Finding Answers Together

How do we create reform in the adoption industry? Wow. Talk about being put to the test. I gave it so much thought yesterday I thought my head would explode. I even let all of the chores around here go to hell in a laundry basket. Think think think.

The essence of the problem is easy, the solution….well that’s not so easy. Do we look at this picture globally or domestically? Do we simply look at it from a human perspective? Because after all a child without a home here is the same as a child in another country without a home. Or do we just try to work on our own problems? No, that won’t do because the US adoption industry has become increasingly more dependant on international adoptions. We know there needs to be regulations on adoption but then we are talking about involving the government. A government which has proven it has very little concern regarding adoptee rights. The government holds our identities hostage so how can we trust them with the even more important task of our futures? We all know the adoption industry is becoming increasingly corrupt because of one driving force: MONEY. This creates an entirely different set of problems to be addressed.

You can see my dilemma. Each question brought about a million more. It became necessary to dissect it completely. I guess when you begin the climb to the top of Mt. Everest you have to start at the bottom and take one step up.

SOOOOO I figure we have to start somewhere. It might as well be here:

Here is the first thing I realized which Rob was correct about. Some things about adoption cannot be fixed. I was reading Abebech’s post about what it means to have adoption be an AP’s second choice.Here’s the thing…..adoption is EVERYONE’S second choice. We can’t make AP’s own this, it belongs to all of us. Adoption was my second choice and even though my own natural mother willingly (without coercion) chose adoption – had her circumstances in life been different it would have been her second choice too. I mean even parents who chose adoption over having biological children would probably rather have the institution of adoption be completely unnecessary…. in a perfect world.

The problem comes in when we decide we will not only completely ignore this aspect of adoption but actually go to great lengths to PRETEND it isn’t so, that we all run into problems. So step one is that we all have to quit pretending adoption is something it isn’t. AP’s should not let this frighten them because when you tuck your child in at night there is no need to say “goodnight my sweet little second choice”. It is a willingness to love and appreciate the gifts we were given (for who and what they are), not pretending the gifts we were given have morphed into what we originally wished for. See? It becomes an understanding between parent and child. These are the children that will feel free to come to you and ask questions about their other parents and you aren’t going to feel like you were shot in the gut, because everybody’s keeping it real. It’s a part of adoption that can’t be fixed but it can be dealt with better and worked through. What does this have to do with reform? We cannot effectively create change in something we are not looking at honestly.

Regarding money and it’s effect on adoption-

What you chose to sell your home for is not regulated by the government. You can charge a million dollars for your house if you wish. You may not GET a million dollars but you can try. So the adoption industry has decided they will charge thousands of dollars for their services. They do not DO thousands of dollars worth of work but they can CHARGE anything they like….no regulations. And just like the homeowner, if they can GET a million dollars why wouldn’t they charge a million dollars?

My husband and I have often talked of adopting a child. Surprised? I’ll bet. The thought of a child aging out of the system without a home base……..well that kicks me in the gut. The problem is when we begin thinking about the cost involved we begin thinking about our current family unit and……..honestly………the money becomes an issue and we get lazy about the whole thing. I’m being honest. Look, we have everything it takes just like any PAP. We have a home, food, clothing, and we have an unlimited supply of LOVE to give another child. Then we start to think about our responsibility to our current family unit and the money goes elsewhere. Then there is dance recitals and soccer games and football and ………we get lazy about adoption in our world of chaos. I am ashamed but it is the real deal.

Many infertile couples have no such financial boundaries, nor do they have the distractions. This is a profoundly sad fact and the driving force behind their actions. They can easily justify spending that kind of money even if they think it is exuberant. So they do. And it doesn’t matter how much agencies raise their fees infertile couples will find a way. Longing for a family is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Not a PAP, not an orphaned child, not an adult aged out of the system all alone in the world, not anyone. An agency will charge as much as they can get because they are a business and an infirtle couple (able to) will spend whatever it takes to make the pain go away.

The more money that is involved the more the world of adoption becomes an industry filled with corruption, black markets, child theft, coercion, manipulation and fear. This isn’t something a PAP is exposed to though is it? No, they pay the money, they are told everything is peachy and at the end of the day they have a baby. If you don’t see the tree fall……..

Your adoption may not have included such horrible aspects but they happen every single day in the adoption industry. You may also argue that profiles and open adoption is a solution but it’s not. I have to talk about that another day though. It’s an entirely different step. The bottom line is we are ALL responsible for adoption reform……….. as the only action that will work toward a solution is a collective one.

