I’m Okay But

“I still think if I was given the choice to be aborted or grow up adopted, I’d choose abortion.” Those are the words of one adoptee.

The pain of having to live under the lies of adoption was just so great that never being born still seems like the better option. I loved my parents. I am forever grateful for the care and love they gave me with the best of intention. I knew they loved me but I knew they were also lying to me and that confused me. I’m grateful to be alive today but it’s not always been that way.

Now I know the TRUTH and I’m free to be me. And I think it’s marvelous. I just might be a superhero and neurodiversity is my superpower. Level up????

Many adoptees, but not all of course, feel the same way . . . Don’t believe it. Overturning Roe v Wade and creating more babies for hopeful adoptive parents will shatter the lives of those adoptees by the trauma they experience in the process.

Shame

We feel shame when we violate the social norms we believe in. At such moments we feel humiliated, exposed and small and are unable to look another person straight in the eye. We want to sink into the ground and disappear. Shame makes us direct our focus inward and view our entire self in a negative light.

I came upon the powerful graphic above yesterday and felt there was more that I could personally say about it. On my Facebook profile page yesterday, I shared – I have owned up to this before. I had an abortion at the age of 23 or so – mid 1970s. I am glad it was safe and legal. I was not being reckless. I was driving an 18-wheeler with a partner. Our dispatcher didn’t get us home to where my pharmacy was in time and I ended up pregnant. Neither he nor his family were the kind of people I would be glad to have been tied to through a child today. At the time, I had breakthrough bleeding. My ex-SIL and ex-BIL had a child with serious birth defects. I just felt the pregnancy was not progressing normally. Also, to be honest – I didn’t want to commit my life to 7 more months of going it alone with no financial support. I’ve never regretted it but pro-Life propaganda has definitely haunted me. In writing this, I searched my memory for all of the reasons why I chose that course of action.

The mothers and women in my family, and to whom I am genetically related, chose other courses of action. Back in the 1930s, the mothers of both of my own parents, chose to carry their pregnancies, spent the first few precious months with their babies, and one way or another lost that first child to adoption. I wrote, and it was true, “I didn’t want to commit my life to 7 more months of going it alone with no financial support.” In some people’s minds I was simply being selfish and I will accept that judgment, though in truth I have no regrets about doing what I did and for the reasons I did it at the time.

Yet, I felt enough shame for having chosen a different path (both of my sisters carried unplanned pregnancies to term but also gave their babies up for adoption) that it was a long time before I admitted to anyone what I did earlier in life. It was my private decision which no one but the circumstances influenced. Maybe influenced in no small measure by the legality and safety of the choice at the time. Only as Roe v Wade has come under increasing opposition have I started sharing my own story of what it was like to have made that choice and my gratitude that I had it available to my own self when I felt I needed that.

The father of my own conception made it clear he would not stand by me if I chose otherwise but I don’t think that was my major motivation. In reflecting on my statement that I would have had to “go it alone” above, I also know my parents supported one of my sisters throughout the pregnancy and then, remarkable to me now that I know more about adoption in general, my own adoptee mom coerced my sister into giving up the baby she wanted to keep and then, encouraged a lie to me that the baby had died. Intuitively, I knew it had not and concocted fantastical stories about what had actually happened to the baby believing it had been stolen and taken into Mexico (my sister had delivered at a hospital in El Paso TX very near the national border). Because of this, my mom finally admitted her truth regarding the whole situation to me.

Many women bear a cross – maybe they suffer their whole lives knowing their child is out there somewhere out of their own reach. Many of these original mothers suffer a secondary infertility and never have another child. Many struggle as single mothers to keep and raise their child. Our society does nothing to help them. My sister actually sought financial support during her pregnancy but was denied it based upon our parents financial condition. It was not my parents seeking financial support but my sister and not in increase my parents financial condition either.

