Monday, February 8, 2010

The Latest Craze: Giving Away Baby


Unlike fellow blogger Linda, I was not stunned at reading what was purported to be a response to a request for feedback from birthmothers on the online adoption agency, AdoptHelp.

“I am not aware of any birth mothers who regret their decision” claims the unidentified writer. I saw this as a marketing gimmick, probably coming from an employee of AdoptHelp’s PR department. Testimonials from apparently satisfied customers is a time honored way to snare in innocents whether you’re talking about Wall Street (think Bernie Madoff) or the Stork Market.

Birthmother Melissa Busch, who also goes by Melissa Valencia-Manerini, takes it a step farther, exulting her adoption experience on the Huffington Post as “amazing, positive, and has continued to feel like the best possible choice I could have made at the time” just as her decision “to have an abortion many years later” was. Busch is a board member of Portland’s largest domestic adoption agency, Open Adoption & Family Services, a fact she does not disclose on Huff Po.

Busch notes that it is difficult to answer the question “Do you have any children?” because of society’s negative view of the type of woman who would give her baby away and a lack of public understanding of “genuinely open adoption which has revolutionized adoption practices and the experiences of all parties involved.” Busch argues that adoption ”is a legitimate pregnancy option for all women faced with a pregnancy decision” and there is “nothing strange, scary, secretive or shameful about it.”

We at First Mother Forum agree that openness in adoption is a positive step and that women who lost their child to adoption should not be shamed but beyond that Busch loses us. Treating adoption as just another consumer choice (do you want fries, coleslaw, or fruit with your burger?) or worse, as a matter of pride, is baffling. This is, after all, a child, not a choice.

The birthmothers that we know and who post on this blog had few options. In fact, many had no option but surrender. Busch, however, was in a relatively comfortable position. She tells us that she and her daughter’s father were very much in love and, until her eighth month of pregnancy, they were going to “parent.” However, she continuously felt “that what I could give emotionally, physically and financially was not enough to be the kind of parent I wanted to be.” (It crosses my mind that her feelings of inadequacy may come from reading too many books on child-rearing which make the most natural of acts incredibly complex while promoting zillions of expensive baby gadgets.)

Although Busch tell us that her relationship with her daughter has "grown over the years," Busch does not tell us how her daughter feels about her mother's unwillingness to “parent” her. It may be that Busch has never thought to ask her.

What’s really scary is that we may be seeing the beginnings of a new craze. Just as adopting has become fashionable in many communities so may be surrendering. Instead of boasting about where your child is going to college (my son planned to go to State U until Harvard gave him a full scholarship), mothers may jump for joy when that thick envelope arrives accepting their unborn child into Spence-Chapin.

43 comments:

maryanne said...

I don't think anyone need worry about giving up a child becoming the next fun fad, because really, it is neither fun, attractive, nor really approved of by most of society no matter what some writers and agency shills might say.

Shame is still very much a factor for many young mothers who surrender today, and I have seen some things written by them that make this clear. Who to tell and how to tell about your open adoption and the child you are not raising is still a problem for these young moms, not something they go out and brag about.

Give our young ladies today credit for not being that stupid! Tatoos may be "in" but you don't really see "fun" or "stylish" amputations.

anonadoptee said...

Do you think it maybe that she cant actually admit or let herself feel the negative feelings about it?

From an adoptees perspective the Idea that surrendering a child may be done on a whim or for reasons of fashion is utterly chiling.

karen ciandella said...

I am not aware of any birth mothers who regret their decision"?

I'd like to change the statement to I am not aware (or I'm totally in denial). Period.

Let me be the first of hundreds of thousands of mothers who to come forward to let you know we lived with regret, and grief, and sadness for most of our lives.

Reunion registries, support groups, and books abound on healing our hearts, our grief and our loss.

Perhps my lack of understanding the comment above stems from my lack of choice. In order for a decision to be made I needed to have more than one option presented.
I searched and found my twin sons. I am grateful they were raised knowing they were adopted and they were loved and well taken care of.

I can see adoption as a legitimate option when all other options have been exhausted. Maybe, if the social climate today was the way it was back in 1973 – I would I have made a different "choice". I don't honestly know. I believe that no matter how prepared you think you are - nothing can prepare you for all the losses you suffer as a result of losing your child.

It has taken me 35 years to "wake up" and find the part of myself that I lost along with my children. There may not be anything strange, scary, and secretive of shameful about it - but the cumulative effects of grief and loss play out for a lifetime if left unresolved.

