The following rebuttal to Dr. Jane Aronson’s Open Letter to President Clinton was composed by David Kruchkow, PEAR Board Member and owner of the Adoption Agency Checklist http://www.adoptionagencychecklist.com/ It is not an official statement of PEAR:
Monthly Archives: April 2011
I am the one in my family who is fascinated by researching family lines – my dads is one of my favorites because I heard stories about many of the ancestors I research. I spend countless hours researching for the smallest clue and follow any trail I find.
Awhile ago I was given an envelope containing the last of my grandpa’s papers – dad’s dad. I eagerly sifted through the contents, reading the different correspondence, looking at wills, pictures, reading stories. I was in research heaven and was really happy to find it also contained a series of letters written about creating the family tree between grandpa and another relative. Each letter contained precious information that validated and confirmed details, as well as snippets of general chit-chat any letter would have between relatives. I was transported back to the era of when I was a small child, and the events that were happening at a time I was too young to understand – until I came to the part of one letter where my grandpa was telling about how all his grandchildren were doing good, all grown up and having children…
It has bothered me more than I would imagine and I think what it boils down to is I am mad that he could do that to my dad who took care of him till the end…mad…mad…and incredibly sad. For myself not so much, more of a twinge and reality check and because quite simply, biologically my siblings and I were not his grandchildren. But it would have hurt my dad to have his dad be that way about his children, and they were all frank speakers so the words would have been said. Dad did not deserve that.
Last night while flipping channels during a commercial my husband stopped on 20/20. The episode was B.arbara Walters interviewing E.lton John and his partner discussing all about their new son via a surrogate and “donated” egg and the birth certificate that lists both of them as parents. I managed to grimly hold my tongue between my gritted teeth for about 3-5 minutes and finally hubby glanced over, and quickly turned the channel recognising he was likely to hear one of my long-winded rants on “how can they even think anonymous “donation” is right?”.
I have to admit I did an excellent job of containing myself by only commenting on “how wrong it was that they would have a “lifelong” relationship with the surrogate who is no more than a baby sitter for the fetus when it comes to biological history, but the child will never know who their mother is because of the anonymous “donation” and apparently none of them had considered the feelings of the one created“. I did not talk about birth certificates needing to be truthful instead of legal fiction or any of the other major issues I have with this unregulated industry and the impact those created will face. I also need to add here that I was not surprised that during the brief time I watched, that B.arbara Walters had no pro’s, con’s, or ethical questions to pose that a journalist might be wanting to address (she may well have if I had watched the entire show, but it is doubtful). I was just amazingly grateful that hubby wisely turned the channel even if it was just in his own self-preservation.
But here I am today still massively triggered by this.
How can people purposely create a human being and choose to wipe away 50 or 100% of that human beings history?
Who gives them the right to do this to another individual – simply to fulfill their own needs without any deep thought and research on how the individual will feel?
Anonymous “donation” is wrong…so very wrong…it should be illegal. Other more enlightened countries have deemed it to be wrong through careful research.
And we have adults who were created in this manner telling the world it is wrong. That they have the very same problems with their lack of history as adoptees have with theirs. No more proof is needed – but yet it is still happening over and over again. When will people listed to those who actually live it?
Donor-Conceived and Out of the Closet snippets from the above article
Toronto journalist Olivia Pratten is awaiting a landmark decision from a Canadian court on the disclosure of sperm donors’ records.
When she was younger, Alana S. used to experiment and tell people her dad died when she was a baby and that she didn’t really ever get to know him. She would get a sincere hug and a heartfelt, “I’m so sorry.” But when she told people the truth of her father’s whereabouts, she got a response mostly filled with confusion.
“When I tell people I’m donor conceived, God, the blank expression on their face,” Alana said. “They’re shocked, they’re paralyzed.”
