Sunday, October 7, 2012

Reproductive exploitation--one more way to abuse women

The other evening as I watched the PBS special Half the Sky, a documentary spotlighting the outrageous treatment of women in many parts of the world, I thought of another abuse of women which needs to be put front and center, reproduction exploitation.

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Half the Sky follows New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof as he travels throughout Asia and Africa meeting survivors of all kinds of abuse: genital mutilation, which not only destroys a woman's ability to enjoy sex, but also increases her chances of dying in child birth; rape; forced prostitution of young girls; brutal beings--which sometimes led to death--by husbands and fathers while authorities turn the other way. There’s hope, though, as Kristof introduces us to women, often survivors themselves, who are running homes and schools for abuse victims, pressuring authorities to act, and helping women start small businesses. The key is empowering women.

Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn initially introduced Americans to this brutality against women with their 2009 book Half the Sky. The title comes from a Chinese proverb “Women Hold Up Half the Sky.”

Jane
Reproductive exploitation--coerced adoption, surrogacy, and egg buying-- although not at the same level as genital mutilation, forced prostitution, and murder is another form of abuse against women. Like the atrocities profiled by Kristof, it uses the bodies of women for the pleasure and profit of others. The trafficking of infants, kidnapped or purchased from poor parents, has been rampant Guatemala, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Ethiopia, India, Sierra Leone, other countries to meet the needs of those desiring children. (Ironically, actress Angelina Jolie who adopted a boy from a Cambodian agency while the US government was investigating charges of corruption, and a girl from Ethiopia whose mother, according to media reports, wanted her back, wrote a blurb for Half the Sky calling it "a model for those fighting for justice.")

THE DOOR TO WIDESPREAD ABUSE
While a poor economy and government efforts to end corruption led to a decline in international adoption, from a high of 23,000 in 2004 to less than 10,000 in 2010, the industry is attempting a comeback through the North Korean Refugee Adoption Act of 2012. Having been passed the US House of Representatives, the bill (H.R. 1464) is in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. While it purports to be dealing with North Korean refugee orphans living in South Korea and China, it opens the door to widespread abuse. According to adoptive father Prof. Dave Smolin, the bill "supplies a broad end-run around normal nationality, immigration, and Hague [Treaty] safeguards." Readers are urged to contact their Senators to oppose this bill.

Approximately 15,000 American women a year relinquish their infants to adoption at a rate that greatly exceeds that of western Europe and Australia. Some mothers are seduced into surrendering their children through false promises of openness and exaggerated pictures of glittering futures for themselves and their children. Mothers are unaware about the pain they and their child will suffer for the rest of their lives. Agencies do not make crystal clear that nearly all open adoption "contracts" are not enforceable, and that relying on the agency to be the go-between gives the mother no recourse at all if the parents renege on their promise of photos, updates and visitation. Others are coerced by relatives or religious authorities into giving up their children

Wealthy westerners hire women, often poor women in India, to do the scut work of child-bearing--carrying the child for nine months, suffering the pains of labor, and risking death in the process—and then turn the baby over to those who paid for the service. In some cases the “carrier” is also the genetic mother. FMF has no problem with women who carry babies for close friends or relatives, but paying women the equivalent of a few cents an hour to provide this service is pure and simple exploitation.

THE SENSE OF LOSS COMES LATER
Would-be parents use the eggs of fertile women to produce children. Creating these requires "donors" (who are normally paid) to have strong hormones injected into their bodies and undergo surgery, risking their lives in the process. Women selling their eggs are often college students--the fertility industry recruits heavily from Ivy League--seeking funds to pay for their education. They may be are unaware of the health risks of the procedures, and the sense of loss they may suffer, as they become aware that there are children out there—somewhere--with their looks, their abilities, and their interests, who, when grown, who may search for them, needing to know their origins.

Just as with the abuses profiled in Half the Sky, reproductive exploitation reflects powerlessness of women, especially poor women. Like sex traders, the adoption and fertility industries make billions of dollars off of vulnerable women. Victims of reproductive exploitation may not realize they are victims, just as some women whose genitals were cut force their daughters to undergo the same painful and dangerous procedure. It's not just men who are doing the exploiting. Industries which profit from women's fertility often employ women as counselors and medical personal, just as many brothel owners and those who do genital cutting are women.

I’ve seen huge changes for American women in my lifetime. Practices that were accepted just a few years ago are abhorrent to many today: dismissing rape victims as “asking for it,” paying women less than men for the same job, discouraging women from going to college or pursuing a profession because “they’ll just get married,” shaming single mothers to give up their babies.

We still have a long way to go. Women still make about 70 percent of what men make and morons like Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin claim women have natural defenses against getting pregnant when raped legitimately. Reproductive exploitation should join the list of abuses we need to end.--Jane

Watch part one online through October 8 and part two through October 9.
 ___________________________________

To donate to Half the Sky movement: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

Lorraine here: I'm going to use this opportunity to talk about my favorite charity, Women for Women (a partner of Half the Sky) which provides direct financial aid and vocational training to women, as well as support them emotionally as they go from victim to survivor in countries riven with war around the world. A monthly donation of under $30 goes to an individual woman, whom you may write. I've gotten amazing letters from the women I have supported in Afghanistan. You can choose your country, or just sign up for location of greatest need. Women for Women.

