Shame

We feel shame when we violate the social norms we believe in. At such moments we feel humiliated, exposed and small and are unable to look another person straight in the eye. We want to sink into the ground and disappear. Shame makes us direct our focus inward and view our entire self in a negative light.

I came upon the powerful graphic above yesterday and felt there was more that I could personally say about it. On my Facebook profile page yesterday, I shared – I have owned up to this before. I had an abortion at the age of 23 or so – mid 1970s. I am glad it was safe and legal. I was not being reckless. I was driving an 18-wheeler with a partner. Our dispatcher didn’t get us home to where my pharmacy was in time and I ended up pregnant. Neither he nor his family were the kind of people I would be glad to have been tied to through a child today. At the time, I had breakthrough bleeding. My ex-SIL and ex-BIL had a child with serious birth defects. I just felt the pregnancy was not progressing normally. Also, to be honest – I didn’t want to commit my life to 7 more months of going it alone with no financial support. I’ve never regretted it but pro-Life propaganda has definitely haunted me. In writing this, I searched my memory for all of the reasons why I chose that course of action.

The mothers and women in my family, and to whom I am genetically related, chose other courses of action. Back in the 1930s, the mothers of both of my own parents, chose to carry their pregnancies, spent the first few precious months with their babies, and one way or another lost that first child to adoption. I wrote, and it was true, “I didn’t want to commit my life to 7 more months of going it alone with no financial support.” In some people’s minds I was simply being selfish and I will accept that judgment, though in truth I have no regrets about doing what I did and for the reasons I did it at the time.

Yet, I felt enough shame for having chosen a different path (both of my sisters carried unplanned pregnancies to term but also gave their babies up for adoption) that it was a long time before I admitted to anyone what I did earlier in life. It was my private decision which no one but the circumstances influenced. Maybe influenced in no small measure by the legality and safety of the choice at the time. Only as Roe v Wade has come under increasing opposition have I started sharing my own story of what it was like to have made that choice and my gratitude that I had it available to my own self when I felt I needed that.

The father of my own conception made it clear he would not stand by me if I chose otherwise but I don’t think that was my major motivation. In reflecting on my statement that I would have had to “go it alone” above, I also know my parents supported one of my sisters throughout the pregnancy and then, remarkable to me now that I know more about adoption in general, my own adoptee mom coerced my sister into giving up the baby she wanted to keep and then, encouraged a lie to me that the baby had died. Intuitively, I knew it had not and concocted fantastical stories about what had actually happened to the baby believing it had been stolen and taken into Mexico (my sister had delivered at a hospital in El Paso TX very near the national border). Because of this, my mom finally admitted her truth regarding the whole situation to me.

Many women bear a cross – maybe they suffer their whole lives knowing their child is out there somewhere out of their own reach. Many of these original mothers suffer a secondary infertility and never have another child. Many struggle as single mothers to keep and raise their child. Our society does nothing to help them. My sister actually sought financial support during her pregnancy but was denied it based upon our parents financial condition. It was not my parents seeking financial support but my sister and not in increase my parents financial condition either.

After I divorced the father of my first child, I had to go to work and that meant child care. When one “family style” child care that she loved at first became a tearful battle, I left work to check on her and discovered through the window of a half door, an older child bullying her and no adults in sight. I pulled her out that day. I often had to go to my mother to beg $20 to make it through to payday. She never denied me but financially it was always difficult. At the time I divorced her father, he told me he would never pay me one cent of child support because I would just party with the money. Such a horrible perception he had of my own integrity and ethics. I didn’t want to spend my life in court fighting him for it even though the judge insisted in awarding me $25/mo “in case” I changed my mind and wanted to seek an increase. I never did. Instead, I left my daughter with her paternal grandmother while I tried to build a financial nest egg for the two of us by seeing if I was capable of driving an 18 wheel truck cross-country.

