Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Women Versus Women

I’m second guessing a decision I made to like a page on Facebook – One Million Pissed Off Women.

It’s not that I don’t believe in what they stand for overall, or want to add my voice to their fight. But, after reading some comments left by one of the co-founders of the page on Motherhood Deleted’s latest post, Pissed Off and Proud, I really don’t like the idea of supporting any group that doesn’t take the time to research and see that supporting adoption, as it is practiced today, actually goes against the women’s rights they are fighting for.

I just don’t see how anyone claiming to fight for women’s rights can support the billion dollar profits the adoption industry makes from taking children away from young, poor, single women. How they can support anything that encourages the coercive and manipulative tactics that are given in Birthmother, Good Mother, to “convince” a women she is not good enough to be a mother.

How can they stand behind an industry that markets to our young daughters that unless they are married, successful and wealthy, they do not deserve to keep their children. That uses women in their most vulnerable, desperate time in order to take from them their own child. That instills the belief that mothers who are viewed by society as “not good enough” should give up their children to those that are viewed as better than them.

I just can’t get myself to support such a way of thinking.

The co-founder of the site who commented, outside of, of course, knowing a first mom and adoptees who are perfectly happy with their situation, voiced a concern that by taking away the “choice” of adoption, you run the risk of forcing a woman to parent.

What she doesn’t seem to understand is that the vast majority of adoptions that happen today are not because a women simply chooses not to parent, but because she is FORCED into losing her child because she feels as if she has NO OTHER CHOICE.

The typical woman facing a crisis pregnancy isn’t walking into an adoption agency and declaring, “I just really don’t want this baby. Please let me give him away so I’m not forced to spend the rest of my life raising him.”

No, the truth of most, is much different than that. For them, it is a situation where they want to raise their child but don’t have the support or help to do so. They feel desperate, unsure and terrified of what the future holds.

They may have nobody to support them. Don’t have the money and resources they deserve, as their basic human right, to keep and care for their child. Can’t imagine how they can ever make it work when everything seems so dark, so terrifying at the moment.

And only in so-called adoption counseling is it actually encouraged, when anyone in the mental health field knows the harm in it, to push someone to make a life-changing decision while in the midst of a crisis. To actually guide their decision-making by shoving adoption at them as the “loving” solution to their problems.

Such situations can never be seen as a good thing for women’s rights.

If someone truly supported women’s rights, even with the belief that adoption should be a choice, then they would stand up and fight for better support and help offered to young, single, poor pregnant women to enable them to keep and raise their child instead of feeling as if they have no choice but to give them up.

They would stand up and shout for the millions of dollars our government pays to teach how to “convince” a woman to give up her baby be redirected into programs that offered better sex education for our youth. Parenting and job skills for mothers. Financial support so that no mother ever again has to lose her child due to poverty.

They would demand an end to the profits made off of women giving up their babies. Would fight against the unrealistic portrayal of adoption that is fed into our society. Scream at the top of their lungs that women in crisis pregnancies must have true, unbiased counseling that does not push adoption at them as the “loving option.” But instead works with the woman, in each individual situation, to determine what factors are contributing to her belief that she can’t keep her baby. And warning her of the risks, to both herself, and her child, that adoption brings with it.

Just as there is a fight for women to have the right to abortions and pregnancy prevention, there should also be a fight for women to have the right, the means, and the support, to try parenting their child before ever being forced to make the decision to give her own flesh and blood away.

Womens rights supporters should be outraged that, while still under the effects of giving birth, it is legal for a mother to sign away her rights to her child forever. That women can be threatened with things such as paying back medical bills and being turned into social services if they change their mind.

Whether you believe in adoption or not, I just don’t see how you can support women’s rights and not fight for drastic reform in the acts that are used, over and over again, to separate women from their children every day. How you can say adoption is a good thing while knowing there are so many women who have been lied to, used, coerced, forced and manipulated into losing their sons or daughters.

And how can anyone who claims to stand for women’s rights, support an act such as adoption, that denies millions of women adoptees the most basic of human rights, their original birth certificates.

