Monday, March 12, 2012

Choice is largely a myth when it comes to relinquishing a child

Jane
SURRENDERS BASED ON MISINFORMATION ARE NOT CHOICES
"Julia,"* a 30-year-old married professional woman who learned her husband was having an affair gave up her new born son for adoption, a story that we have been writing about in the last two posts.  We wrote critically of her decision, but back tracked somewhat, recognizing that Julia was more sinned against than sinning. “Anonymous” commented that Julia was “a woman who has freely chosen to surrender, evidently was not forced to this choice. … Whatever happened to the concept of informed choice, even when another person's choice is not the one you wish you had made?” (Emphasis added.)

Since the infant adoption system in the U.S. does little to assure that mothers surrendering their babies are informed about the consequences, it's almost certain that Julia did not make an informed choice as Barbara Thavis, one of First Mother Forum readers, commented:
“But what I never read in Julia's story is where she acknowledged that what she was doing would be harmful to her child. If she said, "I read all the literature and know that my child will forever feel abandoned at a gut level. That my son will feel that there is something inherently wrong with him because his mother gave him to strangers to raise. That most likely he will have trouble with relationships, always waiting for the other shoe to drop. That I most likely will be a wreck, grief stricken beyond repair. And knowing all of this I don't want to parent that bastard's child." Okay, then I can see that's her choice.”
One a personal note, I was given no information on the impact of adoption when I have up my daughter Rebecca in 1966. If I had known, I would have done anything to keep her.

THE PERVERSE POWER OF ADVERTISING IN ADOPTION
Politicians, businesses, non-profits, indeed every institution spend zillions of dollars each year to influence our choices—and it works. In fact, promoting an act as a choice can in of itself influence a decision. The tobacco industry induced many teens to start smoking when it advertised smoking as “an adult choice.” Segments of the adoption industry use similar tactics; there’s even an agency called “Adoption by Choice.”

Today the adoption industry uses slick ads designed to overpower expectant mothers' natural desire to nurture their child. They also arrange for adoption promo pieces in the media, particular by popular charlatans Drs. Drew, Phil, and Laura who pass themselves off as experts on everything connected to human well-being. Using perverse logic, the adoption industry convinces mothers that relinquishing their infants is a mature, responsible decision, Buying into this logic, mothers who keep their babies are immature and irresponsible.  As we wrote in 2009, "Through aggressive advertising in the media, on the internet, on college campuses and anywhere young women are likely to be, the adoption industry recruits them to give up their babies. Physicians, clergy, even family planning clinics, promote adoption."**

Expectant mothers are urged “to think with your head, not your heart." Richard Pearlman, who runs the adoption agency that Julia used, says as much in Elle:  “'Even though the perception is that it's teenagers who place children for adoption, they usually don’t,' he says. 'That’s because the decision is a thoughtful decision. If it was just based on emotion, nobody would ever place a child.’”  Emphasis emphatically added as what he is ironically saying is that agencies promote a system where the women who best can nurture their babies give them up; those least equipped, or least loving, keep them and thus deny them the benefits that the adoptive parents, or parent, can give.

The perverse logic lulls mothers into thinking that making “an adoption plan” allows them to direct their child’s future. I am reminded of a conversation with an unmarried pregnant friend many years ago. She was considering placing her child for adoption because “adoption would assure he would be well cared for.” I looked at her with my experienced birth mother eye and said: “If you place him, you can’t even be sure he’ll have enough to eat.” She kept her son and today he, at 36, is her pride and joy.

STATE LAWS DON’T PROTECT VULNERABLE MOTHERS-TO-BE
States laws typically don’t require adoption practitioners to give women considering adoption sufficient information so that they can make a truly informed choice. We wrote about the Oregon law in a letter published in the Oregon State Bar Bulletin. Mothers-to-be may not given counseling or even literature about the after-effects of relinquishment on their psyche, or the ill effects of being adopted, though this is easy to come by. It's like being asked to sign a contract without even being told there is fine print they ought to read. (are there any states where they have to give any negative info to the women?) Realtors, used car salesmen, securities salespersons all have to tell prospective purchasers of the down side of the product they’re considering purchasing. But not so with those in the adoption business. In fact Utah statutes specifically permit fraud in adoptions, as we have written about several times. The adoption industry resists attempts to require mothers be informed. The adoption industry opposed a 2011 bill in Oregon that would have required informative counseling for women considering adoption mothers. The bill did not pass.

Women have little to guide them in selecting agencies, often relying on slick ads or their clergy. In Shedding Light on the Dark Side of Adoption, author Mirah Riben summarizes studies which show that how the information about adoption is presented greatly influences mothers’ decisions. “At agencies such as the Edna Gladney Home of Texas, ninety percent of the residents surrender; while in charitable residences for unwed mothers, like Kathy DiFiore’s Several Sources Foundation, Ramsey, New Jersey, ninety percent of the unpressured women choose to keep their babies.” That's an totally inverse proportion of women who chose to keep their babies, and women who relinquish them. 

In an 2000 piece in Self magazine that I happened to keep, readers learned that Gladney at the time operated a facility for 18 single, pregnant women. According to its website, it is still a deluxe home in a park like setting with a beautiful pool – much like a sorority house with a fireplace in the living room. in 2000, the cost of an average stay for a pregnant women was $33,000 apiece, most of which was paid by adoptive parents. The home resounded with the message “adoption is the best option.” On the wall in the dining room is a prayer “God isn’t taking something away from you. He’s giving you a gift. The chance to start over. Let Him show you how.” How, of course, entails giving up your baby to a deserving, oh so pleasant couple who want an infant. 

Gladney offers semi-open adoptions where women could choose the adoptive parents, but there is no iron-clad promise of post-adoption contact. Today there is a voluntary registry for adoptees over 18. The magazine article said that Gladney’s promotional video tape called those who gave up their babies “’young heroes.’” Its literature estimated the cost of raising a child was skewed so high (up to $3,265 a month) that even a married couple might get sticker shock. We don't have contact with anyone who has been at Gladney recently, to learn how much, if anything, has changed.

Women who changed their minds and kept their babies were required to leave the day after they decided to keep their babies to avoid “’contaminating’” other residents into keeping their babies. Those who surrender were allowed to stay for a few weeks.  “’Usually when one decides to do this [keep her baby], we lose three,’ said Linda Figgs, the head houseparent.” Thus their not letting the girls keeping their babies stay is a sound business decision. Interestingly, a check of their website today indicates that Gladney has no U.S.-born adoptable children of any age available at this time.

In contrast, Pregnancy Support and Adoption Services here in Portland begins counseling sessions with women in unplanned pregnancies by discussing the value of nurturing their child. Pregnancy Support offers financial support and assistance in finding housing, medical care, baby supplies and the like. If it still appears that the mother cannot raise her child, then the agency presents adoption. It requires that all adoptions be fully open. In 2011, Pregnancy Support, which is affiliated with Catholic Charities, arranged nine adoptions. 

Yet Oregon agencies which present adoption as one of three co-equal choices,  along with abortion and nurturing, oversaw three times as many adoptions. FMF reader “Maybe” points out the fallacy of laying out options as though they were co-equals. 
“The problem with focusing so much on "choice" is that it negates the serious responsibility associated with carrying and giving birth to a human being."Choice" is more appropriately used in consumer settings in which an individual is deciding on where to shop, bank, or get a haircut. To reduce human relationships to a consumerist mindset devalues our worth as sentient beings.
 "When a woman gives birth she is a mother whether she raises that child or not. A mother's connection to her child should be acknowledged and revered rather than reduced to a "choice."
 …”There is also the problem of the child's choice which is completely ignored in adoption. Do babies really want to be separated from their mothers after birth and placed with strangers? Does this seem like a natural state that a baby would choose if she could?”
LACK OF RESOURCES: THE DETERMINING FACTOR
Adoption agency operator Pearlman notes that “what often drives a decision to place a child is a sense of lack of resources, usually financial. (Emphasis added.)  Yet, as sociologist Rickie Solinger wrote in Beggars and Choosers: “Adoption is rarely about mothers’ choices; it is, instead, about the abject choicelessness of some resourceless women.”  

