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.


  1. OMG, I am sobbing now. You got it. You really, truly, finally got it. Thank you. Women MUST have justice!!! We must! I love your line...we are your Preamble. Yes, we never meant to take a thing from you by demanding justice for ourselves. It is for all that the BSE mothers demand it for themselves.

  2. Ah thanks, Sandy. Coming from you that means alot. But I can't take credit for this wonderful quote . . .

    "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."

    Those are actually Claud's words that got me thinking about this and finally realizing the impact.

  3. Cassi, you said what has been buzzing around in my head for hours now. It was different, but it wasn't. All the bs they fed us, is the same bs, only in a more palatable form. Our friends are where we need to start- I want justice for them, and for us. I am so disheartened, so sad that in this country we have gotten nowhere. I have said before that most people now don't think about it or understand it, but an adoptive family's happiness is predicated on the natural mothers and family's pain. IT all must end-

  4. *** IT all must end ***


    I couldn't agree more!

  5. Yes. You are completely right. Nothing is going to change until the mothers who came before us get their justice. I hadn't really thought much about that connection until now and reading both posts.

    And Mary is right that all they have done is taken the same message and made it more palatable so we will accept it and not question what is happening in the same way nobody questioned what happened to all those women during BSE/EMS.

    I am so sad that in our country we have gotten nowhere in investigating these acts and bringing true justice and change for pregnant women. I even dare to say we are sliding backwards these days while other countries are passing us by now. That is so sad.

    1. *** I even dare to say we are sliding backwards these days while other countries are passing us by now.***

      I hate saying this, but I think you might be right.

  6. Wow! Power in your words and Claud's. The truth has such an impact!

  7. Yes. Yes. Yes. That's all I have to say about that.

  8. Such an important post Cassi. I agree wholeheartedly that we need to examine and understand the BSE if we want to be able to think critically about adoption today. And yet, your story is just as important. It's important because today, the industry packages it's agenda in ribbons and bows. It's easy to see that tying women down during labor and refusing to allow them to see their babies is wrong; the well-oiled machine at work today is harder to discern. Your story matters.

    1. WP,

      I think you are right, it is much harder to "see" what adoption is today, which I believe creates another set of problems. The NCFA stresses the importance of women feeling as if they made a "choice" and work hard in their coercion now to make it appear that way.

      By doing that, they leave First Moms and adoptees in the mindset that they didn't deserve better than the way they were treated when the adoption industry separated them. Because they toss out "choice" now like a broken record, they leave those hurt by adoption almost defenseless in realizing the crimes that were committed against them.

  9. I am sorry to have to leave an unrelated comment on your post -
    but for some reason, your blogroll isn't loading on either Firefox OR Internet Explorer.

    And I can't locate your e-mail address for the life of me.

    I suppose what I am asking is: do you know if anyone else is experiencing this problem?

    1. Hi Mei-Ling,

      My blog roll is back up for now. I'm trying to switch over to my own domain but, as of right now, I lose all my blog links when I do that. Yuck.

      You should be able to find my email through my profile but here it is also . . .

  10. Agree wholeheartedly. The foundation of where we are at now. It's not better, it's not worse. It's simply the path the adoption industry has needed to take in order to justify their own means and ends. If they kept it the same, we wouldn't have to fight so hard to convince ourselves and others that what we experienced was also criminal. Psychological warfare is the new tactic. And it's incidious, because we turn against (ourselves) with how maybe we didn't have it as bad as (them). But the reality is, they were the precursor of our pain, we are the fallout of theirs. And, hopefully we can prevent our own experiences from being the precursor of someone else's fallout in a new guise.

    1. ***But the reality is, they were the precursor of our pain, we are the fallout of theirs. And, hopefully we can prevent our own experiences from being the precursor of someone else's fallout in a new guise.***

      Perfectly said!

  11. poignant

    to view myself the victim of a crime
    is indeed conflicting and difficult

    it feels self-condemning

    crime involves victims.

    How can I be a victim, if I made a consciensous choice?

    As it was described above, it causes women to turn on themselves.

    1. Yes Cheerio! That's exactly what I struggle with!

      I mean, it was supposed to our "choice" right? And nobody forced us to give up our babies. Like that old tired line I hear all the time - "Nobody held a gun to your head and made you do it."

