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What do you think?

29 Aug

I have thought about the “choice” aspect of choosing adoption many times over the years, and wondered about how the current generation of adoptees will feel now or when they grow up.  Specifically, about the choice to make an adoption plan, choosing adoption over parenting.

Of course there will be many mothers who didn’t really have a choice.  Whether they were coerced by family, or the counselling, or both, or even just complete utter lack of resources.  I do believe the lack of resources for mothers in the US vs say Canada shows why mothers may feel they have no choice in the US.  In Canada, if you are employed you get a combination of a years maternity leave through unemployment insurance, and you have a job to go back to.  Plus many other benefits including a baby bonus (not sure of the correct term), and depending on the province, day-care subsidy.  You also have health insurance at little to no cost – depending on the province you live in.

But specifically, those who had choices and yet chose not to parent.  Those who could have tried and chose not too.  How is that decision going to affect the feelings of worthiness, rejection, abandonment that are real risk factors for adoptees.

I ask this because even though I knew realistically my mother did not have a choice – I still felt rejected, not good enough, that something was flawed in me others could see but I couldn’t.  Knowing my mother did not have a choice kept me from being angry at her, or blaming her, despite the feelings I had.

What do you think?

Will it be better or worse if the parents had a real choice to parent?

Will open adoption be enough to overcome that risk for feelings of low self-esteem, rejection, something wrong with me feelings?

If it will be enough, what happens if the adoption closes – either by the mother or father who made the choice, or by the parents who adopted?

*****

I did not write this post to make anyone feel bad – this is about how the adoptee may feel and something I think needs discussing…

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23 Comments

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

 

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23 responses to “What do you think?

  1. momsomniac

    August 29, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    My impression is that many who had a choice still felt that they didn’t – deep down inside.

    Societial messages that one is too young, too poor (and that assistance is bad), too single, and the biased assertion that $$$ = “a better life” – these messages roll off some, but not others. Perhaps these aren’t the people you are thinking of, but perhaps there are other messages equally at play (like perhaps the one that surrendering one’s child is beautiful – instead of painful and tragic?).

    When one is vulberable, such messages are far more likely to hit home.

    However, expecting a young adoptee, full of their own feelinsg about what happened, to understand and accept all that – probably not reasonable.

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    • TAO

      August 29, 2012 at 3:35 pm

      I do believe there are many who really don’t have a choice and if they did they don’t feel like they do after counselling, etc. I think many are brainwashed with the messages. But there are those who who make an adoption plan with a clear head – perhaps they think the $$$ equal a better life and love the hero worship they get. I don’t know – but I just have this gut feeling that when the adoptees mature they may be very conflicted over the whole “chose adoption” aspect.

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  2. amy

    August 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Another aspect that needs to be remembered, we (“birthmothers-to-be”) were not warned that the children we were giving up would be affected by losing us. I don’t know what social workers are telling girls/women considering adoption nowdays (I gave up my daughter back in 1985) but the picture painted to many of us was that we were insignificant, and if any thought was given to us, it would be that the adoptee would thank us for our not having an abortion, and by making the unselfish choice of giving them to the amazing family who raised them. Had we only known…had we only known the truth.

    It’s never a “choice” if only one option is given, if you’re lied to (both straight out and by omission), and if you’re broken down mentally to feel “less than” and completely “unworthy.” I don’t know if that makes it more palatable for the adopted out person to accept, but it needs to be considered in the grand scheme of things.

    Putting myself in an adoptee’s shoes though, I would *think* that unless the circumstances of my birth were just horrendous and my safety was truly at risk, it would feel like rejection to be given up. And in my opinion, being involved in an open adoption since my (birth) daughter was 9, open adoption presents new and different challenges to all parties…not sure if better or worse than closed. It has been a more than bumpy road for my daughter and I, as well as the rest of my family. It didn’t spare anyone any hurt.

