Where Does The Fear Come From ?

When my sons were very young and often difficult, so instinctual they were not ready for rational logic and I had to somehow stop whatever, I used to worry a lot that some well-meaning person, or some surveillance camera or simply because we made the choice to educate our sons at home, would cause us to loose custody of them.  Thankfully, they are both almost grown now and have never been away and there has been at least one parent present with them at all times.

Former foster youth sometimes live in constant fear of their children being taken away from them for no good reason.  They may also fear that for some reason they are incapable of properly raising their children. Fears might swing between “they will get taken because the system knows I was a foster kid and is already looking down on me” to “I think I actually am a crap mom.”

I actually thought I was a crap mom for not raising my daughter.  Then many years later, I had an opportunity in a new marriage to have two sons.  Now I know that maybe I’m not the greatest mom but I do love ALL of my children and am always doing the best I can.  I always hope my best is good enough.

I beat myself up over any poor parenting choice. I spoil my kids – that is sort of true but maybe not too much.

Children do not come with care manuals.  Every child is different in temperament and personality.  What works with one does not work with the other.  One son is persistent and defiant.  The other is passive and emotional.  The first could not be disciplined with any amount of physical effort.  The second one we had to tread carefully not to set him off because he cried so easily for a very long time and could not be soothed.

Whether we were adopted or taken from our parents and placed in foster care – I believe every parent faults their skills in raising children.  Some people make it look so easy.  It could be that if you asked them, they would have the same doubts and fears you do.

Hmmmm, Cutting Through The Noise

What is so great about children being surrendered and raised without their identity ?  Did I get your attention ?

I can’t imagine losing my mom – can you ?  Both of my parents did.

You don’t have to take my word for it (just listen to enough adult adoptees and you will become a believer) – adoption is trauma.  Bringing a child into a stable, loving home does NOT erase their trauma.

Why would you glorify abandonment ?

You know, you’re basically waiting for a woman and her baby to have the worst day of their lives so that you can have the best day of yours….

Adoptive parents literally act like the stork delivers these children.

One person’s intense joy is a result of another person’s desperate sorrow.  I certainly saw the truth of this as I read my mom’s adoption file from the Tennessee Children’s Home Society.

Tell people who are not familiar with conventional adoption about the fake birth certificates your parents were given.  That is one some people have trouble believing (yes, it is done all the time). Then tell them your parents’ REAL names were taken away from them and that they were both given a name that the adoptive couple preferred.

Imagine creating your family tree and having to list two names for each of your parents and then show their spouse with the adopted name so that someone might with difficulty sort it all out.  Yes, my parents were not allowed to use the names they were born with.  Are you incredulous yet ?  Most people have no idea that adoptees are forced to live fake identities.  My dad’s name was changed TWICE when his adoptive mother remarried.  He was already 8 years old at that time.

If that baby had lost his mother to cancer, you would be mourning with him right now.

If adoption is so wonderful, which one of your children would you give up to someone else for a “better life” ?  Note –  it should be the child you love the most that you give up, since you would obviously want that child to have the best life.  Crazy, huh ?

Ask an adoptee what it means to be adopted – adoption means you’re never going home.  Let that sink in.

Most adoptees would get an abortion before they would give up their own child for adoption.

As the child of two adoptees, I try to be balanced (after all, I would not exist but for) and not be too harsh.  Many people are well-intentioned but ill-informed about the realities surrounding adoption.   I want my readers to walk away having learned something real, maybe opening up further conversation on the topic.  Adoption is more complicated than you might imagine.

Many people believe that every adoptee was unwanted or they view the original mom as less than human because they can’t relate to someone who has given up a child.  Both perceptions are quite likely UNTRUE.

 

 

Why Did You Adopt ?

My husband and I made a conscious decision not to adopt when we had been trying unsuccessfully to conceive.  I believe our main concern was that uncertainty factor.  We decided that we preferred to start “fresh” using an alternative form of medicine (obviously the main response to the question in the survey above).

Many adoptive parents are driven by altruistic reasons – it is not because of infertility – but they truly would like to be there in a positive way for a child who they believe needs them.  It is a form of rescuer or savior motivation.

DIA is not through an agency but is a disclosed identified party adoption aka an open adoption.  The inconvenient truth is that regardless of the type of adoption –  agencies are manipulative, hopeful adoptive parents are clueless and often blinded by their own wants, expectant mothers are coerced into giving up their babies because they are led to the false belief it will be better for their infant, and infants experience tremendous trauma when they are separated from their original mother. The whole system of adoption is sadly a mess.

Hopeful adoptive parents usually have good intentions, even if they are blinded to more selfish and personally oriented reasons for adopting.   Wanting to be a parent and acting on that is a selfish decision via adoption, regardless of how you get there.  These adoptive parents may have more than they need for just their own selves.  They want to share from their abundance because for some people sharing feels good.

