At Least This

I was born in New Mexico, so I chose to highlight the blog with this image. With the potential of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade soon to kick off – 26 of these United States, just over half, will completely ban all abortions for any reason and the forced birthing of women who find themselves pregnant will be the result. Some states – Arizona, Florida, Tennessee and Texas have all extended health benefits for low-income mothers in recent months, and Alabama and Georgia have both moved to implement such extensions. There is an important distinction to make here – all of these states listed here plan to impose severe abortion restrictions or bans.

New Mexico will NOT be banning abortion – they are expanding Medicaid coverage for the RIGHT reason and not as cover for their war on women’s equal rights. Abortion is legal at all stages of pregnancy in New Mexico. There was a law in New Mexico that banned abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or if it was necessary to save a woman’s life. That law was put on NM’s books in 1969. In Feb 2021, Gov Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill that struck that old law from the books. She said, “This is about women who deserve the right, particularly when there are untenable circumstances, to have a relationship with their provider and control over their own bodies and we know when that occurs, frankly, we are saving lives.”

Colorado took it even a step further than New Mexico in April 2022. Gov Jared Polis signed the Reproductive Health Equity Act into law. The legislation makes it a right for people to make reproductive health care decisions without government interference.

I have long argued that we do not support mothers and children, or families for that matter, seriously enough as a society. So this expansion of Medicaid benefits is certainly welcomed. However, the bans that will go into place if the Supreme Court rules as currently expected, will also result in a worsening of the current maternal mortality rate. That rate has risen overall in 2020. There were almost 24 deaths per 100,000 births, or 861 deaths total. This number reflects mothers who died during pregnancy, childbirth or the year after. The rate was 20 per 100,000 in 2019. Among Black women the rate has long been much worse. There were 55 maternal deaths per 100,000 births. That is almost triple the rate for white people.

“If they [Republican lawmakers] really cared about maternal mortality they’d reduce the causes of maternal mortality – and it goes way beyond Medicaid expansion,” according to Loretta Ross, an associate professor at Smith College in Georgia and a reproductive justice activist. 

The truth is that there have been changes to Medicaid, thanks to a provision of federal pandemic aid, which streamlined postpartum benefit changes. Missouri has long refused to expand Medicaid. The most dramatic effect of a post-partum extension would be felt in those Republican-led states, where lawmakers have long refused to expand the program to more low-income people.

In Texas, 25% of women of reproductive age lack health insurance, the highest rate in the nation. Texas is also among the 10 worst states for maternal mortality. Lawmakers in Texas recently expanded Medicaid to pregnant patients for six months after giving birth, instead of only the two they were given previously.

Back to my previous argument that we don’t support mothers, their children or the families enough – a single mother in Texas supporting two children cannot earn more than $2,760 a year and qualify for Medicaid – unless they are pregnant, in which case they can earn up to $45,600 a year and qualify. The previous exemption lasted only 60 days after birth – which it should be noted is also the federal minimum. After that, most become uninsured once again. so, the expansion to six months is welcome but still insufficient.

In Tennessee, the Republican governor, Bill Lee, directly connected the state’s postpartum Medicaid expansion and abortion. At a press conference in May, he spoke about Tennessee’s “trigger” ban, a law that will allow the state to immediately ban abortion, if the supreme court ends federal protections. He said, this is for “The lives of unborn children (and that) it’s very important that we protect their lives. It’s also important that we recognize that women in crisis need support and assistance through this process. For example, that’s why we’ve expanded our postpartum coverage for women in TennCare.”

It is all a brilliant smoke and mirrors strategy to pretend they care but I sincerely doubt they do. Want to bet that these women’s poverty related need for Medicaid will be used against them to take the children away and give them to wealthier people wanting to adopt ?

Statistics and details are thanks to The Guardian and KOB4 in Albuquerque NM.