    Just my 2 cents 🙂

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  3. TAO

    August 29, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Hi Amy – your comments will post automatically now. Back in 1985 you were still caught in the stigma of being a single parent and most professionals were still denying any impact on the adoptees.

    That’s not to say the industry has changed and provides that info to mothers today – pretty sure they don’t, or make it seem so insignificant as to not even be a second thought. My era there was no choice – completely outcast or surrender for any “good girl” but the rejection feelings were still there. That is why I think it may be worse for those adoptees whose mothers sing the praises of how wonderful adoption is and how glad they are to have chosen it…(not ones who had no real choice). Hard to talk about because I know many felt they had no real other choice – but there are some…

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  4. Amy

    August 29, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    I think a lot of adoptees are told at a young age that our birth mothers were selfless in giving us up, that they were unable to care for us and therefore acted out of love and our best interest. I’ve always believed that, even as I uncover the deceptive, money-driven, questionably-amoral underbelly of adoption, and because of that belief I have never felt angry or rejected from my birth mother. Then again, I am a Korean adoptee and therefore have always felt that my birth mother was too far away to be relevant. If I had been born and adopted in this country, I would almost certainly feel like she should have fought harder to keep me, but the Korean stigma of single motherhood and overall social inequality keeps me from being able to truly fault her.

    What upsets and confuses me is that the government has enacted all these tax credits for families who choose to adopt. According to the IRS: “Qualifying adoption expenses are reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, traveling expenses (including meals & lodging) and other expenses related to, and whose principal purpose is for, the legal adoption of an eligible child.” Why is the government choosing to assist adoptive parents who need money to obtain someone else’s child instead of finding a way to assist pregnant women who need money to keep their own babies?

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    • TAO

      August 29, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      Amy – future comments will automatically appear.

      I think that adoptees from my era 50’s / 60’s and even 70’s to some degree Mothers were faced with the same stigma of Korean mothers – although the US changed far more than Korea from what I understand. So your inabilty to fault her – is similar in reason why I can’t either.

      As to the Adoption Tax Credit – Million Dollar Question. It was originally from what I understand solely for adoption from foster care – until the Adoption Lobbying started to get it apply to both Domestic Infant Adoption and International Adoption. I disagree with it completely for exactly your reasons.

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  5. susan1964

    August 29, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    A first mom on a forum said the following “I have a very dear friend who is an adoptee that has worked with adoptees for the past 25 years. She said that the one thing most adoptees want to know is that their birthmother exhausted all her options to keep them together. That has stayed with me as the barometer in the decision making process”

    I think that is just as true with today’s adoptees as with those from the older generations. One can see posts by APs on forums about how their child wants to know that their bparents did everything they could before considering adoption.

    Today there seems more of the “destiny” thing, in that bmoms are getting in on the “my child is where she is meant to be” – I always think “hey, it’s up to the kid to decide where she is meant to be”.

    I think the difference btween today and the past is that in the past, there were definitely a lot less options so the counselling was more like “sealing the deal” (80%/20%); whereas today there are definitely more options so the counselling is more of a hard sell (20%/80%)- the counselling is as follows::
    Section on how children from single mothers suffer and have less opportuntities
    Section on how adoptees are happier in all aspects than biologically raisec chidren
    Section on “considering the parenting” option which seems to have the effect of “if you were already scared of parenting, we’ll just frighten the pants of you” (of course it is important to make sure that a woman understands that parenting is difficult but it seems fairly obviously that the above is done to scare the woman rather than just to show her the difficulties).
    Section on the importance of being selfless when deciding what is in the “best interest of the child”. Thus when the emom is asked “what she has to offer compared with “prepared” parents”, it seems that she is expected to do this comparison as if between two random strangers so of course she will always lose out. I think also that when one takes ones “self” out of a decision one is making for another, it can end up that one is making a decision as if for a random person, and the other person may end up feeling that the other person did not put any of “themselves” in the decision.

