The Baby Saver

Debbe Magnusen CEO Project Cuddle

I don’t know, I have conflicting feelings about this woman (she signs her own self as The Baby Saver on a post I saw) and her organization, Project Cuddle. On the one hand, she has found her calling and who can argue with saving a baby in danger of being abandoned ? On the other hand, it is a method of being something like an adoption agency, who doesn’t identify themselves as such, who doesn’t sell babies but seeks donations to fund their organization.

They have Rescue Families not adoptive parents. Their official line is this – We are not an adoption agency or facilitator. We charge nothing to the girls who come to us seeking assistance nor to our vetted “Rescue Families”. We are a non-profit charity. Our only goal is to help each girl or woman make safe, legal decisions regarding their pregnancy and subsequent baby.

They don’t pick babies up from dumpsters. Project Cuddle says – We help frightened girls and women find safe and legal alternatives for their baby’s future, so that abandonment need never happen. A girl or woman will never have to leave a baby in a dumpster, at a church, lying in some back alley, or anywhere else for that matter.

In day’s of yore, they might have been referred to as a home for unwed mothers, much like the Door of Hope that my paternal grandmother went to in Ocean Beach CA – after she discovered she was pregnant and that her boyfriend was actually married to someone else.

Child abandonment appears in many different forms. It can apply to a minor who is left without appropriate supervision for an extended period of time. That is the kind of situation that brings Child Welfare Agencies and the courts into the picture. Project Cuddle’s mission is officially preventing baby abandonment by supporting an unwed pregnant woman with prenatal care, maternity clothes, hospital delivery and a family waiting to adopt her baby.

They remind me a bit of the old Salvation Army (that is where my paternal grandmother went for help). Project Cuddle says – after the mother has delivered, Project Cuddle continues to assist her in establishing a plan for her future. We never judge any girl or woman that calls us for help.

They do claim NOT to be promoting surrender or adoption – The decision to give her baby up for adoption is entirely left to the birthmother. This can be as quick as two days or take as long as twenty years. Hmmm, really ? 20 years. Isn’t the baby a legal adult by that time ? What mother cuts ties with a baby she has been involved with that long ? Never mind, I’m certain it happens. Parents and children do become estranged in some families. I wonder just how non-coercive Project Cuddle is about moving a baby into an adoptive family. They do say – the more open a rescue family is towards things such as sex, ethnicity and drug exposure – the more quickly they may be matched with a birthmother choosing surrender.

I don’t know. I continue feel squeamish about this whole “project” – while at the same time recognizing there is a need for mothers and their babies to have the support when they need it. When society doesn’t deliver that support, individuals with a savior complex often do step in. You can learn more about Project Cuddle at their website. However, from a comment thread I have read – all is not 100% as it seems. The terminology is exploitative and deceiving and there is every indication that “counselors” do coerce the mother into surrender, regardless of how much they try to say otherwise (this comes from some real life experiences that are now being openly shared).

What Gives Me The Right ?

This is a tricky issue that I have encountered here on this blog. What gives me the right to talk about issues related to adoption or foster care ? Am I an adoptee ? No. Have I spent time in foster care ? No. I do have a connection to adoption – Yes, I do. Both of my parents were adoptees and both of my sisters have given up a baby to adoption – but these are not the reasons I have become passionate about the subjects I write about in this blog. I am almost 67 yrs old and honestly, until about 3 years ago, I was in what is called “the fog,” not seeing anything to be concerned about when it comes to adoption. And I needed enlightenment and educating.

So I joined a group where the voices (thoughts) of adoptees and former foster youth are “privileged,” meaning given the most deference. However, in the group are adoptive parents, foster carers, hopeful adoptive parents and oddballs like me. And so, I have read and read and read there. I have bought books to inform me from the perspective of adoptees and former foster youth. And I get it and now I care about family preservation. I know that most parents actually DO want to raise their own children and those children want to be raised by their natural parents. Most of the time, children are removed from their parents over issues of poverty or solvable problems. Many an unwed woman who finds herself pregnant ends up convinced and coerced to surrender her baby – often to her lifelong regret. That happened to both of my natural grandmothers.

