Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Coming out as a mother who relinquished a child in the Sixties

In hiding.

That's the how most of us lived when we got pregnant. In shame, hiding our pregnancies, lying to neighbors and even people we called friends. For us, it was the worst of times.

So many of us with adult children searching and/or reuniting for their natural parents today cannot understand what it was like in the decades when they were born. The shame might have been lessening after the Seventies, but it didn't happen all at once, and it was different in different places, with different religions and in individual families. No matter what, we hid our burgeoning bellies; some of us were sent away to god-awful homes for "unwed mothers" or to live relatives in a distant town. Some of us

Monday, October 10, 2016

Hillary wrong on adoption, but Trump/Pence ticket threatens women's rights

                            --Courtesy of Lisa Roberts
Adoption came up last night in the second debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as she spoke of her 30 years in public life. After noting that eight million kids every year have health insurance because of her work to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program, she said:  "Hundreds of thousands of kids now have a chance to be adopted because I worked to change our adoption and foster care system."

Ouch, we collectively sighed. The law that she helped push through Congress in 1997, the so-called Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), was passed to address what child welfare experts claimed were the failings of an approach that kept families together. The claims were that children were kept in, or returned to, precarious family situations where the children were in actual danger of being injured or killed. The new law urged a get-tough approach to parents. 

The overall effect was to sometimes take children from mothers and families when unnecessary, and make it impossible for

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

'Pro-Life' equals 'pro-adoption' in Pence's punishing choice

"I think if you are pro-life you should be pro-adoption," was one of the nuggets Mike Pence said during last night's debate. He went on: 

"The state of Indiana has also made sure that we expand health-care counseling for women, non-abortion alternatives. I'm very pleased that in Indiana that we are well on our way to becoming the most pro-adoption state in America." 

Therefore his answer to women who get pregnant when they can't find a way to keep their babies is just put the child up for adoption. Not one mention of giving those women the kind of aid that would allow keeping their babies as the humane alternative to abortion. No, instead, it's always: adoption.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Bill's affairs don't make Hillary less a feminist

Bill Clinton was a philander. Old news. Now the news is that his wife Hillary is anti-feminist because she a) did stand by her man and b) wasn't nice to the women Bill was fooling around with. Because Hillary wasn't nice to them during the election campaigns and his presidency, Trump's surrogates are trying to shame her into not being a feminist.

Please. Don't insult my intelligence. Trump spokesman Rudy Giuliani and others of the Trump campaign who are trying to make an issue of Hillary's behavior toward other woman who slept with her husband may speak to the audience who already hate Hillary, but the argument is falling flat.

Not being nice to the woman who is sleeping with your husband--no matter how it was initiated--is what we humans do. We protect our own interests, our own marriages, our men from rivals. Instinctively, we pounce to trash the

Thursday, September 29, 2016

'X' instead of a name on a birth certificate is just plain wrong

Lorraine and Jane at Rockefeller Center, 1982
A few days ago I read a story about Missouri adoptees born before 1941 being able to actually get their birth certificates, and dammit by the time I got to the end I was just furious that states are so slow to realize what sealed records have done to people!  Yes, they go about their lives and grow up, go the school, have jobs, get married, have children and all the rest, but in most states they still are unable to have that piece of paper that might unlock--most likely would unlock--the key to their identities: original birth certificates with the names of the parents.

Friday, September 16, 2016

ACLU: Right on Kaepernick, wrong on adoptee and first mother rights

"We support Colin Kaepernick and every other American who has defended an unpopular opinion." So tweets ACLU National. (And we do too, see our current sidebar.)

The ACLU National support 49ers quarterback Kaepernick's kneel-down during the singing of the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality, but they also support injustice against adoptees. They say they do this for those birth/first mothers who wish to remain secret from their children. Baloney. If that is their argument for being such a stand-up partner to adoptee injustice, they are ignoring what they actually support.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

DNA reveals a mother who rejected contact. Maybe.

