Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Day For Change

There is a story I could write today.  One that will never go away.  Will always break my heart a little bit more when I think of it.

But after a lot of thought, I’ve decided to give this first year a moment of peace, for an innocent little girl and her natural family who lost so much more than anyone ever deserves.

I can’t, though, let this day go with complete silence.  It holds too much pain.  Too many reminders of the hard realities that are so much a part of what adoption has become in our country.  Truths that so many still choose to ignore, dismiss or simply not care about it.

How in the world can we continue to turn a blind eye to the pain and loss adoption has caused for so many?  How can so many continue to bury their head in the sand, stick their fingers in their ears, so that they don’t have to face the dark truths staring them in the face?

It’s heartbreaking to know, to see the proof every day, that we, as a society, have accepted adoption as a business providing babies for paying clients.  We celebrate a multi-billion dollar industry that places price tags on the heads of innocent children.  That uses coercion, manipulation and fraud to obtain newborns from vulnerable, struggling, unknowing parents to increase the supply for the ever-growing demand.

We’ve come to accept that a child’s biological connections mean nothing.  That growing up with those who look like you, act like you, share the same traits and talents as you are ridiculous myths that mean little when it comes to who society has decided is more “worthy” of a child.  We don’t care about children losing their identity, their heritage, their DNA bond that makes them the unique human being they are.

Instead, we care more about weakening, dismissing such things so that we can justify children losing their families in order to satisfy the desires of the hopeful adoptive couples seeking a child to call their own.  We place the importance of who should or should not parent on material factors rather than on the love and strength of family bonds.  Of the biological connection that can never be repeated or replaced.

Our hearts and our concern go to those trying to adopt while turning a blind eye to the struggles of the families broken up so that an adoption can take place.  Laws are encouraged and supported to make it easier for hopeful adoptive parents while denying more and more protections for families fighting to stay together.

We support, stand by the sides of those who take a child while knowing the father hasn’t agreed to give his child up for adoption then blame him, use any mistakes he might have made, as reason enough to force a child into an adoption that is not needed.  All the while painting the desperate couple as the saints who took in a baby, loved and wanted by their natural family and, through their own selfish actions, became the only family he or she ever knew.
And we shrug and claim it’s acceptable for mothers to be pressured to sign away their rights to their children while still recovering from childbirth while, so often, under the influence of prescribed drugs then turn and attack them if they change their mind after all the trauma of birth and relinquishing has cleared.  Foolishly expecting that a mother giving up her child should never have a chance to change her mind because of the loss it will cause that desperate couple waiting to claim her baby as their own.

It’s easy, I know, to attack, label, those who fight for change, for reform.  When the talk goes against all the pretty pictures of desperate couples finally getting the child society has decided they “deserved” the anger bounces back to anyone who would even suggest that it’s not such a cheery story after all.  That there is loss involved.  Another family broken in the background.

Who wants to hear that when it takes so much less effort to accept that adoption is nothing but a wonderful, loving way for others to build the family they desire.

But the very real human beings that exist in the darker reality of adoption are worth our effort.  Worth the voices who stand up for them.  Who fight for their protection.  It might not be a fight to provide children to those deemed deserving of them by our materialistic standards but it’s a fight that is still important. 

It’s a fight for protection so vulnerable, pregnant mothers are not used in the worst of ways to provide babies for those who can pay for them.

It’s a fight for fathers who should have every right to their own children.  Who should never have to battle strangers for their own sons and daughters.

And, most important, it’s a fight for the innocent children.  For society to view them as worthy and important enough to be supported in their own natural families rather than viewing them as “gifts” or products to be sold in the multi-billion dollar adoption industry so that adults can have their desires satisfied.

I know, to some, it sounds harsh and cruel.  But it is the reality of so many.  The heartbreaking truth that can’t be ignored or forgotten.  Especially not on days like today when so many remember the terrible heartbreak that took place a year ago.

And because that heartbreak was allowed to happen, we can’t give up.  We can’t stop until adoption as it is practiced today is no longer accepted and encouraged.  Until we care more about the pain and loss caused to innocent children and their families than we do the gain others receive from their terrible struggles.

So for today, for the tears already falling from the memories, there will be more fight for change, for support to reform adoption as we know it.  To help those who still face their own terrible battles to save their families and spare their children from being forced into adoptions they don’t need . . .

***Trent Reicks – His fight for his daughter is in a desperate stage.  Not only is he in need of funds to continue his fight, but the end looms dangerously in his future.  His fight for his child has been an uphill battle.  The woman wanting to claim his daughter as her own is also a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney and is proof that those in a position of power have no problem with denying fathers their rights to their own children.  - - - - - Bring Ashlyn Reicks Home. ***

***Carri Stearns – Her fight for her son is also in the desperate stage.  Appeals have been filed but funds are still needed to continue forward.  Going up against an adoption agency, Carri’s case is proof to just how far the industry will go to take advantage of a pregnant woman’s desperate situation, using coercion and pressure to get her to give up her baby.  As of today, Adoption by Gentle Care is choosing to “punish” Carri for fighting to get her son back by leaving him in foster care rather than returning him to his family that loves and wants him. - - - - - Bring Camden Home. ***

***Rob Manzanares – Though he was able to successfully stop the adoption of his daughter after many years, he still is forced to continue his fight against the desperate couple who wanted her as their own. - - - - - Bring Kaia Home Now. ***

***Anthony Lingle – Another father who was able to successfully stop the adoption of his daughter and yet still is forced to continue his fight against the woman who wants to claim his little girl as her own. - - - - - Bring Hailey Home. ***

***Brandon Owen – Another soldier who fought for us and yet is being forced to fight for his own daughter. - - - - - Standing Our Ground For Olivia Rose Owen. ***

***Doreen Bain - A grandmother fighting with her son for her granddaughter.  Her son was never informed he had a baby on the way.  It wasn't until weeks after birth that he was made aware that he had a daughter through the adoption agency's attorney. - - - - - Let's Bring Hope Home Now. ***

And so many, many more.  From John McCaul, recently reunited with his daughter Sonya after eight years of fighting against her Foster Parents, Kim and Dave Hodgins, who did all they could, from the very beginning, to fight reunification.  Even going so far as trying to adopt Sonya without the permission of DCS or her family. To Ana fighting for her son Veer after being lied to and pressured to sign relinquishment papers while heavily drugged and still recovering from childbirth.

