' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Today's new mantra: My Baby, Not my Child

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Today's new mantra: My Baby, Not my Child

Lorraine
The heart-breaking, or heart-warming, depending on your point-of-view, story of a 25-year-old first mother coed at the University of Iowa is making news as she decided to photograph and write about her decision to give up her baby. Though the woman, Callie Mitchell, cries a lot, though she cried a lot in the months leading up to the birth, and was ambivalent about giving up her son, at this point she seems quite at peace with her decision, and she and the adoptive parents, according to another report, are in touch much more than their original agreement called for. But first, the back story:

After she learns she is pregnant, Mitchell and her boyfriend plan to marry and raise their child. Her parents are overjoyed--she is 24 or 25, after all, she is not a teen. But things go bad between the couple after he learns that he may not be the father, and that she has lied to him. She thinks about adoption, calls an agency,
Graceful Adoptions, talks to a counselor Karen Nissly, who makes her feel that adoption for her baby is normal, but then Mitchell changes her mind. In a video and written essay posted on The Daily Iowan site, she writes:
July 25: "Today, I have decided I am going to keep my baby. I never wanted to give my baby away. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I want to look at him every day and tell him that I love him. I can feel him fluttering around in my belly, and I want to meet him so badly. I can’t wait to see the amazing boy he grows up to be. Already, I’m so proud of him, so proud to be his mom. I have so much love for this little being. I can figure out a way to make my schedule work so that he is the center of my life. I can still work part-time. I can take online classes so that I can be at home with him more. I’m not telling the adoption agency yet. I want to get everything set up and be absolutely sure I can keep my baby."
'A KID SHOULD HAVE THE BEST UPBRINGING'
But the boyfriend continues to push for adoption. They argue, she resists for a while, but eventually gives up. Back to adoption, where she already has a relationship by phone with Nissly, someone she thinks of warmly, someone not critical of her decision to give up her baby, someone she can joke around with. Before you know it, Mitchell is reading "parent profiles" (sent her by Nissly) of couples who are trying to adopt. She finds one--apparently in Ohio--and after that the process moves forward. Mitchell and the prospective parents, Kristen and Brian Doud, talk on the phone. Mitchell feel comfortable with choosing them. She says in the accompanying video:
"No one ever wants to say, ''I'm giving away my baby and people were like, Why would you do that, why wouldn't you just keep it and take care of it?  People like, think you need to keep your baby just because you had it, but that's not necessarily true. I feel like a kid should have the best upbringing and the best opportunity and if I can't give that to him and there is a family that can't have children, that want children, that want one really badly, and that can provide everything that you can't." 
Well, there you have the nut of what the message we--first mothers from all time--felt was engraved on our consciousness. Someone other than you can be a better parent, because of stability of the home, financial resources, a mother and a father. What is ignored here is the significance of the biological connection of mother and child, and what it will mean to that child if the bond is not interrupted by adoption. This is what adoption counselors do not talk about. This is what perspective "first mothers" are not told. Mitchell does not talk about her parents' involvement in this decision at all.

Before the birth she is crying all the time. Then, in December, she gives birth, thinking..."what it was going to be like hearing my son cry for the first time. What would it be like to not have him anymore?" After the baby was born, she says the baby was taken away and taken up to the Doud's room so they could hold him first. Later that day, she says, "I got to see Leo." At another website, I found a picture of the couple with the baby. Of course they look happy.

At that point, my heart sank for both baby and mother. Well, I said to myself, babies at risk go directly to incubators, no one holds them at all, and a mechanical heart beat is turned on. But still. Adoption is so wrong on so many levels--for the natural mother, for the child--even in cases like this. Mitchell felt it was right that the adoptive parents hold the baby before her. Suddenly the new parents--and they do sound nice, I'm not going to say they don't--are the ones holding this brand new baby. Yet despite all I know now, I remember the scared young woman I as after I gave birth and was facing adoption of my child. I could understand Mitchell's reasoning--she was convinced that she was doing the "right" thing, and so maybe this made a certain amount of intellectual sense. I was having such a damn hard time with my daughter's surrender, I myself chose not to see her. She was in an incubator for two weeks. Following my wild woman reaction immediately after birth, I kept dry tears inside. I did not want to be shot up with some drug that put me out again. And I knew I had to find a way to break the bond with that baby that I felt so strongly, and, right or wrong, not seeing her was a way to begin the process.

BUT SOME 'OPEN' ADOPTIONS SLAM SHUT
That may be the huge and significant difference between Mitchell's relinquishment and adoption of her baby, adoption like that of Kim, who told her story here ( link below) and on the Huffington Post a few months ago. She too was ambivalent about terminating her rights and losing her child. She wrote us privately at FMF's email about her hurt and her pain, and wondered at first if she could get her child back. It was too late. She expressed her angst and regrets on a blog that the parents found. They freaked out and moved to close the adoption as much as possible. After she made the Huff Po video about her regrets, and continuing ambivalence, she received more negative comments from people who expressed a variation of the "You've made your bed and now lie in it," that most of us who write and speak up about adoption abuses and corruption hear at some point.
 
Maybe Mitchell will not go through the withdrawal and pain that most of us who read here have. She and Kirsten, the adoptive mother, apparently email all the time and she gets frequent pictures of Leo, way beyond what was in their open adoption agreement. Mitchell says she is planning a three-day visit in March. We occasionally hear from adoptive parents that they have a very open relationship with the child's birth mother. I've gotten emails from adoptive parents who are distressed that the first mother of their child has broken off contact. One was particularly sad because they had two adopted children, and one mother stayed in touch, and visited, and the other did not. How could they explain this to their child whose mother had disappeared? They expressed love and concern for the children involved. A few blogs back we heard from a women who used the moniker "1stmama" and left comments telling us how at peace she was with her decision, and that she was able to see her child often, and that we were out of touch with adoption today. One adoptive mother whose daughter is now married and in her late twenties told me years ago that she believes that if you want to adopt, you should adopt both the mother and child, bring them both in your home. However, I don't see that happening realistically. More parents want babies without strings, which is one reason international adoption has been so popular. (The other, of course, is difficulty in getting a baby at home.)

OPEN ADOPTION IS A GREAT MARKETING TOOL
However, we do hear of a great many adoptions where the adoptive parents went back on their word and  terminated any openness between mother and new family with child. People move, change their phone number to an unlisted one, poison the well and lie about the birth mother to the adoptee, renege on their "open" agreements; one source that we have, said by a Bethany social worker, is that 80 percent of all open adoptions close. I wish I had a better source for this statistic, but only the agencies would have any idea how many open adoptions close, and they are not sharing the statistics because it would scare away the many women who chose adoption for their babies because they are promised openness. Open adoption is a great marketing tool used by the adoption industry to help convince mothers to give up their babies.

Yet maybe it is a different world out there. But what we know nothing of is how the child is going to feel one day when he comes to grips with the reality of the situation. I can hear children like my 10-year-old granddaughter asking, You didn't raise my mother because...? Perhaps frequent contact with one's biological mother--as Leo at this point appears he will have--will lessen the psychological impact of being given up and raised in a household of genetic strangers, and not lead to the kind of problems that many adoptees have. However, we hear that some children in open adoptions who are in contact with their birth mothers ask, when they are old enough to understand the gist of everything, that their mothers take them "home" with them. The natural mother then has to explain that she can't, and that she agreed to let his adoptive parents raise him, and that he has to stay there. What? is the astounded reaction--You agreed to this?

Nor does Callie Mitchell know that the son she is not raising will be a shadow in her life, all her life.

Adoption as it is practiced in America continues to be one large psycho-social experiment. Only time will tell how it turns out for this new breed of adoptee.--lorraine
_________________________________

SOURCES
My Baby, Not my Child
Heartbreak, hope and healing: Birth mother tells her adoption story


From FMF
Kim's story: How an Open Adoption becomes 'Closed'
An Un-Open Adoption: Adoptive Parents Lie and Break a Mother's Heart

ADDITIONAL READING
The Open Adoption Experience - A Complete Guide for Adoptive and Birth Families Two leading experts provide an authoritative and reassuring guide to the issues and concerns of adoptive and birth families through all stages of the open adoption relationship. One of the authors, Lois Ruskai Melina is the editor of Adopted Child newsletter and serves on the board of directors of the Donaldson Adoption Institute, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of information about adoption and providing guidance for practice and policy change in the field. Melina is also the author of Lois Ruskai Melina is the editor of Adopted Child newsletter and serves on the board of directors of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of information about adoption and providing guidance for practice and policy change in the field. Melina speaks frequently about adoption to professional organizations and adoptive parents throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia. She is also the author of Making Sense of Adoption: A Parent's Guide.

180 comments :

  1. Ugh. One has to question what happened between the "I want to raise my child" to "my child deserves the best upbringing with someone else" phase. One thing most mothers do not seem to think about is ALL CHILDREN DESERVE THE BEST UPBRINGING however we don't see average couples rushing out to give their babies away to the best and richest out there.

    Yes, children deserve the best but the best is a matter of perception. If you want your child to have a pony and a pool and you can't provide that for them and that is all that is important then hey, okay, abandon your kid... however most of us know there is so much more to raising a child than living in the lap of luxury.

    There are many kids being raised by parents doing it tough. But that doesn't mean they are terrible parents. Outside adoption, this is fairly normal. Even adoptive families can struggle financially as life can throw them as many curve balls as a natural family has. But enter adoption and we suddenly see people openly criticising others for having poverty issues (and again, poverty too is a matter of perception), condemning them and saying they shouldn't have children.

    Being a single mother is not forever. And yet that is where mothers feel vulnerable. A boyfriend ditches them and suddenly they feel alone and therefore are thrust into a decision they would not have otherwise made... and the adoption of their child is an uncessary one.

    This is where support be it financial or just moral, comes into the picture. People are happy to throw cash at agencies and mothers to buy a baby but then they get all funny when it comes to welfare and say they don't want to pay for a mother to be on welfare... and yet so many single mothers i know stay on welfare for such a short time while they get on their feet and start working, those complaining are spending less of 'their' money for welfare than they are to buy a baby through an agency!

    As for open adoption, well yes, it IS a marketing tool. So many of us mothers have had emails from other mothers about how they were tricked and lied about open adoptions so they would hand their babies over. It is refreshing to hear of stories where the adopters honour their agreement - but it really isn't the norm and it is impossible to know if that relationship will change in the future.

    This story is very sad.

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  2. ouch! Hurts to hear her story! So much pain and trama but we all say that this is a natural thing? give me a break!

    Parents say they adopt to help the child.... so why not get an orphan?

    I'll tell you why... because they want a baby... they want another woman's child plain and simple... and they are selfish enough to not care is they wond the child for life and another mother in the processs!

    I just do not want to hear all the phony balogna anymore folks.... You adopted another woman's baby because you were desperate and could not have your own baby... plain and simple!

    Stop lying and say the truth... or do you hesitate because you fear that the mother(victim) will never choose to allow you to have her child because she sees through to all your selfishness!

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    Replies
    1. You are so right! The pain never goes away, my daughter will be 49 years old this year and for 49 years I've missed her and I found my arms are empty & longing for her in my life!

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    2. It is true! My Daughter will be 49 years old this year and I have longed for her since she was taken from my womb while I was drugged so much, I do not remember a thing! They would not show my baby to me! This is inhumane treatment for us Mothers to deal with forever!!!

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  3. It is true, we do not know how open adoption will affect adoptees in the long run. I have searched for stories and info and come up with very, very little. When I was pregnant all I thought about was how adoption was so much "better" for my child. I thought even if I live in pain everyday this will be better for her. Now I am not so sure. I find open adoption to be very confusing and challenging. I worry a lot if what I write in a card is ok, do I act appropriately on visits, at the same time I am trying to be my true, authentic self...always trying to think about my child and how my interactions with her will affect her today and in the future. At the same time, I am thankful I do have an open adoption. I am hoping, over time, this will somehow become easier and her life will be blessed by having me involved in it.

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  4. I've communicated with many mothers who are at peace with their decisions. They are all over the internet, on many adoption pages. There is very little concern with how adoption affects the children in many of these posts. The mothers are assured that the children will understand, as long as they are still in contact and the adoptive parents are doing a good job. As an adopted person, it hurts me to hear what these mothers have to say. That they are at peace with giving their us away. I don't understand how that can be. I've never been at peace with my mother's decision for me. I was adopted to fill a need, to do a job. That was my mission. One I did not want or choose.

    I guess it's selfish, but I was glad to hear that my mother was never at peace, that she wanted to raise me and felt she was unable. Our relationship is not good. I think too much damage was done to both of us.

    I am the mother of 4, and I can't imagine ever being at peace without any of them. Of course the Mommas who are at peace wish me well, and hope someday I can be like them. I don't think I ever will be. One mother said she chooses to be at peace. I wonder how that is done? How does one choose to be at peace? Is it really just a matter of will? I don't choose to suffer, but yet I do.

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  5. As an adoptee (albeit closed), lately I think asking a woman to have a baby and then not be a full mother is asking her to behave like a sociopath. Some women will believe they are capable of this sociopathy and will sprout rainbows about relinquishment and often give up more children (or not allow themselves to have any) bolstering their hideous self perception. Others will feel this role fits like a hair shirt and come to their senses. God bless them. These angry (hurting) women are at least still sane.

    As for the children, we will likely not need studies. We already know what children want. Unless subjected to abuse, they could care less about parental happiness. They want their mommies and daddies, to not be different, and to not be bent into pretzels to make adults happy. Simply growing up is hard enough.

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  6. I am a Mom of a 27 yr old daughter who I relinquished in an extremely rare and unheard of open adoption. Even though my daughter and I had ooen access to each other at all times I can still see things she had done that stem from being adopted. Ive watched her self destructive behavior in relationships, seem her jealousy towards me, my husband and the two kids we had.

    Kids in open adoption still have the trauma of separation from their Mother at birth that Im sure felt like abandonment. The growing up they see their Mom with her other children and how their lives are without him/her there daily and imagine would wonder why she/he couldnt have been kept too.

    Then there is what the birth mom in an open adoption expeeiences. She still feels the deep pain and sorrow from the trauma of losi g her child...even if she knows she will see him again...that grief doesnt dimi ish. As her child grows she watches her child call another womam Mommy and run to another for comfort and love.

    I agree...open adoption is just a selling point.

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  7. Thought you might want to see the comments this story generated on Metafilter, a site where all sorts of things appear, not something specialized in adoption.

    http://www.metafilter.com/125383/My-Baby-Not-My-Child

    Most of the comments do not see this as a happy ending and many question why she was not helped to keep her baby. The general public is not always so rah rah adoption.It was gratifying to see this.

    Anyone can read Metafilter, but you must pay five dollars to join, a one-time fee, to comment.

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  8. I would like to say to any new readers who may find themselves here that there are many stories about fraudulent open adoptions out there, including some on this blog that were not included in the links.

    Educate yourself. Don't get caught in this con; this lure, because that is all it is. Make an informed decision, not a decision based on what people may promise you. As soon as you relinquish your rights adopters can and do (in 80% or more of open adoptions)cut you out and leave you in the lurch. If and when they do this, you have no legal recourse and they know this. They and the baby brokers they are paying very well for your infant don't want you to be informed. Don't let this happen to you...

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  9. It is clear that the author of this story did not talk to any of the parties as so many of the details/facts are in correct.

    Of course, because the comments are reviewed and "approved" prior to publishing, you will only see/read what the author wants you to see/read.

    If the author is going to use other peoples lives to continue her quest to redeem her own decision, at least she can get the details right and have the professionalism to contact those involved.

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  10. I honestly don't think anyone (even children from very early open adoptions) know what will happen in this new generation of adoptees. There is so much awareness and education out there that we closed-era adoptees didn't have. I would have loved to have access to books, movies, and other media that talked about people who shared my story. I think that would have made my life seem a little less lonely.

    It's possible that they'll harbor the same scars that I carry. It's also possible they won't. I don't think anyone can tell yet. Let's give it few years before we start dooming them to adoptee hell, shall we?

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  11. Interesting fact: I left a comment at the Daily Iowan site where this story is posted two days ago, but it has not been approved. I was polite but, let's say, not a fan of her decision for herself, or the child.

    My guess is that she is getting quite a few less than complimentary comments and so is not allowing them to be posted, as she probably is the one monitoring the comments. Her Facebook page is not available to anyone.

    Oddly enough, it seems to me that the adoptive parents, the Douds, are the heroes of this story so far. Someone was going to get Callie's baby, and they have opened up the adoption much more than required. Somewhere I read that when she goes to visit, she and Kirsten (the amom) are getting complimentary tattoos. I'd love to be able to revisit this story in ten, fifteen, twenty years.

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  12. It truly sickens me that right below my post telling women to make an informed decision and not get lured into a fraudulent open adoption, is "Karen Nissly's" snarky comment with a link to a baby broker site.

    The vultures are out in full force, even on your blog.

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  13. As an adoptive mom, I can't imagine anything lower than promising an open adoption and then closing it once I have the child. I adopted through foster care and I only wish my daughter's mom and dad were available/open to more of an open relationship.

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  14. Here's the article which mentions the complimentary tattoos.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2284554/Callie-Mitchell-Students-photo-essay-giving-child-adoption.html

    It also quotes Callie as saying that she's exited to get her life back.

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  15. Miss Nissly: I read and wrote down what is published on the Daily Iowan site. Since that is what is being promoted at the website of Graceful Adoptions, since that is what is trending now, that is what I used. It was confusing about her details regarding to give up for adoption, or not, and back and forth, but I did my best with how she posted it and presented herself. I for instance, got the strong impression that the Douds saw the baby first before he was brought to Callie--maybe she did see the baby for a moment in the delivery room, but she says nothing about that--yet after he was cleaned up, he first went to the adoptive parents, and later to Callie, the mother. That much is clear from the original story.

    And it is clear that Callie did like you, that she could joke around with you and you made her feel adoption was a normal thing. Do they not live in Ohio, like I thought? Please inform me what needs correcting from the story Callie Mitchell posted, I will correct them.

    In a Huff Po interview with Callie later, she says that she did not want to have other children. Did you inform her that this might be one of the "normal" reactions to giving up a child? See the Donaldson Institute Report on Birthmothers for the statistic.

    I do wish you would point out what is so incorrect, other than the spelling of your name, which I just caught myself. Without specific errors, your charge is baseless.

    Correction: Karen Nissly's name is spelled Nissly. It was incorrect in an earlier edition of this post.

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  16. These type of stories hit me on two fronts.

