Monday, February 14, 2011

Reforming Oregon's adoption laws

Jane

Oregon mothers are losing their children to adoption even though they and their families can and want to nurture them. Oregon has twice the national rate of domestic, non-related infant adoptions.

      After Lorraine and I wrote about Oregon's adoption-friendly laws (Are Laws Tilted Towards Adoptive Parents?), I received calls from folks interested in working on amending these laws. We formed a work group, Oregon Birth Mothers, and drafted a bill to assure that mothers have sufficient time and adequate information to make informed decisions about adoption. Rep. Margaret Doherty, a smart, forward-looking member of the Oregon House introduced our bill, HB 2904. This bill:

---Gives mothers eight days after birth before they may consent to adoption and 30 days after consenting to revoke the consent. Currently mothers may sign consents on  the delivery table, revocable only if they can prove fraud or duress. 

---Assures mothers receive independent, fact-based counseling.

---Assures mothers have legal counsel.

---Grants mothers legal remedies if their consent is obtained by fraud or duress.

As expected, Oregon Birth mothers are getting a lot of flack over HB 2904, although we have also received support from some adoption practioners. Here’s what the critics are asking:

---Where does the baby go during the eight day period before mothers can sign consents? 

Babies can go home with the birth mother or the prospective adoptive parents or go into foster care. Foster care is not ideal but it is not rare. When adoptive parents cannot take their babies from the hospital because they live too far away, babies go into foster care or go home with their birth mothers. I know of one case where the birth mother took her son home, breast fed him for a week, and then had to give him up when the adoptive parents arrived in Oregon.

Until recently almost all babies slated for adoption went to foster care, sometimes as long as 30 days. One reason for the delay was to determine whether the babies were adoptable, that is whether they were healthy. As late as the 1960's adoption agencies placed babies at Oregon State University's home economics department where home ec students honed up their parenting skills by practicing on these babies. These babies stayed at OSU for a year with multiple care givers.

 ---What if a mother doesn’t want counseling?

The word "counseling" may be misleading. What is meant is "disclosures." Laws requiring disclosures are common where one party has more information than the other. Realtors have to tell you if the roof in the home you’re considering buying leaks; stock brokers have to tell you if the company whose stock you’re considering buying filed for bankruptcy. Defendants in criminal cases must be informed of their rights before they may plead guilty. Adoption counselors need to tell mothers about the effects of adoption on themselves and their children and other options they may have (help from relatives, public assistance, parenting classes, and so on).

 ---Does requiring time for consideration (eight and 30 days) impede mothers choices?

No. Oregon laws require waiting periods in many consumer transactions, buying a vacuum cleaner from a door-to-door salesman for example. Mothers should have more protection from hasty decisions than purchasers of vacuum cleaners.

 ---How does the bill promote the welfare of mothers and children?

An UNCOMMON SCOLDIt prevents the needless separation of children from their mothers. Adoption experts, the Child Welfare League of America, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, social worker and adoptive parent Anne Babb, Ph. D., agree that children benefit from staying within the natural family when possible.

Allowing mothers time and information to make informed decisions helps assure that mothers are comfortable with adoption decisions. This in turn increases the likelihood of positive relationships with the adoptive parents, important because almost all adoptions are open, i.e. provide for continuing contact.

As we work on this bill, I am reminded of the words engraved on a wooden panel above the door to the assembly hall at my high school, Hyde Park in Chicago: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” We’ve only gone about a 100 steps but we’re on our way!
______________________

To add your two cents about this bill--legislators will read these comments!!!--please link to
Establishes Adoption Legal Services Fund

77 comments :

  1. Thank you all so much for clearing things up :) There are some very misleading things being posted about HB 2904. Glad to see they are not true! I hope this bill is passed very soon, and that other bills like it will be drafted in other states across the country. It's about damn time something like this happened!

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  2. This legislation sounds really tremendous -- thank you for this informative post!

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  3. This sounds like a fair and much-needed bill. I hope you can get it passed. The objection about where the baby goes for 8 days is ridiculous. When I was born, moms were routinely kept in the hospital that long, as were babies. When I had my kids, it was 5 days for a normal deliver, a week for a C section. Nobody thought any kids were being harmed.

    8 days to sign and 30 to revoke is actually minimal and conservative. I do not see how any decent person without ulterior motives could object to that. It protects everyone including prospective adoptive parents.

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  4. I found a link where the bill can be followed and have comments made directly on it:

    http://gov.oregonlive.com/bill/2011/HB2904/

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  5. I was under the impression all laws regarding adoption
    are tilted toward adopters. When my son was born he was
    put into foster care of course I did NOT know this guess worker didn't think I needed to know. He was born in Era
    or Mass Surrender. Way to many abuses of mothers and babies after all they weren't working for moms or the baby
    it was all about the adopters.

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  6. When I signed the surrender papers 2.5 weeks after birth, I was told that she had been in an incubator for a while, then in some kind of nursery until they were sure that she was in good health. That freaked me out, for if I wasn't caring for her during that time, how come the adoptive parents weren't?

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  7. It used to be standard practice with agency adoptions to put the baby in foster care for a few weeks to few months to make sure nothing was wrong with it. The foster mother observed and in some cases I think they did some sort of primitive psychological testing. Defective babies stayed in foster care, the surrendering mother was never informed, as she had signed over all her rights to the agency, not to specific adoptive parents.

    Only private adoptions through a lawyer or lawyer and doctor went right to the adoptive parents. In that case, often the birthmother handed the baby over to the adoptive parents right outside the hospital.Some surrendering mothers chose private adoption because they wanted the baby to go straight to the adoptive parents.

    My son was in foster care because I could not bear to sign surrender papers so that was what they offered me while I "made up my mind". What the agency did not explain was how hard it was to get a baby out of foster care once you put him in it, all the things you would have to prove which you would not need to prove if you had walked out of the hospital with your baby.

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  8. Wonder what the pro-adoption side is afraid of, that the mother might change her mind and keep her baby? Ya think? As Maryanne said, before insurance cutbacks (aka drive-thru deliveries) mother and baby stayed in the hospital for close to a week. This law seems reasonable. Actually, it sounds even generous to the pro-adoption side.

