Tony Corsentino

On Twitter @corsent

I only just became aware of this person and thought I’d share that awareness. It was said “His posts critical of the adoption industry are thoughtful and should be amplified.” So, my first awareness was this graphic.

Finding him on Twitter, I found this LINK> Substack post – titled “Why Is That Controversial?” with a subtitle “Adoptees have a stake in the fight to protect abortion rights” by him which I will give you below some excerpts from.

He writes – “adoption services in the United States and other industrialized countries commodify children, treating them as social wealth that is transferred from the less resourced to the more resourced.” That is certainly the truth of the matter. Exploitation of the poor.

He goes on to note – I am a product of a closed domestic adoption, for which the reigning justification remains, even now, the idea, developed during the “Baby Scoop Era” (1945-1973), that relinquishing an infant under circumstances of secrecy solves several problems at once: a child gets a loving home; hopeful parents get a child to raise; and a “mistake” is “erased,” allowing the birth parent another start at making a better life.

I totally agree with him on this point – “There is an enormous moral difference, however, between relinquishment and adoption as intervening in a crisis situation for which there is no better alternative, versus instituting a de facto social system in which people are coerced into producing children for transferal to other, unrelated families.” The first responds to the death of the child’s parents (growing up, I actually did think my parents were both orphans – had no idea there were people out there that we were genetically related to) or in serious parental circumstances like unrelenting drug addiction. The social system we could find ourselves in now looks like it could become a regime of forced birth and subsequent child trafficking.

Women who relinquish children carry a lifetime of emotional impact. I read about that time and again. Here’s one comparison of both having an abortion and relinquishing a child to adoption – “It’s hard to convince others about the depth of it. You know, a few years after I was married I became pregnant and had an abortion. It was not a wonderful experience, but every time I hear stories or articles or essays about the recurring trauma of abortion, I want to say, ‘You don’t have a clue.’ I’ve experienced both and I’d have an abortion any day of the week before I would ever have another adoption—or lose a kid in the woods, which is basically what it is. You know your child is out there somewhere, you just don’t know where. It’s bad enough as a mother to know he might need you, but to complicate that they make a law that says even if he does need you we’re not going to tell him where you are.” ~ Ann Fessler from an interview for The Girls Who Went Away.

As adoptees, we simply cannot accept Amy Coney Barrett’s proposition (who is herself an adoptive parent) that relinquishment reduces “the consequences of parenting and the obligations of motherhood that flow from pregnancy.” It shifts the consequences, transforms them. To invoke the desires of hopeful adoptive parents, to say that forced birth-plus-relinquishment meets an unmet demand for the opportunity to parent, is to say that pregnant people, and the offspring they create, are to be pressed into a social experiment of incubating and transferring the raw materials for making families. Clearly, hopeful, affluent adoptive parents are a powerful political constituency.

Relinquishment is catastrophic. It is a failure to preserve the bond between a parent and their child.

Are We Entering A New Baby Scoop Era ?

Before the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, >LINK Time magazine carried an article – What History Teaches Us About Women Forced to Carry Unwanted Pregnancies to Term by Kelly O’Connor McNees on Sept 30 2021. She is the author of The Myth of Surrender about two young women in a maternity home back in 1961.

Her article was motivated by Texas’ severe abortion law back in 2021. Reproductive rights advocates are justifiably concerned about a potential increase in unsafe abortions and adoption activists are right to be concerned about more adoptions taking place that will leave more people dealing with the trauma of separation from their original mother.

The image of coat hangers may seem obsolete in an era where medication abortions can be safely self-managed at home, but we also know that there will be some women who lack access to health care. They will resort to desperate measures to avoid the physical, psychological, emotional, social and economic trauma of being forced to complete their pregnancy and give birth against their wishes.

