Wednesday, March 16, 2011

State adoption consent laws: the ugly, the bad, the better, and the GOOD

Jane
The loss of a child to adoption can be a blessing according to a social worker with the Mormon-affiliated adoption agency, LDS Family Services, who has commented on First Mother Forum recentlyShe says this is true of many of her clients. I have to admit this seems far-fetched to those of us, both baby-swoop era mothers and recent mothers, still grieving from our loss, as many of the comments on the last post indicate and birth mother memoirs and blogs attest to. We also know that birth mothers' feelings may change over time.

Nonetheless, the agency has created conditions supportive of allowing mothers considering adoption to make informed decisions. These include pre-birth counseling where mothers receive accurate information allowing them to explore their options and understand their legal rights. These mothers have enough time to recover from the effects of child birth before being asked to sign away their child. They select the adoptive parents and have truly open adoptions where the adoptive family and birth mothers live near each other and share their lives.

Unfortunately, today, good adoption practices depend on the goodness of the adoption practitioners--which vary from agency to agency--not standards that have the force of law. And when there is money to be made by cutting corners, the shears are out. Rather than requiring best practices (or anything close to them), “many state laws appear to value an increase in infant adoptions over the goal of encouraging careful deliberation” writes Prof. Elizabeth J. Samuels of the University of Baltimore School of Law in her excellent article “Time to Decide? The Laws Governing Mothers’ Consents to the Adoption of their Newborn Infants.” Tennessee Law Review (2005).

I’ve rated state laws on consent from ugly to good based on the whether the laws include safeguards which serve to protect vulnerable mothers from exploitation.

SAFEGUARDS
  •  Counseling to let mothers know they’re important to their children and inform them of resources which would enable them to nurture their children;
  •  Consultation with an attorney to inform mothers of their right to change their minds, time frames for signing and withdrawing consent, enforceability of open adoption agreements, and the obligation, if any, to reimburse prospective adoptive parents for services if mothers decide to keep their babies;
  • Sufficient time after birth before mothers may sign consents;
  • Require all surrender papers be signed before a judge; this assures mothers have left the hospital and are informed of their rights; and
  • A certain and reasonable period of time during which mothers can withdraw consent and have their babies returned.
THE UGLY
These state laws foster a market which serves the best interests of prospective adoptive parents and allows adoption practitioners to make a fistful of dollars at the expense of vulnerable women. The states--left coast Oregon and California and deep red South Carolina and Wyoming--require no counseling or legal consultation or waiting period before birth before mothers may sign consents. Mothers may still be suffering the effects of child birth and feel obligated to the prospective adoptive parents who may have attended the birth, even cutting the cord. In Oregon, South Carolina, and Wyoming consents are revocable only upon proof of fraud or duress, nearly impossible to prove. In California, consents are irrevocable.

Colorado requires mothers to receive counseling from a county social services department or an adoption agency. Again, consents are irrevocable only upon proof of fraud or duress.

Kansas gives mothers 12 hours after birth before they may sign an irrevocable consent. Utah is a notch above Kansas, giving mothers 24 hours to think it over.

Delaware allows mothers to sign consents immediately after birth, but gives them 60 days to petition the court to revoke it. Sounds good, but there’s a catch: the judge does not automatically allow mothers to revoke their consent. Rather, the adoption agency, or child welfare agency, gives the judge a report on whether the revocation would be "in the best interests of the child." In effect, the agencies which handled the adoption advise the judge whether the adoption should go forward. Since agency fees depend on adoption, you can see how that stipulation, no matter how practiced, is tilted away from the natural mother.

Indiana and North Dakota allow mothers to sign immediately after delivery, but allow them to revoke consent within 30 days of signing in Indiana, and before the adoption decree is issued in North Dakota, if revoking consent is in the "best interests of the child." Mothers rarely pass the "best interests" test because judges tend to look more favorably on affluent, married, prospective adoptive parents who are "the only parents the child has even known" than on single, often low income, women who were willing at one time to give their child away.

Hawaii allows mothers to sign consents any time after the sixth month of pregnancy. However, they must sign a written affirmation of their desire to relinquish after the birth. Allowing women to sign away their children before birth lets the prospective adoptive parents believe they have a sure thing on the way, and makes it more difficult for mothers to change their mind and "disappoint" that nice couple who have painted the nursery already.

Washington completes the West Coast baby giveaway, also allowing mothers to sign consents any time before birth and gives mothers 48 hours after birth to inform the agency if they have changed minds. If they so notify the agency, they must send a letter to the agency postmarked within 48 hours revoking their consent. No exceptions for mothers who have Cesarean-sections, postpartum depression, or other disabilities. This is possibly the worst law on the books.

THE BAD
These states give mothers time after birth, usually 48 to 72 hours, before they may consent to adoption. Some of these states allow mothers to revoke consent upon proof of fraud or duress or proof that revoking consent is "in the best interests of the child." Both are likely impossible to prove. These states are: Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Alabama and Maine allow mothers to sign consents any time after birth, but allow them to revoke their consent within a few days. Idaho allows mothers to sign immediately after birth but allows them to revoke consent and petition for custody. The Idaho statute does not set forth the basis for granting such a petition but does require that mothers revoking consent reimburse prospective adoptive parents for expenses paid.

New York allows mothers to sign immediately after birth. If they sign before a judge, the consent is irrevocable. If they sign before a person other than a judge, they may revoke their consent within 45 if a judge finds it is in the best interests of the child or the consent resulted from fraud, duress, or coercion.

THE BETTER
Rhode Island gives mothers 15 days after birth more before they may sign consents, revocable if they can prove the adoption is not in the best interests of the child.

Alaska, Arkansas, and Georgia give mothers 10 days to revoke consents and have the child returned.

