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!