Argentina’s Courageous Abuelas

Abuelas (Grandmothers) de Plaza de Mayo is a non-governmental organization formed in 1977. Their grandchildren disappeared. Many babies were kidnapped with their parents, some after their parents were killed, and others were born in clandestine detention centers where their mothers were taken after having been sequestered at different states of their pregnancies.

The grandmothers note that from the moment that their children (often with their grandchild still in the womb) disappeared, they have visited every court, office, orphanage, day care center, and so on, trying to locate them. They have appeared before the courts, the successive military governments, the Supreme Court, and the ecclesiastical hierarchies, never obtaining a positive result. They eventually directed their claims to international organizations such as the United Nations and the Organization of American States. All to no avail.

These disappeared children were deprived of their identity, their religion, and their right to live with their family, in other words, all of the rights that are nationally and internationally recognized as their universal human rights. Beginning in 1997, the grandmothers began an informational campaign seeking to draw the attention of young people (of an approximate age range of what their grandchildren would be at that time) who may have had doubts regarding their true identity to the Abuelas organization. Happily, they have had some positive results.

The grandmothers wish to make it clear that their grandchildren have not been abandoned and inform them that they have the right to recover their roots and their history. They wish for these victims to know that they have relatives who are constantly engaged in searching for them.

Over 3 decades, the grandmothers located 120 of the disappeared children, including 4 found by governmental commissions and 2 located by CLAMOR, the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in the Southern Cone. The estimated number of children kidnapped is approximately 500. Widespread DNA testing is now making it possible to locate more of these children who could have been sent out for adoption to any country anywhere in the world.

Some of the recovered children are already living with their legitimate families and have become perfectly integrated. Others are still living with the families that have raised them, but are in close contact with their true grandmothers and relatives. By being a part of two families, the children have recovered their identity. Sadly, there are a large number of disappeared children whose identities were completely annulled. In those cases, the grandmothers are using modern science to prove that they are members of a particular family. They continue to rely on support from the scientific community in the field of genetics, hematology, morphology, and others to accomplish their goal.

Pocahontas’ Son

Last night we watched The New World about the first English settlers at Jamestown. I was intrigued about the story of Pocahontas and for the most part in further research, it was about as accurate as it could be for an event that took place so long ago with few original documents. From a Smithsonian piece titled The True Story of Pocahontas, I picked up some new details and a few reality checks.

Pocahontas died in England where she was treated as the princess that she was. Born about 1596, her real name was Amonute, and she also had the more private name Matoaka. Pocahontas was her nickname, which depending on who you ask means “playful one” or “ill-behaved child.” Much that is known came from Captain John Smith who wrote about her many years later describing her as the beautiful daughter of a powerful native leader, who rescued him from being executed by her father. It’s disputed whether or not Pocahontas, who was only age 11 or 12, rescued Smith or did he possibly misinterpret a ritual ceremony, or worse take the tale from a popular Scottish ballad of the time.

Pocahontas grew up to be a clever and brave young woman, who served as a translator, ambassador and leader facing down European power. Pocahontas’ people could not possibly have defeated or even held off the power of Renaissance Europe. The Indians were facing extraordinarily daunting circumstances. Pocahontas was captured and held for ransom by the Colonists during hostilities in 1613. During her captivity, she was encouraged to convert to Christianity and was baptized under the name Rebecca.

It was during her captivity in the settlement called Henricus, that Pocahontas met John Rolfe. She married the tobacco planter in April 1614 at about the age of 17 or 18 and she bore him a son, Thomas Rolfe in January 1615. Their marriage created a climate of peace between the Jamestown colonists and Powhatan’s tribes that endured for eight years and was known as the “Peace of Pocahontas.” The birth of Thomas Rolfe, as he was both of European and Native American descent, reinstated peace between the Powhatans and the European settlements. Early in his career as deputy governor, Samuel Argall reported in a letter published within the Virginia Company Records that Powhatan “goes from place to place visiting his country taking his pleasure in good friendship with us laments his daughter’s death but glad her child is living so doth opachank”.

