Thursday, September 29, 2011

Birth Mother to Adoptive Parents: You Make Me Uncomfortable

Jane
SEE LORRAINE'S AD AT END on Oct. 1
It’s not Politically Correct but I’m going to say it anyway: I’m uncomfortable when I’m around adoptive parents. I’ve experienced disconcerting feelings at every conference of the American Adoption Congress (AAC) I’ve attended, and those feelings of mistrust and caution were present last week when I attended a symposium sponsored by Coordinators2, Inc, a Richmond, Virginia adoption agency. The majority of attendees and presenters were adoptive parents and social workers; for the most part, they were warm and inviting.

When I learn that someone--an acquaintance, a neighbor, a co-worker--is an adoptive parent, feelings of distrust run through my body. I mentally  suppress a cringe when I hear “my child.” I change the subject.

I scrutinize candidates for public office who are adoptive parents more closely. Adoptive parent status is not an absolute determiner (I’ll vote for a liberal democrat AP over a conservative Republican). But that AP status gives me pause. One of my daughters urged me to contribute to the campaign of a legislator who is an adoptive parent who worked with my daughter on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. This legislator’s politics squared with mine, and I did contribute to her campaign, but with a sense that I was betraying my values.

I tend to avoid movies and TV shows where an actor is an adoptive parent. Although I’ve been an aficionado of the Law and Order series for years, I haven’t watched Law and Order: Special Victims Unit since Mariska Hargitay, who plays Detective Olivia Benson, adopted a child this year. To be honest, I was also getting tired of the show, but Hargitay's adoption cast a pall over her otherwise admirable  character that I couldn't shake. But with adoption so popular in Hollywood, (nothing better than a photo op with a black or brown kid), it’s hard to avoid celeb adopters without turning off the telly or staying home Saturday nights.

I'm okay with adoptive parents I know well, a friend of 44 years, a truly good-hearted woman who adopted three boys from abroad years after we met. These were older children who truly needed families. I'm at ease with an adoptive mother who worked with me on reforming Oregon’s adoption laws because she truly, truly, gets it.

I go to adoption conferences to network with other birth/first mothers, to raise the consciousness of social workers and adoptive parents about the birth-mother experience, and to support much-needed adoption reform. At the same time, I dislike hearing the underlying message at these conferences, that adoption is just another way to form a family, that it is good and natural and wholesome. I can’t be a cheerleader for adoption even when I know that done right, it allows children in need of a family to find one.

Adoption is often portrayed as a triad, equal partners in a hard but rewarding journey. In reality, though, it’s a right triangle, not an equilateral one. Adoptive parents are the hypotenuse, dominating the unwilling legs. Adoption is a trinity I wish I were not a part of.

As I sip merlot and listen to adoptive parents tell how they resolved this or that issue with “their” child, I want to scream “How dare you complain about this gift, given with such sorrow! If you had let him stay with his real parents, these issues would never have come up!”

If I say this, the adoptive parents would respond by saying, “his mother didn’t want him or his mother was too young, too immature (whatever) to care for him.” And I would retort, “You could have spent the thirty grand you paid the adoption agency on helping the boy’s mother keep him.” I would point out that vulnerable mothers-to-be are induced to give up their kids by slick adoption agency advertisements fueled by adoptive-parent lucre. Of course, these conversations never take place.

One presenter at the symposium last weekend talked about his six-year-old daughter adopted from Guatemala. He said the proprietors at the hotel where he and his wife stayed while waiting for “their child,” cheered Americans for taking children from the impoverished country. I wanted to stand up and scream, "Don’t you know it’s likely that adoption profiteers ran the hotel? Or that much of their business consists of adopters-in-waiting like yourself? Are you even aware of the rampant corruption in Guatemalan adoptions? Go see John Sayle’s excellent 2003 film, Casa de los Babys, if you don't know what I'm talking about."

I know that the adoptive parents I meet at AAC or symposiums like the one I attended in Richmond are decent people, truly committed to being good parents and improving adoption. I know that time and fate betrayed many of them. Yet, I can’t “fully grasp the raw brutality of being deprived of something so fundamental as the ability to reproduce.” … “(Adam Pertman, Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution Is Transforming America 2001).

I have the most difficulty with adoptive parents who did not suffer from infertility, who had biological children and could have had more when they adopted healthy white newborns. They took children who would have had no trouble finding homes, competing with the infertile, adding to the pressure on vulnerable women to relinquish their infants. It should be clear that I am not talking about step-parent adoption, adoption by relatives, or adoption from foster care.

Dorothy Parker
My encounters with adoptive parents remind me of Dorothy Parker’s monologue The Waltz. She describes her thoughts while dancing with a clumsy bore. “Jukes must be his name” she says to herself. (The Jukes were a family in sociological lore known for criminality and feeble-mindedness.) At the end of the dance, she smiles and says “And do tell them [the orchestra] to play the same thing. I'd simply adore to go on waltzing."
Pertman goes on to say about infertile people, “We’re supposed to swallow our loss, internalize our pain and move on.” Birth parents are expected to purge their loss and share the joy of adoptive parents. “It was nice to meet you,” I say to the adoptive mother as I set down my wine glass and move towards a group of birth mothers, to find comfort in our shared loss. And so the dance goes on.
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Lorraine
Lorraine here on Oct. 1:  Where does our "fear" of adoptive parents come from? From our being out-of-closet mothers speaking up and being treated with a certain coldness when we are asked to participate, or volunteer to speak, at adoption conferences where we are not the majority. Let me give you an example: When I gave a keynote speech at an American Adoption Congress annual meeting  a few years ago, a small group of adoptees and first mothers sat near the front and gave me non-verbal positive feedback during my talk. One of them was Carol Schaefer, whom I did not know at the time. This was the 25th anniversary of AAC, and my speech was a history of the movement starting back in the Seventies--when I first got involved--up to the present, as I saw it as a birth mother and activist. Over the years I had taken a lot of heat publicly for coming out of the closet and talking about wanting to know my daughter, and I did include that, as well as how attitudes had softened somewhat towards activist first mothers. I felt good about my presentation.

But during the Q and A, it was all adoptive parents all the time either taking issue with what I had to say with thinly veiled hostility or simply being defensive.  I had not intended to disparage any of the adoptive parents there because I knew those there would be in favor of open records, right? After all, the AAC is for open records. But they obviously felt I had vilified them.

What I had done was point out that as we progressed to open records, adoptive parents basically formed the bastion of resistance we found in legislature after legislature.  Later I learned from an adoptee who was one of the AAC officers that I had sent the adoptive parents into shock, and that they had spent the next session and rest of the day talking about how upsetting I had been. Only adoptive father Adam Pertman was gracious and warm after the speech, which is undoubtedly why I tend to defend him when warranted. Karen Vedder, then president of CUB, told me that the atmosphere towards birth mothers was very different at CUB retreats. And boy, is it. Jane wrote the post above shortly after returning from a conference that was attended largely by adoptive parents or prospective ones, as it had been put on by an adoption agency. She was not one of many first mothers there, but one of a few. It's the same with most other conferences other than CUB's, which are designed by and for birth parents.

Commenter Joy mentioned that she avoids conferences where adoptees are not the main focus and numbers in attendance, and thus you can avoid that feeling of "otherness" that makes you feel so...much like a pariah. If Jane and I did the same thing, we'd probably not be so aware how we freeze up around adoptive parents until we know we can trust them. The analogy here I'm thinking of is so explosive (considering what happens at the blog) I'll refrain from using it, but some of you will get it, and I make no apologies. It is what it is.

While many of the comments (mostly from adoptees and adoptive parents) express outrage that Jane (and I) would hold these feelings of distrust when first confronted with adoptive parents, consider how adoptive parents might feel at conferences and situations where they were the odd man out, rather than the majority. I can't imagine some of them sitting through talks at CUB or Origins and not feel like heading for the hills.

Unless we natural mothers are the majority, because adoption is such an emotionally loaded issue, because adoption always puts the birth mother in the back seat (unless she's not thrown out totally), we will always feel marginalized and suspicious around adoptive parents--until we know otherwise. Until we never hear again that an adoptee was told his mother died, when she hadn't, I will be suspicious. Until I can talk to my friends who are adoptive parents--but not activists--about some of the issues we discuss at First Mother Forum without their blood pressure rising and getting red in the face, I will be wary. Until I hear that such and such a bill for original birth certificate access was not stymied by an adoptive parent, or relative (as just happened in Rhode Island where the age for access was upped to 25!), I will be on guard. Until Danny O'Donnell in the New York state legislature and uncle to Rosie's adoptive kids isn't rude to adoptees and birth parents who lobby for OBC access, I will be be distrustful. Until that happens, yes I will be more comfortable around other birth mothers and fathers. But because I am committed to trying to right the wrong of sealed records--even though I realize in my lifetime records will never be freely open to all the people involved, that is, first mothers--I will go on being such a pariah when necessary and as I have been. But my feelings are mine to hold close.






128 comments :

  1. Jane, you have said what I have felt for years--how uncomfortable I am when I first hear that someone I have just met, or will meet, is an adoptive parent. Oh no, I think, I pray the subject doesn't come up before I can get away. I don't look for other topics we might bond over--gardeing, books, whatever--I just want to get away.

    The one woman in my larger social group who is an adoptive mother always seems to seek me out at at social events (or she did until very recently), and quite frankly I internally recoil. The image I have in my head is that of a flower beginning to wither as she comes up for a conversation. Another amom and I have drifted apart over the years, and while we have remained friends (she is a neighbor in publishing, so we share that) adoption is not something we ever discuss.

    As for birth mothers attending conferences with adoptive parents, right on. APs don't seek me out and if you go to one where there are only a few other birth parents, count on having dinner with them or by yourself, unless the organizer makes a special effort to include you. At the only AAC conference I attended I most assuredly did not go to the social meet-and-greet event because I felt...weird. I wonder, do APs feel strange around us? I hope some will comment here and let us know.

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  2. Jane, kudos! I have always had that creeping feeling of being around something unwashed with adoptive people. It is like knowing you are having dinner with a serial killer.... and worrying if the soup is part of the plot.

    Sigh.... Life goes on.

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  3. Take this post,as it is written, take any nationality or religion your nationality or religion does not like and substitute it for the word "adoptive parents." Here it was Irish vs. Italians, but it could be Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Mormons. Latvians or Turks, Asians or Blacks etc.)

    Like this: "But when I learn that someone--an acquaintance, a neighbor, a co-worker--is a Jew (or any other ethnic or religious group), feelings of distrust run through my body."

    What have you got? A description of prejudice, pure and simple. Try it and see how well it works and how embarrassing it is.

    We all have prejudices, me included. I've said some lousy things about Mormons, Conservatives, Fundamentalist Christians, and Gypsies. There are several things that make me stop and look closer to see if I can stand this person once they disclose it about themselves. I've had this reaction to people who hate cats or animals in general, to those who consider a sparkling clean house a major virtue, to people who complain endlessly about their children, and yes, sometimes to hearing that someone is an adoptive parent.

    I admit this but I am not proud of it and try not to do it. Prejudice, the pre-judging of a whole group of human beings, is never right and can't really be justified. It is very human, as old as different human tribes, and still something to be struggled against, not celebrated.

    How do I feel if someone looks askance at me on learning I am a birthmother? Like crap. Why should I do that to every adoptive parent I meet? By turning that tendency off and looking further I have made some life-long friends who are adoptive parents. Adoption or which role we fill is no longer a factor in our friendships because their is mutual respect.

    Prejudice is not useful and can be very harmful. At the very least, it can limit getting to know some wonderful people if you can past that first uncomfortable knee-jerk reaction. It is human, it can never be totally eradicated, but it is nothing to be proud of.

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  4. Jane, remember how I said I google share your posts? I google shared this one! I wanted you to know that it was a privilege to meet you and I understand why my presence at conferences is not always a welcome one because of the honesty and bravery of first parents like you. Thank you for that reminder.

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  5. Great post, Jane. I feel the same.

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  6. Jane,
    Thank you for expressing so well how I feel being around people who have adopted.
    Adam Pertman's commment about the brutality of being denied something as fundamental as the ability to reproduce really got me. What about preventing a natural parent from bring able to raise their own child? Nothing can top that for brutality.
    In the back of my mind when I talk to a person who has adopted I always wonder what the truth is about how that child became available for adoption.
    The triad is such a myth, no power on the natural parent's side, and the most powerless the adoptee.

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  7. Mary Anne,
    Your analogy to prejudice against, blacks, Jews, and so on doesn't work. People don't choose their ethnicity and often not their religion since in many cases it is imprinted by their parents.

    Not only do adoptive parents choose to adopt but they spend considerable sums and time in their quest to be parents.

    I judge them not on some immutable factor but on choices they made which known may have caused another woman great pain.

    Dawn,
    You comment brought tears to my eyes.

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  8. Okay, so when I read Lorraine's comment hoping an AP would comment on how they feel around birth parents I laughed out loud--not in a rude kind of way. I thought, who the heck is going to be brave enough to say something? haha!