So the issue came up in my all things adoption group today. The woman identified herself as being a hopeful adoptive parent when she was younger. currently a teacher and someone who would like to become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) when her own kids are a bit older. She admitted that she no other links to adoption. Her question was – Should I stay out of discussions of adoption ? Or should I share opinions that I’ve gained from listening to the members of this group ? When I see posts in other groups or have conversations in real life, I’d like to amplify the voices of adoptees and former foster youth, but I’m wondering if that’s not welcome. She noted in closing – Obviously, you can speak for yourselves on posts like these, but I know it is with emotional labor and at the risk of being gaslighted and all of that.

Someone who tried to speak up was told that she needed a reality check because some adoptees value life and don’t dwell in the past, and that the only trauma is for birth parents who are found years later and have privacy violated. And this is old misinformed thinking. It is the adoption agency line as to why adoptions should be closed and kept secret and it has been proven to be abundantly false by many adoptees who have had successful reunions with their natural parents. Yes, some of these fail or are awkward or come at an inopportune time in a mature adult’s life, especially if they are now married with children from that current spouse. It happens and it is painful and heartbreaking when it does but fear of rejection (which honestly happened to some degree when the child was given up and they know this) is no reason to prevent the effort.

One adoptee shared her own experience – Most first mothers want to be found. Mine was terrified of it but I think she’s glad I found her.

Another one encouraged the effort – Preach it…..pffffftttt on those who fuss ….. remind them that they can not speak for anyone but themselves. The truth will ruffle feathers. That’s ok. I personally don’t mind a dialog about differing view points….but many adoption focused groups don’t want that and delete/block a naysayer.

The one who originally posted the question shared – the adoptive parent I was communicating with felt comfortable speaking on behalf of the child’s birth mother. It bothered me. To which someone else noted – Remind her that it is okay to share her own story but NOT the child’s story! Then it is further revealed –  She also brought up racism her daughter has experienced, so it’s a trans-racial adoption on top of everything. And clear that they are living in a very white neighborhood.

And so, in this particular case, it had become clear that the adoptive mother is wrapped up in some heavy adoption issues. Someone like that becomes so enmeshed, their only recourse is to carry on with adoption speak and in favor of what they created…..a big case of, pretend. That last word is an adoptee’s perspective on what adoption is – someone who pretends to be the parent who birthed you or that they have somehow saved you from a fate worse than death – called saviorism when it is trans-racial adoption.

So, this is partly why I write this blog. To spread some light in the darkness that has been adoption practice for decades as well as share my own personal stories, illustrating one or the other with one or the other. Yes, it has become a cause (family preservation) that I am admittedly passionate about.

Thank You For Choosing Life

Some questions were posed – How many pregnant women do you thank for “choosing life?” Why say it to the woman who is a birth mom? You don’t know that was even an option she considered. Yet, you want to blast it off social media thanking your kid’s birth moms for “choosing life.”

Until you start saying it to the preacher’s wife, stop saying it to expectant moms considering adoption or first moms. Stop blasting that crap on social media. It’s so incredibly disrespectful. Have you ever told someone “thank you for choosing life?” Have you ever given credit to your children’s birth moms on social media for “choosing life?”

An adoptee comments – I have not. I have forgiven her for the decision she made to give me away without a legal adoption but I don’t see her not having an abortion in 1961 as some great thing. 

Another adoptee perspective – I may sound dramatic but since my own adoption is closed and no information provided and lots of lying surrounding my adoption (Connecticut is one of the worst states for coverups in adoption). As much as I may love my life at this moment, I would rather have not been born. Then I wouldn’t have be abused and suffered pain and trauma. So those words thank you for choosing life wouldn’t ever come out of my mouth. I find it very problematic and just adds to the fake rainbow of adoption world.