Another complicating factor toward bringing the voices of the donor conceived to the fore is the perception that those who want to know their original heritage are ungrateful for the families they already have. Many people even believe that it’s a nonissue: “love is enough”—but won’t address the hypocrisy inherent in an infertile couple’s desire to have a biological child and yet deny that child’s desire to know his or her biological roots. The mainstream media is interested only in portraying Oprah-like happy “reunions” (not years of fruitless, painful searching) but refuses to address the emotions behind why those meetings are so affecting. Activists want to make clear their intention is not to hurt their families; they simply want to put an end to the frustration. Says Pratten, “I am happy. I am loved. My dad is my dad. My parents support my case. They were in court with me every day. I still want to know.”
The short article linked above is well worth the time to read and think about the implications.
It breaks my heart that donor conceived individuals are subjected to the same stereotypical comments adoptees have had to deal with for years – comments like the “you should be grateful” argument that holds no water because it has nothing to do with the desire to know where you came from.
All the same old rhetoric that finally the adoption side is diminishing and being talked about, but yet no one has said, if it doesn’t work for adoption, why would you assume it would work for donor conceived individuals and families?
This is a venting post…
I just read this line in an advertisement for an adoption agency…
Wide selection of Birthmothers to meet your family’s goals.
How is this an appropriate statement to make? Could you make it sound worse if you tried? “Birthmothers” are not objects, they are human beings. Reminds me of the ads placed in the towns along the railway before the Orphan Train stopped and lined up the children on the platform to viewed and adopted.
And the networking that happens. Pass-Along Cards. Websites showing how absolutely perfect you are. Parent Profile Websites. Forums for connecting. Advertisements in Newspapers with 800 numbers. YouTube Videos. Even Billboards. Enough to make me seriously question whether the adoption world has gone mad, or rather that the adoption industry has just found a way to make money without spending their profits on advertising – think about that. Ethics, not so much. Adoption if finding a home for a child not finding a child for a home…
Fundraising is another thing that frustrates me. Mothers are told they are not good enough and look at all these fine couples ready to parent your child, financially secure, working, beautiful homes – everything you could possibly want for your child to have growing up. And then you find out that they had to fundraise to pay for the adoption. If you don’t have the funds then save your money – raising a child is expensive, at least that is what the mother is told as a reason to surrender. How did you pay for the new car in the driveway? Monthly payments? Do the same thing but proactively and then adopt. If you have to ask people to help you afford to adopt, then are you really capable of financially supporting a child throughout their childhood and beyond?
And if you do network or fundraise are you going to include those items in your child’s life-book? It is part of their story as to how they became part of your family. Look honey at the Pass-along card we posted at the homeless shelter where your mother lived. This is the newspaper ad we placed across the country looking for a mother to give us you. Here is the fundraising we did to be able to afford you – weren’t we clever.
People need to stop and think how the adoptee will feel when they grow up. I would be creeped out. Adoption should not be done this way. It should be all about finding a home for the child who can’t stay in their family. What is happening now is wrong, and I don’t have the words to thoroughly describe how wrong it is.
Dawn over at Creating A Family has a post summarizing the results of a meta-analysis study covering the last 40 or so years that says Adoptee’s Do Just Fine…and of course I commented and then thinking further on my comment I decided I needed to expand and explain. You can read her post and my comment here if you are interested…
You see my comment basically stated that I don’t think much of any adoptee studies, meta-analysis studies that cover to many different types of adoptees, countries and mega years really don’t wow me. And then I asked how adoptive parents would feel if they were studied and broken down into subtypes and found to be just fine and no challenges because they have self-esteem. That most of us would be classified as “Just fine” but that we also have real issues with how adoption is done, equality, and other real items that need fixing. Do you see where I am going with this?
So the adoption study on adoptees was to determine if we have self-esteem, and following is my understanding from reading the study of what was included and excluded.