Dear Lorraine:

"Through DNA I have a close 2nd cousin match and with help from a search angel, I found my first mother. I have a younger brother from her. My problem is she said no contact when the Children's Home Society in Florida found her back in 2007. At that point I learned that she had not disclosed my existence to her family, but now with the DNA tests results and my tree on ancestry I won't be a secret any more for long.

"Trying to figure out what to do next--should I try to contact her again through a direct letter to her, with a few pictures? We look a lot a like.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Light Between Oceans: Bloated melodrama defies your sympathy

The book, the movie poster
As soon as I learned that The Light Between Oceans was about the tug-of-war over a child between a mother and one who pretends to be the real mother (as was evident in the pre-release TV commercials) I knew I would see it. I took plenty of tissues; I wanted to go alone.

Since I found the story of The Place Beyond the Pines, one of the director Derek Cianfrance's earlier films, devastating and compelling from the first frame, I expected the same. After that story of a child the father did not know his short-term girlfriend had, and its the tragic end, I was an emotional mess. I know too many stories about guys who don't know they left behind a child.

So I was set up to like this movie.  I excepted my own personal waterworks.

Yet I didn't even need the tissues. The story is way too preposterous, the filming veers to high melodrama, the moral question at the heart of the story

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Catelynn and Tyler face the hard realities of adoption--again

Birth mother Catelynn Lowell Baltierra
An anguished Catelynn Lowell Baltierra listens while her husband Tyler denounces Brandon and Teresa Davis, the adoptive parents of their first daughter, Carly.  Seven years ago, as teen parents, their surrender of their daughter was featured on MTV's reality soap opera 16 and Pregnant. MTV has followed Catelynn and three other teen moms who kept their babies, Amber, Staci, and Farrah, as they moved from adolescence into adulthood in a show now called "Teen Mom OG" (original girls).

On the latest episode, Teresa tells Catelynn in a telephone call that she does not want their

Monday, August 29, 2016

Adoption never strays far from my life

Kate and Geoff leaving the ceremony 
You just never know what's going to happen when you are as public as I am about my daughter lost to adoption and my passion for changing adoption, and Facebook.

Case A) A lawyer in my village of Sag Harbor of friendly but usually only a passing acquaintance told me one day that years ago he handled an adoption and he has kept all the papers with the names intact IN CASE someone (as in the mother or the grown-up child) returns asking for information.

He will give it to whomever arrives, no questions asked (as long as no one is an axe-murderer).  He understands that it is absurd that mother and child are not allowed to know one another under current laws. I have no more

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

'Our Little Sister' a tender study of family and kinship

Sisters greeting an unknown sibling who shares one parent is the subject of Our Little Sister, a Japanese film now in art theaters. Adoption is not part of this story, yet the issues were close enough to the bone I was glad to be sitting in the dark, alone, with no one near me. They would have wondered how this deeply charming and quietly moving film would have elicited deep feelings in me. Some people might simply get misty eyed as the film ends, but I slipped my sunglasses on as I left to hide the outright tears.

Let's get on with the story: Three sisters, now grown and working, were left by their father 15 years earlier when he had an affair that produced a daughter, Suzu, now an adolescent. Suzu was living with the father, and a new wife in a distant village when he died. The three sisters travel by train to funeral, and Suzu, the little sister, meets them at the station, walks them to their hotel, and quietly says goodbye.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Genetic mother denied visitation with son conceived in vitro

Jordan Schnitzer, father of the year. NOT. 
Jordan Schnitzer wanted a son without the bother of a mother. After two attempts using "donated" eggs, Schnitzer, 65, the divorced father of two teenage daughters turned to his 37-year-old girlfriend Cory Sause. She happened to have some eggs frozen just in case... and she agreed to share them with Schnitzer. After a surrogate became pregnant from Schnitzer's/Sause's embryo/DNA, their relationship soured.

