Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Friends In Low Places

It really is an odd paradox in a way . . . to find so much you treasure and are so thankful for from something that is such a dark, painful reality of your life.

In the friendships I have made through my life, there are none like the ones I have found in the years since I began my difficult journey in finding a way to deal with the terrible loss and grief adoption has brought into my life, into my oldest son’s life, my entire family’s life.

I went from knowing that not even those closest friends around me understood what I was going through to finding so many who not only understood, but through their own experiences, knew there were no easy answers, magical comforting words, that could make it all better.

Years ago, when I was at my lowest, when it was hard to even come up with a reason to go on living, it was that understanding, that care, that kept me going.  Kept me from quitting.  Though virtually, First Moms held me close, walked me through each day.  And so many wonderful adoptees reached out to me when I first learned of my oldest son’s abuse.  They kept me from crumbling into a million painful pieces.  From running around in a crazed mess, punching and striking anyone I could find so they could hurt as my son had hurt.

Those I have met in the almost six years since coming out of the adoption fog have, literally, been my lifeline in so many ways.  I cannot imagine what I would do without any one of them.  We’ve built friendships, fought together for what we believe in.  Faced down the anger, the accusations, always knowing we had each other backing us up, never allowing us to face the hatred, the ugliness, alone.

And now as I enter yet another phase of my life, I find myself – I don’t know the right word – amazed, thankful, surprised . . . maybe even a bit nostalgic.

Over a decade ago, after accomplishing what us pesky First Moms and . . . gasp . . .  teenage moms are told by so-called, warped “statistics” is impossible – getting a college degree, building a career, supporting our family – I finally followed a dream I’d carried since I was a young girl.  A dream I didn’t have to forget about – as so many claim to frighten vulnerable mothers, including myself, into giving up their babies – but instead, just put off for a little while.

By 2001, I had two published Romance Suspense novels under my belt and I was deep into writing my third.  I signed up and joined the writing groups.  I was selected to be a part of the Rising Stars of Romance group which was, back then, a huge honor and privilege to be a part of.  I attended the romance conferences.  Met readers, signed books and set my foot firmly into a great kick off for a long life of writing romance.

It was a busy time for myself and my family.  My husband had just been given a huge promotion at his job.  Our three younger children we were raising were getting older, all of them in school, and we were busy doing parties and programs, fund-raisers and field trips.   And in 2002, we stumbled across a neighborhood, an empty lot, a house plan, we absolutely loved.  And within months they were breaking ground on our new house.

It was, in so many ways, a time in my life I was led to believe I would never accomplish.  Not me.  Not one of “those” kind of girls who got pregnant at sixteen and gave her son up to a “better” couple only to turn around and be pregnant again at the age of eighteen, becoming the dreaded teenage mom, destined to live a life of despair and force her innocent child to live it with her.

And then on New Years Eve 2002, it hit me.  I took my first terrible step out of the fog I’d been living in.  Pain broke through the numbness and I was no longer ever fully able to claim it again.

Because on that day, the first day we moved into our brand new house, it wasn’t success I felt . . . it was absolute failure.  It was the first time I couldn’t quickly chase away the question . . .

“What the hell was I thinking?”

How could I be here in my new house, with my husband and three younger children, experiencing what we had, and have given up my oldest son all those years ago?  How could I ever expect him to have anything but hatred for me when I worked so hard and did so much for my other children and yet just gave him away to someone else to raise?

How could I be here?  How could I have accomplished any of this?  How could I do that to him?  How could I ever expect him to understand?

It was the moment when I took that first start on the downward spiral coming my way.

Though I still clung desperately to my denial and didn’t associate most of what I was going through with my adoption pain, I lost my footing at that point.  Guilt took over, though I never understood then where it came from.  But I quit writing.  Quit my groups, my promotions.  Quit everything that I had dreamed of.  Because I didn’t deserve it.  I wasn’t good enough for it. 

That was the time of my life when I would lie in bed in the mornings having to convince myself why it was I was happy.  I pulled away from my husband, using him as my scapegoat, my reason for why I was miserable.  I moved around in this odd haze, caught between the adoption fog and the end of my denial.  I hurt, I ached, and yet I could never fully accept why.

I feared my oldest son’s anger.  Loathed what I had done.  Tried, here and there, to put voice to what was happening only to jump quickly back into the security of my denial.

For four years, that was the reality of my life.  Until that day in December 2006 when I reunited with my oldest son and the thin scabs over my denial were violently ripped away.

I held on, though, by the very tips of my fingers, doing my best not to lose it.  Not to give in to the tidal wave of emotions threatening to drown me.  And then, as so often happens, my oldest son stepped away from the reunion, went silent, and everything crashed around me.

That’s when I was blessed with so many wonderful, amazing First Moms and Adoptees who were just, suddenly, there.  Understanding.  Knowing.  Comforting me.  Giving me strength.  Holding me up when all I wanted to do was fold myself into the tightest ball and just disappear from it forever.

Through it all, from learning of my son’s abuse, to having him back in my life, to seeing his adoptive mother’s mental abuse first hand when he moved in with us, they held me up, kept me going.

I know, without question, I would not have been able to be there fully for my son, to hold him up, give him support as he went through so much hell, if it wasn’t for those who stood behind me, holding me up as well.  I could be strong for him.  Give him the strength he needed, deserved.   Because I knew, always knew, when it was time to fall apart, myself, there were those there to help me pick up the pieces.

I had an absolutely amazing therapist, who I will always be grateful for.  But I know, through the worst of it, it was the friendships I was graced with that truly got me through, helped me heal, and brought me back to a place where I could again find good in my writing.