    I am an adoptive mom of three. For me, personally, I would seek out conversation with birth parents or adoptees at a conference. It is my conversation with those experiencing a different side of adoption that has helped me to have better relationships with our children's birth mother's and extended family. It is the adult adoptees that have helped me prepare for the future when my kids are older and how to help them navigate through the crazy world of adoption. I have also received the most incredible advice from other birth mothers that I truly believe has saved my relationship with one of my children's birthmothers. I always need advice on how to deal with things and it's something you just can't ask the non-adoption population--for obvious reasons.

    I don't feel strange around birth parents. Maybe a little intimidated--wondering if can live up to one's standards and expectations. Wondering if they think I'm stupid if I'm asking for advice...or if they think I'm strange because I want to have conversation with them. I may approach with more caution now, knowing that my presence just makes people cringe....sorry--that would not be my intention and would feel terrible about it!

    So, yeah, that is how I feel. If I'm ever at a conference in the future, you can find me hiding in the corner! :0)

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  9. Maryanne,

    You know, I can kind of see your point.

    But there's one problem - as much as we can all respect each other, the bottom line is, the three members of the [so-called] triad don't all have equal respect from society, let alone when "pitted" against each other.

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  10. When I came to realize that the first parents I have met online and in real life by and large share your feelings, it taught me that the win-win-win simply doesn't exist. You describe it here by saying that the adoption "triad" is AP-dominated. I decided that it doesn't exist at all.

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  11. Since Lorrane asked... AP here. Yes I feel weird around natural/1st parents. Feel like when they find out I'm an AP they are instantly judging me. I wonder if they are thinking, "you'd better be treating that girl right", or "shame on you for promoting the corrupted adoption industry."

    This is completely irrational, I know, because all of the natural parents I have ever met have been awesome and caring people, who have been nothing but accepting and nice to me (at least to my face). I guess when I'm around natural parents, I feel the exceptional weight of responsibility placed upon me to parent another person's child.

    Maryanne said: "I've had this reaction to people who ... complain endlessly about their children,..."

    I too can't stand it when I see people mis-treat their kids. As someone who came to adoption somewhat through infertility and all the paperwork and effort it took to do an adoption, I get pretty upset when I see parents who don't appreciate parenthood. One time my husband and I saw a man shove his son to the ground outside a Home Depot store and even as the boy was face down on the ground crying the man was yelling at him. My husband was so mad he ran up and yelled at the guy and had the store manager call the police.

    Vivian

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  12. Vivian, I'm an AP who came to adoption through infertility, too, and don't mean to jump on your comment, but want to say something about this:

    "As someone who came to adoption somewhat through infertility and all the paperwork and effort it took to do an adoption, I get pretty upset when I see parents who don't appreciate parenthood."

    I believe adoptive parents need to stop referencing "paperwork" as any kind of adoption hardship on their end. The process of adoption includes legal requirements; first and adoptive parents must fulfill that paperwork. Yes, there is more, but it's not like going through a homestudy and signing the appropriate documents can be compared in any way shape or form with what a mother is going through on her end of the process.

    APs whine way too much about what they go through. I can tell you for a fact that the day my first child arrived, that "paperwork" was a distant memory, forgotten. I know it was a different story for his mother.

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  14. Adopted & AdoptedSeptember 30, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    As I read your post I can feel my blood pressure rise and I feel rather sick to my stomach.
    You remind me of what I call a "southern" way of trashing someone but said with a sly smile on your face.(in the same breath you say how decent some AP's are and then can't really stand the sight of Ap's either)
    I am floored that you don't or can't believe that what you wrote about AP's is a form of what most would call racism.....and you are being applauded by people for this?
    As an adoptee I am way over being made to feel sorry or guilty for the choices biological parents make when it came to choosing adoption for the child they bore. I have yet to see anyone write about the fact that one of the reasons that some biological parents who choose adoption is because they just didn't want the responsibility of raising a child or another child. ie: they didn't want their child.
    All I seem to read(on your end) is about how the awful AP's pay huge sums of $ for white kids and how they tell people that the biological parent couldn't afford the raising part of another kid. yada yada as if this is a lie regarding the #1 reason bio parents choose adoption. (hmmm....hello....this is a fact!) But somehow that fact gets miscontrued by someone such as yourself and whoaa....the AP's come out as the bad scary people who take kids away from biological parents? Seriously, if you really think that AP's should be spending whatever amount of money they would have spent on an adoption on the biological parent so she/he could get their life together.....you really are a tainted person. Are you listening to what you are saying? It's laughable and horribly sad at the same time. It's not my responsibility to make sure someone gets their life in order by giving them money so they can get away with not being responsible for their own actions and their decisions which may have led them to becoming pregnant and consider adoption!
    That $30,000 an AP spent on an adoption was really easy to get because all AP's are super wealthy and live in 2 story homes with a white picket fence. NOT!
    Heaven forbid you hear about AP's (such as ourselves) where that $30,000 took a husband working 2 full time jobs(yea you heard it right)a wife working a full time job,personal loan from a bank taken out,grant awared, $ taken out of a 401K, donations from family and friends....to adopt our gorgeous sweet daughter. We were chosen by our daughter's biological parent....chosen.....she wasn't coerced....this adoption was her plan....her choice....She(bio parent) is not my responsibility. I am not required to be her banker or her therapist. We often hear the saying "we are not here to find adoptive families a child, but to find children a home". I loathe that statement...because you can't have one without the other.
    Adoption is how our family grows AND will continue to grow through adoption.
    Please try to quit judging a person, an AP on just the basis that they adopted-it's completely unfair and unjust. You don't know the story behind the person...an adoption. Whatever happened to...treating someone as you would like to be treated? Please quit trying to make me feel like complete shi* because I adopted because along the way, you are making adoptees feel like crap too for the decisions THEIR biological/birth parents made.

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  15. In general, neither adoptive parents nor birth parents make me feel "uncomfortable".
    However, IRL when anyone, adoptive parent or not, expresses opposition to adoptees' rights - especially the right of adoptees to their OBCs - or tries to pass a blanket judgment on all birth mothers (or all adopters for that matter. See comment about sitting down for dinner with serial killers. Lovely. Very helpful. To borrow a phrase from Lorraine, "Not pretty". In fact, it's the only kind of attitude that makes me feel makes me seriously queasy, and for good reason, because it is an expression of visceral hatred which, IMO, doesn't have any place on any moderated blog that aspires to be reasonable), I make my opinions very clear to them.

    Shouldn't it be important learn as much as possible about a person's individual situation and opinions before deciding how they "make" you feel?
    Especially if one has chosen to put oneself out there.

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  16. When my son was born, I received two gifts- a copy of Dr Spock's Childcare from my sister and a check(that later bounced). The book from my sister was a very thoughtful gift since I was planning to keep my son but the Social Service dept and his birthfather set up so many roadblocks(it's a long story )and I finally caved in to the pressure. The check was from my brother-in-law's a-mom. I was really hurt when it bounced but prefer to think that it was inadvertent and simply due to lack of funds.

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  17. Loved your honesty, Jane. Thank you so much for writing.

    I could really relate to your feelings, even as an adult adoptee.

    One of my very best friends is an adoptive Mother. She adopted an infant and later found out he had autism. Boy was her bubble burst. But she has stepped up and is one of the best mother's I know. I am so glad I know her.

    However, I also cringe every time I meet a new adoptive parent. Yesterday I was in a meeting where an adoptive mother was introduced as "one whom God provided for" (her adopted child to her). I wanted to gag. Oh, what ignorance and it is everywhere.

    No wonder we cringe.

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  18. I could have become an AP. I lost my oldest daughter to adoption when I was 21 and didn't marry till 40. We had three miscarriages before getting pregnant with our daughter and our son followed two and a half years later. It wasn't until my daughter found me when she was 29 years old that I realized what I had done in 1980 was (in my eyes) despicable. In these last two years I have come to realize why infant adoption is so wrong. I thank God every day for all three of my children but I also thank him that I never adopted. I would much rather be a childless mother than an adoptive mother to a child I coerced from a "birth" mother. And coerced I would have done. I would have fed her all the bull I was fed about how she was Saint "birth" mother for giving me her child.
    I live in a town where adoption is super prevalent. Three of my five sisters adopted. Two of my closest friends adopted internationally. It's everywhere in my world. I have learned to stay away from adoption discussion when they are around. I love these women regardless of their choices but do not want to talk about adoption with them.
    My relationship with my oldest daughter is cordial but on the quiet side. We know we love each other. She doesn't have it in her to be close to me. I believe her terms and needs trump mine any day. But this quietness is not something I want to talk to my adoptive friends about. I can see their minds churning like 'ya that's how it should be'. Who knows, they may be thinking something entirely different and that's why it's best I don't go there.
    And I really don't like meeting new people that are all saccharin sweet about the children they have adopted. When that comes up at a social event I creep away. I really don't want to get to know them. The last time it happened at a conference I attended for work and I actually felt sick to my stomach.

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  19. reposting to correct an error:
    When I meet a "new" adoptive parent--new to me, that is--I'm on guard until I can trust them on the issues that are so dear to us here. Mostly, I just feel weird and don't want to go there because I've felt way more criticism and anger than understanding. However, I did have a friendship with two adoptive mothers, both in publishing, and one way back in the Seventies, when the concept of first mothers out of the closet was new to the world. She was great and we freely talked about issues and she was totally accepting of my feelings; I met her twin daughters at her house, etc., and they were nearly my daughter's age. This was way before I found Jane, and I was still generally in the closet.

    The other one and I were friends to the point where she told me what she heard other adoptive parents (fathers who had footed the bill) said about natural mothers and the desire for information and reunion, and it was not pretty. But she was a booster of mine, and generous to boot. She also knew my daughter, and I knew her adopted daughter. But after she jokingly corrected my language one day--not "give up," but "make an adoption plan" a few years ago, I retreated. But there were other issues too.

    It's weird, I never think about "judging" an adoptive mother--that doesn't even cross my mind--I think they are looking at me as a freak or a threat and I'm afraid one of us is going to say something that upsets the other. At conferences where there are APs, they keep their distance and I've felt more like a pariah than anything else. I'd have to say that I have found Adam Pertman to be quite the opposite.

    And I do have an adoptive mother friend that I have mentioned before. It was at her house I had a quiet Christmas Day dinner with a few friends shortly after I returned from my daughter's funeral. But with her...I don't discuss issues and I have not wanted to friend her on Facebook...as the blog appears there all the time.

    As for comparing how we feel about adoptive parents to prejudice towards another race, it's not the same at all. Jane's point is that until she knows where the AP stands on issues she'd rather not go there, and feels uncomfortable. Nor does she imply that she's "proud" of those feelings, just that they exist.

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  20. I think prejudice is because of what people are, not what people do.
    As a mother who lost her only child to adoption, I do not want to interact with adopters because, no matter what their intentions, unless they adopted the offspring of a dead woman, they did to some other mother what was done to me.
    Thank you, Lorraine and Lori and y'all others who get it.

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  21. "It's not my responsibility to make sure someone gets their life in order by giving them money so they can get away with not being responsible for their own actions and their decisions which may have led them to becoming pregnant and consider adoption!"

    I wonder if Adopted & Adopted expressed this opinion to the mothers of her children before she was chosen to be their adoptive parent.

    I don't mind being around adoptive parents who have open minds. Unfortunately many of them think we mothers also buy into the adoption myths and repeat them to us thinking that they are doing a good thing and showing their appreciation. Eg We are so grateful to mothers like you. That is when I want to flee the premises.

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  22. Adopted and Amp wrote
    "along the way, you are making adoptees feel like crap too for the decisions THEIR biological/birth parents made."

    As an adoptee, I relate to this. I am sick and tired of hearing my birth mother talk about what a big mistake she made and how wrong almost any kind of adoption is. I am sick of watching her stiffen up every time I mention my a-mom. I resent hearing the contempt in her voice whenever we discuss my childhood and my a-family.

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  23. Dear Anon:

    Have you ever tried to understand how your natural mother feels? Or why she reacts like that? Did your two mothers ever meet? Maybe other things besides adoption are at work, such as religion, politics?

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  24. Jane, I appreciate your honesty in writing this. It doesn't surprise me at all that first mothers would be uncomfortable around APs or that APs would be uncomfortable around first mothers. Makes perfect sense to me and I don't think it's so terriby un-PC to say it. I think it's this reality that can make some of us adoptees feel caught in the middle. My a-mother never liked to hear about my n-mother and my n-mother while more accomodating still hadn't seem to get over the fact that I WAS raised in another family and am part of that family, too.

    "Pertman goes on to say about infertile people, “We’re supposed to swallow our loss, internalize our pain and move on.” Well, yes, actually you are. Just because someone cannot conceive their own child doesn't entitle them to someone else's child. I've had some downtime lately and spent a part of it reading trashy celebrity magazines. It seemed adoption was mentioned on every other page. No matter how old the celebrity, no matter what his/her sexual orientation was or their relationship status, they all felt entitled to have a child (that is to adopt a child). They just seemed to assume that their fame and money entitled them to a family. Of course, not one word was mentioned about the pain to the first parents or how the child will feel about being adopted. These things don't seem to even cross the celebrities' minds. It's as if their are endless numbers of children who would be so much better off being raised by a wealthy celebrity. Unfortuneately, we still have a long way to go in some corners to get our message across.