I always intended to return for her and would have never given her to her father to raise but his mother did that. He remarried a woman with a child and then they had a child together. Unintended consequences of financial desperation. And now, in a sense my story has come full circle, my shame – not even listed above – is that I gave up raising my child for financial reasons. Back when she was in day care, I couldn’t hardly answer the pediatrician’s questions, because she was away from me all day. After her father and step-mother raised her, I struggled to find birthday cards for her that reflected the lack of a daily, physical relationship I had with her. There were no role models for an absentee mother back in the mid-1970s, even though the absentee father was a standard reality.

Shame. Oh yes, I am well acquainted with it. As my daughter knows, I have struggled to find peace with not having “stuck it out,” as my own mother said to me that she would have done, to do the right thing by my daughter. It is a work in process. Recently, I reflected on all the things I did right by her in the brief early years she was physically under my care. I told her, I realize that when I was mother to you, I was a good one. And the abortion ? I atoned for it, by giving up my own genetic connection to have two egg donor conceived sons (same donor both times), that my husband might be able to have the children he desired, even as we both realized I had gotten too old to conceive naturally. Even so, they are now almost 18 and 21 years old. They have proven to me that I can “mother” children 24/7 throughout their own childhoods. At least I have no shame in that. I even breastfed both until they were just over 1 year old. I also have the knowledge that I didn’t put adoption trauma onto the fetus I aborted early in that pregnancy.

Re-Adoption and Inheritance

The answer can be complicated and it is advised to consult an attorney. Here’s the backstory.

My Mom called today and asked if she could re-adopt me back. She and my biological siblings want to include me in family legalities/trusts/wills/etc. I am not opposed at all and delighted that she and my siblings want this to be. I will be 38 in a couple weeks and live in the US but we live in different states. I do not talk to my adopted family except my adopted sister, due to some horrific abuse and continuous support by the biological family of the abuser/s over me and others (surprise, surprise). I will be inheriting some of the estate from my adopted family (they think it’s shut up money/absolves their guilt possibly?) I have quite a few medical/psychiatric bills from well….everything about them and feel reimbursement for that is the least they can do, and anything extra will be used to help families hire decent lawyers to keep their own children from the broken system. So my question is, will being adopted back into my biological family cause any legal ramifications for me? Or can I move forward and add another band-aid to my soul??

I have been aware of inheritance rights for adoptees in Texas, especially regarding my mom who had a sizeable inheritance involved. I found this pro-adoption advice site article (Adoptees and Inheritance) which includes a bit of disclaimer – while the following information isn’t legal advice, it may offer you a better understanding of the inheritance rights of adopted children.

Especially this section but other parts of that linked information may be useful –

Can an Adopted Child Inherit from Biological Parents?

Sometimes. Because your biological parents’ legal parental rights to you were terminated, you have no automatic legal rights to their inheritance or assets. That legal connection is instead transferred to your adoptive parents.

However, birth parents can choose to include any biological children, including you, as a beneficiary in their will. As long as none of their other family members contest the will and your inclusion, that request is honored. Birth parents will need to be clear in their will about how to contact you, so their estate manager can get in touch with you about inheritance.

If your birth parents die without making a will, or if they don’t include you in their will, then you will not automatically inherit from them, unlike your adoptive parents.

Although you can be listed as a beneficiary in your biological parents’ wills, you may not always be able to contest their wills, as you don’t have a legal connection to them (unlike your adoptive parents). But this all simply depends on your individual situation and your personal relationship with your birth parents, so consult your attorney if you think you need to contest a birth parent’s will.

