Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Coercion Not Choice

"Coercion of any kind negates choice, informed or otherwise."

When just even a hint of coercion exists, there can never be true choice.  You can try to wrap it up in a pretty bow, sprinkle some sugar on it to make it sweeter, but it will never change the fact that the moment coercion enters the equation, in any way, choice leaves it.

So when it comes to Domestic Infant Adoption, how can there be choice, when the adoption counseling offered to pregnant women was created for the sole purpose of coercing them into giving up their babies?

According to the NCFA’s own facts, in 1951 there were about 34,000 Infant Adoptions.  By 1971 the numbers had peaked to almost 90,000. This was during the time of the Baby Scoop Era or Era of Mass Surrender.  These were the decades where there truly was no choice for single, young women who were pregnant.   Abortion was illegal.  There were no laws in place to protect them from being fired for no other reason than they were pregnant.  And society’s views on single parenting were harsh.

And yet, just four years after infant adoption had reached its peak, the numbers dropped drastically to less than 48,000 by 1975.  That change can be directly related to the fact that women were gaining more control and rights over themselves and their bodies.  Abortions were legalized.  Birth control was becoming more accessible and protections were starting to fall into place so women could not be discriminated against for merely being pregnant.

In normal reality, these should have been seen as positive changes.  The drastic drop in the number of children separated from their families should have been something to celebrate.  It was a clear sign that  things were beginning to change for women and their rights.  That there was a slow growth of opportunity for women to be able to prevent pregnancy or  keep and raise their children without being condemned or punished for doing so. 

But, in the twisted logic of those who gain (by profit or child) through adoption, such changes were viewed as a threat because as women gained more power, the industry lost theirs.  They could no longer commit their crimes from the past to meet the growing demand from couples willing to pay for a baby.

Desperate to fight back against the increase in women’s rights and protections, the NCFA was created in 1980.  Though they claim otherwise, its goal has never been to find families for children in need but to instead find new tactics to separate infants from the families they already have.  As they state in their own historic facts . . .  

-- In the 1980s, as the number of women opting for an adoption plan decreased, there also was a sharp increase in the number of families wishing to adopt children. Adoption agencies began to maintain long waiting lists as the number of potential adoptive families far surpassed the availability of children. --

Though they are labeled a non-profit, the NCFA is a very rich and powerful organization.  Supported mainly by adoption agencies, adoption lawyers and adoptive parents, they have worked hard, since their creation in 1980, to reclaim the power they once had over women and their unborn children so they can again meet the demand of couples wanting to adopt a baby.

Over the last three decades, their research on how to best convince a woman to give up her baby has been extensive.  And through the high-paid lobbyists they send to Washington, they have not only been able to continue to create laws that take away the protections that women have fought so hard for and make it easier to separate a mother from her child. But to also have our own government support – and pay with from our tax-dollars – a program called Infant Adoption Awareness Training, which is the accepted and practiced adoption counseling for not just adoption agency employees but also school nurses, high school and college counselors, crisis pregnancy center employees, social workers and many in the medical field as well as religious organizations.  It is the training followed by anyone who might come into contact with pregnant women.

The NCFA has recently made the main portion of their program more accessible by providing it online.  Anyone with a verifiable email address can go to this site and take the two to three hour course on how to counsel pregnant women about adoption.

As the NCFA states, this training is meant to “provide adoption information and referrals to pregnant women on an EQUAL basis” and that their mission is to “educate about adoption to overcome the potential BARRIERS to considering adoption so clients can make a FULLY-INFORMED CHOICE.”

So the basis of their training is to teach those who come into contact with pregnant women how to counsel them to “overcome” the reasons (barriers) why they want to keep and raise their child instead of giving them up for adoption and make sure they believe that, by being counseled in such a way, they are making a fully-informed choice.

And the truth of that begins in the very beginning of the introduction for their training. Within minutes of a video from Chuck Johnson, CEO for the NCFA,  he states that years of research and anecdotal information show that adoption is a good social institution with positive outcomes for Birth Mothers, Birth Fathers, Birth Families, individuals who were adopted and, of course, adopted families.  And even though he mentions FULLY-INFORMED CHOICE, he says nothing further about the research and studies that have shown that many women who have lost their children to adoption suffer from PTSD and/or depression.  That many fathers have or are currently fighting for their children because the laws for adoption do not protect them and their rights.  That there are many who have studied and documented the pain and loss that is involved when a child is taken from their family or that those very children, by the mere act of adoption, will be denied their equal rights and discriminated against for no other reason than they are adopted.

It’s important to remember, as this is just the very start of the course, that this is the ONLY training for those who will be trusted by pregnant mothers to help them decide what is best for them and their babies.  These are the tools they are being given to counsel their clients, to be the support they are seeking in the midst of what is so often a crisis situation.

The evidence of the effects of this training are made very clear in another video from the introduction.  It is one of the few that is made public and can be viewed by clicking here and choosing the birthparents link at the top of the window.