    I'm surprised that Oregon which is known for being a progressive state would have such a high adoption rate. I hope the liberals haven't co-opted adoption as a good cause. It seems the feminists already have.

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  9. The state of Oregon does have a link up, which I posted on my website,

    http://reformadoption.com/Reform/main.shtml#OR

    You can view it in html or pdf. It indicates with a + what the bill adds, and with a -, to show what would be changed with this new bill. Great way to clear up things up straight from the horse's mouth, and with the documentation and links.

    Thanks to all of the people who made this possible. My heart goes out to all those in Oregon who has put so much time and energy into this bill. It is a great model for other states to follow suit in.

    It also gives the rest of us hope in being able to create reform and change that benefit all of us who were harmed by adoption, as we are able.

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  10. Wonder if your baby had died they would have told you?
    That was just wrong terribly wrong and that's the way they made sure we were out of the picture. I have heard many times that moms tried to get baby back. There was no way in the way they would have gave us any chance in keeping
    our babies. Too many abuses for me to Get Over It.
    That's why I hate adoption so much it is not about keeping
    mom and baby together instead it tears them apart.

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  11. Amanda,

    Thanks for finding the link to Oregon live and for your comments.

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  12. Thanks Heather for letting us know about the reform adoption site.

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  13. Maryanne,

    It might have been the standard for that time
    but not telling the mother that was the practice
    is wrong. Of course they had my 17 yr old minor
    signature without my parent being there. I was still
    my babies mother I hadn't signed surrender papers.

    I wish I had had some kind of choice to DECIDE
    what I was going to do as a young mom those who
    led me to adoption didn't give a dam about me or
    my baby. It was all about getting my baby for
    someone else.

    No counseling, no help, no lawyers or judge, no chance or choice to decide. That's the way they did it wrong and
    abusing rights of mom totally.

    I do think social workers abused us as mothers

    Robin they knew that abusing us and taking advantage
    Of our youth was the only way they could get our babies.
    It's still coercion and criminal. So those workers can be
    proud of their work. I personally would be ashamed of my
    self and what I did to so many young women.

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  14. I was in foster care for 4.5 months after the surrender papers were signed. Not sure why.

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  15. "Wonder if your baby had died they would have told you?"

    The answer to that would seem to be "no". I heard of several mothers who searched only to learn that their babies had died in the first year, in some cases before the adoption was finalized. One mother tried unsuccessfully to get her baby disinterred and buried with her family, as there was no legal adoption.

    Once you signed a surrender, the agency had no obligation to tell you anything. They owned the child, until they transferred ownership to adoptive parents, or kept the child in foster or institutional care.

    I also knew some stories of mothers who's children turned out to be severely handicapped, and they were never told. There was a story in the CUB Communicator of a woman who found out her surrendered son was in the same institution as one of the mother's siblings, with the same form of severe mental retardation. She never knew until she searched, thinking she would find a well adult who had been adopted.

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  16. Maryanne is absolutely right.

    My granddaughter Lisa was in care of a nun, and then a foster mother for 18 months before she was adopted. Neither her mother, or her father, were informed. How do I know this? I found Lisa; her adoptive mother who has shared photographs and sweet and not-so-sweet stories about Lisa's first years told me. (For those who don't know, my daughter, Lisa's mother, is deceased.)

    The signature is a wall and it is not in the best interests of the child.

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  17. I have tried to remeber in vain when and where I signed the papers. I do not remember being respresented by anyone. I have no copies of surrender papers. I don't even know if I was in a courtroom. Yet, I drove myself there and to this day the dress I wore hangs in my closet. I kept it because it was the only material thing I had that linked me to my daughter. It made her real.
    After being reunited I tried to read the paperwork that my daughter was given but it was too hard. The description of me said one word "clean". What the hell did that mean?

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  18. Right. You don't get a copy of the surrender papers and you are in too much of a cloud to ask for them. And you have no idea that sometime later you will want to have a copy to attest that this happened. Or want to read, when your head is clear, what the papers actually say.

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  19. Key term here is AFTER surrender papers are signed.
    Loraine had not signed them when she found
    that her daughter had been in incubator.

    I had NOT signed papers but found out my son was in
    foster care.

    We were the mothers till we signed surrenders but our
    rights were violated along with our babies rights. Violations
    of our rights were flagrant that's why they were able to get
    away with what they did Era Mass Surrenders.

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  20. Also, why weren't we given those surrender papers they are legal documents. Another right violated because they
    could just why abuses happen.

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  21. I had to work hard to receive copies of the paperwork I signed the day after my son was born, the day I left the hospital. It took 18 years to get them. Receiving a copy of the paperwork seems like another basic right people in other situations take for granted.

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  22. I am an adoptive mother and have never been in your shoes. Adoption has blessed my life greatly. We did not pursue a domestic type adoption, we endured adoption through foster care in our state. These were children that had suffered neglect and other serious hardships.... our children's Birthmothers did not make the choice to place a child for adoption. The children were removed from their custody.
    I heard about this bill through some birthmother friends of mine that don't seem to have the same positive outlook as you all do. They are all 'current day Birthmothers' for lack of a better explanation, and it seems like a large chunk of the women commenting here "placed" years and years ago. My question is not meant to be offensive, but... do you think you are painting an unclear picture of what adoption is TODAY? I know that adoption laws back in the day were unclear, and possibly quite unfair... do you truly believe they are still that outdated and unfair to potential birth families?

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  23. Dear Larks Nest -

    In a word, yes. These laws are outdated and yes, they need to be changed.

    I went to your blog - I see you are LDS. I am an active member of the church as well. I am also a birth mother who lost her oldest daughter to adoption. I can speak from very recent experience that adoption within the LDS church has not changed much at all since the era of which some of these mothers lost their children.

    Just because we have a spiffy website and slick videos produced by LDSFS and adoptions that are subsidized through tithing and fast offerings donations doesn't mean adoption doesn't need reform. Change is coming and I would invite you to become the fiercest advocate for the most maligned of the adoption constellation - the birth mother. Your children's birth mother.

    Melynda

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  24. This bill decoded correctly and answered to by a RECENT oregon birthmom.

    http://www.therhouse.blogspot.com/

    This bill is created by birthmothers who placed way too long ago and have no idea how great the adoption process is now.