These heart-breaking stories aren't the exception.  They represent the horrible truth of what we, as a society, allow by supporting the outrageous profits in adoption.  The desperation of couples wanting to claim a child for their own needs.  The lack of protections for vulnerable mothers, fathers and their children.

For every time we try to convince ourselves that the biological connection doesn't matter.  That no harm can come from separating a child unnecessarily from their natural family.  That it’s okay to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the true tragedies that occur in the world of adoption, we accept and encourage such horrors to take place.

And every time a child is forced into an adoption, forced to give up everything that is theirs by birth in order to satisfy the happiness of adults, we guarantee these stories, these fights, will continue to happen over and over again.

None of this will stop.  None of this will change until we begin to view adoption in a more realistic light.  Until our concern rests first on the child and the importance of them remaining with their natural family, if at all possible, before it ever turns to the needs of hopeful adoptive couples.

Today, and every day, this is the reality of so many.  It’s time to put an end to it and demand better . . .

Demand change.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Not So Perfect Life

Did you know my family is crazy?  We’re dysfunctional.  We make huge mistakes.  We can be irritating and annoying.  And we are so far from perfect or anything close to it.

And yet, as one who was literally saved from becoming yet another “unplanned pregnancy” lost to adoption, I am so thankful for my family, all the good AND all the bad.

We had another big family wedding over the weekend.  It was my cousin’s wedding on my maternal side and since my mother is one of seven siblings, I have an abundance of aunts and uncles and amazing cousins that flood such family events.

I used to take it for granted . . . the crazy, wonderful, irritating family I’d been blessed with.  As a child, it was just my life.  I didn’t know any different.  Didn’t know any better to know different.  I had absolutely no clue how close I came to being separated from my own family.  Forced to suffer the loss of my heritage, my roots.

And then when I was just sixteen, pregnant and vulnerable with my oldest son, I went through the damaging “options” counseling provided by the multi-billion dollar adoption industry.  Counseling created to destroy the importance of one’s natural family.  To lead vulnerable, pregnant mothers into believing they and their family really mean nothing to the child they are carrying.  Created so mothers caught in crisis situations while facing an unexpected pregnancy come to believe the problems and struggles they and their family have are terribly wrong and that there are better families, more deserving families, out there who are more worthy of their unborn child.

So I spent many, MANY, years taking my family for granted.  Never truly understanding how blessed I was to be allowed to have them in my life.  To have never known a life without them.

And, worst of all, I spent many years never realizing just how terrible of a loss I caused my oldest son when I gave him up for adoption.  When I cruelly caused the very loss for him that I had been spared.

It’s times like this . . . my cousin’s wedding . . . when the reality of what I had that I denied my own child hits me the hardest.  Because I’m there, he’s there, surrounded by all our family.  And there is no denying that I was saved from losing everything I forced him to lose.

And there is nothing good in that.  Nothing to be grateful for.  Not a single moment to ever justify giving up my own child to a heart-breaking loss I was saved from.

Over forty years ago, my fate came so close to being one of terrible loss.  My mom was a good Irish, Catholic teenager who became pregnant on the night of her Senior Prom.  Her fate was set.  Plans were being made.  She was to be sent away to a Catholic Maternity Home where she would give birth, give up her child and then be sent home as if nothing had ever happened.

But I was lucky . . . so damn lucky. 

My dad, a good Italian, Catholic boy, went to his dad (my amazing grandfather) and asked for help so he wouldn’t lose his child.  And even though, as the father, he had no right to me, his own daughter (much like it is in today’s world when it comes to adoption) my  maternal grandmother and my paternal grandfather planned, instead, a quick marriage between their daughter and son, saving me from being given away to strangers at the time of my birth.

Instead, there was a rushed wedding and a full-term yet “pre-mature” baby that came soon afterwards.

That was how my life started.  I was an unborn child, considered nothing but a shameful pregnancy to be hidden away by my maternal grandparents so that my mere presence would not embarrass them.  A baby born to a mother and father, never really in love and yet forced to marry because of my impending birth – the one act that saved me from becoming another child lost to adoption.

I was born to two teenagers just out of high school with no money, a scam of a marriage, no future and absolutely no idea how they were going to raise a child.

My dad was far from a faithful husband.  My mom worked hard, long hours.  There were fights that I remember hearing coming from their closed, bedroom door.  Memories of my mom’s tears, my dad’s anger.  And by my kindergarten year, they were separated and divorced just a year later.

There was nothing perfect about it. 

And yet, none of that, absolutely none of it, could ever justify anyone believing that I somehow belonged with some strangers who society deemed as “better” than my own mom and dad.

Because if there is one thing I have learned in this adoption journey of mine it is that the hard times, the dark, desperate times come and go but the parents, the family, you are born to, is forever.

Sure, I could have been given away to the older, wealthier, happily married couple who was next on the list to get a baby.  I could have known none of the struggles.  Been shielded in some society-perceived vision of what was the “better” life for me. 

But then I would have missed out on everything I had been blessed with by being allowed to stay with my natural family.  My own heritage.  My roots.

I would have never had the close, amazing relationship I have with my mom.  My best friend.  The one person who is so much like me that she understands me better than anyone.

