Friday, June 15, 2012

Oh Those Dads

Back in 1970, during the final stages of the Baby Scoop Era, my parents were high school seniors when my mom became pregnant with me.

I was an adult and many years past giving up my oldest son for adoption when I learned of the true situation surrounding my mom’s pregnancy and my birth.  When I first became fully aware of the judgment and shame a pregnant woman suffered for being young and pregnant outside of wedlock. Aware of just how close my mom came to being sent away to a Catholic maternity home.  Of how close I came to being another baby lost to adoption during that cruel part of our nation’s history.

I was saved from that fate, in many ways, because of my dad. Because, in a time when it was much easier for men to deny paternity and walk away, my dad stood up and took responsibility.  He didn’t turn and run.  Instead he did, as he once explained to me, one of the most terrifying things in his life, telling his dad (my grandfather) that he had gotten a girl pregnant.  Asked him for help so that she and his baby wouldn’t be sent away.

And that show of courage was the first step in saving my mom from the maternity home.  In saving me from becoming yet another adoptee to add to the many that were taken during the Baby Scoop Era. (And no, the fact does not escape me that my mom had absolutely no choice, no rights in what was happening to her.)

Growing up, I didn’t know that part of my story.  Perhaps it was to protect me.  Perhaps it was the shame my mother still struggled with for so many years of her life because of her pregnancy with me.  Whatever the reason, I am thankful I have had two decades now of knowing my dad’s first step into fatherhood was having the courage to stand up and face his father so that my mom wouldn’t be sent away, so that I wouldn’t be taken from him.

And yet, I know, back then, just as today, my Dad really had no rights.  Had the past played out differently.  Had there been no quick-planned wedding but instead a send off for my mom to the maternity home, there would have been absolutely nothing my Dad could have done to keep his own daughter.  He, just like so many fathers before and after him, would have had his child taken without his consent.

I think of that now, with Father’s Day just around the corner. Of just how much I could have lost, of what I would have never known, if my mom had been sent away and my dad denied any and all rights to his own child.

And I think of all the other fathers out there who were denied their rights and had their children taken from them without their consent.  Of their sons and daughters, taken from their Dads, given away for adoption.  To fulfill the desires of hopeful adoptive couples while stripping innocent babies from families they already have.  From fathers who wanted nothing more than to keep and raise their own child.

I’m thankful that fathers like Ben Wyrembek and Dusten Brown will have their children with them this Father’s Day. And I’m hopeful this will be the last Father’s Day Robert Manzanares will have to spend without his little girl.

But my heart aches for these fathers . . .


And so many others who will spend Father’s Day without their children.  Who were denied their rights and lost their children.  Who have been forced to fight desperate couples who believe they have a right to keep a child, wanted and loved, by his or her father.  Who believe they are entitled to rip a child away from the family they already have, is fighting for them, to satisfy their own selfish need to complete the family they desire.

What’s happening to these fathers is wrong.  It’s wrong that the adoption industry is allowed to continue to find new ways to deny fathers their rights.  It’s wrong that so many actually support such a thing, will actually be a part of taking children away from their fathers without consent.


My own husband, father to all four of my children, was denied his rights to his oldest son who he never wanted to give up for adoption.  In a letter for Father’s Day he wrote last year - Guest Post: A Letter to my Readers From A Reunited Original Dad - for Declassified Adoptee, he mentions, “a decision that I had no rights to make.” A decision that took his son away, placed him in a childhood with an adoptive father who walked away from him when he was only five years old and a stepfather who physically abused him.

A decision that took his son away from the only REAL dad he ever had.

That is what adoption does.  That is what happens when you have an industry that only profits if it can successfully take a child from his or her family and place them in another family.  And one of the ways to make that happen is to eliminate those pesky fathers who actually want to keep their children.  To place ridiculous restrictions on them and their rights so their chances are slim to none of being able to keep their sons and daughters from being given away to strangers.

As a mother of three sons, it terrifies me to know our family is vulnerable to suffering the terrible loss of a child/grandchild.  To know, when it comes to adoption, the laws are created so that complete strangers, if given the chance – with the ability to write a big enough check – would be given more rights to keep a part of our family away from us than any of my sons would ever have to keep their children.

It was a fear I had traces of even when I first learned my daughter-in-law was pregnant.  Yes, they were married and madly in love but their ages and situation were perfect matches to what those in the adoption industry prey on – young college students, working part time, relying on their parents to help make the bills.


