Why It Happens

Birthmom here – I am looking for a little encouragement from anyone who has experienced open adoption and that had a good experience. I unfortunately did not join any groups like this one where adoptee voices are prioritized while pregnant and did move forward with the adoption, and I grieve every single day.

I had a small handful of friends encourage me to keep my baby with me, but the majority of friends and family told me that they thought adoption was the right thing to do and that I was making a good choice. It sounded nice, but it was so hurtful to feel like I wasn’t good enough for my baby. And I love him so much, I didn’t want to make a “selfish” choice and keep him with me when there was another family that would be better for him.

Now that I read all of these posts from mature adoptees and I’m heartbroken that I didn’t believe in myself and that I gave him away. When I was pregnant and in financial hardship, feeling alone and emotional – I only wanted to do the right thing. And I felt so little confidence in myself, and hearing those other voices saying that “adoption is love” and “adoption is selfless”, made me feel like I’d be selfish for wanting to keep my baby because I’d put him into a life of struggle and financial insecurity.

So I broke my own heart and put myself last. I live with a deep pain and a regret that will last the rest of my days. I love my mom, and I’ve told her how hurtful it was when I was pregnant to hear her tell me that she thought I did the right thing by choosing adoption. She says she would have supported me either way – but I know that if I kept my baby with me, it would have been with minimal support to prove her point – that I am not enough and to punish me for getting pregnant when I couldn’t support myself and my 17 year old son.

My 17 year old (who was 15 during the time I was pregnant) encouraged me to go through with adoption because he said that life was hard with it being just the 2 of us. And that the baby deserved more and deserved to have both a mom and a dad. Having my son tell me these things was also hurtful because I feel like I’m a great mom to him, but if he thinks these things, then he added on to those feelings like I wasn’t good enough.

My baby is now 10 months old and we have an open adoption. I’m hoping that he grows up feeling loved and secure. I have a great relationship with his adoptive parents and I really love who and how they are, but I do miss him everyday. I can’t change the past or the decision I made, though I wish I could. My true wish is that he was still with me. I wish I stumbled across a group like this one before I made that permanent decision. But I didn’t. The only thing I can do now is move forward with life as it is and hope that everything will turn out ok.

You Never Owe Someone Else Your Baby

In my all things adoption group, the prime mission is to keep mothers and their babies together. To discourage them from choosing a rash permanent solution to whatever their temporary problem is that has caused them to consider relinquishing their baby to strangers. The pressure to do so, due to a shortage of newborn infants available for adoption, is huge. Today’s story –

An expectant mother in Illinois has received assistance from some hopeful adoptive parents since end of March. She’s uncomfortable with them, wants to back out and keep her child, but is afraid. They are already threatening her with things like being sued if she backs out.

Now for a reality check – She should absolutely back out. Keep her child. Sued for what? Money? It would be a waste of their time. She could have a judgment against her but then, they would have to file to collect. If she received assistance from them, she may be lower income and therefore, the likelihood they would be able to collect at all isn’t looking promising. Maybe she signed a contract, but so what ? She still doesn’t owe somebody her baby. She cannot be forced to sign over the baby. Stop contact. Breathe. Stress is no good for the baby.

Nothing they can legally do would be worse than mom losing her baby.

I’d say “take me to court then!” Your gut feeling is correct. Keep your baby!

Even if they paid her a lot of money, it qualifies as a gift because otherwise, it would literally be considered bribery and/or extortion to obtain a child. There is no valid contract available to give your baby to someone for money and it would probably be them getting in trouble if they did have one written up and signed. It’s not illegal in any way to decide you want to parent your own child.

They can’t take her to court. They can’t do anything. If they were to try, they would get themselves in bigger trouble because it means they intended to buy a baby. The law prevents adoption agreements before birth. She should cut all contact and ignore them.

To get them to leave her alone, she could in writing, sent by certified mail, send them a letter stating that any further contact will be considered criminal harassment. She can send them a cease and desist outline warning them that any future contact will result in legal action, including a no-contact order. Any assistance they provided is legally a gift. She could also remind them that paying money or goods in exchange for a child is a federally a trafficking charge.

