' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Secrecy in adoption replaced by public confessionals--how cool is that?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Secrecy in adoption replaced by public confessionals--how cool is that?

Mariah MacCarthy
Is giving up your baby a new fad--a re-packaged baby scoop era substituting a public display for secrecy--or a harbinger of permanent changes in child-rearing?

 Rapper, storyteller, and burlesque artist Mariah MacCarthy's one woman show Baby Mama: One Women's Quest to Give a Child to Gay People has a one night stand at the Dixon Place Theatre in New York City this Monday, August 18. According to press notes, the show "tracks one birth mother's adoption journey, from conception to placement with the gay couple of her dreams--while still living her life, dating, and attending the occasional orgy."

In a video clip promoting her show, MacCarthy says that a few weeks after she "peed on a stick and got the two lines on the thing that meant she was pregnant, she went to the adoption agency recommended by Planned Parenthood and told them she wanted to give her baby to gay people." When asked by a nurse in the delivery room why she was giving up her son, MacCarthy answered only that "it's complicated."

MacCarthy carried through with her wish. After handing her baby to the social worker who straps him into a car seat and leaves, she breaks down, sobbing:
"Later I will introduce my son to his two dads and it will be a joyous occasion and later we will have Thanksgiving dinners together and me and the dads will talk about Carlos Danger [disgraced Anthony Weiner's pseudonym] and my son will be baptized and much joy that awaits us but I don't know any of it at this moment and as soon as I can talk again through my tears I find my self saying 'I still think I'm going to do this.'" 
MacCarthy joins Sydney Syverson a recent graduate of the University of Portland who wrote of giving up her daughter in the university's magazine, Portland, Mercy Verner who wrote of giving up her daughter on Huffington Post, and other mothers seemingly capable of raising a child. The reasons for giving up their babies--they are not ready to parent, they want their child to have a better life, and they want to make a gift to a deserving couple--ring hollow to those of us who have lost children to adoption.

We at FMF ask: Is this a harbinger of a permanent change in child-rearing: adoption is just another reproductive option? The liberal think-tank, the Center for American Progress emphatically says yes. The title alone of 2010 report, Adoption Option: Adoption Won't Reduce Abortions but It Will Expand Women's Choices, is a glowing report of the benefits to the mother of giving up a child. Adult adoptees, not surprisingly, were not consulted. We found the arguments therein specious, and completely ignorant of the aftermath of giving up a child, both to mother--and child. Read our full response above.

Perhaps this celebration--amid the tears--of relinquishing a child to adoption is this part of a last-ditch effort by the domestic adoption industry, using gullible mothers--often hip women--to help it remain relevant while facing stiff competition from the fertility industry and, until recently, from the purveyors of foreign children? And if you are going to give up a child, why not advertise your liberal creds by choosing a gay or lesbian couple? How cool is that? That certainly appears to have been the attitude of rapper Mariah MacCarthy.

Or perhaps this is a middle-class fad, much like adoption in the mid-20th century, that may dissipate when women like MacCarthy and Syverson and others joining in the same hip "fad" realize the real costs of adoption in pain and sorrow to themselves and their babies. We hope so. We dread the thought of a brave new world where a massive number of babies are redistributed from their natural mothers to biological strangers. It so sounds like the rationale for another Baby Scoop Era, now dressed up in coolness rather than clothed in shame. And it is frightening. But human emotions have not changed or been modernized to fit today's zeitgeist. Mothers will weep, and children will pay.

However, it is likely that common sense and the emotional pull of raising your own child--in a day when single motherhood is not a smothering veil of shame--will prevent the huge numbers of adoption in the past. Our position has been and will continue to be: If you choose to have a baby, raise that child.

One Woman's Quest to Give a Child to Gay People may have some voyeurism appeal, but the story of a woman who goes to orgies while pregnant and gives up her baby to resume her career as a rapper, storyteller, and burlesque artist should be a turn off to those with normal sensibilities. Let's hope that the show does not go past its one night scheduled run lest it encourage other vulnerable women to give up their babies in hopes of making in on the stage.--jane

Birth mother for Gay Dads Will Share Her Story
Baby Mama: One Woman's Quest to Give Her Child to Gay People
Gay Adoption: A Birth Mother Shares Her Incredible Story

On Mother's Day: What does it mean to be not 'ready to parent'?
Response to The Adoption Option
Argument to give up your baby is the same old one heard before
Does giving up a child for adoption make you sick?