I would have never become the one person in my dad’s life who knows exactly who he is and understands, when nobody else does, just how much sacrifice he has put into his long-time position as a police officer.  Who shares a unique bond with him.  Who, even with all the ups and downs we’ve gone through, knows him, understands him, in a way so many never can. 

And even my other dad - - - step dad. 

Because even living through the struggles of being raised by young, teenage parents, going through divorce and remarriage, still doesn’t change my thankfulness that I wasn’t giving away to strangers to be adopted into a falsely-perceived “better” life.

If I hadn’t gone through that, I would have never known the love of my other dad.  And boy did I give him a hard-time to even be my dad.  I fought him at every turn.  Tested him.  Turned away from him.

But he was always just “there” through it all, loving and supporting me even as I fought him with every step.  Again, it was far from perfect.  But, boy, I love him, so much.  And I can’t imagine the reality of how being given away for adoption would have stolen my chance to ever know him.

And there is even so much more . . .

Memories of the little girl who hung out in dispatch at the police station, colored at the Chief’s desk, knew every cop in the (then) small town police department where my dad worked and, as a single dad, brought me with him to the station.  Picked me up in his squad car for lunch with the officers he worked with.  Gave me a childhood, surrounded by cops, police stations and the law that could never be replaced.

Or my mom who was always there.  ALWAYS.  If I hurt, she hurt.  There was nothing more important to her than her own daughter.  And I always knew that.  Still know that.  She built a wonderful, successful career for herself, against all those that said it wasn’t possible because she was a teen mom, and yet still never left me to face my troubles alone.  Always supported me, guided me, helped me through whatever I faced in life.

And family.  Crazy and irritating.  Messed up and loving.  Never perfect.  But always mine.  No matter what.

My maternal grandparents . . . so ready to have my mom give me away when I was the “shameful child” she was pregnant with . . . who spoiled and loved me.  Who, after they moved away to Montana when I was only five, I continued to travel to and spend my summers with until my teenager years when I decided, because of a boy crush, to not continue the tradition.

And my Aunt Jack, only five years older than me, always treating me more like an annoying little sister than a niece when I was growing up.  Our relationship is one that is so hard to describe because of the love, the closeness between us.  I couldn’t imagine not having her as a phone call away.  Always there.  Always supporting.  Always just my “Aunt Jack” no matter what.

And my Uncle Jerry, just a couple years older than my mom.  So unique.  So just him.  All of us nieces and nephews are perfect in his eyes.  We’re family and, to him, family means everything.  And that’s all he needs.  We’re his by blood so we are all special.  All worthy of his praise.  His constant bragging to everyone he knows.

I could go on and on . . . Two uncles, only eight and nine years older than me.  Always protective.  Always looking out for me.  An Aunt, the oldest of all the siblings, with the kindest sweetest heart who we lost to cancer just a couple years ago.  Amazing, wonderful cousins who I share so much in common with.  Love like crazy.

All of that I could have lost.  Every one of those treasured memories of my family could have never been if the adoption industry had been given their way.  If they had succeeded in making me unimportant to my own family so that I could be given away to another PAYING family which they would have profited off of.

I am one who, in so many ways, shows the reality of what it is to be spared an unnecessary separation from her family.  I’m one who realizes, after so many years in the reality of adoption, exactly what she was saved from.  Who is thankful for it everyday.

And as a mother who learned too late the importance of family.  Who suffered through the terrible, coercive counseling of the adoption industry.  Who knows, first-hand, how vulnerable, pregnant mothers are led to believe they, and their families, aren’t good or worthy of their own children.  How so many, for survival purposes, will hold on to that false reality just to stay sane, to spare themselves the horrible pain of facing the truth.  I see that side so clearly as well when adoptees seek out their families.  When they are turned away by their own flesh and blood or decide, themselves, to turn away from their original family.

I think of that.  Especially when I’m surrounded by my far-from-perfect family.  I think of how, being given up to what I had been told was a “better” life, I would have proclaimed how happy I was not to have to go through the hard times that were a part of my life growing up. How I would have so terribly judged my family by their failures without ever realizing all that was amazing about them.  How I never would have known that one of the best parts of our family is that we know we all fail and we are there, every time, to support and love one another through whatever failure they might face.  No matter how “bad” society might view it.

And when I’ve seen, over and over again, how deeply the loss caused by adoption changes those in a family.  Closes them off to protect the hurt.  Shields them behind the coercive beliefs fed by the adoption industry  so that the true heartache doesn’t have a chance to break through.

What I know now, as a child saved from adoption, would be completely different than what I would have found had I been given away and forced to search for my natural family later in life.  And yet, more than likely, I would have judged the life I “could have had” on the family I found after the loss of adoption and judged my fate based on that.  Never having any idea of the true reality I was blessed with because I was spared such a terrible loss.  My family was spared the loss.

Yet, none of that saved my oldest son.  Where I was blessed with our wonderful family, he was denied in the worst of ways.  Because I gave him up.  Because there weren’t, even sixteen years later, protections for him, for me, to make sure unnecessary adoptions didn’t happen.  To prohibit a multi-billion dollar industry from profiting off of taking innocent infants away from loving families to satisfy the desires of their paying customers.

It doesn’t take away from what I did.  Doesn’t change the fact that although I wanted my son more than anything the minute he was born, it was his adoptive parent’s feelings I put before what I believed was best for my own child.  That I walked into that hospital nursery, placed my own son in the arms of someone who was a complete stranger to him at that time and turned my back on him and walked away.

But, it also doesn’t take away from the fact that this sick acceptance and encouragement of an unregulated, industry that profits off of vulnerable, pregnant mothers giving up their children plays a large part in why my oldest son was forced to lose the family he had every right to, was worth being a part of just as I was.