    I for one do not appreciate the 6 counseling sessions with my abuser that I would have been forced to do.

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  25. Larks Nest,,
    Adoption practices were, are, and always will be in favor of the adoptive parents and against keeping us together with OUR children. As long as there are those who can make money from this it won't end.
    Why was it so wrong for a mother to want raise her child. Most of us may have been young but all we needed was a network of support and resources and I believe 95% of us would have never surrendered our children. I also believe that we were coerced and shamed into a decision that wasn't all our own. Once it was a given that we would surrender we no longer mattered. Those who thought they knew better said we would forget about our children and our children would forget about us. Well, just the fact that this blog and others like it exist prove that they were wrong.
    Every child has a right to know their family and until all who ask for their information are freely given access to it, these laws will always be outdated and abusive.

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  26. Some of you commenting here might want to answer Katie from SLC (Salt Lake City) who posted at
    First Mother Forum Mission Statement:

    What We Think About Adoption

    on Dec. 10, 2010.

    It would appear that we are getting under the skin of the Church of the Latter Day Saints. I hope some of them search the blog for the LDS and adoption posts we have written.

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  27. JLBills -

    I just downloaded and read through the proposed bill in its entirety. Have you? I cannot seem to find one provision in there that states a birth mother would have to receive the counseling with the other birth parent (I think that is who you were referring to when you said, "abuser.")

    I wish I had had mandatory TRUTHFUL counseling about the long-term effects of adoption on my, my daughter, and my parented children. I wish I had had legal representation that was paid for NOT by the adoptive parents or their agency, but by an independent fund such as the one proposed by the new law.

    As an LDS woman, I find these laws completely in keeping with the same kinds of ones proposed by those who desire mandatory counseling & ultrasounds for those considering abortion. If it is a good thing to counsel a woman about the potential negative consequences of choosing abortion, then it is a good thing to counsel a woman about the potential negative consequences about choosing adoption.

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  28. to my knowledge, in oregon there is no mandatory abortion counseling or disclosure, lets keep the argument relative to the issue at hand. and you wouldnt have to have birth parent cousneling together, but a birthfather can definitely refuse to go to counseling unless the birthmother was present, a form of classic abuse. how long ago did you place? because NOW they do already counsel you about the hardships of adoption. which is prob why only about 1% of expectant parents choose adoption. its hard stuff. no denying that. Also what does LDS have anything to do with this. I know SEVERAL people who are not LDS who still are VERY against this bill. I also no SEVERAL birthmothers who are also against it.

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  29. I'm sorry that you obviously had a negative experience with adoption OVER 40 YEARS AGO. But things have changed. I would love for you to be able to talk to the birthmothers I have met, like my daughter's, who are appalled over this bill taking away their rights to waive counseling, waiting periods, etc. It would have been devastating for my daughter's birthmother to be FORCED to parent her for 8 days or hand her over to the very broken foster system for over a week, instead of knowing she was safe at home, with the parents she chose.

    Just know that all my friends and family members have written to their representatives opposing this bill. It takes away rights that a wise 28 year old angel (my daughter's birthmother) was so grateful to have. To CHOOSE what happened to her daughter.

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  30. I appreciate the comment that I should advocate for my girls birthmother, and believe me I DO! It's insanely unheard of to have an open relationship when dealing with foster care. My daughter was born drug addicted... but now that birthmom has a clear head and has ended her drug use, she admits that adoption is the way to go. She actually has plans set up to go into high schools and tell these teenagers making unhealthy sexual choices, how adoption changed her life! I am always in her corner.... but still... it seems to me that those wanting this bill passed are Birthmothers from an era MUCH DIFFERENT than today. I recently attended an adult adopted panel of those whose records were sealed. Only one of the ten had ever found his birth family. And still, EVERY ONE of them said that given the chance, they would do nothing but sing praises to the woman who placed them in a better situation. So, had you ladies had open relationships with your children, would you still be pushing this bill?

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  31. Emily - I have gone back and re-read the bill a third time. I still don't see where it says a birth mother is "forced" to parent for 8 days. It only says that she can't sign termination of parental right papers for 8 days. From what I can gather, the infant in question can be placed in the temporary custody of the family of her choosing (ensuring her baby is "safe at home, with the parents she chose), the infant could be surrendered to the adoption agency, or placed into that "horrible" foster care system you mentioned.

    Once again, the proposed law *does not* require that the mother take the baby home for 8 days, only that she cannot terminate parental rights during that time period.

    Did you know in most states (Utah included) you have 3 days to change your mind about buying Stamp It Up! products or Mary Kay? Do you think we could possibly extend the courtesy of eight days to brand new mothers to make sure they are certain of their choice? If she is, the fabulous! Ta-da, you as an adoptive mother still get to adopt the baby. If not, then fabulous! Baby goes home with her mama.

    I don't think 8 days is too much or too long. After all, this is a human being we are talking about, not the latest shade of nail polish of the most current special edition stamp set.

    @ JLBills - You are right. I should not have mentioned the fact I am LDS or brought that into the conversation. It has nothing to do with this topic. Common sense and moral/ethical decency do. The goal of this proposed law is to protect the most vulnerable citizens in our midst - expectant mothers and their tiny newborns.

    If we - the ones who bear the heaviest cost in the adoption transaction - don't speak out to protect future mothers and their babies, who will?

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  32. I had a relationship with my daughter from the time she was 15 until she committed suicide in 2007. She often lived with me and my husband for extended periods of time. She spent summers here; went to college nearby for a year. Was adoption one of the issues that defined her life? Yes. Your questions indicate you have not even bothered to learn anything about us.

    As for your "panel," we can put together a panel of young women who were felt rushed, coerced or otherwise pushed into letting their children be adopted when they wanted to raise them. If you did more reading here you would find them. I am sure that organizations such as the National Council For Adoption and LDS (yes I am bringing that up, as the church is one of the main group of agencies who make up NCFA) can put together a panel that says what you are so eager to hear. Adoption has many sides. You seem determined to say that it's all different today; it is, and it isn't. Have you bothered to read "What We Thing about Adoption," one of the permanent pages here? Have you read blogs by adoptees? You seem content in your viewpoint without considering that there are two sides to the story.

    And it would probably surprise you to know that several of the women who regularly read First Mother Forum and post comments that agree with us...are adoptive mothers.