And yes, that is a book of mine above: Still Unequal: The Shameful Truth About Women and Justice in America "Dusky's book is simply the very best book of it's kind, bar none. She explains complex issues in amazingly clear language....required reading for all those who are passionate about justice: civilians, lawyers, judges, law professors, ethicists, feminists of both genders, Women's Studies professors and students. I have used this book in a Forensic Psychology graduate class and it was the best textbook we could have had." Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D Amazon

See also
The Fiction of the North Korean Refugee Orphan

The Dark Side of Adoption: "Although not an easy book for an adoptive parent to read, this is certainly an important book for anyone striving to understand all sides of the adoption triangle. The good news (for adoptive parents) is that Riben is not slamming adoptive parents...her really big guns are leveled at The System. I recommend that adoptive parents read this book." Gigi Wirtz, Families Adopting Children Everywhere (FACE). 



50 comments :

  1. Despite how terrible giving up our children was, and is, we have lives that do not compare with those of the women in Half The Sky.

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  2. "we have lives that do not compare with those of the women in Half The Sky..."

    But Reproductive Exploitation is alive and well. Women are exploited for their fertility every day around the globe and that is beyond terrible. It is dehumanizing and degrading. The lives of women who lose their children matter just just as much as anyone else's in the equation and many of them never recover from that loss.

    I don't think this piece was written as a competition of who's life was more 'terrible', but of course someone has to infer that it was...

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  3. I agree that there are atrocities in adoption that need and must be addressed.

    Comparing atrocities such as genital mutilation to adoption or egg (donations?)/surrogacy is a stretch.

    I think when money enters the equation and someone is personally profiting from selling their eggs or carrying a baby to term that does not match their own genetic history a different conclusion has to be drawn. Yes, I recognize some will cry that money is exchanged in adoption too, but ethical adoptions don't result in First Mothers gaining profit.

    I've noticed a tendency on this blog to presume that any woman of a certain age who makes a choice different than that of the blog authors' is uniformed, coerced, foolish, pressured or otherwise negated of any responsibility for their decisions. What a negative view of women in general!

    Also then would you see sperm donors in the same light? When they one day recognize there are children out there who share their characteristics, resemble them?....are they too victims of adoption, our own culture and/or manipulation?

    Where is the line drawn? Horrific things to occur to women all over the world ~ each one is not relative to adoption.

    I think its a shame you took the spotlight off of an incredibly wonderful and important topic and philanthropic cause/group to draw unnecessary paralells.

    This piece could have stood alone and would have kept the spotlight on that cause, which I thought was the point.




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  4. I do think that women today should either not have children, or keep them. I do think that there is enough evidence today to show that giving up a child has such longterm life consequences that are so devastating that an informed, intelligent woman would not make that choice. Just last week I was answering tearful emails from a college student who recently relinquished and who had no idea how hard and horrible it would be. Then there are the emails from women promised open adoptions, but find the only think open is their hearts. Then there are the emails from women who want help in getting the relinquishment of last month or so reversed, and getting their children back.

    Our blog tries to reach such women before they choose "the adoption option."

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  5. Our blog tries to reach such women before they choose "the adoption option."

    And I try to add my two cents as the "child" that not every relinquished child gets the promised "better" life or ends up unscathed from having been given up.

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  6. Thank you for an awesome, INFORMATIVE, post - as usual, Jane! (LOVE!)

    Sperm sellers are ABSOLUTELY victims of the FERTILITY INDUSTRY. They are poor and uneducated young men with low self-esteem and self-worth. Anyone who would sell his own body parts for a COUPLE of bucks is certainly uneducated and lacking in the self-worth department! Vulnerable!

    It looks like, for the sake of accuracy, we'll soon see the term, "fertility industry," in the dictionary, which adoption will fall under alongside your little term, birthmother. One of the moderators used the apropos term, fertility industry, earlier. Yeeeaaah! Let's use it! I love it!

    My heart bleeds for these sperm sellers!

    Man, the desperate scramble to make babies in our society is mind-blowing: it's happening so fast that our society isn't even paying attention yet.

    It's like the housing crisis:

    Everybody deserved a house - you see where that got us! And everybody deserves a kid - you'll see where that's gonna' get you, suckers. Our society will live to regret the mishmash that we're creating! You won't know who your kids are marrying: Jack the Ripper's sperm? Lizzie Borden's egg?

    You might rationalize, "Oh, our cute fertility clinics screen all egg sellers and sperm sellers. We don't have to worry."

    OH YEAH? The incompetence you see AT EVERY TURN in our society - you'll see it in these clinics, too. Human beings are fallible and we make plenty of mistakes!

    Here's what keeps my brows furled and my mouth agape:

    Infertile couples KNOW the pain, the trauma, the tragedy, of being without a child; YET - hmm - infertile couples have no qualms about finagling children from their vulnerable neighbor and foisting that same pain and trauma and tragedy on said neighbor.

    I can only deduce from this vicious cruelty that infertile couples, consciously, or unconsciously, must justify, and rationalize, their actions with (amongst other things), "Oh, the slut can always have more kids! She's fertile!"

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  7. Women who are paid for their eggs or for carrying another's baby receive comparatively little for the pain and risks they suffer. The industry induces young women to "donate" eggs as a gift to the infertile. The industry claims it is unethical to pay women more than a token amount. It uses clever schemes to get women to forgo the money they could make selling their ivy covered eggs.

    Ditto for domestic surrogacy where women are convinced to do it out of the kindness of their hearts, receiving only a pittance for their pain and risks. Indian women likely do do it for the money but wages are so low that they receive little for their pain and risk.

    I feel the same about sperm selling as I do about egg selling except that of course sperm selling does not jeopardize a man's health. Adoption also exploits men. Even when men want to raise their children, they may not able to because of unjust adoption laws.

    It's the people who run fertility clinics and adoption practitioners who get the big bucks, not those who risk their lives and lose a piece of their souls.