I hold my beautiful granddaughter today and find myself so thankful that adoption was never able to get its greedy hands on her.  I watch my son with her and get so angry at the very idea that, had circumstances been different, she could have very well been taken away from him.  He could have lost that precious little girl that he loves so much.  Could have been forced to fight yet another desperate couple believing they have more of a right to his daughter than he does.

It’s just so wrong.  So very wrong.

Nobody has a right to take a child away from his or her father because of their own wants or desires.  They don’t have a right to determine, for themselves, whether a father “deserves” to keep his son or daughter.

A Father’s right to his child should always be equal to a Mother’s.  ALWAYS!

Yes there are fathers that are no good but there are mothers like that too.  And they can also be adoptive, foster and step as well.  But to believe it is justifiable to take away all fathers’ rights because of the bad ones.  To breed the myth that it’s better for a child to be taken from their dad because adoption will somehow miraculously given them a better one, is wrong.  So very wrong.

My hope, this Father’s Day, is that the small steps that have been taken recently to expose the reality of Fathers being denied their rights will gain force and we will start to see positive change for all the Dads out there who have, or will, face the horror of having their children taken from them without their consent.

It’s time to stop accepting fathers being treated in such a way.  Time to stop allowing the adoption industry the right to justify why they should be forced to jump through impossible hurdles to prove they are worthy of their own children.  Time for hopeful adoptive couples to realize they have no right to any child that is wanted and loved by their father, no matter what reasons they try to tell themselves to feel better about refusing  to give back a child that should never be theirs as long as they have family who wants them, is fighting for them.

Time to stop accepting the unnecessary destruction of families on the broken hearts of so many fathers who only want the right to keep, raise and love their children.  Who deserve their child much more than any stranger ever could.

49 comments:

  1. Sad when people actually advocate for fathers rights to trump what is best for a child

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    1. Best for a child according to who . . . you?

      I disagree. What is best for a child is to not be forced into unnecessary separations from their family. To have a father who has the right to keep, love and raise them.

      Separating a child from their family isn't what is "best" for them. It is something that should only be done when there is NO OTHER CHOICE.

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    2. Anonymous, if a father was never given the right to raise his own child in the first place, then the best interests of the child was obviously never a concern for those involved in the adoption.

      Advocating for fathers' rights is not about trumping anything. It is about the right for a man to raise his own child. The goal should always be to keep a child with his or her natural family.

      Cassi, thank you for this amazing post. My father and paternal grandparents fought against my maternal grandparents and Catholic "Charities" to stop my adoption. They had absolutely no intention of giving me to strangers. My father wanted to marry my mother. It was her parents who did not approve. And they, along with the agency, were allowed to give me away without my father's consent. Because 19-year-old adult men did not have the right to raise their own children in 1971.

      And thanks to good ol' Anonymous, I see that not much has changed in 41 years when it comes to the treatment of fathers. So we must continue advocating for fathers' rights.

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    3. It breaks my heart to hear, over and over again, about fathers who wanted their children and yet had no right to them. One would think such treatment is a part of the past and yet sadly its not.

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  2. What's best for a child is to be with their natural family, not a stranger. You smell like an adopter or a pap, "anonymous".

    Excellent post as usual, Cassi. <3

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  3. My original mother was sent away to a maternity home ran by catholic charities and it was made very clear to my original father that he had no say in what happened. It makes me sick to know nothing has changed when it comes to original fathers and their children.

    I had wonderful parents who I lost just last year but I still wish my original father would have been allowed to keep me.

    Anon you're wrong. Babies would much rather be with their original family than be separated from them. Only those who have no clue what it is like to not live with that make such ridiculous comments.

    P.S. Cassi. Is that first picture of you and your dad? I like it.

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    1. It's sad, isn't it, how fathers for so long have been denied their rights to their own children. I'm hoping things will change in the future.

      And yes, that's my dad and I back when I was seven years old - during my lopsided pony tail days. LOL!

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  4. A wonderful Father's Day post!
    Anonymous, When will people like you figure out laws and people like the ones described in Utah in this post aren't advocating for the child's rights or what's in the child's best interest. They are advocating for the adopters rights and what is in the adopters best interest. It's sad that there are people like you with such little understanding of this issue.

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  5. Cassi...

