Thursday, July 30, 2015

What The Camera Missed

By this time, it’s very few who haven’t gotten more than their fair share of the pictures that have gone viral.  Pictures that show the story of a desperate couple and their desire to adopt a newborn.  Pictures that show their joy, their happiness at claiming the child they so desired.  Pictures that, conveniently, leave out the mother of this child.  The one who went through nine months loving and nurturing her little girl.  Who gave birth only to face the terrible reality she would would now begin a new life of being without her own child.  Her own flesh and blood.

Over the past few days, these pictures, the story of these adoptive parents, have been everywhere!  And, as is the norm for our society, anything that mentions loss for the mother and/or the baby is met with anger and attacks.  It’s not allowed.  We all must be positive.  We must celebrate with this couple and believe that this baby has just been saved from some terrible, tragic life and will forever be grateful for losing everything – her family, identity, heritage – in order to satisfy the desires of this couple seeking a third child to make their family complete.

It’s been disgusting.  Painful.  Heartbreaking for so many who live, every day, the terrible loss and pain that adoption causes.  To see these pictures go viral.  To see the ignorance.  The refusal to give a damn about anything other than presenting adoption - - AGAIN - - as something that happens in a vacuum where only the adoptive parents and their joy and happiness exists.  It’s just another, of many, hard hits that lets those who have lost so much – mothers and their babies – know that they really just don’t matter.  That adoption isn’t about them.  It’s about those who have the desire and ability to pay for the child they seek to make their lives complete.

So, it helped, today, to come across someone who had the amazing courage and talent to come up against this story.  To offer something different – in the best of ways – than what is flooding the news stories and internet right now.

And, my hope is, this story will go viral as well.  That there will be some chance, some hope, of others stepping back and realizing so much more than what they believe about adoption.  That maybe, just maybe, a bit of satire – in the right place – will help, even just one, take the time to see more than what so many accept adoption as . . .

A business providing children to those who pay for them.

***Here is the direct link to the post.  And make sure you read all the way to the end and the notes that are there.   They truly are the best part!***

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Popular Table

So . . . there are many reasons why I have been so neglectful here on my blog.

One of the greatest ones is I’m finally giving myself permission to concentrate on my other writing without feeling guilty for doing so.  I can still help.  I can still support pregnant mothers in need.  I can still be an advocate for adoption reform and adoptee rights.

But it’s okay, at this point in my life, to do that on a smaller scale so that I can concentrate on all I walked away from back when I faced some of the worst struggles in giving up my oldest son.

Another reason is . . . regardless of how many times there were the claims that the “new” First Moms would be happier and have better experiences . . . they are speaking out more and more.  And their blogs are amazing.  They have such powerful messages to tell.  And because their experiences are so much closer to the “here and now” it’s easier to step back and know there are so many new, amazing voices carrying on the fight.

There is also another reason.  It is that struggle of just wanting to be done with even trying to do anything to help what is now the new generation of pregnant moms.  The ones who are so caught up in how “cool” it is to give up their babies, they just don’t really give a damn about anything else.

It’s the new “popular girls” club.  Give up your baby and you can come sit with us at the “popular” table where everybody loves you, praises you, and wants to be just like you.

And I, honestly, have just lost my patience with the mothers who have such a mindset.

Giving up your baby shouldn’t be cool.  It shouldn’t be your chance at popularity.

It should not be your reason to create a Facebook page to brag about giving away your child.  It shouldn’t be your “in” to be allowed in the popular groups.  Your ego-boosting therapy to make you feel so good about yourself and so liked by everyone.

It should be painful.  It should be heart-wrenching.  It should be an experience that rips you apart.  Leaves you aching for your child . . . your own flesh and blood . . . and wishing you could have done something, anything, to keep your baby.

And, honestly, I’m done with trying to nicely change the minds of these mothers.

Because I know.   I speak from experience.  And there is nothing that can ever change the fact that my son deserved a mother strong enough and courageous enough to change her life for him.   He deserved a mother like the ones helped and supported through Saving Our Sisters.  One who, like them, was brave enough to sacrifice everything I had to be the best mom I could to him rather than giving him away to somebody else to raise.