The new face of pro-adoption shills

”Lack of resources” of course is a relative term. Pearlman notes that “we recently placed a child from a couple who were students at a university who felt they weren’t in a position to raise a child. One was a doctoral student.”

In Adoption Nation Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Donaldson Adoption Institute, profiles birth mother Charlene who explains her decision to give up her son: “’I knew they [the adoptive parents] … could give him the moon and the stars, which is what I wanted for him to have but what I know I couldn’t give him at this stage of my life.’”

And then there’s Catelynn and Tyler of 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom fame who gave up their daughter so she could have, as Catelynn says, “more.” Now they're doing commercials for their adoption agency Bethany Christian Services, seeking to convince other young couples that "more" is better than blood-family. For two dollars you can get their video; we're ordering it today.

I just shake my head at parents like Catelynn and Tyler, and all the recruits they get for Bethany. One wonders how much they were paid for shilling for the agency, and turning their private catastrophe into a business. How sad that they are led to believe that their child's birthright is less valuable than a mess of pottage.

* Name changed for anonymity.
_________________________________________
"Birth Moms on Top," Self  September, 2000. This appears not to be on line. 

Both of these books are excellent analysis of how the adoption industry and society works against mothers keeping their children. Mirah Riben blogs at Family Preservation, listed on our sidebar.

70 comments:

WP said...

Shaking my head right along with you. I had a real eye opening experience reading an FB chat with Caitlyn, Tyler, and their social worker recently. Never have I seen someone gush so about bravery, courage, and pride. It was really sad.

Paige said...

Every once in a while when I feel like torturing myself, I spend time reading the the listings at parent profiles, perusing adoption agency websites and reading adoptive parent blogs.  The language the adoption machine uses is aimed at subtly working on the minds of the women they need to generate the very valuable supply of newborns.  

Words like brave and selfless are used continually in the marketing materials that both agencies and adoptive parents use.  The implication being that if you choose to parent you are a selfish coward.  

Pre birth matching and the trend of adoptive parents following a pregnant woman to doctors appointments and to delivery is certainly a move to make it more difficult for the woman to change her mind.  It's all just one more way to make a mother in crisis more guilty and unsure of herself.

It's depressing.  

 

maryanne said...

Pregnant women considering adoption should get both sides of the story and hear a variety of perspectives, not just one. In the past and among unscrupulous adoption facilitators today, only the sunny positive side was stressed, and it was implied that adoptees were always better off and never had questions. Adoption was "as if" born to the adoptive family. We have learned that this is not true.

But neither is it true that all adoptees suffer, hate being adopted, feel rejected, that all adoptions go bad, or that all babies belong with biological family and are better off there no matter what. Our side is honorable, and should not use scare tactics, generalizations, or exaggerations.We do have a story to tell that expectant mothers should hear, but it is not the only story.

Expectant mothers need to hear that SOME adoptees hate being adopted, some adoptive parents are abusive; that adoptive parents can develop all the problems that bio families can develop including divorce, mental illness, and alcoholism. There is no guarantee an adoptee will have a better life, just a different life that may be better or worse than being raised by the natural mother.

Most of us were told horror stories about what might happen if we tried to raise our children. That was dishonest and wrong. Nobody can know what will happen in any individual case, good or bad.

There is a lot of information on the internet about the darker side of adoption, like these blogs, and also in the media with lurid adoptee killer and reunions gone wrong stories. It is not really all roses and unicorns any more, no matter how hard the industry tries to present adoption that way.

A woman considering surrender needs to hear the truth of lives lived, both those satisfied with their adoption experience, and those devastated by it. She needs to hear from people on both sides who do not have an agenda or ax to grind. Only she can judge what she can live with and what is best for her and her child, without universal horror stories about either choice designed to sway her one way or the other.

Anonymous said...

"Informed Decision" is an oxymoron. No one can explain to you just HOW much pain and suffering is involved when that child is taken from you. No one EVER explains the primal wound. And no one ever worries about what's best for the BABY; which is staying with its mother!!! I was 16 when 'they' took my son; I had no choice. I would have done ANYTHING to keep my son so I can't imagine what would motivate a 30 year old woman to even consider putting her own child up for adoption. As a first mother searching for her stolen son, my heart goes out to her. She could not have possibly been aware of the agony that she's invited into not only her life, but the life of her son. I will pray for both of them. Sending love and light.

Anonymous said...

Mary Anne's post is superb -- the best one I've ever read on this website. Tell the balanced truth to everybody involved in adoption: many mothers regret giving up their babies, but some do not; many adoptees are pained about having been given up for adoption, but some do not. Women -- birthmohters and prospective adoptive parents -- will listen, but not when they read about how "every" adoptee hates being adopted. That is just not the case, and saying that will make everything you say incredible.

Viktoria said...

Excuse me, Anonymous, but did Maryanne say that she did not regret giving up her son?

Having read a number of her comments here and elsewhere, and knowing that she wanted to keep her son--that is not what I take away from this comment. You are reading into it what you want to hear.

maryanne said...

Victoria, my comment was not about me, and whether I wanted to keep my son, which I did, is irrelevant to this topic which is about what information in general should be given to pregnant mothers who are considering surrender.

Anon did not read anything in to what I wrote, but understood my point perfectly. I do not generalize my own situation to all adoption, nor do I feel anyone should do so. In this post I was not telling my story, which is plenty bad and sad enough, but making a general observation about what I feel a mother considering surrender needs to hear. It was not about me or my personal story, which is just one story, not a template for what every mother feels, experiences, or should do.

Jane Edwards said...

Anon,

We didn't say and have never said every adoptee hates being adopted. We say and have said that adoptees have to deal with issues that non-adoptees don't have to deal with. This is true whether the adoption is open or closed. Women need to know this before they make a decision on adoption.

Barbara Thavis said...

Maryanne please share with us the benefits of adoption to mothers and children.

Theodore said...

If research covering only young adult adopted people, who had still sufficiently good relations to participate with them in the thingy, shows that male adoptees need psychiatric help in over half the cases, and that both the A-parents and the adopted sons undereport the needed assistance...

You want a positive thingy? The Latvian-Dutch child pornographer currently in court for 67 cases of sexual child abuse, with over 80 cases confessed, tried to become an adoptive parent, but he was more or less rejected by a social worker who instinctively did not trust him, that's the kind of positive information a PSM should be given by an agency: our instincts prevent the adoption of your child by a sexual abuser of children

Stephanie said...

"Maryanne please share with us the benefits of adoption to mothers and children."

I will second that...

maryanne said...

"Maryanne please share with us the benefits of adoption to mothers and children."

Barbara and Stephanie, that is a strange question that I cannot answer, because I do not deal in absolutes or generalities. Sorry. I cannot "share the benefits of adoption to mothers and children" because I believe each case is individual and unique, and that there are no universal answers.

In some cases, adoption is the lesser evil, or the best solution of a sad dilemma for those particular people, not for everyone in the same situation. There are only human beings trying to the best they can with what has been given to them, not black and white right and wrong, benefits and deficits that apply to all.

In any event, I believe your question is just an attempt to create a straw man to knock down. When those who do feel their adoption experience had benefits (and I am not one) try to express their feelings and opinions about their own lives, they are told that they are "brainwashed" or "in denial" or "agency shills". Anyone not agreeing with your views cannot win no matter what they say.

Anonymous said...

The only way I can forgive myself for being so weak and surrendering my son is to remind myself that no positive encouragement was directed at me and I really didn't understand what I was doing to myself and him psychologically. When I asked for him back when he was placed in foster care, it took what felt to me a lot of nerve.The social wrecker rhetoric was stepped up a notch each time I asked and went from "in 2 weeks" to "we have some paperwork to do first" then,finally, to "we're going to take you to court' Nowhere was it ever mentioned that this could harm my baby psychologically. Just the opposite. In fact it was implied that if I kept him he would be hurt.Like I'm such a bad person or something. I'm not stupid;I have a degree in mathematics and some graduate medical training, but could not see past the fact that I was poor and unmarried. I thought things would always be that way. Luckily, my son is safe and grew up to be an amazing young man. My parents had no idea what was going on with'the system" We were all so naive. I was allowed to visit my baby 1 day a week and sometimes I would bring my parents. They said I could bring him home but they were both working,too.One day after a few months and no baby,my mother asked when the baby was coming home. I just said "soon" I lived for those visits with my baby.Stuffed animals for everyone! At least I got to spend a holiday season happy and knowing I would see him again

Megan said...