Her name is Alecia, she is a First Mom who tells her story about when she first found out she was pregnant.  Through a crisis pregnancy center, she received weekly counseling and she shared later in the video her thoughts about giving her baby up for adoption . . .

--“I was going to single parent because that’s what I needed to do for my child.  My counselor brought up the thought of adoption, which, to me, was far off.  I was very not open to that option . . . I wanted to take care of what I did.  I wanted to be responsible for it and if I placed my child for adoption how selfish would that be of me.  For me to give my child to someone else . . . because of what I did, that wouldn’t be responsible.”--

For this mother, that should have been it.  Adoption was mentioned, she was VERY NOT OPEN to it, and she wanted to “be responsible” and keep and parent her child.  Long before adoption was even brought into the conversation, she should have been given resources and support that would have helped her keep her baby and empowered her to be the best mom possible.  But instead, not only was she denied that from the start, but it continued to be denied from her while she received this instead . . .

--“I went through another workbook actually on adoption. And when we continued just to look at the pros and the cons of single parenting and adoption, and when I realized I couldn’t give my child any of these things that I longed for then it just sort of, was like . . . the click in the head . . . if I want my child to have what I long for him to have, I’m going to place him for adoption.”--

This training has nothing to do with helping pregnant women and their unborn child.  It is about, plain and simple, teaching the well-researched tactics and tricks that coerce women into giving up their baby by encouraging them to view themselves as being unfit or unable to raise their own child while presenting adoption as such a wonderful option that only a uncaring, unloving mother would deny her son or daughter such a perfect life.

The workbook and the pros and cons Alecia’s counselor had her go through even after she had stated she didn’t want to give up her baby are tools used to reinforce to a pregnant mother that she will never be as good as adoptive parents for her child.  Here is an example of one that is used most widely in their counseling – Adoption Worksheet.  Its purpose is to force a mother to feel as if what she has to offer her child is not nearly enough compared to what adoptive parents can offer.

And this one – If Parents Were Hired, Would You Apply – provided as a part of the training course, is meant to overwhelm a mother with a long terrifying list of exaggerated responsibilities that would make any new mom worry about her abilities.

In their training, they suggest if the counselor receives RESISTANCE in a women being willing to give her baby up for adoption, they should offer this possibility . . .

-- Sometimes in a situation like this you can feel as if there is no solution, no way out, no way to recover your deepest hopes and dreams.  I believe there are possible solutions to this that we haven’t talked about yet.  But tell me.  It is hard for me to help you make the best decision possible when we haven’t talked about what the best decisions might be. --

And there explanation for why this possibility should be offered . . .

-- The point of this beginning is that we DO NOT ENABLE a client to be SELF-DETERMINING until she has the fundamental knowledge, skill and LACK OF RESISTANCE to her own beliefs. Otherwise, she is at RISK of deciding in ignorance, acting without experience and DECIDING WHILE SELF-DECIEVED.--

So, just like in Alecia’s case - who was RESISTANT to giving up her baby - they don’t want to enable the pregnant woman to make the “self-determining” choice of keeping and raising her child until they have beaten her down so she doesn’t believe in “ignorance” while “self-decieved” that she can be a good mother to her child and provide them with everything they need.  Instead, after they have brought her to a “lack of resistance” by showing her how she will fail if she keeps her child, they want to make sure she is brought back up by the “fundamental knowledge” of how wonderful adoption will be for her child and how it will provide him or her everything she cannot.

As they claim in their training materials . . .

-- In a certain sense, adoptive parents make a new beginning possible for everyone in the situation. The child is given his or her needed parents; the young woman is given a fresh start; the adoptive parents are given a child to care for. --

This teaching as well as how to handle those “pesky” fathers who don’t recognize the best interests of the child or the young woman or the annoying parents who feel so GUILTY AT NOT TEACHING OR PROTECTING THEIR DAUGHTER BETTER from being at risk they are “prompted” to step forward and raise the grandchild, can be found here . . .

Everything, ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING, in this course designed to “train” those in trusted roles to counsel a pregnant woman, is carefully scripted and molded to make parenting a failure and adoption a miracle. 

In a case study they use as a training tool - which of course they go to the very extreme in the “circumstances” - you hear the story of Ashley who is a pregnant teenager and is “adamantly against adoption” and wants to parent her child.  Who tells her counselor, “My mother raised me as a single parent and I can do it too.”

But instead of helping her find the resources and support to raise her child, this is part of the video response of how to force Ashley past the “barrier” that is preventing her from giving her baby up for adoption . . .   