We have been here before. In the decades from 1945 to 1973, now known as the “Baby Scoop” era, more than 1.5 million pregnant girls and women in the US were sent away to maternity homes to surrender children in secret. In realizing that my adoptee mom conceived me out of wedlock in 1953, it has become to my own heart a minor miracle that she did not get sent away to have and give me up for adoption. I will always believe I have my dad’s adoptive parents to be grateful to for encouraging him to do the right thing when he had only just started at a university in another nearby town. This is why I was born in Las Cruces NM but I am happy to claim I am a native of that state.

It was believed back then that both the child and the birth mother would be better off. It would be a win-win scenario: the baby would be saved from the stigma and shame of illegitimacy, and the birth mother could put the unpleasant chapter behind her and make a fresh start. Meanwhile, the young men who shared equal responsibility for the pregnancies typically carried on with their lives unfettered by social stigma.

Birth mothers sent to these homes received little to no counseling on what to expect from labor and delivery, and were not advised of their legal rights once the child was born. They endured psychological abuse from nuns and nurses, and gave birth alone in sometimes terrible conditions. This is the scenario I imagined my paternal grandmother endured at a Salvation Army Home for Unwed Mothers when she gave birth to my dad. Many women still foggy from the effects of anesthesia following a birth under “twilight” sleep were coerced into signing papers terminating their parental rights. That was a tactic employed by Georgia Tann during her baby stealing days up until her death in September of 1950. Those who wanted to keep their babies were threatened with financial penalties, since many homes only covered the cost of prenatal care and room and board if the child was surrendered. Some women who refused to give up their babies were committed to mental institutions.

The promise that birth mothers would surrender their babies and “move on” turned out to be a lie. They did not go back to normal; they did not forget. Many were haunted for the rest of their lives by the uncertainty of their child’s fate and were prevented by strict adoption statutes from acquiring any information that might ease their minds. My maternal grandmother, exploited by Georgia Tann, reverted from her married name of Elizabeth to Lizzie Lou, the name on my mom’s original birth certificate, and even has that name put on her grave stone, when she died many years later. She never had another baby after my mom.

Unplanned pregnancies create a complex constellation of decisions that resist a tidy narrative. Sometimes they are the result of love, sometimes casual sex and sometimes rape. That was true in 1945, in 1965, and it’s true today. Given a different set of circumstances—access to legal abortion and open, non-coercive adoptions—the women caught up in the Baby Scoop era might have chosen to terminate their pregnancies, carry their pregnancies to term and make a plan for adoption, or keep and raise their children, and they would have made these decisions for all kinds of individual and personal reasons. In that more humane version of midcentury America, the decisions would have been theirs alone.

Women with unwanted pregnancies are no longer physically warehoused, but many of them are still trapped by what happens when they lose the freedom to choose whether or not to give birth. The overturning of Roe v Wade, and the rush in almost half these United States to totally ban any access to abortion regardless of the circumstances that caused the pregnancy, now guarantee that more women will face the same formidable future that women were facing back in the Baby Scoop Era.

All In One

Mom via adoption, IVF and surrogacy

Infertility is a difficult path for any woman. For many of us the expectation is that we will have children at some point in our life. The Atluri family now has 7 children but it took every trick in the assisted reproduction toolkit to get them to this outcome. Josephine is one of the 1 in 8 women requiring fertility assistance, and also one of the 1 in 4 women who have experienced a miscarriage or pregnancy loss.

My blog today comes thanks to an article in LINK> The Huffington Post by Josephine Atluri. The family also had decisions to make regarding their frozen embryos, a situation in light of the uncertainties brought about by the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v Wade and the rush to close and lock doors in many Republican controlled states. Not that this was a factor in the Atluri family’s calculations but it has become a factor for many couples who have used IVF now.

The first child added to this family came by way of adoption. During the 3 years they attempted to create their family with assisted reproduction through IVF, she experienced chemical pregnancies, miscarriages and flat-out failed cycles. After losing a twin pregnancy at 17 weeks, she realized that she could no longer handle the physical, mental and emotional toll of another IVF cycle. Thus, half a year after the loss of their twins, they pivoted in their approach to parenthood and pursued an international adoption. They adopted a 10-month-old boy who became the physical manifestation of their hopes to have a family.

