An adoptee rights bill is up for voting in Connecticut. Please, please, please (pretty pretty please) write an email to: PHC.Testimony@cga.ct.gov in support of the passing of this bill which would give all adopted persons over the age of 21 in Connecticut access to their original birth certificates. More information at Access CT’s website here: http://www.accessconnecticut.org./
Here is a sample email (pretty easy):
To Public Health Committee Co-Chairs Senator Terry Gerratana and Representative Susan Johnson, and Members of the Public Health Committee:
I am writing to ask for your support of Raised Bill 5144, An Act Concerning Access to Birth Certificates and Parental Health Information for Adoptive Persons. I have a (friend/family member) who is (an adoptee, adoptive parent, birth parent, etc.). I strongly believe that ALL adult adoptees should have access to their original birth certificates, and the bill should be both retroactive and prospective.
Thank-you very much for your consideration.
Up until I relinquished my son for adoption, I had a pretty rosy view of adoption as a whole. However, I am ashamed to say, I only really thought of it from a hopeful adoptive couple’s point of view. When I did think about the concept of adoption, it was usually when I would hear of a friend or family member hoping to adopt because they could not have children of their own. I would feel terrible for people who had adoptions “fail” and I never considered it from the mother’s viewpoint or the adoptee’s viewpoint. I do not think I was any different than the average Joe who has never had a personal experience with adoption. I believe that the average american with no connections to adoption has a fairly preconceived notion of what adoption means to the people who are living it every day, if they ever think about it at all.
The current Veronica Brown and Baby Desirai cases (among others) have given many of us the opportunity to comment and educate the average Joe about what adoption truly means to the birth mother and adoptee. I can not say I am grateful for the opportunity because of the awful circumstances surrounding these cases, but I can say that it gives me some hope for opening up a dialogue with society at large.
Throughout my travels around the interwebs, commenting on articles, reading others’ comments, I seem to encounter the same basic idea from the average Joe over and over again. It is the idea that birth mothers who seek to educate others about corruption in adoption need to “just get over it”. The underlying assumption is that we, as birthmothers, made our choice and need to move on with our lives.
Do Birth Mothers Ever Truly Move On?
In the spirit of having an open dialogue, I want to address the idea of moving on with our lives after relinquishing. Personally, I have “moved on” with my life the best way I can. I am married, raising 3 children with my husband who I adore. I am active in the school system, volunteering my time and resources as much as I can. I attend school myself. I am not lying in bed everyday, immobile from the sadness of losing my oldest son. I am not wallowing in self pity. From all outward appearances, I have moved on. The grief I feel from my adoption experience is not something that I am ever going to be able to forget. Moving forward with my life does not mean I forget what happened or forget the child I gave up. It is the same with a parent who loses a child to death. They move forward through the pain, but they are never going to forget their child. To expect more from anyone who loses someone close to them, whether that is through death, adoption, drug abuse, and so on, is to expect more than any human being can manage.
A huge part of being able to move forward through the grief is helping and educating others about adoption issues. My adoption experience was not part of the baby scoop era of adoption nor was it a part of the current open adoption trend. I would categorize my experience as being a fairly normal, run of the mill, everyday experience of birthmothers. The “normalcy” of my experience is exactly why I try to educate others on adoption issues. If my “normal” experience left me feeling like this, then everything I was told is wrong. I can not stand by and watch others encourage mothers to give away their children under false pretenses. The prevailing view of adoption by the average Joe needs to change.
Does a Birth Mother Really Make a Choice?
Part of the problem when birth mothers talk about adoption issues, is this notion of choice. We made our choice, we should live with it. We made our beds, we have to lie in them. We are at fault because we did not research the issues. We should have thought about all of that beforehand. When I write about coercion and mis-truths in adoption, and how the corruption involved in adoption negates any real choice, I think it is a hard concept for most people to grasp. It is just too abstract if you have never been subjected to anything like that. I am going to attempt to use an analogy, which I hope will make it easier to understand.