    And since you are an adoptive mother, why are you so against letting a biological natural mother have longer time to sign an irrevocable agreement to give up her child, her flesh and blood? This will lead to fewer legal battles in the future. What is your problem with this?

    Inquiring minds here want to know.

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  33. I think there are some misconceptions about this bill.

    --it does not force anyone to parent in those 8 days. The child can go home with the Adoptive Family and many agencies have their own foster families or respite care as an alternative as wel, as Jane explained above.

    --Jane also explained the "counselling" in the above blog article. Agencies and adoption lawyers have much more information on adoption and adoption law than the average person inquiring about adoption does. It makes sense that the law would require them to disclose relevant and accurate information to a mother before she makes a decision or signs any paper work. She deserves to be as informed about the adoption process as anyone else is.

    --If there are mothers who have had good experiences with their agencies--good! Let's not discount the ones who haven't. The bill was drafted because there are mothers who did not have enough time to make an informed decision before signing the papers. Some of their stories were in the September issue of The Adoption Mosaic.

    --This bill is not about taking choices away. It is about making sure that there is adequate time to make a decision and recieve information before a mother can be expected to sign paperwork. Being able to waive the time periods makes the bill irrelevant. If the time periods can be waived, then how could a mother being expected to waive the periods and make a hasty decision be prevented?

    While some may not like what mothers who surrendered decades ago have to say, I have consistently found reading books and research that their very voices and advocacy is why adoption is so open today. Mother and adoptee advocates, are consistently credited by professionals in literature for providing feedback about adoption and helping make the changes that people appreciate today. Many Adoptive Parents have also been very influential as well. So thank you Jane and Lorraine and others for speaking.

    While actual adoption practice may seem better, some of the laws on the books even today are very antiquated. There are still adoption laws in place in some states that are decades and decades old. For example, post-adoption law relevant to my right to information in my birth state was enacted in the 1930's and wasn't reformed until 1999. Despite being "reformed" it still carries much of the stigma and restrictions from the law from 70-80 years earlier! How is this fair to adoptees, now, in 2011? We must keep the laws up-to-speed with the times. History, and hearing historians of these times speak, is vital to our understanding to promote good, ethical change in adoption law.

    Everyone with an adoption connection, no matter how old or young, or how short or long ago their adoptions were, has a valuable opinion.

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  34. Larks Nest,

    All of us who care about children commend you for taking children out of foster care and giving them a home.

    The Oregon bill, HB 2904,was introduced at the request of four named birth mothers as well as unnamed mothers. Two of the named mothers surrendered their children in 2010, one in 2005, and one in 1990. Our unnamed birth mothers include women who lost their children within the past 10 years. Our supporters also include adoptive parents and adoptees.

    The bill simply assures that mothers have the time and information to make informed decisions. It's based on recommendations from the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute (funded by adoptive parents) and the Child Welfare League oF America, an umbrella organization for adoption agencies.

    Although some adoption practitioners may assure mothers can make an informed decision, many do not. To the extent that agencies do follow the practices recommended by these experts, the bill should have no effect on them.

    We agree that IF mothers or close family members cannot raise their children and must surrender them, that true open adoptions are better for mother and child than closed adoptions.

    Unfortunately open adoption is often used as a carrot to get vulnerable young women to surrender their infants and adoptive parents often close adoptions. Under Oregon law and the laws of most states, open adoption agreements are not enforceable.

    Some agencies, like LDS Social Services, mislead mothers into thinking their adoption is open. In fact all these mothers get is letters and pictures sent through the agency for three years. They cannot see their children and do not know the names and addresses of the adoptive parents. These mothers are unaware that they could negotiate face-to-face meetings with their children. Other agencies, like Catholic Charities insist on true openness.

    If you want to know what's really going on in the world of adoption, I encourage you to take a look at the EB Donaldson report on Birthmothers. http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/publications/#birthparents

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  35. Larks Nest,

    Let me add that the laws of today are much worse than they were when I surrendered in 1966. States, including Oregon, have decreased the time for mothers to decide and some states like Colorado and Washington allow pre-birth surrenders. It is impossible for a mother to know how she will feel about her child until it is born and then it may be too late to stop the adoption.

    Legislatures have changed the laws in others ways too, always at the request of those who make their living off of adoption, in order to increase infant adoptions to meet the increased demand for healthy babies.

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  36. Reading these posts, I don't understand what kind of person, let alone an alleged Christian would be against a bill that protects the mother/child bond.

    I don't mean to single out JLBills, but doesn't it break her heart not to be raising her own child? Doesn't she have natural affection for the child who grew in her womb? Is it more important to have a designer wedding gown and a high end blog?

    Christians understand when you do not value the mother child bond - You are encouraging others to devalue motherhood. You are encouraging women to make their baby disappear - and many will chose abortion.

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  37. JLBills,

    I checked out the website and it is full of misinformation about the bill. As an example, the bill does not prevent the baby from going home with the prospective adoptive parents. The bill does not require post-adoption counseling. The only pre-adoption counseling required are disclosures so that mothers may be informed before making a decision.

    The bill was introduced on behalf of mothers who surrendered recently, two of them in 2010.

    Please read the comments and my FF post to know what's in the bill.

    It's sad that people have resorted to writing untruths about a bill that simply reflects sound adoption practices.

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  38. Emily,

    You're sadly misinformed about HB 2904. Mothers will not have to nurture their child during the eight day waiting period. The baby can home with the propsective adoptive parents.

    The required counseling is simply information. Mothers cannot make a decision about adoption unless they know something about it. Under current law, there is not requirement that they be informed about anything.

    The mothers behind this bill are NEW mothers who surrendered in the past decade.