I read all the literature and know "that my child will forever feel abandoned at a gut level. That my son will feel that there is something inherently wrong with him because his mother gave him to strangers to raise. That most likely he will have trouble with relationships, always waiting for the other shoe to drop."

Maryanne is correct. Using quotes such as the one above stigmatizes us adoptees. We don't all feel that way. I certainly do not feel forever abandonned or that something is inherently wrong with me. Words like "forever" and "inherently" imply that we remain in an immature state throughout our lives.

Also, most of us have satisfying, long-term relationships in adulthood.

Statements like the one above invite people to view us as forever children. I resent being stigmatized in this way, and I feel betrayed by those in the adoption reform movement who use adoptee stereotypes as ammunition.

Melynda said...

WP - Don't you mean Caitlyn & Tyler's handler, not social worker?

Megan said...

"that male adoptees need psychiatric help in over half the cases"

Teddy, what is your source? Who collected the data? Where and when was it collected? What are the demographics of the male adoptees studies? Age of adoption? Was the health history of the bio and adoptive parents recorded? Was there a control group in this study?

Robin said...

"There is no guarantee an adoptee will have a better life, just a different life that may be better or worse than being raised by the natural mother."

Of course, no one can guarantee an adoptee a better life but just calling it a different life sounds so benign. After all, I'm sure there are plenty of bio-kids who wanted a different life, too.

What adoptees get is a life without biological genealogy, without blood connections, where our grandparents and great-grandparents are not our genetic ancestors. We will in many cases lose our heritage, our religion and for some even our country and language. We get a life that is missing blood ties, missing looking like our relatives and sharing similar traits with them. These similarities create a profound sense of connection and belonging all of which are denied the adaptee.

We also get to deal with the psychological fallout (felt to a lesser or greater degree by different individuals) of having been abandoned and rejected by our own parents.

Adoptees also get to deal with fun stuff like having adoptive relatives who don't accept us because we aren't blood. And having to defend that were are, in fact, members of our adoptive families.

As Jane wrote: " We say and have said that adoptees ave to deal with issues that non-adoptees don't have to deal with."


Referring to being adopted as just getting a different life does adoptees a disservice. It minimizes the profound life changing experience that adoption is. And which for many of us adds a deep layer of loss and pain to our lives.

ms. marginalia said...

I have very mixed feelings about adoption. I wish mine hadn't had to happen, but having happened, I my aparents were a wonderful match for me, and now I have a fantastic relationship with my first family (especially with my mother). My mother and I have been talking about how so much of online discussion about adoption relationships diverges sharply from our own experience, which is very positive, open, and healthy. She says that she feels awkward contributing because she has good things to say about me and my ap's, not angry ones. This isn't to say that she doesn't have regrets, and that she doesn't feel sad about not raising me, but we are looking ahead. There's not much point in villainizing anyone, except the agency that perpetuated lies.

Do I wish that I hadn't been adopted in the first place, that my mother had kept me and raised me? Yes. But it's a Catch-22. I cannot wish away my aparents or so much of my life; I wouldn't be who I am without being adopted. There's no going back. I can think about who I might have been, but there's no way of really knowing.

I still wouldn't wish being adopted on anyone. I would love to see the adoption industry better regulated. Of course there will still be adoptions, but I hope they will be fewer in number and that women will place for informed reasons, as Jane and Lorraine have discussed, not because they feel cornered or helpless.

Until the adoption ndustry is forced to be accountable, and people think critically about the language used in relation to adoption, there is going to fallout for children and families. It is misguided to say that we should just leave poor women alone to their "choices," although in some ways we are looking at the wrong end of the equation. As long as the industry/uncritical adoption culture is able to deflect criticism and label *us* as aberrant, we are fighting an uphill battle. It's easy not to engage, but for me it's not an ethical choice to sit back and say nothing as adoptees are spoken over and under.

Thank you, Jane and Lorraine, for your continued advocacy!

Stephanie said...

Maryanne, I speak about my truth and the lies, deception and manipulation I endured that resulted in me losing my child permanently to adoption. I do not take this lightly.

My child was "brainwashed" to believe that some god took him away from me and given to people who deliberately and with malice lied to me so I would relinquish my rights to him, when I was at my most vulnerable state. I myself was brainwashed by the same group of people when I was a young woman. I will say he was brainwashed until my face turns blue, because he WAS and is. That is my experience, therefore I don't think you have the right to denounce that. I don't tell other people, whom I don't know they are "brainwashed", so you are off base.

I do, however feel the adoption industry and their paying customers do their damnedest to convince mothers and their children they were "meant" to be separated, so I don't really care what "straw man" you think I am trying to knock down.

Can't win? Funny you mention that. I lost my child forever to adoption and that hurts, very deeply. So sorry I don't have anything "positive" to report to you...

This is just me, "trying to express my feelings and opinions about my own life". You have yours and I have mine, Maryanne and I'm not too concerned with whether or not you "agree" with me or not.

Thanks for your answer.

maryanne said...

I did not mean "different" to imply "benign". A different life can be better, worse, or about the same. Nobody can know in advance what the outcome of any individual adoption placement will be. As Megan has stated, and I have heard this from other adoptees as well, using inflamatory language language to paint a bleak and hopeless picture of all adoptions and stigmatize adoptees does nobody any favors.

Campbell said...

To help ensure Megan is not spoken over and under I would like to strongly second everything she said in her comments here.

Do not declare that I and all other adoptees will forever feel abandoned at a gut level and that we think there is something inherently wrong with us as a result of being adopted. I certainly do not feel like that and also resent being stigmatized in this way.

maryanne said...

Stephanie, I seriously wonder if you actually read what I have written before responding. I have no problem at all with you relating your truth of your personal experience, and would never negate that. Anyone considering surrendering a child needs to hear painful stories like your, and like mine (son had an abusive adoptive mother) as well as stories that worked out well.I do not have any positive things about adoption in my personal story any more than you do. But other people do, and I can recognize that we are not all the same, and that there is large spectrum of response to the adoptive experience among mothers and adoptees. One person's experience never negates another's by being different. We all have our own story and our own truth.

It is fine for all of us to say "this is what happened to me, this is how I feel, you MAY feel the same way in years to come, or your child MAY have problems due to being surrendered. The problem is with speaking for ALL surrendering mothers or ALL adoptees, and making unsubstantiated blanket statements about whole groups of people based on personal experience or hearsay like the idea that most adopted males need psychiatric care. Such statements do not hold up to scrutiny, and make the stories of our very real suffering and what is wrong with the adoption system suspect.

Shaylene said...

Megan, who were you quoting?

.."that my child will forever feel abandoned at a gut level....

Is that at this post?

Megan said...

Shaylene, see paragraph 3 of this post where Jane quotes Barbara Thavis. I might add the "all the literature" does not state that adoptees feel abandoned and have trouble with relationships.

Theodore said...

@ Megan:

You can read it for yourself, though you have to know Dutch to understand anything from it:

http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten-en-publicaties/rapporten/2011/11/03/psychosociale-uitkomsten-van-jongvolwassen-binnenlands-geadopteerden-en-hun-adoptieouders.html

Nice report, though in Dutch, it may be biased a bit, as the people contacted were the adoptive parents, and of the 232 couples written, 130 did not react, I would suppose that the non-reacting group is more likely to contain worse cases. Bias is recognized, but is expected to be compensated by similar biases in other research when comparing, with other countries or Dutch international adoption.

This research in the young adult Dutch Domestic seems to suggest that sons may be harmed statiscally more than daughters by infant adoption.

