Glitter Birthmoms

This is a new term for me this morning but I will admit I struggle with this now. At one time, I wouldn’t have but I have learned too much related to all things adoption to go along with the denial or self soothing perspectives that the adoption industry puts forth and way too many mothers who surrender a baby to adoption absorb and then believe it. These birthmoms speak about adoption as some win/win scenario.

Someone asked the obvious question – What are glitter birth moms? And here was the response – Someone who is glad they adopted out their child and doesn’t regret it.

One woman talked about the ones she sees that are proudly proclaiming their child is in a closed adoption for their own “privacy” but are also Extremely Online, using their full name and photo, IDing themselves as biological moms. Uh, that’s not really how privacy works but they’ll find that out when the adoptee does DNA and matches with close relatives. (And this does happen increasingly these days – in fact DNA and matching has revealed to me my adoptee parents’ – both were – genetic families).

Just recently, I saw one like this from a Christian agency and the woman has gone into counseling unwed mothers to surrender after getting a degree in some social work area. I just couldn’t . . . Here is how someone describes a similar situation – The ones whose stories adoption agencies/adoptive parents trot out in adoption circles to reinforce the narratives they want. They usually talk about how young they were or what obstacles they had, how they picked the adoptive parents (blogger’s note – and I actually supported my youngest sister during a pregnancy where she sent me the profiles to give her a second opinion but that was before I learned all I have learned), what wonderful people the adoptive parents are, how they have thrived since then, sometimes how their child is doing, and saying they know they “made the right decision.” They paint adoption as “giving my child a better life than I could offer.” All of this is very typical.

One adoptee said about such women – my guess is denial and a way to deal with guilt, they can safely live in the fog. I hate the way adoption is always about the parents, adopted or biological.

Another adoptee shares this –

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I don’t **know** this is how my birth mom is for a fact… but at least on the surface she fits the bill on
paper;

She had me at 16, before her 17th birthday

& Because she placed me for adoption

(and that she escaped the stigma,
as she didn’t show and no one knew she was pregnant)

She was able to easily graduate high school

Get her bachelor degree

Married the “love of her life”

And have two well behaved sons at the appropriate time deemed by society

She is a pillar of her community, a kindergarten teacher

She is head of PTA and very active at fighting for kids rights and services in her community (ironically)

It hurts more because I was always
fed the narrative “she did this for me” “she wanted you to have a better life”

No.

It was always about her

She wanted a better life

She wanted to escape stigma

It was never about me

Another adoptee shares – My “unfit” biological parents both went on to have more children and raised them in stable, loving families, unlike the adoptive one I got. Like we always say, placing your child or adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary problem and nothing to be proud of. My biological parents can insist they did it out of love for me all they want but all I would ever hear is “we couldn’t be bothered to get our shit together in time to keep you in the family but look at all these lucky siblings we did do that for!”

And this was an important piece of advice – Please don’t start framing adoptees as either having a “negative experience” or “bitter and abandoned.” This will only silence your child and make them feel they cannot share complex feelings. The best thing I ever did for my daughter was tell her she had every right to feel however she wants over a situation she had no control or say over. Its quite possible for adoptees to love their parents but find parts of their adoption traumatic or challenging. For Example my daughter mourns not growing up with her siblings I get to raise. That doesn’t make her bitter or negative – its a completely normal response to an abnormal situation.

Someone shares this, which I alluded to above about a Christian agency – There are glitter birth moms who make a career out of it, by becoming an “adoption professional” and are paid by agencies to speak at events, promote adoption to other expectant mothers, etc. I follow them closely. It has a two fold impact – not only is the birth Mum able to turn their relinquishment into an income stream but it continually reinforces to them that they made the right choice. And this is far easier to live with than being open to considering the alternative. I have seen one of them do a complete change – she was actually featured in national articles supporting adoption. I’m not exactly sure what happened – whether the openness reduced, the reality of what she had done started to sink in as her child got older, however I have seen her talk about how her she has really struggled with her mental health. She hasn’t come out and owned her past but I have seen her commenting against adoption now.