    Thanks for this post. I don't think the general public is aware, at all, how easily men can lose their children. And then the WHOLE family loses the child as well. These people who are willing to dismiss the rights of dads, ought to consider if that were to happen to their own grandchild someday. This is what happened in my story, and we tried desperately to do the right thing, but the attorney was a demon. And that's part of the problem too--even though we refused to fight a bio dad--she had the custody and did whatever she wanted to do. It makes me so sad to think that Lily will learn someday, that an immoral attorney decided her fate. It makes me crazy inside. And to think that the people she is with now were willing to fight against a bio dad--what kind of people could that be? But probably the attorney made them think they were saving the child, and also she isolated the real mom from me. So so crazy. I still cannot believe the evil.
    This is a very important post. People need to learn the truth. Anon--you are beyond wrong--you are supporting what amounts to no less than kidnapping if you think it's ok to take babies away from their REAL parents.
    Best,
    Jennifer
    Former PAP--totally disillusioned now.

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    1. I think you're right. I think the general public believes fathers are given every chance to keep and raise their children when that is so far from the truth when it comes to adoption.

      I'm so interested in your story and what happened to Baby Lily and to your family. And I am so thankful you have the courage to share your story and expose the side of adoption so many don't want us to hear.

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  6. I too am interested in Jenifer's story. I hope she post's details.

    I am very sad that father's have so little rights in the US especially when it comes to adoption. Father's rights are denied or terminated and we have seen some recent court cases in which these dads are fighting (and sadly still not winning) the right to raise their children. When a father wants to raise his child then that child no longer is in need of a family.But still adoption has adoptive parents in need of a child and they will sacrifice and fight a natural father in the quest to obtain a child. Heartbreaking....

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    1. Jennifer is actually sharing her story on her blog, Where's Baby Lily, Mommy . . .

      http://abortedadoption.blogspot.com/

      I think that is one of the things that bothers me the most. Adoption is supposed to be about finding families for children in need and instead, in so many cases, children are taken from families they already have and from fathers who want to keep and raise them. It goes completely against what everyone claims adoption is supposed to be about.

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  7. My grandma was almost one of those women. The baby was my father! She was pregnant with my dad and was about to be sent off to a maternity home. Instead, Grandpa begged her to stay and raise a family together and she agreed.

    Anon, you are a hateful person who has no idea of the issues behind this post...or you do and honestly think the laws prohibiting fathers from parenting are de facto best interest.

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    1. I am so glad your father was another baby saved from being lost to adoption. I wish all fathers were able to keep their children as my dad and your grandfather was.

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  8. Anonymous 7:44 said "Sad when people actually advocate for fathers rights to trump what is best for a child."

    Who are you to advocate "what's best for a child" when it is NOT YOUR child, but someone else's? What is "best for a child" in your eyes, of course, is being raised by strangers instead of their real families, because by god you want a baby and deserve one! You have no compassion or empathy for those fathers who have no say in the matter. It just boggles the mind, truly. This is a sick, convoluted world we live in... thanks for proving that to me, yet again.

    Great post, Cassi.

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    1. I understand that everyone is different but it hurts me personally to see people talk about 'real' families and adopted ones as though they are mutually exclusive.

      My adoptive family are, to me, my REAL family, my psychological mother and father raised me and loved me with all the love I could give, their biological children ARE my brother and sisters.

      My mom took me to school every day, she put band-aids on every scraped knee, helped me study before every exam, took me shopping for my prom dress and held me as I cried when I broke up with my first boyfriend.

      My dad taught me to drive, he paid for my piano lessons,he gave me the birds and the bees talk, he caught me smoking made me do an assignment on lung cancer that grossed me out so badly I can still not stand the smell of smoke.

      My sisters are best friends and worst enemies, my older brother is an ever-present protector and my own personal rock.

      I do feel bad for my birth mother as she did not want to give me up, we did meet but things were awkward, I think of her sometimes and I wish her NO ill will, I have no hatred in my heart towards her but she is not my real family.

      My REAL family may not have the same blood pumping through their hearts as mine, but our hearts are filled with similar love, joys and experiences.

      I would never, ever ever ever tell another adopted child what to feel, but as I said, I just merely find it painful to have people acting as though all non biological families are greedy, grubby people and not real family.

      Thank you for your post and I hope so much that adoption laws can make changes for the better, to avoid heartbreak for adopted families, for biological families and most important of all, to avoid heartbreak for children.

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  9. Thank you for this post, Cassi. You hit another one out of the ballpark. Bravo, my dear.

    -Mara

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  10. I don’t see anyone advocating that a father’s “rights” should trump “the best interests” of the child.

    I find it ironic when a father could have no rights to object to the relinquishment of a child, yet has no right to not pay child support if they are kept. It is a double standard.

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    1. It is very much a double standard for fathers. They also face criticism for walking away from their children and yet are criticized when they fight to keep them. It's sad!

