A few days ago on a private mail list, a discussion started on the anti-adoption movement.
The following comments were made by long-time adoptee/birthparent rights activist Maryanne Cohen. They are published here with her permission.
To the anti-adoption folks lurking here:
I think you are sincere in your beliefs and that you do want to accomplish
your agenda of abolishing adoption, in which case you will need to present
your views convincingly and factually in the political arena, again and
again, as well as to the general public to gain support for any legislation
you may introduce. I know this is the goal of those of us who support
adoption reform; not just to talk endlessly to ourselves and each other,
but to actually effect some change where we can.
If you are serious about abolishing adoption, which is a legal construct,
you have to be ready to deal with the world of politics, which is not a
kinder, gentler place. As Harry Truman said, “if you can’t stand the heat,
get out of the kitchen.”
You may be upset at some of the challenges to your beliefs you have
encountered here, but believe me, this is NOTHING to what you will
encounter in the political arena and outside world. You seem so shocked
that some of us who share your experience as surrendering mothers have
drawn different conclusions from that experience, and do not share or
understand some of your jargon. Just think how people who have never heard
of our issues will react to your arguments! We have really done you a favor
in giving you the opportunity to debate and look closely at the arguments
you are presenting. Do they convince people? Are they logical? Do you have
real facts, not made up statistics, to back them up? How will “I am the
only real true mother” play out in legislative testimony? Especially when
some of the legislators are adoptive parents, and most people who would
support many reforms still will not accept that adoptive parents are not
parents in any real sense.
How many of you have testified at legislative hearings, appeared on TV talk
and news shows with hostile interviewers, spoken to angry adoptive parent
groups, in person, given interviews in either print or other media where
the one bad thing you said in a two hour interview was made the headline?
How many of you have come out your local community, spoken at your church
or synagogue about adoption issues, tried to understand and work within the
political system to get anything passed? How many of you have stood up
against the representatives of NCFA, the Catholic Conference, Right to Life
and others in public testimony about adoption issues?
Many of us here have done this, some of us for 30 years when you all were
deep in the closet.
This is the very minimum of what you will have to do to have any hope at
all of changing things legislatively. If you expect to do more than blow
hot air at each other and preach to the choir, you have to take your ideas
and beliefs outside of your own “safe space” and see how they stand up to
the heavy pressure that is out there. Are you up for that? It is not fun.
It beats you into the ground with frustration and tears again and again and
again. But it is what has to be done to really change things, although most
of it is painful, boring, and far from glorious. Maybe when you actually
try to do something besides pat each other on the back on closed email
lists, you will develop a little respect for CUB and those who went before
you in speaking out for mothers who had surrendered, and for our children.
As for support, there is lots of support here, for anyone, in dealing with
their own personal pain and post reunion issues. if you want to discuss
those things and leave your political agenda for your own lists, we are
always glad to hear from you and will try to be as helpful and supportive
as we can.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
“CUB and those who went before
you in speaking out for mothers who had surrendered”
CUB doesn’t speak for all natural mothers. And CUB has never spoken out in favour of open records for natural mothers. And by its choice of name, it blatently promotes the idea that once we surrender, we are no longer mothers. A “birthmother” is not a mother, is only a former mother. Ask anyone who knows anything about “Positive Adoption Language,” of which the word “birthmother” is a part.
The author has no idea what type of activism anti-adoption people do, because she does not belong to any anti-adoption lists. If she did, she would know that all her arguments are specious, empty. We in anti-adoption groups ARE active politically, ARE speaking out, and lobbying in political arenas, and all the things she states we do not do.
We just don’t rely on CUB to do them for us, because CUB has very little validity for many natural moms who do not feel they “voluntarily gave up their motherhood” and are happy about it. Example: CUB lobbies for open records for adoptees, certainly, and this is a good thing, but it is NOT the only issue that has to be addressed in adoption reform. Why are records still closed to natural parents in all 50 states? Why are they open to natural parents in 4 provinces in Canada and several states in Australia? Because CUB is happy with the status quo and for so long we relied on CUB to “represent our interests.” No longer.