When my mother was pregnant with me it was during the Baby Scoop Era when the adoption industry had the advantage of pregnant mothers truly having absolutely no choice.  Sixteen years later, when I was pregnant with my oldest son, the industry could no longer take advantage of the terrible reality placed on pregnant mothers for so many years.  But there were still so many desperate and willing to pay for a child that there was no push for them to do anything more than to change their ways so that they became even more coercive and manipulative to get those babies they wanted.

And those practices used against me are the same used against vulnerable, pregnant mothers today.  Which is now why I face, after three generations, yet another risk of losing a member of my family to adoption.

I was saved from being given up for adoption, my oldest son was not, and now I continuously face the horrible reality that adoption could always cause another awful loss for my grandchildren.

All these years, so much has changed, yet the reality of what adoption is, the terrible loss it can force on an innocent child, a family, is still just as real and threatening today as it was back when my mom was a pregnant teenager with me.

And it has nothing to do with what is best for a child.  It’s about the thought of what would happen to those couples wanting a child if we were to actually, finally, demand protections for pregnant mothers and their unborn children.

Because, honestly, what bad could come to any child if mothers were protected and given a right to true, unbiased counseling that centered on the crisis they were facing, and helping them work through that crisis, rather than using their vulnerable status to manipulate them into believing their only “choice” was to give up their baby?

How would it damage an innocent baby if we, as society, demanded that more support and help was provided to supporting and helping mothers raise their children?  Offering them the advantages of education, resources and support to better their lives so they can provide for their children.

And where, honestly, does it make it wrong, to make sure that fathers are given equal rights to their own children and a child’s natural family is allowed to be the first to raise one of their own over others who are strangers.

The only ones that suffer from such protections and support are those wanting – and willing to pay for - a baby for their own desires and the adoption industry that profits in the billions by taking the money from those seeking a child.

That is the reason why there were no protections for my mother, myself, and now, my own children.

I know the reality of being spared the terrible separation from my natural family.  I know what it is like to grow up in a family that is far from perfect.  To have a childhood with its ups and downs.  To know struggles and hardships as I was growing up. 

I would never trade any of that for being given away to strangers at the time of my birth.  And it angers me that society actually supported different for me, for my life.  That so many encouraged the twisted belief that I would have been better off with some older couple who had the money and careers to offer me a “better” life based solely on a material reality.

And I get even angrier to think that sixteen years later, society still didn’t give a damn about me or my unborn child.   That they still held on to the belief that there was nothing that needed to be changed in the world of adoption.  That I and my child weren’t worthy of protections when it came to the desires of the infertile couple that paid good money for the opportunity to have a child of their own.

And now here we are, twenty six years later, and I have to face the ugly fact that the adoption industry could still force the terrible loss of family on my own grandchildren as well because we still don’t have any protections in place that insure that no child is every taken from the adoption industry simply to satisfy the desires of their paying customers.

All because society cares more about satisfying the desires of couples wanting a child more than anything else.  Because they continue, after all these many, many years to turn a cold heart and blind eye to the true, terrible loss brought to innocent children and their vulnerable families when so many decades have been allowed to pass without any protections or support for them.

I was saved from adoption, my son was not, and I have lived and felt hard the truth of those realities.  And what I know, from all of this, is I am so done with the excuses.  I’m so done with the “I had a good experience so why should we care about protecting others” attitude.

I’m done with those who try to rationalize denying pregnant mothers help and support to keep their babies.  Denying them the true, unbiased counseling they deserve by those truly educated and trained to help them work through whatever crisis they are facing before ever suggesting such a permanent and desperate solution as giving up their own child.

I’m so tired, after three generations of living with the true, painful reality of what adoption can bring, to see so many who justify – with whatever excuse they can find – why a father shouldn’t have rights to his own child.  Why strangers are more worthy than he is.

And considering it was my own paternal grandfather who took the step to fight for and keep me because, to him, I was family, and it was just that simple of why I was worthy of fighting for, I’m disgusted by the many I see, over and over again, who claim that extended family don’t deserve to keep one of their own.  That so many do all they can to make sure they have no rights when it comes to their own flesh and blood.  That they will fight with all they have to try and prove that strangers are more worthy than those fighting for their own child/grandchild/niece/nephew/cousin.

Three generations, and more, of the acceptance and encouragement of adoption and the way it is practiced needs to stop.  It’s long past time.

I know the loss adoption brings.  I know the reality of being saved from that loss.  And I know the worry of my family being forced to live through that loss.  None of it is right.  None of it is acceptable.

And none of it is about what is truly best for children.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Grandmother's Worry

I’m going to be a grandmother again.

This time through my middle son and his wonderful, long-time girlfriend.

It’s been almost three years now since I first became a grandmother and it’s hard to even find the words to describe what it’s like.  I love every minute of it.  I can’t get enough of watching her grow, become her own person with her own unique personality, while still seeing, recognizing, how much she is like her father, my youngest son, and her mother, my amazing daughter-in-law.

And as I enjoy the miracle of being a grandmother.  The joy of expecting another wonderful little one into our family, there is, again, that constant knowledge that there are those out there who are so desperate for a baby, so certain they are worthy of one, that they wouldn’t think twice, if the chance presented them, to claim my own grandchild as their own.

Especially this time around since my middle son isn’t married.  Since so many accept a disgusting, warped view that if a father isn’t married to the woman carrying his child he, somehow, doesn’t deserve the right to keep and raise his own flesh and blood.

To many, it doesn’t matter that my son is an amazing man.  That he has, from the moment he learned of the pregnancy, been excited about having a child.  That he’s supporting her in every way.

Because, the sad fact is, what adoption has done to our society, already taints and labels my son.  Already sets him up to be unworthy of his child, no matter his feelings or actions. 

And worst of all, it places my grandchild, a part of me, part of my own child, at risk, with very little protections from being unnecessarily separated from their own family who loves and wants them.

