Heart to Heart Adoptions; Andy and Melissa Moore; The Taking of Ja’Meka

Oh look.  How could it be? Another father’s rights being trampled on by a Utah adoption agency.  Who would have imagined?

Can you taste the sarcasm?

If this is your first time visiting the dark underbelly of the adoption Interwebs, you may not understand.  Utah is infamous for it’s unethical and immoral adoption laws that virtually give fathers zero rights to their child.  Often times, adoption agencies will move moms to Utah to deliver their babies if they know a father will not consent to an adoption or voluntarily terminate his own rights.  This is because it really takes an act of God to retain your rights as a father, in Utah, due to their archaic, unethical laws that continue to be practiced due to heavy lobbying from Utah adoption agencies such as Heart to Heart Adoptions.  No “pesky” father will get in the way of making that buck off that baby in Utah. Better believe it.

Some representatives in Utah have made attempts to change the laws but, alas, all were thwarted.  Why would anyone who profits off of adoption want to make it harder to get those babies?  In fact, a class action lawsuit was brought against the state of Utah due to their unconstitutional laws by twelve fathers.  It was, of course, dismissed. The whole state of Utah is corrupt to the very core when it comes to adoption and father’s rights.

Read about the father’s who initiated the federal class action lawsuit against Utah.

So it was really no surprise, unfortunately, when I heard about Johnny. 

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Johnny with his daughter, Ja’Meka, at the hosptial, when she was born.

Johnny is a father to a beautiful little girl named Ja’Meka that was born on October 18, 2016 in Georgia. Ja’Meka’s mom, while heavily medicated (having had a tubal ligation the previous day) and under duress, on October 19, 2016 was driven to two attorney’s offices by Bonnie Lin Hilton of Heart to Heart Adoptions based out of Utah.  The first attorney’s office was closed, due to being later in the business day.  The second attorney was open and it was there that Ja’Meka’s mom agreed to waive all her rights in the state of Georgia, in regards to her child and the adoption, and instead go by Utah law. She also terminated her parental rights.  Georgia law doesn’t have any waiting period to do this.  It can be done a minute after the baby is born. It was just Ja’Meka’s mom, Bonnie Lin Hilton, the attorney and a notary (Lucinda S. Hand) – signing away her rights while she was medicated recovering from giving birth and a major operation the day before. Let me say that again.  Ja’Meka’s mom signed legal documents that waived her rights and protections under Georgia law and terminated her parental rights to her child a day after giving birth and having a major operation while medicated on opiates. Bonnie Lin Hilton of Heart to Heart Adoptions in Utah arranged this.

Johnny was not aware this was transpiring.  Heart to Heart Adoptions claims that they weren’t aware of who the father was. This is a blatant lie, however. Johnny actually drove Mom to the hospital with labor pains was at the hospital!  There are pictures of him holding his daughter. Regardless, Putative (biological) father law in Georgia is found in Section 19-8-12 of the Georgia Code. This statute requires that a father be given notice and informed of pending adoption proceedings involving his child if one of following conditions is met.:  1.) If his identity is known. 2.) If he is registered on the putative father registry. 3.) If the court finds that the father has either (a) lived with the child, (b) contributed to the child’s support, (c) made attempts to legitimate the child or (d) provided support to the mother during the pregnancy.

Johnny’s identity was clearly known. Ja’Meka’s doctor even checked her vitals while in Johnny’s arms.  Johnny cared for Ja’Meka while her Mom was sedated from the tubal ligation.  While he was not yet on the putative father registry, he had made attempts to legitimize her and provided support to her mother during the pregnancy.  According to Georgia law, notice should have been given to Johnny that his child was attempting to be put up for adoption and he would then have thirty days to legitimize his child – a legal process in Georgia which gives a father rights to his child.

None of this was done and his child was gone the day after her birth.

While Ja’Meka’s mom was tricked into waiving her rights and protections under Georgia law, Johnny did not agree to waive his rights and protections and was very vocal that he did not want an adoption to take place.  His daughter was born in Georgia and all of his rights as well as Ja’Meka’s remain INTACT. 