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  8. Just a bit of fact checking:

    Sperm donations are made by men in all walks of life with varying educational backgrounds and socieconomic levels. Are they truly being exploited? That's for others to debate. I have been told by "donors" they did so to propogate their own genetics and let me add there was a healthy dose of self esteem attached to those claims! (wondering about their mental health, but still....their choice.)

    I also know personally several women who have elected to carry a child for another couple (one was familial, 2 others strangers). None of them were coerced, all of them had previously carried children they raised; all knew the tremendous risks involved and all were paid in excess of over $25,000 with all medical and related expenses additionally paid; maybe that's a pittance for some, but to me? That's quite a sum. Would I do it? No. Am I the litmus for everyone? Again, no.

    Finally, I agree in part with Anon.; there are women and men more than capable of making their own decisions. I was a First Mother who did just that; was it anquishing? Yes. But was it the complicated and yet right decision for both me and the child? Also, yes. I won't say more than that in respect for the Mothers who didn't have my choices.

    I also agree that equating this with genital mutilation gets us way off track and prevents folks from gleaning what is truly important about this post, that being the urgent need to protect women overseas from that atrocity.

    Finally I just need to say this and will probably be flamed for it: poor might equal vulnerable but it does not equal stupid. It also doesn't excuse people from standing behind the decisions they make and being held accountable. (cases of abuse/coercion notwithstanding and not relating this to young women misinformed about their open adoptions: I find that deplorable) If a young woman choices surrogacy as a financial tool, it is her decision. If a man elects to sell his sperm; again his decision. If infertile couples decide to pay for these services? Again, their decision. I daresay there will be lasting consequences for all parties, including a child.

    A young woman in Iraq being cut and mutilated and suffering scarring and life threatening injuries? Possibly death? Not her decision.

    NOT her decision.

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  9. A quick check on the Internet showed one firm advertising for egg donors saying the average payment is between $5000 and $9000. I have heard that attractive students at Harvard can command $10,000 and up, for their eggs.

    Fact Checking: Call it fact adding.

    Why does anyone think Poor equals Stupid? That's like equating Rich with Smart, and we know that is not true. I hear what you are saying, but in general here we do not believe that parents are fungible, even if that is the belief of a well-informed mother who wants to give up her child for a better life than she could financially provide. It will always be the wealthy who are able to use the physical services --and the bodies--of the poor to do what they cannot, or do not want, to do.

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  10. I was referencing surragocy fees, not egg donation.

    Sorry for the confusion.

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  11. Anonymous, you amaze and sadden me. You appear to be capable, sensitive, and intelligent, yet you gave your child away. Were you told that child welfare experts report that children should be raised in their natural families if possible? Were you told that you would grieve for your child for the rest of your life? Were you told that your child would suffer from the realization that his mother refused to do what it would take to raise him? That "your mother gave you away because she loved you" is so much nonsense to a child?

    If you knew these things and still gave your child away, you are unbelievably callous.

    I suspect, though, that your "right decision" was as culturally driven--and as ignorant--as the decisions of mothers who suffered genital cutting themselves to have their own daughters cut.

    A different Betty

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  12. I find it a difficult stretch to link voluntarily, philanthropic reproductive endocrinology (egg donation) to genital mutation. Yes, these women are being paid minimal fees, but the vast majority in the US itself are doing so as a charitable act. We did IVF and are waiting to adopt a 2nd child. The women I met in clinic who were there to donate their eggs were bright, intelligent, and revved up to be there. One had donated 3 times because, in her words, of the rush of goodwill it gave her.

    Parenthood is not unlike many other intangible human values or historical constructs; its value is to be determined by the individual. Did you see the recent mouse research suggesting a "mothering gene", the expression of which drives maternal instinct? This is not popular on this blog to say - not everyone would make a great parent. Not everyone would make an even adequate parent. However, some people value the experience of parenthood very highly and crave it at a deep and biological level. Many women value parenthood just that much (as you bemoan, this very deep intinct is whqt drives the adoption industry itself.) perhaps those young, ivy leqgue women value motherhood highky enough to give that gift to someone else freely. Maybe in the form of an egg or two, and without remorse.

    Tangent - have you ever read a consent form for a reproductive endocrinology procedure? Anyone should be well aware of the risks. They are spelled out in easy terms.

    I fear that while this blog is a wonderful community for women who regret past adoption experiences, it makes the faulty assumption that every woman who chooses adoption was coerced and even faultier assumption that every woman who gets pregnant has the internal/external/biological predisposition to parent. It is not for everyone, plain and simple. Babies deserve more.

    None of this is even loosely related to genital mutation. It demeans the cause you are highlighting to suggest so. The latter is heinous.

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  13. @Caleigh Brooks - NOT all infertile couples are like that, not all of them have that cruel sense of entitlement many of you seem to attribute to them.

    I had trouble conceiving for 3-1/2 years (NOT past my fecund years either) and was finally successful (our own biological child). I for one never even CONSIDERED adoption.

    Would everyone PLEASE stop trying to generalize all infertility patients as bad people?! I realize you're trying to keep as many of them as possible from being able to bear their own children, but spare the generalization. Please.

    CC

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  14. Agreeing with Anon 1:23"Horrific things to occur to women all over the world ~ each one is not relative to adoption.I think its a shame you took the spotlight off of an incredibly wonderful and important topic and philanthropic cause/group to draw unnecessary paralells."

    It seems we are conflating two different abuses of women; the worst of the worst, genital mutilation, beatings, rape and murder by family members, and reproductive exploitation of poor women by the fertility industry. That too is bad, but some things really are worse than others. As a White middle-class American woman whose worst experience was surrendering a child, I cannot begin to imagine the suffering of third-world women who face genital mutilation and other horrors as a routine part of their culture, as well as desperate poverty.