Supporting both women’s rights and adoption, at this point in our nation’s history, just isn’t possible. Because to do so, you make the very clear statement that some women deserve their equal rights while others must suffer and sacrifice without the help of the very people . . . other women . . . who should be helping them the most.


  1. The folks in my family just dont get this. Nobody I know really does, except my husband.

  2. One of our staunchest opponents in the effort to liberate adult adoptees is NOW, which reveals something about its stripped-down views of reproduction. Unmarried mothers, it believes, need "protection" from the products of their reproductive rights, despite the fact that half of those "products" are women whose own rights are thus being abrogated. Another example of Women Versus Women.

  3. To clarify: I did say that I have a problem with people buying children. I did say that I do not have full education around this issue. I do NOT approve of coercive methods, and I did NOT say that I approve of the industry or how it is run. I admitted up front that I have no knowledge of this area. And I absolutely did NOT say that the industry does not need to be examined and revised, or that laws do not need to be changed.

    However, what I said then and say now, I stand by: it is a woman's right to choose for herself. You and your group are enraged that women are being "convinced" or "coerced" into giving up their babies and that instead they should be "convinced" to keep them. How is YOUR "convincing" more palatable than how the anti-choice clinics take women in and "convince" them to keep their babies?

    You use words like 'every' and 'all. Worse yet, your assumption is that ALL adoptive mothers do not have the ability employ free will and mind to make the decision to adopt out her child without outside interference. Your assumption diminishes a woman's ability to make her own free decision, proposing instead that she is incapable of making her own decision. Yes, I have a problem with that.

    You state that if we supported women's rights we would do things to facilitate change. I'm all about improving life and laws for women, so if THAT is what you want, I'm happy to add that to the agenda. But that's not what you all asked, and it does not appear to be your goal. What was proposed on Motherhood Deleted was that women be given the choice of either having an abortion or keeping their child. Adoption is not event a choice, in your view. Where is the choice in that? How does your agenda promote what is best for women when it is your goal to deny a woman to choose a third option? You are putting YOUR issues on women, and I can tell you that we are all different, and the probability is that a portion of the adoptive parent population have indeed WANTED to not raise their own child (and with the woman I know, I will reiterate that she was not convinced by anyone. She made an immediate decision ON HER OWN). Whether a woman chooses to have children, not have children, adopt her child out, or have an abortion, my position is that it be HER choice and that that choice be uninfluenced by anti-choice, pro-choice, pro-adoption or anti-adoption groups. Because as long as ANY group is working to convince a pregnant woman of what she wants or needs to do, they are stealing her free will to make her own decision. And you bet I have a problem with that.

    If there are problems with the adoption industry, THAT is what you should focus on: changing the laws and social norms around adoption. But if you decide that forcing women to keep their babies or have an abortion when they don't want them is EVER anything I will get behind, you are sadly mistaken. I will come out against any proposed law that takes a woman’s choice.

    Elizabeth Estabrooks

  4. Cassi, without a doubt I would support the fight for industry changes, because it sounds like they are desperately needed, while also desperately under-acknowledged. If you want to post about the industry and the need for reform, you would be welcome to do so.

    Elizabeth Estabrooks

  5. Elizabeth,

    I want changes. I want a fight for changes. I want an acknowledgement that women are being used to feed more babies into the billion dollar adoption industry and that there must be actions taken to change that.

    I am not asking for more choices to be taken away from women. But I also, definitely do not want to see a movement for women's rights that encourages or believes in the coercive tactics of the adoption industry. Or thinks such things should be acceptable so that adoptive parents have rights to become parents by allowing such actions.

    Doing so sends the very clear statement that poor, young, single women, without adequate help and resources are not included in the fight for women's rights when it comes to those women who are "considered" more deserving of a child because of their finances, marital status, career, etc . . .

    I'm not asking for anyone to suddenly changes their beliefs and completely turn against adoption. But I am asking, as a woman, who has, and knows many others who have, had their rights denied, over and over again, to look into, research and learn about the other side of the adoption world(outside of what we have been told through the media and policticians.)

    Cont . . .

