' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Selfless surrender of infant? Or a snow job?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Selfless surrender of infant? Or a snow job?

"Woman Selflessly Gives Up Her New Born for Adoption for an Incredible reason" trumpets the San Francisco Globe. And what is this incredible reason that propelled Amber to make "one of the hardest decisions a mother could possible make"? The incredible bond the prospective adoptive parents had with the "birth mother" of their first child.  Gag me with a spoon!

With incredible saccharin, the twisted logic continues: "Here is a woman who, against her insanely strong motherly instinct realized that she couldn't provide the best life possible for her child, and so was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for her daughter. ...She's a mother who loves her child so much, she's willing to endure agonizing heartbreak to give that child the best opportunities in life."

The story, actually it's more of an advertisement than a news story, came from a video by Utah photographer Jared Fadel entitled--hold your intestines--"The Gift / an adoption story."

Amber was a single mother of two children in 2012 when she became pregnant and contacted LDS Family Services, the adoption arm of the Mormon Church, and an outspoken opponent of adoption reform. Amber returned to her "heavenly father"--went back to the Church in Mormon speak--according to her well-coiffured grandmother. Granny and Amber's less well-coiffured mother explained that adoption was best because Amber couldn't care for three kids. Why these Church-going maternal antecedents didn't step up to help Amber and her kids remains unexplained. The film ends in 2012, shortly after the hand-off with everyone a big happy family.

The Globe didn't bother to update the story even though its audience would naturally want to know about Amber's incredible let down that accompanies giving away your new born infant. According to its website, the Globe is an online only media created to "represent and be the best source people go to for interesting stories on the internet." We note that accuracy is not one of its goals.

The website goes on to say that the Globe founders, three close friends from Stanford, UC Berkeley, and UPenn, "focused on the best hand-curated content." I don't know what "hand-curated content is" but I know this story is a piece of something else.

I'm a lawyer, not a journalist but when I see a snow job disguised as reporting, I have to think it is journalistic malpractice. In fact, this is not real journalism--this is an advertisement for mothers to give up their children--because they love them. The writer who was not named took the story from Fadel's video and fell for it hook, line, and sinker. No mention is made of the lifelong grief that follows giving up a child, or that adoption experts agree that mothers should keep their babies if at possible.

The story concludes by asking readers what they think of Amber's decision. FMF asks its readers to email the Globe and tell those elite school graduates what they think of this adoption promo piece.--jane

Post script. One of our readers wrote us that Amber had no idea this article was being written. Our reader also led us to the website of the adoptive parents, www.utahmillers.com. If your'e a glutton for punishment, take a look. All the usual garbage, loving decision, the baby was meant to be their daughter, God's hands were all over it, yada, yada.

By the way, I've never understood why God moves babies from one mother to another. Why can't God get it straight in the first place and put the baby in the right womb?

Woman Selflessly Gives Up Newborn for Adoption
Jared Fadel
About San Francisco Globe

Adoption and the Mormon Church
Thinking of Placing Your Baby for Adoption? Think hard
Is Giving up a child for adoption a 'loving' decision?
How does a baby feel about being a "gift"?


The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet: A Novel by David Mitchell
Not the usual kind of book we recommend here, one of those books you are reading because it is a fabulous and Wham! out of nowhere comes an incident that takes separation of child and mother to a new and horrifying height. I had no idea when I picked up this book last year--I did because I'd read good things about the writer and it was about an era and a place I knew little about. The novel is set at the turn of the century in 1799 on the man-made island in Nagasaki harbor, Japan's window on the outside world for two centuries. Mitchell compresses the actual events in a decade in a single year, the effect of which heightens the two hermetic worlds he is writing about. One is Japan (the Thousand Autumns of the title), the other is the equally hierarchical feudal society on the little island if Dejima of Dutch traders, servants and a few slaves--and a fascinating woman caught between the two. Spoilers would destroy the pleasure of coming upon the story by yourself. 

Mitchell, incidentally, is a fabulous, smart writer and wrote Black Swan Green and Cloud Atlas. I gave up on the movie but friends say the book is great. He is one of the most interesting writers of the decade. This is not a fast read, but this a book you will not forget.--lorraine

THANK YOU for ordering anything from Amazon through the portals of FMF. Just click on the one of the books to get to Amazon. 