You can’t buy a baby, and that’s what they are trying to do. If they are with an agency, the agency might try to make her think she needs to give them the baby, but that’s also illegal on their part. Gifts are given with no assumption of anything in return, and items given to “birth moms” (hate that they use that before birth – totally grooming) are expressly and legally classified as gifts. Also, just in general, even if she still was considering adoption, this is a major, massive, huge red flag that these are not good people and should not be parents to anyone’s child. Maybe not even their own biological kids. This is really sick behavior and indicative of people with serious issues.

And why is this so important ? Here’s a true story from another woman in this same kind of situation.

I received some money when I was considering that same choice. I backed out and everything seemed okay. The hopeful adoptive mom showed up at the hospital unannounced, after the baby was born. She just walked into my room (I forgot to terminate my release of information, so when I had the baby she was notified and flew in from California.) She had these baby clothes with her that she had embroidered with the name she had chosen for my daughter. I honestly thought she was going to kidnap her. She ran when I pushed the call button. After that the hospital heightened security and no one could find us without a code. It was a scheduled c section, but it wasn’t scheduled until that last month. I wasn’t in contact with them by that time. It was pretty scary, but the hopeful adoptive parents never retaliated nor were they able to sue me or try to take my child. I’m mentioning this story so hopefully nothing like that happens to anyone else. If you change your mind, don’t forget to tell the hospital to terminate releases of information! You don’t owe them your baby.

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.

Adoption Issues On Facebook

Ten years ago, there was an article in The Guardian which the title “Facebook has changed adoption for ever.” The sub-title was “Social network sites like Facebook are changing what happens after adoption. At the click of a button, birth parents can contact their children – and vice versa – with far-reaching consequences.” I would add inexpensive DNA testing via Ancestry and 23 and Me have done as much.

The lead-in on that article noted – “Adoption is undergoing a revolution. Until recently, it has been a closely managed process, with social workers going to enormous lengths to protect children placed with adoptive families from inappropriate contact with birth relatives.” That was always the argument but never the truth. The truth was that social workers and adoption agencies were protecting the adoptive parents from the intrusion of the natural bond between the original parent and their child. There certainly have been “. . . cases of adopted young people being contacted by birth parents through Facebook. There are even more instances in which the approach is initiated by adopted young people themselves, who are curious about their birth families.” You can read that rest of that decade old perspective at the link above.

Now today, another one. This one published in Wired titled Adoption Moved to Facebook and a War Began and raising the hackles of some in my most important (though I do belong to several) adoption related support group at Facebook. The sub-title notes – As the adoption industry migrates to social media, regretful adoptees and birth mothers are confronting prospective parents with their personal pain—and anger. I do see these in my support group. In fact, adoptees are the “privileged” voices there.

This is true to the best of my own knowledge on the subject – “The adoption industry has never been very well regulated, and there is a history of certain firms engaging in unethical practices. But when agencies were the primary facilitators of adoption, they could at least perform basic vetting of birth mothers and adoptive parents and manage complex legal processes. The open marketplace of the web removed that layer of oversight.” Wired refers to people in adoption support groups as anti-adoption but then goes on to note that these are older women who, as “unwed mothers” in the 1950s and ’60s, were forced to give babies up for adoption; women whose churches still pressure them to give up children born outside of marriage; adoptees who want to overturn laws in 40 states that deny them unrestricted access to their original birth certificates. These are legitimate experiences and desires that do not in themselves constitute being anti-adoption.

However, as understanding of the deep sub- and un- conscious trauma that adoptees experience and the lifelong regret that mothers who surrendered their children to adoption as a permanent solution to a temporary situation are increasing shared openly or privately in groups that maintain anonymity, as my dominant choice does, there is a desire to limit the number of adoptions that do take place. There are recommendations for kinship guardianship whenever possible, for true efforts on the part of foster parents to assist the original parents in successfully navigating the child welfare requirements for reunification with their own children and that at the least, when adoption seems somehow the only alternative left – allowing the child to retain their original identity by NOT changing their name nor creating a new “false” birth certificate the creates the impression that the adoptive parents gave birth to that child.

