' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Adoptive parents encourage daughters to give up their babies

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Adoptive parents encourage daughters to give up their babies

Tuesday night I watched two 2010 episodes of 16 & Pregnant. Lori and Valeria, both adopted and pregnant, must decide whether to keep their babies.

Seventeen-year-old Lori's adoptive parents push adoption relentlessly. While the baby's father, Cory, opposes adoption, he offers little real support. Lori knows adoption as only an adopted person can know. "I always wondered about my birth mother. Where is she and why she couldn't raise me.... I don't have any other biologically, blood-related family right now," she tells her friend. " Like I think that plays in the whole putting him up for adoption thing. For the first tine I have actual family--and just give it away?"

Although Lori's adoptive parents, Curt and Mary Jo, are financially well-off--he's an anesthetist, she's a nurse--they tell her they will not help her raise her baby. Lori, their only child, is a student at a Catholic girls high school. When her adoptive father persuades Cory to agree to adoption, Lori caves in: "All right," she tells her adoptive parents, "You guys win this one. I'm giving him up for adoption....I have no choice." Cory and Lori find an "awesome" couple through an agency. Indeed the couple is impressive, wanting a fully-open adoption. Several months after she hands her baby off to his adoptive parents, Lori tells the audience she that she and Cory both agree on one thing, that adoption was the best for their son. Still she says:  "I do wish my parents would not have tried to push adoption so hard....I don't understand why my birth mother chose adoption. She must have felt like she couldn't do it. I absolutely  know what that feels like firsthand now. I wanted to parent more than anything; I still do. One day I will be a mom.""

Valerie, 14, is in far different circumstances. She is one of 9 adopted children in a family of 12. She was likely adopted from foster care. Her friend asks her, "Do you ever feel like putting [your baby] up for adoption?" Valerie answers without hesitation, "No, she's going to be my daughter. She came from me and I have like that connection that I never had with my real mom 'cause I know what that feels like. Valerie's adoptive parents are supportive and she keeps her baby. The baby's father Matt is ambivalent but in the end, he offers support.

Adoption practitioners and therapists have long noted that a disproportionate number of birth mothers were adopted themselves. Researchers N. Moore and J. K. Davidson found that adoptees are seven times more likely than the general population to relinquish a child themselves. In support groups, I've noticed the large numbers of first mothers who were adopted; Lorraine has found the same incidence when talking to people in the adoption community. These are not mothers from the Baby Scoop Era where virtually all white girls gave up their babies. These are post-Roe mothers when most keep their babies. Many were raised in conservative religious homes.

After watching Lori's story and listening to first mothers in support groups, I can't help but think that adoptive parents are more likely to push their daughters into adoption. The authors of Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self** suggest that this may be the case. "Adoptive mothers who agonized over their own infertility may feel jealous and resentful of their daughter's developing fecundity." Lori's parents did not have any biological children and adoption was the only way they could "create a family." Valerie's parents had two biological children and likely adopted to help needy children. Jealously may be only a part of it, though. What comes across is that Lori's adoptive parents did not want to be bothered with this child, as Lori put it "they want to be grandparents; they just don't want to be parents again." Many grandparents, however, willingly raise their grandchildren. Curt and Mary Jo simply did not feel a connection with the unborn baby; because he was not their flesh and blood.  Mary Jo said "I wanted it [the baby] all to go away."

I mentioned to a friend who is an adoptive mother that I thought one reason for the disproportionate number of adoptee first mothers was pressure from adoptive parents. She was taken aback: "I would never, ever do that," she said. "I would definitely help my children raise their children." I believe her. I'm sure many adoptive parents share her feelings.  Yet I can't help but think that Curt and Mary Jo are not atypical.

We would be remiss if we didn't include a follow-up. Lori initially she appeared to be doing fantastic, attending college in Cincinnati, seeing her son on a regular basis. Hooray for adoption, right? Then apparently came the crash, which led to her parents sending her to a wilderness program for troubled teens. In a December story about her life now, she says: "I was basically a good kid until my teens," she said. "The adoption was really hard on me. My life went on a downward spiral. I dropped out of college, and I wasn't working." She added that she spent her days sleeping, and fighting with her mom. "It used to be I couldn't be in the same room with my mom for an hour without fighting," she recalled.  She dropped out of college, and fell into hanging with the "wrong crowd." We wish more parents who think their daughters will just go on with the lives they have planned for them would understand how traumatic giving up a child for adoption is. For many teens, lives do not get back on track.

But neither is Valerie is well. Single teen parenting is not easy. She has been arrested for beating her adoptive mother and is in drug rehab. Her adoptive parents have partially custody of her daughter. Valerie, however, had several strikes against her from the outset. She was 14 and one of 12 children--10 of whom were adopted, as we noted earlier--and as she said, lacked for attention. She likely came from foster care and had a difficult early life. Likely her adoptive parents could not give her the help she needed to raise her child. Lori was 17, her family was financially well-off and she was an only child. They simply did not want to be bothered with Lori's baby and .--jane

The subject caught the attention of first mother author Denise Roessle, who will lead a workshop called "Does Adoption Run in Families?" Friday afternoon at the AAC conference this weekend in Cleveland. "We’ve heard of female adoptees repeating the “sins of their mothers,” getting pregnant at a similar age and surrendering their babies for adoption," Denise writes to FMF. "Does this become an unfortunate family legacy?" See sidebar for Denise's book being given away free electronically this weekend during the American Adoption Conference.

"A profile of adoption placers: A profile of pregnant teens during the decision-making process." Adoption Quarterly 6(2), 29-41.
David Brodzinsky, Marshall Schechter, and Robin Marantz.
The Ashley's Realty Round Up, 2011; The Ashley's Realty Roundup, 2012
 Program helps young adults with self respect.


Does one adoption spawn another? Too often for comfort.
The adoption cycle: Adoptees who have babies they relinquish
Does adoption run in families?

Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self "This book didn't tell me how I should feel but rather helped me understand why I feel the way I do about certain things in my life."--an adoptee at Amazon. As a first mother, Lorraine found the book full of insights and help her understand her daughter better; she then lent the book to an adoptee in high school, who devoured it and lent it to her best friend, also an adoptee. Both said the book was "amazing."