    First and foremost - the adoptee in me is screaming how on earth could anyone ever justify doing this to the adoptee who was given away in this story (yah I know that isn't the PC terms). To read or watch the video of how you came to be an adoptee - wrong. Just like those shows they cast to give your baby away. The person in the very middle has from the time before they were even born, had their privacy destroyed forever. Unconscionable, and once done that cannot be undone.

    The second is how incredibly sad that as a society we revel in the destruction of a family to create another one. We refuse to acknowledge what science is telling us - the stress hormones (cortisol) that is pumped inside a stressed pregnant woman cross to the baby but the levels the baby get due to size impact more. They have found this from pregnant women during the ice storms in Quebec in the late 90's, the floods in Australia this century where they were already in a maternity study. The children born had higher cortisol levels - all at a very crucial time when neurons are created and later when synapses are formed. Stress is discouraged in pregnancy, but yet people encourage pregnant women to choose adoption which is stressful and no one can deny that. Stop and think about how that affects the adoptee throughout their entire life, because it explains many of the facts about adoptees in studies already done.

    One day society will judge this era.

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  17. This is a heartbreaking story and when I read it, it made my stomach hurt. She obviously wanted her child. It took me back to when I was pregnant and how I desperately wanted to keep and raise my child and be a mother to her...but thought I couldn't for different reasons. I am glad, at this point in time the adoptive parents are going above and beyond to make her feel loved and included and I hope it continues. Open adoption is not the "cure" to a mothers pain though...I think, in time, she will regret making her story so public whether her adoption stays open or not.

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  18. Lorraine - I enjoyed your commentary. I had seen this story also and had conflicting feelings. There are positives to open adoption, yet the instability of those "contracts" sets up more heartbreak. Your comment about her son being a shadow in her life was also my thought. Whether anyone wants to believe it, the subtle pressure for adoption, motivated by shame and the suggestion of a not so pleasant future for those who don't relinquish is still alive and well in the industry. There is much territory to gain yet in promoting raising your child and providing help and resources for single mothers who have decided against both abortion and adoption.

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  19. A vulture? Not hardly! We are the agency that matched Callie with Kristen and Brian.

    I agree with you, Margie, that mothers should go into an open adoption with caution. Not all adoptive parents keep their promises which is one of the worst things you can do to a birth parent who has blessed you with their child.

    Most of you should know that there is no state in the US that will enforce an open adoption (or any other post placement communications plan) by "punishing" the adoptive parents. There has to be a level of trust and respect between the parties.

    In this case the plan was for much less communication, although continual for years to come. It was the relationship they built before and after Leo's birth that was the catalyst for the change. These are two families (birth and adoptive) who care and respect eachother very much.

    While I understand how difficult it is to see and read about something that you may not believe in, it was Callie's hope that she would give her voice to a story that is often untold.

    There are over 50,000 US adoptions each year. We have never worked with birth parents that say, "I don't want to raise my child." The details of their story may vary, however the pain and emotions do not.

    Anyone who thinks that making an adoption plan is easy for any
    mother and father is wrong.

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  20. While I appreciate that each adoptee may have their own issues to work through. To say that every adoptee is angry or sad about adoption is just uneducated. And I'm saying this as an adoptee.

    While I have struggled with understanding my adoption many times over, I have never once wished I wasn't adopted. My parent did a great job in raising me and my three siblings (all adopted). We all have great careers, marvelous families, and generally health outlooks on life.

    Of my siblings, only two of them have searched for their birth parents. My sister and my younger brother. Both of them have found some degree of relationship with their birth families, but neither has been very healthy.

    I read adoption blogs from all sides now because I'm also an adoptive mom. And while yes, there are some VERY angry adoptees out there, there are also some very happy, well-adjusted, and pro-adoption adoptees out there too.

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  21. Once again the innocent, voiceless children are being used as guinea pigs. Open Adoption is just another social experiment just like the BSE was. All of the premises of the BSE were held as right and true back then and now so many of us are coming out of the wordwork to share our stories about how much damage the BSE gospel did to our lives. Why should anyone think it is any different now? I don't think we are so enlightened that we have now figured out how to make adoption a good thing for children. I guess we will just have to wait until this next generation of adoptees are old enough to tell us if this latest manipulation of their lives has f$#ked them up.

    I would have been traumatized to have my n-mother visit me while keeping my siblings. And then being raised in a family with bio-kids and seeing that they were also kept. That would have been very hard to deal with.

    I have no sympathy for Callie. She is 25 y.o. and there is plenty of information out there about the lasting negative effects of adoption on both the mother and the child. It's not as if she's a 17 y.o. whose parents threatened to throw her out of the house if she didn't relinquish, and hence, had no choice.

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  22. Roya: Everybody handles being adopted in their own way.

    Not every adoptee searches, not every birth mother searches. Jane and I never say that every adoptee is unhappy or sad, that is your inference leaping to a conclusion about us.

    But there are enough problems of all kinds among the adoptee population to be significant.

    Curiosity is generally seen as a sign of intelligence, of the examined life.

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  23. Karen Nissly wrote:"We have never worked with birth parents that say, "I don't want to raise my child." The details of their story may vary, however the pain and emotions do not.

    Anyone who thinks that making an adoption plan is easy for any
    mother and father is wrong. "

    Wow, Ms. Nissly, you certainly have misread what this blog is all about and what most of the comments say. We don't think it is easy to give up a child (or in your parlance "make an adoption plan"), we think it is absolute hell and believe very strongly that except in a small number of circumstances that first parents should KEEP their babies. Most of us think that the effects from relinquishment on both the mother (and sometimes the father) and the child are damaging and long-lasting. We certainly don't think it's easy to give up a child and that's why we don't think the vast majority of mothers should. I believe that all that pain and negative emotions are nature's way of telling the mother she is making the wrong decision if she goes forward with the adoption.

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  24. I didn't misread the blog or what it's all about, I just don't agree with it.

    Sure, SOME adopted children have issues. However some biological children have issues too.

    It's obvious some of you are hurting from your experience. For that I am truly sorry. I hope that you will get help so that you can turn your frustration, and perhaps anger, into something healthy.

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  25. Robin @ 4:12 wrote: "I believe that all that pain and negative emotions are nature's way of telling the mother she is making the wrong decision if she goes forward with the adoption."

    You know, about 4 years ago, I had to make the decision to take my father off of life support. He was in a coma and couldn't eat, drink, or breathe on his own. His brain function was minimal, but showed he was in pain. Because I am the only child and my mother had died instantly from the same car crash that had put my father in the coma, the decision was mine. I didn't want to. No part of me wanted to let go of my father. But, I knew what was best for him, and that was to release him from the pain he was in.

    Did my "pain and negative emotions" about letting go of my father mean I was making the wrong choice?

    Or when I made the choice to break up with my abusive fiancee. That involved a lot of emotional pain and emotions. But, it was the right choice.

    Emotional pain is just natures way of telling us we care and that we don't want to let go…even if we have to.

    I think it's amazing that even when a first mother says she made the right choice or even seems content with her choice, readers here say that they are still drinking the kool aid. When I relinquished, I was in agony over it. But, over time, those feelings of agony have faded into something less sharp. I made a choice. It was painful, but it was no more painful that letting go of my father or breaking up with a man who beat me.

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  26. Karen Nissly wrote:It's obvious some of you are hurting from your experience. For that I am truly sorry. I hope that you will get help so that you can turn your frustration, and perhaps anger, into something healthy. "

    Ms. Nissly,
    I don't need your patronizing comment. First of all, your business depends on natural parents giving up their children. If 99.9% of mothers kept their babies, you would be out of a livelihood. So I do think there is quite a bit of a conflict of interest there. Secondly, your industry is based on the premise that having children given up by their original parents and raised by strangers provides a better life and is in the best interest of the child. I think this premise is faulty and dangerous. But then again, I don't make my living separating children from their families.

    Susan wrote:"Emotional pain is just natures way of telling us we care and that we don't want to let go…even if we have to."

    I believe that in many cases, the mother and/or father don't have to let go. I believe that is why there are so many stories of regrets, realizing coercion that they didn't see before, etc. But I do hope that your relinquished child is happy that s/he was given up for adoption.

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  27. @Karen Nissly:

    "It's obvious some of you are hurting from your experience. For that I am truly sorry. I hope that you will get help so that you can turn your frustration, and perhaps anger, into something healthy."

    Ahhhh, her we go... Bitter Bombs coming, duck!!

    Lady, don't tell us to "get help". That is why we are here, to get support from people who has lived what we have. Reading others words have been of more help to me than anything else, so what are suggesting by "get help"? How fraking condescending. Don't even go there. No, you aren't sorry for any pain we are feeling or have felt. It bothers you as an ADOPTER and a BABY BROKER to read what is written here. GOOD. Adoption ain't all rainbows and sunshine and we are here to prove it. This isn't the only blog which tells these same tales, either, so don't even try to suggest we are just a select few bitter, angry mothers. The internet is rife with stories of how negatively adoption has effected our lives and it's got folks like you scrambling. I find that very interesting, for those who claim to "care" so much.

    Why don't YOU get help for your entitlement of another woman's flesh and blood, your baby broker tendencies and stalking first mother sites to denounce what they say. All of the above are quite creepy and disturbing

    ReplyDelete
  28. Let's shift our talking points for the moment to the infant adoptee who is the one who really might suffer. I lost my child to adoption when I was a teenager in 1969. Although I searched for and found my child, I never was successful in getting her to understand the set of circumstances that led to adoption. The resulting anger created a rift that had a very negative impact on our reunion. If my child didn't "get it" in term of understanding my forced "choice", how in the world will this infant adoptee understand his mother's "choice" when he matures. I bet he won't. His mother will have a hell of a lot of explaining to do.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Myst...

    I'm an adoptive mom who is fighting like hell to keep our son's adoption open. My husband and I have made a commitment that we will never keep our son from his first mother and vice versa. We have, gone from the mandatory 4 updates a year to weekly letters/pictures back and forth. Once his mom is released from jail, then we are talking about visits, phone calls, and whatever other contact his first mother is comfortable with.

    Most of the adoptive families I know have been opening up their adoptions over the years, rather than closing them. In fact, I can only think of one adoptive family who has closed their adoption, and that's because the first mother is (and always has been) bi-polar/borderline personality and was making threats against her child.

    I'm just saying that some of us are trying really hard to foster the best relationships we can between our adoptive children and their first parents. I believe that that's the new norm, rather than the converse.

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  30. Karen Nissly wrote: "It's obvious some of you are hurting from your experience. For that I am truly sorry. I hope that you will get help so that you can turn your frustration, and perhaps anger, into something healthy."

    Good grief - you would think the industry could come up with a new dodge the reality statement. The rhetoric you are using is so boring.

    The day I was born I lost my mother. How do you turn that into a good experience? Would you tell the child whose mother passed away how awesome it was, and how great an experience that was? There is nothing good about losing your mother on the day you were born.

    As to mothers who lose their children to adoption. Losing your child hurts, it's like ripping your insides out, but yet your body keeps on producing milk to nurture that little one you created. You want to die just to be with them one more time. The sheer agony leaves you without words, or ability to function, sometimes just getting through the day seems like more than you can possibly manage - your baby is gone. There is no cure that I have found - I'm going into my 29th year now and you know what? I firmly believe having my son pass away was easier on me - than what mothers who lose their child to adoption go through every single day for the rest of their lives.

    So yes, I have empathy for what mothers just like my mother go through and trust me pat phrases don't do anything. Thinking positively only masks reality.

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  31. Ms. Nissly as someone who makes her living as a baby broker you have no credibility here. So your little arrows are missing their mark. How much money did your agency make off of the sale of Callie's baby? Pretty it up with "positive" language all you want, but "making an adoption plan" is still giving away a child. Any industry that makes over a billion dollars per year coaxing women to go against a fundamental human nature is a dirty industry. You traffic in the sale of human beings.

    I wonder, are you trained to undermine a woman's self-esteem so that she will question her ability to be a good parent? When you are counseling do you use the words "brave and selfless" when you refer to her giving her child to someone (with the resources to pay the fee) more worthy to parent? Do you pitch the labor, delivery and hospital visit like its a given that the prospective adoptive parents will be present, hovering around to make it even more difficult for your "client" to change her mind?

    For what it's worth, many of us work tirelessly on reforms to the industry. Many of us work in our communities to help young people keep their family intact. And the adoption industry is there every step of the way to keep roadblocks in place.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Karen Nissly wrote:
    "There are over 50,000 US adoptions each year. We have never worked with birth parents that say, "I don't want to raise my child." The details of their story may vary, however the pain and emotions do not."

    Karen, We're curious how you convince your clients to exchange their babies for pain and emotion.

    I suppose you begin by calling them birth parents even though they're not even parents yet.

    By the way, the number of adoptions in the US is about 130,000 per year, not 50,000. About 15,000 are voluntary stranger infant adoptions.

    ReplyDelete
  33. How awesome is it that the following posts appeared on my twitter feed...

    The Cradle‏@CradleAdoption
    It took a lot of strength, tears, and thought in making that decision. (link to a birthmother story)

    Sheri Molnar‏@SheriMolnar
    The IRS is now accepting tax returns that include the #adoption tax credit! (link to get that refund for a portion of the money spent getting the baby)

    No, we aren't a commodity...no way it's just all so awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Yes, R.T. make sure you reiterate that his mother is in "jail", one mother is "mentally ill..." We need to keep up appearances, right?

    Adoptive parents can be "mentally ill" too and go to jail too.

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  35. R.T. aka Rain
    We get it. You are awesome!
    You do everything right. You've never made a mistake in your life and you fart rainbows. Adoption is so wonderful.
    Everybody here is keeping this in mind and have forgotten our own issues with adoption because we are blinded by your glory.
    Happy now?
    Stop looking for pats on the back and go raise your kid. Sheesh!

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  36. As I neared the birth of my 2nd child, years after having given up my 1st in adoption, I too struggled between wanting to raise my baby and fearing I'd so deprive the child of a better home. I too had been convinced by the baby's father that adoption, if not abortion (his preferred choice) would be better than my single-parenting our child.
    Eventually, I kept my second child--but I could not get entirely away from the voices/arguments that an adoptive home would have been better for him. And these, combined with the near-impossible situation of an impoverished, isolated (my parents were dead) single mom, caused my raising of this second child to be, to put it mildly, poor; I'm well aware that he'd have been more whole, despite what adoption loses, with the rather fine and open adoptive parents I had found for him. This is the unfortunate fact, and came about in large part from the silence and fear around adoption issues, I think--and from the lingering effects of the condemnatory comments heard so often from a baby's father to the woman that dad would rather not have the child.

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  37. This story was utterly devastating to read. I truly hope for the mother and her child's sake that the adoptive parents honor their commitment to an open adoption.

    @Karen Nissly

    Graceful Adoptions, the agency from which you earn your living, is engaging in grossly unethical practices. Pre birth matching in and of itself is coercive by nature. Allowing prospective adoptive parents to be in the hospital while a mother is giving birth is reprehensible. Encouraging women to sign termination paperwork while still recovering from childbirth is reprehensible. Offering scholarships for women who choose to relinquish their child instead of choosing to parent is blatant coercion. Offering up open adoption as a real option to women, knowing full well that the adoptive parents can close the adoption at any time is nothing less than bait and switch.

    Given all of these issues, Karen, perhaps you should rethink your career choice and get in the business of helping mothers and their children stay together instead of earning a living from tearing them apart.

    You should also be aware that every single one of your comments here is full of cliched rhetoric that we have all heard before. Angry, bitter, so sorry you had a bad experience, and so on and so forth. You should come up with some better material if you want anyone to take you seriously.

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  38. I agree with Leenburke, prebirth matching is just wrong. Totally coercive. Having PAPS and adoption agency workers swooping in like vultures at the hospital is just disgusting to me. I truly don't know how someone can do it-walk away with someone's newborn baby while she is standing there crying.

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  39. Re Susan: Did my "pain and negative emotions" about letting go of my father mean I was making the wrong choice? Or when I made the choice to break up with my abusive fiancee."

    These are exteme cicumstances that warrant difficult decisions. You compare them to giving your baby away so I wonder if you were planning to be abusvie or if you thought you were on your deathbed and had no other options?

    Most of the women here believe adoption can be suitable for extreme situations. But we don't think it's suitable for garden variety life-style choices like wanting to go to college or satisfying the demands of our consumer culture (or satsifying church leaders, parents, the local PTA, or men who refuse to buck-up).

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  40. from Karen Nissly:

    "It's obvious some of you are hurting from your experience. For that I am truly sorry. I hope that you will get help so that you can turn your frustration, and perhaps anger, into something healthy."

    Pray tell, Mrs. Nissly, what would be "something healthy?" Becoming adoption advocates? Blogging about how giving up our children saved our lives, and let us go on to be productive members of society? Taking up gardening, joining a book club or opening a boutique?

    You have no f^%king clue what you are talking about. One of the comments at the original page where Callie's story appeared talks about how if someone was so on the fence about marrying someone, should she go ahead? In any other situation, the answer would be no, but with the adoption industry, no matter the misgivings, vultures like you are pushing the mother to give up her baby.

    I did not use the word "vulture" lightly.

    How do you sleep at night?

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  41. Anon March 5, 12.29 PM, are you a first mother or an adoptee?
    And what kinds of circumstances would you regard as extreme enough to justify relinquishment for adoption?

    ReplyDelete
  42. I am constantly amazed at how rude and condescending people are in the comments. Yes, fellow first moms, I'm talking to you. Must we always fall into the trap of being snarky and mean? Are you not capable of seeing how your comments are simply painting a more dire picture of the entire community of first moms?

    A AP comes here and says she's fighting to keep her adoption open. Great! Shouldn't we be praising that? Another first mom says she's reached a good place with her decision to place. Wonderful! Shouldn't we be congratulating her?
    An adoptee says she has a good relationship with her APs and first mother. Isn't that a good thing?

    We can't change what happened in the past. The APs aren't going to give back our children. So, instead, shouldn't we be doing what we can to foster good communication with them. If for no other reason than they might learn something from us if we aren't sniping at them?

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  43. @Anon 12:29pm,

    I also did not agree with Susan's analogy comparing her situation with her father and with her ex-fiance to giving up a child for adoption. Even if they could all, to a degree, be put under the umbrella of feeling compelled to do something that is emotionally painful .

    Her father was in pain, bedridden, unable to function at all and it sounds like he would never regain his functionality. What Susan did was merciful to him. I doubt that either Susan or her relinquished child would have been in physical pain and having no chance of a normal life if the child had been kept.

