Short and sweet today because I don’t have much time. From an original mother in reunion.
She has yet to figure out the shortest way to self ID for she IS the adoption triad –
-International infant adoptee
-Former foster youth
-Former kinship guardian
-Adoptive parent of adult who was placed with me for kinship guardianship but asked to be legally adopted at the age of 20
-Natural mother and sole guardian of a child formerly in the system
The picture was posted with the child’s permission – from a mother and son reunion and reunification a week ago. They are still well inside their “honeymoon” period, but so far, everything is great. The child so happy to be back with his mom again and she feels whole again for the first time in years.
Learned about this non-profit organization today – The Brigid Alliance. I wish things were different but here we are. You might be surprised if you’ve not been listening to as many adoptee voices as I do every day, to learn how many will say plainly – I wish I had been aborted. Beyond that, many do not wish to have children themselves. Here’s one example –
I’m an adoptee, former foster youth and former kinship foster youth. I do not want to be a parent. I have multiple reasons some of which include severe mental health issues, cost, responsibility, dysphoria etc… I am on long term birth control and am in a long term serious relationship. Abortion access is not limited in my state currently but could definitely become restricted. If I were to become pregnant, my first choice would be abortion. However due to limited access, I know that might not always be possible. My question is what advice would you give to someone who is pregnant but doesn’t want to be a parent and can’t access abortion?
Clearly, pregnancy prevention should not be all on the woman in a committed relationship. Agreeing to a vasectomy, which is a form of male birth control that cuts the supply of sperm to the man’s semen. It’s done by cutting and sealing the tubes that carry sperm. A vasectomy has a low risk of problems and can usually be performed in an outpatient setting under local anesthesia. The man can opt to have a vasectomy reversal in the future. This is a surgery to undo a vasectomy. During the procedure, a surgeon reconnects each tube (vas deferens) that carries sperm from a testicle into the semen. After a successful vasectomy reversal, sperm are again present in the semen and a man may be able to once again get his partner pregnant.
In the case presented in this blog today, the male was not willing – so what else ? Pre-emptive preparation can help. Research what pharmaceuticals can be accessed online and know what the resources are in your state before you need them. The LINK> National Women’s Health Network has a fact sheet on safe and effective FDA-approved abortion pills (aka medication abortion) which are now available by mail in several states — without an in-person clinic visit.
Lastly, today I learned about LINK> The Brigid Alliance, a referral-based service that provides travel, food, lodging, child care and other logistical support for people seeking abortions. They prioritize clients who are beyond 15 weeks of pregnancy and for whom it’s generally more expensive and harder to find a provider near home. They are part of a growing ecosystem of support organizations propping up abortion care access in the US due to an increasingly hostile environment post-Roe.
The group takes their name from a story about St Brigid of Kildare who ministered to a nun who had failed to keep her vow of chastity, and became pregnant. Based upon a 1987 translation of the story: “A certain woman who had taken the vow of chastity fell, through the youthful desire of pleasure and her womb swelled with child. Brigid, exercising the most potent strength of her ineffable faith, blessed her, causing the child to disappear, without coming to birth, and without pain. She faithfully returned the woman to health and to penance.”
My family is fractured by adoption but thankfully, those who went away have reunited with the rest of us and those we never knew are better known now thanks to those who did know my original grandparents. So, today’s unbelievable but true story.
Looking to find sources to help bring my cousin home. We have signed an intent to adopt and filled out licensing paperwork to adopt my 18 month old cousin. He has been in care 15 months and we only found out about this the last week in June. On July 1st, I started emailing the case worker asking for placement and expressing our interest in adopting, if it came to that. I got no reply. On July 11th, the Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) happened. I emailed everyday after expressing our interest and explaining we were already licensed to foster. We finally got to have a visit with him on Aug 1st and again, this past Friday via zoom. We have virtual bi-weekly visits set up because we are 10 hours away. We are the first members in our family to get to see him aside from mom and dad since he has been in care. The agency has made it clear that the foster parents have also signed an intent to adopt, so we are viewed as a competing party to them. They have now had him for almost 7 months. There is a post TPR hearing this week. The Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) said it will probably only be a 10 min hearing and that probably nothing will happen at that hearing. The agency has made it clear they don’t plan on changing his placement until they give a recommendation regarding who they feel the best family fit is to adopt him and gives consent, then the judge orders the child’s placement. Please help If you can.