These are reasonable attempts at reform.

In the movement Wired identifies are a wide range of perspectives. Some recognize the value of adoption in certain circumstances and have specific goals, like improving federal oversight, eliminating practices that are coercive to birth mothers, or giving them more time to reverse a decision to give up a child. Others see adoption as wrong most of the time – in my group it is NOT as Wired indicates “in all cases” – but there is a recognition that the natural bond between a biological mother and her child is a reality. Some are finding community and expressing feelings of anger and pain for the first time; birth mothers describe pressure, regret, and lifelong mourning for the children they gave up, while adoptees talk about their sense of estrangement and about not knowing their medical history. Certainly, poverty plays a role in children being removed from their parents and placed for adoption.

Wired does proach the topic of the Termination of Parental Rights (TPR). The article notes that TPR has been called the “civil death penalty,” because of its severity and finality. It is overwhelmingly levied against poor families. Some children are taken away from parents who abuse them horribly—and others who should be removed are not and die at the hands of abusers. Nationally, the majority of children are removed from their homes by child protective services not for abuse but neglect, which can be a more subjective state. Neglect can mean a child was left in a hot car for hours or that a child’s parent is an addict. Or it can mean that a child was alone at home while their mother worked an overnight shift or went to the store, or that there’s not enough food in the fridge. In other words, poverty can create conditions that lead to neglect, and the exigencies of poverty can also be interpreted as neglect.

My own adoption support group advocates, and some experts in child-welfare reform do as well, for helping families get what they need—rehab, food stamps, child care subsidies. We agree that should be prioritized over permanently removing children from their parents. In a 2019 paper, “A Cure Worse Than the Disease? The Impact of Removal on Children and Their Families,” Vivek Sankaran, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, and his coauthors note that removing children from their homes is traumatic for both parents and children, and that standards for removal vary from state to state. In some states there must be evidence that a child is in immediate danger; in others, suspicion of neglect is sufficient cause. Some states allow a parent to appeal the removal within 24 hours; in others a parent may have to wait 10 days. As a result, the authors note, states and even individual counties have widely varying rates of removing children.

“If we eliminated poverty in this country, that would be the best abuse- and neglect-prevention program,” according to Elizabeth Bartholet, director of the Child Advocacy Program at Harvard Law School.

It is true that the internet, along with widely available genetic testing, has dismantled the possibility of a truly closed adoption.  However, the truth about open adoptions is the adoptive family an easily end the relationship. Open adoptions exist at the discretion of the adopting family. They are not legally enforceable in all states, and where they are enforceable the cost of a lawyer can be prohibitive for a birth mother.

My adoption support group often recommends the Saving Our Sisters (SOS) organization to expectant mothers considering a surrender of their baby. This group seeks to persuade birth mothers that financial strain shouldn’t prevent them from keeping their children. When a woman who is having second thoughts reaches out to SOS online, the group tries to find a “sister on the ground” nearby to bring her diapers, a month’s rent, or a baby swing. In 6 years time, they helped 90 mothers and their children remain together, rather than be lost to adoption.

 

Family Separations and the Judge

No child should be separated from their Mother, rather we should work on means to keep them together!! No matter what. There are very few children who wind up truly unwanted. Most of the issues their parents face are temporary and, with proper support, the family can be preserved.

Republicans have suggested that one of the reasons she should be given a lifetime appointment on the highest court of the land is that she has seven kids. Constantly bringing up how many kids she has is part of an attempt on Republicans’ part to (1) draw a distinction between Barrett and what they view as childless heathen Democrats, (2) claim that any opposition to her confirmation is anti-mom, and (3) suggest that since she’s a mother, she must be a good person who couldn’t possibly issue rulings that would hurt millions of people.

