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.


  1. Fabulous post Cassi! Well done on the research for this; I know it was unpleasant to the enth degree however well worth it when you are able to show the truth that lies beneath.

    For a mother to go from being adamantly against adoption to choosing adoption shows just how mcuh coercion is needed. It plays with your head and your core.

    In what you have shown us, there is nowhere evidence of any balance. There is no possible way for a mother to make an informed decision based on the twisted information they brainwash her with and yet the mothers feel they do make a choice. While they do, it is one that is engineered and uninformed therefore not a proper decision.


    1. I agree Myst. Any information that a pregnant woman receives from those encouraging her to give up her baby is going to be engineered and uninformed. I just wish society would start to realize that such acts are forms of coercion and that takes away any choice a pregnant woman makes about adoption.

  2. (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.) That was me two years ago and my social worker gave me books to read about adoption and had me do the 1st sheet you have here. For every time I said I wanted to keep my baby she came back with something that always made me feel so selfish for wanting to. And now I barely get any of the things I was promised by her adoptive parents and I am engaged and her adoptive parents are separated.

    1. I am so sorry for what was done to you and your child and for what you are going through now.

    2. Anon 06:33 pm

      I am so sorry you are going through this. Adoption is so very cruel when it is done unnecessarily. Yours is a perfect example of how children don't get a better life, just a different one.

    3. (((Anon))) I am so very sorry. Second what Cassi and Melynda have said above.

  3. With me back in 1985, it was the social worker's suggestion of the "Pro/Con" list of keeping my baby vs. giving her up. EVERY SINGLE "Pro" I had for parenting her was immediately shot down and dismantled by the social worker. She had me so discouraged and disheartened by the time we reviewed my list that I felt I had no choice...

    Ugh. It was so strange to find out these were DELIBERATE tactics used by agency social workers. For so long I honestly thought I was the only one they did it to. ha ha

    1. Amy: I had the pro/con list as well in 1988 (per the counselor's suggestion). In fact, in the last pictures I have of me holding my son, I'm holding the list as I had it out to try to help myself make "my decision" and I recall bawling my eyes out as I'm trying to explain to my sleeping son why I had to do this and begging him to forgive me for it. I wish I still had the list - I'd like to see how unbalanced it probably was. I too am struggling with the idea that this was a deliberate tactic and want to believe it somehow wasn't. I thought at the time (I was 16/17) the counselor was my only friend and the only one that understood.

    2. Sara,

      ** I thought at the time (I was 16/17) the counselor was my only friend and the only one that understood.**

      I think many of us felt this way. They gained our trust so we wouldn't question them but would instead believe they were only concerned about us and what was best for our baby. I think that's why it is such a painful shock when we realize what they said to us was all from a script designed to coerce us into giving up our babies and that it really had nothing to do with them seeing as as individuals. Instead we were just the next bodies to walk in their door.

    3. Sara, I actually do still have that list! I have a folder that I've kept some things in, but I can't bring myself to look at it. I basically know what was on it. ((Hugs)) because I know how you're feeling.

      The funny thing...I KNEW my social worker was my enemy. I knew she wanted me to give her my baby. I tried to tell my parents, but they didn't listen. They were on her side. I just didn't realize how much deceit was going into the "counseling." Plus I actually believed my baby would suffer. "Suffer" was the word used, and what kind of mother lets her child "suffer"? Only a selfish one who would ruin 3 lives by keeping her of course!

    4. Wow - I have a lot of things from that time period, but not that list although I can't fathom how I could have actually thrown it away at some point. My parents too were squarely on the side of adoption - my dad told me, once he realized he couldn't sign my chid's life away even though I was still a minor, that if I brought my child home he would divorce my mother and leave us and give us no help. My mother hadn't worked outside the home for 18 years and didn't even know how to drive so I felt there was no way she could survive without his support. I too thought my little guy would suffer if I kept him and so many people told me how much I must love my son to do the "right thing" and the "unselfish" thing and give him a great life.

    5. @Amy - same here, but in 1991. Her biological father and I both fought to keep our daughter but the questions - "how will you buy apples" "How will you provide what a baby needs" were followed by "if you keep her we will immediately place her into foster care until you can prove you can provide for her". That's not a choice. Hugs to you.