Included studies: Not limited to English language studies – Comparing self-esteem of international adoptees vs non adopted vs institutionalized – Transracial vs same race -Adoptees from childhood to early adulthood – Adoptees adopted at different ages – Adoptees adopted from different circumstances – Different self-esteem tests used – at least have a dozen different tests – Tests themselves were either self reported, parent reported, teacher reported – Different levels of standards required in studies were acceptable…
Excluded studies: Studies of clinical samples – examples; studies of adopted children referred to psychiatric clinics or given medical treatment, drug or alcohol exposed adoptees, physically or mentally handicapped adoptees…
Covering studies done between 1970 and 2007…
So if I was to design a similar study to analyze studies done on adoptive parents in the last 40 years to see if all adoptive parents have self-esteem, I would need these studies done with these types of categories…
Include studies: Multiple Countries, Cultures and Languages – AP’s by fertile vs infertility vs infertility and used IVF and/or other ART adoptive parents vs biological parents – Domestic infant adoption vs Foster care adoption vs International adoption, further subtypes by race, vs biological families subtypes by race – Married vs single vs same race married vs dual race married vs biological (same categories) – Open adoption vs semi open vs closed vs open then closed vs semi open max 2 years – Self reported vs child adoptee reported vs adult adoptee reported vs social worker reported – APs from all ages 21-60…Different standards on the studies done accepted, multiple different tests used accepted.
Excluded studies: Adoptive parent(s) who returned child to country of origin or state – Adoptive parent(s) who advertised to privately re-home child(ren) – Adoptive parent(s) who sued agency for non-disclosure – Adoptive parent(s) who have been convicted and jailed for abusing or murdering their child(ren) – Adoptive parents who adopted any special needs children – Adoptive parents who sought any therapy for their children.
Feeling a bit like the adoptees who aren’t fond of studies on adoptees? Do you think the above study will show you are all “just fine” and your adoptions are wonderful without any problems because you have self-esteem? No? you aren’t like all other AP’s? You don’t like being lumped together and studied? What, you have specific concerns about adoptive parenting that don’t fall under the category of self-esteem? Things like pre and post adoptive support for all parties? The education services? How different parties are treated by the industry? The challenges that fuel the blogs and forums? Are you finding yourself feeling a bit used to promote adoption as a win-win-win see how wonderful it is promotion?
As a final note I always read what the link is, not just the blog post and then I go further and research who the authors are and what else they have published – very easy to accomplish via a quick google search and I found the following studies they also authored, so go have a look at them as well, to get a full picture (especially the 2nd link) – not just what the adoption industry wants you to read:
The Emanuel Miller Memorial Lecture 2006: Adoption as intervention. Meta-analytic evidence for massive catch-up and plasticity in physical, socio-emotional, and cognitive development – the details really start on page 7 and cover growth, attachment, IQ, self-esteem, internal and external behaviors, mental health access – you should read right through to page 13 which covers the ethics of adoption as well and when it is or isn’t in the best interests of the child – this is the study the adoption industry should have chosen to provide to the adoption community.
I have so much praise for this book that looks at all sides and is inclusive of all. The way it explains the different phases an adoptee may go through and the triggers that can happen along the way. How the natural brain developmental stages work in relation to understanding adoption to different stressors, losses, and yes, simply different phases of life. I thank the authors for putting it down in plain words that anyone can understand.
