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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Ethiopia – Yet another article…

The Wall Street Journal article is making its way around the adoption community and to me that is a good thing.  Yet at the same time, I cannot understand how this is news to anyone.  Department of State has issued numerous warnings that can be found at PEAR or Ethica.  PEAR has 54 posts on Ethiopia, and Ethica has numerous posts as well here.  In this post I did from December 2010, I link to two articles from Voice of America on Ethiopia which is only one, of numerous posts I have done on Ethiopia.

Quotes from the Wall Street Journal article below but please read the entire article as it is important.

Inside Ethiopia’s Adoption Boom

Ethiopia has become one of the busiest adoption destinations in the world, thanks in part to loose controls that make it one of the fastest places to adopt a child. Nearly one out of five children adopted by Americans hailed from Ethiopia the past two years, second only to China.

***

“Ethiopia is a classic example of the next boom country where there are warning signs,” said Karen Smith Rotabi, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who studies global adoption. While there is no proof of widespread fraud, the State Department says, in recent months it began requiring DNA tests and interviews of Ethiopians who have relinquished children, to ensure they are related.

No – the warning signs happened way back when Guatemala was closing and Ethiopia was just starting to be the go-to country.  People just did not want to see, or hear, the message being provided.  Nor does it appear that the “Voice” (JCICS) for International Adoption with all those Adoption Agencies members, mandated best practices protocol of DNA testing at the very beginning in Ethiopia – that was the protocol implemented in Guatemala, at least towards the end, (despite the problems with it – at least it was a start).  The very fact that the protocol existed as a means to deter fraudulent adoptions in Guatemala, yet to my knowledge, they failed to mandate it to their member agencies for Ethiopia from the start, which to me if they didn’t, speaks volumes.

Four years ago, he claimed, a stranger—a middleman in the adoption trade—came to his village and persuaded him to give up a child with the promise that she would grow up and send money to support him. “White people are taking children of the poor and helping them get a better life,” Mr. Delebo said he was told. “It will be good for you.”

If I remember correctly, this exact practice was detailed in the Fly Away Children produced by ABC News Australia back in 2009.  JCICS made this statement about the Fly Away Children program, but to the best of my knowledge, never published the results of the promised investigation into the allegations, nor can I find further mention of it on the website.

Adoptive parents who found out the truth after the fact have spoken out, repeatedly.

Ethiopia has shut down over two dozen orphanages, many that appear to be pipe-line orphanages (feel free to correct me here).

Tom Di Filipo head of JCICS back in 2007 videos from Al Jazeera English spoke on Guatemala and the problems and about Ethiopia and to how some families could stay together for between $20 and $50 dollars a month and that should happen first.  He also spoke to the problem of a program becoming too big, too fast and how it allows for corruption.  Take the time to watch these videos, please.  Understand that problems were known and acknowledged way back then, but it still persists today – that’s not right.  They knew up-front there would be problems, but didn’t do anything I can see to stop it from happening in the first place.

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At the end of the day the talk is not solving the problem, but at least Ethiopia seems to have put the brakes on the revolving door.  But what about Uganda or the DRC?  Is the same thing going to happen again and again?

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Adoption, adoptive parents, biological child, Ethics

 

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Search query: “adopting an inferior child”

My advice to the person who searched with the above query:

DO   NOT   ADOPT

And if you don’t take the solicited advice I have given you, but choose to go ahead and adopt:

SHOW YOUR SEARCH QUERY TO:

1. THE PERSON CONDUCTING YOUR HOME STUDY; AND

2. YOUR AGENCY REPRESENTATIVE.

Seeing this did not make me happy…in fact, the emotions it created was intense anger, and deep unremitting sadness that someone who would use the term inferior and apply it to a child, would even consider adopting.

 
25 Comments

Posted by on April 28, 2012 in Adoption, adoptive parents

 

A bad thing happened in my neighborhood last weekend…

I originally wrote this post last weekend, but I did not publish it simply because I was afraid to use the wrong terminology, and inadvertently cause someone to be offended.  I am publishing this post is to push past that fear.  Yet I am still hesitating on hitting publish and have put it off for another couple of hours.  If I have spoken wrong, I will fix it, and learn from it.  The second reason is because of a post by Amanda at The Declassified Adoptee.  Her post is not about this at all, but it speaks about how invisible being adopted can be, so it is similar to this – if that makes any sense at all.  Make sure you read Why I’ve Put Off Being Adopted For A Week.  (plus she is a much better writer than I).

***

A fight came into our neighborhood – that landed, and ended, right in my own front yard – that fight also brought racism into the equation, and the reality that some individuals will always be seen as perpetual foreigners.

That’s not supposed to happen in my neighborhood.  We live in a very diverse middle-class neighborhood where we are neighbors and friends.  We look out for, and help each other.  Last weekend it was ugly, scary, emotional, but ended up hopefully okay, in the end.