Mr. Smith is experiencing a medical issue. Let’s say it’s a tumor. Mr. Smith has been told by their primary care physician that the treatment for the tumor is either surgery to remove it or chemotherapy. Mr. Smith is referred to an oncologist whom they have never met, but the Mr. Smith assumes since an oncologist is a doctor specializing in cancer that the doctor will be an expert in their field. Mr. Smith been told that this specialist will discuss his treatment options. It is reasonable to assume prior to meeting with this specialist, that the doctor is going to use his experience, his expert knowledge, statistics, medical research studies, medical journals, etc. to recommend the best treatment for Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith has his appointment, the doctor recommends surgery to remove the tumor and explains in detail why it is the best course of treatment. The doctor also explains why chemotherapy is not the right option and gives Mr. Smith statistics to reinforce his recommendation against it. Mr. Smith chooses to have the surgery based on his expert doctor’s recommendation.
Mr. Smith has the surgery, and develops some fairly severe complications because of it. Mr. Smith finds out later that the doctor presented false statistics, misrepresented the outcome from chemotherapy treatment, withheld vital information about the possible complications from the surgery, and made a great deal of money by performing surgery on Mr. Smith.
Based on this, would the average person say that Mr. Smith ever made a real choice? I would say no, Mr. Smith was never given accurate information and therefore he could not have made an informed, true, real choice.
Now, let’s go back and replace “Mr. Smith” with “Miss Jones”. Let’s replace “oncologist” and “doctor” with “adoption professional”. Let’s replace “tumor” with “pregnant”.
Miss Jones is pregnant. Let’s say it’s unplanned. Miss Jones has been told by her gynecologist that her options are to raise the child herself or to give the baby up for adoption. Miss Jones is referred to an adoption professional whom she has never met, but Miss Jones assumes since an adoption professional is a person specializing in adoption issues that the adoption professional will be an expert in their field. Miss Jones has been told that this adoption professional will discuss her options. It is reasonable to assume prior to meeting with this specialist, that the adoption professional is going to use their experience, their expert knowledge, statistics, adoption research studies, medical journals, etc. to recommend the best option for Miss Jones and her child. Miss Jones has her appointment, the adoption professional recommends adoption and explains in detail why it is the best option. The adoption professional also explains why raising the child is not the right option and gives Miss Jones statistics to reinforce the recommendation against it. Miss Jones chooses adoption based on the adoption professional’s recommendation.
Miss Jones gives her baby up for adoption, and develops some fairly severe complications because of it. Miss Jones finds out later that the adoption professional presented false statistics, misrepresented the outcome raising her child, withheld vital information about the possible complications from the adoption, and made a great deal of money by facilitating the adoption.
Based on this, would the average person say that Miss Jones ever made a real choice? I would say no, Miss Jones was never given accurate information and therefore she could not have made an informed, true, real choice.
If a person with a life altering medical condition can reasonably assume that a medical professional is going to give them accurate information about their treatment options, shouldn’t a person consulting an adoption professional be able to reasonably assume the same thing about their options?
In real life, there are regulations and repercussions for a doctor who would engage in such practices, including professional ruin. I would expect the doctor in my little scenario to be sued for malpractice and I would expect Mr. Smith to win that lawsuit. There are little, if any, regulations and repercussions for an adoption professional who would do the same. In fact, the scenario I presented above is dead-on accurate for my experience, and an accurate portrayal of many adoptions.
Now, let’s throw in a healthy dose of positive adoption language heaped on Miss Jones and a dash of being in the position to have to consider the hopeful adoptive parents’ feelings and you have the current adoption system in the United States. Does that sound like an informed choice to you, reader?
I know this blog certainly doesn’t get a ton of average, uninterested in adoption, readers, however it is my hope that this oversimplified analogy can shed a little light on the meaning of choice in adoption.
