Taking In Teens To Get Their Baby

Disgusting !! Bluntly predatory.  Like “We wish to manipulate a vulnerable, young unexpectedly pregnant woman into thinking we care about her, then snatch what we need and discard her immediately.” or “I don’t want to post this on my personal page out of fear of being called out for what I really am.”

One foster mother writes –  I foster teen moms. My foster daughter almost lost her son due to people like this. My current placement was separated from her daughter after birth. Fostering isn’t about adopting. Taking in teens to get their babies is disgusting. Teens need support.

This one from direct experience – and they don’t vaccinate – so they need to buy a baby, um I mean… save a baby… I mean steal a baby that will be under the medical radar, because you know… we deserve our freedom of belief. So the child better be healthy & needy too. I found out that my adoptive parents for some crazy reason did not vaccinate their youngest biological daughter. Because I was foster to forced adoption at the age of 10 – they did not have a choice with me. The agency made sure that all of my personal medical records reflected doctor visits (even if they lied about the “clumsy” bruises I often displayed).

Reality – messing with the biological attachment process, when they actually could have had a positive experience in spite of the circumstances (teen pregnancy). So, they further traumatize the mother and the baby AND mess with the natural hormonal bonding process. If it was about the baby, they would teach that teen mom how to do skin-to-skin, breastfeed the baby (helps with so many things, if you can manage it with hormones/bonding/chemical hormonal processes) and help her co-parent. NOT STEAL the baby and say how much better of a life it’ll have and tell the teen mom, now you can still be a kid and ‘achieve your goals’. These lies hurt so many people. Yes, they can have good lives. And yes, maybe the mom will achieve her dreams, if that route is taken but that isn’t to say, if the mom had been supported, those things also could have still occurred. And better, no primal wound and years wondering why you were ‘given up’ or for the teen mom, “will they share pictures with you”, etc.

Intervention

People with money will buy a baby. A wealthy couple suffering infertility will find a young woman who is expecting and offer to trade support during the pregnancy for the baby at the end. One of their conditions was that they be present at all of her doctor’s appointments. In the case of today’s story, they also offered a sympathetic “support” person. This was the man’s sister who had gone through a teen pregnancy when she was 17. She is now 24 years old and raising her 7 year old son.

This sister never had to consider giving up her baby. Her parents supported her so well, she didn’t even have to think about going to work after her baby’s birth. So this support person asked the pregnant young lady how much money she would need to keep and raise her baby. She did the math. It was very conservative and even included a schedule for repayment. Then this support person said I will give you everything you are asking for and then some – more baby supplies and more rent money. She offered to pay for vocational training for this young expectant mother after delivery. And she would not have to pay anything back, though she insisted that she would.

Long story short – she backed out of her adoption agreement with the couple. Of course, they are not only heartbroken but mad at his sister for her intervention. The young woman had to block the couple and the sister had to move away to stop their harassment. The sister simply could not allow this young woman who wanted to keep her baby to loose it. She asks, Am I the asshole for screwing up my brother’s adoption ? Of course not.

It is so wrong that hopeful adoptive parents are able to be given rights to view medical records and allowed at doctor’s appointments. It is a violation of HIPAA and the right to privacy, even if the mom signs a waiver. Being present for these visits is so coercive. Income shouldn’t be a determining factor in parenthood. So many mothers who lose their children had no option to keep them and no one to help them keep their baby.

One comment asked – When a human is in need, but gives no sign of not wanting their child, how does anyone deliberately separate them from their child and still sleep at night ? This couple found the expectant mother in a Facebook Buy Nothing group. These are often referred to as grey market adoptions.

There are so many hopeful adoptive parents, adoption lawyers, baby brokers etc all focused solely on getting babies. Not one of these ever bothers to ask the mother if they *want* their child or inquire how little the financial cost would be, to actually to keep the mother and child together.