It was here on my blog first.  For the first few years, I needed the writing here.  The place to share my life, my experience.  What I had learned, researched and knew about the adoption industry.  I know part of my healing was the ability to use my voice to bring about awareness and hopefully make change in the accepted practice of adoption.

It wasn’t always easy.  There have been ugly moments.  I’ve pissed off some, completely infuriated others.  But I continued on, not just from my determination to fight for what I believe in, but also from the support of the wonderful friends I’ve made in this journey through the dark reality of adoption.

And then came that time when I finally felt ready to go back to the writing I love.  When I could make that separation in my mind to switch from the writing I do here to the lighter, fiction writing I was ready to dive back in to.  It wasn’t always easy.  As is the reality for so many of us. There were times when the giant of adoption pain reared its ugly head again and sent me reeling back, only to find myself stumbling forward again.

But I did it.  I succeeded.  I finished my third Romance Suspense novel, Playing With Fire.  It was released just a couple months ago.  And now I find myself in that moment of not being able to find the right words to describe what it’s like this time around.

Because, it’s different than it was a decade ago.  It means more.  It’s proof to what I’ve been through without letting it knock me over for good.  But, it’s also something I feel I share with so many.  Because I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t know any of this, if it weren’t for the amazing friends who have been there, are there, and, I hope, will never go away.

It’s so much more than just me and the dream I had, now.   

And the twist of it all . . . it’s another First Mom who is doing so many great things to help make this second chance at my writing a success. 

If you’ve been in the world of adoption reform and adoptee rights for any amount of time, you know Claudia and her blog, Musings Of The Lame.  Her voice is a priceless asset to so many of us.  Her knowledge is unbelievable and her talents go far beyond what so many might think.

And it just seems right, it just seems full-circle that her blog, her voice was one of the first that gave me strength, kept me going.  And now, her expertise, her talents, will do the same for my writing. 

I feel . . . I don’t know . . . like I said it’s hard to bring words to it.  There is something that just fits in having my trust in another First Mom who I love and respect so much.  Something that is good in knowing that even in our “mom” craziness, adoption “pain” and all the other junk that comes with it, we’ll know, we’ll understand, and we’ll never have to explain anything when it comes to being there for one another, whether it be personally or professionally.

She, and so many others, brought me to where I am today and I will always be thankful for every one of them.  I’m back on track for my writing and I don’t plan on letting anything stand in my way again.

Adoption and it’s ugliness has already taken so much , from me, my oldest son, my entire family.  I will no longer sacrifice anything else.  Ironic, isn’t it . . . those who gained from my oldest son’s adoption – the agency, his adoptive parents – have desperately needed me to believe that giving him away was a “win.”  And yet, for so long, all I’ve known is the feeling of failure in so much of my life.

It wasn’t until finding those who also have lived through the promised hell of a “win” in adoption that I was finally able to find the strength to find my own “win” in my own life, despite all the loss adoption brought.

They gave me what adoption never could, belief in myself.  Strength and courage to be the best I can be and to tackle any obstacles standing in my way.  They gave because they cared, not because they “desired.”

And for that . . . I will always be grateful.

*** As of now, I have decided not to put a permanent link on my blog for my website.  I’m just not sure if it will help or hurt.  For now, I’ll just leave it here, in this post . . .

Home Of The Love Story: Website of Cassandra Bella Romance Author 

(The site is just one of many things Claudia and her great talents have done!) ***

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Bad, The Good

You can’t avoid it.  You hear it all the time.

If you are one who dares to speak out about the harder truths in adoption.  One who puts their voice out there, trying to bring about reform to protect everyone involved, you will, more often than not, come up against those who disregard what you have to say.  Will do what they can to make your feelings, experiences, knowledge, insignificant if it does not fall in line with the accepted view of adoption being nothing more than a wonderful, loving act for all involved.

And many of the loudest are those who have had a good experience with adoption.  From First Parents who are happy with giving up their children, Adoptees grateful for being adopted to Adoptive Parents thankful for whatever had to happen to provide them with the child they dreamed about.

So often, they tend to be the loudest, the most active, when it comes to dismissing and discouraging anything that contrasts against their own, personal experience.  And on some level, I understand that.  I honestly do.  It’s in our nature to want to hold on tight to what we see as good and right in our lives.  Challenging that can, so often, feel like a personal insult against us.  Can force us to question ourselves, our happiness.  Feel threatened by someone else seeing our life as somehow bad because of their beliefs that view our own in such a negative light.

And yet, realizing the darker truths that exist in adoption, acknowledging them and fighting for them to change, does not suddenly make one bad.  It doesn’t mean that an Adoptee’s parents were not the loving, kind mother and father they cherish.  It doesn’t take away from an adoptive family being close, tight-knit and strong in their relationships.

Realizing the multi-billion dollar adoption industry carries evil with it is not equal to dismissing your own love, affection and happiness with your own family.  Your own children.  Your own experience.  Accepting that there are darker truths needing to be addressed doesn’t make anyone, or their own experience, bad.

What is bad, however, is using your good experience as an excuse to try and diminish the desperate need for reform in the world of adoption.  To somehow justify that the very real pain and loss that exists in adoption needs to be silenced.

The best adoption experience, the happiest Adoptee, First Parent, Adoptive Parent, is not so special that a blind eye should be turned to the coercion and manipulation that exists against vulnerable mothers.  One having no regrets about what happened doesn’t give them reason to ignore the lack of protections for mothers, fathers and their unborn children.  It isn’t an excuse to claim that nothing needs to change just because one might have gained off something that is full of so much wrong.

How selfish can one be to ignore and dismiss the wrong in adoption simply because they had a good experience?  How far does one have to go in their happiness to have no problem with actually fighting against protections for the vulnerable simply because their experience was different?