As a mother of three sons and one daughter, it is absolutely terrifying to know that I can make sure my daughter is protected from the horrible coercion and manipulation of the adoption industry but feel entirely helpless when it comes to my own sons and their children.

I have no doubt, if anybody ever tried suggesting to my daughter that she isn’t good enough for her own child, that she could only prove her love by giving her own son or daughter up for adoption, they’d . . . rightfully . . . earn a good, angry punch.

But my sons . . . I can do all I possibly can to protect them.  I can make sure they aren’t naïve to the lies and deception of the adoption industry.  That they know and understand the importance of recording every single little thing they do to prove they are supporting and wanting of their own child.

And yet, there is always that knowledge that it still isn’t enough to guarantee they will never lose a child to the multi-billion dollar adoption industry.  To a couple so desperate for a child they have no problem taking one from a father, a family, that loves and wants them.

I absolutely love and adore my middle son’s girlfriend, the mother to my second grandchild.  But I also know the coercive message that the adoption industry has flooded into our society.  I know how self-doubt and insecurities can be preyed upon.  How outside influences can go far in taking a mother and twisting her around until she believes she is unworthy of her own child and can only prove her love by giving her own flesh and blood away to someone more deserving.

And worst of all, I know that no matter what my son does now during the pregnancy, if the worst were to happen and my grandchild was given up for adoption, it would fall on his shoulders to fight for his own child.  It wouldn’t matter if he did everything right.  That it was his own son or daughter.  His own flesh and blood that he wanted and loved from the start.

All it would take is one instant in time for his child, my grandchild, to be placed in the arms of a couple desperate enough to believe they have more of a right to his son or daughter than he has, for it to become the same old, disgusting assault against fathers and biological families.

The same attacks.  The same desperate fight to discredit a father wanting and loving his own child just to satisfy the selfish desires of strangers.  Nobody would care about the lies.  The deception that took place to rip my grandchild from the arms of his father.

Instead they would have no problem crucifying my son, our entire family, because we dared to want a part of us.

And they would be supported in doing so.  Encouraged to lie and deceive as long as it gained some desperate couple the child they desired.

It angers me and frightens me in so many ways.  And it creates a deeper hate for the darker truths of adoption, and those that blindly support it, than I’ve ever known.

Because when you know and accept that you can’t change what happened to you personally.  When you choose to use your voice, your experience, to try and protect the vulnerable mothers and their unborn children that come after you, there is a realization that you can’t save them all.  That the power and greed of the adoption industry is a beast to fight against and the best you can hope for is to reach even just one.  To spare that one mother and her child from the hell of a lifetime of grief and loss.

But to have gone through the coercion and manipulation of the adoption industry.  To see, every day, the pain it has caused your family and yet feel helpless to make sure adoption is never again allowed to harm those you love, changes it all. 

And I’m struggling now to even explain it to where it makes sense . . .

For many years I have fought for family preservation.  Believed I could speak up and do what I could to protect vulnerable pregnant mothers from the coercion and manipulation of the multi-billion dollar adoption industry.  Children from being unnecessarily separated from their families.  Adoptees given their equal rights that the rest of us take for granted.

In that fight there have been so many times when I’ve felt liked I’ve been pierced right through the heart by some of the cold, self-entitled ways of others.    That my belief in the basic good of society has been tested.  My hold on my religion destroyed to where I haven’t stepped foot inside a church since 2006.

There have been times I have sat in my office and just cried uncontrollably.  Others when I have cursed and ranted and raved with so much anger and frustration.  And other times when I’ve simply had to walk away for a time because it was just too much.

And yet none of those experiences, emotions, situations, compares to what it is like now.  To the anger and fear that comes from knowing the very real risks adoption presents in tearing apart my family and seeing, over and over again, those so desperate for a child or the need to justify their own adoption, they support and encourage the very actions that could again bring the terrible loss of adoption to those I love the most.

As a mother, grandmother, I need to protect my family.  Keep them together.  Keep them strong.

But, after years in the fight for family preservation and adoption reform, I have seen, all too clearly, the reality of how many are actually out there fighting against that.  Believing in the unnecessary separation of a child from his or her own family.  Using whatever excuse they can to justify such actions as long as it gives them the child they deserve.

I not only know those risks exist, I also have had to come to the terrible reality that I’m unable to fully protect my family from them.  That so many actually blindly support an industry, a business in so many ways, that has no problem bringing those risks to reality for my family.  That there are actually those out there, so desperate for a child of their own, that they won’t give a damn about the damage, pain and loss they would cause my grandchild, my son, my entire family.

And that is a hell I so wish I didn’t know was a reality for so many.  A reality I can never truly protect my own children, grandchildren from.

It changes everything. 

Every time I see those sappy, sweet posts about how loving it is to give up a child for adoption.  Hear a desperate couple claim how they wish more mothers would realize how wonderful adoption is and give up their own children, it’s a constant reminder that there are those who would take advantage of my son, his girlfriend and my unborn grandchild simply to satisfy their own desires.

When I hear the attacks and insults against fathers.  Witness how businesses such as the PR firm Trio Solutions can use their anti-biological family/anti-father/anti-ICWA beliefs to create a mob like mentality of hatred against those fighting so they don’t lose their own family to adoption, I’m again slapped with the hard fact that no matter how hard I fight.  How much I speak out.  I will never fully be able to guarantee that my family never again suffers through the horrible loss of adoption.

And that knowledge, that realization, is almost more than I can handle.

Because there is nobody, absolutely nobody, who is better, more worthy, or more deserving of my own flesh and blood.  There is not a single person in this world that exists that would justify putting my own grandchild through the terrible loss of their own family just so they can have their own desires satisfied.  Rip from my children their own child for another’s gain.