So you want to talk about the first step up Mt. Everest we have to climb? The first step is always the hardest. Try convincing PAP’s that if we ALL quit paying that much we wouldn’t have to EVER pay that much. If we quit spending all of that money, all of the despicable practices currently going on would virtually disappear. If the guy wants to sell his house he will have to lower his price because NOBODY is going to PAY him a million dollars for his house! Eliminate the BILLIONS of dollars up for grabs in the adoption industry and you have VASTLY changed the face of adoption for the better. Any ideas how to get PAP’s to quit spending all of that money? Me neither. It’s asking a lot because it would mean waiting for change and it would mean the very strong possibility of adopting an older child. Which brings us back around to keeping what adoption is and is not………real.

I could have eliminated all of those paragraphs and replaced it with one sentence: Quit buying babies. But that would have gone over like a lead balloon.

Everyone has their mountain they chose to climb. This is mine. I won’t give up trying. Ever. There are MANY more steps to take before we get to the top of the mountain but this is a start.



Filed under Adoption Politics

42 responses to “Finding Answers Together

  1. I think adoption reform starts with looking at pregnant women in crisis first and foremost as *mothers.* Which means we have to go back and start handing mothers the respect they deserve. Which means we have to go back and start handing *women* the respect they deserve. Which means, damn, it starts seeming like an impossible task.

    But to my mind, adoption in American is predicated on misogyny. As a feminist, I believe that activists like (may she rest in peace) Allison Crews and Ariel Gore and Bee Lavender go a long way to helping us see mothers — even if they are poor, even if they are young — as women deserving of respect. And importantly, to help them see *themselves* as mothers worthy of respect. I gotta believe that Hipmama has helped keep a lot of families together.

    I also think that we need to help infertile families focus less on end result (baby) and more on the growth of ourselves through the infertility journey. I think that so many of us get fixated on getting a baby at whatever cost (helped by the infertility industry) that people end up at adoption with a pretty unhealthy mindset about what adoption is.

    And you’re right — we have to get honest about where we (adoptive parents) fit adoption in a “first/second choice” scenario. Maybe what we (again adoptive parents) need to do to get over our defensiveness is quit thinking of first as “best” and instead see it as literally first. Our first choice (meaning the one we came to before all others) was to make a baby because it seemed obvious and easy. When it wasn’t, we got stuck. When we let it go, we went to our second choice — not second BEST choice, but second choice. The one that came after making a baby from scratch. But we could only get there after saying good-bye to the specific experience of birthing a second child and saying hello to the specific experience of adoption. When we did that, adoption was no longer a loss *for us* and that, I believe, helps me see the losses of adoption experience by my daughter and her other mother without feeling threatened by them.

    (Sorry — babbling and the kids are running wild.)

  2. i think there are many things we can reform in adoption. I believe it is a movement, a process and I believe it can be done. I believe we must do it. To help the current and future generations of people who are ao adversely affected.

    I believe the way to enact change is to enable it to happen. Even us blogging and running websites, writing books and talking about it. I think the first step is public education. I think its the toughest step because we have to dis spell the myths and society never wants to face these issues. I think through public education and political advocacy, i think little by little each of us are inspiring change.

    i visited the city of Adoption Reform. I came and lived and experienced the issues of mine and others. I make my contribution however i am best able. and more and more people come to visit then ever before.

    i am now 3 generations affected by adoption. i can use my life experiences to create awareness. and if they would stop creating orphans within the Industry, they could clear the way for real orphans who truly need parents to get them. the insatiable desire to deprive women of their babies needs to end.

  3. Mia, I admire you so very much.

  4. Mia – I swear – you are my ‘pin-up’ adoptee!!!!
    Loving your work!!
    Poss. xxxx

  5. So, I’m going to go out on a seemingly sturdy and strong branch and guess that you are as disturbed by the recent “baby shopping” by Madonna and Angelina as I am.

    It’s as though they are going looking for a rescue dog. Ah, I mean BABY.

  6. Mia….Because of the free market enterprise out there, babies are viewed as commodities that adoption agencies will continue to market to the highest bidder until the purchase agreement is signed (a.k.a. adoption papers). I agree slowing it down starts with education about the profit margin these agencies are making but I doubt married couples without children really care about the money.

    I have given this process some thought and if we buy the premise that adoption should only occur because it meets the needs of the child, then I think one way to ensure that is to take the relinquishment out of the free marketplace altogether. Adoption agencies should NOT be invovled at all in termination of parental rights proceedings because of the inherent “conflict of interest” between the birth parent and the PAP. Adoption agencies are NOT designed to view the best interest of the child. They are, however, designed for one thing: to make a profit off of influencing mothers to give up their babies to meet the best interests of the prospective adoptive parents.