    And as for her fiance, ending an engagement is always painful. It's the loss of a dream. But Susan HAD to end it to protect herself. This man is an adult and he is responsible for his own behavior and his behavior was endangering Susan's life. I doubt that the relinquished child was being violent to Susan and that she had to give him up to ensure her safety. Any woman who ends an abusive relationship should be shouting Hallelujah and feeling good about herself. I don't think this is the appropriate response to giving away a baby.

    I don't know Susan's story and maybe in her case, adoption was the right answer. But I think in her comment she made a very unfair and inaccurate comparison.

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  44. I am new to reading here--only been reading for a couple of months--but I too am a first mom like Beckky who feels we shouldn't dump on people who are doing their best to keep an adoption open, or other first moms or adoptees who express an opinion that most of the commentators do not share. Some first mothers become judges, others are in jail. Let's get real, and pull back the claws while still fighting for change in the system. We don't have to be "nice" to everyone, but how about at least to those who are in this with us?

    Because i am probably going to be dumped on now, I will be anonymous for now.

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  45. @Becky:

    "So, instead, shouldn't we be doing what we can to foster good communication with them."

    I think the blogs that are written here do a great deal to foster communication from the natural mother perspective. The "snarky" comments come after people like Karen Nissly comment. I am not going to go over what they were. You can read.

    I am sure you can also read comments such as "no one held a gun to your head", "you made your bed, now lie in it", "god willed it", "should have kept your legs shut", and the like. Aside from the few ap's who have come here in peace and understanding, how would you propose that we "foster good communication" with people who say such things, who only try to put us in "our place" and tell us not to be so "bitter and angry?"

    How about they don't dictate to us how to deal with ambiguous grief of losing our children to adoption and there will "better communication".

    I won't arse kiss anyone, especially people who think they are entitled to someone else's children, then come here to denounce what is said. We all know who they are.

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  46. @Becky:

    "Another first mom says she's reached a good place with her decision to place. Wonderful! Shouldn't we be congratulating her?"

    Actually, no, I won't be "congratulating" anyone for losing their child permanently to adoption. Never. She can feel how she wants to about it, but I won't be celebrating in the loss with her.

    So we are painting ourselves so poorly here, are we? I don't agree. Why is that, because we can actually stand up for ourselves? Speak out? What is so wrong with that? Nothing, that's what. We are just supposed to sit back and get kicked in the teeth, time and time again? I don't think so. Thanks.

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  47. Agreeing with anon 4:06. Every time a mother says she at all at peace or accepting of her choice to surrender, or her open adoption is working, other mothers jump all over her. There are many different circumstances and ways to feel about adoption, but only the most negative are accepted and encouraged.

    This has nothing to do with insulting comments made by some adoptive parents here or elsewhere; or about social workers justifying themselves. It is mother on mother scorn heaped on those who do not feel as badly as some think they should about being a first mother. I am just as disgusted as any of you with those who say they are content so we all should be just as happy,but I do not see how generalizing that we should all be forever miserable is right either. Those not generalizing but speaking for themselves like Susan should be allowed to tell their stories too.

    The fact that I should not have surrendered my child and have always felt terrible about it does not extend to every woman who ever gave up a child, and someone having a different perception of her own life and actions does not threaten me or make me want to attack her or wish her ill. I respect that other people do feel as they say, even when their feelings are different from mine about the same event.

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  48. @Mary: I've been around these parts a while, and it's not just the Nissly's of the group who get dumped on. Adoptees, first mothers, and APs ALL get dumped on in the comments. Even when they are being genuine and curious, especially adoptees and APs are the focus of some ire in these comment sections.

    Of course some people leave stupid comments, that's the nature of the internet. But, the people who are here to help communications are generally making decent comments.

    I don't see many APs coming here trying to tell you how to behave or feel. I see a lot of first moms taking offense at innocent comments because they are sensitive about this or that.

    You honestly don't think that we need to have better communication in order to improve the adoption industry? I'm not here to be a bully to you or anyone. I'm here to hear what Jane and Lorraine have to say, make the occasional comment, and remind myself to work towards a better future. In my book, a better future won't happen if we just piss people off.

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  49. @Kim: Yes, you are painting us in a poor light when you (or anyone) makes nasty comments or dismiss the questions/comments that others make here.

    I'm not saying you should celebrate the loss of a child. I am saying that if a first mom is in a good place, it's not any one's role to beat up on her for that.

    I think we should stand up for ourselves. But standing up for ourselves DOESN"T include making others feel badly for simply commenting. In my mind, we should be using our voices to do good, not to hurt/tease/anger those who are trying to understand our pain.

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  50. I sometimes post my feelings about adoption on Facebook pages run by pro adoption people. This is a reply I received yesterday. Sounds sickeningly familiar.

    "ALL of our adoptions are absolutely free, including all three of mine. However even in private adoptions no one is putting a gun to anyone's head and birthmothers, from what I understand are the ones who seek out the adoption agencies, as they are not legally allowed to beat down your door or steal your baby, and they still have 72 hours after the births and after the child has left their arms to change their minds and get them back. It's sad that some may feel they were manipulated but it is always their choice and they are even given the opportunity to handpick a family for their baby if they so choose. Many people have encouraged me NOT to adopt and tried to manipulate me by telling me to "have my own" instead, saying what I do is weird and unnatural, and spreading rumors that I must not be able to have my own kids to be doing this...but I am not going to listen to people trying to make me feel bad or influence my decisions because that is part of being a grown up. I'm all about seeking out counselling and support groups to help people through the trauma of having given up their baby, but if they are going to call up an adoption agency and sign the adoption papers and not change their minds during their 72 hours when they are allowed to change their mind, then that was their decision as a grown up and they need to learn to live with it. Regardless of foster care adoption, private adoption etc, the adoptive parents that signed on the dotted line to love and care for that child until it dies....those are the child's parents, not it's caregivers, it's parents."

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  51. Becky, Anon,
    One of the purposes of FMF is that first mothers feel free to say what they think.

    If you disagree with a comment, you should address the specific comment rather than tossing around general criticisms about commentators,

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  52. Adoptomus,
    The ignorance of the adoptive mother who posted this is revolting.

    If you respond, you might point out out that few states give mothers time to revoke their consent. Those that do, often require mothers to prove that allowing her to revoke her consent is in the best interests of the child, something virtually impossible for a mother with few resources.

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  53. Jane, specifically in response to your comment of 1.21 AM, do you really believe all first mothers feel free to say what they think here, without fear of getting dumped on?
    I don't.

    ReplyDelete
  54. My post above shows how many adoptive mothers really feel about natural mothers, despite all the "brave and selfless" talk going around. This woman is raising adopted children. Attitudes like hers are very clear to her adopted children. She shows contempt for natural mothers. My adoptive mother felt this way, and it was a toxic environment for an adoptee to grow up in.

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  55. @Becky:

    "In my mind, we should be using our voices to do good, not to hurt/tease/anger those who are trying to understand our pain."

    You hear "trying to understand our pain" in what some of these people post here? That is the least of what they are trying to do.

    I happen to think this blog does a fine job of "using our voices for good". It is the people who come here to denounce what is said, with not ONE ounce of empathy or understanding that turn it into something else.

    Please don't be condescending or tell people how to use their own voice, thanks.

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  56. Adoptomus--I'd love a link :-)

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  57. @Becky "I am saying that if a first mom is in a good place, it's not any one's role to beat up on her for that."

    I think we are suspicious of their intentions since we have seen a number of "happy birthmoms" become shills for the adoption industry. Even if they don't become an officical advocate for adoption, their words are often bastardized by the industry to keep the supply of infants coming.

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  58. @adoptomuss

    That woman sounds like a nasty person, here's what you can say to her.

    "However even in private adoptions no one is putting a gun to anyone's head and birthmothers"

    Rape victims don't always have a gun put to their head neither when they are raped. Does this mean it was still the rape victims choice, that they were raped? The whole "no held a gun to your head" excuse is getting old. You should feel bad, cause you are making a woman feel bad for not giving you her baby.

    "those are the child's parents, not it's caregivers, it's parents."

    Like I said on this blog before, if that's the case, then nannies should be given legal rights to the children they raise. I have talked to former nannies that have got laid off and always talk about how the children screamed and cried in tears when the left.

    Speaking of nannies, I always find it funny how APs love to make the "only parents this child has known" excuse. But at the same time, it's usually those wealthy APs, that hire nannies. LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  59. Here is the link to the Facebook page the comment is on:

    http://www.facebook.com/AdoptUsKids?ref=stream

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  60. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  61. I asked Anon and other critics to state specifically what in the comments theydisagreed with and why.

    Here's anon's response.

    "Jane, specifically in response to your comment of 1.21 AM, do you really believe all first mothers feel free to say what they think here, without fear of getting dumped on?
    I don't."

    Again, anon, please state the specific material in comments you disagree with. Why do you think this material is causing the perceived fear on the part of some first mothers?

    Thank you.

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  62. Jane, I am not the anon you refer to, but here are specific examples of mothers not free to state her feelings without getting dumped on:

    Susan wrote: "think it's amazing that even when a first mother says she made the right choice or even seems content with her choice, readers here say that they are still drinking the kool aid. When I relinquished, I was in agony over it. But, over time, those feelings of agony have faded into something less sharp. I made a choice. It was painful, but it was no more painful that letting go of my father or breaking up with a man who beat me. "

    Susan was talking about herself, but Anon 12:29 replied: replied:"These are exteme cicumstances that warrant difficult decisions. You compare them to giving your baby away so I wonder if you were planning to be abusvie or if you thought you were on your deathbed and had no other options?
    Most of the women here believe adoption can be suitable for extreme situations. But we don't think it's suitable for garden variety life-style choices like wanting to go to college or satisfying the demands of our consumer culture (or satsifying church leaders, parents, the local PTA, or men who refuse to buck-up).
    These are exteme cicumstances that warrant difficult decisions. You compare them to giving your baby away so I wonder if you were planning to be abusvie or if you thought you were on your deathbed and had no other options?" Nice way to treat another mother, eh, not mention a lot of reasons for surrender that were very real to many mothers in the past.

    Robin criticized Susan for her analogies as being incorrect, yet analogies of adoption to death, the Holocause, slavery, are frequently seen here. Robin said:

    "I doubt that the relinquished child was being violent to Susan and that she had to give him up to ensure her safety. Any woman who ends an abusive relationship should be shouting Hallelujah and feeling good about herself. I don't think this is the appropriate response to giving away a baby."

    I think the points Becky made were perfectly clear and referring to these sorts of responses to mothers who express any degree of acceptance of having surrendered a child as Susan did. Specific instances of those not totally against adoption getting ridiculed and dumped on.

    Finally another anon at 4;06 said: "we shouldn't dump on people who are doing their best to keep an adoption open, or other first moms or adoptees who express an opinion that most of the commentators do not share. Some first mothers become judges, others are in jail. Let's get real, and pull back the claws while still fighting for change in the system. We don't have to be "nice" to everyone, but how about at least to those who are in this with us?

    Because i am probably going to be dumped on now, I will be anonymous for now."



    ReplyDelete
  63. Maryanne,
    The comments you quoted in paragraphs two through four express disagreement with the authors about their justification for placing their babies for adoption.

    Disagreeing is not dumping. If the dumping accusers are intimidated by those who disagree, the accusers may not be convinced of their viewpoint in the first place.

    Those accusing others of dumping are intellectually lazy. Rather than defend their positions, they call their critics names, ie. dumpers. Anon 4:06 also acusses critics of putting out the nails, a sexist comment designed to shut up critics fearful of appearing "bitter and angry."

    When all else fails, call us 'bitter and angry'first mothers

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  64. Maryanne, I think someone else here said it best:

    "I think we are suspicious of their intentions since we have seen a number of "happy birthmoms" become shills for the adoption industry. Even if they don't become an officical advocate for adoption, their words are often bastardized by the industry to keep the supply of infants coming."

    That sums it up for me, but I for one don't chime in when a mother say's she is "happy" she lost her child to adoption. I simply do not know what to say, so I say nothing.

    I know one thing, I won't be celebrating with her. I know the other end of coming out of that fog all too well.

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  65. I think it is very important to point out the kind of false comparisons that I think Susan is making. They make sense on the surface, but that is exactly the type of faulty logic than an adoption agency will use to encourage a surrender. I wouldn't be surprised if Ms. Nissly was taking notes to add this to her bag of tricks (if she isn't already using them).

    And thank you, Jane for your comment at 3:02 pm.

    @Anon March 6 9:19 am,
    I agree.

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  66. Hi RT,

    Responding to your comment... it is commendable when any adoptive parent makes a commitment to their child's family. However, I know this is not the norm although it is great you know a group of people who are like yourselves.

    Over the last 15 years, I have seen so many adoptions slam shut; my own slammed shut and it was only when I literally grovelled and agreed to obey all their rules (which led to a non-relationship with my child and it was all about her adopters) that they opened it again.

    And that is another point, many mothers are in phony open adoptions meaning many will not do or say anything to upset the adopters of their child in case their fragile relationship is totally closed on them. Many mothers play the game, lie, be false, anything so they can catch a few hours with their child. And that makes it even worse really.

    Open adoption was only introduced as a way to encourage more adoptions... to me that is truly sickening; I cannot understand how anyone would think that was okay.

    I am certainly not dumping on you, merely I disagree that it is the norm for promises etc to be kept as I know far too many people where thise is simply not the case and have read enough blogs of PAP's and adopters to know how they truly feel about the concept of open adoption.

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  67. Jane I'm not upset by those who disagree with me. I'm upset by the first mothers, adoptees, and adoptive parents who believe that just because they had a good/bad adoption experience, means that that's how it's going to be for me.

    I relinquished many, many years ago. Yes, it was painful, but I did the right thing for me and for my child. When I've commented here before that I know I've done the right thing, I'm told that I'm still in the fog or a shill for a adoption agency. Just by suggesting a level of comfort with adoption on this sight gets other first mothers riled up to the point of name calling.

    A 5 or 6 posts ago (don't have time to look it up) someone said that I should "be ashamed" for my comfort with what I did. And on this post, I've seen other first moms who are okay with what happened get verbally slapped a few times.

    I am not some whipper-snapper who just fell off the turnip truck. I've been around the block a time or two. I've been coming here for years to read what you and Lorraine have to say (agreeing and disagreeing at various times) It's only been recently that I feel really exposed and worried by some of the views expressed by your readers.

    If I can be honest, it feels like it's become almost a gang war on your sight. Adoptive parents vs first moms vs adoptees. Even your tone has become snide and snippy more than it used to when addressing the adoptive parents who wander over here.

    I support adoption reform. I support your mission. What I don't support is the idea that first moms have to conform to being either "in the fog and happy" or "out of the fog and angry". And that is certainly the direction I see the posts and comments trending.

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  68. Fornowanon wrote:"I support adoption reform. I support your mission. What I don't support is the idea that first moms have to conform to being either "in the fog and happy" or "out of the fog and angry". And that is certainly the direction I see the posts and comments trending. "

    YES! Those two extremes seem to be the only ones recognized. In fact I do not see those mothers who come here saying they are "happy" or glad to be rid of their child. It is more like some feel they now accept that they did a very painful thing, but one they felt was right or the lesser evil at the time.

    Emotions do not work that way, you only have the choice from column A or column B, black or white, happy or furious. Mothers feel many different ways about surrendering, and these feelings may change over the years but are sincere when they are held. Some were never in "the fog". Some see some light filtering through, some create their own fog of endless anger and hate. There is more than one way to be fog-bound in adoption.

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  69. "What I don't support is the idea that first moms have to conform to being either "in the fog and happy" or "out of the fog and angry"

    You "feel exposed and worried by some of the views expressed by your readers", because of their opinions? Worried about what, because they have an opposing view?
    Why is that a cause for "worry"? What is one going to do because they don't agree? It's called an opinion and this is a forum.

    Feel the way you want about your own life and experience. Don't "worry" that someone does not agree with you.

    What about those of you who are so happy with losing your children, who call us "angry and bitter" who are not so happy? Should we be worried? I'm not.

    Now it's tit for tat between those who are happy and those who aren't. The cattiness never ends...

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  70. Jane, Anon March 6, 2013 at 6:52 AM here.
    I was clearly responding to that part of your response to Becky and Anon in which you said "One of the purposes of FMF is that first mothers feel free to say what they think."
    You then went on to say to Becky and Anon "If you disagree with a comment you should address the specific comment rather than tossing around general criticisms about commentators."
    I'm not the same anon commentator as the one you were addressing there, but never mind.
    There was nothing "general" about my comment. It was *specifically* disagreeing with that *specific* part of your *specific* comment in which you *specifically* claim that FMF is a place where first mothers feel free to say what they think.

    You asked "Why do you think this material is causing the perceived fear on the part of some first mothers?"
    Like I said, I'm not the same anon as the one you are referring to, but if you want an example of what I would call "dumping", here's one from the previous thread: "I keep picturing your comment going into the compost bin..."
    Compost bin? Dumping? It speaks for itself.

    I don't think anyone with a modicum of self-respect is going to be willing to stick around to be spoken to like that, no matter how brashly or insensitively they introduced themselves into the forum. It's the kind of talk that hardens prejudices. It doesn't change hearts and minds. It doesn't "win friends and influence people". It's not "educational".
    And I am quite sure it would be intimidating to most first mothers who feel that, in spite of everything, they made the best decision they could under their particular circumstances. How they deal with that decision and live with it is their business. Telling someone that what they believe is garbage, regardless of whether one agrees with them or not, is going to inspire a strong negative visceral reaction - call it fear, call it disgust, call it anything you like, but it's not just a perception on their part. It is real. I also believe it to be counterproductive to your cause as it is spelled out under "What we believe" at the top of your page. And that makes me sad because I believe in that cause too.

    BTW, calling people who disagree with you "intellectually lazy" is a cheap call and another very good example of the kind of thing I mean.

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  71. Ditto to the last Anonymous comment. I think I am the first Anon who commented a few days ago about the general tone of the comments to anyone who disagrees that adoption is the worst possible thing that could happen. I am a first mom and I have come to some sort of peace with my decision. I can't undo it. I see my child about once a year. I am neither "happy" about it, nor "proud," which is ridiculous, but neither do I hate the adoptive parents. We are all trying to get through this as best we can. Adoption was really a terrible thing for some mothers and some adoptees but some of us don't get stuck there. It would be nice to have a place where our opinions and feelings were respected by others and I don't think FMF is that, most of the time. I don't pretend to speak for my son, but I was in a place where I did not feel I could raise him at the time. He seems to understand. What else am I supposed to do?