Yet another adoptee says – If I’d been aborted, I wouldn’t know it. If my birth mom had chosen and been able to abort, I hypothetically support her, as I do anyone seeking abortion. If we want to end trauma, forced birth is not the way.

One woman shares – When my husband and I were first dating, I got pregnant and miscarried. A trusted adult who I told (not a parent) said “at least you didn’t murder it” because we weren’t in a position to have a child. That’s forever bothered me.

An adoptive parent adds – In many cases, being backed into a corner is not really choice, regardless of “choosing” abortion or parenting vs adoptions. In far too many cases, women are in crisis situations and are not helped so that they can make a decision free from fear or coercion. I also think the lifelong trauma connected to being adopted isn’t something I can be dismissive of in these conversations because I can’t possibly know how it feels to be adopted. I’ve read adoptees who say they would rather have not been born, and I think that feeling needs to be given space and consideration.

Some more reasons that it may be inappropriate to say thank you for choosing life.  It could be inappropriate because she may not have had a choice. The pregnancy could have been a result of sexual assault, incest, statutory rape, or some combination thereof. The pregnancy may not have been discovered early on, and if it had, the birth mom may have aborted rather than carry to term. Maybe birth mom wanted to terminate the pregnancy but wasn’t able to do so. How many states require a parent’s permission if it’s a pregnant minor? Maybe the birth mom misses her baby so badly that she wishes she had killed herself while pregnant, so they could be together forever.

A mature perspective adds – because they (the adoptive parents) got what they wanted. It’s always all about what they seek to gain, a child they cannot have on their own. Are they grateful someone else made them parents? Sure they are. It’s sick to be grateful for someone else giving you their kid. If they actually tried to break down the actual act of adoption, without their feelings, they would understand that.

Some additional thoughts – We don’t generally say thank you for choosing life to an expectant mother who is not in crisis. We assume the child is wanted, accident or not. And an alternate choice would not be obvious ie morning after pill or termination. Pregnancies are generally pretty easy to spot at some stage and strangers love to comment, so it is only those people who know the expectant mother or the plethora of manipulative pro-adoption information that push the “choose life” guilt trip to mothers both before and after birth or relinquishment. The people who benefit most promote it and have indoctrinated and manipulated society to believe this dross. The privileged customers need for it to be this way to soothe and convince themselves that they have done a good deed, rather than participate in a cruel trauma.

Who’s Child Is This ?

A woman asks – Do you have to hand over your baby to a potential adoptive couple shortly after birth ? There is a prospective adoptive couple who is extremely obsessed with taking my baby shortly after birth in the hospital. It’s my baby. Why can’t I take some time to make a decision ?

One response was this – Although it is typical for adoption agencies to push for this, it is NOT necessary and does NOT have to happen. You can take as much time as you want. There is no time limit for how long you can take, it can be a couple days, weeks, months. . . how ever long you need. To which someone else added – or never.

Someone else said bluntly – Do not hand over your baby, do not allow any hopeful adoptive parents at the hospital. 

Another woman speaking from experience said – Don’t do it. I didn’t, and I’m so glad. I was still debating keeping or giving away my baby until the day he was born. And I had a couple lined up. Thank god for the Coronavirus because the hospital didn’t allow them in. After he was born, I said I’m gonna keep him. Then the adoption counselor kept bugging me. but it didn’t matter because I didn’t break any rules by changing my mind.

Someone else admitted – This is part of classic coercive tactics, trying to make sure you don’t change your mind. Once the baby is in their hands, it would be so much harder to get the baby back, if you had second thoughts. Take your time. Trust your instincts. Someone who is railroading and coercing you right from the start will not be a good partner if you seek an open adoption.