--“Ashley . . . feels she is really ready to be a parent.  She is VERY UNREALISTIC in her expectations of that role.  Her mother is unsupportive, her grandmother is unsupportive, and the birthfather is completely uninterested.   But Ashley does think this is what she wants to do.  She thinks it’s the best plan.  One idea in working with Ashley is to have her make a job description for a parent.  Have her write down what she believes is the job of a good parent.  Then have her explain where she is going to live, how she’s going to live and who she is going to live with.”--

None of this is to help and support Ashley.  To get her enrolled in parenting classes so she can better know about the responsibilities of being a parent and have the tools to empower her to be the best she can for her child.  To help her find a safe place to live if she is unable to stay with her mother after the baby is born and support she may gain from others outside her mother and grandmother.

No.  This is training so counselors learn how to overcome the barriers – such as Ashley’s story which they refer to as Parenting Bliss – that prevent women from giving up their babies.  The purpose of having Ashley fill out a worksheet like the earlier one I linked to - If Parents Were Hired, Would You Apply – and to quiz her about where she is going to live, is to make sure she “sees” that she in incapable, too immature and unprepared to be a parent.

Not only does this course teach how to use such coercive tactics, it also stresses the importance of using the “accurate” language when coercing a pregnant woman about adoption.  As is provided in another video from a counselor . . .

--“Language is powerful.  It impacts whatever topic we are talking about in a positive or negative way and adoption is certainly no different . . . there is a lot of power in language and we need to pay attention to how we speak.”--

Though many have already seen it, here is the resource they provide in the course for what is “accurate” adoption language.  And if you notice, they no longer call it positive adoption language because as they say . . .

--“There has been a lot of emphasis in the adoption field about positive adoption language. There is nothing wrong with using positive words; however, the problem with discussing "positive adoption language" implies right away that there is something negative about adoption and that it needs dressing up in order to make it more palatable.”--

There is so much in this course, so many different methods and tactics to convince a pregnant woman to give up her baby.  So much one-sided information.  So many lies and “quoted” studies that fail to mention how they are taken out of context or are inaccurate results because the adoptive parents were the ones answering for adoptees.

Though the majority of this course is non-accessible unless you sign up for the training (which if you are a First Mom – please be aware that it can be extremely painful to go through.  It is, in many ways, like reliving the experience all over again) some of their material and resources can be found here . . .

It is very clear that their goal is not only to coerce pregnant women into giving up their babies but to also create the accepted belief that separating a mother and her child for adoption is the solution to all the “dire” problems of single and teenage pregnancy.  There is ABSOLUTELY NO MENTION though of the effects on a child who has been separated from their mother, taken from their family, their heritage, their culture.

There is nothing, not a single thing mentioned about the damage adoption has caused so many adoptees.  No word of anything that does not support these few claims (of many) they make . . .

-- While feelings of emotional attachment were high for ALL adoptive families regardless of the time of placement, the younger the child was at placement, the higher the feelings of attachment.--
-- Children adopted transracially showed no differences in terms of identity formation and selfesteem, attachment to parents, or psychological health.--
-- Adoption brings entitlement to be a parent and with it lifelong commitment. Therefore, children who are adopted have the same security as children raised by both of their biological parents.--

The NCFA and the adoption industry exist and thrive on their own carefully-created lies.  They claim they only want to provide adoption on an EQUAL basis and help women make a FULLY-INFORMED CHOICE, but what they really hope to accomplish is to separate more infants from the families they have so they can be given away to complete another’s desire for a family.  They want anyone who might come in contact with a pregnant women to be armed with the most effective tools to coerce a woman into believing she won’t be a good parent to her child and the only solution is to give her baby up for adoption.

Their ultimate goal – to take babies from mothers and give them to those willing to pay – has never changed, they were simply forced to find new ways.  To research and learn the best tactics to coerce a pregnant woman into giving up her baby while leading her to believe she made a “choice.”  

No longer able to commit their past crimes against women, they have worked hard to insure society views adoption as a “loving option” that also provides a “gift” to a worthy couple instead of demanding justice for the horrors they carried out for decades. Instead of seeing how they have again found a way to remove power from women, stripping away their rights and leaving them unprotected against the crimes and violations that society has, for so long, refused to acknowledge.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Change Is Good . . . I Hope

I am SO not internet savvy.

I used to think I was, way back when (over a decade ago) when I created my first web page for my professional writing. But I quickly learned that I was only fooling myself and the knowledge I had was greatly lacking.

I solved that problem by getting someone else much wiser than me to handle the site.

But for this blog . . . I’ve always just kind of fumbled through. I try not to play with the design and/or layout too much because every time I have done so, I end up making a terrible mess that I then have to find my way out of.

Which I am SO not good at doing.

And I should have remembered that important lesson this time around as I went about changing things and creating yet another mess that I have had to try and clean up with my very limited knowledge.

But there were things I wanted to change so I stormed in without thought to the consequences.

Like the comments left on my blog . . . I know the letter verification is for protection but I absolutely hated it and I wanted it gone. And while I was in there changing that, I learned I could get rid of the pop-up window and actually be able to reply directly under the comments I was referring to.

