.

And my anger towards such thoughts and beliefs doesn’t stem from being a First Mom. They stem from being, just plain and simply, a mom of three amazing sons who I know will someday make wonderful fathers.

And how dare anyone, ever, try to determine if my sons are “worthy” of their own children for no other reason than adoption is tossed into the ugly mix.

And yet, that is where we are heading, it seems, with all the recent situations where fathers are denied any and all say in the adoption of their children. From Baby Emma, to Grayson, to so many more over the years, the rights of fathers are being stripped away and stomped on by the harsh reality that again, the adoption industry, and their billions, outweigh any and all civil rights we, as Americans, are entitled to.

How can we, as mothers, sit back and say nothing, or even worse support such tragedies? How in the world can any one of us allow the adoption industry and its power to take over and consume such ridiculous thought. Do they really deserve more from us than our own sons? Our own flesh and blood? The little boys we raise to be strong and kind and loving?

How dare any mother, for any reason, buy into such manipulation! Your sons deserve better than this. They deserve to know you will fight long and hard for father’s rights because someday, odds are, they will be fathers as well and not a one of them should ever have to face losing their child – YOUR GRANDCHILD!

Your wrong, as a mother, if you foolishly believe what you support today will not affect your son in the future. Nothing speaks louder than a mother’s voice. And if you leave it silent, or worse yet, use it to back anyone who is out to strip ANY father of his rights, than you are a part of what your own son will face and be threatened by as he grows into the young man you are raising him to be.

Adoption laws, when it comes to fathers and their rights, are carefully crafted and created to insure that those “pesky little dads” can’t say anything or do anything that might screw up that big fat check the adoption agency or lawyer is expecting. They are put in place for one reason, and one reason only, to make it easier for adoptions to happen.

They have no cause, no bearing, on what is truly best for a child. They don’t give a damn what kind of father a man might or might not make. They are there only to diminish their worth, their importance in their own child’s life so that it’s easier for their children to be given away without their consent.

Is that what we, as mothers, want for our sons? There is absolutely no way in this world any one of us can guarantee they won’t face such a situation. No matter what precautions we take, what we teach them, we cannot, and never will be able to protect them fully from this ugly side of adoption.

It could happen to any one of our sons, just as it has happened to Ben Wyrembeck and so many other fathers before him, and so many, I’m afraid, yet to come.

So where do you stand as a mother? Do you tuck your little boy into bed tonight with a kiss and a hug and then hit your computer to call a father fighting for the rights to his child a “sperm donor” and proclaim he should just give up and walk away? Or do you understand, as you walk out of your son’s room, that you owe it to him to speak out and stand up for the rights that are quickly being taken away from him while he is still too young to even understand just how deeply it can destroy him in the years to come.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Just Sharing

So really, truly and honestly, this post isn't about adoption.

Yes, there is a bit that is adoption related. But that isn't the primary motivation behind this post.

Nope, this post, instead, is completely, selfishly driven, just so I can share this . . .

It's the song my youngest son and I will be dancing to at his reception on Sunday.

Sunday! Less than forty-eight hours away! I find myself almost unable to believe I have actually reached this next stage of being a mother. The saying "Don't blink because it goes so fast" is so very true. I swear it was just yesterday my baby boy was scrambling into my lap and cuddling his head against my shoulder. Crawling into my bed and sprawling out across the pillows.

I'm sitting here tonight and remembering scraped knees and bent bones (yes, there really is such a thing that can happen when your five year old little boy falls out of a tree.) I'm smiling - in the way only a mother can - at the memory of the shoes he found in my closet, wrapped up and gave to me as a birthday present. At the images of his smile, his love, his every little trait that makes him . . . him.

And while a part of me rejoices for the wonderful woman he has found to share his life with, a part of me mourns the little boy he once was. Because, really, that time of their lives does go by way too fast. In the blink of an eye, our children change, grow, and venture out into lives that are their own.

I was only twenty when he was born. So young and still so insecure about my ability to parent. And yet, now I look back on those years and forward on the ones yet to come and I feel only the bittersweet happiness of a mother who may not have done it all right, but did the best she could and now has the chance to watch her son take that next important step into his future as the man he has become.