The truth is a baby is just as adoptable at 6 months or a year, as it is at birth. There are tons of people who want to adopt. If you are contemplating surrender, take all the time you need. This is YOUR baby and every day you spend with them is precious regardless of whatever decision you eventually arrive at.

This is a choice that is 100% up to you. You are able to take your baby home and make a decision later. Any potential adoptive parents that try to push your choice should be grounds enough for you to reconsider them. If this is how they are, when YOU have control, how will they be towards you after the have your baby ?

Before Surrendering to Adoption

Along with other reform efforts, this idea really appeals to me. A mom who is thinking about placing her child for adoption, should have real unbiased counseling beforehand. Especially if the mom is a teen or young adult. A mom shouldn’t feel pressured to place. She should know her rights. This is her baby. She doesn’t owe anyone her baby.

If she does decide to place she needs to know everything. Especially about open adoption not being legally enforceable. This is rarely, if ever, mentioned to the mom. She doesn’t have to sign at the 72 or 48 hour mark. She can change her mind anytime. She can take her time. She can take her baby home, if she chooses to.

This is what happens all too often. An expectant mom is thinking about adoption but she isn’t really sure yet that she wants to give up her child. At the same time, there are hopeful adoptive parents getting their hopes up and the agency, who has a profit motive in the game, puts a lot of pressure on the young mom to place. Especially, when it comes to teens whose brains are still maturing. The brain doesn’t finish developing until 25-30 years old.

I think requiring expectant mothers to go through unbiased counseling would help the expectant mother make a choice without the interference of money motivated bias. Some of the language used with these young women suggests to them that they have nothing to offer their baby. These young women are told that not placing their child is a selfish decision. She may be further encouraged by dreams she had at the time she conceived of going to college and becoming successful in a profession. She is told that if she doesn’t surrender her child, she’ll fail in life.

She may also be suggested as a heroine, making a couple’s dream of becoming parents come true. Furthermore, if she decides not to places and so changes her mind – she will be breaking the hearts of some hopeful adoptive parents who have so very much more to offer her child than she does.

Young, expectant mothers should NOT have that kind of pressure put upon them. Real unbiased counseling can help these young women weigh their options more honestly and accurately. The sessions would allow the expectant mother to explore ALL if her feelings about pregnancy and not only dwell on her doubts and fears.

Sure, adoption agencies offer provide a kind of counseling. But really ? One cannot judge it to be un-baised when money is the motivator for the agency. The expectant mother has a “product” to offer and adoption is presented as the only fair, reasonable and practical choice she truly has.

Generational Trauma

I became aware of generational trauma (inherited trauma) as I began to learn about the impacts of adoption on the adoptee as well as on members of their family. Both of my parents were adopted and I do believe that the trauma they were either only vaguely aware of or totally unconscious of did impact us as their children. As to spanking, I remember my mom said she stopped spanking me when she dreamed she was hitting me harder and harder and I was laughing at her. Thanking all that is good. I only spanked my daughter once, in a grocery store, she was very young and it was just a light slap on her little hiney to get her attention. At the time, I had been told that punishment must come close to the action that provokes it but I never spanked her again.

Today, I read this piece in my adoption group –

My parents beat me as a child and I am not traumatized, said the man whose ex-partner reported him for physical violence.

When I was a child they left me crying alone until I fell asleep and it was so bad I did not go out, said the man who spends long hours in social networks, affecting his sleep.

They punished me as a child and I’m fine, said the man who, every time he makes a mistake, says to himself words of contempt, as a form of self-punishment.

As a child, they put a heavy hand on me and I suffer from a trauma called ‘education’, said the woman who still does not understand why all of her partners end up being aggressive.

When I became capricious as a child, my father locked me in a room alone to learn and today I appreciate it, said the woman who has suffered anxiety attacks and can not explain why she is so afraid of being locked in small spaces .