  1. I had never heard of the San Francisco Globe until reading this gag-inducing piece on the so-called "selfless surrender" referenced in the comments of the last post. However, as a proud Berkeley grad, I am embarrassed that a fellow Golden Bear uses the name of our alma mater to try to add luster to the... well, to the turd. (Sorry, Jane and Lo. But surely, you don't disagree?)

    As a non-adoptee, non-AP, there IS one question I can ask this "adoption planner," based on my own experience: What does the relinquishing mother plan to tell the two children she kept? What will she say when they ask scornfully--and believe me, they will--"So how come you didn't want US to have 'a better life'?"

    One blessing my life has bestowed was to have with my husband our three sons, and to insist that each of them had the same right to exist in our family, regardless of what a dissenting, furious brother might think. Now, if such not-nice colloquy exists in a more or less traditional nuclear family, what's going to be said in a situation in which the youngest (so far) sibling was lopped off in the name of "a better life"?

    Not a better one, just different, I imagine FMF would say. The mind doesn't just boggle... it reels!

  2. I cannot believe this immoral, abusive, guilt-tripping, manipulative line of persuasion is still being touted to expectant mothers 35 years after I first heard it as a teenager. It is an absolute abuse of a mother's instinctive feelings towards her child - identifying what is most important to her, then using that against her to lever her child from her, supposedly by her own choice, by making her believe that her child's best interests are Elsewhere (ie. most definitely not with her). Utterly, utterly wicked.

  3. It is my understanding that an increasing percentage of the mothers today who are giving up their children today are women in this situation--overwhelmed with the burdens of poverty while caring for the children they have.

    Through friends I heard of an adoption about ten years ago from Rhode Island--the girl was the youngest born into a fully formed family. I couldn't imagine this happening, but it did. The girl--according to the friends of mine who see her--is maladjusted and of course the requisite therapies are underway. I have to think--who wouldn't be maladjusted, if you knew you had a mother, father, and siblings out there? Your being in a different family had simply been part of your parents' "adoption plan" for their own family "planning" to use the adopto-speak that agencies and adoption proponents push.

    Poverty is what makes these women give up their children, plain and simple, and the disparity between the have and the have-nots has been increasing ever since Ronald Reagan, who applied "trickle down" economics. But not enough ever trickles down on its own.

    It appeared for a while the LDS was not pushing as hard for adoptions but maybe that is not the case. In any event, when I first read this story I was sickened. That mother is NEVER going to be the same again, and for any religion to push adoption as the "cure" for her poverty is pathetic and immoral. God's work, indeed. More like the other's.

    1. Mind that the horror in this "how to abduct" seems to be pre-2013.

  4. Ugh, another LDS story. I am blown away by the utter lack of consideration of children, of how their lives are irrevocably voided by their "gifting" to strangers.

    I recently decided to be a glutton for punishment and revisited the "R House" blog. It looks like they have added yet another child to the family? She wanted a girl, after 3 boys, so of course all you have to do is go get one, right? Because there are these first mothers out there, waiting in the wings to "donate" a baby girl. One big happy family - four first mothers, four adoptees, and two big winners - the adoptive parents. Makes me sad and angry, this needless deprivation of the childrens' true heritage.

  5. Lorraine wrote: "Through friends I heard of an adoption about ten years ago from Rhode Island--the girl was the youngest born into a fully formed family. I couldn't imagine this happening, but it did. The girl--according to the friends of mine who see her--is maladjusted and of course the requisite therapies are underway. I have to think--who wouldn't be maladjusted, if you knew you had a mother, father, and siblings out there? Your being in a different family had simply been part of your parents' "adoption plan" for their own family "planning" to use the adopto-speak that agencies and adoption proponents push. "

    My FParents were married, but going through a divorce. They had 2 sons already. My FFather had 5 children total. My father divorced my mother, whom he had 2 sons with, and a baby girl that was given up for adoption. He remarried and had 2 more kept children.

    Fortunately, for me, I had no knowledge of older siblings. Until, I located my F family. I was thrilled to know that I had siblings out there. I was closer to age 50 when I met them.