    I too believe these abuses are best discussed separately. Both are serious, but on a different scale. I did not watch the Half the Sky program because I find it too upsetting, but would certainly contribute to that cause. I am very uneasy with the idea of paying very poor women as surrogates or paying for eggs to be harvested. Medically there is just too much danger to the woman, and it must be difficult for a child to find out they came into the world this way.

    But I question the emotional component of grief or loss for egg donors or sperm donors. I think they themselves would have to speak about that. I find it hard to imagine and can't really equate it with giving birth and surrendering one's own genetic child. Again, what I see as emotional consequences in those cases are mainly for the children created this way, as many adult children of sperm donors will attest.

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  15. @anonymous 11:50

    "while this blog is a wonderful community for women who regret past adoption experiences, it makes the faulty assumption that every woman who chooses adoption was coerced and even faultier assumption that every woman who gets pregnant has the internal/external/biological predisposition to parent. It is not for everyone, plain and simple. Babies deserve more."

    Yes, this is a wonderful blog for those of who have lost our children to adoption, even though you sound quite condescending when you say that.

    You are just the person to denounce those "faulty assumptions" aren't you? Not every woman who purchased a baby has the "internal/external/biological predisposition to parent", either. Many adopters think they are entitled to the infant of another woman simply because they cannot become pregnant when they are not entitled to anything. How dare a young woman who is not married think she has the right to keep and raise HER own flesh and blood? Your right, babies do deserve more. Who are you to determine what is right for SOMEONE ELSE'S INFANT and what business is it of yours?

    This is what is so scary about this society, that complete strangers think they can step in a deem who is "fit" or "unfit" to raise a child. Perhaps you should worry about your own lives and stay out of lives in which you do not belong...


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  16. @anonymous 6:09am

    "Would everyone PLEASE stop trying to generalize all infertility patients as bad people?!"

    Oh Jesus, give me a break. No one is saying all "infertility patients" are bad people. If you did not adopt, why are you so defensive?

    And while we are speaking of "generalizations", people NEVER generalize first mothers/ families as being druggies, abusive, unfit walking wombs, now do they?

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  17. Come on, people, end the confusion. While the "Anonymous" option is pre-selected, click on "NAME/URL" and type in a name. Your mother's, your middle, a name you wish your had. Any name. You do not need to have an URL. And you will still be as "anonymous" to everyone as you were before, including us. But you will sure make discussion easier.

    Thank you.

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  18. For all of you trying to say shame on the blog owners for daring write about "reproductive exploitation" and Half The Sky in the same sentence, my life was nearly destroyed by adoption. I am not the only one. Losing my child was pretty damn "horrific" to me. I am not comparing my horror to those in different circumstances, however, and I don't think Lorraine or Jane are either.

    Pick away people...I know it makes you feel better and so much more "enlightened" than the rest of us.

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  19. So many people named Anonymous is very confusing. I couldn't figure out and read all the comments - I have a life to live! Thanks, Lorraine! (LOVE!)

    MOST egg sellers & sperm sellers and surrogates do it for the money; they are all vulnerable in the sense that they are UNEDUCATED ABOUT THE AFTEREFFECTS THAT THEY WILL SUFFER DOWN THE LINE - IN YEARS TO COME! It's a new frontier!

    AS I SEE IT, THERE IS YET ANOTHER COMPONENT:

    Surrogacy and all that other stuff REEK of Munchausen by Proxy or Muchausen Syndrome by Proxy - a mental disorder by which individuals, or moms, physically hurt their children, rush their hurt children to the hospital and, resultantly, the mothers feel good about themselves from the praises and attention they receive from hospital personnel for being such good caregivers. It gives them a rush! And they do it repeatedly until hospital personnel catch on.

    Predators prey on vulnerable people who need to feel worthwhile... by renting their bodies for surrogacy... by selling their body parts (egg & sperm), including organ donation while alive....

    Vulnerables have been pervertedly brainwashed to think they're being generous - good Christians. We're pretty sure it gives them a rush!

    Think of the young people who pervertedly cut themselves to feel good. It gives them a rush!

    Christians in the past have brutally, savagely, pervertedly, imbecilically self-flagellated to feel good and worthy. We're pretty sure it gave them a rush!

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  20. I'd say giving up my child irrevocably changed my life. Honorific, damn straight.

    It sure as hell colored everything important in my life afterwards. Damage was done, to me, to my daughter.

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  21. @A different Betty,

    (sigh) I opted not to dredge up the details of my decision to place my child for adoption out of respect to the mothers who didn't share my experience, choices or beliefs. It would seem however there is always someone who feels within their right to pass judgement and "decide" for me what those rationals were.....or qualify them as right or wrong. Is it so vital to you that I may have been coerced, brainwashed or bullied? When I state otherwise is that really so threatening?

    On the one hand you describe me as capable, intelligent and sensitive but ONLY if our culture brainwashed me and coercion and faulty logic led me to my decision; if not, you brand me my decision (and me by proxy) as, "unbelievably callous". In your own words I both "amaze and sadden you." Why give me such power?

    I fail to see why your dissemination even has a place within the scope of this thread, but since it seems important to you....

    At 16 I made the terrible mistake to have unprotected sex. I was foolish enough to believe the nonesense my boyfriend at the time fed me, though deep down I knew better. I kept myself and my child healthy throughout a very difficult pregnancy but never intended to parent. I understood even then how completely inadequate I was for the job(on so many levels, not just financially). I arrived at that conclusion long before others knew of my pregnancy. No brainwashing or coercion neccessary.

