' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Dark Ages Adoption Spewing over at Huffington Post

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dark Ages Adoption Spewing over at Huffington Post

While the adoptasphere is abuzz with reaction to ABC's Find My Family--some of this is bound to reach the ears of legislators, so right on, I say!--over at The Huffington Post, nasty business is afoot in the form on a noxious column by an assistant professor of psychology, no less at Cornell Medical School. It's yet another frothing at the mouth of an adoptive parent, one Ms. Peggy Drexler.

Ms. Drexler sounds like a clone of that other professor of adoption fairy tales, Elizabeth Bartholet of Harvard. (And people wonder why adoption reform, or birth mothers, does not get more support from the feminist community, or which I am most certainly a member. Ah, my dear, this is why. Feminists form a large group of adopters. But I digress.

"Adopting a New Attitude" could have been written in the darkest Dark Ages of adoption, anytime from the Forties onward. What was wrong with the piece? Let me count the ways:

1) To show that adoption is not, "second best," Ms. Drexler quotes another adoptive mother: a quick witted, vivacious forty-seven year old, "totally present," blond, fair-skinned, green-eyed woman who looks like she was a high school cheerleader. She is now an adoptive single mother by choice to three beautiful brown skinned boys she adopted from Guatemala ages four, four and a half, and seven.
Hmm. I guess both Drexler and the extremely cool blond, fair-skinned, green-eyed (so far, she is describing me) could have been a cheerleader (I didn't make the team) woman has three children from Guatemala. I guess Drexler has not read the stories about mothers who were killed in order to take their children to be sold to unscrupulous adoption brokers in Guatemala, or otherwise she might have chosen another blond, fair-skinned, green-eyed adopter. Or not come upon the story about the prospective adoptive mother who noticed that something was amiss with the papers the adoption lawyer in Guatemala presented her and called off the adoption. Now, that's a woman after my own heart. But I digress.

Yet what is going on here is that Ms. Drexler is making a saint of a woman who very likely has stolen children as the focal point of her story about how adoption is not Second Choice, which is the title of a very good memoir by adoptee Robert Andersen, M.D., that comes with blurbs from no less than Betty Jean Lifton, Joyce Maquire Pavao, and Annette Baran, good folks all, two of them adopted themselves.

2) I could hardly contain myself when I saw the "expert" she brought in to give gravitas to her piece: Mike McMahon, the director of the Gladney Center for Adoption. That's right, Drexler attempts to prove her point about how great adoption is and how we should "adopt a new attitude" about it by the director of the agency that has been a main proponent of sealed records and only reluctantly, when its business was going south because they were not doing open adoptions, did the agency change its tune, and yes, today, young maidens, you can have a open adoption at this nefarious agency. This is like asking the head of Goldman Sachs what's good about giving millions of dollars in bonuses to top performers with the government's bailout money. Really, Arianna, where is your critical ability? Not evident here.
Let's not forget that Gladney of Fort Worth is one of the leading adoption agencies in the country! It's where rich folk and movie stars have gone to get their American babies for generations! (Though today, they have a lucrative international market. From their website: The Gladney Center for Adoption is one of the oldest [Ed: 120  years!] and largest maternity homes and adoption agencies in the United States, placing more than 28,000 children in permanent homes and assisting more than 37,000 birth mothers. In addition to placing children born in the United States, Gladney's intercountry program is committed to finding permanent homes for children in other countries. Adoption opportunities are available in several countries around the world including Eastern European, Asian, African and Latin American countries.
Our guy Mike was recently nominated for an Angels in Adoption by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, whose child a few years ago came from...you got it, Gladney. Even the name kinda creeps me out--Gladney, it sounds sinister, but maybe that's just me. Rumor has it that Troy Dunn of The Locator, who is kind of a Bat Man for birth mothers, will not take on searches emanting from Gladney adoptions because they are so hard, so closed are those records at this infamous adoption bazaar. So, Mike, whose livelihood depends on a thriving adoption market, is the "expert" Ms. Drexler uses to show that adoption is so peachy-keen: "To the people who persist in assuming that adopted kids are somehow flawed," she writes, continuing, "Sure, adopted kids are over-represented in counseling," [McMahon] tells me. "But they are also over-represented at the orthodontist, the dermatologist, all those things, because we [adoptive parents] want to give them everything we can."