The marriage was controversial in the British court at the time because “a commoner” had “the audacity” to marry a “princess”. According to Rolfe, when she was dying, she said, “all must die, but tis enough that her child liveth”. In the movie, Rolfe is depicted carrying Thomas, their two year old son in his arms, as he was going back to Virginia but that is the most inaccurate part I am aware of. Here is where the story merits mention in this blog about adoption. At the time Pocahontas died, Thomas was sick as well. His father, fearing his young son would not survive the sea voyage, appointed Sir Lewis Stukley as his guardian March 21, 1617. Stuckley later transferred custody and care of Thomas Rolfe to his uncle, Henry Rolfe.

This likely saved his life as his father, John Rolfe died in the Indian massacre of 1622. Also known as the Jamestown Massacre. A contemporary account claims the Powhatan had come “unarmed into our houses with deer, turkeys, fish, fruits, and other provisions to sell us”. The Powhatan then grabbed any tools or weapons available and killed all the English settlers they found, including men, women, and children of all ages. Chief Opechancanough led the Powhatan Confederacy in a coordinated series of surprise attacks; they killed a total of 347 people, a quarter of the population of the Virginia colony.

In his will, John Rolfe had appointed his father in law, William Pierce, as executor of his estate and guardian of his 2 children, Thomas and Elizabeth (by a subsequent marriage). Thomas remained in his uncle’s care until he reached roughly 21 years of age. Sometime before June 1635, Thomas returned to Virginia, his transportation paid for by his Virginia guardian and grandfather by marriage, William Pierce. Once established in Virginia, Thomas Rolfe fostered both his reputation as a plantation owner and as a member of his mother’s lineage. He expressed interest in rekindling relations with his Native American relatives, despite societal ridicule and laws that forbade such contact. In 1641, Rolfe petitioned the governor for permission to visit his “aunt, Cleopatra, and his kinsman, Opecanaugh”.

The date of his death after a life filled with service to the crown and land acquisition is not totally known but has been thought to be around 1685.

As an aside, my mom was born in the Richmond Virginia general area in 1937. It is known that her mother’s family, the Starks, immigrated from Scotland arriving at Stafford County Virginia. As her husband seems to have taken leave of her to return to his mother and other children in Arkansas, it appears my grandmother’s father may have thought her husband had abandoned her. Embarrassed that she was obviously with child and no husband to be seen, I suspect there were still members of the Stark family in Virginia and that is why she was sent there to give birth (and I assume, he hoped she would relinquish her baby there but she did not and brought her back to Memphis, where the two of them fell into the clutches of Georgia Tann). Therefore, I do feel genetic familial roots in Virginia and know that one of my Stark ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War because they arrived here before that began. Later some Starks migrated to Tennessee where my maternal grandmother was born.

Messed Up Perspectives

“My door is open for your baby (even at 3 a.m. I’ll take your baby so this doesn’t have to be a choice)(and I won’t say your name) I will even go to a different state to save your baby. Just message me if you don’t want your baby…

I look at the news. I recently saw the negligence suffered by a 4-Month-old boy. The baby passed away from lack of nutrition and dehydration. They also found worms in his diaper… another baby was rescued from a plastic Walmart bag… many babies dying… one child’s death due to negligence is too much!

For anyone who has a baby or is pregnant with one who doesn’t want the baby because you are too far along to get an abortion… my door is always open! Before you decide that the only option is to throw your baby in the trash, don’t do it! Bring that baby to my door. I promise, no questions will be asked or judgments passed. I’ll give you my address and my family will welcome your baby with open arms.

Note: leave the birth notice sheet so I can register your baby as my baby

Also hospitals, police stations and firefighters are other options. Leave the baby in the right hands and get away. No charges will be filed. Strength is to ask for help. The strength is to put another one before yourself. There’s help.