To know, to see, over and over and over again, so many who believe otherwise.  Who have no problem in tearing innocent children away from their families.  Support, encourage, such actions, no matter the coercion or deception involved, creates an anger unlike anything I’ve known in all these years I’ve been a part of the fight for family preservation, adoption reform.

And the more I see the continued distorted message of adoption pushed into our society.  The biased views of who is worthy or not worthy of a child.  The blind support of destroying natural families so an adoptive family can be built, the more I want to scream and rage at how wrong it is.

Those like Trio Solutions.  Those like the families who have gone so far, fought so hard, to unnecessarily separate a child from his or her own family so that they can have their own wants satisfied, bring about a new evil that no family should have to face.

And yet it’s there.  And it doesn’t matter how hard we fight.  How we use our voices.  Our children/grandchildren can still be taken from us, forever separated from their family.  All so others can gain and profit while we lose in the absolute worst of ways.

That is the dark truth of so much of what adoption has become.  It is a profit driven industry based on making the paying clients happy while doing all that can be done to do away with any pesky family members who might actually dare to believe their own child/grandchild deserves to remain within his or her own family.

I have no patience, no understanding, for anyone who supports such practices.  I don’t care the excuses they use.  The desperate justifications they come to in hopes of somehow making it okay to rip a child away from the family that loves and wants them.

Nobody, absolutely nobody, is so important that they have the right to be part of destroying a family for their own selfish desires.  If a child is wanted and loved by their family then that child IS NOT yours and does not belong with you.

That is just plain, simple, honest truth.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I Love Being A Fertile Woman

For over a decade now, my wonderful husband and I – and sometimes our wonderful kids – make a yearly visit to New Orleans.  The only year we missed was the year of Katrina.  But we were back the very next year, loving our favorite place even during its struggle to come back to life after such horror and heart ache.

This year, our trip isn’t planned till October.  And after coming across a post on the I Love Adoption / Adoption.com Facebook page, I am so thankful we planned for later this year.

Apparently, the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys held their conference just a week or so ago in my beloved New Orleans.  Just knowing that, I would have been fine if our yearly trip had coincided with their conference.  I have, after all, become very good at knowing who and what to avoid.  And New Orleans, the French Quarter, is a busy place, with lots going on, so I could have easily enjoyed myself without much thought to what else was happening within the city I loved so much.

But, the post I came across, proudly boasted how those in attendance of the conference were roaming the streets in the French Quarter wearing their “I Love Adoption” t-shirts for all to see.

Yeah . . . that would have done it.  To be away, in my favorite place, relaxing with my wonderful husband, and seeing those shirts, over and over again, within the French Quarter, would have taken one of my favorite getaways and turned it into pure hell.  As I told my husband, at that point, I likely would have hidden away in our hotel room with my favorite Po-Boys and Hurricanes, never daring to venture out again.

And, yeah, I know, there is this whole large group of individuals who do love adoption and can’t, for the life of them, understand how simply wearing such t-shirts could affect me, or anyone, for that matter. 

I mean, really, adoption is wonderful, isn’t it.  Just look at how many infertile couples were given the chance at a family because of it.

How could anyone even suggest that seeing such shirts would have any kind of negative affect on them?  Hurt them in any way?

And, really, why should they care anyhow, if wearing such shirts causes any kind of pain for anyone.  For them, they love adoption and should have every right to let the world know that they do and just how wonderfully they have benefited because of it.

But, I can’t help but wonder, these same people who would wear such shirts without even thinking a second about the affect it would have on the many who have suffered such a terrible loss because of adoption, how would they feel if a large group went out and about wearing shirts with our own proud statement . . .

“I Love Being A Fertile Woman.”

I mean, after all, fertility has been absolutely wonderful to me, and so many others.  It has provided me with four, amazing children.  Given me an incredible family that I am so proud of and know I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for the fact that I was able to conceive, be pregnant with and give birth to three terrific sons and one loving daughter.  All my own.  All a part of me in every way.

So why should I care or have any kind of concern if others have suffered any kind of pain because of their struggles with fertility.  Why should I be aware that to flagrantly boast about how wonderful fertility has been to me and my family without giving a thought to those who have been hurt by it, can cause so much pain and grief that I can never possibly understand within my own experience.

It’s not my concern.  It’s not my fault if there are a bunch of angry, bitter women out there who had bad experiences and just want to make everyone miserable for what they went through.   Who can’t just understand and get over their little problems so that I can brag as much as I want about how wonderful it is to be fertile and give birth to my own children.

I mean . . . really.  I, and every other fertile woman, has every right to flaunt and boast about how wonderful fertility is.  And how much our lives have been blessed because of it.  Why should any of us give a damn about how our actions might further hurt those who are already struggling.

And if I wanted to go around wearing an “I Love Being A Fertile Woman” shirt, I should be respected and applauded for doing so.  I should not have to worry about or even be concerned about how my “simple” shirt, stating my own personal happiness, could hurt anyone else.

I mean, really . . . they can just get over it!

It is, isn’t it, self-entitlement at its best . . .

I gained, I profited, so I have every right to boast and carry on about it.  Why should I have to be concerned about how my actions might affect those who have been hurt by the very same action.  That’s not fair.  It’s not right . . .

Damnit!  I love adoption and I shouldn't have to care about the feelings of anyone else.

And you know, there are very few realities, outside adoption, where such a selfish sentiment is not only accepted but encouraged.

If I were to actually wear such a shirt, boast and brag about how wonderful fertility was and how much I had gained from it, while quickly shoving aside and dismissing the feelings of those who had spent so much time struggling with fertility and had suffered terrible loss because of it, I would definitely have a backlash to face.

I’d be labeled insensitive, uncaring.  I would face a lot of opposition.  An army of angry voices letting me know to flaunt such a thing that has caused so many others such terrible harm is wrong . . . cruel.

