Thursday, March 1, 2012

Finding babies through Facebook. And your manicurist. And....

Jane
“Loving professional couple looking to adopt newborn. We want to build our family through adoption with love, laughter, fun and passion.” A typical baby wanted ad except that it appeared on Seth Edlavitch’s Facebook page according to "Adopting Through Facebook" on Parenting.com rather than the Sunday classifieds or The Penny Saver. 

Seth’s friends passed the notice along via the social media and voila! A friend of a friend called Seth about the pregnant wife of one her employees, Lisa. She and her husband had several children and wanted to place this baby for adoption. Seth and his wife, Melissa Segal, met Lisa; they hit it off immediately. Lisa had the qualities they wanted: her children were happy and healthy and she passed drinking, smoking, and other health tests.
Within a month Seth and  Melissa adopted Lisa's baby, Noah.

THE SUPPLY-SIDE OF ADOPTION
Advertising for babies whether by adoption agencies or individuals has become routine since demand skyrocketed and supply dwindled. Technology simply makes it cheaper and easier.

In agency-arranged adoptions, agencies recruit pregnant woman through the internet, churches, crises pregnancy centers, physicians, Planned Parenthood, whatever, and connect them with prospective adopters. Mothers surrender their newborn babies to the adoption agency which in turns places the babies with adopters.

In independent or attorney-arranged adoptions, prospective adopters locate mothers-to-be on their own, thorough facilitators, or from profiles attorneys obtain from pregnant women. Mothers relinquish their newborn babies directly to the adoptive parents and the attorney handles the “paperwork.”

THE HUNT IS ON
Long before social media, “how to adopt” books and seminars provided extensive advice to prospective adopters on finding “birth mothers.” (These women are not, of course, birth mothers since they have not given birth, let alone given up their child. Nonetheless the industry insists on referring to them as such which reinforces the assumption in the pregnant woman's mind that they are carrying the baby for someone else.) In The Complete Adoption Book (1997) attorneys Laura Beauvais-Godwin and Raymond Godwin offer this advice to would--be adopters: 

“If you are truly serious about adoption, however, it is best to tell nearly everyone. The more people you inform, the more you will increase your chances of finding a birth mother.… Sharing your desire for children often opens the doors of people’s hearts, leading them to go out of their way to pass on the word about your adoption plans.…
 “Your job is to throw the ‘pebble’ – the news that you want to adopt—into your ‘pond’ of friends and acquaintances, and wait for the ripple effect to take place. Your friends and acquaintanaces—often people you do not even know—who will tell their friends and acquaintances, resulting in your contact with a birth mother.”
The authors recommend sending letters as well as communicating orally and include sample letters in their book.

(I’m ashamed to acknowledge a relative used this technique to find adoptive parents for her grandchild. She set up a lunch meeting with friends and asked them to spread the word that she wanted parents for the child her 15-year-old daughter was carrying. The father-to-be’s parents recruited in similar fashion.)

Beauvais-Godwin and Godwin go on to suggest other receptive "ponds", including fertility and adoption support groups, coworkers, clients, and customers, and hairdressers and even your manicurist (wouldn’t you know). Clergy people are a fertile source of babies also, since pastors are often asked to counsel families whose daughters are pregnant, especially the daughter. I can practically hear the good ministers telling a pregnant teen how happy she will make another couple, an infertile couple, and what a good thing the adoption of her baby will be for everyone. To read some of the Christian blogs out there from B-mommies for adoption, I'm sure they walk out of the minister's or priest's office feeling they are doing God's work by having this baby for another couple.

Health professionals can be a good source, although Beauvais-Godwin and Godwin caution readers that obstetricians are so flooded with requests that they do not respond. Those connected with the medical profession, however, often have an inside track to a baby. This occurred in my family many years ago when my physician uncle arranged for his sister, my aunt, to adopt the baby of one of his patients.

Beauvais-Godwin and Godwin also recommend flyers and newspapers ads and include samples which read much like Seth's Facebook flyer. They recommend beginning ads with “A” or “adopt” to put them at the beginning of the personal ads.