Many original mothers were  forced. One example that I read about – she was told either she place her son for adoption or they were going to report her to Child Protective Services – she was in extreme poverty, she did not have a job, she was depressed, unmarried and her my son was originally conceived through a man no longer in the picture. She was told she wasn’t good enough to raise her own son and that he deserved better.

It is important to change the narrative about adoption – it is not a beautiful circumstance. It is damaging and painful and should only happen in the very rarest of circumstances, and then it should be within the family, if possible (and honestly, it usually is possible).  I am pro-reunification.  It is important that the pain of separation is not permanent if at all possible.  My perspectives on adoption, I will admit, have gone 180 and mostly against.  There are exceptions, of course, and good ones.

A Need To Educate

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just Don’t

But you will.  You believe you won’t make all the mistakes the others have made.  You believe you know a better way.

Don’t be one of THOSE adoptive parents or hopeful adoptive parents who think they know better and their kid won’t be like those angry adoptees, the thousands upon thousands that have struggled with adoption. You don’t even KNOW what to teach them as an adoptive parent.

You do not raise adopted children like you raise biological children and that has nothing to do with love.

An adoptee said to his adoptive mother, “It doesn’t matter how loving and good your parents are and it doesn’t matter that you have a wonderful home….at times it isn’t enough and I am still very unhappy!” When you hear this from your adopted child, it will break your heart. Adopted kids are going to have pain and there isn’t anything an adoptive parent can do to erase it. Understanding that this is the reality is very painful!

You can’t erase the sadness lurking where you can’t reach it.

It would be better if you didn’t adopt but if you already have, the path forward is complicated.

So, if you already did it, then create a home where your adopted children know they can feel however they need to feel and that they know you’ll be there to listen, love, and support them through it.

Whatever your adopted child feels is the reality, don’t dismiss it. Your feelings are yours to deal with.

The trauma of adoption doesn’t stop existing because you want it to. If you think you can love that trauma away, as an adoptive parent you still have a lot to learn.

Love is not enough, good intentions are not enough. No amount of love or honesty can resolve the deep challenges an adoptee faces from being isolated from their biological identity.

Adoption – A Mother’s Sorrow

I can relate, though I didn’t give up a child to adoption, financially I lost the ability to raise my first born precious daughter.  There are no words for the lifetime of regret and sense of loss that never ends.  I remember looking through commercial greeting cards for something to send my daughter on her birthday and nothing related to the kind of relationship I have with her.  Eventually, I simply started making them my self where I could modify the text to be more accurate.

At least I knew where she was and who was raising her.  Not so for a mother who relinquishes her child to a closed adoption.  Open adoptions are more frequent now but adoptive parents can and often do close the door to contact.

It is difficult to generalize about the feelings or experiences of all of the parents who surrender a child.  Many may feel that their child will have a better life in an adoptive home and often that may be true if the mother is homeless or financially destitute.  Money and love and biological connection are not one and the same.  Even so, some parents who surrender a child do so believing that they are putting the child’s best interests ahead of their own, when they make the decision to place the child for adoption.

Grief and guilt are often the outcome for such a mother.  I know, I suffered both and still do.  Even though my daughter is now 46 years old and we have what I would consider to be a pretty good relationship with each other, I still struggle with the reality that I was not there for her growing up.  There is no changing that no matter how I feel about it.

Shock and denial, sorrow and depression, anger, guilt, and acceptance are the various feelings that a parent who has surrendered their child may experience at any given time, very dependent on the overall circumstances.

When the loss of a parent’s child is viewed as a “choice” that parent voluntarily made, there may be little sympathy or compassion and indeed, a strong inclination to ignore the pain and encourage the parent to go on with their life.  If only it were that simple . . .

In Defense Of

I do believe in all the reforms I have previously written about – retaining identity and family history information, not changing names or birth dates and not listing adoptive parents as the original parent.  Beyond that is a consideration for guardianship rather than permanent adoption.

All that said, from direct experience, adoptive parents have been a part of my own family’s life in positive ways.  First of all – my grandparents by adopting each of my parents.  On each side, they were a positive influence on my life and the lives of my siblings as well as on my parent’s lives.  They were good people who meant well.  What we now know about the wounds suffered by adoptees was not known at the time they took possession of my parents.

My mom’s adoptive parents modeled financial security for us and affirmed the value of advanced education.  My dad’s adoptive parents modeled faith and uncompromising personal values for us.  My dad’s adoptive parents may even have been responsible for keeping my parents together by getting married and preventing me from being given up when my teenage mother found herself pregnant.  I am grateful for that much.

Each of my sisters gave up a baby to adoption and these two children are fine adults.  In one case, my niece is showing us what a good and consistent mother she can be.  Even though she has been reunited with my family, she has remained steadfast in her appreciation for the people who raised her.

