"Birthmothers" Open Adoption Stories
   "Adoption practice works on the premise that, in order to save the child,
   one must first destroy its mother." - Dian Wellfare, founder of Origins Inc.


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dear birthmother letters

 

Married vs. "unmarried" - Pregnancy, Birth and Falling in Love with Your Baby


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Adoption Questions, Answers, FAQs

 1. WHAT IS A "BIRTHMOTHER"? Why was this term invented?
2. What non-derogatory terms can be used instead?
3. What about the term "birthfather" for men?
4. What about the term "tummy mommy"?

THE PURPOSE OF ADOPTION - Babies for use by emotionally needy adults or homes for orphans?

5. "Adoption, as we have known it, is a solution to a social problem: a child is in need of parents. Need cries out, adoption answers. In so doing, adoption serves the best interest of children--new lives are entering the world and without adoption, they would have no one to feed them, change them, love them, teach them."

THE "DECISION" TO SURRENDER: (Adoptees - you were probably not "given away" - you were probably TAKEN through force or coercion!)

6. "Adopted babies have been abandoned. Our real parents were bad, hateful people that hated US and didn't want us, so they dumped us."
7. "Some women who are pregnant know they don't want to have a baby. They may choose not to have an abortion or may be unable to get one. For these women, giving the baby up for adoption may be the best choice."
8. "You chose adoption, you gave away your baby, it was your choice and now you have to live with the consequences."
9.  "Forget that child. Get on with your life!"
10.  "Women in foreign countries just money-making baby machines."
11. "Why are you grieving? It isn't like your child has died or anything."
12.  "Shortening revocation periods may lend itself to helping women decide sooner that they either are or are not going to plan adoption.  Why prolong the agony when a decision needs to be made sooner or later?" (thank you, Bill Pierce, for this gem)
13. "When you signed that paper you gave a gift ,and you can't expect someone to feel good about having to account for that gift, right?"
14. "I was a 'chosen child' . " 
15. The mother has the right to surrender the child without the father knowing or signing. The mother might not want to include the father in the decision ...
16. The law gives the mother a chance to think about her decision, even after she's signed a consent form. She has time to change her mind after signing the form. 
17. The choice to place a child for adoption is not easy. But neither is raising a child, or having an abortion. All may have life-long implications.
 

THE ADOPTION INDUSTRY: Dis-membering Families For Profit

18.  "The old coercive adoptive practices no longer happen. Adoption has changed in the past 20 years"
19. "There are different ways to [surrender] a place a child for adoption: through a Children's Aid Society, through a private adoption agency, or through a professional, licensed to do private adoptions."
20. "Pregnant? There are people who can help. You can call a Children's Aid Society or ask your doctor about private adoption agencies."
21. "Our agency can provide counselling and legal services to both the natural mother and adoptive parents."

"OPEN ADOPTION": The False Promise

22. "The relationship between the adoptive and natural parents is usually up to the individuals involved. It can include anything from supplying basic health information for the adoptive parents, to arranging visits by the natural parents after the adoption is complete.

PARENTHOOD MYTHS Promoted by the Adoption Industry

23.  "My baby needs a two-parent family."
24.  "Giving my baby to a loving couple is the best thing I can do for my baby
25.  Adoptive families raise children the same as do natural families

SEARCH AND REUNION

26. "Mothers are responsible for adoption records being sealed."
27.  "I was adopted.  I am now an adult. Why haven't my natural parents searched for me?"
28. "My counsellor told me the biggest complaint he gets from the adoptees he counsels is that they dislike the natural mother acting as another "mom/parent"...."
29.  Why don't adoption agencies give adopters accurate information on the natural parents so they can answer questions adoptees start asking?
30. "First moms who WANT to heal would do well to look at other grief models and learn from them. You all aren't totally reinventing the wheel."
31. The Adoption Disclosure Registry ... can help an adopted child who has reached 18 to find his/her parents"
32. "Reunion counselling and support are also available from our agency."


The Answers:

1.  What is a "BIRTHMOTHER"? Why was this term invented?

The word "birthmother" was invented about 25 years ago by the North American adoption industry to refer to women who have surrendered their babies. Before that time, we were referred to as natural mothers or real mothers.

Read the article "Birthmother Means Breeder" by Diane Turski

Why? The term "birthmother" was invented to limit our role in our children's lives to 1) being production units ("breeders" as social workers also called us) whose sole purpose was to serve a genital function, and 2) to having only been parents at the time of birth, but not afterwards. To call a woman a "birthmother" is another way to call her an incubator.

During the time before we had much of a voice - when we were still shamed into silence - the “positive adoption language” people moved in for the kill and stole what rightfully belongs to us and every other woman who has given birth:  the titles of  “mother,” “mom,” “natural mother,” and “real mother.”  They have done their best to outlaw the use of the words “natural” or “real” because they believe it points out that adopters may be “unnatural or unreal.”

