Be Very Worried

Generally speaking, I have the least concern about my privacy of anyone in my family.  I am an open book and don’t mind being a straight shooter about what I think and believe.  I do have concerns about data privacy for any pregnant women who does a google search related to her physical condition.

Before the recent overturning of Roe v Wade by the Supreme Court – pregnancy crisis centers outnumbered actual abortion clinics by 3 to 1.  Like so many issues with data privacy, there is now a definite concern about what could potentially happen with the information these organizations collect – especially in the states with near total bans on abortion and bounties offered to ordinary citizens for reporting on other citizens.

In the past decade, a new data-collection has been rolled out in pregnancy crisis centers. Time magazine reviewed two dozen pregnancy-center privacy disclosures and although many reference HIPAA as well as provide an assurance of broad data privacy, the promises have no legal foundation. Data collected in a REAL medical clinic is not the same as the rules that apply to these places. They are un-regulated by federal law. They are NOT subject to federal privacy laws.

Most of these pregnancy-center networks use data-collection interfaces that can track a woman who interacts with their organization – whether it is in person, on the telephone or on their website. One 24-hour hotline collects the name, location and other demographic information related to the caller. Some even will ask outright what the woman plans to do with her pregnancy. The technologies collect and centralize vast amounts of people’s private information and there is no clear indication of what use this information will be put to.

In cases filed under the new state abortion ban laws, lawyers could subpoena information from pregnancy centers.  There is a precedent for using such data to arrest or threaten legal action against women. Since the advent of Roe v Wade, there have still been more than 1,700 instances where law enforcement took some legal action against women in cases related to their pregnancies according to the National Advocates for Pregnant Women.  In fact, internet search histories and information gathered by actual medical  professionals was even presented as evidence.

Those who could be motivated by bounties might include the pregnancy-center staff, any of their partners, vendors or contractors.  After all, the staff that works in that kind of advocacy work does so because they believe strongly that an abortion is equal to murder.

~ information in this blog includes content from Time magazine’s article titled “Compromised State” in which a Time investigation found anti-abortion pregnancy centers may expose women to new legal risks. The article was written by Abigail Abrams and Vera Bergengruen.

A Strong Urge to Parent and Infertility

Like I believe all Coen Brothers films, this one is quirky. Holly Hunter is excellent as a fierce mom. Her infertility coincides with the birth of quintuplets to a local business owner. Like many infertile women, the fact that some people have many children (including her husband Hi’s supervisor at work) while some are denied the joys of parenthood seems very unfair. She concludes that the Arizona (their last name and the state where this takes place) family has more children than they can handle (due to fertility drugs) and she hatches a plan to take one of the quintuplets as the child they want in their life.

Not only is Hunter’s character, Ed, infertile but they cannot adopt due to Hi’s criminal record. And actually, that is a bright spot as far as anyone who would like to see less adoptions is concerned. The kidnapping scene is hilarious as the babies go every which way and Hi tries to corral them, sometimes carrying one under each arm. Quite a few of the characters are exaggerated and not meant to be taken seriously – from Hi, to 2 escaped former convicts who force their way into the couple’s lives to the crazed bounty hunter like something from a Mad Max or similar movie. Also funny also is his supervisor’s large and unruly family who visit the couple causing chaos everywhere.

In the end, Hunter’s character only wants to make things right again and returns the baby as well as turning down the $25,000 reward. But I did fall in love with the fierceness of her mothering instinct to protect the baby against all threats. That was beautiful to behold.

Holly Hunter w Nathan Jr

Not A Celebration

One adoptee’s story –

I was 1 year old, when my mother was convinced to give up her rights to parent me. I was 2 years old, when I was ripped away from my father who asked everyone for help, even social services. After that, I spent 3 years as a medically complex ADHD autistic child (without even a diagnosis of autism until I was 30!) I was bounced between 6 foster care homes before I was adopted at age 5.

I didn’t want to bang that gavel but the judge, the social worker and the woman who raised me – all made it seem like such a party, a good thing, a reward even.

Fast forward 25 years.

My dad’s parents passed in 2020 and 2021. My parents have been gone for over a decade. The woman who raised me passed in May of this year.

I have never EVER felt more unloved, unwanted, and alone.

I’m not included in anyone’s end of life plans, not provided for, not even mentioned.