My nephew could not be a higher quality person.  His adoptive mother has gone the extra mile to answer the identity questions that evolved as he matured.  It appears that even my sister either didn’t know who his actual father was or chose to name the person who had the financial resources to help her make what has proven to be a quality choice as a substitute mother.  Given my sister’s very evident mental illness, it is for the best that she didn’t try to raise him.

All that to say, while I remain firmly of the opinion that there are better ways to provide for the welfare of children than adoption, it is not that the adoptive parents in my own family’s life were to blame.  It was naive ignorance and the intention to do good – which all of them have.

Adoption Fraud In Today’s World

If ever anyone wondered about money being the driving force in adoptions, fraud continues to happen in our modern times.  It is not just the Georgia Tann scandal of the 1950s that affects my own family.

A government official in Arizona is being charged in an international adoption fraud scheme that involves human smuggling, the sale of children and communications fraud involving more than one state here in the US.  The activity was uncovered when concerned hospital workers called the human trafficking tip line.

The alleged criminal transported more than 40 pregnant Marshallese women into Utah over the last three years.  He is also an adoption lawyer by profession, licensed in Utah and Arizona. He helped pregnant women travel from the Republic of the Marshall Islands in the central Pacific Ocean to Arizona for the sole purpose of relinquishing their children after birth and placing them for adoption.  The women then return to the Marshall Islands.

This activity violates an agreement called the Compact of Free Association enacted in the early 2000s between the U.S. and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, which bars Marshallese citizens from entering the US if their travel is solely for the purpose of giving their baby up for adoption. Unregulated international adoptions exploit the biological mothers’ cultural understanding of what they are participating in.  Many women from the Marshall Islands are willing to allow their children to be adopted by US citizens with the intention that their children will benefit from better education opportunities.  They expect their child to return to them as an adult.

An adoption through the alleged criminal’s adoption practice costs the prospective adoptive couple $30,000 to $40,000.  Sadly, a quick google search reveals that a huge variety of fraud schemes utilizing adoption continues to flourish in our modern times.

Becoming Whole Again

Much of what I write here came as an unexpected side effect of discovering who my original grandparents were.  Both of my parents were adoptees and both of them died without knowing what I know now.

The journey began because my cousin informed me she had received her father’s adoption file from the state of Tennessee.  This came as a huge surprise to me.  Back in the early 1990s, my mom tried and failed to get her own.  I had hoped, since she had died, it might become available to me but that is not how sealed records work generally – and I have bumped up against them in 3 states – Virginia, Arizona and California.

What made Tennessee different was the Georgia Tann scandal.  There would have been criminal charges lodged against her if she had not died before that could happen.  The movers and shakers of Memphis political life were all too happy to let the wrong-doing die with Miss Tann.

The story had such potency, that it erupted on the public’s imagination in the early 1990s on 60 Minutes and Oprah.  A movie was made by Hallmark featuring Mary Tyler Moore as a convincing Georgia Tann.  Reunions of adoptees with their original parents started being seen on television and my mom wanted that for herself.  It was not to be.  No one told her that less than 10 years after her own efforts were denied, it would have been possible.

It was surprising to me how the dominoes began falling so easily, so that in less than one year, I knew who all 4 of my original grandparents were and made contact with some surviving descendants.  Only a few years ago, I would never have predicted such a result.

It didn’t end there however.  From that new wholeness, I also began to understand deeply the impacts of separating young children or infants from their mothers and original families, how this causes a deep traumatic wound in the adoptee and how even the most well-meaning of adoptive parents (my adoptive grandparents were totally that and good people in general) can not make up for what has happened to the victims of the process.

And from all that, has come this blog.  No doubt I still have more to say as soon as tomorrow.

 

An Adoption Plan Gone Wrong

I recently read about this situation –

I fought tooth and nail to get my daughter’s original birth certificate. It finally came. I was horrified when I looked at it. Her first dad isn’t listed at all. Her name is stated as “*** [mom’s last name]”

I watched her first mom fill out the birth certificate form (pre signing… I now understand there are so many issues about my presence there to begin with and I’m hoping the silver lining is that I did at least get to see, on behalf of my daughter, that she completed this form and what exactly she wrote). This birth certificate is not representative of what first mom named her! And she gave her her first dad’s last name and listed him as the father.

What on earth happened?! Did the hospital know she was making an adoption plan and just ignored the form? Did the terrible social worker at the hospital drop the ball?! How could this be legal? She has a name… her mom gave her one! What will she think when she’s older? Obviously we will explain that this BC is a huge problem and we will be giving her all of the information that would have been on it (her full name with original last name and first dad’s full name and date of birth).

I just wanted to be sure no one withheld that that piece of her life and that she could hold it in her hands… and I feel like she was cheated out of a complete record. I’m angry on her behalf now and I’m angry on behalf of her future child/preteen/teen/adult selfs who will have to process this.

Birth mothers and adoption buyers beware !!