And, guess what? We don’t use false statistics either, unlike what we are being accused of doing. With this and other recent articles, the author shows that she is out to attack and discredit anyone who does not follow her specific brand of adoption reform.
I am a reunited adoptee and natural mother who is very much against adoption. I find that a lot of people who haven’t lost a child to adoption or aren’t otherwise connected to adoption are quite open to what I say. Of course, the media are against us because they seek to create a world in which children are interchangeable and parents are replaceable. Money is not to be made when children are kept with their families. Indeed, many of the arguments against adoption are quite emotional, but then again, emotions can often work great miracles if channeled correctly. I am raising my own children to understand how harmful even the best of adoptions are. And I am teaching them that each child has one mother and one father, although there may also be step-parents or adopters or guardians involved. That’s how we change the world, one person at a time!
For those who do not have blinders on, as many moms who’ve lost a child to adoption do, unfortunately, the anti-adoption movement makes sense. We just have to keep telling people how cruel adoption is (otherwise, why didn’t I give my own children away) and we MUST stop calling adopters “parents,” a recent innovation of the adoption industry.
Keep fighting the good fight!
Thanks for proving my point, Kelly.
I thought the “good people” (NOT)who put on the “Infant Adoption Awareness Training” pointed out BN and others as being “anti-adoption”. Personally, I hate it when someone applies a label to others. If you are working toward a goal, then try to state your goal and provide some evidence or arguments in favor of it. For example if you want every human being to have their “papers” then state so. Let’s face it human beings are starting to be sold in larger numbers than ever now. Frozen, thawed, selected for “good genes” and incubated – as well as the plain Jane “off the shelf” baby. So a real goal might be a DNA map that everyone can access and find out what objects they are derived from.
My non-adoptee friends say the adopted person should have no complaints. In fact, one of them told me recently he’s so sure it’s better to be adopted that he plans to donate his sperm just to prove his belief.
I think it’s a tragedy…but then, so many adopted persons say everything is “just fine” and they’re “grateful” to be separated from family and sold, so what can you expect?
The “good people”?
You mean like the NFCA and its cohorts, who are only too grateful for the worst excesses of the anti-adoption folk?
The opportunity to tar others with the same zealot brush is the best gift they could possibly be given.
The more the anti-adoption kooks trot around with signs proclaiming adoption equivalent with the Holocaust and historical American slavery, the longer they’ll be a marginal and tiny movement. As far as I can see they have not been able to move from a personal, and legitimate, sense of grievance to universal language that will sway the mass public in the way necessary to effect political change. The “media” is against you? The media is a tool, learn to use it, don’t mope about how unfair it is…
From what I’ve seen and read, the anti-adoption movement is insular in the extreme. “Don’t call adopters parents!” Puhleaze. You aren’t the language police. You’re trying to change a society that has four basic models for the category “mother”; 1)The birth model, the “mother” is one who gives birth; the genetic model, the “mother’ is th female who gives you half your genes; the nurturance model, the “mother” is the one who raises and nurtures you; the marriage model, the “mother” is the partner of your father. These models are not from NCFA, they’re from George Lagoff’s “Moral Politics”, in the intro discussion of radial categories. Demands for society to stop considering the nurturance model of motherhood will be as successful as King Canute’s attempt to stop the tide. Not only will it be unsuccesful, it makes you look like a lunatic.
YOU SAID: “This is the very minimum of what you will have to do to have any hope at all of changing things legislatively. If you expect to do more than blow hot air at each other and preach to the choir, you have to take your ideas and beliefs outside of your own “safe space” and see how they stand up to the heavy pressure that is out there. Are you up for that? It is not fun. It beats you into the ground with frustration and tears again and again and again. But it is what has to be done to really change things, although most of it is painful, boring, and far from glorious. Maybe when you actually try to do something besides pat each other on the back on closed email lists, you will develop a little respect for CUB and those who went before you in speaking out for mothers who had surrendered, and for our children.”