Because of adoption, my own and my birth mom’s, I will never know her side of the family. I’ve tried everything, Ancestry, Genome Link, I’ve tried it all. Even asked for assistance from angels in the search groups. There’s nothing.

I have two children, who I cling to for dear life. But I have no family outside of them.

Adoption is trauma. Now with the overturning of Roe v Wade, there will be many more generations of adoptees with trauma to come, maybe for decades.

Confusing An Embryo With a Live Baby

I think a lot of the emotion on the pro-Life side of things comes from misinterpreting an embryo by thinking of a live baby. Our frozens from the medical assistance we received to conceive my oldest son didn’t take when we tried for a second child. We had frozens leftover from our second attempt that did succeed but we knew that we had taken an unacceptable risk with my pregnancy and our son’s well being with that effort (if we had known, we would not have even tried but I am forever grateful that we did). Not wanting to simply dispose of these frozens, we did donate them to a couple trying to conceive. After initially receiving the good news of a pregnancy, that hoped for event subsequently failed to progress. I am still glad that we chose to give these frozens a chance.

For many years, it seemed that we had been lucky with our youngest son as there were no unfortunate effects. Then, around late 2014, I realized that he couldn’t see at a distance very well. An eye exam resulted in glasses. Due to the pandemic, follow-ups with his eye doctor were delayed. In that intervening time, his eyesight worsened significantly and an option that might have been available as a corrective could not be employed due to his now age of 17 (he actually was glad and I was glad for him – he didn’t want to do that one). Now, he does eye drops before sleep to hopefully hold the line on any more regression of his eyesight worsening.

Though my husband had tended to blame my son’s love of computer games and Discord relationships, in researching the issue, that potential cause has never been proven. What has turned up in studies is a statistical effect from gestational diabetes. Due to my age at his conception, a condition that I had only experienced late in the previous pregnancy, emerged as early (or even earlier, unknown to us) as 6 weeks gestation. It took insulin and Metformin both to control it and I still ended up on bedrest for 6 weeks as he was so large my womb could hardly tolerate it and threatened to deliver early.

I have admitted to my son my probable complicity in his condition. He has been very kind about it, acknowledging that I did not intentionally damage him. I do feel responsibility regardless. I share my story because although medical science has made it possible for women of an advanced age to conceive and successfully carry a pregnancy, better to have your children when you are still young enough to do so without extraordinary measures. My son has always felt like my reward – my peacemaker (a story on CD told in song by Joanne Shenandoah that I listened to in the first days of his conception). He is the sweetest son and I am glad he is in our lives.

Religion While in Foster Care

Thoughts on foster parents incorporating religion into the kids lives. At what age should they be given the choice to attend religious service with the foster parents ? Asking because (not the blog writer but from the original post) – I have an acquaintance fostering who is heavily involved in their congregation and really wants to have the kids in their care also be involved at least to the extent of attending service on Sunday’s.

One response – If their families of origin are not religious, no. It’s wrong to impose religion on that child without their birth family’s consent. Sunday makes the perfect time for visitation with their family.

Another – it really depends on the situation. Both my husband and I are church goers. Our younger kids come with us, but part of that is because that is also their family’s preference. We made sure to talk to their family before we brought them with us. Our older kids do not have to come. We had one who suffered religious abuse and chose not to come. We try to be very respectful of their beliefs. The only thing we have refused is when they ask to be baptized because they want to be dipped in water but they don’t actually believe in God or go to church. We did say at that point baptism would not be appropriate. You have to work with a child and family. We do not hide our religion but we do not require participation. If we had younger kids who absolutely could not attend services – my husband and I would alternate.

Then, this advice – your friend needs to ask her caseworker about this because there actually might be legal guidelines around it. If the child is 0-9, then their parents should choose religious activity (or none at all) and 10-18 should make the choice for themselves (without coercion, which is easier said than done.)

In response –  if family of origin chooses something different/nothing at all, is there a respite or option so that the foster family can continue to worship? I know the point is that it’s about the kids and not the family, but I know that some individuals find strength from being able to worship. It might be worth considering that this could be a learning opportunity for foster parents, if their religion or denomination differs. Personally, I enjoy seeing how each service was a bit different.

(blogger’s note – as a child we were allowed, even encouraged to experience a variety of religions – therefore, when I need to go to a church (rarely) I am always comfortable there.)