After I divorced the father of my first child, I had to go to work and that meant child care. When one “family style” child care that she loved at first became a tearful battle, I left work to check on her and discovered through the window of a half door, an older child bullying her and no adults in sight. I pulled her out that day. I often had to go to my mother to beg $20 to make it through to payday. She never denied me but financially it was always difficult. At the time I divorced her father, he told me he would never pay me one cent of child support because I would just party with the money. Such a horrible perception he had of my own integrity and ethics. I didn’t want to spend my life in court fighting him for it even though the judge insisted in awarding me $25/mo “in case” I changed my mind and wanted to seek an increase. I never did. Instead, I left my daughter with her paternal grandmother while I tried to build a financial nest egg for the two of us by seeing if I was capable of driving an 18 wheel truck cross-country.

I always intended to return for her and would have never given her to her father to raise but his mother did that. He remarried a woman with a child and then they had a child together. Unintended consequences of financial desperation. And now, in a sense my story has come full circle, my shame – not even listed above – is that I gave up raising my child for financial reasons. Back when she was in day care, I couldn’t hardly answer the pediatrician’s questions, because she was away from me all day. After her father and step-mother raised her, I struggled to find birthday cards for her that reflected the lack of a daily, physical relationship I had with her. There were no role models for an absentee mother back in the mid-1970s, even though the absentee father was a standard reality.

Shame. Oh yes, I am well acquainted with it. As my daughter knows, I have struggled to find peace with not having “stuck it out,” as my own mother said to me that she would have done, to do the right thing by my daughter. It is a work in process. Recently, I reflected on all the things I did right by her in the brief early years she was physically under my care. I told her, I realize that when I was mother to you, I was a good one. And the abortion ? I atoned for it, by giving up my own genetic connection to have two egg donor conceived sons (same donor both times), that my husband might be able to have the children he desired, even as we both realized I had gotten too old to conceive naturally. Even so, they are now almost 18 and 21 years old. They have proven to me that I can “mother” children 24/7 throughout their own childhoods. At least I have no shame in that. I even breastfed both until they were just over 1 year old. I also have the knowledge that I didn’t put adoption trauma onto the fetus I aborted early in that pregnancy.

They Grow Up

Image Created by Irene Liebler

We currently have baby birds in a nest at the end of our back porch getting ready to fledge. We have witnessed many such events. When I first married my husband, my mother in law said “We are nest builders.” She had a lifelong love of birds and of her family. So today, an adoptive mother lamented. She adopted a 12 year old from foster care. The child is now 21 years old. I have a 21 year old myself who sometimes gives the impression of getting restless though he has not yet flown the nest. This woman’s son has joined the army reserves and is on his way out of the country on assignment.

She was trying to say goodbye to him, when he replied – “I don’t want to talk. I’m trying to get away from you guys (ie her husband and herself). I’m an adult now and you can’t force me to live with you. I was trying to leave on a good note.”

Much like the advice – “If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. If they don’t, they never were.” – attributed to Kahlil Gibran, I thought these were very good insights –

The best thing a former foster parent and adoptive parent ever said to me was that you spend the short time you have with kids teaching them right from wrong and hope they take that with them into adulthood.

When they turn 18, they will leave to find their biological families. It’s not a matter of if, it’s when. If their first families are doing well, then great! If they are not, you pray that what you taught them sticks and that they navigate their relationships in a way that keeps them mentally/physically safe.

If kids come back to you/stay in your life is dependent on your relationship with them before they became adults. It’s also dependent on how you spoke about their first families and if you encouraged a relationship.

Kids are people that grow up and become their own people. They have the RIGHT to leave the nest for a reason, a season, or forever.

A God Given Right To Parent

Sharing the words of one adoptee, Mary Constance Mansfield, for today’s blog –

It’s exhausting. People just refuse to connect the dots. Adoption agencies and private adoption attorneys make no money if they don’t encourage and often time coerce a young woman to place their infant for adoption.

There’s a whole group of women who struggle with infertility and are praying a newborn experience the trauma of being abandoned by their mother, because they deserve to be a parent.

They are quite sure that their almighty, always right, god, chose this other woman’s child to actually be their child and they are sure their love will heal whatever trauma the infant might experience. And they will address it when and if the child brings it up. Because they believe they have a god given right to be a parent.

I would disagree….