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  25. Adopted & Adopted:

    My goodness, I can sense the rage you feel coming at us through the Internet, but may I suggest that you have read into Jane's post what is not there? She also has wrote that she has friends who are adoptive parents, as I have; I think today it's nearly impossible not to have adoptive parents in your life, one way or another.

    I have been attacked personally so many times by adoptive parents that is it not reasonable that I would be wary or feel strange around them until I know their feelings? Some may call that "prejudice;" I would call it self-protection. Last time I gave a talk at a conference only one adoptive mother chose to talk to me after I spoke and she told me why others might have reacted negatively when I read a section of Birthmark that talked about my family waiting for my daughter, she and I talked about how we birth mothers might feel when we hear "We were chosen to be your parents..." She was the only adoptive mother who talked to me the entire 3 days of the event, other than an adoptive mother I happen to know outside of the adoption arena.

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  26. Adopted and adopted. It is clear that you have never given birth to a child. The percentage of mothers that relinquish because they didn't want to bother is miniscule. Even my crack whore niece didn't give up her children because she didn't want them. She was too sick to care for them.
    I was a 21 year old woman who was told if I really loved my daughter I would give her to a married couple to raise. What a load. But I believed them and I loved my daughter with all my soul. I would do anything for her.
    I don't agree with everything in this blog post but I think for the most part Jane is right on. Being around people that would separate mother and child for their own gain is hard to stomach.

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  27. I am uncomfortable around the extreme pro-life people who feel that abortion should never be available, no exceptions, because adoption is the perfect (read pain free) solution to any accidental/unwanted/unplanned pregnancy.

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  28. I agree with you, Jane. I feel uncomfortable around adoptive parents too. With one exception: my cousin who adopted from Romania about 22 yrs ago under force of her abusive (now-ex) husband who made ALL the decisions and then left her to raise a child as a single mother she never wanted to adopt to begin with. Oh yeah, her ex-husband was an adoptee himself -- so maybe there was some issues going on with that. Well, the child she adopted from Romania grew up in foster care anyway -- he was far far too violent for her to raise around her natural-born daughter. No therapy would work, and he was a compulsive liar. So, this kid adopted from Romania (who also had a perfectly functional family back there who just happened to be poor) grew up in foster care in Canada. :(


    "Adoption is often portrayed as a triad, equal partners in a hard but rewarding journey. In reality, though, it’s a right triangle, not an equilateral one. Adoptive parents are the hypotenuse, dominating the unwilling legs. Adoption is a trinity I wish I were not a part of."

    I'm glad you brought this up. Adoption is indeed portrayed as being a triad and it is no such thing -- the myth especially promoted by 2 people who made a living selling babies who co-authored "The Adoption Triangle." But i don't think it is a trinity either, or a triangle. I see it as being a 4-party transaction. (Can it be thought of as a square?)

    If a square, two parties (the corners on top), the broker and the customer, have all the social, legal and financial power to (1) obtain the baby and provide it to customer for adoption, and (2) choose to pay money to the broker and thus obtain the baby from the broker (and any time money changes hands in exchange for a child, frankly it is human trafficking, and i have no regrets about calling the perpetrators "brokers" if this is how they make their living).

    The other two parties in the 4-party transaction, mother and child, lack the social, financial, and legal power to stay together. Coercion, human rights abuses that result in poverty, and a lack of any choice at all is what characterizes their position. They are the "bottom two corners" of it all.

    The "power of the broker" extends even into reunion, in so many ways. I can send you a copy of an article where adoption agencies are advised to control reunions and the expectations of the parties.

    No, there is no equality between adoptive parents who chose to adopt and mothers who didn't surrender their babies by choice (and I have rarely seen any adoptions that do not involve coercion -- the stats back this up -- and the emotional coercion tht pervades "open adoption" is the most prevalent form of coercion today).

    If adoption has traumatized us, why should we want to be in the presence of people who remind us that there is another traumatized mother out there who is in as much pain as we are?

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  29. Anon,

    If you're "sick and tired of your birth mother saying what a big mistake she made [you'd prefer she'd say how pleased she is that she gave you away] and how wrong almost any kind of adoption is", then perhaps you should not talk to her.

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  30. We were chosen by our daughter's biological parent....chosen.....she wasn't coerced....this adoption was her plan....her choice....

    I sense enormous rage in your comments rather than someone comfortable with a role. I'm sure you were told that your child's first mom was not coerced but, chances are quite vast, that she was. There is absolutely no way you can make a definitive statement about her impetus.

    I hope and pray that she is not the recipient of your rage and that you do not let it ooze into your relationship with her or with the child you now share motherhood of.

    Concerned

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  31. Hi Jane,
    Glad to find your site. Several years ago I helped a women who did not want to give up her baby. We won. It left me with a bunch of questions, which I asked. (I am male)
    After a lot of research, I came to a conclusion that adoption is a scourge on our land. I became politically active (trained volunteer lobbyist)and found out some political realities which left me saddened. I walked away and said somehow I would build a voice for the people.
    Today I have an online news source that is well respected and serves an area of about 370,000. Newport News, Hampton, and Yorktown Virginia. We have about 22,000 viewers and we are growing as "Community News, Where Everybody's Voice is Heard."
    I have blocked all investors and all of those who would do me favors so our voice could be a fight for justice. We fear no one.
    The time has come. We are looking for birth-mothers to tell their stories so that we may try to persuade the public that adoption in almost every case is wrong. This is a story that only birth-mothers can tell.
    Please tell your story and please encourage others to tell theirs at our site, in addition to what they are already doing. We will protect their names if necessary.
    We are James River Journal.com and my name is Dan Curran and I promise you this is not spam.
    Thank you.

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  32. @ adopted & adopted:

    I must say your rage has piqued my interest.

    Perhaps I am misreading you but your comment comes across as enraged. You seem to be tripping over your words a bit as in
    "we are not here to find adoptive families a child, but to find children a home"..."I am so sick of that"

    I can't believe that you mean that the child's best interest would not be paramount.

    As an adoptee I do take exception to the financial straits you put yourself in to adopt. I am grateful that my adoptive parents came to adoption as very successful people who had the means to adopt and raise me and provide that security although I don't think that financial security is a reason to give your baby away.

    I am grateful that at least my adoptive parents were stable and capable. Either way, I am unclear on why you become enraged when Jane, a mother who lost her first born to adoption may be uncomfortable around the likes of you. She lost her baby, her daughter.

    While I don't share those feelings, it was a social choice you made and is directly related to something that caused her great pain.

    Beyond that, there are a great many people who do not like me at all who know me personally, and many more who don't like me because of my feelings about being adopted. I am actually pretty chill with that. Is everyone expected to think you are sainted because you adopted? That is the message I am getting.

    Joy

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  33. @ Jane

    Interesting post and it seems to me took a great deal of courage. As you pointed out the "triad" mythology is just that, a myth. From my adoptee point of view it is even more skewed. As in there is an entire family system for both the adoptive and natural families but in most cases, like mine, the adoptee stands alone. It doesn't feel like one equal side at all from my point of view.


    I had a couple of thoughts about your not being comfortable around adoptive parents. My first thought was that I don't feel that way. I thought about that more and realized I don't go to "pro-adoption" conferences. You know I don't go to the AAC and the like where they still promote adoption. I don't even go to events that are about natural mothers and adoptees. The only events I attend are totally adoptee-centric and the natural parents and adoptive parents that are there, and many of them are lovely are there to support us.

    I think it is in our best interest, the losers of the adoption triage to separate ourselves and advocate for our own points of view. I really do.

    How can we empower ourselves in a culture of "pro-adoptive parent" otherwise?

    There are lovely adoptive parents but in the aggregate they are not lovely. Even Adam Pertman who I do think is a good egg talks about having to "suck up the loss of not being able to reproduce"

    That statement comes at a great luxury. I couldn't have all the children I was perfectly capable of bearing (not that fecundity makes me a better person, it does not, stay with me) because I was too emotionally damaged, impoverished for a good part of my life to be able to have the family I personally dreamed of. Sucks for me, but life goes on. But in adopting you are willing to deny that child her whole ancestry, genetic mirroring, identity, self. Which may at times be a good trade-off. It is hard to say, but it is a grave undertaking.

    I didn't get what I wanted either, but that does not give me the nerve to help myself to someone else's bank account, someone else's career, or emotional life.

    Life is very much not fair otherwise I would be 5'10" with giant boobies. Oh and also super thin except for the boobies. And secure financially, and super happy all the effing time.

    I don't talk about adoption at all in my real life but I do meet adoptive parents and some of them are really fantastic. Of course I didn't lose a child to the "better class" but was in fact raised by the "better class" and see their vulnerabilities and cringe at their hurt.

    I wouldn't give up my child for all the money in the world, I am lucky to have been able to raise him. I wonder about adoptees who get so angry at nmoms who don't like giving up their children. How would they have liked giving up one of their own chickens to a richer person of a "better class"?

    I agree with the adoptees who are angry because they have been treated shabbily by their nmoms. My own nmom has the power to hurt me like no other human being ever has. Some nmoms are awful, some adoptees are awful. That is trauma for you. Then add disenfranchised grief on top of that and there is a whole recipe for lashing out and major unhappiness.

    Of course I have different feelings than you, in part because I know two adoptive parents much more intimately than you could ever know any, they raised me. They did what my upper-middle class natural family was unwilling to do. They took in a bastard and the whole neighborhood knew.

    At the same time, I think it is awesome that you are shifting the power-paradigm, that you are changing the social view of adoption and think I would feel much the same way in your position.

    I would just encourage you to steer clear of "triad" based b.s. and commit your formidable talents to advocating for family preservation which of course does not include adoptive parents.

    Joy

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  34. @ P.S.

    Racism? srsly?

    Social choices, hello?

    I am prejudiced against neo-nazis because of the decisions they have made. Does that make me a racist?

    I can't help but think these anon. comment are made from the same quality of people that are against socialized medicine and have ads about "keeping the gov't out of medicare" when medicare has always been a gov't run program of socialized medicine. Oy Wey.

    No one forces anyone to adopt so that is just nutty and adoptiveparent-centric thinking

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  35. A&A wrote:

    "It's not my responsibility to make sure someone gets their life in order by giving them money so they can get away with not being responsible for their own actions and their decisions which may have led them to becoming pregnant and consider adoption!"

    No, but it IS your responsibility not to engage in reproductive exploitation. NOT to exploit a vulnerable mother and child who are being made vulnerable because of human rights abuses, coercion. etc. To take advantage of another person's poverty is totally unethical. It is exploitation.

    "Heaven forbid you hear about AP's (such as ourselves) where that $30,000 ...
    to adopt our gorgeous sweet daughter."

    To buy her, you mean. You could adopt for $200 in court paperwork - that's how much it cost me to submit a petition to adopt an adult. However, the tens of thousands are only being charged because that is what an infant sells for. It is industry, a business, based on market demand. It is also human trafficking. :(

    "We were chosen by our daughter's biological arent....chosen.....she wasn't coerced....this adoption was her plan....her choice..."

    Prove it. Did you stay out of her life until she has recovered from birth? Did you check that she was guaranteed access to adequate and sufficient resources and support that would enable her to keep her baby as is her basic human right, or did lack of resources and support force her to surrender? Did she make the decision about adoption after recovering from childbirth, which takes at least 6 weeks? Did she get the chance to recover during these weeks at home with her baby? If not, then don't make claims that she wasn't coerced, because procedures that violate these norms are indeed forms of coercion, designed by the industry to increase surrender rates. Other than the human rights abuse of Article 25 of the UDHR being violated, as per example 2 i gave here.

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  36. Just a word on the "triange or triad" concept. Nancy wrote:"The triad is such a myth, no power on the natural parent's side, and the most powerless the adoptee." I agree with what you're saying and don't mean to nitpick but as an adoptee I wasn't the most powerless, I had NO power at all. I was placed when I was less than a week old. It's hardly as if I had any say or was asked for my consent or to sign any papers. Only an older child could give their opinion about what family they want to be a part of and for the vast majority of adoptees we didn't have any say at all.

    @Anon 12:28,
    It always makes me laugh when I see the "Keep your hands off my Medicare" signs by people who are against single-payer universal health care. Medicare is a govt run healthcare program and I don't see seniors clamoring to get rid of it. I also wonder if we had universal health care in this country if more single mothers would feel that they could keep their child.

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  37. "I am sick and tired of hearing my birth mother talk about what a big mistake she made and how wrong almost any kind of adoption is. I am sick of watching her stiffen up every time I mention my a-mom. I resent hearing the contempt in her voice whenever we discuss my childhood and my a-family."

    Makes sense to me. Seems to me this should be a no-brainer for bio and aparents alike. Most people don't like others talking trash about their life or family and newsflash, adoptees are people too.

    Adopted & Adopted, I have written about the fact that my bio mom just didn't want a child. Not sure what Jane and others who feel like her think should have happened to adoptees like me. Maybe remain parentless living in the hospital? Live my life parentless in foster care instead? Sounds great, eh? You make some very good points in your comment, well done. Maryanne too.