So adopted people are not over-represented among the troubled in our population, though numerous studies show that to be the case, even more likely to think about suicide as adolescents--only because their parents are such good parents they pay more attention and get their kids more therapy? Wait one moment--even adoptive parents, those without blinkers on--have done some of these studies. Seems that Ms. Drexler is probably too busy being her daughter's "true mom," as she puts it, to bother with petty details like that. I'm not going to argue about her comment thus makes me an "untrue" mother, because that kind of niggling is what adoptive parents are always doing--nearly passing out, it seems, when they hear the word "real" in front of a reference to we who carried them and gave birth to our children.  (Understand, please, I am not saying that adopted people come into the world with problems, but that adoption itself is the problem that manifests can lead to feelings of rejection that may cause psychological problems. As one psychiatrist said in court one day when I was there to testify for opening someone's birth records--and he was an adoptive father himself: Adoption is always painful.)
3) Back to Drexler. Her column ends with the same old chestnut about how the writer is not threatened by her daughter's curiosity about "her adoption status," because she, Ms. Drexler, knows that to be a "bona fide mother" you have to be there for every 2 a.m. bad dream, go to the soiree at school and hear your child sing, and listen to their complaints about who was not nice to them. Though she doesn't come out and actually say it that we who gave birth were no more than birth canals [which is how I have seen us referred to at RainbowKids], that is what she is implying. As well as, by omission, ignoring the pervasive influence of DNA. Wait til her daughter is a teenager. I hope Drexler checks back in with us again.
4) The frosting on the cake? The biographical note states that Ms. Drexler collected her "data" and "patterns" for her book, Raising Boys Without MenHow Maverick Moms are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men, a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and a finalist for a "Better Life Award." (Feminism at work, again.) She is currently at work on a book about fathers and daughters. Sounds like it is permissible in her world to have a father if you are a girl, not so good if you are a boy--but then on this issue, I am so old school. Comments are still being posted over at the Huffington Post, so please add your two or four cents. (I am there, just incognito for a change.) Drexler and the her editor need to read them. This is one of my favorites: 
I worked with a professor at Stanford on a project with adoptive parents. We asked them to assign a reason for why the kid did well or failed a test. This is called attribution theory. Briefly, the results were: If they did well, it was because they, the adoptive parents, helped them study. If they did poorly it was because of genes! 
Now I seriously have to get ready for tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day. Prepare that pie crust and cool it over night in the fridge! [I do make good crust, substituting a half cup of regular flour with Wondra.Which does wonders for flakiness.] Make that cranberry-lime-orange chutney! Make the pumpkin praline and pecan pie in the morning! Whip that cream with bourbon!
Pumpkin Praline PieWe are dining with friends, and those are my assignments. Ah, really, sometimes I wish I had a food blog. Since it would be nice to have a couple of adoption-free days, things might be quiet at the blog for a few days. Have a good day, y'all, and to those who are dreading it, remember, it's only one day.


  1. One can but groan.
    Still, it's so awful, I think we should almost be grateful for crap like this. At least it sets itself up to be torn to shreds.

    When I read it I remembered that 'style maven' and generally shameless person Anita Tedaldi who "first contemplated the meaning of style as an infant wrapped in a soft Versace blanket in the Clinica Margherita in Rome, over thirty years ago" writes for the Huff Po too. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anita-tedaldi/the-quest-for-style_b_302167.html

    Little Snowdrop

  2. "Ms. Drexler, knows that to be a "bona fide mother" you have to be there for every 2 a.m. bad dream, go to the soiree at school and hear your child sing, and listen to their complaints about who was not nice to them."

    In that case, my a-mom doesn't rate, because she missed quite a few 2 a.m. bad dreams...wouldn't have dreamed of going to any soiree at school...and as for complaints...they all got explained away. I guess that must count? Two out of three.

    Fantasy worlds just pop up every time I turn around. They keep being the same ones too! Utterly resilient to reality. Impermeable. Education or not...no difference.

    Reality is better, but try making that case today.

    Thank you as always for keeping the eye out.

  3. "This is called attribution theory. Briefly, the results were: If they did well, it was because they, the adoptive parents, helped them study. If they did poorly it was because of genes!"

    Yikes, I have been traveling for the holiday and did not plan on commenting, but....

    this is what my son says about himself and his asis. "It must be the genes." As what he must have been told growing up when any behavior went awry. It makes me cringe to think the ever sainted aparents kept these kids one step off kilter with that one!

    And now that they have learned I am a "normal" human being it has thrown them for a loop.

    I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and thanks for the Wondra tip!

  4. As forever a student of the social and psychological sciences myself, it took all of my personal grace I could muster to not hand this woman's behind right too her in the form of a comment to her article.

