' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Mother vs.Texas 'Christian' adoption agency for her year-old son

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mother vs.Texas 'Christian' adoption agency for her year-old son

Kiara Citizen-Williams grieves for her lost son
Evicted from her home, young mother Kiara Citizen-Williams reached out for help to Christian Homes and Families in Houston, Texas. Five days later her year-old son, Bryce, was gone--Kiara does not know where. Now she's facing an uphill battle to get him back.
According to a report from Fox TV in Houston, a caseworker from Christian Homes, Melanie Wallace, met Kiara and immediately took her to a UPS store, and had her sign an affidavit for voluntary relinquishment of parental rights. A UPS worker in the store notarized the document, and a random customer served as a witness. Wallace took Bryce and left.

This is how adoption is done? Meet, immediately get the relinquishment, take the baby, and run? That's how it was done by Christian Family and Homes. 

Within minutes, when the reality that her son was gone hit her, Kiera changed her mind. Over the next several days she called and texted Wallace repeatedly, but Wallace never responded. Within days the agency convinced a Fort Worth judge to terminate Kiera's parental rights. Kiera filed a a counter action demanding her son's return. A hearing is scheduled for March 19th. Christian Homes' director, Sherri Stalter, declined to discuss the case telling Fox there are "two sides to the story."

Two sides to the story? Like, we had a waiting customer for the baby and couldn't take the chance that maybe Kiara really didn't want to give up her son? Like, we needed to have her immediately the relinquishment papers--in obviously a moment of high distress--so we could get the child?

Kiara and Bryce's story cries out for justice.  A mom who needed help may be separated forever from her son, whom she nurtured for the first year of his life. A boy becomes separated from the only mother he has ever known, placed with strangers, perhaps entering a succession of foster and adoptive homes. He must be traumatized. All because his mother trusted an agency with "Christian" in its name. Some of the most egregious act of adoption exploitation are done by agencies which call themselves Christian. The label is a great marketing tool, but has little to do with the teachings of Christ.

What about those who have Bryce?  We'd like to think that they've seen the TV report and would do the right thing and return the boy to his mom. Alas, the pang of conscience rarely seems to take hold in these cases. The adoptive parents often hire media experts and start PR campaigns to trash the natural parents. At least in this case, the adoptive or prospective adoptive parents can't claim the moral high ground and wail about removing the child from the only home he has ever known, the importance of early bonding, yada yada yada. 

This case is a textbook example of what's wrong with adoption and state adoption laws today. Kiera should have had an independent counselor, someone who would not benefit financially by the adoption. Kiera should have had at least two visits with a counselor, and explored ways that would allow her to care for her son. Perhaps there were welfare benefits, subsidized housing, food stamps, charitable organizations that could help--even family members she hadn't thought of calling. The counselor should have explained to Kiera the lifelong impact of adoption on mother and child. None of this happened.

If, after being offered help, Kiera still wanted to give up her son, Wallace should have told Kiera about open adoption and the right to have continuing contact with him. Kiera should have had the opportunity to select the prospective adoptive parents. Then Kiera should have met with an attorney who would have explained the documents before she signed them. The attorney would also have told her about her right to revoke her affidavit terminating her parental rights, and how to do it. Under Texas law, the affidavit, unless it states otherwise, may be revoked within 11 days of signing. Wallace never informed Kiera of this right--or apparently heeded it.

None of these things were done, of course, because Kiera might have decided to keep her son.

Texas is not a lone state when it comes to adoption exploitation. The laws of all states are tilted
towards the adoptive parents, and in some cases--such as in Michigan--recently enacted laws are making it easier, not harder, to give up a child more quickly. My state, Oregon, is among the worst. State laws do not require mothers' consent be informed, and give them little. if any, time to revoke their consent. Fathers have even less protection, often denied parental rights before they learn of the birth of their child. Purchasers of vacuum cleaners and washing machines have more legal protections than does a woman who wishes to relinquish her most precious child.

Legislators who pass these laws insist they are balancing the rights of natural parents and adoptive parents. Actually, these are adopting parents and should have NO rights until the adoption is finalized. We encourage our readers to join together to reform state adoption laws. The link below provides a summary of these laws.