The response from a former foster care youth – It pisses me off foster parents do this and the state supports foster parents doing this. My heart hurts that so many kids miss out on being with family. My advice is don’t believe and never believe foster parents, the GAL, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), caseworker, or anyone else in the system. They’re all for themselves. Don’t believe in the “child is bonding” crap either. They use this to keep kids and adopt them out to strangers. Don’t fall for the open adoption crap either. I agree with hiring a lawyer. I wanted to comment and say “I’m sorry”. I’m sorry you can’t get your cousin and I’m sorry foster parents and the state are selfish people. If the child is a child they are willing to disrupt, a perceived bond won’t matter, if that is disrupted again. I missed out on being with family because Child Protective Services (CPS) didn’t care, even though I did go back. However, I could’ve avoided 24 foster homes if CPS did their jobs and placed me with family. Nobody understands the trauma they’re putting kids through by not keeping them with family.
It is a long story in The New Yorker – The Price of Admission, published on April 4 2022. It is a long, sad story of abuse and gaslighting, beginning in locations involving St Louis Missouri (our urban center). It is the story of a former foster care youth and the agendas of higher education. Mackenzie Fierceton has been a brilliant student, once accepted for a Rhodes Scholarship, and is a committed activist.
I encourage you to read the entire article as I did this morning. Necessarily, I am only pulling out a few concepts I jotted down related to Mackenzie’s situation.
If trauma creates a kind of narrative void, Mackenzie seemed to respond by leaning into a narrative that made her life feel more coherent, fitting into boxes that people want to reward. Perhaps her access to privilege helped her understand, in a way that other disadvantaged students might not, the ways that élite institutions valorize certain kinds of identities. There is currency to a story about a person who comes from nothing and thrives in a prestigious setting. These stories attract attention, in part because they offer comfort that, at least on occasion, such things happen.
“. . . Mackenzie is being faulted for not having suffered enough. She was a foster child, but not for long enough. She is poor, but she has not been poor for long enough. She was abused, but there is not enough blood.” ~ Anne Norton, Political Science Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who has provided a home for Mackenzie
Regarding the question about being a first generation student at a university – Mackenzie had e-mailed the associate director of admissions and recruitment at Penn’s social-work school to ask how former foster youth should answer the question. “I personally believe the education level (or/and financial status) of the biological parents would be irrelevant,” the associate director responded. “The youth should select into the option that provides them access to the most funding—which would be to indicate that they are a first-generation college student.”
“When we allow stereotype to be our stand-in for disadvantaged groups, we are actually doing them a disservice. That’s what scares me about this case. It’s, like, ‘You’re not giving us the right sob story of what it means to be poor.’ The university is so focused on what box she checked, and not the conditions—her lack of access to the material, emotional, and social resources of a family—that made her identify with that box. Colleges are in such a rush to celebrate their ‘first Black,’ their ‘first First Gen’ for achievements, but do they actually care about the student? Or the propaganda campaign that they can put behind her story?” ~ Anthony Jack, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education who studies low-income and first-generation college students
“There have been moments of almost panic where I am just cognitively questioning myself, like, ‘Did I misremember something?’ It’s easy to slide back into that state, because I want anything other than the reality—that it is my bio family who has caused so much harm—so I will do backflips to try to make it not true.” ~ Mackenzie Fierceton
It is a very real case of gaslighting – “You start to think that maybe you had it wrong and that maybe it actually did happen the way that they say it did,” Mackenzie wrote. “And then you just throw away the real memory, the true one, and replace it with the one that they have fed you a million times, until that is the only thing you can remember.”
Marilyn Monroe’s mother went into a mental hospital and left her to orphanages and foster care. In My Story, Monroe wrote that she recalled seeing her mother “screaming and laughing” as she was forcibly taken to a State Hospital.
At age 11, Norma Jeane was declared a ward of the state. She lived in a total of 11 foster homes throughout her youth; when there was no foster home available, she sometimes ended up at the Hollygrove Orphanage in Los Angeles. As if moving from one foster home to another wasn’t difficult enough, Norma Jeane recalled being treated harshly in several of them. Even worse, she was abused including sexually in at least three of her foster care placements.