  6. Cont . . .

    Read the stories of the many women who been forced into giving up their children because they were not offered the help and support they deserved. Who were lied to, coerced and a victim to the actions the NCFA (National Council for Adoption) who lobbies for the continued denial of a pregnant mothers rights so that the billion dollar profits of the adoption industry can continue.

    If you look hard enough and research long enough, you will find that the FRC (Family Research Council) who fights so hard against women's rights in the areas of abortion and birth control, is also a huge supporter of the Adoption Industry and works just as hard to deny pregnant mothers support and encourages, through their own publications, another disgusting resource on how to convince women to give up their babies.

    I stand behind the fight, I just don't stand behind the fight when it comes to blindly viewing adoption as we always have without truly researching the affects it has on women and the very clear denial of rights they face in order to force them into giving up their children to feed the demand of others.

  7. Well now, I can get in alignment with that, Cassi. Because I don't believe ANY woman should be disenfranchised in any way. Change that improves a system and helps people is always a good thing, but as Melissa said, we cannot make one-size-fits-all decisions. Your blog and the Motherhood Deleted blog honestly caused me concern because if assumes of the fact that you place all women who give up their children in to the same category. And Robin DID say that women should either keep their children or have an abortion. That causes me great concern! But changing the adoption system? Absolutely - it sounds like it needs reformed.

    Elizabeth Estabrooks

  8. Elizabeth,

    Honestly, that is all I want and desire, a united front to reform adoption and to fight against the denial of women's rights that it creates. I want others to take the time to look into and research the affect adoption has on women and their children just as so many of us who support adoption reform and have lost our children to adoption, read and research the other causes involved in Women's rights.

    We all might have different opinions on the small things. But we should all agree that no woman, in any circumstance, should ever be a victim to the abuse of manipulation or coercion when it comes to her rights as a women AND a mother.

  9. After reading some of the most recent responses to my blog on the page for One Million Pissed Off Women, I'm off to bed and wondering, for the first time since I started this blog, if I should even keep on fighting.

    But I want to leave this, part of a comment left on Motherhood Deleted's blog before I close my eyes and give up for the night . . .

    "As far as adoption goes, making a woman take resposnibility for her child by becoming a mother is a human thing. It has NOTHING to do with reproductive choice. Reproductive choice happens before one conceives or in the early stages of pregnancy. After that, it is all about life and the natural stages of life. Anyone encouraging adoption or persuading a mother to give up on her child is not fighting for women's rights but the rights of individuals who want something they have NO RIGHT to."

  10. "we should all agree that no woman, in any circumstance, should ever be a victim to the abuse of manipulation or coercion when it comes to her rights as a women AND a mother."

    I am an amom, pro-Choice, and I completely support this statement.

    Until about the past year, I thought that when women faced an unplanned PG and sought counseling—they received just that—unbiased counseling that outlined, in an unbiased manner, the options and what each option entailed. I have since come to learn that in many cases, such counseling tends to focus on ‘encouraging’ the woman to place her baby for adoption.

    We recently completed our final post placement adoption report for our youngest child. During our visit our SW told us she is culling a number of adoption agencies that she will work with to complete home studies for domestic infant placement because of the coercive practices she is haring about. These Adoption Agencies fly the expectant mother to a different state than where she lives a month or so before her due date and put her up in a hotel or apartment. Usually a state that has a shorter time frame for an adoption to be completed—the baby is born in that state and that is where the adoption takes place. If the expectant mom changes her mind, the agency will not pay the cost of her stay in the hotel/apartment.

    This type of practice is disgusting and should be ILLEGAL!

  11. Hi Cassi,

    Thank you for writing this follow up. I popped over to MD's blog vis yours and I agree with both of you whole heartedly.

    Don't let people get you down, there is always going to be someone or a group of someones who want to shut you up or knock you down. What you have to say is valid and very necessary in this world. I soooo understand how tiring the fight can be so pace yourself and only enter the fray when you can.