That’s not what I want to talk about though as you might have come to expect from me…

My emotions combined with my own unearned privilege, didn’t allow me to react quickly enough to provide the kids involved with an analogy that may have made them think next time.  At least I think it would have made one of them think, because he did seem to listen.  I can only hope he did listen to our collective voices, and will grow from it.

The analogy/commonalities I could have used and didn’t when the words “go back to your own country” and then in response to the mans statement “I am a citizen of this country” the kid responded I was born here” while he pointed to the ground.

I could have said:

I am an immigrant – you assume he is an immigrant – you treat him different, but because I am an invisible immigrant, you treat me the same as you.

I immigrated to my new country that spoke my native language – if he is an immigrant to this country, quite likely he had to learn the native language of his new country.  That would mean he has worked harder to adapt than I, yet I am being treated better that he is, just because I am white.

I immigrated to a country where I fit in with the majority – if he immigrated here to a country where he is minority, he automatically becomes “other” to some, a perpetual foreigner.  If we are both immigrants, ask yourself why I am treated as your equal, and not a perpetual foreigner, and he is?  Why is that okay?

I could also have told them about the young lady I worked with, who has become a life-long friend, despite our age differences.

She came to this country at the age of 13 – the youngest child of much older parents.  I came to this country as an adult, married to a citizen.

She worked hard to adapt, learned the language, the culture so different from what she left, earned a degree, became a homeowner as a single woman.  I only had to adapt to minor cultural differences, did not have a language barrier, did not earn a degree, and became a homeowner based on two incomes.

And while she and her older siblings adapted too, and embraced everything in this country, her older, elderly parents never did fully embrace the new culture or language, simply because of their age.  She thinks in English and has lost most of her first language and struggles to communicate with them at any real depth, and has to deal with some of the residual cultural differences that still exist between generations.  She had to, and wanted to, adapt and embrace a completely different culture and life, and did so successfully – but it has also come at a real cost both within her family, and outside of her family.  I haven’t faced any of these challenges.

She is treated by some as a perpetual immigrant foreigner because she is a woman of color.  I am the invisible immigrant and accepted as a citizen, even before I became a citizen, simply because I am white.  She has and will give back to this country as much, if not more, than I will.  Yet I am accepted by all, and she isn’t.

It isn’t right.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Ted Talk: Susan Cain: The power of introverts

In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.

Our world prizes extroverts — but Susan Cain makes a case for the quiet and contemplative.”

There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.” (Susan Cain)

I am an introvert, I am also shy… 

Susan Cain defines being shy as fear of social judgement, and I think she nails it.

I think this Ted Talk is very relevant for those in adoption.  I strongly believe that our personalities are shaped by our genetics, and in adoption, genetics is not part of the equation.  It is the luck of the draw whether or not the personalities match in adoption.  I think it would be very easy for the extroverts to assume that their child needs to break out of their shell, and perhaps simply not recognise that their child is in fact very happy and secure, being who they are, which is introverted.

Here I also wish to disclaim (because of the fear of social judgement), that I recognise that this can happen in biological families.  I should not have to disclaim that, because in reality I am adopted, and have never lived in my biological family, so therefore it is irrelevant to what I want to say, but that fear of social judgement rears its ugly head while I am writing, in what should be a safe zone to express my thoughts.  I don’t wish to hear that can happen in biological families, again, it is not relevant to me, or what I wish to talk about. 

I could identify with and agree with everything Susan Cain said.  I experienced it in life since I was small, and throughout my adult life both personal and professional.  I was the child who mom and dad would have to make sure I was actually sleeping rather than reading a book under the covers by flashlight at 2 am.  I was happier being with just one or two friends and shrank from the thought of being in a group – the sensory overload was too great and I would shut down.  I needed the low-key environment.  It is also key to why dad was my go to person – he was introverted and mom was extroverted.  It had a lot to do with personalities and comfort levels.  With dad I could garden, hike, swim, go for a drive, learn how to do things, or just learn from him, sitting in front of the fireplace reading without any need to talk.  Mom needed chit-chat and interaction.

In my adult life I revelled in being alone even though I was married, I married an introvert (actually both husbands are introverts).  At one point during my first marriage we lived in a remote island community.  I will never forget the day I left my island sanctuary for the first time and flew down to the big city, and the waves of feelings of sensory overload of being in crowded international airport, teeming with people I did not know, after living in a small isolated community for so long – where all the faces were familiar.  All I wanted to do was turn around, get on a plane and go home to my sanctuary.  Every fiber of my being was screaming to run away, back to the safety and sanctuary the island offered me.  I often think about that day, when I see blog posts of adoptive parents bringing their children home from overseas, and how they have a large group of individuals at the airport as the welcoming committee.  How if that child is an introvert, and after what they have already endured in their short life – what that reception could do to them, how they could feel in that moment, when they are already in a state of dealing with an unknown future, with unknown individuals, unknown language, unknown culture.  It always makes me want to cry for the child – just in case that child is just like me.