As much as Heart to Heart Adoptions would like to try to ignore these facts.

That’s probably why Melissa and Andy Moore of Boise, Idaho are purportedly hiding out in Utah. They live in Idaho, have Ja’Meka, and can’t return home because their ICPC paperwork is not complete. They cannot get cleared.  They have not met the requirements to take this child from her home state of Georgia into Utah as prospective adoptive parents. Ja’Meka’s father’s rights were never terminated.  They remain intact.

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Andy and Melissa Moore, couple holding Ja’Meka illegally.

And just for fun, here’s Andy Moore’s grown daughter, Jessica Mawhiney, congratulating her stepmom and dad for procuring this infant. The post is now deleted or made private, as is Melissa’s Facebook profile.

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I guess when you unethically and illegally take someone else’s child you kinda have to hide. Andy’s profile, for now, is still active.

So who is behind Heart to Heart Adoptions?

Founded by Donna Pope and Mary Anne Holmoe, Heart to Heart Adoptions is a “smaller” agency in Sandy, Utah.  When looking at their form 990’s as a non-profit, it appears they don’t make too much of a profit at all.  In fact, they’ve claimed to be in the red for at least one year, losing money.  Now, I can’t say for sure, but Duncan Wright is a board member with Heart to Heart, according to their website and their taxes. I also found Duncan Wright as the owner of a non-profit in Sandy, Utah called “Rotary International.” It claims it has zero income and is a social welfare organization with an affiliation of being a subordinate in a group ruling. A quick Google search will bring you to this page, Sandy Rotary. When you go to the members page, Duncan is listed last and described as:

“Duncan Wright
Club Treasurer

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Duncan Wright has worked for Wells Fargo Bank since he graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in Finance in August of 1985. He was a Branch Manager of several branches prior to working in his current position as a Relationship Manager in the Wells Fargo Business Banking Group. He has worked in his current position for 20 years. He has served as Chairman of the Board of the Sandy Chamber of Commerce and currently serves on the Chamber Finance Committee. He has served as the Sandy Rotary Club President and currently serves as the Club Treasurer. He is also a member of the Sandy Honorary Colonels.”

Marney DeVroom is also listed as the Chairman of Heart to Heart Adoptions.  She is also the founder and owner of Spectrum Academy in North Salt Lake City, Utah. According to their form 990’s they are doing a little better financially.  After salaries, expenses, and revenue, they profit just above $700,000 per year. What’s interesting about Spectrum Academy is, they have med182a366ical forms for their students on their website. This is a school that consists mainly of pupils on the Autism spectrum from grades K-12. A private, non-profit charter school.  Of about 36 forms for various different conditions, there is a pregnancy form. While that in and of itself isn’t TOO unusual, the wording at the beginning is.  And give that the founder, director and owner of Spectrum Academy is also the Chairman of an adoption agency, well, let’s just say skeptical cat is skeptical. As an afterthought, Marney is also some sort of counsel for oil companies.

 

The wording is:

“- Three-quarters of a million teens between 15 and 19 become pregnant each year.
– Very few teens who become mothers plan on doing so. Out of all teen pregnancies, 82% are unintended. Teen pregnancy accounts for 20% of all unplanned pregnancies annually.
– Two-thirds of teen pregnancies occur among teens 18-19 years old and teen mothers account for 11% of all births in the US.
– Out of all teen pregnancies, 57% end in birth. Another 14% end in miscarriage.
– Nearly a third of pregnant teenagers choose abortion.
– Black teens have the highest teen pregnancy rate.
– Teens who become pregnant are less likely to attend college
– US teen pregnancy rates are higher than those of other developed countries.
– Teen pregnancy rates declined between 1991 and 2005 but are on the rise again.

Statistically the obstetric hazards for adolescents and their infants include increased
mortality and morbidity rates. Health care priorities for the student include promoting the optimal physical / emotional well-being of the student, concern for fetal well-being, providing information and review of available options, assisting student in positive adaptation to new and changing roles, encouraging family / partner participation in problem-solving.”