This is a safe place for your baby.

Okay, so let’s break down what isn’t right about the thinking here.

First, this isn’t a way to promote yourself to adopt a baby.

Second, if you found a baby or a woman left her baby on your door step you have to call the police. You will get in trouble with the law if you don’t. Especially going to a different state with the baby that’s kidnapping.

Third, you will not adopt the baby. The baby will go into foster care and the police will investigate the situation. Not every baby was abandoned by their mom or mom doesn’t want her baby. Sometimes babies are kidnapped or mom is in danger. Sometimes they find dad to take the baby because he might not know he has a child.

Fourth, infanticide is very different. Women who kill their babies often have mental health issues and disassociate from their pregnancy. These women wouldn’t necessarily leave their babies at a fire station or your home.

Fifth, I see a lot of these posts focus on the person writing it, not the baby or mom. Safe haven laws don’t exist for people to adopt. Safe haven doesn’t mean no questions asked or adoption. It doesn’t mean no charges filed or the parents will not be found. Safe haven isn’t a way for a hopeful adoptive parent to adopt. Asking a woman to list your husband as the father or register her baby to you is fraud.

Regrets When Things Change

So today’s story goes like this – I had a baby June 30 was going to place her for adoption with a relative in Texas. Decided I’m no longer going to place for adoption and told her I was coming to get her. (Cause according to our agreement I can request the return of my child at any time) It was a agreement for non parent adult caregiver. Well she basically sent me a text saying no and wasn’t going to give her to me didn’t think it’s in the best interest. And was going to file a restraining order And somehow I was lying to her and she feels like I used her. I had originally asked her to take baby cause I wanted her to stay in the family. I hired attorney but I’m just scared and worried cause I’ve never been to court for anything and I don’t know what to expect and some how they have “I’m not able to properly care for her” but I take care of my other kids every day. So I just don’t understand and didn’t it expect it to be like now a custody battle. (She has a lot more support and money then me as she knows I’m a single mom.)

She adds – Everything was fine till I told her I wanted to parent. Actually at first everything was fine with me coming to get her, my relative was mad/hurt but wasn’t putting up a fight. Then come last Wednesday, I got a text saying NO and I wasn’t in the best interest of my own baby and some how I lied to her this whole time and had other people tell her I can’t care for her etc.

I actually believe she just doesn’t want to give her back and she trying to scare me to back off, thinking something going to happen to my other kids, if I don’t win my baby back or something. She blocked me from everything she trying to let the time frame past to where I can’t do anything and my rights can be taken away.

One woman in the group replied – I wish we could start a list of people who would take a baby temporarily, no paperwork to help moms out. I’ve done it before, had a baby for 90 days while mama got the help she needed and handed her the baby back. No Department of Children and Families involvement and when people asked – I would say I’m helping a mom keep her baby. I’m learning that sometimes moms feel they cannot parent at that moment and just need some time and can parent once help is given etc.

Another woman chimed in – I would love to be a fictive kin “grandma” to help young women get on there feet. My kids are young adults and helping families connect with resources is what I do for employment. Occasional baby snuggles or getting to see happy families would be an extra bonus (my work is done over phone/internet).

Someone added – If you only signed a temporary guardianship the law is on your side.

If you are unfamiliar with a Texas Authorization Agreement for Nonparent Relative or Voluntary Caregiver, this law allows any adult caregiver to be authorized to provide TEMPORARY CARE for a child.

Failure by the voluntary adult caregiver to return the child to the parent immediately on request may have criminal and civil consequences.

So further advice is this – Copy your signed agreement and show up at the local police department the lady lives in and tell them she’s refusing to give you your kid and based on what you signed you have every right to get your child back. They may say it’s a civil matter BUT this document should show them regardless you have the rights to get your baby.

The woman replies –  I called her police, they won’t help.