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  72. Kim said:"Feel the way you want about your own life and experience. Don't "worry" that someone does not agree with you."

    I agree that everyone has the right to feel they way they want about their own experience and life. But that is not what is happening here. "Disagreements" are about concepts and generalities, not someone else's description of what happened to them and how they feel about personal experience.

    Mothers are not just being disagreed with about their own life and experience, they are being told that their feelings are wrong, abnormal, and if true, make them a bad mother. They are being told that their way of describing their own life and feelings is possibly dishonest and faulty. They are made to feel unwelcome.

    When this is done by social workers or some adoptive parents who call those of us with bad experiences, and I count myself among them, "angry and bitter"and worse, we are insulted and feel marginalized and silenced, and rightfully so.

    But when we turn the same kind of scorn on mothers who have made some peace with their experience, telling them that they "drank the Kool Aid," are "in the fog", are "just beemommies" or shilling for adoption agencies when they try to describe their own experience, not that of all mothers, we are doing the same thing in reverse.

    Yes, I know there are unscrupulous agencies that use young first moms to promote adoption, and am just as disgusted with this as any of you, but I do not think these are the women who comment here.

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  73. Thanks for censoring my last comment. You allow only the opinions you see fit? I won't bother again. I bet you will never censor "Maryanne", when she is the one who stirs the post most.

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  74. This article came out on yahoo yesterday, just thought it might interest you.

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/planned-parenthood-nyc-teen-pregnancy-psa-bloomberg-182816020.html

    There is a lot of people in the comments, saying nasty things about teen girls who get pregnant. They are even saying all the shame and stigma from the 50's, needs to come back and that the billboard in the article, says the truth. They are also saying Planned Parenthood needs to be shut down.

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  75. I'm the nasty culprit who made the compost bin comment. It wasn't my intention to dump on anyone. I was amused that the poster used the word compost instead of compose. It really did make me smile because I make mistakes like that all the time.

    I don't judge women who are at peace with their decision. Frankly, I'm as at peace as possible with the loss of my son. But, I will admit the scolding and chiding for not being nice drives me crazy. Why come here to finger wag?

    I admit it, I am angry. I'm angry because adoption practices seem to be getting get worse as the money people are willing to spend to purchase a child goes up, way up. Our voices are important; our messages are important. I think people read and see varying levels of pain, frustration and cynicism towards the industry. That's not a bad thing in my opinion.

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  76. This site depresses me so much. I rarely read anymore because of all the "you're wrong" comments I see. First mothers telling other first mothers how they should feel. First mothers telling adoptive parents they are greedy, unloving, and pigs. Adoptees telling first moms that we don't love them. Adoptees telling adoptive parents they are just waiting for them to die.

    Jane, you asked for specific examples. I think the comments on the post from 1/19 do a great job of illustrating just how "bash-happy" your readers can get. Do you really think that those two adoptive parents deserved that? Really? You basically let your readership beat up on two adoptive moms who were at least doing more than my daughter's adoptive parents ever did! I've seen a lot of adoption blogs and at least those two are trying.

    Or, the comments on 2/15's post.

    Just on this post, there's a first mom who was told it was shameful that she felt like she was in her good place in her adoption. Why are we doing this to each other? Why?

    I feel like the first mother community is so fractured that no good can come from even trying to talk to each other.

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  77. This site depresses me so much. I rarely read anymore because of all the "you're wrong" comments I see. First mothers telling other first mothers how they should feel. First mothers telling adoptive parents they are greedy, unloving, and pigs. Adoptees telling first moms that we don't love them. Adoptees telling adoptive parents they are just waiting for them to die.

    Jane, you asked for specific examples. I think the comments on the post from 1/19 do a great job of illustrating just how "bash-happy" your readers can get. Do you really think that those two adoptive parents deserved that? Really? You basically let your readership beat up on two adoptive moms who were at least doing more than my daughter's adoptive parents ever did! I've seen a lot of adoption blogs and at least those two are trying.

    Or, the comments on 2/15's post.

    Just on this post, there's a first mom who was told it was shameful that she felt like she was in her good place in her adoption. Why are we doing this to each other? Why?

    I feel like the first mother community is so fractured that no good can come from even trying to talk to each other.

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  78. Kim,
    We haven't censored any of your comments. We don't know what happened. Please submit it again.

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  79. 1983,
    Please be specific about which of the comments on our January 19 and February 15 blogs that you consider "bash-happy." There are 96 comments on the January 19 post and 77 on the February post.

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  80. Kim your entire comment is right where it was. I quoted a part of it that I agreed with, did not censor it, and indeed have no ability to censor anything on this blog. The blog owners have said they cannot even censor or change a comment once it is up so I certainly cannot. Anyone can quote from any post, that is not censoring.

    I have in the past sent comments that were not printed, as have others and as is the blog owner's right at their own discretion. I get no special treatment here.

    Here is your entire comment I just copied, since nobody censored it.

    Kim said...

    "What I don't support is the idea that first moms have to conform to being either "in the fog and happy" or "out of the fog and angry"

    You "feel exposed and worried by some of the views expressed by your readers", because of their opinions? Worried about what, because they have an opposing view?
    Why is that a cause for "worry"? What is one going to do because they don't agree? It's called an opinion and this is a forum.

    Feel the way you want about your own life and experience. Don't "worry" that someone does not agree with you.

    What about those of you who are so happy with losing your children, who call us "angry and bitter" who are not so happy? Should we be worried? I'm not.

    Now it's tit for tat between those who are happy and those who aren't. The cattiness never ends...

    March 6, 2013 at 6:16 PM

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  81. I see that I put my comment under the wrong post.

    As an outsider looking in, since I am not a first mother, I think that the blog authors have been very generous in allowing many different points of view about adoption in their comment section. The purpose and scope of FMF is to stress the fact the adoption is not the win win that our culture makes it out to be, not to provide what some consider a 'fair and balanced' picture of adoption.

    I don't think Lorraine and Jane have any obligation to give a lot of space to first mothers who are happy and at peace with their decision to relinquish. And I don't think they are attacking these first mothers and telling them that they don't feel how they say they feel.

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  82. Guys:

    Jand and I are open to all points of view, and let them be expressed here--even if we don't agree.

    Adoption is such an emotional subject because it got to the heart of our very being, our children, the next generation. A friend of mine was infertile by the time she tried to have children, and I know that even now, in her sixties, she still struggles with coming to terms with not having children. She did not adopt. My only point is that the issue we are dealing with goes to the core of our being and emotions are raw, feelings are very tender. I've been very critical in the past of women who give up their babies today, when it seems like they should not--as in this post--but I don't want to beat them up. It's the industry out there vying for those babies that makes me crazy. See the sidebar for the ad for an agency that one of our readers found on the side of a truck. If that's not gross, what is?

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  83. This is obviously no longer a "first mother forum". It is a forum for people troll to tell first mothers how to feel, what to say, when to say it and how to say it.

    Don't say this to adopters. How dare you. Don't say it that way. How dare you. Don't feel that way. How dare you.

    No thanks. I am no longer living my life for the comfort of others, especially those who gain from the suffering of another. I have already lived through the hell of people dictating that to me all these years. No one is going to do that now; especially those who have not lived thorough it...

    How dare YOU.

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  84. @whocares

    I haven't noticed anyone saying we can't say what we want. I think it's more a matter of how things are being said. Criticism the adoption industry? Yes! Blame all adoptive parents for the pain you went through? No. There's been a lot of name calling on this forum and a lot of shame being thrown around. Name calling and shaming people for their actions is not productive.

    I'm sorry you've been through hell. Many of us first mothers have. Personally, I don't like to see people being told what to say, but I do think there needs to be some respect and compassion for all sides of adoption.

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  85. "Personally, I don't like to see people being told what to say, but I do think there needs to be some respect and compassion for all sides of adoption."

    Couldn't agree more, and think that more people could be recruited to the important cause of adoption reform if we honoured people's decisions around surrendering or keeping as individual, personal decisions that are neither right or wrong, only good or bad to the person making that difficult decision.

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  86. I am puzzled by readers who say they are happy with their decision, that giving up their baby was the right decision for them but also state they are committed to adoption reform. If the system worked for you, why would want to change it?

    Conversely, if you want changes in adoption, then I would think you would have some dissatisfaction with the system.

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  87. This is not a closed list serve, as some other discussion groups are, so while Jane and I are first mothers, and Linda (who no longer writes for the blog), the comments have been left open to anyone.

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  88. @Jane
    It's not that simple, at least for me. Yes, I would love to see changes made to how adoptions are performed. Less money exchanging hands, more unbiased counseling, more time before papers are signed, and legally enforceable contact agreements.

    All that being said, I knew what I was getting into. I had first-hand knowledge of how hard relinquishing my daughter would be. My 2nd cousin and good friend had been raped and decided to relinquish. She went through a lot of hard times, both from the rape and the loss of her child. But, five years later, I found myself in a situation that I couldn't see my way out of. I had never been inclined to be a mom and didn't have any motherly aspirations. I was in a good place in my life and didn't want to give that up. Selfish, yes. But, I knew my daughter deserved better than a half-assed attempt at being a mom.

    Of course it was harder than I expected. I went through a depression for a while, and then I was angry, and then I eventually came to a sort of peace about it. I had a lot of counseling, I did a lot of writing, and I joined a support group. Peace didn't come easily, but it came.

    In all of this, I know there are women out there who don't have the emotional support I did, the ability to get counseling, or even know what the emotions they are going to feel are (which I at least had a clue about).

    I don't like anyone to be taken advantage of by big business. I don't think that the adoption industry cares a lot about the feelings of first mothers. So, of course things need to change, doesn't mean that I think my choice was wrong.

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  89. Thyme,
    Where did your child's adoption take place? How well did the process work for you? What, if anything, would you have changed?

    Thank you.

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  90. Jane, for many of us it is not just a matter of what happened to us personally, but seeing an injustice and a system that is corrupt and fighting it. Why fix a system that worked for you to some extent? Because as a compassionate person you can see it is broken and hurts many others.

    Once again, I do not see the word "happy" used by many mothers who surrendered who still have made some kind of peace and acceptance with their choice. I have known mothers in open adoption, and also adoptive parents, and adult adopted persons, who feel that their adoptions are ok, but still see the injustice of sealed records, the ridiculousness of the amended birth certificate, and the questionable tactics of the adoption industry.

    It can start out personal, as it did for most of us older first mothers, but if a personal bad experience is the only real reason to support adoption reform. we are only turning away potential supporters and not going to get anywhere but around the same tired circle of talking to ourselves.

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  91. @Maryanne:

    "It can start out personal, as it did for most of us older first mothers, but if a personal bad experience is the only real reason to support adoption reform. we are only turning away potential supporters and not going to get anywhere but around the same tired circle of talking to ourselves."

    "Personal bad experiences?"

    You sound so flippant. I liken losing my child to fraud a crime against humanity, not to be taken lightly. If you want to bow down to the almighty baby brokers and their paying customers have at it, but I won't be. I would think crimes against humanity would gain many supporters. If not today, one day it will. Thanks.

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  92. Believe me, Kim, I was not being flippant nor did I take the loss of my firstborn son to adoption lightly. I am lucky to be alive, given the devastation the loss of my son caused me. You do not know me or my story, but it included being sent to a frightening psychiatric ward after delivery because I was mistakenly thought to be suicidal, threats of the state hospital if I continued to try and see my child in the nursery, and severe post-partum depression for months that was ineptly treated while my son was in foster care. This ended with my finally "giving up" in every sense and surrendering. My child did not end up in a good home, which I did not know until many years later.

    I was one of the first mothers, like Lorraine, speaking out for adoption reform in the 70s. I do not take any of this lightly or flippantly and adoption has badly impacted my life, although reunion has made some of that better.

    However, my story is not every mother's story; it is mine, as yours is yours, and I respect that others have had different experiences and outcomes. All of us matter, and all of us are needed to try to make adoption more honest and humane for those who come after us, and provide many more helps to mothers to keep their babies where adoption is not really necessary.

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  93. @Kim
    I don't think anyone mentioned anything about bowing down to the baby brokers. At least for me, I'm pretty confident that adoption reforms will not happen if all we do is yell about our own bad adoptions. I don't bow down, but I try to see all sides of adoption, not just my own.

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  94. So standing up for yourself when people make the types of comments I have read towards us are "yelling"? I beg to differ.

    You have your stories, others have theirs. You have your way of dealing with it and others have theirs.

    Lastly, righteous indignation (e.g- bitter, angry, hateful birthmother) is not that bad when it comes to crimes of humanity, as far as I am concerned. Being the obedient, amiable a** kisser got me nowhere. That is just my personal feeling. We are all entitled to our own.

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  95. As an adopted person who had a very difficult time with being given away by my own parents and who did not land in the greatest adoptive family, I have a hard time with comments from first mothers who don't seem to have a clue how adoption affects the child.

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  96. Robin,

    Me too! Some 1st mothers do mention the child that put them in this position in the first place and but many talk about how their decisons affectd THEM..especially the "happy ones" Ok so they are happy and peaceful hope their child is too. Really believe we are seen as just a "pregnancy and horrible lasting event in their lives. Not the fact that that pregancy and horrible even actually produced a live human that is very much affected and maybe in not such a good way. Not wanting to be a half assed mother? You are one when you gave your child to strangers because you had a better life then what your childs live was worth. These little pregancys and horrible events are really just a symbol of the mothers pain or joy..the more I read the more I see it. I find it so sad to all the new adoptees in both closed and open adoptions. I see it in surrogte and donor babies...What i see needed in reform is for all the parents and society in genral to value these littles ones as more then just a symbol of their pain or joy of being mommy or daddy. they are indivual humans that will react to a misunderstood event of being removed from their 1st mother and given to a 2nd mother and grow up being told how wonderful it was.

    Do I want the mothers to feel SOMETHING for losing their child...yes...do i want them to suffer for ever..no of course not but to say you are HAPPY is just sick in my mind. Its proof the child does not matter as much as the mothers do...

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  97. Yes, it's hard for us to read about mothers who are "at peace" with their decisions. I always wonder if their children feel the same way. But I know my parents never considered my feelings at all. They have told me as much. They never saw me as a fully formed person with my own life, I was just "the baby" more of an abstract idea then a person. Just so much sickness involved in adoption.

    Unfortunately, I know my only peace will be in the grave. I will never do anything to harm myself, but sometimes I feel that I was never meant to be, and death will be welcome. My birth was the worst thing to happen to me, and my parents, and that is a terrible thing to know.

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  98. @dpen and Adoptomuss,
    I am glad to see that others feel the same way. Of course, I was not referring to our bloggers or the many women who are regular readers here. But it seems like a new group of first mothers has shown up who are so 'happy' and 'at peace'. When I think of how destructive adoption can be to the child, something in me just snapped.

    And adoptomuss,
    I am sorry for your pain. I wish you did not feel that way. Maybe we all have a purpose in being here, to dispel the myths about adoption.

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  99. Robin: it is serendipitous that you brought this up because I wanted to thank you for your support a month or so ago when one of the "at-peace" mothers became the pet project of a group of adoptees. I pointed out an incongruity of message in an adoptee space and was told I was unsupportive of a woman's right to place a child (again with adoption as a reproductive "choice"), which made me feel ill. I saw you had piped in and said something similar to what I was thinking. If these women are at peace, fine. But then let's focus on what the future may hold for their children, who are mostly under the age of ten. Maybe they will be at peace, too. But maybe not. We can rule nothing out as they are too young to speak for themselves. And it does take a great deal of intellectual maturity and distance to see that a woman who does not *want* to parent--and says so publicly--might not be prepared or willing to make sacrifices necessary to do a good job, but emotionally the message might hit quite differently. Especially if one *is* her child.

    I agree that we should be respectful, but we do not have to subjugate ourselves, either, when things seem very wrong. So I hear you on the frustration!

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  100. Adoption can never be considered as a " reproductive choice" because as soon as a child is born the reproduction process is over and done with. An adoption can only take place after birth, and only after a woman has been given time with her child and an opportunity to make a truly informed decision should it even be considered. A person who is able to convince themselves that adoption is a "reproductive choice" is the victim of their own twisted mental contortions.
    It seems to me that the latest kerfuffle over the term "at peace" is largely about semantics.

    How would "come to terms with" sit? Much better, in my opinion. At least it doesn't sound like something written on a gravestone.

    Although women can and should be encouraged to parent and supported when they do, they can't be forced to, and shouldn't be derided if they don't.
    It might help if certain people would drop throwing around silly childish insults such as "beemommies" when referring to these women. We may not always approve of or understand their decision, but they don't deserve to be mocked.

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  101. Ms. Marginalia wrote:"I agree that we should be respectful, but we do not have to subjugate ourselves, either, when things seem very wrong."

    I totally agree. We don't always have to be open-minded and understanding when we know how potentially damaging adoption can be to the child. I did get some flak for my (admittedly) tasteless analogy, but at the time I couldn't think of any better way to get my point across.

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  102. Robin: Prey tell, what was your "tasteless analogy?" Email me at forumfirstmother@gmail.com rather than start the whole commotion again.

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  103. I have never been able to comprehend why a person such as Karen Nissly comes to a group like this to shove her opinions down the group's collective throats.

    If you disagree so vehemently then STAY AWAY!

    If you want to truly learn about other people's feelings and experiences then do what I do: Sit on the sidelines, honestly absorb what is being said and keep your mouth shut. (Although I do occasionally comment if, like now, I want to be supportive in some way.)

    How can someone who has never lost a child, been an adoptee or adopted a child have a real clue as to any one of those points of view?

    I am an adoptive mom who is trying to inform myself by coming here. I don't presume to know the depths of anyone's pain or experiences.

    It is hard to admit that I was clueless when we adopted our son. I wasn't naive enough to think he was a blank slate (although I'd never even heard that term used in conjunction with adoption) but I truly didn't know what he might face as he grew up.

    It might (?) be reasonable to say that I am the flip side of a first mother's experience in the sense that many women here have said they did not know the damage adoption would do to their children or to themselves.

    I did not know.

    Furthermore I had no idea that there is such a lack of therapists equipped to deal with adoption issues.

    I must agree with others who have said that open adoption is NOT some be-all/end-all solution to an adoptee's needs. Nor I suspect, for a first mom's needs. (Although my son's mother hasn't told me as much.)

