A Lifetime Of Regret

The Maiden of Sorrow painting by Tyler Robbins

In a discussion about a same-sex couple (two females) who wanted a family and were seeking perspectives on donor conceived vs adoption, a woman who gave up her baby at birth was strongly defending her choice as best for the child. This kind of denial is not uncommon. Truth is that many women who surrender their child at birth spend the rest of their lifetime in sorrow. Not even getting into the trauma that EVERY baby suffers at a preverbal, subconscious level due to that separation. Today’s story is from a woman who surrendered her child.

I’m a Birth mother. When I placed my daughter for adoption I lost the only good thing in my life. She was my joy. My reason for living.

I spent the next decade deeply suicidal and one of the things I heard a lot from people was that “suicide is selfish because it takes one person’s pain and passes it on to ten others.” These days I can’t help but think how much this statement applies to adoption too.

When I hear hopeful adoptive parents talk about the anguish infertility caused them and how they’re pursuing adoption now because they NEED to be a mother, I wonder if they realize they’re doing exactly this. They are trying to take away their pain of not having a baby by passing that pain onto the birth mother, father, child, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins instead.

I have spent years in agony over the loss of my daughter, crying and begging god to change what happened. I’ve watched others get pregnant and wondered why they were worthy of motherhood and I wasn’t. I’ve felt the need to be a mother because I was a mother. But I am a mother without a child now.

The future which hopeful adoptive parents were unwilling to live (a life without children) has become my reality instead. Do hopeful adoptive parents or those who have already adopted realize – they are transferring their pain onto others, when they accept somebody else’s baby to fulfill their dreams ? What makes the pain spread through suicide so obviously selfish but the pain spread through adoption so widely acceptable ?

The first response was empathetic – you’re making perfect sense. Except the pain that leads people to suicide and the pain of having a child and losing it are both astronomically greater than any pain felt by never having children. So that makes adoption exceptionally selfish. I’m sorry for the pain you have been through. You did not deserve any of it. Saying a prayer for you.

It is frequently said in my all things adoption group that adoption is a permanent decision to a temporary solution. Society really needs to wake up to the harm of commercializing babies for profit and support struggling mothers and/or families better so children do not need to be taken from the family they were born into.

There are some adoptive mothers who finally realize that their infertility was at least psychologically caused by feeling their own mothers didn’t love them, even though there may have also been a physical component. If a woman is not whole in mind and emotions, any child brought into this life will have flawed parenting. There is also often a religious component to adoption. Some feel that God is punishing them with infertility and though some kind of twisted logic believe that adopting a child will get them back God’s good graces. So many don’t want to heal, they refuse to even admit they need to. And it’s their children and their children’s true mothers who carry the burden of their lack of awareness regarding their true issues.

Regarding a relinquishment of one’s babies and suicide came this comment –

I am an adoptee. My Mom died by suicide because her pain was too much to bear from losing two children to adoption.

I have been saying much of the same thing in regards to suicide. It’s not selfish or cowardly or a crime. I have also been saying that hopeful adoptive parents or those who have already adopted are transferring their pain. Most do not heal before adopting. Adoptive parents are wrongly revered by our society. Nobody thinks to question them or ask them anything. Sadly, adoption is usually option B and adoptive parents do not heal nor research the topic before getting their wallets out.

Fact is – adoption is big business. A for profit business. So if there were no adoptive parents, the money to be made selling babies would decrease. Sadly, adoption is socially acceptable, romanticized, sensationalized and is thought by many to be beautiful, rainbows etc. Adoptive parents are viewed as heroes and altruistic.

Suicide is stigmatized and people are afraid to discuss it and truly do not understand it. Our society has a hard time sitting in discomfort and looking at other people’s pain. That is why suicide is quickly labeled as selfish. In reality, society is selfish for not asking why the pain was so heavy. Even the words used around suicide make it seem like a crime or a choice. (committed suicide, killed oneself, took their own life). We are the selfish ones. We need to be talking about this. Not to mention the high suicide attempt rates and suicides among adoptees, as well as their original moms. Nobody is going to physically die because they can’t have a baby but many adoptees and moms are dying from the grief, trauma and loss that is the truth of adoption and family separation.