The best open adoption in the world, the most loving adoptive family, the happiest adoptee, doesn’t erase the reality that adoption has become, more than anything, a business providing newborns to paying customers.  It doesn’t suddenly nullify the fact that millions of adoptees are denied their equal rights.  That every day a vulnerable mother is faced with the coercive Options counselingdesigned specifically to create more unnecessary separations.

One’s happy experience does not justify ignoring horror stories such as what happened to Veronica Rose Brown and her family.   Loving adoption doesn’t give anyone a right to turn a blind eye to the lack of anything right when so much money is involved in the taking of children from one family to another.

Perhaps, instead of fighting against those who don’t share the same happy experience, it’s time to, instead, fight against the reasons there are so many with such dark, painful experiences.  Instead of dismissing those who didn’t have the same happy experience, take the time to learn and research the darker truths you are being told.

There is nothing bad, just good, in fighting for the outrageous profits to be taken out of adoption.   In demanding protections for vulnerable mothers, fathers and their unborn children so that no one is ever faced with coercion and manipulation in order to get their child away from them.  Speaking out against adoptees being denied the rights the rest of us take for granted.

Such things don’t have the power to change one’s own happiness.  But they do have the power to change the evils so many face when they fall into the hands of an unregulated adoption industry that gains, in the worst of ways . . . using the vulnerable, the desperate, the innocent, to keep their profits growing. 

To keep the business of adoption just as they want it to be . . . about the money, not the children.

Friday, November 1, 2013

True Awareness . . . True Change

“Children and mothers never truly part.  Bound in the beating of each other's heart.” - - Charlotte Gray

So we’re here again.  That time of year returns.

It’s November.  It’s the holidays.  And it’s National Adoption Awareness Month.

And as I sit here and attempt to write this, I stare at the above quote on that bright red coffee cup.  It was a Mother’s Day gift this year from my oldest son who I gave up for adoption.  I can’t bear to hide it away in the cupboard with the other cups.  So it sits on my desk where I can see it every day, be reminded of what my oldest son and I found again after adoption stripped everything away.

For those of us who have lost at the greedy hands of the multi-billion dollar adoption industry, the awareness of what adoption is and what it does to so many families isn’t something that comes around once a year.  It’s there always.  A constant reminder we can never fully hide away from.  One that makes something as sweet and simple as a coffee cup with a loving quote from a son to his mother mean so much more in a bittersweet twist of emotions.

The sad reality is, no matter how hard many adoptive parents and the adoption industry fight to bring a false awareness during this month of November, the truth remains, as painful as ever for the many, MANY who live with it, every single day, not just one month out of the year.

Adoption ALWAYS begins with loss.  There is no getting around that fact.  No denying it.  And to try and raise awareness without acknowledging this is wrong in so many ways.  To try and gloss over that fact, do all that can be done to turn attention away from it, serves only those who gain from such a loss while harming the children.  The ones adoption is supposed to be about.

The ones this month is supposedly supposed to help . . . Children TRULY in need of families.

But we can’t help them.  We will never truly be able to have any kind of awareness, whether it be a day, a month, a year, as long as we, as a society, allow adoption to continue on as it does today. 

Sitting back and accepting what so many have turned this month, and adoption, into, only serves to cause harm to the very children we claim we want to help.  Takes away from them true concern, true help, replaced by lies and half-truths meant to keep the profitable side of adoption ongoing while stripping more and more away from those who are truly in need.

For every time we turn a blind eye to the many unnecessary adoptions carried out for profit.  Encourage a process that uses coercion and manipulation to provide children to adults who desire them instead of truly providing for what is best for the children from the start.  We strip away from the time, the investment, the awareness needed, and deserved, by the children who are in need.

In not this month, but in every month, we as a society drain the attention away from them.  Instead of putting our interest, our attention to those in foster care, truly in need.  Instead of using our energy to demand better for them, from their foster care placements, to the resources available, to training for couples who truly want to help them, we settle in front of our televisions and get caught up in television shows such as I’m Having Their Baby.  Watch with great interest, nodding our head in agreement, as Dr. Phil bullies and shames yet another mother into giving up her unborn child to a “more deserving” couple.

We applaud stripping fathers of their rights so that their children will be more easily available for adoption. See nothing wrong in laws created that make it easier and easier for newborn infants to be taken away from their families to be given to the paying couples who desire them.  Support counseling that leaves vulnerable mothers feeling as if they aren’t good enough for their own children with the excuse it’s probably for the best anyhow.

All of this, for one reason that has nothing to do with children in need.  It’s all about the couples we, as a society, feel sorry for.  It’s about their feelings.  What they believe they need.  It isn’t, in any way, about the children.  About what is best for them.

And for every day, week, month, we support such things, we strip away more and more from the ones truly in need.  From those this month of awareness is supposed to be about.

In this month of November, while so many will be doing all they can to push the practice of so much of what adoption has become – the process of providing newborns for the adults who have the ability to pay for their desires to be fulfilled – they will continue to take away from the true need that exists.

For every bit of energy, every dollar spent, every story shared that concentrates on infant adoption, more and more is taken away from the many, MANY children in Foster Care who truly need our help.  Our awareness.

They are the ones who need the time and energy so many give to supporting infant adoption.  Not just in November but in every other month of the year as well.  Unfortunately, they are the forgotten ones.  Their needs ignored under the heavy, suffocating push of more and more infant adoptions to continue the profits and gains of others.

Image the true change, the TRUE awareness, we could build this month if we refused to accept anything that encouraged the continued coercion and manipulation of adoption as a business for profit.  If we turned a deaf ear to the stories of adults desperately desiring a baby and instead listened with all our heart to the stories of the many children who deserve so much more than they are currently getting.