Authors: David M. Brodzinsky, Ph. D. Marshall D. Schechter, M.D. & Robin Marantz Henig
Quote taken from pages 11 – 12 from the Introduction: The Loss of Adoption
Grieving almost always follows loss. It has many emotional and behavioral manifestations: shock, anger, depression, despair, helplessness, hopelessness. Grief can be blocked or it can be prolonged, but usually it is a normal and adaptive response to the experience of loss. For children adopted late, the loss can be traumatic and overt, placing great stress on the child. But for children adopted at birth, there is still loss involved. It is less traumatic, less overt, but it can shape the child’s entire personality. Adoptees who are placed in the first days or weeks of life grieve not only for the parents they never knew, but for the other aspects of themselves that have been lost through adoption: the loss of origins, of a completed sense of self, of a genealogical continuity. Adoptees might feel a loss too of their sense of stability in their relationship with the adoptive parents; if one set of parents can relinquish them, they might think, then why can’t another? The loss for early placed adoptees, though, is generally not acute or traumatic, nor is it usually consciously experienced until the age five or so. It emerges gradually, as the child’s cognitive understanding of adoption begins to unfold. And it can lead to subtle behavioral changes in childhood that seem at first glance to have nothing whatever to do with loss and grieving. Sometimes grieving becomes a significant factor in adoptee’s life; sometimes it doesn’t. Some adoptees are overwhelmed with feelings of alienation and disconnection. Others, for reasons we still don’t fully understand, have no such feelings, and are instead intensely grateful for having been given the safe and loving homes their adoptive parents made for them. We can’t predict which adoptee will feel incomplete or abandoned and which will feel cherished, which will choose to emphasize the “lost” nature of adoption and which will dwell only on the “found”. But we can say that both types of reactions are understandable, common, and usually part of a healthy adaptation – and that they can exist, at different points along the life span, in the same individual.
I am fascinated by this book and find myself reaching for it again and again. The best part of the book is that it really explains how we get to where we are today, from where we were previously, life stages. How lived experiences trigger reflections and reassessment all through life whether we process it in the moment, or through the lens of remembered experiences, or both.
It is not a book that assigns labels and does not dismiss or negate any feelings or say any feeling is bad or right. It does not try to correct assumptions of the adoptee – it simply explains what feelings they have heard and the why…it is refreshing after reading websites and blogs where we are labeled and patted on the head and referenced as mal-adjusted, angsty and any number of other terms used in degratory manner…
Getting back to the book – I found the Mid-Life part especially interesting as it pertains to what happened to me most recently. It talks about two general types of individuals – those who are internally controlled and who take charge deliberately, and those who feel externally controlled who believe things happen to them. I never allowed being adopted to be a focal point in my life for any length of time, yes, it would come to the forefront time after time throughout my life, but I would put it away each time when I decided enough was enough, and I had to get back to life.
The birth of my son made me all to aware of the reality of being adopted, when holding him for the first time I realized that he was my kin and the overwhelming feelings that brought – the very first person I had ever met who I was related too, words themselves are too sterile to even begin to describe the feelings.
The subsequent passing of my son was all-consuming and the blackness of loss seemed like there would be no ending to it. Looking back I can hardly recall actual events that happened in the first year and can only view that period of time through a haze of painful flashes of memory, surviving but not surviving, wishing above all else I could just be with him again. But over time I again compartmentalized those feelings like my adoptee feelings and I found a place deep inside of me for those feelings to hide away – and I carried on, put on a smile and kept it firmly planted on my face – only allowing those feelings to escape when certain dates or events would bring them forward, and then putting them away again. A cycle I am ultimately familiar with. And yet what I remember clearly was my internal voice chanting one of my mantra’s that goes something like this – everyone leaves but I am a survivor and can survive anything. Looking back now, I know that mantra or something similar has been part of my life for as long as I can remember, even as a child I remember chanting it with tears streaming down my face – it was there to move me forward – if that is not an indication of adoption loss then I really don’t know what could be considered valid proof…
Page 151 – Mid-Life…
A good many adoptees consider the stress of adoption to be something they cannot change would be better off ignoring so they can get on with their lives. These people reveal little inner turmoil about being adopted; they have either suppressed or denied or minimized the significance of adoption in their own lives…
Denial or avoidance is a highly adaptive strategy when faced with something that cannot be changed and can be compartmentalized and continue on…
But neither do we want to portray these people in denial as being assured of happy lives just because they repress or suppress any interest in adoption or in their origins. This is simply a coping style, and for many it works – at least until the phone call from a birth mother or the uncovering of a genetic illness makes denial no longer possible.
And that is when the walls finally crashed for good about the total impact being adopted has had on my entire life. When all the losses in my life suddenly became too much for me to ever deny the reality that my life started with a loss – the initial loss of my mother and that never went away, ever, and now I was impacted forever by my genetic history and a disease that will most likely be the cause of my death.
