Not Indicating A Scam

The online matching sites are proliferating.

Most of what hopeful adoptive parents want to call a scam – simply isn’t that. It is a factor of market dynamics when the demand FAR exceeds the supply.

It’s usually –

“She was talking to other hopeful adoptive parents, therefore, it’s a scam.”

“She ghosted us, so it must be a “scam.”

“She blocked us, clearly it was a scam.”

“She never contacted our attorney, so it was always a scam.”

Do you seriously expect an expectant mom considering adoption to “settle” on the very first person she talks to on the internet?

If she posts in a “matching group”, you do realize that literally hundreds of hopeful adoptive parents are going to show up in her inbox within minutes?

If she contacts you because she sees you begging for a baby online, do you think you’re the only ones she has available to contact?

Do you really expect her to contact your attorney within days?

I’m not in favor of expectant mothers giving up their infant without first trying their darnest to parent.

So, I don’t agree with the idea of all these matching sites in the first place.

I think advertising yourselves wanting a baby is tacky and despicable – but if you’re going to do so, could you at least stop feeling so damn entitled and thinking everything that doesn’t immediately go your way must be a scam?

Realistically, it’s 99% impossible to be scammed in adoption – IF you do things legally, ethically and don’t let your selfish desire for a baby override your own common sense.

Sorry, but I don’t feel sorry for any hopeful adoptive parent who either gets “scammed” or believes without any good cause they were just because they didn’t get what they were hoping for. In this life, as the song lyrics by the Rolling Stones describe, “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you get what you need.”

When Circumstances Change

Expectant mothers considering a surrender of their not yet born child to adoption who end up in my all things adoption group are often counseled “don’t choose a permanent solution to what is actually a temporary situation.” Case in point, in today’s story.

So a woman had a baby when she was 19 years old. She surrendered him to adoption because she felt that she could not support herself and so by extension, could not support a child either.

5 years have passed and the original mother recently graduated from college. Throughout his young life, the adoptive mother has allowed the boy and his original mother to have contact with one another.

In a definitely misguided perspective, the adoptive mother encouraged her adoptive son to think of his original mother as a cousin or a friend. The complication here is this is a kinship adoption. The original mom is the adoptive mom’s cousin. 

Well, his original mother can now support herself. At the moment, she wants MORE contact with her son and for him to stay with her a few nights a week.

The adoptive mother is a stay at home mom and she claims her concern is that his original mother would utilize day care for him and only spend time with him at night.

The original mother and adoptive mother are now at opposite ends – the adoptive mother claims that if the original mother loved him so much, she would not have given him up 5 years ago.

The original mother claims it is cruel of the adoptive mother to refuse her request for a few nights a week with her son.

When the original mother brought up her financial struggles at the time the boy was born, the adoptive mother came back with “You don’t get to abandon your child and then decide you want him back 5 years later. I am his mother now.”

The original mother believes, given time, the two of them will bond with one another again and he will begin to think of her as his mother also. It has been proven that children are able to comprehend of more than one woman as being equally both of his mothers.

Now, the adoptive mother has threatened the original mother saying – “If you continue trying to steal him from me, I will stop letting you see him at all.” The reality is – the original mother can not legally undo a finalized adoption – so it is not possible for her to physically steal the child back from the adoptive mother.

One can certainly agree with the concern about putting him in daycare but this “stealing” language is very destructive. No one “owns” their own biological child, much less someone else’s child who one has adopted. He should be allowed to bond with his mom as often as he wants. The child should set any boundaries regarding the rebuilding of a disrupted mother child relationship.

There really has to be another way to satisfy both women. The original mother could pick her son up for the evening and drop him back off with the adoptive mother before work. Rigidity often prevents viable solutions to sticky issues from being considered. Always, the child’s best interests and well-being should be what governs decisions.

The truth is, the original mother did not abandon her child but was doing her best to do what was best for her baby at the time. Unfortunately, whether conscious of it or not, every adoptee has an abandonment wound. Because their original mother did leave them. Pure and simple. Understanding adult complications is not possible until a person is mature and living the realities of life’s hardships themselves.

The honest truth is that visits for the original mother and her child will promote a connection that is critical for the child after having been relinquished. Seeing that no harm comes of it would ease the mind of the adoptive parent. This is a situation in which a professional therapist acting as an intermediary might head off some horrific results. The child will grow up eventually and will know the truth. Better to keep things harmonious during his childhood.

