A few years ago an organization came on the scene. It was called, “BraveLove.” It’s mission was and is to increase domestic infant adoption in the United States. There have been a few blog posts about it in the past, but now it is a hot button issue. Why? Because this past week they have launched a billboard assault all over the country with the names of first moms and how adoption is the perfect solution to a pregnancy in a less than ideal situation. By their own accounts, from their website they say:
“We’re a pro-adoption movement. We’re not an adoption agency. We’re not a pregnancy resource center or a church ministry. We’re a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) public charity organization headquartered in Dallas, Texas that exists to change the perception of adoption through honest, informative and hopeful communication that conveys the bravery of birth mothers. We believe birth mothers are heroes and adoption can be a beautiful thing.”
EDIT: Keep in mind that Frank Garrott, CEO of Gladney Adoption Center in Texas, is a board member of BraveLove. He also made almost a quarter of a million dollars from his position at Gladney- profiting off infants.
You may have seen the #notabravelove (or #notbravelove) campaign going on the past few days. This campaign came into inception when one of my beemommy friends had had enough and suggested a campaign similar to #flipthescript that adoptees were doing in the month of November for National Adoption Month. Another beemommy friend suggested the hash tag #notabrave love and I ran with it. We needed to combat the billboard assault and tell expectant mothers the reality of adoption. It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and it certainly hasn’t been a “beautiful thing” to us. It has meant a lifetime of grief, sadness and loss. Not being able to parent your child is not beautiful. The emotions that surround it align well with the death of your child. However, BraveLove want to INCREASE domestic infant adoption in the U.S. That is their mission. They have invested thousands of dollars into this newest campaign. I can’t help but wonder how many mothers facing crisis situations would have been helped with the money spent on these billboards. How many women would not have to surrender their children with just the money that was spent on ONE billboard?
Most crisis situations, in domestic infant adoption, are for temporary financial situations. Even just $1000 would be enough to get a mother back on her feet and where she needs to be in order to not be eternally separated from her child. BraveLove gives the false impression that being a birthmother makes you a hero, selfless, and brave. The reality is much bleaker. My birthmother survey showed that the majority of “open” adoptions, sometime in the first 5 years, end up closing. Promises are broken and there is no way to know if your child is even alive. Just the past couple of weeks, alone, I have had a birthmom friend learn of her teenage son’s suicide through a Facebook post, weeks after his death, and yes, it was an open turned closed adoption. Another mother learned, from her grown daughter who was relinquished that she was reunited with, that she had been sexually abused by a family member. This does not sound like a beautiful thing to me. Let’s not forget to factor in the first moms who commit suicide after promises have been broken.
Any organization that would like to increase family separation, instead of investing their “non-profit” dollars into helping keep families together, is a front for the adoption machine. They may not be an agency but they are part of the industry, no doubt about it. I wonder how many of their donations come from agencies themselves. Gladney is HUGE on BraveLove and, no doubt, has donated a ton of money whether indirectly through adoptive parents and staff or maybe even the entity themselves. I am not able to afford to pay that $125 to get the full report and donor list but they are tax-exempt and receive money from the government and private donors. So it comes full circle. Adoption agencies either directly or indirectly donate to BraveLove, BraveLove works tirelessly to convince women to surrender their babies, adoption agencies get more babies, adoption agencies make more money, adoption agencies encourage donations to BraveLove and the cycle begins again. Gladney Adoption Agency, in Texas, from the very start of BraveLove even admits to being a part of their campaign. Talk about a conflict of interest.
As many of you already know, I am a part of a different kind of organization currently working towards non-profit status. That is Saving Our Sisters. We don’t have any donations coming from anyone who stands to profit from us. We work solely for the good of others and all the donations received go to mothers in crisis so that they may be able to keep their children and successfully parent. We give them a leg up. We don’t offer to help by taking their babies away from them. We help the entire family unit.
So now that I’ve explained my beef with BraveLove, let me talk about our counter-campaign: #notabravelove
Since we don’t have big players donating tons of money to us the only thing us first moms could think to do was to take to social media and educate that way. I’d like to share with you some of the Twitter posts you will see when you search our hash tag (you can do so by clicking it above).
Here are some of the things hash tagged with #notabravelove
“Enough with calling mothers who relinquish a child for adoption brave. We were alone, afraid and without options.”
“you should have spent your billboard money keeping families together. Please. Stop.”
“When everyone tells you what you can’t do, and you believe them.”
“I was told that my daughter deserved more than me, that I wasn’t enough. They were wrong. I was. And so are/were you”
“Surrendering a baby to adoption is
#notabravelove it’s an act of desperation.”
“When I cried out to keep my son I was told I was selfish
“Nothing brave, only heartache and pain in giving up my child for adoption.
“I had no choice. A proverbial gun was put to my baby’s head. I was told keeping her was the same as pulling the trigger.”
“Motherhood is scary-adoption agencies and lawyers make it scarier. They also lie, a lot. Unethical immoral shameful.”
These are some of the things hash tagged with #notbravelove
“If your goal is to increase infant surrender above the national average w/ words like “brave” & “heroic,” it’s
#notbravelove. It’s coercion.”
“Mother’s Day – One of the most difficult days of the year for this adopted person.
“You can’t build one family without destroying another. Real families are grown, not built.”
“Birth Mother’s Day is yet another diversion from the truth that is adoption.”
“I’m no hero.I’m not selfless.I’m not brave.I didn’t do what’s best.I failed my Daughter & her siblings.”
“Giving my daughter up for adoption was anything but brave. I was scared & alone with no support.”
“No one(agency)asked me if my family knew of my pregnancy,no one enc/supported me to tell my parents-family I told 15 yrs ago”
“I lost faith in myself and reached for the wrong help.”
“I honor my found daughter, and losing her 37 yrs ago for the crime of not being married.”
This horrid campaign was launched surrounding the weekend of Mother’s Day. Already first moms and adoptees are feeling stabby and the slightest things can trigger us. BraveLove had some first moms sign a “Birthmother’s Day” card and then used those signatures for their billboards. They are exploiting first moms to line the pocket books of adoption agencies (donors) and encourage expectant mothers to relinquish their children.
BraveLove claims this is an abortion thing. They want to prevent termination of pregnancies. It is either a facade or they are just that ignorant as Claudia over at Musings of the Lame has already pointed out. Abortion and adoption are two separate entities. This campaign is to procure more babies by the adoption industry to make more money (please don’t tell me agencies are non-profit. They are still making big bucks) and to give babies to hopeful adoptive parents who society deems more “worthy” of these babies because they have more money.
So where does that leave us? I am writing today to let you all know that BraveLove’s billboards are going nowhere. They are up for all the country to see. We don’t have the financial resources that they do. They are a machine. The only way we can go to battle is to keep the #notabravelove campaign going. We CAN be the champion of the underdog. We can win this battle but we cannot waiver. Keep sharing the campaign, keep your voices going strong. Take to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…wherever you can hash tag something publicly for all the world to see. If you’d like to remain anonymous, make an anonymous account, but get your voice out there. We will not falter. We will fight this machine, and we will be victorious.