Friday, November 20, 2015

Wall Street Journal decries loss of 'right' to be surrogate

Indian surrogates
The Wall Street Journal owned by billionaire media magnate Rupert Murdock rarely sheds tears for the poor and downtrodden.  It's come to bat, however, for Indian women threatened with losing income as surrogates if the India passes proposed legislation which criminalizes surrogacy for foreigners. A government-appointed body has already notified clinics they should stop offering such services to couples overseas. Since WSJ's readers are comprised largely of moneyed readers who are the ones to seek out surrogacy services, WSJ's crusading for wombs-for-hire is merely self-serving.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

'Steve Jobs' the movie: Apple's visionary as bitter adoptee

"Steve Jobs" the movie is a surprising anti-adoption tract about a hugely successful marketing genius embittered about being "rejected not selected" as another character points out halfway through the two hours, one minute of the film. Throughout, the angry Apple guru struts and sputters and lashes out at everybody in his sight-line. It's a very long, tedious two hours, one minute.

This includes Chrisann Brennan, the mother of his child, whom Jobs deserted when she became pregnant--while they were living together. While we have statistics that show that adoptee women are seven times more likely to give up a child for adoption themselves than the rest of the

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

How relinquishing a child affected my friendships

Friendship has been on my mind lately as it relates to how my friends have changed because of being someone who relinquished a child for adoption during a far different era, found at fifteen in 1981, and wrote about the experience and talked about it in the media and to legislators, always hoping to effect a change. That records for all would be open. That there would be far fewer adoptions. That mothers--if they chose to give birth--would keep their children.

Along the way, some friends and men in my life understood why I was so committed, but others fell away. But it's not about the men in my life that's on my mind, it's the female friends. Now my connection to adoption has been pretty intense, I'll grant you that, so it goes without saying that friends had to understand me and accept that part of me if we were going to be close.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Should adoptees have rights of real identity?

Dusk                                                                                         photo by dusky
Should it be mandatory to give adult adoptees full access to their birth records if they want it?

It seems hard to believe but people--including the National Council for Adoption--are still debating this question, and not recognizing it as a clear violation the the rights of adopted individuals, citing as ever the confidentiality of the mother/
father/whomever. In the November issue of The Costco Connection--yes, that Costco, the discount chain--the question is being asked and anyone can vote on line. (Link below.)

Monday, October 26, 2015

How to arrange an ethical adoption

Dear First Mother Forum:

My spouse and I are moving forward with plans to adopt in the U.S. We are hoping for an infant adoption, using a non-profit agency with many years of experience. The agency only does open adoptions, which is what we want. The open adoption agreement would be legally enforceable, and we have no intention of betraying it in any event.

I am looking for resources/information that will help us ensure, to the fullest extent possible, that we (and our agency) are respecting the rights, concerns, perspectives, and needs of the birthparents and adopted children. And I want to make sure we solicit those resources not just from people who are cheerleaders for adoption, but also from people who are critics of the adoption system. That's why I'm writing you.

Also I noticed that you used the word "real" in the tagline for First Mother Forum.  Does that necessarily mean, in your view,

Monday, October 19, 2015

Selling underwear, promoting adoption

Does adoption sell underwear? I was just about to hit "Buy Now" on my Jockey bra order, when I saw the plea: "Give $1 today and bring comfort to adoptive families tomorrow" and a link to "Jockey Being Family." At the site I learned that "Jockey Being Family is our company's commitment to help strengthen adoptive families for successful futures."  Jockey has donated more than $3.5 million to adoption organizations.

Well I thought, maybe this is okay. Families that adopt hard to place children need all the help they can get. But then I saw this: Jockey offers best-in-class adoption benefits to employees. The adoption process can be costly and time-intensive. At Jockey, we're proud to provide an extensive adoption benefits package to our employees including a $10,000 stipend per child each year and resource and referral services."(Emphasis added.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Adoption Disadvantage?

I'm wading once again into the issues that being adopted raises and for the sake of peace in our bickering family, the divisive issue of primal wound shall be left out of the equation. 