    As I indicated it was an anguishing decision, the depths of which I am unable to fully convey on a blog response. But my alternative to raise a child at 16 in a home surrounded by abuse (mostly mental but occasionally physical) and subject my child to the same was not accecptable.

    I simply wouldn't do that and striking out on my own hardly seemed prudent or feasible. Realistically even if supports were in place then, I know in my heart my child would have suffered for my decision. I would have become that which I was striving to escape; the pattern of my own teenage (and yes, unfit) parents.

    I made an adult decision regarding an adult problem; something I should never have had to do at 16. Sometimes life is like that; especially when children put themselves in adult situations. I don't blame others. I took responsibility for myself and the life I helped create. Is there regret? Of course. BUT its with the same sensitivity, intelligent and capability you ascribed me that I can attest it was my very own decision and the right one. If that seems callous to you then I have a few characterizations of my own to silently send your way. :)

    And for those that may wonder; yes, I am in reunion, yes my child had and has a wonderful life and though I'm only a small part of it, I feel nothing but gratitude for both him and for his adoptive family. He is still a young minor and without their support, our relationship would be impossible.

    I have this gratitude and respect for his family because as a parent myself (raising two children I kept) I fully comprehend the sacrifice, hard work and commitment it takes to parent a child, no matter where they come from; add in adoption and its even more confusing and complicated.

    So you see we all do have different perspectives and experiences. I'm sorry if mine is hard for some.

    AND again I will stand by what I said: much of this sadly detracts from the real message for this post, which is the mutilation, rape and atrocities against women overseas and the good works of one group fighting it.

    Anon. Kate (also Anon. 1:23)

    Thank you

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  22. Like the author, I,too, have seen great changes in women's lives and opportunities. It's mind-bloggling and probably taken for granted by the younger ones today.When I was in medical school in the mid-1970's there were 10 girls in a class of about 200,and that was a lot compared to previous years. Now it's almost 50-50 But in some ways it seems we've gone backward in some very frightening ways{just my opinion) Now 2 people need to work to support most families financially as well as a protection in case 1 loses his job. It seems that women who were always viewed as sex objects are still viewed as sex objects but also our bodies and body parts are being seen more as commodities I wouldn't have believed even a few years ago that we'd be out-sourcing pregnancy and childbearing to poor women in India Does anyone really think a parent would want their daughter to say "When I grow up I want to be a surrogate?" The word is being thrown around a lot on TV these days,probably to get people used to hearing it and thinking people are interchangeable Yet, when I first heard about a mother carrying a baby for her daughter who couldn't I thought it was beautiful. I also agree that girls who sell eggs are being taken advantage of because they're mostly naive and inexperienced even though I'm sure they think they're sophisticated and know everything just like I did when I gave up my son.

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  23. Thanks Kate for typing in your name, at the end of your posts, but if you would take the next step and click on the Name/URl and put "Kate" there, it would be easier at a glance to see what's what. Even if you do have an URL and you don't want it showing here, just don't type it in.
    OpenID
    OpenID LiveJournal WordPress
    Name/URL
    Anonymous

    Again, thanks for your addition to the discussion. At sixteen, anyone who has a baby without a great deal of family support is between a rock and a hard place. I was 22 in 1966 and felt the same way--that I had one thing I had to do and that was give her up.
    The difference for me may be that I had an inkling that giving my baby up was going to damn near kill me, and it did. Damn near kill me. I feel like I survived, but in the same way that someone who's had half of their face blown off has "survived."

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  24. "The difference for me may be that I had an inkling that giving my baby up was going to damn near kill me, and it did. Damn near kill me. I feel like I survived, but in the same way that someone who's had half of their face blown off has 'survived.'"

    I wish more mothers and fathers who relinquished could be this direct with their found children.

    I often get the sense that I am a huge bother to my mother, and she is just doing me a favor by answering my questions.

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  25. HDW

    I wish I could say all mothers feel as I do, but long experience in this world informs me I am not. The mothers who really thought they would never see their child again, and shut down somewhere, or didn't get the huge blast of oxytocin that I must have, must have different reactions. I hope your mother is able to come alive again and cherish you, as you deserve.

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  26. No huge blast of oxytocin here, just human emotion and imagination which is so much more complex than hormones:-) I never thought I would see my son again, nor thought I deserved to, but searched for him anyhow when given the opportunity, and am so grateful to know him now.

    HDW, all mothers are different, unique personalities, and many were and are in very different circumstances. There is no way to predict how the person you find will react, and it is a rare thing when there is equal need and enthusiasm on both sides. I am sorry your mother is not showing more interest, but I hope at least is answering your questions even if she seems bothered.

    Some mothers really did not want to raise a child, were not coerced, made their own choice and their own path to live with that choice. Most of the women who comment here are one extreme, mothers who searched or deeply wished to be found. That is not every mother. Nor is every adoptee eager for reunion. We don't get to pick what kind of person we find, just have to accept and make the best of what it is.