I was the introverted manager and my team did great things – a mix of introverts and extroverts, but with the introvert leading them – it worked – everyone could just be themselves without judgement.  When we had to come up with new creative ideas we first had times to think, reflect, ponder, be quiet and then after that, a time to interact and work together to inspire the solitary ideas to evolve, and become great ideas.  As the leader, I was out of my element and struggled to overcome my natural reserve.  I was also expected to speak in front of employees at company meetings.  I never succeeded at that, and eventually the extroverted head of the company figured out that I could interact and tell the others what we had done, if I could interact with someone – but I would never be able to speak solo in front of a group.  As the head of the company she looked outside of her norm, and recognised and understood me – that was the greatest gift she ever gave me.  The acknowledgement that it was okay to be me, plus the ability to speak inside my comfort zone.

I will always be an introvert preferring a day of gardening, reading a book, spending time with one or two individuals, instead of being in a large social setting.  That is what works for me, and we all need to recognise we should be able to just be ourselves – not what someone else thinks we should be.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Adoption, adoptive parents

 

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Critics in adoption will always be needed – if only so AP’s can dismiss the current adoptee voices…

My brain is running on parallel tracks apparently so here goes…and perhaps I will regret it but whatever…

While reading the book I talk about here on eugenics, which is also part of adoption history, I am also following the discussions on various blogs and forums about the adoption.  I have to say that crash and burn of the contest has also sparked some good and not so good conversations, but yay for the good hard discussions happening.  Meanwhile the not so good conversations have resulted in words being flung around by some (not all) adoptive parents such as defining the difference between well-adjusted and mal-adjusted adoptees, the anti and the pro adoption adoptees, and the same stereotypical comments about the happy adoptees that are too busy living their lives to blog or post on forums, and the angry adoptees just want to hate.  sigh…

No middle of the road adoptee apparently exists in adoption funland – you are either a “well-adjusted” or a “mal-adjusted” adopteeGood Grief, we really are just paper dolls to them if that is how one-sided and shallow they see us as only Either/Or…

But getting back to the book on eugenics – the reality is that Sexual Sterilization Laws would still exist today in both Canada and the US, instead of finally being repealed in 60’s and 70’s without Critics voicing opposition of the laws and mindsets.  Laws that allowed for you to be deemed “defective” and have sterilization forced on you without your consent, and at times even without your families consent.  If not for the Critics those Laws – they would still exist.  Those laws irreparably harmed children and adults alike.

So then I got to thinking about what if there hadn’t ever been critics regarding how adoption was practiced? 

How would those laws look today with the infertility rates so high in the USA and Canada, and so many people and couples wanting so desperately to have a child or children?  What if no one spoke up and challenged the status quo and got the discussions happening that required changes to happen?  What would happen if no challenges had been made and we continued on (and likely down) from where we were in the 1950’s to today – 60 years later, just what would the adoption world look like? 

Remember no one is challenging to make things better, fairer, more ethical or honest or different than the 1950’s… 

For starters Georgia Tann would be the “Revered Mother Of Adoption” – instead of the “Reviled Baby Thief” that she was.  Laws would be modeled on her actions and others of her ilk in that era and since then.

Targeted would be those deemed “less than” and that would include anyone that made less money that you did, that had a baby you wanted.

Laws probably would be changed in favor of mothers being encouraged aka coerced into signing away their rights to the child when the positive sign came up on the pee-stick at the crisis pregnancy center instead of waiting until after she gave birth.  No need to provide options, or even the government paid for infant adoption awareness training program designed by the NCFA to guide the mother to understand she is “less than” those deserving waiting couples eager to adopt the perfect healthy white baby.

No counselling for mothers – just send them home and tell them to never speak of it again…

Foster care adoptions would most likely seldom happen with the never-ending supply of babies available…

Mothers would still be drugged, strapped down, a sheet preventing them from ever seeing, let alone holding their baby, or even knowing the sex of their baby.

Fathers would have no rights at all because in the 1950’s they had no rights.  Their consent would not be needed, or required, and they would have no ability to contest an adoption.

There would be no open adoptions…because there would have been no need to find different ways to get mothers to surrender her child.  If anything, adoption would be more closed now than ever – to protect the adoptive family due to the advent of the internet.

No best practices developed on telling the child, or even that the child would experience grief, loss, or have feelings of rejection and how to help them through that, but they certainly would still be expected to be grateful – over an above the natural gratitude felt by others who grew up in their family of birth.

Adoptees would still be deemed feeble-minded or defective solely because their mother was not married.