Every day, my effort here is to change the narrative about who adoptees are, about their stories, about the importance of keeping families together. Mine is one small voice but those who share my perspectives are legion. So the effort at reform begins with changing the narrative – adoption is NOT a “selfless” act but a “selfish” act. There is so much pain in adoption. I wish more people were aware of (and cared about!!!) the devastating consequences.

The Chilean Scandal

In the 70s, 80s and 90s, there was a wave of children leaving the country and due to this phenomenon they are currently spread all over the world. Those decades were very difficult times for the country’s history due to the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Since some years however, it is known that many of these children have not been left by their mothers and/or families voluntarily. As a result, today there is an official investigations in progress that tries to identify those involved. The official complaints of families who have lost their children under the most strange circumstances are still coming in on a daily basis and official numbers have past the amount of 10.000 official declarations in the year 2018.

The mothers and families are looking for their children! The adopted children are adults today and have always lived a life away from their birth-country and -families. Their families who never wanted to be separated from their children in the first place. 

Chilean Adoptees Worldwide was founded in Chile in 2018 by Alejandro Quezada, Angélica Martínez and Jessica Pincheira, all of whom were adopted illegally and lived the biggest parts of their lives in The Netherlands, Sweden and Belgium. Alejandro returned to Chile in 2014 to investigate his own adoption and continued to live in Chile today.

Here is one story – Maria Diemar always knew she was adopted. Her Swedish parents were always open about her Chilean heritage. When she was 11, Diemar’s parents showed her the papers that arrived with her in Sweden as a two-month-old baby in 1975. The file on her parentage offered a brief, unflattering portrait of a teenage mother who sent her newborn girl to be raised by strangers on the other side of the world. “They said she was a live-in maid, that she had a son who lived with her parents, and that she was poor,” Diemar remembers.

The Adoption Centre is a Swedish NGO who had facilitated her adoption. Sweden has one of the highest per-capita international adoption rates in the world. In the 1990s, the agency launched a program to help adoptees reunite with their biological families. However, they had no information on Diemar’s mother.

She went to Chile but she own efforts proved fruitless. Finally, thanks to some dogged efforts by an adoption search angel in Chile in January 2003, her mother was found. As often happens in adoptee efforts for reunion, the answers are bittersweet. Her birth mother declined to meet Diemar in person. She was married now and was afraid that her husband would not take kindly to the appearance of a long-lost daughter who was not his. But she wanted Diemar to know she had never intended to give her away. She said her baby had been stolen from her at birth.

In September 2017, Diemar watched a film by Chilean documentary-maker Alejandro Vega, in which women, mostly from poor and minority backgrounds in Chile, described how they had been tricked or coerced into giving up their babies for international adoption. While he was working on a follow-up report in 2018, Vega made contact with Diemar, through an adoptees’ Facebook group. At her request, he reviewed papers relating to her adoption and found them to be full of errors and omissions. From what he had seen of her file, he believed there were fundamental problems in Diemar’s adoption.

This news was devastating. Diemar felt she had accepted that her adoption was done in the proper manner because she couldn’t handle the emotional fallout. Now the truth hit her with full force. “My whole body reacted,” she said. “I started to shake and cry.”

During the 70s and 80s, between 8,000 and 20,000 Chilean babies and young children were adopted by families across Europe and North America. The biological mothers were typically very young and very poor. These adoptions were part of a national strategy to eradicate childhood poverty, which the military dictatorship hoped to accomplish by removing deprived children from the country. International adoptions had begun decades before Augusto Pinochet took power but by 1978 promoting adoption became the official policy of the government. Pressure on mothers to give up their children increased and international adoptions surged.

The effect of Pinochet’s policies was the “criminalization of poverty.” State power was used against poor families to prevent them from raising their own children and a climate of violence prevented most mothers from resisting. Not only were the victims poor, many of them were also members of the indigenous Mapuche community, a group that has long been persecuted. Under the dictatorship, the precarious existence of these women was seen as an obstacle to progress.