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  27. "ow personally several women who have elected to carry a child for another couple (one was familial, 2 others strangers). None of them were coerced, all of them had previously carried children they raised; all knew the tremendous risks involved and all were paid in excess of over $25,000 with all medical and related expenses additionally paid; maybe that's a pittance for some, but to me? That's quite a sum. Would I do it? No. Am I the litmus for everyone? Again, no."
    "
    The whole "reproductive Industry" has become so callous. Making babies here and there...non bio folks raising them and really the child is the only one that has to deal with the outcomes of all of this. Its NOT OK...to randomaly make babies for those that can't. give babies away because college is more important then your own child or family member, pretend that the child will be on their kneews in gratiude because YOU got what youy wanted...I don't know of any child that is concieved and born saying please place me with non related peole...its not right, its sick and the only time its right is when the parents can't truly parent due to mental issues, drug issues, neglect issues. In other words when the child has no home and the new parents are willing to understand the child...not the other way around when the parents need a child,or when its inconveniet for the first mother...and the adult is suppose to be understanding of the mothers pain of infertility(but, but, needed a baby, i needed to carry a baby...or i needed to go to college, i needed to get on with my life...) or be undertanding of the whys of being giving away....the baby, child adult...HURTS no matter how much they are loved or love the rasising parents. there exists a huge disconnect that NO ONE understands. unless they have lived it. I don't care how much a person is "paid"...I don't care how needy either parent is...person most impacted suffers in some way that nomal concieved peole don't. that point is downplayed because babies don't have a voice and by the time they do there is an investment of money and emotion from the parents that any compaasionate pperson can not even voice theirt own feelings for fear of "hurting" someone.

    The only sitution that is somewhat ok is the family carry for another family member...at least the child belongs in that family...but i need to ask what happens if gowd forbid the carry mother dies in childbirth..it happens! the risks are huge..and who would bear the brunt of the guilt..the child...from the children that lost their mother...its all so risky.
    Infertility needs to be accpted, dealt with before innocent children are brought into the equation. Its not ok to just create "babies", give babies away, carry babies(the thought its for money makes me sick, as well as egg/sperm donation...comeon...your giving children away!) and then expect the adults conceived this way, raised this way to be 100% ok with it...be greatful for life, be grateful for food and shelter..blah blah.

    Adults deal with your own issues before bringing children into your craziness....yes, some bio's are crazy but often a biochild will get their own bio family(negating true abuse)...but will huge diffuclty getting the non bio craziness...even if they do have pools and ponies.

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  28. Lorraine and Maryanne,

    My mother didn't have any options. I know she loved her baby.

    I know she is emotionally closed off because she cannot really let me into her life. If she did, she would have to tell everyone the secret.

    I just wish she could share some of her pain with me. (I know I am in an odd relationship when I am the more emotional one.)

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  29. Lorraine said:
    Again, thanks for your addition to the discussion. At sixteen, anyone who has a baby without a great deal of family support is between a rock and a hard place. I was 22 in 1966 and felt the same way--that I had one thing I had to do and that was give her up.

    Yes, Kate, you add to a good discussion! I was 21 in 1969 and I searched when she turned 35!

    Maryanne said:
    No huge blast of oxytocin here, just human emotion and imagination which is so much more complex than hormones:-) I never thought I would see my son again, nor thought I deserved to, but searched for him anyhow when given the opportunity, and am so grateful to know him now.

    I too thought I'd never see her again either! But I had a co-worker who was an adoptee and she encouraged me to search; as at the time I had NO idea I could! It took me 3 years to find out her "real" name and $75 well worth spent! and another year for contact by letter (to her amom's address), as she wasn't "in the system" as they say! LOL! Anyway...

    Maryanne said:
    HDW, all mothers are different, unique personalities, and many were and are in very different circumstances. There is no way to predict how the person you find will react, and it is a rare thing when there is equal need and enthusiasm on both sides. I am sorry your mother is not showing more interest, but I hope at least is answering your questions even if she seems bothered.

    True, Maryanne - very rare that things go smoothly in a reunion... unfortunately! ERRRGGGHHH!!! My daughter has wanted NO contact - so that has been since 2007.

    Maryanne said...
    Some mothers really did not want to raise a child, were not coerced, made their own choice and their own path to live with that choice. Most of the women who comment here are one extreme, mothers who searched or deeply wished to be found. That is not every mother. Nor is every adoptee eager for reunion. We don't get to pick what kind of person we find, just have to accept and make the best of what it is.

    I was never coerced in giving up my baby, free will and all, like Kate, I made a decision! Yes, I do have regrets! I would not be human if I did not... and I continued on with my life when she didn't want contact! I wait...

    BUT!!!! Lorraine! She sent me an "invite" to "connect" on the LinkedIn website!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL! Yes, I have a BIG smile on my face! :0> Had to share! Nothing else has happened since that email (9/27) - and OF COURSE I accepted! So, I guess she is taking "baby steps" and I'm hoping the next one might a letter or email...

    HDW, I'm so sorry to hear that your mother thinks you are "bother". I will NEVER understand some women that just do not want to have anything to do with THEIR children. It's very upsetting!

    Maryanne said...
    I hope your mother is able to come alive again and cherish you, as you deserve.

    I'll say a little prayer for you HDW and hope she does come "alive"!

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  30. Anonymous Anonymous said...

    @anonymous 6:09am

    "Would everyone PLEASE stop trying to generalize all infertility patients as bad people?!"

    Oh Jesus, give me a break. No one is saying all "infertility patients" are bad people. If you did not adopt, why are you so defensive?

    >>My father WAS adopted. My biological grandparents were abusive in the worst way. He was old enough to remember it. However I hear time and time again that infertile women feel they are "entitled to someone else's child." I resent that generalization.

    And while we are speaking of "generalizations", people NEVER generalize first mothers/ families as being druggies, abusive, unfit walking wombs, now do they?

    >>Nobody that I know of has generalized all first/birth moms as being that. However there are many unfit parents out there, both adoptive parents and birth parents.

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  31. Top a' the mornin' to ya'

    I had a sleepless night, which I blame on the killing of my family by the adoption industry. Ugh! Pamper, pamper today!

    Hey HDW!

    I think I have a short video that might help you understand your natural mom. Just click on my name and then in the "Search Box" in the left-hand sidebar of my blogcast, key in "Terror is Non-negotiable!" Enjoy!

