Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Giving up your baby before he's born

Mother and child, photo by Lisa Roberts
Should the law allow mothers to sign consents for adoption before the birth of their child? A few states already allow a woman to sign away her baby before the baby is born. This is outrageous and absurd, asking a vulnerable woman at a time her hormones are going bonkers to make a decision that will affect her and the as-yet-unborn child for their entire lives, as well as the generations to come.

You want to ask--What were they thinking? when someone came up with this horrendous idea. Sign here! and we'll give  you a gold watch to boot? You know right off the bat that the adoption industry was behind this noxious and unethical practice. Back in the day when Jane and I relinquished, no such crazy system was in place. Only as adoption became a big business did the purveyors of babies--in response to demands from their true clients, the adopting parents, did even a whisper of "pre-birth" consent come into being.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Waiting on the sidelines: Peter Kassig's first mother

First mother Rhonda Schwindt waited for months for news of her son, Peter Kassig, until she learned from news reports that he had been beheaded by ISIS. Because she was Peter's first mother, not the legal next-of-kin, the U.S. government refused to keep her in the information loop.

Rhonda Schwindt placed Peter as a newborn for adoption with Paula and Ed Kassig, who kept in touch with her over the years, she told Barbara Harrington of Indiana Public Media. Schwindt later married and had two children, Jana and Sam. When Peter turned 18, he asked to meet his first mother, and they were able to reunite within a day. Peter became a part of the Schwindt family and formed a close bond with Jana, 12, and Sam, 10.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Adopted or Not?

This caught my eye a few weeks ago and...I thought of all that I have learned from adoptees. How do you feel when you see this picture? Write down the first thing that comes to mind and leave it as a comment, please.--lorraine

Monday, December 8, 2014

Should 'adopted' be mentioned when people are in the news?

Special bond: Peter was very close to his sister, Jana (pictured), whom he nicknamed 'Little Punk' 
Peter Kassig and his biological sister, Jana
The news the other day about Grace and Matthew Huang, who were finally cleared of starving their adopted daughter to death, in Qatar always mentioned: adopted daughter. They are Americans of Asian decent, the daughter was from Ghana, as were the other two children the Huang's adopted. But as the media followed their story, the word "adopted" always preceded "daughter."

Qatar does not allow adoption, and so the family was rare in that country. The Huangs were suspected of having adopted the girl to harvest her organs or for medical experiments. The couple was arrested, jailed, freed but unable to leave the country for

Sunday, December 7, 2014

How did the Romanian adoptees fare? Better than those left behind.

From a Romanian charity, see below
How did the Romanian children who were adopted by wealthier families in the West compare to those who were raised in institutions?

One of the complicated issues of international adoption is whether are children are better off being adopted into a foreign culture, thousands of miles from their original habitat, or left to grow up in institutions in their native country--if homes cannot be found for them there. Most often the institutions that would-be adoptive parents visit are gruesome hell holes; yet we do know that in a great many cases, the operators of these institutions keep them that way exactly to extract as much money as possible from horrified people of good will. Even when given the money to fix up the orphanage, the operators leave them as is to extract more money from visitors. And we know from reports from other countries, such as China and Nepal and Guatemala, that children are stolen to keep those institutions full of "orphans" to be sold to Americans.

It's a never ending cycle. That children were unconscionably warehoused in Romania during the Ceausescu (pronounced Chow-chess-cu) years, as we wrote about in the previous post, is without question, and surely, unless sold to be a slave or to be used sexually, it is better to grow up in relative comfort far away from home than be left to flounder in an institution.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Adopted from Romania, told her mother was dead, reunited via Facebook

Imagine such a world: Mothers ordered to have five children apiece; the government checking up on them at work and elsewhere to see that they were not remiss in reproducing, all in order to create a nation of "worker bees." All forms of contraception and abortion are outlawed. Poor, overwhelmed mothers were unable to care for their children, and they began to be warehoused in state-run homes.