    6. Was her name Whitney Noel? November 17, 1991

  4. When I was "counseled" by LDSFS in 1992-93 and by my church leaders (who was social worker by profession and had been working with unwed mothers since 1978), I was coached through many of these same things. When I talked with that same social worker/church leader recently, he got very defensive when I told him I felt I had been coerced. I told him about the literature you speak of in this post, and he said, "So are you telling me you were lied to?"

    Uh...yes, pretty much. That just about sums it up, Brother Social Worker.

    And like Amy said, to now find out these were deliberate acts on his part, that these tactics were a part of a well-researched methodology to coax babies from their mother's arms...I am both revolted and angered by it.

    So yes, I AM an angry first mom. Who wouldn't be if they had been treated as so many of us have been treated?

    1. Adding insult to injury, 18 yrs. POST adoption, I went back to the agency to speak to the social worker (yep, she was STILL there) because I wanted to see my file. I have an open adoption, so I didn't need any information on my daughter...I just wanted to know what was written about me, etc. First, social worker told me "There is no paper file anymore...it's all on computer. There's maybe one page. What are you hoping to accomplish?" I just needed to go back and face her again, to tell her what adoption had done to my life and that of my family. When I got there, she made me sign a paper promising not to sue them because, as she put it, some "birth" mothers are coming back, seeking that almighty dollar. (yep, now we're money hungry using losing our babies to make money...how ironic of her to accuse ME of doing that!) Anyway, when I got there, my non-existent file was sitting on her desk, quite thick as well, and she read to me her perception of me and my parents as well as a few other details. She told me I had done the right thing, and at least I didn't throw my baby in a dumpster as is being done so frequently today. UH...AS IF that option EVER CROSSED MY MIND!!! Adoption vs. throwing my daughter in a dumpster...sure. I was completely aware of what she was doing...the same old brain-washing techniques revamped for today's times.

    2. Amy,

      I am so sorry she told you that. You didn't deserve it.

      The way you and Mel were treated when you went back to seek answers was wrong in every way. And yet, it doesn't surprise me, sadly. Even the tone in this training course was one of looking down on pregnant mothers while saving them from destroying themselves and their unborn children.

    3. Thank you! Mrs. H was a real piece of work. She was about 60 back in 1985 (give or take a few years) and had been one of the founding members of that particular agency. She was there until her end. When I went back, I felt exactly like that 17 year old again...pinned back against her sofa, unable to say anything, only cry, as she hammered me with "adoption rhetoric." I was on to her that time, but still felt very intimidated. I knew then that if I felt that way when I was 30-something that I didn't stand a chance at 17, pregnant, and scared.

  5. Yep. The NCFA and their government funded training are downright scary. They are incredibly adept at enlisting the general public to help them in their agenda of creating a "culture of adoption". Thanks for writing this.

    1. **They are incredibly adept at enlisting the general public to help them in their agenda of creating a "culture of adoption." **

      That is the worst part. They have worked hard so that our culture, by it's very refusal to acknowledge the horrors, accepts pregnant women being treated in such a degrading, horrendous way.

  6. Two things.

    1. One thought that came to me as I read this is "Why are these women who were initially so adamantly opposed to adoption able to be swayed at all?". I don't know if it is female nature or female socialization but I find it disturbing that so many young women are still not being encouraged to stick to their guns, to trust their inner voice and to stand up for what they want. I hate to say it but I have noticed that males seem more autonomous, that they are less likely to cave in to what others want them to do when it goes against what they feel is right for them. I think that encouraging women to listen to their own hearts and to put their own wants and needs first (without feeling guilty about it) is still needed today for women to be truly free.

    2. All of the NCFA information seems to imply that in Open Adoption the first mother will have some contact or at least knowledge of her child. And that when the child turns 18, the mother and child can pick up where they left off. But it doesn't work that way!! Von has written an excellent post (Hello, it's me, March 28, 2012) about post reunion feelings. I feel that I had a "good" reunion with my first mother and I could see by how she treated me what a great mother she would have been. We even in some ways became mother and daughter again. However, sadly and tragically, after all the pain and hurt of being given up, and feeling like a "throw-away" kid, like Von, it was not possible for me to really love my mother (as much as I wanted to). Adoption had just done too much damage.

