I love facebook. I really do. I love reading different perspectives on issues I may never have thought of. I might not agree with those perspectives, but they are valid to me if they at least get me to think. I read a ton of different adoption perspectives on facebook. Lately, or maybe just lately for me, I have come across more and more facebook groups specifically advocating for open adoption BUT specifically banning and deterring dissenting opinions about open adoption. One might think the owners of these groups are all adoptive or prospective adoptive parents and agencies. To my surprise, some of the most vocal anti-pro-adoption reformers are newly minted birth mothers. This got me thinking (always a dangerous prospect), are all birth mothers alike and simply on different stages of journeys? Or, are we all very different?
What kind of birth mother are you?
I do not consider myself to be especially bitter about adoption. I am unhappy with the way it is conducted today. I believe much change needs to come about.
It has always been my opinion that women who find themselves in less than ideal circumstances want to keep their babies. A woman who is presented with support and help from their community and perhaps a little compassion would not choose adoption. Lately, this small idea of mine has been challenged by happy birth mothers. My question is, are they really happy or have they let themselves been talked into believing they are happy?
Do Happy Birth Mothers Exist?
When I use the word happy, I am not talking about being at peace with a decision. I am talking about women who proclaim their joy and happiness with adoption and take every opportunity to talk about their happiness. I am talking about women who are dancing around to REM’s, Shiny Happy People while thinking about adoption.
I am talking about women who talk about their children’s adoptive parents like Gods, thanking them for raising their children and allowing them to maintain contact with them. I am talking about women who talk about the absolute joy in getting to go on with their lives without the burden of motherhood. If these women are as joyful and ecstatic about adoption as they claim to be, I have to say, they sound like sociopaths.
Now, who am I to discount or expect every woman to have the same experience as me and why do I care? I care because these happy daisies preach about their fantabulous adoptions on every “support” site out there. I care because other women who are considering adoption read their bullshit pudding and take it at face value. It is fine to present that side of the adoption coin, but I do put my pissy pants on when these sites/groups/pages ban and delete what they consider to be “anti” comments. What is so wrong with putting it all out there, the good and the bad?
These “happies” seem to get deeply offended by “unhappies”. I do not think they can stomach any comment that would not lead to the conclusion that they are saviors. Their fragile psyches can not be exposed to any other way of thinking about adoption. Certainly the mere mention that however they (the happies) may feel about adoption may not translate to how their adult adoptees may feel about it sends them into a tizzy of epic proportions. Lots of how dare you’s and who are you to talk about my situation’s.
The point of my little tirade is this. If all of you “happies” out there are truly so overjoyed to have given up your flesh and blood to strangers, why are you trolling support groups? Why are you creating support pages for open adoptions? Generally speaking, happies don’t usually need support groups. There are only 2 conclusions. Either you are sociopaths (or maybe the right word is psychopaths) who only function on this planet to serve yourselves and cause pain and discontentment to those around you OR you are not truly happy and the only way to shield yourself from the realization of the unhappiness in your soul is to talk other women into the same painful experience as you.
Before I start, first head on over to the First Mother Forum and read the rage levied at everyone over there from 16 and Pregnant reality TV star, Tyler Baltierra (of Catelynn and Tyler fame). If you don’t know who he is, he and his girlfriend are the current poster children for Bethany Christian Services and the adoption industry in general. They have starred on every season of Teen Mom and were in the original series, 16 and Pregnant. They are first parents.
I have commented over at FMF but I still have so much grrrrrr left in me that I need to vent it out. And so…vent commencing…
An Open Letter to Tyler Baltierra
I have tremendous empathy for you, Tyler and Catelynn, really I do. I was once a newborn first mother trying desperately to justify giving away my son. Had I read FMF back then, I probably would have been angry at first too. FMF does not discuss the virtues of adoption. It is not all rainbows and unicorn farts (which smell like cherry lemonade by the way) over there. Loraine and Jane are in the trenches, talking about the hard topics, trying to make a difference. If just one scared pregnant mother reads through FMF and decided to raise their child, it is well worth their efforts. Tyler, calling these women bitter and ignorant is incorrect. Angry about the adoption industry, for sure. Ignorant of it, absolutely not. The word ignorant does not apply here. In fact, Tyler, I am unsure if you really know what the word, ignorant, means. It seems that you believe it to mean: does not agree with Tyler. Many people disagree with me, but they are not all ignorant, although I would like to believe they are. It might be helpful to have the actual definition in front of you. Just click on ignorant and voila!