Adoptees who searched and wanted to know their family of birth would be categorized as the worst of the worst and obviously came from truly defective stock.

The Baby Scoop Era or Era of Mass Surrender or Era of Forced adoption (whatever you preferred term is), would never have ended, because the status quo was such a boon for the adopting parents – babies galore – just put in your detailed order today – thank you very much

Advertisements in the paper about getting your wife a baby for Christmas would still be seen each and every year…much like the ads today about getting a bunny for Easter…

But ssssh – don’t tell anyone you adopted because that will cast stigma and shame on your family and your infertility status will be known to all…

Trafficking in babies between states and between countries would be unregulated, but of course celebrated and the term changed to something else, because the end result was the baby found the better home aka adoptive home.  No concern paid to the families who lost their child – why, they should be grateful the child was provided such a great opportunity, and should just accept it as an honor.

Adoptee rights to a factual record of their birth would never be a discussion point or even considered, as we would still be considered “blank slates” besides being deemed as “mal-adjusted” and our parents maligned for being bad parents should their adoptee ever speak such evil.

That would be the reality if not for Critics in Adoption… 

None of the rhetoric spouted by adoptive parents today about how different adoption is today compared to 10, 20, 50 years ago could be used to dismiss the adoptee voice, because no critics ever made a difference to how adoption was practiced, and you certainly cannot believe the industry would willingly reduce profits – can you?  Nor would there be any changes happening from those pro-adoption evertime adoptive parents who despise the critics who speak up for ethical changes to how adoption is practiced today…

Critics in adoption will always be necessary to ensure best practices continue to evolve, and trust me they aren’t there yet.  Human rights must always be a subject of discussion, fair play and ethics will always have to be questioned and part of the conversation…well as long as there are Critics in Adoption anyways

Critics like Rueben Pannor, Annette Baran, Betty Jean Lifton, Doctors and Researchers, Social Workers and Child Welfare Advocates, First Mothers and Adult Adoptees, some forward thinking, empathetic Adoptive Parents, and every single other voice who ever said we must make it better and more ethical…

Well folks – we aren’t there yet obviously…and I am sure I missed some really obvious changes that have made adoption better in the last 60 years…

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2012 in Adoption, adoptive parents, biological child, Ethics

 

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Four Inconvenient Truths: Circle of Moms – Adoption Contest 2012

I do my utmost to try to learn life lessons from history – I talk about this constantly and perhaps too often, but what happened this past week or so, drives home this point again. 

I got to thinking that I was sure that the Circle of Moms – Adoption Parent Contest 2011 had both Adult Adoptees (parents) and First Mothers (parents) and Adoptive Mothers (parents) – so I googled it and came up with this final 2011 vote tally page here.  That is the basis for this post – feel free to correct me if this post contains inaccuracies – but it certainly paints a totally different picture than what is being written on some blogs this week.   

You cannot rewrite history to suit your narrative today…

Inconvenient Truth #1: The furor that was kicked up in this contest this year has nothing whatsoever to do with the Contest or How It Was Being Run or Who was included this year – that weren’t also included last year.

Inconvenient Truth #2: Last year only Adoptive Parent Blogs made it into the Top 25 so being inclusive was just fine and dandy and likely included some pointing out the inclusiveness factor of all voices being heard.

Inconvenient Truth #3: This year Adult Adoptees and First Mothers made it to the Top Tier of the Top 25 during the contest so being inclusive suddenly became an issue to some.

Inconvenient Truth #4: Last year’s contest was inclusive of Adult Adoptees and First Mothers, even if one or more(?) asked not to be voted for – including:

#27 The Declassified Adoptee

#32 Musings of the Lame

#46 The Chronicles of Munchkin Land

#48 My Birth Name is Allison

#50 Once Was Von

#58 Chris’s blog (adult adoptee)

#60 Endure for a Night

#64 Neither Here Nor There

#69 Assembling Self

http://www.circleofmoms.com/top25/adoption?trk=t25_adoption

These parents not only have big hearts, but have done their best to create loving homes for their children who have come to them from all corners of the world.

Voting ended on Jun 21, 2011 at 4pm PT. Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Parents is now closed.

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2012 in Adoption, adoptive parents

 

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Article that lead me to a book I don’t want to read, but can’t put down…

I was upset to read a conservative opinion post (see below) in The Globe and Mail back in late March, a deliberate dismissal of the voices of Canadian Mothers speaking up across the country about forced adoptions (you can find the links to these prior articles here and here).  This opinion piece was of course to be expected, as heaven forbid anyone acknowledge wrongs done to real live human beings and to make sure it never happens again. 

This article was written by a former chief of staff of the now PM Harper…hmmm…coincidence just after a Liberal Senator called for an inquiry? is what was running through my head as I read it. Tom Flanigan (the author) has an impressive array of degrees after his name from prestigious universities, so he must know what he’s talking about, right?