If we demanded the NCFA (National Council for Adoption) stop using their power and wealth inside our government to create more laws that serve the multi-billion dollar adoption industry and instead center around the children in need they claim they are fighting for.  Help them with laws that demand better placements, more awareness to their needs, more resources and education for those who truly desire to help them. 

It’s time we, as a society, finally come together in one unified voice and make it clear that we no longer will accept the current practice of adoption that takes away more and more from the children in need in order to provide the profits and gains of others.  That we are tired of the acceptance of children being used to satisfy adults desires instead of having their own needs fulfilled as they deserve.

We can, we have the ability if we truly wanted, to raise real awareness, create important change.  But first, we must take away the control of what adoption is today and demand better.  Demand more so that children are no longer left needing so much, turned away from what they deserve by those who use vulnerable families and their unborn children to create a distorted, unethical practice of what adoption should be.

In this month of November, in this month of Adoption Awareness, what will you support?  What will you encourage?

Will it be a continuation of adoption as usual?  A support of a practice that denies children truly in need to provide for others.

Or will you stand behind true awareness.   True change.   Will you use your voice to stand up and speak out against the coercion and manipulation of infant adoption?  The profits made by supplying newborns to paying couples.  To demand we care more and give more to the children . . .

The ones who truly deserve our awareness.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Blood Matters

My family is loud.  We’re crazy.  We’re even a bit impossible at times.

But we’re close and loving.  We understand one another like nobody else can because we are all a part of one another.  We share the same traits, talents, mannerisms and habits.  We are together in as much as who we are now as who our ancestors were before us.

There is no better family for any one of us.  Not even my oldest son, who I gave up for adoption.  We are what is best for each other.  Our love is not our only connection.  There is so much more of who we are, how we react to one another that is a part of the blood we share.  Of the understanding we gain by looking at those around us and seeing ourselves, in both looks and actions.

My children, my flesh and blood, are exactly where they belong.  There is nothing better for them.  Nothing or no one who could come close to offering what I can, their father can, their extended family can.

I’ve lived through the hell of being led to believe that I was unimportant to my own child.  That complete strangers would be better for him than I could ever hope to be.  I’ve had to watch, helplessly, the pain and hurt he, my own child who I was supposed to love and protect over all else, has suffered because I accepted the myth that biology doesn’t matter.  That adoption was the only true way to offer him a “good” family.

And now, I’m so tired of hearing it.  Tired of the adoption industry’s desperate need to minimize the importance of one’s own biological roots.  Their heritage.  Their ancestors.

Tired of adoptive parents who, while demanding their families are respected and never criticized, turn their own efforts into tearing down the importance of natural families, throwing out the very same insults they insist never be placed upon their own family.

Tired of society’s acceptance and belief that a natural family is replaceable, unimportant if it means a desperate couple will have their own desires fulfilled.  Believing the want for a child and the willingness to pay out tens of thousands of dollars to have such wants satisfied makes for a better, more deserving parent.

The deterioration of how important natural families are, the constant attacks to do all that can be done to ruin that importance, is beyond heart-breaking . . . it’s frightening.  Especially when those hurt the most are the very ones adoption is supposed to be about . . .

The children.

It’s wrong, and so very cruel, in an effort to continue the gains and profits in adoption, to destroy a child’s own family first.  To become a part of the overwhelming voice that tells them it’s unimportant to be raised by those who share so much with you . . . your traits, and talents, your ancestry and history of how you came to be.  To be a part of those who will understand you better than anyone because they are a part of you.

But the cruelty goes beyond even that.  It destroys on another level, as well.  One that eats away not only on a child’s right to be with their natural family, to be protected from such painful separations, but also on stripping away the importance of that very child within their family.

To get desired infants away from their frightened, vulnerable parents, the illusion is not only created that the parents are so unimportant to their own child that they can easily be replaced by strangers, but the baby can also be easily replaced once they go on to have more children.

You hear such heart-breaking lies, not only in the counselors trying to convince mothers and fathers to give up their babies, but also in the justification of some adoptive parents.  In their reasoning for why they deserve to raise someone else’s child . . . because the child’s natural parents can always just go on and have another child to replace the one they feel they are entitled to.

In order to be successful, in order to get desperately desired babies away from natural families to supply to the paying customers of the adoption industry, it isn’t enough to encourage society’s view of just how unimportant they are.  Natural families, themselves, also have to be convinced that their own child, grandchild, brother, sister, niece, nephew, cousin, is insignificant enough that giving them away to strangers won’t cause a heart wrenching loss.

That the innocent child isn’t worth keeping, fighting for.  But instead is worth only being given away to another family.  And condolences and pats on the backs are given about how there may be loss felt, heartbreak to deal with.  But feeling good about yourself and your own actions will prove to be more important than the child taken away from his or her own family.

It’s a double fist when it comes to hurting children in the desperation to destroy the importance of natural families.  In the need to justify such a horror against the most innocent so others can gain and profit.

We not only take away everything that is their right by birth.  Tell them how unimportant such a loss is.  How blood and biology mean nothing and don’t create a family.  We also make sure we hit them hard in the gut and cause even more pain by using the same sick reasoning to make sure their natural family never sees them as the wonderful, important person they always should have been.  The one who is worth fighting for, never giving up on.  Who has every right to be loved unconditionally because of blood, of biology.  Because that is the very thing that makes them our child, grandchild, sibling, niece, nephew, cousin.

Because, on the most primal of all levels, they are a part of us and can never be replaced, no matter the lies we are told and led to believe for the sick justification of others.