The population was selected from the total of files the Dutch Justice departmenthads concerning adoption of people born 1980-1989.
Why the 30 "old child" adoptions were thrown out I do not know.

Annie said...

You all are beginning to sound like the anti-abortion groups who demand that a woman can't possibly freely "choose" abortion and thus needs to be told first that she might get breast cancer or have a nervous breakdown or her fetus might feel pain, and she needs to see the fetus on ultrasound, maybe a transvaginal ultrasound first, and then have a waiting period and then...

Even if "Julia" had said that she'd spent hours perusing anti-abortion websites but still chose to place her baby, you'd still find some way to claim that she was not making a free choice because no matter what research she did or what factors she considered, at the end of the day, you disagree with the choice she made. You've made it perfectly clear that you oppose adoption, so no adoption will ever be "freely chosen" to you.

Anonymous said...

from theadoptedones (blogger acting up)

Some of the comments are focusing on the choice of wording of would vs could, will vs may...whatever...

That isn't what the post is about...

It is about "choice" and if it is really a well-informed "choice".

A friend took the domestic adoption infant awareness course available on-line by the NFCA. Her take - that did not teach them to give the woman a "choice" but to make sure "adoption" was the choice by making "adoption" superior to any other "choice". That in itself is no "choice".

Waving hands here: I am one of the adoptees who felt abandoned - some choose rejection as the perfered term (I do) some choose other terms but when you flesh out the words beind the word choice it really is pretty similar. Even as an adult I feel the sting of being rejected because my child's mind will always be there even though my adult mind can understand the reality of what society required. You are a sum of all your experiences and feelings.

I had/have many of the feelings common within the adoptee categories - because of who I am personally as well as the fact I am adopted. I reject arguments regarding bios having the same feelings because their experience is vastly different so cannot compare.

If you can find an agency that tells the mother about the many varied adoptee experiences and does not white-wash it with words saying it is merely a "blip" they soon get over then I will applaud their efforts. I have yet to see one.

When you can find an agency that does not treat a mother as a "birthmom" before she has signed away her legal rights and works just as hard to make her able to parent as they make her to surrender - I will applaud them. And I do expect them to do that when they run sister websites as PCPs and solicit mothers to talk to them to consider ALL options.

Words are powerful and just like any marketer they use words designed specifically to close the sale.

I should stop now...

Anonymous said...

I am still very angry about losing my baby to adoption and all the years I missed, but at the same time I really am grateful that he had such good parents who taught him good values,people skills(which I never had)etc He is great at relationships. One thing that he was when I found him was confused-since my family is better off financially now than his is and we're just normal middle-class people, and I was never a prostitute or drug addict as is a common stereotype. After meeting my parents for lunch and my mother sort of taking the fall for me, we sat in his car and he kept saying"It wasn't my fault,it wasn't my fault" It all went over my head until months later after I had gone to a therapy group with both mothers and adoptees. He thought he had done something wrong and had been a "bad baby" or something-subconsciously maybe- and that's why I didn't keep him. Nothing could have been further from the truth It was my "fault" for not being married, for being poor, and for being so naive about the system and letting them get their clutches on him to begin with

ms. marginalia said...

Annie, I disagree with you. Society and the adoption industry has things set up to reward women with "positive" messages for relinquishing, and more negative ones for parenting their own children ("selfless" vs. "selfish", for example). Placing is not a value-free thing. Being a single parent is not something that's extolled. You are told that you can be a *better* person, a "better" parent by "completing" someone else's family, even if you're a 30-year-old professional! Makes no sense. A woman can still choose to place if she's a divorced 30-year-old professional, but in the big picture, being a single parent isn't something "bad" these days unless you're being targeted by agencies.

Abortion is not value-free, either, but it isn't seen as something warm and fuzzy ("The *gift* of a baby!") by the majority of Americans in the way that adoption is. Making a "choice" to place will get a woman lots of kudos, at least up front--but if she expresses shame, or regret about adoption, she will likely be judged far more harshly. Most women don't speak openly about having abortions, either, but adoption-speak is encouraged and praised. Adoption is a market, with babies as commodities. It's not about finding homes for children who need them; it's about making money off the backs of women who are potentially ambivalent about parenting. If you think it's about the *child*, then you've bought the industry's message.

Also, abortion is the decision to terminate a pregnancy. Adoption is the decision not to parent a child. Too many people think that adoption is a reproductive "choice." It just isn't.

If a woman truly doesn't want to parent, she shouldn't. That said, there is so much, *so much* that is sleazy about the industry that prevents me from saying that adoption is just about "choice." Too many people have been hurt, and continue to be hurt, for me to say that adoption it's simply a matter of giving a woman her "right" to place her baby. It's a dark, convoluted, political mess.

Jane Edwards said...

Whether adoptees are severely wounded, mildly wounded, just a tad wounded, or unscathed from adoption is beside the point of this blog post.

The issue is whether mothers have sufficient information to make informed choices on adoption. FMF believes, and available evidence supports us, that many do not. To glibly dismiss mothers' pain as caused by their choice is thoughtless and cruel.

Robin said...

Maryanne wrote:"using inflamatory language language to paint a bleak and hopeless picture of all adoptions and stigmatize adoptees does nobody any favors."

And that is not what I did in my comment. I simply said that there are certain conditions that are part and parcel of being adopted (which affect each individual to a greater or lesser degree).

Although I forgot to include that all adoptees have a falsified birth certificate and those from the closed era at least in most states have no right to obtain their OBC or to even now the names of their natural parents.

The "adoptees don't necessarily get a better life they get a different life" comment is one I have read many times before. After considering it, I don't think it does justice to the actual legal/social reality of being adopted. Although that reality does not automatically imply that one will feel abandoned all their lives or feel that they are "less than" for being adopted.

maryanne said...

Part I:
My views on adoption reform from a 1975 newsletter. For those who wonder where I stand. With a few minor changes, this still says it.

In response to last months newsletter's question to a reasonable alternative to the present adoption arrangement,
I would like to submit my ideas on a subject briefly mentioned in a recent newsletter, the subject of adoption reform. I speak from my perspective as a natural mother, from my own unhappy experience and the further insights I have gained through contact with others, both natural parents and adoptees. I believe in a radical reform of adoption philosophy and practice, a change from the paternalistic, secretive, guilt-based attitudes of the past to a more humanistic approach that recognizes the freedom, responsibility, and worth of all parties involved in adoption. The new system would involve risk, the possibility of great pain, and would result in an even further drop in the number of infants available for adoption, but I believe this would be more healthy than the certainty of oppression and unresolved fears that exists in the present adoption situation.

Every adoption involves three groups of people, the natural parents, the adoptive parents, and the adoptee. Between these points on the adoption triangle stands a fourth party, who in the past has often assumed a position of omnipotence over all the others, the adoption agency. This fourth party should be reduced from god-like status to
it's proper role as facilitator or provider of services to the other
parties .

The following is a brief summary of these services.
The single pregnant woman, no matter what her age, should be given every opportunity to keep her child, regardless of the wants of her parents, and provided with the tools that enable her to do this. No woman should have to surrender a child she wants to keep because she lacks financial support, a place to live, means to continue her education, or help with child care. Social agencies should inform her of the existing resources available, such as Aid to Dependent Children, and endeavor to initiate and support services to meet any unfilled needs of the single parent. They should also stop perpetuating the tired old myths that no man will marry a woman who keeps her child, and that adoption is always the better choice. Unwed mothers should have every opportunity to meet and speak with other women who have gone through
the same experience, both those who kept their babies and those who did not, and with adult adoptees from varied backgrounds. Whenever possible, the father should also be involved. If, after being provided with all
possible options, the mother still chooses to surrender the child, if
the father desires to provide a home for his child, either with himself or his relatives, this should be given serious consideration.

maryanne said...