One of the problems with Coney Barrett is her own worldview – according to her own opening statement in the Judiciary Committee hearing, her own biological children are super intelligent but the black children she adopted were damaged, ie she “saved” them. This is known as white saviorism.

In one of the only discussions of immigration to arise during the confirmation hearings, Barrett declined to say whether she thought it was wrong to separate migrant children from their parents to deter immigration to the United States. “That’s a matter of hot political debate in which I can’t express a view or be drawn into as a judge,” Barrett said in response to a question from Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). Booker said he respected her position but asked again: “Do you think it’s wrong to separate a child from their parent, not for the safety of the child or parent but to send a message. As a human being, do you believe that that’s wrong?”

Barrett told Booker she felt as if he was trying to engage her on the Trump administration’s border separation policy. Under the policy, immigration officials applied a “zero-tolerance” approach to undocumented immigration and separated families crossing the border through Mexico. “I can’t express a view on that,” Barrett said. “I’m not expressing assent or dissent with the morality of that position—I just can’t be drawn into a debate about the administration’s immigration policy.”

Booker responded that, actually, he was simply asking “basic questions of human rights, human decency, and human dignity,” which one might think a staunchly pro-life individual and mother of seven might be able to answer.

Jill Filipovic described Barrett as “Pro-life until birth” which is the real problem with a lot of Pro-Lifers. Filipovic goes on to say about the Judge – “Booker wasn’t asking about the family separation policy as a legal matter. Like her views on abortion, she could presumably separate her personal feelings from her legal ones. She’s been happy to put her views on abortion forward. Why so quiet on family separations?”

Dear Adopted Child

Dear Adopted Child,

I see so many letters addressed to birth parents and hopeful/ adoptive parents. Again you’re left out. The most import part of this equation and yet you’re continuously left out.

I really fucked up, I went against nature, I altered your brain chemistry, and I’d go as far to say committed and act against humanity. Yet I am the one likely to get sympathy. While you internally struggle. People will mourn for me and chastise you for being “ungrateful.”

I reached out to the agency, I allowed them to strip your birth father of his rights, and I chose your parents. I allowed the opinions of strangers to seep in and convince me that I was not good enough. I knew in my gut that I was making the wrong decision, that this didn’t feel right. I selfishly thought of myself. How could I possibly be a single mother of two if your father left me? How could I provide the life you should have? As if the quality of life is measured in what physical possessions one owns. At the end of the day I selfishly said I was putting you first, when really cowardly I was putting myself.

When we found out your gender, I felt ecstatic and devastated. A girl, what I had always wanted. Yet I couldn’t find the courage to keep. I knew it was wrong when your adoptive parents did a gender reveal. I chose not to speak up, as if offending them would suddenly make myself undesirable. I broke down at home and doctors appointments. Instead of viewing that as a sign that I was making the wrong choice I got prescribed anti depressants.

At your birth I asked your adoptive parents to be there. When I checked in I begrudgingly asked if the hospital had my adoption plan. There were so many times I could of said no. I could of not chose this path to take. I let them whisk you away after birth, I let your adoptive parents keep you in their room. I could’ve demanded you be brought back to me, thrown a fit that this wasn’t right or acceptable. I chose to selfishly crumple into myself, to say that our pain was worth it so two strangers could be happy. I didn’t advocate for us, for you.

I signed the paperwork, I didn’t make a peep during my revocation period, I congratulated your adoptive parents on the down fall of our family. I let them strip you of your names. I let you become a legal stranger to us.

Nothing can undo what I’ve done, or the choices I made. At the end of the day I’ve caused your pain. Your trauma was hand delivered to you by me. I’m sorry.

I can’t rectify this wrong, nothing I say or do can fully heal it. I can promise I won’t leave you again, and that everyday I’m learning, I’m listening to grown adoptees so I can be the me you will need.