    Knowing I was adopted did have an affect on me. I can not image knowing the circumstances of being placed for adoption, then knowing I had siblings on top of that. Oh yeah, that would mess with your head for sure as a child.

    However, my siblings knew of me. My sister told me that they tried to find me, however, hit a brick wall when my name was changed. My being placed for adoption even affected them as well, because my F Father would not discuss it with them.

    CA birth registry is on line. My birth name is there along with my mother's maiden name.

  6. One of our readers led us to the adoptive parents website. It is beyond gagging with a spoon, more like a dose of castor oil. I've linked to it in the post script.

    1. Couldn't agree more. Of course, the filmmaker had a right to film whatever he wanted (even if we might disagree with his opinion) but the way the piece was then leveraged was beyond awful. The child has some health problems too which are being broadcast on the website.
      I wish the AAC would take up the subject of AP blogs that tell all. It's about time this was taken seriously and sharply condemned.

    2. Thanks, Jess,

      I think the child with health problems is another child the Millers adopted. Their website shows a picture of third child, second daughter, attached to medical apparatus. The child in this story Lily, born September, 2012 looks healthy in the website picture.

    3. Ooops, my bad. Too many children to keep track of. I found the idea of the website being set up "for the birthmothers" so they could see their own kids unbelievably patronizing. Don't know where people's heads are with this stuff . . . a need to put one house, spouse, and children on display, I guess, and, if you're the adopted child in that family, your most private issues.

  7. I am a pre-adoptive parent of a 7 year old girl. My husband and I are adopting her from foster care. She has been in care since she was an infant, and after being in several other homes, she has now been with us for 3 years. I don't understand why so many people who want to adopt don't consider all the children who are in foster care and truly need good homes. Is it because they want a baby? Is it fear of the issues that many of the foster kids have? I would think that particularly religious people would look to the kids who are truly in need of a family, not be so focused on adopting a brand new baby from a mom or dad who may just be having a temporary difficult time or who is lacking support. I look at my daughter's sweet face, and listen to her talk about how much she wants to be adopted. Years of trauma and fear of being moved around has taken it's toll, and she has had and will have many challenges in dealing with all of that. It is hard, make no mistake. But it is worth it. I also want to add that truly loving a child means wanting what is best for them. Which is why if her parents ever are in a healthy place, ie, off drugs and alcohol, I would support and (if she wanted me to) help her in contacting them however she wanted (phone, mail, in person, etc). I don't understand the insecurity that so many adoptive parents have. There is always room for more love and more family in anyone's life. Why wouldn't you want that for your child? Why wouldn't you want her to meet her blood relatives, to help her feel more complete? Why would you add shame to the life of a child that you love and have raised? It makes me sad.

    1. Melanie, many parents adopt an infant so that they can pretend that they are the child's first parents, and that the child had no other "real" origins until joining their family. That infant adoptees are blank slates until adopted. It sounds like you respect your daughter's history and origins and welcome helping her explore her complicated connections.

      I'm an adoptee who waited to have kids until i had some money and my husband and i had a "stable" life, income, house, relative job stability, the whole works, because other than each other we really have no support network. Plenty of relatives but no support if you know what i mean. We both come from tough-love type families who can't abide even talking about interpersonal problems much less lending a hand in time of need else that could 'spoil' us - even though we are adults ! hahaha anyway... we waited too long and had to spend our savings trying fertility for years to no avail. Many times adoption was suggested to us by friends and family. My parents were offended, i think, that i never took it seriously. They were never interested or supportive of any of our fertility trials and tribulations but took many opportunities to point out that we must not be considering adoption because i must have hated it so much and therefore i must hate them. i do not of course but they have their own issues.

      I could never adopt in the current system. I always told my close friends, I could foster, but not adopt. For me personally, I feel it is a lie, to say to child, I'm your mommy, when I am not. To me it is the worst kind of lie and I just couldnt do it, couldnt force a small child to call me mommy from before they even have a clue (infant.) But my aunt and uncle are foster parents and have through the years adopted 2 of the kids that they have helped and the kids appear to be very happy about it, they are now grown and know their blood relatives and adopted families both. I guess some people's hearts are bigger than mine, i really do think so.
      Maybe you are one of those people and I'm glad that you are adopting.