Secrecy in adoption should be kept to a minimum. Before the adoption
is finalized, a meeting, or at least a written or phone communication, should be arranged between the biological and adoptive parents. Both
sides would provide extensive medical, cultural and familial background information, and the natural mother would have final say on the type of family with which the child will be placed. There would have to be legal provisions once the adoption was finalized preventing intrusion
by the biological parents on the adoptive family, but the agency would continue to act as intermediary and provide a channel for an indirect flow of information in both directions. All legislation relating to
protection of the child would become void when the adoptee reached legal age, at which time all information pertaining to the adoption would become accessable to all parties involved.

Compassionate, humanistic counseling should be available at all times to anybody involved in or considering adoption. Couples who are infertile should be helped to acknowledge and live with their condition before applying for adoption, and not be misled or pressured into thinking that adoption will solve their inner conflicts or "cure" their infertility. It should be acknowledged that while adoptive parenthood is in no way inferior to biological parenthood , it is a unique and vastly,-.different situation, and that to ignore or deny this fact can only lead to problems for the adoptive family.

Adoption guidelines should be loosened, allowing as many people as possible, regardless of age, income, or marital status, to provide loving homes for children who truly have no concerned family, but not one single girl who wishes to keep the child she has borne should be victimized in the name of those who are childless. I hope that all people will have greater opportunity to love and relate to children, even those unable to adopt, but the use of unwed mothers as "baby machines" to fill the rising demand for infants should stop and never resume.

Finally, all women surrendering children for adoption should be made to understand that their moral responsibility does not end with the signing of some papers. Especially now, the choice to bring a life into the world is a real commitment. As one mother so aptly stated, "Giving up a child is not the end, - it is always unfinished business."
Adoption must be presented as a unique partnership involving all parties on a life-time basis as equally responsible persons, not as a quick, easy way out for unplanned pregnancies, or a magic, "lets pretend" cure for the childless. When adoption becomes a means to provide a child whose birth parents are unable to care for him with a loving home without the loss of his physical and genealogical identity, when the growth of the adoptee is given legal recognition by the unsealing of his/her records, adoption will become what it was always meant to be, an institution that serves both the best interests of the child, and of the adults that all children become.

Mary Anne Cohen
1975, Lexington, MA

Jane Edwards said...

Although I agree with much of what you write, Maryanne, things have changed considerably since 1975 and some of what you write is not applicable today.

Women surrendering today are often in their 20's and 30's, some are married, and some have children they are raising. They are not sent to maternity homes or pressured by their parents or forced into surrendering against their will.

Most expectant mothers go to adoption agencies on their own. They believe that adoption is the only solution or that adoption is more beneficial for both themselves and their child even with help from their families or the baby's father.

Agencies, facilitators, and attorneys do not give expectant mothers a complete picture of adoption, specifically the long term effects on themselves and their children. Mothers-to-be are likely unaware that child welfare experts agree that children do best raised within their birth families if possible.

Instead, practitioners reinforce expectant mothers' rosy ideas. Counseling consists of preparing them to lose their child ("making an adoption plan") and think of themselves as carrying the child for someone else. Practitioners discourage women from seeking help from family members, leading them to believe that family members are old-fashioned or just meddlars. Practitioners play to young women's egos with "you're old enough to make your own decision without mom and dad" (reminiscent of tobacco ads "smoking is an adult choice.")

Add to that the pressure from the presence of prospective adoptive parents, and surrender becomes a fait accompli.

Some agencies like Catholic Charities in Portland do begin their counseling with "how you can keep your baby" and "what you have to offer you baby" but most don't, and for good reason: more mothers would keep their babies.

After their child is born and taken away, mothers realize what they have lost but it is too late.

Women considering adoption need to have independent counseling and time after birth before they make a decision.

maryanne said...

'Women considering adoption need to have independent counseling and time after birth before they make a decision."

Yes, I agree and also agree that times have changed to some extent. I only sent that old piece because I am sick of people thinking I am promoting adoption because I do not believe it can or should be abolished, or that I do not care about adoptees or other natural mothers.

Independent counseling would have to be totally honest and present both sides, not just one. That is where statements like "children do best when raised withing their birth families when possible" requires a whole lot of taking into account that children do not "do best" in very dysfunctional families, adoptive or biological. It is not that simple. Here is another quote from the original post that is questionable and exaggerated, not helpful:"I read all the literature and know that my child will forever feel abandoned at a gut level. That my son will feel that there is something inherently wrong with him because his mother gave him to strangers to raise. That most likely he will have trouble with relationships, always waiting for the other shoe to drop." This is just the other side of saying "if you raise your child you will probably resent and abuse him." Bully tactics, not information to help someone making a life-changing choice.

Really unbiased counseling is not replacing one set of scare tactics with another, and telling the mother that the "right choice" for all is raising the child, any more than the tactics that you have described coercive adoption providers using.

Michele said...

From an agency websites.

You may, for example, regret that you weren’t able to offer everything you wanted for your child. However, you will never regret the fact that you gave your child a better life through adoption, and that your child is happy.

Knowing that you made a positive decision out of love and in the best interest of your child will help you cope with any feelings or thoughts of regret, should you experience this.

Most adoptions now are handled with truth and integrity, and most birth mothers choose to write a letter to the child saying something like this: "I do love you and I do want what's best for you. Right now I am not in a position to take care of myself, much less to properly give you everything you deserve as an innocent child." Many birth mothers are not in a position, either financially or emotionally, to properly care for a child. In placing a child for adoption, a birth parent is doing what she believes is in the child's best interests. In my experience, most adopted children understand this and are grateful to have been placed in a loving, stable family.

Will my child grow up resenting me if I place him for adoption?
Most adopted children grow up feeling a great deal of respect and love for their birthparents. As they get older, most come to understand that adoption is not an easy decision for any birthmother, and they express gratitude for the loving sacrifice made by their birthparents. Adoptive parents share this gratitude and respect for birthparents, and often tell their children, from a very young age, about the tremendous love their birthparents had for them

As an adoptee, I find these statements horrifying. I don't know how other adoptees feel, but I missed my mother every day of my life. I can't understand any human being who wouldn't feel the same way. We are all born with an instinct to love our mothers. Adoption perverts and corrupts that pure love.

I feel I was forced to assume an identity that was not mine. I have an ache in my core that cannot be eased. I function, I have a family and a long happy marriage. That leads people to believe I "turned out OK". That is not the case.

Robin said...

Michele wrote: "As an adoptee, I find these statements horrifying."

I second that. And what a shock it would be for a first mother to attempt a reunion after hearing this garbage and find that her relinquished child says "I don't want to have anything to do with you, you could have kept me".

Adoption agencies will say whatever they think an expectant mother wants to hear to get her to relinquish. It is certainly easy to speak for a child who isn't even born yet. It's not as if s/he could defend herself and say "No, that's not how I feel. I want to stay with my original mother". I realize that not everyone adoptee feels this way but many do.

maryanne said...

Nobody should ever "speak for the child" to an expectant mother, because nobody can know what another individual is going to feel in the future. Speaking as the child is a dishonest and guilt-inducing tactic no matter what your agenda. You can only speak as yourself, not as someone else who may end up feeling very differently.

Adoption agencies and facilitators have been dishonest and self-seeking in telling expectant mothers that their child will in the future thank them for their "sacrifice" in surrendering, or for not having an abortion. Some may indeed feel that way, but nobody can promise that.

While it is helpful for expectant parents considering surrender to hear every kind of story from mothers who have surrendered and from adult adoptees, nobody no matter what their situation has the right to tell someone else "because I feel this way or had this experience, I know your child will feel this way in the future as well."

One needs to take with a grain of salt anyone purporting to be speaking for all adoptees or all mothers, whether they are promoting or condemning adoption as a general option. On the other hand, one should not dismiss the warnings of those who have suffered individually because of shoddy adoption practice, because these things really did happen and are still happening. Tell your own story and tell it straight, and you may help someone who identifies with you, but don't try to speak for everyone in your situation, ever. That only ends up weakening the point you are trying to make by telling your own story.

Cassi said...