After a year of joyful parenthood, their sense of optimism had renewed enough to try one more IVF cycle at a new fertility center in Denver. Thankfully, they succeeded, becoming pregnant with twins again and this time the pregnancy went to term. They became the parents of healthy boy and girl twins.

The happy ending did not erase the pain experienced from infertility, miscarriage or pregnancy loss for Josephine. This eventually manifested in a fight to control her body as untreated mental health issues snowballed into bulimia. During the healing process, she discovered that she felt the need to “control” her body through her eating disorder partly because it was uncooperative reproductively. 

Every year after the birth of their twins, they received a letter from the storage facility that safeguarded the many embryos from their last IVF procedure. For four years they decided to keep them frozen. On the fifth year, her husband said, “I think it’s time we give these embryos a chance.” After a drawn-out moment, she expressed another truth she had confronted during her healing journey. “I can’t. I just can’t do it again. I’m so sorry.”

It was at this point they decided to pursue surrogacy. She says, “At every step of the process, an unthinkable level of trust, vulnerability, collaboration and communication was required.” Without complications, their surrogate gave birth to their twin boys. Even so, they continued to receive annual reminders regarding their remaining frozen embryos, They tried surrogacy again and two decades after their first IVF cycle, they are now the proud parents of seven children: a 15-year-old son, 13-year-old boy/girl twins, 6-year-old twin boys and 1-year-old twin girls.

She thinks of herself as a warrior in a 17 year long war against infertility. Thanks to the support of online community, she was able to find strength in her story and voice. She speaks up about women’s physical and mental health issues in an effort to destigmatize and normalize these important conversations. She has become a fertility, pregnancy and parenting mindfulness coach.

It’s NOT A Partisan Issue

There was a book published in 2004 by Thomas Frank – What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. It was in Kansas in 2009 that Dr George Tiller, who performed abortions, was murdered by anti-abortion activists. Yesterday in a hopeful, surprising outcome – Kansas voted to continue to protect abortion in the state constitution. It was the first state to put this issue to the people since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, the federal protection of abortion rights for women. You and I have to do our job out there at the polls to save this country from itself.

Kansas is a deeply conservative and usually reliably Republican state. President Joe Biden said, “This vote makes clear what we know: the majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion and should have the right to make their own healthcare decisions.” Kansas state senator Dinah Sikes, who is a Democrat, said “It’s breathtaking that women’s voices were heard and we care about women’s health,” The $3 million dollars spent by the Catholic church trying to eradicate abortion rights in Kansas failed.

The referendum was instigated by the Kansas Republican legislature. Their effort was criticized for being misleading, fraught with misinformation and voter suppression tactics. They scheduled this vote in August, when voter turnout is historically low, particularly among independents and Democrats. It was a tense and bitterly fought campaign.

The campaign manager for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, Rachel Sweet, noted “We knocked tens of thousands of doors and had hundreds of thousands of phone calls … We countered millions of dollars in misinformation. We will not tolerate extreme bans on abortion in our state.” The key to this was driving voter turnout to not seeing abortion as a partisan issue in Kansas. Everyone – from Republicans, to unaffiliated voters, to hardcore libertarians – came out to say: “No, we don’t want the government involved in what we do with our bodies”.

Information for this blog came from an article in LINK> The Guardian. Abortion and Adoption are often linked, although one really does not relate to the other, still some people often try to make that association. Many adoption activists trying to reduce the prevalence of adoption in the US are pro-Choice. Many people who managed to get born are thankful that they were not aborted. Surprisingly, due to the trauma involved in all adoptions (whether acknowledged or not), many adoptees will say they wish they had been aborted.