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  39. @ Lorraine,
    I don't think its wrong to ensure 'best practice' and protect Birthmothers and these sweet babies. You are correct, I have not read anything on your site other than info on this bill. I was not implying that this panel I attended was gospel, I was merely using it as a reference. I am sure there are lots of panels that could be put together on all sides!
    @ Jane,
    I have seen the 'carrot' first hand... on another panel of Birthmothers. She had been promised an open adoption, and they stayed open just long enough to fool her... it was heartbreaking to see her aching for a child she was promised she would be able to have contact with. I could not imagine making a promise that serious, and then 'renegging' on my end. Thank you for stating that many of the founders of the bill are recent Birthmothers. I am not saying I agree or disagree with the bill, but it makes it more clear when you know who is authoring it.
    Clearly there are pros and cons on all sides of the issue, its nice to know that support has been provided for those Birthmothers that have had rough, unnerving experiences.
    My only other comment is to 2 Timothy- how dare you belittle BIlls for her CHOICE! All Birthmothers, whether they are pro on this bill or otherwise, deserve respect. And by insinuating that she cared more about a wedding dress than her child whom she chose to place, is not a very Christian thing to do. Shame on you!

    Again, thank you for your insights....

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  40. Lark's Nest,

    Adoption today is NOT perfect. There are still many abuses, some of which this modest bill hopes to correct.

    If a surrendering mother is at peace with her choice, has a good relationship with the prospective adoptive parents, and all are honest, how could waiting 8 days to sign the surrender possibly hurt anyone? As Jane noted, the adoptive parents can still take the baby home from the hospital if that is what the birthmother wants, no 8 days in limbo, and a mother who has gotten some honest counseling is much less likely to change her mind.

    This bill benefits everyone, including prospective adoptive parents. It hurts nobody except unscrupulous adoption arrangers who try to coerce mothers to sign when that is not their choice and they do not have a clear mind fresh from delivery. A mother given real choice and choosing adoption will not mind waiting 8 days to sign. Adoptive parents who want a child who is really freely surrendered will not mind either.

    Those who believe in ethics in adoption will support this bill. Those who do not, well, I have to question their commitment to ethics vs. quick and dirty surrenders.

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  41. Emily wrote, "I'm sorry that you obviously had a negative experience with adoption OVER 40 YEARS AGO. But things have changed."

    The one thing that never changes in adoption is that a mother loses her child and a baby loses his mother. The mother who gives birth is no longer considered a mother in either a legal or social sense. Adoption was created to erase one mother (the natural-bio-birth mother) in favor of another (the adoptive mother).

    The world of adoption would be greatly improved by listening to the voices of those of us who have spent 20/30/40+ years navigating this social engineering project. This includes listening to the voices of adoptees, as well.

    Contrary to the notion that we all move on and adoption becomes less important, many of use have experieced the exact opposite with adoption making an even greater impact on our lives as we age. Issues of reunion, sibling relationships, dating and marriage, loyalty and rivalries between birth and adoptive families, medical issues, inheiritance and financial planning, becoming grandparents -the list is nearly endless and adoption is an ever-present complicating factor in our lives. Please listen to those who have lived adoption for many years.

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  42. Sorry Lark -- Birthmothers do not deserve respect for making a "choice" -
    Mothers in the past had no options - and were unable to raise their offspring. To walk away from one's own child as if parental responsibility is Optional -- well that is just wrong.
    Whether you read the bible - the Koran - or just go with secular humanism: abandoning a child is wrong - paint it any way you want to - but it is an awful awful decision to many were forced to make. Unfortunately today young women see sex and pregnancy as choices and not life long commitments.
    Yes I say - good luck with the blog Bills, the wedding, the husband and puppy. A life grew under your heart and you made that life disappear:your actions speak louder than the blog - and the action says: make 'it' go away abort if that's your "CHOICE"

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  43. @ 2 Timothy 3:1-3

    I don't know who you are because you didn't have the backbone to say.

    First of all, My dress is not designer is was 140 dollars. Second of all, my blog isn't high end by any means and if you didn't already know i didn't start the blog from pregnancy. I started it when she was 7 months old. It took that long because I couldn't get out of bed until she was 5 almost six months old. What i don't understand about you claiming to be so Christian is that you are intending to bring me down and make me feel worse about myself. luckily, I am stronger than that and don't feel the need to be validated by someone such as yourself.

    Second, you can talk to me personally you don't need to talk about me in third person and try and make yourself seem so high and mighty.

    I am not encouraging anyone to do anything but make the correct decision and for many including myself the right decision is/was adoption. I don't know what your situation was and you don't know mine. so don't gather all of your information from my profile picture and my blog and pretend like you are some private investigator.

    I love my birthdaughter. Josie is her name. I know she is loved and well taken care of. Adoption isn't sunshine and rainbows. Its not a perfect situation sometimes. For ME and MY DAUGHTER it is/was.

    Oh and since you like scriptures so much you should go read Matthew 7:1-5.

    Love to you, Jessalynn Bills

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  44. What truly takes the cake here is this group of young women who have come in here to tell us as mothers of adoption loss we are out of touch with adoption and it's practices. Hello, ladies WE are not we have lived through
    and survived some of the most abusive adoption practices
    from having our babies taken sight unseen to being put in one of those "nice" unwed mothers homes to be able break
    us down and take our babies for loving married two parent homes.
    Please read here before you jump in and try to silence us as mothers. Also, don't call "your" adopted child's mom "your" birthmom. She isn't "your" anything that referral sends chills through me.
    One more thing I found my son in 92 he and I are still happily reunited. We have had that long term connection that sealed adoptions tried to prevent.

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  45. I wanted to chime in my two cents here, and do not wish to attack anyone or have anyone attack me. I became a birthmother in April of 2009. I live in Arizona, a state with ridiculous adoption laws, that I would LOVE to see reformed.

    When this bill was first brought to my attention (as a negative thing) I had problems finding any fault in it, save for the eight days that they baby would go into foster care. I personally did not agree with that. I felt, that in my situation, that would have been horrible, and that if my child couldn't go home with me, then I would have wanted her to go home with the parents I chose for her. I went and read the bill about a dozen times yesterday, and what I got from it was that you simply cannot sign the release/relinquishment until the baby is 8 days old, but that it does not affect where the baby goes for those 8 days. So now, I agree entirely with it.

    Many of my adoption world friends oppose this bill, and I am OK with that, because I strongly feel we don't all have to agree on everything. But I support this bill.

    In Arizona, you have 72 hours before you can sign papers. They cannot be revoked. Counseling or disclosure is not required, or even seriously offered. I was told I had no business asking to see a homestudy. NO ONE has to sit down and explain anything to expectant mothers. Not long term effects on them. Not long term effects on the children. Nothing. You wander through it blind and ignorant. I don't know too many of us who have a full working knowledge of adoption before we find ourselves in the middle of it. Birthmothers do not have to have any legal representation. My adoptive parents used a FREE service that the state provides to adoptive parents to complete their adoptions, and would give me no information, except for a few well placed lies.