The Adoptedones,

I just began that course you mentioned and already it makes me feel sick to my stomach. One of the first videos you watch is of a First Mom who talks about meeting weekly with a counselor at a crisis pregnancy center. She talks about how she was going to keep and raise her child and adoption wasn't an option to her until her "counselor" helped her "see" (complete with an adoption workbook) that adoption was best for her child because she, of course, wasn't good enough to offer her child all the things the adoptive parents could.

Anonymous said...

@Michelle march 14 9:55 That quote from an agency website makes me want to puke. It is more of that soothing, non-emotional bunk that I was hypnotized with so they could steal my baby from me and calm my passionate mommy-love, and make me feel guilty about it all at the same time. After I surrendered my child, I was a zombie for 2-3 years,getting jobs, getting fired ,barely able to function When I started to wake up, I tried to kill myself(bad mistake) and after being treated by uncaring and sadistic psychiatrists who drugged me into submission(and told me that my child was going to have all kinds of problems because he was given up-NOW they tell me) I vowed never to take another so-called medication (I haven't) and to stay away from doctors and generally anyone who is part of the system-I have) I will make exceptions-for instance, when I fell off my bike I did meet a very kind emergency room doctor. But unless someone has a problem with being either psychotic or suicidally depressed,in which case medication is life-saving- stay away from psychiatrists. They don't understand this and you will learn a lot-stuff you'll wish you never knew. The same can be said,in my humble opinion, about anyone who is part of the adoption machinery. You will learn a lot-stuff you wish you never knew. And it is not necessarily true that your child will have a better life First of all, the loss of a mother, and yes,that fact can't be changed no matter how much their laws try to strip us of our motherhood- is a major trauma,especially for a baby. My child's a-parents were good people but they got divorced early on and all my child had were a bunch of student loans and maxed-out credit cards. That mother-child bond can't ever be broken no matter what they try to do to us, so if you are thinking of searching for your child, there is probably a reason you are feeling like that-go for it-he/she may need you- if only to answer the question"why" Kids don't think like adults and think everything is their fault.

Anonymous said...

I find myself at a crossroads within this post and comment thread.

I am a First Mother who did make the choice to place my child for adoption. I chose carefully and enjoy an open relationship with my child and her adoptive family; she is now 15 and thriving. I am proud of the young woman she is emerging as......

I credit my decision and the loving foundation set by her adoptive parents for her success. As well as her own unique gifts inherently her own.

I was in now way prepared to care for an infant when I placed her and remain steadfast in my decision. Keeping her, in my case, might have been the easier of the choices but not the right one.

Was my decision excrutiating? Of course. Am I fortunate to have a healthy open relationship with my child and her family? Absolutely.

Would my decision have been different had I received less biased advice or insight from other First Mothers or adoptees? No.

I have no illusions that my experience is representative of anyone elses'. But it IS valid, such as it is.

I made the best of a terrible situation and have seen it unfold in the best possible scenario in the years since.

This is my experience alone and that of my daughter's who openly ackowledges my sacrifice and the tremendous love and support of her adoptive family.

I appreciate Manyanne's voice on this thread making room for a perspective such as my own. It might not be popular but its mine.

Kara

Michele said...

I guess it's kind of like saying slavery was OK for some slaves. Maybe they were happy and treated well by their owners. Not all masters were cruel. It was socially accepted and legal. Sorry, I just don't understand.

maryanne said...

Kara, I know other mothers like you in long-term open adoptions who really were given options, and made their own hard choice. You are not the only one .Brenda Romanchik has been in a fully open adoption for many years, son is in his middle 20s now. My story is very different, but I feel every mother should have a voice, not just those who echo the preferred scenario and point of view of any group. You show courage by speaking up.

Thank you for your kind words. It makes it worthwhile after all the flack I often get like that comment about slavery and adoption. That is just insulting.

Anonymous said...

From Theadoptedones...


Cassi,

I await a well written (as usual) review post or series of posts by you on "the course".


Anonymous - Kara,

It worked for you and you recognise that your case was unique to you - which also makes other cases unique to them and the outcome potentially different.

That is what is missing in the rush to "guide" women to adoption, sign surrender papers, reduce the timelines, reduce or revoke revocation timelines, ditch the fathers legally from tactics like moving states. Just not enough rigorous standards are in place to protect them. That is not the message given to women when the are in crisis - that this may be a temporary situtation and adoption is permanent and must be thoughtfully weighed against all options without bias.

Michele said...

I don't mean to insult anyone. Aren't I entitled to my opinions? I feel used by the adoption system. My family was stolen from me, against my will. I feel like I was sold. Other adoptees may be OK with it. I just don't understand them, and they probably don't understand me. I only speak for myself.

Barbara Thavis said...

maryanne writes:

In any event, I believe your question is just an attempt to create a straw man to knock down. When those who do feel their adoption experience had benefits (and I am not one) try to express their feelings and opinions about their own lives, they are told that they are "brainwashed" or "in denial" or "agency shills". Anyone not agreeing with your views cannot win no matter what they say.
----------------------
Aren't you just the voice or reason! When anyone has a strong opinion they just don't measure up to your controlled, accepting, level headed ways.
After relinquishing my daughter I could have been one of those young women paraded about telling other young women how noble I was for relinquishing my daughter. Yes, I was brainwashed. Yes I was in denial. Yes I would have been an agency shill. It wasn't until reunion that I realized how devastating adoption was. Once I met my daughter I could see what I had done to her and to me.
We are not a bunch of crazies when we show a little emotion. Should I have I written my original comment differently? Sure. A better statement would be:
I read all the literature and know that my child will most likely forever feel abandoned at a gut level. That my son will quite possibly feel that there is something inherently wrong with him because his mother gave him to strangers to raise. That quite possibly he will miss me every day of his childhood".
If I stigmatized any adoptees with my words I am sorry. I have enough adoptees as friends to know that these problems do arise for a great number of adopted persons, but of course, not all.

maryanne said...

Barbara, I am not your enemy, just a mother in a different place now and with a different style and I do not question your own feelings or your own story.

Yes, many mothers WERE brainwashed and later woke up, like you. That is a much more common scenario than mine, Lo's, other mothers who were never or only minimally in the closet and got involved in adoption reform when our kids were small. You have every right to say you were brainwashed when you surrendered, and now see things differently.

You telling your story and your reality is just as important as Kara telling hers, or any other mother, no matter how she feels our what turns her life has taken.

What I object to is not someone realizing that they themselves were brainwashed and mislead by adoption agencies, but imputing that charge on others who had a different experience and express it. Not accepting another person's narrative at face value is not the same as having a very different story of your own.

People change, and their perceptions of their own past experiences can change as well. Mine did, quite a bit, and evidently yours did as well. We all deal with our loss and guilt the way we can, and different things work for different people. Nobody can say with certainty how Julia or her child or any other adoptee or mother will feel in the future.

The adoption industry has done many of us a grave disservice by the way we were "counseled" and they are still doing it in some instances. That is a fact that cannot be denied. I do not dispute that. But adoption has worked for some, long term, adoptees and mothers, and they deserve an authentic voice as well. That't all.

I am sorry if a reasonable tone disturbs you, but if you read some of my earlier writings, especially the poems from the many years when I thought my son had rejected me, you would see plenty of despair, misery, and hopelessness, plus a much more dramatic style. People change. I grant you that, I hope you can do the same for me.

Anonymous said...

Has it ever occurred to you all that Julia DID NOT WANT TO BE BURDENED WITH RAISING A CHILD ALONE? Many of today's bmothers have children already or are in their young twenties and do not wish/want to raise a child by themselves. It's a fact; there are some women who do not want to sacrifice the life they have to be mothers.

c said...

Kara: "I was in no way prepared to care for an infant when I placed her and remain steadfast in my decision"

This isn't really intended to be directed at Kara because I don't know her story.

However, one thing I have noticed is that when adoption counselling is done at an early stage in the pregnancy when the emom probably isn't feeling prepared about parenting, it can mean that she ends up feeling that it is a "choice" between "her child being raised by an unprepared parent (her)" and "her child being raised by prepared parents (PAPs)" and the danger is that the option of preparing her for parenting over the next few months is not explored. I know a few first mothers who have said that this is something that they felt was never offered to them.