And there was this opinion from the all things adoption group –

The legal ramifications of being re-adopted vary from state to state (in regards to inheritance, it would be the deceased person’s state or wherever the will is probated). The document linked below covers the very basics regarding adoption and inheritance, but may be helpful. In some states being adopted does not sever inheritance rights, so the adoptee can inherit from both “natural” (in original case above, the first adoptive parents) and adoptive family members estates, so long as relationships have been maintained, which I didn’t realize, but it just depends on the individual state…

Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Persons

Judging The Past By Present Values

Lily MacLeod and Gillian Shaw
~ photo by Carlos Osorio for the Toronto Star, 2012

As a Gemini, twins have always fascinated me. I have wondered if I once had a twin in utero who vanished. Having gone through assisted reproductive medical interventions, I know this happens. It happened with my older son when my pregnancy originally appeared to be twins. I really didn’t want the challenge but in my mom’s group we have several pairs of twins and one set of triplets. The father of the man I am married to was a twin. Both my father in law and his twin brother are now deceased.

The less than common occurrence of multiple births has my attention this morning after watching the documentary – Three Identical Strangers. The story tells how these men were separated at 6 mos and adopted out with strategic intent by the clinical psychiatrist, Peter Neubauer, through the cooperation of the Louise Wise adoption agency. Psychology Today did an article entitled The Truth About “Three Identical Strangers.” The article explains – Dr Viola Bernard was the chief psychiatric consultant to the Wise agency. In the late 1950s (before Dr Peter Neubauer was involved), Dr Bernard created a policy of separating identical twins when they were adopted. Dr Bernard’s intentions are described as benign. In a memo subsequently recovered, she expresses her hope that “early mothering would be less burdened and divided and the child’s developing individuality would be facilitated” by this separation. It wasn’t only the Wise agency but many other agencies that also practiced the separation of twins at the time of adoption.

The conclusion by Dr Lois Oppenheim in the Psychology Today article is – The basic premise of the film, that the triplets’ separation was a heartless scheme undertaken at the expense of the children’s well-being to enable a scientific study, is fiction. The filmmakers could have created a documentary about the complexities of the twin study, its origins and context, and the changing standards of ethical norms and lessons learned. This might have been less dramatic, but it would have made an important contribution to our understanding of gene research and parenting.

Yet, the practice of separating identical or even non-identical siblings in the adoption industry continues and the study and research of such persons continues to this day. Regarding my photo above of Lily MacLeod and Gillian Shaw, the story in The Toronto Star by Amy Dempsey tells us that the 12-year-olds were separated as babies in China but reunited after the two separate Ontario couples adopted them. When their separate/different adoptive parents made the startling discovery that their two daughters were identical twins, they vowed to raise the girls as sisters. Their situation is highly unusual: Lily and Gillian are two of only a handful of twin pairs – mostly Chinese children adopted by North American parents – who are being raised, knowing they are siblings but separately apart. For scientific researchers, the girls are yet another opportunity to study the effects of nature vs nurture in real-time. As for their families – strangers thrown together by the most unusual of circumstances – their situation explores a new kind of blended family, with unique and fascinating joys and challenges.

The Toronto Star goes beyond the story of the twin Chinese girls to note that in the late 1970s, scientists at the Minnesota Center for Twin and Adoption Research began studying what was then a new category of multiples — adopted twins who were separated at birth and reunited as adults. Dr Thomas Bouchard’s landmark paper was titled “Minnesota Study of Identical Twins Reared Apart.” The study shook the scientific community by demonstrating, across a number of traits, that twins raised apart are as similar as twins raised together. The study’s evidence of genetic influence in traits such as personality (50 per cent heritable) and intelligence (70 per cent heritable) overturned conventional ideas about parenting and teaching. And findings of genetic influence on physiological characteristics have led to new ways of fighting and preventing disease.

While I was yet pregnant with my oldest son, I chose to read a book titled Mother Nature by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy which had just come out in the year before. So my interest is long standing and it is little wonder that the issues continue to capture my interest. For centuries, the self-sacrificing mother who places her child’s needs and desires above her own has defined womanhood. Designed by nature for the task of rearing offspring, women are “naturally” tender, selfless and compassionate where their progeny are concerned. Those who reject childbearing or fail to nurture their offspring directly are typed as pathological, “unnatural” women. In traditional Darwinian evolutionary biology, the female of any species has evolved to produce and nurture the species; one could say it is her only role. Feminist treatises have long argued against the necessary conflation of “woman” with “mother,” and classics such as Adrienne Rich’s Of Woman Born have cogently argued that such altruistic maternity is a cultural construct and not a biological given.