    Oh and *blush* at the quote. I stand by what I said... adoption and reproductive choice/rights are chalk and cheese. One is about one's OWN body and the other is about ANOTHER person's body and then after that a child. To fling the two together and claim to be fighting for women's rights is actually nonsensical... and has no logic to it. To fight for women's rights is to fight for the rights of women to BE MOTHERS. It is what our natural ability is; the one thing WE can do that men can not. If women are truly interested in fighting for the rights of other women, they would PROTECT this precious resource and not seek to destroy it. And as I said in my comment to Robin, encouraging a woman to raise her own child is not doing anything to anyone's rights. It is telling someone to grow up and accept responsibility.

    In the West where we have NO CLUE what it is like to lose our basic rights, groups like these focus on the petty things; I suggest they live in the Middle East and other third world countries and have their eyes opened to the REAL rights issues. No, I do not have anything to do with so called "women's rights" movements these days as they have lost the plot and basically spew forth much crap. They have no idea what a right is and what it is like to lose one... unless they have been in the shoes of the women who HAVE lost them.

    As we say in NZ, Kia Kaha, meaning strength forever or stay strong.


  12. "To fight for women's rights is to fight for the rights of women to BE MOTHERS." - Just to clarify this, I mean for those who don't use 'alternative' methods such as adoption or surrogacy which are basically unnatural.

  13. I think this is an incredibly important post. Would you mind if I reposted it, crediting and linking you obviously, at ontd_feminism it will get some negative responses but I think it will make a lot of people think too.

  14. Wow, I'm really not sure where to start. Somewhere along the path of my adoption journey, I must have missed the evil, coercive hordes of people representing the adoption "industry", foaming at the mouth to take my baby away from me and sell it for big profits. ???

    I can only speak for myself and my situation but when I chose to place my 1-month old daughter in an open adoption 7 years ago, it was simply a case of a single parent with very little to offer a child making the best decision for that child (as well as myself). No one pressured me and there was no money exchanged. I did it simply because children deserve parents(plural) who are educated and have the money to provide them with opportunities in life, not struggle and poverty. To each their own but you're basically doing the same thing that you're accusing the adoption "industry" of doing - trying to coerce women, some or all of whom may be frightened and confused, into choosing what YOU think is the best option. I think most women are capable of making the best choice for themselves and their child without your hateful rhetoric echoing in their thoughts.

  15. Kimberly,

    I don't believe having a desire to see more help and support for a women to keep and raise her baby, or demanding she be given unbiased counseling that informs her of the risk of adoption that she has a right to know of, is in any way trying to manipulate a women not to give up her baby.

    Never once did I claim in my post that women should be forced to keep their baby without question. My point was, even if you believe in adoption being offered as a choice, you should still be outraged that women's rights are being denied over and over again.

    If you feel your experience was a good one, that you were offered all the resources and help you deserved. That you knew going into adoption the good and the bad that came with it, than that is your experience and you have every right to speak up and share it.

    But, I don't believe, because you had a good experience, that is reason to throw up our hands and do nothing. The fact of the matter still remains there are many women who are having their rights denied through the process of adoption. Reena's comment shared one of many things that is done to them to get them to give up their baby.

    Should we ignore what they go through because others haven't had any problems?

    And as for the money aspect, I have never known an adoption to happen where absolutely no money changed hands. Usually they must be facilitated through an attorney or an agency and I can promise you, they make a very good profit off of it.

  16. Reena,

    This type of practice is disgusting and should be ILLEGAL!

    I couldn't agree more, and I also know that they refuse to pay for her flight back home if she changes her mind as well, leaving her homeless with no way to get back to where she came from.

    The thought of what those mothers go through because of such a practice makes me ill.

  17. Myst,

    ***Oh and *blush* at the quote. I stand by what I said... adoption and reproductive choice/rights are chalk and cheese. One is about one's OWN body and the other is about ANOTHER person's body and then after that a child.***

    That is why I quoted your comment over on the other blog, because you said so clearly what should be obvious. Adoption is NOT a reproductive right. Every time I have seen someone lump it as one, nothing good has come out of it.