    So today’s bmoms can end up not thinking of themselves as being of any special importance to their child beyond being the one whom gave birth to them and some of them just won’t accept that their “giving their child a better life” has any negative to it at all, though I do think sometimes the scales do start falling off some bmoms’ eyes when their child reaches the age of learning about their adoption.

    Quite often us older adoptees are ridiculed as being pathetic anachronisms who have been turned into bitter, twisted curmudgeons by being in closed adoptions but I think many of us do take comfort in the fact that our bmoms really didn’t have much choice and are glad that they don’t talk like today’s lot.

    I think also today’s children may feel more like they are being placed in a box. When your bmom is saying that you were meant be with your amom and when she is saying that she was “enough” but she wanted you to “have more”, I think you would end up feeling that you wouldn’t be allowed to say anything without being made to feel ungrateful.

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  6. eagoodlife

    August 30, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Once adoptees and mothers realise how mothers were tricked and deceived into adoption by the industry, things will be very different for the new generation. I believe it will be worse for adoptees who will know for sure they were part of an adoption plan not to parent.My generation and later have been told we were all ‘loved and wanted’ which we now know is not true for many.It didn’t prevent feelings of abandonment, rejection and unworthiness and it won’t in the future.

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  7. amy

    August 30, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Hello again! Oh yes, the stigma was still very much present in 1985, particularly by an adoption agency run by the “old school” social workers who had been in the business since the 1960’s…if not earlier! No one except for a very select few family members knew of my pregnancy, and when I vented to my social worker about it, she told me,, “Well, do you really expect your parents to hang your condition out on the fence post for all the neighbors to see??” Um, okay. Got it. I’m an embarrassment and need to be hidden away, which I was. Something else that entered my mind…being sent away from home to live with an “agency family,” being removed from my school, and knowing that the most precious thing (my baby) was being kept secret and given away OUT OF EMBARRASSMENT was very much rejection of ME by my own parents. Their rejection of me was hurtful enough, but they rejected MY CHILD!! They took part of my soul. I hope my daughter understands that I would have died for her…I broke my own heart for her…it was anything BUT rejection from me.

    Also, in these days and times, the information about adoption and what it does to mothers and children is out there for public consumption with the click of a few buttons…the internet. You can connect with other first moms and adoptees and get the story straight from their mouths. There is really no excuse for not knowing potential consequences and the pain adoption can bring. You cant really hide behind the “I didn’t know” reasoning anymore. I wonder if the access to all this information and the ability to connect to first mothers/adoptees who are finally able to have a voice in everything SCARES the adoption agencies?? It was SO MUCH EASIER when we were disconnected!! So much easier to lie…perhaps that’s what added the fuel to open adoption? The truth was out now, so they had to re-vamp their tactics. Ugh. What will be next??

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  8. susan1964

    August 30, 2012 at 1:07 am

    “You can connect with other first moms and adoptees and get the story straight from their mouths.
    There is really no excuse for not knowing potential consequences and the pain adoption can bring.”

    Anyone who spends time on APcentric forums and who has looked at any agency website will know that we dissident adoptees and first mums are dismissed as bitter, twisted individuals whom were ruined by being in closed adoptions and multitudes of “happy adoptee” stories will be wheeled out to “show” that we are anachronisms. Other adoptees will also throw us under the bus and assume that we must have had “bad aparents”. Anyone who has a difficult story or any negagtive feelings will be dimissed as just having “had a bad experience” and can be happily ignored. The above is stuff that agencies and counsellors will tell emoms. Also, they then use the “but today is different – we have open adoption these days” as if that is all that makes the difference.

    I would actually get emoms to read what so-called “ideal adoptees” actually say – the ideal adoptee is often one that only wants anything to do with their bfamily and wish their bfamily never existed (an understandable coping mechanism). Also, I would get them to read “failed adoption” posts where the emom who decides to parent is talked about in disparaging terms. I would also get them to really read between the lines of some bmom blogs and make them see how low the self esteem is of many of the bmoms actually is – their self esteem is built purely on their sacrifice and I worry for them when the house of cards comes crashing down. Note I am not talking about all bmom bloggers.