Tens of thousands of children born under these brutal conditions. Though the children were not orphans, pictures of these benighted children made their way into the press. Largely advertised as orphans, many were adopted in the United States and the United Kingdom. When the children disappeared, mothers were told their children had died.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Is it incest? Genetic sexual attraction between adoptees and first parents

Romantic attraction between parents and their children or between siblings separated by adoption is almost unheard of outside the adoption-reunion community, but it's more common than many think. According to the online The Independent, a study by University College London found "half  of reunions were accompanied by anything from temporary attraction to obsessive sexual obsession."

I had tender, nostalgic feelings for my 31-year-old daughter Rebecca when we first reunited in 1997. Like someone who is newly infatuated, I couldn't get her off my mind. I was anxious about every phone call and every email. Eventually, the intensity of those feelings subsided. Other mothers have talked about the desire to stroke and touch their newly found children, as if they were still babies we could fondle and pat their hair.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Dad chooses parenthood over football scholarship

Mason Riddle with  Dad Sam and Mom Bri Krokum
It's a story we'll all heard--and some of us have lived through--high school athlete gets girl pregnant. The choice of abortion or adoption would be what many would make; to chose the other path--to be a father--would mean forgetting his dream of  a full college scholarship playing for a school in the top level of college ball, Division 1. Pro players usually come from Division I schools.

And so it was for Sam Riddle, the star quarterback of Century High's team in Portland, Oregon. In the middle of the 2012 football season, when Sam was a senior, he and his girl friend Bri Krokum learned she was pregnant. "'I almost passed out,' Sam told

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving: Finding something to be thankful for when we're feeling low

Lorraine,surrounded by brother, sister-in-law, nieces and husband, T'giving  2014
It's that time of the year again when all the family that we miss comes leaping out of the background to appear front and center in our hearts and minds. It can't be helped. While we are trying to focus on what we are truly thankful for, we find ourselves thinking about what and who is missing.

I'm no different. 

This year my brother and his wife are driving from Michigan for Thanksgiving. They are picking up my two nieces in Manhattan (one in art school there, the other just back from Thailand) and

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Vance Twins: Raising awareness about adoption realities

Speaking up and speaking out about a controversial issue is always scary the first time. Adoption as we know it today has become highly controversial, as adult adoptees and first mothers have opened up about the painful effects of adoption, whether they are the ones who lost a child to be adopted, or the child who grew up in a family not her original one. 

Yet at the same time, with more people--straight couples, gays couples, single people--desiring to adopt, a several billion dollar industry world wide has grown up to serve that market.Those who want to adopt do not want to hear that adoption is anything other than a win-win solution. They imagine there are babies everywhere that need to be adopted, and such a baby will be the fix for infertility; at the same time many churches, both conservative and liberal, are part of the pro-adoption movement to "rescue" children from poverty.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Adoptionland: Brutal essays by adult adoptees expose the truth of intercountry adoption

The Vance Twins--Jenette on left and Janine 
With news that Vietnam is once again going to allow their children to be adopted out of country, reading a collection of essays by people who were uprooted and transplanted into new cultures is ice water on all those squishy ideals of what intercountry (or international adoption) does. The writers whose essays come together in Adoptionland: From Orphans to Activists portray the dislocation as wrenching and brutal, an experience that leaves a scar neither time nor distance can temper.

Though I am no fan of adoption in general I recognize that sometimes adoption is the best solution to a bad situation. But I have read enough about intercountry adoption to see it as

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Adoption in the news: Let the media know our side of the story

"'We strongly believe every child belongs to a family,'" Amy Gilson of Dallas, Oregon told the reporter for the Salem Statesman-Journal "Helping Hands", 11/8/14). Amy and her husband Tom are raising funds to adopt a seven-month-old boy from Ethiopia, inspired by the Biblical commandment "to look after widows and orphans in their distress." (James 1:27.) They have put up $27,000 towards the $35,000 they will need to bring little "Callen James" to their home. They have taken second jobs to raise money and are soliciting donations.