Adoption is not the absolute solution. It may be one option - but the price you pay as a mother is forever and life changing.

Karen Ciandella
Grief Recovery and Adoption Healing Specialist.

Mandy Lifeboats said...

""What’s really scary is that we may be seeing the beginnings of a new craze. Just as adopting has become fashionable in many communities so may be surrendering. Instead of boasting about where your child is going to college (my son planned to go to State U until Harvard gave him a full scholarship), mothers may jump for joy when that thick envelope arrives accepting their unborn child into Spence-Chapin. ""

From my reading at different places on the net...I am sorry to say...that I agree with you. Seems there is a certain portion of the younger generation of expectant mothers...that are seeing Open Adoption much the same as a young, upper crust mom who's baby/toddler has been accepted into "Ritzy-tots Daycare Centre". Adoption Propaganda I believe was built on this... A lie oft repeated, is then believed and becomes truth. Sadly it seems, more than a few expectant mothers of today..have bought into "The Lie".

Lori said...

Sadly as much as I would like to agree with Maryanne and anonadoptee, karen ciandella - I study human behavior, literally, and I know that the "fashionable" is what is in.

I love my daughter like no one else, yet I see her house and wonder how in the name of all that is real can she afford the fancy furnishings, etc. I know some of it came from yard sales, etc., but the rest, that stuff is monster expensive and very "fashionable." It is her choice, but to me - unless it is for my work, I don't bother - my home is comfortable and definitely not fashionable!

I adore my niece. I hate her bedroom. It is filled, top to bottom with "fashionable" clothing - mountains of the stuff. Things she will never wear - and like all teens will walk on, trip over and ignor, unless you try to get rid of the mess - then it is "NO!!!! That is the style!" and tears.

Fashionable - the adoptions of children all over the world by famous people. Started totally pushed into the public by our favorite thick lipped, pouty faced star and her gorgeous hubby, and now it is all the rage by all the "stars" of public opinion.

Yes, we need to fear that it will become fashionable to give away your child so you can say such crap as how well they live.

It is sad when things and status become some important that family, values and beliefs become unfashionable.

maryanne said...

Supposing such a creature existed, would a woman so shallow that she would consider surrendering a child a fashion statement really be a fit mother?

Susie said...

I can't say that I "regret" my decision, as it was the only choice I had at the time for my babies well-being. I do regret that I had NOBODY in my life to guide me in my decision, nobody that told me that I really could keep my baby. I regret that nobody in my life cared that I loved my baby but refused to raise him in the hateful house I was being raised in.

Having no regrets on my son's part however, does not mean that it was the right thing for me. As you moms know, I have lived, and will forever live with the trauma & loss of my firstborn child. If I could, I would stop any mom going through an unplanned pregnancy from having to make the same choice I had to make. I regret that we live in a society that sees young, or single, or poor, moms as someone that should provide their baby to someone that wants one, someone that is deemed to be more worthy to be a mom.

Little Snowdrop said...

I don't think surrendering is ever going to be come a fad, although there undoubtedly are groups, like the NCFA, that are making enormous efforts to make relinquishment seem ordinary and cosy and socially neutral.
But I also think they're finding it a tough row to hoe.

People are getting wise to them.

Sandy said...

It will become fashion statement. The new online adoption game is geared to children - adopt and orphan and dress them up...gag...

http://news.mmosite.com/content/2010-01-27/new_online_game_features_sexy_costume_and_adopt_orphan.shtml

Little Snowdrop said...

I think you must mean "My Minx", Sandy, which lampoons celebrity adoptions.
It doesn't celebrate relinquishment.

Osolomama did a blog post on it.

Maura said...

I don't see giving up a child becoming the next fad. It's totally different from the side of the mother than it is from the adopter's side. It has become fashionable among celebrities to adopt children (and, on a side note, they make me want to gag), but notice that the children they adopt are often from poor countries with populations that have little or no means of support, either financial or otherwise. If the parents are uneducated, all the better for those nice, rich, white ladies who want to take their kids. I mean, having kids in general has become the thing to do among celebrities, and their pregnancies are followed like they're the next virgin birth. At least they're not taking other people's children.

Anyway, I think maryanne is right. There's still a lot of guilt and shame attached to surrendering. Women's roles, especially concerning motherhood, suffer from major cultural lag. It's too ingrained in our culture to disappear so fast.