    I do not live in Oregon, and so I will not be writing any letters or email FOR or AGAINST this bill, but I will tell you this much. Bring something like this to AZ, and I will write through a whole forest of trees. Head up any rally needed. Dance in the streets to get the point across...that adoption laws need some updating. That is is mandatory to provide this information to women considering adoption.

    It is important to note, that even if provided with everything this bill entails, I still would have had to place...but I would sleep a lot better at night had I not had to truly come to terms with my own ignorance and lack of education, while trying to raise three children and mourn the loss of the fourth.

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  46. My oh my, 2 Timothy, you are a piece of work. What a hateful person you are.... hopefully, you will never be placed in a situation where a tough choice has to be made. Hopefully you remain a perfect being your whole life. Hopefully no one in your life is affected by infertility and has very few choices at building a family.
    My intent on even coming to this site was to be educated on both sides of this argument. I didn't think 'birthmother bashing' was part of that. I have nothing but respect for ANYONE put in this situation- those that placed by choice and those that didn't get an opportunity to choose. I applaud any woman that finds herself in this position and considers ALL her options. I also applaud those that learn from their mistakes.... I don't applaud those that go out of their way to hurt others. It seems that you are one of those people. The pain is real whether you choose to place or your baby is taken from you!!

    To whomever it was that said not to call her OUR birthmother, I mean no disrespect, but I will continue to call her that. She is a part of my family.... just like you would introduce any other family member. "This is our brother..." She is our Tummy Mommy.

    I don't need to defend myself or my choice to be an adoptive mother. Believe me when I say that my adoptions are TRULY OPEN! She sees the girls whenever she wants. And let me tell you, it was hard. Not because I was jealous, or worried, or any of that.. because she hurt my children. They were both drug addicted and still suffer DAILY from the choices she made while pregnant. It's less than glorious. I CHOOSE to be open with her because I know my children will want to know her and want answers as they grow up. I CHOOSE to be a great adoptive mother by becoming educated and reaching out to others. I CHOOSE to advocate for open adoption, and I always will.

    I applaud Jane for calmly and kindly expressing her views and answering my very sincere questions rather than attacking me for being on another end.... I am so sorry that so many of you have been hurt through adoption. I will never say hurtful or disrespectful things about any of you. I can tell you, I will continue to go over and above to make sure my adoption remain open and honest.

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  47. JBills, you accuse others of not acting in a Christian manner, but is lying Christian? The misstatements on your blogs and in your comments here were noted, but you haven't offered corrections.

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  48. P.S. - I should note that I'm not the same "Jane" who runs this blog, but someone else.

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  49. Larks Nest wrote: "I recently attended an adult adopted panel of those whose records were sealed. Only one of the ten had ever found his birth family. And still, EVERY ONE of them said that given the chance, they would do nothing but sing praises to the woman who placed them in a better situation."

    How do they know they got a "better" life if they don't know their first mothers and don't know what kind of life they would have had with her??

    @JLBills,

    You wrote that you couldn't get out of bed for 5-6 months after your daughter was born. I'm assuming this is because you were emotionally devastated (if this is not the reason, I apologize in advance). I think this kind of reaction is nature's way of telling you that you made the WRONG DECISION. I have had many sad and painful things happen in my life but nothing that ever gave me a reaction like that. If it had I would seriously have to reexamine the situation.

    Then you write: "Adoption isn't sunshine and rainbows. Its not a perfect situation sometimes. For ME and MY DAUGHTER it is/was."

    Has your daughter told you being adopted is perfect for HER? Or do you just know in advance how SHE will feel when she grows up?

    When a woman's family is complete and she does not plan to raise any more children, it is time for a tubal ligation. It is kinder to not create the child in the first place than to give him or her up for adoption.

    Also, I'm wondering does this counseling include telling the first mother that in the majority of cases it is better for the CHILD to be raised in his bio-family and that the child has already attached to his natural mother?

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  50. I want to correct something I posted yesterday. I said one of the birth mothers named on the bill (the "at the request of" section) surrendered in 1990. Actually it was 1984. The others are correct,two in 2010 and on in 2005

    In our group, the oldest surrender was in 1958; the most recent in October, 2010.

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  51. @Jane.
    I never lie. not intentionally anyways. care to enlighten me as to what i lied about so i can clear it up.

    Also i don't recall me saying i was more/less Christian than anyone else.

    my email is birthmothers4adoption@gmail.com

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  52. @ Robin.

    I was sad. i was upset. it hurt me. but i know the decision was correct just the same. Also. Show me the stats where it says that "in the majority of cases it is better for the CHILD to be raised in his bio-family and that the child has already attached to his natural mother? "

    because i know probably a couple hundred adoptees personally that are happy and live life to the fullest.

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  53. Robin asked about the counseling HB 2904 requires. Here's what the bill says:

    "A person who has provided adoption-related counseling to a birth parent under this
    section shall file a written verification with the court that the birth parent participated in
    the counseling required by this section and that the counseling included, at a minimum, in-
    formation about:
    (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."

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  54. JRBills:

    Google "adoption and suicide."

    Read: The Primal Wound; Lost & Found; Adoption Mystique; Second Choice.

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  55. I find it interesting what a lively discussion we have going when all we're really asking for is giving first mothers a bit more time and education to make an informed decision about one of the most drastic, life-altering decisions she will ever make.

    And a decision that will affect quite a few people. Not only the expectant mother and child but the natural father and extended famlies on both sides. It actually is quite shocking and disturbing that there is any opposition to this bill at all.

    @JLBills,
    I happen to like Nancy Verrier's work. Also, I do not believe I even know hundreds of people personally let alone all "happy" adoptees.

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  56. I think we are forgetting that people choosing to adopt have rights too. Yes, they know the processes and rights of the birthmother but its heartbreaking for them as well. Longing for this baby and to have it taken back. Going back and forth is not good for ANYONE including the baby. Why doesn't the birthmother get all the education she needs to make a decision before the baby is born. Yes she may want to change her mind when she sees that precious baby, but she should know the consequences of her actions.
    @Robin,
    I personally know JL Bills, and she DOES know PERSONALLY hundreds of adoptees. She is a very smart and caring advocate for adoption.