  1. My opinion (and only an opinion) is that the first and foremost reason adoptees so often give up their own children, is simply that they are aware of adoption. Awareness. It's not something people would seriously consider or even think about if they aren't adopted or don't have family that is. Adoptees are more aware of it as an option than anybody. They're living it.

    After that, things get more complicated and many variables come into play for why a pregnant adoptee would lean towards adoption. We can see the difference in variables and situations in the episodes you've described. Valerie gave a firm "no" against giving up her baby, and it wasn't explored after that. Poor Lori though...she feels strongly about keeping her son too, but her adoptive parents have a great pressure on her. They are the typical well-off people who couldn't conceive, so they adopted to fill their desires. Lori's mother even said "your birthmother did a very great thing for us", so she had that angle to push too. That dynamic from Lori's a-parents combined with her "pregnancy counseling" from her agency set her up to feel helpless. Which she did. You can tell she is using the adoption agency "counseling" to try and cope... but she can't deny her pain. Especially with her monologue at the end of the episode: "It was the best thing for my baby... but I STILL want to parent". Thankfully her son lives in the same town as her and her open adoption is still honoured, so I guess that's the silver lining.

    Also I believe that Valerie's parents are actually foster parents who adopted Valerie and their other children through the foster system. Which would explain why they are more supportive and not pushing adoption as much. They are more interested in genuinely helping kids. Not having a contrived and specific family. The adoption of Valerie came about VERY differently from how Lori was adopted. Which would explain why their sets of parents approach the pregnancy's so differently from each other.

  2. Thanks, Anon,
    Excellent points. I've added that Valerie probably came from foster care. In the opening, Valerie notes that her adoptive parents had many foster children through the years. Valerie's adoptive parents' motive for adopting was likely different than Lori's adoptive parents.

  3. I began contemplating this issue roughly 10 years ago when my daughter's amom informed me about a pregnancy scare with "our" daughter. (I was still in close communication with amom at that time...still living the "good little birthmom" lie) She said she spoke to "A" and her boyfriend "C" about how, if there is a pregnancy, that adoption should be carefully considered because "there are just so many, so so many, couples who want children who can't have them." Boyfriend told her he could never give his flesh-and-blood to strangers (good for him) and I never found out what my daughter's thoughts were on that. Luckily, there was no pregnancy. Although I kept my opinion to myself, had there been, I would have "over-stepped" and fought against adoption as hard as I could. That child would have been MY "flesh-and-blood" too...a concept Amom couldn't grasp obiously. Plus, she seemed to have the "take one, give one back" mentality. She could somehow "repay" the system who had given her my daughter! Amom seemed to have more sympathy for infertile couple's than her daughter.

    Had there been a baby, that may very well had been my daughter's only chance to be a Mom. She came out as a lesbian a few years later. Wonder what repercussions THAT would have had...had my daughter been pushed into giving up her child.

  4. From what I saw of Lori's episodes, she desperately wanted to keep her child but without support felt that she had no choice but to relinquish. I later read an interview with her in People magazine where she said that her APs were right, and that giving up her son for adoption was the best for everyone. Maybe it's the adoptee in me, but imo, her words sounded insincere. They sounded like they were coming from her insecurity about possibly being abandoned by her APs if she didn't go along with them. It can be hard for an adoptee to feel as secure in their family as a bio-child does.

    My a-mother would never have helped me raise a child either. She would have responded just like Curt and Mary Jo. I think it is because she is not a first mother or adopted and sees adoption as a fine way to build a family ( she did get me after all..tee hee hee). But in other words, she doesn't get it. I do, however, know adoptive grandmothers who treat their non-bio grandchildren the same as the bio-ones and would help in any way possible to keep any grandchild in the family.

  5. I do think it is more common for adoptees but I think the reasons will be different for each. There are probably common themes that run through many though.

    I don't think I would have been pushed into adoption - it might have been suggested but mom and dad valued biological connections whether it was theirs or ours. They would have supported and helped me though. Thankfully, they also sent me to PP to make sure I didn't get pregnant, and with dad being gone all hours of the day and night delivering hundreds of babies - it ensured those conversations about how babies are made weren't scary for them, or rare.

    I might have been able to be convinced by a clever counsellor as a teen because of my self-esteem levels, i.e. not good enough that stemmed directly from being adopted. To me that would be something that may be common for other adoptees as well.

  6. Oh dear. Update on Lori:


  7. Satan, or so they call meApril 11, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    I agree with the analogy that many of them are jealous that the daughters they adopted are able to get pregnant when they weren't, so they will do anything to sabotage that bond too; AND the child is not their biological grandchild, a double whammy.

    After all, so many adoptive parents have made it very clear they think nothing of the bond between a mother and the child she created and carried for nine months, in how they treated and spoke of the natural mothers of the children they raised. What makes anyone think that vicious cycle will stop with the daughters own biological child?

    It breaks my heart that these young women allow themselves to be railroaded by these jealous control freaks, so the remainders of their lives can be filled with even more ambiguous grief and loss.

    I'd tell em to stick it where the sun don't shine and get out of my life if they didn't like it...

  8. As a pro-choice birthmom and now adoptive mom, I would absolutely talk about adoption with my daughter, should she become pregnant. Not because my experience was so great, but because it IS an option. Young women need to be educated about ALL options, not just the ones that are most "comfortable" to others.

    Like it or not, I'd rather my daughter be able to finish school, start a career, travel, and have a long-term relationship before starting a family. Frankly, if she is so irresponsible to get pregnant (like I was) then those hard choices need to be presented to her.

    In my case, I relinquished as a way to get out of an abusive relationship with my parents and boyfriend. I needed a fresh start. It wasn't easy, but it was the right CHOICE for me.

    We can all dream of a day when every pregnant woman has the full support of society behind her. But, that's all it is, a dream. I, for one, am a pragmatist. I had hard choices to make, and if my daughter should go through what I did, so will she.

