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

Or search SAVING OUR SISTERS on Facebook. 

If you make a monetary donation via 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


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.


A very concerned first mom.

My Adoption Memoir – Whispers of Grace

A little over a year ago I began to write the first book in a series of memoirs that I intended to release. I entitled this series, “Whispers of Grace.” The first draft was pretty horrible. I wanted to gain honest feedback and constructive criticism so I released the draft for a few short days and listened to everyone’s thoughts. Since then I have been working to polish this my story and today I can finally say it has been re-released.

What’s different about this version compared to the last version?

It has been heavily edited so grammar and typos are obsolete. Whereas the first draft consisted of about 27,000 words, the final publication has just about 42,000. There were moments in the book that needed to be expanded on and explained in greater detail and that is what I have done.

What is it about?

I’ll include the synopsis here for you:

How do you hold onto a whisper? How do you carve out a path through the echo of what could have been? These are the questions that haunt Julia’s life. Take a heart-wrenching journey with Julia as she shares the memories of her pregnancy, birth and subsequent relinquishment of her child.

“Whispers of Grace” is one woman’s true experience in modern day adoption. When Julia finds herself pregnant for the fourth time she feels as if the world is closing in on her. With no options Julia and her boyfriend, Justin, decide to give their baby up for adoption. Unlike the movies Julia has seen, however, her personal experience, in today’s world, is not what she expected at all.

Walk in Julia’s shoes through the pages of this haunting memoir. From the decision to pursue adoption to terminating her parental rights and the aftermath that follows, Whispers of Grace will put you inside the mind, heart, and soul of an expectant mother left with no choice but to give her child a life where she will never be her daughter’s mother.

“Whispers of Grace” is the first in an upcoming series that follows Julia in her experiences in living life as a birthmother. Book one focuses on the pregnancy, birth, and relinquishment. It answers questions many may wonder but are too scared to ask. How does a woman choose adoption? What plays into that decision? What is it like to work with an adoption agency? How are adoptive parents chosen? Unlike the many books written about the notorious “baby scoop era,” this memoir is an intriguing look into a new generation of birthmothers that ushered in a new generation of so-called “open adoptions.”

While names and certain details have been changed to protect identities, this is my story as I remember it.

How can I read Whispers of Grace?

The good news is it’s free. Yes, FREE. Well, kind of. It will be offered exclusively through Amazon for the next 90 days and if you have a Kindle Unlimited account you can read for free. If you don’t have a Kindle Unlimited account don’t worry. Amazon offers a free 30 day trial. Just remember to cancel it before your 30 days are up! This book should not take you 30 days to read. It is a novella, coming in at just around 172 pages in e-book format. If you don’t care to sign up for Kindle Unlimited you can always purchase, and own, Whispers of Grace for $3.99 – yours to keep.

Right now I’m watching to see how well this book does. It’s my hope that proceeds will be substantial enough to contribute a portion of the earnings to family preservation efforts and SOS.  And by substantial I mean more than 5 people read it. (My expectation of “substantial” isn’t too high).

If you’d like to read or purchase a copy of Whispers of Grace you can head on over to Amazon by clicking here: Whispers of Grace

If you’d like to show support on this memoir’s Facebook page, and get updates when new books are released in the series, go ahead and click here: Whispers of Grace Facebook Page

Legally Enforceable Open Adoption Contracts in the United States

*Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and nothing in this article should be substituted for legal advice. I highly suggest any expectant mother who is considering adoption to retain her own legal representation who understands adoption law in the state that the adoption will be finalized as well as the state she lives in. This is my interpretation of the laws and my opinion based on my own research and the stories I’ve heard from others who have open adoption contracts that are supposed to be legally enforceable.*

Legally enforceable open adoptions are a fairly new thing. There are lots of questions about them from adoptive parents, expectant parents, and birth parents. These “legally enforceable” post-adoption contracts can vary widely from state to state. When an expectant mother hears that she resides in a state that has legally enforceable open adoptions usually she has a sense of security in believing that the adoptive parents of her child will not be able to “trick” or “fool” her into relinquishing her child to them by making promises they don’t intend to keep. She may also feel that if the adoptive parents change their mind about the type of contact they want, she is legally protected. On the surface this is what it appears to be. I’d also assume that adoption agencies, attorneys that represent the prospective adoptive parents, and facilitators would not go into great detail about how exactly the law would work. I’d like to take the time to do that here.

I heard one story of a first mom who lived in a state that had legally enforceable post-adoption contracts. This was just a fact. When she asked about it she was told, “Yes, our state has legally enforceable open adoptions.” However, she had no legal representation of her own and found out, after her open adoption was closed and she sought relief, that the law in her state required the open adoption contract to be entered with the final decree of adoption. Because she wasn’t part of the court hearing for finalization, she had no idea if this had happened. Because she had no legal representation, representing HER ALONE, she was unaware that the law was written this way. She did have a post-adoption contract that had been worked on between her, the agency, their attorney, and the prospective adoptive parents, it just wasn’t legally enforceable in her state because it never went before the court.