Many countries had severed relations with Chile after the 1973 coup that overthrew the nation’s democratically elected government. “The dictatorship promoted adoption as a mechanism to rebuild diplomatic relations,” says Karen Alfaro, a professor of history and geography at the Austral University of Chile and an expert on Chile’s international adoptions, “especially with countries that had received Chilean exiles and whose governments were critical of human rights violations.”

And in the early 70s, accounts emerged from Chile of women being coerced by child-welfare workers into giving up their young children. Some said they had been falsely told by doctors and nurses at government-run hospitals that their babies had died at birth. The mothers were never given death certificates or allowed to see their babies. Those who attempted to involve the police, or took their stories to the media, were intimidated and treated as mentally unstable by the very people involved in taking their children.

Would-be parents in Europe and the US were paying international adoption agencies between $6,500 and $150,000 for each child. A cut of these fees often found its way to Chilean professionals who helped to identify “eligible” children and extricate them from their marginalized and uneducated parents. “International adoption agencies had representatives in Chile who developed networks of paid mediators, most of whom were public officials, to provide children for adoption,” Alfaro said. “There were social workers paid to issue false reports of child abandonment, and there was money for doctors and nurses to generate birth certificates that would say the baby died at birth, and judges paid to approve transfer of custody.”

Finally, in September 2018, under pressure from groups working to reunite families divided by abusive adoptions, Chile’s lower house of congress created a commission to investigate these historical allegations. By July 2019, the commission released a 144 page report, describing “mafias” of healthcare professionals and public officials who used nefarious methods to take children from their mothers and ensure a regular supply of babies in what had become a “lucrative business”. What had been an unregulated practice before Pinochet took power had been legally codified during the dictatorship. The result was that unscrupulous adoptions practices carried on with impunity. The report concluded that the adoptions were crimes against humanity.

As a child, Maria Diemar dreamed of hugging her birth mother and reuniting with her. “I thought I was going to look like my mum,” Diemar said. “That felt important to me.” As an adult, after the revelation that she may have been forcibly taken from her, Diemar accepted that, no matter how comforting a reunion might be, it wouldn’t change the sorrow of the past. 

Very much like the Georgia Tann case, from time to time, rumors of scandal emerged in Chile. From 1974 to 1975, a scandal about the alleged sale of Chilean babies overseas was investigated after Chilean media questioned whether these were really orphan, and whether they had been given up willingly. In 1974, Chile’s supreme court dispatched a family court judge to Sweden to investigate. But the judge issued a favorable report about the Adoption Centre in Sweden and its operations in Chile. A newspaper article published in August 1975 said the judge had found no evidence that the Adoption Centre had broken the law. On the contrary, they found that the agency was providing children with an ideal environment in which to grow.

In 2017, a criminal investigation into historical international adoptions was launched in Chile by Mario Carroza, a judge in the Santiago court of appeals who has overseen numerous investigations of human rights abuses under the military dictatorship. According to Kerstin Gedung, the current director of the Adoption Centre, views on the primacy of biological parenting have “evolved” in the decades since the agency was active in Chile. The Adoption Centre ceased operations in Chile in 1992. Laws and regulations have improved and the organization has helped to develop guidelines and ethical rules for international adoption, she said. “We worked in accordance with the legal framework that existed in Chile in the 70s and 80s and the adoptions were legally correct and confirmed in courts in Chile and in Sweden,” Gedung reported.

In Chile, in the wake of its devastating 2019 report, congress ordered the creation of a Truth and Reparation Commission and a DNA database to help families and adoptees find one another. Yet efforts to investigate the deeper connection between these historical crimes and the role played by Pinochet’s dictatorship have stalled. 

Diemar has been studying Mapuche culture, and its language, Mapuzugun, which has brought her a measure of peace. Chile’s native populations are eligible to receive official accreditation of their indigenous status and Diemar hopes to one day secure hers. She has met her brothers and sisters but has only spoken with her mother over the phone. She thinks her mother is coming around to the idea of meeting her daughter in person. “I really would like to see my mum in person, see what she looks like and sit down with her and learn more about my background,” Diemar said. “She is my mum.”