And to take a wonderful occasion, and make it even better - in a way so few would really understand - my oldest son, who I gave up for adoption all those years ago - will be the one giving the toast for his youngest brother and new bride at the reception.

In all my wildest dreams, even in the moments when I would allow myself to image the impossible, there was never a time that I ever thought I would witness such a moment.

In the experience I've known, such things, though so normal to others, just don't seem possible. And yet, on Sunday, as I celebrate the wonderful life my son is taking his first steps into and look back on the years of his childhood, I will know the wonder and pure joy of watching my oldest son raise his glass and toast his baby brother.

It's a moment I look forward to with all my heart and know I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Tainted Halo

I know I’ve mentioned it before, on more than one occasion, that I was once one of those picture perfect “beemommies.” My halo hovered wonderfully on top of my head and I stood so proud on that ivory pedestal, basking in what a great person I was for loving my oldest son so much that I presented him as a “gift” to that, oh, so deserving couple.

Oh, and did I know the script so well. I had it memorized – which wasn’t hard to do after how many times it was drilled into my head. I repeated like a robot, like the picture perfect “beemommie’s” of today do, the amazing sacrifice I made because I loved my son enough to want him to have better than I could provide. With a smile on my face, I listed off all the reasons why I would have been such a failure as his mother . . . I was too young. I wasn’t married. I couldn’t provide him with all the glorious things he deserved . . . etc, etc, etc.

And, while I “happily” beat up on my own worth and my own importance to my child, I eagerly shared why his adoptive parents were so much better than me. Why it was them that deserved to raise my child. Why their marriage, their ranch house with horses, their age, their desire for a child of their own, made them so much more deserving of my own flesh and blood.

Oh, I was so “good” during those many years. I was worthy of praise. I was liked . . . respected . . . because I recognized my failures and loved my son enough not to expose him to them. I strutted my stuff on top of that pedestal. Shined my halo till it was a blinding light of all my worthiness. Since I would be a failure as a mother, then I was going to at least damn well succeed at being a good “beemommie.”

And in that time, I was able to create a shield, a barrier against the pain and loss I refused to acknowledge. If I could hold on to the belief that I wouldn’t have been good for my son and that I did the right thing by giving a “gift” to the deserving couple that adopted him, then I didn’t have to feel the grief that grew stronger and stronger every year. I didn’t have to admit to the terrible loss that ached through my soul.

And I didn’t have to see, or realize, what was happening to me, was in any way related to losing my oldest child.

I still know that person intimately. She still exists on the fringes of who I have become today. And in some of the darkest moments during this time when I have truly been honest with myself and faced the pain of what happened, I have wondered if it wouldn’t have been easier to remain that person I was.

And because that person is still so close to who I am, I can recognize her, see her so clearly, in many of those First Moms of today who are the picture perfect “beemommies” on their own pedestals, wearing their halos that have not yet been scratched and tarnished as mine is now.

I won’t be bold enough to assume they are all sharing the same experience I did. That their repeated scripts, their need to be so good under the heavy weight of not being “good enough” is a repeat of what I went through. But I would bet there are a good percentage of them that are doing just as I did, without seeing, just as I never saw, just how desperately they are clinging to their “worthiness” so they don’t have to face the true feelings churning around inside of them. Feelings that come with so much raw pain and grief, it’s terrifying to even think of acknowledging them, much less setting them free.

But I can see those signs. The same ones I never recognized while I lived that life. I can hear their pain, their emptiness, their lack of confidence in the words they share, the doubts they struggle with, and the emptiness they don’t know how to feel.

It’s there in those who immediately have another child. Who don’t realize the need to fill the hole left in their lives. To heal the emptiness weighing them down. Without every realizing, there is nothing – not even having another child – to take that away.

It’s there in those who so drastically fear losing another child to the point of becoming overly protective of the children they are raising, to an extreme that outweighs the normal fear most parents face. It’s there in those who find even the simplest kind of loss knocks them to the ground and leaves them grappling for something, anything, to make it go away.