Closing The Door

From a domestic infant adoptee, now 35, who has been contemplating changing her name to her real last name. Also possibly changing her first name too. The more she’s worked through her life experiences and struggles, the more she wants to close the door on who raised her. She goes on to admit that – they were probably decent parents. But I don’t recall any feelings of love, attachment, safety or comfort. I’ve harbored resentment for them both and as I try to work on myself, it only gets worse. She says, I’ve gone through all the phases of trying to be ok with my story. But I’m not ok with it. I can’t forgive them. I realize that I actually do hate these people. My first name is nothing special. She heard it back in high school and liked it. Her biological child has full family “heirloom” name. When I hear her say my name, it makes me grind my teeth.

Another adoptee notes – a name change is a very personal decision, one you have every right to make for yourself !! If you connect more to your birth name, then I say go for it. It’s probably a very empowering feeling to go do this for yourself.

Another said – If you know your true name and you want to claim it, CLAIM IT!!!!

One shared –  I’m in the process of socially changing my name right now while I wait for the funds to legally change it. I’m changing it back to my birth name because it’s a name I’ve always loved and it’s a bit more androgynous and I don’t like my feminine name. I really knew I had to change my name when I couldn’t bear to tell my son what my name was.

It’s hard to get used to hearing a new one but it sounds better in my brain than my old name. Lots of friends/family are resistant to calling me my new name and that’s been pretty hard. My adoptive mom threw a fit basically. Trying to explain why I’m changing my name and why they should respect that and call me my chosen name has been very difficult because they just don’t understand and think I’m being ridiculous.

I feel a sense of euphoria when I meet someone new and I tell them my (new) name and then they call me that. I started trying my new name out online or for take out orders and stuff before I took the plunge, just to see how I’d feel, and once I realized I liked it I started going more mainstream with it.

Yet another adoptee admitted – My adoptive parents translated my name, then shortened it. I grew to really dislike that name. I have “reclaimed” my actual name and everyone calls me that. I truly wish my adoptive parents had never altered it. My name was really the only thing that I had that truly was my own.

It is easy to see why a lot of adoption reformers are suggesting NOT to change your adopted child’s name. Better yet, chose guardianship rather than adoption if at all possible.

Not A “New” Life

This comment came up in a discussion about how adoptive parents change the name of their adoptee when the adoption is finalized. One woman commented – “Nothing wrong with that, we started using his new name too to get him used to it. New life, new name.” She was quickly corrected – “I need you to fucking not. Adoption isn’t a “new life”, it’s a continuation of the life they are already living. This comment is insensitive at best.” This one had started new childcare job. She is a domestic infant adoptee. One child in her class is in the process of being adopted and that X is their legal name and Y is the name the adoptive parents have chosen to change it to. This child isn’t an infant, so the childcare workers are basically having to train the child to respond to a new name.

I will admit, I did a little sleuthing into the one who made the insensitive comment but could find nothing definite except that she is relatively new in the all things adoption group. There are some interesting photos but nothing certain as to her status in adoptionland but her comment seems to indicate an adoption there.

Lacking that, I looked for some context and found this recent (Oct 2022) article in The Atlantic LINK>Adoption Is Not a Fairy-Tale Ending, with the subtitle – It’s a complicated beginning. While maybe not perfectly what I was looking for, I did see how it begins – In America, popular narratives about adoption tend to focus on happy endings. Poor mothers who were predestined to give their children away for a “better life”; unwanted kids turned into chosen ones; made-for-television reunions years later. Since childhood, these story lines about the industry of infant adoptions had gradually seeped into my subconscious from movies, books, and the news.

The author, Erika Hayasaki, notes – researching a book on identical twins raised in radically different circumstances, the reality of adoption is far more complicated than some might think—and, as many adoptees and scholars have argued, deserving of a more clear-eyed appraisal across American culture. Her book, Somewhere Sisters, chronicles identical twins Isabella and Hà were born in Vietnam in 1998, and their mother struggled to care for them. Isabella (born Loan) was adopted by a wealthy, white American family that gave her a new name and raised her in the suburbs of Chicago. Hà was adopted by a biological aunt and her partner, and grew up in a rural village in Vietnam with sporadic electricity and frequent monsoons.