    Will I support her, should she decide to parent? Nope. Welcome to real life, where your choices have actual consequences. Should she decide to parent, I will help her find resources and point her in the right direction. But, if she's old enough be be making choices about sex, she's old enough to make choices about what's best for her.

  9. Great timing, Jane. Tomorrow at the AAC Conference, I'm giving a presentation on "Does Adoption Run In Families," which includes adoptees become bmothers. The idea came to me since my family has multiple generations of adoption, most of it a secret until recent years.

  10. I don't believe an adoptive parent's decision to encourage adoption has anything to do with jealousy or latent infertility issues.

    I DO believe that Lori's parents socioeconomic status played a part but not in the way assumed. I believe because they are both highly educated and enjoy an upper middle class existance, they simply couldn't imagine a life for their daughter and grandchild to be anything less. They would accutely aware of struggles and challengest awaiting a 16 year old parent.

    It would have been a tough road for Lori, regardless of support, financial and otherwise. I believe her adoptive family could see all of the possible outcomes and advised her as such - whether or not we agree with that summary is another matter.

    Being a young mother is tough. Heck, being a Mom at any age can be tough. Money is not the sole criteria and frankly if the family didn't wish to support her and assist in raising her child, the battle to successfully parent would have been even more difficult as evidenced by Valerie. Had her family agreed, but without sincerity, the child may have suffered at the hands indifference.

    I also think the young men who fathered these children get off mighty easily in this post. A shrug and a look the other way? Is their (and their family's)LACK of any meaningful support also rooted in jealousy? How can those Grandparents simply refuse to help? Do they not feel the biological pull? Were these young men also adopted?

    Finally, I suspect that adoptive families are more often open to suggesting adoption or supporting adoption for their child because adoption built their family. For them it was a 'happily ever after.'

    They know adoption only from their own lens and that of their child's - whatever they have shared or been allowed to openly share. AP's don't come at it from a place of anguish or shame or pressure. For them it was a miracle; even if they have done their homework and have a better understanding....adoption still means the family they have dreamt of.

    As is often mentioned here, many adoptees don't share their feelings of loss or even recognize it until they are much older. Its quite possible some of these adoptive families simply have no idea regarding the long term affects of adoption. Not jealousy just ignorance.


  11. Wow, Bell. Let's pray to God your daughter doesn't get pregnant, and if she does, she does exactly what you tell her to. I'm sure if you threaten to abandon her like she's already experienced once in her life, she'll bend over backwards to make sure your wants and needs come first.
    By the way, I took your attitude, too. I didn't support my daughter when she got pregnant in college. She relinquished. It's basically ruined her life. It's ruined our lives.
    Just because adoption was the right CHOICE for you doesn't mean it would be the right CHOICE for your daughter.
    Oh, and by the article link left by Anon 2, Lori hasn't faired as well as was earlier reported.

  12. Bell, you make me sad and angry. Perpetuating the cycle of abuse and trauma is terrible. Kinda like saying I was beaten as a kid and I turned out ok so I'll do the same to mine.

    The horror that in a few years, with support, things could be great for these young moms seems to be ignored.

    Bell, I hope you have an iron clad living will in place. If I were your kids I'd be putting you in the cheapest home and pulling the plug at the quickest opportunity. I hope kharma dictates that at your end of life you get the same support that you would give.

  13. Most people I know have families where family means being there for one another, through thick and thin, come hell or high water. Other families feel that once a child turns 18, he or she is on his own.

    I recently read Shirley MacLaine's biological daughter, Sachi Parker's autobiography where she talked about how neglectful Shirley was as a mother. I had picked up when reading Shirley's earlier books (when Sachi would have been a young child) that Shirley had next to no interest in motherhood and always wondered how Sachi must have felt being such a minor presence in her famous mother's life.

    It would be interesting to find out if there are more adoptive families of the "you're an adult, see you later" variety than there are biological families. I'm guessing there would be but I don't know of any studies that have looked into this.

  14. @Pam:

    "Its quite possible some of these adoptive families simply have no idea regarding the long term affects of adoption. Not jealousy just ignorance."

    With all the information out here today regarding the very real loss and grief adoption causes they don't know it is out there? Or, do they simply turn the other cheek? That is my guess. If adoption is so wonderful, let all of you offer up your own children like it is no big deal so someone else can build a family off the back of you and your heartache.

    You are very defensive about the jealousy thing. You SURE it's there is no jealousy involved for something they did not experience, Pam? I'm not...

  15. Quick clarification: I relinquished my son in 1995 when I was 18. My adopted daughter is currently 8 and her adopted brother is 4.

    @Kellie: I don't want my daughter to do what I did. But, I hope that I'm a better mother than mine was, and actually warn her about the REAL consequences of having sex. If she does get pregnant, she will have three choices: parent (without much familial support), abortion, and adoption.

    @Buck Wheat: I'm not sure what abuse you're referring to. Do you mean adoption? Oh lordy, really? Giving up a child for adoption is NOT abuse. And, have you spent a lot of time around single, young mothers? I have. And do you know what most of them regret the most in their young lives? Keeping their child at 13,15, 18, even with family support. It sucked the life out of them. They didn't have the chance to be young. When we do group therapy with them, that is the number one regret, that they got pregnant and kept the child: instead of abortion or adoption.

    And thank you for suggesting a living will. I have one and a will, and do you know what? Once I die, some of my estate will be donated to adoption reform AND the adoption agency that I worked with to adopt my children.

  16. I was so astounded by what Bell said, that I forgot to comment on the adoption running in familes subject. My husband's mother is an adoptee, and his sister and brother are adoptive parents. I believe his mother's view of adoption as a wonderful thing led us to believe it was a wonderful option for our daughter. In fact, she pushed for our daughter, her granddaughter, to relinquish.
    I do not know what her motives were or if she even understands what her motives were. We don't speak to her or any of my husbands family anymore because of things that happened when our daughter relinquished. If you look at their family and the fact that 2 of their 4 children have adopted children, I believe it runs in their family.

  17. Bell,
    It looks like you're dealing with an unusual group of women; perhaps that is why they are getting "group therapy."