    Federal regulation under the Safe and Stable Family Act require that governmental agencies do everything possible to strengthen families so that they can remain intact. It seems to me that this could be broadly interpted to mean that soon-to-be mothers should be entitled to the same services any other family would receive. I believe requiring all termination of parental rights proceedings be done by the government ensures that: 1) parents are given all the choices objectively and unbiased as well as the limitations/possible consequences of them so that an informed decision can be made; 2) Only after a parent has chosen relinquishment, the hearing is complete and a certain time period TBD has elapsed allowing the parent(s) reconsideration, should guardianship of the child be transferred to an adoption agency for placement. This eliminates the conflict of interest between adoption agencies, birth parents, PAP and the child’s rights – yes children do have rights!!!
    3) All adoption proceedings and adoptions are open – no secrets and no lies. Orders can be made allowing for parents to contact their child if no agreement can be reached between the PAP and parents.

    Getting legislation is difficult because there probably exists a strong lobby by the adoption industry to maintain the status quo and, of course, the public has been “sold” that adoption is such a glamorous thing these days.

    I agree with Erika in that it is a change process that takes a multi-pronged approach – one that is calculated, well thought-out, coordinated, communicated and persistent. It will also take a champion…someone daring enough, influencial and credible to take on the adoption establishment. Not an easy task but not impossible either.

    Usually, this involves a number of dedicated, passionate folks willing to meet or phone conference to come up with consensus on a mission statement, form a non-profit corporation, soliciting donations (lobbying comes with a price), getting the word out (a publication), and much more. That is what I envision it taking for starters and I know I left a lot out – some I know and probably a lot I don’t. But I do see enough of you in blogland that have the passion, the desire and make that the need to see this “thing” changed for the sake of the children and their parents.

  7. Mia

    When asked about a better way to conduct the PAP/pregnant mother connection my first response would be to say ELIMINATE IT COMPLETELY. Sadly though that doesn’t quite cut it. I wish there was a way to look into the future of a world in which confused and frightenend pregnant mothers, skeptical about parenting, were getting the assistance they needed to remain mothers. I would really love some sort of crystal ball regarding how many of them would chose to parent their children if they were given this assistance. My guess is it would be astoundingly high but I don’t know.
    I guess my ONLY reservation in eliminating a PAP/pregnant mother connection comes with those mothers who would still chose to place their children. If we eliminate it completely a newborn in that situation would end up in foster care at a time when bonding is essential. Is it fair to force mothers who chose to place their child to facilitate that bond for X amount of days/weeks and then be expected to hand over her child? Maybe. I don’t know. As an adoptee I would say YES, let me be with my mother for a while. As a mother I would say OUCH.
    I just don’t see how marketing to a pregnant mother is helping her in ANY way to make a decision that will change her for the rest of her life. I honestly believe these mothers are NOT getting a fair and just interpretation of the effect adoption will have on both her and her child….forever. That DEFINATELY NEEDS TO CHANGE.
    It would seem these days women are pouring over profiles and chosing parents and feeling fairly “good” about her ability to do so. Good in the sense that she feels she has some control. Which she deserves. I can understand that but as an adoptee I find this whole thing seriously distasteful. When do I get the chance to market myself to my mother? Maybe if I did she would change her mind?
    If we eliminate PAP involvement completely at what point does a child become “in need of a home”? My question to natural mothers is if we give new mothers a time period in which to change their minds what becomes of us? Are we to be placed in foster care for a certain length of time? Are we to go to a couple’s home who wish to adopt just to be returned a few months down the road? Where is the accountability in that? I don’t like the idea of a child being bounced around in that manner. What is the alternative here?
    I HATE the idea of women being coerced. I really would like to see ALL PAP/pregnant mother connections eliminated COMPLETELY. I am just asking for a viable alternative that doesn’t leave us, the adoptee, out in the cold.

    (((Abebech))) (((Possum)))
    Andie………er….um……I can’t seem to touch this. I have a ten foot pole in my way.

  8. Mia

    LeRoy I personally feel ALL private agencies should be shut down today. TODAY. Sadly I don’t have a solid alternative to offer. I just know private agencies are not the answer. The sad thing is at this time the alternative is to assign the job to an already totally overworked, understaffed and mostly ineffective social service department. No, that’s not the answer either. :o(

  9. Mia…I would agree that shutting down all private adoption agencies is not likely to happen. Limiting their involvement as to when children are tranferred to them is more likely. Without having something else in place (either another governmental agency or another non-profit agency) to meet with women and present unbiased choices/alternatives would not be adequately serving them. I am not certain of the answer but it does seem feasible to consider a non-profit agency staffed by trained volunteers (or even paid but am not sure of a funding mechanism) that could do this.

    If I were to organize something like this, I would target an area in the country for a pilot project for which grant funds could be sought that would develop a program to reach unwed, expectant mothers about the alternatives – all the alternatives and the resources available to assist them in carrying out their decision. I would focus on an area of the country that is high on child relinquishment for adoptive purposes. My hypothesis would be: If unwed, expectant mothers were given all the alternatives available to them for their child with information on resources, would the relinquishment decrease and if so, by how much and why?