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  9. amy

    August 30, 2012 at 5:14 am

    Susan…I agree with your post. My point is that there is enough out there on the internet that if someone actually researches, if they hear first moms and adoptees say the same things over and over and over, maybe it would stop someone who was considering placing to question and investigate that decision. I have had the “you’re just a bitter birthmother” tidbit thrown at me several times in the past when I tried to tell my story. I know it’s easy for pap’s to dismiss us because they want what they want, and they’ll justify it with “It’s God’s will” or whatever to bolster their desire. Because for Heaven’s sake! If it’s God’s will, then it can’t be wrong! But the info. IS out there, and it’s up to the individual to decide what to do with it. What disturbs me is the Catelynn/Tyler story line on Teen Mom. Although there seem to be cracks appearing in their “saintly” armor, it’s a very dangerous and misleading path they’re leading other emom’s in crisis down. Last night, Tyler and Catelynn were talking about how they wished baby Carly was there with them, and how Tyler wished she called him “Dad.” The tears were flowing, but then it ended with Catelynn exclaiming something to the effect of “But look at everything she has! She takes gymnastics, which we could have never afforded.” Somehow Tyler now drives a Cadillac if I’m not mistaken. Pretty sure they could have afforded a gym class for their daughter after being on the show. I’m sure Carly would rather be with her real family and could have cared less whether she took gymnastics or not…but I could be wrong 😉

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  10. Fran Whelan

    August 30, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    I’m not sure how my experience fits in here, but as an adoptee, I was able to accept that in the early 60s, it wasn’t socially acceptable for my single mother to keep me – my father had dumped her and emigrated to Australia (she married 3 or 4 years later and strangely also emigrated to Oz after the birth of her son and a pair of twins) she went on to have another daughter)
    When I traced my birth family and was told they had been happy to support her it turned my world upside down – they went from being the ‘bad guys’ and she went from being the helpless young girl to the evil selfish bitch. Even worse – she had lied to the adoption agency, my Father hadn’t emigrated at all, in fact he had committed suicide before she left for Australia…

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    • TAO

      August 30, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      Fran – you experience fits in here – you understood the times and had no anger – you found out the opposite and had anger. She made an adoption plan…

      I’m sorry – I don’t know how I would react to that but it must have hurt.

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  11. amy

    August 30, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    I’m sorry, Fran. Kinda turns your world upside down to learn the story you’d always believed and clung to was a lie. My Mother, also an adoptee but from 1945, had a similar story. She was told that her birthmother was an 18 year old girl from a strict Catholic family who had to place her for adoption and I’m not sure what happened with the birthfather. HOWEVER, when I searched, the truth was that my birthgrandmother was 34, and married to the “assumed” birthfather! They had both passed on by the time I located this info. but there was a birth-aunt and cousin I was able to contact who knew nothing of my mother’s existence. They did, however, offer a possible explanation…apparently her birthfather was a very abusive man, and they were divorced shortly after my Mom was born…according to the dates we were given. My Mother was shocked to find out she came from a married couple, and it makes it harder to understand why she was given up. Knowing birthfather was an abusive man helps some, but she will never know the true story that only her birthmother could tell her. So many secrets and lies.

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  12. Heather

    August 31, 2012 at 2:48 am

    Just FYI the baby bonus in Canada is called the “Child Tax Benefit”. The amount received is relative to family income and number of children under age 18.

    It has helped me immensely over the years, especially when I was pressured to give my child a “real” family or told that there was no way I could afford to raise her by myself.

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    • TAO

      August 31, 2012 at 11:47 am

      Thanks Heather for the info – I knew it existed but had no name for it. I do think the universal health care combined with the mat leave make a big difference as well.