Many women who have lost their children to adoption are now rejecting the label of  "birthmother" which was imposed on them. As one natural mother stated:

"I am Jill's mother.  I am her real mother.  I gave birth to her.  If I had been married to her father and killed in an accident or died in childbirth, would I no longer be considered her mother?  How would people refer to me?  Would I now be called her birthmother?  I doubt that.  If I had been killed in an accident or died in childbirth and my husband remarried, his wife would be my child's stepmother not her mother.  No matter how loving and nurturing the relationship, no matter if my child called her stepmom, mom, I would still be her mother. And people would respect that."

The adoption industry is currently trying to place the "birthmother" label on expectant mothers, to get them to "buy-into" the idea of relinquishing before they have even given birth!  When she is still the legal mother of her child, to convince her that she is a "birthmother" primes her to believe that her sole function is to produce the baby. To label her a "birthmother" is to deny her any respect as the mother (not incubator) of her child. 

2. What non-derogatory terms can be used instead? 

Every group in society has the acknowledged right to choose their own label. Women who have lost children to the adoption industry have chosen the labels "natural mothers" and "first" mothers if we need to be distinguished from parents who have adopted or who have not had to surrender a child to adoption. 

We are MOTHERS, natural, plain and simple.  We are not test-tubes or incubators whose only role was to be a baby-factory.  Our motherhood was not terminated after birth. The love, instincts, and feelings of motherhood are still there.

In contrast to adopters, we are natural mothers. In contrast to other natural mothers who did not lose their children to adoption, we are exiled mothers, first mothers, or mothers-of-adoption-loss.

3.   What about the term "birthfather" for men?

"Birthfather" is inaccurate because men don't give birth and few fathers of surrendered children were present at the births of their children.  It is also offensive because it was a term created to try to limit the natural father's role to being a sperm-donor or "former father." The term "natural father" or "father" or "first father" is far more accurate. Again, fatherhood does not end with birth or when a man's child is lost to adoption. 

4.   What about the term "tummy mommy"? 

"Tummy mommy" is objectionable on several levels. It creates the picture of a vessel, an incubator, and someone who's not important after the baby is no longer in her "tummy."  The phrase leads a child to think that all there is to their first mother was just a tummy--she was just a body part or a thing. The first mother is so much more than that to the baby -- she is the natural mother.

It is healthy to be aware that there was a mother before you and she was more than just a vessel to bring you your child. 

"What would the male equivalent be? 'Dick Daddy'?" - Question from an exiled father

5. "Adoption, as we have known it, is a solution to a social problem: a child is in need of parents. Need cries out, adoption answers. In so doing, adoption serves the best interest of children--new lives are entering the world and without adoption, they would have no one to feed them, change them, love them, teach them."

TRUTH: Infant adoption is an industry in which young unwed (and thus powerless) parents are persuaded - through force, coercion or outright lies - to transfer parental rights of their children to older, more affluent couples (and sometimes also single people), and usually strangers.

Adoption exists for several reasons: to keep down the number of welfare recipients (i.e. single parents on welfare), for the North American adoption industry to profit (to the tune of $1.4 billion in 1999 alone) from the spending-power of the affluent, and (formerly) as a way of punishing young unwed mothers for their "loose and immoral" behaviour.

The adoption system is now virtually a North American phenomena - most other countries realize how barbaric it is toward mothers and children. However the North American adoption industry and pro-adoption lobby is well-financed and out-spoken. Young women and their children are easy prey for the expert marketing tactics that agencies and facilitators now use.

6. "Adopted babies have been abandoned. Our real parents were bad, hateful people that hated US and didn't want us, so they dumped us." - quote from an adopted person 

TRUTH: True abandonment happens in a minority of cases.  The babies left in dumpsters and on doorsteps make for good press, but the overall incidence of true abandonment is minuscule.

Unfortunately, surrender papers use the word "abandonment" in order for this fiction to be perpetrated. Most young women who sign these papers do not even know the word is included. It is usually discovered years later when the first Mom is trying to search for her lost child. This is a myth that has been kept alive by adoption facilitators using the wording in legal surrender agreements.

Most Mothers truly want their babies, but have been coerced into believing that they are not the fit parents for their own child. These women, lovingly, wanted only to do what they were talked into believing was "best" for their baby.

What about the story that we loved our children so much that we gave them away?  What about all the crap we were told to make us give up our babies? Why don't adoptees hear that? Why are they not as aware as we are that adoption is "so wonderful," two adopters better than one parent, young mothers are bad for their children . . . why don't adoptees get told this stuff? I knew it when I was 17.  Some young mothers today know it. They've heard it. They're still giving their babies away. Think of your friends your age. At least one of them is susceptable to that hype if she got pregnant.