And yet the best headline he could come up with is this?

Past wrongs can’t always be undone

Women who gave up babies for adoption between the 1940s and the 1980s are now lining up to sue somebody. They may be accompanied by the fathers who weren’t consulted, as well as by the babies who grew to adulthood not knowing their natural parents.

They’ll be joining a lot of others who have sought justice for old wrongs – Japanese who were relocated during the Second World War and Ukrainians who were sent to camps in the First World War, Sikhs and Chinese who were not mistreated in Canada but were wronged by being kept out, sexually abused boys of the Mount Cashel Orphanage, handicapped girls who were sterilized under Alberta’s eugenics law, Indian children who attended residential schools, addicted smokers suing the tobacco companies who sold them the product they craved.

And as he adds mothers who lost their children to forced adoptions to the list of those who have sought justice, he also downplays what all those other groups endured, with words meant to lull the reader into a false sense that nothing really bad happened or of course by adding the last group – they did it to themselves.  I would expect for the most part, he got away with his downplaying because far too few will dig deeper, nor do most know recent history and while I am no scholar either, I have the ability to question another’s view and research and form my own opinion. 

But I was pretty shocked when I read “handicapped girls who were sterilized under Alberta’s eugenics law“.  I could not remember hearing about this in Canada, I knew about the Eugenics Society in Canada, but not sterilization laws and I don’t remember any news on the lawsuits in the 90’s, or sadly perhaps at the time I didn’t think too much about it.  I did know it happened in the US in many different states and it is finally, slowly being talked about now. 

When I started digging, I found it was so much more than that simple sentence he describes it as.  So much more.  I also found and ordered a book called “Eugenics and the Firewall: Canada’s Nasty LIttle Secret” by Jane Harris-Zsovan, published in 2010. 

Yesterday afternoon I picked up the book and started reading it last night.  Just the first few chapters were enough to make it hard to go to sleep, and then it still woke me in the middle of the night to think about it some more.  I was up early this morning and back reading with my coffee in hand – still trying to digest exactly what the mindset was of the Eugenics Society, how it started, how race factored in, illegitimacy, what countries were part of it, how extensive it was, the laws put into place, how easily it was to be deemed “defective“, and exactly what it meant to those deemed “defective” by society.  The two types of Eugenics (positive and negative) and the division that caused, and how the role of charities also appears to have changed during this time and after WWII.  It is a book I don’t want to read, but can’t put down.  I would recommend it to everyone, not just Canadians but also those across the border in the US who also have this history.

And why I think it is important to read not only to understand what happened and learn from it, it is also because the history of adoption is also linked to eugenics in a way and how that mindset evolved over the decades and after WWII that started the BSE in many countries, that of removing the child from the “feeble-minded or emotionally unstable mother“.  

The Adoption History Project at the University of Oregon has few articles worth reading called “Feeble Minded Children” and “Eugenics” and “Illegitimacy” that shows the change.

From the Eugenics article: Before 1940, eugenic concerns were expressed frequently and bluntly. Henry Herbert Goddard, a national authority on “feeble-minded” children, insisted that compassion for needy children was shortsighted because adoption was “a crime against those yet unborn.” The eugenic threat adoption posed, according to Goddard, was directly tied to illegitimacy. Unmarried mothers were likely to be feeble-minded themselves and have feeble-minded children whose adoptions would contaminate the gene pool by reproducing future generations of defectives. Goddard advocated segregating these children and adults in benevolent institutions, where their dangerous sexuality could be contained.

Even professionals who believed in making adoption work believed that it was a “social crime” to place inferior children with parents who expected—and deserved—normal children. Agencies sometimes required parents to return children if and when abnormal characteristics appeared and laws, such as the Minnesota Adoption Law of 1917, treated feeble-mindedness as cause for annulment. Medical writers in the popular press warned parents to “be careful whom you adopt.” Adopters faced frightening risks because children unlucky enough to need new parents were also unlucky enough to be genetic lemons.

From the Illegitimacy article: Eugenicists were also dismayed by illegitimacy because they considered it a major factor in the reproduction of mental deficiency, disease, and anti-social behavior. According to their view, “feeble-minded” children were more likely to be born to unmarried women because illegitimate pregnancies were byproducts of retardation, insanity, epilepsy, or other mental defects. It is not surprising, therefore, that many native-born Americans of European heritage worried that their own decreasing fertility rates forecast “race suicide” and viewed child-bearing in other social groups with alarm….

Adoption professionals, who had worked so hard to keep natal families together just a few decades earlier, changed their minds about family preservation. Between 1940 and 1970, they acted on the belief that placing children with married, infertile couples would save them from doomed lives with unmarried, emotionally unstable mothers who could not offer them real love or security. Matching practices during this period, along with confidentiality and sealed records, reflected the hope that adoption might completely substitute one family for another, as if from scratch, severing forever the embarrassing ties between adoptees and their unmarried birth parents.

