' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Separating children from their mothers: the connection between Trump's immigration policy and adoption

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Separating children from their mothers: the connection between Trump's immigration policy and adoption

Daughter Jane and Mother Lorraine after
reunion, 1982. We look happy there but
the trauma for both of us was indelible. 
I have been avoiding writing about the crisis of all the children being separated from their parents--fathers as well as mothers, but the likelihood that it is more mothers is a given--because the parallel to the separation of mother and child via adoption is so clear, and so heartbreaking, I haven't been able to really dive into it as I am recovering from surgery* earlier this week.

The public outcry over what Trump did by executive order seems to have stopped the continuing separation of families, but now the problem is: how to get them back together. Mothers and fathers do not even know where their children are. Horrific stories about the traumatized children are now burbling up from his well of beginning to burble up from the miasma of human grief that Always Lying Trump has wrought. (And he does--always lie.)

Well, take away Trump, and doesn't that sound like adoption? I write as a someone who entered into a closed adoption for my daughter, fully aware at the time that such a closed system--take a child, erase her
history, pretend it doesn't matter--was bad social engineering, done for the satisfaction of the adopters. (Oh! having used that language that is going to get me once again labeled  "strident" by the adoption police. So be it.) The legislation that governed closed adoption in New York dated from three decades before my daughter was born, and there was nothing I could do except make my protestations to my social worker, and I knew they would end there. Or end with a discussion she might have had with other agency workers. But my cries from the bowels of my being would go no further.

At least with lying Trump's separation of families, the public has responded with an outcry, and Trump's people are apparently trying to figure out what to do, but the chaos apparently continues unabated. Mothers do not know where their children are; children of course do not know where their mothers are. I suspect many of them will never be able to be reconnected, as the younger ones especially will just get lost in the system. Bethany Adoption Services, whose home base is Michigan, are already managing the fostering of 81 children, many whose parents are in some camp in or near the Mexican border, a few thousand miles away.

Will they ever be reunited with their parents? Will Bethany wholeheartedly enter into reunion business? Doubtful. That's not what they do. Bethany's policies move in the opposite direction, their "open adoptions" are often not really open, and apparently don't explain what's what before the ink is dry on the relinquishment papers. (Just ask Tyler and Catelyn.) I'll wager some of those children will end up as "available for adoption." How traumatized are they already? How much damage is already done to their concept of trust?

CNN ran a story about a little girl who is totally freaked out and needs constant contact with her foster caregiver. A phone call with her mother--who kept crying--did little to ally her fears. The mess is real, the answer to fixing what lying Trump has wrought is fuzzy as his whole base of operation is unstable, with people coming and going, the end is nowhere near. Just as the end of discrimination and unjust laws for adoptees across the country is also nowhere near. We got exactly nowhere in New York this year after a great effort. I wish I could believe that this crisis would make people more aware of the problems of adoption, but with a whole machinery in place to make adoption seem like a panacea for people who want babies, I don't see that happening.--lorraine 
*As for the surgery: Several problems on one foot that led to painful walking. It all started 15 years ago with a sprained ankle, and before that with genetics: flat feet that led to bunions, that led to a hammer toe, and a family history of arthritis that caused the arthritis genie to jump in where there had been an injury. So the problem was a combination of genetics and injury. I am hobbling about with a foot wrapped up, but I am recovering quite quickly and am in no pain.

A foster mom for immigrant kids says they're 'shell shocked' and 'terrified' 
Trump Wasn’t First to Separate Families, but Policy Was Still Evil

Also from FMF

Broken Bonds: The undeniable connection between slavery and adoption

"...a rich collection of newspaper advertisements, letters, diaries, and written narratives attesting to the worst legacy of slavery: the separation of families, and the lifelong search for reunion. "Babies were snatched from their mothers' breasts and sold to speculators. Children was separated from sisters and brothers and never saw each other again. Course they cry; you think they not cry when they was sold like cattle? I could tell you about it all day, but even then you couldn't guess the awfulness of it."--Delia Garlic, a former slave. --from the blog above reviewing the book. 


  1. CNN story today, June 23,2018; Trump must appoint a 'Family Reunification Czar'. One part of the article states, "Although the media has recently been allowed to visit a few facilities, the government refuses to grant media access to all of the locations where children are being held--including the "tender age" facilities for infants taken from their mothers."