And this very honest assessment that has some balance integrated into it – I don’t know if I’m considered a glitter birth mom, I don’t regret placing my daughter given the circumstances of my life at that time and the circumstances of her current life. However, I wouldn’t preach that it’s the greatest thing ever either. I just feel it was the best choice out of the ones I had at that time. I didn’t do it all for her, yes she was definitely a consideration but I’ll admit my choice was selfish too.

That’s part of why when I see women being praised when they are considering adoption that it irks me so much. It’s not selfless and brave and giving some couple a chance at parenthood. It’s hard, and emotional and traumatic for everyone and people don’t want to hear that. My daughter is 9 and it breaks my heart a little. She told me she never wants to be pregnant and have biological children. She wants to adopt children like she was and I wonder if this is her way of reacting to her trauma. I see her often, I’m pregnant with her little brother and first biological sibling, and she’s so in love with him but I worry how she’ll feel when he’s here, the relationship that they could have had, if she hadn’t been placed.

Lastly, in the realm of Welfare Queens exploiting a system, I need to include this sadly misguided perspective on it all – There is a glitter birthmom in my life. She was a former foster youth who aged out and has been having children since then. Her oldest is 24 and she is pregnant with #12? now. She has raised none and actually believes she is doing good by giving infertile families babies and encourages her biological children to do the same with her own grand babies.  I believe it is a survival narrative. She knows how to get housing and WIC and medical care and all sorts of benefits. She does not see the impact of her decisions on her children – even those who have been vocal with her about it. And the trauma of knowing they have siblings all over the country that they may never meet. It is a sad cycle being repeated by the next generation.

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.

Not A Blank Slate

One of the most enduring myths is that a baby is born as a blank slate that the parents get to write upon. The baby thief, Georgia Tann, used that concept as a marketing ploy for 30 years with adoptive parents but guess what ? The blank slate idea is alive and well.

Today, prospective adoptive couples are advertising on social media and adoptees find it very hard to take that without making comments from their own personal experience. One adoptee commented on one of these social media posts of a couple seeking a baby to adopt and got this response from another person there –

Babies actually are a blank slate. They are meant to be shaped, formed and nurtured by those that surround them. This family could be the second chance for a mother struggling with a difficult decision. I’m saddened to see your hate filled comments directed at a family who is struggling. Show some compassion.

The adoptee replied – I’m sorry you can’t have a child of your own. Adoption is not what you think. Babies are not blank slates and will forever yearn for their family. Please educate yourself prior to posting this stuff on Facebook and preying on a woman who is in need of support, she does not need strangers ripping away her child for their own self serving rights. Educate yourselves first. It’s preying on children. There is something bigger going on inside of your heart that you need to address. Get some support to help you heal and in the meantime, stop preying on humans.

Hopeful and already Adoptive Parents –

If you could look into the future and know that the child you will adopt will resent you for adopting them, for the actions you took to acquire them, for paying for them, would you continue the process? Does hearing what adoptees say in private, but keep from their adopters, give you a glimpse into what that future might be? (I share such stories here all the time.) If you knew for a fact that their thoughts and feelings would be in the same vein as what you hear from grown adoptees, would you still keep trying to adopt? If you knew the child you are seeking to adopt would commit suicide from the pain their adoption brought them, would you still keep trying?

But of course, hopeful and already adoptive parents live in la-la land for the most part and such warnings simply fall on deaf ears.

What is C-PTSD ?

Most of us have heard of PTSD but until this morning, I didn’t know there was a more severe version called Complex-PTSD.