Post Adoption Contact

Early on in my own trying to understand adoption journey (both parents were adoptees), I read a book recommended in my all things adoption group titled The Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier. I continue to learn almost every day and in this blog, I continue to try and share what I learn along the way. Today’s new concept was Post Adoption Contact Agreements. I already knew that open adoptions have been the more common approach over the previously totally closed adoption where often the child is lied to about their own origins and that lie is protected by closing and sealing the adoption records and changing the child’s birth certificate to make it look like the child was actually born to the adoptive parents. That was the way my parents’ adoptions were concluded, though thankfully, neither of my parents were lied to about having been adopted – at least that.

I have come across complaints that adoptive parents often renege on open adoption agreements. This is a reality, even today, even when promises are made to the expectant mother that she will be given updates, photos and even contact with her child post adoption. This is why my heart is more inclined towards doing what we can as a society to preserve children within the family they were born into. But it isn’t always possible and like war, adoption remains a reality that won’t end in my lifetime – if ever.

In trying to learn a bit more about post adoption contact agreements I did read In some states, when adoptive parents and birth parents sign an agreement called a “Post Adoption Contact Agreement,” it is filed with along with the adoption papers and becomes a legal, enforceable part of the adoption. However, in other states, it isn’t recognized as a legally binding contract. Therefore, the first thing to learn about is whether it will be enforceable in the state where the proposed adoption will take place.

According to one adoption attorney, Michael Belfonte, Missouri currently does not allow for enforceable post-adoption contact agreements. If either a birth parent or an adoptive parent breaks their post-adoption contact promise, there are no legal consequences that could be addressed in court. This is what he has to say about open adoptions –

You should not let this deter you from choosing an open adoption. In the majority of cases, both birth mothers and adoptive parents will keep the contact promise they made — as it’s just as important to them as it is to the other party. In fact, for many birth mothers, the possibility of an open adoption is why they made their adoption choice in the first place. They will want to see their child grow up and, more likely than not, will do everything they can to continue their contact.

Likewise, once they are fully educated about open adoption, adoptive parents will understand the importance of open communication for their adopted child throughout the years — and will do all they can to honor the choice the birth mother made and support her through her healing process. If you’re worried about a birth or adoptive parent continuing to stay in contact with you, there are some things you can do:

Choose a professional who will mediate post-adoption contact. When a parent begins to decrease the frequency of their contact, you may feel frustrated. Things can get complicated if you try to fix it by yourself, and you may end up doing more harm than good. If your contact is mediated by a professional, they will know the best way to speak to the other party about their lapse in communication and handle the situation going forward — without harming the relationship you already have.

Establish a solid relationship with the birth or adoptive parents. Open adoption can be more than just an agreement to send and receive pictures and letters every couple of months; before placement, it gives you the chance to get to know your adopted child’s birth parents or adoptive parents in a way that will be highly beneficial for the future. If you have the chance to build a strong friendship with the birth or adoptive parents before placement, it’s highly recommended. The more you understand, respect and trust each other, the less likely it will be that the other parents will break their agreement to keep in touch as the years go by.

Make your expectations known. While you cannot create a legally binding post-adoption contact agreement in Missouri, you can certainly create a written agreement that outlines contact expectations throughout your adoption process. In fact, this kind of written document is encouraged in any open adoption.

Remember, just because an open adoption contact agreement is not legally binding in Missouri doesn’t mean that you can’t have a successful open adoption relationship with your child’s birth or adoptive parents. More often than not, a prospective birth mother chooses adoption because she can watch her child grow up through open adoption — and has no intention of ever going back on her open adoption agreement. Similarly, adoptive parents understand how important open adoption communication can be and will likely do all they can to honor your contact agreement.

However, if a birth parent does break their post-adoption contact agreement, it’s important that adoptive parents continue to send the pictures, letters, emails, etc. that you agreed to. In many cases, if a birth parent decreases their contact frequency, it may be because they’re at a difficult point in their life — and fully intend to return to their previous contact frequency as soon as they can. It will mean a great deal to them that you continue to honor your agreement and give them updates on their adopted child during this time.