The above quote taken from your post is presumptious and insulting! Just because you are not aware of the things that other people are doing doesn’t mean that they are doing nothing. If something falls outside your radar does not mean that it doesn’t exist! To assume that only CUB and BN are working toward positive legislation, open records, and adoption reform or that because people are in closed groups indicates that we are ONLY in closed groups is short-sighted in the extreme. One would suspect that you are so put off by what you refer to as “closed” groups and what happens in them because you are not a member. There are many of them on the web; feel free to apply for membership. Then you will KNOW what happens in closed groups and you will no longer have to (erroneously) speculate.
How anyone can say that mother and child separation is beneficial for mother and child is beyond me, but the adoption industry has been doing this for the latter part of the twentieth century. And with our dumbed down society, people have been buying this crazy idea!
I think a lot of people who’ve commented here, and perhaps the original author, have little idea of the true origins of our current adoption system, or of the plans and people who are truly behind it. An article that I recently wrote, which compared what’s happening in adoption to what planner Aldous Huxley wrote about in Brave New World drew compliments and praise from moms who’ve lost a child to adoption and insults and threats from adopters. One adopter assured me that Mary was not the real mother of Jesus, but that she was in fact his “surrogate mother.” Many told me that Moses was the first adoptee. These were supposed Christians who seem to have misinterpreted the Bible to fit their own needs.
As far as the “language police” go, adopters have already taken care of that. I have the article from a few years ago in the Los Angeles Times to prove it. Adopters want to be called “parents” and not even with the correct and honest adjective “adoptive” before the noun.
I think that everyone needs to climb out of his or her own little comfort zone and take a look at the huge picture around us. Then read a couple of books such as Walden Two and Brave New World where families mean nothing. It’s what our society is heading toward. Unfortunately, people will probably continue this infighting and nothing will be accomplished.
My birth certificate was FALSIFIED by the state and neither my mom or dad nor I can have access to it unless a judge says so. I try never to use it and I rely, and tell my children to rely, on what’s written in the Family Bible and on our home records instead of what the state says.
I was taken away from good parents and given to good people who aren’t my parents. And so the lies began. And for what? Who can justify that? Again, look at the BIG picture here. Adopters used to be required to be married and the woman would have to stay at home with the child for at least one year. Now singles, gays, anyone can adopt. And moms are being given scholarships and praised for giving away their child. Why?
Guys, give me the links to these agencies I will personally blast them in my blog. CUB does promote open records. They want every adoptee to have his/her own birth certificate. That much I do know. I have only been a member for several months but I believe in them.Since I read this article when it was posted on another blog, we are all actively pursuing the same cause. Does it really matter what we call ourselves? Do you think the Negros of America fought like this over words? Do you think the members of MADD fought like this? What about the women’s movement? We are all fighting the same battle. To at the very minimum eliminate the unscrupulous agencies and provide adoptees and birthparents access to birth certificates.
We all want to acknowledge the bond between mother and child. WE WANT IT PUBLICLY. We need to bring this together where we work as one to fight this uphill battle. Has any of you checked out the heritage website on adoption? It is morally reprehensible. That is who we need to fight. I have read studies that push and ramrod down a woman’s throat adoption. Social workers and doctors were upset about it. This agenda was pushed by Pat Robertson, NCFA, Gladney, and many many others. Besides birth certificate access, I also want to change the fact that Americans are adopting outside of the country. We need to take care of our own first. I personally believe that America needs to have true family values but we need to fight them on a simpler scale. Adoption is not going to be obliterated any time soon. We need to make it honest, truthful, uncorrupt, and open. As we write our angry emotions about this issue, I have read articles where women are being ripped off, promised empty lies, drugged, abused and terrorized by these unscrupulous agencies. We are arguing over whose argument is better. In my eyes they are same argument. We have all fought this battle some new and some old. Lets get it together. Keep in mind that there are many I mean millions of adoptive parents that are on OUR SIDE. We need their help as well as everyone on this side.Toether we can win this battle.