    And what I can't get my mind past, at the moment, is, even if you somehow believe that. Even if you believe adoption should be offered to pregnant women as a choice, how should that change the very real fact that more needs to be done to protect Women's rights. No matter what you believe.


  18. Cont...

    I keep reading different comments in different areas about this blog and so many seem to want to "muddy" the waters with the same old debates of abortion vs adoption. Being anti-adoption or not. Adoptive parents good or better than First Parents.

    And yet, I can't see a single way any of those reasons justify not fighting to make sure mothers have the resources and help they deserve to keep their child if they choose. That they never face coercion or lies or are taken advantage of.

    I would think, no matter what side of the fence you sit on when it comes to adoption, you would at least want to stand up to make sure no woman, for any reason, is being denied her rights.

    To me, that is just common sense.

  19. From an earlier comment, "children deserve parents(plural) who are educated and have the money to provide them with opportunities in life, not struggle and poverty."

    If that's the case, then a majority of the world's population has no right to keep their children. There are a lot more poor folks than yuppies.

  20. Question about "forcing" a woman to be a mother: don't fems support the idea of forcibly collecting child support from the father? Are they forcing him to be a father by supporting the child he helped to create? Why is it okay for a mother to opt out of parenting, but if a father does this he is a deadbeat subject to financial and criminal penalties?

  21. Maybe,

    And that's EXACTLY one of my arguments - we need to fight against the messages the adoption industry puts out into our society (especially toward our young daughters) that, unless you are married, successful and well-off (atleast middle class), you don't deserve to be a parent.

    None of those things have any bearing on the kind of mother a woman can be to her child. And I, for one, think it is so wrong for any woman to be left feeling that way and beating up on her own worth as a mother because she believes her child deserves better than who she is a woman and mother.

  22. Breaking news: there is rarely a "perfect" time to get pregnant and there are certainly no "perfect" parents. The world is an imperfect place. Have your babies while you can and do your best to give them a good life. That's all any of us can really do.

  23. ***Breaking news: there is rarely a "perfect" time to get pregnant and there are certainly no "perfect" parents. The world is an imperfect place. Have your babies while you can and do your best to give them a good life. That's all any of us can really do.***


  24. Kimberly,

    If you do come back here, I have a question for you . . . was your situation one where you truly did not want to parent your child? Or was it one where you did not feel as if you were able to keep and parent your child?

  25. An excellent post that digs even further into women's rights, from someone from the outside who is witness to the way we treat women here in the states . . .


  26. It's the age old Certain Women are better than Others. The divided feminist struggle. It has mostly been a divide between middle class vs. working class women, African American women, minority women, and people who don't have as much privilege as they do. It's the same story. Some women should have more rights than others, but really, it is privilege & entitlement.

  27. Hi Cassi,

    Please don't give up! This is exactly why we need people like you telling your story. Too many people who haven't been affected by adoption believe that it is a wonderful thing. And too many people who have been affected by it get shouted down when they try to talk about it. The whole "adoption is beautiful and builds families" myth is why many women today still give up their children for adoption. They've never heard from women who wish adoption had NEVER been one of the "choices" that they had. And they've certainly never heard from an adoptee who said that all they ever wanted was their mother regardless of whether she was married or had money.

    I had been following on Robin's blog as well and I still fail to see where either of you said that anyone should be forced to parent if they truly don't want to. I know there are women who gave up their children for adoption who are happy with their decision. That's great. I just wish we lived in a world where people would say to them, "Oh, I know someone who gave up her baby for adoption and it almost killed her. She regretted it for the rest of her life." Because there are lots of us out there.

  28. I had my daughter taken from me when I was 16 because I had a depression problem. I tried for 3 yrs to get my daughter back and social services kept finding ways to manipulate me. I couldn't do anything right. Finally they threatened that if I didnt give up my rights willingly that they would take my rights and I would have no right to any children I had in the future. After I signed the papers I recieved papers from court stating that I was unfit as a parent and I had had my rights as a parent taken away. This all happened because this so called foster parent decided she wanted to adopt the children she got so she could be a mother. She had more rights than I did from the beginning. She now has adopted three children and has quit fostering children now that she has what she wants.