From a review (link above) of Hrdy’s book Mother Nature – US anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy strides into the minefield, examining motherhood across cultures, historical periods, evolutionary tracts and biological species to better understand human maternity. Hrdy’s book resides in that rare space between academic disciplines (she is a professor emerita at the University of California-Davis and she has been schooled in anthropology, primatology, evolutionary theory, history and feminism). Her work can be situated somewhere between specialist treatise and popular biological science. Hrdy’s unique placement enables her to combine the best of Darwinian evolutionary biology with feminist cultural theory, without falling into the political entrapments of either camp.

Heartening for me, as a biological/genetic mother who lost physical (but not legal) custody of her daughter when she was only 3 years old, I am reminded in this review of Hrdy’s book that stay-at-home mothers are rare in the historical and evolutionary archives; community caregiving is an age-old model of childrearing. Throughout history in primate and human communities, mothering techniques involve “allomothers”: the delegation of child caretaking to other members (male and female) of the community. “Mothers have worked for as long as our species has existed, and they have depended on others to help them rear their children,” Hrdy writes. That means I was not the abject failure I believed my self to be for over 60 years but just another kind of mother. Motherhood today often includes women who have jobs and incomes of their own. Hrdy sees this as an evolutionary process to ensure long and safe lives for these mother’s child(ren). A lack of financial resources most certainly drove me to leave my daughter with her paternal grandmother, while I took a risk to see if I could earn some decent money driving an 18-wheel truck. There never was the intention to permanently abandon my child to other people. Thankfully, as adults we are happily close enough at heart and I believe love one another as fully as any mom could hope for. It is actually the lack of financial resources that is at cause for most adoptions.

In “60 Years On, Twin/Triplet Study Still Raises Questions” – an interview of Dr Leon Hoffman by Elizabeth Hlavinka for Medpage Today looks at the ethics of that study, which began in 1960 (the documents from which are sealed in the archives at Yale University until 2065). This tells me that Peter Neubauer, who died in 2008, eventually had his own qualms about the ethics of what he had perpetrated, though he is judged to have mostly been concerned with confidentiality issues that (until open adoptions began) were the rule in commercial closed adoptions (the effects of which continue to obstruct and vex adult adoptees to this day – change comes slowly). My blog today takes it title from an observation by Dr Hoffman – that the problem with a lot of “exposés” is that we judge the past by our present values.  That is an important point. He also notes that at the time of the Neubauer project, there was a prevailing belief that twins would be better off separated, if they were going to be adopted. That twins were more difficult for the mother and that it would be easier for the mother to take care of one child instead of two children. I understand. In our mom’s group, those with twins often hired au pairs to assist them in those early days.

In this interview, Dr Hoffman notes – I always tell parents of kids that I see, “How much is genetic and how much is environment?” and I always say, “It’s 100% of both,” because those two are always interacting with one another. More and more data has shown that genetic variations get very much affected by the environment. I believe this is also evident in the story about the triplets. They even admit that during that time of their own high publicity, they amplified their similarities because that is what people were curious about. It is clear that they each had unique personalities that do seem to have been affected by their adoptive parents and the differing environmental situations they were raised in. As aging adults, the two surviving individuals have very different surface appearances while retaining many similarities.