I do feel that if a woman says that she wishes to parent, that option should be explored and she should be counselled as to her own issues/problems etc so that by the time she is ready to make the decision, she is truly able to without feeling pressure because of unresolved problems.

Another issue is that placing a child for adoption is talked about as if it is a simple case of "trading up" from one set of parents to another as if we are blank slates with no particular attachment to our first parents except that they had a spare womb for us to spend 9 months in - sort of forgetting to mention that even if we never know our bparents they are part of us and who we are whether we like it or not.

Also re Kara,
"This is my experience alone and that of my daughter's who openly ackowledges my sacrifice and the tremendous love and support of her adoptive family"
I am pleased for Kara that her daughter openly acknowledges her sacrifice. However, I hope her daughter felt that on her own accord and that it wasn't because she was made to feel that she should do so. Adoptees can often be made to feel beholden to all of their parents in a way that biological children aren't and there is a danger that some children may feel that they can't express their feelings without being invalidated.

I agree with all that we adoptees are all different and thus we all have different ways of dealing with the compromise of being born into one family, removed from that family, having our original identity obliterated, placed with another family, given a new identity and to grow up with said family as "if born to" them.

Janet said...

If by being a voice of reason I would have to evolve into a person who comes off as having little or no emotion left about giving up my flesh and blood I"ll opt for being unreasonable. Not an insult, just my choice.

Betty said...

The US Department of Health & Human Services has an excellent Fact Sheet on the Impact of Adoption on Adopted Persons. It says about the same thing as the quote from Barbara Thavis although the language is calmer.

Anonperson said...

Barbara Thavis says:
"I read all the literature and know that my child will most likely forever feel abandoned at a gut level. That my son will quite possibly feel that there is something inherently wrong with him because his mother gave him to strangers to raise. That quite possibly he will miss me every day of his childhood".

The US Department of Health & Human Services Fact Sheet on the Impact of Adoption on Adopted Persons says:
"While it is difficult to make sweeping statements about such a large and diverse group as adopted persons, it can be said that adopted persons generally lead lives that are no different from the lives of nonadopted persons; however, they have experiences that are unique to being adopted, and these experiences may have an impact on their lives at various times."

Regardless of the tone of the language, I do not think these two statements bear comparison.

Robin said...

@Anon-Kara,
The brief description you gave of your situation does sound as if open adoption was the best option for you. However, I don't think at age 15 anyone can know how your daughter will really feel about being adopted. Many children whether adopted or not want to win their parents' approval (and I think this is more pronounced among the adoptee population trying to juggle the two sets of parents and keep everyone happy).

You are also lucky that your Open Adoption didn't close as so many do. I was raised in a closed adoption but I really believe that I would have been terribly hurt in an OA seeing my n-mother come in and out of my life.

HERE IS THE CRUX OF THE ISSUE:

Many adopted people (not all) were not so happy to have been given up. We wanted to be raised by our natural mothers and be a member of our extended bio-families. And not have had to deal with the abandonment/rejection issues of being relinquished.

Anyone considering adoption should KEEP THIS IN MIND. And not just listen to platitudes like "your child will get a better life" or "your child will be so grateful that you gave her to someone who had more to offer materially". Also, I don't think that any mother should tell her child that she is proud of herself for giving him away.

@Michele 7:37pm,
I understand. Also, it does alarm me when even at a place like FMF, adoptees are suppressed from saying how painful being adopted is. We get enough suppression, criticism and flak for our beliefs and feelings,etc. out in the real world.

Anonymous said...

Michelle,

I agree with you a 100% your feelings are the most important in the adoption equation. Also, the most ignored by those who covet a baby and the babybrokers
and even some moms.
I am reunited mother to my 46 year old son since 93.

maryanne said...

Janet, you have no idea! You do not know me at all, and yes, that is an insult. Emotion is not always expressed in purple prose or in a tone of hysteria, and reason and deep emotion can coexist.

When I gave up my son I wanted to die. I did not expect to live and did not care one way or the other. Given my self-destructive behavior after surrendering, it is only by the grace of God that I am alive today. I went through years of bleak depression, worsened when my son did not respond to an early contact for many years.

I have written lots of very emotional poetry and some very emotional prose about the loss of my child, and have been working for open records for most of my adult life, despite the fact that the whole subject upsets me so much for many years I could not speak about my child without crying. You have no right to make assumptions about how much emotion I feel based on some posts on a blog.

c said...

"Pregnant women considering adoption should get both sides of the story and hear a variety of perspectives, not just one. In the past and among unscrupulous adoption facilitators today, only the sunny positive side was stressed, and it was implied that adoptees were always better off and never had questions. Adoption was "as if" born to the adoptive family. We have learned that this is not true."

It is hardly just "unscupulous adoption facilitators" who stress the sunny positive side - judging from their websites, the majority of adoption agencies do so. A vast number of counsellors talking about the "option of adoption" do so. Those people dismiss anyone who has anything negative to say about adoption as being bitter and twisted. Most adoption counselling still impliies that the adoptee is better off, that all question asked will be minor ones and there is still the implication that we are blank slates - just the very fact that emoms are told that there are only positives to being "traded up" and no "trade off" at all for the child is proof of that.

To me, we adoptees are like wild baby animals that have been brought up by humans - we may well have an enjoyable life with our humans but our identity is compromised. When a human-raised animal is placed back in the wild, they often have difficulty because they haven't had that shared experience and because they have not experienced the life of their fellow animals and do not know what it is like to grow up as that animal. We all know that it is recommended therefore that wild baby animals have as little interaction with the humans as possible - obviously there are cases where human intervention is necessary but even then when the animal is older, if it is at possible, they are introduced back into the wild as soon as possible. There are obviously other cases where the animal will never be able to go back into the wild and the best scenario is that they are treated as well as possible. However, removing animals from the wild as companions to humans is wrong as we all know. Sadly, this is what modern adoption has evolved into - companion animals to humans. Emothers are like the animal mothers who are told that their offspring will be much safer with the humans than with them in the wild where there might be the possibility in the future of poachers and drought and other stuff, even if there is no sign of those things happening right then and there. All animals are at danger of those things - does that mean they should all be brought up by humans? There is probably no doubt that in many cases, a wild animal brought up with humans will be safe and probably never want for anything but in the process, they change and can never go back to being the animal they were born to be. Most of these animals will end up just settling for what they have, a safe life where they want for nothing, and don't want to go back into the wild because they know in themselves they are no longer equipped to do so. Others try and fail. Others are eventually successful but not with a lot of hard work by themselves - it also helps if their fellow animals are receptive and if their humans are recognisant of their need to do so.

I am a "wild animal" that was happy enough being brought up by humans and probably would been happy enough going to the grave. However, now that I've been introduced into the "wild", I am more the animal I was meant to be and am more enriched for it. There will always be a sadness that I was removed from the wild - I do accept it for myself but don't feel that it should be common practice unless necessary.

As for open adoption, that is more like wild animals living in compounds with a glimpse of the wild but never being part of it - it is better than never knowing another of your kind but it is still not the same as actually being with them.

OK - I think I've well and truly over the animal analogy lol.

dpen said...

Anonymous said...
"Has it ever occurred to you all that Julia DID NOT WANT TO BE BURDENED WITH RAISING A CHILD ALONE? Many of today's bmothers have children already or are in their young twenties and do not wish/want to raise a child by themselves. It's a fact; there are some women who do not want to sacrifice the life they have to be mothers."

March 16, 2012 7:45 AM

Fine, then when 20 years later and the "birthmother" is prone with grief because they realized that their "burden" is a real human being, a real family member andf they just threw them away because of the horrible "burden" that they made..That " birthmother will be on one of these sites crying ...they won't understand why their Child(hmmm..no longer a burden but a human that might just "cure" their pain) won't have anything to do with them. They will be demanding to be called MOTHER....
Don't wish to raise a child by yourself...don't get pregnat or live with the fact that you abandoned your child and live with the consquenses.