    1. Hi Robin. Referring to your first point, I think a type of brainwashing occurs. Being only 17, I was still dependent on my parents for EVERYTHING. In addition, I guess a "good" social worker will wear away your self-confidence (which mine wasn't very strong in general) and play on your love for your baby. When you've got all the "trusted" adults in your life telling you you that your child will suffer if you keep them, and that if you "really love THAT baby" you will make sure that he/she has everything a child needs and deserves and the only way to do that at this point in your life is to give them to a married couple who is prepared to take "the" baby. Never did my social worker call my daughter "YOUR baby." It's insidious the way those social workers operate, and before you know it, you're left with empty arms screaming inside your own head "what in the hell just happened??!!" and your baby is gone. Unless you've been there, I just don't know if it's possible to understand it. I still don't understand it completely myself and it's been 27 years. :(

    2. I think, because women do tend to put others before themselves, especially when it comes to their own children, they are more at risk to being coerced and not standing up for themselves and what they want. Especially when the adoption counseling itself is very centered on making a pregnant mother feel selfish if she wants to keep and parent her child while claiming giving up her baby is an unselfish act.

      When I look back on some of the counseling I received, it's interesting to me that I was made to feel selfish for not only considering keeping my son but for "expecting" my parents to help me. And yet, my own mom was portrayed as selfish for not "respecting" me for not jumping on the bandwagon of how great it would be to give up my baby.

      And Robin, you are so right, adoption changes everything, no matter what relationship. What nature created is forever changed, no matter what happens. My oldest son and I know that even with him fully back in our lives and being adopted back. There is so much missed, so many "little" things added on to the bigger, more obvious, losses that can never and will never be replaced. It's lost forever and not even the best of open adoption can ever or will ever be able to change that. Open or closed, adoption forever changes so many things.

    3. **you're left with empty arms screaming inside your own head "what in the hell just happened??!!" and your baby is gone.**

      That was me. I understand this completely. The first time I had that screaming through my head was when I walked out of the hospital without my oldest son.

      I was so naive, so unaware of how much I would love him the minute he was placed in my arms and all I wanted was to keep him, to raise him. I prayed so much for some kind of miracle while I was in the hospital because I knew I couldn't change my mind. I would be such a monster if I did. That was in the start of the change from closed to open adoptions and so I had formed a relationship with my son's adoptive parents. I had been informed, by my doctor, that his adoptive mother needed a medical-ordered hysterectomy but was refusing to get one until she was sure the adoption of my son would go through. She was in the delivery room with me, cut his cord and even had flowers sent to my hospital room congratulating her as a new mom.

      And because, back then, I wasn't aware of how the adoption agency encouraged such things because they knew a mother was less likely to change her mind if she was aware of the adoptive parents feelings, I didnt' speak up. I didn't yell. I didn't scream. I did nothing to keep my baby like I so desperately wanted to. Instead I walked into the nursery and placed him in the arms of his adoptive mother and then I walked out of the hospital asking that very same thing . . . "what the hell just happened."


    4. (Cont . . . )

      The second time that went through my head was when I was starting to come out of my denial and I kept wondering how in the world could I have ever believed that my son was better off without me. How could I have ever given him up? How did I ever think that was a good thing?

      And then, after my son and I reunited, I found a wonderful psychologist and one of the first things she helped me work through was that feeling of "what in the hell happened."

      Her response was very clear - what happened to me was that I, just like so many other mothers facing an unplanned pregnancy, was in the midst of a crisis but instead of receiving the crisis counseling I should have been given, my situation, my current mental and physical state, was taken advantage of by those who did counsel me. And because she quickly learned I need to see it myself, research it, whatever it takes, before I believe what I'm told - the hard lesson I learned from being coerced into giving up my baby - she gave me some of the educational materials provided to college students specializing in crisis counseling and that was when I finally understood "what the hell happened."

    5. Wow Cassi...talk about coercion! I am SO SORRY. When I gave my daughter up, it was 1985. Semi-open adoptions were still very new, and my agency didn't do face to face meetings with the adoptive parents. However, we had picked the adoptive parents, and everyone kept reminding us of how happy we would be making them.