Since I have looked at mother/child separations now for several years and am against the practice of adoption generally and in favor of family preservation, I was emotionally triggered last night by thinking about the amplifying effect of separation trauma (which IS mentioned by the triplets in their documentary) as yet another separation wound for babies who grew into their humanity in the same womb. Fortunately for the children in my mom’s group, they don’t have either of those added traumas. “The twin relationship, particularly with (identical) twins, is probably the closest of human social ties,” says Nancy Segal, who is herself a twin. This is why it’s so important for multiples to grow up together. Segal, now a psychology professor at California State University, has found about 15 more sets of adopted twin children being raised by different families, most of them Chinese girls. Researchers attribute this phenomenon to China’s one-child policy, which led to the abandonment of thousands of female babies. Though China’s official adoption rules state that twins should be placed together, pairs like Lily and Gillian prove things don’t always happen that way.

I found one other article that I’m not going to say very much about. You can read the story – Stories of Twins Separated at Birth by Pamela Prindle Fierro at the VeryWell Family website. There are the two sisters – Anais Bordier and Samantha Futerman. They found each other through Facebook and YouTube. They had been raised on different continents. The article includes information about the “Jim Twins” – James Arthur Springer and James Edward Lewis who found each other at the age of 39 in 1979. And there are actually MORE stories at this link.

The important thing to learn is that every action taken, that affects another human being, has the possibility of unintended consequences and that there is always the need for a fully informed consent in the interest of human well-being. An issue with adoptees is that due to their young age, they are never able to give informed consent and therefore, their rights are never considered. This is an issue with many adoptees who feel they are treated like second-class citizens with important basic human rights withheld from them – identity and medical issues foremost. An evolving issue with donor conceptions is similar. The human being conceived in that manner had no ability to consent to the method of their conception. Realistically, none of us consents (in a human sense, but I believe we do in non-physical prior to birth as I believe we are eternal souls).

Infant Saviors

My oldest son at age 4. There are probably baby pictures somewhere but didn’t find them easily on my hard drive. The point here is that I have often referred to him as “my savior”. That is because trying to conceive him alerted me to a danger I didn’t know was lurking in my body – hepatitis C. Had I not gone down that road and been subjected to numerous lab tests, I would have continued drinking alcohol – sometimes to excess. The genotype I have is unlikely to progress and so I have chosen not to embark upon the treatment which is expensive and would disable me for months in attempting the cure. He is now 20 years old and I am healthier than ever, though my almost 67 year old body is showing me signs of wear and tear – especially my knees.

Today, I learned about Megan Culhane Galbraith’s new book The Guild of the Infant Saviour: An Adopted Child’s Memory Book, which will be published on May 21 and can be pre-ordered now at bookshop.org. An excerpt appears in Severance magazine. As I turn to reading the article myself, I will acknowledge that some people adopt infants to save their marriage and outcomes would indicate that is more often than not – unsuccessful. Others adopt infants thinking THEY are the saviors and that without them the child would fare badly in life and that is generally NEVER true as well.

Galbraith’s book is identified as creative nonfiction. The book is described as experimental in form and structure. It is a memoir but much more. A striking visual art project, an intellectual inquiry into the nature of memory, and a frightful window on the failures and brutalities of the American system of adoption. The book is the origin story of a girl who had three mothers before she was half a year old and the experience of the woman she grew to be, who, only during her own pregnancy, was overwhelmed by the need to know her history and learn about her first mother. The author’s meditations on the nature of identity, her compulsion toward self-erasure, and her fear of abandonment likely will resonate with adoptees.

Snippets from the excerpt that you can read more fully at the Severance link above –

“It is incredible how few concrete details I needed to feel connected across time.” . . . “I began to think about who I was at nineteen—a virgin for starters—and how incomprehensible it would have been to become a mother when my own future felt like it was just beginning.” . . . “What struck me most was that my birth mother had cared enough to update my file.” “within the last ten years” to alert her that she was a DES granddaughter.