I think it is important to understand history and the understand the mindset that can creep into society, without people realizing the full implications until it is too late.  I encourage you to order “Eugenics and the Firewall: Canada’s Nasty LIttle Secret” by Jane Harris-Zsovan, or request it from your local library.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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What exactly is integrity…

I define integrity very simply – the ability to stand up for what you believe in despite pressures to go along with the rest of the majority.  That belief in your cause and the integrity to not bend down to societal pressure, is what has ensured society has continually evolved into a more compassionate, aware, tolerant and better world.

Adoption was discussed in our home and like every other topic was an open subject that could not be stigmatized or put into a stereotypical box and the good, bad, and ugly were all up for discussion.  Nor would our other set of parents be stigmatized, put down, dismissed from the equation, or put into a stereotyped box.  We were taught by mom and dad to stand up for change when something was not right and not bow down to societal mores that dictated inhumane treatment of others.  They had the ability to look at something and see what was wrong and believed that by speaking up, change could happen. 

Yesterday that stereotypical box opened and Cassi from Adoption Truth got put in it by Circle of Moms.  The lid was slammed closed and sealed tight.  I have reviewed the FAQ’s relating to the contest as well as the opening statement:

Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Moms –  2012

Are you a mom who blogs about adoption or foster parenting? Whether you’re an adoptive mom, foster mom, adult adoptee, fostered adult, or mother who placed a child for adoption, we’re looking for mom bloggers who write about adoption or foster parenting in a supportive, positive way.

Cassi is a mother…and writes posts in support adoptee rights and rights for mothers. I consider that supportive and positive.

If they had wanted to ensure only pro-adoption status quo mentality was the requirement the sentence structure should have been: We’re looking for pro-adoption as it is practiced today bloggers who write about adoption or foster parenting in a supportive, positive way.

Do the Top 25 lists and Circle of Moms support “Blog With Integrity“?

Yes, we do. Most especially, we support the second item of “Blog With Integrity”: I treat others respectfully, attacking ideas and not people. I also welcome respectful disagreement with my own ideas.

Cassi attacks ideas not people.  She has integrity in her beliefs and works to change the way adoption is practiced.

I am baffled that Cassi has been singled out when several/many of the adoptive mothers, as well as the adult adoptees on the list have all spoken out about the ethical reforms needed in adoption, how corruption is part of adoption, how family preservation should always be the first choice when possible, and how adult adoptees should have the same rights as all other individuals.  Different styles, different individuals but many on that list have the exact same concerns and have expressed them publicly on their blogs.

Something was still nagging at me that perhaps I was missing something.

After mulling for a bit I got to thinking well perhaps my understanding of integrity is different from what Circle of Moms is, so I went to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy to read up on it and trust me, it is intense.  Salient points in #8 are below, but best to read as a whole to ensure my bias is not limiting your view. 

8. Integrity in relation to Social and Political Conditions

Susan Babbitt (1997, p. 118) says that an adequate account of personal integrity must:

…recognize that some social structures are of the wrong sort altogether for some individuals to be able to pursue personal integrity, and that questions about the moral nature of society often need to be asked first before questions about personal integrity can properly be raised. Questions about integrity may turn out to be, not about the relationship between individual characteristics, interests, choices and so on, and a society, but rather about what kind of society it is in terms of which an individual comes to possess certain interests, characteristics, and so on. This does not imply that questions about personal integrity are entirely moral, not having to do with idiosyncratic characteristics of individuals; instead, it suggests that the very meaning of personal integrity in particular cases sometimes depends upon more general considerations about the nature of the society that makes some idiosyncratic properties identifying and others not. The pursuit of adequate personal integrity often depends, not so much on understanding who one is and what one believes and is committed to, but rather understanding what one’s society is and imagining what it could be.

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If society is structured in such a way that it undermines people’s attempt at either knowing or acting upon their commitments, values and desires, then such a structure is inimical to integrity. And if integrity is connected to well-being, then adverse social and political conditions are a threat—not merely an ultimate threat, but also a daily threat—to well-being. The twentieth century technical term for this mismatch is alienation. Alienation results when people are so confused or conflicted—are relentlessly exposed, for example, to the social manufacture of incompatible desires—that they take on roles they mistakenly believe they want or deceive themselves about wanting.