North Carolina allows mothers to sign immediately after birth, but gives them seven days to revoke their consent. It also requires that mothers must be advised that counseling services may be available, and that they have the right to employ legal counsel.

Michigan, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Vermont require that a consents be signed before a judge or person appointed by a judge.

Wisconsin requires mothers to petition the court to accept their voluntary termination of their parental rights and allows them 30 days to ask the judge to set aside the termination based on excusable neglect, newly discovered evidence, fraud, misrepresentation, or other misconduct of a party.

THE GOOD
Seven states and the District of Columbia are rated as “good,” because they include several safeguards:

The District of Columbia requires a 72 hour waiting period after birth, gives mothers 10 days to revoke their consent, and requires counseling.

Iowa requires a waiting period of 72 hours before mothers can sign consents, and allows them 96 hours to withdraw consent.

Kentucky requires a 72 hour period before mothers may sign consents and gives them 20 days to withdraw consent.

Louisiana gives mothers five days after birth before they may sign and requires mothers to have participated in a least two counseling sessions and have consulted an attorney other than the attorney for the prospective adoptive parents.

Maryland gives mothers 30 days to withdraw their consent.

Minnesota requires a waiting period of 72 hours after birth and gives mothers 10 days to revoke consent.

Pennsylvania requires a 72 hours waiting period and gives mothers 30 days to revoke consent. 

Tennessee requires mothers sign before a judge no sooner than three days after the birth, and gives them 10 days to withdraw consent.

These "good" states, though, still fall far short of the recommendations of adoptive mother and social worker L. Anne Babb, Ph.D., author of Ethics in American Adoption, and the E. B. Donaldson Adoption Institute: that mothers be fully informed through counseling and legal consultation, have a reasonable amount of time between birth and signing the consent to relinquish, and have a reasonable amount of time to revoke their consent.  In recent years, several states have moved to reduce mothers' time to sign the consent to relinquish their child in order to make adoption "easier,” for adoption practitioners that compete and profit from what author and birth mother Mirah Riben calls The Stork Market.

Adoption today is a largely unregulated multi-billion dollar industry dependent upon vulnerable young women to meet the demand for healthy infants by those who can pay large sums for them. Most adoption agencies, and all adoption attorneys and adoption facilitators, depend on fees from prospective adoptive parents to continue in business. If state legislatures enacted safeguards to allow mothers to make informed decisions, fewer mothers would surrender their children. This race to the bottom can be reversed only if mothers join together and demand reform.

(This data comes from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Child Welfare Information Gateway, “Consent to Adoption” (2010) which has a thorough presentation of each states' laws.

Please note that the laws may have changed since this was published. 

(This summary is not intended to provide legal advice. If you’re looking for legal advice, the American Bar Association’s online directory has links to free or low cost resources in all the states.)

--Jane

62 comments :

  1. Thank you so much for going to full feeds! I often share you in my feedreader but having full feeds available makes it extra likely that my readers will read the whole post. This is a particularly helpful one and I was thrilled to hit "share" and know it'd get out there!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I did not see Arizona on the list at all. When I relinquished (under extreme duress) the time to change your mind was one year - now it is six months. But when they can sign the relinquishment, I haven't a clue.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for catching the omission of Arizona, Lori. Lorraine and I went over it a zillion times and still missed it Arizona is a "bad" state. It requires a waiting period of 72 hours before a mother can sign a consent. The consent is irrevocable unless the mother can prove fraud, duress, or undue influence.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Reasonable time? What is reasonable?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks Jane for doing all this research. It is a sad situation where the "good" is not a lot better than the "bad". We owe these rush to surrender laws to Baby Jessica and other contested adoption cases and the hysteria generated around them. All to protect PAPS from the least discomfort, and screw the birthparents.

    Never trust a law passed in haste in a climate of hysteria with a child's name attached to it, referencing a specific case or crime rather than looking at the larger picture.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Important information Jane. Thank you.

    Considering the unsavory business practices and profiteering that exists with adoption these safeguards are crucial for mothers. You identified the most important piece of protecting mothers in the last sentence of the last paragraph.

    This race to the bottom can be reversed only if mothers join together and demand reform.

    We spend a phenomenal amount of energy debating what to call ourselves (birth mothers, first mothers, natural mothers, mothers, etc.) while the NCFA calmly and effectively presents their party line over and over and over. I often wonder what we could accomplish if that energy was focused on reform, on speaking out about the realities of adoption from our point of view.

    If the University of Oregon’s Adoption History Project is close with their conservative estimate of five million Americans alive today are adopted, that equates to the number of birth mothers (don’t kill me for calling us that!). Even considering those of us who’ve died, collectively, that’s a really loud voice.

    ReplyDelete
  7. If the University of Oregon’s Adoption History Project is close with their conservative estimate of five million Americans alive today are adopted, that equates to the number of birth mothers

    If you figure out birth mothers who live abroad, and birth mothers who are dead, then no, there are not five million birth mothers in the U.S.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks, Jane. This is valuable information.
    Sad to say that even the "good" is woefully inadequate, especially when compared to the kind of protection afforded to mothers in some other countries.

    ReplyDelete
  9. One of the commentors asked what is reasonable time...

    Having given birth I would say at least a week if not 10 days.

    As an adoptee I would say at least a week or two would be better.

    As a human being I say their has to also be at least that same length of time in a revocation period after signing.

    I would also include a provision in the law that the agency cannot ask for the papers be signed or hover over the mother and be at the hospital - rather that request would have to come from the mother via a phone call to the agency...

    And no underage mother should ever be allowed to sign without her own personal lawyer that is not getting his/her fees from the PAPs...and she has received double the amount of unbiased counseling prior to signing the papers...and that either professional was allowed to petition the courts that the mother does not understand what she is signing.

