' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Heidi Hess Saxton continued

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Heidi Hess Saxton continued

Heidi Hess Saxton Continued

Catholic adoptive mother Heidi Hess Saxton contends that adoption is the answer for “children born to young teens … children of parents with unresolved substance abuse or domestic violence issues; and children of abusive and neglectful parents.” Sealed records are a necessary component of adoption (Catholic Exchange http://catholicexchange.com/2008/11/11/114414/). To those who disagree she hurls the epithet “anti-adoption.” To which I echo Lorraine “Damn straight we're anti-adoption--unless really really necessary and even then those birth records better be open from the get-go.” http://www.firstmotherforum.com/2008/11/thats-what-adoption-is-fornot-on-svu.html

Saxton admits that adoption is not a perfect answer: It “does not completely shield the child from the consequences of her first parents’ choices. There is no way to shield the child entirely — that is the nature of sin.”

Sounds like a win/win situation – heal the child (well almost) and punish the sinful parents in one fell swoop. Except that children are not chameleons who can adapt to any environment. Except that many children raised by teen parents do just fine and lots of children raised by adoptive parents have horrible outcomes. Except that people who seek to adopt don’t want the offspring of young teens, drug abusers, and other unworthies.

If the parents don’t give up their child or “fix their own messes”, Saxton asserts the child should be removed involuntarily. This happens now, often with disastrous results. According to The National Coalition for Child Protection Reform (www.nccpr.org) “many children taken from their homes and placed in foster care don’t need to be there. These children could have been safely kept in their own homes…. Being taken from everything loving and familiar is among the worst emotional blows that any child can suffer. ... In addition, there is far more abuse in foster care than generally realized.”

If Saxton looked around, she would see countless examples of successful people born to single mothers: Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Oprah Winfree, Jesse Jackson, Ethel Waters to name just a few. Countless others were raised by single mothers, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton for example. Indeed I would put them up any day against George Bush who was raised in what Saxton would consider an ideal home.

And of course adoption is no guarantee that a child will be raised in a stable two parent home. Passing muster with a social worker at the time of the adoption to become parents is no guarantee of a being good parents for a lifetime. Like other parents, they may divorce, suffer from alcoholism, or become unemployed. Adoption may actually precipitate these problems. Adoptive parents can turn into terrible parents who shouldn't be raising any children, let alone someone else's.

Adoption is not a quick fix to social problems. If Saxton were truly committed to helping children, she would support programs that keep children in their own homes rather than trying to justify destroying the families nature created.


  1. I have never said that "punishing sin" is a goal of adoption. I have said (and this idea is echoed by open adoption advocate and birthmother Patricia Dischler in her book "Because I Loved You") that once the teen makes the mistake of premarital intimacy -- that adoption is a better option for children whose mothers have neither the inner resources nor financial wherewithal to parent.

    If more mothers chose this option, there would be FAR fewer children in the foster system today. I'm raising two of them myself, and while I can assure you parents can and do adopt these damaged children, it would be far better if this damage was never inflicted in the first place.

    The fact that some children manage to survive abusive or neglectful homes -- or that there are some single parents who are able to get the support they need to parent their children successfully -- does not mean that ALL single mothers should be enocuraged to keep their children no matter what.

    Rather, unwed mothers need to make realistic and long-term plans based on what is best for their child. Dischler's book provides one of the best resources for unwed mothers I've ever heard of, to help them decide what course of action to take.

  2. "adoption is a better option for children whose mothers have neither the inner resources nor financial wherewithal to parent.

    If more mothers chose this option, there would be FAR fewer children in the foster system today."

    Here we go again. Automatically assuming that all young and/or poor mothers are destined to become abusers. How pathetic. I was not poor then and I'm not poor now - I was simply young, and the reason for the adoption was my mother's own shame, as in "you shamed the family." Sorry, but blood ties are more important than some '50s era notion of shame. But she cared more about her own middle-class reputation than anything else. No, reputation is NEVER a good reason to give away your flesh and blood.

    And I believe children are often better off with YOUNG, fit, active mothers. I see so many children with women who are either too old or so physically unfit they couldn't walk two blocks without being out of breath and I wonder how much damage they are causing their children due to being unfit. How can they play ball, run, jump, teach their children sports and games?

  3. "Like other parents, they may divorce, suffer from alcoholism, or become unemployed. Adoption may actually precipitate these problems."

    The potential for adoption to PRECIPITATE or exacerbate difficulties in adoptive parents and marriages seems ignored; unlike the rush to judge the first parents. None of us is completely shielded from sin.

  4. What I'm really curious to know is whether Ms. Saxton believes that even in those cases where the general indications are that a young unmarried mother IS capable of becoming a competent parent and where there IS family and/or wider social support, she still thinks that adoption is the better choice.

  5. Often adoption per se is the damage inflicted in the firs place Ms. Saxton.

    It is a myth that there are "undamaged" adopted children

  6. I've said it elsewhere - in order to believe you are a rescuer, you have to believe that there is something to be rescued from.

    Most of us who blog on this subject know that we were once those young women considered incapable of looking after our own children. We now know that wasn't so. In many cases, we would have been much better than what our children ended up getting.

  7. Right you are, Unsigned Masterpiece :-)
    It's implicit.

    As far as I know, Heidi has never directly stated that "punishing sin" is a gaol of adoption.
    Nevertheless, she has written elsewhere
    "Just as two people participate with God in the act of creation when they come together as man and wife to produce a child, so through adoption we have an opportunity to participation in the REDEMPTION of that child." and redemption is the act of delivering from evil or saving from sin.
    So I think one can pretty much assume two birds with one stone.

    And while we're talking of stones, Heidi has chosen not to post my last response to the conversation I resurrected on her blog.
    It is still languishing in the purgatory assigned to comments awaiting judgment day.