Pre-birth matching of expecting mothers and prospective adoptive parents is pretty commonplace in domestic infant adoption these days. From an outsider’s perspective, it makes sense if 2 parties are entering into an open adoption agreement that they should get to know each other before committing to a lifelong relationship. It would also make sense that a mother considering adoption would want to know a little bit about the people who will be raising her child. Unfortunately, this practice is ripe for unethical behavior and manipulation.
I disagree with pre-birth matching for a few reasons. First and foremost, a mother can not and should not be forced to make a final decision about adoption until well after the birth of her child. If that decision can not be made prior to birth, it makes no sense for prospective adoptive parents to put themselves in the position to be heartbroken when a woman decides to parent. It should be assumed that a mother is going to raise their child until she can sign her consent for adoption without undue stress. In most circles, the opposite is assumed. If a woman contacts an agency while pregnant the assumption is that she will be giving her baby up for adoption after the child is born. If a woman can not make the decision regarding adoption until after her baby is born, why bother with pre-birth matching?
Are Adoptive Parents Engaging In Adoption Coercion?
I try to give people the benefit of the doubt in life. With regards to pre-birth matching, I try to believe that prospective adoptive parents engage in this practice because it is what the agencies suggest. At this point, it simply is just how it is done in the U.S. so who are they to argue? I do believe that the industry as a whole has a different agenda when it comes to pre-birth matching. The agencies and lawyers know that a mother is more likely to follow through with an adoption if she has a relationship with the adopters but I have tried to believe that hopeful adoptive parents do not engage in the practice because of that. And then I read something like this, taken from a post on the Adoptive Families Circle forums:
“With my first I waited until after court and had more of a family party.
My last 2 were piratically twins (3.5 months apart) and the expectant/birth mothers were good friends.
I was having a huge shower and knew they both wanted to come, so I invited them prior to birth.
I am glad I did because it really got them excited to see all my friends and family and all the love and support and gifts. They loved seeing all their child would have, the nursery and also seeing all the friends and family, etc.
It would have been really hard had they not actually placed, but I am glad it worked out. Maybe that influenced it, I believe the more time you spend together and share, the more likely they do place. You just never know. I thought if they did not place I would give them the gender specific stuff and keep the other stuff.
On a side note I knew I would get a ton of baby stuff, so I had a hospital bag/recovery basket for them so they would have something to open as well with robe, slippers, and all the stuff my sister said you need after you deliver, etc.
Maybe it is to emotional to do for a first time adoption, but probably fun for a second one.”
This comment was in response to a prospective adoptive mother wondering if she should or should not invite the expectant mother she was matched with to her baby shower.
I have bolded the portion of the comment that I had a visceral reaction to. What that bolded portion is describing is most definitely coercion. This woman is describing how, by having the expectant mother present at the baby shower, she was hoping it would put pressure on the mother to follow through with the adoption. She flat out states that she believed that the more time spent with the expecting mother, the more likely they are to give their child to you.
When I read that comment, it was a punch in the gut. This is not how adoption is supposed to work. A woman who is considering adoption should not be subjected to the manipulation and added pressure of worrying about the prospective parents. To read a statement like this from an adoptive mother was truly an eye opener for me.
I am not sharing this woman’s comment to punish or embarrass her. It is my hope that more expecting mothers and hopeful adoptive parents will start to recognize the subtle manipulation and added level of stress pre-birth matching puts on mothers and refuse to engage in it. Adoption should not be about convincing a woman to give up their child. Adoption should be about a woman making the best choice for her child.
So I had to step back from adoption for the last couple of months. I think we all need to do that from time to time. But, just like every year, the month of May is here. My son was born 15 years ago, May 30th.
As soon as May 1st rolls around on the calendar, my emotions go into overdrive. Mind you, I think about my son every single day. Sometimes it is a passing thought, sometimes there is a more steady stream of emotions. May brings flowers, warmer days, and an emotional sledgehammer to my heart.