Short And To The Point

I wanted to make a point that I did not in yesterday’s blog – Conveying Personhood to Embryos. Who is motivated to adopt babies in the United States ? Infertile couples. Due to the overturning of Roe v Wade, there is now much more uncertainty now upon the best path to parenthood for such couples – that is – using IVF and having children with one or both of the parental inputs donated. If this avenue becomes inaccessible (as abortion already had in much of these United States, even though federally protected), more of these infertile couples will be seeking to adopt any available baby.

My husband and I considered adoption to build our family but decided against the uncertainties of taking on someone else’s baby. That was even before I knew my own adoptee parents’ origin stories. In the 5 years since I started uncovering that story and along the way learning so much more about the trauma associated with separating a child from its biological parents, I have turned against adoption for the most part, even though I owe my very existence to that method of creating a family on the parts of my adoptive grandparents.

We know that increasing the supply of domestic infants available for adoption factored into several of the Supreme Court Justices thinking, I have to wonder if they considered further pressure on that supply if assisted reproduction becomes more expensive and/or inaccessible.

Conveying Personhood to Embryos

I am good with the definition above. With the overturning of Roe v Wade, couples who have utilized assisted reproduction to produce embryos now in cryogenic storage are concerned. Therefore, people hoping to conceive with in vitro fertilization are now considering moving their stored embryos to states where abortion is protected.

A handful of states want to use an abortion regulation to define life as beginning at fertilization. This is language that is commonly present in several state abortion bans. Some have gone into effect and others will soon, including in Utah, Texas and Louisiana. Some states want to go further – giving embryos constitutional rights through what are called “personhood” bills, even though most will never become babies. Personhood laws have been proposed but have not yet passed in Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Nebraska.

IVF is the other side of the reproductive choice coin. Abortion is a woman’s right to choose ‘no.’ IVF is their right to choose ‘yes.’ Laws that define life as beginning at conception could lead to limitations around how many eggs are fertilized in each IVF cycle and whether the resulting embryos, most of which are often not genetically viable, can be disposed of. It’s standard to retrieve a dozen eggs or more, then fertilize and test them to ensure the one that is implanted in the uterus has the best chance of leading to a healthy pregnancy. If those embryos are considered people from the moment they’re fertilized, disposal could be a crime and doctors could be prosecuted. That would make IVF less successful, more costly and more inaccessible.

Couples are worried that their embryos could be held hostage by abortion legislation and that they would then be unable to move them out of state. They are worried their state will force them to have another child even though they feel their family is complete. They are worried about getting pregnant at all and miscarrying – will they be able to receive the care they need?

The bottom line is this – losing choice means losing the autonomy to dictate one’s own future. 

Much of the content for today’s blog came by way of this article – “IVF may be in jeopardy in states where embryos are granted personhood” by Chabeli Carranza and Jennifer Gerson in The Guardian.

It’s Complicated

I didn’t hate motherhood but circumstances robbed me of it with my first child. She ended up being raised by her dad and a step-mother, after I left her temporarily in the care of her paternal grandmother. This morning I was reading an edited extract from Undo Motherhood by Diana Karklin. Stories from women all over the planet about how motherhood was not a welcomed event in their lives.

At the time I left my daughter, it didn’t feel like it was because I didn’t love being her mother, I always did love that but was I committed to it ? Reading these stories today, I wonder at my lack of maturity and sense of responsibility at the time. I think I always expected to do something like my own mother did – get married and immediately have children, while going to work everyday to contribute to the family income. I was also into “having a good time” and all that meant as someone in their early 20s – whether in a marriage or not.

Even so, it’s strange that I married. During my senior year in high school, that had not been my plan. I was going to share an apartment with my best friend. The first time I went out with the man who I would marry and have a child with, I told my mom when I came back from that date that it was never going to work out. Then, he showed me a ring and asked me to marry him and so, I did.

I still think marriage isn’t a good bargain for a woman, even though I then married a second time and had two sons with the man who is my husband today. If anything happens that takes him from me and leaves me yet living, I cannot imagine marrying again. We have now been married a long time and so, this time it worked out but with a bump or two along the way – yet the marriage has been able to endure.