    What could have come from a professional point of view--and from her credentials, no doubt some may mistake it as a professional point of view, was yet another adoptive mother who feels her place is second best and that clawing at and disgracing a First Mom is her only option. If she'd relax and trust the love her own child has for her, she'd realize that whatever place she's trying to force herself into in her daughters life is not as good as the place her daughter would have given her on her own.

    Adoptees have natural curiosities and feelings towards their biological roots--we cannot help this and there is nothing wrong with it. As an adoptee, I can tell you that reminding your adoptive child how "real" of a parent you are, how horrible their life would have been with their original mom--or whatever else you have to tell yourself--it's going to do nothing but make your child feel guilt, shame and like they are a total traitor for the NATURAL and NORMAL feelings that they have. You think a psychologist would know this. Shame on her.

  5. Amanda - the nail on the head! It is not about adopted persons, it is not about mothers. It is about adopters/adoptive parents (to me there is a distinct difference) that are insecure in their own relationship with the child/adult. They have always feared that they were not good enough. So, as this nut job does, they tear apart the mother, hoping to make themselves look good.
    What saddened me was the comments by adopted persons. Talk about guilted into living a lie and being unable to distinguish truth.
    Recently I have had a spate of very angry adopted persons on my blog and while I understand their anger, I noted that my own daughter refrained from comment. She said her peace and ignores the rest. Which, while I am glad, I wonder if it is healthy. But then it probably is, since we have been dancing for almost 8 years.
    Sadly, people like the ones on that site and others like the poor mentally ill "woman in hiding", they make life miserable for others.

    Children have two sets (sometimes more) of grandparents. They usually love them equally and with the normal joy that is given from them. Why can't they have two sets of parents (provided the relationships are healthy for them)?

    How sad. Also, the mention of studies by Cornel psychologists - those were shot down by the APA as bologna long ago and are not given a lot of credence.

    I think I shall find my research on child separation issues, it should be interesting posting it - with proper citations of course and seeing how many adoptive parents realize the issues.


    Yes, Amanda, fear exists and lives in the hearts of insecure adopters/adoptive parents. Now if we could only get them to believe in Santa Claus.

  6. You are such a good writer. Both of you women here are amazing. Love this blog/forum what is it what do I call it? LOVE IT.

    THANK YOU for being so intelligent and articulate and for being great spokeswomen for mothers like me.

    It's so healing.

  7. Lorraine, Let's put it this way - I tried - now if they allowed it, it will be there under "A Real Mother" - LOL!

  8. Hey ya'll,
    Got a note from someone saying you had mentioned me and Gladney in the same post, so thought I would swing by and leave a quick comment on the topic.
    We will on occasion work on Edna Gladney cases, but they have to have some data beyond that which is provided by Gladney files or non-ID.
    The reason for our hesitancy is simple- the majority of the cases we have reviewed/researched/solved from Edna Gladney were stuffed full of pages and pages of falsified documents. While it is quite normal (sadly) for adoption agencies to falsify a few things in an adoption record, the Gladney files we have studied had been tremendously falsified, often times simply duplicated. I have seen several people all get the same photo-copied "non-ID" from Gladney staffers. I have located alleged birth mothers connected to Gladney cases only to discover she was simply a woman who's identity was used over and over, and has been located by multiple adoptees in search of answers, only to find intentinal dead ends built by Gladney staffers so many years ago. Makes me sad and angry all at the same time. Let me say for the record, I have no idea what Gladney's processes and procedures are today. The tradition of falsifying entire adoption files may be a thing of the past. Perhaps it wasn't even a "tradition". Maybe I'm wrong. ;-) All I can say is that in 20 years of working thousands of cases, I have NEVER seen as much falsification in any other agency in the U.S. as I have seen with Edna Gladney cases. Tragically, many of the adoptees who have come thru that agency have unsolvable cases since names, cities, hospitals and DOB's were faked in many cases. Perhaps they felt at the time they were right, but I stand here today to state- they were WRONG. And anybody who thinks lying to adoptees is "whats best for them" is misguided.
    Have a beautiful Thanksgiving to you all. I do hope each of you are blessed to find that which you seek.
    In your corner,
    "The Locator"

  9. Amanda & Lori-
    I enjoyed your comments...actually I enjoyed reading this blog. As an adoptive parent of one young daughter and in the process of our second adoption of a precious baby girl I like to read to get a different perspective. I am very comfortable and sound in being a mom. We have an open adoption that we pushed for because we feel that is what is best for the mothers and our child. It allows for us to send pictures by email as well as videos and visits twice a year. I wanted to share this with you because I wanted you to know that there are adoptive parents out here that have a huge passion for children and mothers. We feel that the mother is going to be a part of our child's life regardless of whether or not we had an open adoption...we wanted to embrace that at the beginning. My hope is that by doing so my daughters will see the love that they have in both of their mothers.