The other woman providing advice (and I agree, it is VERY IMPORTANT to make a STRONG CASE of demand at this point !!) – Honey – SHOW UP. Physical presence means a little more. Print this document. Type a paper or hand write it if necessary saying you hear by REVOKE all authorization previously given. Show the police. Ask them to make a copy and open a file. Dress appropriately and speak respectfully and calmly to the officers and chances are – if they see this document – they should aid in getting her back.

Someone else added – Did you try to file a kidnapping report using your document ?

She was told this situation is not considered a kidnapping.

She counters –  My copy of the agreement is not signed by a judge.  She was supposed to file her copy.

Yet another person notes – If she didn’t file it in her county, she has even less legally to stand on in this situation.

The distraught mother adds – I called her county clerk or court and they said they didn’t see anything but that the lady didn’t know much about this form. The woman in possession of her daughter said it has to be revoked by a judge.  The mother wants to know – how do you get something revoked, if it was never filed ?

Supportive responses come – The court clerk would most likely be looking this up by the person’s name. If there’s nothing filed, there’s nothing for them to find under their name.

I think there is a very high likelihood they’re lying to you about it having to be revoked by a judge in order to make it feel too difficult and insurmountable to have kiddo returned to you.

Frankly, I think they’re lying to you about all sorts of stuff. I’m so sorry. This is entirely bullshit.

Be very careful about who you trust to help you care for your children.  Even with the best intentions and “protections” too much is at stake to take chances with someone so precious.

It Happens

Some kids are simply born adventurous.  I remember once when my family stopped to check out a small county fair.  My older son was climbing around in a structure and wanted us to keep watching him.  He was always connected to us – well most of the time.  The younger boy was quite independent and adventurous.  This particular time, I took my eyes off the older boy and looked for the younger one, only to see him wandering off totally unconcerned.  Thankfully I could retrieve him.

Once in a large structure with lots of climbing around opportunities (City Museum in St Louis if you’ve ever been there, you will understand).  My husband was following our older son around and the boy got into a space too small for my husband to follow.  He then frantically started heading up to the next level.  The boy had been smart enough to go to a staff member and my husband caught up with him quickly.

There was a time when a young boy wandered off from the family home that was isolated in the wilderness that we have ample quantities of here in my county.  He was missing for 3 days, setting off a massive search that finally succeeded in locating him.  While his mom had been on the telephone inside, he had decided he wanted to go and visit his grandmother but  she lived at quite a distance away.  He had been headed in the right direction at least.

Just because an adventurous young child takes it upon themselves to wander away at an opportune moment does not mean the parent is irresponsible and that they should lose their parental rights and the child taken for adoption or foster care.  Negligence is much more than the rare occurrence of a child’s inventiveness.

Case in point –

A woman was driving along on a busy road outside a mobile home subdivision. She found a small child wearing only a diaper walking near road. Fearing for his safety, she stopped and picked him up, putting him in her car and took him home.

Common sense then caused her to worry that she would be accused of kidnapping him. Wisely, she called police. They began searching for his mom. It turns out she had been napping with the child, who then got up and was able to get out of the house.

Of course, the mother was frantically looking for him. She wasn’t a mom who deserved to lose her child. He had never gotten out of the house before.  That day he had just figured out how.  Had wandered off, while his mom slept. Moms get tired. Kids are smart.

Fact is, almost every parent has a story about one of their kids who figured out how to open doors and go off on their own at some very young age.  A very young child often does not know their parents names or phone number.  Of course, as parents we need to keep our children safe.  However, no parent should be judged harshly because their child is an escape artist.  No parent should lose custody over such an occurrence and always all of us should be happy when a wandering child is returned home safely.  True, it is a dangerous world out there but sometimes, even with attentive and loving parents, it happens.

Taken At Birth

We do not have commercial TV or streaming service in my home, so I have not seen this series, though I know this is what happens.  Today, I read a rational question about adoptions – I don’t know why after this, birth certificates don’t have a place for natural parents and adoptive parents on them? Doesn’t make sense why we haven’t evolved our legal system to preserve people’s identities.