    I've met many women who wished they had waited before having children. However, I have NEVER heard any woman say she wished she had given her child up for adoption. I have met many women who lost a child to adoption and the great majority including myself regretted losing their child.

  18. Point 1:
    Both Lori's parents are nurses. Last time I checked, that group is considered a part of the middle class.

    An anesthetist is still a nurse, a nurse with specialized training in giving the drugs that knock patients out during surgeries.

    In other words, they are not the wealthy or elite of our society. They are just strong middle class.

    Point 2:
    I think mothers should get emotional support from their families, but I do not necessarily believe that the grandparents should have to raise their own grandchildren.

    My grandparents were older when they had my mother. My grandfather was almost 60 when I was born. He already raised his family. His daughter had just gone off to college and--bam!--she became pregnant. . . . I would have liked my grandparents to give her more emotional support. I would have liked them to visit her in the maternity home and to have been there for her when she gave birth. I would have liked them to help her determine what, if any, resources were available to her at the time. But, I harbor no resentment toward them for not wanting to help physically raise me.

  19. First Mother Forum is pro-choice. A great many of the girls featured on these exploitative shows are from Bible Belt regions where sex outside of marriage is a sin (but often done) but abortion, not accomplished in the heat of the moment, is not. Take a look at these statistics:

    According to the CDC, in 2010 Kentucky (Lori's state) and West Virginia ranked seventh and eighth respectively for highest teen birth rates. Teen pregnancy, depression, substance abuse, and behavior disorders are all big problems in the Appalachian region.

    At the national levels, the statistics shows a large number in the at-risk population. According to the United Nations Demographic yearbook from 2008, the United States has nine times the number of teen birth rates of most other industrialized countries.

  20. "When we do group therapy with them, that is the number one regret, that they got pregnant and kept the child: instead of abortion or adoption." (Quoted from Bell).

    Why do I suspect this is some type of religiously-based "therapy" that includes a heavy dose of shame?

    Re: not wanting to raise grandchildren...I hear this a lot when it comes to single mothers (especially teens), but when a married couple needs help, prest-o-change-o, help is on the way!

    What is it about a wedding ring that automatically qualifies one for support and encouragement? Need to get me one.

  21. I find it interesting that Bell would not be willing to help an ADOPTED daughter raise her child. I wonder if Bell had kept her own son, and an unplanned pregnancy occurred, if she would feel differently about helping to raise her own flesh and blood grandchild.

    I find this post fascinating because I think the underlying question is really ...Are adoptive families as close and supportive, in general, as biological families are? My own personal answer would be.. no, they are not. But I would love to see more studies/statistics on this issue.

  22. Robin: More studies? I'd like to see one. This would be extremely if not impossible to break out and study, and boy, wouldn't adoptive families like to be part of this study?

    I think not.

    Sometimes I feel that people who are injured in some way tend to unconsciously pass that on to others. The inner sense is: I survived, you can too. I was adopted. Okay, you (my child) too. Obviously we are only speaking for some because many adoptees say that they could never give up their babies because they themselves had been.

    One's religious leanings certainly play a huge part in the sense of what is possible, what can be done. A person in a church or religion that preaches all abortion is wrong would tend to justify accepting and then passing on the injury because it is "God's will." Thus it becomes reasonable for a birth mother to tell her adopted child that she must carry the baby, and then, give him up. Bell, as I recall, said she was first and foremost anti-abortion. Not only does the adopted daughter have no biological connection to the family, the religion factor is likely to be part of the sense that giving up a child is acceptable.

    But her daughter is only eight. At this point, this is all theoretical.

  23. If biological families were all that "close and supportive" of a pregnant unwed daughter, most of us would not be here commenting as we were encouraged to surrender by our own natural parents.

  24. Yes, because ALL adoptive families are horrible, selfish, and self-serving! Right? That's the general leaning of people here? Clearly.

    My adoptive daughter (from foster care at a young age) got pregnant at 17 even though she was on birth control. My husband and I talked over her options. She stated, very clearly, she wanted to parent the baby. Okay. So we helped in every way. We helped with finances, emotional support, we provided babysitting of our grandchild for most of her first five years.

    My daughter, she's doing fine. She struggled a lot (we all did), but she finished college, has a good job, is living on her own, and is in a steady relationship.

    The father, on the other hand, is in jail and has never wanted to even see his daughter.

    Dear Commenters: please don't paint all adoptive parents with the same brush, just like I won't paint all first mothers with the same brush. I was never jealous of my daughter's fertility, or ever tried to convince her to do anything other than her own wishes, and I never abandoned her (unlike her birth families, who has refused all contact with her because she's bi-racial).

    I know it's shocking, but some adoptive parents are actually decent people (although you'd never know it by some of the comments here).

  25. Yet again adoptive parents get painted in the worst possible light. If it weren't for most of them, adoptees like me, wouldn't have had a life at all.

    Sounds like a whole bunch of bitterness to me.

  26. Maryanne, the fact is the vast majority of families are supportive. That's why there is only a tiny percentage of women relinquishing.

    Only a small group of emotionally and psychologically unwell families actively support the removal of their own kin.

    Thank god for that

  27. Maryanne said "If biological families were all that "close and supportive" of a pregnant unwed daughter, most of us would not be here commenting as we were encouraged to surrender by our own natural parents."

    I agree. Even we were not *actively* encouraged by our parents, some of us didn't ask for their help - or in some cases, even tell them about our predicament, because we already knew what their reaction would be.

    Even biological mommies are not always sympathetic to the consequences of their reared daughters' bourgeoning sexuality. Especially when it manifests itself in an inconvenient or culturally shameful pregnancy.

  28. @ Sam,

    I offered my opinion AS a First Mother. Why would I be defensive or jealous? Sorry, doesn't wash.

    I shared what I know to be a perspective of many AP's ( I know many, including several close relatives) and yes, there is literature, workshops, etc. all highlighting the grief of some adoptees, YET for the adoptive parents adoption is still something that created their family.

    For them to categorize it as evil or wrong would be to nullify their own child and family.

    I think its completely rational for them to see adoption from a different perspective while still being senstive to their child's loss and that of the First Family.