Travel anywhere in the world of adoption and you will find those dealing out such torture.  The mothers and fathers proudly claiming they are happy with their choice to give their child up.  And even if there is pain, if there is loss, they just need to remind themselves how THEY did good, how their actions were the best, the right ones, because that is what they have been counseled to believe is better than ever imagining, thinking about, how their own child deserved to never be separated from their natural family.  How he or she should have always been important enough for them to fight in every way to be the ones to offer them that “better” life they desired.

And that’s it . . . the core of just how terribly wrong the constant, never-ending attack on natural families truly is.

Yes, it creates the profits for a multi-billion dollar industry.  Satisfies the desperate wants of those able to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a child.  But the price of that is the innocent child.

Because every time one, rather it be for justification or personal beliefs, launches an attack on natural families, on the importance of blood and biology, the ones they harm the most are the very children they claim to care about.

In the end . . . where such cruelty leads . . . what is worse?  A child being denied their natural family, led to believe that the blood and biology they share with generations of their own, is unimportant, means absolutely nothing to who they are?  Or a child who’s natural family has given them up, is proud and happy of their decision to do so because they believe, just as the adoption industry, so many adoptive parents and a good part of society do, that their own child, their own blood, isn’t all that important to them.

Believe the twisted theory that biology, ancestry, DNA are not enough to make someone important to their own family.  Worthy enough to fight for, no matter what the obstacles.  Deserving of the realization that blood and biology mean a child can never be replaced, no matter how some might fight hard to create an illusion that suggests otherwise.

An illusion that only serves to support their own desires while destroying what is right, what is good, for a child. 

Because blood DOES matter.  Biology IS important.  And natural families are, often, the better life that children deserve.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Family Destroyed

I don’t know if I can write this.  If it is even worth it.  If any of this is worth it anymore.

We have failed a sweet, innocent little girl.  Failed her in the worst of ways.

And I say we for all of us.  A society.  A nation.  Our media. Lawmakers and judges.  Every single one holds heavy on their shoulders the blame for what happened to Veronica.  She is a four year old, innocent victim who has just paid the worst price, her family destroyed so she could be used to satisfy the desires of an infertile couple.

As she suffers the terrible loss of her family, her heritage, her culture, others celebrate such a disgusting tragedy for this little girl.  They congratulate themselves with proud slaps to the back for fighting so hard for Veronica to lose everything so the Capobiancos could have their every selfish desire fulfilled.

They praise those like Troy Dunn and Dr. Phil for using Veronica to advance their own careers.  Celebrate and promote the continued deception of Veronica’s First Mother, because it justifies their belief that the Capobianco’s “deserved” Veronica more than her own family.  That they “earned” the right to be her parents.

As a society, a nation, we accept such twisted beliefs.  Our media, even today in the reality of all Veronica has lost, continues to portray a story of lies and half-truths.  Never daring, never having the courage, to go the heart of what has happened, will continue to happen to so many children, if something isn’t done.  If we don’t finally stand up and demand change.

Some have said there is some hope in Veronica’s loss because of the attention it has brought to the truth of the adoption industry.  But I just can’t bring myself to see it that way.  I see her loss as the worst thing that could have happened to her.  I see it as a complete failure of everyone who ignored those speaking out, demanding change.  For every person who chose to label, deny and fight against those speaking the truth.  Truth of pain and grief.  Of coercion and manipulation.  Of billions of dollars being the driving force for our children being taken away for the satisfaction of others.

Veronica deserved better than this.  She deserved protection from an industry that used her for gain.  Deserved her rights to her family to be recognized instead of trampled on.  She deserved what so many don’t have the courage or heart to give . . . facing the truth of the very real evils that exist in adoption today.

And I’m not sugar coating.  I’m not watching my words, always so conscious of who might be offended.  Because what the hell good does that do?  It certainly doesn’t do anything to prevent a sweet, little girl from having her entire family destroyed for the gain of others.  It doesn’t push our lawmakers to turn away from the money and the power of the adoption industry.  To refuse the laws created to completely do away with fathers’ rights, protections for vulnerable mothers, and most important, guards against children ever being used as a product to be bought and sold.

Today, after the hell that has happened, I don’t see any grey areas any longer.  I see it as black and white.  Either you believe that we have to do something, demand changes, so that our children are no longer used like Veronica has been used.  No longer forced to face the heart break Veronica has faced.

Or you believe in and support the fact that adoption has become a business meant to provide children for the couples willing and able to pay for them.  You ignore, diminish, the pain, the grief, the horror of so many to justify your actions, your need to continue to deny the hard truths staring you in the face.

I can’t see it any other way at the moment.  I am so angry.  So terribly angry.

I have taken hits in this fight for adoption reform, some personal, some not.  I’ve known and accepted they are part of the fight.  Part of what to expect when you challenge such a controversial subject.

But to have a little, innocent four-year old girl take the hardest hit, the worst of it all, is something I can never accept.  NEVER!

I had almost been beaten over the summer, tempted to just give up, to walk away from all the self-entitlement.  The denial of the loss and grief.  The desperate fight to justify the outrageous profits in supplying children for those that desire them.  The absolute refusal to acknowledge that every child has the right to their own family.  To be raised by those that are a part of them.  To be free of having their identity erased for the benefit of others.  Their equal rights stripped from them.

But Veronica’s fight brought me back and it will keep me going.  Every time I feel the urge to walk away, I will think of her wrapped securely in her daddy’s arms.  Of her beautiful smiles when surrounded by her family.  Of the amazing life she was granted when she was allowed to be with her family.  Allowed to just be another little girl, growing up, growing strong, under the care and protection of those who loved her.

And I will remember the hell she had forced on her.  A hell not only supported, but encouraged and prayed for by so many.  I will remember her terrible loss.  The destruction of her family for the selfish desires of others.

