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Monthly Archives: June 2010

Mothers of The Baby Scoop Era

I think most people would agree that Loss applies to the following: Death of a parent, spouse, sibling, child, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent, friend, pet.  Also recognized as a loss would be the loss of anything that you hold dear or necessary to your life, like a home, job, good health.  People will recognize the feelings of loss inherent in miscarriages, still birth, infertility, and not being about to give birth to and raise your child.

Those losses are real, valid, acknowledged and grieved by society.  Each persons grief is different and each loss carries a different magnitude to that specific individual, but yet all agree they have lost something precious to the person.

Society tells us the above losses are acceptable.  That it is okay to feel loss.  Yet society also has a dark side when it judges if a loss is valid.  Society judges people for their actions based on societies view of what is acceptable.  During the era I was conceived in, also known as The Baby Scoop Era, society deemed single motherhood as wrong.  By deeming women who became pregnant out-of-wedlock to be less than, bad, immoral, feeble-minded, flawed, society also reinforced that adoption was the right solution to their problems.  By making adoption the acceptable course of action, society deemed them redeemed (well almost) but refused to admit or acknowledge that placing a child for adoption was something that was an acceptable loss to be grieved.  Mothers were told to put it out of their minds, forget, move on, get married, be glad their mistake was rectified and never speak of it again, let alone grieve.

The American and Canadian governments have never acknowledged the harm, loss, anger and pain they caused to the mothers during The Baby Scoop Era.  Why not?  Britain acknowledged the mistakes made to the Home Children, so did Australia.  Australia has acknowledged the mistakes made during their Baby Scoop Era.  Why hasn’t the US or Canada?   

Instead society has moved on and recognized the ever-growing demand for babies for by parents who either are unable to have their own children or wish to save a child for whatever reason, and that adoption is a wonderful solution to those individuals and heals their specific loss.  A market where the demand is always greater than the supply.  A business model that already has the negatives already silenced by society, sanctioned if you will.  A business sure to be successful by ensuring that society continues to silence those most impacted.  That business model continues to ensure the voices of mothers are silenced by only allowing mothers who are willing to walk the walk and talk the talk be paraded in front of prospective adoptive parents as much to say – see – no harm – no foul – adoption was the best solution and everything is win-win-win…and of course they have the ‘happy well-adjusted adoptee’ who is grateful they were adopted instead of aborted…

The government and society needs to man up and own their role in the incredible injustice and harm caused to the mothers of The Baby Scoop Era…

 

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2010 in Ethics

 

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Adoptive parents should ‘get it’…

But some adoptive parents just cannot wrap their heads around the losses inherent in adoption, or that for there to be adoption, there is first a requirement that there be two families and the creation of one child for adoption to exist…Whether it is solely head in the sand mentality or what, but they refuse to take off those adoption sunglasses and that only allows them to view the world with ‘me’ mentality. 
 
Those that wear those adoption sunglasses believe – they have a family and it is good so everything is good so what is the problem and look at us we are so perfect, we have done all the hard work, and we deserve to be placed on the highest pedestal of the three tiered winners platform, like as in 1st place obviously, we are the parents, the one and only parents.  We are the winners…we don’t share…we earned this title, this right, this, this, this…
 
Thankfully there are other adoptive parents who clearly understand and respect that all members of the adoption triad are equal and have the right to the same playing field and that in adoption we all have to play nice, share, embrace, involve, coexist, listen and be listened to, accept and be accepted, and not a single position gets to claim what rightly belongs to both…or all…or none…because without each of us there would not be the other…
 
Can anyone spell DENIAL?  Perhaps those with the adoption sunglasses on should look it up and stop and listen to the definition, before denying the truth of the description – as not applying to me because I am the adoptive parent and I want it all because I deserve it all because I, I, I….
 