    Makes me wonder if the infants are there at all. Or are they the ones that quickly got shipped to foster care with "hopefuls" for a mother's tragedy to be completed? Sounds just like adoption to me.

    I hope those involved in the removal of these infants will move heaven and earth to return them to their mothers.

    One thing about this, I hope the words of these mothers about the separation from their infants, are giving some people a whole lot to think about. I think many of us mothers have said and felt the same things. Why can't people understand how horrific it is to lose an infant /child and for an infant to lose it's mother....separating them? Why don't they understand what they're doing!!!!?

    This whole thing just hurts.

  2. Thank you for writing about this. I am sickened by the hateful posts on many an adoption reform/family preservation page, vilifying parents and stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the blatant parallels! How dare anyone professing to be in favor of family preservation support this policy, traumatizing children and likely resulting in permanent separation from families of origin. Truly and deeply disgusted by people I've considered allies.

    1. You know for a fact people support this policy or are merely pointing out the hypocrisy of people being in such an uproar now, when this goes on every single day and has been for decades? Yeah, quite disgusting.

    2. If people "are not" aware that the government separates families...where have they been for years and years? How do children get removed by CPS? Do people really believe that kids are all taken because "those parents" are unfit/criminals/abusive, etc...
      There are hotlines for anyone to call and report suspected 'abuse" and "neglect" much of which is poverty or single parent care. Some "reports" come from angry neighbors who just want to get someone in trouble.
      I have also gotten calls from hopeful pre-adopters(from a supposedly voluntary relinquishment agency) who asked me how to "convince" a pregnant woman to relinquish her child. To these, I said: you are asking ME to BREAK the law and YOU are breaking the law. It is illegal to try to convince, force, threaten, conspire to or outright take another's child from them. Don't do this.
      I have spent years working in the state legislature listening to, and following up with, separated families. Grown children who are now angry because they have lost their family are fueling some of the "rage against the machine."
      There are many ways to separate families. The border crisis is just one of them.

      As a country, we need to value and respect others' families and not look at them as vermin, or as a way for 'deserving people" to build their families.

    3. @Phoenix,
      my comment (above) wasn't directed at you. Sorry if it seemed I was shouting at you. But I am agreeing with you.
      As a country, i am afraid we are just dog-eat-dog a lot of the time and then pretend it doesn't happen.

  3. and I'm so glad to hear you are recovering nicely and, whoo-hoo, pain free!

  4. I'm having a slight setback here today as I am bleeding from one of the surgery sites. There were er, four, on my foot.

  5. Thanks for writing about this, and hope you recover quickly. Probably like a lot of us, I can't bear to watch the news coverage of the family separation, and get sick at the sight of that lying tyrant Trump. But I too have been thinking about when adoption was going to enter into the story, especially for cute little infants and toddlers. My little grandson is two and cousins' children around that age, I can't bear the thought of them being taken from their mothers and fathers. Good for you for making the connection with family separations in the past.

  6. This stunning indifference by our"leaders"is excruciatingly and morally incomprehensible, yet not surprising given world history. These mothers so vulnerable themselves to predators did not unwittingly surrender their children; yet, they too will experience a lifetime of guilt. How many of these children will be turned over to pedophiles and/or drooling infertile candidates for adoption as well as many other sinister possibilities? As Gandhi knew: “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” Blessings to you for a gentle and speedy recovery.

  7. @Cindy,
    sounds like adoption to me also. It is so upsetting.To see and hear these families and to know how they must feel.
    I fear these babies/children will "disappear" and not be heard from again until one day when they possibly emerge, asking, "what happened to my family and to me?" And the families who have been looking for them may be dead or unable to find them or denied any information about them, except for the lies of course.
    I recall the scandal in the 80s over the stolen children in Argentina, when the "grandmothers in the park" demonstrated in front of gov't buildings there. Their sons and daughters had been murdered, and their children(the grandmothers' grandchildren)stolen by the gov't in a military uprising.
    There was reunion attempted, but so much damage had been done.
    It was hard, so hard.


  8. How is the adoption/immigrant forced separation inhumanity any different than those mothers whose children are vaccine injured, while the authorities not only threaten to remove the children from their mother, but in fact have done so, and follow up by blaming the mother's for the child's injury through neglect. Regardless of your view on vaccines, imagine being one of these mothers assaulted with aberrative over reaction and persecution for being awake to the dangers of toxins and the overarching numbers of vaccines required for babies "wellness visits".