This is on a page called “Pregnancy Care Plan” and asks for a medical release for Spectrum Academy to have access to any pregnant student’s medical records. Why would a pregnancy care plan have the above information stated? Why would a school need access to a student’s medical records. There is also a form for Asthma. My daughter has Asthma.  I have never once been asked to release her medical records for her school to have full access to at any time.

The medical release on the pregnancy care plan reads as follows:

“AUTHORIZATION / INFORMED CONSENT / MEDICAL RELEASE
1. I have reviewed and am in agreement with the Health Care Plan and I authorize school officials to provide my child with health care services in accordance with this plan. I understand that my student’s health information will need to be shared:
A. To benefit the student in terms of health maintenance and academic progress.
B. When necessary to accommodate the safety and well-being of student and staff.
C. With the discretion of the school nurse to determine what is shared and who should          know.
2. I understand that consent for sharing of health information will remain in effect as long as my student is enrolled in Spectrum Academy and may be revoked at any time in writing by parent / guardian.
3. I understand if clarification of the health information is needed, my signature authorized the school nurse to contact the medical provider and authorized the medical provider to release information.”

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Hmm.

Donna Pope, the President and Founder of Heart to Heart Adoptions. Let’s be clear.  She is not a licensed social worker.  She is a former respiratory care nurse. She is also the one who was engaging with Johnny in the comments section of his review on Facebook of Heart to Heart Adoptions (which has now been disabled). Heart to Heart does have an active license as an adoption agency that will expire, if not renewed, in 2017.

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Bonnie Lin Hilton, social worker that facilitated all of this. She does hold a current license in the state of Utah as a social worker. She does NOT hold a current Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) license for the state of Georgia – where she was conducting herself on behalf of Heart to Heart Adoptions. img_2038Her current license in Utah is an endorsement license.  In other words, she transferred her license from the state of Tennessee where she apparently worked for an organization called “Adoptions Plus” which I can find virtually no information about, besides the fact that her license as a social worker was tied to that organization and the address of that organization was 2211 Berrywood Dr., Knoxville, TN, 37932.  It wouldn’t be going out too far on a limb to assume that Bonnie may have been trying to run her own adoption agency but failed. hope-zettler Interestingly, Bonnie is also listed on the Heart to Heart Adoption agency website as Hope Zettler, LCSW.  I am stumped as to why this is.  But I think it further proves the deception of Heart to Heart. Was Bonnie Lin Hilton once going by Hope Zettler?
Appears that way on the website. For the record, I found no LCSW license for any Hope Zettler in Utah or Georgia.

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Last, but not least, when Johnny was pleading with them to return his baby, via the comments of his review on Facebook, Donna admitted that the paperwork of relinquishment was incorrect (possibly fraudulent as times were entered incorrectly – on purpose??) and was dismissive to Johnny.  She also either lied, or was unaware that Bonnie knew that Johnny was the father as he was clearly at the hospital. The exchange is painful to watch.

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Another man, Michael Ash, has a similar story to Johnny’s with Heart to Heart Adoptions. His daughter was also taken for adoption without his consent or permission using the same fraudulent and unethical practices that Utah and Heart to Heart are notorious for.  You can read his story here.

So where does Johnny stand?

I’d like to reveal our hand but I think it’s in the best interests of Ja’Meka and Johnny to keep that a secret.  The best thing you can do right now is to show your support of Johnny. A Facebook page has been set up to keep everyone up to date with what’s going on. He’s going to need all the support he can get.

Please head on over to BRING BABY JA’MEKA HOME and show your love  and support for Father’s Rights!

Finally, this is a message to Heart to Heart Adoptions, Donna Pope, Bonnie Hilton, Melissa Moore and Andy Moore.

This is NOT the story you want following you around. We will not stop.  We will not rest. Ja’Meka is Johnny’s daughter and she rightfully belongs with him. You cannot go to Idaho because you’re in violation of ICPC. No court is going to grant your adoption once they find out you have violated this. Furthermore, this is not your child. How are you going to look at yourselves in the mirror knowing you stole someone else’s child? How are you going to look that little girl in the face (if the rare rare chance that you actually get to keep her comes to be, which is doubtful) and say, “Oh, we ran with you. Your Dad wanted you but we wanted you more.”