We were told that we must relinquish our babies if we loved them and wanted them to have good homes (i.e. not with unwed sluts like ourselves). Our children were then told that they were unwanted and that we were horrible people for abandoning them. Why was this lie told to them? So they would not bother searching for us, and so the adopters would look good and worthy and we would look evil and irresponsible. 

7. "Some women who are pregnant know they don't want to have a baby. They may choose not to have an abortion or may be unable to get one. For these women, giving the baby up for adoption may be the best choice."

This is a presumptive statement - no woman can make a decision about her baby until she actually holds it in her arms, has it in her life - even then, the transition from pregnancy into motherhood must be smoothed by wise counsel and the support for all new mothers.  A baby isn't just born to her mother: She is born to her mother, AND to her family, to her community and to her country - stripped of the first, she can form no connection and no identity. 

No woman chooses to "GIVE" away her own flesh and blood anymore than she chooses to give away her soul. Rather, she has been convinced that she cannot be a mother, especially not a good one and does not deserve to be one. 

No one WANTS to be an adoptee. No mother who has lost a child ever fully recovers.  

8. "You chose adoption. You gave away your baby, it was your choice and now you have to live with the consequences." (thank you to adopter on alt.adoption, for this quote)

We live with consequences every day of our life. Grief and loss never ends, unless we've walled-it-up inside ourselves, at which point reunion will break down the walls. 

Coercion has always been a factor in surrendering a baby, both now and 50 years ago. This is the same package in a different wrapper. The term now is that the mother is  "making an adoption plan" for her baby. 

These young women are not given the other side of the story, about the grief and regret they will suffer. The same old arguments are being used and adoption is being touted as a way for these young women to "get on with their lives."

For many teens, the decision is ordered by parents who refuse to accept the reality of the grandchild that is carried in their daughter's body. Adoption facilitators and attorneys still spend hours "nudging and convincing" a young women at one of the most vulnerable times in her life. In surrenders from earlier times, there was active and open coercion on a constant basis from Social Workers and parents. The climate of the times left no real choice to the young, single Mother.

"When she renounces her child for its own good, the unwed mother has learned a lot She has learned an important human value. She has learned to pay the price for her misdemeanor. and this alone, if punishment is needed, is punishment enough. -- Dr. Marion Hilliard. Toronto Telegram (November 22, 1956)

The coercion of today is couched in sweeter terms, but is no less forceful than the coercion of yesterday.

In many cases, the woman is not aware of the coercion involved until much later, often after reunion has taken place. Until then, she is convinced that "it was her decision" as this is what society tells her. Only MUCH later does she realize that she was NOT given a real choice. If there is only one possible option presented, if an agency or social worker has taken advantage of her fear, insecurity, or post-partum depression, or if there is coercion involved ("If you love your baby you'll sign those papers"), then she has NOT had a choice. 

"The young woman with poor self-esteem and low assertiveness might take decades or forever to drop her denial and collusion with the beliefs pedalled by the agency."
                                   - Dr. Rickarby

9. "Forget that child. Get on with your life!"

TRUTH: The loss of our children to adoption colors our lives from the moment of surrender. If we are successful at suppressing our grief and blocking our memories of details, the emotional damage just surfaces in other, even more destructive ways. This particular myth is most harmful as it denies the grief of the first Mother.  One support list many of us belong to is over 800 women strong, either searching or reunited. This is hardly a picture of women who have "forgotten" and are "going on with their lives."  Something stops in the clockwork of the surrendering Mother's emotions and is never restarted. 

Many of us have suffered from secondary infertility as a result of the surrender we were told we would "forget." Others have difficulty with relationships and trust issues.  Our hearts REMEMBER.

10 . "Women in foreign countries are just money-making baby machines."

Turn the clock back 20, 30, or 40 years and you would have these same exact remarks being made about unmarried North American women!!!!  We were seen as social aberrations, deviants, misfits who - by the fact that we were pregnant and not married - had definitely proved that we were in no way qualified to raise our children.  Back then, as now, only people who were married with money were Truly Qualified to raise our children.  It was all for the “best interest of the child”.  The people who so righteously took our children from us truly believed that they were saving our children!  And no, we never took money for our children - the money went to the agencies, lawyers, etc. 

It is hard to believe that the mothers overseas hurt any less upon losing their children than all of us did and still do.  A first mother’s pain is a truly universal pain!  By buying their acquired children from overseas, adoptors supposedly ease their own possible pain of having to deal with the reality that the children they claim to be theirs are and will always be the natural children of two other parents!  This, as usual excludes the needs of the children and their natural parents.

11.   "Why are you grieving? It isn't like your child has died or anything ..."

TRUTH:  Losing a child to adoption involves the same type of grief as losing a child to death or miscarriage.  The difference is that it is FAR worse.  There is no closure.