FIND A BABY ON FACEBOOK
Using Facebook to find babies is sure to become routine. No doubt we’ll see paid ads there in the not too distant future.  Some prospective adopters may use Twitter although the 140 character limit will require some creativity. Perhaps Beauvais-Godwin and Godwin can help out there. I haven't seen "baby wanted" ads on Craig’s List but did find adoption agency ads. I imagine, though, it’s only a matter of time before "baby wanted" join the ads, alongside those for personal messages at your location. Lorraine once sat down at her local burger joint and found an ad with an 800 number connecting to a "loving couple, eager to adopt" on the paper placemat. We once heard of a couple asking a young pregnant teenager who was waiting on them if she was interested in adoption. Talk about chutzpah!

Actually, I don't find using social media to find a baby any more upsetting than the other tactics supply-siders in adoption have used.  What is appalling is that Seth and Melissa, a self-described “loving professional couple,” could take a newborn from his parents and siblings with all we know about what adoption does to the mother, and the infant.
________________________________________
Adoption Through Facebook

"For a good read from an adoptive mother who has worked for unsealed original birth records, read Barbara Bisantz Raymond's account of the woman for whom we can "thank" the cult of baby snatching from poor women that became modern-day adoption: The Baby Thief: The Untold Story of Georgia Tann, the Baby Seller Who Corrupted Adoption

The Complete Adoption Book: Everything You Need to Know to Adopt a Child (see above)

 "Ms. Beauvais-Godwin covers most aspects of domestic and international adoption producing what is an invaluable reference for a family chosing whether or not to adopt. She provides an exhaustive list of state-by-state requirements and even covers adoption by Canadians. This book provides guidance in all the fundamental steps of adoption, from chosing an agency to having a home study done. I can honestly say this book is the best book on adoption I have encountered. I highly recommended it to anyone who is considering any type of adoption."--Amazon reader

ORDER EITHER BY CLICKING ON TITLE OR BOOK JACKET. 

14 comments :

  1. Jane (and Lo), This has never happened before. Usually I read every word of your posts. But after reading the first couple of paragraphs, I couldn't take it. Scanned to the bottom and am posting this comment.

    Things were bad enough in the BSE. Now PAP's are stooping to new lows. Advertising? Posting on FB? Babies are being traded like puppies and kittens?

    Makes me want to throw up...

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  2. You should try Yahoo!Answers if you want to see a couple of nice examples of this. (pregnancy and parenting, adoption-section)

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  3. I just looked at Seth's Facebook
    page. Looks like they adopted Noah a few years ago and are now advertising for #2.

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  4. I recall a news story about a couple that actually put large signs on their car to advertise for a baby to adopt. Super gross.

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  5. These same people would be outraged if they read a mothers facebook page selling her baby but it's ok for them to advertise to buy one. Pathetic.

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  6. Electronic media has made it more likely that the human equation is left out of basic human behaviors. In other words, if you don't have to actually face those that you harm, it is far easier to do it with ease and absolutely no regrets....

    The internet is one of the largest forms of electronic media - you would never find a couple advertising on tv to "purchase" a child.

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  7. As an adult adoptee I have to say this post is VERY triggering for me. Like Denise I started to read and then had to skim the rest (although I did finally get up the courage to go back and re-read).

    I remember feeling sickened by the movie Juno that she would look for PAPs in the Pennysaver. The friggin' Pennysaver!? The Pennysaver is a place to find a used bookcase not replacement parents for one's own flesh and blood. When I think of how helpless and vulnerable surrendered children are it really made me wonder if the expectant parents who use the new technology to find APs care about the baby at all.

    Just because a couple write an ad or have a Facebook page that make them sound like Ward and June Cleaver doesn't mean they really are.

    And to couples like Lisa and her husband... if you know that your family if complete then please, pleae, please have a vasectomy or tubal ligation. I would never be able to understand or accept being given away because my married parents already had enough kids. I think being surrendered for that reason is very damaging to the adoptee, damaging to the adoptee's siblings and damaging to the first parents as well.