Ahhh . . . but when it comes to adoption, there’s no thought of that.   Go out, wear those t-shirts, create that pain for those who have lost.  Who really cares.  Who gives a damn.

Adoption gave you a family.  Adoption fulfilled your desires.  Celebrate it.  Flaunt it.  Brag about it.

I mean, really . . . what harm can it do?

Except remind so many, reopen so many wounds, of those who have suffered such terrible losses because of adoption.  Who see such shirts and feel sick to their stomach.   Experience that sharp pain, that grief, that only a select few can ever understand.  Reminding them, in such a horrid way, that others are out there, celebrating, boasting about how much they gained at the terrible loss of others.

I understand, completely, loving our children and forever being thankful for them coming into our lives.

But I don’t get, and I will never understand, how so many . . . who have already suffered the terrible grief of infertility . . . can so boldly, without a damn care, believe they have some magical right.  Some special justification that insures that they can shove how much they love adoption in everyone’s face without ever having to be bothered about caring how such actions hurts so many others who are suffering their own terrible grief as well.

As much as I brought up the suggestion of the “I Love Being A Fertile Woman” shirts, I would never wear such a thing, never think to say such a thing with the awareness of how much pain it could possibly cause those who have suffered through infertility.  Who have lived through that grief and know a pain unlike what I know because I have never experienced it.

And part of my understanding such a loss is my own experience with living through the hell that was my own loss I experienced through giving my oldest son up for adoption.  No, I don’t know what it’s like to struggle with infertility.  But I sure as hell understand that there are some losses that affect us, hurt us, on a level deeper than anyone can imagine.

But I will never understand . . . will never be able to come to terms with . . . how so many who have suffered the terrible loss of infertility really just don’t give a damn about the losses caused through adoption.  How some can be so accepting of being a part of causing those very losses in so many situations.

I don’t care if you are fertile or infertile. I don’t care if society views you as better than or less than.  Pain and loss is pain and loss.  And nobody, ABSOLUTELY NOBODY, has the right to so callously flaunt their gain without giving a damn to how such a gain has caused so many others such a terrible loss.

Especially those who have already survived through their own personal loss.  How do you dare?  How do you find the right to so blatantly, so heartlessly, carry on about your gain while not giving a damn about the loss of others.

How do you go through such hell and come out so self-entitled that you see nothing wrong with your absolute ignorance and dismissal to another’s terrible loss?

How do you live with that?

How do you justify it?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Heidi Russo . . . You STILL Don't Speak For Me

---“To blame others for your decision to PLACE your child for adoption, not GIVE UP, is such a lack of accountability and responsibility. Own your decisions, the pain, the tears, the heartache, the worry, the unknown, the lifelong journey and the beauty that follows the ashes. I don't speak for everyone, I speak of my own journey. I speak of walking arm in arm with other birthmoms, adoptive moms and adoptees as we walk through the fear that has separated us for decades. I speak of raising birthmoms from a place of shame to a place of honor where they can hold their heads high and be proud of their decision to choose life. I speak of helping birthmoms realize their value in the three strand cord.

There was no "coercion", "brain washing". I did things my way, despite how much more difficult it made my choice, it was how I decided, on my terms, my way. I placed Colin in the best possible situation for his life, not mine. Choosing life is a blessing and I stand by that choice. At such a young age we are not ready to be parents and moms when we don't even know who we are or where we are going in life. Our children deserve better and I'm so blessed I found the Kaepernicks and Colin has the life he does. And I will continue to honor, support, love and walk with as many birthmoms as I can and do all I can to help change the stereotypes and stigmas of birthmoms.”---

Ironic, isn’t it, on my post “Heidi Russo . . . You Don’t Speak For Me” Heidi, herself, leaves a response that in her very first sentence has her attempting to speak for me, instructing me to use the coercive language of the adoption industry . . . something I absolutely refuse to do.   

Except, Dear Heidi, what you fail to realize in your claim that I have a lack of accountability and responsibility, is that I do just that when I say and believe I gave up my son.

Because that is exactly what I did and I take full accountability and responsibility for it.  I gave him away.  I took from him the family he had every right to.  I denied him his own mother who he knew by the beat of my heart, sound of my voice, through the months I carried him, nurtured him inside my own body.  I refuse to use the placating term “placed” to try and make myself feel better for what I did.  Because, regardless of what happened to me, of the coercion and manipulation I went through, for my son, his reality is and always will be that I gave him away.  I placed him in the arms of a woman who was a complete stranger to him at that time, turned my back on him and walked away.

And don’t even try lecturing me about owning the pain, the tears, the heartache.  I own that every day of my life.  From the minute I wake up in the morning to the moment I go to bed, I own . . . I live with . . . the pain and heartache of what I did to my son the very minute I walked out of that hospital nursery, left the responsibility with others to raise him when I should have been the one to do so.  He deserved his mother.  Was worthy of being fought for with everything I had.

Perhaps it’s time for you to take your own advice, Heidi.  You speak of accountability and responsibility but I can’t help but wonder what, if any, have you taken, not only for your own experience but for the damage your voice will do in manipulating even more vulnerable mothers to give up their children.

If you feel better in using the adoption industry term of placing your son.  If you truly believe you were not coerced or manipulated.  That you are happy you did so and have no regrets.  Then that is your experience and the last thing I will do is argue with you over it.

But you have accountability too.  You need to admit, so it is clear to all the vulnerable, pregnant moms and First Mothers you claim you want to help, that you truly wanted to give up, place, surrender, relinquish . . . whatever term you want to use . . . your son for adoption.  That no amount of support or help would have changed your mind.  That it wouldn’t have mattered if you were given true, unbiased counseling because you truly believe it is best for young and/or struggling mothers to give their children up to what you view as someone “better” than them.