Of course those who this post is directed to won’t ‘get it’…but that is okay because I did not expect them too…but perhaps one day they will understand what respect means when their children don’t respect them because of their own actions and words of denial and refusal to realize what we have all be trying to tell them…
 
 
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Posted by on June 22, 2010 in Ethics, Uncategorized

 

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how parents insecurities impact everyone…

Mothers and fathers on both sides of the adoption triad have one thing in common…insecurity on whether or not their children will leave them for the other.  Which pull is stronger the genetics or the history.  What if I do something wrong – will they leave.  What if I say something wrong – will they leave.  What if I am not as good as the other mother, the other father.  What if they are nicer, better, funnier, smarter.  What if, what if, what if.
 
I completely understand this type of insecurity as an adoptee…I live it in every relationship I have, because deep inside of me I believe I am fundamentally flawed and others can see it and will reject me just like my first family did, by not fighting to keep me.  I get ‘it’ on such a deep visceral level that I can have empathy and continue reassuring anyone that has such gut wrenching fears that they are just that – fears.  Someone wiser than me once told me that fear was actually this (who originally said it I don’t know but)… 
 
F stood for False,
E stood for Event,
A stood for Appearing,
R stood for Real.
 
FEAR = False Event Appearing Real
Now when I start panicking I try to stop and remind myself of that – it works for me most of the time.  It allows my brain to pause and consider if the fear is real.
 
Caveat to the above I have witnessed one event that was sure to cause the subject (the adoptee) to consider leaving.  Whether he left I do not know but I would have been thinking long and hard if it had been me in his position.
 
Mom and I were sitting at the kitchen table talking to a long time family friend who also adopted a child – a son.  This son had grown up and moved away from home and had also searched, found and reunited with his first family.  This adoptive mother (sorry for the qualifiers) had gone to see him and told him – “if you see your other family again I will disinherit you – you have to choose – them or me”. 
 
Mom and I sat there in stunned silence and after a minute mom found her voice to tell her how wrong she was, and that wanting to know your other family was natural and she needed to get over it.  That adoptive mom refused to listen to moms words of wisdom and mom kept talking, but in the end this woman said her mind was made up and he could make his decision, she had done everything for him, and if he did not sever his relationship with ‘them’ she was not leaving him a penny (and she had plenty of pennies to leave). 
 
Personally – I would have left…because that is not love that is manipulative behavior by someone who thinks their child is a possession and is entitled to sole ownership…not the love a parent has for a child, that comes from the heart.
 
 
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Posted by on June 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Respect…

Try practicing respect instead of requiring to be the king of the mountain…
 
R – the person’s REALITY
E – the person’s EQUALITY
S – the person’s SENTIMENTS
P – the person’s POINT OF VIEW
E – the person’s EQUILIBRIUM
C – The person’s COLLECTEDNESS
T – The person’s TOTALITY
 
 
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Posted by on June 20, 2010 in Ethics

 