It was easy, a couple clicks here . . . a couple clicks there . . . and it was done.

Which was probably why I was feeling over confident and decided to go for more. Why not! I could handle it. No big disasters to deal with so why not keep going.

And my blog roll DID need attention. It’s been getting so long and I don’t want to delete anyone but I keep adding and adding . . . and adding . . . and adding. And my sidebar keeps getting longer and longer . . . and longer . . . and longer.

So why not clean it up?

It was time consuming, yes. But that had nothing to do with being, or not being, internet savvy. It had to do with the fact I had put off the task for way too long. That I needed to go through the blogs, decide which group they belonged under and create new blog lists for each one.

By the time I was done, it felt good. I was patting myself on the back for a job well done. No glitches. No disasters. Just a better and cleaner blog roll. Exactly like I hoped for.

Comments . . . done. Blog roll . . .done.

I was on a blogger high. I was the glorious queen of my blog – able to tackle problems without screwing things up. I was “it.” I was cool. I was ready to take on the world . . . or at least another change that I had been wanting to do.

So I took the final plunge and decided to create my own domain (www.adoption-truth.com) for my blog.

With the success I had already had, I could do it. There was no question about it. Especially since blogger made it sound so easy and was willing to hold my hand through the process. No way I could ever screw it up.

Yeah! I should have known better. I should have quit while I was ahead.

Cause blogger had completely different ideas, which I quickly learned when I transferred over to my own domain and lost EVERY SINGLE LINK TO EVERY BLOG I HAD LISTED ON MY SIDEBAR.

Yep! All that organizing and re-linking I had done was, in a blink of an eye, gone. Poof. Never to be seen again.

Well . . . actually . . . that last part was an exaggeration. I was able to see it again. All I had to do was take my blog back to blogger instead of my own domain.

And there it was, like a miracle. The new and improved blog roll I had worked so hard on.

But it’s not like I could just give up on having my own domain now. I made the first step and I was going to go all the way, no matter what.

Plus, it just wouldn’t feel right, with all the success I had, to not have some kind of mess to take care of.

So after spending the morning with a wonderful friend trying to help me troubleshoot first, I finally came to the realization if I wanted my own domain then I was going to have to work for it. Which meant, going through and copying every link I had acquired on my blog since I started it and then copying it back to show on www.adoption-truth.com.

And that is why, after the overly long explanation, I have written this completely off-topic blog – because I know, in all the redoing of the links, I had to have made some mistakes. Missed some blogs. Put others under groups they didn’t belong.

So, if you find I have your blog where it doesn’t belong, please tell me.

If your blog was linked from mine and it’s no longer there, please tell me.

And if you have a blog, or know of a blog, you think I should add to my blog roll, please tell me.

Just remember – for new blogs that haven’t been linked before – I’m not one to add it to my blog roll just because I’m asked.

And yeah, I am very much aware how bad that makes me sound. And I know there isn’t anything special that makes a difference anyhow if someone is on my blog roll or not. But I still, even being at the bottom of the totem pole, have certain beliefs that I won’t compromise on when it comes to the blogs I link to.

They don’t have to all be from the exact same viewpoint as mine. I don’t have to completely agree with everything they say. If you travel through the links I have now, I think you will find there are differences of opinions in some areas of adoption and blogs that do have messages that can contradict my own.

But, I don’t have and I will not have any blog that I believe plays a part in the coercion and manipulation of a pregnant mother.

I will not link to a blog that suggests, in any way, that God wants a mother to give up her child. That He believes in some kind of “Eternal Family” and is willing to sacrifice children, by forcing them to face the loss and grief that comes with adoption, to make sure mothers give their children away to such an idea because that is somehow more important than the damage caused by taking a child away from his or her mother.

I will not have any blog that encourages women to look down on themselves, to believe themselves unworthy of their own child because there is some other couple out there that is “better” than them and deserving of the “gift” of another woman’s baby.

And I absolutely refuse to link to any blog that discredits or lessens the importance of adoptee rights. Even the suggestion that there might by ANY reason or excuse to deny an adoptee their equal rights will not be accepted.

So, with all that . . . which I hope doesn’t make me sound like too much of a b*#ch . . .if you do have a blog that I haven’t linked to yet, please do let me know so I can read it and hopefully add it to my blog roll.

And please forgive me as I work my way through the newest changes I have brought. I hope I have hit my only snag. But I know better than to count on that. So if the next month, or so, is a struggle, just know it’s normal for me and my lack of internet savvy.

It took me four years to move to my own domain. It could very well take me another four years to actually figure out how to work that domain. Until then, I hope you’ll just bear with me and enjoy the ride.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Claud Hit Me

Not literally, of course. She’d have to wait till Chicago to have a chance at that.

She hit me with what she had to say in her post, Australia’s Adoption Apology, on her blog Musings of the Lame. I read it, tried to comment, couldn’t. Closed up the window, walked away, came back and read it again, still couldn’t comment and closed it up a second time.