A much more extensive article regarding this story is in The Guardian – The Scandal of Chile’s Stolen Children.

Is Guardianship Enough ?

As prospective adoptive and foster parents find the all things adoption group I belong to, some of their perspectives truly do begin to change. Same for expectant mothers thinking about surrendering their child for adoption, then changing their mind and deciding that they may actually be capable of raising their own child. Always a happy outcome.

Unfortunately, many Division of Children and Families agencies at the state level still operate from an obsolete point of view. Here’s a story from one foster mother who is facing that dilemma.

We have a 7 year old pre-adoptive foster son that has lived with us for 21+ months. I always had the intention of adopting (until I joined this group), but we were only regular foster parents until this boy moved in. Everything was going “well” and mom was going to sign an open adoption agreement. Then the pandemic hit and we had to supervise their video visits, which ended up being good because we got to know each other. Then we offered to supervise the monthly in-person visits. I joined this group and now I’m trying to help mom to get her son back. She is working on her plan and I’m so proud of her, but I am not sure it will be enough for Division of Children and Families. We have a permanency meeting in a month, so I need some help.

I have 2 questions about our situation:

For the adoptive parents/foster parents in the group: How do you navigate changing a goal of adoption to guardianship, when the department has said in the past that doesn’t offer enough permanency for the child and they would move him. Is a 7-8 year old listened to, if the child says he wants to live here forever but only if his mom can’t get better?

For the adoptees/former foster youth in the group: Let’s assume mom’s rights are terminated. There is no dad involved and there literally is no family that could take this boy in and raise him. How do we know if this boy really wants to be adopted by us or not? How do we know if guardianship is or isn’t enough for him? We have a biological child who is only 6 months, in case that matters. How old is old enough for us to follow what the boy requests? We have heard so many adoptive parents talk about how their children’s behaviors changed after adoption because they felt “secure”, but after reading so much stuff in this group, I have a whole different view about adoption. Yet I don’t know how to figure out what our foster son would really want or if he would think we love him less, if we don’t adopt him.

Only one response, from an adoptive/foster parent so far but it could be helpful to others in a similar situation –

Does he have a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) or GAL (Guardian ad Litem) ? I am not sure what state he is in but in Indiana, the guardianship petitions are heard in a separate court outside of the Child Protective Services court. Child Protective Services is notified that a guardianship petition has been filed and they can come and object, if they want but sometimes they don’t.

So I would think, if you get an attorney and just file it – with mom being in agreement, then they would have to come and object, explaining why adoption is better. I think if mom is making some efforts, then that would be a bonus towards guardianship.

Guardianship is always an option. I haven’t figured out why they don’t push more for guardianship for very young children and what the age is that it suddenly becomes an option but I have seen our state grant guardianship with a Child Protective Services case for kids as young as 2 years old.

Also, I don’t think it is ethical for the department to threaten you with moving him. So I would ask for a supervisor or above to sit in on your next meeting and just ask for them to explain why this is happening and why adoption is the only option. I would personally tell you that we have custody/guardianship for our two youngest and it has been good.

Adoption Is A Selfish Act

A woman in the all things adoption group I belong to wrote –

Why can’t people just stay childless, if they cannot have their own ? Why is adoption even sought after failed attempts trying to conceive ? How does it not occur people that taking a child from their mother because you want a child is not an ethical path to family ? Adoption is so selfish. As humans we need to live with the fact that we cannot have it all. We don’t always get what we want and that includes babies. Like any other disappointment in life, you need to deal with it. You are not dying because you can’t have kids.

The truth is that adoption has been packaged (for commercial profit reasons) as the selfless solution to their infertility problem. “Save the unwanted babies” and all that.

The ProLife/religious narrative is strong. Giving your baby to a family who can’t have one is framed as giving the most precious gift anyone can give. And NOT having children is a fate worse than death because you’re not bringing more soldiers into Christ’s army. The manipulation tactics used by the church are psychological warfare. And that bleeds into secular society.