“Many told me that Moses was the first adoptee. These were supposed Christians who seem to have misinterpreted the Bible to fit their own needs.”
Have you read “A Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood? The first adoptee in the Bible was the son of Jacob, in Genesis, whose infertile wife Rachel told him, “Give me a child or else I die.” So he have the child he made with Bilhah, their servant.
“As far as the “language police” go, adopters have already taken care of that. I have the article from a few years ago in the Los Angeles Times to prove it. Adopters want to be called “parents” and not even with the correct and honest adjective “adoptive” before the noun.”
Read Paolo Freire’s book, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, in which he notes that the oppressed not only internalize the content of their oppressors, believing themselves powerless, but also internalize their oppressors’ attitudes about power and language, so that when the oppressed are empowered they act like their oppressors.
The anti-adoption rhetoric positions itself in opposition to adopters. This lets the state off the hook, adoption was created by the state to conveniently dispose of what it defines as surplus children. At first this was a tough sell, our pre-WWII society didn’t readily embrace raising stranger’s children. The creation of a market for kids was the work of adoption professionals, the creation of a consumer class of adopters was a state sanctioned and sponsered inititiative. Blaming adoptive parents for adoption is like blaming consumers for Bhopal.
And hey, the fact that single and gay people are adopting is part and parcel of a larger shift in society, one part of which I would assume the anti-adoption folks would thing beneficial; single mothers, gay or straight, are no longer being shunted automatically to breeding farms so their kids can be adopted out…
Here is an update that everyone should find interesting. Recently a friend of mine went to a family planning clinic. She is married with one son. She need a verification pregnancy test for Medicaid. She is also a Mormon. She was asked three times to give her child up for adoption. This was done in front of her husband and child. She was also forced to watch an anti-abortion video. She was also asked her religion. When she told them, they asked her if it was even a Christian religion. She was not represented with parenting her child or abortion as option. She was forced to go through this just to get the results of what she already knew. If you think that it is not happening today, you are so wrong. We most definitely need to get it together. We have to fight back against these people. They are trying to force women to give up their children. They target what they perceive to be “poor” women. If my friend had not already been a strong woman, I cringe at the thought of what they might have done to her.
adopteeamy is correct..the child'”placement” industry is out of control and targeting anyone they see as vulnerable. Grant money to “religious” organizations which claim to “help women” and “save babies”
is funding a lot of this. The average person is ignorant…but this is why we are seeing more and more adoption propaganda everywhere…this is just another outgrowth of the 19th and early 20th c. eugenics movement to “improve and reshape society” by controlling who can reproduce, and raise, children.
As always when I see people longing to change the same thing critizing what the other is doing, it makes me sad. I feel that the groups are benificial to form bonds and friendships that make the desire for battle stronger, after all its harder to leave a group of people who have become your friends.
Secondly, maybe everyone is not cut out for the work you describe, maybe some are better at other things behind the scenes, but one never knows whos voice is going to spark something in someone and who knows maybe that someone turns out to be the one willing to stand up against all the outside pressure, granted with the knowing that all her supporters are behind her.
I feel and will continue to feel that we need all our voices in any way people can lend them and to turn them away because they don’t speak the loudest or you cant see exactly whats going on behind the scenes would be a tragity.
A movement starts with a few and grows to many and without all the “private” groups alot of people would not have had the strength to move out front.
“”They are trying to force women to give up their children. They target what they perceive to be “poor” women.””
Who is ‘They’?? Who are the recipients of these newborns, whose mothers are being forced, talked into surrendering? Will you say the Adoption Industry? The Adoption Industry exists because of the demand by couples, singles, etc., for babies not of their own. Those newborns that fetch a hefty price that adoptors are willing to pay and that our federal and state governments are willing to subsidize. This Baby Market exists because of the Baby Demand..
Much like the Old Slave Trading/Buying, most profitable Business. It existed because of the Demand for Slaves.. and people wanted those slaves..by any means necessary. America has been and is, for a very long time now…’Baby Hungry’…Why???