Heart to Heart – you’re on my radar. You’re on a lot of people’s radars now. You’re business doesn’t seem to be going too well, either. I’m not sure how the IRS, and proper licensing authorities will feel about the dirty dealings you’ve been conducting. I highly suggest you get your stuff together and conduct legal and ethical adoptions instead of stealing other Father’s babies for profit by ignoring their rights.

To all of you involved with this serious miscarriage of justice – RETURN JA’MEKA TO HER FATHER.

Catelynn & Tyler of MTV’s Teen Mom – A Lesson in Reality

“Bethany was really supportive of me. They helped me answer any questions or any worries that I have, they taught me about grief and how to go through that; just kind of show me that I’m the person who makes my adoption plan. I’m the person that makes it look how I want it to look. They’ve just always been there. I could call them at four o’clock in the morning and they would talk to me and answer my questions.”
-Catelynn, PSA for Bethany Christian Services, April 9, 2014

Just a few short days ago the world looked on as MTV’s Teen Mom stars, Catelynn and Tyler Baltierra, received the news that they would not be getting a yearly visit with the daughter they relinquished to adoption, Carly.  The short video clip shows the Teen Mom stars meeting with their social worker, Dawn Baker, in what looks to be a cafe of sorts, so that she can deliver the bad news. Dawn has worked with the couple as an employee of Bethany Christian Services throughout the duration of Catelynn’s pregnancy, birth, post-birth, post-relinquishment.

In the clip, Dawn has come prepared with a folder of papers to remind Catelynn and Tyler what they agreed upon in their “open adoption contract.” Open adoption contracts are more common, nowadays, than not and usually stipulate what both parties agree to as far as openness after an adoption. However, even in states where open adoption contracts are “legally binding,” these contracts are mostly faith-based and cannot really be enforced. (See more about open adoption contracts here)  It is assumed that all parties will act ethically and hold up their end of the deal.  During part of the clip you get a glimpse at the contract that Catelynn and Tyler signed:

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If you read the paragraph under “communication” you’ll see phrases such as “the first 2 years” or “through the age of 5 years old” and “exchange of these items will take place through Bethany.” Having watched the show you may be wondering why there are age stipulations in this “open” adoption contract.  Surely Catleynn and Tyler have, and always did, want to be a part of Carly’s life for all of her life.

When Catelynn questions why Brandon and Teresa have not answered her texts about a visit, Dawn is quick to remind them what they agreed to in their “contract.”

“I wanna take you guys back to 2009 and I want to show you some things you signed with me. And I made a copy so you guys could have, so… This was the foundation of where you started, yeah you said ‘no’ to ongoing face to face and you could REQUEST visits with the adoptive family in the future to be initiated by Catelynn and Tyler, which is what you’ve been doing, and at the discretion of the adoptive family, as they determine what is in the best interest of Carly…”

Hold the phone.  They said “NO” to ongoing face to face visits? Hmm.  Has anyone watched the show? Can anyone think of any reason that they wouldn’t want to continue to see their daughter? Let me tell you what I think happened here based on my experience.

Catelynn and Tyler are “counseled” by Bethany.  Bethany tells them that the contract they are signing is just a bare bones deal.  They can still see Carly as long as Brendan and Teresa are okay with that, and why wouldn’t they be? As long as your relationship continues the way it has this shouldn’t even be an issue. We’ll just have the contract in writing with the bare minimum.  Yes they could choose to stop ongoing visits but that’s not likely to happen since this is what everyone wants. And, by the way, Bethany suggests that all gifts and letter get filtered through them and that updates three times a year should stop at age 2 and videos of birthdays should stop at age 5 because, ya know, birth parents just kinda start to forget and move on and it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.  Can you taste my sarcasm?