rambling thoughts circling…

Apparently I am having an angry and sad week all rolled up into one…there are many, many reasons for this and all of them seem to swirl and circle around in my brain, never-ending, never finding peace…but all for whatever reason seem to circle to the severing of mother and child.
Mama Squirrel died and left two babies behind, happens all the time I am sure, but this was one of the squirrels that frequents my backyard bird feeder filled with sunflower seeds and snitches the peanuts I conveniently leave on the railing.  I heard her cries the day she died but could not hear where they were coming from and then nothing, the sound of silence that told me it was over.  Thankfully her babies were big enough to have followed Mama on her daily foray into the backyard, and have faithfully come each day since to be fed.  I confess I am leaving the sunflower seeds and peanuts on the railing so they stop doing insane gymnastics (because they are so tiny) to snatch seeds from the bird feeder.  I forgot this morning and when I went to make another coffee – one of them was sitting on the railing peering in my window…guilt hit me like a ton of bricks – how I could have forgotten…
I forget the adoption part of my world for hours each day.  I refuse to allow it to consume my life.  I have a life outside of the adoption world that I treasure.  I am usually able to be neatly compartmentalized, have always been able to do that, brick that area up until I am ready to face it again, and yes, there always is an again.  This week though adoption has won the majority of my thoughts and I am not happy…I want it compartmentalized and it isn’t working.
I deal with my feelings of adoption online with people I have never met in real life, that are just as important to me as those I have known for many years.  My friends online know the real me in ways people in my life never will, because those people require different levels of the mask I have always worn in their presence, for the most part.  To them life is good and because they are good people, I wear the mask around them.  Why would I want them to feel my pain, regardless of whether it is adoption or relationship or illness pain…they are happy and don’t need it, so I won’t share it.  I only share what is necessary, and then it is stated in a monotone, devoid of feelings, like reciting something I read.  Never show deep emotion, it just causes problems, it gets messy…just show the person they need me to be.  I think this way of dealing is wrong and causes me more pain, but I am too old to change it – but it does cause me problems.
I listened to the testimony given in the NJ Human Services Assembly on Monday.  I was so proud of all those on the side to open records.  I was proud the NJ Medical Association made it clear that the closed records law makes adoptees the only group in NJ that are denied the right to personalized medicine that everyone else has the right to.  The woman running the session was great and did not allow CC to get away with the confidentiality they say was in the surrender by asking where in the papers she was looking at did it say they were given confidentiality.  Those who wanted the records to stay closed just regurgitated the same old lies that came across as lies…NJ Cares did a fabulous job of making sure they proved each argument as false.
I read an advertisement yesterday that was marketed to adoptive parents on “fast” adoptions.  They boasted about how they “aggressively market to birth mothers”, that they spend over $1 million each year marketing to birth mothers.  Then they list all the types of places they market to, crisis pregnancy centers, abortion clinics, high schools and universities, family planning clinics, physicians, chat rooms…the list was endless…I had such a deja vu feeling in the pit of my stomach, history repeating itself over and over and over again…it left such a bad taste in my mouth and a pain deep inside of me.
I also read an article from Time about respect for birth mothers and while I completely agree that mothers who surrendered are vilified, dismissed, talked down to, shut down, left out, treated without any respect or humanity (of course now-days they are saints before placement and fall from grace just as soon as they sign the papers) the statement that it should be considered natural to give your child up for adoption was so incredibly wrong on so many levels.  To start with it creates the false expectation that there is no loss in adoption and it is win-win-win.  Making it natural to give away you child will forever remove the right to grieve on both the mother and child/adult adoptees part.  Sorry, that doesn’t fly with me.  To make it natural to give away your child also feeds right in to the a) adoption professionals coffers (less aggressive advertising (insert coercive) needed, b) the right to lifers who don’t believe we should have any rights after we are born, c) the adoptive parents fantasy that they can magically erase the fact that we were born to another.  If giving away your child becomes something natural, it will erase all the time we (mothers and children/adult adoptees) have spent sharing are deepest most painful feelings about how adoption has affected us – all in hopes of a better outcome for the future generations that come after us.  It will all be done for nothing, states that stayed open or opened records will find a way to close records, states that were looking into it will file any such ideas away, generations will suffer the same fate we have suffered.  I hope giving away a child to be adopted NEVER becomes something natural… 
I am attending a family reunion this weekend and meeting more close relatives for the first time.  I don’t know how it will go.  I don’t know how I will feel after but I do know how I feel right now, that I lost something that can never be replaced – life growing up in my family by birth and all the memories that I would have.  I also know that I would have missed out on all the memories I do have of growing up in the family I was adopted into, and the war between those two thoughts never seems to end and cannot end.
I think I have ranted enough but this week just doesn’t seem to stop with adoption issues (some not mentioned here) and seems like real life everyday issues are raining down too.  Why could life not have been just plain old simple with rainbows and sunshine all the time?
 
 
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Posted by on June 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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questions I wish I knew the answer for…

In today’s domestic infant adoption…

what are the ways adoption agencies, crisis pregnancy centers,  brokers, lawyers, etc. persuade mothers to choose adoption?

is the promise of openness a carrot to get mothers to place?