    The problem is so pervasive that in order to test the answer to your question of how many unwed women would keep their babies if given information/choices, I think a pilot project utilizing grant funds would be a start. I think tackling this issue, a person will need to do it in: baby steps 🙂

    I have to believe that their have been some pilot projects somewhere that have done this but then maybe not. To obtain federal grants, all alternatives have to be given, including abortion, adoption and the like.

  10. I will agree with you a 100% Mia that there are “answer(s)” in the plural as I don’t believe there is “an answer” to solving the adoption dilemma.

  11. Gee, I go away for a couple of days and everyone goes bananas!
    Mia, you have some really good points here. I was ranting one day about the adoption industry and how corrupt it is and my husband asked, “So what can you do about it.”
    I went on and on about starting some kind of non profit that supports women in crisis pregnancies and doesn’t push adoption as the only choice out there.
    The husband looked at me like I was crazy.
    But really, it can be done. I had a friend from High School whose mother had him at 15. He was a really nice, smart guy. She was a nice lady. Her parents gave her lots of support when he was young and she was able to finish school, go to college and whatnot. My friend and his mom have a very close bond. I’m sure it wasn’t easy but with support, she was able to do it.
    It can happen.
    Now can it happen for everyone? I don’t know. I still believe that adoption can be the right choice for some. Not all, but some.
    I don’t think adoption in theory is all evil. I just wish the system wasn’t such an industry.
    It seems to be all about the money these days.

  12. m

    Important questions, to which I’m not sure I have any answers.

    I do remember reading on Kim Kim’s blog that some of what flies in US adoptions would never fly in the Netherlands. I don’t know anything about their system, but there may be some things there to model.

    Are there organizations out there that really do HELP expectant young women who have nowhere to turn and who are ripe for victimizing? Not that I’ve read. Of course our gov’t should be doing everything to help them not lose their kids, but in this country I wouldn’t expect that to happen anytime soon.

    I’ve read on so many blogs of FirstMom’s/Mom’s that had if they only had some temporary help and could have seen the light at the end of the tunnel, it would have made all the difference.

  13. I have placed children whose mothers were going thru stressful times and placed them back with their mothers – on many occasions. The system can work and does it the area I am in. I have also met with some young women (teens) and assisted them in keeping their yet unborn child. The system isn’t always geared for that but it can be.

  14. Mia

    Beth and LeRoy- I love the idea of the non- profit. Really love it. That deserves serious thought. Even if it didn’t change everything I guess any step in the right direction is a good step.

    M- I will have to ask Kim about how things are done there.
    I think this is a really cool thing :
    Imagine if there were places like this in every state!

  15. I think a next step is to find out what is already out there that could be replicated or improved upon…will take some research and some time but can be done. There might even be a non-profit set up already amongst all you bloggers that could be used as a shell for a project like this to utilize. If not, an attorney could setup a non-profit either pr0-bono (have to find a good attorney willing to do that!) or for cost. A lot of details but it could be done. Seems to me though some kind of meeting of the minds needs to occur to set it up; establish the mission and the like…probably a series of meetings. Just my thoughts but could be all done by phone or a possible chat room to defray costs. I do think things have to be “flushed out” more. Just my opinion of course.

  16. m

    Very, very cool indeed. I am going to link them on my blog.

  17. Great hunting Mia – – now that’s trying to keep mum’s and babes together right there.
    And Leroy – I love your thinking.

  18. I have long thought that changing relinquishment and revocability laws to something standard across all states would be a good place to start adoption reform. It would eliminate some aspect of the “shopping” in the adoption industry for paps and might increase at least the chance that a new mother might know her rights if they were standard and hopefully more commonly known. Its a small change, but could impact culture as well as application.

  19. Marlene, that is a small change that would make a huge impact fast. I, too, wish that this is something that we could make happen.

    “I would really love some sort of crystal ball regarding how many of them would chose to parent their children if they were given this assistance. My guess is it would be astoundingly high but I don’t know.”
    I wonder if we even helped mothers imagine themselves as mothers, as capable, how many of them would choose to do it. My guess is the same as yours.

  20. Mia

    Possum I didn’t find that link. I think it was Kim? Maybe Suz? I can’t remember. I have them listed on my resources page. I should probably move them to the front page.

    Marlene that is a really good point. I think we should use that standard law idea with open records. Using Oregon as our example of course. ;o)
    Sadly getting laws changed is virtually impossible in any sort of timely manner. Especially if there would be strong opposition which there definately would be here.

  21. Mia

    Abebech I don’t know about fast but definitely huge.