I’d give anything to be like those moms.  To fight for my baby.  To realize a true mom gives all she can to save her child from any kind of pain and loss rather than giving them up to it. 

And, in those personal feelings of mine, I’m realizing I’m losing more empathy for the mothers of today who are so eager and happy to give up their babies.  Even knowing the coercion and manipulation they face.  Even seeing, over and over again, how it is everywhere . . . give up your baby to a better life and you will be a hero.

Social media has changed that for me.  Because these mothers, who are on Facebook bragging about giving up their babies.  Seeking the praise to make them feel so special for doing so.  They are also the mothers who, because of social media, have what so many of us never did – the voices of Adoptees and First Moms who came before them.  The resources offered to help and support them raise their babies.

When I look back on my own experience.  Remember back to that time in the hospital when all I wanted was to keep my son but still gave him up because I felt like a monster for hurting the feelings of his adoptive mom, I wish I’d had the internet then.  Wish I’d known the feelings I was struggling with were the very ones the adoption industry was hoping I’d feel so I wouldn’t keep my baby.

I wish I’d had experiences to read that would have let me know that it was okay.  I wasn’t a monster for wanting to keep my baby.  That there were many other mothers who felt like I did.  And it wasn’t only normal.  But the very true feelings of any mother who has given birth and held their baby in their arms and felt that immediate bond with them.

I wish I’d had those voices letting me know just how coercive pre-birth matching was.  Had been given strength from those who would actually help me and protect me in the hospital so I wouldn’t feel as if I was obligated to give my baby away.

And, above all, I wish I had the voices of the Adoptees.  The very ones who speak up loud and clear to make it known that adoption isn’t roses and sunshine for so many of them.  That they faced struggles and pain that are never shared with pregnant mothers considering adoption.

I know there are pregnant mothers who aren’t even thinking about searching out so-called support groups that will tell them over and over again how great they are for giving up their babies.  Who, even with the wave of social media, are still so blind to the truth of adoption that it doesn’t even connect with them to search and see if there is anything else to learn about adoption because they fully trust those encouraging and counseling them to give up their babies.

And for those moms, my heart still aches.  I think of Carri and Kimberly in that group.  Given no knowledge, no encouragement to seek out more than what they were being told in order to get their babies from them.  It never dawned on me or so many others mothers to seek any other truths.  Not when those you trust, and believe are truly trying to help you, make sure you are never even aware of that “other” side of adoption.  The truth of it that exists with just a few moments spent on social media.

And I understand and know how it would never dawn on them, either, to even think that the ones they were trusting were hiding so much more from them.

But there are so many more, so different from those mothers.  And yes, I do get it.  In the back of my mind, I know, have seen often, how the adoption industry has become even stronger on keeping these moms in the mind set of giving up their babies is the “cool” thing to do.  I know they work hard to counter any other truths these moms might find through social media.  Strengthening, more and more, their message of how “good” moms give up their babies and selfish moms fight and do all they can to keep them.

It’s the reason why disgusting sites as BraveLove exist.  It’s why so many from the adoption industry sponsor, or run themselves, the Birth Mom getaways created to praise mothers for giving away their babies.

They know.  They understand, better than anyone, the importance of creating the feeling that it’s a wonderful thing to do – giving up your baby.  They love recruiting mothers who have already given up their babies to make those coming up behind them feel “popular” to join their group.  They praise those who make their way into mainstream media to deliver the industry's message of how wonderful it is to give away your baby.

But I just can’t play their game anymore.  I can’t try to be just as nice, just as understanding, on my end to help a mother see how important she is to her baby.  How worthy her child is to be spared the loss of adoption.

I’m just tired of it and can’t find that part of me as often as I used to that tries so hard to show them they can do it.  Can be the very best for their babies.

Not when they are all about how cool and great they are.  Not when they are bragging about giving up their baby.  Attacking anyone who actually believes they are good enough and should be helped and supported to keep and raise their baby.

Instead I find myself responding to them in a much harsher reality. 

And that doesn’t help much when you are trying to help.  Trying to have a blog that reaches out to and empathizes with mothers facing the struggles of an unexpected pregnancy.

But really.  If you are on Facebook, seeking praise for giving up your baby, attacking anyone who believes you are good enough for your own baby, what kind of gentleness is their really worth offering.