Here is one story from the Daily Mail, “The magic red sweater that turned ‘Norma Jeane, string bean’ into Marilyn Monroe” –
She told of being whipped by one foster mother for having touched ‘the bad part’ of her body. Another more serious incident occurred when she was eight. One evening a lodger she called Mr. Kimmel (Marilyn said later that this was not his real name) asked her to come into his room and locked the door behind her. He put his arms around her. She kicked and struggled. He did what he wanted, telling her to be a good girl. (In a later interview Marilyn stated that the abuse involved fondling). When he let her out, he handed her a coin and told her to buy herself an ice cream. She threw the coin in his face and ran to tell her foster mother what happened, but the woman wouldn’t listen.
“Shame on you,” her foster mother said. “Mr. Kimmel’s my star boarder.” Norma Jeane went to her room and cried all night. Marilyn said she felt dirty and took baths for days after it happened to feel clean. Such repeated attempts to feel clean through showers or baths are typical behavior for victims of assault. Marilyn also said she began to stutter after the incident and reverted to it at times of stress. When she told one interviewer about the abuse, she began stuttering. The evidence points to the fact that she was an abused child whose early sexualization led to her inappropriate behavior as an adult.
One of the reasons she chose to marry at 16 was simply to escape her foster care takers. She never knew who her father was. After getting married at 16, she later divorced and became a new persona. She went from Norma Jeane Baker to Marilyn Monroe in order to fit in, be accepted, and wanted…what she never wanted was to become a sex object.
Not many seem to have recognized that she was dealing with abandonment trauma her entire life. She overdosed at the age of 36. According to an article at a site called Vigilant Citizen, behind Monroe’s photogenic smile was a fragile individual who was exploited and subjected to mind control by powerful handlers. Through trauma and psychological programming, Monroe a became high-level puppet of society’s elite, even becoming JFK’s paramour.
One “conspiracy theory” asserts – “Some children live in foster homes, or with adopted parents, or in orphanages, or with caretakers and guardians. Because these children are at the mercy of the non-related adults, these types of children frequently are sold to become mind-controlled slaves of the intelligence agencies.” ~ Fritz Springmeier, The Illuminati Formula to Create a Mind Control Slave. Not saying that I believe conspiracy theories but often there are some facts that are foundational to them.
Industry insiders convinced Norma Jeane to undergo aesthetic surgery, to change her name to Marilyn Monroe and to change her hair color to platinum blonde. Monroe’s sensual, “dumb blond” persona allowed her to land roles in several movies, which began a clear culture shift in Hollywood.
I’m not sure anyone cares about validation but I guess the administrators can decide. I just wanted to say thank you. I joined the group like many do, I was interested in adoption and really just putting a toe in the water. I waited my read only period. I went through the “wtf are these people talking about, anyone who adopts is a Saint”. Then I went through the “uh oh, is everything I know about the world even right?” Then I went through trying to explain this to my husband which didn’t go well. I’m getting ready to leave the group. Adoption is completely off the table and I’ve set up time to volunteer at my local teen pregnancy center.
Being a human is a wild thing. Thanks for being vulnerable and doing emotional labor. You really are impacting the world.
Edited to Add: I’ll gladly stay! I hadn’t thought about it but would be happy to stay and help where I can.
She was not the only one, soon others were chiming in. The one below was NOT the only one to express similar sentiments. This is also why I write this blog because I can reach others not in such a group or with such aspirations but who are uninformed about adoption trauma.
I was a Former Hopeful Foster-Adoptive Parent because of white saviorism. This group opened my eyes on so many fronts – I honestly feel like I see the whole world differently. I’ve learned so much about racism, classism, and ableism. The adoptees and former foster youth who share their stories are the smartest wisest people I’ve had the privilege of listening to. I am immensely thankful you allow people not in the triad to be transformed by this group. I have completely changed my behavior in the real world. I will never again speak about adoption as anything other than trauma. I talk to my friends also interested in foster care about why the child welfare system needs to be abolished and rebuilt, not changed from the inside bullshit. I can’t believe at one time I was willing to provide my home to a child in need but not the resources to their family so they could stay together. I find that incredibly effed up now. I am working on my CASA training so I can help get kids back home and prevent unnecessary adoption from foster care.