I think it’s great that you now know the last names of the people raising your daughter and their address. I haven’t kept up much with your reality show, but last I saw neither of these things were true. I’m glad your daughter’s parents decided to give you this information. However, this minor detail (sarcasm intended) probably should have been discussed with Dawn (oh I’ll get to her in a minute) before you handed over your child. In all actuality, in most cases, open adoptions tend to start to shut but it seems yours is going in the other direction which is wonderful.
In the next paragraph you say you are fully aware that the a-parents can close the adoption at any time and that is apparently fine with you. You say you chose them and they have complete control. Wowzers. I’m not sure that most people would be okay with others exerting that much control over their lives. I’m not quite sure I believe that you would be okay with Carly’s parents deciding to close all communication with you and moving to another country. You go on to say that you have FAITH and then proceed to define FAITH as, “believing in something when everyone surrounding you tells you not to”. It seems to me that everyone around YOU in particular was/is counting on you and Catelynn having faith that things will turn out wonderful. I’m not sure that I would rely on having faith when it came to having on going communication with my child. I think by faith, you mean that you truly have no alternative at this point but to believe the a-parents. I mean, you can’t do anything about it now if they chose to close the adoption. I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen, for Carly’s sake. You should know that her a-parents have plenty of reasons to close it at this point, primarily the fact that you and Catelynn could be seen as doing harm to Carly’s mental health by appearing on a reality show centered around her adoption. Just keep that in mind.
You say that you researched “everything about adoption” prior to making your decision. So let me get this straight, you knew beforehand that the best thing for an infant is to stay with its mother. You knew about the life long repercussions for Carly even if she had a wondrous, rainbow filled life? You knew that there was no guarantee that the adoption would stay open? You knew how much money BCS would be making off of your daughter if you placed her? If all of that is true, I commend you because I certainly did not have any of that information nor was it offered to me by my “counselor”.
Now onto the reality tv portion of this diatribe. You say that no one knows everything about your life just because you were on tv. I agree. However, isn’t the purpose of you being on reality tv to show us, the viewer, how adoption is affecting your lives? If not, I’m just not getting it. You really can’t have it both ways. You can’t act all shaken and angry when someone comments on your VERY PUBLIC personal life. It is your choice to be in the public eye. You make money from being in the public eye. You should be aware that there will be scrutiny. Welcome to the 21st century.
Some of the comments on FMF refer to Dawn, your counselor extraordinaire. If you haven’t already, you both really need to go to a therapist or counselor that is separate from your adoption agency. Dawn had a vested interest in getting your daughter. She is employed by the agency, she earns a paycheck from the agency. Ask yourself if she would still be employed by that agency if she failed to convince women to give up their children. She also has a vested interest in you and Catelynn being vocal supporters of the adoption industry. She has no vested interest in your ACTUAL well being. She is the agency. She needs you to stay positive and vocal about adoption. You are their spokesperson and they MAKE MONEY FROM YOU being positive about adoption. Adoption agencies make money from adoption. A lot of money. Billions of dollars in fact. Please understand this and be informed. Whether or not you did the right thing for Carly in the long run, they still make money from you. Don’t let them use you both like this. Don’t let them profit from your misery. The Adoption Industry is making money from convincing women they are making a selfless decision and choosing a loving option. In what other context is giving a child away selfless or loving?
Lastly, I need to address why I, personally, take issue with you and Catelynn. People take issue with your circumstance because you are using it to coerce other birth parents into giving away their child. And since I am a birth mother, no I did not make an adoption plan, I gave my son away. No amount of positive adoption language is going to change that. If I may ask, how many birth mothers who have given their children up for adoption 10 plus years ago are ever present in your support groups or panel discussions? Close to zero, I’d wager. Do you ever wonder why that is so? These are very important questions to ask yourselves.
