Thursday, February 17, 2011

Opposition to the birth parents rights bill: distortions, lies, and more lies

Jane

The websites springing up to oppose HB 2904 which would assure birth parents have the time and information to make informed decisions on adoption would be amusing except that some folks might actually believe the untruths and distortions they spew out. I’ll be writing about these sites for the next few days. 

hb 2904 – adoption reform? The authors claim to be “a small group of 20 [anonymous] Oregon birth mothers” assisted by Oregon Adoption Attorneys and the Oregon Adoption Coalition (the umbrella group for adoption agencies). Their reason for opposing HB 2904? “Future birth mothers need us to help protect their right to choose an adoption.”

What they say: “The bill would make it more difficult for birth parents to choose to to [sic] place their babies for adoption and make it easier for adoptions to be overturned.”  Well, yes, having time to think about what they’re doing might cause some mothers to nurture their children.

“Many of the ‘protections’ in this bill are already available to birthmothers according to current adoption laws, per the birthmother’s choice. This is news to Ashley Petersen-Munoz and Kiley Stewart who lost their daughters in 2010 and Janette Barcenas who lost her son in 2005 because the law did not give them adequate time to decide or sufficient information to make informed choices.

“This bill would actually take away her ability to make these choices by requiring certain behaviors from the birth parent and not allow them to waive proposed mandatory waiting periods.

The bill doesn’t require any behavior unless thinking is a behavior. Actually it doesn’t even require that – it only requires information to be passed along. A mother can keep her mind shut, if she chooses to do so. (Don’t bother me with facts; I’ve already made up my mind.). Here’s what the people behind this website don’t want mothers to know:

(a) The grief and loss that may be experienced by the birth parent and the child as a result of the adoption;

(b) The desirability of keeping the child with the birth parent, or  with  members  of  the birth parent’s family if the birth parent is unable to care for the child;

(c) The availability of public and private resources that would enable the birth parent to keep and nurture the child; and

(d) The benefits of continuing contact between the birth parent and the child.

The site goes on: “Birth parents would be forced to parent for 8 days or the baby would need to be placed in foster care for that period of time.

Forced to parent? OMG!! A mother might discover that nurturing her child is really a neat thing. 

The truth is that the bill does not state what would happen to the baby during the eight days. The parties – the birth mother, the prospective adoptive parents, and the agency -- would work it out . It’s most likely the baby would go home with the prospective adoptive parents.

“The creation of a 30 day revocation period that cannot be waived by the birth parent could lead to more disrupted adoptions/placements.

Birth parents wrote this? Methinks this came straight from the pens of those who would have to refund the $30,000 plus dollars the prospective adoptive parents paid for the baby if a mother decided to keep her baby.

“The bill will create an ‘adoption attorney fee fund’ paid for by Oregon tax payers.”

No better way to raise the ire of a legislator than to mention "attorneys and taxes" in the same sentence. Nothing voters hate more than attorneys and taxes. Of course the statement isn’t true as anyone with half a brain could tell by reading the first page of the bill. The bill creates a fund from a fee added to the $50 adoption petition filing fee to pay attorneys to advise parents of their rights. It would be great if mothers considering adoption could hire their own lawyers but they can’t afford to – lack of funds is the primary reason why they’re considering adoption in the first place.

Of course adoptive parents fork out plenty for attorneys to make sure the adoption is airtight. The tax payers pay the adoptive parents attorney fees and more through a federal “adoption tax credit” to the tune of $13,170.

“The bill will make it a requirement for all the information in an adoptive couple’s home study to be seen by the birth parent prior to relinquishment.”

Secrets & Lies [VHS]Outrageous lie.

If this score of birth mothers is so proud of giving their babies to strangers, you’d think they would have put their names on the website. Truth is, we don’t believe for a minute that any birth parent, let alone 20, wrote this nonsense on their own. It looks like these women, like the birth mothers who sued to overturn Measure 58 which allows adult adoptees to have their original birth certificates, were put up to it by those who make their living from adoption -- that is, if these birth mothers exist at all.

Tomorrow, I’ll write about other sites spewing misinformation about HB 2904.

24 comments :

  1. This is a righteous cause, Jane, keep exposing the sleaze and lies behind the opposition. This bill is only fair, and what already exists in many states and at many agencies.

    Why should the lowest, most punitive and mercenary common denominator determine adoption laws in Oregon?

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  2. I really like the idea of this new proposed adoption law. A law in place like this might have made the difference in me raising my daughter. I really hope it goes through and more like like it come up in other areas. Maybe, it will force the adoption agencies and lawyers to be more up front and honest. Well, one could hope for that.

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  3. Jane, what is your best estimate on the dollars that this bill will cost Oregon taxpayers? The mandatory counseling, the special fund, the possible increase in short-term foster care, etc. How much will that cost per woman who contemplates placing her child for adoption? How many such cases might there be per year? Will this be budgeted for out of the Oregon general fund?

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  4. I believe these changes are long over due.

    And those who are firm in their decision should not be trying to block a law that makes it better for other mothers.