The Rev Keith C Griffiths (deceased adoption scholar and activist) quote exploded my brain: “Adoption loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful.”
And Paul Sunderland’s theory about developmental trauma caused by a newborn being separated from their birth mother. The trauma of not growing up with genetic mirrors, not knowing one’s medical history or having legally falsified identity documents. I had no idea about these things because I had never centered adoptees’ experiences in my perspectives. This group has truly transformed my outlook on the world !
It’s typically a time of the year to reflect on everything that has happened during the last year. It’s always grounding to look back and reminisce on every moment that has stood out. Our local newspaper does this every year – the first 6 months in the issue before New Years and the last 6 month in the first issue published after New Years. It doesn’t matter whether our moments have been positive, negative, happy, sad, or a mix. Every moment we live through shapes us into the individuals that we are today.
I will probably continue to try and write a new blog every day. I learn so much doing this as I don’t constrain myself to repeating my own family’s story over and over again because that really would get boring not only for me but for any readers of my blog. I often share other stories related to adoption that I come across – usually excerpts with a link to the full article. Often I make personal comments within my blog that an article triggers me to think of.
So, yes it’s also a time to look towards the future. Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “New year, new me!” but I don’t perceive anything really new about me or anything truly new under the sun that might be shared in this blog. I never know however when someone may discover an old one in a google search or come across my blog in some random way, so I don’t really expect there will be any earth shattering changes in the content that I write about. Just pounding on many of the same points over and over again, to maybe reach someone who has become receptive to the way I am viewing adoption now – thanks to so much emotional labor shared on social media by adoptees and former foster care youth. I have NO New Year’s resolutions related to my own work here, which my daughter has referred to as my seeming mission. My goal remains trying to come up with something I have not written or shared before and to do so almost every day (I do occasionally miss one). I expect that I will just keep going because I am not ready to give it up yet.
Some foster children or newly adopted ones have been through a lot of trauma. It is reasonable to understand that the holidays may have a negative connotation for them, or they have nothing to relate enjoying a holiday to. One woman writes – I know for my adopted siblings, they were able to look at the first new year that they spent with us as a clean slate. They had lived a life that no child should live before and during foster care. Since we were planning to adopt them before my parents went to meet them, this was the first time that they had a sense of stability. I understand that this is a hard concept to grasp, especially for those who didn’t grow up in the system. Imagine not knowing where your next meal is coming from, who you’re going to be with, where you’re going to be, and if this foster family loves you and willingly keeps you. These thoughts are constantly nagging in the back of their heads, but now it’s like a breath of fresh air.
And so, to you who are foster parents, it may be difficult to not use language regarding the future of your foster kids. It is completely full of unknowns and can be scary for these kids. Put emphasis on the future they can expect with YOU. It may be helpful to reassure them that you will be there for them – while they’re in your home and that you will make sure that they are taken care of.
Acknowledging that some parts of today’s blog were assisted by – How to Celebrate New Years As a New Adoptive/Foster Family? by Emily Perez a stay-at-home mom with a BS in Elementary Education from Eastern Oregon University. When she was younger, her parents did foster care and adopted 5 children from all walks of life to become her siblings.
I have twin girls, their biological father raped me. That’s how I became pregnant. He’s been fighting for shared custody. The courts are wondering how I would feel about my girls having supervised visitation with him once a month with a 3rd party. I am trying to put my daughters needs above my own. They do have his DNA. I’m worried that if I don’t allow visitation, I will be stripping my daughters from their blood, but at the same time I’ll be putting them at risk of abuse from a man who abused me. I’m unsure what to do, I know my gut is telling me to keep my young children away from him at all costs but reading some of the experiences of adoptees causes me not to want to cause them trauma by being kept away from their biological family member. We have court on Monday to decide what should happen. I’m trying to think on both sides but honestly my trauma (Former Foster Care Youth) is pushing me very far one way and I’m not sure what the best decision for the children is. Currently I have 100% custody and placement. This wouldn’t change. He would just have court ordered supervised visitation once a month organized by Child Protective Services.