Let's hope that when Kiera goes to court, the judge does the right thing and reunites Bryce with his mom.---jane
Houston woman fighting to regain child offered up for adoption
Child Information Welfare Gateway, Consent to Adoption

Are Laws Titled Toward Adopting Parents? Well, yes, even in Oregon
Utah to Birth Fathers: Go Back to the Grave!
Shotgun Adoptions via Crises Pregnancy Centers

Ethics in American Adoption By L. Anne Babb
"...a benchmark publication in the fields of ethics and adoption. [Babb] offers numerous case studies describing what is amiss with America's adoption system as it is currently constituted. She raises significant questions about what adoption facilitators are doing who is accountable for what they are doing, and whose interests they are serving. This seminal work should be read by policy makers, social workers, children's court judges, prospective adopters, and anyone else involved in the adoption process."--Wisconsin Bookwatch 
The Stork Market: America's Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry
by Mirah Riben
"...informative, well-documented and fascinating expose of the many abuses - permeating a muti-billion dollar, unregulated adoption industry. Written in a crusading, investigative reporting style, the Stork Market is a courageous book. It will please many in the adoption world, but is sure to threaten others - especially those who profit from the lucrative business of adoption.

"As a pediatric/child psychologist, I have worked in the trenches and treated hundreds of the worst-case casualties, of our closed adoption system; so I can attest to the truth in this important book, and offer first person witness, to the validity of much that Ms. Riben documents and is concerned about. Surely, a family system based on secrecy, lies, and a denial of human/civil rights can not ultimately be "in the best interest of the child;" and a passionate caring that the needs of the children be primary, "not secondary, or even worse, irrelevant to an adult's agenda," is evident throughout the book."--David Kirschner, PhD, author of Adoption: Uncharted Waters



  1. " We'd like to think that they've seen the TV report and would do the right thing and return the boy to his mom. "

    I have some other thoughts on this post but for now I just want to say that whoever has this child cannot just return him to Kiera. She signed a document relinquishing her rights to the child and the people caring for him no doubt also signed something agreeing to care for him. They cannot simply hand him over to her and would be in trouble if they tried to do this. These are legally binding documents at this point in time and the child cannot be handed back and forth without following the law.

    1. Of course they can return Bryce to his Mom. They can simply relinquish their rights and allow her to adopt him. Alternatively, they could have her appointed as his guardian, a true re-homing.

    2. Actually, the APs can't do this--at least not until the adoption is finalized, and that typically takes 6+ months from the time of placement.

      Also, I wouldn't assume the APs have any idea what's going down. With a new baby to care for--one who is likely traumatized, acting out, not sleeping well--I can't imagine they have much time for the news. And it's not like this is a story playing on endless loop.

      The blame here goes entirely to the adoption agency, not the APs.

    3. One of the friends or family member has certainly informed them that the child they are caring for is the center of an custody/parental fight. That his mom wants him back.

    4. Assuming the adoption has not been finalized -- state laws vary on this. However, the APs can stand up and do the right thing and shame the agency into doing the right thing. The APs can tell the agency they want no part of the shenanigans the agency pulled to get the baby. They can tell the "Christians" that if they don't return the boy to his mother, they'll go to the media.

      I suspect the APs know exactly what's going on. As Lorraine noted, friends or family members would have seen the news report and told them what happened. I suspect the real reason the APs haven't done anything is that they are afraid of losing the tens of thousands of dollars they paid for the baby.

      As for not blaming the APs, it's kind of like saying purchasers of ivory are not responsible for the slaughter of elephants. If the APs had done any research or asked any questions, they would have figured out something was not right.

    5. You mean there is no refund policy when a sketchy adoption--most likely they were not told that the mother was met once and signed the papers at a UPS office, witnessed by a random customer--goes awry because the natural mother wants the child back? Oh my. People ought to be careful when they are, er, ... getting a child.

    6. I doubt it is money. we don't know the whole story but they probably believe they are acting in the baby's best interests. I doubt they can just drive to her house and drop off the baby. if they did wouldn't you be slamming them as being so callous that they just abandoned their baby. Having said that, this is a tragic story and I hope it works out all right for the baby.

  2. This organization is clearly corrupt and their actions are reprehensible. I hope she finds her son and that she receives the help she needs to keep him... without all the facts it seems to me that she needs some serious counseling too.

    Apart from that, is there any legal movement towards dividing the functions of such an agency into at least two separate agencies? It seems a clear conflict of interest to have one agency promising to serve the needs of both the birth mother/parents and the needs of the adoptive family... even when buying a home the buyer and seller typically have separate agents and often from separate agencies.

    are there places in Texas where a mother of a young child can get help without being pressured into turning over her baby? Or has that gone by the wayside along with Planned Parenthood in Texas?? does anyone know?

  3. The natural mother of the girls has spoken out:
    West Fork, AR - The adopted girls' biological mother said she thought she was doing the right thing by giving her kids to Justin and Marsha Harris.