    Robin

    I'm having problems with posting comments again.

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  8. Finally after reading this post did I start to comprehend just how inhuman the adoption market can be. I thought how my first son must have felt when he was young. The agency gave me a photo that was the only one in his adoption file. He was in a high chair and it was a close up of just his face with tomatoe sauce around his mouth. There was no real smile but his big beautiful sad eyes said it all to me. He already knew something was way, way wrong in his living situation. And having finally getting to meet him for the first time 6 yrs. ago, I know I was not reading too much into that photo. He has indeed been the one who was used and treated like chattel. Not a good adoptive family situation. Then I wondered how much more did he begin to comprehend as he was growing up. How he is still asking himself why was I adopted? I can not tell him enough how much I wish I had not signed those papers. We are acquaintances now since we both live to far apart and can not afford to see each other much. Now so many reunions are occuring because of Facebook that I wish the prospective adoptive family would take the time to consider how this will impact the adoptee later in life.

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  9. As an adult adoptee, this is just one more example of the great insult of adoption (see "primal wound"). One thing that only adoptees can understand is how worthless this type of thing makes us feel; as if we are nothing more than a can of soup on the grocery shelf, needed to cure a cold. We aren't a cure or a repair for anything, just a temporary, cute fix.

    Imagine that child asking where he came from? "Why, we advertised for you on a social media site, dear. It was all the rage and pretty soon, we helped your 'birth mother' to see that we should raise you, and here we are! Joy!"

    Of course, maybe I'm just an "angry adoptee." (But then, why am I crying?)

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  10. We are now in a society where human beings are commodities. I should know, I was one. My A parents wanted a baby, even though they couldn't afford the two they adopted. My A dad had barely an 8th grade education and my A mom had a hole in her heart that would only be filled by adopting a baby. It just was the thing to do at that time--you must have a family to fit in with society.

    Interestingly, after reunion, my B mom reflected on her choice to relinquish me as, "I always thought I was doing something nice for someone else". Really? For whom? For me? I think not. While I was in an orphanage for 3 months, my B mom was attending design school and living in the loveliest part of my large city. Seemingly, without a care in the world.

    My B mom worked hard at a "do over" in her later years. She too, wanted that million dollar family we all admire. Almost 30 years after my birth, at the age of 48, she gave birth to a son, conceived via donor egg and her then husband's sperm. I'm not related to him and neither is she.

    She has no intention of telling her son about his biology. I don't think she cares about his biology. Why would it matter? She says, "I carried him". She carried me too, but has marginalized me repeatedly and is sadly unable to connect with anyone, in any meaningful way, particularly me. My therapist says the only reason she doesn't hate her son the way she hates me (who is one year older than my daughter) is that he is not a part of her.

    In this day and age people are a commodity, buy one, sell one, have one for your sister, neighbor, give one away and get one later--no big deal, right?

    One of my dearest friends is a very high end OB/Gyn. He is the one people call when they forgot to have a baby and they are panicked! I cannot begin to describe the circumstances of the births he delivers--one sister carrying for another sister, the new baby created via egg and sperm donors for the single mom who wants to have her wish fulfilled to be a mom. Maybe the more things change, the more they stay the same. Everyone has an agenda.

    I am still trying to work out my own feelings about adoption. After meeting my selfish, rich kid B parents, I realize I was better off with my A parents and my emotional and financial struggles served me well.