  • are they told that only a few states have legally binding open adoption agreements and i’s need to be dotted and t’s need to be crossed?
  • do they really understand what semi-open or open means and is anyone advocating and making sure they are protected in this area?

does a mother choose a two parent stable family because she is told it is better for the child?

  • what if the PAPs marriage is in trouble when they match or in the process – do they tell her?
  • what if the PAPs are divorced before the adoption is final?

does a mother choose a family because she believes they can provide a higher education for the child than she can?

  • what if the PAPs do not have any intention of paying or helping the child get a higher education?

does a mother choose a family because they appear financially stable?

  • what if the PAPs do not have to disclose credit card debt on their home study and are not really financially stable?

where is the line in the sand regarding ensuring an ethical domestic adoption?

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2010 in Ethics

 

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just a thought…

Yesterday I read a blog written by an adoptee who has had a good experience…who writes about how she/he went to forums and blogs to talk to other adoptees but all the comments are so negative and all she/he wants to do is find a way to heal…
What am I missing here?  Are there positive things you need to heal from?  What would those positives be?
Just saying…
 
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Posted by on June 8, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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My Garage Sale Horse

It was a bright, beautiful, Saturday morning. I got in my car. The plan was to get some breakfast. Instead, I decided to head just north of town, where there were still open spaces that had not yet been developed into the apartments and business complexes that were beginning to sprout up everywhere, and are there today. I guess I just wanted sometime to myself to think, so I turned up the radio and just started driving. I was cruising along when I saw a small farm house with a garage sale sign out front. In a small corral off to one side was a beautiful, black and white, paint horse. I had always dreamed of someday owning a black and white paint horse. I had always loved horses, and the old westerns on T.V., like Big Valley, and bonanza, were some of my favorite shows. Little Joe, played by Michael Landon, always road the most beautiful black and white paint horse, and I was in love, with the horse, of course. I don’t really know why I did it. I had no intentions of doing what I was about to do. I guess it was just fate. One right turn into the drive and my life changed forever and headed in a new direction.

I got out of my car and browsed the items for sale, but could not take my attention off that black and white horse standing in the corral. The man, who obviously lived there, noticed me looking at the horse, and began a conversation typical of all proud horse owners. We walked over to get a better look. I don’t know what possessed me. I had no intention of buying a horse, but I asked the man if the horse was for sale. He said, “no. I don’t want to sell him.” My heart, for some reason, just sank. Being a typical horse trader, the man seized an opportunity, and didn’t hesitate to mention that he just happened to have another black and white paint horse for sale. She was three years old, green broke, and after sharing a pasture with the black and white stud horse I had just been admiring, probably pregnant. In case you haven’t guessed, by the end of the day, and $400 later, I had become a horse owner.

Yes, I bought a horse at a garage sale. It was one of the best purchases I ever made. That day, a dream came true, and a horse purchased at a garage sale changed my life. I still own her today. She is now 24 years old. I never really named her, or even thought of actually picking out a name for her. I, for some reason, just started calling her Baby. And the name just stuck.

Baby and I have seen, and done a lot together. It makes me smile when I think about all she has taught me. Some of those lessons, she had to teach me the hard way. Some of those lessons, we both learned with maturity and experience. Responsibility, compassion, patience, respect, and trust, are character traits she has truly helped me understand, and appreciate, not only in myself, but also in others. Thinking back over the past 21 years of our friendship, I truly have some wonderful memories.  One that comes to mind is, just after I had bought her. I would saddle her up, and ride down in the river bottoms just as the sun would be coming up. There was a large herd of cows grazing on the pastureland along the banks of the Trinity River, next to the pasture I rented for her. As we rode out, we always searched the tall grass and clusters of scrub trees for any newborn calves, which might be hiding, as well as, keeping an eye out for any overprotective mamma cows. Once the major part of the heard was located, we would find a shade tree, settle in, and just sit for hours watching the calves play together. There was something so calm and peaceful about sitting out there on the back of my horse, just watching the little ones run, buck, kick, and butt heads. Sometimes, they were so cute and funny; I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at their antics. I think I understand what the old cowboys must have felt as they kept watch over the herds, and why they chose such a lifestyle. Sitting there watching the momma cows care for their little ones, the quiet stillness of nature, and the very large, not so pretty, bull, in all his power and strength watching over it all, I understood how the wonder of it certainly is capable of touching the soul of a man in a very deep way, or in my case, woman.