    Sarah Young spoke for the first time on camera to KNWA News about the controversy surrounding State Representative Justin Harris.

    She said she felt she could trust the Harrises in part because of their religious beliefs.

    Young also said though her daughters experienced trauma early in their lives, they still deserved love and support from their adoptive family.

    Sarah Young, the biological mother of adopted girls said, "I told them that my oldest daughter had behavioral problems before going in. My middle child has always had some, a little bit of behavioral problems. I knew something would happen. I knew they would act out. When you adopt, you adopt all problems. You adopt anything that's wrong with them. And if I could have chosen a better home, and known it was a better home I would've but I did not know. I thought I was choosing the right home."

    "His wife and him hide behind the Bible. You know, we're these deep Christian people. Well, deep Christian people shouldn't take on children they don't want. Expect to love them the rest of their lives no matter what. I thought I was doing right, I thought I chose a good family, and it makes me realize you can't trust anybody", said Young.

    Young added she thought she would still be able to watch her kids grow up with the Harrises, but that the family cut all ties with her shortly after the adoption became final.

    Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This m

  4. The loss of Bryce reminds me of a "smash and grab," only worse. A looting... but of a human being. His mother lost her home, but rather than someone, anyone, trying to help find mother and child a place to live--even a guest room in some nice family's home--this allegedly "Christian" vulture shoved paperwork in front of traumatized Kiara and snatched her son.

    Bryce, in the vulture's beady eyes, is still "young enough" to bring top dollar to the highest bidder among prospective APs. But all this story represents is how acceptable opportunistic looting/family destruction has become in certain circles. It makes me even sicker.

    Helluva couple of weeks, on top of the Justin Harris-related "re-homing"/"re-homing" to a child sex predator/"exorcisms" performed on very young, vulnerable, and traumatized girls already used to fill out the campaign brochures and Facebook alleged-"family" photo presentations.

    /rant over. But not my disgust, empathy, fear, and impotent fury over not being able to DO something... like turn back the clock and change these children's future. Kiara's and Karen's, too.

    /gropes for handkerchief, honks nose noisily.

  5. This woman will never see her child again unless someone with money helps pay those lawyers....or the "adoptive" parents of the boy do the moral, Christian thing and return the child to his home. We all know how likely these scenarios are.....

  6. This is sickening. Christian?.....No. Me no thinks so.

    A UPS store, really? Let's just pop in a business that has a notary handy and 'get 'er done. Hurry, hurry.. the clock's ticking and minutes are adding to this baby's age, hurry! The dollar amounts goin' down....I can only get prospective adoptive parents pay full price for a baby not more than 1 day over this age) HURRY! Before you talk to anyone else or think of some other way to care for your child.. HURRY!!!!!!! Zip, done! I'm outta' here, come on baby.... wave bye-bye to the nice lady.... aaarrrrrrrgh!

    Maybe they ought to go into sellin' cars fer a livin'... they'd be experts at it (but then you get more for a baby than you do a car so.. maybe not). Talk about high pressure ''sales''. Car salesmen ain't got nutin' on s.s. or agency workers when they're movin' babies/children through the pipeline.

    Yeah, more than a little bit a snark!

    Disclaimer: These are my feelings related to personal experience and these two stories.. if this is not your m.o. don't have a freaking fit. Of course, if you are having a freaking fit, maybe you need to examine just exactly what and how you are doing things in regard to taking consents, taking babies, and adoption and re-evaluate your life's priorities and goals for your ultimate welfare and benefit...-as--well--as-, the welfare of the mother's/father's and their children!

    Am I tired of this 'stuff'? You betcha!

  7. Really enjoy read this article and comment..

  8. I think the "real" question should be asked: " why did she give up her son at 1 years old in the first place?" I read this article about this woman and her mother was with her during the interview. Why didn't the grandmother try to help and, most importantly, why after a year is this woman placing her son? Think about it.

    1. The mother and her mother are poor and black living in a state with a history of discrimination and little help for its impoverished citizens.

      The questions you need to ask is why didn't this self-identified "Christian" organization help Kiara find resources so that she could care for her son rather than taking advantage of her ignorance and poverty to convince her the only solution for her son was to give him up. You might also ask how much money the agency received from the prospective adoptive parents for Bryce.

      You might ask the PAPS why they were willing to pay for another woman's' child when it's likely that a fraction of what they paid the agency would have allowed his mother to care for him. You might also ask them how they can live with themselves knowing the boy is grieving over losing his mother.

      Think about it.