Some options:

-If a 2 parent household, parents go to services at different times or switch off weeks so one is home with the child;

-Hire a babysitter during worship activities;

-Express to the caseworker that they only want to be placed with children / families who are open to their church attendance;

-If the church has a nursery that doesn’t teach about religion but just provides childcare (maybe the option for the 0-2 crowd?) that may be an option to ask caseworker. Note – I’m not sure if that type of childcare is allowed for foster children as I never fostered a child under 8 and I do not attend a church.

Another person writes – A child should be given a choice and not be made or coerced in participating in religious activities they are not comfortable with. Furthermore, if the child’s family religious beliefs differ from that of the foster parents, it is the foster parents responsibility to facilitate attendance for the child to the church of their choice and assist in helping the child follow various practices of their faith (such as no pork, kosher dishes – these are just examples). If a child says they don’t want to attend the foster family’s church, they should not be made to attend and other arrangements will need to be made for child care, so that they don’t have to go.

From a former foster care youth – I was made to attend church and sermons, and abide by religious rules: it’s abuse of their power plain and simple. That’s not the foster parents place and it should be clear that it’s not, but then, again proselytizing is a hell of a drug.

One with experiences writes – So our oldest was placed with us at age 16. She wasn’t allowed to have any alone time (per Child and Family Services – CFS) for the first few months after she was placed with us. At the time, my husband was a youth pastor and I was heavily involved in youth group. Our daughter didn’t have a choice of whether to attend, but always had the choice of whether to participate. If we were both at the church building, then she was as well, but was allowed to hang out in one of the back youth rooms on her own during service/youth group if she wanted, or she could come be in service/youth group with us. As soon as CFS said she was allowed to have time at home alone, she was given the option of being there. She opted out of Sundays but kept up with youth group for a while, until she stopped attending that as well. We never pushed, though had lots of conversations at home about where we were spiritually, just to make sure we understood our daughter. Our younger foster son (age 3) has participated in various fun things, but we’ve since left the church we were at and don’t have any real intention of finding another one any time soon.

That experience shared – you should be honoring the faith of your child’s origin family, always. If you are a Christian and have a Muslim child placed with you, you should be giving them everything they need to practice. If the foster child wasn’t practicing anything, any and all religious activities should be cleared with the family of origin beforehand.

ALSO: if your pastor or religious leader is not supportive of your foster child practicing their own religion – or no religion – and pressures you go involve the foster child despite what the child/family wishes, find a new place to worship that is supportive of you supporting the biological family.

Another writes simply – You should continue whatever their family has established. Otherwise, its not your place to convert them. If that means you give up your church going, then that’s what you do.

From the wisdom of experience – As a parent who indoctrinated my children into Christianity gently and thoroughly from a young age (they are now teens) I recommend *not* doing it, even to your biological kids – unless it’s a matter of the child’s heritage. Consider this – 1) people should be allowed to choose their own belief system, 2) children are people, 3) all children are vulnerable to indoctrination, and 4) these are not your children.

In one foster care case, she notes – We had one placement that the mom attended church with us as well most Sundays.

Parental Death Then What

Sadly, it happens. Parents die and something must be arranged for the ongoing care and healthy development of a child. A lot of make suggestions in our wills or trust regarding our minor children but few think it out from the perspective that the adoption community can bring to the issue. Today’s stories and insights highlight the issues.

I am looking for resources about adoption following death of a parent or parents, NOT adoption due to a lack of support for birth parents. Attachment trauma is a given. Actively honoring the memory of the late parent(s) is a high priority, as is pursuing therapy for all parties. The children know their own stories, have access to their family health history, and retain their birth names. Beyond this, I would like to better understand adoption vs. legal guardianship in the context of parental death.

My sister died, leaving my niece behind. My parents already had guardianship before she passed, but also go full custody as well after. but they are currently pursuing adoption strictly for the legal assurances it gives us. They are in their 70’s and although in excellent health, you never know. If they adopt her, they can “leave her to me” for lack of a better term. With the current arraignment, I would have to totally start over from square one. But they aren’t trying to adopt her in the traditional sense. They don’t want to be called mom/dad, etc. it’s just for custody/legal purposes.

I was orphaned at age 7 when my mother died in a car accident. Legal Guardianship made college paperwork a nightmare, it made school field trips/enrollments and passports and traveling across borders immensely difficult. One time, I had a border patrol agent insinuate my grandfather was trafficking me despite our last names matching on our passports and his drivers license. My mother did not allow my stepfather to adopt me despite him coming into my life when I was 1. I am grateful she didn’t.

