' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: December 2012
Join Lorraine in Indianapolis! She will be opening the IAN conference on Friday morning. See details on sidebar.

Monday, December 31, 2012


Jane & Grandson Chris
To all our readers, we wish you a most happy 2013.

Our wish for the new year and beyond:

Every child knows and is cared for by his or her own parents as far as possible. Families needing support to care for their children receive it.

Lorraine and daughter, Jane
---Articles 7 and 18, Convention on the Rights of the Child, United Nations, September 2, 1990


Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.--Anthony Brandt
Loraine Dusky, Sag Harbor, New York and Jane Edwards, Portland, Oregon

Saturday, December 29, 2012

OBC-ACCESS Petition fails while protest on Russian adoption ban flourishes

Lorraine, incognito at the capitol
While the White House officials posted what is likely the fastest response to date to a We the People petition this week, urging the U.S. government to oppose then-pending legislation in the Russian parliament banning U.S. adoptions of Russian children, at the same time, the petition to give adult adoptees clear access to their original birth certificates failed to meet the signature threshold. 

How many signatures were needed? 25,000 signatures within 30 days.  How many adoptees are estimated to be in the United States: Six million? Eight?  How many of them are over 13, the age required before signing the petition? How many are denied access to their original birth certificates, and for many, the right to learn their true identities? It must be at least several million.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Russians say "nyet" to US adoptions

Vladimir Putin
While the international adoption community is all in a tizzy because the Russians are about to ban adoptions to the US--Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the ban today--we at First Mother Forum say, it's about time. 

“There are probably many places in the world where living standards are better than ours,” Mr. Putin said in announcing his decision. “So what? Shall we send all children there, or move there ourselves?” This sounds like our response to people who always talk about the "better lives" that poor children, children with only one young parent, children otherwise living in less than ideal conditions might have if only they could be adopted: does that mean one should go to the supermarket and snatch a child because you can give him or her a "better life?"

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A son refuses to meet his birth/first mother

Colin Kaepernick 
While parents all over the country felt a special urgency to hug their children after the horror of Newtown, there's one group of parents who can't--those who lost their children to adoption.

Heidi Russo is one of them. Six weeks after her son was born in 1987, she handed him over to a social worker who gave him to Rick and Teresa Kaepernick. Russo's son, Colin Kaepernick, is the starting quarter back of the San Francisco 49ers, and has led them in the NFL playoffs. Kaepernick has rebuffed Russo's attempts to meet him.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Downton Abbey and what you won't learn from those happy adoption agency websites

Ethel Parks, housemaid
I have been watching the reruns of Downton Abbey and last night's episode was the one in which Ethel, the maid who slept with one of the officers recuperating at the estate and got pregnant, tries to get some financial help from his parents, her son's grandparents.

It's a rather moving plot like for first mothers like us, because Ethel is cast out of the house where she works, no small thing in Edwardian times. The officer is a asshole, and won't have anything to do with her, or the baby. No DNA testing, no way to prove he is the father. He's killed in the war, and Ethel is shown living in dire poverty, trying to raise her son, Charley, taking in laundry for a few pennies. The head housekeeper, Mrs. Hughes--at first highly critical--sees the need after the child is born and brings Ethel food. She also arranges a meeting

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Finding peace as a first mother on Christmas

Lorraine at home, Christmas brunch for friends last Sunday
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. It is particularly hard to be a "lost mother" at this time. I know. I spent many years lost in the wilderness of not knowing where my daughter was.

Even before we get to Christmas Day, the reminders are everywhere and no more obvious than when shopping. We want to buy presents for our children, no matter their age. For those not in reunion, there are those questions: Where to send it? How to send it? Today we learn that only a very small percentage of adoptions are fully closed--

Thursday, December 20, 2012

How the Internet is changing adoption

"One of the most disquieting aspects of adoption on the Internet (as well as through other venues) is the way services are sometimes marketed. ...Some [sites] commodify children and/or women, essentially describing them as products to be marketed, others provide only partial or questionable information," according to a new report, Untangling the Web, from the Donaldson Adoption Institute, a progressive adoption think tank.

We first mothers know this to be true, but to read it from a source that cannot be dismissed as another "bitter birth mother" is encouraging. Infant adoption has become a profitable business for many, providing children to those who can pay large sums rather than a method of providing families for children who need them.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Were any of the children killed in Newtown adopted?