I read a very dismissive statement the other day from an adoptive mother. She stated that it must be a hard day once a year on her adopted child’s birthday for his birth mother. As if the only time us first mothers think about their children is on that one day a year. Fuck off is not a strong enough sentiment for that adoptive mother.
Every time I have to write a check, or make an appointment, or simply check what the date is, when I see the word, May, I feel like someone slapped me hard in the face. It is just another reminder of the mistake I made, the regrets I have, and the longing for my child. Couple that with Mother’s Day being this month and it’s a wonder I haven’t taken a long walk off a short pier.
I wonder if there will ever come a time when the month of May does not feel like a punch in the gut. It has been 15 years, so I am thinking I already have the answer to that question.
So, I have this box. It is nothing to look at. It is an old Florida Oranges box I received from my Granny back when she sent me Florida oranges and Grapefruits in the mail because she knew I loved them. Inside of it, photos, birthday cards, letters, memories.
I don’t know why on this particular day I made the decision to open that box and look for it. I can’t even remember putting the paperwork inside of it, or why I kept it. I knew there weren’t any last names on the paperwork. It was just a generic “Dear Birthmother” letter and 2 forms filled out (one by each adoptive parent) about colleges attended, likes, dislikes, and first names. I don’t know what I hoped I would find, but on this day I had an uncontrollable urge to try.
Digging to the bottom of the box, I found what I was looking for and one more thing, my first son’s hospital hat. I immediately put the hat to my nose and tried to smell some remnant of him, but all I could smell was dust. Putting it aside, I read through the letter and forms for the first time in 13 years or so.
I gathered up the information, walked calmly to the computer and started googling. First name combos, quotes, no quotes. Connecticut? First names plus colleges. I don’t remember what the exact google query was, but up popped a photo. A photo of the people I had met 13 years ago. It was them. I knew their last names. I felt like I was spying on them. It felt wrong, but I could not help myself. A few clicks later and I found of photo of my son. OH MY GOD. There he was, smiling. At the bottom of the page, an email address for the adoptive mother.
A few days later, and after much soul searching I emailed her. I had to know. I had to forge some kind of connection. I don’t know if anyone who isn’t a first mother can understand the thought process, but it felt like I had no choice. I had to write her.
Since that day 2 years ago, I have been crushed by wave after wave of emotion that I had repressed. It has been painful, necessary, and unending. Pandora’s box can not be closed.
I get called angry and bitter a lot. Not in real life, but in virtual life. In real life, I would be described as a middle-of-the-roader. I am a person that never wants to upset the apple cart. Most times, I may have a strong opinion on a subject, but don’t feel comfortable enough to take a position and argue it with people I do not know very well. I am a confrontation-avoider.
The truth is, in real life, adoption isn’t something that comes up in conversation much. I run into the occasional person in the process of adopting, but I don’t really feel it is my place to get in their face about how they are going about it. I have yet to be asked what my thoughts are on adoption in real life. That is probably because I don’t have “birth mother” tattooed on my forehead.
In virtual life, adoption seems to be everywhere. There are adoptive parent blogs, first mother blogs, adoptee blogs, prospective adoptive parent blogs, and a myriad of adoption facebook pages. There are blogs and facebook pages for every position under the sun, for or against, anti or pro. I also have many personal, real life friends on facebook that have adopted or are in the process of adopting.
I do a lot of posting on the internet about my opinions about adoption, mostly domestic infant adoptions. While many of my comments are on pages that are similar to my perspective, I also do a fair amounting of commenting on pages which carry the opposite perspective. I do this because there are so many pages devoted to painting adoption as a beautiful, miraculous event and I feel it is a small thing that I can do for a woman who may be perusing those pages to see another side of the coin.
Inevitably, there are people who do not like that. And, of course, I get called angry and bitter…A LOT!