And so now here I sit, already in the beginnings of another post, needing to write this instead. Because I can’t stop thinking about what she wrote. Can’t stop working through my brain the painful realization of the truth her words spoke.

Even as I’m writing this it’s still working through my brain so I’m not even sure I’ll make any sense in the end. That was why I found myself unable to comment on Claud’s post, because I couldn’t make sense of what I wanted to say. Couldn’t put to words my feelings in any way that would be understandable.

When I read these worlds on her blog . . .

- - It's not me. That's not my story. I am not like them. - -

It made sense to me finally. Where I was. Why I kept myself, until reading Claud’s post, separated from it, from any idea that I was in any way affected by the horrors that happened to so many pregnant women and their children.

Though I have spent years reading blogs such as Musing Mother and Motherhood Deleted, learning the experience of those here in the states. And have followed what is happening in Australia through, Once Was Von, I rarely dared to write myself about that era, about the tragedies that happened to so many women.

How could I when, as Claud said, it wasn’t my story. How could I even try to bring justice to their experiences when I knew nothing about what it was like for them? How could I rightfully share anything through the eyes of my experience without feeling as if I was somehow lessening theirs by suggesting what I went through was anywhere close to what they went through, that my knowledge of adoption can even touch the tip of what their truth is.

So, like Claud, I supported from afar while living with the belief that adoption was better by the time it was my turn. Because that’s what we were told, what I think even pregnant women of today are told. And I still struggle with that now . . . right now . . . as I continue to try and grasp the feelings Claud’s post brought forward.

Because we weren’t tied down to beds, shipped off to be hidden away in maternity homes. They didn’t tell us our babies died or refuse to let us see them until after we signed the adoption papers.

So that’s better, right? It has to be. I can’t, even now, wrap my mind around what that must have been like. How completely terrifying such experiences were.

My “better” experience doesn’t even come close to that. I walked into the adoption agency without being forced by anybody. I sat and listened to their counseling when I was free to stand up and walk out if I wanted to. And I wasn’t tied down, threatened or tricked into giving up my son after he was born. I carried him in my own arms to the nursery. I gave him to his adoptive parents. Handed him over by what, at that time, felt like my own free will.

But did that make my experience with adoption better or just different? To me, the answer has always been better. It had to be. How could it not?

Except now, Claud’s “hit” has forced me to step away from that, from what I have always held as my truth and look at it all differently. Every bit of it, from my experience, her experience, to the experience of the many mothers and children who were so cruely separated from each other.

And it was this bit of wisdom from her that challenged me to think differently than what I have known and accepted since coming out of my denial and facing the true cost adoption had on myself, my oldest son and the rest of my family . . .

- - No, it's not my story. It's my preamble. It's the very foundation of MY adoption experience. It’s the foundation of ALL our adoption experiences. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US who has had some sort of adoption journey should know that the start of the road began with CRIMES. - -

Better or just different, perceived choice or no choice, we will never be able to change adoption today or in the future until we tell the stories of the crimes committed in the past, over and over again. Until we too, here in the states, bring about an acknowledgement and apology for the horrors so many mothers and their children were put through.

Because, in reality, adoption has not changed for us. Not in the core of what it is and always has been.

What changed was women having more power and say over their bodies. Society working – slowly – into becoming more accepting of single parenthood and no longer accepting the treatment that was brought against pregnant women in the past.

But the adoption industry . . . there was no sudden realization of the wrongs they committed in the past. No change of heart that brought them together to see how they could make it “better” for pregnant women.

There was only a desperate need to do something because adoptions went from almost 90,000 in 1971 to less than 48,000 by 1975. Because they began to lose the advantage of being able to force women into giving up their babies. (Or actually, more honestly, outright stealing them away.)

So in 1980, the NCFA was created. Not to promote change because they had learned from the crimes they committed in the past but to find new ways, new strategies to increase the number of adoptions back to where it was when their crimes against pregnant mothers and their unborn children went largely unrecognized.

And that is exactly where Claud and I, and so many other First Moms, began our journey into adoption. Became a part of what she so accurately called the “repackaging” of adoption. And even my oldest son was brought into that because he became – as he so often calls it – one of the test tube babies for open adoption. He was the beginning of their experiment into learning that offering open adoptions to mothers increased even more the likeliness they would give their babies away.

It wasn’t change, it was adjustment. It was necessity, desperation, to keep the profits of adoption going.

To this day, I know, after going through the torture that is their training for birthparent counseling, that the message they sell is still the same – adoption is the solution to single and/or poor pregnant mothers. Their beliefs, the values they teach to anyone who comes into contact with women in crisis pregnancies is no different than exactly what was taught to those who were a part of what happened here in the states, in Australia and in Canada.