A child lost to miscarriage or death is not taken against the mother's wishes and given to strangers to raise with the deliberate plan that the mother would never see her own child again.  Joe Soll in his book Adoption Healing likens adoption grief to psychological death, which is a very different reality from a physical death because there is no closure - no support for the feelings of loss, no grieving and mourning period.  With adoption, there is no closure.  With miscarriage or death, there is no coercion. 

A professional counsellor states: "I know two women who lost children to adoption, later had another child who they raised and then the child died. Both of them respond the same to the question 'Which was worse?' They have no trouble stating that losing the child to adoption was worse, because there is no closure and no end to the grief." 

12. " When you signed that paper you gave a gift and can't expect someone to feel good about having to account for that gift."  (quote from Phyllis, an adopter)

TRUTH:  This statement supposes that adopted children were given as gifts to their adopters by willing natural parents.  In most cases, nothing could be further from reality: 

"...When I signed those papers, I was a child myself and I had no idea the ramifications of adoption and how it would affect the rest of my life.  No one told me that I would never forget and that I would want to know her and how she is doing always.  I was just told that I could not keep her and that the people that would adopt her, would give her what I could not. I  had to do it the way the law said I had to do it and I just felt that because they were wise adults they knew what was best.  So I, did not give anyone agift and I had no idea that in the future I would search her out. As a matter of fact I was told that it would be against the law for me to search for her." - Linda

"Never gave my child to anyone. He was stolen. Didn't sign anything." - Vicki 

" Many of did not have a choice to sign or not. I did not sign away my son.W e are very different than the newer 1st Moms in many ways. They have more choices, they are not degraded for becoming pregnant like we were. When I signed those papers I thought I was giving my son the gift of a complete family. Never for a second did I consider that I was giving him as a gift to anyone.  - Veronica

" When I signed those papers, I felt as though I was being given a punishment and my children were being thrown to the fates.  I never thought of my children as "gifts" to anyone. Gifts are silver candleholders and boxes of candy and sweaters. Babies are  human beings and they are not gifts or merchandise!! When my daughter's adoptress said to me, "Thank you for Sara..now this nonsense must cease!", she behaved as though I had given her a coat I didn't want anymore and then decided I wanted it back!  Adoption is a big money business and our children are the "product." As long as we continue to treat family members as  "interchangeable" with other families, the farce will continue. " - Robin 

" I was told that if I didn't sign that I was going to be put out in the streets. That I caused my family enough shame that there was no alternative.   Since my reunion, I am still suffering the post traumatic stress, of my son's birth. I was tied down, so I couldn't move, I screamed like hell to have them let me see my son, I wanted to hold him, because his screams were the same, he wanted me to hold him. All I got was a shot of Demerol in return, and was told by my doctor, "Kathy, we know what's best for you, this is to much for you to handle." My son's life was not a gift, I was raped of my medical and legal rights. " - Kathy 

" I didn't give a gift when I signed the adoption papers. I was coerced, bullied, drugged to the eyeballs and not allowed to see my baby in order that I signed those papers.....is that a gift?  No, and it was not legal either, and hopefully soon something will be done about that. Children are not objects, that can be "given' to aparents as a "gift"....come on please!  - Lina 

"Keeping my baby was a choice that I was never given.  He was taken from me when he was born. My parents told me that I was not allowed to bring him home from the hospital. I told the social worker that I wanted to keep him - I was told that I had no choice by to sign. At 17 I believed the social worker, as I was never told by anyone that I had the right to keep my own baby.  I NEVER wanted to lose my baby.  Twenty-one years later, I still love him as my son."  - Anon

GIFTS ARE NOT TAKEN THROUGH FORCE AND COERCION!

13.   Shortening revocation periods may lend itself to helping women decide sooner that they either are or are not going to plan adoption.  Why prolong the agony when a decision needs to be made sooner or later?  (thank you Bill Pierce, for this quote)

TRUTH:  As anyone who has given birth knows, with the biological changes a woman goes through during pregnancy and post-partum it can take time for the new mother to normalize.  This natural process makes her especially vulnerable to those who tell her she is unfit to be a mother, such as adoption facilitators and prospective adopters as they hover over her, waiting to “get” her baby. 

No matter what “decision” the new mother made while carrying her child, it is a whole new ball game once her child is in her arms as a real live little human being.  Relinquishing her child for adoption will be the most important decision she ever makes in her life and the life of her child.  Cutting the time she has to think about this enormous life-changing decision from 90 days to 24 hours, not only devalues her as a human being but also devalues her child.  Surely a newborn deserves more consideration!

Shortening revocation periods for adoption only benefits the adoption industry, including internet and private adoption facilitators.  If they can keep a new mother drugged and keep her away from support of her family and friends for a mere 24 hours they can snatch her baby and sell it to the highest bidder. This has happened to many of us, and still happens in many cases.