So Catelynn and Tyler agreed to this contract after being counseled by Dawn and Bethany Christian Services. They really did understand that at anytime their visits could be taken away.  Yes, they did.  But they were reassured that wasn’t likely to happen as long as everyone continued this great wonderful relationship that they were promised.  I would also go so far as to assume, because it happened to me, that Catelynn and Tyler didn’t even know they could say “nope, sorry.” Because, ya see, they make you fall “in love” with this adoptive couple.  They make you feel like these are THE people for my child.  If I ask for more they may back out.  And agencies have a great way of making you feel like maybe you WON’T find parents for your baby if you’re too picky.  So they agreed, because asking for any more may mean missing out on this ideal, “perfect” couple for their baby.  And they truly did want what was best for their baby.

Ahh, but Bethany has a history.  They even wrote a book.  It’s called “A Case For Adoption.”

The original description from their website stated:

“This manual is written for those who counsel women experiencing unplanned pregnancies. Its purpose is to show how adoption can be presented as a positive, life-giving choice. 

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Basically, Bethany wrote a manual in 1985 about how to convince women to give their children up for adoption.  And this manual is still being used today.

Where were we? Oh yes.  Dawn presents “legal” documents to remind Catelynn and Tyler that they aren’t fitting into the perfect little birth parent box they were supposed to stay in. When Catelynn expresses frustration that Carly’s adoptive parents would not answer her directly when she asks about a visit Dawn is quick to “counsel” them with this answer:

“If the conversation is kinda shut down about the visit, let’s move on to another converstaion…”

Catelynn again expresses frustration, “I hate not having an answer.”

Dawn, being the great counselor that she is to help them through this difficult time replies with, “I know you do but you’re not getting it right now, you’re not getting an answer right now. I know this is hard you guys.”

Here’s what I heard – I know you don’t like it but tough shit.  You aren’t getting what you want so move the fuck on.  I’m only hear to make Bethany look good.  I’m only here because Brandon and Teresa were too chicken shit to tell you themselves.  I really don’t give a shit about how you feel. I get my paycheck regardless and I have you and all the other hundreds of girls just like you, to thank for that.

That’s what I heard.  Not what she said, but what I heard.

And then my favorite part.  Catelynn’s response.

“No its just fucking frustrating because I was fucking 16 years old when I made these decisions.”  And there it is. Almost like an epiphany.  How can a coup of sixteen year olds be expected to understand the depth and magnitude of what they are doing? How can anyone, really? Unless you’ve lived it you have no idea. Unless you have had the door slammed shut in your face, you DON’T KNOW. You CAN’T know.  You believe everything the counselors tell you.  You believe that you will doom your child to a lifetime of pain and unhappiness.  You believe you aren’t good enough.  And I’m here to tell you, it’s all lies. The people telling you this are the people who profit from your loss.

Bethany Christian Services paid almost 5.5 MILLION dollars in employee salaries and wages in 2014 – the year Catelynn and Tyler recorded that PSA for them. Their total net assets were over 34 MILLION dollars.  Their total liabilities and net assets were almost 45 MILLION dollars. William Blacquere, CEO and President of Bethany Christian Services in 2014 had a salary of $210,812,  Over TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS a year as a salary for being the President of an adoption agency.  A “non profit” one at that.

I’m the person who makes my adoption plan. I’m the person that makes it look how I want it to look.”

“No its just fucking frustrating because I was fucking 16 years old when I made these decisions.”

I really really feel for Catelynn and Tyler.  They are in the public eye which means every misstep is recorded for all to see. Yes, they made a choice to be in the public eye, but there will never be any going back for them in that decision as well.  As far as their views on adoption and how they feel about being denied their yearly visit, well, as all of us first parents know, any vocalization against the adoptive parents of our kids or adoption as an institute puts us at grave risk of being totally cut off from our children – until they are of age to decide for themselves. I can see it in their faces when I watch the show.  The fear. One wrong move and it all crumbles down and how are we supposed to continue living life if that happens?

Tyler seems more outspoken, but he still can’t say what he wants, if he wants.