All the denial has crumbled because of the loss of my health and subsequently losing my ability to work…and the anger that has evolved over the fact that my genetic history was denied to me simply because I was adopted…and the knowledge having that genetic history could have changed or at least mitigated the impact on me…yah…I’m done denying that being adopted has always caused a lot of pain in my life, and that it started at day one and will end when I am gone.
(continued from yesterday’s post “Cincinnati – December 1982” )
I referenced the Independent adoptions yesterday and that there was an insert in the linked article on How to Adopt A Baby about Black and Gray Market Adoptions…in that insert titled “Baby for Sale” it explains the definitions of each, quoted below in italics with “…” indicating parts left out.
“A “Black Market Baby” is a baby who is “sold” illegally to someone not his biological parent, as opposed to a child who is legally adopted through the proper channels. “Black Market Baby” connotes evil and crime and someone getting hurt.”
“And it happens in Cincinnati, even though the courts will tell you no. Amy Hansee, a social worker, affirms that periodically the Children’s Home is approached by a pregnant woman who says “They’re (and of course, the “They” is never identified) willing to pay me extra money,” or “They’re willing to provide me with special accommodations. What can you do for me?” When the case worker replies that the Children’s Home can do only what is legal – that is, pay state standard medical expenses and no more – the pregnant women leaves, often to never be heard from again.” …
“If, in fact, additional monies are exchanged “under the table” and the courts are unaware of this charge a “legal” adoption with all correct papers, can easily take place. This is referred to as a “Gray Market Adoption”…. and the courts are powerless to prosecute.”…
“Gray Market Adoption” may seem a viable solution to a couple tired of waiting and willing to pay extra money to someone they’re heard has an “available baby” about to be born. More often than not, however, such a process ends in disaster. The biological mother, bereft of counseling agencies provide, makes a swift decision which is often reversed after its birth. In one such case, for example, a prospective adoptive couple made arrangements with a “friend of a friend” to adopt her unborn child. The biological mother was adamant about giving up her child. She had to finish school and hadn’t seen the biological father since she’d informed him of her pregnancy. Generous financial arrangements were made (of which the court and attorney were unaware). After the birth of the child, the prospective adoptive parents came to the maternity ward of the Cincinnati Hospital for three days to feed and cuddle “their” baby daughter, stopping on the way home to buy little undershirts and diapers and Polly Flinders dresses. To their horror, on the third day after the birth, the biological mother changed her mind about giving up the child – which she had every legal right to do – deciding to take the baby home with her after all.”
The Gray Market definition surprised me to an extent, but reading it made me realize that it actually describes many current day practices that are now legal and common place. I cannot count the number of “failed adoption” stories to be read about on the internet. I have always had an ick feeling about “birth mother” expenses even though I can agree in theory that providing money for healthy food, a roof over her head, etc. is in reality not a bad thing, but that it has the potential to create a “feeling of entitlement to the baby” on the adoptive parents side, and a “feeling of I have to give up my baby” on the mother’s part, is what gets my hackles up.
I got to wondering what current adoption law was in Ohio, and if it was different from in 1982 when and why it was changed. I found it was changed and went into effect in April 2009 and allows for $3,000 to be paid via an attorney or agency in “birth mother” expenses until sixty days after birth. I have to say I was surprised that it took that long to change based on how many other states allow expenses. I was also interested to know “who” had a hand in it, below is the blurb provided with link to the law.
HB 7 Adoption (Brinkman, T)
HB 7 is an indication of the importance the House placed on reducing barriers to adoptions in our state. Representative Brinkman has met with stakeholders including PCSAO, Adopt Cuyahoga’s Kids, the Dave Thomas Foundation, the National Center for Adoption Law and Policy, One Church One Child and ODJFS and other Republican and Democratic Legislators. PCSAO welcomes this opportunity to work with the sponsor, our members and stakeholders to address issues like: