' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Deconstructing the responses to Adopted or Abducted with kudos to the Crittenton Foundation

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Deconstructing the responses to Adopted or Abducted with kudos to the Crittenton Foundation

Lorraine, recently in DC
The morning started out with a bang with the first clue in the New York Times crossword puzzle today was: 2007 Ellen Page movie. Answer: JUNO, the most irritating movie about adoption known to woman or beast.

Then I moved onto trying to download the Dan Rather Report: Adopted or Abducted from iTunes for $1.99 and after giving Apple my name, my birthdate, answering security questions such as what was your first car (answer for anybody who wants to know my deep secrets, Karmann Ghia); your favorite car (MG); and where I had my least favorite job (ah! at that hash house where the owner drove me home one night and wanted me to put out, and when I didn't, fired me the next day, but there wasn't room for all that), my billing address, telephone number, a user name and a password with at least 8 characters, one Capital letter and at least two numbers! and no two of the same characters in a row, and my credit card number...I had to go back and re-register and ah ha! I kept getting error messages. Kinda like what I was hearing from my daughter's father when I tried to talk about keeping our baby...but then he would have had to get off his duff and leave his wife like he said he was going to. By the time he did, it was too late. Way too late.

I didn't want a permanent lifetime account at iTunes, I just wanted one damn show! After a couple of tries, and resetting my password, and being told that someone already has the same one I tried to re-register...(that would be me) I gave up. I have not seen Adopted or Abducted and most likely won't. Anyway, the reviews I've read were that the show was somewhat disappointing. If anybody does have a DVD of the show, I will gladly accept it.

However, not seeing the show itself is not going to keep me from commenting on the official responses to Adopted or Abducted from agencies that apparently come in for some criticism--Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, the National Association of Social Workers and the National Crittenton Foundation. No siree!

Catholic Charities' response is blah, saying that some of the stories of mothers from the Fifties and Sixties are heart-breaking, but adoption has changed and so have they.

Here's what Rev. Larry Snyder, President of Catholic Charities USA felt necessary to add:
“We must not lose track of the tens of thousands of adoptive parents who will be forever grateful to birth parents for the sacrifices they make to ensure that their children’s lives will be filled with the love and opportunity they may otherwise not have received.” 
Excuse me, that sounds like f*&k the first mothers and the children they gave up, our main concern will continue to be "tens of thousands of adoptive parents who will be forever grateful"...that we continue to oppose adoptee rights....but let us thank those poor women...who clearly were incapable of loving their children and giving them the "opportunities" that money can buy. As one of our commentors, maybe, noted: isn't that special. Really, Father Larry, you should have quit before you added that second graf and displayed your true feelings. *

The Social Worker's statement is defensive, an itemized list (10) of all the great stuff they have done, including saving thousands of children from Nazi death camps, which seems a tad off message here, and also that a social worker was the object of the movie Oranges and Sunshine, about a woman who helped reunite families, and if that isn't swell enough, their magazine, Adoptions Today and Fostering Families magazine, just won awards from...NASW. What is the NASW? The National Association of Social Workers. Seriously, you are bragging about the awards to magazines that you yourself gave to the magazines, which you yourself publish? Incidentally, the magazine seems to be called Adoption Today, without the s, or is there another magazine we can't find on line? Really, you folks need a new press officer.

The Salvation Army is terse in its response, only talking about the homes they ran for unmarried women: These homes were operational during a time when significant social pressures were placed upon pregnant, unmarried girls, and a majority of the young girls came to the homes after being guided by their own families. Okay, not your fault, you say, but "guided"? Guided? More like friggen' forced them into the shoots like cattle on the way to the slaughter. Guided like with a gun to your head, or you'll be on the street. But okay. Your parents didn't want you at home with a bulging belly and baby on the way. The Salvation Army ran homes for poor wretches like you. That's what it was like then.

Only The Crittenton Foundation wrote a statement that even I could love: after noting they were "saddened by and regret the experience of mothers who were forced or coerced into placing their children in adoptive homes and the impact on their children many of whom continue to search for their birth parents," adding that these practices were never endorsed by the national organization...even if the troops (aka social workers) were running amuck--but hey! I wasn't there. But then we get to the best part: "...not a week goes by that we don’t hear from someone searching for a family member and we are acutely aware of the pain and damage done by the past practices....Today at the national level we do everything possible to provide information and support to family members searching for one another."