  22. Change can happen, and it starts from the grassroots always.
    I so strongly hesitate to let the government get involved with social workers for many reasons. First off any time the government takes over a “service” the hopelessly mismanage it, lose things, and it ends up costing way WAY more than it should. Honestly the point should be to cut WAY WAY back on how many adoptions happen in this country, but government programs never get smaller, they always get bigger, because government employees know that if they work to eliminate a problem then they will work themselves out of a job. From what I understand (and this may not be 100% accurate) there has never been a government program that has shrunk in size, they always expand. If they are taking over infant adoptions I DO NOT TRUST my government to do them any more ethically than private organizations do now.

    I can see a place for standardized laws though. National laws that do not vary from state to state. Mom must have to wait at least fifteen days to sign TPR and I would like to see six weeks until it is final. I’m saying this as an adoptive mom who went through a failed placement. This is important, that women have the time post placement to change their minds if they want.

    I also believe that Children’s services needs to stop screwing around with kids and stop making reunification such a lengthy goal. This ties in because most kids who enter the foster system, once returned to their parents will be back in the system within one year (at least in California) Many of these kids are infants. I believe that children should be with their natural parents if at all possible, however any family that is allowing severe enough abuse of a child to be taken away should get no more than one or two shots at parenting again. This would encourage more people to adopt the kids who actually need adopting before they “age out” or have to many issues to deal with. I think the poor state of our foster care system is a great example of why the government should NEVER take over infant adoptions.

  23. I’m waiting for Rob to come back to discuss this stuff… he did say he’s frustrated that people talk about the need for change, but not WHAT changes can be made, right?

    Anyway. The funny thing is, a lot of us DO talk about how to make changes. If some people opened their eyes and looked around, they might see that. I wrote several posts over a year ago, when my blog was brand-new, on this very topic. Maybe it’s time to refresh them to the top of the blog? And oh yeah, let’s see, SoA has a place for people to fight for reform… And um, yeah, Bastard Nation organizes stuff to fight for open records… and Origins does press releases and makes media contacts… and.. oh never mind. You all get the point. Point is, some of us ARE fighting for reform–not JUST talking about the need for it–thank you very much. (Funny that I don’t see Rob there, though, yet he’s so sure we DON’T actively fight for reform. How does he know, if he’s not at those places, I wonder?)

    ANYWAY. I’ll stop being snarky on your blog now, sorry Mia.

    There are many, many practical details of the adoption process that most definitely can be changed. The first problem is convincing enough people of the NEED to make those changes, though–because until enough people believe, the legislators won’t do a damn thing. Until a lot of people are clamoring for change, the politicians will continue to cater to the agencies themselves, the pro-life special interest groups, and so on.

    THEREFORE…. You (and other bloggers) ARE actively working towards adoption reform, just by blogging. You are helping to change public opinion. You are raising awareness. That IS an act of social activism. And a damn important one, too.

    Keep on keeping on, Mia. You have a strong voice, and it needs to be heard. Shout till your voice is hoarse… and then whisper if you have to… eventually a few people WILL hear you. Not all, but a few… and if all of us keep shouting, and whispering, we’ll ALL reach a few… then those few will shout.. and on and on. And someday, SOMEDAY, there’ll be enough of us to make the politicians listen. Someday there will be enough ruckus to make them change the laws and put the focus back where it belongs–on the children.

  24. Fast once it passed :/ which would be, admittedly is, slow.

    The Hague has influenced international adoption even in non-signatory countries, has influenced the culture of international adoption. I guess I’ve been imagining federal adoption law as sort of the same thing.

    Returning to what you said earlier, I think aparents and prospective aparents are going to have to push for the changes (and not merely because of the injustice in asking adoptees and first mothers to solve it — “slaughtered cow” — but certainly that’s so). As the primary consumers (blech), as those who potentially benefit (blah) from the confusion in state to state differences or the ability to adopt from a more “adoption friendly” state, we’re going to have to say what we want to see is a *family friendly* set of federal laws. I do believe that made to think about it, aparents could get behind this change (much more easily than some of the more radical).

  25. I don’t know if the momentum for change will be significant enough to create a national law in regards to adoption. The feds have left family law pretty much up to individual states. That is how come it has been so difficult for same-sex marriage and/or civil unions to become law.

    Adoption laws would likely have to follow a similar course because change may have to be made on a state by state basis. It would be wise to consult with an attorney who specializes in this area so that accurate advice/information can be obtained. This would likely be a monumental undertaking and perhaps some of it may have already been done. I am all for not reinventing the wheel. Several other commenters have indicated that efforts have been or are being done. I would be interested to know more detail.

    It is good to continue dialoging on what changes need to be made regarding relinquishment and adoption. After awhile though the focus will have to narrow in on what to work on and then how.