    I always knew I would find my child at my child's age of 18. It happened at my child's age of 25. I had to wait until it was safe - until I was doing nothing important in case it didn't go well.

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  32. Just a little basic biology: Hormones--estrogen, testosterone, oxytocin--have a huge effect on our emotions, without us thinking, Here comes the testosterone or oxytocin.

    Wikipedia isn't the bee-all and end-all of sources but it is largely correct and is so in this case:
    "Oxytocin is best known for its roles in sexual reproduction, in particular during and after childbirth. It is released in large amounts...during labor, facilitating birth, and after stimulation of the nipples, facilitating breastfeeding. Recent studies have begun to investigate oxytocin's role in various behaviors, including orgasm, social recognition, pair bonding, anxiety, and maternal behaviors.

    For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the "love hormone". The inability to secrete oxytocin and feel empathy is linked to sociopathy, psychopathy, narcissism,[citation needed] and general manipulativeness. However, there is some evidence that oxytocin promotes 'tribal' behaviour, combining trust and empathy with the in-group with suspicion and rejection of outsiders.

    Not to diminish anyone's feelings, but the love we feel for our children after birth is linked to the hormones our bodies secrete.

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  33. Lee:

    "I hope your mother is able to come alive again and cherish you, as you deserve."

    Correction note: You were quoting Lorraine, not maryanne. Lorraine is pithy but hits the nail on the head.

    I'm in the word business and I think people ought to be quoted correctly. Maryanne said a lot of good things but she did not say that.

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  34. Right, the quote about the mother "coming alive" was Lorraine, not me. I too wish this mother and all who are reluctant to communicate with their surrendered kids would come around and have a change of heart, but in the mean time, they are still very much alive, just living a different kind of life than some of us, mostly burdened by the secret they have kept from those around them for many years.

    HDW, I did not mean to imply that your mother did not love you. Just that some mothers, like Kate who commented here, really did surrender their children out of love, as a real choice, to save them from what would have been a difficult situation.

    As to all those hormones, I guess oxytocin is really "Love Potion #9" from the old song! If hormones are all it takes to guarantee love, why has nobody thought of giving adoptive moms hormone shots to make them love their children?:-) If only life were that simple.

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  35. Kate,
    You wrote: At 16 I made the terrible mistake to have unprotected sex. ... I kept myself and my child healthy throughout a very difficult pregnancy but never intended to parent. I understood even then how completely inadequate I was for the job(on so many levels, not just financially). I arrived at that conclusion long before others knew of my pregnancy. No brainwashing or coercion necessary."

    It sounds like you WERE indeed brain-washed, only by popular culture rather adoption agency staff or your family.


    A different Betty -- a mother who didn't figure it out until much later

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  36. MAC points out (as she does repeatedly) that some mothers did not want to raise a child, were not coerced, yada, yada, yada.

    Doesn't it seem strange, though, that 15,000 women opt for adoption in the US each year and 125 do so in the UK? Is the difference that American women are more likely not to want to raise their children or that in the US there is coercion and fewer resources for single moms?

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  37. Maryanne,

    I completely understood what you meant. No worries. (No two moms are alike. Some care so much that it kills them. Some don't care at all. I think most are somewhere in the middle of the continuum.)

    My mother wanted to keep me, but she was not coerced. Sadly, she lacked resources and parental support. But,she was smart enough to realize that marrying my father would have doomed us both.

    I don't want to impugn my mother's character. For the record, she has never told me that I am a bother. It is just the feeling that I get from her.



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  38. I assumed from Kate's first comment that she did not want to raise a child at that time in her life. On a regular basis a first mother will drop in at FMF or one of the other blogs and write how she wasn't coerced, adoption was a free choice and that it was and still is the best choice for both herself and her child. I tend to take these women at their word. To be frank, these first mothers are not my concern. The person who matters to me is the child. I certainly hope that Kate's son (and the children of the other satisfied relinquishers) is as happy with the decision and outcome as she is. I cannot imagine any child not feeling some sadness that his or her parents didn't want to take responsibility for him and instead chose to give him away.

    I have been reading these blogs and the comments for some time now. When a natural mother gives her child up for adoption it seems that the majority are devastated and that the effects last a lifetime. Many but not all adoptees have a great deal of pain from having been surrendered and adopted. Why, oh why, is it not self-evident that adoption causes so much pain and should only occur under the most rare of circumstances? It seems that this should be obvious to any thinking/feeling person. The reason why is that the adoption industry has brainwashed people. It is the propaganda of Big Adoption and its billion dollar budget that requires so many of us who have lived the awful effects of adoption to spend our time educating about something that should be inherently obvious.

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  39. Kate,
    I can sure see why under the circumstances you gave up your child.

    Your circumstances themselves, though, are an example of reproductive exploitation. A young man took advantage of you and you had to deal with the consequences on your own.

    In Portland, Catholic Charities works with young women who come to it believing they have no option but to give up their child. The agency helps them to understand the consequences of surrendering their child and obtain resources to help them raise their child. If adoption is still the plan, Catholic Charities requires it be fully open. Although many women come for adoption services, only a few place their babies.

    If other agencies followed this model, there would be far fewer adoptions.

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  40. "the love we feel for our children after birth is linked to the hormones our bodies secrete."

    I think it was more than oxytocin during childbirth for my mother. She loved me throughout the pregnancy and always knew that she didn't want to give me up.

    @Anon 10:13pm,
    Great comment.

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  41. HDW,
    A mother who lacks resources and parental support IS coerced to give up her child.