      I remember walking my baby girl back to the nursery...pushing her in her little clear cradle. I went to a back room in the nursery, picked her up, and she and I both began crying. She had been peacefully sleeping on my chest all afternoon. Her little hand grasped my gold cross necklace, and I had to untangle her fingers from it as I laid her back down. The tears were streaming so hard that as I walked back down to my room, empty handed, I could barely see where to walk. I was looking down at my shoes, knowing all along what was happening was wrong, wrong, wrong...yet I was so powerless to stop it. I was 17...and never the same again.

      Oh the memories...
      Figuring out what really happened makes me so disgusted...knowing how deliberate and rehearsed it was.

  7. Cassi, thanks for this post.

    It was a really hard read. I relinquished my daughter through a NCFA agency (Bethany). In just quickly glancing through the Infant Adoption Awareness materials, I recognized so much of my own experience. Like reliving the whole thing... yes. I had just last week found that the training is now available online, and have been debating whether to take it. It's important for us to know what we're up against... but it's going to be triggering, I can tell.

    Anyway. This is the best deconstruction / critique with specific references to the training and the NCFA's tactics that I've seen. Thanks for spreading the message.


    Regarding your point #1, I absolutely lacked in ability to stand up for myself and listen to my inner voice. If I'd had that ability, my daughter would be with me today. I'm not sure the guilt from that particular piece of the equation will ever go away completely.


    1. Ah Nicole,

      I was wondering if you would read this and how painful it would be for you. I remember how hard it hit you when you read the Birthmother, Good Mother post.

      I understand needing to know what we are up against but PLEASE be very kind to yourself and go slowly if you do go through this course.

      I was physically ill through many parts and cried so often my eyes were blood shot for days. For the first time in over twenty years, I could see again the adoption agency - the reception desk, the hall, the door on the left that went into the office. And there was one certain counselor that really triggered me, though I don't really know why.

      I would never discourage anyone to find out and learn as much as they possibly can. I just hope you will go easy and know there is nothing wrong with saying, "not now" if it becomes too much.

    2. (((Nicole and Cassi))) and all other mothers run foul of these awful tactics. I am so terribly sorry... Cassi that sounds so horrible, the triggers can be so very painful :(

      Nicole, if you do decide to go through it, I hope you will have someone you can talk to and support. Sending much love (I recall your blog - was one of the first blogs I ever read in adoption land). Take care xxx

  8. Given my situation was in New Zealand, they don't have the same agencies as they have in the States and there are differences however, many of the issues being discussed above are the same as what I encountered.

    Like many, I too decided to raise my child. Shortly after discovering I was pregnant, I rang a crisis pregnancy counsellor and she was the first person to suggest adoption which I obviously rejected. But she must have had some sort of training like the above as it wasn't long before she started doing many of the things Cassi lists in her post. When all those failed, she brought out the heavies, like if I didn't sign, someone else could on my behalf and I would lose my child... basically all my attempts to keep my daughter were hedged off by something and I was faced with lose her by my hand and have some control where she goes, or lose her by the govt hand wih no control of where she goes (although I was unaware that the second option would not have actually happen).

    It is interesting reading this post and the comments to see that although there are differences and we are from different countries, the similarities in how they worked us over and brainwashed us to believe their outright lies is scarily almost the same.

    I am so very sorry for all the mums here who have had to face this, its outright horrid.

    1. Myst,

      Your story breaks my heart.

      I hope, with all I have, that now that there is the power of the internet and social media, now that we are able to see that so many of us from so many different countries experienced such terrible violations against us and our unborn children, we may be able to finally make a change for the future generations to come.

    2. Amen Cassi! I hope for the same thing :) xxx

  9. They told us we would gain everything for our child.

    What they should have said is that we would lose everything.

    Now we know. Keep speaking the truth.

    1. I will right along with every single one of us who has the courage to do so. I have to believe we are making a difference!

    2. But who do we tell? Is anyone *really* listening? Sometimes this is so disheartening. Adoption is viewed as such a glorious thing in this country...