14. "I was a 'chosen child'." 

TRUTH:  You probably weren't chosen - Your adoptors were. They were probably selected to adopt you from a waiting list of people who were devastated that they couldn't have a child of their own.  They were the ones who were chosen, not you. You were probably available because your real parents were:  a) brainwashed, b) bullied, c) poor and offered no real assistance, d) drugged (single women have had their babies stolen by social workers while they were still medicated from childbirth), e) stolen some other way, f) some combination of the above, or g) all of the above.

It is a blatant lie that all adopted children aren't wanted by their natural families, and then imply that the adopters DO WANT them.

15. The mother has the right to surrender the child without the father knowing or signing. The mother might not want to include the birth father in the decision ... 

The father has the right to raise his child. Agencies often advise women not to get the father involved, because this is one more person that the agency will have to convince to sign the papers, and if the father doesn't sign, the adoption can't take place. If the father does not find out that he has these rights, or find out about the pregnancy, then the agency can claim ignorance. 

16. The law gives the mother a chance to think about her decision, even after she's signed a consent form. She has time to change her mind after signing the form.

The waiting period, if there is one, was designed for adopters. In truth, once her child is out of her hands, the mother will probably need to fight a horrendous legal battle to get her child back, even if the law says that she is allowed to change her mind. Once the adopters have the child and the lawsuit continues, the courts almost always rule in favor of the adopters. The longer the child stays with the adopters the most likely the court is to rule against the natural parent. Time works against natural parents. And "possession is nine-tenths of the law."

In many states, there is no revokation period. And in other states it only applies if the child is not yet in the adopters care.

The courts WANT the babies to stay with the adopters and use this against natural parents. They say the child will be traumatized by being moved from "the only parents they have ever known." This is patently false, and most adoptees state that they would have preferred NOT to have been an adoptee. The child normally WANTS to be with its natural mother and father, and within a short readjustment period would be just fine.

As well, the adopters could move any time during this period and the mother would never be able to find them. This is a frequent tactic, and agencies have been known to advise adopters to do it. 

17. "The choice to place a child for adoption is not easy. But neither is raising a child, or having an abortion."

No mother "chooses" adoption. Adoption is not a choice, it is what happens when there is no hope and no help. When a mother feels that there is no support to allow her to keep her child, or when she has been convinced that she could not be a good parent. Only abandoned mothers abandon babies. What befalls the mother befalls her child. Mother and child are forever linked - we cannot damage one without damaging the other. Society cannot damn Mother without damning the Baby. The mother may think she can have her old life back, the way things were before she became a mother - but she cannot. She will discover that in losing her child to adoption, she has also lost her heart and soul. 

The difference between adoption and abortion is that the grief from abortion is resolvable. There is closure. With adoption the grief intensifies over time. Post-traumatic stress syndrome is frequently experienced by mothers who have lost their babies to adoption. 

The difference between raising a child is losing that child to adoption is that a woman who loses a child to adoption still has all the mothering instincts and feelings. She is a mother without her child. Raising a child is a responsibility and a joy, but losing a child to adoption is a never-ending loss.

18. "The old coercive adoptive practices no longer happen. Adoption has changed in the past 20 years"

It is true that adoptions of newborn white babies have drastically reduced in 2001 from what it was in the 50’s. 60’s, 70’s and even 80’s.   But it IS still happening today.  And, today the young mothers are told they are “making an adoption plan” for their baby.  The burden is now  ALL on them!  Many of these young mothers are being forced into this by their families, just as so many of us were.  They are being forced to “choose” the adopters of their children, get to know them, etc, sometimes even live with them while they wait for their children to be born.  This of course puts even more pressure on them:  how could they possibly disappoint the adopters by changing their minds?  And there is little support from the public for the mother who has changed her mind…the public is on the side of “what about the adopters”?  So, things haven’t changed for the better except that it is more socially acceptable for young mothers to keep their babies if they have the help of those around them.

The basic truth is the same now for young Moms as it was for us "way back when."  Adoption has not really changed. It's the same old product in a new wrapper. Moms are still given subtle and constant messages about how much more fit the older, affluent, married couple is than they to raise their child. They are promised "open" adoptions which are unenforcable, and no one urges keeping their baby.  What used to be called relinquishment and surrender is now called "making an adoption plan for your baby."  Same stuff, different day!  Babies are still listed as abandoned after the Mom signs the papers.  States are trying to enforce shorter revocation periods which leaves the new Mom without any recourse should she come to her senses and realize what has been taken from her.  Things are not moving forward, but backwards and we are going to see a whole new generation of women who are living lives of quiet tragedy and young people who are forced into trying to fit into a family that is not like them. 

