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.