  10. I never post anonymous but I can't give my name because I would only make more problems if I did do that.
    I don't even know how to explain what I have been through the last few months because I have always believed I did the best thing by making an adoption plan for my son and it never came to my thoughts that I should question anything that I chose to do.
    My counseling went through the LDS Family Services and I don't believe there is anything bad in that and I have said so many times. I don't know though now if I even want to admit that I read what is said here and am so afriad that I might have been tricked in thinking that making an adoption plan was the best choice for my son.
    This is so scary for me and I am sure nobody understands what it is like but I don't know how to go through what I was told by my social worker and not want to know why it is the same as what I am reading here.
    I don't even like this blog or the writer who does this blog. I wish I hadn't read what was wrote here

    1. So are you questioning your decision? I know once I realized the "brainwashing" that was used on me was used on MILLIONS of other first moms, I was sick to my stomach. I thought, as silly as it sounds, that I was the only one! When I started to read other first moms stories that were nearly IDENTICAL to mine, I realized I was just another "breeding cow" to the adoption agency. I wasn't unique...heck, I thought I was special! lol But no, what was said to me was said to probably every girl that walked through that adoption agency door. When I started voicing my doubts with surrendering, that's when the social worker pulled out the big guns..."well, we have this new concept where you can pick the adoptive parents, and even get pictures and updates for the first two years!" And the birth of open adoption began (at that agency anyway)...back in 1985. Of course, the autobiographies (and there were 3) written by hopeful adoptive parents were hand picked by the social worker for us to "choose" from. They tricked us into thinking we had some kind of control over the process. HA! Oh it burns me up when I start to think about it too much...27 years later.

    2. Can I ask why you say you don't like the blog or the blog writer? Have you met her face to face? She is an amazing person with much compassion and her blog is doing nothing but exposing the truth. The author of this blog went through a training course the NCFA produce and this is the findings. She has made nothing up. So how can you dislike someone for speaking the truth? It seems to me you are more uncomfortable with the truth you are reading than the actual person who is exposing it.

      As for LDS FS, don't get me started on them. They are well known coercion specialists and if you are afraid of what you have read here because it strikes a similarity to what you have experienced then I guess your eyes are being opened to the truth of what happened to you. For that I am terribly sorry because no mother should ever be put in that situation.

      Sadly, you made a choice based on the information you were given and in most of the places like LDS FS and Bethany and many other agencies like them who have undertaked specific training to learn how to coerce women, they only give you information that supports an adoption placement. They do not encourage keeping your child and although they may say they do, they will coutner that support with reasons why you shouldn't.

      I am so very sorry you are learning the truth and are finding out the reality but please don't blame this blog or the author. As I said above, she is only exposing the agencies at their own game. I am sure if you stick around to read more and talk to her you will find the amazing person I am telling you about.

    3. to anonymous: I too went through terrible heart ache and pain recently in discovering the truth. It took me 13 years to really "get it". It is very hard and feels like people are being negative about adoption when you are so sure in your mind you did the right thing. But really- I know in my heart & soul that the right thing did not occur. My process may be different from yours in that I developed a strong relationship with God and realized the truth in the LDS church before I allowed myself to realize the truth about losing my daughter. I now beleive the LDS church took my daughter to "save her soul" by placing her with a temple worthy family. This is not right, it is very evil! There are so many of us here to help support you. I just found this blog so I cannot speak for the author but I do know that those of us who have been through, and will always be going through, this horror should stick together. I am so thankful for the internet. It is very hard to find support without it.

    4. Anon,

      Though it might seem crazy to you, I do understand, even about the part of you not liking this blog or me.

      You will find that there are many of us who have been where you are right now. We know what it's like to start to learn about what truly happened to us and our children. I hope at some point you will reach out for support. I promise, when you do, you will find yourself surrounded by others who care.

      Take care of yourself.

    5. Anonymous, if you are still reading here...

      There are LOTS of mothers who can relate to what you're going through. After relinquishing I too believed adoption was the best decision. It took several years for my thinking to turn around.

      It was the hardest thing I've ever done, facing the fact that the relinquishment had NOT been 100% my choice, and that it was not a win-win-win. It was worse than relinquishing. Because on relinquishment day, at least I believed adoption was the best thing for my daughter. Waking up to the truth of relinquishment meant facing up to the fact that she wasn't any better off.... that I had (from her perspective at the time) abandoned her--and for what? A different life, not a better one.

      Please find someone you trust to talk with. There are probably many moms here who'd be willing. There are also good, decent counselors and therapists.