I fired off a letter to the S-J pointing out corruption was rampant in Ethiopian adoptions and the child may be a victim of kidnapping, not an orphan. (The complete letter is below). I pointed out that children adopted intercountry and transracially often have problems adjusting and

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Review: Reunion Worth the Wait

Minka, her daughter, and granddaughter
No matter why they lost their baby to adoption, an affair with a married man, teen lovers, a fling with a charming cad at a carnival in Ireland, mothers stories tell of the same inconsolable grief. And so it is with Minka Disbrow, a South Dakota farm girl, the daughter of Dutch immigrants, who was raped and became pregnant at age 16.

Minka's story as told by her granddaughter, Cathy LaGrow with Cinda Coloma in The Waiting, begins in 1928 when Minka joins her friends for a picnic and takes a walk around a nearby lake with a friend. Away from the other

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dear FMF: Why did my (reunited) daughter's Facebook posting hurt so much?

Dear First Mother Forum:
I met my daughter a few years ago and we have had a couple of good meetings. She looks a LOT like my mother when she was younger, and reminds me a lot of my sister…same mannerisms, laugh, big personality, sense of humor, etc.  

But don’t talk about that stuff with her for she will not go there…it is probably the damnedest thing I have ever seen. She mentioned a couple of things to me…we have the same dark brown eyes, but the last time we were together, my husband mentioned the similarities between her and my sister, and my daughter absolutely clammed up.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Who serves 'Adoptees' Best Interests'?

You couldn't pick them out of a crowd, but adopted people are different. Two traits set them apart: a vague sense of disconnection of dislocation, and difficulty forming a strong sense of self. The lack of a specific heritage, which tells them how and where they fit into the cycle of life, is thought to be the root of the problem. To be missing a past might not seem like much, but that's because the rest of us have always known where we came from. "My Mom has really gotten interested in genealogy in the last few years," one 16-year-old wrote me, "and it's fine for her, but it doesn't do anything for me."

Friday, October 24, 2014

Adoption by Gentle Care: FMF's pick for the 2014 Demon in Adoption award

This year we are having no trouble selecting Adoption by Gentle care (AGC) an Ohio adoption agency, as our choice for the Demon in Adoption award, given annually by Pound Puppy Legacy. The award is given to an adoption agency, adoption practitioner, advocate, or politician instrumental in promoting adoption at the expense of natural families. PPL started this award eight years ago to "raise more awareness of the dark side of adoption and the negligent and corrupt practices we often encounter."

As in past years, PPL's followers have nominated exceptionally deserving candidates, Adoption by Gentle Care (AGC), however, shines above the others. AGC epitomizes the greed and utter disregard for the best interests of children ingrained in large segments of the adoption industry.

Monday, October 20, 2014

You can't deny DNA--it shapes who we are today

"It's easier to embrace a thief than a phantom." That's sentence that stopped me cold today as I read yesterday's New York Times review of a new book, The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape our Identities and Our Futures.

Biology and culture, nature versus nurture. We know both are important, we really do, but with the adoption-is-the-cure-for-so-damn-much culture that we are in today, that sentence: It's easier to embrace a thief than a phantom stopped me cold. Americans like to pretend that DNA and ancestry do not matter; we can make ourselves up new here in America. But. Biology matters. DNA is the raw material out of which we came.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cheerios video promotes gay equality but smacks of racism

There's a dark side to the Cheerios ad featuring a white gay Canadian couple with a darling little black girl, likely an American child, beyond the loss inherent in adoption. The ad smacks of colonialism, promoting the superiority of white homes as it promotes gay adoption.

The nearly three-minute video is of course intended to make us feel positive about Cheerios, manufactured by General Mills. While others have praised the ad for its positive image of gay men, how would the world feel about two gay black men raising a white baby? We seriously doubt it would have the same wide acceptance and elicit huzzahs from liberals. 