Adoptee who was adopted due to the death of a parent. Please do not steal their last name. My name being changed stole my connection to my deceased dad and I still resent it decades later. My last name was all I had of his and it was changed, even though my adoptive parents knew how I felt about it

Guardianship is will be heavily state dependent because states are so different with respect to family law. It could largely depend on the specifics of the court order. A guardianship order for a child who has no legal or living parents would have to ensure the guardians have the same rights and responsibilities as parents, including the ability to sign for a passport / take children out of country. One problem you could run into with guardianship would be – if you did have to immigrate to another country – the children would likely not be eligible on your visa. Only legally adopt if that’s the only option.

Best to not change the birth certificates, refer to yourself as “mom/dad” and do maintain relationships with extended family. Consider long term security in terms of custody (including if you were to die and future guardianship decisions), medical decision-making rights, access to IDs/passports, and so on. Legal guardianship can be tricky to navigate. An informed attorney is a must. As far as I know, there is not currently any state that allows the original birth certificate to remain intact with the finalization of an adoption. Hence the growing interest in guardianships. In some states, children under legal guardianship do not get all the benefits that foster and adoptive children do (example: free college tuition).

Here was a good example of how to talk to people at the child(ren)’s school – always introduce your title – grandma/grandpa, aunt/uncle, etc. Let them call you by your real name/ title (Aunt Carla, Grandma, etc.) rather than Mom. That will require some effort upfront on your part with teachers and so forth. Reach out to their teachers before the start of the school year and introduce yourself – Hi, John and I are Jane’s Aunt and Uncle. I know most kids live with parents but Jane‘s parents are deceased. It’s a tough subject for her – of course – and I know you would want a head’s up so that you can use inclusive language for the students’ families. I think it is important to take the lead with all those kinds of introductions, so the burden to explain does not fall on the child(ren).

Coping With Reality

Mental health issues cause a lot of the removals of children from their parents. It is true that families lose their children to Child Protective Services because they are struggling with mental health and poverty.

We do have a mental health crisis in America. Many therapists only serve the 4Ws- Wealthy Worried White Women. Some people can’t access mental health care at all. Other people are ridiculed for needing mental health care, and so they won’t get help because they are embarrassed. Reaching out for help needs to become more acceptable in every day life. We need more mental health supports to address these issues, regardless of age, race, sexual oriented, socio-economic status or rural/urban location.

One person admitted – I was told I must not have financial issues if I can afford to smoke. That isn’t true. I can’t afford actual mental healthcare. Yes, my nicotine calms me down. Is it healthy? No. Do I want to stop? Yes. Don’t judge poor people for having addictions to cope with life. If they drove a Lexus, it would just be mommy wine culture that helped them cope.

One truthful response –  it’s easier to point out and shame someone else’s addiction, rather than deal with your own more socially acceptable addiction.

At Least This

I was born in New Mexico, so I chose to highlight the blog with this image. With the potential of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade soon to kick off – 26 of these United States, just over half, will completely ban all abortions for any reason and the forced birthing of women who find themselves pregnant will be the result. Some states – Arizona, Florida, Tennessee and Texas have all extended health benefits for low-income mothers in recent months, and Alabama and Georgia have both moved to implement such extensions. There is an important distinction to make here – all of these states listed here plan to impose severe abortion restrictions or bans.

New Mexico will NOT be banning abortion – they are expanding Medicaid coverage for the RIGHT reason and not as cover for their war on women’s equal rights. Abortion is legal at all stages of pregnancy in New Mexico. There was a law in New Mexico that banned abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or if it was necessary to save a woman’s life. That law was put on NM’s books in 1969. In Feb 2021, Gov Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill that struck that old law from the books. She said, “This is about women who deserve the right, particularly when there are untenable circumstances, to have a relationship with their provider and control over their own bodies and we know when that occurs, frankly, we are saving lives.”

Colorado took it even a step further than New Mexico in April 2022. Gov Jared Polis signed the Reproductive Health Equity Act into law. The legislation makes it a right for people to make reproductive health care decisions without government interference.