Twins have always fascinated me. I was born a Gemini and have always wondered what happened to my twin. When I was a child, my 13 month younger sister and I were often dressed alike and sometimes people thought we were twins. When my daughter was preschool age, she used to claim we were twins. I suppose I’ve had at least two surrogate twins in my life. I digress.

The author discovered that when reunions with birth families do happen, they aren’t always happy; they can be painful, confusing, or traumatic. Adoptees who are parents, lawyers, educators, or activists are challenging the rosy image of adoption that stubbornly persists in our culture. Children are not offered up for adoption in a vacuum. Many of them “are available because of certain, very strategic political policies.” Often the reasons for removing children from their parents comes under the heading of “neglect.” Throughout adoption history, this broad category has encompassed homelessness, poor hygiene, absent parents, and drug abuse in some instances, or simply leaving a child with caregivers outside the nuclear family.

A happily ever story after adoption often comes at the cost of forsaking everything that came before. The process, known in the adoptee community as coming out of the fog, refers to when an adoptee starts to see beyond the narrative about fate and question their true feelings about the adoption system, and how it has impacted their relationships, personalities, and identity formation. As the child of two adoptees, I also had my moment of coming out of the fog because adoption had seemed like the most natural thing to me until I was over 50, both of my parents had died and I began to discover my families true origins.

For me, coming out of the fog was, and continues to be, a process that involves simultaneously holding my adoptive grandparent’s love and good intentions in my heart’s memories alongside all the ways that adoption robbed me of what, for most people, is almost an unconsidered common reality. There are all of these contradictory realities within one’s experience of belonging to a family created by adoptions. The duality of that space can be hard for those without such a background to reasonably understand.

A Uterus With Legs ?

The issue of referring to an adopted child’s first mother as the tummy mummy came up somewhat coincidentally today but it did cause me to reflect on this again. Somehow, I always feel a bit of cringe at that phrase and the title of this blog reflects how some other people feel about it. I found that Lori Holden aka Lavender Luz did a poll. She is an Author & Speaker, Diarist & Open Adoption Advocate. She also has a podcast – LINK>Adoption: The Long View.

First what got me here. The commenter is blocked from posting/ responding for a month in a Foster/Adopt group. The reason she notes is that it isn’t ‘kind’ to mention to someone with ‘guardianship’ whose 4 year old child sees her biological parents – that agreeing/ pretending, letting child pretend that the child grew in HER belly vs reinforcing to child that she grew in ‘mama name’s ‘ tummy…. That mama ‘name’ is more respectful than tummy mummy.

Of course, there is also this – that they “saved” the child …. and have done xyz for that child – still does not change the fact that child did not grow inside her. The issue started when a photo was posted that showed a non reading age child in a shirt with letters only stating she loved her as ‘mom’… allegedly the child picked that shirt out and insisted she wear it in front of the tree….again listing all the things ‘she’ saved child from…

The commenter was blocked after mentioning that seemed passive aggressive since the sees her actual parents.

In the LINK>Poll about the term “tummy mummy”, the 300 respondents broke down this way –

  • 66% were adopting or adoptive parents
  • 11% were adoptees
  • 13% had a professional or nonprofessional interest in adoption
  • 10% had placed a child or lost a child to adoption

You might expect that with such an Adoptive-Parent-heavy sample, the results would lean positive toward use of the term “Tummy Mummy” but you would be incorrect.

  • 61% either didn’t like the term (26%) or detested it (35%)
  • 25% were either neutral (12%) or found it acceptable (13%)
  • Only 5% loved it
  • The remaining 9% chose “Other,” which allowed for commentary.

Some of their comments included – Feels like a white-wash term trying to sanitize truth. It diminishes the woman’s motherhood. Original family isn’t reflected in this phrase, which seems intent on removing all important connections and substituting them with a biological detail that isn’t even accurate.

This one was interesting – I hate “tummy mommy.” When people told me babies grew in their moms’ tummies, I pictured babies swimming their stomachs with all the food. And babies popping out of tummies, Aliens-style.

Another one noted – My husband is a reunited adult adoptee. I actually shared this with him and he made a vomiting noise.