Well many of us don’t actually come out from the innate Stockholm syndrome that the adoption industry thrives on until our last adoptive parent dies and that ghost kingdom we kept hidden for so long begins to scream at us.

The American Academy of Pediatrician’s official statement about an adopted child is “It should be assumed, ALL adopted children have suffered an irreversible trauma” and they recommend early recognition and appropriate treatment. They know that the child doesn’t have the vocabulary to bring it up. The earlier the recognition the better the chance for recovery.

With the influx of the “domestic supply of infants” that’s expected from the overturning of Roe vs Wade, it’s imperative that those who end up adopting do their due diligence and actually help the child talk about what they feel.

Yes it will hurt when you hear they think about their bio mother and wonder if they have siblings, among other things any child would ask if they knew they were living with strangers but had a history before they were adopted. But that pain you feel is for you to deal with. It’s not so you can convince a child they don’t need to know anything truthful about life before adoption. The reality is you should’ve already grieved the biological child you can’t have and done your homework in regards to the trauma of never seeing your mother this side of the womb causes, so you can be aware of the symptoms when you see them.

And for the sake of keeping it real. Most private adoption agencies are affiliated with a church or a denomination. And private adoption attorneys? Well they are just that…. they get paid only if they find a womb wet infant for the 30 to 50 people in line for one. They have absolutely no monetary reason to give natural mother’s the info regarding resources available if she should want to parent.

Foster Care To Adoption Death

Victoria Rose Smith

After a four-day trial, Ariel Robinson was convicted of homicide by child abuse in the death of 3-year-old Victoria “Tori” Rose Smith. She died at their home in Simpsonville South Carolina on January 14, 2021. Prosecutors said Robinson severely beat the child with a belt which caused her to suffer internal bleeding. After an hour and a half of deliberation, Robinson was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Her husband, Jerry “Austin” Robinson, testified against her. He made a plea deal and faces a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison.

Victoria with her large, biological family

Victoria’s biological relatives believe people who scrutinize the young girl’s January 14 death along racial lines will not do anything to prevent another tragedy. (The foster parents and their biological sons were black, the girl and her two brothers were white.) Her biological family says the blame belongs to the South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) who were too quick to seize her from biological mom, Casie Phares, and didn’t do enough to ensure she was going to a safe home. 

“This could have happened in a bad white home or they could have been placed in a loving black home where none of this would have happened. The point is that the people in charge of the adoption process are supposed to see through the smoke. These people are the experts, we trusted them to put the kids in a safe and loving environment. We now know they weren’t safe, they weren’t in a good home. Victoria was sweet, she was sassy. She was a smart, happy little girl and now she’s gone. It’s devastating,” Michelle Urps, Victoria’s great aunt, said in an interview.

Robinson had adopted Victoria and her two older brothers in March 2020. She has written repeatedly about her commitment to social justice, tweeting in the wake of the Capitol riot about how her four sons would experience the world differently because of their skin color. “In my house, my black children get treated the same as my white children, and my white children get treated the same as my black children. It’s a shame that when they go out into the real world, that won’t be the case.”

Three days before Victoria was allegedly beaten to death Robinson posted a cute collage of photos of the pair together, captioning it: “We go together like ketchup & MUSTARD! #MiniMe Being a girl mom is awesome.”

What occurs to me is – why with such a large extended biological family were the children taken and placed where they were ? Victoria’s case is unfortunately not the first time SCDSS has been blamed in a child’s death.

Victoria’s biological mother, Casie Phares, said she was never abusive to her children, but bullied by SCDSS into giving her children up. Phares said she was first flagged by SCDSS when she tested positive for marijuana while pregnant with Victoria. After Victoria tested positive as a newborn, Victoria’s aunt, Michelle Urps said “things just kind of spiraled from there.”

According to Victoria’s biological aunt, Michelle Urps – One day, while under SCDSS radar, Phares fell asleep while watching the two boys and Victoria, who was a newborn at the time. She had been up all night with the baby the night before. The two boys ran to the neighbors while their mom was asleep, The neighbors contacted police and that was the “final straw” with SCDSS. Phares was struggling to find housing at the time, which made her case with SCDSS even worse.