      The first person I turned to with my feelings, when I went through what you're experiencing, was another natural mom. She was someone I'd argued with because she seemed so anti-adoption. She was someone I disagreed with vehemently and who disagreed with me. But when my thinking started to change and I started to fall apart... she was there. Willing to listen, willing to support. She never once threw it back in my face that I'd been a part of the pro-adoption, "win-win-win," "culture of adoption" poster mothers.

      Most of all... please take care of yourself and go easy on yourself. This is hard stuff to deal with, no matter what you ultimately decide about how your particular relinquishment went down.


  11. Anonymous 3/28 27:24pm - I am also a mother who lost her daughter through LDSFS. I know your pain. I grew up in the church, my family has been Mormon from the begining, my ancestors were in the Willy handcart company. Being LDS is in my blood. I could never have imagined my church doing anything wrong. After all I was the one that sinned, I got myself pregnant, I decided to have sex. I had to do the right thing by placing my first born with a worthy couple. it took more than a decade to see what happened to myself. It took seeing my daughter that I placed go through the same counseling, see that she didn't have a better life just different. It took seeing my daughter become just another mother who lost who child to adoption to fully see the truth. I finally fully realized what happened to both of us. My chldren are why I speak up now. I don't want to see them or their friends lose their children. I don't want another family broken up unnecessarily. Because of this I am called bitter. It is not about being bitter it is about knowing the truth when I hold my children. It is about seeing the pain in their eyes when they ask why we aren't a family, why is their sister with another family. How can I put a positive spin on breaking up 2 generations of my family? In every legal document I have 3 children, not 4. In every legal document my daughter has no chikdren. The truth is I have 4 children and 1 grandson. 1 grandson that will not be part of my life, 1 daughter that is only partially in my life. I would not want to see another person go thyrough this.

    1. Jeanette,

      I always say the pain and loss adoption causes is something I wouldn't even wish on my worst enemy!

    2. Cassi - That is always what I say too, "I would never wish this on my worst enemy"

    3. I remember when I was first labeled as "a bitter birthmom." Back on the parentsplace messageboards about 13 years ago...

      At first, I recoiled at the description, and then I realized, Yep...I AM bitter, and that's OK. I have plenty of reasons to be "bitter" and I will not apologize for it. I was figuring everything out after being in the "fog" and I was MAD. I can't let the bitterness eat me up because I have a family to raise and it's not a pretty way to live life. But there is a compartment in my head and heart where the bitterness still resides.

      The pain experienced in adoption is like no other...there's no closure...ever. It's a wound that is constantly ripped back open. Even my worst enemy doesn't deserve *that.*

  12. Amy wrote:

    "But who do we tell? Is anyone *really* listening? Sometimes this is so disheartening. Adoption is viewed as such a glorious thing in this country..."


    I don't know how many of them are listening but they are listening. There are now unahappy voices that consist of natural parents, natural siblings, natural grandparents, and adoptees. There are voices that speak of reunions, lies, manipulations, coercion, and loss of identity.

    We don't need to change the adoption industry. We just need to keep getting our information out there.Here is how the adoption industry dies:

    The more education we provide on how adoption hurts families the more we effect change. "Birthmothers" may become informed about coercion tactics and the lies of open adoption and decide to not relinquish. They may read our comments and realize that they do have the strength to raise their child.

    PAP's have the opportunity to see what adopted children and adults are saying about their adopted life and the struggles that many of them face. They will see that with the social media that reunion if a very real possibilty and will think twice about adopting if their motives are selfish. They will know that the natural parents may inform their adopted child about their lies if they close an open adoption or engaged in coercion. They may opt out of the adoption option, especially when children from other countries become less available for adoption.

    The social media is also connecting adoptees who are fighting for their right for OBC's. When that happens the cat is out of the bag.

    So keep speaking. They are listening. We used to be the quite, shamed ones. Now we are that little nagging voice in the head of natural mothers and PAPS that is asking "Is adoption really the best choice?"

    1. I commented here a couple posts ago and I have been emailing with Cassi because she wants to tell my story.
      Yes some of us are listening. I know I did and that is why I just kissed my little girl goodnight before sitting down to write this to you because I did listen and I did find out from you guys that my daughter was supposed to be with me.
      I went through what Cassi wrote here and all I could think was thank goodness I found you guys because that is what they said to me and I believed them.
      I am so thankful that I found this blog and the other blogs from here. Cassi is going to tell what happened so I won't go into detail but I hope you guys will always know that you do help.