On the other hand, if adoptive parents miss a scheduled contact with you as a birth parent, it’s important that you do not jump to conclusions about their intentions. Like anyone else, unforeseen situations can come up that may delay their contact with you. If you’re concerned about them holding up their end of the agreement, we recommend you reach out to your adoption professional, who can approach them professionally and non-confrontationally about honoring their contact agreement.

I find this law on the books in the state of Missouri dated August 28 2018 – it is vague however about enforcement in my opinion. Still this is an example of one state in which I happen to be living. You should look into the legal decisions in your own state before agreeing to an adoption based upon promises that it will be open and you will be allowed ongoing contact.

My Maternal Adoptive Grandmother

1989 among the Missouri Azaleas

I spent the afternoon yesterday reading through a thick stack of letters that I wrote to my grandmother. When my grandmother died, for whatever reason, when my mom found these, she thought to send them to me. I wondered why but now I understand. My grandmother adopted my mom from Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children’s Home Society’s Memphis branch. I find it amazing that she kept all of these letters from me but they are very detailed about my marriage in the early days, what living in Missouri was like for me and what we were doing to promote our home-based business than I would have imagined. I wonder that I had that much time to write so much to her but then, there is only one, maybe two, in any given month and not even one for every month.

I could have been given up for adoption as my mom conceived me when she was only a junior in high school and not wed. My dad had graduated from the same high school the year before and had only just started attending the University of New Mexico at Las Cruces. I tend to credit his parents (he was adopted also) for preserving me in the family but as everyone who would know is now deceased, it is only a guess on my part. That is the reason I was born in Las Cruces and not El Paso Texas where my sisters were born.

I had the good fortune to chose to be born on this grandmother’s wedding anniversary. In January back in 1994, I acknowledged a memory she shared with me in a letter from her (I haven’t kept most, if any of hers to me). It was a “special memory” of hers about the sunlight shining upon me while she held me in her arms and some beautiful thought she had at that moment. It seems to have been a sign from God meant just for her and since I too believe in signs of that sort, I understood. I am now married to the man that I am because I received a physical, unmistakable sign to give him a bit more attention than I might have otherwise. Of course, discernment is very important when it comes to trusting the signs one notices.

In fact, it is quite clear in re-reading these very old letters from the early 1990s, that I was closer to this grandmother in my spiritual understandings than anyone else in my family. My dad’s parents were very conservative, traditional Church of Christ adherents. My mom was very much Episcopal and my dad wasn’t at all a church goer until all of us girls had left the home and then, he said to me that he went to “keep my mom company.” After she died, when I was there helping him with life in general, I went with him because he continued to go to their little church alone or with my youngest sister who was assisting him so he could remain in his home.

These letters are full of the most amazing details of my early marriage and life here in Missouri. I could share these things with this grandmother because she grew up in Missouri in a house much like the one I live in and an environment that is very similar. In one letter, I write – “I truly love the woods, hills and streams of my home here in the Missouri Ozarks. Knowing that you grew up nearby gives me the feeling that I came back home.” (I had grown up in the desert of El Paso Texas, where my grandmother spent most of her own life and where she eventually passed away.) I also shared a lot with her about our efforts to promote and grow our fledgling business.

When I found this thick packet, I wondered why my mom sent it to me and didn’t simply throw it away. I don’t know if she bothered to read all of these letters or not – I can’t ask her since she died in Sept of 2015 – but I’m glad to have them today. Only a few of them can I even bear to throw away but the details of our early business are as precious as gold and I hope we can preserve them in protective sleeves in a binder. Maybe someday, our sons will enjoy reading about our adventures before we decided to become their parents.

The Sad Truth About Pioneer Children

Mormon Pioneer Children in 1800

I sometimes find a blog topic in surprising places. Today it was while reading my latest daily book – Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo. And it is tangentially related to adoption – really.