    Side note - I wish you could have included the states that allow underage mothers to sign as emancipated adults...which in my opinion is a travesty...

    ReplyDelete
  10. @The Adopted Ones: I whole-heartedly agree with everyone you said.

    Jane, this is very important information. Thank you for posting it here.

    ReplyDelete
  11. People who nay-say about reforming the laws and making waiting periods longer need to understand the history. In the 1930's when there was little demand for adopted babies because children born to unwed mothers or the poor were considered to have "bad blood" there were actually laws, like mandatory 6 month breast feeding laws, to keep mothers from surrendering children. Shortly after as adoption became more popular, the waiting periods for revocation were still very lengthy. The reason they came to be shortened was to cater to the increasing demand on the industry, and, in response to a few sensationalized cases in the news that were very condemning of surrendering parents.

    Lengthening the revocation and decision-making period is an ethical step forward; people who don't realize this haven't done their homework.

    ReplyDelete
  12. T.A.O. Thank you, a mere month, is minimum reasonable time, you say? It's a very barren minimum, but asa minimum it can stand. Should be longer, to prevent interference from holidays and the like in the social service / judicial system.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Here's what others say about the optimum for mothers to make a decision regarding adoption:

    Council on Europe
    “A mother’s consent to the adoption of her child shall be valid when it is given at such time after the birth of the child, not being less than six weeks, as may be prescribed by law, or, if no such time has been prescribed, at such time as, in the opinion of the competent authority, will have enabled her to recover sufficiently from the effects of giving birth to the child.” (European Convention on the Adoption of Children (signed by 15 countries rev 2008, http://conventions.coe.int/treaty/Commun/QueVoulezVous.asp?NT=202&CM=0&CL=ENG)

    Evan B Donaldson Adoption Institution
    Parents should have several weeks after childbirth before an adoption decision becomes irrevocable. “Ideally this would include a minimum of one week after birth before a relinquishment can be signed and then a substantial revocation period.” Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birthparents, 2006, p. 9http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/publications/#birthparents

    L. Anne Babb, Ph. D., adoptive parent and social worker
    “Adoption professionals who work in infant placement should not expect or encourage expectant parents to make a binding adoption decision until after an infant is born. Such professionals should provide birth families with encouragement and the opportunity to spend time with their babies after birth, and should allow birth families sufficient time after birth to consider their options prior to legally committing to adoption plans.” Ethics in American Adoption, 1999,
    p. 148

    ReplyDelete
  14. The more I learn about the differences between US ("more or less the FIRST") and Dutch ("at the time the Last-but-one") of the Western civilizations (as they expressed that in 1957) the more I am amazed by the degree of difference between the two.

    (To keep it easy I'm just comparing domestics)

    A very important difference is that under Dutch law, the idea that one even could sign away any blood-family relationship, let alone the most basical one, the one between mother and child established by pregnancy and birth, is completely alien.

    The Dutch Judge, can take and return the mother's custody on her request, that should happen two weeks after birth if I remember well, and THEN only starts the official re-think period with the baby remaining with a temporary foster family. The selection of PAP's also occurs in this period. Three Months after birth (or a bit more, no reason to hurry) the actual definite moment for the mother to select her options: 1)Relinquish for adoption, 2) Take the kid and get out of the system or 3)Use Foster care to reach the same goal. The mother has a voice at this stage in the selection of AP's, but she is not making the decision, the decision she has to make, is whether she continues or starts to act like a mother.

    If she goes the way of sorrow, the potential parents get a call and become the baby's second foster family, custody and all, they have to take care of the child for at least a year, before they can adopt, the idea that one could adopt a STRANGER is completely alien to Dutch law too. And after that year (or longer) it's time the baby can be adopted, in court, Of course the mother can show up and protest (and prevent) the adoption, and if she doesn't she still has three months to appeal.
    From the pov of a Dutch domestic adopter, this is mostly formalities. The mothers who can afford to change their mind tend to do so in the first three months.

    If you look at a system in which the mother gets, at least in theory, at least 18 months before the adoption is locked, though recovery is growing harder with time, one notices that the long time the birth parent has to attempt to reclaim is more or less the result of a couple of "coincidental" principles, and thus that, though the fact of at least a year-and-a-half before the loss of adoption is permanent, seem attractive, the actual minimum think-it-over-period is just three months, the long legal-risk period is "coincidentally" long enough. So using the Dutch practice as an example, that Arizonan mothers should get 15 months after placement too for legal attempts to reclaim their children, is a bit dishonest, there is no real philosophy, no real science, backing the 15 months or more after placement, it's just that is how long it takes before the Adoption becomes legally indestructable.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I should have started this way,

    "The more I learn about the A differences between US ("more or less the FIRST") and Dutch ADOPTION LAW("at the time the Last-but-one" of the Western civilizations to introduce adoption ) the more I am amazed by the degree of difference between the two."

    It was obvious of course, but not clearly formulated, sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Let her give her children away then if she thinks it's such a blessing.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Let's not forget that the courts in Holland recently declared an adoption to be legal when it had been a of a young child stolen from his mother's side when sleeping.
    The courts also decided not to enforce a DNA test nor did they consider any possible contact between the boy's family and him.
    I don't think The Netherlands is such a great country when it comes to adoption.
    Celebrities come back from America with children, just look at Paul de Leeuw.....
    Tja.....

    ReplyDelete
  18. Well, ANONYMOUS, I did limit my description to Dutch domestic adoption, if I identify your counter examples correctly they are all, at least to a degree, international, and terefor rather another beast.