We don’t support families well enough to preserve children in the family they were born into. Many lose their children for nothing worse than being in poverty. This applies even more to struggling single moms.

Increasing The Supply

I did think this – immediately. That banning abortion is meant to increase the number of babies available for adoption. Actually, I’ve thought this for some years as I have learned more about the traumatic impacts of separating children from their biological parents and have generally turned against the practice, even though but for adoption, I would not exist.

When I was doing my own family roots journey, I contacted the Salvation Army in El Paso TX because I knew my dad had been adopted from there. They told me that they closed their home for unwed mothers after Roe v Wade because they had no clients to serve. Very revealing. Three out of nine justices on the Supreme Court have adopted children. Adoptive parents are very influential when it comes to laws related to adoption as they are the ones who have the money. They are the ones who wish to keep an adopted person’s information away from them and hidden away in a sealed file.

An adoptee friend of mine who didn’t even know she was adopted into well into her adulthood as that had been hidden from her, a family secret, wrote – “Domestic supply of infants?” I guess they want to restart the supply chain, no matter how wrong that may be, how harmful to parents, family, the person who ends up being funneled into the system. She added –

Note there are no safeguards being proposed for the people who will be forced into that system. No additional funds for sex Ed, contraception. No requirements for men to take greater responsibility, no requirements for prospective adoptive parents to undergo evaluations, education and ongoing therapy. No after adoption services. No additional services for people forced to give birth. No aftercare services for people who lose their children to adoption. No acknowledgment of the fact that the majority of states will be erasing the children’s identities and severing them from family and community. No. Just an acknowledgment that there isn’t enough supply to meet demand.

The Archaic Shadow Of Secrecy

Parent Child Match

The closed, sealed adoption records of yesterday are much easier to pierce with today’s inexpensive DNA testing. Today’s story from Severance Magazine.

It begins this way – in 1967, I’d given birth to my first-born child in an unwed mothers maternity home in New Orleans, Louisiana. I had been a typical 17-year-old high school senior with plans for the future that evaporated overnight. In the sixties, it was considered close to criminal for a girl to become pregnant with no ring on her finger. The father of my child had joined the Army, preferring Vietnam to fatherhood. After my parents discovered my shameful secret, I was covertly hurried away and placed in an institution for five months. There, I was expected to relinquish my baby immediately after giving birth to closed adoption and I was repeatedly assured my child would have a better life without me. After his birth, I was allowed to hold my son three times. My heart was permanently damaged when I handed him over the final time. The home allowed one concession—I could give my baby a crib name. I named him Jamie.

In the Spring of 2016, this woman and her husband submitted DNA tests to Ancestry.com. By October 2016, a  ‘Parent/Child Match’ message popped up on her iPhone, causing me to stop me in my tracks, as my knees gave out from under me. After 49 long years, Jamie had found her. Who was he? Where was he? Would he hate me? How would this affect my life? My family? His family? She had always dreamed of finding Jamie but never thought past that point.

She relates – that night I heard my son’s voice for the first time. The wonder I felt when he said, “I know your voice” transformed me. In minutes, the secret of my son changed from fear of anyone knowing about him to wanting to shout out to the world, “My son has found me!” She also learned she had three new grandchildren.  Within four days, her son flew from Louisiana to California to meet her. She describes that first meeting as magical. She says, “My son was back in my life, and suddenly I was whole.”

Due to severe depression brought on by the COVID pandemic as a messy divorce, the loss of his job, and unhealthy isolation began to destroy him, she worried from a distance. In February 2021, they had what would be their last conversation. Before hanging up, her son said, “I love you, Mom. You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.” Two days later, the son she had mourned for 50 years, the son who had found her, left her again. He took his own life. Now she had lost him twice and this time was forever. Even so, she cherishes that phone call.

She ends her story with this – “I wish I could speak to all the birth mothers out there, who continue to carry the shame and guilt that society placed on us. For those who refuse to allow their relinquished child back into their lives. I want to say I know your fear. I know your uncertainty. I lived it and still live it. It is deep-seated in us, regardless of the circumstances that resulted in us leaving our children. Please know if you are brave enough to welcome that lost child into your life again, you may create a peace and a bond worth all the fear and guilt. There is nothing quite like reuniting a mother and her child, and you may be giving a gift of connection to that child and yourself, as it should have been all along.”