    I'm afraid that too many adoptive parents who think that everything is sunshine and roses for their child are not really "seeing" their child. I'm not saying "all", I'm saying "too many". Let me point that out before I get slammed.

    My son will be eight this month. We have an open adoption. He has access to every member of his family that has wanted a relationship with him. This includes both parents, grandparents on one side, aunts, uncles, siblings...

    In other words his biological and adoptive families have tried to give him all the love and support we can.

    But do you know what he wrote on a school assignment just a few days ago? "My family loves me. I hate myself."

    I don't know how we are going to help him.

    I surely cannot be the only adoptive parent in the world who has a child write or express such a thing. And yet I never see things posted here or elsewhere to that effect which is why I said I think too many a-parents refuse to see the truth.

    Open adoption is better than closed adoption for all the obvious reasons but it is no solution.

    I wish Callie Mitchell well and I hope her son never feels how my son feels.

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  104. A second mom said: "But do you know what he wrote on a school assignment just a few days ago? "My family loves me. I hate myself.""

    Well much more that the above comment - and all of it with so much grace and an open spirit. Beautiful.

    But to the quote...

    I wouldn't even begin to believe that I know what your son is going through, or even why he said that - want to make sure that you understand that what I say below is solely based on my experience, but it may get you thinking of ways to get your son to open up.

    I didn't have an open adoption but mom and dad were far advanced in not needing to be our "only" parents, and were very open about our other family (no qualifier before the term mother etc), and never said anything negative about them.

    I felt loved and I still felt flawed - a flaw others could see that I could't, and that (the flaw) was why I wasn't good enough to fight for to keep.

    I know realistically as an adult that is such a weird thing to think and feel - but as a child, I needed a reason why I wasn't good enough to fight for to the end of the earth - because the definition of family to me is that you do whatever it takes. Adoption is not part of that equation. (not trying to say adoption is not a good solution and am sure you get that I didn't mean that).

    Perhaps that can provide an opening to talk about it?

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  105. Adopted Ones: Thank you for your response, and the insight you provided. Feeling loved and still feeling flawed...that is the saddest legacy of adoption.

    warm hugs to you on this gray chilly morning where I am.

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  106. Second Mom: I just read your post again and got tears in my eyes for your little boy.

    Part of the reason that so many therapists are not equipped to deal with these issues is because society in general does not want to acknowledge the grievous pain inflicted on so many who are relinquished and adopted. Food for a post.

    Again, thank you so much for your insights here.

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  107. @ theadoptedones:

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I was crying as I wrote that last night and HOPING that an adoptee would weigh in.

    What you're saying about feeling loved and flawed at the same time makes sense to me. I can see why as a child you'd feel like that and it sure appears that my son feels something very similar...

    And I get what you're saying about adoption not being in the equation. It is not what is supposed to happen (ideally) between a mother and child, or a father and child. To a family... period.

    Your suggestion IS a good conversation starter. I just hope I can find the right words to let him know that I understand that the whole concept of adoption must not seem normal to him and yet I don't want HIM to feel abnormal because he's adopted. Does that make sense? I think that is what scares me most about asking him about all of this. I don't want to make him feel weird...

    As I said on my previous post, I was just completely clueless when he was adopted but thankfully I landed on an adoption support group a few years ago that is run by first moms and adoptees (on another site) and that taught me what NOT to say.

    "You're special because you're adopted."

    "You grew in my heart instead of my tummy." (GAG!)

    Well, you get the idea. I think the most important thing I learned NOT to say was the old standby:

    "She loved you so much and wanted you to have a better life."

    So a child would most likely equate love with being given away. :(

    I'm sure you've heard all this sort of stuff before...My point being is that I "think" I know a lot of what NOT to say, but am very nervous as to what I SHOULD say. But then again maybe I shouldn't say much at all but try to get him to talk so I can listen...right?

    Ugh - I'm nervous and rambling. Sorry!

    I've already heard the "you're not my mom" statement a few months ago and we got through that without a hitch so why am I nervous?? Maybe because it breaks my heart to think of him being unhappy.

    When he hit me with the "you're not my mom" deal, I told him that I was not the mom he was born to but that I was the mom who is raising him and that he has two moms and two dads. When he realized that I wasn't mad, he seemed like it was such a relief for him to hear that. He truly looked like a huge weight was off his shoulders. He almost physically looked lighter.

    Sorry for the long post and hope I made sense. Thanks so much for replying. :)

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  108. @ Lorraine:

    Thanks for always making me feel welcome when I comment. I started to write you on Facebook privately about this but when I read this post it seemed relevant to put it here.

    One wonders if Callie Mitchell had heard stories like the one I've related if she would have still thought adoption (even an open one)was best for Leo...

    And you are completely right about the therapist issue. A little over a year ago we were referred to a child therapist and at the first meeting with her (without my son) it was mentioned that he was adopted.

    Oh my! She was ready to gush about adoption! Her brother was adopted! She was an older woman (translation: different era/mindset about adoption) and I was skeptical about her abilities to be objective enough to think that his anger issues could be adoption related.

    But with insurance limitations on providers, and being in a somewhat rural area, I figured our choices were limited.

    So we gave her a shot.

    He liked her and always seemed happy to go and see her. Things rocked along okay. Then one day I was expressing upset feelings about how a teacher at school was continually interacting with him (as in things were going badly) and all of a sudden she comes out with:

    "Not everyone is going to like him." with the added kicker of: "Do you think this is because he's adopted?" and the look on her face showed clearly that she thought I was an idiot if I thought so.

    I hadn't even mentioned the word adoption! I was relating my unhappiness about his teacher and whether she thought it would be harmful to him to get him switched out to another class in the middle of a school year.

    Her comments were completely out of left field and had nothing to do with what I was saying. But in my mind it was quite revealing about her in general.

    Soooo we never went back. Ever.

    Well today is a rambling day I guess - sorry! Just rolled out that story in order to agree with you about the fact that therapists don't seem to be any different than society at large.

    "Problem? What problem? Adoption is a problem?" SIGH.

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  109. @2nd mom,
    What a powerful comment! It is so nice to hear from an adoptive mom who doesn't keep her head in the sand but tries to really understand the experience of adoptees and first mothers. I think that the issues you raise and the questions you pose all stem from the same root. The message of what adoption is, how it affects people, how one should feel/think about it, etc., at least in the U.S., is coming from the powerful, well-funded adoption industry.

    As for therapy, I think that mainstream psychology still sees adoption as just another way to build a family. And I think the wrong therapy can do more harm than good. As you know, with the limitations on health care in this country, adequate counseling is only available to the ever-decreasing percentage of us who have excellent health insurance or plenty of money to pay out-of-pocket. It does get frustrating that the negative impact of adoption is still not taken as seriously as it should be. Hard to believe this is still true in the 21st century.

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  110. Second Mom:

    (And any other adoptive mothers): What I have heard from some therapists is that the child will come in for a first visit, or the therapist meets the parents who lay out the problem, as they see it, and just as they are leaving, the adoptive mom will turn around and say, Oh BTW, he's adopted, but that has nothing to do with this...."

    Or the kid in therapy doesn't want to bring it up because that's not the problem, right? My daughter told me how she used to lie to her therapist and not tell her the truth because the truth was too hard to tell.

    Like Robin, we do love to hear from parents like you struggling with real issues. I love what you said to your son when he shot the "you're not my real mother" at you. I would think that your response, like you said, would lift a weight off his mind because he said what he was thinking and you did not freak out and told him the truth.

    To add to Robin's comment: Many or not most mainstream therapists are not prepared to deal with adoption issues. The whole world except a few seem to have a rosy view of what it entails, for the mother and family who loses a child, and for that child. About the therapist you left: clearly the adoption was on her mind, no matter what she said.

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  111. A second mom,

    I never shared my thoughts so no one addressed them (my fault completely)...

    Perhaps (?) start talking about how wonderful it is that he inherited X trait from his mom etc., leading to have you ever asked your other mom who else has this amazing specific trait...

    Then if all is well ask about "it" and why because all you see is xyz..and if it sounds like it is because he was adopted out - how you believe she tried every which way she could to keep him but at that point in time, the best she could do was adoption, and to stay open in the adoption even despite her grieving because she could raise him herself - because who wouldn't fight for him...

    ONLY if you think that might be what he is thinking because again, I would be projecting my own childhood thoughts there...

    OR you might just find out it is something at school? I have no degree behind my name and just the lived experience.

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  112. For Robin and theadopted ones and Lorraine,

    I am leaving shortly for a Spring Break trip so you have the benefit of a short reply - haaa! But I didn't want to leave without letting you know that I'd read your kind replies.

    And I'm not trying to give anyone false flattery. I really do appreciate HUGELY all the constructive input you have given me. In the "real world" (i.e. not online) I have no one to talk to about this sort of thing. Hubby agrees and my mom agrees there are things we need to do better but we don't know how to channel it all into some positive action.

    I have tried to gently tell these things to his grandparents (because I'm afraid to upset his mother and father and I "guess" hoped grandparents would pass along what I have said.) The grandparents feel so much guilt that they listen but I think they are afraid to "go there". They love him so much and he worships them. (In fact that's where he's spending his Spring Break - till Wednesday anyway.)

    Anyway, even within our mutual families we are at a loss.

    So once again, THANK YOU! You're helping to help a little boy you don't even know. :)

    We have compared his interests to his mother and father and also reminded him how much he looks like both of them. But perhaps we don't do that enough. We should probably try to make that more of a regular thing...thanks for the suggestion.

    I think I saw somewhere that Joe Soll had a list of recommended therapists but here in Texas that could mean someone four hours away. I need to dig deeper on that. And Robin is right, unless you can pay out of pocket there are limitations. I am living proof that a-parents aren't all rich...lol...

    There are several other things I could go on and on about with regards to open adoption. In fact Lorraine I was tempted a while back to ask you if you thought some of these problems were enough for a blog...The fact that social media creates a whole new issue for open adoption adoptees.

    And what I mean by that is this: I am friends with all of his family who have Facebook. (My hubby doesn't have a page so he's ducked this particular issue.) Both of my son's parents post about the kids they are raising which is only natural, but they never remark on the son we share. ("J")

    "J" makes the honor roll or his soccer team wins their division and I tag them in a post or a photo and they rarely if ever comment. (His grandparents and aunts and uncles do though.)

    Which is fine I guess for now but when he's old enough to have his own page how are they going to handle all that? How will HE handle all that??

    Well I lied, this wasn't a short reply. Just hope this is a cautionary tale that illustrates to expectant moms or adoptive moms that there is much that should be examined and/or dealt with in this enigma known as open adoption.

    Thanks again for all your help. Back soon. :)

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  113. "I am puzzled by readers who say they are happy with their decision, that giving up their baby was the right decision for them but also state they are committed to adoption reform."

    Jane, I've never posted here before but have perused this blog occasionally. I agree with your joint statement (What We Think About Adoption) but we'd most likely disagree on the definition of an unnecessary adoption.

    There's no contradiction in supporting long overdue adoption reform and having no regrets about a decision to relinquish. I’m not ashamed to say I had no desire to parent at fifteen in the sixties, and I firmly believe any girl, before becoming pregnant, who actually desires single motherhood as a goal in life at that age is abnormal and in need of therapy. She should babysit, get a dog, or both. "16 and Pregnant" has got to be one saddest, most pathetic shows on television.

    If faced with the same circumstances, in the same time period, I’d do the same thing – obey my parents. Ultimately, it was their decision not to rear their grandchild. Born one hundred years ago, I don’t blame them for the negative social stigma of that era, as if they created it. I suppose I could have refused their demands and run away, becoming homeless, maybe living deep in the woods on the north shore of Long Island somewhere, my girlfriends sneaking me food, but that didn’t seem too appealing or realistic at the time.

    I have to agree with Roya, Becky, Maryanne, ForNowAnon, Reasonably, Beehive, Thyme and 1983. But the harsh judgmental tone on display here is nothing new. I experienced the same critical dismissiveness almost twenty ago on alt.adoption and Belinda’s list, the first birthmother mailing list on the Internet. On the newsgroup I was called a "birthwhore" by one ultra pissed off adoptee who wished she’d been aborted, and on the list I was strung up and hung out to dry by some of the moms because I wasn’t reunion-ready when found and most of them were desperately searching. So my flame retardant suit is weathered but intact.

    I made the right choice and, as painful as it was, I’ve never second-guessed it. I’m at shalom now and so thankful for it. I don’t feel guilty or ashamed, nor will I allow others (particularly triad members, who presumably should know better) to dump guilt and shame upon me. Unjust criticism, whoever the source, has only made me stronger.

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  114. There is no explaining how deep a wound it is to lose your mother and entire family as a newborn. Weather your mother is at peace or not doesn't matter to that baby. Any one who says they did the right thing by giving away their child has no understanding of what it feels like to be given up. Imagine it was you, and your parents, who you love and obey, did it to you. The parents who simply choose not to raise their flesh and blood.

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  115. I don't think I will ever be at peace with giving my child to strangers to raise. We have a good relationship but it will never be as it should have been and we both just deal with day by day. Some days are good some are not.

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  116. Adoptomuss: "There is no explaining how deep a wound it is to lose your mother and entire family as a newborn."

    There is, in spite of the limitations of language, and recently those who haven’t been deeply wounded have been studied. The academic community is measuring. Current community-based research attests to little, if any, difference among the two groups (adopted and nonadopted).

    "Anyone who says they did the right thing by giving away their child has no understanding of what it feels like to be given up."

    This isn’t totally true. And how would you know this anyway? It’s a sweeping narrow stereotype, one that definitely doesn’t apply to me, because I’ve worked my butt off to understand. Imagine a first mother helping adoptees. Well, it’s happening. Sorry to burst your bubble but the shoe doesn’t fit!

    "The parents who simply choose not to raise their flesh and blood."

    As an underage child of parents who absolutely refused to support any other decision but adoption, yes, I did the right thing. I didn’t simply choose, as if I had a choice, simple or otherwise.

    The hippie artist paternal grandmother offered to sell all of her furniture to send me overseas for an abortion, but she wasn’t serious, she was only telling me, in so many words, how much she didn’t want my child. I politely (on the surface) listened to her vent her frustrations. I knew she’d never sell anything she owned to help me abort – much less keep -- her grandchild, so I nodded and said nothing. She was full of hot air and death. ("Kill it before it multiples!")

    Of course I don’t have experiential knowledge only an adoptee can possess. However, I do have a much deeper understanding than most who’ve relinquished. While getting my degree in psychology at a prestigious research university, graduating valedictorian in a class of over five thousand, I’ve counseled hundreds of adoptees in pre- and post-reunion, read most of the adoption literature to date, including the latest research. I have access to the academic databases and many of the journal articles are on my hard drive.

    As Brodzinsky says, most adoptees fall well within the normal range of psychological functioning in community-based samples. He cautions us again and again not to overinterpret the data. And people still do it.

    So the therapeutic community is lagging behind the academic community. Catch up may require eating humble pie.

    No reputable scientist has or would suggest that most adoptees suffer from a primal wound (Verrier), live split in a Ghost Kingdom (Lifton), are at risk for adopted child syndrome (Kirschner), have PTSD from birth based on attachment theory (Soll) or experience a host of other psychological problems. Not if they want to stay tenured anyway. These psychoanalytic theories cannot be empirically supported. As much as I thoroughly enjoyed reading these authors, their theories have limited value and will eventually go the way of Freud because they can’t be backed up by scientific data. This should be good news to those without a dog in the political race.

    Why would one wish psychological ill health on anybody? To support a political agenda? No way. I saw enough of that before Roe vs. Wade.

    Enough cooking the books for politics. We should receive all of the data, whether we like it or not. Harping on early stage research conducted on clinical samples is old and unprofessional. And the records won’t be opened this way anyway. Open records is a constitutional issue, not a psychological or reunion issue.

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  117. @Kathleen
    ""Of course I don’t have experiential knowledge only an adoptee can possess. However, I do have a much deeper understanding than most who’ve relinquished. While getting my degree in psychology at a prestigious research university, graduating valedictorian in a class of over five thousand, I’ve counseled hundreds of adoptees in pre- and post-reunion, read most of the adoption literature to date, including the latest research. I have access to the academic databases and many of the journal articles are on my hard drive.""

    So you have a more "deeper understanding" of relinquishment than any other mother who 'relinquished'?? Yes, indeed Ma'am, you definitely would have a 'deeper understanding' of your own...but that is all...your own. I don't care how many "prestigious university" degrees you supposedly hold. Seems to me your 'comment' is more about your own Academic supposed achievements, and making sure to tell other first mothers, how much they don't understand about their own experience in losing their own infant to strangers via adoption. Just be a first mother here (without the resume) and hold the Better Than Thou crap for those who are easily impressed. I'm certainly not.
    No one understands my own 'relinquishment' better than me. I lived mine, you lived yours. You speak of your relinquishment 'academically', but not on a human emotional level. I would not have a woman like you counsel me on anything. You sound more robotic than human. Sorry, but that's just my opinion based on what you wrote.
    Are you in reunion with your now adult child you relinquished?

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  118. @Kathleen,
    The only thing you wrote worth listening to is this, "Of course I don’t have experiential knowledge only an adoptee can possess." Yes, Kathleen, only we adoptees can speak with expertise on the adoptee experience, no matter how many degrees you have. Don't come here to insult us adoptees and tell us we don't know what we've lived and experienced. You are dangerous to the adoption community. A whole generation of mothers in the Baby Scoop Era were convinced to surrender their children (many against their will) because all the 'experts' said they were unfit since they had sex outside of marriage and would damage their children by raising them as single parents. And there were studies back then, too, to support it.

    All of the 'experts' back in the day also believed that women could only find fulfillment being wives and stay-at-home mothers. Until Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique" broke the stranglehold on that one. And there were studies that supported the belief that there women and minorites were inferior, too.


    I second everything Adoptomuss said.

    FTR, I am highly educated myself, also with an advanced degree. But one thing I did learn is not to dismiss those who have lived an experience. Sounds like you want to hide behind your so-called 'expertise' to convince yourself that you did the right thing.

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  119. Kathleen, recently a blog quoted Soll offering the opinion that "50%" of adoptees have been abused. A friend (and adoption reformer) deadpanned, "Why stop at 50%?" You are right that the scientific community does not support a lot of these claims and it is not because they have yet to catch up. It's because, by and large, those claims are bogus. Lifton is another story. She's using metaphor to describe experiences and feelings associated with being adopted and her writing is tremendously powerful. Ultimately, each person constructs his or her own experience. Adoptomuss has constructed hers in such a way that she believes she has lost "everything" and Mommy will never make it up to her. Many other adopted people have come to a different place.

