Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Scream Until It Hurts

When my middle son was just a baby, I worked at a day care center that included infant care – it was all about the benefit of reduced child care costs and being able to work while still being near my baby.

During my time there, I had an experience I will never forget.  An experience that forever changed me.  In the crib next to my son’s in the infant room was a baby boy named Garrett.  One afternoon, during the routine checks of the sleeping babies, the two wonderful ladies who cared for the infants discovered Baby Garrett wasn’t breathing.

Those of us who knew CPR were hurried into the infant room.  And there I was, knowing my own son slept in a crib just a few feet away, holding a limp, lifeless baby, desperately pumping air into his lungs.  Praying with everything I had that he would just gasp, open his eyes, cough . . . all those miracle actions you always see in the movies . . . and come back to us.

Unfortunately, that never happened.  It was determined that Baby Garrett died from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and there was nothing we could have done to save him.

That was almost twenty-five years ago and yet the fear of SIDS still stays with me.  I’ve always been overly conscious of checking my babies, and now grandbabies, when they sleep.  Even when they have slept through the night, I have never been able to since experiencing Baby Garrett’s death.  I’ve always been up every few hours.  Needing to check them, feel their tiny bodies for the breath pushing through their lungs.

It wasn’t even my own child that I lost, yet it changed me forever.  And when I talk about my fear of SIDS there is always understanding.  Nobody ever questions why it is I struggle with such a fear when my babies and grandbabies are so little.  What I go through is normal.  Accepted by everyone who knows.

A few weeks ago, my Grandson – my second grandchild – was born.  And with the holidays and my middle son and his fiancé (my Grandson’s wonderful parents) in the process of moving into their new place, I’ve had an abundance of wonderful nights with them staying the night with us.  And I’ve been up.  I’ve checked.  Always needing to make sure he’s okay.

It’s a fear I will always have.  I know it.  Accept it.

Just as I will always have the fear of losing a child/a grandchild to adoption.

Over twenty-seven years ago, when I gave up my oldest son for adoption, it was another experience that forever changed me.  And that experience, that change, is so much deeper . . . so much greater . . . than anything I’ve felt for Baby Garrett’s death.

That loss WAS my own child.  A piece of my own heart that will forever be broken.

Even the thought of going through that kind of loss again has the power to completely take over if I allow it.  The fear of it has a hold on me that I know will never go away.  It’s there even when I don’t fully realize the extent of how deeply it’s affecting me.

In the months before my Grandson’s birth, I struggled with anger whenever I attempted to write about or debate adoption.  I tried many times to write a post for my blog but always gave up after everything I attempted to put to words came out in a fiery rant of disgust with no real message to be heard.

I couldn’t make sense of it.  Things were good.  My family was good.  There were no triggers that I could put a finger on that would cause my anger.  But it was there and it wasn’t going away.

It wasn’t until right before and after my Grandson’s birth that it began to make sense . . .

It was the fear of losing a part of myself all over again to adoption.

Even though there was nothing outright to make me worry.  Even with all the precautions I knew to take.  That fear still hovered.  Wearing on me even when I was unaware.  Like a breath I was afraid to release until after my Grandson was born and happily sent home with his mom and dad.

Till I knew adoption would not be able to claim him and take him away from his family.

Because, no matter how much I knew in my head, how many steps I took to do all I could to protect my son and my Grandson, there was always that knowledge that it could always come down to just one . . .

One person having the nerve to suggest to my son’s fiancé that she wasn’t good enough.  She was too young.  Wasn’t married.  Didn’t have a career.  And so, if she truly loved her child she could prove that love by giving her baby away to a more “deserving” couple.

After that there would be little hope.  Even with doing all we could to protect my son’s rights as the father.  Even knowing, supporting and loving his fiancé through her pregnancy.  I know, have experienced, seen all too often, once the Adoption Industry gets its hands on a vulnerable mother and convinces her she is no good and should give her baby up, there is next to nothing that can be done to stop them.

Our government, our laws, our own society works in their favor, making it an almost impossible fight for the families who love and want their children/grandchildren.

And that’s where the anger came into play.  Where it still sits today as I wrestle with the reality I know and see.

When it comes to my fear of SIDS, nobody questions it, doubts it.  And everyone I have ever seen bring up such a reality fully supports any and all change that is needed to prevent more deaths.  Nobody would dare suggest someone was wrong or just had a bad experience or needed to seek help if they spoke out about the many ways to help  prevent SIDS from occurring.

Could you imagine anyone with common sense actually suggesting that I just had a “bad experience” or should seek help or realize how many babies don’t die from SIDS if I were to mention how important it is to put a baby to sleep on their back.  To keep blankets, pillows, bumper pads away from their face.