    IMO its just plain ignorance to think all adoptive parents/bparents are no good and all mothers whose children were adopted had them stolen/gave them up willingly. Ignorance about one thing affects a person's credibility on everything. It also affects women's relationships with their adult children.

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  38. I believe it is important to maintain a clear distinction between APs who adopt children who NEED homes, and APs who solicit for birthmothers and suck up to pregnant women in 'crisis pregnancies' and spend enormous amounts of time, energy and money to get what they want. This post, despite its best efforts, blurs that distinction.

    I think it is important for first mothers to try to overcome feeling uncomfortable around recently met APs until they have sussed them out.
    Adoptive parents who oppose coercion, have not used it, support adoptee rights, and have only paid a couple of hundred bucks to get the necessary documents notarized are only going to be turned off to discover they have been approached as objects of suspicion.

    The core of the problem is in the abstract. It is about essentializing the adopter. When comments such as the one that puts all adopters under the same umbrella as serial murderers are approved for publication, I begin to wonder if there is any hope for adoption reform at all.

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  39. "My own nmom has the power to hurt me like no other human being ever has."

    You give her that power.

    Zelda

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  40. Adopted and Adopted  Let me shed light on why I think this statement is wrong:
     We were chosen by our daughter's biological parent....chosen.....she wasn't coerced....this adoption was her plan....her choice.
    Knowing the adoptive parents before giving birth is coercive. The decision no longer is what's best for my child and what's best for me but now you add in what's best for the infertale couple who's hopes and dreams are placed on my child. Can't you see how our adoption system is stacked against the mother and child? No infant wants to be separated from their mother. A minisule number need to be.  Chances are your daughter could have remained with her mother if the system was changed. Did your daughters mother ever get any counseling from an unbiased professional letting her know the dire consequences of her "choice"?  Did she know the trauma adopted persons go through as a result  of being given to strangers?

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  41. And I would retort, “You could have spent the thirty grand you paid the adoption agency on helping the boy’s mother keep him.”

    I love this, Jane! I think this often myself! (Attn: Angelina, Madonna, most Christian organizations, etc.)

    As an adoptee, I have had to end friendships over a decision to adopt. I try to offer support and let them know that I am available to give my own experience in order to help them with potential hazards in the future, but it seems no one in my social circle much cares about the adoptee; they just want a baby. I just can't appreciate that or be around that.

    Some comments I've received make me uncomfortable around ap's:

    "Connecticut is the hardest state to get a baby."

    (My internal response: "How easy should it be to get someone else's baby?")

    Or,
    "My cousin and sister adopted and their toddlers are just perfect and completely well-adjusted. I'm insulted that you think I don't know everything about adoption!!"

    (My internal response...hmm, perhaps I should just let you imagine that one. ;))

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  42. @ Zelda

    What an ignorant comment, 'You gave her that power" Sounds like it was ripped from a self-help positive thinking cult from the 80s. srsly.

    Human beings are a gregarious species, human children have profound bonds with their human parents.

    Surprise! We are not mini-Gods with the power to control everything in our universe but instead part of a species with predictable behavior patterns and needs.

    Anthropology is actually a fascinating field, you might want to acquaint yourself with it.


    Joy

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  43. As a first/birth/natural/bio mother, I am not at all uncomfortable around adoptive parents. This may be due to the fact that the ones I know in real life are wonderful, caring people on top of being awesome parents. I've actually found it helpful to talk to adoptive parents as one part of my journey to learn as much about adoption as I could.

    @Campbell - Your remarks make sense to me as well. Had I discovered that my child had a warm, loving family I would have been thrilled and I would have enjoyed hearing about what I had missed.

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  44. When my daughter talks about her Mom or her childhood my first reaction is to stiffen up. It is not out of disgust for her adopted Mom and family. In my case, more of a "throwing up the old defenses" from the pain of my whole experience.
    I don't want my daughter to be put in the middle but the reality is that we all, first mothers/fathers, adopted mothers/fathers, and adoptees have a role in this and none of us will ever come away untouched by adoption.

    I thank Jane for being honest and having the courage to put it in writing. She is not an outsider to adoption and has every right to state how she feels.

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  45. Added to blog for readers new to it but repeated here for commenters:

    Lorraine here on Oct. 1: Where does our "fear" of adoptive parents come from? From our being out-of-closet mothers speaking up and being treated with a certain coldness when we are asked to participate, or volunteer to speak, at adoption conferences where we are not the majority. Let me give you an example: When I gave a keynote speech at an American Adoption Congress annual meeting a few years ago, a small group of adoptees and first mothers sat near the front and gave me non-verbal positive feedback during my talk. One of them was Carol Schaefer, whom I did not know at the time. This was the 25th anniversary of AAC, and my speech was a history of the movement starting back in the Seventies--when I first got involved--up to the present, as I saw it as a birth mother and activist. Over the years I had taken a lot of heat publicly for coming out of the closet and talking about wanting to know my daughter, and I did include that, as well as how attitudes had softened somewhat towards activist first mothers. I felt good about my presentation.

    But during the Q & A, it was all adoptive parents all the time either taking issue with what I had to say with thinly veiled hostility or simply being defensive. I had not intended to disparage any of the adoptive parents there because I knew those there would be in favor of open records, right? After all, they were at the AAC conference, and the AAC is about open records. They obviously felt I had vilified them.

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  46. continued:

    What I had done was point out that as we progressed to open records, adoptive parents basically formed the bastion of resistance we found in legislature after legislature. Later I learned from an adoptee who was one of the AAC officers that I had sent the adoptive parents into shock, and that they had spent the next session and rest of the day talking about how upsetting I had been. Only adoptive father Adam Pertman was gracious and warm after the speech, which is undoubtedly why I tend to defend him when warranted. Karen Vedder, then president of CUB, told me that the atmosphere towards birth mothers was very different at CUB retreats. And boy, is it. Jane wrote the post above shortly after returning from a conference that was attended largely by adoptive parents or prospective ones, as it had been put on by an adoption agency. She was not one of many first mothers there, but one of a few. It's the same with most other conferences other than CUB's, which are designed by and for birth parents.

    Commenter Joy mentioned that she avoids conferences where adoptees are not the main focus an attendance, and thus you can avoid that feeling of "otherness" that makes you feel so...much like a pariah. If Jane and I did the same thing, we'd probably not be so aware how we freeze up around adoptive parents until we know we can trust them. The analogy here I'm thinking of is so explosive (considering what happens at the blog) I'll refrain from using it, but some of you will get it, and I make no apologies. It is what it is.

    While many of the comments (mostly from adoptees and adoptive parents) express outrage that Jane (and I) would hold these feelings of distrust when first confronted with adoptive parents, consider how adoptive parents might feel at conferences and situations where they were the odd man out, rather than the majority. I can't imagine some of them sitting through talks at CUB or Origins and not feel like heading for the hills.

    Unless we natural mothers are the majority, because adoption is such an emotionally loaded issue, because adoption always puts the birth mother in the back seat (unless she's not thrown out totally), we will always feel marginalized and suspicious around adoptive parents--until we know otherwise. Until we never hear again that an adoptee was told his mother died, when she hadn't, I will be suspicious. Until I can talk to my friends who are adoptive parents--but not activists--about some of the issues we discuss at First Mother Forum without their blood pressure rising and getting red in the face, I will be wary. Until I hear that such and such a bill for original birth certificate access was not stymied by an adoptive parent, or relative (as just happened in Rhode Island where the age for access was upped to 25!), I will be on guard. Until Danny O'Donnell in the New York state legislature and uncle to Rosie's adoptive kids isn't rude to adoptees and birth parents who lobby for OBC access, I will be be distrustful. Until that happens, yes I will be more comfortable around other birth mothers and fathers. But because I am committed to trying to right the wrong of sealed records--even though I realize in my lifetime records will never be freely open to all the people involved, that is, first mothers--I will go on being such a pariah when necessary and as I have been. But my feelings are mine to hold close.

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  47. To turn the tables, I have read many blogs adoptive moms or prospective a-moms, who say they feel extremely uncomfortable around pregnant women. It reminds them of their problems with infertility. They even have a hard time seeing Facebook announcements about someone's pregnancy.

    During my pregnancies, I had a few friends and family members that withdrew from me.

    So, if you are an adoptive mother who has felt uncomfortable around someone who is pregnant, perhaps you can recall those feelings enough to relate to what some birth mothers feel around a-moms. No, it's not the same thing, but it's as close as you are able to get.

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  48. "I think for the most part Jane is right on. Being around people that would separate mother and child for their own gain is hard to stomach."
    I'm just wondering,how many of you believe that APs actually know that they are separating a mother and child?

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  49. First, I get uncomfortable when a broad statement is made about any group of human beings. Even when marginalized groups or people make broad statements. (i.e. when a person of color speaks generically about "white" people as a group. I understand why, but still.

    There are some courageous, compassionate adoptive parents out there who are truly fighting for reform, often receiving criticism from their peers in doing so. True enough, this appears to be the minority at this point. Still. Would I still feel uncomfortable in their presence? Depends on how real we could get, how authentic we could be in each other's presence.

    That said, I attended my first and only conference some years ago and, as a birthparent, experienced very much what you describe.

    We, the birthparents, were literally escorted to a separate table, away from adoptive parents and "professionals" who sat together. The present adoptees sat, fairly equally, at a table of their own and among the adoptive parents and professionals.

    Only one adoption counselor (who held post-adoption support groups, was not affiliated with an agency or facilitation, and was not a member of the "triad") made her way over to our table and sat with us. She had brought a new (and sorrowful-looking) birthparent with her to the conference and admitted extreme discomfort over the seating arrangements.

    The same day, I watched a very professional birthparent speaker (the only one on the panel) get completely shut down and spoken over, later saying in private "well, I tried."

    In addition to what you've cited, as long terms like "paper pregnancy" are volleyed about as a fun way to look at what is probably the most painful time of a young woman's life, as long as women claim ownership of other women's yet-born children in the name of God ... yes, I will carry a degree of distrust.

    But I will also remind myself, always, that one must refrain from encompassing an entire group based on its bad apples.

    Just as I do not want to be compared to birthparent stereotypes, i.e. drug-addicted, abusive,etc., I do not want to compare ethical adoptive parents to those comfortable with acquiring and maintaining parentage unethically.

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  50. Good point, Anon,

    I made a slight change to clarify that I'm not talking about those who adopt out of foster are.

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  51. At Campbell,

    This comment: "Adopted & Adopted, I have written about the fact that my bio mom just didn't want a child. Not sure what Jane and others who feel like her think should have happened to adoptees like me. Maybe remain parentless living in the hospital? Live my life parentless in foster care instead? Sounds great, eh? You make some very good points in your comment, well done. Maryanne too."

    That statement is completely unfair. Both Lorraine and Jane have made their views completely clear and have it posted on the sidebar if I remember correctly. They have NEVER stated that a child whose mother does not want to parent should remain in hospital or fostercare.

    Of course they are interested in family preservation - shouldn't all people? From what I gather they also want fair play, fair surrender times, fair laws all around for mothers - that's a pretty admirable goal if you ask me. And through in Adoptee Rights and I would suggest they go above and beyond.

    At Jane and Lorraine,

    Of course you are going to feel weird around AP's you don't know. It is the same on the flip side as well. It is not a natural meeting between people with similar lives - it is a meeting guaranteed to be awkward - its the nature of the beast.

    And yes, adoptees get stuck in the middle. But we are adults and should be able to deal with it like we deal with anything life throws our way. WE too can suck it up.

    Brave post Jane and Lorraine - sorry some people got defensive which actually just proves the post was pretty darn on target...

    At Adopted and Adopted.

    Actually in my adoption my social worker did just that: Found a family for a child - one who wasn't looking but was the right fit for ME...and guess what that attitude works and it is the only way it should ever happen.

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  52. Kristi, you said "As an adoptee, I have had to end friendships over a decision to adopt. I try to offer support and let them know that I am available to give my own experience in order to help them with potential hazards in the future, but it seems no one in my social circle much cares about the adoptee; they just want a baby. I just can't appreciate that or be around that."

    That is the key - they want the baby. When you want to smell that sweet baby smell, your brain forgets that that smell turns into a child, then a teen and then an adult.

    That is the difference between natural parents and adopters -

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  53. "What an ignorant comment, 'You gave her that power" Sounds like it was ripped from a self-help positive thinking cult from the 80s. srsly."

    Why does it sound so awful? It's one of the great breakthroughs of modern therapy. You cannot control anything except your own reactions to situations. Liberating to many, but not to you.

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  54. “You could have spent the thirty grand you paid the adoption agency on helping the boy’s mother keep him.”

    This is just illogical. Following that (faulty) logic . . .

    Instead of buying a home, should we use that money to help a family in foreclosure keep their home? So many families were victims of an unscrupulous banking industry who promoted adjustable rate mortgages and "LIAR" loans and failed to identify the risks of those loans.

    Instead of buying the computer that you blog on, Jane, should you have used that money to keep a child with his mother in a third world country.