    Still, I am definitely NOT pro-adoption, in fact, I think I am more pro-abortion than ever before. Being adopted just hurts too darn much. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

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  11. As an infertile woman trying to adopt, reading this post and the comments above truly breaks my heart, moreso than my two miscarriages. Not everyone who gets pregnant - whether they keep their baby or not - is cut out to be a good parent; and I am sorry to see the adults here still suffering as a result.
    I would suggest that just because someone cannot have a baby on their own, it doesn't mean they will make a bad parent. If a woman cannot or will not parent her child, then someone needs to pick up the pieces, or else that child will have to endure the terrors of the foster system.
    Not every adoption agency/adoptive parent has good intentions, just like not every woman who places her child in someone else's arms makes that decision freely. But to characterize Adoption as a whole as wrong and harmful, is to devalue everyone whom the process has helped.
    Finally, no matter what life throws at you, Happiness is a choice. Wallowing in the past and putting so much energy into negative thought is self-destructive. You will all be in my prayers.

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  12. I think it is very strange for people to advertise on Facebook that they want to adopt. Social media is a great thing if used properly, but too many people just don't use common sense.

    Why do you only criticize Seth and Melissa's role in this adoption but not Lisa and her husband's decision to have a baby, after they already have as many children as they want, and then place it for adoption? I understand that you think adoptive parents are evil, but if it wasn't for Lisa and her husband getting pregnant with a baby they don't want, this adoption wouldn't have happened. These people obviously aren't teenagers who found themselves young and unable to care for a baby that they, or their parents, thought they wouldn't be able to take care of. They are married and have other children, but now had an extra baby that was unwanted by them. In this situation, I think the birth parents are most to blame for this particular adoption scenario, and I can't imagine what the child is going to feel like when he grows up and finds out that his parents just had too many kids so they chose to give him away. How horrible.

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  13. Anon,

    We're not critical of Seth and Melissa; we're critical of the system which allows children to be treated as commodities and allows (even encourages) people who want children to think of obtaining children as a game.

    We've never said adoptive parents are evil and we don't think they are evil. Truthfully, some of my best friends are adoptive parents.

    Don't be harsh on Lisa and her husband. It might have been better for Lisa not to have gotten pregnant but she did and apparently didn't want an abortion. I don't know their motive for giving up their son but I suspect lack of resources played a big part. I doubt that he was unwanted because Lisa wanted an open adoption.

    An increasing number of adopted children come from married birth parents. Adam Pertman, author of "Adoption Nation" and his wife adopted a child born to a married couple who had other children.

    According to Pertman the adoption industry advertises for infants in poor areas in Southern states. Poor Southern families may not have access to birth control and oppose abortion, yet cannot afford "yet another mouth to feed." This is the subject of an excellent movie, "Baby Dance." Many people interested in adopting prefer infants born to couples with children because it gives the prospective adoptive parents the opportunity to learn what caliber children these parents are likely to have.

    Yes, it will be hard on this child when he learns that his parents kept his older siblings but gave him away. It's sad that the US doesn't provide resources that the UK and other countries provide to help parents with a new baby.

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  14. Jane,

    I posted as Anonymous right above your last comment.

    I agree that the U.S. should have much better resources for mothers who are considering adoption for their babies. I think that before a mother is able to give her baby up she should be required to have some counseling that would let her know about resources that are available if she wants to keep her baby, and that it's not something she will just get over and move on with her life, that chances are good that it will have a negative affect on the rest of her life. Then, after that, if she still wants to go ahead with the adoption she can. Some women, very few, are just not cut out for motherhood and the children would be better off with someone else; however, most children should be with their biological mothers.

    Also, I live in Utah and the adoption laws that are so biased against fathers infuriate me. I think the fathers deserve to be a part of their children's lives just as the mothers do, and if a mother is considering adoption, the father should have the opportunity to raise his own child if he wants to without jumping through some asinine hoops.

    My heart goes out to all mothers who relinquished their children, especially if they were coerced and made to believe they weren't good enough to raise their children. It really breaks my heart to read their stories and I wish all of them could have successful and happy reunions with their children. I know that's not a reality, but it would make things a little better for them.

    I understand how a young, single woman could be made to think that giving her child up would be better for it, but I have such a hard time understanding a situation like Lisa and her husband's where they are married and have other children and then have another one and give it up. Even if it were because of financial reasons, I would think they would do anything to keep their child. It may be a struggle, but you do what you do for your kids.

    Dawn

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