I think, too, that we have to approach "adoption is bad for everyone involved" very carefully, because that can end up with a young girl thinking she's bad for even considering it.

The Improper Adoptee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
maryanne said...

Agreeing with those who have said the fad is celebrities adopting, not mothers surrendering. Do we see any celebrity birth mothers? Do we have any movie stars or media whores bragging about giving up a child in the tabloids and on TV, and what a great family that child went to? Nope.

The fashion accessory is the adorable adopted child, usually from some foreign country where birthmothers are invisible and there is the added thrill of having rescued a poor little "orphan".

triona said...

I think surrender as the next fad is a possibility. There are already "pregnancy pacts" among teenage girls, this would be along the same lines. Because I think a lot of TV glorifies adoption, not only from the adoptive parents' perspective but from the mother's perspective. Girls who want to be "good" and seen as "heroes" might think they can do that by having and surrendering a child.

As an adoptee I find the idea horrifying.

Lorraine Dusky said...

Yo, I'm back from a short vacanes in Miami, where we went to visit friends for a long weekend. Warm weather, Saw the fab Miami City Ballet, read, shopped, went to a party on Saturday, The Saints won the game, what's not to like?

The bit about the pregnancy pact we heard so much about there is a Lifetime movie already being promoted? It was a fraud. Never happened. Might have been a few girls who got pregnant, but the "pact" biz is not true. As far as I heard.

triona said...

I know the movie isn't true, but it wouldn't surprise me if it is actually happening. Part and parcel with celebrity adoptions--girls think it's "cool" to get pregnant and then maybe Angelina will adopt their kid.

Jessica Pegis said...

Funny or not, I just received this link from AdoptionVoices today:

"Here's a link to a Facebook page called "I love adoption" where you can share the reasons why you love adoption"

http://www.facebook.com/iloveadoption

There are a few ecstatic birthmoms but not many, not even for AV. Fad? I don't think so.

maryanne said...

I guess I have more faith in young women than some people, Triona. Many girls may dress like and want to look like their favorite celebs....I wanted to be Audrey Hepburn back in the day:-)...but do you really think anyone dreams of getting pregnant and giving their kid to a celebrity?

If anything they want to BE the celeb, and at 15 think it would be cool to adopt all those kids, but in real life does anyone, even a teenage girl, make a life-altering choice like surrendering a child based on what celebrities do? I can't imagine that to be so, or a real worry.

Maura said...

Oh my Jessica. I checked out that facebook page. Someone needs to proof read her post:

I love Adoption as it bought me my 2 sons!

I am going to assume that's a typo.

I thing the whole thing is funny, in a disturbing way. Not everyone will, so think before you click over there. There's lots of cheerleading about a subject that's very painful.

Jessica Pegis said...

Maura, it's the non-thinking approach, isn't it. Sort of the way London Tipton says, "Yay, me!" and then pats herself excessively only it's "Yay, adoption!"

Jessica Pegis said...

Maryanne, I came across this curious list on an adoption site. It seems to bear out your point and the list has gotta be about one-tenth the size of the a-parent list. Note: I did not know Albert Einstein and his wife to be relinquished.

Notable Birth Parents:
Roseanne Barr, Actress
Marilyn Churley, Ontario MPP
David Crosby, Singer
Albert Einstein, Physicist
Andy Kaufman, Comedian
Joni Mitchell, Singer
Kate Mulgrew, Actress
Anne Petrie, Broadcaster
Shari Ulrich, Singer

Lorraine Dusky said...

I have to do some checking but I recall reading that Einstein had an earlier romance that led to a child relinquished.

Lorraine Dusky said...

Add Mercedes Ruhl to the birthmother list.

Lorraine Dusky said...

And David Crosby--he is the sperm daddy of Tammy Lynn Michaels twins (?) she had as Melissa Ethridge's partner. I state it that way because are they still a couple? Don't know.

Our friend Rosie has split from her partner and of course they have many kids, and continue to oppose open records in the person of her snarky brother, Danny O'Donnell, in the New York legislature.

maryanne said...

Interesting, Jess. Don't know who the last two are at all, did not know about Andy Kaufman. The Einstein story is heartbreaking. Mileva who was intellectually on par with Albert never really recovered from losing her child and never worked again. Here is a book of their love letters;
http://www.amazon.com/Albert-Einstein-Mileva-Maric-Letters/dp/0691087601

Another one I know of is punk rocker Patti Smith.