    Instead of bearing children, should young women forbear pregnancy and birth so that the money that would be used to raise, educate, and feed that future child could be given to a mother who already has a child and cannot afford to feed him, educate him or seek medical care for him?

    I could go on and on.

    Secondly, "If you're 'sick and tired of your birth mother saying what a big mistake she made . . . and how wrong almost any kind of adoption is', then perhaps you should not talk to her."

    Fair enough. But no one should be mystified or petulant when we follow that advice and the reunion fails.

    Rachel

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  55. I can really see where the uncomfortableness would come from. I'm adopted and a first mother and I get uncomfortable around some adoptive parents, mine excluded of course. My son's adoptive parents? Oh man, I don't like to be in the same state as them sometimes.

    I've been on panels for PAP's through the agency I used and the last time I was on one was about five years ago. I wasn't asked back because I "scared" the PAP's there. Apparently my grief was overwhelming. Okey doke, you're right dumb at the time agency, how dare those people realize that it it hurts like hell to lose your child. How dare anyone realize that there is coercion in adoption, every single adoption, coercion by someone. Thank heavens the agency is now staffed by entirely new people who take an entirely different view on first parents and I have actually been actively contributing to their newsletters, even the not so great stuff. :)

    I don't get to conferences for adoption, I live in a rural part of the country and travel for my job and don't have time for adoption related travel at this point. I can say though, that being the minority at those conferences has taught me a lot, so I can empathize with what you are saying.

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  56. Rachel, it actually isn't that illogical.

    People could do that, if they really wanted to. But they don't. Take the baby out of the picture - is it better to help that couple, or donate money to support them?

    Now put the baby back in. What is truly helping them - adopting their children, or helping them to keep their child? It's always better to help than to have to be helped, and by "helped", I don't mean them having to give up their child.

    Why should anyone have to give up something as precious as a child to be "helped"?

    So you see, it's not that people can't do it. It's that they don't want to.

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  57. Rachel,

    Your analogy is misplaced. When I bought my house, the purpose of buying the house was not to help the house.

    The purpose of adoption is to provide a family for a child who needs one, not a child for a family. If the reason a child lacks a family is because his natural family lacks money, then people interested in that child's welfare would help the child's family care for him. Obviously when people are willing to spend lots of money to obtain a child but not to help his family care for him, it is not the child's welfare they are interested in but meeting their need to have a child regardless of what's best for the child.

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  58. I used to feel like that about adoptive parents, I still find the smug ones challenging. I made a conscious deeision not to glare at a woman with Chinese gils, not to scowl at a white mother with a very dark skinned, obviously adopted child.

    I am tired of blaming other people for what happened to me.

    I also realize that some people are just limited in their ability to understand or have empathy.

    I don't think all people who want to adopt ought to give money to women who are in a crisi pregnancy.

    I also think the mother who keeps going on about what a mistake she made and who sulks when her adult child talks about her adoptive parents needs to be more disciplined and mature. You can vent to other mothers but not to your child. Don't bring your emotional baggage to the reuion -easier said than done but try not to.

    The adoptive mother of my daughter has been less than respectful, less than friendly and actually downright dishonest to me. I wish her well on her journey and hope she will have a great life. I have decided she doesn't deserve my friendship and we shall never meet just like I would be with anyone who had conned and dissed me. That said she is my daughter's mother so I wish her well and hope they will have a great connection.

    Adoption sucks but life is amazing and I don't want my life to be totally destroyed by it. I'm going to repsectfully nod at adoption and acknowledge it has been a huge challenge but my life remains wonderful.

    Blaming and hating adoptive parents is in my past.

    I don't read their blogs anymore either.

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  59. Zelda wrote:"My own nmom has the power to hurt me like no other human being ever has."

    You give her that power."

    I totally disagree with this. I think the reason my nmom has the power to hurt me is because the bond between a bio-mother and child is so powerful and everlasting. If it wasn't why would anyone even search? It's certainly very hard for most people from closed adoptions to even get any information. Why would people be so nervous when they finally reach out to their missing mother or child? Why would so many of us be devastated when reunions don't work out? I think our connection is so profound that it is really not within our conscious control to not feel hurt by our first mother or relinquished child. We are human after all.

    Just look at that video of the Michigan college student. She keeps trying to smile that she is meeting her nmother for the first time and yet she cannot hide her pain. Pain that is welling up from deep inside of her and causing her to keep bursting into tears. That is real, Zelda, not something that we have total control over.

    Lori wrote:
    "That is the key - they want the baby. When you want to smell that sweet baby smell, your brain forgets that that smell turns into a child, then a teen and then an adult."

    Boy, do I agree. Especially as the child often grows up and becomes more like his/her natural family and less like the a-family.

    @Campbell,

    I did not realize that your mother didn't want you. It makes me understand your comments better. I think it is a different experience from those of us who found that our mothers had never wanted to give us up in the first place. I'm sorry you had this experience. It must be very painful.

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  60. Jane, children are not placed for adoption only because of poverty, and money is not always the answer.
    Some women, believe it or not, willingly surrender because they do not want to raise a child, not because they have been pressured.

    Others have family or personal circumstances so dire, like serious mental illness or addiction or abuse, that no amount of money can fix quickly enough to provide a stable home for a child.

    You have your disclaimer in the sidebar that you are not anti-adoption, yet you keep making broad statements that certainly lead to that conclusion.

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  61. @ maryanne
    "Some women, believe it or not, willingly surrender because they do not want to raise a child, not because they have been pressured."

    So I guess you are saying that for these women it's an easy decision? Kinda like, no, I don't want mashed potatoes with my meal, too fattening? You do make it sound that for them giving up a child after carrying it for nine months is a totally easy decision, not that a whole bunch of outside pressures come to bear on the decision such as parents, age, no money for a nanny while they finish high school, religious beliefs?

    Just how pro adoption are you?

    Just how much do you dislike natural mothers who say that giving up a child left a deep and lasting hurt, even if they otherwise get on with their lives? You are certainly the kind of birth mother that agencies want to have on their panels. I continue to be mystified why you come here to tell everyone their lasting grief is wrong. And it's why I don't use the CUB board.

    I've got a good life, I'm not in therapy nor do I take drugs for depression, but I read the blog because I will never get over having given up my first born, and these women get it.

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  62. Robin, I'm glad you're better able to understand my comments. It's not been especially painful to discover my bio mother didn't want me as its something I always assumed. There's a possibility establishing it as fact is a contributing factor in my ongoing peace with having been adopted. Personally, I am relieved to be part of a family where I was/am wanted.

    I am appreciative of Maryanne and other mothers that will acknowledge there are women, such as my biological mother, whose experience in adoption wasn't painful or something they regret. It's validating to be able to discuss adoption and reunion with those who have the ability to be open to and realistic about experiences that aren't similar to their own. Maryanne doesn't understand or relate to women like my mother but she is willing to believe that people like her exist and that, for an adoptee whose experience is like mine, is validating in this online adoption world.

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  63. No, Viktoria, I do not think it is ever an easy decision for any mother to give up a child. Those are your words, not mine. Even for a mother who freely decides it is the better choice for her, there is still pain, grief, and often regrets later.

    No, if I told my whole personal story, I would not be the spokesperson any agency wanted to promote adoption. I am not pro-adoption nor anti-adoption. I think each case needs to be viewed individually. I think there were and are way too many coerced and unnecessary adoptions, but that is not all adoptions.

    I suffered greatly for many years about giving up my son; it was not what I wanted to do and it turned out terribly. But I do not generalize my situation to every adoption. Many mothers, including me, should have been helped to keep their babies, but not all mothers. Neither surrendering nor raising a child should be forced on anyone, it should be a real informed choice.

    Since my son has been communicating with me, I do feel much better about the whole thing. Have I "gotten over" giving him up? I don't know, I do not really look at it that way, but I do feel better about him knowing he is ok, and about me knowing I have a future with him, not just a dark, sad past.

    Anything I say about me, is just about me, not about all mothers or all adoptions. I just can't look at things through the narrow lens of personal experience that way.

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  64. Maryanne,

    Jane stated: If the reason a child lacks a family is because his natural family lacks money, then people interested in that child's welfare would help the child's family care for him.

    How is the use of the word IF not clear?

    She did not state money was the only reason a mother would surrender or even the main reason - she stated "IF the reason".

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  65. Maryanne: My words and not yours--pleasssseee--that is what your words imply.

    And you go on and on all the time about how what you say is only about your personal experience when nobody else ever feels the need.--it's because the tone of your comments always implies how much more evolved and intelligent your are than the rest of us goons. But then, that's only you, right?

    Campbell, I don't know what to say about your feeling that your mother did not want you, and I am so sorry that is the burden you have. I do know that some mothers don't want or can't deal with reunions but giving you the feeling that she never wanted to keep you is so cruel. While you are happy with your adoptive family--who wouldn't be under that circumstance unless they are a gang of thieve and murderers and all-around horrible --I wonder why you bother then read blogs like this one. If adoptees are totally satisfied with their adopted status, why would they come here and remind themselves of everything adoption, or of the many people in real pain?

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  66. Maryanne wrote:"Neither surrendering nor raising a child should be forced on anyone, it should be a real informed choice."

    I guess I don't have such a laissez faire attitude about parenting as you do. I believe that when a couple brings a child into the world that they do have a responsibility to take care of that child unless their is some extenuating circumstance that prevents them from doing so. I don't like the attitude of well at this time I feel like parenting but maybe with the next child I won't. Children are not like animals that can be returned to the pound if one just doesn't feel like being bothered (and I don't even like the idea of returning a pet). This attitude sounds rather coldhearted to me.

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  67. Rachel, Instead of buying a house pay for someones foreclosure??? REALLY??? The house would not be losing an idenity a family, genitc mirroring, the product is a wood and nails product. Are you comparing houses, and computers to real live (albeit very cute) humans! That have a NEED for their biofamily...whter that need is fulfilled or not its still a need. Do you really think that that $30,000 entitles you to anyone baby because you have more money? A person keeping their identity, there biological information and growing up with kin is priceless. If and when that can't happen its a true and sad loss for the person losing it. I don't want to hear about how much adoption "costs"....adoption is and should aways be about the child and part of that is that they suffer a lose no matter what situation they came from.

    If that person that has lost their biological family and information even for the best of reason has adoptive parents that sees the loss and trys to understand this little human they just bought it would really prove the silly concept that is often bandied around..."Best interst of the child" If the adoptive parents would get over themseoves in conferences and understand that its the nmothers that acctually made "your daughter/son" and if you respected "your" Daughter/son you would show a whole lot more respect and understanding. You show resnetment, fear ect of "your childs mother then you are showing disrespect to your child...and beleive you me we can pick up on that very fast, even as young children. which contributes to the well know self essteem issues of adoptees. That goes for both adoptive and first parents. We adoptees are much more then the symbol of one womans geatest joyand ability to parent or anothers greatest sorrow and loss of ability to parent that child.

    I also have met online parents of both kinds that do try to get it and understand...and it does wonders for the person that has had to deal with adoption from birth.

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  68. "I don't like the attitude of well at this time I feel like parenting but maybe with the next child I won't. "

    Maryanne didn't say or imply that.
    The context was her belief that many mothers (not all, but including herself) should have been helped to keep their babies, but that neither surrendering nor raising should be forced.
    She also made it clear that the decision should be a "real, informed" one. I can't say for sure what it means to Maryanne, but to me, a "real, informed" decision includes the mother being given clear and unvarnished information about what loss of family of origin is likely to mean to the surrendered child as he or she grows to adulthood.

    I agree with you that couples who bring a child into the world have an obligation to take care of that child, but the obligation is one that can only be encouraged and supported, not forced.

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  69. Viktoria said "I do know that some mothers don't want or can't deal with reunions but giving you the feeling that she never wanted to keep you is so cruel."

    I don't get the impression that's what Campbell thinks.

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  70. Robin said "I am uncomfortable around the extreme pro-life people who feel that abortion should never be available, no exceptions, because adoption is the perfect (read pain free) solution to any accidental/unwanted/unplanned pregnancy."

    Interesting comment about abortion as an alternative to adoption. I am surprised this is not discusses more.

    I am not one of those who feels abortion should never be available or that women should be forced to carry a baby to term. However it is not exactly pain or guilt free and is clearly not in the best interests of the potential adoptee (I think most adoptees are happy they were not aborted/killed).

    It is also IMHO much better for a child to be adopted as an infant than to spend time in the foster care system first. I don't think you would find a child welfare expert who would dispute this.

    It may be true that many adoptive parents are not that concerned with the biological parents best interests but they are almost always trying to act in the best interests of their adopted child even if their view of the child's best interests is different from the bio parent's.

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  71. Well Rachel can't understand the thought of helping a family staying together because she's only seeing it from her own perspective as a "buyer" (gross). Rachel is revealing that she believes that adoptees are a commodity. You know, like buying a house or a car.
    She just buys a baby.
    I think I just threw up in my mouth a little writing that but it's apparently how she feels. Adoption is a baby store for her and because of her perspective, she can't even see the analogy for what it truly is because she's got the babylust.
    Adopting a baby isn't about helping a child. It's about buying a human being to satisfy her own needs. She's not interested in helping anyone but herself. No wonder she doesn't get it.
    But hey, at least she's being honest.