The fact of the matter is, at that point, I might as well just speak the harsh truth that exists inside me as a mother who has been there and realized my son deserved me having the courage to change and make a better life for him.  Rather than giving him away for others to take that responsibility.

Because the fact is, for every mother bragging and so happy to give up her baby, there are the others who are brave and strong enough to realize their babies deserve so much more than that.  Have the courage to fight back against the hardest of odds to become the very best they can for their own flesh and blood.

For every pregnant mother wanting others to praise her and tell her how great she is for giving away her baby, there is a Carri . . . a Kimberly . . . who face the worst attacks.  Are judged, ridiculed and pulled apart by others.  But they don’t let such hatred discourage them from fighting for their babies.  From knowing they will give anything, do anything, to have them back with them where they belong.

I see courage every day in them, in the many mothers who reach out to Saving Our Sisters for help.  And watching them.  Seeing what amazing mothers they are, shows me more and more how, really, I have nothing left in me to offer “kindness” to the others who have every chance and opportunity to find the same strength and courage to be the very best for their children but refuse it because they thrive on the praise they receive.  

Because they want to be cool.

Because they’d give up their baby for a place at the popular table.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Coercion And Manipulation . . . Can't Fight That

Again, another fit, loving mother, Kimberly Rossler, is being forced to fight for her baby.

For Kimberly, she had decided before ever giving birth to keep her son.  She took him home, raised loved and cared for him for three weeks before he was taken to satisfy the desires of the woman desperate to claim her son as her own.

There are  many news stories, blog posts, out there that can give you Kimberly’s story and the horror that happened to her, and worst of all, her newborn son.  With a visit to the Facebook page, Bring Baby Elliott Home, there is plenty of information on her case and how to help Kimberly in her fight for her baby.

As I’ve read through the many different comments on the stories being published and shared, there has been, yet again, a repeated theme in what some have had to say.  It’s an anger, disgust, over vulnerable, pregnant mothers receiving  expenses paid from those hoping to adopt her baby.  And forming a relationship with them before ever giving birth only to “crush” their hopes when they then choose to keep their babies.

It’s sad to read, the anger being directed at the mother for practices the adoption industry insists on because they know and understand the coercive and manipulation nature of paying expenses to a mother in need.  Encouraging her to form a tight bond with the couple so desperate to adopt her baby.

The agencies, attorneys, facilitators, don’t push such practices for the benefit of the mother and her unborn child.  They push it for their paying customers, the ones so desperately wanting to adopt a baby.  They push it because they know the odds are better of a vulnerable, pregnant mother giving up her baby if she feels manipulated into feeling she owes the hopeful couple for the money they paid or is fearful to hurt their feelings after growing so close to them during her pregnancy.

For those of us in the world of adoption reform, we have repeated until we are blue in the face the risks and downfalls of pre-birth matching and paid expenses.  We have made it clear that such practices need to be done away with, for both the protection of the pregnant mother, her unborn child AND the hopeful adoptive couple.

Those of us fighting for family prevention advise pregnant mothers seeking help and support not to accept money from anyone who benefits – through profits or a child – from them giving up their babies.  We discourage them building a relationship with the hopeful couple before birth.  We do this because we know and understand how such methods are full of coercion and manipulation.

But, for as many times as I’ve heard them complain.  For the comments that happen again and again, sharing disgust about a mother choosing to raise her baby after a hopeful couple  paid so much  money and was there for her during her pregnancy, I rarely ever come across hopeful adoptive parents or adoptive parents  speaking up when it comes to fighting for the practice to end.  They remain silent when it comes to fighting for change so such situations no longer occur.  Instead, they move on and repeat the process with yet another vulnerable, pregnant mother . . . if they don’t become one of the “entitled” who believe they have a right to another woman’s child and fight her for him, as in Kimberly’s case.
And the cycle continues.  The complaints carry on.  The comments of broken hearts and empty wallets litter news stories everywhere when it comes to the topic of adoption.

Why is that?  It’s the adoption industry, not the pregnant mothers, pushing so hard for such practices.  So why not speak up.  Why not join the voices of the rest of us and fight back with a clear message that such things need to end?