Before Surrendering to Adoption

Along with other reform efforts, this idea really appeals to me. A mom who is thinking about placing her child for adoption, should have real unbiased counseling beforehand. Especially if the mom is a teen or young adult. A mom shouldn’t feel pressured to place. She should know her rights. This is her baby. She doesn’t owe anyone her baby.

If she does decide to place she needs to know everything. Especially about open adoption not being legally enforceable. This is rarely, if ever, mentioned to the mom. She doesn’t have to sign at the 72 or 48 hour mark. She can change her mind anytime. She can take her time. She can take her baby home, if she chooses to.

This is what happens all too often. An expectant mom is thinking about adoption but she isn’t really sure yet that she wants to give up her child. At the same time, there are hopeful adoptive parents getting their hopes up and the agency, who has a profit motive in the game, puts a lot of pressure on the young mom to place. Especially, when it comes to teens whose brains are still maturing. The brain doesn’t finish developing until 25-30 years old.

I think requiring expectant mothers to go through unbiased counseling would help the expectant mother make a choice without the interference of money motivated bias. Some of the language used with these young women suggests to them that they have nothing to offer their baby. These young women are told that not placing their child is a selfish decision. She may be further encouraged by dreams she had at the time she conceived of going to college and becoming successful in a profession. She is told that if she doesn’t surrender her child, she’ll fail in life.

She may also be suggested as a heroine, making a couple’s dream of becoming parents come true. Furthermore, if she decides not to places and so changes her mind – she will be breaking the hearts of some hopeful adoptive parents who have so very much more to offer her child than she does.

Young, expectant mothers should NOT have that kind of pressure put upon them. Real unbiased counseling can help these young women weigh their options more honestly and accurately. The sessions would allow the expectant mother to explore ALL if her feelings about pregnancy and not only dwell on her doubts and fears.

Sure, adoption agencies offer provide a kind of counseling. But really ? One cannot judge it to be un-baised when money is the motivator for the agency. The expectant mother has a “product” to offer and adoption is presented as the only fair, reasonable and practical choice she truly has.

Difficult Relationships In The Moment Of Dying

Even when an adoptee is able to find and attempt a reunion with their biological mother, it doesn’t always go well.  Case in point, a woman who tried to create a relationship about 11 years ago. The woman and her mother talked on the phone for months almost every single day. During that time period, they were supposed to meet multiple times.  The mother always ended up backing out – every single time. The adoptee tried to give her mother the benefit of the doubt, but it hurt more and more every single time this happened.

She found out 2 days ago that her biological mother had been put into a medically induced coma and a decision was made to pull the plug and her mother died. This woman goes on to say – I didn’t really think I would have any feelings in regards to her passing as I didn’t have a relationship with her. Yet, last night I didn’t get much sleep and I’ve been in this fog since I found out. I haven’t cried, but I have been feeling a little bit of regret.”

Then comes the kicker for her – she finds out that her mother put  her and a younger sister (age 19 and was raised by her biological dad, a step mom and somewhat their mutual biological mother) down as her next of kin, which is technically true but can have unintended consequences.  She has learned that they will both have to sign the paperwork for the funeral home to cremate their mother and will be required to make all of the decisions about her services.

She goes on to say – I know nothing about this woman. I’ve hated her for so long that I literally blocked her in every way possible. Why would she put this responsibility on me? It has made me so mad. And I don’t even know if everything has already been paid for or if my little sister and I have to pay for it. I literally can’t afford to pay for anything else right now except my bills. I am seriously at a loss. 

And yet, there comes another woman in similar circumstances with a different experience.  Her biological mother is dying but recently blocked her on Facebook. She is distressed because she won’t even get to say goodbye to her mother. But sympathetically, she acknowledges that she would also be mad if someone tried to make her responsible for her deceased mother’s expenses, especially since her mother won’t even speak to her.

And she goes on to acknowledge – Either way, it’s tough – especially when we are told all our lives that we aren’t rejected – we are loved and wanted and then you grow up and get rejected all over again.

The experience of yet another woman reminds me of my own mom . . .

I spent years hating my birth mom. She died the month I decided to start looking.  Then my siblings found me to let me know she’d died before I even started. I was not involved in anything and I really didn’t know her. Sometimes I wish I could have been there, or been acknowledged some way. I don’t know what’s worse.