    In the case of Rahul, we are talking about the opinion that the freedom of refusal of the adoptee beats the right of putative B-parents to request a test. That is in itself a good point, adoptees should not be forced to do what possible B-parents want them to do. That said, I think Rahul should have chosen to take the test, but he is free not to. Who are you to demand a limitation of the liberties of a 12 year old boy?

    ReplyDelete
  19. I was born while my unmarried mother lived in a Catholic "Mother & Baby Home" (British version of Maternity Home), circa 1946. My mother entered the M&B when she was 6 months pg..her original intent was for me to be adopted. But back then the mothers were encouraged to stay with their babies, right there in the M&B Home...to help care for and breastfeed their babies for 3 months. Those old nuns actually believed it was the better start of life for the baby to be with mother and be breastfed. It also gave time for mother to know her baby and for the family who at first did not want mother to return home with the 'bastard', possibly change their mind and welcome the newest addition into the family. This is exactly what happened to me. My mother never told me she was in a M&B home..it was only maybe 8 years ago, when really looking at my OBC, that I noticed the then address of my mother..What's that?!? I did my research and found out it was St. Mary's M&B Home. I then emailed the place where the records were archived and within 2 weeks received a hand-written letter from a "Sister Joan" who was by then in her 80's. As she wrote to me.."Was always a tragedy when mother and baby were separated..but a happy time when baby went home with mother". I was one of the lucky ones, I went home with my mother from the M&B Home when I was 3 1/2 months old. Sometimes that's all mothers and their families need...just a little time. And that's all I needed in 1964, was just a little more time to get things in order..that time for me consisted of less than 72 hours.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Chris, I don't know if you have stumbled upon this blog by accident (since you were not adopted) but what an unusual and amazing story! And such a good ending.

    Here in New York, I don't know if that happened, but I do know that when original birth certificates were sealed in 1935, the sister who headed one of the homes for unwed mothers in Manhattan wrote to the governor and asked that he not pass such a law, citing the kind of emotional damage it would do to the child involved.

    Gov. Herbert H. Lehmann, adoptive father of three, went ahead anyway. He's the beginning of the kind of adoptive parent who has stood in the way of open records.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Chris,
    Your story is exactly why time restrictions should be as liberal as needed. We are all different in our processing of what is actually happening to us and our babies. Unless it is an extreme case of addiction or family neglect girls/women should be given every second they need to bond with their children. I know if I had understood that I had more time than one week I would have changed my mind.

    When does that time become reasonable? When every effort is taken to inform a mother of the ugly truth about adoption.

    Marissa,
    HAaing read many of your posts here I have a hard time believing that you are actually changing things. I feel that alot of what you do is just lulling mothers into complaisancy by your words like "hero" and sugar coating the reality. Someone else here stated that if they where truely a hero they would have walked out the door of the hospital with their baby. I can't agree with that more. I feel as though because of mothers becoming more vocal about adoption that the game plan has changed but the motive is still the same. I hope my feelings about you are wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have been thinking more about the concept of "hero" and what the word means, and I do not think that word should have anything to do with adoption or with single parents raising their children today.

    A hero is a Japanese nuclear worker willing to go into the plant on a suicide mission to save his countryman. A hero is a NYC fireman on 9/11 who rushed in to save others and gave his life. A hero is a combat medic or nurse under the line of fire to save soldier's lives.

    Single parents by divorce or widowhood, as well as parents never married, are so common today that raising a child as a single mom is not unusual and hardly heroic. It is just people making the best of their situation in life and thankfully easier than it was in earlier times.

    As for parents who give up a child for adoption, that is not heroic at all. Again, ordinary humans making the best of a bad situation, sometimes with very little real information or choice. The sad fact for surrendering parents is that once the paper is signed and they get away from agency reinforcement that they did a "great" thing, they are nobody's heroes, but suspect as uncaring parents who abandoned and walked away. The "hero" label becomes very hollow indeed.

    The "you are my hero" as a single parent or surrendering parent is often followed by "I could never do that." Well, married secure mom, you never know when you might be put in a situation where you do have to do it, if your husband leaves or dies, and if you are a single woman having sex, you never know when your birth control might fail, and then you will be faced with the "heroic" choices of abortion, adoption, or raising a child alone. When you think it could happen to you, and not just some other group of "heroes" who are not like you, the picture changes.

    ReplyDelete
  23. When I think of time constraints put on mothers where they "have" to sign papers within days of giving birth I only see this as an issue for adding pressure to mothers. This does
    not allow them to think or even make arrangements with their own family (hoping family will help) or getting help from a worker. We all know the workers don't work for the mother or her baby they work for those who want to adopt.

    I do not care to listen to the workers side and how they "help" if I had not had a "worker" in the mid sixties I would have raised my son she made it her "mission" to get my baby for a "better" mom. Seems my son was raised by a "single" mom (adopter) divorced soon after getting my son.
    So the better off,older, married couple is bull.

    ReplyDelete
  24. ""Chris, I don't know if you have stumbled upon this blog by accident (since you were not adopted) but what an unusual and amazing story! And such a good ending."

    Lorraine, I 'stumbled' upon your blog a long time ago. I lost my firstborn to adoption back in 1964. Yes, I was very lucky..otherwise, more than likely, my infant butt would have been shipped off either to Canada or Australia back in Feb. of 1947.
    I was lucky, my poor baby was not so lucky. But thankfully she and I are reunited now, almost 12 years!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Anonymous: Relinquishing mothers do not "have" to sign papers within a set time; it's the opposite; we are working for laws that would make it mandate more time before they could sign. One can "give up" a child for adoption at any time; it's just that the longer a mother keeps a child, the less likely she is to do so.

    Maryanne: Great comment. Hero or brave; neither suits the experience of relinquishing a child, and both irritate me when I hear them. And because relinquishing is so much like a giving up to the forces greater than one's ability to cope with a baby, I still prefer the hard, awful bitter truth of: Giving up.