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Those who are oppressed seem to be in a paradoxical relation to integrity. On the one hand, members of oppressed groups would seem to be deprived of the conditions for developing integrity: the freedom to make choices how to act and think. As Babbitt (1997, p. 118) notes, one needs to be able to make choices in order to develop the kinds of interests and concerns which are central to leading a life of integrity. On the other hand, oppressed people are often able to reflect on political and social realities with the greater insight because they do not benefit from them. They have no incentive to adopt self-deceptive/self-protective attitudes about circumstances of oppression or to see past them with convenient blindness. Oppressed groups therefore have all the more scope to think about social reality with integrity, and to act out of this understanding with integrity. A capacity for reflection and understanding enables one to work toward integrity even if it does not ensure that one achieves an ideal of integrity.

Any attempt to strive for integrity has to take account of the effect of social and political context. The kind of society which is likely to be more conducive to integrity is one which enables people to develop and make use of their capacity for critical reflection, one which does not force people to take up particular roles because of their sex or race or any other reason, and one which does not encourage individuals to betray each other, either to escape prison or to advance their career. Societies and political structures can be both inimical and favorable to the development of integrity, sometimes both at once.

I am guessing that Circle of Moms definition of Integrity is different from mine…

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Adoption, Ethics

 

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I don’t think she thought her answer through…

GOP Rep. Vicky Hartzler has questions about President Obama’s long-form birth certificate.

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The problem for Rep. Hartzler from Missouri who speaks to how she could produce her birth certificate from her baby book is what she doesn’t get, the fact that her daughter could not produce a long-form birth certificate either.  Adoptees don’t have them – at least they can’t access them unless they were born in one of just a few states in the US and Missouri is not one of them, if she was born there.  Never mind that even if her daughter could get her OBC, that pesky fact of it being in the wrong name.  All her daughter could produce is a Certificate of Live Birth that is exactly what they rejected from President Obama…oops…

Source for her daughter being adopted:

Path To Power

Vicky Hartzler was born in Harrisonville, Mo., on Oct. 13, 1960. She graduated from Archie High School in 1979 and received a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1983. She would later go on to earn a master’s degree, also in education, from Central Missouri State University in 1992.

In the fall of 1983, Hartzler began her 11-year teaching career, teaching family and consumer sciences in junior and senior high schools in Belton and Lebanon, Mo.

A devout evangelical Christian, Hartzler lives near Harrisonville, Mo., with her husband Lowell and the couple’s adopted daughter Tiffany. Hartzler and her husband run a diversified farming operation and are owners of the Hartzler Equipment Company, a small business that deals in farm equipment.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2012 in Adoption, adoptive parents

 

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Learning how to really listen…

Dad was a great listener. A long-time friend told me this story about his first real experience with dad’s listening skills. I am changing job titles but not the story. A new manager timidly asked the board to consider making some changes to the presentation schedule. All the board members except dad debated back and forth and huffed and puffed and the new manager kept looking over at dad thinking he was sleeping, or not listening, as his eyes were closed, his body relaxed, and then after about an hour dad opened his eyes and spoke. Dad said: let him do it, we go through this each time and each of you have the same arguments and finally we let them do it, and it always turns out okay. Apparently that finished the meeting.

Dad had few words but he could listen – perhaps a skill learned listening to his patients to get to the diagnosis – perhaps just his personality, but he listened to everything. He also asked probing question when necessary.  He would then consider the answers and say his piece without molly coddling, in as few words as possible to get his point across. When I first started taking music lessons and played whatever song I had just learned for him, his response was usually “not bad, you need to keep practicing” and then the next night “you are getting better, so keep practicing” and finally “that was good, keep practicing, I love to hear you play”. He didn’t molly coddle but he never spoke meanly either, just truthful without all the fluff.

I was taught the Suzuki Method of music created by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. I took lessons when it was a brand new method – way back in the early 60’s with teachers from Japan. We first had to learn how to listen to each note, and really listen to all the different parts of the song, which notes to whisper, when to shout them, when vibrato was needed, when to make the music dance, or when to make it sad, and then memorize all the parts that made the song, the song. Then we had to play it for the teacher, be shown where we did it wrong, and practice it, and practice it, until we had it perfect before we could go to the next song. We had to learn how to do that before we were allowed to learn how to read music. I loved my music teachers who were all young Japanese nationals who barely spoke English, who would come for a year or two and return home and another would take her place. Now I think the lack of a common language between us, assisted the whole process because words weren’t available, only showing and listening.

Despite the grumbling of having to practice each day, I now wish it was possible for all children to learn an instrument before they are old enough to go to school.  I also believe my early music training played a large part in how my brain rewired to speak on the right side of my brain instead of the left side. This article explains how musicians especially those trained early, have different brains and the plasticity that comes from it. Parts of the article are a bit technical but continue to the discussion part where it is easier to understand.

Whether I learned how to listen from dad, or from my music lessons/teachers, or both – learning how to actively pursue understanding is a lesson that has helped me tremendously, plus the memorization I had to do before I was old enough to learn to read music, were two important lessons that have helped me both professionally and personally every single day of my life.