  26. christine

    Wow, first off, I would like to commend Mia and all of her commenters for keeping the discussion logical, and reasonable. I won’t go into how many other discussions I’ve come across where people just start accusing, name calling, and throwing fallacies around left and right. Great job!

    Okay, and now I have my two cents, and I appologize if some of my points would be better suited for the previous entry/discussion.

    1. Thank you Mia for at least thinking about possible changes and acknowleging that they are not easy, and that it is everyone’s responsiblity to make these changes.

    2. Dawn, I’m sorry but I have to disagree with you, and I think this comes because I work in a community mental health clinic and I see the young, single mothers who did not place their children for adoption. The mothers are in and out of jail, have multiple children by multiple fathers, live with relatives (most of the relatives have criminal backgrouds too and have past allegations of child abuse). I think the simple solution of “giving support” to pregnant women who do not have the economic or personal resources to parent is an inadequate solution. And our agency is one of the best in the state that provides housing, medical care, transportation, and a host of other services besides mental health services. And the young women still drop out or get arrested, and their children still have behavioral problems in school and serious emotional issues

    3. Erica, I agree that the foster care system also needs to changed, and that it should be realized sooner that reunification should not, and can not always be the goal, or be obtained. I think if foster children could be moved into permanancy before they were moved multiple times, before they developed attachment problems, and before they experienced the inconsistancies and damages by the poor parenting of their birth parents, they would be better off.

    4. I think that adopting parents should be able to make decisions concerning their child’s race that is right for them. If a Caucasian couple decides to adopt an African-American child so that they can be politically correct, and not because they are comfortable with an African-American child, it is the family and especially the child who would suffer from their orignial dishonesty.

    5. Could someone explain this notion of entitlement to me? Why are adoptive parents being accused of being entitled. And why are only adopting parents seen as entitled? When parents decide to have multiple children who they can not support, no one accuses them of being entitled to that child.

    I have alot of other thoughts in my head, but I’ll let this be if for now.

  27. Christine just one comment on your #2 🙂

    Many people assume that moms who relinquish at birth would go on to end up with kids in the foster care system and that is FAR from true. Most mothers who relinquish are good even great mothers at the point they relinquish or down the road when they have more children. Women whose children are taken into foster care have a whole different set of problems than women who place “willingly.”

    I was challenged to think about this once, “The wrong women are placing” I believe now it is often true, sadly.

  28. Mia, I’d like to link you on my blog…would that be OK?

    I have a whole huge comment swirling in my head…but it’s going to sound something like what I just posted the other night. It’s funny how we all end up thinking the same kinds of things at the same time.

    I love your posts. Keep them coming!

  29. Mia

    Absolutely Erin. These are my concerns about gov’t involvement. I am really loving the idea of a non-profit as long as they were all run under the same guidelines from state to state.

    Paragraphien I hope I didn’t give the impression nothing is being done. Many of my friends work their butts off on reform and have been for years. I hope people read your posts. You bring up good points.
    I wonder where Rob ran off to as well. Hmmmm…. Well for every one ear lost maybe two are gained?

    Abebech how do we get more AP’s to listen?

    Christine regarding your comments:
    1. My pleasure! Thanks for coming by.

    2. The situations you speak of are a separate social problem than what we are talking about here. Important? YES. Just different. But if you want to use adoption reform in the context of the children you speak of I think you will agree these are the children that even IF they are placed AREN’T getting adopted ENOUGH. These are the children that if taken from the home permanently end up languishing in the system.

    3. sort of ties in with 2. The foster care system is beyond screwed up. My head surely would explode if I took that on too right now.

    4. A PAP with the right intentions shouldn’t have a problem with the race of a child. If they do they shouldn’t be adopting. It’s not about being politically correct, it’s about being a decent human being. “Oh we really really want to adopt but we can only be a good parent to a white child”
    Bullshit. (sorry Ronnie) Not angry with your question Christine. Angry with the world about this one.

    5. I will have to talk about entitlement another day as it seems to be a point of contention, miscommunication and misunderstood by a lot of AP’s. Since we use it a lot it should be understood.

  30. Of course Jen…..or is it Jeff? lol I will have to come and see! Or is this Robin Hood Jen?

  31. LOL.

    It’s Jen…it’s just a screen name I can remember! 🙂

  32. Oh Mia, I know things are being done, and I know you do them. I was frustrated with Rob that he seems to think no one does anything. It’s discouraging to work and work and realize people still aren’t noticing, you know?

    BTW I addressed your comment about a large nonprofit handling all infant adoptions on my blog, but if it’s okay I’m just going to keep commenting here now, to keep the discussion in one place.


    Interestingly enough, I too work for a community mental health agency. Just last week a client in our system had her baby removed at birth, because DCFS knows she can’t care for it.