Brave New World by Aldouls Huxley
If you haven't read it in years (or ever) now is the time to read this amazing futuristic novel. The particulars are different but you will recognize our society, geared as it is to serve the wealthy and powerful. --lorraine  (BTW, thank you for ordering anything through the FMF portal. Just click on the link to go to Amazon.)
From the back cover:
"The astonishing novel Brave New World, originally published in 1932, presents Aldous Huxley's vision of the future -- of a world utterly transformed. Through the most efficient scientific and psychological engineering, people are genetically designed to be passive and therefore consistently useful to the ruling class. This powerful work of speculative fiction sheds a blazing critical light on the present and is considered to be Huxley's most enduring masterpiece.

"Following Brave New World is the nonfiction work Brave New World Revisited, first published in 1958. It is a fascinating work in which Huxley uses his tremendous knowledge of human relations to compare the modern-day world with the prophetic fantasy envisioned in Brave New World, including threats to humanity, such as overpopulation, propaganda, and chemical persuasion."


  1. Gross. Gross and a slap in the face to "birth"mothers and their lost children.

  2. I am with Amy - this is beyond disgusting!

  3. I can't imagine this becoming a trend. Sometimes colleagues, classmates, or friends shave their heads in solidarity with someone enduring chemo, but so far the shaved head (which is a temporary situation) has not become a mainstream fashion trend except for guys with receding hairlines. To give up one's child in solidarity for a cause may look like an admirable sacrifice to some, but from this birthmother's point of view, it seems akin to chopping off one's own leg in order to better empathize with an amputee. And this analogy does not even consider the point of view of the adoptee.

  4. When I looked at that photo of Maria MacCarthy, I instantly thought 'that's the last time you will ever smile like that'.

    Ideas and plans and beliefs are easy when you are a sole entity - a woman who has not yet born a child.

    Once you have, you are never a sole person again. There is someone out in the world who just matters so much to you, in a way no-one else does.

    1. Cherry: I read something the other day in a book review: You never get over anything.

      I thought: Amen. People at bottom understand that first/birth mothers never "get over" giving up a child, but they don't want to "know." It complicates adoption. Too much.

  5. Ah, entertainment. People will sell everything to be recognized.

  6. This woman may very well feel this way. Not everyone feels exactly the same, and I do believe there are indeed women who are not at all interested in being a mother. However, I think she would be the exception to the general rule. For the majority of women, giving birth changes us in ways we never imagined. We are biologically hard-wired to feel a connection to the baby we birth, and that's hard to overcome. And it's something adoption agencies gloss over a bit.

    As an adoptive mother, I worry about how the child will feel in all this. My daughter wasn't a gift to us. Her parents weren't doing us a service. Her job in this world is not to make us feel complete (even though her presence in my life does do that without her having to do anything). I find this kind of attitude a bit disturbing. Children are not objects to be moved around. Adoption, at its core, is built upon a loss, and that should always be acknowledged, although it rarely is. While I believe that women have a right to choose adoption if they do not want to parent, the attitude that it is a noble act has always bothered me. This is a monumental decision that is fraught with lifelong consequences for mother and child. Seeing it so lauded here by this birth mom as such is hard for me to take. I feel like she's using her child for publicity, and that feels so callous.

  7. I think her tears are saying a great deal.

  8. I have been to a lecture recently given by a woman who lost her child to adoption over 30 years ago who has been commenting on the changing culture of adoption and how the marketing is used to create and reflect it. She said she was sorry for today's birth mothers. She said at least she and her generation knew what happened to them was horrible and they were grieving, however privately. The current birth mother is forced to be constantly happy.about giving up her child. The lady lecturer said she was really worried about the mental health of mothers pretending they don't suffer loss and how will they feel if one day they realize what they have done.

  9. I wonder, will it ever become like, cool, to say: I had a baby and gave it up for adoption...?
    I suppose today it would be followed by something like: ...to this great gay/straight couple who have a beach house in the Hamptons? Isn't that great?

    So much of how we think about stuff is determined to some degree by the culture. The woman today who advertise their hipness about giving up a child are foreign creatures to those of us who have mourned. And I can't believe that even the zeitgeist can make up for the internal hormones and mind set that tells us to keep our babies, keep your baby.

    All I know is that my daughter and I would have been better off if I kept her.