Diethylstilbestrol (DES) was a drug given to women during their pregnancy. DES was a synthetic form of estrogen given to women between 1940 and 1971 to prevent miscarriage. The daughters of women who used DES were forty times more likely to develop cancers of the cervix and vagina. Galbraith goes on to note – “The drug’s side effects were known to skip a generation, meaning, they may have affected me—or worse my unborn child. Late-onset and irregular periods were one side effect for DES granddaughters like me. I didn’t get my period until I was sixteen: my biological mother got hers at around eleven. Other risks included infertility, cancer, congenital disabilities, and fewer live births.”

Charging Parents For Foster Care

I remember when I divorced my first husband, the issue of child support came up in court.  I had heard horror stories about unending conflict in child support issues.  I wanted none of it.  My ex had already told me he would never pay child support.  I believed him.  His attitude was if I wanted his support for our child I had to stay married to him.  In a weird turn of events, after leaving my daughter temporarily with her paternal grandmother for care while I tested myself to see if I was even able to drive an 18-wheel truck cross-country, my daughter ended up being raised by her dad.  Eventually, he re-married and she grew up in a yours, mine and ours family when they had a child together and she had already brought a child with her to the marriage.  I didn’t want to interfere in what I considered a good situation for my daughter – mindful of the old biblical story and the baby the kind almost cut in half to satisfy two women both claiming the child as their own.  Only recently, after over 40 years of believing this fantasy, my daughter told me it wasn’t such a good situation growing up there.  My heart still grieves to know that.

This is a bit of a digression but not really because today I have learned that when children are taken by the state and placed in foster care, the original parents become liable for child support to cover the costs of their children being placed into foster care.  It seems that everything this government does is stacked against families and intent on keeping people enslaved to poverty regardless of how hard they try to improve their lives.  Even though I lost much in not raising my daughter, I do not regret forgoing the constant conflict of fighting for child support.  I don’t know what the best answer is as regards responsibility – I suppose better human beings but sometimes the deck really is stacked against people in general.  It is so sad.

Most families in the child protective services system also interact with the child support enforcement system. A potentially important effect of child support enforcement on the duration of out-of-home foster care placement. Requiring parents to pay support to offset the costs of foster care results in delays of a child’s reunification with a parent or other permanent placement. While this is a short-sighted and unintended effect, longer stays in foster care are expensive for taxpayers.  Without a doubt, extended placements in foster care has consequences on a child’s well-being. When the policies and the fundamental objectives of public systems are viewed in limited perspective and inconsistently coordinated we all suffer.

The child protective services (CPS) system can be seen as a safety net of last resort. While removing children from their parents’ care is an extreme intervention, recent estimates suggest that in the US 6% of all children and 12% of black children will have experienced out-of-home care by the time they reach the age of 18. Most children and families with CPS involvement also interact with other social service systems that can have very different goals and models of administration and financing. This lack of coordination often leads to substantial, though unintended, negative consequences for both for the families involved and the taxpayers who pay for these services.

The scope of the child support enforcement system is generally limited to establishing and enforcing nonresident parents’ financial obligations to their children. In contrast, the CPS system is responsible for assuring child safety, permanency and well-being, so its scope and responsibilities extend well beyond financial resources. The scarcity of studies regarding CPS-child support interactions may reflect important differences in their policies and the goals of these programs or a limited recognition of the potential importance of their interaction, but research in this area has been hampered by the limited availability of relevant survey data and the technical challenges associated with the analysis of administrative data from separately managed systems.

Requiring parents to pay support results in a longer foster care spell and it definitely decreases the economic resources a separated parent needs to achieve the conditions CPS sets forth for reunification.  This would indicate that this policy is fiscally counterproductive.  And the reality is that there are low levels of collection and additional costs in seeking to enforce these child support payments.

Most children enter foster care due to neglect, rather than abuse, with low income an important risk factor for parents losing custody of their children.  Safely and quickly reunifying families is an important priority and it will reduce both disruption to children and the public costs of foster care.  I know personally how difficult it can be to be a single mother.  When I rejected child support as a very young woman, I was overly confident about my ability to provide for my self and my child.