    If one mother was manipulated and surrendered is THAT okay with them? It is NOT OKAY with me, an adoptee. I want to know that my mother was protected in LAW and the choice was made without manipulation or too fast. A law to protect the vulnerable - that is a really good thing.

    Sadly people do not seem to actually think for themselves anymore, or take the time to actually read the proposed changes before opening their mouth in protest.

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  5. I would even hope that PAPs would see the logic behind this bill. Wouldn't they rather raise a child whose mother made a firm decision that surrending was the best option for her under the circumstances? Rather than "stealing" a child from a first mother who realized quickly that she made a grievous mistake and one that she can't live with? I would also worry about the long-term relationship between the a-parents and the child if the child finds out at some later date that his/her nmother changed her mind and wanted the child back.

    I feel sorry for any child whose mother wants to get rid of him and the sooner the better. It sounds like emotional abuse. It boggles the mind that any girl/woman would not want a short window of time and information to be sure she is making a well thought out and informed decision. Maybe some of the "birth" mothers in this piece aren't meant to be parents. Although some of the responses sound so canned they could have come straight from the adoption playbook.

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  6. joyfuladoptee,

    HB 2904 will cost the taxpayers ZERO. Prospective adoptive parents or the adoption agency will pay for the counseling as they do now. The bill does not add counseling; it only specifies some content of the counseling.

    Agencies or prospective adoptive parents will pay for foster care. Agencies have provided short-term foster care in the past. It is unlikely, however, that the babies will go to foster care. Most likely, they will go home with the PAPS or the mother.

    About half the mothers receive legal service now, paid for by the PAPS. We anticipate that PAPS will continue to pay for legal services since it is likely the fee will be dropped. However, all PAPS will pay for services since all mothers will receive them. If, however, all mothers were to receive legal services from the fee rather than from the PAPS, the cost of adoption would rise by about $100.

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  7. I have a problem with the line in your post that says "Forced to Parent? OMG! A mother might discover it is a neat thing to nuture her child." Isn't FORCING anyone to do anything a problem? Forcing someone to parent? Forcing someone to surrender a child for adoption? Why is being forced to parent okay?

    I have issues with forcing someone to do something. And that includes placing when they want to parent and parenting when they want to place.

    Renee

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  8. Jane,
    How many Oregon women place newborn infants for adoption each year? How many Oregon families adopt newborns that were born outside of Oregon? Would this law affect those adoptions?

    Currently, what is the percentage of Oregon women who receive adoption counseling from an agency and then choose to not relenquish the child?

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  9. ***I have issues with forcing someone to do something. And that includes placing when they want to parent and parenting when they want to place.***

    Anon, the problem with this theory is that, until you have tried, how can you really know if it is truly what you want.

    In other words, until a mother has actually had the experience of parenting her child, how can she know if she does or doesn't want to. Generally, what we perceive in our mind, compared to the reality of what happens, are two very different things and I think it would be very important to give a mom those eight days (and even longer) to first try and see if parenting is an option before ever deciding she can't or doesn't want to do it.

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  10. Dear joyfuladoptee:

    I doubt there are the kinds of statistics you are asking about. You ask:
    How many Oregon families adopt newborns that were born outside of Oregon?

    The adoption could be finalized anywhere, would not necessarily be in Oregon, and so...this law is for the protection of women giving up babies, not adopters, though they benefit with the more secure knowledge that the woman is less likely to change her mind and have a few days to consider her decision AFTER GIVING BIRTH.
    So of course the law could not affect those adoptions from other countries and other states.

    You also ask: Currently, what is the percentage of Oregon women who receive adoption counseling from an agency and then choose to not relinquish the child?

    My goodness, the counseling today would hardly count since it will vary from agency to agency, social worker to social worker. So the question can not be answered.

    But Ms. Joyful...it stumps us a bit that you who are so joyful about being adopted--isn't that what you are implying with your moniker?--enjoy coming here and reading about the agonies of adoption from our point of view. However, we are happy that your adoption turned out well and that your heart is full of joy.

    Call me, a less than joyful first mother--

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  11. "In other words, until a mother has actually had the experience of parenting her child, how can she know if she does or doesn't want to"

    Its true. With my youngest son, I was "forced" to parent for about three weeks (if you include the hospital time) because his first father wasn't ready to sign the papers. I must say those 3 weeks were the best of my life. I will forever treasure the time I was able to MOTHER my child. I wouldn't trade it for ANYTHING in the wolrd :)

    @Renee The whole "force" issue isn't an issue at all, because as Jane pointed out, the first mother wont be "forced" into parenting because the baby can go home with the PAP's.

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  12. Jane! This is a wonderful entry... You are doing a great service.
    So many people just don't read bills because they think they can't understand them (or they are told that by those who wish to make the decisions for them).
    You are trusted and admired, and your taking the time to write about HB 2904 means so much. Thank you!

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  13. I agree with Cassi. Until a mother has a chance to see and hold her baby and be with her baby for at the very least 8 days, she won't know what her real feelings are about parenting. I was not allowed to see or hold my baby before being coerced to relenquish in 1970.