I’ve heard it often as I have read and followed the stories about the Australia apology and the beginning of investigations in Canada. Those who were part of separating a mother from her child – in the worst of ways – admitting that they were told what to say, and how to say it, to pregnant women and did so because they were led to believe that it was actually for their benefit. For what was the best interest of their unborn child.

That is still a very real, very powerful reality here in the states. I know because I just went through that training. Training created by the NCFA and funded by our government and provided to . . . and trusted by . . . just about everyone who comes into contact with pregnant women who are single or poor or lacking the resources and support they deserve.

Australia has taken the time, the effort to look into, research and learn from past adoption practices and they have determined that such practices are criminal in the U.S.A. and Canada as well. Canada is taking their first steps into the same process and investigating adoption practices in their country.
But here in the states . . . we are nowhere. There is no acknowledgement, no realization of the crimes committed against pregnant mothers and their children during the BSE. And these crimes, these acts by the adoption industry will continue, from generation to generation, until our government finds the courage to follow in the footsteps of Australia and Canada and conduct an investigation of its own.

And to make that happen, I, and others, must change how we have approached the horrors that existed during the BSE. Thanks to Claud, I now see that being silent because of fears and guilt isn’t doing any good. Isn’t making any changes.

Like she said, their story – their experience – is, and continues to be the preamble to mine, to Claud’s, and to every other First Mom that has come after that era of our time.

We need to accept where that has played a role in our reality with adoption and recognize the fact that if we don’t speak out and demand recognition now for the crimes committed against the moms from the BSE, we only help create another generation – long after ours – that will find themselves too believing that our story isn’t there’s and there is nothing they can say about it to make changes.

It is long past time for us to follow the paths of the fighters in Australia, and now Canada, and see where our stories intertwine and recognize the importance of telling our stories from the past so we can make a difference for the stories that are yet to come.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Positive or Negative

There is something that has been gnawing at the back of my mind for quite some time. Since about the moment I took my first step into the perilous world of adoption reform. But I’ve never been able to make enough sense of it to actually put it to words . . . until now.

If you’ve been anywhere in the world of domestic infant adoption then you have most surely heard the claim that women need to be made aware of the positives of adoption. That to not tell them would be just as coercive as not telling them the negative side and could force them to parent.

Every time I hear this it bothers me. And, although on some level, I have always understood why, it’s always been a struggle to try to explain it – to myself most of all.

Because it does sound good, on the surface. Especially if you are one who is fighting to take coercion completely out of adoption. Any suggestion, any thought, that there is still a risk of it existing outside of the changes you believe in is something that can’t just be tossed aside as meaningless, no matter how it makes you feel.

Which is the reason why it has constantly existed in the back of mind. Why I have struggled with such statements for so long. Continued to go back through everything I have read, researched and learned to try and understand adoption as it exists today, in an attempt to make sense of whether or not my feelings towards such statements really make any sense at all.

Because, you know . . . I’m not perfect. I have plenty of flaws. PLENTY of them. And there have been times, in that imperfect mind of mine, where I have read something someone said and not liked it simply on the fact that it didn’t agree with my thoughts, my feelings.

Yep! I do that.

But, in the world of adoption, I have learned that you can’t just jump on this bandwagon or that. It does no good. It doesn’t make a difference.

I’ve done it before, I know . . . reacted without thought.

But I have learned and become more and more aware that I need to know why I feel the way I do. What facts I might have to back me up. And how strong my belief is to carry me through if I am challenged on what I have to say.

And I have . . . FINALLY . . . come to that point with the comments I mentioned. I have finally realized why they bother me, why I feel that sick feeling in the pit of my gut when I hear them. Why I know that my reaction is because of what I believe in, what I know, and has nothing to do with reactions based on not liking what I hear.

Domestic Infant Adoption is an industry created and supported by profit. Their merchandise is babies and their consumers are those shopping, and willing to pay, for the product they are able to produce.

And just like any business, their concern is how to find the best and cheapest ways to acquire their merchandise while convincing consumers that their money is best spent on the products they have to offer.

Of course, the adoption industry does face an extra challenge that other businesses do not face because those who supply the product their consumers seek are not other businesses doing so to earn their own profit. They are not assembly line producers. They see no profit from providing what the adoption industry needs to stay alive.

In fact, those who provide the products are restricted by laws that insure they are not “selling” their babies to anybody.

Which, in turn, means the adoption industry has been forced to not only market to their consumers but the suppliers as well. They must convince both parties that what they sell is a “good” thing. They are forced to use the same tactics for both if they have any hope of earning a profit.

So they must, in order to survive, spend millions in marketing to pregnant women just as they do to Desperate Adoptive Couples.

And just as other businesses target our children for this marketing, the adoption agency does the same . . .

- - “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.” - -

The “positive” message of adoption is used over and over again to condition the suppliers (pregnant mothers) into believing adoption is the best option for unplanned pregnancy. Millions have been spent to target our daughters, granddaughters, nieces to reinforce this message long before they even become of age to experience pregnancy.