But Catelynn, Tyler, they do grow up.  They do have minds of their own. And sometimes they do come calling.  And sometimes they’re FUCKING PISSED about what’s happened. I’m learning this first hand.

I don’t care if you smoke pot.  I don’t care if you’re depressed because having another baby made you realize the enormity of what you lost.  I don’t care if you have a beer now and again.  You aren’t unsafe for your daughter to visit once a year.  There is absolutely no excuse for it. None.  You may not be able to say it, but I will. Carly loves you, she’s had a relationship with you, and now it has been, at the least, interrupted.  At the most, ended. How will they explain that to her? How will that hurt her? Has anyone stopped to think about that?

Family preservation. It has been my only life line. It is what helps me heal.  Catelynn, Tyler, please reach out. Even if under an alias. There’s a whole community waiting for you.

Victoria: A Call To Action for the SOS Network

I’d like to tell you a story. A story about resilience, courage, love, redemption and faith. A story a little bit shocking, a lot sad, a little sensational, but filled with a lot of hope. 

Let me introduce you to Victoria. From the tender age of eight years old, Victoria has been a victim of human trafficking. Taken from her home country in Europe, she spent the next several years of her life in a hell that you can only imagine. 

But Victoria made it out. Refusing to accept her fate, she ran. And then they would beat her. And she would run again. And they would burn her. As she told her story she showed me the scars on her arms. I choked back tears, in awe of this creature before me, this brave young woman. All of my mundane worries of everyday life fell away. Victoria was a warrior. She was a Phoenix. What touched me the most is she didn’t even realize how courageous she was. 

As I reached out to her I said, “I’m so sorry that happened to you. So very sorry.” Her response fit her perfectly and showed just how amazing she is. 

“It’s okay. I’m here. I’m alive,” with a smile on her face. This twenty year old woman had managed to teach me everything I needed to know about resilience in the short hour that I sat with her. I don’t really have heroes, but if I did Victoria is surely one of them. 

We got back to the matter at hand, the reason fate had brought us together. I watch as she lovingly strokes her belly, comforting her little one that safely resides within her. In six weeks or less Victoria will welcome her fourth child into the world. She loves him. She’s named him. She has a pink baby swing in her living room that she managed to obtain from someone feeling charitable. But that’s the only clue you’ll see, besides her obvious impending motherhood, that a new baby will soon be here. 

Victoria has, thus far, been supported by the church in her community. They pay her rent and other bills and supply her little family with food. This support, however, has been contingent on the relinquishment of her baby when he arrives. She’s told them she doesn’t want to give him up. It always ends in an argument. When Victoria came to SOS she didn’t really see any other way. If keeping her baby meant homelessness for her and all of her kids, how could she possibly not go through with an adoption?

There are still so many people in this world who don’t see the U.S. adoption system for what it truly is. They really think they are “helping” by coercing women into giving up their babies. It’s obvious this is also true of the people helping Victoria. 

Victoria is smart. She’s forthcoming, she’s willing to do whatever she has to do to keep her family together. You see, she’s already lost one child to adoption. It was supposed to be an open adoption but it’s been months since she’s received any response from the adoptive parents.  

She has stacks of paperwork already put together when I walk in her door. Immigration papers, the Department of Homeland Security, WIC, and a contract from an attorney she was forced to go see last week. She didn’t sign the contract though. She remembered I told her not to sign ANYTHING when she told me she had the appointment. Even though great pressure was put on her to sign, she resisted. Did I mention Victoria is strong? 

The contract is from a local family law attorney. It’s essentially a contract to do business and a legal agreement to pay a certain amount of money to retain the services of this attorney and what the hourly fees thereafter would be. I ask, “they want YOU to sign this and pay for an attorney to give your baby up for adoption?” She replies, “No, they want me to sign it but said the adoptive parents would pay the fees.”

It becomes obvious why there was such an uproar when she wouldn’t sign it. Sure, if she went through with an adoption I know the adoptive parents would pay the legal fees. But if she changes her mind, it’s just something to hold over her head to coerce her into relinquishment. I feel sick looking at it. 

