Why Adoptees Wish They Had Been Aborted

This is not the first time and it probably will not be the last time.  For those of us who are grateful we have a life (and I am one of those), it can be hard to read that adoptees way too often wish they had been aborted and not given up for adoption.  It flies against every happily ever after story you may have ever heard about how wonderful it is to finally create your family thanks to a woman losing her child.  It is not wonderful for that woman nor is it wonderful for that child.

Today, I read one such comment – “I literally would have rather been aborted than adopted. Fuck adoption. It did nothing good for me and only led to years of self hate.”

Another said to a mom who just gave a newborn up for adoption – “Your kept children will be 50 and still talking about the one you gave away.”  This is probably true.  When I found my dad’s genetic family, they said as much.  They knew about him.  Wanted to know him and said his mother NEVER got over giving him up.

One woman gave her daughter up for adoption 14 yrs ago.  She admits it was the hardest thing that she had to ever had to do in her life.  The story gets worse.  Back then the agencies only offered a 5 year open adoption, not an 18 year one.   Guess what ?  the adoptive parents vanished without a trace after 8 years. This mother has’t seen or heard anything from them. She asserts – “I will find her one day.”  Then admits that she has other offspring who are already “looking” for their lost sibling.

Fact is – whether they were family friends before your pregnancy or not, once they have your child, you are pretty much disposable.  Sadly.

And the fact is, most friendships, or even family relationships, aren’t strong enough to stand up to the power imbalance of adoption. It’s like the sword of Damocles hanging over your head.

Yes, there is a decided power imbalance between a desperate pregnant soon to be mother with no access to resources and the people with the money (the adoptive parents, the adoption agencies, the lawyers, the social workers).  The deck is stacked against you and you will need to face this directly, before you take that permanent step.

If you are lucky, someday your child will find you and like my own mom wanted to do, let you know that she survived and is okay.  Worst case, your child will hate you for how her life turned out and wish she had been aborted instead.

 

It Is NOT God’s Plan

Many Christian couples who struggle with infertility begin to believe somehow that this signals God’s desire that they adopt someone else’s newborn baby.  This baby is not a blank slate. Newborn or infant adoption is not mostly trauma-free simply because this human being is pre-verbal.

I don’t believe for a minute that God is deliberately punishing you by causing you to become pregnant under difficult circumstances only to hand your baby over to complete strangers and then more or less throw you away (forget you ever existed or mattered).

What is actually selfish ?  Saying that giving a child up for adoption is the most selfless thing someone can do is flawed logic.  Does that mean biological mothers who keep their infants are selfish for keeping them ?  It is selfish not to give your precious baby to the more privileged minority of people who have much better financial resources to parent with ?  If that logic were true, then all biological parents would give their children to someone else to parent, since it is selfless towards the child to keep them when someone else has greater resources.

Using God to take away someone else’s baby is exploiting a vulnerable person and trying to use any belief in God they might have to coerce them to YOUR will.  This is not God’s will, this is you trying to use God for your own purposes.

I will never be able to get behind the idea that God got the wombs mixed up when he gave a baby to their mother.  God didn’t give a little baby to one mother for her and her baby to go through the rest of their lives with trauma simply to “heal the infertile wounds” of another couple.

It just doesn’t work that way but Christian couples are very prone to use their religion to justify taking a baby away from a vulnerable mother.

Young and Foolish

There is a raging debate in an adoption group I belong to over what it is like to be young and foolish causing one not to be a good mother.  Part of the debate has to do with how much time it could take for a 21 yr old, unsupported and drug addicted, partying mother to get her act together.  Fortunately, the baby in question that was taken by Child Protective Services is currently in place with a relative who has worked hard to keep the child in contact with the mother and wants to maintain family care for the infant so that the child can know the child’s grandmother, great-grandmother and other extended family.

I wasn’t a good mother when I was in my early twenties.  I gave birth at 19 and was divorced by age 23.  My marriage had involved drug use.  My perspective was still wild and free and partying.  I did manage to hold down a job and pay rent but I struggled financially, often going to my mom for inadequate $20 handouts and had an ex-husband who refused to pay child support because he believed I would just party on that money.  He never seemed to give any consideration to the cost of child care, pediatricians, much less food and clothing.

So, in desperation I took my child to her paternal grandmother (not expecting my parents to approve of my plan to head out on an 18-wheel truck in order to make some real money).  Eventually, her father remarried a woman with a child and they conceived another child together.  This ended my plan to come back and continue to raise my daughter because I could not give her the family he could and I was still struggling financially.

I am totally in favor of maintaining family ties when a young mother isn’t mature enough or financially sound enough to support her child.  Adoption by strangers should ALWAYS be the absolute last resort.  Eventually, I matured.  I married a man when I was 33 and we went on to have two sons together.  I truly had felt like a failure at parenting.  I was simply too young and too unsupported to have done better.  I know now that was the truth of it.