Michele Tafoya Pro-Choice Adoptive Mom

Michele Tafoya with son, Tyler and daughter, Olivia

Michele Tafoya was on the panel discussion for Real Time with Bill Maher last Friday night when she admitted to two details about herself. She is pro-Choice and she adopted her daughter from Columbia. She said she was grateful Olivia’s mother had not aborted her. The panel discussion on abortion was honest, diverse and varied, though remaining pro-Choice throughout.

Today, I learned that Michele and I share some things in common. We both discovered the female age factor while trying to conceive. Her husband, Mark Vandersall, is seven years younger. She says after the second miscarriage, “I remember apologizing to my husband, because I felt responsible. I’m seven years older than he is, so I felt like my age was a factor. And it was — the science will tell you. There are biological reasons for it, and it’s as simple as that.” I remember crying at my wedding site, regretting that my husband married such an old woman that when he wanted children, it was no longer possible for me.

At Michele’s suggestion, the couple pursued infertility treatment, and in vitro fertilization. Tafoya managed one good embryo during the first in vitro process. Incredibly, the embryo split and the couple was excited to be expecting identical twins. Then she lost the twins. The heartbreak was devastating for both her and her husband. So, in the spring of 2005, they began exploring donor eggs.

I have a friend in St Louis who had a similar experience as Tafoya of receiving the surprise news of a positive pregnancy after I sent her to see my own Gynecologist. I remember her having me rub her pregnant belly when I was trying to conceive our second son “for luck.” I guess it worked. Her son is right in the middle age between my two sons.

While in Hawaii on business, Michele felt overly exhausted. When she returned home to Minnesota from her trip, she took a pregnancy test. It was positive. Later that year, Tafoya and her husband welcomed a miracle, their baby boy. The pair decided they wanted to have more children and so adopted an infant girl from Colombia. This Mother’s Day her son is 16 and her daughter is 12. 

 

A Pro-Adoption Supreme Court

Part of what drives the anti-abortion effort is that the supply of adoption available infants has dropped to almost nothing. Certainly, adoptee centric groups continue to counsel expectant mothers considering adoption to keep and raise their own children to save them from the trauma that separation from the mother who’s womb a baby grew in causes trauma that leads to a diverse variety of physical, mental and emotional effects.

Today, I discovered this person – The Adopted Chameleon. She writes, “Amy Coney Barrett has said she isn’t inclined to protect women’s rights because the baby can be put up for adoption. She has adopted children and knows nothing about adoption. She is clearly biased. John Roberts and Clarence Thomas have adopted children also. They are biased also.”

The Safe Haven Laws are often used to prove that a woman does not need to parent the baby she carries to term. What these people seem to conveniently ignore is the 9 months of a woman’s life that she must give up to gestate a baby. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood comes quickly to mind. Forced birth to supply the demand for babies by couple who are infertile or just can’t have enough children. There are truly gross examples of that kind of overconsumption of children – I’ve written about some of these in the past.

The Adopted Chameleon continues her thoughts with this – “These people are going to decide the fate of future mothers. They use their religion as the reason why abortion should be illegal. Abortion was never a sin in the Bible. The Bible talks about how to make a woman drink the bitter water if her husband thinks she was unfaithful. It never says its a sin. Abortion is used as a fear tactic in voting. People think they are saving babies but they are traumatizing mothers. Then if the mother relinquishes the baby, the baby is traumatized. The cruelty and ignorance of people is right in front of us. They show no remorse for separating families and taking rights away from babies that will be adults without rights. Adoption should be the last option. Adoption is trauma.”

A Christian mission is an organized effort to spread Christianity to new converts. Missions involve sending individuals and groups across boundaries, most commonly geographical boundaries, to carry on evangelism or other activities, such as educational or hospital work. The Pro-Life movement is actually a “mission” and it really matters not if the original parents are poor or of a different color than the hopeful adoptive parents – what matters is converting the heathens to the one true faith.