    But did you catch that? She HAD IT REMOVED. She didn’t voluntarily place it–and as far as I know, didn’t even consider voluntarily placing the baby, DESPITE knowing DCFS would take it.

    Which brings me to my point (which, yes, Erin and Mia have already stated, but it’s so important that it bears repeating): The women who VOLUNTARILY place their children are, for the most part, women who don’t NEED to place. Women who would be perfectly ok mothers, if they just had some support.

    “2. Dawn, I’m sorry but I have to disagree with you, and I think this comes because I work in a community mental health clinic and I see the young, single mothers who did not place their children for adoption. The mothers are in and out of jail, have multiple children by multiple fathers, live with relatives (most of the relatives have criminal backgrouds too and have past allegations of child abuse). I think the simple solution of “giving support” to pregnant women who do not have the economic or personal resources to parent is an inadequate solution. And our agency is one of the best in the state that provides housing, medical care, transportation, and a host of other services besides mental health services. And the young women still drop out or get arrested, and their children still have behavioral problems in school and serious emotional issues.”

    I know. I KNOW. No amount of government help, food stamps, Welfare support, subsidized housing and daycare, parenting classes, or just plain old encouragement will solve the problems I see with my clients. When someone’s been languishing in the state hospital (institutionalized for severe chronic mental illness) for YEARS, undergone dozens of ECT treatments to the point of memory loss, is manic more often than not, or is delusional more often than not… then no, supporting that person is not going to suddenly allow them to be a good parent.

    But with all due respect… please look around you. Read the blogs of some of us first moms. The people you are describing are NOT reflections of us–natural moms who VOLUNTARILY placed our infants for adoption. Read Claud, read Jenna, read me, read Jana, read Poor Statue. Many of us are successfully parenting subsequent children–some of us only a couple short years after relinquishing. What changed between the time of relinquishing our first borns, and having and successfully parenting our later children? ONE THING: we had a wedding band on our finger, and thus society’s approval.

    I know people think the stigma of single parenting is so far gone that women surely must not relinquish their children because of it… but that is simply NOT TRUE in many voluntary placements. The stigma is still there. Lessened, yes, but still very prominent in many, many subcultures in America. My parents refused to let me live with them with my first born daughter, who I ended up relinquishing. Yet when my second born arrived, they were more than willing to allow me, my husband, AND my parented daughter move in with them when we both found ourselves unemployed a year and a half ago. Why? Why would they help me then, but not earlier? Simply because I was married.

    I realize the government can’t solve stigma. I realize that we can’t legislate familial support. But what we CAN do is legislate informed consent. If our families aren’t going to support us, okay… we might have to accept that… but we (society) don’t have to add insult to injury by allowing laws that encourage the dissemination of false information about relinquishment and its effects. If we’ve already got our parents hounding us to relinquish, we don’t need the government and adoption professionals adding to the ruckus.

    As for the entitlement you asked about: read a few adoption boards. Look at the postings where potential adoptive parents refer to an expectant woman they’re “matched” with as “our birthmother” (before she’s even given birth, for pity’s sake!). I’ve read comments before that said (paraphrasing, though not much): “She promised us our baby, now she OWES it to us!” and “What state can I adopt from that ensures the bio mom has no time to change her mind and reclaim the baby?” and “If a woman even CONSIDERS adoption, she should be obligated to place the baby.” (I am NOT kidding you.)

    Fortunately not all adoptive parents have this attitude (thank you, Dawn, Erin, Cloudscome, Jen, and many many others), but the attitude is far, far too prevalent for those of us women in crisis pregnancies, suffering low self esteem and scared out of our minds, to stand a chance against.

    The current system does not protect my rights. It didn’t protect my rights as a single expectant mother, and it doesn’t protect my rights now, as a birth mother (natural mother, first mother, whatever). AND it doesn’t protect adoptees’ rights, either: WHY do we infantilize grown, thinking adults by denying them their own information, their own records?

    It’s GOT to change. It’s got to. And I believe eventually, it will. Someday we are going to look back on the infant relinquishment system in the U.S. and view it as a horrible infringement of human rights.

  33. christine, I worked in a shelter before I had my son and I met women who shouldn’t have been parenting but were — none of them considered making an adoption plan. We’re not talking about women who are truly *unable* to parent — we’re talking about women whose children would not be targeted by the industry except those women reached out to that industry because they were in crisis. The ironic thing is that the very act of considering adoption is an indicator of a woman’s responsibility and yet that same act is what will too often damn her.

  34. I agree with much of what paragraphein
    has written in her post. There will be some people who just will not be able to parent no matter how many services are engaged and their children will likely be removed. I have been involved with babies taken right from the hospital after birth from their mothers who were severely disabled and/or had substance abuse/domestic abuse/child abuse issues and the like. That is a different target group that the young, unwed expectant mother that I felt this blog and others were referring too.

