From time to time I find myself trying out new “Birthmom” groups on Facebook. One would think that all of these groups are pretty much the same but, in actuality, there are differences from group to group. Some focus on the traumatizing effects the members have endured, others focus on the happy parts of adoption, and still others are a mingle of both. In a few groups birthmoms, adoptive parents, and adoptees are welcome. I tend to stay mostly in my “birthmothers ONLY” group for the safety of being able to express myself without hurting feelings or feeling judged. Also, I don’t want to offend or hurt any other person who is not a birthmother when I’m having a bad day. Recently, a fellow admin from my main group brought to our attention an expectant mother from a different, much smaller, group who was planning on placing her baby for adoption. A few of us requested to join this other group in hopes that we may be able to help her parent her child. Often it is really only a little thing, that we can help with, that can make or break a decision such as adoption. Mom needs baby items because she has no money? We got that. Mom needs someone to support her emotionally? We got that. Mom needs someone to help babysit while she works? We deploy the BeeMom troops. Mom needs housing? Our resources are vast. We do this because NO mom wants to give their baby up just because. It is almost always for reasons like these.
In this mom’s particular case, she seemed extremely relieved that we found her and offered her support. She was, initially, apprehensive about telling her social worker and the family she had tentatively chosen that she had changed her mind and wanted to parent. We helped her through this, though. Once she announced, on her Facebook page, that she was planning to parent the outpouring of support from her family and friends was tremendous. It turns out that, so far, she hasn’t needed much from us at all. Many times family and friends, especially those not familiar with adoption, want to be supportive of a decision made by an expectant mother. When a mom tells those close to her that she has decided to make an adoption plan for her baby, even if they don’t think she should, they won’t say anything but supportive things….support of the adoption. They are scared they will make it harder for her, they are scared she will get mad at them, they are scared they are wrong to tell her to parent. Most times all it takes is a few people to tell this mother that she is good enough and capable enough to parent her child. This new mom gathered, in a matter of days, every essential item she needed to parent her baby from the tremendous love of those in her life. And more importantly, support. What made us happiest was seeing how relieved and grateful this new mom was. She didn’t really want to give her baby away. We enabled her to not have to do that. So, where did we find this mom?
We found her in a group ran by Kim Noeth called Birth Moms Today. Birth Moms Today, the private Facebook group, is an extension of the website Birth moms Today. The group is fairly small at just under 60 members as I write this. Upon entering this group and sharing my story and experiences Kim posted a few vague references to not using our stories to sway women from their choice of adoption. I’m almost positive these were passively directed at myself and fellow cohorts from our much larger group.
From the looks of this post you would think that we were being rude, disrespectful bullies trying to pressure women into parenting kids they didn’t want to. I would have taken screen shots of our posts, but we have all been kicked out of the group as of right now. Nothing could be further from the truth. We were happy and supportive to the women in there with happy adoption stories. We did, however, speak OUR truths as we know them. We didn’t try to tell someone what to do with their life but felt it was important for an expectant mother considering adoption to be informed of all of the facts, not just the happy ones. Several women in there are under the impression that no matter what their open adoption contracts are legally binding. Even in states where this is true, all it takes is an adoptive parent to claim it is not psychologically beneficial to the child to have it thrown out. Fighting it is hard, that’s if you can raise the thousands of dollars needed to begin that process. I have never heard of a story where a birthmom has fought and won to enforce her open adoption. We also wanted women in there to know that your feelings may change 10, 20, 30 years down the road. My feelings on adoption are not rigid. They are ever-changing and morphing. The message I got from Kim Noeth was to sit down, shut up and stop telling these women they don’t have to give their babies up. Stop “scaring” them with your stories. But in her “life coach” passive aggressive “I’m pretend being respectful of your story” way. I’m sorry, Kim, but our stories should scare them. If they are going to make such a huge decision then it should be the most informed decision they have. Someone had commented, in a thread, that our stories were making them uncomfortable and not feeling like they were in a safe place to talk. Kim responded by affirming these uncomfortable feelings as something bad and thanking the poster for being brave enough to point it. Wait, a life coach fueling uncomfortable feelings in someone she is supposed to be helping? Shouldn’t the proper response (the response that I gave, by the way), have been, “May I ask what makes you uncomfortable about what happened to them and what they are saying? Let’s explore that a little.”