I'm not feeling my Cheerios in watching this ad, Actually I'm downright uncomfortable how the ad portrays adoption as sugar and spice and everything nice just like Cheerios.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cheerios Commercial: Gay dads adopt and sell cereal

Cringe making: A new feel-good Cherrios on-line commercial for the Canadian audience as two white gay dads talk about how they met, fell in love and decided to be a family by adopting a little black girl during a three-minute video. No doubt that Raphaelle she is being treated well, and that these two dads love her. 

We are supposed to feel all gooey-gooey about the fact that these two handsome, appealing men with charming French accents have been allowed to adopt. Problem Number One. We are all for gay acceptance, gay rights, gay marriage, but indisputable is the reality that gay and lesbian adoption will increase the number of people looking to adoption to build families. The unwitting result is more pressure on the adoption industry to find more babies from a dwindling market so that gay and lesbian couples can adopt somebody else's child

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Jennifer Aniston to adopt! At last! It's a Girl!

Jennifer Aniston--Adoptive Mom to Be? 
Update on 10/9:  Jennifer Aniston is not pregnant and she is not considering adoption, at least not right now. That is the message that was delivered this week by her publicist Stephen Huvane. Recent rumored started by Life & Style have suggested that Aniston and fiancĂ© Justin Theroux are thinking about adopting. In a statement to Page Six, Huvane said in no uncertain terms that Aniston is not planning to adopt or have a child in the near future.
                                      * * * 

"Jen's Adoption Surpise" and "A BABY AT LAST" read the headlines at the supermarket checkout, and I thought, Who is surprised? Not I. Ever since Jen did not get hitched and/or get pregnant during her fecund years, I have been waiting for this piece of news--that she is going to adopt! Well, folks it apparently has happened, if Life & Style magazine is to be believed. "Jen & Justin's Baby Secret: They're Adopting" read the headline inside.

Oh! $@#!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Finding Your Roots: Bastards show up in all family trees

Henry Louis Gates
How many of us have ancestors who were born outside of marriage? Plenty it would seem. Last week's episode of Henry Louis Gates, Jr's Finding Your Roots on PBS, found that the three athletic greats the program featured all had ancestors born under less than auspicious circumstances. Tennis legend and feminist Billie Jean King, Yankee all star Derrick Jeter, and women's basketball pioneer Rebecca Lobo each had an ancestor born--outside of marriage. Gates is a warm and engaging host, and the show never fails to emphasize the connection of natural families. Guests are likely to find surprises in the family background.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

'Open' adoption letters released in Texas...with redactions

Protesting at a Gladney event--in Texas 
Boxes and boxes of letters from first mothers to the adoptive families and vice versa that were left unattended when a major San Antonio agency shut down in 2012 will be forwarded to the people to whom they were intended, the state of Texas announced yesterday. However, though the agency, Adoption Services Associates, had promised "open adoption" to the unsuspecting and naive women who gave up their babies through ASA, all the identifying information in the letters will be blacked out.

We reported earlier a reputable agency in San Antonio, Abrazo (that only handles fully open adoptions), had stepped in and tried to help the first mothers who counted on continuing

Sunday, September 28, 2014

First mother reappears after 12 years--after a 'happy' reunion

When a first mother wants to resume contact--after cutting off the relationship 12 years earlier following reunion, how can an adoptee protect herself from rejection again? One of our readers, Nicole, wrote us saying she found her mother in 2002. But after several visits, including meeting her extended family, Nicole's mother asked "that we not continue having contact." Nicole's email went on:

"She wrote to me this July hoping to start a 'conversation' and we've exchanged a couple of letters. We've both lifted burdens of guilt and shame for each other and on balance, finding each other benefited us greatly....My dilemma is making sense of her recent contact and protecting myself from feeling rejected a third time....I've done a lot of therapy and healing, and realize I can't be hurt unless I allow it. But therapy is one thing. and her writing is reality and bewildering."