Years ago I had a very public spat with Elizabeth Bartholet, a Harvard law professor who never appears to know of an international adoption she doesn't applaud, over the research showing that adoptees have more psychological and behavioral problems in general than the non-adopted. We were both guests on the PBS NewsHour and she called all such research: "Garbage." Her exact word. 

Despite her haughty dismissal, such research continues to accumulate--and now a new study found that adopted children tend to have more behavioral and academic problems in kindergarten and first grade than children raised by their biological parents. According to a research brief from the Institute for Family Studies, "young adoptive children" [a phrase new to me] were more likely than biological ones to get angry easily and fight with other students." This is only one of the differences psychologist Nicholas Zill found when he examined a longitudinal study of 19,000 students conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics beginning in 1998.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Natural mothers live dual lives

My surrendered daughter wrote something to the effect that "maybe everything is about adoption for my birth mother." I bristled at the remark.

I have a large life outside of adoption--with my husband to whom I've been married for almost 47 years, the wonderful daughters I raised and the two incredible grandchildren the oldest brought forth. I have volunteered with a program to introduce school children to the courts and I currently serve on a committee at my condominium.  I play duplicate bridge once or twice a week. I read a lot, mostly non-fiction. I go to concerts, plays (spent Thursday afternoon watching a local production of "Our Town"), movies, festivals, political fund raisers, and fun things going on in Portland, Oregon where I live. I have traveled on six continents. Lorraine and the other natural mothers I know also have full lives outside of adoption.

Yet the truth is, all of us who lost a child to adoption also have a separate life inside adoption. For many of us it was for years a secret life, existing only in our memories and imagination. Eventually the secret became impatient to be free and we reunited with our lost child and introduced her to our families.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


There is a silver lining.....from Long Wharf in Sag Harbor the other evening. 
Thanks to Liz O'Keefe in Australia, I removed the nasty widget bit that was still causing trouble with the comments, and Voila!  Jane and I will be back soon. Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


We are currently experiencing technical difficulties--to say the least, which occurred when we installed Disqus and then tried to remove it. We are trying to fix the problem but we are technically challenged. If anyone with blogging proficiency can help, please email me at Thank you. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

'Primal Wound'--Why is the concept so upsetting to some?

Every expert who studies adoption acknowledges that children are best raised by their natural mothers, unless undue circumstances intervene. Being wrenched from the mother that nurtured you in the womb, whose smells and voice are familiar in an organic, original sense, and given off to new people--strangers--is a wrenching experience with a deep and lasting psychological impact.

Some call it a "primal wound," a phrase made popular by psychologist Nancy Verrier with the publication of her 1993 book The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Epilepsy, Adoption, Pharmaceuticals: Suicide

Lorraine and daughter in 1982, happier times
National Suicide Prevention Week was earlier this month. Those who know my story know that my daughter committed suicide. This is one of the "Facts and Commentaries" from my recent book, Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption. My hope is that those suffering with any of the maladies listed here, or their friends and families, will see this as a cautionary message, and get help before it is too late. I tried, but could not save, my daughter.--lorraine

A few days after the first anniversary of my daughter’s suicide, in December of 2008, the Federal Drug Administration announced that it would require makers of epilepsy drugs to add a warning about the increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors to the products' prescribing information or labeling. Behaviors, I assume, means suicide attempts, some of them successful. Depakote, the drug Jane took, is on the list. The FDA actions are based on the agency's review of 199 clinical trials of 11 epilepsy drugs—released only a month after her death—showing that patients taking those drugs had almost twice the risk of suicidal behavior or thoughts than those taking a placebo.

But what was not answered was this: had the epileptics taking the placebo had their lives upended by as many seizures, great and small, as my daughter had?

I mentally add in the cocktail of drugs—an anti-depressant and Depakote—that Jane was taking. What about that? And what about the adoption?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What babies learn before birth

Lorraine, Jane and "Britt" in the early 90s. We are all so happy.
What do babies learn from their mothers in utero? Apparently quite a bit. Scientists are finding that even the inflection of a baby's cry correlates to the sounds of their native tongue and that food preferences are instilled in the womb.