Of course, the argument “for” always comes up –

Where would you have these children go ? What happens when the person regrets their one night stand and resents that child for their loss of “freedom?” What happens when someone has a drug or alcohol addiction and does not feel the need to seek treatment ? What happens when someone has anger issues that put children at risk for abuse ? I agree that the system is not perfect, but I think on some level we can agree that there are some wonderfully kind, capable people with a lot of love to give who would be better suited to raise the child than a parent who is not willing to put the work in to make themselves the parent their baby deserves. I really don’t think this is so black and white, where adoption is always evil, period. I think it’s a case by case thing.

The reality is that there will always be people raising other people’s kids, but there isn’t a need for the power imbalance, the fake birth certificates, and all the other bullshit.  What it means to “help children” needs to be redefined because adoption and identity theft isn’t it.

An adoptee responds to all the what if statements with this –

Most children are not relinquished for the reasons you stated. The majority of adoptions happen because of lack of support. Furthermore even in the circumstances you mentioned, adoption as defined currently is not necessary. No one should have to give up their identity and be forced to play a sick game of pretend, that never really ends, just to be cared for properly.

The narrative that adoption is the ‘opposite’ or the solution to child abuse is damaging. The truth is that there are adoptive parents who are abusive and have anger issues. And there are adoptive parents who resent their adopted children and treat them terribly.

Why is adoption so heavily promoted in the US as a good thing that there are 40 couples wanting to adopt to every newborn that is available for adoption ? Money and religion are behind the desire.

Even When Trying To Do The Right Thing

Adoption can be a tricky needle to thread, even when one is trying their best to do the right thing. Today, I bring you the story of an adoptive mother who is trying her best to do what’s best for the children she is raising.

My husband and are the adoptive parents of two children (domestic), placed with us at birth after their original moms chose us from our profiles. The adoptions were supposed to be “semi-open,” in that we exchanged letters and other communications through the agency only, and didn’t share our last names or the towns in which we live. This was the policy of the agency, and it was the moms who chose the agency.

I naively assumed this process was driven by the mom’s wishes (we did not “choose” the agency… our first placement was very sudden and via a connection that our home study social worker had at the agency).

After the first year with our eldest child, communicating through the agency, we took the lead from his mom and stopped using the agency as middle man (and also shared last names and the specific location where we live). We now correspond regularly and directly with her, and take her lead for the amount of contact she wants. We would do more, but also we respect her choice regarding how much contact we have. If and when our son has more questions or wants more contact, we will facilitate that.

For our younger son, the agency told us after 6 months to stop sending letters and pictures for his mom because she had moved and they did not have a forwarding address for her. I assumed this was her choice too, so while it made me sad for our son, I stopped sending the letters. Now I am not so sure about any of this. I have a handful of reasons to believe that the agency was very badly administered and evidence that, at best, they were sloppy with record keeping and filing. I do not trust that it was his mom who declined contact. What I am sure of is – it’s my responsibility to know as much about our child’s first family as possible, and to share what I know as/when our child asks for it.

And here’s the sticky part where I don’t know how to balance what is ethical and what is best for our child: While I was not supposed to know his mom’s last name, I learned it in the first week of our child’s life (there was an extended hospital stay, and the hospital revealed it… I didn’t go looking for the last name). When the agency told me to stop sending letters, I easily found our child’s mom and extended family on social media. I feel like the agency should have done this, and not simply accepted the lack of a forwarding address as an indication from the mom that she didn’t want the level of contact stipulated in the adoption agreement. But they did not, and thus I have been checking in on her through social media all these years, collecting whatever information I can for our child. I am now wondering if, because of my suspicions that the agency was negligent, I should reach out to his mom directly and ask her if she wants any contact with us or updates.

What I don’t want to do is violate her privacy or wishes… but also I want as much information for our child as I can gather. Of the two children I’m parenting, he is the one with the most questions about/interest in his first family, and while I care about his mom and her wishes, I don’t feel I actually KNOW them. And, of course, our son is my priority. He’s approaching the age where his questions are becoming much more specific, and I want answers for him.