The truth is children living in single-parent families are over-represented in the CPS system.  Child support can play a particularly critical role in the income packages of low-income single-parent families.  Some evidence suggests that increased child support may reduce the risk of child welfare involvement.  Historically, the government has often retained child support payments from low-income families receiving cash assistance to offset welfare costs, but in recent years policies have changed to allow more child support to be passed through to resident parents receiving assistance—making welfare and child support complements, rather than substitutes.

The change in policy to prioritize economic support to families over cost-recovery for government has not been extended to children in foster care. Federal guidance and state policies generally call for child support orders to offset government costs, rather than directly benefit children, when children are placed out of home.  Federal policy calls for child support previously directed from nonresident to resident parents to be redirected to the state, and, for those that do not have orders, new orders are established for both pre-placement resident and nonresident parents to cover the costs of foster care incurred by the state.

 

Addiction Is A Sad Reality

The issue of drug addiction is close to my heart because I have seen it’s effects up close and personal.  Losing physical custody of one’s child as a mother never feels like a happy outcome.  Today, I was reading the sad story of a woman who lost 3 of her children when Child Protective Services took them from her due to her addiction.

She was promised by Child Protective Services that her children were going to go into a safe home, a God fearing home, wealthy, and she knew this couple had been the foster parents for the last 2 years she was able to visit her children prior to their adoption.  She signed the adoption papers because she needed to survive the addiction. And she needed to save her children from her own self.  She believed as she recovered that her children were safe. It was a closed adoption and so she lost contact completely.

Somewhat recently she learned that her children were so severely abused by those adoptive parents for a number of years that they were taken back into the foster care system for a subsequent 2 years.  Then they were adopted a second time.  These children are now 20, 18 and 16 years old.  This woman had 2 more children as she was recovering from her addiction and she is raising them.  Though she has tried to reconnect with her older children, they rebuff her efforts.

Some of the things we do in our youth and ignorance will never free of us of the consequences of our choices.  The effects are permanent.  One can understand how these older children might blame this mom for their difficult, even painful, childhoods.  And while, it is sad that there is no happy resolution for this shattered family, it isn’t difficult to understand the damage that has been done.

She asked adoptees for advice on whether she should keep trying to reach out to these older children.  One was brutally honest (as adoptees often are if you are willing to listen).  “As an adoptee we don’t owe anyone anything, not a explanation, not a relationship, not communication not even a hello. You gave up that right. You need to respect their wishes, don’t reach out again, they know how and where they can reach out if they choose to. From what you have said they have lived a horrendous life and they as adults now deserve the right to make the decision to have any contact with you.”

The fact is – adoptees had no say in what happened to them.  They are totally within their rights to take back control when they are old enough to exert it.

Young and Foolish

There is a raging debate in an adoption group I belong to over what it is like to be young and foolish causing one not to be a good mother.  Part of the debate has to do with how much time it could take for a 21 yr old, unsupported and drug addicted, partying mother to get her act together.  Fortunately, the baby in question that was taken by Child Protective Services is currently in place with a relative who has worked hard to keep the child in contact with the mother and wants to maintain family care for the infant so that the child can know the child’s grandmother, great-grandmother and other extended family.

I wasn’t a good mother when I was in my early twenties.  I gave birth at 19 and was divorced by age 23.  My marriage had involved drug use.  My perspective was still wild and free and partying.  I did manage to hold down a job and pay rent but I struggled financially, often going to my mom for inadequate $20 handouts and had an ex-husband who refused to pay child support because he believed I would just party on that money.  He never seemed to give any consideration to the cost of child care, pediatricians, much less food and clothing.

So, in desperation I took my child to her paternal grandmother (not expecting my parents to approve of my plan to head out on an 18-wheel truck in order to make some real money).  Eventually, her father remarried a woman with a child and they conceived another child together.  This ended my plan to come back and continue to raise my daughter because I could not give her the family he could and I was still struggling financially.