I heard another story about a mom who DID have her post-adoption contract entered correctly making it “legally binding.” When visits never happened and communication was cut off as soon as her child was relinquished, she pursued the legal channels put in place to enforce the contract. She put up a lot of money in attorney and court fees to be told, by the judge, that she relinquished all parental rights and if the adoptive parents didn’t feel it was in the best interest of their child to have visits then that was their right. The judge then rewrote the post-adoption contract, taking away all direct contact or communication with her child, and only enforced a yearly update.

There was another mother who lived in a “legally enforceable” state where visits and all communication had stopped after three years. When she sought to enforce her agreement she learned two things. 1) She didn’t have anything near the financial resources to even begin the process (as most first parents don’t) and 2) she couldn’t even start the process if she wanted to because she didn’t know where the adoptive parents now resided since their communication drop coincided with a move to a different state in which they didn’t disclose.

It’s important to remember that post-adoption contracts are a very new area of law and there aren’t a lot of cases to set precedent yet. Really it’s up to the judges or mediators involved to determine the outcome of a contested contract, if the first parent can come up with enough money to begin the process. It’s also important to remember that post-adoption contracts are not the same as “custody” or “visitation” agreements you’d see in traditional family law that involves two parents that are not together. You do not retain any parental rights once you have relinquished a child for adoption. They have been terminated. No amount of legally enforceable open adoption laws can change that. No amount of legislation to make more open adoptions stay open can change that. You will not be fighting in court for your “right” to visit your child. You will be fighting to have a contract enforced. This is contract law mixed with adoption law (like I said, new territory). Almost always, a judge has the right to alter the contract, change things using his best judgment, or void it altogether. So, while “legally enforceable,” they are also “legally voidable.” Since there are no parental rights intact, an adoptive parent could argue that they feel a continued open adoption would not be in the best interest of their child. They could argue they simply feel that the constant “hello” and “goodbye” is not something they feel their child is emotionally prepared for. They’d probably get contact stopped, or greatly reduced, just based on that alone. Their child, their call. If there has been an ongoing relationship between the child and the first parents for a number of years it may not be so easy as a relationship has been established and the courts may find it detrimental to sever that relationship altogether. However, it would have to be a well-established relationship with frequent visits and a solid relationship. A relationship like this is most likely facilitated by adoptive parents who are very open-minded, educated, and “get it.” Those adoptive parents who choose to facilitate an open adoption at that level are probably not likely to break an open adoption contract to begin with.

The majority of adoptive parents aren’t “evil” people who set out to break a first mom’s heart, but rather are ill-advised, ill-prepared, or uneducated. They also don’t care to change these things about themselves and only see adoption in the light they choose to.  The most vulnerable first moms/expectant moms, the ones most at risk of an adoption closing, are the ones in the first 5 years into their journey as a first parent. Relationships aren’t well-established yet.

Many states will require mediation before going to court to seek relief of a violation of your open adoption contract. This means that you (and any other party on the contract, such as a first father), and the adoptive parents will be required to sit through a series of “negotiation,” so to speak. A mediator will play “referee.” You will try to come to an understanding and agreement outside of the courts. Sometimes you’ll be required to pay a fee to the courts for the mediation – which is usually split evenly between both parties. Each state has its own individual laws, but usually after a series of about 3 sessions if no agreement can be settled on it will go to the courts and a judge will decide.

What are the consequences for adoptive parents who violate an open adoption contract? No state says an adoption can be reversed or nullified if the post-adoption agreement is not followed. This means that you cannot challenge an adoption because the “legally enforceable” post-adoption contract has been violated. I can find no codes that specifically state any consequences, punitive or otherwise, for adoptive parents that have been ordered, by a judge, to resume the post-adoption contract as it was entered.

28 states currently have “legally enforceable open adoption contracts.” Many of those are only for in-family adoptions and relate only to grandparents.

For a review of each state’s post-adoption contract laws please CLICK HERE.

If you take the time to read some of these laws, you will see that all of them allow for a judge to use his discretion when it comes to enforcement or challenging the original contract.

There are many things to consider when considering adoption for your child. Regardless of your state’s laws any number of things can arise. Even in states with legally enforceable open adoption laws, the jury is still out, so to speak. There are so many things that have not even been addressed. For instance, what if your child is re-homed? While rare, in domestic infant adoption cases, it can happen. Will your legally enforceable contract be upheld in a court of law if your child is put up for adoption by the original adopting parents? Most likely, not. If you are relying on a legally enforceable open adoption as the terms of being able to go through with relinquishment are you prepared to fight the adoptive parents if they violate the contract? Do you have the financial means to do so?

In review, as stated in the disclaimer, I advise any expectant mother who is thinking of an adoption plan to seek independent representation.  This advice is not limited to post-adoption contracts, but for everything surrounding the legalities of adoption. Don’t rely solely on an adoption agency, attorney representing the prospective adoptive parents, a facilitator, or charitable organization to fully inform you. This is something you must actively seek to do on your own.