And it is all in the effort to create more product for consumers. To guarantee more pregnant mothers will give up their babies so the adoption industry can continue to profit off of taking babies from mothers and selling them to the consumers willing to pay for them.

The positive is practically oozing from every pore of society. The adoption industry has paid good money to make sure of that and to put their message in the mouth of others so that there is constantly that push, that “lure” to get more pregnant women in crisis pregnancies to give up their babies.

But the reality, outside of the multi-billion dollars profited from taking a baby away from his or her mother and placing them in the arms of the couple paying the money to adopt them, is something that is based in the truth of loss and grief that adoption brings. Not in the profits that are earned by convincing a mother that giving up her baby is a good thing.

And that is where I finally make sense of it all.

Because women facing a crisis pregnancy have already been surrounded by all the positives that tell them giving away their baby is the best thing they could do. It is there everywhere they turn. There in every part of their life that money can buy to convince them that the loving option is adoption.

But money isn’t truth and it doesn’t change the reality of what adoption is.
And that is what bothers me. That is why I cringe and feel sick to my stomach when I hear someone suggest that a mother facing a crisis pregnancy should know about all the “positive” of adoption as well or face coercion into keeping and raising her own child.

Because money and profits . . . the desire of a billion dollar industry to create another sell between product and consumer, is NOT the truth of adoption.

It is what it is . . .a well paid for, researched sales pitch that is created and meant to bring more product to the consumers the adoption industry must keep happy and satisified. An illusion, created in the interest of profits, to get more suppliers to provide product so that a profit can be made.

We all know the “paid-for” reality of adoption just as well as we know the ending to the singing of, “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz” . . . or . . . “My bologna has a first name.”

It is the product of well paid for marketing.

But pregnant mothers and their unborn children deserve so much more than that. They deserve to have society know and understand that no dollar amount, no penny spent should ever change the reality of, or weaken the truth of, what it means to face a crisis pregnancy.

They deserve the protection of those who have not been influenced by the adoption industry’s marketing and instead recognize the tragedy of any mother lacking the resources, support and help to keep her baby. The terrible loss involved in separating mother and child.

Adoption is not a positive thing. Not for a mother or her child. It is loss and pain and grief. It is taking a baby away from the family he or she was born in to and forcing them to become a part of a family that begin as complete strangers to them. It is about a relationship so natural, so much a part of all of us, that is broken in the most unnatural of ways and can never be right again.

A woman facing a crisis pregnancy does not deserve to have the positive sales-pitch from the adoption industry constantly reinforced while she struggles with the desperation that is pushing her to believe she must give up her baby. She needs the truth about what adoption is. She needs to know the pain and loss involved. The risks of what her baby will face by being adopted and the rights they will be denied.

Pregnant women should not be encouraged to give up their babies or “sold” the idea that separating a child from his or her mother is a positive thing. Yes, adoption is a business that relies on suppliers and consumers to profit. But somewhere in there it seems to get lost that the product they are collecting and selling is a living, breathing human being who can be hurt, feel loss and suffer grief.

To encourage such pain on an innocent child under the belief that it is a positive thing is cruel and disgusting. It is a lack in who we are as a society and how our views and beliefs have been controlled by million-dollar marketing selling us the illusion of something good in something that is so wrong.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

This Is Courage

Four years ago, when I started this blog, it was important to me to not moderate or delete the comments left here. And, regardless of some of the accusations I have received, I have stuck firm to that belief, deleting only one comment in all these years. A comment that was one of many “drive-bys” being left by an individual to attack an adoptee. One that had absolutely nothing to do with the post it was left on.

In the beginning, I’ll admit, I allowed some of the comments to affect me. Sometimes there was anger and I’d be screaming at my monitor as if the person on the other side could actually hear me. Sometimes there were tears and I would wonder if it was all really worth it.

And sometimes there was just a much needed glass of wine to get me through.

But, never once, in that time, did I reconsider my decision to leave my comments unmoderated, to let them stand and not delete them.

Never once . . . until last week.

Until I received this from Just Another Mom on my post Danger Ahead . . .

- - “I know your story and I am saddest most about the fact that your son didn't even get a good enough birthmother to save him from abuse but got one that continues to abuse him as well.” - -

It crossed a line I wasn’t prepared to handle. Hit harder than anything that has ever been said to me or about me personally.

This went after my son, after his experience, in an attempt to hurt me. And it was so very wrong and about as low as a person could go, in my opinion.

When I first learned of my son’s abuse, there immediately became two sides to be told. One side was my own personal experience with it – how I learned of his abuse, how it affected me to know what he had gone through. I could share that side here on my blog because it was my story to tell.

But the other side to my son’s abuse – the personal experiences of exactly the kind of abuse he went through, the details of how he was treated – was not my story to tell, was not my right to share.