Even though Baby was very young, still very new to being ridden, otherwise known as green broke, and knowing very little as far as training, she always just stood quietly, never getting restless, or fussy. I think she must have enjoyed that time as much as I did. I wonder if she ever thinks about those days so long ago, and remembers them as fondly as I do?

Another fond memory is a spring trail ride we once joined in on. It was a huge ranch, just outside of Cleburne, Texas. The ranch covered several thousand acres. WE could ride for what seemed like forever and never even cross a road. The pastures were completely covered in bluebonnets, so thick, it was like a carpet of dark blue velvet, with specks of green mixed in, along with the occasional red of an Indian paintbrush, for just the right amount of added color and contrast. Even now that I am blind, I still remember the beauty of it all. I can picture it in my mind even all these years later. It was a picture only God could paint. No artist painting, or photograph you’ve ever seen, could ever do it true justice. I remember stopping in the middle of one of these fields of blue bonnets, with occasional Indian paintbrushes thrown in, and just being totally in awe of nature, and the privilege of witnessing such a natural work of art not possible by the hand of man, but only by God. I honestly believe Baby was as mesmerized as I was by all the beauty that surrounded us. She never seemed to tire. She was alert, her pace being light and brisk, and she was full of energy throughout each day. However, we were both completely worn out by the time we returned home at the end of that weekend. I wonder if she remembers that weekend of beauty and bluebonnets as vividly as I do?

One of my favorite memories is the day she gave birth to her foal. She had indeed been bred by the black and white stud that had first attracted my attention at the garage sale. It was about 7:00 a.m. when I pulled up to the pasture where I boarded her. Not thinking anything of it at the time, I got out of my truck, grabbed the bucket of feed, and headed for the gate. I didn’t see her at first. As I opened the gate, I heard her whinny. I looked up to see her coming at me full speed. I was a little taken aback, when she slid to a stop about 10 feet in front of me, spun around, and headed back around the barn. What in the world had gotten into her? She sure was feeling frisky this morning. Next thing I knew, she was coming back around the barn, again at full speed. This time she didn’t come to a stop, she ran around me, and headed once again back to the barn letting out another loud whinny. I wondered out loud, “What in the world has gotten into her?” When I finally reached the barn and turned the corner, I immediately saw what had gotten into her, or maybe I should say out of her? There standing next to her, on some very wobbly legs, was the most adorable, little, black and white paint foal I had ever seen. Baby, the proud momma, stood next to her new foal, head up, ears forward, with all the pride any mother has ever had for her accomplishment of giving birth. I imagine had she been able to speak, she would have said, “Isn’t my daughter beautiful?” That, of course, would immediately have been followed by, “Now put that bucket down. I’ve worked up an appetite, and I’m hungry.” She certainly had worked up an appetite. It wasn’t but an instant an her head and nose were buried in the feed bucket, all but knocking it out of my hand. A typical Texas, spring thunderstorm had pass through during the night, so I named her little filly Stormy.

My proudest memory is that of our first horse show. It was our first class of the day. I was so nervous and scared that day. We had worked hard getting ready for this day; our debut, as I like to call it. This was another dream of mine. Would we be good enough to win? It was our first class, a simple, warm up, western pleasure, walk trot class. We were competing against more experienced and seasoned horses and riders, not to mention, better bred. I am positively certain, not one of the other horses attending that show had been purchased at a garage sale, or from a horse trader. I was definitely nervous, and, honestly, didn’t hold much hope for winning a blue ribbon that day. I would have been satisfied just to place in the ribbons, but a first place ribbon? Dare I hope?