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hearing from the (birth) father of a relinquished child

What about the fathers of our children? Or, as they are called today, baby daddies? When we don't marry them and they drop out of the lives of first mothers, what happens? Today we know of fathers who fight to keep the children the mothers insist on relinquishing, but those stories from an earlier era have not surfaced, though some children must have been brought into the father's family.

But for the rest of us, do we ever hear from the men who impregnated us again? Do we want to hear from them again? Were you in love with him and has that colored how you feel about him now? How would we act if they simply popped up again? Do we feel a bond with them because of the child lost to adoption? Did you marry the father after relinquishment?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Marriage after relinquishing a child--a good man helps

Celebrating our 25th anniversary 
Today is our 33rd wedding anniversary and after we did a quick stop at a church yard sale this morning and had coffee downtown outdoors--I thought about how my unknown daughter--unknown when we married--was a part of our lives from the very first time Tony and I met. Some of you know the story because I've told it before but today it's much on my mind.

We met at a Sunday brunch in February, introduced by a mutual friend, Gael McCarthy. We had both been on The Daily Collegian at Wayne State University in Detroit, and we both ended up in

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Open adoption--does it really solve all the problems?

When I gave my daughter up in 1966 all I really wanted—or thought I could ask for—was to be able to know her one day. That bare concession to the mother and child bond would not have made leaving her behind any easier, but it would have calmed my mind about the future. As I write today, open adoption is touted as the panacea for the pain of a closed adoption., or at least mute the anguish of mothers like me. Perhaps it would have been so—to know that she was safe and protected. But I don’t know how I would have reacted to other people being there for her, to be present but unable to make the decisions I thought best for a child of mine, a child related to me by blood, a child who shared my genetic makeup and family history.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pregnancy before Roe: I thought I was alone...but I wasn't

How many of us got pregnant during the years when mores were changing in fact but not in public acceptance--the years after World War 2 and before abortion became legal? When I read about the various states--North Dakota, Texas, Missouri, to name a few--which are making abortion increasingly difficult and expensive, I am reminded of the time back when...I got pregnant. This is a excerpt from my memoir, hole in my heart:

While I felt completely alone in my catastrophe, I actually had a lot of company. We women who got pregnant when we weren't supposed to in the Fifties, Sixties and early Seventies were trapped in the transition era that has come to be known as the Baby Scoop Era, a period that began after World War II and continued on through the Seventies. [1] 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wrong name on birth certificate?

Just when we thought we heard it all, Jane read about a new twist in the make-believe world of birth certificates. A Portland, Oregon lawyer wrote recently about a case where:

"Bio mother had child and her girl friend was at the hospital. The hospital checked the box as thought the girlfriend was a registered domestic partner and put girlfriend as parent on birth certificate. Parties were not registered domestic partners. Vital Stats says they will not correct the hospital error without a court order."

Once upon a time, birth certificates contained the child's name, date and place of birth, and the names of the child's biological parents. Then the

Friday, September 5, 2014

How much do genes count in who we become?

Lorraine and Jane, 1983
The full answer to the question posed in the title is still being debated and studied, because of course environment plays an enormous part in who we become. But consider:

When I found my daughter, she was writing poetry for the high school magazine and wanted to be a writer--as were both her father and I. He was also a major jazz buff with a huge collection of jazz recordings, and he helped me learn to appreciate it. Her adoptive parents were an insurance adjuster and a nurse.

My daughter had two daughters. One (who was relinquished and adopted) is a poet who performs spoken word with a jazz group. The other is an art major, choosing between teaching or art history. One of my uncles went to art school in California, but was never able to make a career in art. However, my brother was only ever interested in such a career, and began pursing it in high school. He went to art school, and became an art director before he graduated. One of his daughters, my