Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Choose Adoption. Not.

I thought you would all like to see a letter that my friend Linda Bolton sent to the advertising genius who came up with the advertising campaign for the website: I Choose Adoption. Linda--the brilliant person who came up with Firstmother Forum--will be joining us soon as a contributing writer, but in the meantime, read and enjoy:

Mr. Floyd:
A fellow birthmother forwarded the wane.com feature about the ichooseadoption.org web site. I am certain no one on your seven member crackerjack team is a member of the adoption triad, i.e., no one is a birthmother or adoptee, because they would know that adoption sucks. The budget’s spent, your client’s happy. But I’m appalled by this campaign.

I just scanned the web site but couldn’t bear the lies. I’m sure that if you did thorough research on adoption issues then you know that adoption is a relationship based on loss—a biological mother loses her child, a child loses their biological mother, and more often than not, an adoptive mother wrestles with the loss of the biological child she was unable to conceive.

Your brilliant campaign contributes to the moneymaking machinery of adoption. You yourself said you’ve developed a consumer brand. Babies are not luxury cars or large screen TVs Mr. Floyd (though the adoption industry has turned them into commodities), they’re flesh and blood and emotions. Shame on you, Mr. Floyd, for capitalizing on heartache.

Why not promote education for preventing unwanted pregnancy instead? Why not create an advertising campaign that supports keeping families intact by providing necessary social and financial resources? Even today, in 2008, a woman is considered selfless and demonstrating her ultimate love for her child, the child that has bonded with her over the course of nine months, by relinquishing to a loving family, i.e., a Christian husband and wife with substantial financial means. Fast forward to 18 years from now when that child is now an adult, and wants to know her history and is struggling with her sense of self—how and why is she walking the planet, and why didn’t her first mother raise her herself? Those black holes are never filled, and the adopted child, and biological mother, go through their lifetimes feeling incomplete.

The centerpiece of your campaign, "sometimes choosing adoption is being a good mother,” left me seeing red. I couldn’t walk off my anger last night, and I awoke this morning with a headache and very heavy heart. Mr. Floyd, I’d like you to do me a huge favor. Let me give you my estranged daughter’s address, the same daughter, my only child, who contacted me January 19, 2001 with the phone call I waited 23 years for while I essentially slept walk waiting to be reunited since the moment I signed the adoption papers, the same daughter who hasn’t spoken to me in three years or told me she has two sons—my grandsons--because in her eyes I gave her away. Please explain to my daughter that I chose adoption because I was a good mother.

Mr. Floyd, 99.9% of the time, we birthmothers did not choose adoption, adoption chose us.

Linda J. Bolton

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A "Loving" Decision? Yeah, right.

What is wrong with this ad?

I opened my email this morning and found this...yet another
paean to giving up a child.

The movie may turn out to be all right, but whenever I read that someone gave up their child by making a "loving" decision I see red."Loving" for whom? Giving up a child for adoption comes at the end of a desperate decision-making time. Either the mother is too young and can not imagine her life managing a child and going to school, et cetera, because she can't afford high-quality day care, or any day care at all, or the woman is too poor and overwhelmed by the things that poverty heaps upon one to keep the child.

If I had told my daughter I gave her up because I "loved" her so much, she would have laughed at me. Plain and simple, the word "loving" is used to make adoptive families feel good. Yes, they want to think, the natural mother/teenager/poor woman realized that she couldn't give her child all the niceties that money can buy and because she didn't want her child to be poor and foolish like her, so she gave us this baby so we can shower it with our love as well as--gee--all that money can buy. Really, how many women who have a fat bankroll give children up because they "love" them so much? None. How many 35 year-olds with careers make this "loving" decision to "complete" someone else's family plans? If the decision is so "loving" why are adoptees so angry--to judge from their memoirs--after they are reunited?

Adoptive parents are always telling us to clean up our language so they do not feel bad, but how about a campaign to take this bogus idea of a "loving" decision to give up our children out of the vernacular? We gave up our children because we felt we had no good options. It was a desperate act in a desperate time.

The bold below is theirs.


Bitter Sweet

“Bitter Sweet is an important film to help everyone understand what adoption is about. It is positive, accurate and very well done”
Sister Paula, Founder. International Life Services

A Video Documentary Bitter Sweet, Stories of Open Adoption is a poignant look at one of the most difficult, and loving, decisions a woman can ever make. Making the decision to turn an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, into the miracle of family, through adoption.

Filmed over two years, Bitter Sweet provides a rare look into the adoption process. It features the stories of five courageous women who share their sorrow, strength and hope as they process through the steps of considering and finally choosing adoption for their children.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hello Everybody

Lorraine
Hello Everybody--

I've been writing and commenting about adoption-related issues for--yikes--more than half my life, and so it seemed like it was time--actually past the time--for me to start a blog, and I'm hoping that my first mother friends around the country will join in too.

About me: I surrendered a daughter for adoption in 1966. I wrote a book about giving her up, Birthmark, that came out in 1979 to raucous reviews...well, with headlines such as: Obsessed with Guilt. As it was the first birthmother memoir, it rankled a lot of people who really really wanted us all to stay in the closet and throw away the key.

We were reunited in 1981, before her 15th birthday, and not a minute too soon. We've had a a mostly copacetic relationship with some bumps along the way, and then we would pick up as if nothing had happened...even though there was a period when she did not talk to me. It turned out that she was trying to make her adoptive mother love her more...this was after one of the adoptive mother's sons died in a skiing accident, and she told the assembled...that he was her favorite. So my daughter set out to show that she was worthy of mama's love. The best way to show that? Not talk to me for about a year.

The end of the story is that my daughter committed suicide in December. Her life was punctuated by much sadness, not all adoption related, and I'm telling her story in a memoir I am writing now..but so much other stuff comes up about adoption that I won't be putting in the book, so the blog.

As in The New York Times had a double-whammy in adoption-related stories in the real estate section. One story about a couple looking for a new home said...their adopted son...so they needed a bigger place. The other story was about the author of a book that became the movie Then She found Me. Did anybody out there besides me have trouble with the scene with the Helen Hunt character when she made her mother say repeatedly that she gave her up so she could have a life? Not acknowledging that the Bette Midler character said that she was 15 or 16, that her parents threw her out, that she had no money and no one to help her. I wanted to scream at the camera, okay, we get it, you don't understand how that might have felt, how desperate such a character would be, you are still pissed off and we get it!

I hope you like the name of this blog--I thought about using birthmother but my friend came up with this title and it seemed better. Birthmother is such a loaded word. Adoptive parents like it, most natural mothers don't. I'm somewhat neutral, except the year my daughter sent me a "birth mother" card! HATED IT. We had known each other too long and too deeply for a "birth mother" salutation. I think it's the only card from her that went into the trash. But the word has become part of the language. In a personal essay in the Sunday Times, (I do read other publications but the Times is a barometer of the zeitgeist) , a writer used the term "birth mother" to differentiate between her step-mother and her birth mother. First time I've seen it like that. Used to be, "mother" was enough.

Gotta go, it's getting late--

Firstmother