19. There are different ways to place a child for adoption: through a Children's Aid Society, through a private adoption agency, or through a professional licensed to do private adoptions. 

What is the difference between these last two? Any private baby broker is out to make a profit and will exploit the mother mercilessly to sell her child. 

20. "Pregnant? There are people who can help. You can call a Children's Aid Society or ask your doctor about private adoption agencies."

Do NOT ever advise a young innocent pregnant woman to seek 'help' from one of these private baby brokers! You'll be sending her straight to hell. 

Asking an adoption agency for advice on whether or not you should surrender your baby for adoption is the same as going to a car dealership and asking the salesperson whether or not you should buy a car - of course they will say "Yes!".

21. "Our agency can provide counselling and legal services to both the birth mother and adoptive parents. "

This is pure conflict of interest. There is no private, unbiased, independant legal counsel for the mother (if she could afford such a thing, she could afford motherhood) from an agency which will make money if she surrenders. In many places, it is perfectly legal for the same lawyer to represent both the natural parents and the adopters. As the lawyer gets paid a fee by the adopters for the adoption, this conflict-of-interest means the lawyer has no incentive to provide fair counsel to the natural parents. Also, the lawyer might be paid by the adoption agency, which profits from the parents surrendering their child. 

Nor is there any counselling available to the mother regarding the consequences of losing her firstborn child. Agency counsellors are there to convince the young woman to surrender (now called "making an adoption plan"). There is profit to be made because infertile couples may often do anything and pay anything to obtain a child (look at the case of the "Internet Twins"). They've been convinced that adoption will cure their infertility. It will not. 

22. In Open Adoption, the relationship between the adoptive and natural parents is usually up to the individuals involved.

TRUTH: Any relationship is up to the adopters, who have total say and total control over who sees the child.

"Open adoption" is not a legally enforcable contract in any state or province. The worst penalty that can be incurred by adopters if they reneg on an "openness agreement" is to pay a fine in some states. However, they are still under no obligation to honour the agreement after paying the fine. As well, they could easily move to a different state.

Adoption agencies have been known to advise adopters to "close" the adoption once they get the child. Even "Dr. Laura" has advised this in her radio broadcasts, telling a caller to promise the natural mother anything but give her nothing.

The promise of "open adoption" is used to bait naive, poor pregnant girls into thinking they'll be getting help to raise their child. The adopters can up-and-leave the state or country (and may well disappear before the ink is dry on the adoption document). Likely the mother will never have any true information, but she is led to believe she will be able to see her child grow up. She will learn too late that she has been duped. 

Once you have signed the relinquishment papers, you are a legal stranger to your child, and have no more right to see your child than any other stranger does. 

Advice from an adopter who heads an open adoption organization in California:

"Open adoption is NOT "adoption lite." Natural parents MUST still forfeit ALL rights and entitlements to the children they surrender and adopters *STILL* become the "legal" parents of the children, assuming all responsibilities and benefits parenthood entails. Adopters do have the right to deny ANYONE access to their children. Any parent contemplating placing (surrendering) a child for adoption with the express desire to continue ongoing contact should think again, IMO.

" Placing (surrendering) a child for adoption means losing ALL entitlements. .... there is NO guarantee of ANY particular degree of openness (aside from some contracts in some states that are, allegedly, enforceable in a court of law). Live with this reality or don't place a child for adoption is my free advice. "

23. My baby needs a two-parent family

TRUTH:  If this is true, then why are so many adopters single?  What about a widow or widower or divorced person who never remarries, yet manages to raise emotionally healthy, achieving children?  How many of you were raised in a single parent family and managed to turn out OK?  Case closed!

Besides, what is your guarantee that the adopters will not divorce or that both will live until the child reaches adulthood.  Your child may well end up being raised by a single parent.

NY Attorney Catherine Manrango passes along the following census stats from The Adoption Activism Press: "Less adopted kids have two parents than kids at large! The study points out that only 16% of adopted children are being raised in 2-parent families, as compared to 25% of all children being in 2 parent homes.  The 25% figure hit the papers today - but not the 16% for adopted kids."  

24. "Giving my baby to a loving couple is the best thing I can do for my baby" 

TRUTH: The best thing you can do for your baby is to keep that child in its family of origin. Infants have already bonded with their mothers in-utero. They are traumatized by the loss of the one person they associate with security.

The most recent scientific research show that a fetus bonds with the mother early on in gestation and that, when born, recognizes the scent, voice and heartbeat of its mother. The child's genetic heritage is important. This is not a problem that "open adoption" can solve, since open adoption is unenforceable by law and still separates the infant from the mother during a crucial period. The damage here, is TO THE CHILD.

As well, your child probably will resent you for "doing the best thing": 

" My adopted daughter has views on her birth mother that I never encouraged her to have, she very much resents being given up, and she is very angry with her birthmother, even though I've told her that the woman would probably have kept her if she could. It doesn't matter to my child, she hates hearing about her birthmother and anything related to her." - ad adoptive mother on the "RBM" list.