Some comments – DNA matters yes but not like this. Trauma aside he is a sexually violent human being and should go nowhere near those girls or you ever again.
One says this – All children have a right to their story. Of course, this truth will come out much later but it should be in a therapeutic way. Given that I would say in court – “No. I want my children to always trust that I will keep them safe and away from abusive people. I cannot agree to send them into the arms of a dangerous man. I want to be healthy for my children and I would like you to stop asking me to send my children to my abuser.”
Another recommended – You do have a dilemma going forward. I’d reach out to a professional regarding the children. A therapist with experience in the area of rape/trauma/absent parent.
One speaks from experience – As a child of incest and rape I lived daily with my abusers. Your having to be around him is traumatic for you and the fact that he has that history, I do not agree with him being around minor children. I can’t even believe a court system would allow this. These children deserve to be kids. When they’re old enough to understand how they came into this world, it should be solely their choice regarding whether to pursue a relationship.
Someone else writes – Keep them away from him if at all possible. Sometimes abusive men try to obtain custody of the children as a way to further humiliate or abuse the mother. Sometimes they fight for full custody, just to dump the parental responsibilities onto the mother. It’s just a game with them and getting their rights on paper. It’s not about the mother/child bond that’s certain.
Yet another writes – Keep them away. I’m big on family preservation and father’s rights but no child should ever be around a rapist. Please protect your girls.
Yet another shares from experience – A family member of mine found out this is how they were conceived. They have connected with their siblings from their sperm donor (some do refer to a father with whom they have no connection this way), and have a good relationship. They only met the guy once. That was enough. I would say, be honest with your children – when they are older but protect them in their youth.
Someone asks – Did he serve time for your rape? if no..nothing has changed. To which the woman responds – 6 months probation.
Another suggestion – Would put your mind at ease more or help, if there was a relative you were comfortable with supervising contact (one of his siblings, grandparents on that side, a cousin)? Someone who can represent the father’s side of the family and reassure the judge that you want the girls to know their heritage but still need to protect them from him? Also, is there any risk to him moving forward from supervised visits? If so, not sure that’s a risk you would want to take. For example, if he did 5 years of supervised visits with no issues, wouldn’t he ask for more time and unsupervised? He would have a length of time and proof that he is capable of parenting and that’s not something I would want to risk. So also something to consider now.
And this one is definitely a cautionary tale – I’m a former foster care youth and adoptee. My biological father raped my first mother. She kept me from him for years, then later encouraged a relationship with him. He raped me, too. Obviously, that can’t happen with a truly supervised visitation. However, he will keep pushing for more, asking for more, and could eventually get unsupervised. This is an instance where keeping your child safe from a biological parent is *actually* a valid concern and not just a made up worry.
Another cautionary tale – I was forced to allow visits with my rapist and my son is now in a psych facility because of the trauma.
Yet another noted – He will use your daughters. As bait for his next victims, or as his victims, as a screen to convince the world that he’s a respectable guy, or as tools to destroy your sense of safety and well being. Any man who will not respect your body won’t respect any female body.
Someone else writes that they are a former foster care youth and incest survivor. Their father is a rapist. My thought is nooooooooo – keep that man away from your babies, he’s not a safe person.
An adoptee adds – No. He’s an actual verified REAL safety concern. Keep him FAR away from your babies. I know it’s hard because you want to truly do what’s best for them and not what your own personal trauma tells you to do (and that makes you second guess yourself)… But you’re doing the right thing in keeping them safe.
Maybe all of this is enough – never trust anyone who has been inclined to rape a woman.
Recently the post of a new mother who just gave birth a few days ago and is giving up her child for adoption asked what items from his birth she should keep. She received over 700 comments, mostly from adoptees and birth mothers, urging her frantically to back out and keep and raise her child. The responses spoke eloquently of the reasons why. I thought this one excellent –
Obviously none of us could possibly understand to the full extent your situation or circumstances which led you to this decision, and I don’t doubt for one second that is consumed you entirely the past 9 months. Knowing that you only have just one more day before making probably the most difficult and life changing decision of anyone’s life, I’m sure you’d want to consider absolutely everything, especially if there was anything new which you hadn’t considered before.
Most of the people in this group are either fellow birth mothers or adoptees, so more than anyone else they understand exactly what you and your baby are going through, and will go through.