    I just think when you toss out the idea that "jealousy" drives adoptive families to suggest adoption as a solution for their daughters it closes the door to looking for other reasons/rationales.

    If I was defensive about anything it was the casual dismissal of the birth fathers (their parents) and their inherent responsibilities. I was sarcastic when I suggested that perhaps the parents of those young men feel no biological connection, etc. But honestly.....if Lori had benefited from support from the father of her child, she may have been able to ultimately raise her child.

    Finally, AMEN Maryanne....how quickly we point the finger and dismiss adoptive families as false or lesser while our own family units ( the ones we grew up in ) were FAR FROM IDEALIC or supportive. I too might not be posting here from a First Mother perspective if my own had been different.


  29. This is all just so sad. Now this poor girl is in boot camp, being programmed to obey. All she did was have a baby. Families are supposed to help each other out when times are tough, they're not supposed to give away their newborns when the going gets tough. I just don't understand some of you people.

  30. @Maryanne,
    I was referring to today's world where there is not such a stigma against sex outside of marriage. I realize in the BSE most unwed mothers were pressured by their own families to relinquish because of society's views on out-of-wedlock pregnancy.

    Bell's story makes me think she is playing musical kids. She gives her's away and then takes two from other mothers. I wonder how the children feel about this or if they would have been happier being raised by their own natural mothers.

    "More studies?" There have been studies done on adoption. I think this would be an interesting area for investigation. Although like you said, Lorraine, probably an area that would be difficult, if not impossible, to study.

  31. When is the world going to realize that adoption is best as a LAST resort for a child, not the first option. All of the points made here are TRUE for some adoptive parents. For those of you that get defensive and cry foul and try to make adoption just WONDERFUL(including the adoptees that think its ok to toss babies out of families) why are you not trying to change the view of the MANy adoptive parents that do think its ok for their daughter to toss another child out to make another couple a family. BECAUSE THJATS WHAT THEY KNOW. they know the pain of infertility but they don't know the pain of not knowing your biology, they don't know the pain of feeling second best, they don't understand that biology IS IMPORTANT, no matter what the mother or father has done the child wants to know. Its normal and dismissed by those that want to dismiss it it to further their own place in adoption.

    I had WONDERFUL aparents, they are my mom and dad and will aways be. BUT , I was really one of the "lucky ones" because they respected my position and did not try to diningrate my bio family, or try to force me to love them better. They got it and this was back in the BSE.

    Passing children around is morally rehensible. Whether its a first mother that just doesn't feel like parenting(yea, just get rid of the kid...I have a live to lead) or a potentail adoptive mother ( I WANT A BABY< I DESERVE A BABYGIVE ME YOUR BABY) takes no account for the human that is being passed around. To all of you that think its ok to "lecture the adopteeS" as if they don;t know what they feel, or dismisss what they feel, get over yourselves...it could be your child some day telling you what they feel....what will you do...cry? pull at your hair and scream ...but what about MEEEEEE(that goes for either mother)..will you call yourself a good mother? Or will you try to understand that biology DOES matter and attempt to make it easier for your child... will you understand that the daughter or son just may love their aparents as their parents and respect that...as real good mothers do. To other adoptees that are so immmersed in making the "mothers" feel better that you rationaize toss you only blood to strangers...are you kidding me...I know for a fact that i would not give my blood away...I have lived it.

    Respect for the human that has no say is paramount...not the needs of the mothers(even if they are adoptees.

    I so thank God that my parents loved me enough to respect ME their child but biologically anothers child.

  32. Why do adoptive parents think that every thing said that does not paint them in a positive light thus marks them as demons, as some commenters immediately say? Jane's point, with which I agree, is that adoptive parents may be less likely than natural parents to want to find a way to help their daughters keep their babies. Some of the reactions here to that thought are way over the top. But we let you have your say. We clearly know that not all natural parents are wonderful, nor are all adoptive parents horrible. Both kind of parents come in all kinds of flavors: good, middling, and bad. One of my best friends has no relationship with her natural mother at all. Her mother was terrible to her, and my friend will spend her life recovering from that.

    Robin: Of course there are a zillion studies of adoption; I just meant that this particular situation (are APs more supportive than biological families) would be extremely difficult, it not impossible to research. But that is also the conclusion you come to.
    'night now

  33. I suppose this is a good post to make a confession:

    I'm an adult adoptee (in my 20's) , I have a masters and live and work abroad while pursuing my PHD. I was adopted at a few months old and have been in reunion for 12 years. My adoptive parents have one biological son, who is 20 years my senior. He has two children and is married.

    One of the reasons I am terrified of getting pregnant before I "should' is because I am terrified that my parents, who are usually rational, loving, and fantastic individuals, would not be as supportive as they might be if they were my biological parents.

    Can my adoptive parents love my children as they love their biological grandchildren? I really don't know. I asked my adoptive father once, and he was so offended by my "ridiculous" question. But the thought still haunts me.

    My biological sister (raised by my first parents) got pregnant at 19. Although the family was upset...they accepted her and the child. Adoption was NEVER an option. My first father even said to me that he would never place another child, and he would never do that to another one of his relatives. Ever. Adoption is no longer an option in my first family. They learned.

    Would my adoptive parents love and accept a child of mine if he or she was not planned? I presume so. But I have no intention of finding out. I use birth control like nobodies business. I will wait until I am married or in a serious long term relationship. And I will certainly wait until I am financially stable.

    Adoption does weird things to our heads.

  34. Lavinia ChamberlayneApril 13, 2013 at 7:46 AM

    My personal feeling is that the group with the strongest tendency to encourage their pregnant unmarried daughters (adopted or raised) to relinquish would be the same group most likely to promote adoption as an unequivocal good - i.e the extremely religious and conservative who believe that extra-marital sex is a sin, and consequently children conceived outside marriage are best served by being "reborn" to married couples.
    So I would think it boils down more to people's religious attitudes than to feelings about the importance of biological relatedness.