Please, at the very least, do some research into adult adoptee issues. Listen to the people who have gone before you, listen to their truths. Consider the facts and decide if you and Catelynn really want to be a part of contributing to the misery of other children and their birth parents by touting the virtues of adoption. Don’t react, take a deep breath, and seek out the truth of adoption. It will be painful to read what others have to say, but it will be worth it.
Catelynn and Tyler are Adoption Industry Pawns
No, my open letter is probably not the kindest. I do empathize with them to a point. However I do harbor my fair share of anger at them for being pawns in the war against scared expectant mothers. In my view, a woman who is truly sure that adoption is the right choice for her isn’t going to give a crap what the Tyler and Catelynns of the world say. It’s the women who are scared and unsure that I worry about. It’s the women who are so much like I was that break my heart. They need someone to guide them in the other direction, not toward adoption. They don’t need newly made first parents singing from the hilltops about adoption, they need fully versed first parents like Loraine and Jane to tell them what they may not want to hear, but what they NEED to hear.
Bravelove : A Fountain of Adoption Misinformation
Claud over at Musings of the Lame has written an informative piece on Bravelove. Their mission? Yeah, I’m her
stalker superfan. She’s got mad investigating skills, check out what she dug up on Bravelove.
Bravelove Uses Adoption Propaganda to Get Fresh Infants
I want to address Bravelove’s video (seen below):
So, what’s wrong with this video, you ask?
1. It is written from the supposed viewpoint of a child and presumably an adoptee. This would lead someone to believe that all adoptees are thrilled they are adopted (false) and that all adoptees view their birth mothers in a positive light (also false). An expectant mother would view this video thinking that adoption is what is best for the child (yup false). Of course we want what is best for our baby, but adoption is not always the answer. The only thing adoption can promise is that our baby’s life will be different, not better. It is also disturbing that the agency is speaking FOR adoptees through this child.
2. Birthmothers are called superheroes. If I am an expecting mother watching this, I’m probably thinking it would be really cool to be a superhero and the only way to gain that status is to give my baby away. It is much more heroic to raise your own child when faced with obstacles. So, if I’m a superhero for giving my child away, what am I if I decide to keep him? A super villain?
It also implies that the adoptee will view their birthmother as such. Take a look at all the adult adoptee blogs out there. There are many, many views about their first mothers. It’s never as simple as, “she was a superhero.”
3. If we replace the weird super hero jedi kid running around and mouthing off about adoption with a prospective adoptive mother the entire tone and attitude of the video changes. It would sound like a person who really really really really wants to raise someone else’s baby. It would sound like they were entitled to raise someone’s baby. It would be offensive.
4. All the double-talk Mom-mother speak is confusing. Which one am I again?
5. Quote from the masked jedi, “She can turn 9 months into a lifetime…” The first time I watched this video I literally yelled, “OF PAIN” at the computer. Tell me, Obi-wan Adoptee, what exactly does a lifetime without your child feel like? What exactly does a lifetime of being separated from your first family feel like?
6. MAYBE that’s easier said than done??? MAYBE??? But being a superhero always is. There is no maybe about it. Giving my child away was the most traumatic event in my life thus far. I could not have chosen a more painful path to walk on in this lifetime. I assure you that giving my baby away is far more painful than raising him on my own could have ever been.
Bravelove Needs Expectant Mothers to Believe They are Saints
Could this company try any harder to make women think they are saints for giving up their children? Since when is it an expecting mother’s DUTY to make a couple a family?
What is even worse than this video is Bravelove’s facebook page They offer up statistics, never citing where they came from. They have nauseating “fill in the blank, adoption is….” posts which of course have adoptive parents lining up to tell us what adoption means to them. Their entire page and website is visual ipecac.