While the debate at an earlier blog post over whether giving up a child for adoption imparts an initial shock that psychologist and author Nancy Verrier has called a Primal Wound raged on, I heard the end of a TED talk on NPR. What I learned was that biologists continue to collect information proving how much a mother's diet, her voice, her speech, her mental health and general well-being influences the fetus, and thus--her baby!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Adoption is not all 'rosy' for O'Donnell

Rosie and Chelsea O'Donnell
The sad saga of Rosie O'Donnell and her adopted daughter Chelsea reminds us once again that adoption is not a bed of roses, not for the children, not for natural mothers, and not for the adoptive parents.

On  August 24, the day she turned 18, Chelsea's birth mother, Deanna Micoley picked up Chelsea up at Rosie's home in South Nyack, New York and took her to live with her in Wisconsin.

This came after Chelsea ran away--or was kicked out according to Chelsea--and was found living with a 25-year old man, Steven Sheerer, who had sent her a nude picture of himself.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Adoption in America is everywhere

O'Hare in Chicago
How truly adoption has permeated society since I became involved--in 1966 when I relinquished my daughter--came home to me during my trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to visit my granddaughter, known to readers as Britt. Getting there involved going from New York City through Chicago, a five-hour plus wait for an evening plane to Marquette, which is situated on Lake Superior.

I sat next to an elderly gentleman--older than me!--and as we got to talking I asked him why he was going to Marquette. I had simply said I was going to meet my granddaughter. Well, he said, I've got a story to tell, I'm adopted.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Adoption may cost us our grandchildren

I am at a small resort near Bend, Oregon with my husband Jay and my youngest grandchild, ten year old Katie. I've known Katie all her life; she's the daughter of one of my raised daughters. Never any question but that she would be in my life.

Not so with the four children of my daughter, Rebecca, lost to adoption. Their mother had another mother who they knew as Grandma. I was fortunate that Rebecca introduced me to her children when we first reunited. I didn't claim the title Grandma lest I be accused of usurping a position I was not entitled to; I signed birthday cards "Jane." I cringed when strangers, seeing us together, referred to the children as my grandchildren, fearful the children would be upset. Still I developed relationships that continue.

Lorraine too has a relationship with the daughter of her lost daughter. She is off this week visiting her granddaughter in Michigan. Other natural mother aren't so lucky.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Contacting one's child after the photos stop

Dear First Mother Forum:
My son turned 20 this year and I would love to send him a note, letting him know that I have never forgotten him. His birth father and I each wrote him a letter before he was born explaining why he was given up for adoption.

Assuming his adoptive parents gave them to him, he has some pictures of me when I was pregnant with him, and of his birth father, as well as pictures of me with him and his adoptive family when I gave him to them. They sent pictures over the years when I requested them, but it has been a little over 10 years since I last requested/sent anything. 

Not because I don't care but because life moves on and you have to move with it. I really

Friday, August 14, 2015

Dusky weaves the personal with the political

Janet Mason Ellerby
Lorraine's new memoir brings together her story as well as the larger tale of adoption in the 20th mid-century and the imperative for change. This is the message of  Janet Ellerby's engaging review of Lorraine's new memoir,
Hole In My Heart, published this week in the CUB Communicator.--jane

“Until I had answers, I would be stuck in a mire of remorse and recrimination...I could not move forward into my next act, until I found her.” Thus writes Lorraine Dusky in her compelling new memoir, Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoptionShe continues: “For mothers like me, adoption has no closure as long as we do not know what happened to our children.”

At the heart of Dusky’s memoir lie the emotional and psychological wounds natural mothers must endure after capitulating to adoption, whether open or closed. But closed adoption, Dusky argues convincingly, is especially egregious. It is not only exploitive and cruel but ultimately legally and morally wrong.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Telling your child he was conceived by rape

So what if your child was conceived by rape?

Or some other really not pleasant circumstance? If you don't exactly know who the father is?