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  57. @JLBills,
    You could also look into the percentage of adopted children in special schools, residential treatment centers and mental health services. It is much higher than their actual numbers in the population.

    However, my own best expert is me since I actually lived it. I thank my lucky stars that my natural mother never felt she made a great decision to give me up and only did so because she was forced by the social mores of the time.

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  58. Hey JLBILLS,

    Yes, many adoptees are happy and have good lives. I do not happen to believe in Primal Wound, and I am one of those incredibly ancient mothers from "over 40 years ago". But none of that has anything to do with this bill, which is about giving mothers considering surrender a little bit of time and an informed choice. How can you be against that?

    Would your choice have been different had you had 8 days to finalize and 30 days to change your mind after that? I think not, you seem quite sure you did the best you could, which is fine, and it is fine if you feel that way for the rest of your life. Some adoptions are the better choice, and that choice should be there.

    This bill is simply about giving everyone a fairer choice. It is not against adoption, does not say adoption is wrong, does not hurt surrendering mothers in any way. Keep your eye on the bill and what it says, not on personal opinions on adoption in general as expressed here and in other places.

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  59. Anon 4:52 wrote:"Why doesn't the birthmother get all the education she needs to make a decision before the baby is born."

    Because things can look mighty different once that baby is born. And because I don't ever think that young fertile women are breeding machines for infertile couples. Even if the potential APs may get hurt. No one owes their flesh and blood baby to any one else, ever.

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  60. I agree with Robin. I am having a hard time swallowing the "I know hundreds of adoptees" line from Jbills.

    I know probably a couple of hundred people total in my life right now and I live in one of the most densely populated areas in the U.S. of those 200 or so give or take who know how I feel about adoption? Maybe 2?

    Maybe 3? I would say my nmom, my sh, and to a lesser extent my son. Most of the people I know have no idea I am adopted. Why would I tell them? Those that know, I am very guarded with.

    Maybe in California we are not so free with our emotions as in UT, but I am not sure I would even claim to know exactly how my best friend feels about her husband.

    A lot goes unsaid in the real world, and now we have the internet where everyone says every thing all the time. But I am not buying the hundreds of happies for one moment.

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  61. Sorry to be so blunt, JRBILs, but are all the happy adoptees you know also happy Mormons?

    Your blog is hard for this adoptee to stomach.

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  62. LDs Inc. tells their members what to think and feel about every political situation, so the fact that they are opposing this conservative reform bill in Oregon is not surprising.

    They were a major force in defeating gay marriage rights in CA with their "Proposition Hate" (Prop 8) that they lobbied, lied for, and poured Church money into despite their tax exempt status as a non-profit.

    With a ten percent of income tithe on all members as a condition of attending Temple ceremonies, they have access to lots of money with no accountability. If they are fighting this bill, the good people of Oregon supporting it have an uphill fight.

    By the way, I know a lot of adoptees myself, but not hundreds and they come in all shades, happy and justifiably unhappy, given their experience.

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  63. Anon 4:52

    Adoptive parents will always find another baby. They will get over it, they will move on, they will heal. My youngest sons adoptive parents went through a failed adoption, and guess what? They got over it. They got another baby. They are happy.
    First parents dont have that option. We don't "get over it." We never completely heal. We just find a way to live again.
    So excuse me if I feel no sympathy for you. To repeat what Robin said, No one EVER owes some one their flesh and blood. Ever.

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  64. I find it interesting that people choose to attack in their comments rather than share their opinion and allow people to make their own choices. I take it that is what this blog was developed for wasn't it.

    I have noticed several attacks when someone provides an alternative point of view. I guess the thought is your comments are welcomed as long as they agree with our point of view.

    I find it interesting that commenter timothy finds it so easy to condemn someone for their choice they made. I say let the judgment fall to the lord.

    It must be so easy to sit on one side of the issue and say "I AM RIGHT" yet there may be solutions found by both sides if they were only more open to other points of view. It would probably amaze you what change could take place if there was more educating and discussion versus blame, ridicule, and condemnation.

    I ventured onto the JLBills blog since it was attacked and although she sides with option of placement and open adoption genreally. I found a young woman trying to reachout and help others in their choices. I read blogs of differing points of view. She has at least attempted to open dialogue and discuss the issues with panels she has put together.

    A blog is designed for a person's point of view and opinions. JLBills has offered her story openly and by doing so opens herself up for attack. She may make mistakes along the way, but for someone so young has shown me courage as well.

    Just as this blog is trying to right the wrongs based on their opinions and life experiences, and have opened up about their stories. I believe more fruitful change can happen when groups of differing opinions can come together and fight for better adoption practices. I am hopeful more productive dialogue can take place here and other blogs that deal with adoption, first mother, birthmother, etc. God Bless all

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  65. Dear Last Anonymous:

    What we find interesting is that you in now way identified why you are reading this blog. And that ... is odd.

    We suspect you have a vested interest in simply defending her, perhaps because you are "family," however you wish to define that. As in, a member of the same Church?

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  66. I want to make two basic points when people say "I know hundreds of adoptees and they're all happy and fulfilled." First, the fact that there is an extra-standard of what "happy" and "fulfilled" is when applied to adoptees and secondly, the consequentialist nature of that argument.

    Foremost, most adoptees I know are both happy and fulfilled. They achieve the same things in life that society values that the biologically-raised do. They are smart, loving, dedicated, and hard working people. However, unlike the biologically-raised, to be "happy" and "fulfilled" as an adopted person, you must *also* love adoption, love being adopted, and have no issues with adoption or being adopted. I could be as happy and successful as humanly possible, but the moment I make a counter-stereotypical statement about adoption, the "I'm sorry you're so bitter" or "your parents must have done a bad job" comments flow.

    That's not very fair.

    I am a happy person. I also know hundreds of adoptees who are happy and fulfilled people. But at the same time, they speak out about adoption ethics and issues. I also know that we adoptees don't always share everything with everyone. It's not always easy to share, especially when people tend to scold you, tell you you're wrong.