At least that.  Better yet – no false identities.  No falsified birth certificates.  No loss of genetic connection, which is what I think this person’s comment indicates.  Can there not be a “new” kind of birth registration that acknowledges the reality ?

TLC shares this about their series – In 1997 a shocking story made headlines. Thomas Hicks, a small town Georgia doctor, illegally sold more than 200 babies from the back door of his clinic. Jane Blasio has been trying to uncover the mysteries of the Hicks clinic for over 30 years. She is joined by Lisa Joyner and Chris Jacobs as they try to bring closure to those stolen babies desperately searching for their true identities and birth families.

In fact, the ’90s were a time for shocking revelations about adoption as Georgia Tann’s scandal from the 1920s to 1950s re-emerged in the national consciousness.  And by late in that decade, sealed adoption records became accessible in some cases such as in Tennessee for Tann’s victims.  In 2017, that allowed me to obtain my mother’s adoption file, though it had been denied her in the early 1990s, she never learned that she could have gotten this file while she was yet alive.  It is a sadness because she would have seen a photo of her mother and learned alot about the true circumstances of her adoption.

The comment I shared above had some more thoughts.  “I was shocked at the empathy and benefit of the doubt given to the Adoptive Parents. I think I would consider them kidnappers if I was coming in from the outside to help track down the truth. It definitely showed me more of what Hopeful Adoptive Parents will do when they are desperate for a child.  I also am just heartbroken for these families and the adoptees. Felt like in episode 2, you finally get to hear a testimony of just how devastating this is for them.”

The only good thing I can say about this increasing awareness is that it is a good thing.  Reforms and changes are likely to be encouraged as more people learn the truth about the impacts of separating babies from their natural mothers.

One Way The System Is Broken

I read a heartbreaking story today and I want to share it because not only does it illustrate something that is really not just but also that love is real and true and people can and do change.

So this woman was adopted at age 5. Her mother’s rights were terminated voluntarily because she had failed to complete her “plan”.  The woman was placed into foster care – twice.

At the time, her father was incarcerated on assault charges. Other than the fact that he had lost his temper and gotten violent, she doesn’t know anything more about the circumstances.  What she does know is that he did not get violent with her mother or any of his children.  I too understand inheriting a temper, I got my father’s much to my own surprise when I discovered that well into my 50s.

Back to my story.  The father did NOT want to give up his rights. He wanted to parent the child himself, when he was released. He wasn’t serving a particularly long sentence.  However, his rights were forcefully terminated because he was in jail.  Sadly, he was released a few months after she was adopted.

At some point, the father spoke to a caseworker.  He learned there was a prospective couple planning to adopt his child.  It is said he made threats to harm the couple planning on adopting his child.  He threatened to forcefully take his child back if he had to.

So it is said that for this reason, the adoptive parents chose a closed adoption.

Sadly, her dad maintains to this day that she was “kidnapped”.  This is an understandable perspective.

Turns out, her dad lived close by her entire childhood even though she did not know him. He remarried a few years after his release.  He went on to have 4 more children who he successfully parented. A portrait of her hung in their bedroom all the years of her childhood.  They even had a small cake to celebrate her existence on her birthday each year.

This just feels so very sad . . .

Stress Responses

Some adoptive parents mistake their adopted child’s compliance with the situation as a good outcome adjustment.  What I have learned from adoptees that there is an even more intense reaction that is called fawning.  Think of the kidnap victim that eventually identifies with their captors – like Patty Hearst did.

Every adoptee is an individual and each responds differently to the circumstances of their relinquishment and their placement in a new home.

Fawning is best understood as “people-pleasing.”  Both of my parents were adoptees and I saw this kind of behavior in my mom and learned it from her.  This kind of behavior can endear one to other people but it is not always healthy to be this way.