    2. it does seem to me that so often the extended family does not help the birth mom. Rarely. It seems far easier to rage against strangers (APs) than acknowledge that my mom did not help me, my dad did not help me. If the families stepped forward and helped, I think far fewer babies would be given up. But the anger is rarely directed there, perhaps it is too dangerous ( "I can't lose them so I can't dare be angry at them"). Sad all around. I am an AP but I believe that adoption is a very hard thing for the child and I feel sorrow that my child has to face the fact and deal with the fact that she was given up not just by her birth mother but by her entire birth family - dad, maternal grandparents, paternal grandparents. This may sound odd but I love her so much that I feel anger at them all for rejecting her, how dare they cast out this precious child. yes I am blessed beyond belief to raise her and be her mom, but I truly hate that she was given up. I hate that she has to deal with that and all its fall out for the rest of her life.

    3. Maya -

      Why after nine months was a perfectly competent and capable mother convinced by a religious group that her daughter would be "better off" with someone when she asked for help? https://letterstomsfeverfew.wordpress.com/ can begin to answer that question.

      If I had been able to find adequate child care, my daughter would be with me today.

      The real question is what kind of society and culture cares so little for mothers and children that they allow this kind of thing to happen again, 22 year later? Think about it.

  9. Jane: That's NO excuse! I've seen plenty of improved people of color do an excellent job of raising their children on the little bit of money they have. Where's the child support from the father? Does the mom work? How come grandmom wasn't helping the mom ( not that's she's supposed to because the child is the mother's responsibility)? All of theses are legit questions. What I think what happened was mom got tired of all the responsiblity that comes with motherhood and decided to place her child and then had regets

    1. You have no idea what you are talking about. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Until you have experienced extreme coercion by "Christian" adoption agencies, until you have you back up against a wall and the only hand being offer to "help" you is one of these predatory agencies, then you have very little room to pass judgement on those who have been.

  10. ETA:

    Also, who places a child after raising them?? No person does that unless there's drugs, alcohol or other dysfunctional problems going on in their life. Also, you mentioned that it was the agency's responsibility to "inform" the mother about available help? But shouldn't that have been the mother's responsibility to find help for she and her child?

    1. Nothing in the media report indicates that there was drugs, alcohol, or other dysfunctional problems. The mother clearly was desperate, not thinking straight, and made a hasty decision to give her son to someone who could offer him more. I've raised three children. The ages between nine months and 24 months are the most difficult. Children of that age are demanding, active, and impulsive. Kiara needed a break.

      Even though her son was a year old, Kiara was a lot like mothers who give up newborns. When I gave up my newborn daughter, I couldn't see any way to keep her. There were ways of course but I couldn't think clearly and the social worker didn't offer any ideas.

      A responsible adoption practitioner informs a mother of the long term consequences of adoption. The practitioner works with a mother to find ways to care for her child. Kiara obviously didn't know about resources to help her and didn't know how to find these resources. If it's not possible for the mother to keep her child, the practitioner explores open adoption.

      Only five days passed between the time Kiara called the agency and met the worker at the Fed Ex office. Not enough time for Kiara to be competently informed.

      Even if we assume that Kiara was remiss in not finding ways to get help, the consequences should not be the permanent loss of her child and the resulting grief for both of them.

      Adoption should not be a buyer beware enterprise. The goal of adoption is the welfare of the child, not enhancing the practitioner's bottom line through trickery.

    2. Yes, absolutely. Taking the child like that is little better than kidnapping, all prettied up as an "adoption plan." Don't make me gag.

    3. "No person does that unless there's drugs, alcohol or other dysfunctional problems going on in their life"

      Hmmm...could it possibly be the dysfunctional problems in a mother's life are the coercive and amoral tactics employed by Christian adoption agencies?

      I've never done drugs. I don't drink, smoke, drink coffee, or sleep around. I've got enough savvy and smarts to earn a PhD with a nursing baby and two other children in tow.

      In the process of taking "responsibility to find help for she and her child [sic]," I was convinced by my religions leaders the responsible thing was to give my daughter to someone else to raise. I was told she would be "better off." I was told that *keeping* my daughter was a sign I was being irresponsible and selfish, that I was putting my "wants" of being a mother ahead of my daughters "needs" for a two-parent home. That relinquishing my daughter for adoption, even when she was nine-months old, was a sign that I was mature, responsible, and truly concerned about her long-term welfare . I was told that keeping her was just setting her up for a life of continual failure and poverty. That giving her away to strangers was "saving" her, was for the best, "all about love" and if I **REALLY** loved her - I mean, really, really, REALLY loved her, there was n.o. o.t.h.e.r. choice. Relinquishing her for adoption was the mature, loving, and responsible thing to do while continue to try to "struggle" through school as a single mom was selfish and cruel to my daughter.