      I agree with you that there should always be more room for more love. Not everyone feels that way and it is difficult sometimes to balance exposure to those negative influences when the child has a right to know. For instance, because of the lack of support in my family, i seriously considered never having kids. My parents can be so awful sometimes. And as my reunion with my first mother was so rocky, i considered the fact that she may want to take my baby from me (as another of my aunts had taken her daughter's own child from her.) Things can get complicated really quickly. But then, many people can and do deal with those things better than me. I am amazed. And I think it is a good thing that there are such people.

  8. Thanks for your response, Kaisa. It's helpful for me to hear about adoptees' journeys and to use that information to hopefully make me a better, more sensitive mom to my daughter. It's funny that you mention your discomfort at telling a child that you are his/her mommy when you aren't. I actually felt similarly and would go out of my way to never refer to myself that way. It took me over a year to feel entirely comfortable referring to myself that way, and I never asked my daughter to refer to me that way. After about 6 months, she began to call me mama on her own after previously using my first name. I always wanted to allow her to make that choice. While I now am comfortable calling her my daughter and referring to myself as her mom, I always was and I remain aware that she has a mom who carried her, bore her and loved/loves her, and whom I imagine did the best she could while dealing with her drug addiction. She also had other foster moms. I very much respect her history and her right to know everything about her biological connections. I think that fostering to adopting or even straight adoption from foster care is a very different experience from traditional adoption. In a way, you choose each other. If my daughter didn't want to live with us or didn't want us to adopt her, we would respect those feelings, as hurtful as it may be. I suppose that is really only possible with an older child. I appreciate your sharing some of your story, and I'm sorry you've had trouble with your adoptive parents and with your reunion. I wish you all the best. Adoption is never just an easy answer, and I am really only in favor of it when there is true need. While I love and treat my daughter as if she were my own, I could never ignore the fact that she isn't and so has a whole other family out there. I am but one of her mothers, whether she is in contact or not. Part of loving her is loving all of her, and I hope I can use what I learn on this site to help her as she grows.

    1. The world would be a far better place if there there were more people like you, Melanie.

    2. great Melanie, i wish you and your family the best :)

    3. Well said Melanie! My feelings echo yours. Hope you stick around. You will learn a lot. I know I have. :)

  9. Melanie, How beautiful. Real mothering.

  10. I read the article and the woman who gave up her baby appears to have commented that she had no idea her story and video went viral.

    I am curious. Do you think women have the right to give up their children to adoption? Do you think it should be illegal?

    If this is a legal right, what would you have become of the children they give up? Would you rather not have them live in loving families? What option would you suggest?

    In 2015, there are many many options for pregnant women, there is so much information readily available. It seems some choose adoption. Do you think all women are mindless victims who are unable to the make the choices they want? I am really curious what you think -- if a woman wants to give up her baby should she be allowed to?

    I also read the blog of the adoptive family and I thought they sounded nice and very caring, caring for very sick baby girl. They did not seek out this mom, this mom took the step to contact an agency and give up her child. Wouldn't you have felt more "gagged by a spoon" if you went to the aparent blog and discovered the children were unloved and uncared for?

    1. If the children were unloved and uncared for, she wouldn't likely be blogging about them. That was not the point. The point was that the original mother could have raised and loved this child if not for income inequality. That fact ought to be acknowledged as an injustice. Instead, it was exploited shamefully.

    2. But she choose adoption which is my point. Does she have the right to that choice? It is not easy to be poor - but in the US there is access to food stamps, WIC, subsidized housing, welfare, Medicaid and free schools. Many poor women raise their children and it is a struggle but they would not dream of giving them up. In fact, it is very rare to give up a child overall (2-3 percent choose adoption) In fact, from the research that I have seen women who give up children tend to be in higher socioeconomic groups than those who do not and women with at least one year of college are more likely to give up children than less educated women. White women are a little more likely than black women. This woman decided to choose adoption. She could have raised and loved this child if she choose. Does a woman have a right to give up a child for adoption in your view?