I can’t imagine anyone suggesting I’m crazy or telling me I should “just be happy” about the fact that I held Baby Garrett in my arms and tried to bring him back to life after SIDS had already taken control.  They wouldn’t be afraid that I was somehow making SIDS look bad or discouraging women from having children because of what I had to say to prevent such a tragedy from happening.

But put my even harsher, more personal and painful fear of losing a grandchild to adoption and everything changes.  Doesn’t matter that I have also lived through that experience.  Makes no difference that I have researched and learned all I possibly could about adoption just as I did about SIDS.  When it comes to my fear that I could lose a part of my family to adoption many of the responses I get are so much different than anything I have ever, or would ever, receive about SIDS.

Not only is it assumed by many that I just had a bad experience.  That I just need to seek help so I can be “happy” with my experience.  That I’m just crazy and need to shut up before I scare couples away from adoption and vulnerable, pregnant mothers away from giving up their babies.

But many . . . so many . . . actually accept and even encourage the unethical, terrible practices that provide the greatest threat in unnecessarily separating my grandchildren from their family that wants and loves them.

The Infant Adoption Awareness Training is meant to teach those who come in to contact with pregnant mothers – such as nurses, counselors, etc – what to say to convince them that they are no good for their babies and adoption is the way to prove their love.

There is absolutely nothing, no protections in place, to keep a nurse, a doctor, a hospital social worker from approaching a pregnant mother and making the suggestion that she could give her child a better life by giving him up.  With the NCFA-backed training so many of them receive, they know the right words to say, the points to push, the insecurities to expose until a vulnerable mother begins to believe them and truly believes her child would be better off if she gave him up for adoption.

And there are so many who support this.  Think it’s a great thing.

Just as there are so many who believe a father should have no rights when it comes to his child.  Who actually see nothing wrong in the deception and lies that keep them from having even the slightest chance to be a part of their lives.  Who make excuses, find whatever weak reason they can to justify a desperate couple’s actions in fighting a fit and loving father for his own flesh and blood.

How could I not be angry?  How could I not finally hit that point where I want to scream until it hurts, punch until everything aches?  I’ve already lived the hell adoption loss brought into my life.  I’ve forced that hell on my oldest son who I gave up for adoption and my three younger children who I raised.

And yet, all I find, over and over again, in so many places, are those who want only to continue the very practices that threaten to take children away from their families.  Who cares if nurses, doctors, counselors are trained in the best way to convince vulnerable mothers to give up their children?  Who gives a damn if fathers are given no rights to their unborn children?

Too bad for your loss.  Get over your crazy fears.  Adoption is a wonderful thing and you must accept that.  Who cares if you lost a son to the coercion and manipulation that is allowed and supported.  Who gives a damn that you live with the fear of losing a grandchild to the very same tactics.

You just need to remember to think of all the poor, suffering infertile couples who deserve to be “gifted” a child of their own.  You have to accept that the training that occurs is a good thing.  It’s not coercion.  It’s just helping vulnerable pregnant mothers see that they are no good for their children and understanding that they can prove their love by giving their babies away to a more deserving couple.

And if it threatens your family in any way.  If there is nothing to protect the unnecessary loss of your grandchild . . . well . . . that’s really not all that important.  Because think of all the pain infertility causes.  Think of all those wonderful couples who are so much more deserving of a child.  Think of everything else, everyone else (just as you were counseled to do when you were the vulnerable, pregnant mother) and realize you, your own flesh and blood, aren’t really all that important when it comes to the wants and needs of all those infertile couples, suffering so bad and so deserving of a baby . . . even if that baby happens to come from your own family.

Yeah.  It’s anger.  It’s frustration.  It’s a constant hit to the gut.

Because I’ve dealt with my own experience.  Through counseling (yep, I actually have sought help and received it) I have the skills now to not let it affect me when others try to rewrite my experience of what happened to me, to my oldest son.  I’m too far in.  Too long in this fight against those who don’t want reform to let the same old tactics get to me.

But this is something new.  This is hitting in an area I haven’t protected myself from.  Because now I hear their voices and it’s not about my own experience that I can’t change or fighting for the vulnerable pregnant mothers who can so easily become victims to the adoption industry.

Now their words carry a darker, crueler tone to them.  I hear in them the fuel to my fear.  The total lack of care or concern for my own grandchildren.  My own flesh and blood.

I hear again the same message I was once surrounded by . . .

What you want, what you love, what is yours by flesh and blood doesn’t matter when it comes to the wants and desires of the infertile couples who deserve your child (now grandchild) to make them happy.