Knowing the main reasons why women choose adoption being financial and/or relationship instability, we’re all just here to let you know that if those are factors in your decision, there absolutely is support available so that you don’t feel as if you have to make this decision. No one should be coerced or forced into making a decision under the guise of being “best for your baby.”
If finances are an issue, there’s lots of support out there; not only from this group, but government programs, and there are so many church programs and charities. There are so many people here who can help you find whatever services you need because we’ve needed, and used those services ourselves.
We just want to make sure that you know the reality, that it’s actually far more important to have your birth mother in your life rather than having two parents who are non-biological. So if a lack of a father figure is affecting your decision, just please don’t be fooled into believing this false narrative that it’s more important to live in a two parent household, because that’s simply not true.
I’m sorry if you’re feeling guilt tripped, I truly don’t believe that was anyone’s intention.
We all just want to show you that you’re not alone and that you don’t have to make this decision if you don’t want to. We just want you to know that all those typical reasons that society tells us is why women should choose adoption, every single one of those reasons is complete b***sh*t in the real world. But so many people still believe the lies and the false narrative, so that’s exactly why this group is here, to show everyone there’s another way.
One more adds something important – Our mothers’ decisions caused preverbal, pre-personality developmental trauma that we have lived with for decades. It isn’t rainbows and butterflies. Adoption does not guarantee a better life, just a different one. Adoptees are overrepresented in mental health care. We are four times as likely to try to kill ourselves. This is our life, you are about to choose for your son. That is why we are speaking up.
You can find this group – Adoption:Facing Realities – at Facebook. There is a 2 week read only rule because the perspective is rather different from most adoption oriented groups. The comments of adoptees are given priority. Anyone in the triad (birth mother, adoptee or adoptive parent) is welcome but you should be warned that the rainbows and butterflies fantasy narrative of the adoption world is not what you will find there. However, you will find honesty, detailed personal experiences and a belief in family preservation. The group also includes former foster care youths now grown and transitioned to the adult world.
For some time now, I’ve been writing these adoption related blogs every day. I don’t think I have missed many, if I’ve even missed any. I often wonder what there is left to say . . . and then something arises and off my fingers go to type up a new one.
I know my perspectives have grown since I started writing these. A lot of credit for that goes to my all things adoption Facebook group – where I often find stories and perspectives to pass along here without revealing any sensitive or private details. I hope that by sharing these, my readers also find their perspectives broadening along the way.
When I first joined that group, it wasn’t long before one of the members called me out on my unicorns and rainbows happy perspectives on adoption. It hurt at the time but it was an important wake up call and I do believe I have emerged entirely from what is known as adoptionland fog.
Because both of my parents were adopted and both of my sisters gave up babies to adoption, what is actually a VERY UN-NATURAL practice seemed entirely normal to me. Yet, now that I know who my grandparents are – I’ve added their birthdates to my annual birthday calendar – because I wasn’t able to acknowledge them in their lifetimes. It matters to me.
I now think of my adoptive grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins as placeholders for the real thing I lacked. This isn’t a judgement of them. They probably all viewed it as natural to our lives as I did but it really isn’t. I don’t even think of them as related to me anymore. But I do have a history with them and have felt their love and concern over the years, especially during my own childhood.
And adoptionland IS changing slowly but surely, one family at a time. In my all things adoption group, expectant mothers are often encouraged and even financially supported to the best of our ability (such as with Amazon gift registries) to keep their babies. It is more of a walk the walk than simply talk the talk group and I am proud of that.
Adoptees and former foster care youth are PRIVILEGED voices in that group, as they should be for they have the direct experience to open the minds and hearts of the public in general. Many people who have already adopted are learning to be more sensitive and to do the already reality situation better, including honesty, truthfulness and attempts to keep their adopted children connected to their biological/genetic families and at times, even culture (when that is different than the adoptive parents’ own culture).
My hope and certainly my wish is for our society to be more supportive of struggling families in EVERY WAY POSSIBLE and to see adoption no longer a choice that couples realizing infertility feel privileged to make – taking some other family’s baby to pretend that child was born to them.
A change it is a comin’ and I am grateful to be part of that. Happy New Year.