Before and After

I’ve only just started reading the nonfiction sequel – Before and After – to Lisa Wingate’s bestselling fictional novel Before We Were Yours.  Sadly, the true life stories of Georgia Tann’s victims are all too familiar to me and her methods clear in my family’s own circumstances.  I may have more to say about the book when I finish reading it.

There actually was an adoption ring in Memphis in the decades from 1930 to 1950.  The movers and shakers in Memphis were all to happy to make Georgia Tann the scapegoat and bury the evidence along with her – when she conveniently died of the complications of cancer.  It was an opportune moment, just before criminal charges were going to be filed against her.  And those charges would have only been profiting illegally from the placements and not the worst accusations against Tann.

Her legacy of wrongs emerged as her story came back to light in the early 1990s and eventually caused a law to open the sealed adoption records for the victims by the state of Tennessee.  I have that law to thank for my mom’s adoption file.  Sealed records remain a hindrance for adoptees in many states even today.  I know, I’ve hit locked doors in California, Virginia and Arizona.

Thanks to Lisa Wingate’s fabulously popular telling of the Georgia Tann scandal in a compelling story, the whole story is being added to and told yet again.  This brings some justice to the victims and their descendants.  I am one of an unfortunate community of such persons.  There are thousands of us.

In our family’s story – the adoption ring was composed of Georgia Robinson (the superintendent at Porter-Leath Orphanage who conveniently retired early just before the scandal report was released), Juvenile Court Judge Camille Kelley (who was forced to retire because of it) and of course, the Baby Thief herself, Georgia Tann.  Miss Robinson seems to have escaped the scandal with her “good name” intact but it was she who betrayed my original grandmother.  Porter-Leath took my mom in for TEMPORARY CARE.  Miss Robinson alerted Georgia Tann to the presence of a “highly marketable” blond baby girl less than a year old.

Judge Camille Kelley was involved in my original grandmother’s life when she first returned to Memphis, after having given birth to my mom in Virginia.  Since my grandmother’s widowed father and siblings still lived in rural Tennessee east of Memphis, I can only assume her father sent her away to have my mom after her husband seemed to desert them.  I will never have the answer to the questions that weigh heavily on my heart about why that seemingly good man – my original grandfather – did that.  Later, when my adoptive grandmother was on her way to collect her prize, Judge Kelley threatened my original grandfather with a subpoena if he didn’t sign the surrender papers.

There is no doubt in my mind that Georgia Tann exploited my desperate grandmother with a no win demand – surrender or be declared unfit (her only deficiency being a financial one).  It is also clear that 4 days after signing the surrender papers, my grandmother tried to recover my mom – but Georgia Tann had a paying customer and no way was she going to let my mom go out of her control.

Sometimes It Helps To Know

Street Urchins

The Industrial Revolution in the 1880s and the influx of 35 million European immigrants to the US swelled the ranks of the poor.  Some families were unable to care for their children.  Desperate mothers gave their babies to workers at foundling asylums. Lacking resources, these children were sometimes boarded with uneducated women who killed them with neglect.

Any abandoned children found by the police were usually already dead.

Poorhouses were filthy institutions to which abandoned children were sent if they lived to the age of 4. In these places, the children were mixed in with criminally insane adults.

In times like that, orphanages must have seemed like progress.  However, early orphanages had mortality rates as high as 50%.

Another option was a “baby farm”. These were homes or apartments where, for a fee, uneducated women housed babies whose parents were unable to raise them. Some baby farmers received periodic payments, others were paid in lump sums. Some of these farmers starved, suffocated or drowned “paid for” babies.

If the owner of a “baby farm” took out insurance on the lives of the babies in their care, the death toll rose higher. An 1895 editorial in the New York Times suggested that “life insurance for children should be declared invalid because it was a temptation to inhuman crimes.”

Understandably, children growing up in poorhouses or baby farms, who survived into adolescence, often fled as soon as they were able. Therefore, by 1872, the number of street urchins was high. These children were left to beg, steal, sell newspapers and at times even prostituted themselves for food.

They were the “apple boys” and “flower girls” who sold their goods on street corners, the “singing girls” who boarded docked ships at night to entertain the men with music (and were sometimes raped).

These children slept on steps, in filthy cellars, on the iron tubes of bridges or burned-out safes on Wall Street. Ten would pile together on cold winter nights for warmth or fight for spots near grates through which hot air blew, generated by underground presses.

Homeless children had been so poorly valued that one orphanage in Nashville was called – The Home for Friendless Children. These children were often referred to as “ragamuffins”, “little wanderers”, “street Arabs” or “guttersnipes”.