    2. Ok, crying now... but happy tears. That is the best news and I will be stalking Cassi's blog for your story. ((((HUGS to you and your little girl))))

    3. Thankful2you, thank HEAVENS you didn't join our ranks! I am glad you found out the truth before you ended up like us.

      Maybe we can make a difference, but it would be nice if what has happened in Australia could happen here. We need more press!!


  13. Fantastic summary, Cassi!

    I did the course online a little while ago and afterwards I felt unclean.

    When I first heard of it on the reformadoption site, I thought it was a joke, sadly we know it is not:

    I had to "laugh" when they started talking about "Parenting Bliss" when what they are doing is selling "Adoption Bliss".

    Also, at the end of that document "Adoption practices in a Humane world" is a section about grief which more or less implies that a mother who is still grieving is "being a victim" which gives the impression that if you get grief counselling through an agency, you will be counselled that your grief is selfish - no wonder agencies are happy to provide after adoption counselling.

  14. Thank you for your replies. I just wanted to add that I did not mean by any stretch of the imagination to blame the victim by my comments. So I apologize if anyone took it that way.

    I jsut think that females are still today being socialized to be nice, to put others first, etc. And if we don't, we're called a bitch. There doesn't seem to be any equivalent to this phenomenon for men.

    I can't wait to hear your story. I dare say that you have increased your daughter's chance for high self-esteem by keeping her. Most children really don't want to be given up.

  15. I admit I was naive enough to be shocked the first time I realized those pro/con lists were still used in this day and age. I remember watching a 'Cold Case' episode where a teenager in the 60s was forced to make a list of what she could give her child and what some hypothetical perfect family could, and I was yelling at the TV about how that was horrible and coercive and emotional blackmail. And then I read the account of a mom who was told to do the same thing by a "counselor"... in 2002. Could have knocked me over with a feather. Like I said, naive.

    Great post, btw.

  16. This is one of the best-articulated pieces I've read on the subject. It needs to be published elsewhere so an even larger audience can read it. Kudos!

  17. I hope it's ok to comment here. I'm a pap, and I've been reading a lot of firstparent perspectives lately. When I was 19, I got pregnant as the result of rape. Plenty of pressure to "choose adoption". I chose to raise my daughter. Best decision I ever made. Due to her traumatic birth, I had an emergency hysterectomy. Now I'm ready for my girl to have a sibling, so I decided to adopt. Reading the first mom perspectives, now I'm not sure. How do I know if there's been coercion? How to know the adoption is handled ethically? Is adoption ever best? My future child's first mother could easily have been me. I want a child, but I would hate to think another woman is suffering so I can get what I want. Am I being selfish? Sorry if I offended anyone, I just really want to hear the firstmother perspective.

    1. Anon,

      I hope you will trust me and will come back here to read this - - if you give me just a little bit of time (a week or so) I will take this to my blog, kindly I promise you, and seek some answers for you. I just think here, in this post now, it will get lost and won't receive the attention it deserves.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Anonymous,
      Adoption is not a way to give children siblings. It is not a way to give childless couples a way to "build a family", it is a way to give a child in need of a home a family.
      I look forward to Cassi's blog post and give you the utmost respect for coming here and learning more before you make any moves.

  18. Thank you. I'm looking forward to reading it. I just want to do the right thing, and I really want to hear the perspectives of all sides of the adoption triad. Im sorry for what happened to you. Like I said, it couldve easily been me. You don't seem bitter to me. Justifiably angry, and sad, but not bitter. (sorry to hijack your very well written post)