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  11. In certain cases, the father keeping the baby is not not in the child's best interest. For instance if the father is mentally ill, abusive, or a drug addict. Common sense says that much. My nephew will not be going to his drug addicted, in and out of jail father if I have anything to say about it. That being said, I would never keep his father out of his life completely. We have a PO box so he can write letters, and if he ever gets clean, of course he will be able to visit. Reading Cassi's other posts, she would never advocate for a child going to an unsafe environment. This post is about good guys who want to be fathers being denied the opportunity because they aren't married to the mother, or are poor.

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    1. Yes exactly! I would never advocate for any child to remain with anyone who has proven they are a risk to a child's well-being through extreme neglect or abuse. In those situations I believe the best interest for a child is like with you and your nephew, remaining within their family if at all possible.

      And that is where I say there are "bad" dads but all fathers do not deserve to be punished or have their rights taken from them because of them. To me, that is as ridiculous as me believing every adoptive father should be punished because of the actions of my son's adoptive father.

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  12. Cassi,
    I'm so glad that you didn't end up as a fellow adoptee. Kudos to your father and all the other men who step up to the plate and act as MEN taking responsibility for the life that they helped to create.

    That's a great picture of you and your father. I can see all the love he has for you. I see the strong resemblance, too.

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    1. Thank you Robin. If only I'd known enough not to make my oldest son a fellow adoptee!

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  13. I wonder how many of you feel that way regarding abortion then? AND NO, not suggesting unwed pregnant women are just a step away from that choice ~ not linking it at all.

    But I do find it interesting that so many of the same women who fight for a Father's right, wouldn't figth just as vehemently to oppose their "rights" when deciding to terminate a living being via abortion. A womans' choice afterall....?

    Additionally, yes, let's protect those Fathers who wish to parent but due care needs to be taken to consider the natural mother's wishes too. Some have been shamed by that very "Father" and his extended family. Not outright abuse, but there nonetheless. Some might have good cause for seeking a decision free of their input.

    Additionally let's just be clear please ~ many Fathers have not and don't take that responsibility. How many Mothers out there are fighting tooth and nail for child support or searching for Fathers choosing to remain hidden or busy hiding assets. How many vulnerable women who would have been able to keep/parent their child if only for that kind of Father.

    Anonymous' input while limited and inferential does strike a truth also prevalant in this country: that being that dead beat Dads are alive and well. Sadly....

    I thank God for my own strong Father, the incredible (adopted) Father to my child given up for adoption and to the amazing Man who IS a father to the children I am blessed to parent.

    Just my 2 cents:

    LL

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    1. Being that most abortions are within the first couple weeks, I'd say that I hardly think a glob of cells is a living being that you have bonded to. Not to mention that birth floods you with hormones that you don't get from the average abortion.

      Besides, this argument is a non sequitur. Most women who end up giving their child up for adoption would never have considered abortion in the first place. Please go peddle that "adoption saves lives" bullshit elsewhere.

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    2. LL,

      I just want you to know, I'm not ignoring your comment. I think you make some interesting points that I would like to address in a new blog post.

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  14. I think a woman should parent or abort and I think people need to stay out of strangers wombs. It is quite creepy when they don't. They need to leave young, vulnerable women alone and stop being vultures (until they obtain her infant, that is) then all the sudden disappear into thin air... Funny how that works, huh?

    How admirable that you can publicly praise your child's adopter. I will never praise the man and his wife who defrauded me out of my infant, who now play's altruistic, papa of the universe to my child. What a joke.

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    1. I am so sorry for what happened to you. It breaks my heart to hear about so many moms who faced the worst of fraud so somebody else could get their baby.

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  15. @ Samantha,

    But how many times do we read about the "connection" between mothers and babies, even those given up moments after birth? Did you not feel a connection right away when your pregnanacy was confirmed? I did. A fierce love and determination. Life is life....at a couple of weeks or at 9 months. AND I was clear to state that women considering adoption don't also (always) consider abortion. Clear.

    And please get your facts straight; most abortions are NOT done in the first couple of weeks of conception; most women don't even know they are pregnant at that time.

    It can't go both ways....a deep biological bond that forms for 9 precious months but can be quickly erased and tossed aside as a "blob" when it suits your own agenda.??

    I never uttered a word about "saving a life" ~ you must have picked that up from someone else.

    I clearly stated that when Fathers wish to parent they should be supported but felt that other factors were overlooked in these comments. Factors that DO lead to adoption and do concern REAL women who might choose or otherwise feel led to adoption.