Massachusetts passed the country’s first adoption law in 1851. Looked at it historically, it would seem an improvement.  Poverty has always been – and continues to be – the reason that children are separated from their natural parents.  Sadly.

The Baby Thief

Frances Irene Moore age 6 mos

 I have started to re-read The Baby Thief by Barbara Bisantz Raymond.  I first read this in late March 2016, after returning home from beginning the task of closing out my deceased parents’ estate.  I had known since a young age that my mom’s adoption was sourced from the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis but I knew nothing about the scandal that was Georgia Tann.  I would not have my mom’s adoption file until late October 2017.

At the time, it was hard reading because many of the stories were much worse than the outcome for my mother and her brother.  They were fortunate ones.  My grandparents loved them and were good to us as their grandchildren.

Look at my mom.  That is not an abused child.  She is healthy, almost fat with infancy’s chubbiness.  Well-fed it could be said.  Her mother had taken good care of her.  My grandmother was not unwed.  However, her husband left her 4 mos pregnant and did not respond when my grandmother reached out to him when my mom was not even yet 3 mos old.

For the life of me, I don’t understand.  He seems like a good man.  And yeah, I know he was poor and had other children he was struggling to support.  But what happened between them?  He didn’t even divorce her for 3 years and by then my mom was out of reach and her adoption had been finalized.

And my great-grandfather denied them shelter in the childhood family home.  It is said he resented her marriage.  I would guess what he resented was my grandfather leaving her 4 mos pregnant.

My desperate grandmother fell into the well-connected Georgia Tann’s trap when she sought temporary care for my mom at the storied Porter-Leath orphanage.  She was trying so hard to find a way to support the two of them on her own with few skills.  Tears form in my eyes just thinking about all of this.

Entitlement

It has been a long process for me of wrapping my mind around the issues of what is bad about adoption and needs reform.  Forgive me a little rant and hopefully a bit of educating for those who care but really don’t know what the issues are.  Thanks to an outspoken group of women who are adoptees, or have been in the institutional trenches, I am beginning to understand there are problems in adoptionland.

I’ll share a few as starters.

Going all the way back to the 1930s, and my own grandmothers – up through my own sisters, I believe they would have ALL kept their children – IF they had had the support they needed.

In adoption propaganda, it is often said that the original parents made the “most selfless decision” by giving up the raising of their own child.  It is not selfish to want to keep your child, even when you are struggling to do so. It is not a selfless decision to give your child to someone else, it is an act of desperation.

The determining factor should always be what matters most for the well-being of the child.  The dominant narrative in the adoption community has been stories of “selfless birth parents” who simply wanted a “better life” for their child.  Of course, they wanted a “better life” and they would have preferred to have been the ones providing it.

There are alternatives to adoption for infertile couples – kinship care, legal guardianship without lying on birth certificates or choosing the charity of giving whatever kind of assistance the original Mom or Dad need to help them parent successfully.

I seriously question the agenda of Christians who push adoption.  I suspect they are wanting to create more Christians by taking children who would not have been raised according to their own belief system, knowing that their way is the superior one of course, and indoctrinating these children into “the way” of their own religion.

And I am seriously concerned by crowd funding for adoption costs without any qualms on the parts of those donating money – while not once considering crowd funding to help a Mom or Dad keep their baby.  Our values are misplaced people.

So are adoptive parents fears that the child will NOT be theirs PERMANENTLY supposed to outweigh what is now known to be better for the children?

What is known ?

Separation should be the last resort. We KNOW there is trauma from the separation, even if it happens at birth. We KNOW children need genetic mirrors. We KNOW people have a right to know the truth about themselves. We know so much that points to a practice where, based on the best interest of the CHILD, we should avoid the permanent legal and physical severing of a child from their genetic parentage and family through adoption.

Guardianship provides all the emotional support any child needs and as much safe permanency.

And another thought – if people are really so dead set on parenting, and they can’t reproduce (are infertile), they can still act as guardians and caregivers to older kids who really do need someone.  In today’s society – unfortunately – there are a lot of kids that could use that kind of help.

Those who wish to provide a home for a child should be OK with not getting an infant and fake papers saying they gave birth to that child.  This is denial and self-delusion on the part of infertile, adoptive parents – and it IS harmful to the child.

Every baby brought into this world and then given to someone else to raise is aware and does care about what happened to separate them from their original parents.

Please realize that there’s always a situation that makes the original parents feel they have no other choice but to give up their precious child.  Whether it be finances, homelessness, the mother’s relationship with the baby’s father, or a lack of support during and after the pregnancy.

None of those “reasons” should be the determining factor leading to separation from their baby. They are all temporary circumstances which time may heal given resources when they are most needed.