Their son was born in December and they are now embroiled in litigation on whether egg mother Sause can have visitation with her biological son. Schnitzer's position is absolute: He is the sole and exclusive parent. His name alone is on the birth certificate. Biology be damned.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Simone Biles' commotion over her (adoptive) parents

Simone at work
Simone Biles, one of the stars of the Olympics, is at the source of a huge kerfuffle regarding what adoptive parents deem as acceptable language when it comes to them. Al Trautwig, a NBC commentator, referred to her briefly by saying she was raised by her grandfather and his wife and she calls them mom and dad. He also said that she was adopted by them. He also tweeted: “They may be mom and dad but they are NOT her parents,” he wrote in a since-deleted tweet.

Well, you'd think that he had thrown out a bomb. It was bold, I'll admit and I wonder what prompted him to go that far--that is, CAP the NOT. Maybe he was being nudged to diminish or hide her back story, and he said, Wait a minute, that's not the true story. Maybe he is the biological father of a child who was adopted. Maybe he wanted to raise his own child and was denied that. Or maybe, he had already been criticized for acknowledging that she was adopted by her grandfather and step-grandmother and he was irritated by the sensitive souls who had taken offense and were already complaining about hearing the truth, a prospect that I as a journalist find plausible. Who knows?

Monday, August 8, 2016

DMC: Room for two mothers in his life

Jane, DMC, and Jeanette Roberts at AAC 3-8-07
I met the rapper, Darryl McDaniels ( DMC)  in 2007 when I attended the annual conference of the American Adoption Congress in Boston with my good friend and fellow first mother Jeanette Roberts. In truth I had never heard of DMC and knew nothing about rap music. I learned he was a late discovery adoptee and an advocate for opening records.

I bought his just published book Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide: A Memoir because I wanted to learn more about his adoption experience and as way of thanking him for standing up for adoption reform and taking the time to pose with me and Jeanette in a picture. I'm glad I did.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

When death reveals a secret child

Full moon.
Thursday and Friday I helped clean out the home of a neighbor and friend who died in December.

With the emptying of the house, my husband and I are also losing a family that became a stand-in for my own distant family, and for Tony's too. And the neighbor--the grande dame of her family--was my friend, but a friend who I discovered shortly before she died, was a mother like me. A mother who gave up a child.

I've written about Yvonne several times before, for we had legendary arguments about whether someone who is relinquished and adopted should find their biological family. We wrote

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Advertising for a baby and other gripes

It's hot outside. Really hot. I'm watching the conventions and the convention analysis, but still adoption goes on. Still we get comments here and messages on Facebook asking us to advertise a couple who are hoping to adopt your lovely baby.

The other day, I was asked, along with 24 others, in a message on Facebook, if I would please post their story because they were going to be "featured" soon by their adoption agency. So thus their "featured" post (which agency was not included) would be repeated on 25 other Facebook pages (assuming we all were invested in spreading their ad for a baby) and thus hopefully reach some woman/teen in dire straits who cannot figure out how to keep her baby.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Adoption and Lying: Adopted Syndrome or not?

Due to the stories of reunion troubles that emerged from the last blog, I am reposting one that I wrote in 2010.--lorraine

Over the weekend I met up with an old friend, a therapist who facilitates groups of parents of troubled children, and while some of them are children of divorce, she added that a fair number of them are adoptive parents. A friend of ours sent their teenage son for a year to a school for problem kids, and the son reported that many, if not most of the kids there were adopted, or children of divorce. I won't go into the children of divorce issue here, but the statistics of trouble are there, among the adopted:

"The number of Adoptees in the adolescent and young-adult clinics and residential treatment centers is strikingly high. Doctors from the Yale Psychiatric Institute and other

Friday, July 15, 2016

What do mothers owe their children lost to adoption?