Adoptees may be reluctant to bring up the question of conception because it is so personal, and too much information is not what they are looking for. But they are going to want to know the how. If you the natural mother was in a relationship--as both Jane and I were--more specifics are unnecessary. People in a relationship are known to consummate their love. They have sex.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Telling your child about her/his conception

Mothers often feel it necessary to explain the circumstances of pregnancy to the child lost to adoption. In our attempts to cast ourselves in a positive light (or absolve ourselves: it was not my fault!), we  may unwittingly send a negative message to our child. Not only were they to too unimportant to keep but they owe their beginnings to coercion, carelessness, or ignorance. They were a big mistake from day one!

We're about our defensive unplanned pregnancy. We know the questions presented from outsiders when we tell them about our child asked or not. "How could you let yourself get pregnant?" "Why did not you use birth control?" Why did not you have an abortion. "Or less kindly," How could you have been so dumb? " Conservative Christian listeners may send the implicit message" How could you do that knowing it was a sin? "

Friday, July 31, 2015

A natural (birth) mother's secret--time to let go

The rape, the MULTIPLE RAPES, the woman slowly coming forward, then faster, then in great hordes, accusing the Great Bill Cosby of rape, often with the use of drugs. One of his attorneys tries to make the case that Quaaludes, a strong sleep medicine, was widely used for sexual pleasure four decades ago.

Oh please. The attorney, Monique Pressly--female, black, attractive--pleading his case in public is obviously designed to make us feel--what? That all the women are liars? Sympathy for The Man? I feel nothing but disgust. Another guy who thought he could get away with sexual assault because the women were afraid to come forward, and when they did, people didn't believe them. Until there were too many to deny.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What were the Sixties like and other ?s

Yesterday was a day of highs and lows. First of all the heat and humidity on the East Coast are unbelievably high, and I ran off in the morning to a live half hour interview on Bonnie in the Morning, on a local NPR station on Long Island, WPPB.

The man who has the hour show before Bonnie greeted me with a big hug--I know him from the local bird seed and supply store where he also works, and it was clear he already knew the topic, even though my story was all news to him before then. We usually discuss the merits of safflower seed vs. sunflower in the summer to discourage the hoards of grackles and starlings.

Bonnie Grice
Bonnie Grice was most interested in the story of the Sixties, as she was probably born in the Sixties, and so has an image of that "swinging" time that did not correspond with what I wrote. Her three-hour show consists of interviews and chatter about local happenings and all kinds of music. To me, Woodstock was three muddy days in 1969 that I avoided or missed, depending on your point of view, but that was far removed from the era of constricting  roles for women, incredible shame for being unmarried, unengaged, and unlucky enough to find yourself pregnant. All the changes would come later. The Swinging Sixties happened in the last year or two of the Sixties--and in the Seventies.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Hoping for tough questions

Daughter Jane and Lorraine in the 90s
Okay, I am focusing 24/7 on Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption and so the poor ole' blog is taking a back seat. I'm being interviewed on Monday, July 20, on Bonnie in the Morning, on Long Island's NPR station, WPPB, 88.3 FM sometime after 9:30 a.m.  Hoping that I get the tough questions that make for an interesting interview that leads to more, etc., I wrote up a few questions and answers for Bonnie Grice, who is a great interviewer and host. I'm sharing them here;

We think of the Sixties as a wild and crazy time, when sex came out of the closet and birth control was readily available.
That is the late Sixties, and the Seventies. I

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

An agency lies, a mother grieves, a son is lost

Lorraine with thinking cap in her garden 
A terrible "misadoption" story about the horrific Louise Wise Agency in New York City was in my inbox days ago, well before it actually appeared in The New York Times. It the story of a Jewish teenager who reluctantly gave up her son in 1961 after immense pressure from family, and critically, the agency worker who lied to her when she wanted to get her son back before he was adopted.