One biological mother who gave up her child to adoption wrote –  if I died, I would put my daughter down as a person on the list.  I would want it to be her choice for once.  She could choose to be a part or just drop her biological mother for good. I just feel like it would be rude not to include her, even though our relationship is bad, I would still want her to have the choice.  I know, kinda crap after the fact but I’m trying not to make any more decisions for her.

Being an adoptee is complicated business, even once the adoptee is grown and a mature adult.  First of all – no one can make you financially responsible in this situation.  Do not sign anything and make the case that you are NOT legally related to this person.

However, this is always true – grief simply is complicated terrain for most people to navigate.  There is nothing you might feel that can be labeled “wrong” … it just is how you feel. Anger is OK. Rage is OK. Sad is OK. Indifferent is OK. Relief is OK. Feeling nothing is OK. And most importantly, remember, none of this is going to be a permanent heartache in your life going forward, though it may always remain a painful memory.

A Question of Ethics

A question arises among adoptees about the morality of putting a price on their lives.  It is a fair question.  Is it right to pay tens of thousands of dollars to buy a child ?  The going price is often in the $30,000-$40,000 price range.

One adoptive parent answered that question rather honestly – “We were so clouded by desire that we really didn’t think about the cost.”

What would you think, if you knew, that an agency had tiered pricing on the babies they are selling ?   White$$$, whomever $$, Black$.  Is value related to the ethnicity of a person ?

An adoptive parent in an honest evaluation of how they are feeling might say, “The moment we drove away from the hospital it felt like we stole him. It was such a conflicting feeling.”  Some won’t even give it a moment’s pause.

What would you think if you knew the legal system was being gamed ?  “Our lawyer was a whole other bag of nuts as she moved our court date around because the judge that was assigned to our case hates adoption.”  I wonder why ?  Could it be that judge knows something about the realities ?

A very honest adoptive parent might admit to an adoptee that – “Yes we bought a kid, yes at the time we thought we were doing the right thing ‘if we didn’t take him…’ yes, I wish it was different for him that he wasn’t a secret. But I love him. I am totally geeked when he discovers something new. I make little videos and pictures to send to the one app that I know the natural mother checks, so she can see her son. I hope that she comes and builds a relationship with this amazing human. I also daily feel conflicted with the whole process. I caught myself in the market one day when asked if he was adopted – I replied ‘oh no we bought him.’ I struggle with not wanting him to feel like he was a purchase. Do you ever feel like you were not bought ?”

Money will always be a complicating factor.  It is often said of corrupt practices “follow the money.”  That makes sense.  Who is gaining wealth at the expense of whom ?  Just one of the reasons that the whole system of adoption is being looked at deeply and reforms to that practice are being discussed.

Shocking Statistics

Private adoption is illegal in other countries. America has made the buying and selling of children a business; a multi billion dollar industry. Children are the commodity.

A woman writes – “I spent the first 16 years of my adoption experience as a ‘birth’ mother in complete isolation. It was preceded by the nearly 10 months of family-conducted isolation during my pregnancy. Such is the life of a shamed pregnant teenager. I had personally never known either an adopted person or a natural mother. ”

Clearly isolation isn’t simply for a time of a global pandemic.  Young women have been isolated for decades in order to relieve them of their baby when it is born.

She goes on to acknowledge – “If I could relive that day (when she gave birth) again, I would run from that hospital with her in my arms and never look back. I would take my chances with being homeless and the foster care system.”

The truth is that “better” life for your child is nothing more than a different life.

Over time, she came to see – that an adoption agent and her very own mother reduced her to a bodily function for total strangers.  It has landed her in trauma therapy. She didn’t receive counseling before or after the adoption by the agency. She had secretly held herself together somehow all these years only to discover she had been suffering with PTSD stemming directly from the adoption itself.

There is a world full of adoptees and natural moms in Adoptionland who have found each other in virtual space and are a kind of sisterhood that understands each other’s pain.  I belong to a group like that.  I have learned so much from reading about the direct experiences and points of view.  So much so that I no longer support the commercial practice of adoption.

Eye Of The Beholder

We need to talk to each other more.  We each have a perspective but it is not the whole picture.  We need to be able to hear the sadness, grief and anger.  We need to be able to hear the needs and good intentions.  We need to be able to hear the frustration of a young parent not receiving enough support to do what it is they were assigned to do when they conceived a child.