      So once again, unless you have been through the horrors of losing a parented child to a religious, supposedly "Christian" adoption agency, it might be best to just keep quiet and practice some compassion towards those who have endured the peculiar agony and soul-destroying experience of being betrayed by people who are claiming to act in the name of God.

  11. Great aEnswer Jane. Maya's line of questions are hard and cerebral - showing no understanding or compassion for a human being who seems overwhelmed and lost within a blizzard of experience. For that presumably temporary situation it seems the permanent separation of mother and child is being advocated, as if that is in any way sane or humane. The mother is already being judged whereas I see the grief on her face.

  12. Thanks, Cherry,
    It's way too easy to judge this mother and lose sight of what's best for her and her son.

  13. My heart breaks for this mama who's child was essentially legally kidnapped from her. This is not what adoption should be- but it has turned into a way for people who want children to get them rather than a system where a child in need of a family is placed within one.

    Anyone who has never experienced the panic of losing a job, a home, or the basic structure needed to get by day to day cannot fathom the panic one goes through in these times. Add in a young child and no familial support, and I just can't even begin to imagine the desperation this mama was feeling. It's so cruel to judge her for that desperation of wanting her baby cared for- this is, at the core, the most basic of motherly responses. It is also the response adoption agencies exploit to its fullest.

    I wish I believed she would get her child back. But I have no faith in the horrid system where poor people are often judged harshly for their "failures." Single, black mothers are often judged the worst. Poor mamas are still capable of deep love for their children. It's not related to class, age, or money, regardless of what the adoption industry would have us believe. And neither is being a good mama.

  14. Anonymous March 20 2015 at 8:56 P.M. brings up an excellent point. How many of us were rejected and 'abandoned' by our families and in being rejected... found ourselves turning instead to strangers (for help) who had, in all honesty, a desire for a baby.

    The very best starting point to ''fixing'' this thing called adoption may be for the **strangers** to actually provide counseling in the area of family --first--. To ask the question, "Why are you (whomever) wanting this baby to ''"disappear'"'? To all involved, the expectant mother, the father, their parents and extended family. Then attempting to resolve those conflicts, fears, doubts, concerns, shame, resentments...and so on.
    Thank you anonymous. You are correct in saying, "..the anger is rarely directed there, perhaps it is too dangerous." It is (for some now) and was for others ''too dangerous''. It was, I think for many, a ''matter of survival''. To be rejected from family is a horrible thing and yet ..... look at what so many of us 'did' willingly or unwillingly to our own children. There was no 'option' or choice for some.. and that truly hurts.. but yes our families or parts of our families -did- create the momentum and the ultimate separation from our children. I will sadly disagree that the anger is not directed at them (family). It -is- directed at them... and many mothers besides myself I'm sure feel it takes or will take, a greater miracle than the parting of the Red Sea... (no fooling) for that forgiveness to come fully to our hearts. This forum is a place where we are actually permitted to speak unlike in our own families where speaking of the loss of our child is often completely forbidden, or only allowed in an extremely limited manner. It is too -painful- for them. It seems the pain is often ''only ours to bear''... no one else can, or cares to --help to bear the burden--. So we come to places like this and ''vent'' and talk and grieve. Maybe it's not right or 'done the right way'.. I will say this, loss of a child to adoption, is a pain and a loss that cannot be borne alone. It cannot and when the practice continues and when we see what looks like other mothers being taken advantage of from being in an extreme circumstance or all the other injustices that occur in 'adoption-land' it wakes the beast of unhealed pain and grief... Isn't it time for all of us to work toward an equitable system for mothers (and their families) with proper ----unbiased!!---- counseling for those who are in need? And that means for EVERY mother and family that is even thinking of adoption for a family member.. which our precious children truly are.

  15. Does anyone know what's going on with Kiara's case? I Googled today but didn't see anything recent. This whole thing STINKS TO HIGH HEAVEN and her son needs to be returned to her. How is this craziness not getting more attention? Reminds me of the story about "the emperor has no clothes" - everyone is just accepting this blatant, crazy, immoral behavior like it's normal everyday stuff!. SIGH.

  16. My husband and I have been considering adopting a baby and was only starting to do research when I came across this blog. This post just breaks my heart and has made me reconsider whether or not we should even continue to move forward with the process. We just want to give a child a good home but not at the expense of potentially destroying another person's life. My prayers go out to Bryce, Kira, and, if he has been adopted, Bryce's parents.



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