It’s there in the ones who go over the top to be the “perfect” mom only to never feel as if they are doing it right. Those who always feel like a failure no matter what they try and never allow themselves even the littlest moments to take pride in who they are as mothers.

It’s in their unexplained sadness they can’t define. In their moments of having to remind themselves why they are happy before they can even get out of bed in the morning. It’s in their tears they find other reasons for. In their need to find praise from someone, anyone, just to have the strength to go on another day.

And it’s there, most clearly, in the very fact that they find nothing wrong with taking themselves down to the lowest level a woman could face – not being good enough for your own child – and not think twice about what they are doing to themselves by beating up so constantly on their self esteem and the value they see when they look in the mirror – all under the guise of justifying why they did the right thing and proving how much they loved their child by giving them up.

I can see it, hear it, and feel it, when I read their blogs, listen to their stories, relate to the insecurities they share. But, even though in my times of weakness, I have wondered if it would be easier to be like them again, I know, with every ounce of my being, I never want to go back to that person. I never want to live in that denial. That shell that kept me from feeling what was truly inside of me.

One of the most liberating things I have ever known was being able to completely crumble and demolish the pedestal I stood on. To stomp on that halo with every bit of the pain and grief I had denied myself over the years.

Though it hurt like hell – and still does at times – I would never trade what I have now for what I had then.

Today, I have the amazing freedom to speak my truth, not the truth the adoption industry wanted me to believe. Today I can throw away all ideas that I “placed” my oldest son and made an “adoption plan.” Instead I can be honest, and though it hurts like hell and still can take my breath away, I can look myself in the mirror and admit I gave my son away. That I left him in the arms of a stranger when what he needed most was me. I left him feeling abandoned. That being his mother was the most important role I was ever blessed with in my life and I might not have had everything his adoptive parents had at that time, but I was still a good person, capable of working hard, sacrificing and giving everything in my power to my child. And he deserved that from me, far more than his adoptive parents deserved a child.

I can acknowledge how losing my child affected me in so many ways. I can accept the pain that strikes, though it might be hell to deal with at times, and understand why it’s there, how it has changed me and how I react and deal with things in my life.

Now that I stand in front of a crumbled pedestal and distorted halo, I have a courage I never had before. One that gives me the strength to not only know and understand how adoption has affected my son, but to be there to listen to him, support him and help him. To know his experience, his feelings, his reactions should never be limited to what I expect but instead be given the freedom to be whatever he truly feels inside.

And one that has allowed me to see past the surface of what happened over two decades ago, to the darker, uglier truths. To how adults I trusted used me in the worst of ways. To the fact I was just another number in my agency’s goal to convince mother’s to give up their children.

I wasn’t special. I meant nothing. Their counseling had nothing to do with their concern for me and what was best for my child. It was a taught process, one they had used on mothers before me and continue to use to this day, to ensure I would give up my baby.

I really was nothing more than a warm body carrying a child. I wasn’t Cassi. I wasn’t a frightened sixteen year old girl who had gone to them to seek guidance in the most frightening, confusing time of my life. I was just another offering on a plate and my son was nothing more than insurance for another hefty check deposited into their account.

And though it sounds crude and harsh to think that way, to me, it is much better than living the scripted belief they fed me so long ago. Better than being the “I was so bad I loved my child enough to give him away to someone better” robot they created.

Because who I am today is not controlled or conditioned by anybody. Yeah it can hurt like hell, and it does at times. But it’s me. It’s my feelings. It’s real.

I’m not a puppet anymore. I’m not so encased in having to be “good” that I don’t allow myself to feel the pain inside of me, acknowledge just how deeply losing my son affected me.

And I no longer have to lap at the heels of those who held me worthy and praised me for believing I wasn’t good enough. I don’t have to seek their acceptance just to feel better about who I am.

I can like myself or hate myself based on my own terms now. I’ve broken that evil cycle of the past and I can only hope that those First Moms who are repeating my steps will someday find the same joy of freedom I have.