    3. Of course she has the right to give up her baby--we are not talking about "rights" you are. But what if women and ever teenagers were fully informed how her life would be $#2!ed up forever after that? If she were fully informed about what happens to the health and well-being of natural mothers in general?

      If adoption workers said, if you give up your child you are likely to feel shame, depression and anxiety--possibly forever--all linked to greater rates of ills like heart disease, inflammation, cancer and premature death? If the mother were fully informed of the ill effects of being adopted on the individual? Sure any woman has a right to give up her child. But today it's often garnished with a soupcon of malarkey about the "better life" for the child and what a "gift" the baby will be to an infertile couple, etc.

      What do you want us to say here? Yes, she has a right to walk out into traffic and destroy herself? Is what what you are after? Okay, you have it.

      How do natural mothers fare?

      And please read the comments.

      And then, please take a look at Our Response to the Adoption Option on the sidebar.

    4. Anonymous, yes, a woman has a right to surrender a child, IMO. However, some people here would disagreee. But the post was not about that. It was about how that right, under certain cirsumstances, is less "right" and more "space between the rock and the hard place." Calling it a gift doesn't change that fact.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. To say Amber chose adoption is to buy into the myth that mothers make rational decisions about adoption.

      Amber appears not to have freely chosen adoption. She was ambivalent until LDS Family Services connected her with the Millers. She appears to have been a victim of a snow job perpetrated by LDS Family Services, her mother and grandmother, and the Millers. Her motive for giving the Millers her baby appears to be that they had more resources which she had been led to believe was all important. Thus while she could have gotten WIC, food stamps, etc and struggled to keep her baby, she became convinced that that was not good enough. It would be selfish to keep her baby and deny her the life the Millers could provide.

      By comparing adoption rates in the US to other countries, we can see that the "decision" to surrender a child is highly influenced by others. In the US adoption is marketed heavily by churches and those who stand to gain financially. As a result the US has a very high rate of infant adoptions, 25 times that of England and Wales. In countries like England and Wales, the Netherlands, Australia, and others where adoption is handled by the government, taking religion and money out of it, the rate is low.

      Regarding Amber's right to give up her baby -- the laws in all states require parents to care for their children unless they arrange or have it arranged for someone else else to do it. Parents who refuse to care for their children and do not arrange for someone to do so can be charged with child abandonment.

      There is no guarantee that people who adopt will be loving and caring. Adoptive parents are just like other parents, some are good and some are not. As for the Miller, one can't tell from their blog what kind of parents they are. Bragging about themselves and claiming God willed the adoption doesn't prove they are good parents. In fact it makes one suspicious about whether they are grounded in reality.

    7. wow excellent response Jane I'm blown away. tons of information and food for thought. thank you

  11. So I perused the adoptive parents blog as Jane suggested. Oh my. Where do I start...

    Where do a-moms learn to talk like Hallmark cards? Did I miss a class?

    Under the section called "Lilly's adoption" it states that the video "The Gift" was Lilly's first mom's idea. I hope that's true. One wonders if Amber was on board with her video (meant for her daughter!) to be used as adoption propaganda.

    The other question that immediately ran rampant through my mind was this: Amber's family seemed (?) so close-knit and supportive. Why wouldn't they help her keep Lilly???

    The contrast between Amber's family and my son's mother's family was STARK. To say that my son's family was fractured on the maternal side is a gigantic understatement. So while it was nonetheless very sad to see his mom unable to keep him, I could see where she felt she had no choice. Amber seemed to have a wonderful family - what gives?!?

    I'm not into organized religion. Doesn't mean I don't have faith in God however. And I've always tried to be of the opinion "to each his own" with regards to religion. But holy cow, certain aspects of Mormonism give me goosebumps. One line I read on the blog was about "sealing them for eternity" with their child.


  12. What would you say to young women who have mental disorders who became pregnant willingly or unwillingly? Would you encourage that person to raise a child even though they are not right in the mind to do so? You ladies are cute how you think you can judge a book by its cover but until you have had to place a child up for adoption yourselves please stop spreading hateful speech and lies.

  13. Do you also encourage women with mental disorders to keep their babies? I highly doubt it. So unless you have been through certain traumatic situations or had to give your baby up yourselves you all just sound like a waste of breath to me.



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