Perspective is everything but it need not be fixed in a rigid position.  We can expand upon what we are able to understand by seeking to hear from those others with a different view on a situation.

Money tends to rule too much of what is considered the right perspective in this country.  For too long, the rules have sided quite strongly with the perspective of those people with the money who desire for their position in the adoption triad to be inviolate.  We’ve allowed the legal system to put up walls to deny 2/3s of the triad any kind of rights in the circumstances.

Maybe I don’t have all of the answers to how we go about providing for the welfare of children in our society but I do believe that denying people their right to know where they came from or what became of a child they gave birth to and then lost – often for no better reason than poverty – can’t be the best answer.

Adoptees are speaking out.  Original parents who gave birth and then lost a child who is yet alive and living elsewhere are speaking out.  And the motivations and needs for security by people who are investing their time and resources to provide a stable and secure home for a child should be heard as well – but not to the degree that we deny the needs of other two limbs of this triad of persons.

The Baby Thief

I first read the book by Barbara Bisantz Raymond just after my dad died in 2016 but before I had my mom’s adoption file from the state of Tennessee.  Yes, my mom was adopted from the Tennessee Children’s Home Society at Memphis in 1937.  I only really noticed the horror stories which left me grateful about who adopted my mom and uncle.

I got that file in October 2017 and I am now thoroughly familiar with what is there.  I thought, I really ought to read this book again and that is what I am currently doing.  Having educated myself about adoption issues and mother/child separations now, the content is getting more attention from me at a deeper level.

My mom tried to get her file from Tennessee in the early 1990s – before the state passed legislation that would have allowed her to have it in the late 1990s.  Sadly, she never knew that it became available for her but it is my gift that it has come to me.  She claimed in her effort that she had been inappropriately adopted.  Though her made up explanation of how she got from Virginia, where she was born, into the hands of Georgia Tann has proven to have not been the case (she wasn’t exactly “stolen”), it now appears the “inappropriately” was accurate.

It appears that my mom’s adoption violated Tennessee law at the time it occurred.  In 1937, Tennessee adoption law did not allow out of state adoptions and even after it was changed, it would have been necessary to finalize such adoptions in Tennessee.  My mom’s adoption was finalized in Arizona.

At the time her surrenders were signed (under threat by Georgia Tann of court action), they were supposed to be verified by a judge (though of course, since the Juvenile Court Judge Camille Kelley was in cahoots with Tann it probably wouldn’t have changed anything).  The law wasn’t changed until 1941 to simply allow notarized surrenders (which is all my mom’s parents’ surrenders had and those were notarized by – you guessed it – Georgia Tann).

And Fanny Elrod who my adoptive grandmother seems to have had the most correspondence with, allowed herself to be bullied by Georgia Tann and they were both there when my mom was placed in my adoptive grandmother’s arms.

Finally, back to 1917, child placing agencies were supposed to be licensed by the state but the Tennessee Children’s Home Society never applied for a license until after the scandal broke in 1950 and Georgia Tann was dead and the Memphis branch permanently closed.

So, my mom was right – her adoption was actually ILLEGAL for several reasons as described above.

 

It’s Time To End It

Half of these United States still keep adoption records permanently sealed unless the affected person can obtain a court order.  As I tried to learn who my original grandparents were, I ran up against sealed records in Virginia, Arizona and California.  If my mom’s adoption had not been part of a baby stealing and selling scandal, I would not have gotten her adoption record from Tennessee.

It is time for the states to throw open the locked doors.

With inexpensive DNA testing and matching sites like Ancestry and 23 and Me, it is possible to do an end-run around the effort to keep the truth from people affected by these practices.

Given the wealth of information I received from Tennessee, there is likely to be equally important personal life details in the records of these states that still withhold information from persons who have been affected.

In my case, I am a direct descendant.  Both of my adoptee parents are deceased as are their original parents and adoptive parents.  Other than laziness, I really don’t get the value of preventing me from knowing information about my family that most people not affected by the practice easily know.

With Virginia, I had hoped to know if my mom was born in a hospital or at home and what time she was born.  With Arizona, I wanted to know if they still had records of the home visits by a probation officer prior to her adoption being finalized.  With California, I wanted to be able to see my dad’s original birth certificate.  At the time, I didn’t know if his mother, who was unwed, had named his father.