I can never change how terribly she was failed.  But I sure as hell can fight with everything I have to try and protect other children from being forced to live through the same hell.  I can fight for Veronica and because of her.

I can fight because she has reminded me it is the right thing to do.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Veronica Rose Brown - A Father's Fight

Well, they obviously want to raise her. I couldn’t qualify that compared to the way I feel. I know how I feel. So -- and it feels to me like we really want her more than anybody.”

Sometimes, just a few sentences can say SO much . . . The above quote comes directly from Melanie Capobianco's testimony in the case Adoptive Couple vs Baby Veronica.

Just as you see so often in those who believe they have a right to take a child away from his or her own natural family, she self-determined she wanted Veronica over her own father and had every right to fight him for his own daughter . . . I want that baby more so I deserve her more!

This is the mindset Dusten Brown has faced from the start.  With Melanie's testimony now released and added to the testimonies of Christy Maldonado,  Dusten Brown and Alice Brown, it’s clear that the Capobianco’s were willing to do whatever it took and pay as much as required to obtain a baby as quickly as possible.

They didn’t care if it was an unethical adoption, if they had to bypass some pesky Federal law protecting Native American children.  They cared only about getting a child however they could.  And after they got her, decided nobody could possibly “want” her like they did.

Unfortunately, for Dusten, he didn’t have the power of the multi-billion dollar adoption industry behind him.  He had no knowledge of the laws created to get around a father’s rights or the fact that the mother of his child would be instructed how to make sure he, himself, would be penalized under such laws.

While the Capobiancos paid good money for their attorney, Ray Godwin (involved in another, current unethical adoption) and for Christy’s first attorney, Phyllis Zimmerman, Dusten was ultimately denied any chance to seek representation for himself.  By making sure the plans for adoption were kept hidden from him, they kept themselves in the position of power to satisfy their quest for a child.

From the start of this, the Capobianco’s PR team has promoted the same old story, created to make them look like the innocent victims in this case and Dusten as the monster swooping in after two years to steal their child away.

But those of us who have fought in the world of adoption reform recognize the same pattern that fathers before, and unfortunately after, Dusten have been forced to face in having their rights stripped away. 

And we know, and understand, Dusten never had a chance.

As the testimony comes out, it becomes clearer and clearer that Dusten started out in this entire situation as an ordinary, average guy with the same good points and faults as the rest of us.  He was a man madly in love with his fiancée . . .

- - - “I decided I was going to get engaged with her because, you know, she was the love of my life at that point in time and I was for certain that this was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.” (Dusten Brown’s testimony, Sept. 2011) - - -

He was also a solider, living on base (four hours away from Christy Maldonado) training for an upcoming deployment to Iraq . . .

- - - “Q. Prior to being deployed to Iraq, you were stationed in Fort Sill, Oklahoma; is that correct?
A. That’s correct.
Q. And how far away is Fort Sill from Barters – Bartlesville, Oklahoma?
A. It’s approximately four hours.” (Dusten Brown’s testimony, Sept. 2011) - - -

And he was excited to learn his fiancée was pregnant . . .

- - - “Q. Can you explain to me – explain to the court, the time you were engaged – well tell me this. When did you find out she was pregnant?
A. It was in January 2009. She called me up and told me that – that we were expecting a child.
Q. What was your reaction?
A. I was very happy.
Q. Why?
A. This is the person that I loved.  I was wanting to unite my family, my daughter with her kids, and, you know, start this family. This is the person I want to spend my life with.” (Dusten Brown’s testimony, Sept. 2011) - - -

But his happiness was short lived.  While on base, training and preparing for deployment to a war zone, contact with Christy suddenly started to dwindle away . . .

- - - “Q. But you were saying in March – or April, April of 2009 I think you said, that it began to decrease.  Did you call her and did she answer your phone calls?
A. Sometimes she answered. At some point it stopped where I didn’t get no answer from either text or phone call.” (Dusten Brown’s testimony, Sept. 2011) - - -

- - - “I was still texting him, up until, like I said, March or April, maybe even May, to let him know every single month on what the doctor said.” (Christy Maldonado’s testimony, Sept. 2011)

Then, in May, Dusten was able to go home for a short period of time and though he had tried to see Christy, she denied him whenever he asked.  And then that family he had counted on, that life he had planned, crumbled around him . . .

- - - “I get half-way home to Fort Sill and I get a phone call or a text message stating that I needed to find someone in Lawton, Oklahoma, to be with instead of being with her.
Q. And that was from Christinna?
A. Yes ma’am.
Q. Did you text back?
A. I text back wanting to know what was going on and what happened. Was there anything I did wrong, you know, trying to get some sort of answer. And the only answer that I got was that I needed to find someone else to be with.” (Dusten Brown’s testimony, Sept. 2011) - - -

And from that point on, his life was about to take a drastic turn.  Though he didn’t know it yet, the wheels had already begun spinning and soon a multi-billion dollar adoption industry, a desperate couple with the money to get what they wanted, and the woman he loved, would all be a part of deceiving him in the worst of ways – to gain off of his daughter, Veronica Rose Brown.

In June, Matt and Melanie Capobianco were matched with Christy Maldonado.  And ironically at that same time the well-known, damning text message was delivered . . .