Let me back track, I lied earlier. I wasn’t kicked out of the group. My 2 cohorts were the day after I left. I posted something along the lines of being silenced by myself and those around me for too long and I will not be silenced here. I begged the girls there to allow themselves to feel their emotions and pain so they could properly deal with it and told them they were welcome to join our REAL birthmother group if they wanted. And then I left. 3 of the members did request to join after I left. One of them even has a very happy adoption story but she wanted to learn about ALL aspects of adoption and ALL possible outcomes so she could be prepared for that in the future. How awesome is that? My “exit post” was somehow missed by Kim until this morning. Only 3 comments were on there until Kim piped in. None of them were confrontational. Just asking if they could join our other group and a response from one of my cohorts. As soon as Kim chimed in all hell broke loose. Remember, Kim is the great life-changing, healing life coach. Not the instigator. We were the instigators. After this it was almost impossible for one of my cohorts to keep her mouth shut. She was passive aggressively attacked and triggered and let loose the beast. The other cohort wasn’t involved in any of this but she was booted and blocked from the group as well. Guilt by association I assume.
So who is Kim Noeth? If you rely solely on her website she seems to be a hero. She is the great birthmom hero. She is the great life coach. She will make sure birthmoms all over the world never have a negative or hurt feeling after giving their babies up. Admittedly, she is a birthmom, one from just after the baby scoop era. Her adoption story tells about her stay at a maternity home. Quoted in the news story about Kim is, “Noeth isn’t a counselor or psychologist. Her expertise lies in her experience as a birth mother who has ‘gone from nothing to something,’ and finally forgiven herself.” Ahh, so there it is. Kim has no professional experience in psychology or counseling. Her only experience in this field is being a birthmom. One that “forgives herself.” In my opinion, this is how Kim sees us. As birthmoms who have not forgiven ourselves. It has never occurred to her that there is nothing to be forgiven for. That, when it comes down to it, this wasn’t our choice. It was forced upon us. As a wise woman by the name of Carri Stearns told me the other night, force means having no other choice. And isn’t that why we “choose” adoption. We have no other choice. Why do we need to forgive ourselves for having no choice? We don’t. We need to change the system that made it that way.
Cohort #3 (you know, the one who was kicked out without participating in any of the above “drama”) messaged Kim to understand why she had been booted and blocked. The response she got was interpreted and perceived as passive aggressiveness disguised as “caring, compassionate, tolerant and understanding.” You will note, in the very last message that Kim states that moms should be able to keep their babies if at all possible. I find that she says this humorous because the post that started this all was a mom who wanted to know how to tell her mom that she was giving her baby up because the mom was about to have a contractor come out and build an addition onto her house for this woman and her baby. Obviously this expectant mother is able to keep her baby but has been convinced it is not best for the baby. Kim contradicts herself in her last statement because we were trying to show this mother that SHE was good enough to keep her baby.
*Messages published with permission from cohort #3 in their entirety
Speaking of Kim’s credentials, it must be noted that she is also an adoption facilitator. She finds babies for infertile couples (or intends to in the future according to her website) and according to her LinkedIn profile has a background in marketing and campaigning. Seems appropriate. Why would someone, birthmother or not, whose job it is to find babies for people (whether or not that is her primary job) choose to run a support group for birthmothers and expectant mothers? The answer should be obvious and it should be obvious why the truths we were telling were not welcome at all.
Kim, you deserved to parent your son. You were good enough. Be a part of the change.