We have been silent for the last few days because we were stunned by the senseless death of 27 people in Newtown, Connecticut, and the invariable hand-wringing over the lack of better, stronger gun controls here in the United States. It appears that now after this tragedy--after Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, and now Newtown--we may actually find the political willpower to beat back the National Rifle Association's insistence on Guns for Everyone! Any Kind of Guns! and pass serious gun legislation.

Australia and South Africa previously had gun-filled cultures such as ours, but national tragedies finally pushed them to seriously restrict the ease by which anyone can purchase guns and bullets designed for war. And you know what?

Friday, December 14, 2012

How an Open Adoption becomes 'Closed'

Ken Robbins, Houses by the Bay, Archival Digital Print

A few months ago we heard from a young woman who had recently relinquished her child. She was full of pain when she wrote to us, five months after surrender of her daughter. Her "open" adoption turned into a nearly closed one after the adoptive parents of her baby read about her sorrow on her blog. She went through an agency, American Adoptions, based in Kansas, but deals with placements all over the country. Their website shows many pictures of happy couples, with dogs, without dogs, whatever you are looking for. It makes the process of giving up your child seem like the ideal solution.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Our (adopted) children's cells live on in our brains

 "Maternite" by Mary Cassatt
"The profound psychological and physical bonds shared by the mother and her child begin during gestation when the mother is everything for the developing fetus, supplying warmth and sustenance, while her heartbeat provides a soothing constant rhythm," according to a recent article in Scientific American. This is nothing new to first mothers who well know that a piece of paper signed by a judge cannot destroy the connection constructed by nature. "The link between a mother and child is profound, and new research suggests a physical connection even deeper than anyone thought," writes Robert Martone.

It's reassuring to have what we know instinctively reaffirmed by science. The Journal article is reporting on research from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle that found that cells from a developing fetus migrate through the placenta and end up in the mother's brain--as well as many other organs, such as the lung, thyroid muscle, liver, heart, kidney and skin. Male cells were found in the brains of women and had been living there, in some cases, for several decades. We think of ourselves as individual and

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Can feminism be hereditary?

Granddaughter Chelsea
 "I need feminism because I would like
 to have real conversations with men."
Women of my generation, those of us who fought for the Equal Rights Amendment and reproductive choice, often lament that the younger generation of women assume the fight is over, ignoring pervasive gender discrimination that continues today. I'm heartened though that things are changing. Women in the military are seeking the right to serve in combat. Women in college are speaking out against cultural practices that continue to limit women's ability to participate fully in society. Most thrilling to me personally is that my granddaughters, Chelsea and Rachael--the daughters of my lost daughter Rebecca and students at Brigham Young University in Utah--are on the forefront.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Utah: Sewer Pit of the Adoption Industry

Kristi and Jared Frei have made good on their promise to fight the return of Terry Achane's nearly two-year-old to him. The girl was illegally handed over to the Utah couple early last year without the permission of her father, who was married to her mother, Teri Bland, at the time. As the legal husband of the mother, Achane can block any proposed adoption in any state.

The Freis' attorney, Larry Jenkins, also represents the unscrupulous adoption agency at the center of this case, Adoption Center of Choice, in American Fork. Jenkins has asked asked 4th District Judge Darold J. McDade to stay his order dismissing their adoption petition. He also asked that the couple be allowed to disregard the judge's order to prepare the little girl, now 21-months old, to be returned to her father by mid-January. That is the usual order of

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Utah judge voids adoption, orders girl returned to her father

Utah keeps calling us back--this time with a SECOND good decision where a father is fighting for the right to raise his own daughter. One of our readers noted that a judge in the notoriously conservative 4th district (think BYU) overturned an illegal adoption and is giving the adoptive family 60 days to return the child to her biological father. The agency, Adoption Center of Choice, broke Utah's own law requiring the consent and relinquishment of the legal father, Terry Achane, since he and the girl's mother were married at the time. In every state, married fathers have the right to raise their own children.

The Provo judge, while noting the birth mother had deceived her husband, the adoption agency and the prospective parents, has given the adoptive couple 60 days to give the child back. According to Brooke Adams of the Salt Lake Tribune:

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Adoption in Utah: No place for birth fathers

Sometimes justice for natural fathers in Utah is through the eye of a camel, or so it seems in the narrow ruling the other day that will allow a father to attempt to get his daughter back from the people who have been raising her since she was five days old. In a 3-2 decision, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that Utah's adoption law was "constitutionally defective" in depriving a Florida man, Ramsey Shaud, 26, a "meaningful chance" of developing a relationship with his child.

He's only been trying to have that meaningful relationship since before she was born in January, 2010. Yes, you read that right. She will be three in January.