None of these celebrities bragged about being a birthparent or promoted adoption in any way. Mostly they were "outed" by the press when found. Nothing like the AP celebrities showing off their newly purchased kids in designer outfits.

Jessica Pegis said...

Love Mercedes. Love her. And Andy Kaufman was a genius.

Actually, the Einstein baby was born to them a year before marriage. They did marry and have more kids. Then he divorced and remarried.

Little Snowdrop said...

Anne Petrie wrote a moving book about her own experience, "Gone to an Aunt's: Remembering Canada's Homes for Unwed Mothers."
Definitely recommended.

Little Snowdrop said...

A brief P.S to my previous post.
IMO Anne Petrie's book (published 1998) deserves to be read alongside Ann Fessler's "The Girl's Who Went Away", especially as it was written and compiled by one of those those 'girls'.
Beautifully written and painstakingly researched, it includes, along with her own story, those of other young women who lived through the same experience.

The Improper Adoptee said...

I wrote an entry about the Pregnancy pact movie on Lifetime before it came out (The Pregnancy pact is Lax on Facts) and I have gotten alott of hits due to it-and apparently, the entire town of Glouster in MA where I live is furious at Lifetime tv Network for the making of this film-the real life girls said there was NO pact, but in the film they say there was-Glouster residents feel that Hollywood is exploiting their young residents. Eh, what else is new....

The Improper Adoptee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jane Edwards said...

Other birthparents:

Paula Fox, author
Faith Ireland, retired State of Washington Supreme Court Justice
Sally Amis, daughter of novelist Kingsley Amis
Rex Harrison, actor

Being Me said...

Listing (short)Notable Birth Parents" is and interesting topic. We're all beat over the head with notable adopting parents. And I've seen several lists of notable adoptees. This is the most extensive list I've seen of notable birth parents,apart from bloggers, of course...

Little Snowdrop said...

And who could forget Strom Thurmond?

Lorraine Dusky said...

Let's keep this list going...Every birth parent who comes out of the closet helps up push open the door to open records further.

xo to you all.

Jane Edwards said...

Another celeb set of birthparents -- the former coach of the NY Giants football team and his wife. Does anyone remember his name? He and his girl friend gave up their son. They later married and had several more children. Several years ago, there were some news articles about the son finding his parents.

Linda said...

Jane, that was Jim Fassel...big news in my adoption circles when that broke, so close to home here in NJ.

Amanda said...

I agree that relinquishing will become "fashionable" or threatens to do so. It has already happened in my opinion. Catelynn and Tyler, the couple featured on MTV's "16 and Pregnant" and then "Teen Mom" relinquished to Bethany Christian Services while on the show. They are lauded on message boards nationally and internationally for their "selflessness," their "bravery," and their "courageousness." Their daughter's adoptive mother told People Magazine that she's happy to be "a spokeswoman for adoption." Catelynn has said many-a-time that girls contact her and even come up to her in the street crying and hugging her, telling her what a hero she is. Catelynn said that's she's often told by people "you're so brave, I could never give my daughter up for adoption." To which Catelynn responds that they CAN do it. She didn't think that she could do it but she found it within herself to do it.

The result? Well, many of us in the ARM have discovered at least one teenage mom on the message boards of MTV, seeking attention, trying to be on the show and promoting her blog which features her dancing back and forth between parenting and adoption (I lost track of where she was in the whole decision process, she may have changed her mind about changing her mind about relinquishing...again, at this point).

MTV is just giddy over the ratings they're getting...at the expense of giving an unrealistic picture of adoption for today's youth.

Maura said...

Amanda said... I agree that relinquishing will become "fashionable" or threatens to do so. It has already happened in my opinion. Catelynn and Tyler, the couple featured on MTV's "16 and Pregnant" and then "Teen Mom" relinquished to Bethany Christian Services while on the show. They are lauded on message boards nationally and internationally for their "selflessness," their "bravery," and their "courageousness."

But that's not new, Amanda. I've been hearing how brave and selfless and courageous I am for over 30 years. It's always followed with "I couldn't do it".

But I do get your point. We're talking about teenagers here, and they can be mighty impressionable. An MTV reality show isn't going to talk about the real pain that can come from relinquishing. When a teenage girl on a television show decides to relinquish, it can look easy and painless, and it gives that decision a lot of credibility. Couple that with parents very valid concerns about their daughter becoming a mother too soon, and the situation can become ripe for relinquishment.