That side exists on my blog because of my son. Because of his belief that if his experience helps even just one adoptee know that they are no more deserving of abuse just because they were adopted . . . just one First Mom know she isn’t alone if she is dealing with the truth of what her child went through . . . then it’s worth it to share his experience, what he went through.

And yet, even with what I share here, it is not everything. It is what he feels comfortable having known. What he is okay with strangers reading about his personal life.

So to take that experience, and his belief in why it is important to share that experience, and use it as a weapon to try and shut me up, is the most disgusting thing a person could ever do. To decide it’s okay to use his abuse for your own advantage gives a clear insight to the kind of person you are, to the lack of heart, understanding or even care you have to your fellow human being.

It was a hard hit to the gut to come face to face with such cruelty and my first reaction was to completely change how my comments were handled. I struggled with the decision, sought the advice of some of the best bloggers in the world of adoption, before coming to the conclusion that I will not moderate comments but I will reserve the right to delete comments as I see fit.

Unfortunately, though, that decision brought me to another realization. As long as my son’s personal experience is shared on my blog it will always be open to those like Just Another Mom to use in whatever way they can. There will always be those out there who see nothing wrong in taking what has been shared here and using it in the worst of ways. There will always exist that extreme desperation that makes others believe they can do whatever it takes to try and hurt me in hopes of silencing me, even if it means falling to the lowest level of using my son’s abuse to make that happen.

And so from that I decided to go back through all the posts on my blog and delete anything that shared my son’s experience with abuse. I would take away anything that left him vulnerable to others being able to use him in the way they had.

But then my son reminded me what true courage really is . . .

Because he said no. Don’t do it.

He told me that removing the posts about his abuse let those like Just Another Mom win. It gave them the power to silence those who dared to share the hard stuff, the far-from-happy truths that nobody wants to admit exists in the world of adoption.

It was an eye-opening reminder of where the line is drawn between those who have the courage to speak out and those who are so cowardly they resort to low-handed tactics to try and silence them.

My son is one of the bravest men I know. He stands shoulder to shoulder with the many adoptees who face the same attacks on their personal experience, the same ugliness launched against them because they dare to share what they aren’t supposed to. Dare to stand up with the belief if it helps even just one, it’s worth it.

He, and the adoptees like him, are the heroes we should look up to, want to be like, because they are the reminders of what it truly means to face the worst in others and yet still find the strength, the ability to go on, to continue to speak out and make a difference because that is what matters. That is what it is all about.

I am proud and so honored to be blessed with such an amazing, brave man as my son. I am forever grateful that, against all odds, he is a part of my life that I will never, EVER give away again.

And I am happy that he stands in company with so many other wonderful adoptees who face the same fight, day after day, but never give in. Never allow the evil of others to take away from the courage they have to share their stories, their experiences, because it is the right thing to do.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Summer Vacation

Spring is in the air.

And I am so ready for it. And even more ready for the hot days of Summer.

I don’t know about everyone else, but for me, I enjoy the snow and the cold winter days right up until the Holidays are over. After that, I just want sunshine and heat. I want Summer even though it never seems to come fast enough.

But Spring is good too because it’s all about the planning for Summer. It’s like a teaser because you know it’s coming and there is so much to plan and do before it actually gets here.

And if you’re like me, and so many others, Spring is also the time when you start planning and looking forward to your Summer Family Vacation.

The kids are out of school, you and your significant other have saved up your vacation days . . . all so you can get away. Visit somewhere new. Tour the many different attractions offered in this great country of ours.

But where do you go? It does seem to be a question we face often during the start of the summer planning stage. There are so many choices. So many decisions to make. And yet there is also an easy answer. Almost like having your own personal travel agent on hand, year after year . . .

And not only do you get the planning of where to go, you also get amazing bonuses to go along with it.

Because not only do they provide a new city and state to travel to in this great country of ours, year after year, they also provide the opportunity to be a part of fighting for something that is important. A chance to teach your children (for the FULL family vacation) what it means to be part of a group of people, united in their desire to make a change for those denied what so many others take for granted.

A chance to show them a part of the world outside of what they live in. To see the struggles of others and the importance behind fighting for those struggles to be eliminated.

You couldn’t ask for better.

And this year, it’s all about the fabulous city of Chicago, Illinois.

Chicago . . . home of the Magnificent Mile. The Navy Pier. And, of course, the Sears Tower.

Plus so much, MUCH more.

How could you go wrong? How could you possibly not plan the perfect family vacation while being a part of the fight to give adoptees their equal rights?

It’s like having the best of both worlds wrapped up in to one.

So, take advantage of the travel planning the Adoptee Rights Coalition has already done for you. Be a part of something that will make a difference. Will change the discrimination against over six million adoptees in our country.
Make your summer vacation plans now and become a part of the Adoptee Rights Demonstration in Chicago. I promise, you won’t regret it.