    PS: Doctor's visit in a couple of hours. Just got out of the shower. You put a big plastic (and expensive plastic) boot over your leg and the cast stays completely dry, the way the closure is configured. I hope to write a SHORT post later or tomorrow. xxx

  10. Ugh Ugh Ugh. I remember feeling like this - I did something bad (get pregnant with someone I didn't know very well) and thinking ok, I can do something good now (give the baby to a lovely couple who couldn't conceive). In my mind it was a win. The kid's feelings honestly barely entered my mind, I'm now ashamed to say. It was all about me, and the PAPs. I was bad and can now be good, yay! Ugh.

    But when she was born and I finally looked into her eyes, I realized i could never handle meeting her in 18 years and telling her why I gave her away. Now I tell my story to anyone I come across who is considering relinquishing or adopting. I think it's important to say it's totally different once they are born, even if you think you have it all figured out beforehand.

  11. This story makes my blood boil. Gifting her baby? How AWFUL!!! That child is a human being, not property to be transferred however the "adults" see fit. As if gifting her son wasn't hurtful enough, she's blabbing HIS story to the world to satisfy her need for affirmation. What a piece of work this woman is.

    I suspect he'll take matters into his own hands and walk away from them all once he's of age. I know I would.

  12. MacCarthy is also a playwright. She's familiar with the elements of drama: life and death, tragedy and comedy . . . and all that jazz. This "performance" that she's just been involved in encompasses the whole package: life, as in giving birth, and death, as in a part of her has died with the relinquishment of her son. Is this a fad? Is "gifting" a human being to the recipients of your choosing the new adoption wave? Does selecting the politically correct, cultural darlings of the moment to be your child's other/adoptive/second family make you, and relinquishment, cool?

    Time will tell.
    Gifts: what about the return policy? What about that other "giver," the original/birth/biological father? When does he come onto the stage, or has he already exited? Or is this not about him, or the gay couple, or the child, but about MacCarthy? Is this her moment?

    I read about this on Upworthy. Of course, their presentation was delightfully upbeat, shallow, and oh-so giddily positive. We must all be positive (when we're not leaving snarky tweets and comments) nowadays. Have you noticed? No time for introspection. No time for grief. Move on. Be happy. "Life is Good" as the T-shirts and merchandise proclaim. "Don't be a hater!"

    Grief isn't cool. Loss isn't cool. And we must, must, be cool.

    MacCarthy's tears were, naturally, tears of joy, and inspirational to all. That's the point. Grief, loss, regret, all of those untidy little things we humans carry with us, well, there's no time for them. No time.

    Yet, again, time will tell.

    The online media? Many sites take their cues from social media. So quick to latch onto a perceived trend, or to proclaim one. If that's what the public wants and clicks through, then that's what reality is.

    The play's the thing. The thing about MacCarthy's "performance" is that it is so terribly sad. In a word, uncool.

  13. Let's rewrite and recast.

    A male comic/performance artist/playwright finds himself about to be a father. The woman involved says she is not playing a role in his or the child's future. It's up to the comic. He decides to do a show about gifting his daughter to a lesbian couple (they can all gather as the girl is growing up and watch "Ellen" shows or "Rosie" DVDs). Huffington Post is all over it, as is Upworthy. But what are they saying? Is it different when a birth/original/biological father is the one giving up the child? What do we think of the mother who walks away? How do we view it with the genders reversed? It is so interesting to rethink MacCarthy's adoption scenario and adoption in general.

  14. Yes, I agree about that relentless insistence on being positive.
    Honestly, I think we live in such superficial times.

  15. Wow. Muggery Pope,
    I love the idea of recasting it as a male saying, Don't want to raise this baby, I'm giving it to two lesbians, aren't I cool/ isn't this a great thing?

    I can hear the boos in my head.

  16. This all seems repulsive enough that I doubt it could convince young moms that giving up a baby is cool in any way. "... attending the occasional orgy."?? Is that a role model most young women can relate to? Just ugly in every way. More reinforcement for the "unwed mother=slut" stereotype than something that would influence many pregnant moms to surrender.

  17. This woman's blase attitude toward giving up her baby just repulses me. And making it part of her performance just reads as completely narcissistic to me. She makes it sound all so wonderful and "win-win." It will be an "open adoption" she'll get to be involved in her child's life (maybe) and she can skip off into the sunset (not unlike "Juno") and continue her life as before. But we know that is not the reality, and her life won't be the same as before, and of course, there is no discussion from this woman on how the CHILD might feel or be affected and no word whatsoever on the baby's father. The whole thing just sickens me. I wonder how her child will feel reading about mom wanting to relinquish him or her so she could continue to do burlesque and attend the "occasional orgy." Lovely. NOT!




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