Not every mother, we know, welcomes her lost son or daughter back with warmth and motherly feelings. Not every family does either. Jealousies erupt, feelings are hurt, adoptees are rejected. Some of the problems stem directly from the secrecy many mothers assumed, and did not tell their spouses or other children. Not every adoptee who comes back is a stable person. Some are angry. Studies and statistics show adoptees show up in greater numbers than the norm in numbers among addicts, criminals, and other troubled populations. Adoptees are more likely to attempt suicide or have suicidal thoughts.*

We know this from the research, the people who write here, and other social media. We hear from mothers who feel used and mistreated by their reunited children, now adults. We hear from adoptees who have been rejected for no good reason other than they were given up for adoption and the original mothers and families cannot accommodate their children's return.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A rationale for adoptee access to original birth certificates

From the Albany Times-Union
As we celebrate Hawaii's ground-breaking law, we must remember that many states (13 at this point) have passed laws that give some--but not all--adopted people access to their original birth records. These laws are wrong every which way. There should be no restrictions to anyone's access to their birth records or any source that would give individuals the names of their natural biological parents. However, when there is no possibility of complete access--due to a legislator's intransigence on the noxious issue of birth mother vetoes--we have not opposed such legislation. We did, however, oppose the truly awful bill in New York state recently. But just as the military went from President Bill Clinton's tepid "Don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays to full acceptance, so will we move to full access for all adoptees to their original birth certificates without exceptions, or those damn birth mother/first mother vetoes.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Hawaii OPENS adoption records!

"Allows adopted individuals who have attained eighteen years of age, adoptive parents, and natural parents unfettered access to the adopted individual's sealed adoption records."

This is the legislative summary of HB 2082 passed by the Hawaii legislature and signed into law by Governor David Ige on June 23, 2016, effective immediately.  No ifs, ands or buts.  All parties affected by an adoption can access the court records just for the asking. They don't have to have a good reason--or any reason at all.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Do you have children? That invisible barrier that separates first mothers

Do you bring up your story--that is, when asked by near strangers, Do you have children?--or not? For those of us who never had other children  (approximately a third of all mothers who relinquished children for adoption), the question is a perennial that never goes away.

Case in point: Last night we met the couple who own the house behind us. Our properties are divided by a hedge. They've owned the house for several years but largely rent it out, and use it only sporadically. They rented it last winter, will be there through the end of June, but good friends of ours will be occupying it for July and August. That's life when you live an a resort area.

Friday, June 17, 2016

"Thank you for not aborting me"

"Thank you for not aborting me" are words that apparently are greeting some first mothers when they reunite with their children. How to react, what to say?  We are delving into the philosophical here because the remark at bottom is: thank you for giving me life.

The bald statement of fact--with a thank you!--does cut to the core of one's existence, but in the immediacy of the moment, the statement surely puts a reuniting first mother off guard. I'm afraid I would be temporarily stunned and not say anything, but feel more overwrought (and possibly waiting for attack) than I would otherwise.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Don't thank me for giving up my child

When anyone thanks me for being "brave" and "courageous" for doing "the right thing" for my daughter by giving her up for adoption, I know we still have a lot of work to do. I want to scream back at them: I wasn't brave or courageous, I was lying in the muck and mud of despair and saw no other way. It was the worst thing I ever did in my life, the worst thing I will ever do.

What is leading to this rant today? A posting on Facebook.

It will come as no surprise to regular readers that I am a liberal, a progressive, a Democrat. I posted this on Facebook the other day:
"As someone who fought my own battles because I was a woman, because I didn't go to the right school, because I have been put down for being one of "those women" who gave up a child, I relate to Hillary,

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What's the best way to contact your natural/birth/biological* mother?

Jane and Lorraine, 1982
How should a middle-aged individual contact his/her natural mother?  The natural mother is in her seventies and lives in a distant state. She is married, presumably not to the adoptee's father, because the marriage took place many years after the birth. To write or to phone?