And the minute you chose to use your son’s celebrity status to your advantage you had a responsibility to learn all sides of adoption before allowing your voice to be used to encourage even more unnecessary separations of an innocent child from their mother, father, entire family.

I believe it’s irresponsible, and as I said in my previous post, cowardly, not to take the time to research about the coercion and manipulation that is involved in NCFA’s training for Options Counseling – the very counseling vulnerable, pregnant mothers face from their school counselors, nurses, crisis pregnancy workers to the adoption agencies themselves.  Not to look into and take into account the multi-billion dollar profits made through a mostly unregulated industry.

To me, a good mother, would also make sure, as she’s using her son’s well-known popularity, that she speaks loud and constantly about the denial of equal rights he, and millions of other adoptees, face.  I’d make sure everyone was aware of the fact that adoptees are the only citizens in our country denied access to their original birth certificate for no other reason than they were adopted.  I’d be sure I used my privilege as one granted the right to my own personal information to do all I could to guarantee my own child was given the same as I had.

And I would damn sure do everything I could to insure that every vulnerable, pregnant mother, First Mother and Adoptive Mother was made aware of the fact that their children, in most every state but a select few, will be part of the group of citizens denied their equal rights the minute the adoption papers are signed.

You see, your voice will be used, just as the voices of others who repeated the same adoption industry script before you were used against me and many, MANY, other vulnerable, pregnant mothers to make us feel as if we were in the wrong for even considering keeping and raising our children.

That is part of what the industry uses, includes in their training for Options Counseling – the importance of using voices like yours as a tool against any resistance a vulnerable, pregnant mother might have about giving her baby up for adoption.

And yet, perhaps, you are so confident and sure about what you claim was fully your choice to place your son for adoption that you really just don’t give a damn about how your voice will be used against other pregnant mothers.  About the reality of coercion and manipulation that exists in adoption counseling.  The lack of true, unbiased counseling for vulnerable women facing a crisis situation, leaving them feeling as if they have no choice but to give up their child because those claiming to support them care only about getting their unborn baby, not about truly helping them through the crisis they are facing.

Or maybe it is that you so desperately need to hold on to the pedestal you are standing on that you are willing to sacrifice others so that you can continue to believe that you deserve honor and praise for placing your son in the arms of strangers.  Or that you truly need that constant praise, pat on the back, congratulating you for realizing that you were not good enough for your own child.  For believing he was nothing more than a gift to be given to a more deserving couple.

Regardless of your reasons why, I will never agree with you.  Perhaps it is important to you to get out the message that we don’t deserve our children, that they should be given away to someone better.  To work hard to build up the honor and sainthood of any mother who has lost, placed, given up, relinquished –or even have ripped from her arms – her child, her own flesh and blood.

But, unlike you, I don’t believe children should just be given up to what others might view as someone “better.”  I don’t believe our babies are gifts.  And I sure as heck don’t believe adoption should ever be a first choice in any situation.

I believe and fight for protection for vulnerable, pregnant mothers and their unborn children.  I support family preservation above all else.  And I stand side by side with other First Moms, Adoptees and Adoptive parents in the uphill struggle of restoring Adoptee’s equal rights.

Unlike you, I will never accept what was done to me and my innocent child.  I will never sit by, or even worse, encourage others to go through the same coercion.  The pain.  The heartache.  I don’t believe giving up our children is ever something a mother should celebrate.  We should mourn the terrible loss.  Feel it deep in our hearts, our souls.  Wish with all we had that they were still in our arms and never made to lose so much of themselves.

Perhaps you will find a full, successful life in promoting more adoptions.  In letting mothers know they aren’t worthy of their children but can be praised and honored as long as they give them up to someone more deserving.

But, just remember this as you are moving forward, happy you placed your son for adoption, encouraging others to do the same, while still sitting on the sidelines without being allowed any part of your son’s life . . .

That script you are repeating, word for word, from the adoption industry - - the research and study that went into producing it was meant to make vulnerable, pregnant mothers feel good, obligated, selfless to give up their babies.

But when it comes to our children, the many adoptees created by such a script, there are many who will tell you that hearing such a repeat coming from their own mothers mouth doesn’t help.  But instead causes even more pain and loss to be told their own mother was happy to give them up.  Grateful she didn’t raise them.  Expects to be honored for the sacrifice SHE made without ever giving a thought to the horrible sacrifices made by the child she gave up for adoption.

I know, for my own son, who I have back in my life in every way possible, the best thing I could have ever done for him was break free from the hold of the counseling I received from those wanting me to give up my child and truly, finally, face the feelings, the pain, the heartache, the tears, that I held back, denied and ignored for so long.

Finding the strength to be honest with myself.  To break free from any twisted expectation that I should be praised and/or honored for giving away my own child, blessed me with the ability to be honest with my son as well.  To know and understand, the harder I worked to take accountability and responsibility for what happened all those years ago, the better I was to be there for my oldest son.

For every step you make in installing the message into vulnerable, pregnant mothers that they are too young, not good enough for their own child.  For every time you claim you are fighting to free them of stereotypes and stigmas while actively speaking out to keep them under some of the very worst, the most damaging, I will be on the other side.

I will be the voice fighting for mothers and their unborn children.  I will be the one believing in them, fighting for them and doing all I can to support them so that they don’t lose their son or daughter but are instead spared an unnecessary separation.  While you go after their self-esteem, weaken the worth of their importance in their child’s life . . . the very worth of their own child within his or her own family . . . I will do all I can to protect them from you.  From the destruction I believe you encourage.

We are too different for you to ever speak for me or ever even think you have the right to instruct me to use the coercive language created by the adoption industry.  I know who I am, I know where I stand and I know what I fight for.

And, thankfully, it’s the complete opposite of you!