    1. These two issues are not similar nor comparable. You don't like vaccines? Visit an old cemetery where whole families of children died in a week from diseases which are now preventable. Measles and whooping cough are coming back, thanks to people who refuse to vaccinate their children. Look at your own family two generations ago, I bet your grandma had some who died like mine did.

    2. maryanne: Please research your presumptions. (1) Diseases disappeared in the 19th century, due to access to clean water, introduction of sewer systems, better quality of food all of which was prior to the introduction of vaccines. (2) Families had measles parties to create immunity in the 'herd'. (3) Vaccines cause measles and sheds to other children and adults. (4) Shingles currently is widespread - also caused by vaccination. (5) Whooping cough: also caused by vaccinations for the whooping cough which was formerly a mild illness before a vaccine was prescribed. Please research people like Dr. Suzanne Humphries, Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, Dr. Russell Blaylock, scientists and doctors too numerous to mention with verifiable and peer reviewed studies. Finally, people ought not be placed in a position to decide for others whether or not to mandate medication they believe is harmful to themselves and their families, also known as fascism. By law now, in parts of our country, a child can be removed and a mother imprisoned. In fact, forced vaccinations is exactly the same as any forced separation at the border.

  9. I hope the outrage over and compassion for these children and their parents can be transferred to America's adoption and child welfare practices. I am also proud to note that is was my senator, Jeff Merkley of Oregon who began the investigation which exposed this heartless conduct.

  10. @Lo,
    hope you are feeling better!
    take care,

  11. I was talking to a co-worker who is starting the foster to adoption process say she wishes the would let prospective parents who are waiting for children in there and ‘save’ those poor babies....���� Luckily we were interrupted by our boss before I could say something that would get me fired

  12. The New York Times 6-22-2018 headline reads; 'Reuniting and Detaining Migrant Families Pose New Mental Health Risk'.

    UN-BE-LIEV-ABLE! Are they priming the unaware populous to accept that some or many will not be reunited with their parents and trying to get them to believe that --it's just as well if this is what will happen?

    Some of these infants and children I too fear will be swallowed by the adoption monster. Especially with the hoops that Health and Human Services is requiring the parents to jump through to even contact their children. ..and nobody answers the phone....ooooh! This is so wrong!

    Isn't it something how DHHS and these other agencies were/are expertly proficient at taking children from their parents and making them disappear into the ether quickly, but seemingly don't have any plan or expertise to reunite them with similar efficiency? That speaks volumes to me that they are not on the side of family reunification. It would seem they never intended to return these children to begin with.

    Give the children back! Do it now!

    1. Cindy, the article dives into the trauma we are inflicting on these children and the long-term consequences of what we are doing. The experts they cite are highlighting the damage and that we are therefor responsible for helping to mitigate this damage and work families through reunification. The NYT is highlighting that the Trump admin cannot just stop family separations, and they also can't just throw families back together. This is a huge mental health crisis of our own creation that experts are saying is going to have long term damage on these families if we don't reunify them soon and with support through that process.

      You can bet that isn't going to happen.

      But I absolutely didn't get anything at all from the article that the NYT is saying any version of this is ok. They also talked about the Japanese internment and how that damaged families for life, and this parallels how we are now repeating a cycle of damaging behavior.

      It's not clear to me who is actually involved in taking the children- I mean at an actual lower level. I have seen info about private contractors, which is horrifying, and Bethany. But I haven't read anywhere about state children's services being involved. Not saying they aren't, but in itself it is troubling to me that it's not readily clear WHO is taking these children. I do know there is not much tracking, if at all, as lawyers working to reunite families have been unable to gain much traction is locating children. They were just pulled apart and the kids disappeared into "the system."

      I agree with you that many of these children will enter into the adoption cycle. It breaks my heart. I have been having trouble sleeping at night, actually, and have had nightmares of mothers crying out for their children. I feel absolutely helpless to stop any of it... and I think that is what is terrifying me. Seeing and knowing the evil happening and not being able to stop it.

    2. I should not have been so vague in my use of the term 'they'. I was not implying the NYT. The 'they' I was referring to is the agencies and organizations that are involved in the removal of the children. News organizations simply report what they are given. I had read the article. But only one line in the whole thing gave me even an ounce of hope. The one that said something about the mothers/parents and children all need to be told and assured that it was NOT their or their parents fault for the separation (feeling of abandonment).