Human beings are NOT a reproductive choice...babies are real humans with needs from their mothers...

Lorraine Dusky said...

Hi, I am halfway back from surgery, but having read Robin's comment, I wish to say that we do not suppress adoptee comments. We do reserve the right to prevent discussions from just going off the tracks and devolving into she said/she said, when emotions run high and feelings get hurt, as I think some of the comments have done.

Also, I wish to stress that known commenters should have the courage to use their names. I have become aware that we have published comments from another blogger and frequent commenter who has hid behind anonymous in the current discussion. Please have the courage of your conviction, especially when you have indirectly criticized the writers of FMF.

c said...

Looking at Michele's quote (post 14th March 9.55pm) from an agency, it reminded me of a section from another agency site:

"Birth mothers who choose adoption do so out of love for their children. While this time of your life can be very emotional and confusing, you should instead picture your child laughing, smiling and living the childhood you dream for them - all the while knowing that not only do they have an adoptive family that cherishes them, but a natural mother who loved them so greatly she choose this wonderful life for them.

Adopted children may not share the same eyes or ears as their adoptive parents, but their adoptive parents will be able to fill their child's eyes, ears and hearts with the richness of love. By helping answer some questions for your adopted child, you will provide them with the freedom to enjoy a better life. They will love you for it. Fortunately for you and your child, we now live in a world where adoption has evolved into something truly wonderful for the children who are lucky enough to experience it."

Personally, I think that there should be some sort of guidelines as to what agencies can post on their sites -

For example on the unplanned pregnancy pages:
1) No making generalisations on behalf of the child.
2) No making generalisations on behalf of the emom.
3) Keep the wants of adoptive parents out of it - to clarify, it is OK to say that there will be adoptive parents available but not to say that the emom's baby may be the only chance of making the PAPs parents. Note that this isn't an attack on PAPs - I feel that vulnerable emoms and vulnerable PAPs are being played against each other.
4) No use of the word "selfless".
5) Make it clear that relinquishing a child is not a straightforward "trade up", there is a "trade off" for the child as well.
6) No pretending to be evenhanded by having a "consider your options" page which consists only of the negatives of parenting.

It is possible to do all the above - my observation of many Canadian agency websites is that they seem far less manipulative than US websites.

The American Adoption Industry really has to start treating adoption far more seriously - their masterly manipulation may get them the results they want but they are playing with people's lives.

c said...

I actually feel that there is one question that all emoms must ask themselves first - if the PAP pool was suddenly to dry up and there weren't PAPs available, would you still relinquish your child? If the answer is no, then you shouldn't relinquish your child, it is as simple as that.

maryanne said...

For those who think I am a heartless person with no emotions, a poem I wrote in the late 80s. As to how I feel about my son now, I love him and feel so grateful that he allows me some connection with his life. Yes, I do have feelings, even though I do not spill them out in everything I write.

maryanne

Valentine

Lost child, I sing you no songs, make no sound
but you recall my touch, and music
hung from caves, brought by tides
moons link us, distance, and thin rain

If it matters, you began in joy, joy that died
of war and fear and exposure
to adoption’s greed, to what men believe
is real life, so I, in my
naked woman’s unreality sing you
no mother-words, no words
at all, believing
their lies
that

I had no right to love you, to make claims,
speak your name

The war is over, long ago.
The dead sleep silent, complete.
I sleep in yearning, unfinished dreams….
We grow old.

You grow
tall and shining in secret shrouds
lost child, star child, forgive…

I am dying of unsung songs.

Janet said...

Maryanne,

You are right. I do not know you. I only read your comments. I have read some of your other writings as well.
I was not my intent to insult you.

I was stating my choice to remain emotional about my and my daughters experience. I do not and will not walk on the fence about it. I won't be made to feel inferior or guarded because of that experience.
I am not so cold to think that you have no emotion about relinquising your son. The beautiful poem you have posted here shows that.
But even you might want to admit that whenever mothers or adoptees express their emotions you tend to call them out on it.

I was merely expressing my opinion that if I have to guard my emotion in order to act reasonable I choose to be unreasonable.

Lorraine Dusky said...

maryanne,

It is not whether you are heartless--I know you are not--but your arguments directed at others who have feelings opposed to yours are expressed in ways that many find exasperating. Your reasoned but argumentative stance is why you are attacked and you end up feeling the need to defend yourself repeatedly.

Anonymous said...

Lorraine

What you have said to Maryanne is true. I will not post under my name when posting here. Almost everytime a mom posts she attacks then when they attack back she defends herself.
She feels such a strong need to defend adoption and give it fair and balanced defense. Sometimes, I wonder about her fair and balanced toward moms.

Anonymous said...

@c March 16 8:18PM Excellent I understand some of what you are saying My mother was a beautiful wild animal and my father was a kind-hearted human. That would make me a hybrid,I guess. My son is a very handsome wild animal. He was raised by humans and feels more comfortable with them I, on the other hand, feel more comfortable with wild animals(especially stray cats) But having found my son and been around him for more than 5 years now, I'm am starting to feel more comfortable around humans, just as he is starting to feel more comfortable around the wild animals from whence he originated. It is still difficult, sometimes, however. His human caretakers invited me to a gathering for a very happy occasion and, while everyone was nice to me, no one spoke my language. They all just stared at me as if I have 2 heads. I don't and I have 2 eyes 1 nose and 1 mouth. They all knew I had given birth to him I have a lot of hair and my ears and head are pointier than most. Yeah, maybe that was it.

Robin said...

Lorraine,
I do not think that you or Jane suppress adoptee voices. I was referring to some of the comments made at a few different posts.

Kim said...

I feel she made a choice, she was 30 years old and had enough life experience to make this choice. Her family wanted to help her. The adoption agency should have sent her away because it is just crazy that she even considered adoption.

We all had a choice, some of us did not feel like we did but we all had a choice. My daughter could have stsayed with me and my abusive family and had a junkie for a father. I chosefor her to be adopted thinking it better that she have what I could not give her.

There are those that say I therefore abandoned her am am scum but those people are blogging non stop and abusing many people, it does not make them less miserable.

My daughter has a good life because she was adopted, I do not share the benefits nor am joyful it hurts to live with this but I am determined not to let it rule nor ruin my life.

Kim said...

I also just heard today that my daughter"s uncle stabbed himself in the heart and died. She has not had exposure to this kind of extreme behaviour because she was adopted, her father looks like a skeleton, he was horrible to the children who grew up around him.

I know it is wring but I wish she would love me for giving her to people who were not living an insane life instead of being a bit distant. But none of this is her fault> I did the best that I could with what I knew as a pregnant teen who fekt it was best for her to be sent far away and be safe.I was also terrified when she was born I also tried to keep her but was sent away when asking for single parent benefies, had also been told by the social worker it was taking the easy way out to keep her and it would only get harer.Did not have suppot of my mother, father was active alcoholic,history of violence towards me when smaller. brother and sister lived interstate. I was also menstally unwell - bipolar behaviour. Still I blame myslf for what happened and want to because it means i havew now power to change. I lost my daughter, it does not feel like heartless abandonment, anyone who labels it as such is a simpleton.

It feels like the girl who was then is not the woman i am now. i miss her and it is painful but i live a good life because i fight for that.

She does not need a mother who is unsble to survive this.

I hate adoption, I love her but she thankfully is not longing for me. Even though that huts it also brings comfort if that makes sense.

Lorraine Dusky said...

Kim: It sounds as if you had difficult choices and wanted to protect your daughter.

I hate adoption too, but I do understand how you feel about her not wanting to see you, that maybe she had a life that was less traumatized than it would have been if you had raised her.

You sound as if you have come to terms with life as it is. We all need to do that to be healthy.

Stay warm.

Kim said...

it isnt that she doesnt want to see me, it is that she is settled and happy with her family and is not as bonded to me as I am to her but that is of course a good thing. We just can"t win as mothers because we must do what makes them happy. I think she wants me around but nott too much. I will not go away because evn though the level of contact that works for her feels like rejection to me it works for her. thank you for kind comment Lorraine.