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  120. Kathleen wrote: Enough cooking the books for politics. We should receive all of the data, whether we like it or not. Harping on early stage research conducted on clinical samples is old and unprofessional. And the records won’t be opened this way anyway. Open records is a constitutional issue, not a psychological or reunion issue.

    Amen and agree! Thanks for saying this. Now get ready for outrage for questioning the sacred icons of adoption pseudoscience.


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  121. Isn't it interesting that when reading blogs by adoptees (yes, those individuals who have actually lived being adopted), most (not all) of them list 'The Primal Wound' as one of their top recommended books.

    Of course it behooves someone like Kathleen to support the idea that there is little negative effect on adoptees from their relinquishment since she is in the BUSINESS of counseling them. It does benefit her to encourage expectant mothers who are perfectly capable and want to parent to instead relinquish. This will keep those coffers full since there will be a demand for more reunions.

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  122. I get it. Kathleen hates adopted people. I've seen this before, although very rarely.

    Her comments would be the equivalent of me going to an adoptee blog and writing that even though I'm not a first mother, I know from professional literature that first mothers only grieve for about a year. And if they had made the misguided decision to keep their child, they would surely abuse him or else end up in prison.

    "I’ve counseled hundreds of adoptees in pre- and post-reunion"

    I'm confused as to why all of these well-adjusted adoptees need counseling in the first place. But I do agree with Chris, "I would not have a woman like you counsel me on anything. You sound more robotic than human." That's why I once wrote a comment to 2nd mom that bad counseling is worse than none at all.

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  123. "All of the 'experts' back in the day also believed that women could only find fulfillment being wives and stay-at-home mothers. Until Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique" broke the stranglehold on that one. And there were studies that supported the belief that there women and minorites were inferior, too."

    There is not a single attachment textbook that will back up the claims of Verrier and Soll and there never will be.

    Read Jerome Kagan's Three Seductive Ideas and see what he says about infant determinism, which includes pw. If people claim they're forked up because of adoption, then you can bet it's not because of one event.

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  124. Nancy Verrier is an adopter, not an adoptee, and she is in the "BUSINESS" of counseling and selling books. So is Mr. Soll in the adoption counseling and bookselling business. They do not do it for free, it is their livelihood. There is nothing wrong with this, apparently, as long as you agree with their message.

    Why is this a huge strike against Kathleen, but not against those you agree with? Why is Kathleen characterized as "robotic" for having a different view of her own experience and some controversial people in the adoption counseling business whose theories are not widely accepted by everyone in adoption? That hardly seems fair.

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  125. Kathleen saidin first post:
    "I have to agree with Roya, Becky, Maryanne, ForNowAnon, Reasonably, Beehive, Thyme and 1983. But the harsh judgmental tone on display here is nothing new. I experienced the same critical dismissiveness almost twenty ago on alt.adoption and Belinda’s list, the first birthmother mailing list on the Internet. On the newsgroup I was called a "birthwhore" by one ultra pissed off adoptee who wished she’d been aborted, and on the list I was strung up and hung out to dry by some of the moms because I wasn’t reunion-ready when found and most of them were desperately searching. So my flame retardant suit is weathered but intact."

    Kathleen said in second post:
    "Adoptomuss: "There is no explaining how deep a wound it is to lose your mother and entire family as a newborn."

    There is, in spite of the limitations of language, and recently those who haven’t been deeply wounded have been studied. The academic community is measuring. Current community-based research attests to little, if any, difference among the two groups (adopted and nonadopted).

    "Anyone who says they did the right thing by giving away their child has no understanding of what it feels like to be given up."

    This isn’t totally true. And how would you know this anyway? It’s a sweeping narrow stereotype, one that definitely doesn’t apply to me, because I’ve worked my butt off to understand. Imagine a first mother helping adoptees. Well, it’s happening. Sorry to burst your bubble but the shoe doesn’t fit!
    [...]
    Of course I don’t have experiential knowledge only an adoptee can possess. However, I do have a much deeper understanding than most who’ve relinquished. While getting my degree in psychology at a prestigious research university, graduating valedictorian in a class of over five thousand, I’ve counseled hundreds of adoptees in pre- and post-reunion, read most of the adoption literature to date, including the latest research. I have access to the academic databases and many of the journal articles are on my hard drive.

    As Brodzinsky says, most adoptees fall well within the normal range of psychological functioning in community-based samples. He cautions us again and again not to overinterpret the data. And people still do it.

    So the therapeutic community is lagging behind the academic community. Catch up may require eating humble pie.

    No reputable scientist has or would suggest that most adoptees suffer from a primal wound (Verrier), live split in a Ghost Kingdom (Lifton), are at risk for adopted child syndrome (Kirschner), have PTSD from birth based on attachment theory (Soll) or experience a host of other psychological problems. Not if they want to stay tenured anyway. These psychoanalytic theories cannot be empirically supported. As much as I thoroughly enjoyed reading these authors, their theories have limited value and will eventually go the way of Freud because they can’t be backed up by scientific data. This should be good news to those without a dog in the political race."

    My comment:

    Pot meet kettle...

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  126. "Ultimately, each person constructs his or her own experience. Adoptomuss has constructed hers in such a way that she believes she has lost "everything" and Mommy will never make it up to her. Many other adopted people have come to a different place."

    I have a feeling you are not an adoptee. I lost my entire family at 5 days old and was raised by strangers. I even lost the clothing my mother made for me. I truly lost everything. I was left all alone, with no possessions. Even my name was taken from me.

    I had to construct my own experience with that as my reality, as a child, with no help from anyone. Excuse me if my experiences made me how and what I am.

    Mommy can never make it up to me. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

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  127. "Mommy can never make it up to me."

    Well, then, you just proved what I said.

    You realize, of course, that your attitude of Mommy entitlement and refusal to see your mother's situation from the standpoint of an ADULT, along with your continual references to yourself as a baby or 5-day old, actually keep you in a place where it is impossible for you to understand or forgive--one adult woman to another. Your poor mothers. Both of them. Is all I can say.

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  128. Could Kathleen offer her professional opinion about GSA?

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  129. @adoptomuss

    Really? You can't get over ONE event in your life? You're not dead. In my opinion, that's the only life event that can't be overcome (yet!).

    Why can't you see the world from your first mother's perspective? It wasn't just about you, it was also about her needs/wants/desires.

    You didn't lose everything. You lost one connection. That's it. I'm a little fed up with adoptees comeing here (to our space) and telling us that we ruined their lives. Come on. We did the best we could. Forgive us for doing what we could.

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  130. No, "Mommy" can never make it up to "Baby" 30 or 40 years later, and if either person in reunion insists on casting themselves in one of those long-gone roles, there is bound to be trouble.

    We meet as adults, with whole lives lived apart, separate families, obligations, resentments, and joys. Empathy and compassion for the other person are so important, and also mature adult behavior by both, and a lot of latitude to the one who was found and taken by surprise.

    The mommy and baby roles are over and cannot be replayed except in damaging ways. But there is a lot to be said for the roles of adult close relatives who meet and learn to love and respect each other, in their similarities and differences.

    If you do not have a set of rigid expectations, you can be surprised and delighted by the similarities you find, and by the things that are unique to that person and make them who they are as adults. If you focus on your lost baby or mommie and the lost years, you can never be satisfied in reunion.

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  131. Kathleen certainly projects being well read and has provided an quick overview of her credentials, as well as of her likes and dislikes--or should be say prejudices? To say that Lifton and Verrier will "eventually go the way of Freud," which she has said elsewhere, too, isn't quite the insult that she might believe it to be. Freud is still widely read and critiqued, although some of his ideas may have been taken less importance over time. After all, Freud is part of a cultural watershed and was one of the driving forces for the creation of the field in which Kathleen works. Verrier and Lifton may be seen in a similar light down the road. Who knows?

    Why not take what is useful from what writers say, instead of denigrating them? If Kathleen wants to take what she sees as "pop psychology" with a grain of salt, that's her thing. But to say these authors are useless for others is quite something else. Scientific data is important, but not the only measure of an idea's eventual worth.

    We do not know everything there is to know about the brain and emotions, moreover, and there is no final word in academia about anything. And as others love to point out, we can always shred research to bits, depending on mood and prejudices.

    It would be helpful to have quotations from Brodzinsky's works that say most adoptees are doing just fine in the community. Which community samples did he draw upon? How were these samples chosen, and why? Were the adoptees interviewed, or the adoptive parents? What were the criteria for being with the "norms"?

    I have also read many, many of Brodzinsky's works and do not take away the same meanings that you do, Kathleen. Brodzinsky is actually quite open to the many different paths that adoptees take in their growth, contrary to the way you present him here.

    I have been Brodzinsky's clinical patient and benefitted greatly from his insights and support. He did not belittle my beliefs or tell me to "get over it" or tell me that I was a pathological outlier, beyond the "community norms." He has told me that comparison is unhelpful, and I agree. He was thoughtful and kind and supportive, all the way. He is a scientific thinker, but also creative. He has helped advance the way the world thinks about adoptees, not declare that the status quo is great.

    How is it helpful to say that there are "good" adoptees or "normal" adoptees and then "pathological" adoptees that don't hold the "right" beliefs, or cling to what you call superstition? Adoptees are people, just like everyone else, and will run the gamut of feelings and reactions to being adopted and walking our paths. It's difficult to find people to support us in therapy, and as Robin said, no therapy is better than bad therapy. I have been in the place of receiving untherapeutic "help," and have fired practitioners who were unable to put their own feelings aside to help me deal with mine.

    Adoption is not the only variable in my life that makes things difficult for me, but it certainly *is* a variable, and to deny it would be unhelpful--no, worse. The denial has had deeply lasting, very damaging consequences that I have worked hard to conquer. Brodzinsky, as my therapist, never told me that adoption wasn't an issue in my life. That would be blind and weird, given my lived experience, although other therapists have done just that.

    Mothers walk the same difficult path, post loss. They are people, too, trying to do the best with what they have. We are in this together.

    2ndmom, my best wishes to you and your son.






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  132. mrsmargelina,

    Right on!

    And Adoptees lost just one connection?

    In my mind, once a woman has a child, her needs/wants/desires are not her own anymore. She has to sacrifice for the child she created. It's one of life's rules.

    Something happened in my mothers life that messed up her thinking. She did something she can't live with, and she sees me as the cause. I truly want to love and help her, but everything I do is seen as a threat.

    I lost too many connections to count. I'll never look into my grandparents eyes, or hear their voices. I'll never share a childhood memory with my brother. And the problem is, my mother knows it too. We just can't seem to get past it.

    But life is still beautiful. I know we can't go back. That's the worst part. Why can't we just go back and do it over?

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  133. "Nell," I am not fed up with adoptees coming here. We welcome them. I found your comment rather heartless. Being adopted is not "ONE event."

    Adoption is forever. It sure was for me and my daughter, and nearly all of the people who comment here.

    Since many of them are clearly in pain over what you call "ONE event," it behooves you to at least be understanding and respectful of their feelings, and not tell them to bug off, which you did from "our space." If you want to belittle adoptees, you do need to find another place. I might not agree with "Kathleen" but she has not been as nasty as you.

    I have learned a great deal from the adoptees who comment here, and certainly do not want them not commenting.

    First mothers who are as callous as you, I admit, I don't get and doubt your honesty about your "Nell" persona.

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  134. Very interesting discussion. I am into my second decade of reunion and feel that ,while the type of relationship has changed and we live far apart now, there is an inner peace where I know what happened to my baby, he is fine but very busy, and we keep in touch occasionally(hope to get together with him later this year),but,frankly, I'm emotionally exhausted I see you commented on a few adoption counsellors. Since Joe Soll and his group found my son, I have nothing but good things to say about him. I learned more from him than from all the psychiatrists and others I saw previously While I don't agree with everything, I think there is a lot of truth in what he says. I see you also mentioned Betty Friedan. This is off topic, but I almost got run over by her 15-20 years ago when I was riding my bike(She lived in the same town) She was coming out a side street and I didn't stop,she almost didn't but then luckily(for me) did. If she hadn't, I would never have gotten to have my beautiful reunion with my son! See,everything's connected somehow.

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  135. Anonymous: Are you talking about an almost accident with B.Friedan in Sag Harbor? That is where she had a house and where I live. Betty was a notoriously bad driver! Thank goodness you did not get mowed down!

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  136. Like Kathleen I am puzzled why anyone would even think there's a contradiction between a woman supporting adoption reform and feeling she did the right thing by relinquishing.
    What's so difficult about recognizing that it may have been the right - or even the only thing - for some under their particular circumstances? I say that as a mother who never wanted to relinquish and still feels she did the wrong thing by capitulating to the pressures put on her. But c'mon folks, it's not just All About Us. Or is it?

    Perhaps some of the problem lies in the way people use and understand the word "happy". I think there's a big difference between being "happy" with a choice (aka thinking it was the right one) and coming to terms with the fact that there was a situation that resulted in that choice being made. I am accepting of the fact that I relinquished. I don't like it. I'm not "happy" about it. But I accept it, even if the "choice" I made was not unencumbered or free.
    Would I go back and change things if I could? Of course, if that were possible, but thinking objectively, even if I could go back, I don't think I would have had the kind of power necessary to alter the outcome. For that to have happened would have required a whole change of attitude on the part of others who had a lot more power and influence over the situation than I. My parents would have been born around the same time as Kathleen's, over a hundred years ago at the beginning of the last century. With hindsight it is easy to see how their reactions to my pregnancy were entirely consistent with the social influences that formed them. I regret that I did not understand this at the time.
    The past is not a special time zone that exists entirely independently of the present (or the future, for that matter), which is something that adopted people who are unjustly denied access to their pasts and all the ramifications thereof very well understand.

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  137. I object to Kathleen's attacking a fellow adoptee for her heartfelt comment about how being adopted affected her. Kathleen came in and said that because she has 'professional expertise', the way Adoptomuss feels and thinks about her own adoption is wrong. Adoptomuss is not wrong. This is her experience and how she interprets it. She doesn't need any textbook validation.

    I have never seen any hard science that proves that first mothers have lasting pain or other negative effects from the loss of a child to adoption. I've read memoirs and have heard many stories. But books like "The Girls Who Went Away" are not hard science. It is a portrait of an era from a social science perspective. Yet, I (and most of my fellow adoptees) respect what you say about your experience and how it has affected you. Adopted persons deserve the same respect and courtesy as well.

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  138. Ms. Marginalia, this is coming late but thank you for your informed response. I have only read Brodzinsky's book, Being Adopted, and I certainly did not take away from it what Kathleen stated. Thank you for clarifying that in detail.

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  139. It "behooves" (word of the thread) me to object to Adoptomuss's statement that one of "life's rules" is that a woman *has to* sacrifice her needs/wants/desires for the child she has created. It is impossible not to conclude from this that Adoptomuss believes that there can be NO extenuating circumstances when it comes to relinquishment. It goes way beyond being just a simple expression of how Adoptomuss thinks and feels about her own adoption.
    If she really believes it is "one of life's rules", that is not just something that is "in her mind". It is a blanket statement. Rules for all, not just for herself. Anyway, who is it who is supposed to have laid down these "rules"? Nature? God? Civic society? Adoptomuss herself?
    I can only imagine how Betty Friedan would have reacted.

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  140. Liloleme: Your point about Betty Friedan is will put, but she was not a fan of adoption, knowing how parents react when the child is a "problem."

    As she once said to me at others who were at our house for dinner, When the kid grows up and there's no problem, all is well. But when there is a problem, what do you hear, Well, he's not really mine. She was not personally involved in adoption herself, but this came out of knowing the parents who had. It is a mistake to assume how someone would have reacted to anything unless they have spoken out about it. We do know, however, she believed in CHOICE in matters of reproduction, and that includes abortion.

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  141. Lorraine wrote "It is a mistake to assume how someone would have reacted to anything unless they have spoken out about it."
    I made no assumption. My comment was not about Betty Friedan's opinions about adoption, and besides, I remember quite well the story about what she said to you over dinner. You have written about it before.

    To imagine is not the same as to assume. It is by no means unreasonable to imagine that Betty Friedan would not have reacted well to the statement that it is "one of life's rules" that a woman has to "sacrifice her needs/wants/desires" for the child she has created.

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  142. Funny, I was reading adoptee Rita Mae Brown's autobiography "Rita Will" and her experience with Better Friedan was being thrown out of NOW when it was first starting for being an outspoken lesbian. Ms. Friedan wanted the women's movement to be seen as composed of heterosexual women, not "dykes."

    Rita Mae's first big hit was "Rubyfruit Jungle," an outrageously funny and poignant story of a lesbian adoptee growing up in the South based loosely on herself. It was recommended to me by BJ Lifton when it first came out. I loved it then and recently read it again and it is still great.

    I really like Rita Mae's novels and mysteries, especially as the animals in them are also characters, but not in a cloying cutesy way. She shares my extreme love of critters, especially cats, and is also a horsewoman, something in my ancestry but I never got into. I have found her writing very humorous and wise, and see her as a woman of courage in dealing with being adopted and gay in a time when neither was really accepted.

    Her take on being an adoptee is complicated. Like many adoptees born in the 40s she was brought up with secrets, lies, half-truths, and a lot of verbal abuse. She was an in-family adoption, there was some contact with the birthmother, but Rita Mae was very loyal to her adoptive family in spite of everything, but could see a great deal of herself and her talents in her birthparents.

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  143. Betty Friedan has written that she would not have given up having her 3 children for the world. Her main message was that women should be able to be mothers AND fulfill themselves in some type of work or other meaningful activities. I don't think she would have gone to either extreme, that if a woman wanted to have a serious career she had to forego having children or that it would be advisable for a woman to give a child up because she wanted to pursue other interest/activities. She strongly advocated that a woman should and could have both for a fulfilling life. Jmo based on what I have read/heard about her.

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  144. I’ll answer some comments to correct a couple of misconceptions but I’m ignoring ad hominem attacks.

    Robin, you were quick to misjudge me. My work helping others in reunion is unsolicited, nonprofit volunteerism. I don’t have a clinical practice. And I strongly discourage relinquishment. Yet you accused me of financially profiting from women who’ve relinquished, claimed I’m a danger to the adoption community, and said I hate adoptees.