      Cheers!

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  13. wsbirthmom

    September 1, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Open adoption is not enough to ‘overcome’. It’s not enough to overcome the loss of my son. I’ve seen him 13 days of his life. It is not enough. As far as for him, at this point he doesn’t even know me, and at this rate, I will be ‘distant’. I hope that the visits become more frequent, for my daughter and his relationship.

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    • TAO

      September 1, 2012 at 9:17 pm

      ws – I am so sorry…adoption hurts…the impact reaches so many different levels…lately I just don’t have words…

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  14. marilynn

    September 2, 2012 at 12:56 am

    I have helped reunite lots of families separated by adoption. Several of those families involve stories where the women went into labor believing they would go home with their child and then woke up on a floor that was not the maternity ward told by their mother or step mother doctor etc that their babies went to nice married families. One woman’s step mother actually sold all the nursery furniture to the adopting couple while the mother was in labor. These stories are hard to take for people who are adopted it makes them feel a little different toward their adoptive parents. Not that they really knew the mother was unwilling or that her baby was kidnapped while she was unconscious – they thought it was all for the best. I think it might be better than thinking their mother never cared or their father never cared. Pretty sure a sad story like that is still better for the kids self esteem than hearing she made a plan.

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  15. cb

    September 5, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    The birthmothers who end up disassociating themselves from their child and never end up thinking of them as theirs but as belonging to the aparents are the ones I find hardest to deal with. Some of them do realise after the baby is born that the disassociation wasn’t the right thing to do but others go through the rest of the lives convinced that their child is “where they were meant to be” and never think of their child as their child, just someone they gave birth to. I think this is happening more and more now. It doesn’t help that those sort of bmoms are many APs “ideal” bmom – a bmom who acts like a surrogate, what could be better! (who cares about the kid’s feelings, eh).

    “HOWEVER, when I searched, the truth was that my birthgrandmother was 34, and married to the “assumed” birthfather……..My Mother was shocked to find out she came from a married couple, and it makes it harder to understand why she was given up.”

    Amy, I’ve heard that often when women from that era tried to leave violent husbands, there was no societal or family support, women were just expected to put up with it and thus any women who did leave more or less had to support herself – some women had the horrible choice of either relinquishing their newborn child so they could continue to work to support themselves and their other children (because there may have been no possible childcare options); or they could parent their newborn, and because of no money coming in (because they would have had to stay at home to do so), end up so poor that they lost both their children.

    I know what it is like to never know all the answers because my own bmom died quite young (while I would still have been at school) and took her secret to the grave, so even though I can figure quite a bit about before my birth and have met all my lovely relatives (and there are plenty of them lol) and a few of her friends which has given me an insight into her (she seems to have been a lovely person), all I really have is circumstantial evidence rather than any proof of anything. I have to say that my bmother seems to have been better than I expected, though admittedly my expectations weren’t particularly high. I would have liked to know if she would have ever made contact off her own bat and though one thing in my info pack seems to point to her perhaps wanting contact (it said she had “very mixed feelings about the adoption”), the fact that her parents never knew also meant that perhaps she may have been fearful of contact. Who knows. I realise it doesn’t really matter but sometimes it is nice to have proof of something rather than just assumptions (I always do feel a thrill when I do find out something solid).

    (also posted above as susan1964 (didn’t mean to use that))

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    • TAO

      September 5, 2012 at 3:20 pm

      The disassociation is very scary and indictive of really poor counseling in my opinion for most people. Giving a child up for adoption should hurt and hurt bad, and if it doesn’t, any professional worthy of being called a professional should really question the effectiveness of any sessions that have happened. Unless of course the goal of the sessions was to ensure the mother clearly understood and believed they were merely the vessel used by God to bring the child to the AP’s which is about as unethical as you can get and a form of mind control.