Real sympathy and reality! Thank you Jeannette Pai-Espinosa, president, who signed the response. I had no truck with a maternity home for wayward girls like myself back in the Sixties, so I can't comment about what went on there, but that statement indicates that at least the Crittenton folks of today understand what's what, and for that I salute them.--lorraine
* NOTE: In 1992, the executive directors of Maternity And Adoption Services of Catholic Charities  in all five dioceses of New Jersey recommended to the NJ Catholic Conference of Bishops that adult adoptees be allowed access to their OBCs with no strings attached. The Bishops got their knickers in a twist over this insurrection (how many children are they hiding?) rejected the recommendation then, and this past June, urged Governor Chris Christie to reject the access bill (strings were attached) that had passed in both the Senate and Assembly. (Thanks to Barbara Thavis and Maryanne, who noted this in their comments.)

the exec directors of
Source : Adopted or Abducted

See also:
In the Sixties: Was I 'forced' to give up my baby?
Shining the light on 'forced' adoption at home and elsewhere


  1. Lorraine, to Catholic Charities, "Well, then how come you are not supporting access to original birth certificates?

    That's the crux of the matter isn't it? Or should be. So many digressions.

    Everyone is entitled to their own personal history.
    Catholic Charities, along with much of the general public, suffer from a failure of imagination.
    The trouble is people don't miss what they've got and always had. So they can't imagine.

  2. Ask any ten people on the street about adoptee access to original names, and they are likely to say, didn't that happen a long time ago?

    Catholic Charities...are not very charitable to adults adopted as children, are they?

  3. Such a pleasure to read, excellent, excellent post. Outta the ball-park my dear.

  4. I was not in a Home either, but from what I have heard from many mothers who were, the Crittendon homes were the most humane (with of course individual exceptions) back in the day, and the religious homes of all stripes were the worst and most cruel. Makes sense, they thought they had to torture the sin out of wayward girls to save their souls, kinda like the Inquisition.

    Catholic Charities Homes have a particularly bad rep in this area, but there was a miserable Jewish home on Staten Island associated with Louise Wise agency of ill repute, and a nasty Salvation Army Home in Jersey City that I have heard many first-person bad stories about.

    Lo, great comment about "guided" to the Salvation Army Home by parents! "Guided" sounds so gentle and kind. More like "thrown out and incarcerated" for most moms sent there. Also thanks for mentioning Catholic Charities in NJ. Actually they are not monolithic here and some brave social workers have testified for open records. The real villains in the NJ Church are the Council of Bishops, who have the last word about CC policy and everything else. A meaner more hypocritical bunch of pompous old men would be hard to find!

    I share your frustration with trying to see this show, I too give up when faced with so many barriers to any internet transaction. It does make me wonder how many people actually saw this show. Its impact may be small in the larger picture, for all the hype it got beforehand. So many shows over the years, but still we carry on trying to get adoptees their rights and the story of how many of us were used and abused out there.

  5. Excellent post.

    I wrote a response about the NASW but my iPad erased it before I could post it. I was not a fan of their response.

    I have been in contact with them about they way they responded to this issue. I think the way they were asked to answer for it was an issue in how they replied. They take their code of ethics very seriously and will discepline individual practitioners who are reported in violation. A lot of workers in the BSE (and even now) are not considered SWers to the NASW standards. They don't want untrained people who they would not consider SWers working in the field any more than we do (and they promote bills to further strict competency standards) and won't answer on what a whole mass of workers did if they weren't all SWers and they don't know which SWers specifically were in violation. Coersion is a direct violation of their code of ethics.

    Various banches of the NASW have supported and been influential in Adoptee Rights.

  6. From the Catholic Charities response:
    “We must not lose track of the tens of thousands of adoptive parents who will be forever grateful to birth parents for the sacrifices they make to ensure that their children’s lives will be filled with the love and opportunity they may otherwise not have received.”

    Well isn't that special.

  7. maryanne:

    My frustration in trying to download the show was obvious--too bad iTunes wants your life history, and then had some glitch. And I agree there has been a lot of pre-hype over this show--at least birth mothers get some media to tell their stories!--but the lasting impact is hard to judge since so few people really saw it. Like, how many legislators? How many priests who fathered children? How many adoptive parents who are terrified of first parents?

    I'm just sorry now that iTunes has data on me!

    As for the "guided" aspect, I have heard so many stories about what parents were like in the day when young women wanted to keep their babies. "Forced" is really the word for how a lot of girls ended up in the homes.

  8. Maybe: Amen.

    I wanted to keep the post short because it is still hard for me to use the computer, but that sentence caught my eye. I think I will add it to the main post today, as not everybody reads the comments.


  9. As if adoptive parents could EVER allow themselves to be forgotten?!

    The Catholic Charities response is a classic de-rail. Just like on feminist sites when the trolls hop in with the "what about the menz?" de-rail attempts, here we have to endure "what about the APz?" nonsense.

    Newsflash to folks who saw the TV piece or are commenting on articles about it: the story was about MOTHERS who lost their children to adoption. If APs want to tell their stories about adoption there is surely an app for that. Or the Hallmark channel.

    Thanks for adding to the article, I hope you get well soon!

  10. I agree with what Maybe said. Of course, we must never forget about the APs. They must always come first.
    Who cares how abused or misused the young women were or how much damage these practices did to their children. After all the most important thing is that the APs got the chance to be parents and provide sooo much to the children. Makes me ill.