My parents told me they were going to leave me alone or give me to a stranger when I did my tantrums and I do not have traumas, said the woman who has prayed for love and has forgiven repeated infidelities so as not to feel abandoned.

My parents controlled me with just the look and see how well I came out, said the woman who can not maintain eye contact with figures of ‘authority’ without feeling intimidated.

As a child, I got even with the iron cable and today I am a good man, even professional, said the man who his neighbors have accused him of hitting objects while drunk and yelling at his wife.

My parents forced me to study a career that would make me money, and see how well off I am, said the man who dreams of Friday every day because he is desperate in his work doing something every day that is not what he always wanted.

When I was little they forced me to sit down until all the food was finished and they even force fed me, not like those permissive parents, affirmed the woman who does not understand why she could not have a healthy relationship with food and in her adolescence came to develop an eating disorder.

My mother taught me to respect her good chancletazos (Spanish meaning strike with a sandal) to the point, said the woman who smokes 5 cigarettes a day to control her anxiety.

I thank my mom and my dad for every blow and every punishment, because, if not, who knows what would happen to me, said the man who has never been able to have a healthy relationship, and whose son constantly lies to him because he has fear.

And so we go through life, listening to people claiming to be good people without trauma, but paradoxically, in a society full of violence and wounded people. It’s time to break generational trauma cycles.

~ David Bradbury, from A little Hippie, A little Hood

Glad I Was

The author with her parents (both adoptees) apologies for the poor quality

My mom wrote about being adopted to me in an email “glad I was” but it was half-hearted because she died never knowing why. The state of Tennessee had rejected her request for her own adoption file while breaking her heart by telling her that her original mother had died some years earlier. In beginning her quest, my mom had said, “As a mother, I would want to know what became of my child.”

It is exceedingly sad that she didn’t receive her file. Her mom’s photo, holding my mom for the last time, was in it. Had she read through it, she would have known how much her mother loved her, wanted her and fought to keep her. My mom had defined her adoption as “inappropriate” in her letters to Tennessee. She was stating her belief delicately because she couldn’t reconcile having been born in Virginia and yet adopted in Tennessee while still an infant. And my mom knew all about the scandals of Georgia Tann, who’s agency my mom was adopted from.

The truth is that in the kindest of terms, my grandmother was coerced and exploited to take her baby from her for a woman who was willing to travel from Nogales Arizona to Memphis Tennessee to fetch my mom and then return to Arizona by train with an upset baby.

That remark from my mom came as I informed her I had gotten my DNA tested at Ancestry because both of my parents were adopted I didn’t know anything about my genetic origins. I had previously participated in National Geographic’s Genographic study of my maternal line (it was a gift from my brother-in-law for my birthday). The results were vague and minimal, only telling me my maternal line came out of Africa, validating my assertion that I was an Albino African – no one, including myself, could prove otherwise. The truth is I am very European, mostly Danish, then Scottish with a healthy dose of English and Irish to top it off. My mom had a smidgeon of Mali, I have a smidgeon of Ashkenazi Jew and Neanderthal.

My mom surprised me by telling me that she had also done an Ancestry DNA and had attempted family trees but they were based on the adoptive families for my dad and her self. She admitted that she lost motivation – “it just wasn’t real to me” she said – and I understood. Someday I will create REAL family trees for both of my parents. It just hasn’t been a priority nor have I had the time so far.

I recently went through a long exchange with some woman I didn’t know who had included my parents in her own family tree. She was really dense and it was difficult to get through to her that the people she was saying my parents were related to – they weren’t related to. Finally, she got it and said she would correct it when she had time. I never went back to look.

Someone recently described being adopted as being forced to play a silly game of pretend. I understand. My parents had to pretend to be the natural born child of the people who adopted them. My dad’s perspective matched that. He believed once you are adopted the people who gave you birth are insignificant. Only the people who raised you mattered. The pity is – unknown to him – at the time of his death a half-sister was living 90 miles away from him in the same state of New Mexico and could have shared with him so much about his mother and the family that came of her.