Reading the article in The Guardian today – “The women who wish they weren’t mothers: ‘An unwanted pregnancy lasts a lifetime’ “ – has given me pause in reflecting on my own life. Also today, in the Science of Mind magazine which shares the philosophy of a man named Ernest Holmes who created a practice based upon the philosophies of the world and developments in science, I was also given more pause to reflect on romantic love.

The author, Rev Dr Jim Lockard, reflected on what it means to be human and to have a spiritual nature. Our biological selves seek to procreate, as does all life. Our emotional selves seek connection and to give and receive love with a special other to experience a deep feeling of fulfillment. Our intellectual selves seek to find a partner to share our human experiences and to create a family structure. Our spiritual selves seek to link to another to experience the joining of spiritual identities in relationship.

Clearly on many levels, having children fulfills a lot of those aspects and qualities of life, as much or sometimes more than a romantic partner can. Just as The Guardian piece made clear – it is often our cultures that have set rules and expectations about our adult lives. Even as the rigidity of narrow gender definitions have been rapidly changing, with the overturn of Roe v Wade, many women feel they are being pushed back into another time that they thought was in the past. They may be forced into giving birth, due to whatever reason and circumstance, even though they aren’t craving to fulfill the duties of motherhood. Children do best when they are intended and wanted. When they are not – wounding and trauma are the result. Just as an unwanted pregnancy lasts a lifetime, regardless of how long that initial romantic relationship endures, or even how that one night stand or rape has become imprinted on a woman’s soul, what happens to that child lasts a lifetime as well.

The nature of falling in love is a mixture of biological urges, emotional longings, rational explanations and spiritual connections. To fall in love is to exist in instability and the projection of our unconscious expectations onto another person. Our sense of rational choice is diminished. Many women wake up one day to realize that they fell in love with someone their ego was imagining and not a reality the other person was able to actually be – long term. A man is often free to walk away, leaving a woman forced to carry the burden of their children for at least 2 decades – truly for both the mother’s and the children’s lifetimes. Whether a father does or not is never guaranteed.

So Young And Pregnant

Raped 10 year old Ohio girl had to travel out of state to for an abortion in Indiana. A 14 year old in foster care says “Conception, continuing the pregnancy and relinquishment was not my decision. As a child in foster care, those decisions were made for me.”

The future is not bright for the very young women who may become pregnant in light of the Supreme Court ruling regarding Roe v Wade recently.

Sadly, in the case of the 14 year old former foster care youth, the outcome is troubling. Here is her story.

I see adoptees speak of how traumatizing it is when their birth moms refuse to meet them. I don’t want to cause any pain but the thought of meeting sends me into a meltdown. Contact and meeting isn’t something I want but I constantly read that I “owe” this to her. I’m not in a place where I can handle the fallout it will cause. I’m not interested in reliving the hell of 20+ years ago.

This isn’t something I can make myself do. It is too traumatic. I can’t pretend I’m interested in meeting or having a relationship when I’m not. She represents everything I hate and resent. I want to spend the rest of my life as if she doesn’t exist. I don’t want to see pictures or hear her voice. I want to be left alone.

How am I supposed to handle this? I don’t want to explain anything. Will she get it and leave me alone or eventually show up at my door?

I leave the story here. I’m not wishing to delve into the responses. Just wanted to share how one young woman forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy and then give her baby up for adoption feels 20+ years later.

The Wrong Pro-Choice Response

I’ve probably been guilty of this, to whatever extent, over the course of writing so many blogs here at WordPress but today, I was really made aware of how problematic this argument feels to some who have been in foster care and they have a valid point.

Someone posted that the pro-Choice argument that goes something like this is problematic. [1] it makes some former foster care youth feel like a rescue dog or a commodity. [2] It can be misinterpreted by some (it is a stretch but it has happened) that foster children should have been aborted. Former foster care youth object to the weaponizing of their trauma to support the pro-choice argument.