Nobody truly cares about the coercion or manipulation because your family isn’t worth being protected from that because you haven’t yet proven yourself as “good enough” to have the same sympathy or care from society that infertile couples are given.

I can lay out everything I did right, according to how I was counseled on who deserved a child.  A marriage, career, stable income.  Yes.  I finally accomplished all that was made clear that I lacked and failed in being a mother to my own child.

But none of that matters.  Because it still doesn’t make me, my family, worthy of protection.  It still doesn’t get anyone to give a damn about the very real threats of coercion and manipulation, lack of rights for fathers, when it comes up against all those other couples that are somehow still better, more deserving of a child even at the cost of vulnerable parents, innocent children and their loving families.

My fear of SIDS has never come to reality just as my fear of losing my grandchildren have, thankfully, never come true.  But that doesn’t mean the threats don’t exist.  That the reality doesn’t still linger.  If not for my family, for another.

For every time there is denial of protection for vulnerable, pregnant mothers.  A refusal to give fathers equal rights to their children the message becomes loud and clear . . . our families are unimportant, matter very little when brought up with the wants and desires of infertile couples.

I hear that message now, louder than ever before.  And my anger continues to build at the realization that nothing has really changed, no matter the life I’ve built, the family I’ve created.  I still lose.  My family still loses.  Because we will never be viewed as the worthy ones when there are so many desperate couples out there who are “better” for no other reason than their desire for a child and their ability to pay for one.

In the eyes of so many, they win and who gives a damn about those who had to lose . . . they weren’t important anyway.


  1. An amazing soul. Thanks for sharing this and being a voice for EVERYONE.

  2. Cassi, Thank you! You nailed a big part of why I feel such a mess. My lost to adoption son found me in November.. (oooh something good happened in NAAM) The day I got the call from my son's father I heard "he found us and (we) have two grandchildren, the oldest" .......guess what?..... had been surrendered for adoption. Oh how can a heart be lifted up with relief, hope and joy and ripped out in the same moment? (just like the day my son was born and lost.. just. that. fast)
    I had wondered about grandchildren... but never allowed that other horrid, ugly thought of -lost to adoption- get even half a foothold. Couldn't. It was too awful to contemplate. You have put to words why, in part, I feel so....... freakin' flyin' apart undone. Add to the fact my Dad (an adoptee) died three weeks ago... on my son's 33 birthday. All of this and trying to have a new beginning with my son and his beautiful family. Uh huh, adoption, unicorns and rainbows and fluffy feel '''''good'''''?? Not for this chick. Nor was it for my Dad. ..I think my son is trying reaaaal hard to ''make it a good thing''. He's a pretty incredible man.

    It's time to put a stop to this evil practice called adoption. Yes, evil= harmful, hurtful, bad. It causes great suffering and is wrapped in gross lies, tied up with entitlement and stamped with a secrecy and cover-up that rivals -if not surpasses- the secrecy/confidentiality of government operations and military maneuvers. I can understand the need for secrecy in military maneuvers and such... I cannot understand this for adoption/s. Would the world -really- come undone and fall apart if adoption records were opened here in the U.S.?

    So happy for you on your newest grandbaby.. your grandchildren, all safely held in their (rightful, true, real) family's loving arms. Also, so thankful for you and your blog. I don't remember if this a first time comment or not... you have been a steady support for years. Your thoughtful, reasoned ability to put to words what so many of us know and feel. Thanks for helping to keep me from coming completely apart... knowing you are here is a comfort.

  3. That's a seriously great analogy... as I always say; normal logic just flies out the window when it comes to adoption. What is a normal response becomes abnormal.. it's a non stop horror of backwards day.
    Add the gift that keeps on giving.... bad triggers for which should be a wonderful time. The only thing I can say is at LEAST you did have the ability to recognize what was causing that emotional conflict and now can put it in it's place. Yeah.. more baggage!

  4. Well said and so true. The adoption industry spends fortunes on propaganda to make fortunes from the sale of babies, and most of society celebrates, even to the extent of devoting a whole month (November) to promoting it. Anyone who disagrees with the prevailing narrative is considered mentally or emotionally unstable and therefore dismissible. Those of us who know the ugly truth about adoption (OK, OK, not ALL adoptions--if you say so) need to continue to speak out against this crime against women, children, and humanity. It's all in how you look at it. Is it a juicy steak grilled to perfection or the remnant of a gentle animal that died with a bolt in its brain? Is it a happy couple with a newborn baby they've gone through all the hoops for, or is it a baby desperate for his mother, who has lost the most precious part of her very self?