When A Mother Doesn’t Want Her Child

Today’s adoptee story (not my own story) – Being adopted is having all of your rights stripped from you the minute you take a breath and become declared a human. That was my case. I had what is called a closed adoption.

There are many reasons people put their child up for adoption. Some women are coerced. Some have their children stolen. Some women just don’t want their child. That was me.

My birth mother named me, wrote down all of the non-identifying information about herself, her parents, my birth father, and his parents, and walked away to a fresh new start.

She had the child. She didn’t abort it. Many would agree that makes her a born again saint.

This is where no one wants to admit that the child will probably have many problems. That child was just given your epigenetics. The feelings you had while pregnant are now part of who that child is.

As for my mother, we have to assume things because she never used her words because she would never meet me or speak to me. She made me a living abortion by never having any responsibility or accountability for her actions. I assume she felt shame, guilt, embarrassment, anger, anxiety, and depression.

When my sisters and cousins met me, everyone said how much I looked like my mother and acted like her.

My emotions were torn.

I had always wanted to look and act like my family. Now I do, and the woman that gave birth to me is also the cause of my trauma. I wanted to rip my DNA out of my body.

I had suffered from anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation for most of my life. I had been given Prozac and Zoloft when I was in my mid 20’s. They caused me extreme pain in the back of my head. I came off of them and took an overdose of muscle relaxers one night and ended up in a psych ward over the weekend.

When I met with the doctor, he told me the prescriptions would have killed me had I not stopped taking them. I was having a reaction because of my low blood pressure. I did see a psychologist a few times after that, but it wasn’t any help.

I spent many years thinking I was fine after that. I had also learned not to let anyone really know what I was thinking after that.

I was in what is known as the “fog.” I went on with my life. I worked a lot and drank. I thought if I just stayed ahead of what I felt, I was ok.

The pain from adoption is there, whether we admit it or not. You can see it in people’s eyes when you say you’re adopted. They get that I’m sorry look. With so many people aware of the trauma adoption causes, you would think it would change.

As for me, I am doing everything I can now, to fix my epigenetics from my mother.

Limited Perspectives

I was thinking yesterday evening that the same mindset causes both adoptions and abortions. It is the limited perspective of the pregnant woman about what she believes she is capable of. In my adoption group there comes occasionally a pregnant woman who is trying to decide whether or not to surrender her baby to adoption. Not all adoptees say they are happy their mother didn’t abort them. It is a sad commentary on the experience of some adoptees and others feel they had a good enough life and accept that their mothers did the best they could in that moment for the higher good of all concerned.

So in the adoption group, when a pregnant mother shows up and hasn’t made a decision, the group always recommends several courses of action to her. The main one is – don’t decide right away. Don’t allow prospective adoptive parents to be at the hospital with you. Don’t sign the papers in advance. Spend some time with your infant. You can always make that choice – weeks, months later. Hopefully not years later when it may be even more traumatic. Give your infant some time with you. In these modern times, there are groups who will try to help you with the necessaries, at least in the short term.

I was reflecting recently on the fact that each of my parents were with their original mothers for about 6 to 8 months as infants. I take some comfort in knowing they had that forward development time not separated from the woman who gave birth to them. All a baby knows at birth is that mother who birthed them. I do know my dad’s mom breastfed him. I don’t know about my mom’s mom. Certainly once she was taken to Porter-Leath orphanage in Memphis, she would have been fed a bottle of formula (what was considered a formula at the time).

Most of the women who chose adoption or abortion do not believe they are capable of raising a child. Society’s willingness to financially help such women does not have a good track record. When I ran out of birth control while driving an 18-wheel truck cross county and quickly became pregnant, I knew that if I went through with that pregnancy, my partner was not going to be there for me. He said as much but he left my decisions up to me, if it can be called solely my decision under the circumstances. I already had struggled to raise my daughter following a divorce when I received no child support. Her father and a step-mother were raising her by this point. I chose an abortion. It was early in the pregnancy, the procedure was safe and legal and I’ve not regretted not being tied to that family by a child. I have struggled with the morality of it thanks to the vocal efforts of the Pro-Life contingent but it is a done deal.