Music aside, if you are interested in tools to help you become an active listener in daily life, this short article is worth reading.  I found the quote below in the comment section of the article (he didn’t know the author of the quote).

Ordinary listeners only listen until they have an opinion about what they are hearing or until they validate what they already know. Great listeners listen until they learn something they did not know before.”

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Long rambling post about life and dealing with ambiguous loss…

Judy Miller has an interesting post on ambiguous loss and some good points regarding adoption and how the ambiguous loss can be felt at different times (ebbs and flows) over an adoptees lifetime. I have heard the term but had never taken the time to understand the parameters of what was included in the term. It was interesting to read and one of the links goes to a book by Pauline Boss.  I may put it on my list of books to read. The Amazon page has this to say about the book:

Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief

“When a loved one dies we mourn our loss. We take comfort in the rituals that mark the passing, and we turn to those around us for support. But what happens when there is no closure, when a family member or a friend who may be still alive is lost to us nonetheless? How, for example, does the mother whose soldier son is missing in action, or the family of an Alzheimer’s patient who is suffering from severe dementia, deal with the uncertainty surrounding this kind of loss?

In this sensitive and lucid account, Pauline Boss explains that, all too often, those confronted with such ambiguous loss fluctuate between hope and hopelessness. Suffered too long, these emotions can deaden feeling and make it impossible for people to move on with their lives. Yet the central message of this book is that they can move on. Drawing on her research and clinical experience, Boss suggests strategies that can cushion the pain and help families come to terms with their grief. Her work features the heartening narratives of those who cope with ambiguous loss and manage to leave their sadness behind, including those who have lost family members to divorce, immigration, adoption, chronic mental illness, and brain injury. With its message of hope, this eloquent book offers guidance and understanding to those struggling to regain their lives.”

I have to say I was amazed to see Brain Injury, Alzheimer’s, and Dementia included, but I don’t really know why I was surprised. I have said many times I miss my old brain. A brain I trusted so explicitly to work like a well-oiled machine, guarding and protecting me from making mistakes. That now I have a brain I can’t rely on anymore. When I first tried to talk to my peers they would just tell me not to stress, that I was now just like they were. The problem was I didn’t want to be like them, I wanted my old brain back that made me, me. The person I was before. The brain that filed everything correctly available for recall on demand. A brain I knew would analyze the pro’s and con’s and risk factors and guide me through my decision-making in everything I did, from the little decisions to the big decisions. A brain I didn’t have to worry would miss that small piece of the puzzle that would turn out to be the key piece of the puzzle in making a decision.

Have I adjusted? Of course. Yet I have also worked daily, including blogging, to make my brain more like it was before, and I have succeeded to a point, but there will always be differences and feelings of loss at times. One of my doctors describes my way of talking in that I take the long way to get there, because I can’t form a cohesive sentence in the right words that covers everything like I used to. So you get a paragraph, where a sentence or two would do before, and still from time to time, it is taken wrong. If I choose to use a sentence without mentally editing it in my head first, it comes out like this request I made to a close friend.  “Can you turn on the lights on the dash” which actually meant “Can you light the candles on the mantel“. A request that does not work unless someone knows you well, and can translate your intentions. I knew I had said the wrong words and so did our friend, but he knew I wanted him to light the candles, and did it without clarifying what I wanted, because he knew me, and knew what I meant and that I used the wrong words at times.

My second thought is that my husband also has had to deal with this type of loss in several ways. The loss of who I was before and the long-term implications. In how it impacted him losing who I was before, I saw it during the first couple of years, coming out in short bursts of anger at times when I couldn’t remember something, but was sure I did, and I would argue the point even though he was right.  Or the frustration he felt at having to be patient when I couldn’t get the simplest answer or statement out of my mouth. Trust me, it is the most annoying thing to wait for me to get one word at time out of my mouth, with long gaps of time in-between, when all you want to do is provide the words and make it all better, but know that won’t help me relearn to speak. He did his best, and the majority of the time he was stellar and dealt with it incredibly well, but he had his moments, especially after a long day at work. It actually made us stronger and more honest with each other, which was/is a good thing.

My final thought is that because “I” look fine and don’t have visible physical challenges from my stroke no one can see that I am different. I am judged on my outward appearance, or the me they knew before. Far too many people (myself included) judge others on the surface and choose to only see the surface, not what lies beneath, or what differences the individual may have. I did that to mom yesterday on the phone, even though I know she is at the point where the type of conversation we were having, was moving beyond her current capabilities to grasp.  It was making her angry, much like I was in the first couple of years after the stroke.  It was my fault because I know she isn’t able to get there anymore, but in the moment, I expected her to be the way she was before. I have to do better and catch myself before I do it again, simply because, I don’t like it done to me.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2012 in Adoption

 

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