I guess what I’m saying is that I want to get a clear picture of his mom’s true wishes (not her wishes as filtered through the agency’s policy and negligent administration) before he gets to the age where he can find her on his own. While I know I can’t protect him from the traumas of adoption, I can support him, and I don’t think putting him in the position of being blindsided by whatever he finds would be the best way to support him.

The first response to this story came from a woman who surrendered her child to adoption and I do agree with her simple answer – Reach out to her. At this point you have nothing to lose.

There are many many answers and most are encouraging the attempt to make contact. I’ll just share this one from an adoptive parent –  I think you can make contact to verify her wishes, but when she tells you what she wants, respect that. And understand that your son may be blindsided regardless of what you learn now—like everyone, the wishes and life situation of his mom may change by the time he’s older and wants to know more.

Follow your instincts and respect whatever you learn. At least you can say you made the effort and if the effort closes the door, you can then put the question into the mom’s box to answer – when that day comes.

Three Identical Strangers

In the 1960s, a research project into identical siblings, placing them separately for adoption into different classes (poor, middle and wealthy), was done for the purpose of determining the impact of financial resources on their outcomes.  Back in the 1930s to 1950, Georgia Tann had a similar thought – taking babies from poor families and placing them into wealthier homes would lead to better outcomes for the children.

My mom was one of those babies.  She was adopted in 1937.  Both of her parents were very poor and struggling to survive the Great Depression but they were exploited by threats from Georgia Tann that her close relationship with the Juvenile Court judge in Memphis would support any removal of children she suggested.  Sadly.

So, in the 1980s, when these young men were 19 years old and began attending college, they discovered that they had been separated after birth into different adoptive families.  Even the adoptive parents didn’t know there were other genetically identical siblings.  The triplets accidentally found each other when two of them enrolled at the same college and found the third when he saw the story on the news. After the three siblings reunited, they became media darlings for awhile and even met their original biological parents.

It is not entirely a happy story and a suicide trigger warning is justified.  The two surviving triplets carry the DNA, the history, the pain, and the heart of their deceased brother. As the three boys entered adulthood each of them dealt with mental illness and psychiatric care.

The carelessness of the adoption agency that gave the boys away turns out to be something far crueler and more deviously deliberate than possibly imaginable. It is a shockingly true story but not unlike other psychological research from that era. Ethics were just not on the radar yet. People were treated like lab rats.

One woman, now much older, who was involved with the research study is blasé about the whole thing saying it was exciting to mess with people’s lives and noting what’s done is done.

The children who were the study subjects involved will not have access to the findings until 2065, by which time they will likely not be still alive.  This is because our own government funded this study.

This program does show how strong genetics truly are.  Being separated at birth results in life long trauma. All adoption agencies exist to make money. The program suggests that some of the adoptive parents would have happily taken all three boys, if they had known the truth, at the time.

One of the scientists involved in the study interviewed for the program kept laughing, saying inappropriate things, none of what happened was funny.  He said there’s probably at least four people (probably many more) who have no idea they are twins or that they were part of a study.

Currently one of the brothers practices law, the other sells insurance and investments. One of the two is (or soon will be) divorced.  These kinds of mental health and relationship impacts are quite common among adoptees.

Which leaves me with two questions (I have not seen, only have read about this program) – Is science worth keeping secrets and being immoral to accomplish unbiased research ? And how much of who we are is Nature and how much Nurture ? (That second one I’ve been looking at for 20 years.)

Morally and Ethically Wrong

An adoptive parent disclosed that she receives $4,000 per month in adoption subsidies for 3 children.  These children do not have any physical or intellectual disabilities.  They do not have any known medical conditions.

The fact is that states can pay not only foster parents but adoptive parents as much as $4,000 per month for 3 children.  Homeless parents are often working one or more jobs and still can’t find affordable, income-based housing.  How is this fair ?

Often adoptive parents are the first ones to say that the natural parents need to be able to provide for their kids “on their own”.

How can people not see why and how this is problematic and how morally and ethically wrong this is.  Some even justify this as a fair situation. Something is terribly wrong in our society that we do not give full support to struggling families but instead take their children away from them and pay complete strangers to care for them.