It all begins with the Mountain Meadows Massacre in 1857. It was one of the most explosive episodes in the history of the American West—not only were 120 men, women and children killed, but the United States and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints almost went to war. 

The early antagonism towards Mormons had intensified until they were evicted from Missouri and Illinois, where Joseph Smith (the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) was lynched in 1844. To break a cycle of mutual suspicion, recrimination and violence, Brigham Young, who succeeded Smith, made plans to lead the remaining LDS members on an exodus to Utah, which was then part of Mexico and so beyond the reach of US law. Only six months after the Mormons arrived in the Great Salt Lake valley, Mexico ceded that land and more of the West, to the United States.

The Baker-Fancher party emigrating from northwest Arkansas by wagon train to California passed through Utah. Paiutes in the region were warned the encroaching Americans might poison water and cattle along their path. The Baker-Fincher party was most likely unaware of the new requirement for a permit to cross Utah. So, they grazed their cattle on Mormons’ land as they passed through, thus stoking anger.

John D Lee claimed that he had orders from Isaac C. Haight, a leader of several Mormon congregations that formed the Iron County Militia, “to send other Indians on the war-path to help them kill the emigrants.” Haight and Lee gave weapons to the Paiutes.

The Baker-Fancher party was camped at Mountain Meadows on September 7 when Paiutes (and some Mormons dressed as Paiutes to conceal their Mormon affiliation) attacked. The emigrants circled the wagons, dug trenches and fought back—but as the siege continued for five days, they began to run out of ammunition, water and provisions. The Mormon attackers concluded that the emigrants had figured out their ruse—and feared that word of their participation would hasten an assault by the Army. It was then that militia commander William H Dame ordered his men to leave no witnesses. The emigrants were to be “decoyed out and destroyed with the exception of the small children,” who were “too young to tell tales,” according to another militia commander, Major John H Higbee, who relayed the orders to Lee. After the massacre, Local Mormons auctioned off or distributed their possessions and adopted the surviving 17 young children.

When the Army arrived in Utah in 1858, they investigated the killing and found the bones of “very small children.” The soldiers gathered skulls and bones and erected a cairn with the words, “Here 120 men, women, and children were massacred in cold blood early in September, 1857. They were from Arkansas.” They marked the site with a cross inscribed, “Vengeance is mine. I will repay, saith the Lord.”

On the morning of his execution, John D Lee would write that Brigham Young was “leading the people astray” and that he was being sacrificed “in a cowardly, dastardly manner.”

You can read more here – The Aftermath of Mountain Meadows – from which the above was taken.

So what does this all have to do with adoption ? Well first there were the surviving children raised by Mormon families.

Nephi Johnson was also at the Mountain Meadows Massacre and testified against John D Lee. He was a 2nd Lieutenant at the time.

White men fighting white men over land that was not theirs to begin with has continued in the West all the way to 2016 when the Bundy brothers took over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.

Cliven Bundy traces his lineage back to Nephi Johnson, the Mormon leader who was involved in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Johnson adopted Bundy’s grandfather, John Jensen. This is Cliven Bundy’s proof of his claim to the land around his ranch in Bunkerville Utah.

So again, a theme of adoption comes out of history. There are theological foundations to the Bundy’s perspectives and this comes down from the early history of Mormonism, particularly the Mormon land ethic and Mormon interpretations of the divinity of the Constitution. Painting a picture of a uniquely American religion that has shaped the American West in important ways, but at times has operated as if blind to the ecological and geological realities of the very land on which it was founded, the book by Betsy Gaines Quammen asks what the future of public lands looks like in the context of violence that its perpetrators believe has a divine justification.

Quammen’s book is divided into two parts; the taproot story of Mormon founder Joseph Smith and Brigham Young’s struggle to establish a safe homeland for their people, and the sprawling, tangled tree of sects and prophecy and public land fights that grew up out of that foundation. Quammen is quick to point out that the current LDS church has disavowed the Bundys’ armed rebellions.