Because as frightening as it is to face, it is so much better than that damn ivory pedestal and the halo that really never fits right anyhow.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Who's My Daddy

Dear Rarely Home Mom,

I just finished reading your latest blog entry, My thoughts on the adoption case heard in UT Supreme court . And even though I know there is an awful lot of our society that would agree with you, I still find myself shocked and appalled at what you had to say . . .

*** Utah has really strict laws about rights of birth fathers, and their rights are pretty minimal here.***

This part you have 100% right. Utah has the absolute worse laws when it comes to rights for First Fathers and even First mothers. That is why so many flock to that state to finalize an adoption. So they can take complete advantage of the laws to acquire a child.

***Utah law says that any man in the country who has sex with a woman anywhere in the United States has the responsibility to follow up with that woman and determine if a pregnancy resulted from their little rendezvous. If the man does not do that, he automatically has no rights to the child after birth. ***

Seems to me a woman should be expected to have the same responsibility of informing a man if a pregnancy occurred after sex – sorry but “little rendezvous” just doesn’t describe the act for me. And to automatically remove a father’s rights based solely on such a reason is ridiculous. Just because a man does not follow up (or is outright not told) to find out if he might be a father has absolutely NO BEARING on the kind of parent he will be.

If neither party takes the responsibility to inform one another of what has occurred after sex, then yes, it is a lack of judgment, I believe, on BOTH sides, but it in no way predicts any kind of abuse or harm that would demand parental rights be stripped from them.

***If the man does find out that he fathered a child, it is then his responsibility to show interest in that child before it is born. Some ways he can do that are by financially supporting the mother (rent, groceries, medical bills, etc.), driving her to doctors appointments, and so on. If a man knows he impregnated a woman and shows no interest in the baby before it is born, Utah law gives him absolutely no rights to the baby after it is born and the mother signs paperwork terminating her own rights (which can be done as early as 24 hours after birth if she is not on narcotics). ***

I will agree with you that any man who fathers a child should show responsibility from the start as he does become a parent at the time of pregnancy just as the mother does. But there are a couple big flaws in believing that a man is somehow unworthy of being a parent if he doesn’t step up to the plate from the very start.

One is, unfortunately, there still is very little support out there to help young men understand the importance of being a father. There are very few role models for them to follow while at the same time lots of judgment and unfair treatment, such as Utah Laws, that already place them in a negative light before they even get the chance to try. I know young men who are wonderful fathers but never understood the importance of support and being there for the mothers of their children while they were pregnant.

The other is, if you have never experienced what it is like to be a parent. If you don’t know that love that can overwhelm you and take you over the minute you hold your child in your arms, then yes, you might very well make mistakes and back away during the pregnancy, because you are unaware of just how significant it is to hold and love your child. But, it is VERY common to have that love and understanding hit you the moment your child is in your arms. To look into the eyes of your son or daughter and be completely swept away and understand just how much that tiny life is depending on you.

And in the case of, John Wyatt, neither of these two arguments have relevance because he did show an interest and he let it be known, from the start, that he was against adoption. He isn’t a man who just threw up his arms and said, “I don’t give a damn.” He’s a father who knew from the start that he wanted to keep and raise his child.

And on a side note, the fact that mothers are allowed to sign ANYTHING related to adoption and giving away their children after only 24 hours after giving birth is appalling. Talk about coercive and manipulative practices!

*** If a man knows he impregnated a woman, supported her during her pregnancy and wants to retain rights to the child after birth, he MUST file certain papers in court in a very specific manner of time.***

And that just boggles the brain in all ways! So, in the state of Utah, even if the father does everything right (in their diluted eyes) and is a father of the best kind even through the pregnancy, he must still file papers in court to be able to keep his own flesh and blood? His child? Forgive my language here, but that is bullshit! There is absolutely nothing, no tangible reason for this law to be in existence other than to ensure more children are taken from their fathers in the interest of making adoption easier for adoptive parents. Where else, expect for in the world of adoption, would a man have to go to court to protect his rights to his child when he has done nothing but prove what a good father he is?