  19. Cassi,
    Thanks for this post. I know how much time and effort goes into writing a blog. I used to blog and I will again. But it takes commiment to research a piece like this and between raising my family and work I can't seem to get the time. And I must mention, the time that I take each day to to acknowledge my grief and work through it sucks my time away too. I'm only in reunion 2.5 years so down the road it may even out a bit. Or not. When I read honest posts like Robin's, that after being 'given away' it really is difficult to love the natural mother, I sit here numb. How will I ever even out?
    It was heartening to read this post. Before reunion I believed I made a selfless choice In 1980 to put my daughter's needs ahead of my own. I owned that choice. I never felt like a victim. And then reunion hit and my grief was unbearable. I just couldn't believe I had voluntarily done this to myself and my daughter. In time I realized my mothers coercion was at play. But it hasn't been until recently that I realized how the agency played me. We had the pro and con lists. One strategy he used that I vividly remember was when my counselor told me that if my child found me after they came of age and I lived in a beautiful suburban home, I would have to realize had I kept my child none of my success would have happened. The implication was I would be raising my child in abject poverty and how was that fair to either of us? Bastards. It was a temporary problem and they gave us a permanent solution of separation. I would trade the Taj Mahal to have raised my oldest daughter. Thanks, Cassi, for bringing their coercive tactics to light.

  20. This needs to posted and shared everywhere! Excellently done, Cassi. I've argued that this type of coercive 'crisis counseling' is becoming insidious. I recently spoke with the partner of a deceased intercountry adoptee who happened to be a social worker in NYC with their Dept. of Children's Services. She said she has actively witnessed and spoken out against social workers trying to talk young women into relinquishing, and not presenting support resources that even their own training guidelines mandate they provide. This is one woman whistle-blowing, but it needs to be happening everywhere. I would love to send a young woman in an undercover role to some of these so-called 'crisis pregnancy centers' (usually found just across from or up the road from a Planned Parenthood clinic) and document on film exactly what their tactics are.

  21. i too was coersed into giving my three kids up for adoption, its an evil world out thier

  22. January 14 2000 I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy who's father didn't want him. He terrorized me through the duration of my pregnancy, taking me to abortion clinics at first & threatening me to "have an abortion or bad things would happen". At one point I sneaked out the back of a clinic and picketers drove me 50 minutes to my grandparents, leaving the father in the abortion clinic waiting room. Once my pregnancy progressed passed the point of "legal" abortion the father and his parents began looking for alternative "late term abortion clinics". I continued to fight back. Finally it was just too late for abortion to be an option & at times I feared for my life and the life of my 5 year old daughter as well. They started telling me that I would be expected to surrender my son for adoption at birth and that if I did not cooperate, the birth father's parents were social workers and would make me out to be an "unfit mother" and have my 5 year old little girl put in foster care and that I would never see her again. They also promised me that DSS would be at the hospital waiting for my son to be born so they could take him as well. Terrified that they would make good on their threats, on January 19th 2000, I regretfully signed the papers relinquishing my rights to my beautiful baby boy. Now 13 years later I am looking to have justice served against the birth father and his parents for the mental and emotional torture they put me and my daughter through and for the son they stole from me. If anyone has information on how to go about this or of any resources available I would greatly appreciate the input. Thank you. Jennifer

  23. I am a 63 year old grandmother and legal guardian of my granddaughter. I may not of done it right all the time but I tried to keep her on the straight and narrow all of her childhood life. I let her know both her natural parents so she could make her own decisions about them. Her dad which is my son is a drunk and no matter how many treatment center he has been in, he chooses to remain a drunk. and when he drinks he is mean and evil. Something a child didn't need to go through. Her mother couldn't stand her dad and she took her aggression out on my granddaughter. At age 5 after having reared my granddaughter since she was 2months old I field for legal gaurdianship.They both signed her away without a blink of an eye.But still I allowed them both to see her. By the time my granddaughter got to be 12 years old she got a mind of her own and a voice to go with it. The councelors told me she wasn't angry at me but at her parents. and in some weird way she thought acting out would cause to be more interested in. her. My granddaughter is now 23 years old and has 2 children that aren't with her. And why you might ask. Because she doing a 4 year prison sentence for involvement in a Meth. conspiracy. One of her children was taken away from her by dcf., and the other on born to her when she was incarcerated she gave up for adoption. She met his mommy and daddy to be and they insured her they would love him the way she would if she could. The adoptive parents keep in touch with me as thought the permanent foster parents of my first Great- Grand child do. I get to see them both when possible. And Granddaughter gets to know her children through me. She has been in prison for a year and changed in so many ways. But one thing she has said to me It hurts to think I was foolish to use drugs. I have lost a good portion of my children's lives. I know I did right by my second son even though it hurts. I am learning about me and who I really am so when I can productively rekindle a relationship with my sons. And who I became is not your fault Grandma. concerned g-m