    In societies where women are fully empowered, mothers have the support and resources necessary to nurture their children.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Oxytocin produces the feeling of love, after sex, after birth, etc. To some extent, we feel the emotion of "love" because of the rush of the hormones flooding our systems. Just as fear produces a rush of adrenaline, and we "feel" excited and jump into action.

    It takes a strong motivation to go against that "feeling." The science, which some of you are dismissing as unimportant, doesn't dismiss the real emotions that mothers feel when they have their babies, or firemen feel rushing into a burning building. Science just says this is the physical component to that "feeling."

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  43. I love that term, SATISFIED RELINQUISHERS!

    In the PSYCHOLOGY of being human, "satisfying relinquishment" of our children is called SHUTTING DOWN the part that hurts. Repression and suppression are perfectly normal & natural gifts (defense mechanisms) that humans summon up to get us through the tough times - to help us put one foot in front of the other after trauma and tragedy.

    (We'll see how the satisfied relinquishers feel in a couple of decades! Trust us who have been there - IT AIN'T GONNA' BE PRETTY! We're not saying this to make satisfied relinquishers feel bad, we're trying to change the tide for your daughters.)

    REMEMBER: ALL PREDATORS 1ST GROOM THEIR VICTIMS! In a society there are the vulnerable and the predators: the givers and the takers.

    The victim doesn't know she's being groomed! Over the last 2, or even 3, decades, our young girls have been GROOMED by the adoption industry and religious nuts and other idiots to believe that giving away one's own flesh - n - blood is as natural as picking up a stick of butter at the local grocery store.

    In point of fact, today's generation has been GROOMED to think that it's even commendable to supply kids to the poor little couples who have lots of money and are just patiently awaiting your child in their outstretched arms. By golly, it's your duty to help infertile couples!

    Extracting children from natural families in previous decades was done via blatant coercion.

    Today the coercion is much more subtle. The online ads would blow your mind.

    Please click on my name to see how your young daughters are being GROOMED to think they just might make it to Hollywood if they give their offspring for adoption. The ad makes young women, and girls, think they're gonna' hobnob with celebrities, do lots of shopping, and see Hollywood WHILE doing such a great & GOOD DEED like supplying the deserving waiting couple with a child. Then, even subtle (and not so subtle) GUILT is employed: Everyone deserves to have kids! Come on, be a good person and help your neighbor. You can always have more kids - you're fertile! (But - not always!)

    REMEMBER: Adoption ONLY happens to the most VULNERABLE - plenty of single moms keep and raise their children, as they should. Don't be cheated!

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  44. Addendum to my last comment:

    Another defense mechanism that natural moms use when letting a child go for adoption is rationalization. I'm pretty sure there are others.

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  45. I don't mean to sound professorial in my last 2 comments - like I'm teaching! This is what I've learned across the decades - purely my opinion! I could feel the barrage of scolding coming!

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  46. Caleigh:

    "This is what I've learned across the decades - purely my opinion! I could feel the barrage of scolding coming!"

    No need to rationalize speaking your mind, Cayleigh. Voicing one's opinion is not the same as speaking for other people's minds and second guessing them.
    Just like Kate, you are entitled to your own opinions and to have them accepted at face value, especially when they relate to your own experience.

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  47. I didn't read this post as Jane saying that giving a child up for adoption is as horrific as many of the abuses women are subjected to worldwide. But that having one group of women (i.e. the umarrieds) essentially being used as breeders for the infertile is a form of reproductive exploitation.

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  48. @Robin:
    "I didn't read this post as Jane saying that giving a child up for adoption is as horrific as many of the abuses women are subjected to worldwide"

    Neither did I. How things are taken out of context and turned into a feeding frenzy of "HOW DARE SHE" never ceases to amaze me.

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  49. Thanks Robin, Mom422. Your read is correct.

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  50. It's all reproductive exploitation. It's just a matter of degree as to the severity of the exploitation. It's like different types of homicide--some are murder, some aren't; some are intentional, some aren't; and some carry malice aforethought and some don't. But the victim is just as dead.

    I don't think anyone on this blog, in posts or comments, has ever stated that they wanted the infertile kept from having THEIR OWN children. Go right ahead. YOUR OWN children, with YOUR OWN eggs or sperm, and YOUR OWN BODY.

    I am not a baby-vending machine. Nor is anyone else. If you can have your own kids then do it and with my blessing. But you don't get to use anyone else because as soon as you've done that, you haven't had your own kids anyway. Someone else had them. And risked their lives for a child they will not even raise.

    At least 100,000 foster children languish in United States foster care who can't go home because their parents' rights were terminated. If it's that hard for you to have children then prioritize taking care of children who need homes rather than using someone else's body to do the things yours can't. Do you also intend to steal a marathon runner's feet if you want to be an athlete, or someone else's eyes if you go blind? Living people, now, before someone says I'm against organ donation. Land sakes.

    No, you wouldn't do that. And this is the same darned thing. They're not your Cabbage Patch Dolls. They are the children of the adults from whose bodies they originated.

    By the way, this?

    "I've noticed a tendency on this blog to presume that any woman of a certain age who makes a choice different than that of the blog authors' is uniformed, coerced, foolish, pressured or otherwise negated of any responsibility for their decisions."

    Did you somehow miss that this blog is run by first mothers? Doesn't it follow that THEY MADE THE SAME CHOICE as anyone else they discuss who relinquished for adoption? If you burn your hand on a hot stove aren't you going to warn everyone else away from touching it? Common sense, I would think. Sorry we're not being good dumb-cow breeders who accept our fates with no complaint, but if that's what you want then you need to look elsewhere.

    ReplyDelete

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