Another adoptee noted – young children are not given enough credit for understanding that we can have two mothers that love us, regardless if one can’t be there at the moment. I know for me personally it would have helped me tremendously to have been able to see and talk freely about my mother as this real person.

And this – “Tummy mummy” makes her sound like [my long-gone birth mother] was a surrogate rather than a human being making a difficult decision. It reduces her down to a particular “role”.

Concerned United Birthparents

A woman in my all things adoption group wrote – None of my family understands and it’s eating me up, I need to talk to someone. First thing, is there anyone in here that choose adoption, found an amazing family, went the whole pregnancy talking to them, growing a relationship, became friends but then changed your mind once you held your baby?

This actually happens more often than you might think.

One response was this – I did change my mind but I was so scared to hurt them. I ended up being talked out of keeping my son by my caseworker. PLEASE keep your baby if you have any regrets on adoption. You’ll never get over the loss of your own child but they can adopt and love ANY baby in the world.

Another adoptee also said – Please keep your baby. That feeling you feel is what you are supposed to feel. Adoptive parents are not entitled to your baby. That’s your baby. The bond you will build cannot be replicated. They will be sad but that is not your problem. Their sadness is not worth a lifetime of trauma for your baby.

One birth mother suggested – Birth Moms Support Groups. She notes that a few women who made the choice to parent have stayed in for the continued support.  She says, “I wish I could have had a full scope on adoption before placement, instead of all the “happy successful birth mother” stories I was sent by the agency.”

So I went looking and found this organization – Concerned United Birthparents – that titles, and is the graphic, for this blog. Concerned United Birthparents (CUB) provides support for all family members separated by adoption; resources to help prevent unnecessary family separations; education about the life-long impact on all who are affected by adoption; and advocates for fair and ethical adoption laws, policies, and practices. They are the only national organization focused on birthparents – their experiences, healing and wisdom. They list support groups – both online and in various cities. They do charge $45 for an annual membership. They note that they are an all-volunteer organization that operates almost entirely at cost through our membership dues.

What’s In A Name ?

A major topic for reform in adoption is in regard to the adoptee’s name. Today’s story is complicated and long and so I’ll try to summarize it. There was an oops when bi racial boy/girl twins were born to supposedly white biological parents. When they were born, their mom put her husband’s last name on their birth certificate. However, it was determined that he was not in fact their dad. So, the twins last name was changed to their mom’s maiden name. For rather obvious reasons, her husband did not wish to parent these children and so they were put up for adoption.

They are now 7-1/2 years old and their adoption will most likely be finalized in the next couple of months. The soon to be adoptive parents are in contact with these twins older half siblings. One of the twins is the only one of all the siblings without a double letter in their name but they did not want it changed. The issue of what their last name will be has been handled delicately. One twin wanted to keep their last name but add the adoptive parents’ last name, the other twin just wanted the adoptive parents’ last name. Recently, one twin asked, “since the adoption is coming up, can I change my name?”

This is the same child that didn’t want to change the spelling of their first name, now they want to change the name completely. When the kids (both the soon to be adoptive parent’s biological children and these twins) play dress up, they have alter egos. They go by their alter ego names while playing pretend. The twins will even go by their alter ego name when they change their hair style from natural to braids, twist, finger curls, etc. for a day or so. This child is asking to change their name to their alter ego name and they said, “you can spell it anyway you want.”

Almost every child, at some point in their childhood, will go through a phase of trying a different name. So the almost adoptive parents said it takes a judge to change your name, no matter the reason. There are situations where names are changed – when you get married and you can change your last name, if you correct your gender you can change all of your names, at adoption names are often changed and you can keep all of the names your first family gave you or change parts of your name, and at the age you are grown up if you just really dislike your name, you can change it then.

Another adoptive parents said –  I wish no one brought up name change at adoption. It makes it seem like something that should happen, and I no longer think it should. I also think it’s a lot to ask a kid to make a decision about this, especially a kid with adoption related trauma.