  35. Those who are asking for studies to back up their beliefs have to be prepared for the results of a fair study NOT backing up their preconceived notions. Of course there are so many other variables in the individual nature of families, natural and adoptive, and crisis pregnancies that such a study would be questionable. I have seen that there are supportive and unsupportive natural parents and adoptive parents among all age groups, even today. I have no idea who is more likely to encourage surrender, but we all know that adoption did not end with the Baby Scoop Era, and that shame is still alive in some communities and cultures. The numbers are much smaller but some of the issues are still the same.

    To get back to the original issue, the people on the reality show 16 and Pregnant, I would have to question the decency, parenting skills, and sensitivity of any parent, natural or adoptive, who would allow their 16 year old pregnant daughter and their family to participate in such a show. Are any of these people really typical of how most families would deal with a teen pregnancy, or role models for anyone?

  36. Foundling, people who remain open to the adoption option, for whatever reason, are not of necessity "emotionally and psychologically unwell." That's just a ctock of shit and an example of the utter inanity that passes for bracing truth around here.

  37. @ Ysidra:

    "Yet again adoptive parents get painted in the worst possible light. If it weren't for most of them, adoptees like me, wouldn't have had a life at all.

    Sounds like a whole bunch of bitterness to me."

    Oh Jesus here we go again with the poor adoptive parents who we are all so mean to, when they are all just so loving and supportive of the natural families they degrade and dehumanize on a daily basis. .

    Give me a flipping break.

    No, if it wasn't for the woman who carried and gave birth to you, you wouldn't have a life. How do they get credit for that, too?

    I can't stomach this blog anymore. I feel like I am on Adoption.com and the like when I come here. Excuse me while I go vomit now.

  38. @Dpen:

    "Respect for the human that has no say is paramount...not the needs of the mothers."

    Bullshit. We all deserve respect and compassion, not just you.

    Losing your child to adoption is devastating and life altering. Many don't know the full repercussions of that mistake until it is too late. I think the woman who has that life sentence deserves just as much respect and empathy as you feel only you deserve. Thanks.

  39. [Peggy Michaels said...
    Yes, because ALL adoptive families are horrible, selfish, and self-serving! Right? That's the general leaning of people here? Clearly.

    Dear Commenters: please don't paint all adoptive parents with the same brush, just like I won't paint all first mothers with the same brush. I was never jealous of my daughter's fertility, or ever tried to convince her to do anything other than her own wishes, and I never abandoned her (unlike her birth families, who has refused all contact with her because she's bi-racial).

    I know it's shocking, but some adoptive parents are actually decent people (although you'd never know it by some of the comments here).]

    Dear Peggy Michaels - I just took the time to re-read every one of the 23 comments prior to your post. I noted whether they were speaking regarding the episode, or their own experience, or commenting directly about a privious commentor like I am to you, or a general comment.

    From those notes there is only ONE comment in the 23 prior comments that even comes close to your concern but is not as wide a brush as you seem to think. In fact many painted with a wider brush in support of adoptive parents.

    Perhaps you are guilty of what you are accusing the commentors of (myself included, and while I did not indicate that my parents were adoptive parents, I kind of thought my user name would provide the reader with that knowledge).

    Perhaps you should try the same exercise I just did of creating an overview snippet of each comment - it might be eye-opening.

  40. Thank you adoptedones:

    I obviously had the same reaction to Peggy M as you did. I read her comment and thought, WTH is she talking about? I also think that in the wider culture adoptive parents, who do have their own insecurities, are generally applauded from taking someone else's "reject." I say that only in the sense of how some people feel--is the mother on drugs, does the baby have XYZ?--and because their friends and family and the world says, you did a good thing. Then they land here and read and their ears are blown off.

    Surprise, there are two ways of looking at adoption. That is why I especially appreciate the adoptive parents who can stand the heat here and learn; I respect them and know they are doing the best for the children they are raising. There will always be adoption of some sort. Our hope is to educate people about the reality of what adoption is, and how it impacts mothers who bear the babies and their children.

  41. Lavinia ChamberlayneApril 13, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    Robin said "I was referring to today's world where there is not such a stigma against sex outside of marriage."

    Depends on which of "todays worlds" you live in, Robin. The conservative evangelical religious right is a world unto itself, one which has more in common with the '50s and '60s than some of us would care to imagine. There's plenty of stigma against sex outside marriage going on there.

  42. Ok, so Bell fired me up and I have to provide my thoughts now... I have a 16 yr old daughter and if she were to become pregnant anytime soon I could never ever ever just cast her to the world and tell her she is on her own due to wanting to parent her own child. I would do everything in my power to help her financially and emotionally. I would absolutely want her to have her cake and eat it too. I would quit my job to help with my grandchild so she could finish school, college, and work. I know, it's such a shame that I wouldn't want her to view her child as a punishment and struggle in life.

  43. Thank you sara! A baby is a blessing, not a curse.

  44. Stacy..Talking about the innocent child here and if your really thinks its bull shit that those are the ones whose needs a paramount then you have just proved me right.

    If the mothers who are responsible for this child get it then they WILL get the respect and compassion from their children. I have respect for my adoptive parents, I have respect for my 1st mother...but when i was a child my biofamily did n0t respect me enough to keep me, my adoptive family got me because they could not have children. Those are the facts. At that point i needed a hell of a lot more then respect and compassion. Not bull shit at all my dear.

  45. I don't want to upset anyone.April 13, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    As an adoptive mom, I gotta say that there's NO way I'd try to force my daughter* into giving her child up for adoption. And I would certainly never allow her to face the world as a single mother with no family support! Who the heck are these people??? And why isn't Lori in contact with her first family? I'll admit I don't watch the show, so I don't have much background information. But, wouldn't it be helpful to Lori to have her first mother around during this hard time in her life?? Seeing as how the first mother has gone through something similar?!?!

    And, Bell, really? I don't mean to criticizes a first mother on a website meant for you, but that seems really cold. I mean, I'm all for helping children understand the realities of the world, but to leave your child (adopted or not) to fend for herself and a new baby seems cold and unfeeling.

    When I first started reading FMF, I was really defensive. I felt like every time something negative was pointed out about adoption...that it was a personal attack on me and my life. HAHA! How wrong and stupid I was! Now, I view FMF as a way of trying to understand about a part of adoption that ISN"T talked about much, and I appreciate that (and the work that's happening here).

