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 ?

Feeding With Love And Good Sense

My topic today started out being about foster parents who resent feeding their foster children.  Of course, not all foster parents are that way but it seems that some are.  It appears that some people foster solely as a source of extra income.

It is well known that foster children often have some very serious traumatic effects that cause them to display a variety of behaviors.  Picky eating has been linked with psychiatric problems, including anxiety and symptoms of depression.  The mental problems sometimes worsen as the picky eating becomes more severe.  That untouched plate and look of disgust on your child’s face at mealtime might be a sign.

My older son was eating Salmon at 18 mos of age.  This amazed my parents.  At the time, I had read a book by Ellyn Satter titled Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense.  Because of what I read in this book, when a family friend made a separate meal for her daughter, I thought it wrong but kept my judgement to myself.  Satter advises – It is a parent’s job to put good quality food on the table.  It is the child’s job to eat.  And mostly I agree.

Except that along came my younger son.  I believe he has texture issues.  He also developed car sickness at only a few months of age, which we eventually treated with a preventive tincture of ginger and peppermint with definite success.  There is no way you can force this kid to eat anything he doesn’t want to.  He’ll simply throw up and we have so much experience with those outcomes in the car, we have no desire to cause more of them.

Even so, he is healthy and according to his pediatrician of normal weight.  It’s hard to tell with kids while they are growing up.  They bulk up and then shoot up.  I do my best to provide him with nutritious meals – even though some could be questioned by dietary purists.  And I do cook for him separately.

Even so, my kids are not traumatized.  I simply cannot understand any person willing to take on the challenges of children who have ended up in foster care and then take a hard-hearted attitude towards feeding them.

Related statements from a foster parent –

“When you get a child that comes to you and their family was on food assistance etc. – which I have nothing against but when they say ‘I don’t eat leftovers’, it really erks me. We had to use assistance many years ago and the amount they give you, was more than needed.  You could buy name brand everything and eat like kings.  I just said, ‘we don’t have that luxury, we have to pay for our food. So you’re going to have to get used to it.’ And its only maybe twice a week and definitely, I am not making something just for her.”

Some additional comments from a couple of foster parents to the above –

“We’re not personal chefs. Prepare them for the real world.”

“Foster kids eat what they get. I serve the same thing until they eat it. If they don’t like it, they can go to bed hungry.”

Personally, I do NOT believe ANY child needs to go to bed hungry, if it can be avoided.  Period.  In my family, no one is forced to eat leftovers but thankfully, my husband thinks they make a great, quick lunch.  One final note – this country has an obesity epidemic and the causes are multiple.  However, I do believe that allowing children to only eat what they feel like eating, teaches them to read their body signals.  In fact, in our household, only the main meal is served as a family.  The other times we eat, is when our hunger drives us to seek satisfaction.

Intertwined and Corrupt

In the adoption group I belong to, an adoptive mother wrote –

If you understand how deeply corrupt adoption is, and do not understand how deeply corrupt the justice system is, then you may need to re-evaluate how much you REALLY believe adoption is corrupt.  This can also be said the opposite way.  Both systems use each other to remain corrupt.  In my opinion, if you support one of these systems, you ultimately support both. This is not political either. Just basic human rights.

Let me say it again – this woman describes herself as a adoptive mother.  WTF ?

One adoptee replied –

I’m not making a statement on my opinion of the justice system. What I’m saying is that this is an adoption page where the focus is adoption. Nobody, especially an entitled, self-important baby buyer is going to hijack this page for her own agenda. It pisses me off to have an adoptive parent tell me that I’m not allowed to speak out about adoption unless I follow her rules. Fuck her! Let those that have lived experience with the justice system speak their truths and be heard in their forums. This space is for us.

Another adoptee noted –

You cannot dismantle the systems of adoption that affect us as adoptees, without addressing ALL of the systems that fail ALL OF US.  The fact is, adoption, AND the justice system both fail people of color far more, and far worse, than they fail white people.

Another responder affirmed –

The criminal justice system does play a part in the adoption system and adoption reform. It definitely played a part in my case along with many other cases… they absolutely go hand in hand.

And the best response was this –

Adoption is driven by selfish, baby seeking citizens who think they are better. The demand of these selfish and/or savior minded citizens is what drives the corruption because supply does not meet demand. Demand equals money equals corruption, coercion, manipulation. Every single person that goes into the corrupt system of adoption wants the same thing…a child. The goal is singular. Take a child from their mother: We adoptees are the pawns. The ones that have so much value people are willing to pay $30000/$40000 to get us. Hopeful adoptive parents don’t care about our rights and don’t care that they are paying to ruin lives.

So let’s say it this way “If you understand deeply how corrupt the justice system is and you don’t understand how corrupt the adoption/foster system is and how YOU are part of that corruption – then maybe you need to re-evaluate”

 

Questionable Motives

The problem with adoption agencies is their motive to promote their business.  It is always about the money though they will market their services in emotional, heart wrenching ways.

Adoption IS giving your baby away and it is about the agency SELLING your baby to someone who has the financial resources to pay for that baby.

Instead of posting on social media that you are praying to God for this desperate young mother to CALL you and give HER baby to you, it would be more altruistic to pray for support so that this mom could successfully parent her child. People who work for adoption agencies think it is okay to pray to God for a mom’s downfall so that she will ultimately chose to relinquish her baby to THEM.

Sadly, both the people working for an adoption agency and prospective adoptive parents all too often USE religion to coerce vulnerable people into doing what is to the benefit of these motivated people.

If you are a believer, then here is the truth – God did choose parents for that baby which is fully within the Christian viewpoint. Here’s a relevant example for you – wasn’t Mary only 13 years old and unmarried when she conceived Jesus ? And possibly homeless ? I don’t remember the part where God sent an adoption agency over to make things “right” for her.

And if anyone ever wonders why an adoptee would turn away from Christianity, here are your examples. Adoption agency workers and prospective adoptive parents literally praying for the trauma and separation in a genetic family to fulfill their own selfish desires.