As I have learned more about the subconscious trauma of babies being separated from their mothers for adoption, I am also glad I didn’t inflict that on my unrealized baby. I already had done enough damage to my daughter, though at the time I thought her circumstances were better than they were. Both of my sisters gave up babies to adoption. One always knew she was going to do that and went about it rather methodically. The other explored abortion but was too far along. She tried to get government assistance but was rejected because she was living with our parents and their financial resources were the grounds upon which she was denied (which I will always judge as very wrong of the system). Our mother, an adoptee herself, coerced my sister into choosing adoption. My parents were unwilling to take on the financial responsibility that potentially would have fallen upon them. We’ll never know what the alternatives would have yielded.

The point is that in my adoption group, time and again, I’ve seen a variety of outcomes. In some the young mother does wait and finds resources and decides without regret and great joy to try and parent her baby. Some make some other arrangements, either for temporary help or for an open adoption, that fail in some manner and it becomes a legal battle to get their child back or to know how the child is developing when as often happens, the adoptive parents renege on the open part.

It is said in a song – you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need. And I think generally speaking whatever we get, actually is what we needed, because the reality is, that is what we got. Hasty decisions can lead to a lifetime of regrets. I’ve seen that too in women who relinquished their child. I’ve been told that was the case for both of my own original grandmothers. Both remarried. One went on to have other children.

Foster Care Abuses

While some foster care abuses are extreme, some are more minor but still critical, like using the stipend for reasons other than directly related to the child. A book I read, Foster Girl (and reviewed in this blog) had some stories like that. The girls went through several foster homes over the years until they ended up in a wonderful one with a caring, mature single woman.

In the movie Just Mercy, the convicted white felon, Ralph Myers, who’s false testimony has put a Black man’s life in jeopardy of the death penalty, admits to the attorney that he grew up in foster care. While in a foster care, he was placed to sleep in the basement where the furnace blew up and his pajamas caught on fire for a frightening few minutes leaving him scarred for life. In attempting to coerce the false testimony that he had been unwilling to agree to at first, he was placed on death row where he was subjected to the smell of burning flesh that triggered for him a reaction that left him in a fetal position in his cell and willing to do whatever the authorities wanted of him. The damage of spending his childhood in foster care derailed the remainder of his life.

The inspiration for today’s blog came when I read about the untimely death of Victoria Spry as she was only 35 years old when she died. She is known for the horrendous stories of her sadistic foster mother. This is admittedly an extreme example of abuses suffered while in foster care.

She was abused by Eunice Spry for almost 20 years. In 2007, a court heard how her foster mother beat her and two other children with sticks and metal bars, scrubbed their skin with sandpaper, and forced them to eat lard, bleach, vomit and even their own feces. Eunice Spry was a Jehovah’s Witnesses. She was punishing the children because she thought they were possessed by the devil. Once she even kept two of them imprisoned, naked and starving, in a room for a month.

How was it that welfare officials failed to pick up on the abuse ?

Spry was convicted of 26 charges including unlawful wounding, cruelty to a person under 16, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, perverting the course of justice, and witness intimidation. Justice appeared to arrive for Eunice who was 62 years old when she was imprisoned for 14 years. However, her sentence was reduced to 12 years on appeal. She was freed in 2014.

Victoria wrote a book titled Tortured and then spent her short life working to improve the system that had failed her. Apparently not allowing anger to be her focus but helping other children involved with the foster care system.

As a society, when will we learn that supporting struggling families at risk is preferable to removing them from the families they were born into and placing them with strangers in foster care ?