That's the question that a caller posed to me a few days ago. He had recently found his birth mother's information, and was wrestling with how best to reach out to her. Letter or phone?

My initial impulse, I said, is to make the call. Because it will be harder to turn you down, I was thinking, even as I hated to think that. Even if she has not been hoping and waiting for her long-lost child to contact her, actually hearing from you on the phone might make her lose any hesitation. If she has doubts and fears, if she has not told those closest to her today, a live person--one's own child--on the phone may dissuade her from... hesitating. From turning away. From rejecting her child.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

What adoption records belong to whom?

Adoption records are spread all over adoptionland--at the offices of adoption facilitators, adoption agencies, attorneys, hospitals, state departments of children's services. And that's just domestic adoptions.

Some adoptees contend that, as the epicenter of all this paper and electronic bits, they are entitled to access all of these records. We at FMF disagree. Many of these documents contain details about the private lives of the natural parents and the adoptive parents. Some of it is likely to be subjective interpretations of the social workers who took the information from a distraught woman.

But it is not just the name and last known address of the adoptee--it is the personal data of another person, or persons--and thus should not be shared

Friday, May 27, 2016

Finding first mothers in Ethiopia

Andrea in Ethiopia with Mahalet and extended family 
Adoptive mother Andrea Kelley attended the Saving Our Sisters summit meeting in Kansas City two weeks ago, and she impressed me with not only her empathy for our situation, but also what she is doing to help her own adopted children and that of others. Not only did she find one of her children's mothers, she started an organization to help others. In her own words, here is her story: 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Adoption Option: Not a good choice

By Lorraine Dusky and Jane Edwards

Lorraine Dusky
Making adoption more attractive to women with unplanned pregnancies is a “worthwhile goal,” according to the liberal think tank, The Center for American Progress. A 2010 publication, The Adoption Option: Adoption Won’t Reduce Abortion but It Will Expand Women’s Choices argues for government support for “ensuring that adoption remains an ethical and effective option” while recognizing that increasing voluntary infant adoptions (approximately 14,000 a year), would not impact the number of abortions annually (1.2 million).

Monday, May 16, 2016

Saving Our Sisters: Keeping your baby better than being 'nice'

Saving Our Sisters's photo.
Tears, sisterhood and stories are the order of the day when natural mothers and adoptees get together as we did last weekend at the Saving Our Sisters summit in Kansas City. Saving our Sisters is devoted to helping women keep their babies and avoid losing them to adoption.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Honoring all Mothers' Rights this Mother's Day

Mother and Child by Mary Cassatt
Mothers who lost their children to adoption deserve the right to see government documents which help them find their child. This concept--that government should be a facilitator rather than an impediment to mothers and children reuniting--is radical to some but grounded on human nature. Mothers and their children are connected before birth, and will continue to be connected throughout their lives, whether they ever meet again or not.

In my state, Oregon, mothers who gave up their children to adoption (rather than have their rights terminated) have the right to ask a judge for copies of documents in their child's adoption legal file once their child turns 18. These documents contain the names of the adoptive parents and the adoptive name of the child.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

It's here again: Mother's Day Blues

Yes, I got this one. Not my favorite. 
The world's worst "holiday" is just days away--Mother's Day. For many mothers who lost their children to adoption, it is a day of miserable reminders of the children we do not have, and we approach it with all the joy of someone on her way to her own execution.

 And it can't be ignored. Ads are everywhere--in the newspaper, on television, in magazines, on the internet, on Facebook. Send flowers! Buy a bracelet! Perfume! A day at the spa! Even Women for Women, a charity I support, is sending me emails urging me to give a woman in some far-away country a sewing machine or money to start a garden and give my mother a card saying it was done in her name. Personally I find that kind of "gift," unless requested by the recipient, specious and not a gift at all. But back to our dilemma:

Will a card come in the mail? Will my daughter call? Just as adoptees wonder if their first mother thinks about them on