A domestic infant adoptee said – I think giving a kid the opportunity to make a decision about their huge upcoming life shift that is completely out of their control, gives them a tiny bit of control back when things are so rocky. However I still believe the first name change can happen as a nickname, let her go by that but let her choose her last name for the adoption finalization. Then, when she is older, if she has kept that nickname for years, then as a teenager let her consider changing it legally.

Another adoptive parent shared – In our case, I screwed it up in the worst way. We changed all her names with her “choosing” from several names we were considering. But keeping it the same wasn’t presented as an equal choice. She was 4 years old at the time. She is 8 years old now and sometimes she wants to change back, sometimes she wants a friend’s name, sometimes she’s happy with what it is. We are now in reunion with her birth family, through a relative who adopted her younger siblings when they were born and we have discussed the name changes we made, our reasoning, and how we feel now. Both of us independently decided that we will support any changes the kids want, when they are adults but we will pay the court costs. I don’t think there are any right answers but my main regret is that keeping the name at birth was not presented as an option. I’ve heard adoptees say that with so much taken away from them, their name should remain the same.

Another adoptee said – I’m a non-binary trans person who has changed the name they go by as an adult. Let them go by the name they want to legally change it to – immediately. Start calling them by that name. Don’t give the legal name change a deadline (the legal adoption finalization date). These are two distinctly different things and while they are connected, each needs its own timeline. You can help them by discussing if they like the name. If they go by it for a long period of time, then you can discuss legally changing their name. I recommend this because of their young age and the already overwhelming situation of the adoption being finalized. Names are a GIFT, and if that gift no longer works for them, they can give it back and find one that meets their needs now. Changing the name during adoption seems to layer on trauma but for an older trans person I think it removes trauma.

Yet another adoptee shares – I was different because I’m neurodivergent. I wanted to change my name to fit in, rather than have a name no one connected to. When I grew up, I changed my name. Always Always go with what the kid wants. It just doesn’t have to be legally changed until they’re older and had a long time to think about it. Kids are still discovering themselves.

Adoption Disenfranchisement

I was attracted to a Medium article today with the title LINK>Understanding Adoption – Epistemological Implications by Shane Bouel today. The image hits a deep place. It was created by Thoughtless Delineation – AI ART. Just today, I posted “There are 2 good things in life – Freedom of Thought and Freedom of Action.” I am borrowing from and adding my own insights and understandings to the article linked above.

However in reading the linked article I find reason for deeper contemplation – “All social behavior is guided by values. Thus the study of social behavior can never be value-free if value freedom is interpreted in the sense of the absence of values because the values of the society under investigation form a part of the social facts to be studied by sociology.”

He goes on to say – “Knowledge and power are linked. In order to reveal the nature of the knowledge/power nexus and its relationship to the process of adoption we must not only ask what we know about adoption but more importantly, ask how we come to know what we know about adoption.” He is actually talking about adoption in Australia but I expect what he has to say applies here in the United States as well.

Adoption is a social construct. The understanding of adoption by those considered experts – social workers, mental health professionals and policymakers – places them in a powerful position as the creators and arbiters of knowledge related to adoption. Their understanding of adoption has a particular influence on the way it is presented and represented both theoretically and as practice. Therefore, some understandings are a result of distortions of the knowledge process. These distortions are products of validating certain kinds of knowledge by promoting certain narratives and silencing others.

Statements about the real nature of adoption become everyday knowledge for most people, especially those with no direct experience of the practice. The habit of understanding social phenomena like adoption with our personally unquestioned beliefs (because they are scientifically legitimate) instead of first attempting to understand the nature and origin of those beliefs is especially evident when we take a holistic view of the experience of being adopted as expressed by many adoptees.

Some would have us believe that the primary motivating force behind much excluding, value-free social research has been conspiratorial, that it has been little more than a premeditated and conscious desire by the powerful to control the less powerful. However worse is the acceptance, legitimization and application of objectified, positivistic notions about the real nature of adoption. These deny us access to the multi-level experiences of those (adoptees and birth parents) who have been subjected to it. Moreover, blind faith in the power of positivistic social science has further resulted in the institutionalized devaluing and belittling of those suffering its effects. Those individuals who have been, in some way, consumed by the process and who have spoken out loudly about their experiences have been viewed as little more than emotionally charged, angry and therefore irrational persons out of touch with reality.