Most people who have looked at adoption very closely already know that trauma is an aspect of having been surrendered to adoption for most adoptees.  I’ve become so steeped in it that I can recognize effects now in statements made by an adoptee that to them a vague issues they still don’t know the source of.  This lack of awareness occurs most often in teenagers and young adults.  Most mature adoptees have worked through many of these and may have had some counseling or therapy to help them uncover the underlying emotions and possible sources of these.

Complex PTSD, however, is specific to severe, repetitive trauma that typically happens in childhood – most often abuse.  On the surface, both PTSD and C-PTSD both come as the result of something deeply traumatic, they cause flashbacks, nightmares and insomnia, and they can make people live in fear even when they are safe.

The very heart of C-PTSD – what causes it, how it manifests internally, the lifelong effects (including medically), and its ability to reshape a person’s entire outlook on life – is what makes it considerably different.

PTSD typically results from “short-lived trauma”, or traumas of time-limited duration. Complex PTSD stems from chronic, long-term exposure to trauma in which a victim has limited belief it will ever end or cannot foresee a time that it might. This can include: child abuse, long-term domestic violence, being held in captivity, living in crisis conditions/a war zone, child exploitation, human trafficking, and more.

The causal factors are not all that separates PTSD from C-PTSD. How their symptoms manifest can tell you even more. PTSD is weighted heaviest in the post-traumatic symptoms: nightmares, flashbacks, hyperarousal/startle response, paranoia, bursts of emotion, etc.

C-PTSD includes all the symptoms of PTSD as well as a change in self-concept. How one sees themselves, their perpetrator, their morals and values, their faith in others or a god. This can overhaul a survivor’s entire world view as they try to make sense of their trauma and still maintain a belief that they, and the world around them, could still be good or safe.

When an adult experiences a traumatic event, they have more tools to understand what is happening to them, their place as a victim of that trauma, and know they should seek support even if they don’t want to. Children don’t possess most of these skills, or even the ability to separate themselves from another’s unconscionable actions. The psychological and developmental implications of that become complexly woven and spun into who that child believes themselves to be — creating a messy web of core beliefs much harder to untangle than the flashbacks, nightmares and other post-traumatic symptoms that come later.

The effects are usually deeply interpersonal within that child’s caregiving system. Separate from both the traumatic events and the perpetrator, there is often an added component of neglect, hot-and-cold affections from a primary caregiver, or outright invalidation of the trauma, if a child does try to speak up. These disorganized attachments and mixed messages from those who are supposed to provide love, comfort and safety – all in the periphery of extreme trauma – can create unique struggles.

Credit for this blog and for the beginning of my education in this new concept goes to Beauty After Bruises.

Is It Really Necessary ?

So is adoption really necessary ?

One could conclude that an orphan should ideally be adopted by the guardians assigned before the parent‘s demise. For foster kids, who would like to be adopted, after parental rights were terminated. Guardianship or temporary fostering could suffice to serve the needs of children in most cases.

It may be that the only time adoption is “necessary” (and one could always argue that word) would be for an older child or teen, whose parents have already signed termination of parental rights.  But only if the child has asked for that without prompting. And the child’s name should never be changed unless the child wants their name changed to feel more in harmony with the rest of the family.  And go slowly on that one because it could be only a temporary phase that won’t be as lasting as changing the child’s name.  The child does need to be empowered in a situation in which they don’t have a lot of control otherwise.

There are very sad and difficult cases.  For example, cases of extreme abuse and neglect where the mother refuses all offers of assistance. Where there is no other family able or willing to help.  There could be no way that this child could ever be safe with their original family. Counseling will be required for every person involved.  Some contact with the original family should be maintained if at all possible, if nothing more than knowing how to reach them.  In the best cases, monitoring for a changed status.  There is always the possibility of change because change is a constant.

Regarding guardianship, some judges and courts may have concerns that the guardianship could too easily be terminated and the child would lose a sense of permanency.  However, a child’s sense of attachment was destroyed the minute their family of origin was severed from them.