We end our visit with a group prayer. I thank God for bringing Victoria into my life and ask him to help her stay strong and endure the pressure she is facing. I assure Victoria that God does not make mistakes and that she was the intended mother for her child. 

We hug, we make future plans. When I walk out that door I know there is no turning back. Victoria is now a part of my family. It is done. 

Dear Network,

Victoria needs your help. We CAN do this. She was a victim but doesn’t need to be anymore. Please help us empower her and help her heal. We got this. I know we do. 

For ways to help please visit http://www.facebook.com/adoptionSOS

Or search SAVING OUR SISTERS on Facebook. 

If you make a monetary donation via http://www.cubirthparents.org and choose the “Donate” button and select Saving Our Sisters and in the comment field type “Victoria.”

Thank you all for all that you do. 

In Loving Memory of Gwendolyn Archard

On August 26, 2016 I heard the news that a dear first mom friend of mine was no longer with us. The previous day, beautiful Gwen had decided that the pain was too much and bowed out of this circus called life. Just before her decision, she deleted dozens of her first mom friends. I am assuming she did not want us to know what had happened. We found out anyway.

Shock, sadness, and despair ripped through our online communities. We searched frantically for an obituary, in the days to come, but none was to be found.

A few days ago, Gwen’s brother, the only family that Gwen really felt she could rely on, posted publicly of her passing. He didn’t indicate any formal funeral, but it was clear other non-traditional arrangements to honor her memory had been made.

Today I write to honor Gwen and her life inside our private world, the world of first moms. Gwen was an activist, a warrior, she dedicated her life to fighting injustices. Gwen had Cerbral Palsy but she didn’t let that stop her. As a practicing criminal defense attorney and disability rights champion, Gwen was thrust into another arena, unexpectedly. And she fought there, too. Side by side, with other first moms, she fought against the injustices and coercion in the world of adoption.

You see, Gwen wanted her son. A beautiful little boy she named Atticus. However, upon his birth, Gwen was threatened with foster care and CPS if she did not relinquish her rights to her child. One particular nurse made it abundantly clear to Gwen that her disability would mean her child being forcibly removed and lingering from foster home to foster home while she fought for her right to parent him.

Because Gwen loved Atticus more than life itself, she was coerced into believing this nurse, and others, and relinquished Atticus for adoption after his birth to spare him the perceived pain of living in foster care.

Gwen believed fighting for her son was not in his best interests because she was not good enough for her son. She was made to believe this.

While Gwen’s case is an extreme, it is the same concept of almost all domestic infant adoptions. It was easy to target Gwen because she had a disability to use against her as an excuse for why she wasn’t good enough. Almost every woman considering adoption has to be made to believe the same thing for a successful adoption to ensue. Maybe they don’t have a visible disability. Maybe they are poor. Maybe they have an anxiety disorder. Maybe they aren’t married. It’s all the same, the message that’s received. You aren’t good enough for your child, they deserve better.

Gwen would have made a fantastic parenting mother. Like everything she did in her life, I imagine she would rock at it. She was an amazing person and the world has suffered a huge loss with her passing. Atticus, her son, has suffered the most tremulous loss.

People say that adoption isn’t trauma. They say it’s a beautiful thing. They don’t recognize the aftermath that can follow for first moms and many adoptees. When presented with stories like Gwen they will say, “See, it’s better her son was adopted. Look what happened. His mom was mentally ill.” To which I say, NO. Nothing in Gwen’s life, prior to the loss of her son, indicates any mental illness. Instead, Gwen’s death can be blamed solely on adoption. She lost her son. A mother LOST HER SON. It’s enough to make anyone not want to live anymore, to throw in the towel, to give up. The pain can be so suffocating, at times, that death seems like the only reprieve.

Atticus last saw his mother as a newborn in the hosptial. Gwen did not get her “open adoption.” She was left to use non-traditional means to get glimpses into his life. I am happy to have been a part of that, to have given her a little bit of comfort in her too short life as a first mom. The pictures brought her great joy, but they also brought her great pain. To see her son, her baby, not living the life she wanted for him, with her. Such is the life of a first mom.