  5. As a former nurse, this article is very upsetting to read. Most people in the medical field choose it because they enjoy helping people and taking care of them. I was never trained on how to convince a mother to give up her baby and have never heard of such a thing.

    1. "That is important to me..."January 10, 2015 at 4:33 PM

      Really? Funny. The hospital I lost my first born child in was horrific and the nurses treated me despicably when they knew adoption was possibly on the table. They wouldn't even let me see my child. I literally had to beg. Not one of the women there tried to talk me OUT of it, that is for sure. It was a whole slew of individuals working together to ensure the relinquishment of my child; when I was in no way, shape or form incapable of keeping him, (other than the fact I was young, vulnerable and unwed.)

    2. Ditto on the hospital, dr. and nurses with the loss of my son.. but for one 'poor' and to me, very dear intern or nurse-?- who didn't 'get the word'. He must have been called in due to the snowstorm that day who took my son to wrap him and ..he turned to me and asked, "do you want to see/hold YOUR SON" the most beautiful words spoken. Thankful for him. That was short lived as a needle was stabbed in my leg as he was heading toward me, (first pain I felt the whole time) and the lights ''went out again". Came to find out later the dr. adopted an infant around the same time as my son was taken. .. so, I feel, it is a matter of collusion ..**often**. I still have scars around my mouth, faint though they have become, from a lack of 'tending' during labor as well as my unconscious to semi-conscious haze for the next 5 days. I don't recall being fed. I did fit in my street clothes when I was let out, for what that's worth.

  6. You always write posts that I feel like I could have (should have) written. Thank you for writing. Thank you for speaking out. One day I will be able to. I know that my lost son will not ever be discouraged from allowing his children to be adopted out, but no child that exits my raised daughter's body will ever leave my family, that is for sure.

  7. Speaking as someone brought up in the UK, where domestic infant adoption doesn’t really exist, it is endlessly shocking and disturbing to me to see how easily and completely ordinary people’s views and natural human responses can be skewed and manipulated by the media and the adoption propaganda machine in the US.

    Over here adoption is viewed by most people as a last resort for children who genuinely have no other option (which in practice usually means children removed from their original families by social services due to abuse or neglect), not as some kind of public service providing healthy babies to infertile couples, or as an act of selflessness and sacrifice ensuring that children don’t miss out on holidays and horse-riding lessons.

    Never have I heard anyone suggest that a mother should give her child up to strangers in order to give it a ‘better life’, or that children are blank slates, or mothers interchangeable. Never have I heard anyone say that an adopted child was ‘destined’ to end up in their adoptive family, or that they grew in the wrong tummy. Never have I heard anyone suggest that a mother with an unplanned pregnancy should give her child as a ‘gift’ to an infertile couple, or that a new mum who changes her mind about her ‘adoption plan’ is letting everyone down.

    But if for some reason someone did leave hold of their senses for a moment and come out with something like that, I know that the general response would be to turn around and stare at them like they’d just grown a second head – that’s how ridiculous statements like that sound in a culture where people haven’t been raised on a diet of Positive Adoption Language and adoption industry propaganda.

    I’ve been reading adoption blogs for 2 years now, and have talked about the US situation with various fellow Brits along the way, and so far the reaction has been one of universal shock and horror at the coercion, the multi-billion dollar profits, the pre-birth matching and the signing of relinquishment papers hours after giving birth. But most of all horror at the very concept that what matters most to a child is their parents bank balance, marital status or qualifications, rather than a sense of belonging, unconditional love, family resemblance and shared ancestry, and the unique and irreplaceable mother-child bond that they already have in their original family. Not to mention that ephemeral thing that most of us take so much for granted we don’t even notice it – the gift of growing up free from the self-doubt and self-esteem issues that come from your very first experience of the world being one of loss and (perceived) rejection.

    It’s a very strange experience reading US adoption blogs from outside of US culture sometimes, like having a window on a world where madness has become sanity, and sanity madness. It’s amazing the things people can make themselves believe when dollar signs are in their eyes, or when they’re trapped in the hell and desperation of infertility, but what’s really scary is how a whole society can be dragged along with them, until eventually normal human responses of empathy and compassion come to be viewed as somehow abnormal, even pathological, and the most common sense and (normally) uncontroversial truths about what children need for emotional wellbeing, are denied or ignored.

    So from the perspective of an outsider, and one with no personal connection to adoption, I just wanted to say that it’s the US adoption reform movement that has truth on its side – please don’t ever forget that, even when it feels like you’re surrounded by madness.

  8. very poignant analogy
    and hear you on the fear and anger that there are just too many among us singing the praises and beauty of adoption and are way too eager to sacrifice families on its altar...
    thank you so much for writing -