    I disagreed with Adoptomuss but didn’t attack her or tell her she was wrong. There are adoptees who’ve relinquished who feel they made the right decision. Have they no understanding of what it feels like to be given up?

    My work helping others in reunion is unsolicited, nonprofit volunteerism. I don’t have a clinical practice. And I strongly discourage relinquishment. Yet you accused me of financially profiting from women who’ve relinquished, claimed I’m a danger to the adoption community, and said I hate adoptees.

    I’ve never told an adoptee or birthmother what she’s lived and experienced, here or anywhere else. Outside of common themes of loss, grief, etc. inherent in any adoption, life experiences vary widely. Grief isn’t processed in the same way by all. Some adoptees have never felt a sense of abandonment. There’s a wide range of psychological adjustment amongst adoptees and birthmothers.

    So I don’t deny your adoptee narrative, whatever it may be. There is no "one size fits all" experience of being relinquished or relinquishing. If you believe there is then you’re the one telling others what they’ve lived and experienced, something you falsely accused me of.

    The social forces that shaped coerced separation of mother and child at birth in the postwar era weren’t based on empirical research in psychology labs but on moral values concerning illegitimacy, marital status, gender, race, socioeconomic class, welfare policy, and the illegality of abortion, to name a few. The negative view of the unwed mother as a deviant that threatened the social order was carried over from colonial times when women were publicly whipped in the town square for bastardry. The off-the-wall hypotheses about these mothers in the BSE were largely concocted in the sexist minds of male psychiatrists in unpublished dissertational studies. I recommend reading historian Rickie Solinger.

    Perhaps you feel research is iffy at best because it’s limited by time and place, a mere snapshot of a cultural milieu that’s constantly changing. If so, disregard all of it then. Which brings me to the point I’d made – accept, reject, but don’t cherry-pick the data.

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  145. Robin wrote " She strongly advocated that a woman should and could have both for a fulfilling life."

    My point exactly, Robin. Friedan would never have agreed that one of "life's rules" is that a woman *has to* sacrifice her needs/wants/desires for the child she has created".

    "Betty Friedan has written that she would not have given up having her 3 children for the world." Being securely middle class, educated and married, she was never under pressure to do so.
    In this PBS interview
    http://www.pbs.org/fmc/interviews/friedan.htm
    she says retrospectively "I wouldn't give up at all, ever, the experience of having my kids and the joy they've given me and now the grandkids."

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  146. ms. marginalia asked, "How is it helpful to say that there are "good" adoptees or "normal" adoptees and then "pathological" adoptees that don't hold the "right" beliefs, or cling to what you call superstition?"

    Who said or even implied any of this?

    I didn’t begin to portray Brodzinsky. I made one statement: He believes most adoptees fall within the normal range of psychological functioning in community-based samples and doesn’t want his data broad-brushed or generalized, such as inferring most adoptees are psychologically maladjusted based on clinical samples. That’s basically it. I agree with what you’ve said of him, and you’re undoubtedly fortunate to have been one of his clients.

    I didn’t denigrate the others or say their theories are useless. I loved reading Lifton. I don’t want to get into the Freud Wars here, except to refer you to the NYT article, "Freud Is Widely Taught at Universities, Except in the Psychology Department" (11/13/07). It only scratches the surface but sums up my thoughts on the Freud Is Dead debate.

    Here are three quotes from Brodzinsky. If you have his book, Children’s Adjustment to Adoption (1998), studies are cited throughout and in the reference list. In chapter 4, "Infant-Placed Adopted Children," he writes:

    "For more than 30 years, mental health professionals have been exploring the question of the psychological risk associated with adoption. With regard to infant placed adoptees, the data appear somewhat inconsistent. Although epidemiological studies clearly point to an overrepresentation of adopted individuals in outpatient and inpatient mental health facilities, interpretation of this finding is complicated… In addition, whereas a majority of clinical studies show an increase in externalizing symptoms and academic difficulties in adoptees compared with nonadoptees, community-based studies fail to show a consistent pattern of group differences in behavior and adjustment… Furthermore, even when group differences are observed, they generally are not large in magnitude. Thus, we must reiterate the caution raised by Brodzinsky et al. (1984) and Haugaard (in press) against overinterpreting the differences often found between adopted children and their nonadopted peers. These small, but significant, differences must not overshadow the fact that the vast majority of infant-placed adoptees do quite well and are within the normal range of psychological functioning" (p. 49-50).

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  147. (continued...)

    Brodzinsky:

    "In arguing for the inappropriateness of Marquis and Detweiler's conclusion and, conversely, for the position that adoption is associated with increased risk for psychological and academic problems, I do not wish to leave the reader with an overly pessimistic view of adoption. As a substitute form of child care for children whose parents cannot or will not provide for them, the practice of adoption has proven to be an unqualified success. Children placed in adoptive homes have been shown to fare much better than children who live with birthparents who are ambivalent about raising them" [Brodzinsky, D. M. (1987). Looking at adoption through rose-colored glasses: A critique of Marquis and Detweiler's 'Does adoption mean different? An attributional analysis.'. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 52(2), 394-398.]

    "Adoption is associated with many rewards and challenges in the lives of children and parents. On the positive side, it offers the prospect of stability, loving care, security, and lifetime family connections for boys and girls whose biological parents are unable to raise them. For adults, it offers the opportunity to reap the joys of being a parent to children in need; to nurture and guide children's development; and in many cases, to achieve the satisfaction of ameliorating the effects of children's early adverse experiences. In fact, research is unequivocal in its support for the belief that adoption generally benefits children, especially when one considers the alternatives for too many of these youngsters – namely, remaining in neglectful or abusive homes, or in long-term foster care, orphanages, or with parents who are unwilling or unprepared to care for them" [Brodzinsky, D. M. (2011). Children's understanding of adoption: Developmental and clinical implications. Professional Psychology: Research And Practice, 42(2), 200-207.]

    The vast majority of infant-placed adoptees do quite well? Adoption has proven to be an unqualified success? Research is unequivocal in its support for the belief that adoption generally benefits children?

    Because his whole framework is higher risk and vulnerability, some may be surprised at his overall postive view on adoption.

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  148. from Kathleen:

    "...some may be surprised at his overall postive view on adoption."
    and "...Although epidemiological studies clearly point to an overrepresentation of adopted individuals in outpatient and inpatient mental health facilities, interpretation of this finding is complicated…"

    Uhhh, can we add here that Brodzinsky is an adoptive parent, which may have a subtle but real effect on his overall conclusions, just as birth mothers and adoptees with their personal experiences themselves may have a different bent when looking at the same data?

    I don't know about Brodzinky's personal experience with adoption, or how well-adjusted his children are, and I do know some highly-functioning, successful adoptees who are among my friends and whom I met in my life not connected with my work in adoption reform. Yet their personal success does not discount that..."studies clearly point to an overrepresentation of adopted individuals in outpatient and inpatient mental health facilities...." And I do know that they have wrestled with questions of identity, and both began, but did not complete, searches for their original parents.

    Yes, interpreting that data is complicated but it still cannot be dismissed as irrelevant, as it has been by other adoptive-parent "experts" such as Elizabeth Bartholet, Harvard professor, author and advocate of international adoption (Her two adopted boys are from Peru, as I recall.) She once simply told me, on the PBS News Hour, that it was all "garbage." Her word.

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  149. Kathleen, you wrote: "While getting my degree in psychology at a prestigious research university, graduating valedictorian in a class of over five thousand, I’ve counseled hundreds of adoptees in pre- and post-reunion, read most of the adoption literature to date, including the latest research."

    You presented yourself as a licensed, clinical psychotherapist, not someone doing volunteer work (or you would have said so, more humbly). Now you come back to say it was a complete misconception that people here believed you have a clinical practice. Hmm. Perhaps, reading what you wrote again, knowing what you've told us now. But you created a dotted line and encouraged people to make the leap. It's not fair to criticize them for making it. That would be like me saying I work in OB, delivering babies, etc. People might guess I was an MD, but I am not. Why do that?

    As far as Brodzinsky goes: yes, you gave me a quotation that answers my first question, backing up your point about adoptees not being significantly different in psychological functioning in the community. But then the critical mind asks, "Which community samples did he draw upon? How were these samples chosen, and why? Were the adoptees interviewed, or the adoptive parents? What were the criteria for being the 'norm'?"

    From the quotation here--"In fact, research is unequivocal in its support for the belief that adoption generally benefits children, especially when one considers the alternatives for too many of these youngsters – namely, remaining in neglectful or abusive homes, or in long-term foster care, orphanages, or with parents who are unwilling or unprepared to care for them."

    you extrapolate that adoptees placed as infants do quite well.

    How? Why? Where is the proof that "most" infants placed would have been in neglectful or abusive homes, or left in long-term foster care, or left in orphanages with people unwilling or unprepared to care for them?

    Same goes for this quotation: "As a substitute form of child care for children whose parents cannot or will not provide for them, the practice of adoption has proven to be an unqualified success. Children placed in adoptive homes have been shown to fare much better than children who live with birthparents who are ambivalent about raising them."

    How you do measure "birthparent" ambivalence, and what the hell is "unqualified" success? What are benchmarks, and measured by whom, and for whom? Over what period of time?

    I love David, but he was drinking special tea when he wrote that bit. That is *not* "scientific" language, that's adoptive parent pride.

    He has an opinion, and he's welcome to it.

    And of course, we cannot simply gloss over this quotation: "Although epidemiological studies clearly point to an overrepresentation of adopted individuals in outpatient and inpatient mental health facilities, interpretation of this finding is complicated…"

    Certainly it's complicated. What part of it would be easy? But it's there, and don't tell me it's a coincidence. I know that correlation does not equal causation necessarily, but this is far from a resolved issue. What came after your ellipsis? What are the questions being asked by researchers?

    Saying that "most" adoptees are fine, but there are more adoptees in mental health situations than in the general population certainly pathologizes a group of adoptees who are not conforming "properly." That's what I meant about singling out the "good" versus "pathological" adoptees. Since adoption is "fine," it must not be the institution of adoption that's the problem, it's the people (adoptees) who are problematic, when they don't conform? That's a dangerous proposition.

    No. We have to question everything.



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  150. I am familiar with Freud being called dead and useless in psychology per an oft-quoted opinion piece in the NYT from 2007, but Susan Krauss Whitbourne's assessment from "Psychology Today," published in 2012, provides an interesting counterpoint: "Freud's Not Dead: He's Just Really Hard to Find." http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201205/freud-s-not-dead-he-s-just-really-hard-find

    Krauss Whitbourne begins by saying that a physicist pointed to the NYT opinion piece as "proof" of Freud's irrelevance given that the world has moved on to numbers and data. An opinion piece? Proof? Really? Data, please?

    Freud's influence, however, has informed psychology since the early years of the 20th century. Saying that Freud has no value except for those in the humanities is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    Krauss Whitbourne argues that it's hard to find a psychology textbook that does not reference Freud (that's certainly been my experience), and Freud invented the "talking cure." What about the idea of denial? What about defense mechanisms? Pointless, since they're not numerical concepts? I guess trauma doesn't exist, either, unless you can see wounds on the body and can give them a quantitative measure or confirm them with CT scans or an MRI? Is it possible to quantify emotions in a meaningful way?

    Human beings are animals, complex animals, not machines. Data is important, but not the *only* important means for understanding them. Any one-sided approach to understanding a human problem will likely end up missing a significant part of the picture.


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  151. RE: I am puzzled by readers who say they are happy with their decision, that giving up their baby was the right decision for them but also state they are committed to adoption reform. If the system worked for you, why would want to change it?

    Conversely, if you want changes in adoption, then I would think you would have some dissatisfaction with the system.
    March 7, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    You don't have to have a personal stake in an issue to see the need for reform or change. (Hence the abortion debate, gay marriage etc.) There can be most certainly dissatisifaction without having to have a personal connection. If we were to wait until something personally affected us negatively, nothing would ever get done.

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  152. etropic, totally agree! I care about a lot of causes that do not affect me directly and about injustices I will never experience. Most caring people do.

    I do claim the degrees or scholarship of either ms. marginalia or Kathleen, but it seems Freud was very wrong on trauma from sexual abuse in childhood in his Victorian female patients. His theory was that it was all an Oedipal fantasy, when it is more likely these women actually had been abused by fathers and other family members.

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  153. OOOPS! Correction: That should be "I do NOT claim the degrees or scholarship...." in my previous post.

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  154. Lorraine, I can’t say that I think Brodzinsky’s interpretation of the data is colored by his subjective experience. I would hope not. If so, his reputation is certainly on the line. Empirical evidence speaks for itself. It’s just math. I don’t dismiss any of it as irrelevant because I want to get the whole picture, but it’s not the be all and end all either.

    In the '60s I consumed the proverbial Kool-Aid, believed the bright, rosy picture of adoption. I eventually rejected it. In the '90s I went to the other extreme after listening to others and reading memoirs and everything else I could get my hands on, ending up believing we’re doomed, sentenced to life in prison without parole, consigned to "lifelong" this and "permanent" that, emotionally crippled forever. I eventually rejected this, too. The truth is somewhere in between. It’s not impossible to fully heal. Scars take the place of open, oozing sores. No more scab picking; in this I was my own worst enemy. Scab pickers don’t heal.

    I’ve heard of Bartholet. She seems to exude smug entitlement – the rich in this world have a right to the children of the poor. She actually defends baby selling in "International Adoption: The Humans Rights Position." Speaking of adoption abuses in Guatemala: "Given their desperate poverty and limited access to birth control, virtually all mothers given payments would likely have surrendered regardless. There is no terrible evil in a poor birth parent who would in any event surrender a child being given funds that will help her survive." Is the PBS video of you and her available online?

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  155. marginalia: "You presented yourself as a licensed, clinical psychotherapist..."

    No, I did not. That was your leap and, yes, it was unfair of you to make it, as is accusing me of intentionally misrepresenting myself. If I were a licensed clinical psychologist I would have said so.

    Speaking of delivering babies, many years ago I practiced lay midwifery (but didn’t go around leading others to believe I’m a MD). I’m a homebirth advocate. Try to see Ina May Gaskin's "Birth Story" if and when it’s playing in your area.

    Your questions on current research can be answered by reading the studies yourself. You said, "You extrapolate that adoptees placed as infants do quite well." That’s Brodzinsky’s statement. He made it because that’s what the data suggests. However, if I’m reading you right, you don’t trust his findings because he’s an adoptive father whose pride has gotten in the way, but he’s entitled to his biased opinion. Fine.

    marginalia: "Saying that "most" adoptees are fine, but there are more adoptees in mental health situations than in the general population certainly pathologizes a group of adoptees who are not conforming "properly." That's what I meant about singling out the "good" versus "pathological" adoptees. Since adoption is "fine," it must not be the institution of adoption that's the problem, it's the people (adoptees) who are problematic, when they don't conform? That's a dangerous proposition."

    It’s both. It’s the individual within the context of his or her adoption experience. If it were the system alone, without any regard to a multitude of individual differences and variables, then most, if not all, adoptees (and birthmothers) would be in the Cuckoo’s Nest with Randle McMurphy.

    How is mental health connected to social conformity? You’ll have to flesh that one out for me.

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  156. Kathleen, I have to commend you for staying with the debate and not allowing it to get nasty. I agree with your statement that adoption outcomes are going to be based on many factors. One could almost describe it as a matrix--outcomes will be based on the adoptee's temperament, the quality of the a-parent home, the "fit" between child and adoptive parents, the messages given to the adoptee about adoption, the influences of the predominant culture and the broader society, and most important, how the person is able to construct her own experience of being adopted. Generally, it seems that people who construct that experience as all bad or all good are more vulnerable to emotional problems down the road. That's just anecdotal--nothing to back that up with. Also, and very obviously, shame, secrecy, abuse, racial discrimination, and a-parent inadequacy are going to be huge factors. How can they not be? But the suggestion that adoption is de facto wrong or dysfunctional just because it's adoption is just not tenable as an idea.

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  157. anonymous 8:10,

    so what you just basically said in your wordy way is that adoption is basically how the adoptee perceives it and not based in reality and adoption is really all good. Right?

    Most of us adoptees truly are in the middle regarding adoption. We know that is should be CHILD CENTERED but it in reality is not. Your comment basically has made the success or failure of adoption on the adoptees shoulders and not on a society that sees the adoptee as a money maker. as a means to build a family, as "feel good" institution. That the ones most impacted are minimized and seen as fodder for examination as opposed to real human that have VALID and educated opinions about the institution that they were thrusted into.

    Adoption IS many times one of dysfunction. It is not a good function for a child to be removed from their mothers. The basis for a child to HAVE to be adopted in the first place is rooted in dysfunction.. and its dysfunctional to try to convince a person that would be a fine mother to give up their child to please others. The fact that we are a society that encourages a child to be separated from their mother is dysfunction. That fact that we expect a person to change their identity and accept the fact that its ok to keep who they are a big secret is dysfunction. The fact that a society will throw down the first mother and family in order to build up adoption is dysfunction.

    So right from the start adoption is not a tenable idea as it is BASED in dysfunction..dysfunction of a society that believes its perfectly normal for a person to adapt to living in a family that is not genetically related and have no problem or questions. Even in the best of circumstanses that person will have some issues(whether they admit to it or not) that non adopted people don't have.

    I had a good childhood, had good parents and am glad they were my parents. But wished the circustastes of my birth wasn't so I had to be adopted in the first place. I see that as a normal reaction, not one that could be called an "emotional problem. Can I except it is what it is...yes...but that does not make it right o continue to do adoption the way its being done. Stop making the adoptee adapt and "fit" into a family and have the families fit for the adoptee...Child centered.

    Only then will adoption become a tenable idea.

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  158. dpenn wrote:"so what you just basically said in your wordy way is that adoption is basically how the adoptee perceives it and not based in reality and adoption is really all good. Right?"

    No, not right. I am not the anon you are responding to, but I did not read what she said that way at all. There is a whole lot of grey area between "adoption is all bad" and "adoption is all good". Most of us here agree that adoption as it is now practiced is very flawed and in need of reform.

    Anon was not blaming adoptees for what is wrong with adoption. She was talking about how varied individual outcomes were, for a whole variety of reasons, not saying "adoption is all good" or if it is not, it is the adoptee's fault. Those statements are your spin on her words, not what she actually said.