To be fair to my own intentions (and I don’t actually know if I was guilty or not but I could have been because nuance is tricky) – it’s a good argument. Pointing out the hypocrisy of a society that only wants to help a fetus and not actual children. Pointing out how social service systems are already underfunded. However, it also dehumanizes foster youth by lumping them into a monolith in need of rescue.

The recent overturn of Roe v Wade by the Supreme Court will cause a flood of pregnant and parenting teens into the system. One pro-Choicer writes – I’m not comfortable weaponizing a trauma I haven’t experienced personally, but I believe the point they are trying to make (harmfully, to note) is that pro life people aren’t actually pro life, they just want to control women and people with uteruses. It’s not about life with them, it’s about control. They don’t actually put effort towards improving the quality of life of those struggling. I once read a post where a woman convinced a mother to keep her child, but when the mom needed financial support, the lady basically said “tough luck.” Meaning they only value what decisions that can control of a pregnant person, and they don’t care about the struggles of those already born and alive. Especially considering a lot of people forced to give birth or were given no other option might consider to put up for adoption because having a kid wasn’t something they wanted OR they might keep the kid and the child might be raised in an environment where they aren’t wanted or abused. But most pro lifers don’t care about providing resources or voting for increased accessibility to resources for those who need it.

I agree that it’s not right to use someone’s trauma as an argument. Instead of using that kind of argument, we should just argue it at face value – people claiming to be pro life don’t allow access to resources that living people need. Instead, they vote AGAINST accessibility and governmental help for those in need. Instead of focusing on current foster children, we should be asking questions such as – what they would do to help mothers who aren’t in a position to raise children, instead of them saying, “Well if you don’t want kids, just close your legs or put the baby up for adoption.” I believe the pro lifers make children more of a commodity than pro choicers do because they act like adoption is an easy solution and decision- “just adopt your baby out! Just give your kid up! But don’t you dare have an abortion!” And yes, not every foster child is the result of such a decision or dilemma but pro lifers act like adoption is easy for everyone involved, and it’s really not.

Neither side should be using the adoption community as a weapon, but one side brings it up and the other side fires back, and it’s making this whole situation ugly. They’re fighting with feelings instead of facts.

Only In America

Some thoughts from a birth mother –

Only in America is the for-profit business industry of adoption disguised as non-profit god work, that saves babies and is the answer to abortion; greed, trafficking and coercion will now be standard practice. This isn’t about women or babies. It’s about money and control.

When things like this happen, there is no rest. Only exhaustion, heartache, devastation. I am not pro-abortion, I am pro-INFORMED choice, the one that every human should have the right to make themselves and have access to safely. This is about controlling women and making money off their offspring, calling it “saving babies”, “orphan care”, “better lives”. THIS is a war on families, particularly on family preservation. Giving children to people deemed more worthy than biological parents, then selling it to the masses as “creating families”…that had to be broken first.

Billions stand to be made by the adoption industry with this ruling; to an already billion dollar a year industry that disguises itself as the hands and feet of Jesus. Commodifying women and children in crisis could not be less of Jesus. Seeing posts claiming how the church will step up, pushing their congregations more to take these “unwanted” babies, feels so dehumanizing as a mother who was in crisis, not fully informed about the ramifications and traumas involved in choosing placement, and then used by the church as the poster child for adoption. It’s lifelong trauma being separated from your children. Even though I did the best I could with what I had to go on, I was still failed. Most of us are. Women will now be forced to endure pregnancies either dangerous physically or possibly detrimental emotionally and psychologically, in the name of domestic infant supply, for the demand required. And there is nothing in place for these women in the aftermath.

Money in hand, baby secured, they have no need for us anymore. Millions more of us will now suffer these traumas. This is a sisterhood I never wanted to be apart of. It is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone and yet, people are shouting from the rooftops, without any lived experience or knowledge of the traumas we live daily, they’ll take our babies, like they are a pair of shoes at a garage sale we are looking to get rid of. Nope.