Still the question remains – to fully love, protect and be a family is adoption necessary ? Full custody as an alternative to adoption can accomplish the same legal requirements. The system has been an enabler for white saviorism and has made adoption like a free for all.  It’s unethical that so often the natural family is not allowed to give any input and the lack of effort put into connecting these kids to their kin just is mind boggling.

The best adoptive families, upon becoming more enlightened about the impacts of adoption, will make attempts to mitigate the inevitable difficulties for the child (some of these can include not changing the child’s name, learning about the child’s original mother and if possible opening up contact with her and with any other related siblings).  Though most adoptive parents genuinely feel they are doing the right thing . . . when we know better, we do better.

Shocking Statistics

Private adoption is illegal in other countries. America has made the buying and selling of children a business; a multi billion dollar industry. Children are the commodity.

A woman writes – “I spent the first 16 years of my adoption experience as a ‘birth’ mother in complete isolation. It was preceded by the nearly 10 months of family-conducted isolation during my pregnancy. Such is the life of a shamed pregnant teenager. I had personally never known either an adopted person or a natural mother. ”

Clearly isolation isn’t simply for a time of a global pandemic.  Young women have been isolated for decades in order to relieve them of their baby when it is born.

She goes on to acknowledge – “If I could relive that day (when she gave birth) again, I would run from that hospital with her in my arms and never look back. I would take my chances with being homeless and the foster care system.”

The truth is that “better” life for your child is nothing more than a different life.

Over time, she came to see – that an adoption agent and her very own mother reduced her to a bodily function for total strangers.  It has landed her in trauma therapy. She didn’t receive counseling before or after the adoption by the agency. She had secretly held herself together somehow all these years only to discover she had been suffering with PTSD stemming directly from the adoption itself.

There is a world full of adoptees and natural moms in Adoptionland who have found each other in virtual space and are a kind of sisterhood that understands each other’s pain.  I belong to a group like that.  I have learned so much from reading about the direct experiences and points of view.  So much so that I no longer support the commercial practice of adoption.

Better To Have Been Aborted

It may surprise a reader to know this, but many adoptees actually wish they would have been aborted.  That is how painful it is to be given up for adoption and doubly painful if the adopting parents prove to further damage an already damaged soul.

I am pro-Choice and pro-life.  Not pro-Life like most of those are.  They are only pro-Birth, truth be told.  They are not willing to fund adequate financial support to struggling mothers so that they can keep and raise their children.

The world has enough people already.  We do NOT need to be fruitful and multiply any more.  In fact, we have not needed to do that for a very long time.  The population explosion first occurred on a small scale and with a relatively moderate intensity in Europe and America, more or less between 1750 and 1950.  Enough is enough.  If a couple wants to have children and is willing to fully support raising them, I’m all for it.  Otherwise, trust women to make the best decision and stop stressing over the babies you imagine they have killed.

I fully understand what it feels like for a child to be born into this world unwanted and unprepared for. My maternal grandmother never had any other children because of the shame and guilt she felt at having surrendered a child for adoption. She died too young and I fear what happened to separate her from my mom haunted her for her entire life.

I am a woman who chose to have an abortion. The timing was wrong, the father was wrong to make any kind of commitment and the pregnancy was not developing normally.  I am grateful I could go to a clean clinic, where I received counseling and good treatment.  It still haunted me.  I had a child before the abortion who I am forever glad I kept (even though some circumstances at the time of her conception suggested I should not have – I knew she would be just fine and she was/is).  I am a woman who went on to have two very wanted sons when I entered into a marriage to a good man who wanted to be a good father and he is.

Misunderstood

Suddenly, friends and family have discovered what I have been writing about daily for over a year and they are understandably confused.  I would not have understood before about two years ago myself.  Both of my parents were adopted and so adoption was the most natural thing in the world to me.  Both of my sisters gave up children to adoption.  What I can say is that ignorance is bliss.