I am totally in favor of maintaining family ties when a young mother isn’t mature enough or financially sound enough to support her child.  Adoption by strangers should ALWAYS be the absolute last resort.  Eventually, I matured.  I married a man when I was 33 and we went on to have two sons together.  I truly had felt like a failure at parenting.  I was simply too young and too unsupported to have done better.  I know now that was the truth of it.

What Is Wrong With This Picture ?

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

In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler writes –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Emptiness And Inadequacy Of Not Being Enough

I feel very sad this morning.  Many women who give up children for adoption did so because in whatever way they did not feel like they were enough.  Strong enough, wise enough, financially sound enough.  It doesn’t help that often this is a true and honest assessment of one’s condition.

I left my first husband due to issues of addiction.  He honestly tried very hard, more than once, in a variety of ways to change his behavior so that his addiction was not a part of his life nor our life as a family.  I tried to stick it out.  Because our family’s financial resources were being poured into satisfying his addiction, I eventually believed my daughter and I would be better off if we separated from him.

I tried to handle the divorce in an enlightened way for our 3 year old daughter.  Telling her that her father still loved her and I still loved her but that we would not live together as a family any more.  Financially, I wasn’t able to pull it off.  I wasn’t able to financially support us.  I went to my mom for tiny bits of money to get by.  I took on roommates to share the cost of providing shelter.  None of it worked.

In desperation, I left my daughter with her paternal grandmother, who because I had to go back to work when she was only a few months old, had always cared for her.  I didn’t know if I could drive a truck but I knew the money was good and if I could do it for a little while and save it up, then I could recover her and we might make it.

Often, life does not work out as we plan.  Her father remarried and he took physical custody of our daughter.  Her step-mother had a daughter and together my ex-husband had another daughter with this wife.  My daughter had a family and I know the issues of addiction continued to weigh heavily on this family.  I don’t have easy answers.

I had a reconciliation of sorts with my ex-husband not that long ago.  No recriminations.  Only an acknowledgment of how lucky we both are that our daughter is in our lives.  She is an amazing person.  In spite of all the challenges, somehow we did something right along the way and both of us would say, mostly the work of becoming amazing deserves 100% credit by our daughter.

What Is It About Babies?

The reason there is a business related to adoption is that couples are willing to wait a long time and pay a lot of money to adopt an infant.  It is the blank slate idea that Georgia Tann (the baby scandal thief) was fond of utilizing to obtain customers.

After 10 years of marriage, my husband decided he actually wanted to become a father after all.  Before that, he was glad that there was no pressure from me because I had been there and done that (I gave birth to a daughter in a previous marriage at age 19).  Therefore, when he announced to me over Margaritas at a Mexican restaurant that he had been thinking, I think my mouth dropped open in amazement.

At first, we considered adoption.  We weren’t actually thinking about infants.  My husband’s uncle had adopted an older boy.  We considered the problems that had resulted from that choice.  We wanted a child without someone else’s baggage.  Ours was not an uncommon perspective.  At the time, I really knew nothing about adoption beyond the fact that both of my parents were adoptees.

Ultimately, we did find a way to conceive our two sons that required a lot of medical assistance and thankfully, in our case, it worked.  Half of all women who try to conceive in the manner we did – fail.  Because my husband waited until he was truly ready and did not have fatherhood forced upon him without intention, he is a wonderful father.

There are lots of older children in foster care who would benefit from a more conventional kind of home situation.  Many never receive that and age out of the system without any resources to be independent and self-reliant.  There is no profit in taking any older child into one’s home and the attendant complications can be daunting.

The only request adoptees make of hoping to adopt couples is that they first understand the impacts of their own infertility and what it is they seek to do, in taking another woman’s child and raising it as their own.  I’ve previously discussed some of the common reforms suggested.  [1] Not changing the child’s name or birthdate.  [2] Making possible their awareness of and eventual reunion with the people who conceived them as well as any other siblings that exist.  Those two are some primary ones.