' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: December 2010
Join Lorraine in Indianapolis! She will be opening the IAN conference on Friday morning. See details on sidebar.

Friday, December 31, 2010

On grieving for a grandchild NOT placed for adoption


Carolyn Hax the Washington Post advice columnist has taken up the quarrel with the family preservation foe, catching the torch at Ann Landers field to keep faith with the adopting class. At least Landers’ ignorance about adoption could be excused; she was an uneducated housewife from Sioux City, Iowa who simply parroted adoption industry propaganda. Harvard educated Hax, on the other hand, has no excuse for continuing to spout “adoption is the best option” except to pander to her Washington Post readers, many of whom are seeking to adopt after postponing child-bearing on their way to Capitol power and prestige.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Global Trade in Babies Continues to Boom

"First of all, the global baby trade is a market. Adoptive families pay a lot of money -- to the sending country, adoption agencies, and lawyers. For many years, South Korea was the leading sending country, and the hard currency it earned from international adoptions helped the country recover from the Korean War's devastation.

"Like any market, the unscrupulous find plenty of ways to make money. A child-buying scandal that erupted in Cambodia about 10 years ago drew wide media coverage. The European Union pressured Romania to place a ban on international adoptions, largely as a result of a report to the European Parliament by Lady Emma Nicholson. "Impoverished families were coerced and deceived into giving up their children who were then effectively sold on to Western couples under the guise of international adoption," Nicholson argued in a 2004 Guardian article."--by John Feffer, Co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus published at the Huffington Post.  
We don't simply like to link other articles or reprint them whole here (a violation of property rights) but the piece from which this is taken ought to be required reading for everyone considering adopting a child, especially a child from a foreign country. Furthermore, adoptive parents or prospective adoptive parents who stumble upon First Mother Forum are often shocked by our comparing adoption to a business industry subject to market influences, and so we will continue to publicize our sources.

But those who deny that the baby business, or The Stork Market, is alive and thriving to feed the market for babies in American and elsewhere are covering their senses with blinders. Books such as the recent Baby We Were Meant for Each Other, by an author such as NPR's Scott Simon, who was able to readily publicize the glories of adopting from China, and the continuing spate of celebrity adoptions, further push the demand for babies from wherever they can be bought. Write in "international adoption memoirs" at Amazon and up pops numerous accounts of how-to-do-it, and how great it is, and I suppose, all leave you feeling with the glow that the author is doing something good in the world. Just yesterday in the supermarket I stumbled upon a cover story about Eva Longoria from Desperate Housewives. She is divorcing--but there is a happy ending: Longoria is going to fill the void in her life by adopting a baby. Great. Lose a husband? Get someone else's baby to fill the void in your life. But I digress.

The Stork Market: America's Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption IndustryGuatemala, which we have covered in detail in the past, was once the largest per-capita source of children to be adopted, and the country's own government has found irrefutable evidence of baby-snatching, and sometimes even killing the parents to make the baby "available" for adoption. The children were handed over to government-run agencies for foreign adoption, and the Americans and Europeans who adopted them thought they had clean hands--no back -alley dealings, right?--and were doing a good thing, that is, saving a child. The reality is so far from the truth: instead, these adoptive parents had blood on their hands. As Feffer writes:
"The baby market is subject to the same neocolonial distortions that affect other commodities. Imagine a couple from Vietnam visiting the United States to adopt a white baby because they want to give the child a more spiritually rich life and save it from an existence poisoned by Wii, reality TV, and KFC. With rare exceptions, it's the poor countries that supply babies to the rich countries.

"Sometimes, the rich just swoop in and take from the poor. In Sierra Leone, after the widespread amputations that took place during the civil war, some staff of U.S. charities persuaded amputee parents to give up their amputee children for adoption "in a manner that seemed to combine aspects of bribery and kidnapping," writes Philip Gourevitch in The New Yorker. After Haiti's earthquake, the New Life Children's Refuge attempted to transport 33 alleged orphans out of the country to place with American parents. Not only did the transfer qualify as smuggling, since the Baptist activists didn't acquire any documentation from the Haitian side, but one-third of the children weren't even orphans. One child thought she was going to a summer camp."
At the same time that poor countries are being looted of their children, the great majority of the world's populations that are not even replacing themselves are in low-income countries. The trading of fertility rites on the open market--combined with the aggressive marketing of international adoption agencies and adoption advocates such as the Christian World Adoptions and other organizations that urge the end to the UNICEF 's recent statement that children first and foremost belong with their original families--could lead to an even more radical shrinkage of countries already below the replacement rate in such places as Moldova, Thailand, Lebanon, and Vietnam. (2.5 to 3.3 birth per woman is considered a replacement rate in non industrialized countries.)

International adoption is a sick system. It might be better called "child laundering," a phrase used by adoptive father and legal scholar David Smolin. He found that his two girls adopted from India had been stolen from their parents. I often feel like we at First Mother Forum are only putting our fingers in a dike after it burst. International adoption is everywhere and seen by many couples as a way to "build a family" without considering the full implications, and certainly not considering what the wholesale exchange of children from one culture to another means to them, or their birth/first/natural mothers and fathers.

But we are not going to stop. There are children who do need homes and families; they are in foster care right here in America. --lorraine
If you leave a comment at Huff Po, please copy and leave it here too. The more you write, the more others may read.