I didn’t even know adoption subsidies were a thing.

And to be clear, not EVERY adoption qualifies and it varies by state law. Often, there does have to be some kind of  ‘special needs’, though that is a broad category that includes sibling groups, children over 6 years, minorities as well as physical or mental disabilities.

Sadly, many of the original parents who surrender children for adoption do so because they believe not having enough money defines them as not being good enough to parent a child.

Here is one story to highlight the unfairness –

There was a couple who adopted a sibling group. This family makes a 6 figure income.  The couple was childless for 14 years. All of the adopted children received Medicaid, the family received a substantial subsidy, and all of the children were eligible to attend a public university of their choosing free for 4 years.

The kids never had to do “without” the basics growing up (though they did not have their biological mom which is always a significant loss). All of the children are now adults.

The husband does very very well in his profession. The couple never actually “needed” a dime of assistance nor did they ever have to pay for healthcare for the children. To their credit, the couple did make trusts for the children.

It is just hard to understand why a sibling group is automatically considered “special needs” . Why is this kind of financial support not “income based”, like every natural parent would be faced with ?

And this is basically political. Universal health care, living wage, other so-called “socialist” policies would address all these issues struggling families face.  Hard core capitalist each have their own version of America.  No one would ever need to remove children from parents simply for poverty. Not doing this creates an insanely expensive, ineffective child welfare system, and a lot of suffering. And again, this is a voting issue.

Answer These Questions If You Dare

So in my ALL THINGS ADOPTION related group, I saw this –

When should adoptive parents start taking responsibility for their unethical behavior?

They aren’t innocent either. Anyone want to help me compile a list?

Did you use an agency with unethical practices?
Did you pay tens of thousands of dollars?
Did you participate in pre-birth matching?
Were you in the delivery room/at hospital?
Did you seek out states without a revocation period?
Did you troll Facebook groups looking for expectant mothers?
Did you send your profile to OB offices and leave “business cards” on college campuses?
Did you aggressively advertise on social media and Craigslist?
Did you fight the parents if they tried to revoke?

Foster to adopt parents:
Did you support reunification?
Did you sabotage reunification?
Do you realize you chose to also participate in a corrupt system?

While it may seem harsh, this is the reality in adoptionland and its close cousin foster care.

One answer that came was this – Even though I know the system is a MESS and needs reform I still can’t regret my participation in it because all of our boys would likely be growing up in group homes or homes for the disabled that’s where each was headed before coming to us.

A leading edge advocated for guardianship.  When it was suggested to one woman, she answered – My teenage son’s team explored that with him and I was in support of that, or of him remaining with us while in foster care. He did not want that and was very adamant about adoption being the best choice for him. Do you feel that adoption is a better option if the child is asking for that, or do you think guardianship is still best in that case? Sometimes I wonder even at 16 if he knew what he was advocating for.

Another one shared – No to all except, her birthmom asked us to be in the room. I never thought about adoption as I didn’t know much about it. I wish I was part of this group and knew what I have learned from everyone the last 4+ years that I have been in here. I feel horrible for the pain and heartache our beautiful daughter will go through. We have a good open adoption with her mommy and we see each other once a year I wish it was more as we lived in the same town and she then moved. We get together every year to celebrate our little girls birthday. I so ache for all of them including our daughter. I am and will continue to be open as can be for her and her birthmom and siblings.

That was answered with –  Once a year? Please do better. That’s hardly a relationship.

To which she did answer – I will try to meet up more or however it may work out I will make better attempts on my end.

Another one said – Stopping participation in the system won’t change it, change needs to come from within. Do families need more support to keep them together, absolutely!  She went on to say –  I will admit when I first started as a foster parent over a decade ago there may have been some saviorism ideologies in my mind because that is the message that gains the most traction when it comes to adoption, I’ve been doing this for over a decade now and those have long since passed from my mind. I don’t feel like a savior, I feel how I believe most mothers feel – like I am just doing the best I can and some days I fail and some days I rise.