The Adoption Industry alone is not driving the Baby Hunger.. people Hungry for Babies are… The Adoption Industry is supplying the ‘food’ for the ‘hunger’. How does one or all stop this ‘Hunger’?? How did this once great nation determine that a ‘poor’ mother was and still is not deserving, worthy of her own child? That the loss of her own child, is not comparable to the loss of fertility and her imaginary children??
Poverty in our country has been criminalized.. real and in theory, especially in the realm of reproductive rights.. Them’s that got the money, have the power and the right to raise a child. Them’s that don’t… well too bad for you!! Suck it up and Move On!! And when Moving On..don’t forget to leave that newborn at the door as you exit…
I am very sorry and angered, that your friend was met with such disrespect and disdain, as a mother, a woman and a human being..
“Much like the Old Slave Trading/Buying, most profitable Business. It existed because of the Demand for Slaves..”
Didn’t take long for an anti-adoption poster to use the slavery analogy…
“and people wanted those slaves..by any means necessary. America has been and is, for a very long time now…’Baby Hungry’…Why???”
The problem with this view is that it’s historical innacurate. The demand for adoptable children had to be created by the adoptin industry, and it wasn’t until the supply was drastically reduced (by Roe v Wade) that demand finally outstripped supply.
“How did this once great nation determine that a ‘poor’ mother was and still is not deserving, worthy of her own child? That the loss of her own child, is not comparable to the loss of fertility and her imaginary children??”
“This once great nation” used to countenance the wholesale abandonment of poor children to the streets and foundling homes.
The attitudes of this “once great nation” can be gleaned from narratives of survivors of the Orphan Trains; surplus children were fit to used as indentured servants but rarely to become members of the families that took them in.
“Them’s that got the money, have the power and the right to raise a child. Them’s that don’t… well too bad for you!! Suck it up and Move On!! And when Moving On..don’t forget to leave that newborn at the door as you exit…”
In general, that’s the case today. It wasn’t the case during the Baby Scoop era, though. First mothers in the BS era were more likely than not from middle class homes, “good” girls who got into “trouble”, who post-Pill and Post Roe v Wade had the education and means to better control their reproductivity. Those left behind were the poor, uneducated and those whose family, religious or moral background precluded birth control. In other words, in the Baby Scoop era society at large felt that no single mother was “fit”, and post-Roe v Wade and widespread use of contraceptives, that no woman without the “means” to raise that child was “fit”.
So, does the battle become over who if fit to be a mother? This seems to be the strategy of the anti-adoption crowd. Their ideology appears to be that only those who give birth to a child may be that child’s mother, end of discussion. This places them at an extreme end of a continuum of the discourse of what “mother” means (and “mother” can mean a lot of different things to different people). This leads to insularity; anyone who disagrees with their control over the term “mother” is either the enemy (adopters) or “in denial” (adoptees who view their adopters as parents). This arrogance mirrors the arrogance of those that oppressed them. Understandable? Sure, read Pedagogy of the Oppressed. The anti-adoption movement reminds me of the promoters of “melanin science”. We can understand how first mothers and African Americans can respond to systemic oppression with potentially oppressive ideologies (the negation of other people’s experience is oppressive whether it’s first mothers denied their pain or adoptees denied their own adoptive experiences), but that doesn’t make them right.
You know what Church.. I just wrote you a really long post.. But then figured I was wasting good words, good energy and good time on the Wrong Audience..
BTW… you should know I am a True Bastard… No adoption ‘legitimatized’ me.. I can carry the title for what it truly means and entails…No piece of paper made me ‘legit’..in the eyes of the Law. Your Bastardy status was taken from you..the day your adoption was finalized…
My mother was a Mother of a Bastard.. I was a Good Birthmother and did the right thing.. I had my daughter’s Bastardy status removed by surrendering her for adoption.. Ain’t I a Good Birthmother??!!
Have a Great Day!