I embrace being angry. Anger is an active emotion. It is the reason I write about adoption issues. It is a motivator. I am angry that women are lied to. I am angry that families are being separated. I am angry that I am not raising my son. I am angry that people are making money from adoption. YES, ANGRY! My anger motivates me to seek out ways to change the system. Anger is not apathy. Anger is a stepping stone to change. Being called angry is not an insult, it means I am getting to you.
I don’t view bitterness as an active emotion. Bitterness implies a constant state of wallowing. Bitterness is taking in anger without letting any of it out. It is identifying oneself as a victim without working toward changing what made you a victim. So no, I am not bitter. I refuse to let someone turn me into merely a victim and sit on the sidelines watching while another woman is bulldozed over. I will not be that.
So, I love adoption peeps, call me angry, call me rage-filled, call me anything, but not bitter. Not anymore.
As seen on Craigslist New Haven this week:
We are a married couple who are unable to have children of our own and are looking to you to help us with your generous gift.
We will offer your baby a lifetime of love, support, and caring in a great home environment.
We’re looking for a private adoption and have already had our home study completed by a reputable licensed agency.
We work with a great adoption attorney who has adopted children himself and is a member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.
Please visit our website to learn more about us. http://www.IreneandGreg.com or call us at 1-888-292-2003 (our direct line)
Thanks for visiting and we look forward to meeting you!
This one included pics of a beautiful home, an empty, fully loaded nursery, and wedding photos of the couple:
Our baby boys passed away as infants due to unforeseen, unrelated health problems. Our love of children and the desire to build a family has led us to adoption. We have a completed home study and are waiting to give an infant an excellent home.
If you, or someone you know, is considering placing their child for adoption please review our website at http://www.DanaandBobby2Adopt.shutterfly.com to learn more about us and contact us at DanaandBobby2Adopt@yahoo.com or 973-223-6453 when you are ready. The decision you are considering is a selfless act of pure love, strength and courage. We admire you more than words can describe and hope to join you on this journey together.
Craigslist Adoption Ads are Unethical and Disturbing
Dear Irene, Greg, Dana, and Bobby,
Stop it. You are so much better than this. The fact that you are posting ads on craigslist in the hopes of bringing home someone else’s precious child seriously calls into question your ethical and moral boundaries. Actually, it flat out screams you have none. Even if it does work, do you really want to have to explain to your child that you placed an ad for him on Craigslist? Or that his original mother decided to look for his parents on Craigslist?
Irene and Greg–
A child should not be gifted to anyone. You give gifts on birthdays and holidays. You wrap them up with a pretty bow. Children are not things to be gifted.
What in God’s name does YOU having a wonderful adoption attorney have to do with anything? I seriously hope you are not suggesting that this attorney can represent both yourselves AND a potential birth mother. That would be highly unethical and a big, fat conflict of interests.
I also find it strange that your “direct line” is a toll-free number. So you want this woman to potentially give you their baby, but can’t bear the thought of her having your home phone number…sketchy.
Dana and Bobby–
I am so sorry for your loss. Nothing, not even adopting a new baby, will make that loss easier to cope with. The fact that you are using the death of your sons to try to coerce a mother into giving you their baby is disgusting. The entire reason you bring your dead sons’ up in the ad is to pull at the heart strings. Take a good look in the mirror and decide if that is the kind of people you want to be.
You call the decision to give a child up, “a selfless act of pure love, strength and courage.” So, if that same person decides to keep their child is that a selfish act of pure hatred, weakness, and cowardice? Choose your words carefully please.
You say that you hope to join this mythical, as of yet unidentified, pregnant woman on her journey. It is not a journey, it is a pregnancy and you should keep the hell out of it.
I especially like the longing pic of your empty nursery. Well played, adopters, well played.
Please go troll for babies elsewhere. You aren’t even supposed to place ads for adopting dogs on craigslist, let alone infants.
A Fed Up Original Mother
P.S- If you haven’t already, please consider participating in the Craiglist Adoption Truth Project, it’s super easy and guaranteed to piss off a few people (always a plus!)