I’m really not going to write at length about the AAC conference in Cleveland. Conferences wear me out, and I’m tired tonight, even though I haven’t done anything since 5:00 PM but have a Delmonico steak dinner at Otto Moser’s Cafe over on Euclid. I think it’s all the people and all the sitting and talking and listening and more talking and more listening. Is this a normal way to live? It’s now nearly midnight. I had ‘net connection problems and just now get on line after 2 hours of fiddling around. I did, though, want to make a few short remarks about the presentations I attended.

DOROTHY ROBERTS KICKS ASS! I first ran into Prof. Roberts at the ASAIK (now the Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture) Conference at Pitt a couple years ago. She blew me away then and continues to do so. Roberts is the author of Shattered Bonds: the Color of Child Welfare and Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction and the Meaning of Liberty. The topic of her keynote address was Why Ending Racial Disproportionaly Will Transform Child Welfare. Prof. Roberts says some very important things about how race runs the child welfare system, how the system punishes poor women of color by forcing them to trade custody for aid, and how overall racism keeps the child welfare system from being effective by valuing punishment over services.

MEMOIR ME. Bastardette’s friend Dr. Mariane Novy (r) presented, Memoirs by Adpotees, Commonalities and Contrasts, discussing the work of BJ Lifton (who is here, btw), Sarah Saffian, AM Homes, Catherine McKinley, Jane Jeong Trenka, Emily Hipchen, and Jean Strauss (also here). I found particularly interesting the contrast Novy made between fictional adoptee narratives with their constructed memories and memoirs which jibe with the actually experience of adoptees. The Q&A period included Penny Partridge talking about her new book The People They Brought Me: Poems in the Adoption Community; Jean Strauss discussing the art of writing; and Patrick McMahon with the news that his own memoir is nearly finished. Yay! Dr. Novy also informed us that the Call for Papers for the next ASAC conference is out. The topic of the April 29-May 2, 2010 conference at MIT is “Adoption: Secret Histories, Public Policies. As time goes on I’ll be writing more about this. It looks really good. Marianne is another native Buckeye Bastard.

SIBLING CONNECTIONS: Ohio’s own Lisa Dixon, Grace Hilliard, and Amanda Dunlap facilitated a workshop on how the maintenance of contact between adoptees and their siblings builds trust and how denial of contact works against an adoptee’s ability to “attach” to adoptive parents. (l, Grace and Lisa,), Lisa is a founding member of Foster Care Alumni of America and founded the Ohio Chapter. She is a national speaker and advocate for children in fostercare. I’ve met Lisa a couple times and she is …well…you have to meet her to understand. Grace gave the amazing testimony here in Ohio in support of HB 7 which I wrote about last year, who made me look at evil of sealed records in a whole other way. (As if it couldn’t already by evil enough.) Amanda is a social work major at Ohio State University and the Youth Outreach Coordinator for the Ohio Chapter of the Foster Care Alumni of America. FCA makes “postcards” and some of them were included in the presentation. This one sums up adoption for so many people (I wrote this is a hurry so I may have a couple works wrong, but I think it’s really important:

The said I had Attention Disorder
Really, I had a life disorder
I attached accordingly

All the presentations, particulary 1 and 3 are a reminder of how sealed records is just a small part of the over-arching secrecy and corruption that hallmarks adoption and so-called child welfare.

I’m staying holed up in my room most of tomorrow to work on my presentation which STILL isn’t done (as if 19 pages isn’t enough!) I hauled up about 20 pounds of files to work on while here. In case Mrs. M is reading this, my topic is: Baby Dumping: An Ohio “Safe Haven” Case Study.

(photos by Bastardette)


  1. HI Marley! Thanks for the update for those of us who couldn’t be there! I’m so excited about Dr. Novy and the MIT conference. I’m going to send in my proposal to speak. My memoir should be published this summer (darn these old computers!). Though it’s a memoir, it is also a social work assessment of both of my natural family and my adoptive family, as well as hard-hitting on the discrepancies between the United Nations and their call for universal birth certificates, and, The Hague’s continuance of allowing “new” birth certificates for intercountry adoptions. oops! Gave away the ending! Anyway, I was hoping to met Dr. Novy, but I’ll just have to settle for her photo here! Enjoy the conference! You’ll do great on your presentation!

  2. Marley wrote:”All the presentations, particulary 1 and 3 are a reminder of how sealed records is just a small part of the over-arching secrecy and corruption that hallmarks adoption and so-called child welfare.”

    How right you are! The machinations of the industry, to fill the demands of the market, are like the layers of an onion…never ending. Yet, they still say it has nothing to do with money, social engineering or punishment. BAH! As one of the former victims of this massive machine, I know how far they will go to play God and bring in the bucks, be it government, private attorney, church or independent agency. If it was truly all about the “best interests” of the child, there would be more of an effort to preserve natural families and there would be NO sealed records.

    But then, we do know these entrepeneurs and social engineers have been speaking with forked tongues for generations.

    Thanks for an overview, Marley. I’ve been to one regional AAC conference (in SC in 1993) and it was way too “triad-ish” for me.

  3. The one thing I really liked about Dorothy Robert’s presentation is the idea that child welfare is punitive, not about service. The vast majority of funds go not to services that can help families (the original intent) but in the investigation, control, and monitoring of parents, especially mothers. There is no acknownledgement of systemic rot: poverty and racism, for instance. Mother’s are the automatic villian. The default, of course, carries over to white families, too, but it’s rooted in racism.

    I’v always enjoyed the AAC conferences. I’m not interested in much of the panels, and I just don’t go One year I attended and only went to my own presentation and 1 or 2 others. I’m staying in my room today to write. I’e always felt that the AAC was too aparent and adoption professional oriented. There are quite a number of first parents and adoptees here this year (over 300 registrants) I just don’t care much about most of the topics presented. Things like adoptee spiritualilty (wtf?) GSA, depression, “adoptee romantic radar” (can I make this up)? And what, pray tell is “the adoption constellation”? On well. It’s just nice to see some old friends here.

  4. Joan–I can’t speak highly enough of ASMC. I’ll probably submit something. The nice thing about it is that they are very open to non-academics, the topics are interdisciplinary, and the conference settings are incredible. They don’t have a webpage but I’ll see if the call for papers is online and post it here. I’ll see Marianne today and ask her.

  5. BD makes a good point about the often punitive nature of child welfare services. Having worked in this area for a number of years, I agree that a large percentage of limited funds are spent on policing, investigating, and detection of fraud.

    The difficulty is that when public funds are spent there is a greater demand for oversight and “accountability” than there is when people privately undertake to do things with their own money.

    I think it might be realistic to talk about how effective oversight can be obtained with less dollars and resources. The public is always going to demand great scrutiny of the way tax dollars are spent. That’s simply a reality.

  6. This punitive aspect of securing infants for adoption is exactly the overall atmosphere of the BSE or Era of Mass Surrender. This is the time in which most of you were born. We were punished and they tried to call it ‘counseling.’ Our punishment was to be isolated, deprived of our autonomy and separated from our children. We were labeled ‘unfit’ without even a fair trial. This attitude is as archaic and cruel, in its own way, as caning and stoning is in the middle east.We weren’t being punished for being fertile, but for being obviously sexual. What hypocricy!

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