And for a read about how some international adoptees feel about who they are, read O Solo Mama's blog: "You Are Who You Think You Are." O Solo Mama is the adoptive mother of an pre-teen from China who frequently is a welcome commenter here. She gets it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A First Mother remembers: My Adopted Daughter's first Christmas gifts


Christmas has played a role in my relationship with my surrendered daughter Megan since the beginning. When she was born in November, 1966, I could not bear to sever our bonds completely. I left the hospital without signing adoption papers and she went into foster care. A social worker told me she had the perfect family for my daughter but they wanted a child less than a month old.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

An immigrant fights for her son, illegally adopted

Just when we were getting over the tug-of-war over Grayson Wyrembek (once called Grayson Vaughn) another case of what amounts to illegal adoption pops up. Illegal is the operative word here, as the mother of the child in question, Carlos, Encarnacion Bail Romero, was swooped up in a raid at a poultry processing plant in Carthage, Missouri in a Bush-era raid in May, 2007.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Christmas Spirit and Adoption Sorrow

It's that time of year again, where the Christmas carolers and crowds crawling the aisles of the stores remind of us of family, family known and family lost. I won't lie: the holidays before I knew my daughter Jane were pure hell. I'd fly home to Detroit to spend a few days with my mother, year after year, with a husband, without a husband, and there we would be on Christmas morning at Mass, the choir would sing Silent Night, one of the oldest and most common of carols, with a melody so stirring when it hits the high notes, and my eyes would flush with tears. Where was my daughter, my only child whom I relinquished for adoption?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Adopted: For the Life of Me illustrates how sealed records hurt

Riding on a train not so long ago I struck up a conversation with the man sitting next to me, and in time I was talking about the sealed birth records of adopted people. He was surprised--no, amazed is more like it--that adoptees couldn't get their original birth certificates and find out who they are justlikethat. By asking for them. And ditto for birth/first parents when the kids are adults.

I explained that no, it wasn't like that, and all the movies on television (of which he has some knowledge) and just plain old common sense about what is right to the contrary, adoptees in all but ten states are unable to get their original birth

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Guardianship vs. Adoption

Adoption has clear benefits for a child whose parents or extended family lack the ability to care for the child.  However, there are the gray areas--where parents may be unable to care for their child at the present time but with help can assume responsibility in the near future. Unfortunately, adoption  becomes the solution for the temporary problem. Guardianship can provide a way to care for a child until the parents are able to assume their responsibilities. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What Does Adoption Reform Activism Look Like?


When  O Lord will adoptees and birth mothers be free from the shackles of bad laws? 

When more of us take action and demand that archaic, cruel and unjust laws be repealed?

Why has the movement for gay rights moved so much faster than adoptee/birth mother rights? 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Remembering My Daughter on the Anniversary of her Death

photo by Ken Robbins
Today is the day. Not her birthday, but my daughter's death day. Odd that we never think of it that way, because one's dying is not something to be celebrated. But it is worth observing: the day she decided to leave this earth, and leave it on her own terms: she committed suicide.

Friday, December 10, 2010

First Mother Forum Mission Statement: What We Think About Adoption

Are we against all adoptions? No.

Some are absolutely necessary, and good. There will always be children who, for one sad reason or another, need to find a home and parents, and in many cases, they will not be family members.

We are against unnecessary adoptions whether domestic or international. In many cases, adoptions  occur because

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Koran Gets It Right: Prohibits Closed Adoptions

 From the Associated Press:
"Helene Lauffer knew Muslim children - orphaned, displaced, neglected - needed homes in the United States. She knew American Muslim families wanted to take them in.  But Lauffer, associate executive director of Spence-Chapin, one of the oldest adoption agencies in the country, couldn't bring them together.
"The problem was a gap between Western and Islamic law. Traditional, closed adoption violates Islamic jurisprudence, which stresses the importance of lineage.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Adoptive Parents Decry UNICEF's Humanitarian Position about Adopting Overseas

How does our culture promote adoption? Let me count the ways, and let me begin with the truly grotesque blog of the ultra conservative Washington Times called The Red Thread: An Adoptive Family Forum by Amanda Poe: "UNICEF's effective attack on inter-country adoption."

UNICEF's recent statement on inter-country adoption strongly states in no uncertain terms that children belong first with their families,

Monday, December 6, 2010

Choosing Adoptive Parents for YOUR Child

If something happened to you and your children were left without parents, which couple among the following would you most like to see adopt them?  (Asked of parents with children under 18)
                                                            All        Dads            Moms

I'd prefer some nice couple
from Iowa                                            44%        41%            45%

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett
Smith                                                    25          26                24

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia
  de Rossi                                               7            2                11

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie                 6           6                  5

                                      Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes              3           4                  3

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Birth Mother's Lament: A Message for My Daughter

Hello baby, I am writing this to you. It is strange and wonderful to think that you might be reading this. It is like putting a letter in a bottle and flinging it into the sea.

You will be thirteen. It seems like just yesterday you were struggling for your life in an incubator, and now you are almost grown up. Your body is changing, and your breasts may be starting. What are girls your age like? Long straight hair, blue jeans, peasant blouses and espadrilles. Giggles on the bus from school. The first telephone calls from boys. Girl friends who share all your secrets. Or maybe you're not like that at all. I wasn't. Not really.

Are you alive? Are you?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

UN finds irregularities in Guatemalan adoptions--no surprise there

People who want a child--someone else's child--will stop at nothing to get one, apparently, even when the illegal practices are brought to light. The Associated Press is reporting that a United Nations anti-corruption commission has found irregularities in Guatemala's adoption program despite government efforts to prevent fraudulent adoptions.
The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala reports numerous cases of Guatemalan children handed over to foreigners