More about Betsy Gaines Quammen’s book – American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God & Public Lands in the West here – The West In A Time Of Conflict: The Bundys, Public Lands And Covid-19.

I love history and so that’s why, when I saw an intersection between adoption and this historical massacre, I wanted to write about it in this blog.

The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius

Patterns speak to human beings. Watching the movie, The Goldfinch, built around a real painting by a Dutch artist who tragically lost his life at the age of 32 in an explosion in Delft in 1654, sent me on a journey through my own relationship with this bird and it connects to both my mom’s adoptive mother and my in-laws and this bird. Our Goldfinches are much more brightly colored than the one in this painting.

I didn’t know what those yellow blobs on the bushes were until my grandmother visited me and drew my attention to them. She had stayed the week hosted by my in-laws which provided her with more comfortable accommodations than I could. I was driving her to visit her friends in Joplin but we had stopped in Branson and she wanted to buy my in-laws a thank you gift. She selected a pair of Goldfinches and said they reminded her of the two lovebirds. She had seen expressions of love between my two in-law’s during her week stay. Interestingly, though I was already married to my husband, she bought a single Goldfinch to give to me. Strange that I do not at this moment know where my own is.

And so last night I was reflecting on why my grandmother only gave me a single bird but my in-laws a pair. It was as if she was giving them her seal of approval for in essence “adopting” me into their family. My in-laws, the parents of 3 boys treated me as the daughter they never had. They stood by me during a legal tussle with my ex-employer going with me to the sheriff’s office to help me retrieve the car (it wasn’t free and clear but had a lien on it making it officially not mine for my ex-employer to take). My dad was on the board of the credit union I had borrowed from. When I called my mom about my trouble, she could only say to me, “Don’t let your dad find out.” My in-laws also went with me to the hearing the in judge’s chamber. Just one example out of many of their kindness and support for me as their adopted daughter.

I reflect on my own mother. In the movie, all 3 of the main young people depicted had lost their mothers, just as both of my own natural grandmothers had. Like the bird in the painting, my mom was trapped by the fact of her adoption. Prevented from knowing the true details of what happened to her by the sealed adoption file the state of Tennessee refused to give her. Details that I now know, that would have done no harm at the time she asked for it because her natural mother and natural father were both dead but she could have known aunts and uncles who could have told her about her mother and half-siblings on her father’s side. Seeing the photo of her mother holding her for the last time would have brought her so much peace. My mom struggled with body image because she could not achieve her adoptive mother’s trim form but my mom had the genetic big boned body of her natural mother.

I believe my mom’s adoptive parents would have sent her off to have and give me up for adoption when she turned up pregnant, unwed, a high school student had my dad’s adoptive parents not intervened to get them married. In my own particularly defiant manner, I chose to be born on my mom’s adoptive parents’ wedding anniversary. My adoptive maternal grandmother was a painter. Today I have a painting of a large oak tree in Autumn hanging on our wall that my grandmother painted. She also painted an oval bust of my infant self and this hung on her own bedroom wall all the years I remember her living.

Therefore, I was close to my grandmother. She once took me to England with her. During the visit that caused her to buy the Goldfinch figurines, the Wild Azaleas were blooming. She decked herself out for a portrait of herself surrounded by them. She had grown up in rural Missouri and her visit here was a trip down the memory lane of her own origins. We even visited her childhood home as I drove her to visit her friends. That photo of my grandmother started my own tradition of taking photos on Mother’s Day and me and my boys.

Bernice Dittmer

Oh, the patterns of our lives and how these can inform our hearts at the most surprising kind of emotional trigger, like watching a movie . . . and then seeing the movie of our life reflected back to us.

With my boys in 2010

The Era Of Sealed Records Continues

It is not some long ago issue. For many adoptees, their personal history, their adoption file and their original birth certificates are withheld from them even today in maybe half these United States. It is true that there has been progress made in some states. I believe New York was the most recent.