    @ previous Anon. with no identifying name/or moniker: how sad for you. I AM happy with the father (and mother) of the child I was NOT able to parent. I don't feel defrauded and my feelings and story are valid too. Not a joke, nothing about praising, just my own experience. The "boy/man" who helped create that child wanted nothing to do with us ~ its that simple. I was shamed by him and his family ~ perhaps that's the biggest joke then! To think he deserved rights to that child? An even bigger joke.

    There are many sides folks; you may not like mine, but its there nonetheless.

    LL

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  16. Very timely post, Cassi. And I like Sunday's point about the double standard: none of the rights in adoption but all of the responsibility in paternity/child support.

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  17. I'm a little behind on my reading. Wonderful post Cassi! I also have a son and had that same fear about his children. When my daughter-in-law was pregnant they weren't yet married and I was terrified of some agency getting hold of her and convincing her to surrender. Now I hold my little 2 yr old granddaughter and she's the light of my life! I can't imagine my life without her and I can't imagine the pain other grandparents are going through while watching their son having to fight for his own flesh and blood. Well, actually I can imagine..... I lost my daughter to adoption, so sadly I know all too well.

    Thanks again for a great post.

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    1. My heart breaks when I think of all the grandparents who lost their grandchild to adoption because strangers were given more rights to their own grandchild than they were given.

      Recently, my blog has been found by those searching for a way to keep their grandchild from being adopted or suffering because they lost their grandchild to adoption. It is so painful to read those when they come through.

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  18. Wonderful post, Cassi. And so many valid points made. I won't even address the comments that are anti-father's rights, because, that's exactly what they are. Some opinions deserve a platform, and some just don't.

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    1. Thank you Danielle. And I agree such thoughts are definitely anti-father's rights. Unfortunately many believe such things in our society, which is terribly sad.

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  19. This is Jackson Michael Strickland's grandma and Jake Strickland's mom, I and just want to say THANK YOU for a wonderful post - Jake will never give up on Jack, nor will we. One day hopefully soon Jack will come home with his father and family where he belongs. No matter what the out come Jack will know someday how much his daddy loves him and always has, no one can change that fact. Wonderful blog keep up the good work.

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    1. I am so deeply sorry for the loss your son, you and your family has been forced to suffer. I pray, someday, Jackson will be back with the family he should have never been separated from! If there is ever anything I can do to help with your fight for your grandson, please don't hesitate to let me know.

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    2. @Get Baby Jack Back
      And many of us who were separated from our original families will keep speaking out about the importance of the biological connection. And the damage that is done to us by adoption. That except in rare cases it is better for a child to be with his/her natural mother and father and extended family.

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  20. This poignant for me to read, given what (as you know) is going on in my life at the moment. "Because, in a time when it was much easier for men to deny paternity and walk away, my dad stood up and took responsibility." My bio dad, at age 65, is still feeling guilty about not having done that. I suppose I could be angry at him for not stepping up, but mostly I'm angry that it was so easy for him not to. I'm angry that adoption was sold to him as an easy solution, allowing him to move on with his life as if nothing had happened. This is not to take away personal responsibility from him; yes, he could have made different choices and probably affected a different outcome. But 45 years of guilt, shame, and regret (even if he wasn't constantly conscious of it, we all know that it affected him) -- that's a pretty high price to pay for the "sin" of being young and clueless and believing what you were told.

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  21. I'm super emotional today (not surprising, given the phase I'm in). This post touches right where I ache ... and so do the comments about what is "best for the child." I'm just so aware in this moment of all that was lost. Like a lot of adoptees, I ended up with "amazing parents." But I already had amazing parents. Or they could have been, with a little support and helpful guidance. And they were _my_ parents. I hate that there was a societal structure in place intent on tearing my original family apart rather than supporting it and strengthening it. I hate that the course of my life was determined by false assumptions about my best interest and the best interest of my parents. This doesn't mean I hate my life. I don't. But today I am grieving.

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    1. I am so sorry for everything you have gone through, especially now, knowing how reading this post must have added to the emotions you are going through at the moment.

      It's heartbreaking to think of how much was taken and denied from so many because of the beliefs of adoption.

      I keep struggling with what I can say to you, but, honestly, I know there is nothing I can say that can ever change the reality that you have had to live. Just know, there are many who grieve with you and wish we could make it different for you and so many others.

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    2. Thanks Cassi! It's actually a "sweet grief" ... the kind that's healing. But just really alive in me today. I'm mostly focused on the present and the future, and happy about the current contact, but the flipside of reunion is that it gives one a clearer picture of what was lost.

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  22. @Rebecca,
    I loved your 9:35am comment.

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