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  72. Anon 6:20,
    I was referring to the way the pro-life movement seems to take such a simplistic view of adoption that it is always a win, win, win for everyone concerned. They don't seem to be willing to even consider the negative effects of adoption on either the mother or the child. I agree that abortion is not an easy solution either. I am of the post Roe v. Wade generation and have friends who are dealing with lifelong regrets about having abortions. Many of the girls were really pushed to have an abortion similar to the way women of an earlier generation were forced to give their babies up. It's really tragic because these were people from an upper middle class neighborhood whose parents certainly had the means to help them raise the child. But they were given all the same lines such as "you're too young, you'll have another child later. You need to develop your career first, etc. etc".

    I'm between a rock and a hard place because I am really not a fan of abortion and I certainly couldn't encourage anyone to give a child up for adoption. I just wish everyone could carry to term and keep the baby. Birth control Rocks!

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  73. First of all, many adoptive parents adopt to build a family and not to "save" anyone else. My parents didn't present themselves as martyrs who "saved" me. They adopted me because they wanted a child. There is nothing wrong with that as long as they act ethically.

    Bee, I do not have "babylust." Read a little closer and you will see that I am not an adoptive parent. Do you make it a habit to disregard adoptees?

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  74. I don't know what campbell thinks about her mother, but I think that if her mother made her feel that way, that is cruel.

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  75. Robin, at least with adoption, there is the possibility of a relationship with the child. The bio mother may also be able to change her mind.

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  76. "APs actually know that they are separating a mother and child?"

    ???? A child is born of it's mother, the mother gives birth to her child...when mother and baby are no longer together, they are .... separated. Seems to me...that would be quite clear to anyone, anywhere. Mother and baby not together...mother and baby are now separated. If PAPs are looking to buy babies (even while still in their own mother's womb), engaging in relationships with an expectant mother...one would have to deduce that the PAP is hoping upon hope that mother and baby will be separated, so that the PAP can acquire said newborn.

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  77. @Rachel
    You're an adoptee. Oh man. That makes it even worse.
    Comparing yourself to a house? Yikes.
    Adoption is not a baby store.
    I am sorry that you feel that way, truly.
    And BTW I never said anything about "saving" a child. You did.
    Saving is not the same thing as helping just as adopting should not be the same thing as buying.

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  78. ""Maryanne doesn't understand or relate to women like my mother but she is willing to believe that people like her exist and that, for an adoptee whose experience is like mine, is validating in this online adoption world""

    Anybody/woman who has done just a little research on the subject...would find that for at least the last one hundred years (studies done), there has always been approx. 1%-2% of pregnant women who do not want their babies once born. That doesn't make them monster women/mothers...for whatever their reasons or possibly lack of maternal feelings...1%-2% do not want their newborns. These are the ones that will surrender more than willingly. I know it's tough to know this may be someone's own mother...but this particular set(percentage) of women has existed for a very long time. So neither do I believe that every single mother who has surrendered, has been coerced/pressured/defrauded out of their baby. The percentage is low for the truly willing voluntary surrender...percentage is higher for some form of coercion upon unmarried mothers to surrender.

    When coercion is involved, even in small amounts...I for one cannot say that the mother is totally making the decision to surrender..willingly, voluntarily. Though that is what so many of us have been led to believe. Nmothers and adoptees alike...and of course the adopters lap up the 'willingly, voluntarily' bit...justifies (maybe lessening their own guilt? the buying/adoption of another woman's newborn.

    But, to reiterate...yes...there does exist those women who do not want their newborns...without coercion, etc.

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  79. "First of all, many adoptive parents adopt to build a family and not to "save" anyone else. "

    If a child didn't need to be *saved* by the adoption system, they wouldn't have been available for adoption in the first place.

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  80. "If a child didn't need to be *saved* by the adoption system, they wouldn't have been available for adoption in the first place."

    It doesn't matter whether or not I agree with this. The issue is the intent of the adoptive parents. Jane says that adoptive parents who want to "save" a child should give the $30,000 it takes to adopt to the natural mother to enable her to keep her child. Jane is talking about adoptive parent's intent, the intent of saving a child.

    My adoptive parents intended to build a family, not "save" me. I am glad. To "save" me would imply that I need to be grateful for my adoption and I shouldn't have to be. I didn't ask to be born or placed. My nmom did that. I didn't ask to be adopted by my aparents. My aparents did that. My aparents have never expected me to be grateful to them for "saving" me. They are the grateful ones, grateful to have had the opportunity to build a family.

    One more thing, Jane, if my aparents had given my nmom $30,000, I don't think my nmom would have had the sophistication or good judgment to use it to keep me. She has wasted more than that in her lifetime and has nothing to show for it.

    "You're an adoptee. Oh man. That makes it even worse."

    Bee, first, you misread my comment and attacked me, thinking I was an adoptive parent. Once you discovered that I am an adoptee, you immediately started judging me. Stop infantilizing adoptees. We are adults and entitled to our own opinion without judgment from any mother, amom or nmom.

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  81. How should APs refer to the children they are raising if they shouldn't say "my child" or "my son" or "my daughter"? I'm really serious. I can't think of any other term that doesn't sound distant and cold.

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  82. There are some adoptiove parents who are seeking to "save" children. Most fertile couples who chose to adopt fall into this category. They are typically regular church attendees (I feel sorry for the adoptees) and often adopt internationally (helps feed the saviour complex). Other fertile couples are trying to save the planet rather than the child (who may be forced into surviving on a vegan diet).

    Most infertile women find both groups very annoying. This is partly due to the smug attitudes they often project and partly because they can have children but instead often chose to try and adopt from the same limited pool of infants and toddlers available to the infertile women. Infertile women have often spent years in infertility clinics trying to conceive a child and then had to persuade a reluctant husband to agree to adoption. They aren't looking to save anyone, they just want a child.

    Once they do have a child, they are extremely unlikely to give that child up should the biological parent(s) change their mind. OTOH the child will not bear the burden of having been "saved" nor will they have to survive on a vegan diet. If they are really lucky they may avoid church too.

    My advice to anyone pregnant women who is unsure about keeping her child is stay away from churches, adoption agencies and infertile women.

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  83. "my child" or "my son" or "my daughter"?
    Of course aparents need to use those terms. It doesn't matter how a nmother feels, it matters how the adoptive person feels. We nmoms can internally recoil at whatever we want to, but children need a mother and if nmother and child are separated the child still need a mother.
    @ Jane - If an apoptee is getting sick of the nmother recoiling at her for talking about the adoptive family the nmother needs to get a handle on things. It's just not fair to do that to your lost child. The solution is not for the adoptee to not speak to her nmom but rather for the nmom to work through issues so she can be non reactive. The adoption is over and done with and the adoptee can't fix things for the nmother.

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  84. I have no trouble with adoptive parents referring to their children as "my daughter," etc. As the
    Anonymous writer says, what else are they going to do, and anything else would make the adoptee fell less than...but I also, as a natural mother, am going to call my daughter "my daughter," and not put up with the term that makes me ill: "birth daughter." If that "friend" of mine had tried that when I was there, I would have walked away, or I hope, coming off my daughter's suicide as I was, would have had the presence of mind to say: "And how is your adopted daughter?"

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  85. I always refer to my daughter as my oldest daughter if not by name. I expect her amom refers to her as "my daughter", too. If I was to see the amom again I would refer to said daughter as "our daughter". I did use the dreaded b term at the beginning of reunion. Everything was coming at me so fast I didn't know what to say. Never again. She is my daughter from now until eternity.

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  86. My APs always referred to me as their daughter never their adopted daughter. I have known adoptees who were always introduced by their APs as my adopted daughter/son and they found it very hurtful (as I would, too). It's as if the APs are saying my son or daughter who isn't really my child. My nmother referred to me as her daughter, too. I actually am the daughter of my 2 mothers and 2 fathers. And birthdaughter? Puhleeze. That has to be one of the most off putting terms known to adoption lingo.

    @Barbara Thavis,
    I see a certain irony in your story that when you were young and unmarried society encouraged you to give up your child. But when you marry later in life (as so many people do nowadays) you probably would have been encouraged to adopt. Maybe everyone should just keep the child she gave birth to even if that child didn't come along at the most opportune time. Sure beats redistributing children just to fit into some socially approved timetable.

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  87. anon said:"My advice to anyone pregnant women who is unsure about keeping her child is stay away from churches, adoption agencies and infertile women."

    I would say that is generally good advice. If she is truly unsure or needs direction to find services she needs, she should seek counseling NOT affiliated with an adoption agency or church, and good, impartial prenatal care. She should not connect with any couples seeking babies or lawyers selling them, on the internet or anywhere.

    She should make no commitments to anything until after the baby is born. If she decides to surrender and that is what she really wants after exploring and being offered help with alternatives, plenty of time to connect with an ethical agency once she has made up her own mind and seen and held and had some time with her baby.

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  88. " "First of all, many adoptive parents adopt to build a family and not to "save" anyone else. " "

    " If a child didn't need to be *saved* by the adoption system, they wouldn't have been available for adoption in the first place."

    I have to disagree with this. Often the child did not need "saving." Instead, the adoption system (or businesses or those who profit as part of the adoption industry) acts to separate a child from his/her mother. The motive is not to save the child -- the motive of the industry is to provide a child to paying customers.

    My son didn't need to be "saved." He would have had a perfectly good home with me. And the social worker who orchestrated the adoption had a moral and ethical mandate to NOT coerce me and to tell me about the resources available at her disposal that would have enabled me to keep my son. The hospital that worked with her to take babies away from mothers for her to broker to her customers had a clear moral mandate NOT to abduct him the moment he was born the way they did (yes, it was illegal abduction under the Criminal Code).

    The purpose was not to save him. And he wasn't available for saving except because laws were broken to make him available for adoption.

    This is why the industry practices coercion -- because not enough babies need to be "saved" to meet consumer demand. :(

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  89. Barbara:

    re your advice to Jane; I think that in this public space there is so much more going on sub rosa and I respectfully ask that we all refrain from giving "advice" or telling someone what to do...unless they ask for it.

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  90. Just to be clear, I was talking in generalities and wasn't giving anyone advice, much less Jane.

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  91. Barbara T,

    Regarding Anon's comment that her natural mother stiffened up when Anon discussed her adoptive mother and talked about her adoptive family with contempt:

    When my daughter, Rebecca, spoke of her adoptive mother, I was very positive. I spoke of her a-mom with deference. Same with Rebecca's father and sibling.

    I met birth mothers at American Adoption Congress conferences who told me they developed good relationships with their children's adoptive parents. I told Rebecca about these conversations and she was incredulous. I offered several times to meet Rebecca's adoptive family, thinking it would be beneficial for all. Her answer was always the same: "they don't want to meet you."

    I did meet Rebecca's sister by adoption when she came to Portland to pick up Rebecca's daughter who was visiting me. Rebecca's sister, a friend who came with her, Rebecca's daughter, and I spent a pleasant day together shopping at Portland's Saturday market and having lunch at a well-known Portland landmark, The Oyster Bar.

    I wonder if Anon's comments about her birth mother stiffening up were mostly wishful thinking on Anon's part. Anon wanted them to be rivals rather than collaborators.

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  92. Bravo, Adoption Critic, you hit the nail right on the head. The "saving a child" BS has been spread so long and so thick that even some of the best natural mothers I know don't realize that the industry has convinced the paying public that every child available for adoption needed to be saved from... the woman that gave birth to it.
    How do we get the truth to sink in and wake these dupes up??

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  93. How do we get the truth to sink in and wake these dupes up??

    We keep writing about it and we never never give up.

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  94. My adoptive parents intended to build a family, not "save" me. I am glad. To "save" me would imply that I need to be grateful for my adoption and I shouldn't have to be.

    - I'm saying that in order for them to adopt you, you would have had to already been available (unless of course your birth-mother was glad to have given you up, in which case, disregard this).

    In order for you to have been available, it means the adoption system would have already declared your case as "needing" to have been adopted since your birth-parents couldn't take care of you. (Again, if they *wouldn't*, different story)

    So yes, unless your birth-parents were totally unwilling to support you, you would have been put in the system *because* they were seen as unfit enough to keep you, and the system exists to save children for adoption availability.

    (If one's birth-parents *wanted* them but could not support them, then yes, the system "saved" them. Because otherwise, barring the unwanted scenario, why else would they have been available for adoption?)

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  95. Rachel - Just to further clarify, I'm not saying your adoptive parents didn't want a child or didn't give you a good home/family.

    I'm saying *how* you were available for adoption in the first place could have been reliant on birth-parents not being able to support you, which generally means, yes, a child does have to be "saved", otherwise why are they available for adoption to begin with?

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  96. @Rachel
    I am not the one infantilizing you. You are doing that all by yourself.
    You are the one comparing adoption to home purchase. You are the one who seems to think of yourself as a commodity, instead of a human being above purchase.
    I respect your right to feel any way you want about adoption however you have no right to compare adoption to home ownership and not expect to upset people.
    If you are ok feeling bought and owned, that is your business but it is wrong to come to a first mother forum and tell first mothers that adoptees are simply someone's property, because when you compare adoption to home ownership, that is exactly what you are doing.