    And that is still what people not schooled in the PC adoptive-parent language say: She gave up her baby.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Lorraine,

    So why do they push signing as fast as they do?
    If you don't sign and they ate able to get yor baby
    in foster care then I knw they are able put on the
    pressure.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Curious about "gave up their baby". Just what is the pc term?

    ReplyDelete
  28. Yes, Lorraine, I prefer "gave up" too when speaking of myself, and many of us here, because that is just what we did. I think words should be used correctly, not "politically correctly"; that is, they should most accurately reflect the reality they seek to describe in language that is clear and understandable to all, not be changed because they make someone else uncomfortable.

    If someone uses "relinquish" or "surrender", I know what they mean as well, pretty much the same thing. But the newspeak "make an adoption plan" only should apply to those birthparents who actually did make a plan, a small minority, even today. If someone else "made the plan" for you, and you went along out of fear or ignorance or despair, that was not YOUR plan.

    Yes, I gave up my son. Not proud of it, just saying what I did, with a lot of "help" from non-friends.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Regarding adoption speak. State statues give the terms "relinquish" and "surrender" different meanings. Mothers RELINQUISH their children for adoption, i.e. consent to the adoption of their child. Mothers SURRENDER their children to adoption agencies which in turn consent to the adoption.

    A few states treat these acts differently; laws may require a waiting period before mothers may relinquish but not before they may surrender. They may give her time to revoke a relinquishment but not a surrender. The thinking is that licensed adoption agencies provide mothers protection such as counseling that attorneys or other practitioners do not provide. Thus mothers surrendering children to agencies need less statutory protection than those relinquishing their children in independant adoptions. I didn't note the the differences in my summary; I just put in the longest time mothers had.

    "Give up a baby" or "put a baby up for adoption" is lay persons language. Sheila Ganz says in her film "Unlocking the Heart of Adoption" that "put up for adoption" comes from a time when Orphan Trains brought children into communities and put them up on platforms so persons could see the children before deciding whether to take them.

    The adoption industry uses "make an adoption plan." After the child is gone, industry lingo is "she placed" with no direct object.

    I agree with maryanne. I believe few women today truly make "an adoption plan"

    ReplyDelete
  30. That is so interesting, Jane, I never heard the legal difference between "relinquish" and "surrender". I thought they were interchangeable but I guess not in legal language.

    I have also heard the "she placed" from agency workers post-surrender.Well hell, we sure didn't win!:-) We did show, though.

    One last little bit of doubt about LDS counseling, nothing to do with adoption but it makes me very wary of any emotional counseling they might offer. There is a program, Evergreen Reparative "Therapy," that was supposed to turn gay men straight. It was connected with BYU, and involved electric shock to places no guy wants shock to touch. The LDS church has a high rate of suicide among young gays.
    http://www.tworoadsdiverged.com/evergreen.html
    Would you go to these people for counseling for unwed mothers or ANYTHING?

    ReplyDelete
  31. Here's my pet peeve. I always hated hearing I was "put out for adoption". It makes me feel like I was a dog from the pound.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Or when people say I was "adopted out".

    ReplyDelete
  33. Theodore, you give the impression that you think the kidnapped child is legally adopted?

    And you give the impression that you are annoyed that I do not think that The Netherlands is as wonderful as you find it.

    Perhaps in domestic adoption they seem better than USA but adoption is adoption, domestic or otherwise. The attitude of The Netherlands from what I have witnessed does not make me wish to sing it's praises.

    I'm sorry that I can't join you in that song.

    ReplyDelete
  34. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Marrisa,

    I'm pleased to read you opposed the Church's support of Prop 8. You are the first Mormon I've heard say this. I hope other Mormons speak out as well.

    It seems, however that any time someone criticizes an action by the Church or some of its members, Mormons accuse the critic of hating Mormons. Even asking a question about a Church tenet or practice or history elicits the "you hate Mormons" response.

    This "circle the wagons and attack" approach cannot lead to informed discussions.

    Although the Church sends missionaries all over the world, it does a terrible job of educating the public in general about Mormons beliefs and practices. It also does a poor job of informing the public of the good that the Church does. I have not read, for example, that the Church has raised money to help the Japanese although I've seen virtually every other American religion included in lists of organizations raising money for relief. I'm guessing the Church had a fast-offering and raised funds. I know about fast offerings only because I visited the LDS church several times with my Mormon daughter. I've never read about them in the media. It's likely that missionaries in Japan are helping in rescue efforts but again there's been no news reports to this effect.

    I do not believe maryanne hates Mormons. I certainly don't although I also have been accused of it. We both disagree with some of the Church's beliefs and practices. We also disagree with things the Catholic Church has done, ditto for about every religion. That doesn't mean we hate these institutions or their members.

    ReplyDelete
  36. ""Theodore, you give the impression that you think the kidnapped child is legally adopted?"

    No, I KNOW that under Dutch law the child thought to be the kidnapped child, is legally adopted, such small details as India having accepted counterfeits and falsifications of its own paperwork do NOT change that.

    "And you give the impression that you are annoyed that I do not think that The Netherlands is as wonderful as you find it."

    No, I am annoyed by "Anonymous", your going off topic, your incorrect capitalization, your vagueness about WHICH adoption scandal you are talking. And what I think wonderful is the difference in adoption law between the Netherlands and the United States. That is fascinating, much more than a Dutch court siding with its co-nationals in a conflict with Indian authorities.

    ReplyDelete
  37. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  38. This post can be found on the Against Child Trafficking page on facebook:

    "Indian parents of kidnapped child condemned to pay 4.763 Euro for expert hired by Dutch Court - the world upside down - Fundraising update: 740 Euros. Thank You!"