I have long argued that we do not support mothers and children, or families for that matter, seriously enough as a society. So this expansion of Medicaid benefits is certainly welcomed. However, the bans that will go into place if the Supreme Court rules as currently expected, will also result in a worsening of the current maternal mortality rate. That rate has risen overall in 2020. There were almost 24 deaths per 100,000 births, or 861 deaths total. This number reflects mothers who died during pregnancy, childbirth or the year after. The rate was 20 per 100,000 in 2019. Among Black women the rate has long been much worse. There were 55 maternal deaths per 100,000 births. That is almost triple the rate for white people.

“If they [Republican lawmakers] really cared about maternal mortality they’d reduce the causes of maternal mortality – and it goes way beyond Medicaid expansion,” according to Loretta Ross, an associate professor at Smith College in Georgia and a reproductive justice activist. 

The truth is that there have been changes to Medicaid, thanks to a provision of federal pandemic aid, which streamlined postpartum benefit changes. Missouri has long refused to expand Medicaid. The most dramatic effect of a post-partum extension would be felt in those Republican-led states, where lawmakers have long refused to expand the program to more low-income people.

In Texas, 25% of women of reproductive age lack health insurance, the highest rate in the nation. Texas is also among the 10 worst states for maternal mortality. Lawmakers in Texas recently expanded Medicaid to pregnant patients for six months after giving birth, instead of only the two they were given previously.

Back to my previous argument that we don’t support mothers, their children or the families enough – a single mother in Texas supporting two children cannot earn more than $2,760 a year and qualify for Medicaid – unless they are pregnant, in which case they can earn up to $45,600 a year and qualify. The previous exemption lasted only 60 days after birth – which it should be noted is also the federal minimum. After that, most become uninsured once again. so, the expansion to six months is welcome but still insufficient.

In Tennessee, the Republican governor, Bill Lee, directly connected the state’s postpartum Medicaid expansion and abortion. At a press conference in May, he spoke about Tennessee’s “trigger” ban, a law that will allow the state to immediately ban abortion, if the supreme court ends federal protections. He said, this is for “The lives of unborn children (and that) it’s very important that we protect their lives. It’s also important that we recognize that women in crisis need support and assistance through this process. For example, that’s why we’ve expanded our postpartum coverage for women in TennCare.”

It is all a brilliant smoke and mirrors strategy to pretend they care but I sincerely doubt they do. Want to bet that these women’s poverty related need for Medicaid will be used against them to take the children away and give them to wealthier people wanting to adopt ?

Statistics and details are thanks to The Guardian and KOB4 in Albuquerque NM.

MIA Fathers

In adoptionland, it seems that most of the attention is on moms. Birth mothers, adoptive mothers, women who are mature adoptees. Certainly, the gestation of a baby is a huge bonding reality that is severed, if a child is removed from their mother or adopted out after birth.

It is hard to locate as much information about how men feel if they lose their fatherhood. Lots of stuff about men’s fathers dying but less about the impact on men, if they lose the opportunity to parent their children. Lots of stuff about the negative impact of absentee fathers on their children.

I did find one man’s blog in which he describes that since becoming a father himself, he now judges the value of potential friends based upon how they treat their own children. I did find that interesting. I do believe that men do care about their children – my children have different fathers. My daughter has the father that I married at the end of high school. I have written in the past how he ended up raising her with a step-mother, though that was never my own intention.

My two sons have their father because he wanted to be a father badly enough to accept a novel means of conceiving them. Because he was ready to be a father, he has been awesome in his role in the boys’ lives. I believe that readiness is an important factor is whether a man is successful at becoming a father (and in that case, regarding the likelihood of a divorce severing him from his children). I believe readiness is an important factor in determining how willingly a man goes the extra mile for his children.

You may find this blog by CJ Nigh, who writes as Undead Dad, interesting. He describes himself as an East Coast writer with a Midwestern soul. He describes his blog as being about mindful fatherhood in the deadening age of hyper-technology and over-work. I think you may enjoy reading this offering – Finding Out Your Friend is an Absent Parent – for Father’s Day.

It would also be worthwhile to read this piece in Psychology Today – Father Absence, Father Deficit, Father Hunger – subtitled – The vital importance of paternal presence in children’s lives. I totally agree – parents are forcefully removed from their children’s lives, as daily caregivers, by misguided family court judgments. We have laws and policies that devalue the importance of parents in children’s lives and parental involvement as being critical to children’s well-being. In most cases, children benefit from having access to both parents—and parents need the support of social institutions in order to be there for their kids.