I woke up this morning to a husband who is worrying about what this contingent minority in our country will do next. Don’t believe this is all that they want. We are on the road to authoritarianism. Could they make these laws retroactive to punish anyone who ever had an abortion when it was legal ? Could they relegate anyone who has been donor conceived to a second class citizenship along with any person who is not the “right” color ? Though I will say that such things could occur, if the current path continues along the current trajectory, making laws retroactive against people who were acting under legal provisions at the time they did whatever will certainly be a dark day for freedom and will usher in a most draconian phase of life in these United States. So I will urge you to Vote Blue – Democrat in November and again in 2024 – if you value freedom at all.

Obedience, conformity, oneness and sameness over freedom and difference. These authoritarian inclined persons are unwilling to tolerate complexity, diversity and difference. Latent authoritarianism relates to a predisposition towards child-rearing values that exclude independence, curiosity and an ability to think through challenging subjects from one’s own points of view. It includes a concern with structuring society and social interactions that minimize any diversity of people, beliefs and behaviors. They favor disparaging, suppressing and punishing differences. ~ from Can It Happen Here ? page 182-183.

As Rebecca Solnit has written, “First they came for the reproductive rights (Roe v Wade, 1973) and it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a uterus in its ovulatory years, because then they want to come for the marriage rights of same-sex couples (Obergefell v Hodges, 2015), and then the rights of consenting adults of the same gender to have sex with each other (Lawrence v Texas, 2003), and then for the right to birth control (Griswold v Connecticut, 1965). It doesn’t really matter if they’re coming for you, because they’re coming for us. ‘Us’ these days means pretty much everyone who’s not a straight white Christian man with rightwing politics.”

Social Workers

Back in Georgia Tann’s reign in Tennessee, the role of a Social Worker was somewhat new but crucial to the completion of adoption efforts. Today, I came across this article – What Social Workers Need to Know When Working with Adoptive Families at a WordPress site titled Detached – Attachment – Adoption – Social Critique. The author writes – Though these workers were generally decent people with their hearts in the right place, I’ve been struck by how much even caring and well-meaning social workers can be unintentionally damaging.

This person goes on to say – It is a humbling experience to admit that you don’t have the capacity, whether financial, physical or emotional to handle a child without this support. And virtually no one appreciates having people outside their families making decisions for them, judging their parenting, and having control over their lives. Then adds, proceeding from the notion that social workers and others (probation officers, behavioral aids, etc.) are here to help us, why do we so often feel hurt, humiliated and misunderstood after interacting with them?

This particular essay was written by an adoptive parent. It involved traumatized adoptees. It should be a cautionary tale for any hopeful adoptive parent considering that pathway to parenting.

In searching for the image I share at the top of my own blog here (you can read the rest of the adoptive parent’s perspective at the link above), I found another article. “Is my position as a social worker compromised if I don’t agree with adoption?” with the subtitle – “A social worker reflects on their biases around adoption and the need for group decision-making in matters of separating children from families.” This appeared at a website called “Community Care.”

Any one who has read my blog for any length of time knows that I do not overall support adoption. Just saying. I know from things I have read written by foster parents and it appears true of some social workers that there are people who believe that being inside of a system is the way to reform it. I really cannot judge but from what I’ve read of some who have tried, it doesn’t actually prove out. Also just saying as a disclaimer.

The author of this point of view shares their qualifications – I have been responsible for recommending the interim removal of children from their birth families as well as placing children in the care of relatives under the auspices of special guardianship orders (SGOs). I consider myself to have a sound understanding of care proceedings but one area which leaves me feeling uncomfortable, anxious and unsure of myself as a social worker is adoption. Forced adoption can be seen as punitive. There is clear evidence that austerity (lack of financial supports for families) has added to the adversities faced by any family who’s children have been removed but who seek to have their own children returned to their care. From all that I have read the process can be daunting and the time frame too limited and therefore disallows the parents an ability to be successful.

You can read more in the link for that article above. I apologize for not providing more complete summarizations of the above information but I am short on time today. Read if you care to consider the perspectives.