At the time. Wise (ironic name, should be Louise Liar) kept babies for a couple of years in some cases to see that the merchandise was healthy before the children were adopted. (What happened to those who were deemed unfit is unknown. But I have a good guess. More about that later.)That is what happened to Margaret Erle, who was a 17-year-old high school student when she became pregnant.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Lobbying for OBCs in New York

What is it like to lobby for a bill that gives adoptees the right to know who they are? We in New York have worked long and hard for a clean bill only to be rebuffed year after year. We need more bodies, more people willing to be strong and stand up for their own rights, and while mothers must be part of the effort, it is adoptees in numbers and unafraid to ask for what should be theirs by fiat are the ones who will bring this victory home.

As noted previously, a very bad bill supposedly for adoptees did pass the New York Assembly in the last hours of the session this year and was sent to the Senate. Our hope is that the bill dies there and next session a new clean bill that gives adopted individuals the right to a copy of their Original  Birth Certificates (OBCs) will be introduced. A well-place source in the Assembly tells me that the counsel of the Speaker of the Assembly was the person who amended our bill and tacked on ridiculous restrictions, but that he retired at the end of the session.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Liberty and Justice for adoptees--WHEN?

"The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity" began the Supreme Courts' opinion in the gay marriage case, Obergefell v. Hodges. Absolutely agree. And it's about time the courts make good on that promise to adoptees who still can't obtain basic facts about themselves in a majority of states.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

UNJUST Sealed Birth Certificate Laws

My original birth certificate--everyone should have the same
As the legislative session wound down in New York, the Assembly passed a bill that allows natural birth parents not only a veto, but put in place a confidential intermediary system, those assuring that many more birth mothers will deny their children knowledge of their original identity. The bill (S5964) was referred to the Senate Rules committee but in the flurry of activity that engulfs the legislative chambers in the last hours of every session, it stayed in committee as the session ended.

After years of work on giving adoptees the right to know who they are--without any restriction, without a natural parent veto--this legislation was disappointing. Assemblyman David Weprin who has been the main sponsor and spark plug for this bill obviously felt that he could not get a clean bill--no restrictions, no confidential intermediaries--despite strong lobbying at the end to kill the bill. It passed 125-19. My own assemblyman Fred Thiele, who has been a staunch supporter of the original bill that had no restrictions, in the end joined those who voted for this bill.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fathers: Never too late to find your child

We set aside a day every year for children to honor their fathers. Although the day is co-oped by the likes of Hallmark, Sports Authority, Cabela's, it's still an important rite, enjoyed by families nationwide.

For children adopted as infants who do not know their natural fathers, it can be a day of sadness. Their fathers not only abandoned their mothers, justifiably many fathers would argue, but deserted their children as well. In fairness to these fathers, the patriarchal culture played a part. Sex is good for men, taboo for women, and if a girl got in trouble, well, it was her fault. Back when many of these children were born, the double standard was alive and well; remnants of it remain. Many men walked away, joined the Army, finished school, whatever. Even if they were inclined to do the right thing,

Monday, June 15, 2015

A first mother's point of no return

Jane in 1968
 Natural mothers have a date burned in their brains--the day events put them on the trajectory culminating in the loss of their child. It is the day they saw him leaning against the wall at a high school dance, the day they went to that party they really didn't feel like going to--and were raped, the day they had unprotected sex because he pleaded or they thought it was safe or they didn't know any better. Our destinies as childless mothers seem fated.

For me, the day was in 1965, when I decided to return to Alaska from graduate school in the South, intending to resurrect--or end--my relationship with Millard, the man who would become my surrendered daughter Rebecca's father.

I began dating Millard the summer before, right after I graduated from the University of Alaska. I was thrilled! He was thirty, more sophisticated than the college boys I had dated, a professional, fun to talk to, attractive--Warren Beatty

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Doctor tricks natural mother

Nearly three decades ago, an infertile couple who wanted to adopt wrote up a resume about themselves and sent it to several obstetricians through friends of friends. Though they were not from New York, they got a call from a doctor in Brooklyn. His patient was an 18-year-old about to go to college, and she and her boyfriend were planning to give up their baby.

The mother-to-be chose the couple--from their letter--but though they wanted to meet her, she did not. She did agree to let the prospective parents have a photograph of her. But the prospective adoptive father wanted to meet her.