But for adoption I would not exist and I never forget that.  But for adoption my mother would have grown up in abject poverty instead of the privileges of wealth as the child of a banker and socialite.  My husband has said that my story could be viewed as pro-adoption and that is the truth.

Even so, I cannot ignore the many voices of adoptees and the original mothers who have suffered because adoption carries with it inherent wounds and that is what I tend to try and explain in this blog.

Even so, today I read a heartwarming story.  I am sympathetic to the pain of infertility.  I do believe that couples who have struggled with that really DO need to seek counseling before adopting any child.

Back to that heartwarming story.  A couple was traveling on an airplane with their 8 day old adopted daughter.  The mother have given birth in Colorado.  It had been nine long years of fertility treatments, miscarriages and adoption stress for this couple.

A flight attendant announced that he’d be passing out napkins and pens for anyone who wanted to jot down a message for the new parents. The cabin erupted into cheers and applause. A steady stream of people came by to coo and congratulate the couple.

One of the napkins read: “I was adopted 64 years ago. Thank you for giving this child a loving family to be part of. Us adopted kids need a little extra love. Congratulations.”  YES, some adoptees are truly grateful and I do not doubt that but I pause on that thought “adopted kids need a little extra love.”  Hmmmm.

The flight attendants explained to the couple that they are married, and a fellow flight attendant had done this for them while they were on their honeymoon. They wanted to pay it forward.

The new father shared, “Adoption is wild with uncertainty.  You wonder, is this birth mother going to choose us? What happens if she changes her mind, if she backs out?”  The overwhelming support the couple felt during that plane trip was also a time when they were worried that their daughter might somehow be stigmatized.

Southwest Airlines released a statement saying, in part, that the crew showed “kindness and heart” on that flight.  Common kindness always matters.  I actually do care about every part of the adoption triad.  Just saying.

A Need To Educate

The general consensus in society is that adoption is a good thing.  I used to think that way too.  Both of my parents were adoptees.  Both of my sisters gave up children to adoption.  Adoption was the most natural thing in Life to me.

Then, I learned the stories of my original grandparents and how sad and tragic the loss of their babies were for each of my grandmothers.  I joined a large but private Facebook group that has been educating me about how it feels to be adopted and how it feels to lose one’s child to adoption.  I have also read a lot of books about the subject from all perspectives EXCEPT why it is so wonderful for anyone to adopt a baby that was conceived and birthed by someone else.

The reason I don’t go “there” is that I no longer can claim that adoption is natural nor can I say to anyone that it is a good thing.  Having my eyes opened up to many experiences of other people who have been adversely impacted by the practice of adoption and the methods employed by a profit motivated enterprise, I feel a duty and responsibility to shout my newest understandings out into the world.

Maybe I can save some other desperate young mother and her child from the all too common impacts that others have suffered due to a society that promotes the separation of mothers from their children one way or another.

If you who are reading this adopted with the best of intentions, I do understand your heart was in the right place and whatever damage has been done, it is done.  Get counseling for yourself and your adopted child.  If you are a mother permanently sad and depressed by what you did, I know you were doing the best you knew how to do at the time.  Get yourself counseling and always be willing to meet your child face to face and find out the honest truth, so that each of you can heal.

If I help even one other person by sharing what I have learned, it will have been worth the effort . . .

A New Way – Adoption

If I could, this is the “new way” I’d like to see adoption, going forward.

No secrets.

No change to the original birth certificate.

Prospective adoptive parents really should adopt out of the foster care system
and not take young woman’s infant from them.

Always family preservation should be the primary goal. Mothers should be encouraged to keep and raise their babies.

Any adoption that does occur should be centered on the child’s needs.

Lifetime counseling for adoptees should be part of any licensed agency’s business model. Post-adoption issues are real and prevalent.

No intermediaries at reunions.

Do away from the concept of “non-identifying” information. Adoptees have the
right to know the specific details of their origins.