On the other hand, teenagers can be extraordinarily intractable, and they're highly capable of romanticizing motherhood, no matter what anyone tells them. So, in the long run, I'm still not convinced that surrendering a child is going to be The Next Big Thing.

A disclosure of sorts: I don't think adoption is innately bad. It can be a solution. There are girls and women who, for whatever reason, can't or don't want to raise a child (And I think that "don't want to" is a reason that's often ignored because it sounds so cold and unfeeling. And, of course, unnatural, because all females want to be mothers. /sarcasm/). All the support systems in the world aren't going to erase the huge problems that accompany an inability or unwillingness to raise a child.

maryanne said...

Fully agreeing with Maura and what she said here. Just because I wanted to raise my child, regret my surrender, always wanted children, and had a few more, does not mean this is true of every mother who gives birth. Some women just do not want to be parents. They should not be scorned if that is the reason they surrendered, and yes, they do exist and they are not monsters. Get out the tar and feathers and pitchforks; I do not believe in the absolute sanctity of biological motherhood!:-)

Maura wrote:
A disclosure of sorts: I don't think adoption is innately bad. It can be a solution. There are girls and women who, for whatever reason, can't or don't want to raise a child (And I think that "don't want to" is a reason that's often ignored because it sounds so cold and unfeeling. And, of course, unnatural, because all females want to be mothers. /sarcasm/). All the support systems in the world aren't going to erase the huge problems that accompany an inability or unwillingness to raise a child."

Anonymous said...

Here is a quote I found...need I say more?

At times of high stress the brain can get emotionally overloaded. At these times the brain will activate automatic defenses, which we will call denial patterns. Each denial pattern is turned on by a specific trigger that threatens something that we value. As a severe problem causes intense stress, the brain turns on intense fear and/or anger. This activates a psychological program that starts mobilizing automatic defensive thoughts and the urge to use resistant behaviors.

Mama Bear said...

im very mixed on this topic, i think there are jprobably more birthmoms today that come to a better peace, because they do hav econtact anc knowledge and choices, but I know many that do reget it and they have full open adoptions. I do think agencies are smart in how they market and where as years ago, there was shame and much pressure, I think today it is marketed as 'your choice" and look what all you can "give" your baby by placing with this wonderful couple and also I do think it is seen as acceptable in alot of our society now, not all ofcourse, but I will say and this is coming from the perspective of an adoptive mom, I think there are very very few cases where adoption is the best choice. but very interestion food for thought.

Mama Bear said...

oh yeah i for got about 16 and pregnant there was so many things on so many levels wrong with that, but i do feel like they were put on a pedastool for their decision

Ashley B said...

As someone that actually "surrendered" a little girl 8 years ago I find this blog's view on the article and some of the comments that followed cruel.

Its not fashionable its a bittersweet experience that never ever leaves you. No one is a hero, I felt a range of emotions but never felt proud, I also dont regret my choice, I did what was best for my child.

I think some of you point a lot of fingers while offering no solutions or even acknowledge that whatever choice one makes when they find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy isnt ever made on a whim.

You seem to fail to acknowledge that when found in this situation there isnt ever a "right" choice to pick and no matter what you do a blog like this one will look at what you do as selfish. I can assure you nothing about adoption is selfish.I think the rate at which women choose abortion is far more of a "craze" to worry about. If you judge so harshly ones ability to acknowledge they dont have the essential things needed to raise a child let alone the maturity level. Then please tell me how you judge someone that chooses to abort their child? I personal felt it was far better for my child to be raised by a mother and father with the stability and maturity needed to raise her to a well rounded adult not to mention said mother and father are unable to produce children and it has left a void so large in their life that they have to avoid regular places in fear of seeing a baby ... Should I have found more comfort in aborting her? What a selfish thought that is " if I cant raise you, then its better for you to never be born" or should I have raised her and hoped she would survive long enough in my care for me to get my act together, being raised mostly by other people anyway like daycare workers because the hours needed to feed us and provide even the basics meant I would have to work two jobs leaving me so exhausted that when I did see her I didnt have the patience to handle even her basis care and spent every hour of every day overwhelmed, leading to a child that was neglected and emotional stunted ... would that of satisfied you? There is no ideal situation that in itself is what an unplanned pregnancy is a less that ideal situation and as for me and most birthmother i know adoption was the most positive choice to make for everyone involved.