"I was told that if I loved my child I would surrender her to adoption. I was told that there was a lovely couple who could give her so much that I never could, and that it was selfish of me to even imagine I could keep her. I was made to feel worthless as a person and a mother, and having no options, I signed the adoption papers. The trauma of losing my daughter to adoption has life-long repercussions and has made mothering my other children difficult. The daughter I lost to adoption has had everything that money can buy, but she was never happy and her adoption issues have scarred her deeply. She tells me that if I really loved her I would never have given her up for adoption, and she doesn’t believe there were no other options. It's a no win situation." - Lina Eve

25. Adoptive families raise children the same as do natural families.

TRUTH: The fact is that adoption is different and will always be different. The child is usually told at an early age and will feel their difference from other children. Those not told, usually suspect. The very fact of adoption makes parenting a different proposition from natural parenting.  The genetic bond is just not there.

If you "place" your child for adoption, he or she will grow up in a family of strangers, who dont look or act like he or she does. Your child will always wonder why they "weren't good enough" for you to keep. "Open adoption" hasn't been around for long enough for any studies to show that it is less harmful to adopted people than is "closed adoption."

26.   Natural mothers are responsible for governments keeping adoption records sealed.

TRUTH:   It was never mothers who asked for closed records.  Minnesota was the first state to close records in l9l7.  In 1938 the Child Welfare League of America  recommended ALL states seal records because of the "stigma" issue and the fact birth certificates of children of unmarried parents were routinely stamped "illigitimate."  Between 1938 and 1948 most states followed the CWLA recommendation. 

Based on longitudinal studies which were begun in the 1950's, the CWLA reversed this position in 1986 (unanimously) recommending "open adoption as standard practice."  During this same time, the AAC also passed a similar resolution. 

In Canada, legal adoption began in Ontario in 1921 and secrecy in adoption was enshrined in 1927 at the urging of a lobby group of adopters. 

Because NO ONE was trained to deal with grief and loss, natural parents were told they would "forget" and to "get on with their lives."  Adoptors were told the new baby would erase the pain of infertility.  Everyone believed the child would never know the difference ... just a clean slate ("tabula rasa") with no genetic heritage. 

There are many natural mothers out there searching for their children who are actively helping to open the sealed records. Some mothers are afraid to face the past because they never thought that they would have to.  These few are the ones who don't want the records open, but they are a very small percentage.

27.  "I was adopted. I am now an adult. Why haven't my natural parents searched for me?" 

We in FIRST MOTHERS ACTION are working hard for open records and the reunion movement. We believe that reuniting families is the first step towards repairing the damage done by the adoption industry. We encourage all natural parents and adoptees to search for their lost family members.

There are several more adoptees searching for their natural parents than the other way around. This does NOT mean that fewer natural parents want a reunion!   There are several reasons why fewer natural parents search for their children: 

  • Many of us don't think we have the right to search for our children, and quite a few of us were told when we surrendered that we had NO right to search for them.   Professional social workers wrote:  "No good is ever accomplished, and much heartbreak and disillusion for everyone [is] caused by leaving open any avenue by which a natural parent can reappear, uninvited and unwanted . . ."  pg. 48 - "How to Adopt A Child" - Ernest and Frances Cady, 1956
  • Being an unwed parent, especially decades years ago, was a very shameful thing. We were told to "put it behind us" and not to tell our future husbands, children, etc. We obeyed this edict, and having to tell our families about our shameful past is difficult. But admiting the past and no longer being ashamed of it is a necessary part of healing. 
  • Your natural parents may not be aware of the search and reunion movements. They may have separated themselves from the past so completely that they just don't know that they might be able to search. 
  • Also, they might think that after this long, their lost children may not want to know them if the children haven't searched for them yet. 
  • Many natural parents still feel too ashamed and guilt-ridden to search. Society told us that we were "doing the best thing for our children" by surrendering them.  Then, after we had surrendered, we felt guilty and shameful for surrendering.  Many feel that they are "not worthy enough" to search. A natural mother put it this way:   "That's why I never told anyone, including my husband. I was so ashamed of giving my flesh & blood away that I didn't want anyone to know I was the kind of person who would do such a thing. I was ashamed of adoption, not my baby or the pregnancy, adoption itself was my shame."
  • Not every reason for not searching is a good one. One of the more HYPOCRITICAL reasons for not searching is one we heard from a natural mother who also adopted later on: She said that she is afraid to reunite with her son because she is ashamed to admit to her adopted daughter that she is not the SAINTLY adopter that she has portrayed herself as, but is actually no different than her adopted daughter's natural mother because she's ALSO a natural mother! This tells you a bit about what adopters think of natural parents, even adopters who have also lost children to adoption. It is still okay to hate and despise us.
  • If you do search for your natural parents, remember that you will be opening a very painful door to their past.  Are you willing to treat them as family, or possibly compound their pain and treat them as "just friends." If they reject you, remember that sometimes rejection is temporary, and means that they need time to adjust. Also see the article "Why Won't My Natural Mother Meet Me?"