    Secondly, the fact that there are so many adoptees out there doing well has little to do with adoption reform. We should seek to reduce the losses families and children experience simply because it's the right thing to do. A person turing out really well doesn't make adoption loss irrelevant.

    As was already pointed out, many agencies are already following the guidelines outlined in this bill. It should not even effect them. What is so wrong with establishing one ethical standard that all agencies must follow? Is one mother less deserving of ethical treatment simply because she goes to one agency and not another?

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  67. Agreeing with Amanda who stated it well; that there are happy or unhappy adoptees has nothing whatsoever to do with this bill and its intent. This is NOT an anti-adoption bill, but an ethical adoption safeguard. That's all it is.

    I am not one to impute the motives of young mothers personally satisfied with their adoption plan, but when they go out of their way to attack something like this bill, the thought that they are being used by unscrupulous agencies to keep "business as usual" does come to mind.

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  68. The whole pro-adoption movement has always been based on the premise that it is immaterial whether a child is raised by his or her natural parents or by genetic strangers. That, in fact, it is better to be placed in a non-blood related family as long as the PAPs are married and have more money. Many of the adoptees at FMF are saying that this premise is wrong. That barring abuse and neglect, we would prefer our original families. If we really felt so little tie to our first families, then why are so many of us from the closed era searching for them? If this premise was true then only a small percentage of us would have even a mild curiosity about our natural parents.

    I am quite sick of the adoption industry experts speaking for adoptees when we were infants. I believe I was saying "goo, goo, ga, ga" and somehow that got translated to "I don't care if I'm raised in my bio-family or if you seal my records. It's exactly the same if I'm raised by genetic strangers rather than my own parents."

    This new generation of first mothers is saying how much adoption has changed and how great it is now. Funny though so much of what they say sounds like what my first mother was told during the BSE. Also, did those of you of the younger generation ever wonder why so many first mothers are still dealing with this, 20, 30, 40+ years later? It's because they never got over it.

    Guess I'm a smart and caring advocate for family preservation.

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  69. LarksNest said:
    ""She is our Tummy Mommy.""

    GROANNNNN!! and sigh....

    I always say...let anyone talk long enough..

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  70. Maryanne wrote "8 days to sign and 30 to revoke is actually minimal and conservative."
    It is indeed. And in my opinion not nearly enough.

    A mother deserves to be with her child in a *supportive* environment that will give her honest information. Don't know how closely procedures are actually adhered to in the UK, but I think the following is worthy of consideration (if only for comparison's sake):

    http://www.proceduresonline.com/wakefield/
    childcare/pdfs/RelinquishedChildrenProtocol
    Aug07.pdf

    Before a mother leaves the hospital she is asked to sign a form agreeing for her child to go to foster carers (this is not a consent form for adoption).
    In most cases the baby will be looked after by a temporary foster carer until the mother signs consent to placement for adoption when the baby is six weeks old.
    If the mother wishes her baby to be placed for adoption under six weeks of age she can agree with her social worker that this should happen and she will be asked to sign a written agreement to this effect. Her social worker will then make regular visits to the child to check everything is going well and offer support and to keep her up to date with her child’s progress.
    When the baby is at least six weeks old the social worker will arrange for the mother to be interviewed by a Cafcass practitioner who will make sure that she understands what adoption involves. She will be asked to sign a formal document consenting to her child's child’s placement for adoption and she may also give advance consent to an adoption order being made when the adopters apply for it.
    She can, if she wishes, be involved in the process of deciding what kind of family her she wants her child to grow up with and with putting together a record of her family for her child.
    Once the child has been placed with the prospective adoptive parents and has lived with them for 10 weeks, they can apply for an adoption order. If the mother wishes to oppose the making of the adoption order she must ask the court for permission to do so. The agency will provide a report to the court about the child’s circumstances, and if the court is satisfied that an adoption order is in the best interests of the child then an adoption order will be granted.
    The mother will then, unless she has specifically requested not to be told, be notified about the adoption application and when and where it will be heard.

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  71. @Emily, you asked what is wrong with LDS. Sealed records, that's what's wrong (not that there isn't a lot more wrong)

    LDS is one of the chief promoters of sealed records. That alone condemns it to it's very special wingnut hell.

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  72. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  73. Larks Nest, I published your comment because it is so absurd, given the oppostion we face on sealed records from the National Coucil For Adoption.

    LDS is one of the two largest proponents of NCFA, their lobby organization for their adoption agencies. NCFA opposes us in every state where we work for unsealing adoption records.

    Your comment is akin to saying that the Catholic Church is in favor of contraception.

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  74. Really, Larks' Nest. LDS promotes records access? As chair of Bastard Naton, the largest adoptee rights organization in N .America, I can assure you LDS does not support records access. LDS is the one of the biggest proponents of sealed records. Please site sources in which LDS has testified in favor of records access.

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  75. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  76. Larks Nest, we have read your comment and saw that you clarified what you said and we appreciated what you said, but then why did you pull it?

    You stated that you were an an LDS adoptive mother and that the people you worked with believed in open adoption, but you did not know about the sealed records and the difficulty of opening them, as we are opposed at every turn by NCFA, which is supported financially by the LDS adoption agencies throughout the country.

    You also added that you were aware of some open adoptions that the adoptiveparents had closed. I am sorry you felt pressure from someone (?) or something to remove your post, and hope you will repost it.

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  77. CPS Reform AdvocateFebruary 28, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    Robin wrote, "I'm surprised that Oregon which is known for being a progressive state would have such a high adoption rate."

    This could be due to the fact that Oregon is reputed to have one of the most aggressive Child Protective agencies (CPS) in the nation. As fewer and fewer children are "voluntarily" surrendered, adoption promoters seem to be turning to the foster care/child "protective" system to meet the demand for adoptable children. CPS's stated goal is family reunification. However, federal funding to CPS actually encourages the forcible removal of children from their homes and the involuntary termination of parental rights. This is currently happening to a young relative of mine, whose main "offense" against her baby seems to have been a combination of poverty and a house in need of repair (neither of which is a crime, and neither of which is a permanent or insurmountable obstacle to effective parenting). Sorry if this is a bit of a hijack of the topic at hand, but it would be interesting to see whether statistics bear out the connection between high adoption rates and heavy-handed CPS intervention.

    ReplyDelete

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