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  14. Rene,

    Nothing in the bill forces anyone to "parent." I was being sarcastic because the comment was absurd.

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  15. joyfuladoptee,

    Department of Human Services (DHS) data:
    Number of domestic, non-related non-stepparent, non DHS adoptions in Oregon:
    7/1/07 to 6/30/08 = 414
    7/1/08 to 6/30/09 = 380
    7/1/09 to 6/30/10 = 346

    Perhaps 10 percent of these are not newborns, although they are probably young children. These are children from families who if they did not surrender the children would have their rights terminated. DHS does not put these children in a separate category.

    I don't know how many of these children were born outside Oregon. I suspect very few since Oregon is known to be "adoption-friendly." The laws of the state where the child was born and the surrender signed would govern the validity of the consent.

    The percentage of women who receive counseling and choose not to adopt varies greatly by agency. Catholic Charities places five babies a year. It says only a small percentage of its clients choose to relinquish their babies because it offers adoption as a last choice and helps mothers find ways to keep their babies. It does only open adoptions so that women wishing closed adoptions go somewhere else. It is not dependent on fees from prospective adoptive parents because it receives money from Catholic Charities.

    Open Adoption & Family Services, Oregon's largest agency reported that in 2008-2009, it responded to 220 calls from women facing unplanned pregnancies and completed 53 adoptions which would be 24%.

    I don't have any data on the other ten adoption agencies in Oregon.

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  16. I think this is a really good site if anyone wants to know what current adoption laws are state by state. Does anybody know if the site is maintained by some adoption organization?

    http://laws.adoption.com/

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  17. I was kicked off an adoption.com blog (after being invited to participate) because the blog was basically for Mormon handmaidens who were quite overjoyed to have relinquished their children. The blog was run by a Mormon male.

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  18. Thanks for the link to the site, Anon. Useful for an overview, but out of date as far a specific laws go. It says Washington has a 10 days waiting period. Now WA allows mothers to sign before birth with a whopping 48 hours after birth to revoke consent.

    The states are changing their laws continually; they are in a tight race to the bottom, competing for those $$$ to be made from adoption.

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  19. Any PAP with half a brain should strongly support this bill. What is the worry that supposedly keeps them up at night? Birth family trying to get the baby back. Any bill that takes this many precautions to make sure a mother has been given full information, counseling, a chance to SEE her baby, and TIME to make a decision, is a GOOD THING!!!! Doesn't mean she won't regret it later, but regreting a decision is different from having no decision to make because you were forced, hurried, or told what to do.

    signed, an adoptive parent

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  20. Why is joyful adoptee not answering? I clicked on her name and profile is blocked, which is her choice of course.
    I am wondering if this might be someone who has adopted?

    Just like the barrage of adopters who came here. Lark even referred to her "birthmom" as tummy mommy. She also said this was like calling a family member brother.
    There is a big difference I would say between "our birthmom" brother and tummy mommy.

    I think having a universal law would be great for all women and their babies. That's what adoption counts on different laws different sates even taking moms and babies to the states that are easier to get adoptions done.

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  21. Jane, I just wanted to thank you for working so hard to protect and expand the legal rights of natural mothers. I'm in total agreement with Maryanne when she says that this is a righteous cause. Keep on truckin'...and fight the good fight.

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  22. @anonymous on 2/18. Joyfuladoptee did answer, but Jane and Lorraine did not post it. Perhaps I was too long-winded and too sarcastic. In a nutshell, I don't see where the bill will do any harm. I think 8 days is very reasonable. The worst time to sign is <5 days postpartum, when the b-mom is dealing with breast engorgement, afterpains, etc., and may be taking painkillers and suffering from nicotine withdrawal while in the hospital. As many adoptive parents have no experience with giving birth, perhaps they don't realize how difficult those first few days are physically. After the birth of my children, I certainly wouldn't have signed a contract to purchase a used car, let along sign a contract relenquishing parental rights.

    As far as counseling is concerned, I don't think it will have much of an impact, but I'm not opposed to it either. I wonder if you will see any adoption agencies encouraging Oregon moms to go over to Idaho or Washington to give birth, though.

    No, I am not an adoptive parent. I have no sneaky ulterior motive. I have no association with the people who have posted their opposition to the bill. I was honestly seeking information about the bill. I am a data analyst by profession.

    I am a person who was adopted. I'm on the site hoping to better understand why my b-mom is so bitter. I was reunited with my b-mom, but we don't have much of a relationship at present. She's difficult to please where I am concerned.

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  23. The comment about being "forced to parent" bothers me. Don't people feel a sense of responsibility for the child that they bring into the world? Sad to think that people feel "forced" to take care of their own offspring.

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  24. No mother who does not want to should be forced to parent, and there are such mothers. No mother who does not want to should be forced to surrender, and there were and are way too many of them, most of us here included.

    It is wrong to assume that every mother who surrendered really wanted to keep her child, just as it is wrong to assume that adoption is always or even often the better choice for a mother with a crisis pregnancy.

    Supporting "Choice" for mothers means supporting whatever choice the individual woman makes, including the choices to abort or surrender.

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