Finally, one added this –  I’ve taught training classes and help pushed for bills to prevent foster care and support families. Saviorism is the foundation of the system. Kids need to be saved. Even by caseworkers who remove kids especially Black kids at a high rate. We have to admit the system is set up to serve everyone but children or families.

And lastly came this honesty – I made several errors that I take responsibility for, and I’m also the first person to say unequivocally that adoption is an unethical institution, and I’m responsible for participating in it. I have to own that. There are reasons why things happened how they did, but reasons aren’t excuses and don’t make anything better.

 

 

Denying The Father

I came across a question posted by a pregnant woman.  The baby she is carrying will be a daughter.  She asked, “Is it unethical to leave a potentially dangerous father off of a newborn’s birth certificate ?”

The immediate response was honest – Every person has a right to know their true identity.  In fact, among adoptees this is a significant and primary issue.

Someone suggested the expectant mother put him on the birth certificate but terminate his rights.  This expectant mother offered – He’s never done anything to me so far except be an asshole but he has a felony charge that is relevant to the situation.  I spoke to a lawyer and he said he’d give it a 50/50 chance that a judge would allow termination of rights without a stepfather around to adopt. And the father would have to willingly be there and declare he wants to terminate rights.

Doesn’t seem fair but this is the reality we as women often have to cope with.

Then came this caution – The reality is, if he’s on the birth certificate and you file for public assistance, he’ll be charged child support.  That system is crappy and may share your address. Don’t let people pressure you into any move with your abuser you’re not comfortable with.

Someone offered what seems to be a rational alternative – She can always establish paternity later. All she has to do is file for child support and give his name and the state will take care of finding him and doing paternity test. You can’t take him off birth certificate once he’s on but you can establish paternity and get child support without him on birth certificate.

And I do believe this is an important consideration – Not putting his name on the birth certificate makes it harder for him to just take her. That would be proof that the child is indeed his daughter and does have legal rights, unless you go through the court to have it documented in the way you wish. Not putting his name he would have to go through court for paternity and visitation.

It does appear that the father is aware.  In fact, the expectant mother says he wants to co-parent and she wants only full custody and that any visitation be supervised.

My sympathy and compassion go to the expectant mother wanting to protect her daughter.  She says she does intend for her child to know ALL of her family.  At this time, this is not an adoption issue but it is a family separation issue.

Don’t Adopt

So for years you have been trying to conceive and after several miscarriages, you have decided there is only one way to get that baby you have been dreaming of – adopt one.  Just don’t do it.

I am the child of two adoptees and both of my sisters gave up children to adoption and for the last few years I have really gotten an education about what adoption does to people.  I belong to a group which discusses the reality of adoption among all the members of the triad – the original parents, the adoptees and the adoptive parents and the bottom line understanding is – please just don’t do it.

Your first order of business should be to let some time pass before you start thinking about adoption. It is very important that the feelings of loss and grief are given time to take their course. Realize that you may look at a child you adopt and think: What if?, or: I wish… or: would my own child look/behave/be different?  It is important that you work through these questions BEFORE any child is adopted. Seek the help of a therapist.

Then realize this – there are no positives for the baby or their mother in infant adoption. Pregnant women are targeted by agencies so they can make money from selling their babies. It’s an unregulated baby broker business with big money involved.  Among those who know (adoptees who are now mature adults) infant adoption is looked at as terrible because of the unethical practices that come with it.  Beyond that simple fact is the loss of the child’s natural family and true identity.

About the only idea that is acceptable would be adopting children who are in foster care whose parental rights have been legally terminated.  And even in this case the plan should be for an adoptive parent to do everything they can to keep some kind of relationship open for the child with the natural family in any way possible. Guardianship is preferred over adoption but many states won’t allow guardianship as a long term option.

Adopt someone who wants to be adopted, and is old enough (13 or older) to consent to adoption.  Adopt a legally available child from the foster care system.  Do not change their identity in any way.  Be sure you have complete medical records so they can live a more normal life as they mature.  Babies grow up.  The child you adopt will be grown very quickly but the damage you could do will last a lifetime.