As the class started, I smiled at the judge, rode into the ring, and just did my best. As we were standing in line waiting for the results, I never thought my number would be called at all, much less as, would you believe, the first place winner? I was so shocked. They had to call my number three times before it started to sink in. Finally they said, with a bit of a chuckle, over the loud speaker, “Yes, you.” I guess I must have had this look of disbelief on my face. I still, beam every time I think of that day so long ago. That garage sale horse sure made me proud that day, and many days to follow. We came home with several first place ribbons that day and one second. What a day it was! It’s one I’ll sure never forget.

Several years later, while attending a show, a judge, who, I found out later, apparently didn’t like my horse, or me was placing me in the ribbons at one show, but never placing me higher than a 4th place, finally, after the last class, walked over to me and said, “You know. This is a nice little horse, but she just isn’t a “show” horse.” He then turned his back on me and walked off before I could respond. I was mad at first, but then I thought to myself, maybe she isn’t the best-bred horse here, but all those ribbons on my wall at home just go to show, “breeding” isn’t everything. Thinking back, I bet it pissed him off every time my little, garage sale horse, and I, beat any one of his “well-bred show” horses, which I, apparently, had been competing against all season. I can sit here now laughing at that situation, and know for a fact that little, garage sale horse loved strutting her stuff. It sure was fun going to those shows, competing against all those expensive well-bred horses and coming home with those blue ribbons. That incident was just another lesson in life I was able to learn thanks to that horse, and something I am proud of. That judge may not have realized it, but what a compliment he gave me that day.

I think Baby understood and enjoyed that time in her life as much as I did. She sure could turn it on in the show ring. Her “diva”, “queen of the barn”, attitude at home is proof enough to me that she knew she was just as good, and better than those well bred, expensive horses she had competed against. Yes, sir, she was not intimidated in the least by those high dollar, well-bred horses. When she entered the show ring, she thought she owned the place, and most of the time, she did. Every time our number was called, even if it wasn’t first place, well, I don’t think I can put that feeling into words. It was wonderful, and something I had never in my life felt before. It is something I cherish, and a time I will never forget. I wonder if she ever thinks about, and remembers, those days?

Now, some 20 odd years after that fateful day when I bought a horse at a garage sale, we are both still together. We are both getting older, both getting arthritic, and both, well, not in as great a shape as we once were. I am now blind, and she is now going blind too, but we have over 20 years of memories, friendship, and love. When my reunions with my birthparents really began to take their toll emotionally, and the issues of my adoption all came erupting to the surface, the first place I would always go was to the barn and Baby. She seemed to know I needed her security and comfort. Now that my reunions have not worked out so well, and I have begun to heal from the pain, and rejection, of the past several years, as well as my adoption issues, Baby is still there, still nuzzling me looking for treats, and yes, even though we haven’t been to a horse show in years, she still thinks she is a diva and “queen of the barn”.

Because of her age, I don’t ride her as much anymore. On the rare accession I feel her saying to me, “Let’s go for a ride just for old time sake.” I’ll saddle up, and she will still get a little excited when we head for the arena, and we go through the paces like we once did years ago. Yes, I still ride even though I’m blind, though it’s a little trickier with Baby’s sight not so acute anymore. We can still do it.

As painful as the past several years have been, with all the losses I have suffered, that little, garage sale horse is a bright spot in my life. For that, I am truly grateful. “Thank you Baby, for being a true friend, one of the few things in my life I have been able to depend on, and giving me such wonderful memories.” I can’t even imagine what my life would have been like without that horse in it. All these years later, I find myself sitting here amazed that one of the most valuable things in my life, and one of my best friends, was found at a garage sale. I remember that day like it was yesterday. It was one of the best days of my life.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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