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dear birthmother letters


First Mothers Never Forget!
by Robin Westbrook

First Mothers Action's RESPONSE to the "My Word" Column at bottom of page) in the Orlando Sentinel

To the Editor;

Once again the adoption myth prevails. The first mother (aka "birth" mother) is the villain and the adopters are the noble victims. Excuse me, but does the facilitator with dollar signs in her eyes have a place in the group here? 

Ms. Adamec also perpetrates the popular notion of a baby needing a family when, in the real world, it is a matter of adopters wanting a baby. Adoption is not the selfless, noble endeavor that society wants to believe it is. If it were, then all these would-be adopters would be rushing to the foster care facilities and embracing older, special needs children by the armful!  No ... these people want infants and the best way to get them is to have a facilitator who is not above coercing a young woman into believing that she is totally unfit to mother her own child, the same tactic used in my day. The words used are nicer ... like "open adoption" and "adoption plan" but the result is still the same: a family is disrupted to feed the need of someone else. No one even tries to suggest ways to help the young woman keep her baby. And Ms. Adamec has written a how-to book on how to take another woman's child. The pity of it is I'll bet it sold well. 

My experience was one of pressure, coercion and even the use of shaming me into losing what was so precious to me, giving in to promises that I would, "forget" and that I could have "other children." I did go on to have other children, at an age not much older than I was when I surrendered. I and my raised children have decided that I am a very good Mom. My surrendered child was not so fortunate. I can see the effects of surrender, poor parenting and feelings of "not fitting in anywhere" every time we communicate. How I wish someone had said to me, back then, what I am saying now. 

I belong to a group that advocates encouraging young women to explore ways to keep and rear their offspring. We also are fighting for longer time periods in which to make a life-altering decision..one that should not be made while fresh from the pressures of pregnancy and delivery. We also decry the unabashed "trolling" for pregnant women (called birthmothers before they even think about surrender) on the Internet and in newspaper ads. 

Ms. Adamec calls the Internet Twins situation an "anomaly." While reserving judgement on who is to blame until all the facts are known, this kind of wrangling by adopters over a baby, like dogs over an old rag, is not that uncommon. Just let a first Mom come to her senses and change her mind within the legal time frame and watch the adopters growl. Neither is the knee-jerk reaction of accusing the first Mom as the wrongdoer. Perhaps, in order to avoid the "train wrecks" there should be greater care in choosing the engineers and the track. 

A good friend of mine said it best when she said that (and I paraphrase) we feel compassion for the infertile. We also feel compassion for the person with no legs. Does that mean we should give them ours? 

The vast majority of us are just like all of you. Rather than "sluts" or "tramps," we are from many different walks of life and taxpaying, contributing members of society. We are stepping forward, in greater numbers than ever, to tell our stories, come out of the closet and demand the respect for us and our grief that we were never given before. We are refusing to wear that "Scarlet Letter" that society wanted to impose on us. Whether the year is 1962 or 2001, adoption should be the very last option and adopters need to be put on notice ... First Mothers Never "Forget!" 

Robin Westbrook 
PR, 1stMomsAction 

The "My Word" Column: : Keep faith, optimism about adoptions" - Column in the Orlando Sentinel, February 21, 2001, by Christine Adamec (OUR RESPONSE TO THIS COLUMN IS GIVEN ABOVE)

The latest adoption "train wreck" has columnists and talk-show hosts wringing their hands. I call it an adoption train wreck because such articles appear every few years, terrifying those considering adoption. Some people who would make wonderful parents are frightened off by these articles.

What happens is this:  Someone attempts to adopt a baby and has a terrible problem. In the meantime, other American families are adopting at least 50,000 children inside the United States and more than 10,000 children from other countries every year. They are forgotten. We must all fixate on the lurid problems of one couple.

Or, in this case, two couples. The twins a California "facilitator" gave to a California couple, resulting from an Internet contact, were pulled away two months later. The Missouri natural mother told television interviewers that she wanted a more open adoption. Apparently that entailed rushing to Arkansas to swear falsely that she and her babies were residents of Arkansas so that a foreign couple could adopt the babies. (How often did she think she would fly over to Wales to see her babies?)

The story then hit the news, and the twins are now in foster care overseas.  Prospective adopters nationwide are in major panic as adoption agencies and lawyers attempt to calm them.  As for the pundits, willing to opine on anything, they recommend immediately instituting new adoption laws. They don't consider that existing state laws as well as federal laws for interstate adoptions weren't complied with. Just pile on more.

Rather than assuming that adoption derailed itself because of bad laws, let's look at this particular adoption.  Is it typical?  Not even close.  The plight of the twins is an anomaly. That's why it made major headlines.  Everyday, successful adoption stories are boring to most reporters, although they are thrilling and wonderful to newly created families. In most plans for infant adoptions, all goes well. Sometimes birth mothers "change their minds," but that decision is usually made before the baby is placed with a family.

Some prospective adoptive parents are now taking two divergent (and wrong) views.  One is that you must take extreme measures to adopt a baby and/or pay very high sums. This is a dangerous view because people who act wildly may break the law and risk what they fear most -- that the adoption will fall through.  The other wrong view is that everyone who wants to adopt may as well give up.  The reality is that adoption still works to create families for children who need them.  Adoption train wrecks are rare.  Most adoption "trains" leave the station as planned and arrive at their destinations, safely and uneventfully. 

Christine Adamec lives in Palm Bay. She is the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Adoption.   Copyright (c) 2001, Orlando Sentinel

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