      If a woman can give up her child without any pain then it makes me question her mental health. Sorry if that comes off harsh – I don’t mean to say all will feel the same depths of pain – but without any pain something crucial to humanity is missing in her.

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  16. cb

    September 5, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Totally agree with you, TAO. I think any ethical agency would discourage disassociation. Every now and again, you do get PAPs say that their agency has made it clear to them that the child belongs to the emom and that she has to make her decision twice and it is always good to hear that the agency is being realistic and honest with both parties. Those PAPs are often the ones that are much better able to deal with a mother deciding to parent than many others out there.

    “Unless of course the goal of the sessions was to ensure the mother clearly understood and believed they were merely the vessel used by God to bring the child to the AP’s which is about as unethical as you can get and a form of mind control”

    Certainly this excerpt from the following document seems to be encouraging the mother to think of herself as carrying her baby for the adoptive parents:

    http://www.heartbeatinternational.org/pdf/missing_piece.pdf

    “SOLEMNIZE THE ADOPTION PROCESS
    Women need a way to formalize their commitment to the adoption and to provide
    themselves with reassurance and a sense of closure once the adoption is complete. This
    ritual would be analogous to some aspects of a baptism, some aspects of a marriage, and
    some aspects of a funeral. It involves a dedication, a vow, and a release. It could have
    both pre-birth and post-birth components. In this way, it can symbolize for birth mothers
    the beginning of the stage where they are carrying a baby for someone else as well as
    provide a sense of finality to the moment when they give their babies over to the adoptive
    parents.

    Instead of feeling lost and alone without any closure as they say good-bye to their infants,
    birth mothers can be assured that their grief is not the grief of death and shame, but of
    love and reconciliation. It is the grief that leads to peace and the blessing of others, the
    grief to which Jesus responds, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be
    comforted.”

    Attending adoption with an act of worship, associating adoption with the grace of God,
    who gave his own Son for the life of the world, can be powerfully healing and affirming.
    It will have a stronger impact on birth mothers long term than in the short term.”

    This is another earlier part of the document about “cutting the ties that bond”:

    “In the training sessions for counselors, the long-term problems of parenting for those who are not prepared for parenthood must be emphasized. For example, address the fact that women who keep babies they do not really want are much more likely to neglect or injure them. While children may have been saved from abortion, by staying with unprepared mothers, they may very well live lives of pain and suffering.

    CUTTING THE TIES THAT BOND
    The bond that mothers from with their babies begins well before birth. This contributes to the most common reasons women give for not considering adoption: “I cannot carry a baby for nine months and then give it away.” On the surface, respondents are saying that nine months of pregnancy will leave them bonded so strongly to the child that they will not be able to part with him or her. This is the desire to nurture. “The choice was made for me when my daughter was born. When I saw her face and her little hands grabbedmy finger. I knew that, for better or for worse, I was going to keep her. I don’t regret it.”

    The powerful need to nurture turns the question of what is best for the child into, “ for better or for worse, I was going to keep her.”

    The level of selfishness that many respondents expressed was surprising. They even use the word themselves in many instances. Many talk about what is best for the baby, but their bottom line is, “I want to keep it.” Where they will live or how they will feed their children, much less the cost of education, does not matter. Bonding with their children, and the desire to keep them, matters most.
    For some counselors, discussing adoption with clients is a higher form of nurturing; it helps clients look past the immediate pregnancy to the child’s future. These counselors realize that for unprepared mothers, parenthood can be a disaster for both mother and the baby.”

    I have quoted from this document many a time but for anyone who hasn’t seen it, it is from 1999 and is basically about advocating adoption and recommendations on how to do this. Certainly one can see its influence everywhere in the adoption world and the NCFA’s counselling program seems to have borrowed heavily from its recommendations.

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  17. TAO

    September 5, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    CB – it is so very obvious the agenda is relinquishment and to provide infants for good folks who deserve them. It is disheartening.

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