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  159. I don't think Anon 8:10 meant adoption is " all good" at all, dpen. I think Anon was just saying that temperament, which is an admix of those innate aspects of our personalities which are present at birth and come down from our genetic line, plays an important part in how we process our experiences. I don't see how this puts the burden on the adoptees. It's simply fact and it applies equally to the non-adopted as well as the adopted. You are right that there are things about the institution of adoption that are profoundly dysfunctional,
    such as lies, coercion, altered birth certificates and closed records - and the fact that there really are some people out there anxious to gain from other people's suffering and loss.
    I believe it is a truth that is self-evident that nobody would ever *want* to be born in order to be removed from their natural mother and family, but sometimes that is better than the alternative. When that's the case, adoption really can become "child-centered", and that is how all adoptions should be. Rare, necessary and a lesser evil.

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  160. Kathleen and Anon, I have the strangest sense of deja vu. I realize that I know the both of you from this very place, only as different people! Hmm. Well, if you are so pleasantly scarred (healed?) at this point, how freeing for you! My *very* best wishes to your adoptees.

    Anon: About Freud being correct about child abuse: I didn't say that. I don't believe in penis envy or a great many of his other ideas. My argument here was simply that saying that Lifton and Verrier going the way of Freud isn't the insult it might seem to be on the surface. Freud has had a lasting influence on psychology in particular and on society in general.

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  161. Mary anne, I don't see it as a "spin" at all. I see her words as an example of making adoption totally academic and not real.

    One could almost describe it as a matrix--outcomes will be based on the adoptee's temperament, the quality of the a-parent home, the "fit" between child and adoptive parents, the messages given to the adoptee about adoption, the influences of the predominant culture and the broader society, and most important, how the person is able to construct her own experience of being adopted. Generally, it seems that people who construct that experience as all bad or all good are more vulnerable to emotional problems down the road.

    "Adoptees temperment"
    "How the person is able to contruct their own experiance"

    seeing it as all good or all bad makes for emotional problems down the road?

    I see that as making the adoptee responsible for the success of the adoption...not a society making it easier for the adoptee, not the parents attempting to make it easier for the adoptee. Turn all those comments around and make it about how the aparents percieve adoption or how first families percieve it and how to change it so the adoptee can flourish in life.

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  162. No surprise - I completely agree with dpen...

    I have felt thrown under the bus so many times simply because of the dismissive statements like studies show most adoptees do just fine so therefore adoption is good.

    Adoption must ALWAYS remain as a response to a tragic circumstance. Not as a method to supply people with children. Two completely opposite purposes.

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  163. theadoptedones wrote: "I have felt thrown under the bus so many times simply because of the dismissive statements like studies show most adoptees do just fine so therefore adoption is good."

    I completely agree. I am tired of hearing the 'scientific proof' that being adopted doesn't cause problems for the child, whether it's from first parents, adoptive parents or anyone else. Adoptees are so suppressed. When we try to say how much pain adoption has caused us, quite often we are met with fierce rebuttals telling us we're wrong.

    At least Australia has seen the light. I loved the apology. I understand that Canada is also investigating the BSE. Hopefully, our neighbors to the north will reach the same conclusion.

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  164. Anonymous: "Generally, it seems that people who construct that experience as all bad or all good are more vulnerable to emotional problems down the road. That's just anecdotal--nothing to back that up with."

    There is. It’s called the learned helplessness theory of depression and it applies to any major trauma in life, short or longterm, or a series of stressful life events, one right after the other – like you lose your job, you’re diagnosed with cancer, your sister dies, your son loses a limb in a car accident, your identity is stolen, and you find out your husband is having an affair with your best friend. Who could survive that? Some do, amazingly enough.

    There are attributions one makes in the wake of horrific trauma – stable, internal, global. There are people who actually see the glass as half-full in the darkest moments of life. Anyway, you can google it.

    I agree with you, Anonymous, whoever you are. All bad or all good is no good.

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  165. Sigmund Freud wasn’t only a danger to the adoption community, he helped create it.

    Marginalia, you are right. Any one-dimensional approach to understanding human behavior will end up missing it. And this is why Freud is history. His grand all-encompassing theories were based on psychic determinism and the unconscious. And he was wrong.

    I’d read Whitbourne on this already and she’s right on defense mechanisms, but, honestly, there isn’t much more to defend. As for the NYT article, it wasn’t an op/ed piece; Cohen was simply reporting on the trend – the disappearance of psychoanalysis in psychology departments nationwide. She mentions a JAPA article that looked at the lack of psychoanalytic content in the undergraduate curricula. I’m sure its demise is a surprise to some but it’s nothing new. Psychoanalytic theory is increasingly in crisis, in the U.S. and around the world, and we don’t need newspapers to provide proof of that, even The Grey Lady.

    When Freud is mentioned in psych textbooks, most of his psychodynamic personality theories are explained and then criticized and debunked. If he were resurrected into the 21st century as an undergrad, he wouldn’t be able to complete the basic requirement of writing a research paper on a mock empirical study testing a hypothesis using his any of his most popular theories – the libido and the structure of the personality (id, superego, ego), for example. It’s ironic, really. I’m glad he was already out by the time my daughters became college-aged.

    Gloria Steinem’s essay, "What If Freud Were Phyllis?" is hilarious. With her brilliant wit and insight, she does a terrific job of dispelling Freudian myth. On a YouTube video, when speaking of women having children outside of heterosexual, patriarchal marriage, Steinem says of opponents, "They said, 'You’re going against nature! You’re going against God! You’re going against Freud!' And we said, 'Yes, you got it.'" The thing is, back in the BSE, going against Freud was tantamount to going against God. His condescending views of women were considered bible, and they wrote the script that pigeonholed hundreds of thousands of unmarried girls and women who conceived out of wedlock into denying their motherhood by "relinquishing her child so she could return to the community recertified as good material to assume the status of American wife and mother" ("Wake Up Little Susie," p. 101).

    Younger women who have sailed in on the third-wave of feminism need to understand how much damage Freud has done. I wonder how many would be on this blog today if it weren’t for his theories about the unconscious, sex, and the role of women.

    Please read and reread chapter three, "The Girl Nobody Loved: Psychological Explanations for White Single Pregnancy" in Rickie Solinger’s book, "Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race Before Roe v. Wade." It has Freudian myth stamped all over it.

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  166. From the American Academy of Pediatrics

    Clinical Report
    The Pediatrician’s Role in Supporting Adoptive Families

    Veronnie F. Jones, MD, PhD,
    Elaine E. Schulte, MD, MPH, and
    the Committee on Early Childhood and Council on Foster Care, Adoption, and Kinship Care

    Date: September/2012

    Although parents and children gain so much in becoming a part of an adoptive family, children who join their families through adoption often experience issues of loss relevant to adoption.41 Although these feelings of loss may be more rooted in societal expectations of genetically based attachments rather than in any inherent biological loss, they nonetheless are experienced by many adopted people.42

    All members of the adoption triad—the child, the adoptive family, and the biological family—are affected by the losses. Children in closed adoptions may lose the sense of their own original identity as well as ties to those with whom they share genetic links. Even children in open and kinship adoptions are aware of the way in which their families are different and will process their knowledge in different ways at different ages. Adoption may also represent loss to adoptive parents. Some adoptive parents have faced infertility, so they too may grieve the loss of genetic links to their child. In confidential adoptions, biological parents have an obvious loss of a relationship with the child they have conceived. Through understanding and acknowledgment of these losses, adoptive families, children, and biological families are able to adapt better and build healthier families.43

    see:http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/4/e1040.full

    Naturally the adoption advocate writing here will come back with all kinds of reasons this study does not apply.

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  167. theadoptedones: "I have felt thrown under the bus so many times simply because of the dismissive statements like studies show most adoptees do just fine so therefore adoption is good."

    Viktoria: "Naturally the adoption advocate writing here will come back with all kinds of reasons this study does not apply."

    To clarify, that wouldn’t be me.

    I don’t like adoption, especially infant-placed adoption in our closed records system. As a psychosocial experiment, it has failed. It’s a necessary evil, although what defines 'necessary' if up for discussion and debate, case by case, hence this thread on Callie Mitchell’s relinquishment story.

    When people tell me they support adoption, I ask them, "Which one of your kids would you give up? Pick one." And they can’t do it, they can’t choose, like that horrific scene in Sophie’s Choice. At least it gets them thinking.

    Viktoria, the article you cited isn’t an empirical research study, it’s a report, a brief overview of the psychological risks, none of which I’ve denied. In fact, I’ve helped others work through these issues. It’s good, but I disagree about modeling positive adoption language. There’s no such thing as positive adoption language – that’s the industry’s way of denying reality and an attempt at rewriting their sordid history.

    What I advocate is emotional healing from the trauma and pain inherent in the fallout. If birthmothers and adoptees are not chronically handicapped by loss, grief, anger, resentment (or whatever, fill in the blank), how is that a threat?

    While there are commonalities in experience, there are also vast differences. The fact that some are no longer suffering in deep pain does not negate or dismiss anyone else’s journey. What puzzles me is: why anyone would mock, doubt, belittle or begrudge someone else’s psychological well-being?

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  168. Kathleen wrote:"While there are commonalities in experience, there are also vast differences. The fact that some are no longer suffering in deep pain does not negate or dismiss anyone else’s journey. What puzzles me is: why anyone would mock, doubt, belittle or begrudge someone else’s psychological well-being? "

    I too have been wondering that for a long time. I don't know who you are but it seems to me like we have some similar views, that have been similarly misinterpreted and resented by other commenters who insist on eternal suffering for all and one uniform, static and unchanging reaction to having given up a child or being adopted.

    I was wretchedly depressed and destroyed by the experience of surrendering a child, for many years, and doubly hurt when I contacted him at 16 and he wanted nothing to do with me for almost 20 years. I spoke and wrote about this at great length in adoption reform groups, newsletters and later on the internet. I was sure I was rejected forever, and that adoption had ruined my life despite the fact I married a good man and had three more great kids. After a while, I was stuck in circle of misery that fed on itself and sadly, on what many others in adoption reform were insisting was "the truth" for all.
    What you posted about "learned helplessness" really resonated with me, both about the surrender and the aftermath. Identifying as an eternal victim keeps one trapped on the misery-go-round.

    I do not love adoption,do not recommend surrender nor promote adoption, but I am not anti-adoption either, and I do not hate adoptive parents as a group. Like you, I see adoption as a necessary and lesser evil in some cases, each to be judged on its own merit. Adoption is very flawed, very complex, and neither all bad or all good. Very few things are.

    Also, since reconnecting with my son, on his terms, and getting to know him, I no longer feel he is lost,hopeless,or ruined, nor am I. We have both suffered; his adoptive family was quite dysfunctional, but we both survived
    and are moving forward. There are scars, but there is also healing and hope.

    I have finally found some peace and acceptance and taken responsibility for my own mistakes and weaknesses that led to the surrender, as well as seeing the contributions of others, like my parents, boyfriend, agency etc.

    That is just MY story. Everyone has their own ways of coping, circumstances,and life. It is not meant as a rebuke or insult or threat to others who feel differently about their own story and lives. It is not told to admonish or scold anyone else who is in a different place. But somehow it is taken that way by some people who insist I must be in denial, or that I agree with those who promote adoption as solution to all problem pregnancies and as a wonderful rainbow colored nirvana. No, I have not "drunk the Kool Aid". I did not even block out or keep secret that I had given up a child, and looked for him when he was a young child. I can't see anyone's personal story and feelings about their own situation as a criticism of any one else's, but that seems a very hard point to get across.

    Adoption has caused the greatest trauma in my life, but it is by no means the worst thing that can happen to a person. Thinking that is not realistic. It has been my tragedy, and that of many others, but it is not death or the holocaust or slavery or genocide or other things it has been compared to.

    Thanks for coming here and speaking a different point of view, and coming back with facts and tact when you have been attacked.

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  169. Kathleen - you just quote other professionals to make your point...then say you didn't say that...

    At the same time YOU assume that talking about what it is like to be an adoptee and the feelings that go along with it means we haven't dealt with it.

    Have you ever considered that others who have felt the same can be the best resources for adoptees who have never had anyone to talk to about it? Or for mothers who have never walked the adoptee path to understand better? Or for adoptive parents of the current generation of adoptees to know when something might be triggered?

    I'm old - I have gone through many challenges in my life that are not about adoption - I am interested in talking about those challenges too...I talk about adoption here because adoption is the topic. I don't need quotes by professionals telling me that what I experienced isn't the norm and that most adoptees do just fine based on studies and other professionals opinions.

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  170. Kathleen, while you come across as calm and cogent, your comments actually do belittle those who hold opposing view to yours, especially adoptees. You cannot let them be.

    And can we be clear on your connection to adoption: as a birth mother...and what else? Are you also an adoptive mother? An adoptee? As well as an independent counselor for adoptees and first mothers? How does that work? How do people find you, if you are not employed in this field, as I believe you have stated. And where are your degrees from, as we understand they are from a prestigious school? Can you be that open?

    I am not belittling or mocking you by asking these questions, but it is unusual to say the least that you keep coming back to espouse and continue to counteract other viewpoints (by your many comments) a different point of view from many if not most of the people who comment here.

    By doing so, you do denigrate their opinion because it does feel that you are insisting on continuing the debate to have the LAST WORD. And while you say one thing, you do come off as a person who would encourage infant adoption in a great many more cases than most of us, including myself and Jane.

    I look forward to your response.

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  171. Kathleen:

    I chose not to publish your last comment as it was just more of a finger in the eye for those of us who work for legislative change, and did not answer the questions I had posed. You do not reveal your true self, as Jane and I do here.

    And despite how "non-belittling" you claim to be, the comment showed you to be otherwise.

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  172. Thank you Ms. Marginalia for the well wishes. :)

    I have no idea where you or Robin or theadoptedones live but I sure wish it was close by so you all could be my son's therapists...To have people who know so much about what he's feeling (or might be feeling) would be invaluable. I despair of finding someone like that for him around here.

    We all know where Lorraine lives and she's about as far from Texas as she can get in these United States. So you're off the hook Lorraine. :)

    "J" had a check-up this week concerning his ADHD medicine and I told the doctor about him saying he hated himself as well as some other issues we've noticed. She recommended a therapist in her office.

    I'm mulling over what was said here about the wrong therapist just compounding problems. I really agree with that and am unsure of how to determine who is the right person for "J" to talk to.

    I know I have sort of veered from the original intent of Lorraine's post. My original point was that open adoption is not all it's cracked up to be, even when all sides try very hard. An expectant mother considering adoption should truly understand that.

    And of course prospective adoptive parents need to understand what open adoption is really like so that they either (A) decide that maybe they shouldn't adopt after all, or (B) don't make promises they can't or won't keep, and (C) that they understand that open adoption is like any other family dynamic in the sense that it's not always a bed of roses (for anyone involved) and it takes work.

    Anyway rather than continue to stray further from Lorraine's post, I wanted to ask if there is another forum where problems like what I mentioned with "J" can be discussed?

    (Not that I wouldn't continue to come here of course but just wonder if some things are better discussed somewhere else unless a post here is directly pertinent...)

    Thanks again for letting me step into the conversation here. As I mentioned before, I have basically no where in "real life" to discuss these things. This site has become a touchstone for me.

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  173. A second mom wrote:"I'm mulling over what was said here about the wrong therapist just compounding problems. I really agree with that and am unsure of how to determine who is the right person for "J" to talk to."

    I think the best thing to do is see how comfortable "J" feels with the therapist and if s/he is allowing him to express how he really feels about adoption rather than telling him he is wrong. He needs to work through his issues and try to make peace with them, not be told that others don't feel that way and that there is something wrong with him for how he feels (maybe the therapist could even learn a thing or two from "J"!).

    Sorry, neither Ms. Marginalia or I are in Texas so we can't just pop in for a visit :) But I hope you will keep commenting at FMF and keep us posted on how "J" is doing.

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  174. Thanks Robin! And a big DARN that you don't live in Texas...lol. :)

    I think I will meet with the therapist first to feel her out. When I mentioned the "blank slate" theory to the doctor that prescribes his ADHD medicine she gave me a rather blank stare. I would have thought a psychiatrist would have been at least mildly familiar with it. Or maybe I just surprised her.

    So I will have to run that one past the therapist and see what reaction I get.

    And you're right, she could probably learn a thing or two from "J"!

    Thanks for the help and I will try to stay in touch although I'm not sure where on here to do that? Keep coming back to this post?

    I'm friends with Lorraine on Facebook. If you are also there and go to her friend's list and look me up my name is Daria. :)

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  175. Hey Second Mom Daria:

    Maybe a little off target but there has been a lot in the papers lately about the over prescribing of Adderall and Ritalin for all kinds of kids that should not on it, and today's times had a Op-Ed by a father whose son went on those drugs at an early age, and ended up dying his last year of college from an overdose. Boys are, as you probably know, over-medicated more than girls, just to keep them quiet in school when they should be having recess to blow off their energy!

    Just my guess here, but I would love to see the stats on adopted kids and bio kids and the incidence of medication for "unruly" or "unfocused" behavior. I once met a teenager who knew adoptive parents who thought their kid was a problem. The teenager said, he's not a problem, he's just not like them.

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  176. Hey Lorraine,

    I will check out that article you mentioned. We were very hesitant to put him or his older brother on a med. Luckily he is not on the ones you mentioned.

    Our oldest son (biological) started on one also. I mention he's biological because I thought it odd that even though they don't have the same DNA, that they both need ADHD meds. Like maybe it's not them, but US and our parenting?? :(

    Or maybe it's as you said, boys are just more apt to be seen as needing a med like that when what they really need is more recess.

    Although both have improved significantly in school so it must be helping to a certain extent. It's a slippery slope...sigh.

    Neither boy takes it on weekends or holidays, or summer break though because it's not about behavior (for our family anyway) but about being able to focus in school.

    However I'm glad you mentioned the article and I will check it out. I should be doing more reading on the subject...sometimes it takes a reminder such as this to make me stop and realize "Hey this is a controlled substance we're talking about here!" and that I need to stay current on the information about such things.

    Side note: There was once a previous poster (not on this particular post though) who used "Second Mom" which I thought was a great idea. That way everyone immediately knows where I am in the triad. And I am in fact, my child's second mother.

    Anyway, I didn't see her around anymore so I took the liberty of using her moniker. If she comes back for some reason and anyone wonders if it's me, let me know. I don't believe she put the "A" in front of Second Mom though so that might be one way to tell. Just thought I'd mention it! :)

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  177. A Second Mom: I quote from the piece and posted the link in the right sidebar just now.

    Yes, I think she used 2ndMom...not sure.

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  178. Thanks Lorraine - meant to ask you the title earlier! :)

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