  10. Mark - your mother may not have been perfect, no mother is, the point is that your birth mother wasn't there for ANY of it! So it's easy to fantasize that she would have been the perfect "real" mother of your dreams. Your real mother raised you, when she was biologically related to you or not. Some mothers are better than others, that's true no matter how they became mothers

  11. Grace's Mom - wow, what a load! First a real mother does not lay in bed and listen to her child scream or blow off the things that are important. My mother sucks and she went to every function (and she had 7 children). There was not one bad dream that I had that either my mother or father did not take care of. Even though as I got older not only was my mother a crappy one, she and I have no relationship.

    And, by the way, a real mother can be either an adoptive mother or a first mother.

    But, You have no right telling Mark to shut up and suck it up. There is no shame in admitting your mother - no matter which flavor - sucks.

    Why do people like you even come to these boards? I think you are just perpetuating the hate mongering, guilt trips on adopted persons and first mothers.

    GIVE UP! All you are doing is embarrasing yourself.

  12. Dear adopters:

    When you've had people beating you down over and over and over again about what a crappy parent you are "or else" you would not have had to give your child away and then you have to keep corresponding with your child "or else" you will be a bad parent BUT ISN'T THAT WHY THEY TOOK YOUR CHILD IN THE FIRST PLACE then maybe you can call us not-real-parents because we aren't as special and privileged and wealthy in both money and time with our child as you are.

    Til then? STFU.

    No love,
    Your walking uterus

  13. I am rather late to the party but am glad to be here (and will give a hat tip for the addition of Wondra pie crust suggested in this Thanksgiving post!). Though neither an adoptee nor an adoptive mother, here in Washington, D.C., I learned about the Gladney Center years ago when some extremely deep-pocketed adoptive parents did not want their Gladney tots so much as mentioned in our nursery school's "welcome" column for new babies.

    Later on, all of the Gladney kids known to me were accepted by a school for students with learning disabilities that turned down my non-deep-pocketed child.

    And now, as a member of the international blogging community www.Palingates.blogspot.com, one of the blog contributors who lives in the Dallas area has reported on $arah Palin's May 1, 2010, big-bucks speech at a fundraiser for the Uptown Pregnancy Center. This group plans to buy a swank Highland Park home in which to "counsel" pregnant SMU coeds and their ilk; Gladney reportedly will have an office in this "crisis pregnancy center" when it opens.

    I plan to read the complete archives of this blog, and comment if there's something that may be of interest to you. Palingates welcomes readers from every political affiliation and parental status, or none. Come on over and browse the many topics discussed!

    Mrs.--then Governor--Palin hastily left a Republican Governors' Association meeting in April 2008 after giving her speech, but before attending the evening gala. She claims to have been eight months' pregnant at the time, and to have experienced amniotic fluid leakage. No doctor physically examined her at that time.

    However, in returning to Alaska, Mr. and Mrs. Palin bypassed top-notch NICUs in Dallas, Seattle, and Anchorage. None of the flight attendants noticed that Mrs. Palin was either visibly pregnant or in distress. Upon arriving in Anchorage, the couple drove an hour to a small Palmer hospital that neither has a NICU, nor delivers twin births.

    Trip's official "roll-out" presentation to the public took place soon after his alleged birth date of April 18, 2008--much plumper and rosier than a preterm, jaundiced Down syndrome infant weighing, reportedly, six pounds, two ounces, at birth.

    Trig's birth certificate has never been disclosed. Palingates researchers and readers believe that he was born in January or February 2008, most likely to Bristol Palin. She disappeared from school and from public view in fall 2007, for more than five months, allegedly with an unusually prolonged case of "mono." At no time has this teen mother from a wealthy family ever considered surrendering her newborn(s) for adoption, according to what the Palins have gone on record to say.

    So come on over and join the scrum! www.palingates.blogspot.com.

  14. Have any past Birth mothers has problems with Gladney? I have a real hard time believing anything that my caseworker tells me. I recently found my birth daughter and her family and asked my caseworker a few questions that I already knew the answers to and I found he to be lying on several different occasions. What to believe what to do?

    Now reading all of this above I really wonder even more



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