I’m hoping that one day Atticus can find this post and know how much his mother loved him, how hard she fought for him, and how devastated she was without him. I hope he knows how much he was WANTED and loved.

In closing, I will share with you some private thoughts from Gwen that she posted, over the last year or so, in our private group. The admins agreed that Gwen would want this. No one can hurt her anymore so there’s nothing left to lose.

We will be your voice now, Gwen. We will watch over Atticus and make sure he knows your story.

We miss you. We love you. Sleep peacefully and free from the pain of this world.

-Your first mom sisters

“Atticus is 2 today.

The birth announcement I never got to make:

Atticus Kitwana Mulupi, Born July 9, 2013 at 2:51 pm.  4 lb 1 oz, 17′ long.  I love you, baby boy.”

“Happy 3rd birthday, Atticus Kitwana Mulupi.  I love you more than you will ever know.  I am more proud of you every day.”

“I think my issue is that my son’s adoption was very coercive.  I “picked” the AP’s, but only because I was told he would risk being taken into foster care if I didn’t have a family for him when I left the hospital.  I’ve always sensed that they look down on me because I have a physical disability.”

“I had been threatened with foster care right after birth, simply because I have cerebral palsy.  That is the ONLY reason why I got involved with the adoption lawyers in the first place.”

“Been feeling isolated lately.  Dealing with crap about how my disability made me feel like I had no right to ask for any help with Atticus….I’ve been to like 4 different counselors since relinquishment and none of them really understand that aspect.  I just want to be told I have the same rights as others and that nobody’s judging me for what I can and cannot do.  I don’t want to burden anybody but a counselor with this crap.  Not sure who else to talk to.”

-Gwendolyn Archard

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Dear Aly’s “Birthmom”

Dear Aly’s “Birthmom,”

This is how you are referred to in Aly and Josh Taylor’s blog, but you are not “their” birthmom. You don’t belong to them. You are Genevieve’s first mother. You are also the mother to the little girl you just gave birth to. Please don’t let anyone tell you any different.

I have been scouring the Internet all day trying to figure out who you are, how to extend my hand in support of you and your little girl.

I have seen countless comments about how it is God’s plan for your child not to be with you and instead go to Aly and Josh. I have seen the adoption community, adoptees and birthmoms alike, offer you the help you need to parent your baby.

All those comments were deleted by the Taylors. I can only assume they don’t want you to find the support you need to parent your baby because it would interfere with their desire to have her.

I’ve seen people blasting your personal information all over social media, claiming you are an unfit mother, that your older children are in foster care. Because I have been scouring the Internet all day trying to find you I have also read a good portion of the blog, Aly’s Fight. Because of this I know that your children are not in foster care and there is nothing to suggest you are not a safe and fit mother. Perhaps you have fallen on hard times, but why else would anyone ever consider relinquishing their children?

I cannot find your name and this is my last ditch attempt to get a message to you. (Remember, all our offers of help have been systematically removed on any public forum by Aly & Josh)

I cannot find you quick enough. You wanted to keep Genevieve and were coerced to believe you were not good enough. You found the courage to stand up and say you will not give this baby up and I fear that you will, again, be beaten down.

How hard is it knowing that the people who hold all the power to entirely cut you out of Genevieve’s life want the new baby that you don’t want to give them? I know exactly how hard it is because I was once in your shoes. And I kept that next baby. Because of it I was cut out of my daughter’s life.

But she returned to me. On her own. And she has listened to MY story. The story that was withheld from her. They didn’t get the next baby, and they tried to eliminate me from the first one’s life. They failed.

Please, whatever your name is, whoever you may be, PLEASE contact me. All the support you need is just a click away. I promise you. God’s will is for your daughter to have her mommy and for you to be the mommy as He intended you to be.

No one is entitled to your child. NO ONE. YOU are her mother. You always were, you always will be.

Dear Aly’s “birthmother,”

Please find this post.

Sincerely,

A very concerned first mom.