  11. “We must not lose track of the tens of thousands of adoptive parents who will be forever grateful to birth parents for the sacrifices they make to ensure that their children’s lives will be filled with the love and opportunity they may otherwise not have received.”

    Hmmmmm . . . ENSURE? Ensure? How exactly did my mother ensure that I was given a life of love and opportunities by giving me away to strangers?

    To be clear, I'm not upset with my mother, not in the least. I am upset with the system, especially the agencies.

    If C.C. wanted to ensure a better life for adoptees, there certainly would have been an extensive vetting process, right? After all, back during the BSE, on average, there were ten couples for every available baby. I hardly needed to be scooped up by the first available couple.

    Well, then, why was I placed into an alcoholic family? . . . It was difficult to feel chosen or special when I was 1) given away at birth, and 2) placed into a dysfunctional family. Because of that double whammy, I felt like a throw-away child.

    Do I love my adoptive parents? Yes. Was my life definitely better having been placed with them? Nope.

    C.C.'s focus on adoptive parents is so unnerving. The myth of adoption is that it is all about finding the adoptee a good home. The truth is that it is all about finding adoptive parents a child.

  12. I watched the show and was a little disappointed. The one woman's story who was featured was informative of course, but there were so many other mothers interviewed that were only featured as "blurbs" either going into or coming back from commercials.

    I mean HOW can you leave a woman's story as a blurb when she's telling you that when she refused to sign the relinquishment papers, the social worker called her a "little slut" and then wrapped her own hand around yours and "signed" your name?!?!

    Would have been nice to have delved deeper into stories like that. Not that the featured woman's story wasn't wrenching, it was. It would however, have been nice to hear from other women as well - in more than just "vignettes"...

  13. Well, if it's any consolation, I did manage to get past all the error messages on Itunes and was finally able to download it. However, when I went to view it, it stopped, got stuck about 2 minutes into it.... each time I retried, the same thing happened. Fortunately, I had seen the show at my friend's house - another mom who happened to get HDNet here in Scottsdale, AZ.
    It was certainly not what I had hoped but my feeling is that at least several mothers were able to tell their stories. I was disappointed that the reunion took over the show, but apparantly doing a show on this topic was the idea of Troy Dunn the searcher who suggested it to his friend Sean the producer of Dan Rather's show. I am not a fan of Troy but he did make some excellent comments about coercion and falsified records and lying on the part of the agencies to both mothers and adoptive parents. It's a start...

    Lastly, I am a Booth Salvation Army alumn and was bothered by their so called response. Yes, my parents "guided" me there, but they did nothing to support my feelings and desire to keep my son and I was their client - not my parents.

  14. The show sounds disappointing, glad I missed it, and Troy Dunn is a creep who exploits searching people for his own gain. He has no respect among decent searchers or support group leaders.

    Daria, that is the way these shows are done, film hours of stories, most of which end up on the cutting room floor, and only use the juiciest little bits in the finished product. Oh, and it is always all about individual reunions, not rights, no matter what the pre-show hype says. Emotionalism , not reason, and the personal disconnected from the political.

    Lo, your friend Florence gave some good advice about interviews years ago; no matter which way the interviewer tries to steer you, stick only to what you want to get across, and be careful not to say anything that would sound bad taken out of context, because that is what they are likely to use!

    These shows are all about titillation, shock, and entertainment, not really in-depth serious consideration of any issue.This one evidently was no exception, and since Dunn was behind it, I am not surprised. Too bad, and no real help to our cause.
    These kinds of stories were out in the media 30 years ago and ever since, yet they vanish like smoke and we are still stuck where we have always been as far as rights and legislation go. This show was in no way the landmark breakthrough some expected, just show biz as usual.

  15. Lorraine I am no fan of Catholic Charities but you have an incorrect fact in your post.
    In 1992, the executive directors of Catholic Charities in all five dioceses of NJ recommended to the NJ Catholic Conference of Bishops that adult adoptees be allowed access to their OBCs with no strings attached.
    The Bishops rejected the recommendation then, and this past June, they urged Governor Christie to reject the access bill that had passed in both the Senate and Assembly by substantial margins.
    It is the bishops, not Catholic Charities behind keeping records closed. http://www.politickernj.com/54947/catholic-bishops-thwart-civil-rights-adoptees

  16. Barbara, will fix.

    Catholic Charities has to kow-tow to the bishops. Too bad. But their response still sucked.

  17. Catholic Charities response was sickening! I don't give a rats patuey what I did for an infertile couple. Just sickening!

  18. Further refinement of Catholic Charities:

    It was the executive directors of Maternity And Adoption Services of Catholic Charities (who would be closest to the birth mothers) in all five dioceses of New Jersey who recommended to the NJ Catholic Conference of Bishops that adult adoptees be allowed access to their OBCs with no strings attached.



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