    Here's the link: http://extraordinarymomsnetwork.wordpress.

    And here's my response, written on the 18th, but as of yet not posted.

    " I think if you read my post again you will see that nowhere do I state, or even imply, that a child is “just as well off” with a teenage mother under in the circumstances you suggest.

    However, I do believe that children are best kept within their biological families until the biological parent/s is/are able to take on that responsibility in full, and wherever family and community support can make that a viable option.

    Indeed, I think it’s our bounden duty to extend that help wherever the parent, usually the mother, promises to be capable. I applaud Sarah Palin for her support of her daughter.
    I wonder, though, what her response would have been if her daughter’s child’s father had not been amenable to marriage.
    I also wonder if her daughter would have become pregnant at all if her mother hadn’t taken the “abstinence *only* approach”.

    Abstinance can, and I believe should, be taught as part of sex education. It doesn’t send the message “Go forth and multiply - without thought for the consequences”. It means strongly advising that sex before marriage ought to be avoided, but recognizes that what is isn’t always what ought to be. In other words, it’s realistic.

    Families that make sexuality taboo by pushing “abstinence only” and deny information to their children deserve to bear at least some of the responsibility when those young people become parents prematurely. In fact, I would make a educated guess that, in many cases, it is fear of family disapproval and horror of their children’s sexuality that makes some girls resort to abortion, or even to hide their pregnancies, often with disasterous results. Proper respect for young people means educating them about these matters, not leaving them to twist in the wind.
    We should be providing them with the tools they need to make their own informed decisions, not depriving them of knowledge that would help them towards the kind of responsible adulthood that is informed by ethics and not dictated by fear.

    I was wrong to accuse you of “hiding” behind your beliefs, and I apologize for that. Your beliefs are what they are, as mine are mine.
    However, I will say that when Christ said “Go and sin no more”, he first made it clear that he did not condemn her. Of course he didn’t say “Whew! Those old hypocrites are gone now, so just steer clear of them and do the best you can.” He unmasked them for what they were in order to show their judgmental hypocrisy for what it was - cruel, sactimonious and false.
    Nor did he say that had a child been the born as a result of the adulterous union, it should be removed from its mother.

    “And how are we to know whether a child is in a situation that “poses serious physical and/or emotional danger to a child”? Wait until he is actually abused?” We don’t. And with regard to statistics, which are often cited by adoption zealots as proof that children raised by unmarried young women are doomed to a dreadful life, they are only a general indicator, and do not by themselves provide a clear blueprint from which to form policy.

    “And who has the right to make this call?”
    I understand that it’s a difficult call to make, as well as a huge responsibility. It’s one that certainly can’t be made merely on the possibility of abuse. There has to be probability at least.
    The fact of teen motherhood alone is insufficient. Like I said, statistics do not speak to a universal truth.

    “What I find interesting is how quickly women seeking to justify their behavior by conceiving children outside of marriage hide behind the “widow” verses — discounting the fact that in order to be a widow, one must first become a wife!”

    Perhaps you do find it fascinating, but you can’t point that finger at me. I haven’t used that justification. What’s more, your argument doesn’t address the fact that women don’t deserve to have their children removed simply because they are not married. Even if they are young and poor as well. Other factors deserve to be taken into account. Always."

    What, one can't help but ask, would Jesus do?
    My Jesus, the Jesus who did not condemn the woman taken in adultery - I don't believe that Jesus would support taking children from their mothers just because those mothers were unmarried, poor and/or young.

  8. Please, mothers repsond to this drivel:

    The editorial page is

    The article is under the editorial section and is titled "Birth moms
    who choose adoption deserve support for their decision."

  9. Heidi said:“children born to young teens … children of parents with unresolved substance abuse or domestic violence issues; and children of abusive and neglectful parents.” Sealed records are a necessary component of adoption (Catholic Exchange http://catholicexchange.com/2008/11/11/114414/

    I fit none of those criteria, and yet was offered no alternatives but to surrender my child. While adoption may indeed be the lesser evil for families with severe problems of the kind you mention, the fact is that many mothers who would be perfectly fit to raise their kids with a little help have been pressured to choose adoption, and made to feel they had no other choice. That is just wrong. That is what we are objecting to.

    SOMETIMES adoption is best for the child. Not always. Adoptive parents are no more perfect than other parents, and adoption under sealed records brings extra problems of identity for many adoptees. My son was adopted by a woman with serious mental problems who beat him with a wooden spoon until he was bigger than her. He did not in any way have a better life.

    Also, some of us who surrendered are pro-life and would never have an abortion, so that was not a real choice. Pushing adoption to single moms in crisis is not saving lives; it may even be driving some to abortion rather than give birth to a child they will never know anything about.

    Heidi, are you interested in learning the full spectrum of surrendering mothers' experience. or only what agrees with your preconcieved notion that adoption is always best? It just is not that simple.

  10. "Sealed records are a necessary component of adoption"
    Closed Adoption Records are NEVER best for the child under any circumstances what so ever.

  11. I e-mailed Heidi Hess Sexton in a non confrontational way explaining the Unsealed Initiative is a lobby group
    and we are not anti-adoption.she did e-mail me back saying I was not confrontational but many responding to her article were.I really don't care what she says but now I see her
    article is posted on google on an Unsealed Initiative directory page.
    I never liked the anti-adoption term as some using it set the movement back in the mid 90's. Or I should say a few who wanted guardianship to replace adoption.Times have changed and our issue has become more mainstream. I don't think at this point in time
    an attack by her matters much.

  12. " I don't think at this point in time an attack by her matters much."
    You're probably right.
    And I'm sure we must all be thrilled to know that that St. Anne has been appointed as the patroness of birthmothers.



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