    I haven’t read what paragraphein wrote about a large nonprofit doing infant adoptions but I will. Most states have nonprofits and for profit agencies doing healthy infant adoptions now. There would have to be some way to control for the conflict of interest between being an adoption agency and yet assisting young women who wish to keep their baby. To me the dilemma is pretty obvious. The best way is to have them be two separate entities but not sure how feasible that would be.

    There may be programs out there now that advocate for women that could modify their mission to include some of the things discussed in this and other blogs. Rather than starting up something entirely new which takes an enormous amount of time and resources, perhaps looking at what is already out there that could be used is something to consider too.

    I like the dialogue as it is generating a lot of ideas!

  35. Okay…read what paragraphein wrote and we are definitely on the same page….has to be an intermediate agency. She, like myself, felt the government would be in the best position to do that in order to avoid the conflict of interest and shutdown private adoption agencies who are in it partly, if not primarily, for the money. I am not opposed to a non-profit doing it and there may be some out there now doing it, it is just standardizing it and also how would it be funded? Just through donations? Lots of detail to work out when a governmental agency already has an infrastructure in place….just a few thoughts.

  36. Oh I wish I had my act together better…but alas, I am lame. we all know!
    Anyway, I want this here as a response and as a contribution to Candy Mountain..

    It’s coming….just hold on it’s coming!!! By the end of April dagnabit!! I swaer!!
    Book mark it..and it will come! and org and Org
    Take your pick..answers await!!

  37. Mia

    (((Claude))) (((Claude))) (((Claude)))

  38. I adopted my daughter through foster care in California when she was an infant. It was right at the time that the laws had changed where you could begin permanancy planning while reunification was still ongoing. My daughter’s first mother signed relinquishment papers after BJ had spent two weeks in foster care instead of pursuing reunification. As much as I hope its not true, and as much as I believed at the time that I was avoiding the “marketing” by adopting through social services, I have doubts now about whether she was pressured to relinquish. Being a government service, and being a civil servant myself, I do believe services were offered and that her rights were at least presented to her in writing, if not also discussed with her. I was told that she chose to relinquish because of her drug issues an not wanting her daughter to suffer. I also have met many fellow adoptive parents who would not have moved forward (for their own reasons that I am not judging) if presented with my beautiful daughter for placement because she was removed at birth as drug exposed and had and no prenatal care provided. But my daughter was still a white infant that they could easily place (thus raising their statistics and reimbursement from feds)

    I share this to say that foster care still sucks, I still trust government agencies a bit more than for profit, but agree that government often doesn’t get it right, and that government employees are as susceptible to poorly written laws and good intentions paving the road…

  39. My .02…

    It will require a very loud voice…one from an artist…a musical artist…the way (most) artists USED to actually get behind a cause and stake their career’s upon their beliefs. An artist that has the (pardon the expression) “balls” to tell the record company to shove their deal if they don’t like what they’re saying.

    An artist has the platform to reach people at large quantities and at an underground level. Music especially (at least in my opinion) penetrates the masses. An artist needs to write songs that are cool and carry the message…none of this warm, fuzzy stuff…songs with anger, songs with passion, songs with compassion, etc, etc….but they must be cool! They must move you when you hear them AND move the person who is not directly connected (the non-triad member)…moves them to where they like the tune and then get the “message.” As if they were being told a message without knowing…and then once they do realize, the music and the message has penetrated them so much that they make a conscious decision to support….because it’s the right thing to do…not because someone told them they should.

    Has anyone seen the Free Hugs Campaign video? That is an idea I have brewing…doing something like that and releasing it via the net and benefiting from viral marketing….and grassroots.

  40. Wonderful post. I find the people who are most stubborn about reforming adoption are those who must cling to the view that it is the BEST.THING.EVER. Never a second choice – it’s the first, most loving choice, rah rah rah, amen.

    I find it almost impossible to establish a dialogue with people who believe that.

    So it’s refreshing to see someone else point out that little will change until we can look at adoption honestly.

    Glad to have discovered your blog!

  41. Mia

    I LOVE it Kevin! Love it. DMC’s song with Sara M. made a HUGE impact on adoptees and natural parents. Sadly though I have no idea what sort of impact it made on the rest of the world. Which leads me to believe it may have been a message only we could truly understand. To this day I have not heard it played on the radio.

    It would need to be a song, as you said, that carries it’s message “as if” that were not it’s main objective. Music that the masses fell in love with and then one day went……HOLY CRAP, have you LISTENED to these lyrics?!!!

  42. Mia

    Let me add that I think this idea would have an even more profound effect on open records. Adoption reform is seriously complicated. Open records is a no brainer.

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