There is only one answer to that, coming back around and around again.  Ending such coercive and manipulative practices will reduce the number of newborns available for adoption.  Putting your voice to the fight is seen as a risk to everyone wanting a child to claim as their own.  It’s more preferable to continue the coercion and manipulation then turn around and blame the mother for it than it is to do anything that might threaten the availability of adoptable infants.

And the paid expenses and pre-birth matching is just a part of it.  One of the things that struck  me hardest about Kimberly’s experience is the fact that she was actually counseled by a true, unbiased therapist rather than someone invested in convincing her to give up her baby . . . such as the options counseling agencies provide.

Kimberly’s therapist first worked on Kimberly herself before ever addressing the idea of giving her baby up for adoption.  She was true and professional in the help she provided, understanding, as TRUE therapists do, that first Kimberly needed help to work first on herself and whatever obstacles she faced.  She needed to be helped through whatever crisis she was facing and find a place where she felt confident in her ability and own self-worth.

Only then did her therapist begin discussing the adoption with her.  And, because Kimberly was first given the support and help to face her obstacles, to find her self-worth, she began to see and understand that she was good enough, worthy enough, for her own child.

It wasn’t months or years later, as happens with so many mothers, that she realized she could take care of her baby.  It was before she ever gave birth, preventing yet another scenario you hear adoptive parents complain about . . . the mother who seems unable to deal with her emotions.  Seems upset she gave her baby away.  Isn’t falling perfectly into place as one who is grateful to them for raising her child but is instead questioning if she made the right choice

But again, putting a voice to and fighting for vulnerable, pregnant mothers to receive the kind of true counseling Kimberly did from someone not invested in adoption but instead specializing in depression and helping their clients work through crisis situations, reduces even more the number of babies available to adopt.  Because empowering and supporting the mothers drastically reduces the numbers of those who believe they aren’t good enough or worthy enough for their own child.

There is this ridiculous notion that pregnant mothers and their unborn children receive too many rights and that those desperate to adopt deserve more so that they can get their hands on the babies they desire.  There is this belief, because of expenses paid, relationships built, mothers choosing to parent instead, that somehow those wanting to adopt are the ones who are losing out . . . at the expense of the mother and her child.

I don’t agree with this in any way.  I find such thoughts ridiculous since every child deserves to first have everything possible done to save them from unnecessary separation from their mothers, fathers, family.  Every mother (and father) deserves to first be helped and supported in raising their children before ever being led to believe giving up their babies is the best thing.

And honestly, what so many desperate couples are demanding is not an end to the coercive and manipulative practices of expenses paid and pre-birth matching so that a mother never feels as if she has no choice or is forced to give up her baby.  They aren’t fighting for true, unbiased counseling so that a vulnerable mother never has her crisis situation used against her to convince her to give up her baby.  But instead is truly helped and supported to be the best she can be and from there make the best choice she can.

What they want, what they demand, is for even less protections for vulnerable, pregnant mothers and their unborn children.  They want the coercion and manipulation to be even stronger so that if they pay the expenses, form a relationship and are promised a baby, then they will get that baby without a chance of the mother choosing to raise her own child instead.

They want their own desires for a child protected by making sure mothers receive the options counseling designed and created to use their crisis against them to convince them to give up their babies rather than a true, professional therapist actually providing the help deserved.

It’s not the coercion or manipulation they are against.  Because getting rid of such practices would greatly reduce the babies they desire.  It doesn’t matter how angry or frustrated they get.  So many are not willing to put a voice to fight such things.

Instead they want their voices to create a world in which horrors such as what Kimberly and her innocent son faced become the reality.  They want to be able to take a child from a fit and loving mother if they paid the expenses, formed a relationship.  They want to restrict them from true counseling so they are seen as the best choice for another woman’s child.

They, just like the woman in Kimberly’s case, want to get their pay out for taking advantage of and using another’s suffering for their own gain.  And, if they don’t get that, it will be the vulnerable, pregnant mothers they will direct their anger at rather than at the true evil . . .

The adoption industry and the coercion and manipulation they survive on.

***This post, of course, does not pertain to every hopeful adoptive parent or adoptive parent.  I am honored, to know and have friendships with some wonderful adoptive parents who, themselves, face terrible attacks because of their belief and fight for change in the world of adoption.***