So today, I read the heartbreaking account below of yet another adoptee struggling with this, just as my mom did (however, she was denied because her mom was dead and her father’s status could not be determined – thankfully, I received her full file in 2017 from the state of Tennessee – if only she could have had the peace of mind her file would have brought her but she was also dead by the time I was able to obtain it on her behalf as her descendent).

Here’s that other adoptees’ sad tale –

I had to friend request my biological mother again. We were friends before when we first connected, but I unfriended her after writing her a long message unleashing my pent-up anger and hurt over my adoption. Anyway, the state of Florida says that if I want a copy of my original birth certificate, I need this woman to write a note permitting the courts to unseal my records. So, I have to expose myself to more trauma and talk to someone I don’t want to talk to, so I can have the factual account of my birth. I am so tired of laws that hurt adoptees and protect biological parents. It’s bullshit.

One response was this – It’s a human rights violation, considering these people signed away any legal rights they had to us, so they are legal strangers to us. They have as much to do with us as a neighbor, a store clerk or a real estate agent. Yet we are still beholden to them, when laws that separated us, make us ask their permission in the ultimate of hypocrisy.

Another adoptee shares –

I was born in the “blackout” period for Massachusetts adoptees. I think it was from 1974 through 2008. If you were born in that time frame, you need to convince a judge there is a “good reason” to give you your original vital records information. I don’t know what that is but I really don’t want my adoptive parents finding out I’m even poking yet, I’d rather have them on my side first.

And yet another from my own home state – I was adopted in Missouri. I had to have written permission from one of my adoptive parents to get my information. My adoptive dad wrote the letter for me. If he had died before the letter was written, I would not have been able to get any information.

And I agree with this adoptive parent – I have always felt that the Amended Birth Certificate was a lie and an awful thing to do to a child who has every right to that document. Blog writer’s note – For both of my parents, their birth certificates were total fabrications. How can it be a good thing to grow a life upon a lie ?

No adult should have to get any other adult’s permission to obtain their own records.

Someone else writes – I’m confused about how this protects natural parents. It seems like it’s just a difficult-to-impossible side quest to make it less likely that any adoptee will find their natural family, all to benefit adopters who fear reunion, in the guise of “protecting the birth mother’s privacy”.

Exactly !! The stated reason for the secrecy has always been to protect the privacy of the original parents but that rings hollow and it has been abundantly proven that the reason is to protect the adoptive parents from dealing with adoptee/original parent intrusions.

Women Behind Bars

Women’s incarceration has increased 800 percent over the past thirty years. The incarceration rate for black woman is double that of white women. Woman are more likely than men to be imprisoned for drug-related offenses. 62% of women in state prisons have minor children, many of whom are forced into foster care or left with relatives who scarcely have the financial resources to care for them.

The separation of families is now widely understood as a human rights crisis also at the Mexican border, yet comparatively little attention has been paid to the destruction of black families in the era of mass incarceration. One in four women in the United States has a loved one behind bars, and the figure is nearly one in two for black women. When men are locked up, the women who love them are sentenced too. They suffer from social isolation, depression, grief, shame, costly legal fees, far-away prison visits (often with children in tow) and the staggering challenges of helping children overcome the trauma of parental incarceration. When loved ones are released from their cages, it is often women who are faced with the daunting task of supporting them as they struggle and often fail in a system rigged against them.

~ from The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

According to The Sentencing Project, my state of Missouri had the 3rd highest rate of female imprisonment in the United States in 2017. Thirty-eight percent of youth incarcerated for status offenses (such as truancy and curfew violations) are girls. More than half of youth incarcerated for running away are girls.

Case in Point

Dorothy Gaines’s life changed when Alabama state police raided her home for drugs. Police found no evidence of Gaines having possessed or sold drugs, yet federal prosecutors charged Gaines with drug conspiracy.  Gaines was a former nurse and devoted mother living in Mobile, Alabama. A self-described “PTA mom,” she always brought snacks to the football field where her son played on the team and her daughter was a cheerleader.