      I have read several places that the parents and children are, at first given the same A-series number. When they are separated the children are given a different A number. Why aren't they using the same number to simplify the reunification process unless they aren't even considering reunification in the first place? I have just seen too many fight to keep children away from their parents and put delays and obstacles in their path to prevent it. It makes me sick at heart every time I see it and no one seems to be listening. It's 'knowing' the system like I do, that tears me up with news like this. I know how the propaganda machine works. I find it suspect, and I can't help it. This practice is not something new so that no one knows how it works. That cluelessness is a bunch of hoo-haw.

      Dear Tiffany, you said, "I feel absolutely helpless to stop any of it... and I think that is what is terrifying me. Seeing and knowing the evil happening and not being able to stop it." I have felt that way since I was drugged back to unconsciousness and my newborn son walked off with. All hope was gone and the terror and the grief became a part of every cell in my body. It never stops feeling that way. Even reunion didn't fix that. God, how can people not understand what their doing in ripping these mothers and children apart? How can they not understand the long term damage they are doing to society and the world? I think I just answered my own question. They are short-sighted, quick "fix" thinkers.

    3. "All hope was gone and the terror and the grief became a part of every cell in my body. It never stops feeling that way. Even reunion didn't fix that."

      I am so sorry. That feels so incredibly inadequate to say, and vaguely patronizing... I suppose it is what we say when there isn't anything else to convey that we hear someone else saying how much she hurts.

      As I told my husband, if I was an ICE agent (as if!), and I was told I had to rip a child from her mother's arms, I would quit on the spot before I could ever commit such a heinous act. I truly believe these people have sold their souls away and have only hatred and emptiness inside in order to be able to enact this pain upon human beings. That's why I don't think they understand the long term damage- they no longer have the ability or desire to empathize, and they have totally dehumanized "these people" (immigrants fleeing horrible conditions directly caused by US interference in their home countries). This is how it worked with the Nazis and Jews and whites and blacks for slavery- there was endless propaganda to make the marginalized group seem less human, less worthy of humane treatment, and it was all incredibly successful. It is so again today with brown people.

    4. Tiffany, thank you and it's ok. It does effect me all the time. I can feel it in my body. Even though mentally I can be in a relative peaceful state much of the time. The body...well, it's like the body is constantly prepared and ready for fight, flight, or freeze. The muscles always tight. I've noticed that in others who have been through severe trauma... even one of my cats who, from the number of wounds on him (the vet gave up trying to count them all), I would have thought someone threw him in a cage with 2 mad ferrets or something. Even 6 years later and bunches of love and comforting, he still has a hair trigger startle response and his front claws have never retracted fully. They never will. That terror was frozen in his body.

      The trauma to these parents and children will not be undone. Reduced? Possibly. Managed? Hopefully. Undone? No. And the longer those with the means to make reunion happen, drag it out, the greater the damage and harm will be. (I insert bad word here! Feel free to omit same.)

      I don't understand how they can do such things either. I suspect in many of those situations it is/was the familiar refrain, "I was -just- following orders". Some believe obedience above all else is the gold standard of excellence. I would dare say the directive to treat others like we want to be treated, stands far above as a gold standard of excellence.

      There have been studies done that showed even those that said they wouldn't, ended up mistreating others... one, I believe was applying an increasingly strong electrical shock, or some such. Scary. We are a sad and sorry species. Even though, with all the awfulness, I still have hope. You add to my hope. Thank you more than I can say. It's not at all inadequate nor patronizing. Not from you Tiffany, you are not wired that way.

    5. I can see the headline now IF (playing make believe here) you WERE an ICE agent: 'Agent goes all MOMMA BEAR after agency orders her to remove children from their mothers/families'. (not hurting anyone of course, but I'm sure they would hear you though.:) )

      You are so right about the U.S. involvement in these countries creating the conditions. Maybe if full, unbiased history was actually taught in the school system (I'm playing make believe again), then this nation could move forward with empathy and a will to stop being pompous and self-righteous. Need to dump the fear mongering too. Fear, lack of empathy and self-righteousness are bad engines to run a nation by.

      The phrase, "Can't we all just get along", races through my mind so often. Why in the heck can't we all get along and care for and about each other? This hating and dehumanizing others and making "less than" has got to stop.

      Have a peace-filled weekend.



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