    So, adoptive parents who come here, stick around, and maybe you'll learn something!!!

    *I currently have a son, so the daughter here is hypothetical*

  46. So anonymous you are saying that happy healthy, well functioning families encourage the removal of their kin?
    I don't think so.

    Only a tiny fraction of daughters give away their babies. The vast majority are surrounded by love and support and the arrival of a new family member, although unexpected perhaps, is a welcomed event. Because that's what the vast majority of normal functioning families have been doing for thousands of years.

  47. Some of the "gritty/nasty" comments & name calling aside, I wish this blog were required reading for all those contemplating adoption, raising an adopted child or considering relinquishment of a child.

    It's that good.

    I wish to add that once upon a time I'm not sure what my reaction would have been if our daughter were to come home young, unwed & pregnant. Loving her would remain constant, but if she were only 14 or 15 at the time? Yikes! I'd like to think my course would have been one of support, regardless of her decision. It would have nothing to do with jealousy ( I have already experienced pregnancy) and nothing to do with lacking a biological link ( she is every bit our own!) and everything to do with what commentor Pam said: adoption has blessed us beyond measure; how could we summarily dismiss that as an option?

    But now....should it happen? I will fight tooth and nail to keep that baby with her, should she desire to parent. I will empower her to believe that she can, with support, parent successfully regardless of the hurdles or those who judge. I would never want her to face the hurt and loss that so many First Mothers have experienced on this site if I had a way to prevent it.

    Should she wish to make an adoption plan? I will have to support that too ONLY after exhausting all other possibilities and having her read this blog (and a few others) first. Actually I just hate this very paragraph I just typed; but how could I respect and support one choice and not another?

    This would be true for both of our children.

    I worry this makes me an adoptive hyprocrit in some ways ( I mean shouldn't I be waving the "Go Adoption" banner?) but it also makes me a Mom. Doing the best we can by our children, given the circumstances and constraints of the problem before us/them.

    I do know this: we would face it together, united with the strength of a family.

    Lindsay AP

    1. Some of the "gritty/nasty" comments & name calling aside, I wish this blog were required reading for all those contemplating adoption, raising an adopted child or considering relinquishment of a child.

      It's that good.

      Yes, I agree wholeheartedly. Its great if you are into living an authentic life. And you are not going to be able to live fully and grow without experiencing some things which challenge your perspective.

  48. To I don't want to upset anyone,

    "And why isn't Lori in contact with her first family? I'll admit I don't watch the show, so I don't have much background information. But, wouldn't it be helpful to Lori to have her first mother around during this hard time in her life?? Seeing as how the first mother has gone through something similar?!?!"

    I don't watch the show either, so I don't know the reason. But, not all first mothers are like the mothers on FMF.

    After being contacted, some first mothers want to stick their heads back in the sand and attempt to bury their memories again.

  49. "So anonymous you are saying that happy healthy, well functioning families encourage the removal of their kin?
    I don't think so. "

    I don't think so either, foundling. That's not what anonymous is saying at all.

    No matter how you twist it, saying that "people who remain open to the adoption option, for whatever reason, are not of necessity emotionally and psychologically unwell" is NOT the same as saying that "happy healthy, well functioning families encourage the removal of their kin".

  50. Foundling wrote:"Because that's what the vast majority of normal functioning families have been doing for thousands of years."

    The history of foundlings and what happened to them is really quite bleak. Families exist in societies, with their own laws and customs, and if we are going back "thousands of years" infanticide was often the method of choice to deal with unwanted infants. And their have always been infants that different societies deemed unwanted. They were left on hillsides to die, thrown in rivers, and other gruesome fates.

    In the middle ages, monasteries and nunneries started taking in unwanted infants, raising those that lived to about age 14 when they could either join the order or leave. Foundling homes of sorts have existed since that time, but before the development of safe infant formula in the early 20th century, most of the babies died.
    Many poor women left their own infants at baby farms to die and hired out as wet nurses for the wealthy.

    It was certainly not all happy "functional families" cheerfully welcoming a new "surprise" for thousands of years as you imagine.

  51. Yes, I'm saying loving societies sanction the adoption of children as one way of ensuring children get the care they need, even if the practice is rare. For example, the Inuit have practised adoption for generations: "Historically, adoption was a common practice in Inuit society and continues to be widespread. 'In Inuit society, there is no stigma attached to being adopted. It is a practice… in which a child knows his or her birth parents and family members.' (Tungasuvvingat Inuit, 2008) Indeed, traditional adoption practices of Inuit have been legally recognized by northern governments (Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, 2006:20)."

    Note that this is not adoption imposed by the colonial government, but an indigenous practice. In effect, this practice corresponds to what we call open adoption today.

    Also read Blaffer Hrdy, an anthropologist who talks a lot about alloparenting and the fact that genetic relatedness is an iffy predictor of love.

  52. Lindsay: Thanks for writing, especially now, as I learned a week or so ago that some publishers turned down my book because they found the blog appalling and too tough.

    Depressing to hear but so it goes. Birthmark was turned down by several publishers because it was too outre for the times. Imagine a woman admitting she gave up a child for adoption!

    Just venting here in frustration today. Writers have feelings too.

  53. Lorraine - I'm so sorry. Honestly what do people think it would be like to place your child for adoption and then watch all the crap that goes on today in adoption.

    So sorry - hopefully others can see it is a book that needs to be published.

  54. I am well versed in the history of foundling homes thanks. I did not select my nom de plume on a whim.

    These homes are another example of the actions of a tiny minority.

    Adoption prevents infanticide.
    Inuit “adoption” practices are a precursor to modern day open adoption
    Genetic relatedness is an iffy predictor of love. (so a baby is more likely to receive love and care from strangers that its own mother and family!!)

    Back in the real world…..

    The vast majority of families provide love and support for their daughters who unexpectedly fall pregnant. Always have, always will.
    Families that encourage the removal of their kin are the absolute exception to the rule and cannot be viewed as anything other than an absolute minority fringe.