Just yesterday, the mission on their facebook page and website was stated as “increasing domestic adoptions”. Funny how today it has been changed to: “To change the perception of adoption through honest, informative, and hopeful communication that conveys the heroism and bravery a birth mother displays when she places her child with a loving family through adoption.” I guess the PR peeps thought that stating they wanted to increase their supply of fresh out of the womb infants for the growing demand of adopters with tons of money to throw at their agency was a little too truthful.
My final thought on Bravelove: Their website and facebook page is only presenting the image of the “happy adoption.” There is no exploration or communication of the fact that there are many people out there that have been through or are still involved in adoption that don’t view adoption in a happy light.
Language is important. It shapes how we view the world. Pro-lifers, for example, use the word MURDER a lot when talking about abortion while pro-choicers use TERMINATION or ABORTION. Both groups are talking about the same thing, but the words they use help shape their argument. Their words help persuade others to see things their way.
Over at Birth Mother, First Forum, Loraine Dusky has a great article about the adoption language issue. She writes so eloquently, it is a must read.
Positive Adoption Language: Who Does it Benefit?
“Postitive Adoption Language” helps persuade expecting mothers into giving up their children and I flat out refuse to participate in the industry’s silly reindeer games anymore. The worst phrase is the (insert happy fairytale music here) “adoption plan.” Holy crap, did you just see that rainbow?
Oh silly expecting mother, you are not giving your child away, you are making a plan. Uh say wha? Let’s call a spade a spade. You are giving your baby to virtual strangers to raise and care for. You may be involved in the choosing of who the strangers are going to be. You may choose what agency you will use. Yes, there are many ways to plan to give your child away but it still is giving them away.
The phrase “adoption plan” also conveys that the mother is in control. She is making a choice, a loving one in fact (there’s that pesky rainbow again), and has planned accordingly. She is not leaving the baby in a dumpster. What really kills me about “making an adoption plan” is that this involves the nauseating process of matching with prospective adopters. Meeting the would-be adopters and involving them in her adoption plan is a huge conflict of interest for her and constitutes coercion. I would say that the adopters and agency are making the adoption plan for her unborn baby, not the mother. It’s all smoke and mirrors. Choosing to use the phrase adoption plan makes it seem like the mother is an informed decision maker. Like she is making a plan and has considered and rejected all the ways she could keep her baby. Sure, that is true in some cases, but not all. It’s malarkey, a mother is choosing to give away her baby, plain and simple. It is what it is. Making a plan does not make it different.
Just once I would like to see a parenting plan offered a mother considering adoption. A REAL ONE. Oh but wait! There is a term for a mother choosing a parenting plan, it’s called a failed adoption or a failed match. Holy shitting christ on a cracker, what the fuck is that? I’ll tell you what that is. It’s “positive adoption language.” Actually, saying a mother is keeping her baby is more accurate. She didn’t flunk out of adoption school. There’s no “F” on her life report card. It’s more accurate to say the agency failed to procure a child for the would-be adopters. Or the adopters failed to coerce the mother into giving away her baby.
Birth Mother Means Mother Period
The term “birth mother” is viewed as being diminishing of our role to many of us. I actually agree with that sentiment. When I talk to people in real life, I don’t refer to myself as such, I simply say mother or my son, not my birth son. When I use it here on my blog, I am doing so because it’s less confusing for anyone reading it. I do prefer the term first mother, because I was the first mother in my son’s life. But not everyone knows what that means so I use birth mother here a lot to describe myself. I probably should stop doing that because it makes it seem like I was an incubator. But I think of myself as my son’s mother, period, that’s it. He has another mother as well, I’m not diminishing that by any means. We are both his mother in very different ways. The most truthful thing to me would be to call adoptive mothers the parent and birth mothers the mother, but I’m not sure that anyone would get on board with that.
All of the nonsensical pro adoption speak is meant to invoke a less emotional response for people when they think about adoption. The exception being when it’s the people hoping to benefit from adoption, then words like failure are thrown around. The language is meant to play down the impact of adoption for the mother. It’s meant to convey to the world around us that adoption is a wonderful thing for adopters and not all that terrible for mothers who surrender. I call bullshit. Yup, BOOLSHHEEETTT. Just like the miracle of adoption. phffft.