' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Adoptive parents prefer head-in-sand to real questions and reality

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Adoptive parents prefer head-in-sand to real questions and reality

"For Adoptive Parents, Questions without Answers" reads the headline on the front page of the NY Metropolitan section of the New York Times, and I thought--talk about irony there, unintended by the headline writer, to wit: Boy, you ought to try to be a first mother who gave up in a closed adoption or an adoptee yourself. Talk about "questions without answers," such as, How is my child today? Do his adoptive parents make him drink hot sauce when he is bad and give him a cold shower, like that adoptive mother in Alaska who can't bond with one of her Russian "sons?" Is she at boarding school because there has been a divorce? Because she acts out too much?

Or conversely, Who are my real parents, the ones I was born to?

Today's Times story is a follow up to an earlier piece about kidnapping and forced relinquishment of babies in the province of Hunan to feed "a lucrative black market in children," a subject we at First Mother Forum have written about numerous times. Our stories, which cover the world corruption in the market for children, invariably elicit comments from adoptive parents about how we don't know what we are talking about, or how their situation is certainly different, or that MOST of the adoptions are almost certainly legit, and almost certainly theirs is untainted by corruption.

Really? How would you know, I want to respond. International adoption today is a crap shoot as anyone with half a brain can tell you. You child might not have been kidnapped, but there is no way without a DNA test and meeting the mother, or father and mother, or father if the mother is dead, can you know for sure. 

That is not to say that I do not have feelings for the parents who unwittingly adopted a kidnapped child. But if that is the case, and you find out about it, YOU HAVE TO GIVE THEM BACK. TO THEIR REAL PARENTS. Unless you have had the illegally-gotten child so long that repatriation is impossible.

However, the story today quotes folks who are not so willing: Susan Merkel, 48, of Chesterfield, N.J., who adopted a daughter from China in 2007, said that her husband did not want to talk about the possibility that their daughter was kidnapped and sold. However, Merkel, an adoptee herself, is troubled because" meeting her birth mother had helped her understand her past and herself." The story continues:
"What, then, was her responsibility as a parent — to find Maia’s birth parents, who might make a valid claim for her return? How could Ms. Merkel, who got so much out of meeting her own birth mother, not want that for her child? 'What I do know is that she’s my daughter and I love her,' she said. 'We’re giving her the best family and life that we can. And if she has questions someday, we’ll do all we can to help her find the answers.'
"While Ms. Merkel said that she would support Maia’s meeting her birth parents if it were possible, but that she would not willingly return her to them, even if there was evidence that she had been taken. (Emphasis added.)
'I would feel great empathy for that person,' she said. 'I would completely understand the anger and the pain. But I would fight to keep my daughter. Not because she’s mine, but because for all purposes we’re the only family she’s ever known. How terrifying that would be for a child to be taken away from the only family she knows and the life that she knows. That’s not about doing what’s right for the child. That’s doing what’s right for the birth mother.” 
Let me get that straight: That’s doing what’s right for the birth mother. ??? How would she know that? By that token, all kidnapped children anywhere do not have to be returned, as long as they are being well taken care of.

The story goes on in this vein: that except for a few, most adoptive parents with children from elsewhere in the world do not entertain that it could be "their" child who was kidnapped and sold. That's the kind of "it couldn't happen to me" thinking that lands teenagers on Sixteen and Pregnant. Yet one woman who has two adopted children from China said that the one from the Guangxi province came with an extremely detailed description of her first 11 months in the orphanage. The girl was adopted with a group of 10 other infants, and when the information was compared with that of the others in the same group--surprise, it was word-for-word the same, "making it too specific to be believable."

Though the story is about adoptive parents not wanting to even think about the fact that their children were not abandoned but stolen, or forcibly relinquished, a few voices of reality are heard:
"Such reticence infuriates people like Karen Moline, a New York writer and a board member of the nonprofit advocacy group Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform, who adopted a boy from Vietnam 10 years ago. 'If the government is utterly corrupt, and you have to take an orphanage a donation in hundred-dollar bills, why would you think the program was ethical?' she said. 'Ask a typical Chinese adoptive parent that question, and they’ll say, my agency said so. My agency is ethical. People say, the paperwork says X; the paperwork is legitimate. But you have no idea where your money goes.

'Now you have to give $5,000 as an orphanage fee in China. Multiply that by how many thousand adoptions. Tens of millions of dollars have flowed out of this country to get kids, and you have no accounting for it.'” 
Authorities and agencies like to say that child abductions in China are rare, and that many boys are abducted and adopted illegally within China itself. Chinese news media reports said that the figure of abductions might be as high as 20,000 a year.