People with the fawn response are so accommodating of other people’s needs that they often find themselves in codependent relationships.  Fortunately, when that has happened to me, I’ve found a way out – even if it took some time to get there.

Fawn types seek safety by merging with the wishes, needs and demands of others. They act as if they unconsciously believe that the price of admission to any relationship is the forfeiture of all their needs, rights, preferences and boundaries.  It takes some maturity to take one’s power back.

Sadly, fawn types are more vulnerable to emotional abuse and exploitation.  Abusers may suppress a survivor’s fight or flight responses by threatening punishment.  The appease response, also known as ‘please’ or ‘fawn’, is a survival response which occurs [when] survivors read danger signals and aim to comply and minimize the confrontation in an attempt to protect themselves.  I’ve been there, done that and I’ve seen my mom do likewise.

If you are an adoption survivor (adoption is definitely a form of trauma to a child), you are not alone in using this for safety. There is no shame in struggling with fawning. Fawning, like the other stress responses, is a self-protective armor. It has helped many adoption survivors live through being placed in a family that does not fit their nature naturally.

What Is Wrong With This Picture ?

There was a time in my sons younger days when I worried that their behavior was going to result in unintended consequences.  Sometimes well-meaning people insert themselves in ignorance into other people’s lives.  Fortunately, we weathered those years without the worst happening to us.  That is not always the case for some families.

In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler writes –

“The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.”

This is definitely a reason for concern as our government has been trending authoritarian.

In a YouTube titled “Legally Kidnapped: The Case Against Child Protective Services” the narrator says – “They don’t want you to know what is going on because if you did you’d rebel, you’d fight back.”

There is an agency that has ripped families apart for decades.  In 2014, when that video was made there were 400,000 children in out-of-home care. That is a staggering number.  It is true that 20% of Child Protective Services removals are for physical/sexual abuse.

With the ongoing legalization of marijuana in many states in this country, it may shock you to know that a vast percentage of child removals have been for the use by their parents of this substance.

The sad truth is that foster children are 6 times more likely to die of medical neglect, physical abuse and/or sexual abuse while in CPS care than a child suffering in poverty is.

You can learn more at https://stopcpslegallykidnappingchildren.org/

Adoption-Competent Therapy

Given an awareness that separation of a child from the mother inflicts deep, often unconscious, wounds – what is a method to achieve some kind of healing regarding an event that won’t change ?

I find it interesting that my mom, an adoptee, believed she had been stolen til the day she died.  There was some basis in her belief, as she did know that she was a Georgia Tann baby and that many of the children that Tann placed were not legitimately available for adoption.

I also believe that it may have been a very deep seated memory at a pre-verbal time in her infant life from having just seen her mom (she had been placed in an orphanage ONLY for temporary care while her mom tried to get on her feet) and then given to a complete stranger who took her by train from Memphis TN to Nogales AZ.  One can see how without words to explain her experience, the feeling of having been STOLEN dominated her belief about the “inappropriate” (my mom’s word for it to the state of TN when she tried to get her adoption file released to her) way she had been separated from a mother who never intended to give her up.  Such a sad story.

For today’s adoptees that wish to find some relief from their own wounds there is the possibility of therapeutic intervention.  If choosing to go that route, it is important to locate a practitioner competent in adoption related trauma.

All adopted children — of all ages — are at risk for changes in their brain’s chemistry and structure. These alterations don’t just go away with time and, if not effectively treated, can become increasingly problematic as a child grows older.

An adopted child knows they are different and some of their behaviors are not acceptable. This can shatter any self-esteem they may be trying to hang on to.  Deep down in this child’s very core is a deep black pit of shame and grief.

Adoptees are over-represented nationally in the mental/behavioral health field. That means that the percentage of adoptees seeking mental/behavioral health services is much higher than the percentage in the general population.  If you are going to seek therapy, educate yourself on what makes a therapist adoption competent.  You don’t want to go down the general diagnosis pathway that leads to a medication intervention and never acknowledges the core problem.