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  97. (Victoria) "I don't know what Campbell thinks about her mother, but I think that if her mother made her feel that way, that is cruel."

    But you do know that Campbell has said it hasn't been especially painful to discover that her mother didn't want her.
    I think it is more cruel when some mothers asset they did want their child, but their actions in reunion indicate otherwise.

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  98. I am in the same boat as Campbell. I am not the product of a loving relationship, and my mom did not want the pregnancy that resulted in me, or want to keep me at the time of my birth. For a long time she didn't want to have anything to do with me.

    Now we have a good relationship. She talks about pain, and regret. I don't think she regrets placing me. She said that she regrets the circumstances, and wishes that I had been the child of her current husband, so that she could have raised me.

    There is an enormous gamut of experiences, and yes, it hurts like hell to find a mother who didn't fight to keep me, or fight to get to know me. I am glad that we have each other now, though, and we can move forward.

    There is definite awkwardness in discussions we have about my APs, when she asks, because she is very religious and Republican, and my APs are Democrats and atheists, so I wasn't raised the way she would have liked me to be. But I can't help that. I try to change the subject and be diplomatic. I understand that she feels hurt. That's the regret, I am sure.

    I am just so glad to have her in my life because I missed her so very much all those years, and I do love her. As Robin said, I always felt connected to her. People can pooh-pooh it all they want, but that's how I feel.

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  99. I hear you, Lo… but I have to admit that after some 30 years I am loosing heart. I don’t do this any longer for myself but rather for the younger generations that are still being incarcerated by closed adoption practices. Sadly, it seems that no one really cares about the feelings or insights of a 64 year old adoptee, just like they didn’t when the adoptee was 30something… and sadder still is that the issues and concerns I wrote and talked about back then are still very much affecting adoptees today. The only real difference I see today is that we (mothers and children) stood together asking for reform and those that did not want “reform” acted accordingly (i.e. if you don’t want information about you to become public then you stay out of the fray). Today the image of *orphans* and “dangerous” families of origin have become so accepted that they are even used to pit us against each other. Our words and feelings have been so twisted by the industry that (IMO) that we automatically react to each other defensively rather than in a spirit of learning and compassion. And, (infuriating to me) we are tricked into thinking that the words “adoption reform” actually means reform that will change adoption practices as we know them today. Groups have been taken over, or set up, that support “reform” only if it means more income for the industry – APs are placated and fed the mind numbing, ego boosting pabulum that keeps them buying children, and Mothers and their children are separated and told to keep their mouths shut – and for their efforts these groups get donations and contributions that keeps them in business even though Nothing really changes. We are not asking for the Moon after all… just the same right that everyone other non-adopted American citizen has – Mothers want to know their children are alive and well, and children want to know who they are and what their history is.
    You're right... how could anybody give up on that. love and Blessings to you.

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  100. "Groups have been taken over, or set up, that support “reform” only if it means more income for the industry – APs are placated and fed the mind numbing, ego boosting pabulum that keeps them buying children, and Mothers and their children are separated and told to keep their mouths shut – and for their efforts these groups get donations and contributions that keeps them in business even though Nothing really changes"

    Absolutely!

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  101. You are worried about nasty comments, yet the anti adoption people do nothing but spew nasty comments constantly,, read what Your friends say...some of its beyond nasty...as an adoptee i would be mortified if one of these woman turned out to be my birth mother..my Mom that adopted me had class and common decency and was a wonderfuly nice person( and by the way she wasnt infertile either) she would never say such hatefull things to anyone or about any one,, no matter the circumstance. All I can say is as an adoptee some of Your behaviour is a real dissapointment, to say the least. Your hatefull ways and words are not something any one would welcome into their lives. take care.

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  102. "How do we get the truth to sink in and wake these dupes up??"

    "We keep writing about it and we never never give up." ~Lorraine


    Amen, sister....we don't let them ever silence our voices. The day my voice becomes silent is the day that I leave this earth behind.

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  103. I've been hesitant to comment on this topic the past few days, mainly because I don't normally feel all that uncomfortable around most adoptive parents I've come to know in real life. Usually it's the other way around -- some AP's feel very uncomfortable around me. They're afraid of being judged, much the same way that many of us natural moms feel. I think a lot of them who have educated themselves about the Baby Scoop Era feel badly for us...until we bring up the subject of ethics and morality in today's world of adoption. Often at that point, I'm looked at with suspicion.

    Several of my friends in real life are adoptive parents. I've never felt uncomfortable discussing adoption reform or my own experience of surrendering and reunion with them. But then they're all around my age, and their kids are grown now. That might make a difference...I'm not sure.

    I've seen some adoptive parents ostracize their peers for promoting ethics and for being reform-minded. So I guess they can make each other uncomfortable too, lol.

    The times I've felt uncomfortable in certain situations, like participating in conferences or panels, it's usually because of my own fears and insecurities. Sure, there are always some people who are jerks, but jerkdom isn't exclusive to that side of the triad. There are a few natural mothers I've met through the years who make me feel uncomfortable too.

    To be honest, when I feel uncomfortable, the first thing I do is look inward to see if it's my own issues getting triggered. Sometimes it's just a personality conflict. Yeah, it would be nice if everybody liked me and thought I was cool...but that just ain't gonna happen...because at the core of everything, we're all just human beings.

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  104. Adopted & AdoptedOctober 6, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    Just wondering with all this AP's "Buying" talk....then who do you think would be known as the seller...the bio/birth parent that's who....so how does that make YOU feel?
    When you talk so patronizingly about AP's being buyers you are also basically downgrading a bio parent. Wow nice. Yes Yes...agencies and attornies surely make money from their fees but lets not forget for one moment that most bio parents do to.
    If you really knew what you were talking about when it came to the high fees for adoption then you would know that over time they have INCREASED because expectant parents are given(monetarily wise) anything and everything they want or supposedly need. Why aren't you advocating for reform when it comes to that...for money given for rent/food/clothes/taxi's/laundry and don't forget the HIGH cost of medical expenses that AP's are expected to pay for-whether that's deductibles/copays/or if someone is uninsured.
    As an AP we don't pay these fees because we are trying to buy a baby(that is so sick)....we are expected to incur ALL these extra charges on top of the normal agency/attorney fees because somewhere along the way we have been expected to become responsible for everything and anything.....shall we go into the topic of the amount of money that is lost by AP's when a situation/match doesn't go through? Do you think an expectant parent EVER pays that back....nahh...why? They aren't made to-hey you can do whatever you want...it's YOUR CHOICE. Viola! Free money to live on for all who are pregnant and even thought about adoption for their child! woohooo...come one come all!!
    If you are considering adoption for your unborn child....do just that consider ALL your options, make the choice that's the best for YOU and don't take advantage of people along the way. AP's shouldn't be held responsible for the consequences of your actions.

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  105. Adopted and Amp: It sounds like you are dealing with some questionable and unethical adoption facilitators if you are expected to pay all sorts of expenses for the natural mother.

    A public agency would never expect that of you. A mainstream religious agency would not expect it either. In the age group of the mothers who write and read here, I do not know anyone who was ever paid a cent. In some cases, expectant mothers or their parents had to pay the Home to keep them until they gave birth, and had to pay for the care of the baby until the surrender was final. None of us got anything for our babies but heartache.

    I suspect you are looking for a newborn white healthy baby from lawyers and entrepreneurs who charge what the traffic will bear, and get all the money they can. No doubt some of it goes to the care of the pregnant woman, but I would bet the lion's share goes to the baby broker. As a prospective adoptive parent, it should be a big red flag to you that someone is telling you that the mother is demanding all sorts of expenses paid by you. It certainly has not been common practice and applies to none of us here, even fairly recent surrenders.

    You are dealing with crooks. I hope that bothers you. If these are the sort of people you are seeking to get you a child, yes, you are buying it.

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  106. I take it back -- there ARE some AP's and PAP's who I feel very uncomfortable dealing with...specifically the ones who try to continuously pit natural mothers against AP's. I'm uncomfortable around anybody who takes pride in ignorance.

    If an AP or PAP truly believes that it's "birthmother expenses" that are driving the incredibly high costs of adoption, educate yourselves, and do us all a favor. Every natural mother I know who surrendered during the BSE and is actively involved in adoption reform is AGAINST these expenses. We are NOT the ones who implemented them to begin with. It's the adoption agencies who came up with the whole damn idea. It's a marketing strategy, designed to recruit pregnant women who lack financial resources. Just look at the agency websites -- my god, some of them make it sound like an expectant mother will live in absolute paradise while she carries her child...as long as she hands the baby over after birth.

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  107. Adopted amp,

    Your comments are just the thing that would make any adoptee feel like like a piece of real estate to be bartered about. There may be a few first mothers that may try to "milk " the system but most are just desperate and confused. You sound pretty angry.

    In my opinopn..the whole money thing needs to be taken out of the equation. anything else is just baby selling and thats horrible. Apaps should just pay for attorney fees AFTER baby has been born and mom has had time to think about and be counseled on what she is really doing. not so much for her, not so much for the adoptive parents but for the effect adoption has on the child/adult/person that is adopted. Insurances pay for hospitalizations ect...

    Maybe paps need to look at what they would do to attain a baby, maybe they need to look at why they are adopting to begin with. Maybe potential first mothers need to look at why they are placing to begin with, (colledge education is NOT a reason to lose a child).

    Maybe adoption needs to be a last resort for a child and first mothers need to understand that they ARE changing the couse of the little human they are carrying and may NOT be giving them a better life.

    Start looking at the whys of it all and maybe the product won't be so expensive anymore....maybe when done as a last resort in the case of severe abuse and neglect it can be done with compassion for all involved and money is taking out it.

    Maybe then the mothers won't be so uncomfortable with each other because it really is done for the product, child, human being that has NO voice as to how THEIR life is decided. Best case scenerio is that a child is brought up with bio's.....if its not to be then the paps will raise that child with full knowledge that they are bringing up and loving a child that needed to go to a non biofamily and learn about the inherent problems that could accure. We are NOT blank slates.

    Seriously if first mothers and adoptive parents can't comminicate what do you think thats does to the child that both profess to love so much.

    completly open adoption and insit that both sets of parents have the maturity and compassion to REALLY act in the best interst of the child.

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  108. Adopted &amp:
    You are 100% correct about keeping money out of adoption. Mothers should not get one red cent. If they have expenses then they should get a job or go on welfare. Babies should neither be bought or sold.
    Back in the baby scoop era when girls were sent to homes, if they changed their mind (or actually just got the balls to go against their families wishes) they were told that they would have to pay their room and board and hospital bill before they could get their baby. No 16 year old girl could do that so the baby was adopted out.
    Pregnant women should not be in touch with adoptive parents before giving birth. They should spend time with their child before deciding on adoption. Best of all they should keep their babies nursing them for nine months and if adoption is still in the babies best interest they can then give them to strangers to raise. I bet the adoption rates would go down. And the trauma would be so much less on the infant. It seems so cruel to take babies away from the one voice, smell and sound they know right after birth. Let them build up their immune system first.
    But back to the point. Pregnant women should not be financially beholden to adoptive parents. And adoptive parents should not be taken for a ride from unscrupulous pregnant women.
    I'm glad we have found commen ground. Lets get reform going!!!

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  109. Hey, guys, pooped here and we will try to get a new post up tomorrow!

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  110. Adopted &amp,
    You sure have been misinformed about fees. Every state prohibits payments to mothers for their children. Baby-selling is a felony.

    Attorneys must file a statement along with the adoption petition detailing how much money was spent on the mother. If it's beyond reason, the judge would deny the adoption and turn the parties over to the district attorney for criminal prosecution.

    Some agencies spend as much as they can get away. They advertise luxurious living on their websites to solicit vulnerable pregnant women.

    Agencies get away with this by claiming they have to provide housing and so on for mothers to keep them from living on the street which would endanger the fetus.

    Agencies often own or rent the housing where they place mothers. Agencies mark up the cost when they charge the PAPS so agencies make a profit on the housing.

    According to the E. B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, some agencies spend much more than is necessary so that they can frighten mothers into giving up their babies. Agencies tell mothers that if they don't give up their babies, they will have to pay the money back. While as a practical matter, the debt may be uncollectible, mothers don't know this. The threat of being sued is a powerful inducement for them to give up their babies.

    The more money spent, the greater the leverage agencies have over mothers. And the more money spent, the more guilty a mother feels if she considers keeping her baby and thus it is more likely she will give him up. Agencies spend as much as they can without it appearing that they are buying a baby.

    When it is all over, the PAPS have the baby, the agency has a tidy some, enough to pay $100,000 plus salaries to its top staff, and the mother has nothing but grief and the hope that she can see her child a few times a year.

    If you're worried about high fees, adopt a child from foster care. Not only will there be no fees, the state will pay you for taking him.