But it is hard to know where all those children end up, notes David Smolin, a professor at the Cumberland School of Law and adoptive father of two teenage girls who had parents at home in India, he learned within weeks of their adoption. No one wanted to help; it took six years to find the girls' mothers and fathers, but find them he did.
"When he started to speak publicly about his experience, he met other parents in the same situation — hundreds of them, he said. 'They all said they felt abandoned by adoption agencies and by various governments,' he said. 'There’s a sense that other people in the adoption community did not want to hear about these circumstances. People were told that it was not a good thing to talk about. So you’re left alone with these practical and moral dilemmas, and that is overwhelming.'”
Not to say how it must feel for the mothers and fathers whose children were stolen. --lorraine 

See parents who were reunited in China with their children on the news clip at the sidebar.


  1. I find it to be normal for all people out there that want something and get it..... they don't really care how, just that it is. A friend and I were talking not long ago and she is disturbed because her children still think that adoption is good - that women out there simply have babies that they don't want, so they give them away. She works in the human services field and knows that yes, there are mothers out there that shouldn't be mothers, but no, it doesn't mean anyone has the right to take a child just because someone feels they should not be mothers. I think it is sad that people hide behind lies like that to justify avarice.

    It will never end.

  2. I don't understand the AP head-in-the-sand theory. I've followed the "Karen Abigail" case rather closely and I'm still a mix between being dumbstruck and disgusted over the AP's desire to "fight it out".

    Wait, WHAT?

    I'll be the first person to tell anyone and everyone that I had no idea about adoption implications when we moved forth to adopt our daughter through IA. However, as the glasses come off and the reality of adoption overall came to my proverbial light, it's impossible to ignore and yet so, so, SO many APs choose to do so. How?

    I've said it here before, but if I found out my daughter was stolen from her mother...I would OBVIOUSLY return her to, you know, HER MOTHER. While I would die a thousand deaths, I would still do it. Because at a minimum, it's the human, decent thing to do. At a *minimum*. Forget the fact that her mother--her family--would never get those missing years back. I hate the whole "oh, but the well being of the child would be at stake!" argument. Really? Who honestly believes that kidnapping a child is better for his or her "well being"?!

    I know I'm on a tangent, but it's APs who refuse to see any corruption, refuse to think their situation--their child--might not be exempt, refuse to do open their eyes...it's all of this that gives all of us a bad name--and rightfully, rightfully so.

  3. "I've said it here before, but if I found out my daughter was stolen from her mother...I would OBVIOUSLY return her to, you know, HER MOTHER"

    And how would you find evidence of that?

    Even if the documents are lawfully forced to say "the birth mother gave her consent to the adoption", the legal fabrication counts just as much as if the mother had had the law on her side and gave up her child voluntarily.

    Adoption agencies won't say "the mother had no choice" or "the child was trafficked."

    Fabrications can pass as legalized laws. Once that's done, the law can't be reversed. Anything can be made up to look like it was legal, no?

  4. The same day this article was published in the Times, Parade Magazine had an interview with Brad Pitt, and this Q&A jumped out at me:

    Q.: You and Angelina have three foreign-born adopted children [Maddox, 10, from Cambodia; Zahara, 6, from Ethiopia; and Pax, 7, from Vietnam]. Why not adopt American kids who need a home?

    A.: "I can’t place the importance of one child over that of any other. I have seen children suffer far beyond what we experience in America—like our oldest daughter [Zahara]. I KNOW SHE WOULD NOT BE ALIVE [IF SHE HADN'T BEEN ADOPTED]. I KNOW WHAT CARE WAS AVAILABLE TO HER, AND IT WAS NIL. (emphasis mine). I cannot imagine life without her.

    I guess I just don’t see America as separate from Vietnam or Ethiopia. We’ve got to start looking at things differently. This mentality of “Our team’s better than yours”—it’s a high school idea. Why do we need that in order to feel better? My kids don’t see those dividing lines, and I don’t want to either."

    Like presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, he didn't answer the question...or did I miss something? But his comment is what fuels all these international adoptions (that plus they don't have to deal with the likes of us, i.e., natural/first/birthmothers). For the curious, here's the article link:

  5. @Michiel: I must be missing the irony in this. Perhaps you misunderstood my take on things. I went into the adoption process with the misconception that it was inherently good, as I think many APs tend to do. It was only later that I really uncovered and understood the truth. I'm wholly unapologetic that I'm "late to the game" in understanding when there are many APs who never "get it".