She did not know that her then-boyfriend was dealing drugs. Though the state dropped all charges, federal prosecutors charged Gaines with drug conspiracy eight months later – charges that she disputes to this day. She refused to plead guilty or provide testimony against other defendants, and so, was convicted and sentenced to serve 19 years and 7 months.

She says, “My son jumped in the judge’s lap at sentencing and asked not to take away his mother.” Leaving her children, Natasha, 19, Chara, 11, and Philip, 9, parentless, Gaines was accompanied by marshals to federal prison – her first time on an airplane.

Dorothy explains, “I was always a mother that never, ever went anywhere without my children. I missed taking my children to the park, going to their school, while I was in prison. They wrote me and told me those were the days that they missed, too. Phillip and Chara’s father died when they were two and three. That’s why my children were so distraught: because all that was taken away.”

Thankfully, in December 2000, Gaines received a commutation from President Bill Clinton. Gaines’s advocacy work includes using her own resources to help youth see their incarcerated parents. “My going to prison has not been in vain,” said Gaines. “I will fight until everything has been changed.”

A Sad Holiday

For many adoptees, Mother’s Day is a complicated holiday.  For many children in Foster Care it is the pits of unhappy reminders.

All my life, Mother’s Day has been a happy one.  When we were young, we made my mom breakfast in bed.  When I had my oldest son in 2001, that next Spring during the month of May in celebration of Mother’s Day, I began a family tradition of taking my children out among the Wild Azaleas that are at the peak of their annual blooming for “see how you grow” photos.  It is cherished by me that we have not missed a single year with my oldest son now 19 years old.

Truth be told, it was my mom’s adoptive mother who started the tradition.  She had grown up in Missouri.  Her childhood location is some distance to the west but is very similar in rural wildness to where I live.  One year she came to visit me before our sons were born and I took her on hikes around our farm.  She cherished the experience because it brought back memories of her own childhood in Missouri.

When she learned the Azaleas were blooming, one morning she dressed up (though she was always fully dressed with jewelry and make-up before breakfast).  She chose a pink blouse to wear and a spot to sit framed by the Azaleas blooming all around her.  Later during that visit, she took me to see her own childhood home and I was surprised to see her farmhouse was very much like our own.  We were fortunate because the owner of that house allowed us to go inside and my grandmother shared with me what remained the same and what had changed over time.

As an adoptee, my mom yearned to have a reunion with her own mother.  She knew that Georgia Tann played a prominent role in her own adoption story.  When news of the scandal resurfaced in the early 1990s, she contacted Denny Glad who lived in Memphis and helped the victims of Georgia Tann’s questionable adoption methods.  My mom learned about her from watching a 60 Minutes special about the scandal that had aired on TV around that time.

Adoption records were still sealed in Tennessee as my mom tried without success to learn about her origins.  Devastating news was delivered to my mom that her mother had died several years earlier and they would not release her adoption file because the status of her father, twenty years my grandmother’s age, could not be determined (in truth he had been dead 30 years but the state didn’t try very hard at all).

Mrs Glad was instrumental in getting adoption records opened late in the 1990s for Tann’s victims but no one ever told my mom.  My mom died believing she had been stolen based on anecdotal stories she read or heard.  That wasn’t far from the truth but in reality Tann’s network of suppliers made her aware of my mom and my grandmother, through only the best motivations of a caring mom, got trapped.

Since my mom was deceased before I began to learn so much about adoption overall, I can’t ask her the questions that weigh heavily on my own heart about how she honestly felt about a lot of the issues related to her adoption.  She didn’t speak about it to anyone else in our family beyond acknowledging that she had been adopted.  That is, except with me and with me her feelings about it were definitely conflicted.