***From all the family situations and birth family situations I’ve seen over the past few years, the laws in Utah work. They have been a lifesaver to countless birthmothers, and I sure appreciate them as an adoptive mom.***

Yes the laws in Utah work for adoptive parents, which is why I am not surprised you, as an adoptive mother, appreciate them. And they are far from being any kind of lifesaver to a First Mother facing such unethical practices. The only people the laws are “saving” are the hopeful adoptive parents desperately wanting a child and the adoption industry looking to guarantee their disgusting high profits remain intact.

There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in Utah laws to protect a mother and child. NOTHING! They are designed to encourage the manipulative, coercive practices that feed the adoption industry. For anyone to appreciate or like these laws is beyond my understanding.

***When Joshua was born in Utah we still lived in California, but because Utah adoption law kicks the pants off of any other state in the country, we chose to use Utah law. ***

And right here is exactly why Utah laws are such an extreme failure . . . because, just like you, hopeful adoptive parents can use the laws to their benefit and use the most unethical way possible to ensure they get that baby they are hoping for, without thought to what they are, in turn, doing to the mother and her child in the process.

***The problem with this current case: Virginia – where the baby was born -has awarded custody to the birth father, but the adoption of the baby was by a family who are Utah residents and worked under Utah law, who has given custody to the adoptive family.***

You are right, there is a huge problem here. The problem is, this father has been given the rights to his own child. His very own. The one made of him that is a part of him, and always will be. But, in every essence of the law, his child has been kidnapped from him under the guise of the Utah laws that gave custody, they didn’t have to give, to the adoptive family.

***BUT at what point do you just STOP fighting and admit that even if you were wronged (which I do not believe he was, but play along – what IF he was wronged) – this is a human. ***

You don’t stop fighting. Plain and simple. Would you expect parents who had their child kidnapped from them, to just give up the fight. To stop and throw in the towel. I would bet you wouldn’t. And in all ways, John Wyatt’s little girl was kidnapped from him. Taken without his permission, forced into a life her father never wanted for her.

***An upstanding birth father, who actually cared about his daughter would never want her to go through that. In my opinion, his is the highest form of selfishness, bordering on evil. He is treating this little girl like property. A lost dog. John Wyatt is showing the world he cares not about his daughter, but himself. A real parent places the BEST INTERESTS of the child above theirs at all times. He is showing he cares about himself, not about what would be best for his birth daughter.***

This is probably one of the most biased, ridiculous statements I have seen in a long time. To call John Wyatt selfish and bordering on evil because he is fighting for his OWN daughter, while supporting the couple who has fought him and used every avenue to keep the little girl since she was a newborn (when he first filed papers with the court) is unbelievable. If him fighting for his daughter with everything he has for all these months makes him such a monster. Than what does it make the adoptive parents who have KNOWN the father of the little girl NEVER wanted to give her up for hiding behind Utah laws and doing everything in their power not to reunite father and daughter and allow them to have the life they both deserve?

John Wyatt did not just come out of the woodwork last month and declare he wanted his daughter back. He has been fighting this fight since she was born and it is the adoptive parents, in my opinion, who are being selfish and not doing what is in the best interest of the child. Her father loves her, he has wanted to raise her and be her parent from the start. That means they never should have had any legal right to his daughter. NONE! They, plain and simply, took another man’s child right out from underneath him and separated a little girl from her father just so they could be parents themselves. The best interest for her would have been being placed back in her father’s arms immediately after learning he never wanted to give her up.

You are so mad at this father who always has, and still does, want his daughter. He wants to raise her and love her and be her parent. And yet you stand behind the couple that has fought him. Has, in my opinion, done the worst of all human acts by keeping her from him and denying him what is his right, as is everyone’s – to parent his own child!

You call him cruel and evil and selfish and yet say nothing of the acts the adoptive parents have done to not only him, but to the little girl stuck in the middle of all of this. This man has done nothing to deserve losing his daughter and the adoptive parents have done nothing to deserve being the ones to keep and raise her over the desires and love of her own father!

Adoption is supposed to be about children in need of a home. This little girl has a home, a father, and a grandmother who love her and want her. This case, as in so many others in the world of adoption, just proves that it is no longer about the child in need but instead about the couple in need of a child, at any and all costs to that child and the parents he/she is being separated from.