  55. so, to prevent adoption is to prevent pain to the first mother? How about preventing pain to the human born to the mother? How about realizing that there is not a baby born that cries///let me go...I WANT to be adopted.

    If there is a reason for others to raise a child to a fully functioning adult..as someone else said a "true adoption" a truelly needed adoption, not an adoption to provide an infant for people that want one...so be it. don't change their names, don't take "possesion" of them and try to brainwash them into thinking that they are chosen and need to salute their adoptive parents and be thankful for having a life.

    Keep babies with their biology even if that mother is adopted and is 14 or 15...being a parent whether adoptive or not does make you resposible for the grandchildren if at all possible. I can;t help but think that there are some adoptive grandparents that do feel its ok to give their adoptive grandchildren away. After all they got what they wanted in the adoptee...a family and all and the grandchild at that time does not have the same familial connection that a "real" grandchild might have. Its not blood.

  56. Lorraine, you have published a number of excerpts from your book since I started reading your blog in 2008. There were one or two that were deeply moving. One in particular about Jane's dad that was heartbreaking. If the book is worth publishing, isn't it possible that your publishers know whereof they speak when thinking about the book's appeal? The problem doesn't seem to be the book; the problem seems to be FMF. Has the blog gotten more "appalling" as time has gone on? IMO, yes. Many of the commenters take an extreme position on adoption that runs counter to what most of the public believes--that adoption is an acceptable option for some children and that the focus should be on making it better, not on demolishing the institution or demonizing the motives of adoptive parents. A lot of vitriol around here is excused because "people are in pain" but that really amounts to excusing a lot of nastiness. I suggest you put yourself first and think seriously about whether your book deserves to see the light of day. Of course, it does. Why not give it a running start and re-envision the blog so that the "appalling" does not bury the book. Shouldn't your message get out?

  57. @Fluffy:

    "Why not give it a running start and re-envision the blog so that the "appalling" does not bury the book."

    In other words, don't say anything that makes me uncomfortable because I will then have to come here, scold the commenters for their own feelings and call your blog "appalling".

    Nice try, but most of us are done being controlled and manipulated by control freaks. How "appalling"

  58. Fluffy: Thanks for your thoughtful comment. If it had not been FMF, it would have been something else. The incident I know about (and I am sure there were others) occurred many months ago. I have no idea exactly when, or what was going on at the blog then, and indeed, it may have been related to something one of the principals wrote.

    Our message is counter to the general aura of "good" that permeates adoption today--so many nice couples who want a baby! and these people do are against it!--and that attitude may shock and surprise those who feel that adoption will always be available to them. And who are these awful people saying that is not the case!

    Some people get upset when they read What We Think About Adoption (a permanent page that both Jane and I wrote with much thought), for instance, as did Single Infertile Female. BTW, Single Infertile, who was considering adopting an older girl from foster care when we had the run-in with her, adopted a newborn a few months ago, apparently from a tribe. I saw it on Facebook, with pictures. Everybody is so happy.

    So there you go.

    I hope I am nearing the end of the FINAL draft, which is one reason I try to cut back on the number of blogs. My memoir will be published one way or another. Change is upsetting and encounters opposition because it is a different way of thinking about the accepted norm.

    Thank you for your concern and encouragement again. xxx

  59. Stacy, with all due respect, I wasn't talking to you. Speaking of control, it's Lo's blog (and Jane's), not yours. It's also her manuscript, not yours.

  60. Thanks for your kind words, I don't want to upset anyone,

    Even though you have a son and no daughters, you may well have the opportunity to help a young woman and her child. I've known several cases where a pregnant woman's parents were unwilling or unable to help her and the father's parents took her and her baby in. I have a lot of admiration for them.

  61. For those interested in the history of abandonment and foundlings in the last 2000 years, read "The Kindness of Strangers" by John Boswell. This is a carefully researched and well-documented history of child abandonment which was widespread, not a tiny minority of aberrant families.


  62. @Fluffy:
    "Stacy, with all due respect, I wasn't talking to you. Speaking of control, it's Lo's blog (and Jane's), not yours. It's also her manuscript, not yours."

    With all due respect, you commented on a forum where the public can read what you wrote and this is a free country, thanks. This is also not YOUR blog either, now is it and who said anything about Jane's manuscript being anyone but hers?

    I commented on people such as the likes of you trying to control the narrative of a maligned and dehumanized population of natural mothers and I find THAT to be quite "appalling".

    Why don't you not worry about how other people feel about their own experiences and let them deal with it the way they want, on a blog that is aptly titled FMF. Perhaps I am in the wrong place and I certainly would not want the blog owners to think I am trying to take over their blog... lol!!!

  63. That's right anonymous, abandoning babies has been a much loved and popular pastime for centuries. Everyone was doing it. ;)

  64. It looks to me that there's a lot of "creative interpretation" going on on FMF. I'm not sure how much of the misunderstanding is deliberate, but some of it sure is "appalling", such as Buck Wheat's hateful and unjustifiable jinxing of commentator Bell.

    What I understood from Bell's first comment was that she would't be willing to raise this hypothetical grandchild herself (her choice to make. She isn't telling other people that they shouldn't if that's what they feel is right for them), but she is saying would be prepared to support and help her daughter to parent independently: "I will help her find resources and point her in the right direction".
    Allowing someone to make their own decision and offering them support and guidance to make that decision work is not abusive.

    I wish I'd that kind of support, respect and understanding when I had my child, instead of being immediately isolated and shoved off to a grim religious home for inconveniently pregnant young women.
    If I had we would never have been parted.

  65. I was adopted and I think that God meant for me to be with the 2 people I called Mom & Dad. I couldn't of had better parents had I hand picked them myself. My bio Mom put me up for adoption, as she had 2 kids at home & her husband was in Korea. I have my O.B.C. I know she doesn't want to be found.
    After searching for over 30+ years, I am giving up. God knows the truth & adoption is the only way at times. I obtained my OBC when my son was born in 1979.God Bless YOU ALL, Maureen

  66. Clarification: I'm the one writing a memoir to follow up on the one published in the seventies, Birthmark.



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.