Not only has the individual affected been blamed for the socially created, contradictory, unintended and unwanted effects of the adoption process but they have also been systematically alienated, ridiculed and stigmatized. Adoption has been portrayed and presented as given, unalterable and self-evident and as a consequence, it confronts the individual as a historically and scientifically justified, objective and benign process and therefore, it is undeniable fact. The biography of those consumed by the process is apprehended merely as a reactive, subjective personal episode, separate and distanced from the institution of adoption. Many affected persons experience adoption objectively as coercion and in many cases worse, as an oppressive force.

He has much more to say. It is time well spent to read his worthwhile essay.

South Korean Adoptions

There are a lot of Korean adoptees in the United States. Today’s blog is courtesy of a story in The Guardian about the LINK>Truth Commission investigating foreign adoptions. Some adoptees sent to Europe and the US say they were wrongly removed from their families as the government in Seoul actively promoted adoption. These adoptees suspect their origins were falsified or obscured during a child export frenzy in the mid-to late 20th century.

The adopted South Koreans are believed to be the world’s largest diaspora of adoptees. In the past six decades about 200,000 South Koreans – mostly girls – were adopted overseas. Most were placed with white parents in the US and Europe during the 1970s and 80s.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has decided to investigate 34 adoptees who were sent to Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and the US from the 1960s to the early 1990s. The adoptees say they were wrongfully removed from their families through falsified documents and corrupt practices. The adoptions to be investigated are among the 51 adoptees who first submitted their applications to the commission in August through the Danish Korean Rights Group led by adoptee attorney Peter Møller. There are now more than 300 applications filed.

The applications cite a broad range of grievances that allege carelessness and a lack of due diligence in the removal of scores of children from their families amid loose government monitoring. During much of the period in question, the country was ruled by a succession of military leaders who saw adoptions as a way to deepen ties with the democratic west, while reducing the number of mouths to feed and removing the socially undesirable including children of unwed mothers and orphans.

Most of the South Korean adoptees sent abroad were registered by agencies as legal orphans found abandoned on the streets, a designation that made the adoption process quicker and easier. But many of the so-called orphans had relatives who could be easily identified and found. Some of the adoptees say they discovered that the agencies had switched their identities to replace other children who died or got too sick to travel, which often made it impossible to trace their roots. The adoptees call for the commission to broadly investigate agencies for records falsification and manipulation and for allegedly proceeding with adoptions without the proper consent of birth parents. They want the commission to establish whether the government was responsible for the corrupt practices and whether adoptions were fueled by increasingly larger payments and donations from adoptive parents, which apparently motivated agencies to create their own supply.

The Words Are Wrong

Often it would be better not to say it at all. Today’s story –

I wish my parents wouldn’t say shit like my son is going to take after them when it comes to genetics, even something as silly as toe nails. It makes my story feel insignificant to them. NO, I have my own story and entire genealogy behind me that I don’t have the privilege of understanding. I don’t know what my son takes after when it comes to me, then saying things like that is a reminder that my story was wiped clean and brushed under the rug. My mom constantly reminding me that she nursed me when she was pushing 50 and wasn’t lactating does not feel good, another reminder how out of touch she was with my reality. Why would latching a baby when they are hungry with no food to offer ever feel like a good idea? And if they mention my weight and how worried they were that I was going to not lose any pregnancy weight I might just scream. They spent 3 hours here with my son (5 weeks old) and I am emotionally exhausted. So many small comments that felt so heavy for me. I’ll tell ya, having a baby sure slapped me in the face with adoption bs. I kind of thought I was out of the fog for the last 2 years, NOPE! Thrown right back in full force. From seeing someone related to me for the first time in person, to not understanding how in the world someone gives a baby away for money alone. Crazy time lately!

It’s bad enough when total strangers say stupid things but people who ought to know better . . . sadly too many don’t – know better.