    ReplyDelete
  39. Ditto to everything Jane said about the Mormon Church and hating Mormons. I do not hate Mormons and resent being called a bigot. I do find the hierarchy of the Mormon Church, like the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, bigoted. uncaring, overbearing, and self-serving. A group of nasty old men looking out for their own corporate self-interest, in both religions. The "Utah Taliban", as you said here. Would you say that to your Bishop?

    What I find puzzling about you, Marissa, no matter what religion you profess, is every time someone here brings up an issue with the practice you have described at your dream agency or with LDS, you come right back with "I don't believe that" or "we don't do that", or in the case of something like adoptees on panels, "I forgot to mention we already do that." It makes one wonder. Even the "surrendering parents are heroes" thing. Clearly what you initially meant was that the surrender made them heroes, later including single parents raising their children didn't exactly fix that, and as many here pointed out, that is such a cliche
    of agency workers, I am surprised you even said it here.

    From your statements I am assuming that you are a New Order Mormon, who does not really accept a lot of the Church's teachings but stays in because it is culturally comfortable. That is fine, I am a Catholic of that sort, but surely you must be aware that Prop 8 was heavily supported by the Mormon Church, and that LDS social services is in the forefront of keeping adoption records closed to adult adoptees, and that Utah, controlled by the "Utah Taliban", is notorious for quick and dirty surrenders and adoptions.

    I don't hate you. I don't know you, and don't even know if you are just a Mormon apologist or a sincere person. Such is the internet.

    Jane is right, though, you have certainly accused those who disagree with your words of "hating Mormons" which is a convenient way to not deal honestly with the issues presented.

    As religions go, LDS is one of the most repressive and controlling, much like Jehovah's Witnesses. It is not one I would care to see anyone in my family join, unlike almost any mainline religion, having lived in Utah for a year a while ago. But of course like any other group, the individual members are decent folks for the most part, and no, I don't hate them or you.

    I just disagree, and am suspicious of the way you have presented yourself here. If you are on the level and just naive, my apologies.I am reacting to what I read, and do not know you as a person, nor you me.

    ReplyDelete
  40. If a child is stolen/kidnapped from his family while she is sleeping then it is not a legal adoption. It's not even adoption, it's a kidnapping.
    Not only are his parents robbed of their child, the child is robbed of his family, his culture and his language.
    The fact that you want to defend this and call it a legal adoption Theodore makes me worry. You can defend that kidnapping and call it an adoption if you so desire, please don't expect me to agree with you, my conscience won't allow that.
    The Dutch adoption agency that orchestrated this are still in business, they also will arrange "adoptions" from countries like Taiwan, if you are willing to pay the medical costs of a baby whose parents are too poor to cover then you may adopt the child.
    I do not see The Netherlands as such an amazing and ethical country when it comes to adoption.
    Perhaps they take some care when arranging adoptions of their own? Yes perhaps but all nationalities are deserving of ethical and honest behaviour.

    ReplyDelete
  41. i wrote a book that caused the library of congress to create a new subject heading called "Wrongful Adoption". imagine, before this, there was nothing in the LOC informing of all possibe ways a wrongful adoption can take place.

    google the library of congress, and then word search 'wrongful adoption in both catalog and subject headings authorities division.

    ReplyDelete
  42. @ Marissa:

    Whoa! Victim attitude? Really?


    Chiming in on the hero terminology. Yes, it really is silly. It never occured to me before but I would hear as a young single mom how much people admired me for just raising my child. Which always struck me as odd. I never put two and two together but they were always single men, leaning in very closely when they were telling me that. In other words not Marissa's agenda, but an agenda nonetheless. It doesn't seem to be something people just "say" because really it is silly.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Marissa, you can throw the pedophile scandal in the Catholic church at me all you want, as well as the Church's attitude on contraception that is killing people by forbidding condoms in AIDS-ridden Africa. The ban on female clergy and married clergy in the Catholic Church is another sticking point, not to mention historical horrors like the Inquisition and some of the disgraceful Popes.

    I am not one to cover up or lie or apologize for the evils that the Catholic Church has done and tried to cover up, and I am not alone, Ever hear of Voice of the Faithful? This is a group of practicing Catholics seeking to expose and change the wrongs that the Church hierarchy has done. I am a member. Church leaders are men, not Gods, and often they have feet of clay and hearts of stone. It is up to the laity to hold them accountable, not to follow like dumb sheep. Clerical and organizational evil in any religious body should be exposed and confronted, not excused or glossed over. The Catholic Church has a lot to answer too in adoption, like the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland, and the cruel treatment of unwed mothers by many at Catholic Charities here. Go ahead and point at all this to me, I am just as disgusted as you are.

    Like I said, I don't hate you but I don't trust you or your motives. Nor am I victim. I have a good relationship with my surrendered son and feel I have healed from most of the trauma I suffered as a surrendering mother. We have moved on. My son and I are survivors, not victims. Nor am I a hero of any sort.

    You said:"I don't think I could ever look at my child, realize that I did not have the resources to give them the life I wanted for them (for whatever reason) and have the fortitude to place them with another family."

    I suggest you stop advising women in crisis pregnancy to do what you say you could not do, give up a child. That says it all right there. If you could not do it, what right do you have to expect it of another mother?

    ReplyDelete
  44. the adoption industry is much like the workings of the fictional bishop Harry Arollo of the pueblo, colorado catholic diocese.

    his drive-thru ash wednsday became so popular that some churches in las vegas, new mexico had midnight neon signs installed to get the full 24 hours of value. in two years, the bishop arollo noticed a two state signifacant drop in child molestations in the church... the adoption industry knows that distance is everything!