With Regrets,

The Furious First Mom

In The Fog

When I first started learning about all of the impacts and issues surrounding the practice of adoption, I didn’t know what this concept really was like.  Both of my parents were adopted and both of my sisters gave up babies to adoption, adoption was the most natural thing in my life.  I really didn’t see a problem with it and while this concept more commonly refers to the adoptee who discovers the reality and “wakes up”, what I didn’t expect was that as the child of adoptees, I too was in the fog.  And I have woken up as well and that is the purpose of this blog, to share these new understandings with whoever is moved to come and read these little daily observations.

Learning about adoption trauma can be a big surprise for someone like me.  For the adoptee, this can prove to be a nagging feeling that you didn’t know how to name.  This concept answered your question as to what it was.  For some, their love and/or gratitude for their adoptive parents can make them not want to learn about adoption trauma, even though generally speaking, it affects every adoptee to some degree, whether consciously or unconsciously.

“Happy” may not be the right word to describe coming out of the fog. It’s more accurately about being able to authentically traverse and articulate the variety of effects that adoption had on your life, good or bad, but the bad often does far outweigh the good.  In my case, it is a sorrow that for over 60 years I did not know about my own biological/genetic relatives.  Now I do have some contact but it is like being slightly removed and an outsider no matter how kind they are to me directly.

It can be easy to be judgmental.  Rationally, you may know your original mother was struggling and yet still find it impossible to understand that she could ever give up her children.  In my own life, I lost physical custody of my daughter, even though that was not my intention but that I was struggling financially was the reality.  Seeking to find a way to support us, I left her with her paternal grandmother temporarily.  That decision with the expectation that it was temporary became permanent and I can never get back the years I lost.  My mom told me of her perspective on my situation – she would have just toughed it out.  Maybe true but then she coerced one of my sisters to give up her own child.  I guess my mom’s fog was quite thick.

In the end, I lost my daughter to my ex-husband and a step-mother.  He had refused to pay child support but ended up paying to support our daughter.  I ended up paying a steep price to gain that support.  I have never stopped grieving and have tried to come to terms with it, through accepting that it is simply our reality.  So much damage is done when a mother is separated from her child, no matter why or how.

 

Somehow Adoption Continues

Catch me if you can.  Has the effort to adopt hit a pause button given the current circumstances ?  It seems it has not.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, our daily lives have all been affected in a way that none of us were anticipating just a few weeks ago. So you might think that now isn’t the ideal time to consider adoption.  The for profit adoption industry does not think so.

One adoption blog seems to be saying “now is actually a great time to begin or reinvigorate your adoption plans. Difficult times bring a greater need for adoptive parents.  Adoptions have increased in the past few weeks because women want more for their children and babies. They are turning to adoption during the coronavirus.”

Desperate times seem to increase desperation.  Somehow we lose the sense that this is all temporary.  The uncertainty causes us to question our ability to meet the challenge and survive.

This adoption agency wants to encourage more adoptions, even in the midst of this crisis, it appears that they have sensed this as a marketing opportunity.  They note – “with the world in turmoil and with financial situations uncertain, we find that more women are contacting us, looking for a stable, loving family to adopt their baby. They love their child enough to do what is best for them. They know they need a family stable enough to weather the storm. A family that will be able to protect and care for their child no matter the circumstances.”

Well fear does this to people but the decision to surrender your child is a permanent solution.  It actually reflects a lack of trust that the future will be better and that we will all get through this somehow.  It causes a young woman to doubt herself as capable.  This is a sad state of affairs.

It is true that people are generally stressed now.  That should not make it a good time to take advantage of a woman in a state of hyped up fear.  One expectant mother shared what she is going through right now –

“Some family friends of mine are giving their (unsolicited) opinion that I should seriously consider adoption since I am currently unemployed and it is not realistic for me to get a job amidst the virus, being pregnant and having had asthma as a kid. They seem to think I need to make the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ and give her ‘a good life’. If the only people who can give a child a good life are the few that can properly afford to adopt, then huge demographics of people are morally wrong for having children apparently. Including the people who said I should place her. I was so upset that I was crying yesterday, just for being told that.”

Let’s have more compassion people.