      We didn't face the horrors of being sent away, tied down, lied to, drugged, to make sure we gave away our babies.

      And yet, when I read and research what the adoption industry is, what it teaches and does to insure more adoptions, how can we not be victims as well?

      It is such a hard thing to deal with and try to make sense out of.

    2. (((Cassi)))

      I am Ausralian (by biology and residency, NZ by birth) and am really pleased to hear of the apology - there was even something about it in the local regional paper.

      You might find this program interesting:

      My only quibble is that when the journalist says this:
      "Doubts tormented some mothers but others appeared clearly informed and aware of their right to revoke consent", it does make it sound as if those mothers did it eagerly but the example given of this sounds like a woman who had already decided to disassociate from her child in order to cope.

      One lady says this at the end of the program:
      "We've been carrying the blame wrongfully for all these years - thirty seven years for me. You know, I've lost contact with a lot of family through the shame. People think that you're a bad person 'cause you gave your baby away. Yeah, they need to know that we didn't give our babies away. We weren't given our babies in the first place. Can't give away something you didn't get."

      Btw you aren't so different to a lot of BSE mums - in theory, my first mom had a "choice", in practice I don't think she had much of one at all and with her feeling of shame (no doubt made worse by those counselling her) would have stopped her from letting her mother know of her pregnancy. Also, as far as I can make out, many first moms whether BSE or later were made to feel that their child wouldn't be safe with them.

      I can't see the US ever apologising and they would be hypocritical if they did.

      Back to choices - there are all different types of "choices" wich are no real choice at all eg a Morton's fork:'s_fork

      or a type of false dilemma, i.e. the person is only given two "choices" and other choices are deliberately and wilfully kept from them.

      Both the above types of "choices" quite possibly describe the "choices" you feel you had.

    3. You know "C" I think, this . . .

      "People think that you're a bad person 'cause you gave your baby away."

      Says so much of what adoption has become. It is still the same belief, the same practice to separate a mother and child - mostly for profit. But the industry has adapated again. And in the theory of the Morton's Fork - in some ways - it has now realized the advantage in no longer shaming women into giving up their babies (as they were so good at doing in the past) but instead making them not just "heroes" but actually over and beyond that.

      Today it seems, it's not just about the praise First Moms receive. It's more. If you give up your baby now, you can be in magazines or on television. You can publish books or be guest speakers at conferences.

      It's another shift with the changing times the industry has done to continue to insure they don't lose the profits they earn in separating a mother and her child.

  12. I agree totally with what you said about the "making heroes" out of first moms. What always worries me is when those moms say "their child is or will be grateful for their sacrifice" - how fair is that to a child? On an earlier post, you mentioned a first mom who said that "she was enough but she wanted her child to have more than enough" and it made me think, will her daughter end up thinking that she also has to be "more than enough" herself to make her mother's sacrifice worthwhile? I just feel that her daughter may end up feeling that her mother's decision may make her feel that she better damn well have a good life or else, which may mean she never feels comfortable ever sharing anything "negative" about her life/adoption at all i.e. she may feel she needs to be like a Stepford child with a smile permanently on her face.

    1. ***she may feel she needs to be like a Stepford child with a smile permanently on her face***

      That is my biggest fear for adoptees in today's reality of adoption. The pressure to be EVEN more grateful is going to forever weigh heavy on their shoulders.

    2. The prevalence of many first moms these days to disassociate themselves from their child so that they see them as "someone else's child" is really, I believe, spiritually dangerous as well (made worse these days by prebirth matching). I find it really triggering when I read bmoms saying that and I know some other adoptees do as well.

      That attitude also happened back in the past as well (excerpt from previously mentioned program):

      "EXPECTING MOTHER (1970): Well I'm not married, as you understand, and I thought it was more important for a child to have a home - and a settled home - where there is both a mother and a father, and both paternal and maternal influences. Once I'd made the decision, I'd almost stopped thinking of the child as being mine - that I was having it for someone else."

      The reason I find it so triggering myself is because I really have no idea how my first mother felt - the non-info said she wanted me to have "a mother and father" and so I wonder if she was like this "1970 expecting mother". Actually, I wonder if the disassociative attitude "worked well" for this abovementioned "1970" emom and how it would have affected any reunion.

      As I said above, I really really think disassociative thinking is very spiritually dangerous - not just for the parent but for the child.