Milking the Cash Cow: Don’t trust the adoption Industry to “navigate” your search and reunion

Sometimes I think I should change the name of The Daily Bastardette to Adoption Fuckery. The DB, despite my original intent 15 years ago, has seldom been daily outside of NAAM. When I started it I had no idea how much it takes to write a daily column. There is so much daily fuckery blowing in the AdoptionLand wind that I’d have to write 5 times a day to keep up with it.

To wit: the other day an old Bastard buddy forwarded me an email advertising the December 1 2020 search and reunion workshop, Navigating the Journey of Search and Reunion in Domestic and International Adoption, sponsored by the Barker Foundation, and taught by resident social worker Varda Makovsky, LCSW-C, LCSW.  In case you haven’t noticed, “navigation “is a big word in AdoptionLand today. I like to think of it more like rats jumping the sinking ship. The cruise done over.

For those not familiar with Barker, it is an adoption agency located in Bethesda, Maryland. I have never researched Barker, or had any interaction with its officials, but whenever I run across its name, an unpleasant substance rises from my stomach. I remember attending an adoption conference years ago where a birthmother broke into horrific hot tears discussing her experience with it. I no longer remember her story other than it wasn’t nice. Not nice at all. Barker also backed CHIEF a few years ago. That in and of itself should warn us.

During this “navigation” Varda will help adopted people:

  • Assess your personal readiness for search, and desired goals;
  • Become proactive as you prepare – both emotionally and practically;
  • Understand the steps in the official search process and typical emotional stages
  • Become aware of the impact of genetic testing (Ancestry, 23 and Me, etc..) on the search process; and more…

By the end of this virtual workshop, you’ll discover new resources, knowledge, and powerful tools to feel more prepared for the complex and uncharted journey of search and reunion in both domestic and international adoption. To learn more about this virtual workshop, visit our website.


I have no idea why any Bastard in Good Standing would trust an adoption agency to “navigate” their search process. The adoption industry created the mess that we are now forced to clean up. It’s great though if you can wheedle,ass-kiss, or extort information from your agency. (Alt.adoption old-timers may remember Steve Sellers aka “Ungrateful Adoptee,” who blackmailed and later stole his entire adoption file out of the very hands of the director of his agency in Washington DC and then got her fired.) Your agency accountant, of course, will send you a hefty invoice for the privilege of obtaining your own information. It’s called milking the cash cow. Somewhere in the far reaches of memory, it seems to me that Catholic Charities in Philly charged at one time $250 to open your file. Or was it $500? Just open it—if they can find it. It’s called milking the cash cow. Then there was mandated counseling., at a fee, to make sure that you were sane and not about to chop the bios once they were “tracked down,” that is if CC decided to give you your information sitting right in front of its smiling apparatchik. But since adoptees got adopted into better, ie, richer lives, that should be no problem. I doubt if anything has changed accept a jack-up in fees. It’s called milking the cash cow.

I am intrigued by the term and emphasized it above:

Understand the steps in the official search process

What does that mean? “Official search process?” Since I’ve never sat through a Barker session, I can’t say, but it sounds like “leave the driving to the Barker Foundation.” God forbid you, Little Bastard, should go out on your own and muck things up or worse be successful without the guiding hand of professionals. Peer support and assistance through local in-person groups or social media, Search Angels, PI’s contacting 2nd cousins on Ancestry. or extortion and bribery just won’t cut it. Autonomy must never be practiced.  Obviously, one must be organized and methodical and respectful and not show up on the proverbial doorstep on the proverbial Christmas morning, but I believe nearly all adoptees do it right. They talk to each other and learn what works—without the supervision of the very officials who set you, so long ago, on this task. Adoptees are our best mentors.

Adoption agencies know their game is up, and are now trying to control the narrative and language by colonizing adoptees. It’s mostly another way to pathologize us and puff up professional credentials.  I’d not trust anything Barker does.

The adoption industry is fighting for its commercial life. Like capitalism, it is circumstantially fluid and malleable to fit the times. In this case, be adoptee friendly. The industry wants to “prepare” adoptees to fit its agenda. Hell, I didn’t “prepare” for anything. Since I know how to work with public records. I had my OBC, I had names, and locations. I developed a family history and timeline more for fun than “preparation.” I did everything pre-internet except for locating bdad. The whole deal cost under $10 for both. Obviously, one should be careful in their approach but agency “training and support” is a control mechanism. The adoption industry created the problem and now not only want us to fix our mess, but to fix theirs, too. And in the case of the Barker Foundation, we’re expected to pay $35 per to put everything back together.

Bastards. We fix ourselves.

2 Replies to “Milking the Cash Cow: Don’t trust the adoption Industry to “navigate” your search and reunion”

    • Thanks. Lynelle, for reminding us of this impossible situation. I’ve been asked a few times about how to search in Russia. You got me! I cannot imagine trying to deal with Russian bureaucracy even with language skills. Back in the day, there were St. Petersburg City Directories on CD-Roms sold in kiosks at the metro that were deemed “illegal,” but everyone bought. Phone numbers aren’t anyone’s business. (but the state’s, of course, and this was post-Soviet. Ours were kept hidden, though militsia was going to raid the place for them. If you can’t get a phone number, how do you get orphanage and adoption paperwork? I suppose, if not already, that there is a black-market operation in most countries to dig out information, if it can’t or won’t be found through what even in the tight-record US are considered normal channels. I’d not trust adoption agencies to do the job. Bill Pierce, of all people, one told me that he doubted if there was one single totally legal or ethical international adoption. Along the line–the orphanage, the agency sub-contractors, sub-sub contract6ors were crooked.

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