- - - “Q. Okay.  You said that she had asked you if you wanted to sign your rights away?
A. Yes ma’am.
Q. Why did you think she was asking you to do that?
A. Honestly I don’t know. It was a big surprise to me because, you know, because the whole split up, breakup, was a shock, you know. We had a really good relationship.
Q. And at some point in this June text conversation did you – did you tell her that you would agree ---
A. I want to say ---
Q. --- to sign?
A. --- it was a couple of days later that, you know, I believe she sent me another text message back.  I’m not for certain, but I replied back in a text message to her stating that I would sign my rights to her.
Q. Why did you do that?
A. In my mind I thought that if I would do that I’d be able to give her time to think about this and possibly maybe we could get back together and continue what we had started.” (Dusten Brown’s testimony, Sept 2011) - - -

What Dusten didn’t know was at that point, he’d already lost.  That the text message used (and yet not allowed in court because the phone conveniently disappeared and all that they had to show as proof was one-sided, disjointed pictures) to get him to say what they wanted was a common practice used on fathers before him.  That, more than likely, Christy was just another pregnant mother of many who had been coached by the adoption industry on what to say to get the desired response.

The use of text messages to trick a father out of his rights is such common practice these days that I don’t believe for a minute that there is any coincidence in the events coming together as they did – the matching of Christy and the Capobiancos during the same time she was pushing Dusten to give up custody.  The process had already begun and the only thing standing in the way of the Capobiancos getting the child they desired was Dusten Brown.

Dusten is very upfront and honest (which is more than I can say for either Christy or Melanie in their fumbling testimonies) in his cross examination when asked about supporting Christy . . .

 - - - “Is it accurate to say that you did not pay any medical bills connected with baby girl’s birth?
A. No, sir, I didn’t.
Q. And prior to the birth on September 15th of 2009 you did not pay for any living expenses or pregnancy-related expenses connected to baby girl’s birth?
A. That is correct.” (Dusten Brown’s testimony, Sept. 2011) - - -

But, at that time, Dusten had absolutely no experience with adoption.  He was unaware, as most fathers are, of the adoption industry abandonment laws created to strip fathers of their rights.  While the Capobiancos and Christy had the coaching of the adoption agency and adoption attorneys who know exactly how to manipulate the laws, Dusten was in mandatory training, facing the upcoming deployment to Iraq . . . where so many of our soldiers never returned from . . . while having to deal with a fiancée who not only broke off their engagement but was pushing him to give up custody of his child to her.

There was no way Dusten knew it was very deliberate that Christy avoided his attempts to contact her during that time.

- - - “I contacted friends and family to see if maybe they’d seen her around or about because I had made phone calls and text messages that never got replied from or back to me.  I didn’t know if maybe she had possibly changed her number or moved away.  I did not know at all.” (Dusten Brown’s testimony, Sept. 2011) - - -

The giant of the multi-billion dollar adoption industry had officially taken over, not just his life, but the life of his unborn child.  It was no longer about him and Christy as the parents.  It wasn’t about any hopes they might work it out between them or find common ground for their child.  At that point, it was about the couple paying for his child – Matt and Melanie Capobianco – and satisfying their desires.

Those with the power and knowledge knew better than to allow Dusten to pay a single penny for his daughter . . .

- - - “Q. Was there any time, any other time that you can think of, that the birth mother ever asked you for financial assistance?
A. She never asked for financial assistance.” (Dusten Brown’s testimony, Sept. 2011) - - -

- - - “Q. Did you ever make any attempt, through either the state of Oklahoma or the Cherokee Nation to collect child support from the birth father?
A. No.” (Christy Maldonado’s testimony, Sept. 2011) - - -

Even Veronica’s own grandmother had to be denied the chance to help if they were going to build the abandonment case and make sure the Caopbiancos walked away with the baby they wanted.

- - - “And I finally got her number, oh, shortly before she had the baby. And we found out that she had had the baby and it was about two weeks after she delivered. And I had called her and left a message because she wouldn’t answer the phone. And I left a message and I said, Chrissy [sic], this is Alice, Dusty’s Mom.  I said, we have some gifts from the family.  It was money and a little blanket  that I made for the baby and some little socks, Elmo, Kissy Baby, and a rabbit we had bought the baby – or Dusty had bought the baby for Easter it was. And I had bought the baby a little book.  I think it was me who bought it, but I’m not sure.
(Deputy handed tissue to witness.)
WITNESS: Thank you.
Q. And did she return your phone call?
A. No.
Q. At some point did you attempt to call her again from a different phone?
A. Yeah.
Q. Can you tell me about that?
A. I went to Wal-Mart and I called from a pay phone so that she wouldn’t recognize the phone number and she didn’t answer it either.
Q. Do you recall if you left a message?
A. No, I didn’t leave a message.  I just hung back up.
Q. And did all of your attempts to contact Christy before and after her pregnancy go unanswered?
A.  That – yeah.” (Alice Brown’s testimony, Sept. 2011) - - -

Because, not only did they need to manipulate the abandonment laws to their advantage, they also needed to make sure they did what they could to cut Christy off from any help or support from others so that the Capobiancos could come in, use their money to “help” Christy and, in every way, buy Veronica by manipulating Christy into feeling obligated to them and giving them her baby in exchange for the expenses, bills, gifts, they gave her.

- - - “Q. Have you received some financial assistance from the adoptive couple?
A. Yes.
Q. They paid for your lawyer?
A. Yes.
Q. And what else have you received from them?
A. After I had the baby, they paid some of the bills to help me out, and I have received some money for food.
Q. Is that all?
A. Yeah.
Q. Did they pay your rent?
Q. Did they pay ---
A. Actually, I don’t remember what bills they have paid. I can’t remember.  But I know they did pay some bills.” (Christy Maldonado’s testimony, Sept. 2011) - - -

- - - “Q. Did you provide, you and your husband provide funds for the birth mother’s medical expenses?
A. I’m not exactly sure. I know – probably, yeah. We probably did.” (Melanie Capobianco’s testimony, Sept. 2011) - - -

And yet, Matt and Melanie Capobianco and the multi-billion dollar adoption industry still weren’t done with Dusten Brown or his unborn child.  Even though they had done all they could to make sure the abandonment laws came into play and that Dusten’s ex-fiancee would be indebted to, and firmly controlled by the Capobaincos, there still was that risk of knowing he would never agree to his child being given away for adoption.