 

Attacked Once Again

This always feels personal to me because my sons have ALWAYS been educated at home.  Mostly we have tried to fly under the radar so that we can continue to do what we believe is best for our own family.  It came to pass that my daughter became frustrated with the school options for my granddaughter in Florida and chose to avail herself of their virtual school offer.  She has since acknowledged that she understands the appeal of control and flexibility that homeschooling offers.  I would be the first to acknowledge that it is not for everyone.  If the parents have to go to work outside their home (we have a home-based business), then it is going to be a real challenge to implement.

One of the more disturbing aspects of educating my children at home has been when a case of child abuse becomes linked to the fact that the parents hid behind homeschooling in order to hide their abuse.  This often brings calls from those who’s attachment is to public schooling for more oversight and regulation of those of us who have made a personal choice.  I am fortunate that the state of Missouri has good supports for homeschooling choice due to a large population of conservative Christians.  I am grateful to them though we are not homeschooling for the same reasons they do.

So today, I read yet again an allegation that everyone dislikes homeschooling because it is a front for abuse as the Coronavirus has forced schools to close and children to stay at home.

Can it really be true that abusers have to wait for an official sanction of homeschooling to cover their abuse of their children ? Or that many people homeschool simply so that they can abuse their children ?

More than once, I have encountered arguments for the advantages of school as required for the socialization of children.  It is not the blind leading the blind (children of a single age group influencing their peers to bad behavior) for my sons.  They have been socialized to the entire spectrum of humanity – from babies to the elderly.  We have often been complimented about how well behaved they are in places where some parents’ children are running around like wild heathens.

In this time of Coronavirus, maybe it isn’t so much about socializing as it is that parents are stressed from being home all day cooped up with their children.  We have always valued every single minute of time that we spend with our sons.

One could ask whether schools in the US just “holding cells” for the dependents of people who have to work or so that they can have their days off free to do as they please, until their children are released to come home from school ?

As long as society is so “intertwined” with our government that people become upset that those who chose to do so can school their own children or judge those that do as doing so to hide abuse or that well intentioned people must protect other people’s children from being schooled at home, nothing will ever change for the better in a society of free people.

My Only Objection

Back in November, during National Adoption Month, I wrote to Klobuchar that I had been supportive of her campaign for the Democratic nominee until I found out about her strong interest in promoting adoption.  Her counterpart in the Senate is Roy Blunt who is from my state of Missouri but he is a Republican and close ally of our president Trump, so I did not bother to write him.

Yesterday, Klobuchar did better than expected in the New Hampshire primary.  There is a section of the electorate who wants calm and someone they are not being fed a drama a day but can go about their business with some assurance of ethical behavior in the top official of the government.  I get it.  Klobuchar does not really excite.  She is like the mom who you know you can depend upon not to embarrass you.

She was instrumental in smoothing the way for a number of transracial adoptions from Haiti as depicted in the photo above.  On January 12 2010, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, which is a very poor country.  The earthquake affected an estimated three million people. Close to 230,000 people died, 300,000 were injured and one million were made homeless. An estimated 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings collapsed.

“It’s wonderful to see adoptive families, family members, friends and others who plan to adopt kids from Haiti here this evening,” Klobuchar said in a meeting in 2011. “We in Congress will work hard to continue to help you with adoption issues.”

Over the course of approximately two months following the earthquake, Klobuchar’s office worked with 25 families to help unite 39 Haitian children with their new families in Minnesota. A Congressional bill authored by Klobuchar later passed the House and Senate and was signed into law.  One at least hopes all of the children are truly orphans and not simply taken from extended family who would raise them.

No doubt, her heart is in the right place even though she appears woefully ignorant about the wounds inflicted by adoption and even worse, the effects on children who are placed in families who bear no resemblance to their culture.  I will vote for whoever the Democratic presidential nominee is in November 2020.  I don’t know if I can get over my objection to Klobuchar’s very public role in promoting adoption.