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  111. @Adopted Amp...Me thinks thou protesteth too much! I am without question totally against PAPs giving expectant mothers any money whatsoever, and totally against any expectant mother taking money from a PAP. I have read much where PAPs WILLINGLY hand over thousands of dollars under the table, either to the expectant mother or the expectant mother's parents. Yes, Ma'am that most assuredly is Buying and Selling! If a PAP is going thru an adoption agency and the PAP is being required to pay for medical costs of the pregnancy...then you PAPs should be better informed and asking a hell of lot more questions.
    I have one daughter who is an OB-Gyn and the other RN (Labor & Delivery). Who have practiced in 2 different states, attending unmarried expectant mothers. As far as I know in all states, if the expectant mother has no insurance...she automatically qualifies for Medicaid...to cover the cost of her pregnancy and the birth of her child. From what I have deduced, over these many years on the subject of buying and selling in Adoption Land...plenty of adoption agencies are double-dipping. They are including in their *service fees* the medical costs, when in fact Medicaid is many times picking up the bill. And no one is putting a gun to any PAPs head to pay for rent, car notes, nails, etc. Far too many PAPS engage in this terrible behavior..with only one thought in mind...that of trying to insure/guarantee that when the baby is born, it will be theirs.

    To add..Maryanne summed it all up quite well!
    ""I suspect you are looking for a newborn white healthy baby from lawyers and entrepreneurs who charge what the traffic will bear, and get all the money they can. No doubt some of it goes to the care of the pregnant woman, but I would bet the lion's share goes to the baby broker. As a prospective adoptive parent, it should be a big red flag to you that someone is telling you that the mother is demanding all sorts of expenses paid by you. It certainly has not been common practice and applies to none of us here, even fairly recent surrenders.
    You are dealing with crooks. I hope that bothers you. If these are the sort of people you are seeking to get you a child, yes, you are buying it.""

    @Adopted Amp...also pays to know who your audience is, when going on a rant. It's quite evident you haven't paid much attention or read much here at this forum. I can assure you..that I, as a former surrendering mother from 1964, was never given/paid one red cent. My mother paid my hospital bill (before Medicaid), nor did I even receive one shred of paper about my stay in the hospital or the birth of my OWN baby...until 2004!!
    Dear Lady...educate yourself, before inserting foot in mouth!

    And why is it ALWAYS...when some disgruntled adopter/PAP comes here..it becomes all about them, with their sad stories of being made to pay extraordinary amounts to some money-grubbing expectant mother..for that newborn flesh..womb-wet infant, that they are so desperate to have.

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  112. "then who do you think would be known as the seller...the bio/birth parent that's who...."
    sorry but you are misguided - IF the "seller" was the bio/birth parent then you would be dealing directly with them (or their attorney), Not the middle man. In all money exchanges the *middle man* is the profit maker/taker.

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  113. I am surprised at the comments about first mother expenses. Regardless of your position on reform, first moms need to make sure that they understand and acknowledge today's practice of adoption or else their words lose credibility.

    First mother expenses are the standard today. Not just in agency adoptions, but in non agency adoptions, as well as

    http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/adoption.php

    Moreover, states allow first mother expenses and do not consider them "babyselling"

    http://www.theadoptionguide.com/files/StateAdoptionLaws.pdf

    Finally, first mothers are not required to repay the expenses if they change their mind about the adoption.

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  114. Sandy,

    Yes, paying expenses for mothers-to-be is standard today. Please note: these women are not birth mothers since they have not given birth, let alone surrendered their child.

    However, contrary to what you wrote, adoption agencies, other than those providing charity services, require mothers to repay these expenses if they decide to keep their child. Agencies tell mothers this from the beginning. If word got around that PAPs were paying expenses and not getting babies, the agency would soon be out of business.

    The guidelines you linked to are just that, guidelines. Judges can allow additional expenses if the PAPS' attorney presents reasons why he should. Further, the guidelines do not in many cases include maximum amounts. This means that there is nothing to prevent the agency from providing luxury living under the guise of providing housing. Take a tour of adoption agency websites and you'll see ads offering mothers-to-be spa-like living while they wait for the birth of their baby.

    Agencies use these payments by PAPS to induce mothers to surrender, both through threatening to take them to court for re-payment if they don't surrender and making them feel obligated to the PAPs.

    We would have a far better system if the government handled all adoptions as it does in Australia, taking the profit out of adoption. Further more, if the government handled all adoptions, it would put the interests of baby and mother first rather than the PAPs'. The government would work with mothers to explore ways they could keep their children.

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  115. Jane wrote:" Further more, if the government handled all adoptions, it would put the interests of baby and mother first rather than the PAPs'. The government would work with mothers to explore ways they could keep their children."

    Actually, I'm not so sure I agree with this. The government's main interest would be in keeping people off the social welfare rolls and this fact alone could work against us.

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  116. Robin, this might give you an idea of how adoption is run in New South Wales.

    http://www.community.nsw.gov.au/parents_carers_and_families/fostering_and_adoption/adoption.html

    This is a mandatory form given to all first parents:
    http://www.community.nsw.gov.au/docswr/_assets/main/documents/adoption/info_birthparents.pdf

    You will notice down the bottom of the mandatory form that there are Community Services Adoption and Permanent Care Services listed - these are non-government agencies used in partnership with the government for providing adoption services - I believe that they are family service agencies and that adoption is not pushed on anyone - that the main focus is on helping the woman and her baby.

    Adoption numbers here are fairly low:

    "There are only a small number of children needing adoptive families in NSW. In 2009/10, there were 13 local adoptions and 78 intercountry adoptions across all of NSW"

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  117. Thank you for responding cb, however, from what I have learned Australia has a very different attitude towards adoption that the Unites States. I have a friend who was a state government employee and she said that the state provided all sorts of benefits and services to expectant mothers but very little after they delivered the child. The system was acting as a de facto pro-adoption promoter. The real purpose of providing services to expectant mothers was to cut down on abortions not to encourage family preservation.

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  118. I should also have added that the document for NSW makes it sound as if being adopted has very little effect on the child as long as s/he is given enough information about his or her original family. I beg to differ. I don't think the negative effects of being an adoptee would be eliminated just because the child knows who his/her first parents are and some of the circumstances of his relinquishment.

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  119. Robin, the purpose of providing services to expectant mothers is to cut down on the infant mortality rate (which is higher in the US that in any other first-word nation) and the premature birth rate, and to prevent birth defects. Prematurity and birth defects cost tax payers way more $$$ that prenatal care and counseling. For cost of caring for one NICU baby, we can provide good prenatal care to 20 pregnant mothers.

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  120. Robin, I was just letting you know what happens here, mainly because of your answer to Jane.

    I certainly agree that overall Australia does have a different approach to adoption than the US. It isn't an industry here like it is over there.

    "I should also have added that the document for NSW makes it sound as if being adopted has very little effect on the child as long as s/he is given enough information about his or her original family. I beg to differ"

    I don't really agree that the document is saying that - it did say that adoption will have lifelong effect on the child but that giving enough information etc will hopefully help. This document is not meant to help the emom decide but seems to me to be given after they have decided - it should more or less cover what has been told to them by their counsellors.

    Some US first mothers say that they weren't told all the facts - if they were given a government-mandated info sheet before signing TPR then they could at least determine whether they have been counselled in a sufficient manner.

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  121. I suspect a first mother would be uncomfortable around APs because she knows that in so many cases these substitute parents are raising children whose first mothers (and even fathers) did not want to give them up in the first place.

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  122. Late to post here but Robin I think the inverse of what you said is true as well.

    APs would be uncomfortable around first mothers because they know on some level that most first mothers did not want to give their child up in the first place.

    I can only speak from my own experience with my child's amom, but she and his family have been terribly cruel to him because we have a good relationship.

    If it wasn't so painful I would find it downright laughable.

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  123. As a feminist and family preservation advocate, I love this blog. However, as a foster parent and someone who has adopted out of foster care, it does sometimes frustrate me that when adoption is talked about it tends to ONLY be domestic infant adoption. Obviously these are your experiences -- your voices are incredibly valuable, your stories need to be told -- but it is not the only kind of adoption. The dynamic between first/natural families and foster/adoptive families is VERY different. I know that the children who come to me have first/natural families who do not want to give them up. My job as a foster parent is to facilitate family preservation! Mother-child separation is a terrible, traumatic wrench. As someone who has parented children with RAD, I also know that abuse and neglect can constitute an equally traumatic separation: an emotional distance between child and caretaker which in most cases cause irreparable psychological damage. I realize that I am working within a deeply classist, racist, misogynistic system -- I have seen unnecessary removals. However, the MAJORITY of the removals I have seen have been due, not to so called "neglect" by fact of poverty (an odious, hypocritical reason for taken a child away from their parent!), but rather undeniable active, extensive, and in some cases extreme abuse. I have adopted ONLY in cases when kinship care is not an option. I find virtually all forms of domestic infant adoption despicable. I have enormous ethical objections to international adoption. I believe that denial of first-family contact and an authentic birth certificate to adoptees is a violation of their human rights, as well as the rights of their first/natural families. And yet I feel as though many critics of mainstream adoption practices -- first mothers, adoptees, and adoptive parents -- seem to completely ignore foster and foster adoptive parents! There are ethical issues within the foster system that deserve critical attention too (the fact that the children in the system are overwhelmingly of color, for instance, as well as the lack of resources for economically disadvantaged single parents of color). Even if you're not interested in covering issues in foster care and foster adoption on this blog (obviously it's your blog, your choice, and I am very appreciative of the existing focus and content), this enthusiastic reader would really appreciate if you clarify the way you talk about adoption. Foster care and adoption is NOT domestic infant or international adoption. These models of adoption are NOT the same. Defining adoption ONLY in terms of domestic infant/international adoption does a huge disservice to EVERYONE involved -- particularly the children in the system who have been looked over by PAPs for adorable infants or cute Chinese/Russian/Guatemalan kids, who of course come with "no strings attached"! In fact, I feel strongly that the infant/international adoptive 'community' has done enormous damage to the cause of foster care and foster adoption! It's frustrating to be lumped together with people with whom I have huge ethical differences in regards to this issue, and whose adoptive practices I find so politically and morally problematic.

    (Sorry that this turned into a bit of a rant -- I truly do enjoy this blog, and I am not trying to change what you write about, or how! I am also not trying to present myself or other foster parents as inherently 'better' than other adopters, just pointing out that these models of adoption are neither conflatable nor, I feel, even compatible. Keep up the good work!)

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  124. Thanks for writing, Liz.

    We commend you for providing a family for childen who need one and your insight into adoption and child welfare.

    Apparently you have not seen the posts where we wrote about adoption from foster care, distinguishing it from domestic infant and foreign adoption. We've encouraged those wishing to adopt to consider the 200,000+ children in foster care waiting for families.

    As I wrote in this post, I am uncomfortable when I meet an adoptive mother. If I have a chance, I try to learn the circumstances of the adoption. When I hear the child came from foster care, I give a silent sigh of relief -- this IS a woman I can feel comfortable with.

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  125. Thank you for responding, Jane! You're right, I have not seen those posts -- but I am extremely heartened to know that you have explicitly stated this distinction! I am so glad that ethical foster-to-adopt parents do not make you feel uncomfortable. I am in awe of the intelligence, courage, and emotional generosity displayed by you and Lorraine on this blog. Now I can happily continue reading through your archives! :-D

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  126. I am a mother of loss to adoption. I have two sisters. One adopted out of foster care the other womb wet. I love both sisters. I talk freely and get great comfort regarding my loss with the foster care adoptive mother. My other sister and I don't discuss adoption.
    The infant adopter, did well with her son, he would have landed in the system if she didn't adopt him. The grandfather didn't find out his daughter was pregnant until delivery and the grandmother was dead. But her daughter is a complete mess. I attribute it to my sister buying off the natural mother. My neice has at least one older natural sibling. Who wouldn't feel disenfranchised if you were bought?

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  127. I have only attended one AAC conference, but I will say that while there, I stuck mostly with adoptees and natural mothers, except for certain adoptive parents I know very well.
    I'm an adoptive parent myself, but can begin to resonate a bit with this for a few reasons, not the least of which is the cringe-worthy entitlement that can come out of AP mouths. They usually have no idea what they sound like, it's just that the whole flippin' world promotes a certain picture of adoption (that is at least distorted and at best ALL wrong) and it can take a while and lots and lots of fearless effort to get past that picture to reality.
    I do accept that it is my responsibility, as the party with the most power to educate people in the same boat and I do in many ways, but it is so comforting to just be in a crowd of others who get it--or at least some key parts of it.

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  128. Thank you Lily Sea!

    Yes, the self-entitlement and how-dare-you-criticize us adoptive parents is rampant, even at AAC conferences. I apparently gave a very upsetting speech about my 25-year-old involvement with the reform movement and adoptive parents. They started in with questions that seemed odd, and were not really questions but statements about themselves. Well, Okay, I got through that unscathed. But what blew me away was finding out later that after my speech at 9:30 a.m. that is all they were talking about the rest of the day. And they were not happy! There were a few--okay, one--adoptive parent who reacted completely differently--and for him I was truly grateful. I didn't know who Adam Pertman was when he grabbed me in the hall afterwards and gave me a big hug. You can't forget that.

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