“You know what Church.. I just wrote you a really long post.. But then figured I was wasting good words, good energy and good time on the Wrong Audience…”
Too bad, it might improve your discourse to engage outside of the circle of the converted.
“BTW… you should know I am a True Bastard… No adoption ‘legitimatized’ me.. I can carry the title for what it truly means and entails…No piece of paper made me ‘legit’..in the eyes of the Law. Your Bastardy status was taken from you..the day your adoption was finalized…”
Actually my bio-mom was married when she had me, although she was separated from her husband at the time. Since the divorce laws at the time prohibited pregnant women and those with infants under a year from petitioning to divorce, she hid from the court and gave me up. The sealed records system, however, treated me like it treats all adoptees, like a bastard who must be redeemed. This legitimization is only as good as the behavior of the adoptee, as soon as she/he begins a discourse of enquiry into their identity, they are treated once more as Bastards with no rights. “Unredeemed” bastards, like you, who weren’t subject to the “redemptive” process of adoption are legally treated with equity, and would, for instance, probably meet the standards of a protected class if cases of discrimination were litigated. Adoptees have not had success in meeting such standards, the state has been able to keep them bastardized.
“Ain’t I a Good Birthmother??!!”
Only if you wanna be…
Black’s Law Dictionary defines “bastard” as “a child born outside of a lawful marriage.”
“Bastardy” is synonomous with illegitimacy. Black’s Dictionary defines illegitimacy as “the condition or state of one born outside a lawful marriage.”
Adoption does not change the fact that one was BORN outside a lawful marriage. Thus, adoptees’ claims of bastardy, or use of bastard, is not legally incorrect or less true than your claim of bastardy.
If you believe so whole-heartedly in the biological right doctrine, then why do you insist that adoptees not embrace it?
“Adoption does not change the fact that one was BORN outside a lawful marriage. Thus, adoptees’ claims of bastardy, or use of bastard, is not legally incorrect or less true than your claim of bastardy.”
It was both factually and legally incorrect in my case, since my mother was married at the time of my birth (whether her husband was my father is an open question, however). Under the sealed records system of adoption, at the time of finalization an amended birth certificate is issued using the adoptive parents’ names instead of the natural parents. Research into the legislative intent of these laws shows that they were inacted to legally erase the original parents from the record, and to spare adoptive parents the shame of adoption everytime they had to produce the document, and to spare the adoptee the presumed shame of bastardy.
Legally the adoptive parents become as if they gave birth to the adoptee, thus no more bastardy. I mean, my birth certificate says “Record of Live Birth” and lists my adoptive parents. My adotive mom never gave birth to anyone, certainly not me, so this is a legal fiction.
On my blog, Mirah Riben, first mother activist, suggested that one area of adoption records reform that could have traction would be to stop issuing amended birth certificates upon finalization. I think this is an idea that bears discussion.
“…..develop a little respect for CUB and those who went before you in speaking out for mothers who had surrendered, and for our children.”
The author of the article needs to be reminded of CUB’s failures in who they sought for support. Like the time they tried to enlist the women’s movement into joining them and it backfired ! The movement thought mothers should be grateful to other women to be relieved of their children.
“Many of us here have done this, some of us for 30 years when you all were deep in the closet.”
If the author of the article wasn’t so hung up on “being recognized as some sort of leader”, she’d notice in 30 years adoption hasn’t improved but in fact has gotten worse. And that doesn’t say much about those outside her so-called closet doing this and that.
If the anti-adoptionists were for closed records, that would make them pro-adoptionists, now wouldn’t it.
“The creation of a market for kids was the work of adoption professionals, the creation of a consumer class of adopters was a state sanctioned and sponsered inititiative. Blaming adoptive parents for adoption is like blaming consumers for Bhopal.”
You fail to take into account World War II veterans who returned infertile and the baby boom. That’s what put the pressure on social workers to create an answer for the demand.
**** NEWS FLASH ****
The term “anti-adoption” was coined by the NCFA for anyone who opposes them.