    ReplyDelete
  45. It's abusive to have a social worker writing here and taunting mothers by saying they have a victim attitude, that's disgusting. Marissa you should apologize and only stay if you wish to learn something

    Why is this awful woman here? Please let me know when she is gone so I can come back.

    ReplyDelete
  46. maryanne,
    Sometimes if you let people talk long enough their true colors begin to show. Such is with Marissa. Heros, victims, counseling mothers to "give up" their children when she couldn't do it herself. It is just the same old judgements and coersion just a new way of going about it.

    I too am a survior with a good relationship with my daughter. The one thing we both know as adults is that we could have made it and didn't need to be seperated. That was all the idea of family, society, religion and social workers. She didn't want every new gadget, all the right labels and bling. She wanted her mother.

    Marissa,
    Of all the things I buried about the past and stuffed inside in order to survive, the one thing that I remember and will take to my grave is the name of my caseworker. When I think of her I think of everytihng wrong about adoption.

    ReplyDelete
  47. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Marissa sounds horribly like she's speaking straight from Charles T Kenny's
    (founder, owner and president of of The Right Brain People, http://www.rightbrainpeople.com/?p=services_ctk )
    tract, BIRTHMOTHER, GOOD MOTHER: Her Story of Heroic Redemption,
    that was commissioned by the National Council of Adoption to show how to persuade young women in crisis pregnancies that relinquishing their child for adoption was the Right Thing To Do
    https://www.adoptioncouncil.org/infantadoption/
    publications.html

    "After working through their fears and conflicts, birthmothers choose adoption because they believe that it is best for their children. They realize that adoption is not abandonment; it is a loving, responsible act. By choosing what is best for their children, birthmothers see themselves as good mothers. Instead of feeling like bad mothers for abandoning children or “giving them away,” they now begin to see that placing their children with loving couples is what it means for them to be good mothers. They redeem themselves, transforming their mistakes into positive outcomes. Adoption allows them to recover their self-esteem, restore their identity, and renew their dreams and goals."

    ReplyDelete
  49. At Marrisa,
    Times have been tough and if it weren't for family support, we wouldn't have made it some months. I know how hard it will be for single parents trying to make ends meet, while finding good daycare, while trying to go to school, etc, because I've done it.

    Well unfortunately for a large percentage of single mothers finding good daycare they can't just drop them off at their in-laws house for free like you do. So don't compare yourself to any of these people saying you've done it. I'd like to see you pay for daycare then we will really see how financially strapped you are.

    ReplyDelete
  50. She decides that all the negative opinions of her have come about because this is (her words) an "anti- adoption blog"

    Really Marissa, if someone has a negative opinion of you it's because you were disrespectful.

    You did not come here wishing to learn anything, you came here with your own agenda.

    You bandied about coercive labels like brave, announced that you yourself could never give up YOUR children and then told a mother she had a victim complex. (Maryanne is the least victim complex mother here)

    Ladies, we don't need to give people like this a spotlight, really we don't.

    Good luck with the weight watchers! I'm working the points system too.

    ReplyDelete
  51. At anonymous:

    Your accusations towards Meiling are false.
    1) They are not in the Adoption bussiness, it is more of a hobby to them. You may be sick, but their fees seem indeed most reasonable.
    2) With adoptions from India ceased, and channels with Surinam open still, but future adoptions mostly moved into "Theoretical territory", the only other source country (as in not Taiwan) where Meiling is still active as an adopton agency is the PRC.
    3) There is not a shred of evidence that Meiling has orchestrated the kidnapping.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Wow! So much drama! I have been following this blog for the past couple of months, and I must say for the most part I have enjoyed reading about Lorraine and Jane’s opinions on adoption and adoption related topics. As with Marissa, I have come here to learn. I have come here to find others who have experienced what I have experienced, and gone through what I have gone through. I am not trying to judge anyone but let me share something I have come to learn and it has taken me a while to get here. Sometimes we make decisions in life that we come to regret later. For some of us it is surrendering a child. But if we continue to be bitter then the bitterness engulfs us and we become miserable people. Yes, there does need to be changes to aspects of adoption and there is nothing wrong or bitter in helping these changes come about, but I would caution you from letting the bitterness engulf who you are. I had someone close to me teach me an important lesson. It’s all about your attitude. If you have a miserable attitude others will not want to be around you. If you are always yelling, name calling, or arguing with another do you really think those individuals that should be listening to you, and can help in reform would actually want to listen to you? I think it is important to realize that every experience we experience in life can help us become better individuals or if we choose we can let it drag us down. Some of us feel we are victims to a system that was and is still broken. Why then knowing the pain of being a victim would you want to victimize yourself again by being resentful and miserable. Why not try to empower yourself and stand up for what you believe in and stand for in a way that does not come across negatively. I found that when I speak to others on adoption they are more apt to listen and understand my viewpoints when I do so in a way that does not demean them or who they are, in turn I know I have help others see things my way or changed their view a little. Who you are and how to feel can be felt by those around you, if you are negative, resentful, miserable then they will pick up on it on not want to be around you. Marissa I felt was here to learn. No, she cannot understand the situation from each of our own experiences but she was trying to get a glimpse of it It sounds like she was also in a position to influence positive adoption changes with her job at least on a level with her own agency. Why then would we want to single her out, be rude to her (yes, some of you did sound like you were personally attacking her and her church), and be bitter to her. Why would we not want to help her understand so she can better help and serve those mothers she works with? Mothers like us?