So the best way to overcome such a pesky obstacle was to simply not let this soldier, in training to be deployed to a war zone for our country, know that there was a couple paying good money in the hopes of adopting his child.  To make sure he wasn’t informed of what was happening.  To guarantee that the cash and power happening behind his back would ensure the Capobiancos walked away with his baby, because that is what they paid for and what they expected in return.

- - - “Q. Did you have any idea that she was asking you that because she intended to give this child up – your child up for adoption?
A. I had no idea that giving that child up for adoption. I had nothing in the back of my mind thinking that even.
Q. If you had known something that you would have agreed with?
A.  If I knew that that’s – the adoption was going on, I would have said no, I wanted to keep my rights. And I would have fought them. I would have started right then and there. I would have went to military JAG and got a military lawyer and got started in the process of what I needed to do.” (Dusten Brown’s testimony, Sept. 2011) - - -

- - - “Q.  Okay.  I – I just want to make sure on this question, was it your testimony earlier that you – you never personally told the biological father that you were placing this child for adoption?
A. No.
Q. You did not tell him?
A. No.” (Christy Maldonado’s testimony, Sept. 2011) - - -

But deceiving Dusten and denying him the chance to know that the Capobiancos had paid to adopt his child, wasn’t enough guarantee.  The adoption industry and Matt and Melanie Capobianco also needed to make sure that they worked around ICWA, the Federal Law in place to protect Veronica from ever suffering the loss of her family, her heritage, her culture.

If they were going to have their desires satisfied, they were going to have to make sure such protections were denied Veronica before she was ever born.

- - - “Q. You told everybody, every agency involved, this child’s father is an Indian.  He’s a member of the Cherokee Indian Nation?
A. Yes.” (Christy Maldonado testimony, Sept 2011) - - -

- - - “Q. Okay,  And did you understand prior to birth that there was the possibility this child could possibly be an  Indian child? I believe the background report indicated some of that as you’ve already testified that you understood.
A. Uh-huh.
Q. Okay.  Did you understand if the birth father and Tribe came forward, that again, you would not be able to adopt this child?
A. If they – you mean if she were Cherokee?
Q. Right.
A. Yes.” (Melanie Capobianco’s testimony, Sept. 2011) - - -

- - - “Q. What did you think would happen if the Indian Nation was alerted to the fact that this was an Indian child that you were trying to give up for adoption?
A. Well, I know that some things were going to come into effect, but I wasn’t for sure on what.
Q.  Did you think it would help the adoption process or hurt it?
A. Well, I’m not for sure.
Q. Did you have any feeling on that either way?
A. Well, I was worried about it.” (Christy Maldonado’s testimony, Sept. 2011) - - -

Yet, even with all of that, with their well-paid attorneys and long-time operating agency, they still try to make the claim that it was nothing more than an innocent mistake to not only misspell Dusten’s name but to also put down the wrong birth date on the paperwork submitted to the Cherokee Nation to determine whether or not Veronica was protected by her father’s citizenship in the tribe.

And yet, ironic, isn’t it, if they hadn’t done everything they could to deceive Dusten and block him from having any say, any protection, any representation in the fate of his daughter being given away for adoption, they would have had the exact and correct information needed.

But, that wasn’t the intent.  Dusten was the barrier in the Capobiancos getting what they desired so there was no way they were going to reach out to him in any way.  Not when he represented the threat keeping them away from the baby they were paying for.

And so Dusten lost, Veronica lost, while Matt and Melanie continued to take advantage of the situation, of the power and knowledge of the multi-billion dollar adoption industry, to gain, to fulfill what they wanted for their own satisfaction.

Then it came time for Veronica Rose Brown’s birth and the worst of the coercion and manipulation came into play.  The process of cutting Dusten completely out of Christy’s and his unborn child’s life had worked well.  The deception, the games, the lies, were good tactics against a solider training to deploy to a war zone to fight for our country.

He was limited to what he could do, any actions he could take to continue the frustrating task of trying to get Christy to respond to him, because he was preparing to fight for the very rights of those who were working behind his back to strip his own rights away from him

Because yes, Matt and Melanie Capobianco and all their money, the well-paid attorneys, the adoption agency, and even Christy, herself, worked hard, did all they could to make sure Dusten had no rights to his own child.  They took every advantage of the fact that he was training and preparing to fight for their rights.  Used his service to our country against him to benefit their own selfish desires and used his disadvantage – the orders and regulations that kept him unable to leave base, focused on the deployment coming up – to take his child away from him, without his knowledge, while he prepared to fight for our country.

And so they did, proudly in fact, take the last bit of everything away from Dusten.  After being a part of the deception to cut him out of Christy’s and his unborn child’s life, they delivered the final knife to Dusten’s fight.  They snubbed their nose at him, flashed the middle finger at the sacrifices he was giving for THEIR OWN rights, and willfully, and gleefully, invaded the intimacy of birth so that they could be the ones in the delivery room, cutting the umbilical cord of the baby girl they had bought and deceived away from her own parents.

And it was then, when another man dared to believe he could pay for, deceive and trick his way into taking Dusten’s place as Veronica Rose Brown’s father that the everyday, average soldier and father began his journey to so much more.

It was then that he took the first steps, without even knowing yet, from being not just a hero fighting for our country.  But an even greater hero fighting for his daughter . . .      (To Be Continued)

Keep Veronica Home