    @Mei-Ling: Of course, anything can be made to look legal. I've done as much legwork as I can from where I'm at right now. I've contacted numerous agency personnel which, as you can imagine, all led to the same "of course it's legit!" response. I've tried to contact hospital staff (as obviously the attorney who facilitated things in my daughter's home country would not be impartial in the least). Other than trying to save up to hire a private investigator (which we are currently in the process of doing and let me tell you, it's not as inexpensive as one might think), what more would *you* do in this situation? Once I can meet my daughter's mom and speak with her personally--then, and only then can I be absolutely assured of the truth.

  6. Why is it okay to keep a child who has been kidnapped if an adoption has taken place and not okay to keep a kidnapped child if an adoption hasn't taken place?

    We need to clone you :-)

  7. Anybody, that adopts a child in any type of adoption never
    knows the truth of how the child was acquirred unless they
    know the parents personally as in "open" soon closed adoptions.
    That's why adoptions shouldn't be happening without that knowledge or if child was stolen the adoptives will never know. My opinion is they like it that way never knowing so they can save a child. Saviors are better than kidnappera
    Also , saying that one would give back said child is easy to say and I am sure a hard thing to do but again sounds honorable.


  8. Thanks, Robin. Your comments have always made me feel welcome here and I really do appreciate it. :)

  9. my two cents' worth is that the media like to keep stories in mid-air generally and public relations drives such as the AP mother's cant (or is that rant?) is sadly part of such a drive.

    just when Bastard Nation are breaking alot of ground, you get to read why they shouldn't :(

    UNICEF are not in favour of adoption and have a link all about it; the immediacy of the Internet have made the truth clear.

  10. ".....Ms. Merkel said that she would support Maia’s meeting her birth parents if it were possible"

    A very easy comment to make when you know it's not possible.

    Lorraine, on another note: It's disturing the media and adoption industry's use here of the term "birth parent" to label someone whose child has been kidnapped. It seems inherently wrong on its face.

    If your child is kidnapped, you didn't go to court to relinquish your rights legally. Your child was stolen from you without your consent.

    By that very definition you are NOT a "birth parent". What you are is a VICTIM........of a particularly heinous crime.

    That destinction might be inconvenient in certain circles but it sits at the very crux of the matter.

    As it darn well should.

  11. I was also going to comment on this quote from the article (not from any poster here that I'm aware of): "How terrifying that would be for a child to be taken away from the only family she knows and the life that she knows.

    How terrifying to the child when she was abducted from the only family she knew. For goodness sake, why is this not considered a terrible wrong?

    As far as open adoptions, there are many in which aps don't know about the coercion the first mother endured until years later. By then, many don't care.

  12. Oh, I didn't even catch that the parent of the kidnapped child referred to the child's victimized mother as a "birthmother." Just shows were our culture is with the whole thing.

  13. Want to hear something really crazy? I watch "White Collar," a crime-solving show, and the main character's mother was referred to as his "birth mother."

    The man they were talking about was not adopted, nor has there ever been any indication that any one other than his real parents raised him. What is going on here? People are using the word as common nomenclature for everyday parents.

  14. "What is going on here? People are using the word as common nomenclature for everyday parents."

    Hey Lorraine, In doing research I came across a newspaper article recently about a woman who founded a hugely popular bicycle tournament in Florida. The heading of the article referred to this woman as the "Birth Mother" of the bicycle tournament!

    I remember remarking to someone, "What? Did she relinquish her bicyle to the courts? Maybe signed a TPR on it or something?"

    Sigh.....(banging head as I sit at keyboard)........

  15. You don't like birth mother changing its meaning from "mother robbed by adoption" to "mother by right of birth"? To me it seems a small step in the right direction.

  16. LOL! Sorry about that, Lorraine! I was thinking about another thread somewhere else involving "temporary restraining orders" and I wrote that by mistake! TPR. That's what I call those! (Although they maybe called TRO? Not sure).

    Good grief! Speaking of people who use the wrong terms for things.....


  17. Hey Lorraine! (again) LOL!

    Just realized something though. I think TPR actually does stand for "termination of parental rights" in cyberspeak.

    I think anyway. Maybe someone else could confirm???

  18. Mrs. Merkel? Who and what are we talking about?
    Please fill us in.

  19. Theodore, I see your point but in today's nomenclature it immediately brings up adoption, indicating that someone else raised the individual.

    But maybe if it's used often enough we will come to think of "birth mother" in a broader sense, and it will lose that implication. Language is a living thing, like (tongue in cheek here), always changing.

  20. Parents adopt children for many reasons, but if the child realizes he a adopted one, then his behavior slowly changes. I have seen many cases and a friend has the same problem.



COMMENTS ARE MODERATED. Our blog, our decision whether to publish.

We cannot edit or change the comment in any way. Entire comment published is in full as written. If you wish to change a comment afterward, you must rewrite the entire comment.

We DO NOT post comments that consist of nothing more than a link and the admonition to go there.