    ReplyDelete
  53. Marissa,
    You should have left when you said you were the first time seems to me you feel you have to have the last word.
    Lorraine and Jane welcomed you but when I read some
    of your posts red flags starting popping up.
    I also don't believe you wanted to learn you like most of the
    social workers I have seen in the adoption field like to justify themselves. Proud of the "work" done in adoption. Somehow the arrogance comes through loud and clear to me as a mother.I survived adoption and"social" worker I too will forever remember her name.
    I truly wish social workers could see the damage they do to
    young moms and their babies. Even after years of educating them of the damage they still want to believe
    they are "creating" families here''s a clue social workers aren't God they create nothing but rather tear a family apart
    playing God.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Hey Kate,

    It seems like you are accusing the rest of us here of "bitterness". I agree that empathy and respect for anothers point of view are important and help communicate with those who feel differently, but we can't all be cheerful charlies about adoption all the time either, given some of the experiences of the women who post here, adoptees and mothers. We have had experiences that would make anyone angry and bitter, and although some of us have tried to overcome that, the feelings did not come out of thin air.

    The listening and not condescending go both ways, and Marissa was out of line in a lot of what she said. I do not think she came here to learn, because her attitude said she already knew it all. As Jane said, her pulling the "you hate me, you hate my religion" card was typical of LDS reaction to any criticism. It did not further understanding or discussion, any more that statements by some about "all social workers" did. The bad attitude and arrogance came from her side as much as from ours.

    As per her own blog, she only works "part-time" at her agency. That hardly puts her in a position of power to influence agency practice. No need to scold all of us here for questioning and not fawning over Marissa. I do not think she either learned much or wanted to. She came here to defend her LDS cohorts about the Oregon legislation to give mothers some time, not to really listen to us.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Wow, all I need is a positive attitude and everything will be hunky-dory. Cool.

    ReplyDelete
  56. @ Maryanne & Maybe

    Never did I accuse the “REST” of you of being bitter, I only mentioned a lesson that I have learned about bitterness since it is in my opinion that some on here seem to be bitter and very angry about their situation, or lack the ability to look at things from a different perspective. Bitterness does not mean we all have to have a “positive attitude and everything will be hunky-dory, all I was trying to say is a lesson I learned, the hard way from someone I love. Our bitterness can affect those around us, not just in the blogger and internet world but in our personal lives as well. I have seen it, and it has happened to be where bitterness which is never intended to target a specific person destroys or hurts our relationship. I was just trying to share an observation from my point of view.


    Also Maryanne, it seems you are quick to call out others who may not hold the same views as you, or feel the same. While I respect your opinion and understand your story may be different than mine my story (since I don’t know your story) and that which I have gained from this experience are also different. Trying to see another persons perspective no way implies that you agree with them, rather that you are trying to understand.

    Also I had no idea Marissa has a blog since you can’t click on her name so no I did not realize she worked part time, but really does that make a difference? I thought voices made differences and helped influence others not hours worked only? And regardless if she only worked an hour a week she still has the capacity to help girls in need who are trying to decide what is best for them and their baby.

    ReplyDelete
  57. I agree with Maryanne. Marissa did not come here to learn and she was out of line with what she has said. She has no right to come here with her I know everything attitude when she has no idea what we have been though. To me she comes off as a passive aggressive narcissist.

    She comes here tells us we are opinions and feelings are wrong, then when we respond she has to play the victim. She goes back to her blog and spouts off about how people hate her and acts as if she is a saint for coming here and giving her two cents.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Tja, mafketel ;-) Whatever you say. An adoption agency that only does it for a hobby, yeah that makes it allright then! And they keep their prices low, when you adopt a kidnapped child you get a discount? Is that how it works?

    At least we can agree it was a kidnapping.

    Sorry, we will just have to agree to disagree, The Netherlands is not so ethical when it comes to adoption.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Echoing Anon in saying "thanks for the homily but no thanks". If you want us to understand your story, Kate, tell us your story, not what we should be feeling and thinking. If you want to know our stories, ask. We have some interesting, inspiring, heartbreaking ones, and yes, some that are relatively happy at this point, others that can never be remedied. You might be surprised, you might be touched. So may we be by your story, even if it is very different from some of ours.

    If you are here to learn, ask questions, don't act like you already have all the answers like Marissa did with every single subject that came up.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Let's end the comments about Marissa. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  61. We've redacted the the comment we received from Anonymous.

    "Kate, thanks for the homily, but no thanks.
    Some of us don't want to be regaled with Our Story of Heroic Redemption, especially as we don't consider ourselves to be either heroic or in need of redemption.

    Maybe you need the inspirational B.S to make yourself feel good, but leave those who don't out of it. We don't want no edification.
    I suggest you go take your sermonizing to adoption.com (founded ... Nathan Gwilliam and Dale Gwilliam) where it will be appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  62. ""Why would we not want to help her understand so she can better help and serve those mothers she works with? Mothers like us?""

    @Kate...would that possibly be like you? Because it certainly is not me. Please only speak for yourself. I am not one of your 'us'. I try terribly hard only to speak in the "I" reference...no one gave me (or your)the authority to speak to/for 'us'.

    ReplyDelete

We welcome comments from all, and appreciate letting us know how you relate to adoption when you leave your first comment.

COMMENTS ARE MODERATED. Our blog, our decision whether to publish or not. We are trying to find a way to end the endless anonymous comments, which drive many of us crazy. Pick a name! Any name. Choose the NAME/URL selection. You do not need a URL. Your name does not have to be your name IRL though we appreciate those who do, and we understand due to the sensitive nature of our subject, many will prefer to use a nom de plume. Okay with us, but the endless Anons are tiresome for everyone. If you post as "anonymous" you run the risk of not being posted.

We try to be timely but we do have other lives.

For those coming here from Networked Blogs on Facebook, if it does not allow you to make a comment, click the "x" on the gray "Networked Blogs" tool bar to exit out of that frame and it should then let you comment.