28.  "My counsellor, an adoptee, told me the biggest complaints he gets from the adoptees he counsels is that they dislike when the natural mom steps in as another "mom/parent"...." 

The problem lies in that reality of reunion conflicts with the messages that the adopters and the industry have been giving the adoptee all his/her life, about the adopters being the ONLY parents. However, the truth conflicts with industry propaganda.

Just because we have lost our children does not mean that we are no longer our children's mothers. Our bodies were programmed for nine months for motherhood. The love is still there. The instincts are still there. When our children were born, we were reborn as parents. Asking us not to be "parents" is like asking for us not to breathe.

There is also, however, the matter that many adoptees have grown up with the concept that being a parent implies ownership and control. This concept is foreign to many natural parents who see parenthood as being a loving, nurturing, supportive, caring relationship with one's child.

Counsellors and social workers are usually trained that "adoption is wonderful." Adoption has given many of them lucrative careers for decades now.  Has your counsellor questioned industry propaganda?  The adoption industry calls us "pushy" when we are not willing to settle for being second-class citizens, when we are not "content with the crumbs we are given." The adoption industry does this to keep us "in our place" - after all, adopters paid the industry for a "child of their own" and not a "shared child." Perhaps your counsellor has bought-into this fiction. 

It may take time for adopted persons to realize that there are two other people besides their adopters who are also equally their parents.  Some adopted persons experience "Mom at first sight" in reunions. For others, it takes a while for a relationship to heal and renew itself after many years of separation. But many of us in long-term reunions are called "Mom" and "Dad" by our reunited sons and daughters. The truth wins out. We and our children experience the bonding that was delayed from infancy. And the truth we and our children experience is that the natural parent/child bond cannot be suppressed by ourselves, them, the adopters, or by paperwork. 

When we were young, we were punished for our "promiscuity" by losing our children. But does pre-marital pregnancy really warrant a life sentence? 

29.  Why don't adoption agencies give adopters accurate information on the natural mothers so they can intelligently answer questions the adoptees start asking?

In closed adoptions, agencies do not give the adopters information on the natural mothers because the adopters paid for a baby to call their own.  They did not pay for someone else's baby, they paid for their own baby.   When they took your baby home the caseworkers said it was the adopters' baby.  Caseworkers tell adopters, "You are now this baby's real mom.  Go home and start a new life.  From this day forward this is your baby."  

To acknowledge the details about you, the mother, would have made you a real person with real feelings.  How could adopters be happy if they knew that taking your baby from you caused you pain?  We mothers are easy to ignore if we are just a ghost, not a real, thinking, feeling, hurting human being.  If they don't know the details they don't have to deal with the REALITY.  And did they really plan for that cute little baby to ever really grow up and know that there was someone else that our child would be drawn to, need to reconnect with -  their mother? 

30. "First moms who WANT to heal would do well to look at other grief models and learn from them:   you all aren't totally reinventing the wheel." (quote from an non-reunited first-mom on alt.adoption)

FALSE: The problem being that (in closed adoptions anyway), first mother healing can only really take place after-reunion.  There is no "closure" until that point.  Until reunion, a first mother can only bury the emotions OR try to escape from them somehow.  Over-and-over again this theme is heard in first mother support groups.

Reunion is the start of healing, and yes, many first mothers can then benefit from grief-counselling.  But then the trick is finding a counsellor that understands the first mother experience.  Many counsellors have no experience with this, and don't see the point. 

        "Forget your child and move on." 
        "You can have other children." 
        "Your child is in a good loving home." 

None of these phrases work, either post-relinquishment or post-reunion.  It can take YEARS post-reunion in this process until the pain goes away.  Some first mothers "end the reunion" because they can't deal with the amount of pain that has resurfaced, or the adoptee is not interested in re-establishing a loving family relationship that can heal the pain. 

31. "The Adoption Disclosure Registry in Ontario ... can help an adopted child who has reached 18 to contact the natural parents."

TRUTH:   This registry has thousands and thousands of names... and three staff people. Callers in October 2002 were told there is a three-year wait.

32. "Reunion counselling and support are also available at our agency."

The "counselling" provided by adoption advocates is highly damaging - and only adds confusion and pain. Adoption advocates have a vested interest in keeping the mother out of the life of her child as a parent, even in reunion. After all, their primarily loyalty is to the customers they sold the baby to, who paid for a child "to call their own."

 

 
 

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