We are all familiar with the case of Carri Stearns and her son, Camden. If you have been living under a rock in the adoption community, please catch up by googling “Carri Stearns” and reading any of the numerous stories that have been published about the unethical and illegal attempted adoption of Camden. I have written a few and Claudia, over at Musings of the Lame, has written several – in addition to the many other news stories out there.
First let me say, what happened with Carri is wrong on so many levels. It should never have happened and it is just ONE example of these kinds of stories that happen EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. This post, however, doesn’t have anything to do with the sad case of Carri and Camden and how Adoption by Gentle Care has taken ownership of a child to make a profit from said child while fighting his mother and while she fights an agency, not a prospective adoptive parent. No, this post is a little different.
I’m sure many of you will leave here hating me. I accept that. I speak the truth and sometimes the truth hurts. Because I care for Carri I have sat on the sidelines and not uttered a word of contempt against her or her slow decline into the madness that adoption does to people. That is, until it became too much to ignore.
Let’s rewind. Saving Our Sisters, founded by Lynn Johansenn, is one amazing woman. Five years ago, Lynn was attempting to save as many mothers as humanly possible from adoption relinquishment. Being one woman and lacking time and resources the mission of the infancy of Saving Our Sisters was disorganized and not as effective as it could have been. Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy saw what Lynn was trying to do and stepped in, gave encouragement, wisdom, and offered her services to get SOS going into a direction that would be something permanent, effective, and truly making a change in the adoption community. With this guidance, Lynn was able to make Saving Our Sisters what it is today. It was only with this guidance, however. She has always affirmed that Saving Our Sisters was something that would never be possible without the help of thousands of people and a few entities. Without this network of caring and giving people, these moms would be left to their loss through adoption. I joined up with SOS later in the game and it has been an honor to be able to assist Lynn in anything that she may need. Sometimes that is fundraising, other times that is writing, and sometimes it’s helping keep up with contacts and potential moms to service. She has taken me under her wing, as Claudia once did for her, and has taught me, guided me, and inspired me to do great things.
In this day and age we all know how important it is to share these stories via the Internet in order to gain support, sway public opinion, and enforce change. The stories I have been directly involved with I have done my best to write about and keep you all aware. There are many other stories out there that do not need my assistance, or my writing, but, as always, can use as much support as possible. For this reason I keep up with their support pages and do what I can getting the word out. Some cases I have been personally involved with from the beginning, such as Kimberly Rossler’s case and the legal kidnapping of her son, James Elliott.
I became one of the first points of contact, and Kimberly’s voice when she had none, after our great leader, Claudia, went on a well-deserved break from adoption. Claudia’s reasons for her sudden disappearance in our community are her own and I don’t believe it’s really anyone else’s business to demand she state them. I do know that she has given so much of herself to adoption reform, education, and support to those hurting. She’s given more than any of us deserve and, for that, I thank her. I hope to see her return one day but, until then, these cases needed a voice. While I could never hope to fill such big shoes, I am doing my best to try. Honestly, I’m not sure how Claudia even did it. Juggling a home life, work, school, a husband, and kids is enough in and of itself. Add being a reform activist and it seems there are just not enough hours in the day. However, until my dying breath this is something I will remain passionate about. Until there are no more Carris, Kimberlys, Colbys, or Robs I will not shut up. Part of this passion and the sole reason that we are able to help so many mothers and fathers is because of Saving Our Sisters and the work that Lynn and I put into this (Lynn putting in the majority of the work because, apparently, she’s super woman and hasn’t yet shared her secret with me).
It started with a few questionable comments and messages right after we publicized Kimberly Rossler’s case. I understood the feelings Carri might be having. There was a new case in town and suddenly, to her, it probably felt like no one cared about her case or Camden. I replied with compassion and assured her that this was not the case. With new cases, in the very beginning, time is of the essence. If you don’t move swiftly to get the ball in your court, within a matter of days there won’t even be a game to play, forget who has the ball. We all know that Carri has been fighting for a long time. She has her legal team in place and has been able to do everything she possibly can in order to ensure a positive outcome – Camden coming home. She has supporters and those of us who would do anything to help see this through. I jumped into action to do the same for Kimberly.
Still, I could see the insecurity coming through. Claudia, who had been the person Carri could call several times a day, and who would be the main person writing about the updates to Carri’s case, was now absent which probably made Carri feel even more insecure. I took some time to take a break from Kimberly’s case, after things were in motion with her attorneys and all that could be done was being done, and worked on an update for Carri’s case here on my blog. I knew it had been some time since an update went out and one was certainly due. More importantly, I didn’t want Carri to think I didn’t care.
For a couple of weeks all was well and that made my heart feel better.
And then this popped up:
Let’s back track a little bit. There is a page for Kimberly’s case called Bring Baby Elliott Home. It was started by Claudia and she added Lynn and I as admins to the page. Like I mentioned earlier, within days of Kimberly’s case coming to the forefront, Claudia had disappeared on her break from adoption. While Lynn and I are still admins there, we had offers from professional public relations people to help run things in order to give Kimberly the best chance. We agreed that was what was best and let them take over all duties on the page. We remained as admins, just in case inappropriate comments were being made but we literally have no control over things at this point. At the time Carri posted this to the Saving Our Sisters Facebook page, we had not been running the show on the Baby Elliott page for some time. Previously, Carri had been messaging the Bring Baby Elliott page asking that Kimberly’s page share Carri’s story.
Because the page was being managed by a professional PR team, anything shared had to be run past that team. What Lynn did do, was to share Carri’s page on her personal profile and anywhere else she could on the Internet. This was Kimberly’s page, after all, and being in the beginning stages of her case we were all very careful about what was shared and how.
This did not satisfy Carri, however. I received this message.
I would also like to point out that while Carri keeps saying her case is the reason these others were able to get help, this isn’t entirely accurate. Kimberly found Claudia’s blog because she stumbled upon a post about Camden, yes. But just using Google to search for help in revoking an adoption would have brought her to Claudia’s website anyway. Claudia worked very hard to ensure her search results were always at the top of Google for this exact reason.
So, while becoming slightly irritated, but still understanding, I did my best to be compassionate and understanding and this is the time period I did an update for Carri and her case. Shortly after she posted to the SOS Facebook page (see screen shot number 1) I received this message. The PR person who was in charge of Elliott’s case was doing a countdown for fundraising and one of the days happened to coincide with a day Carri was trying to get her fundraising out there.
Still, I’m trying to be compassionate. It’s important to note that the person doing the fundraising for Kimberly and her PR stuff is not “in the know” about Carri’s case or even friends with her on Facebook. The next post was made on the Bring Baby Elliott Home page. Carri’s comment is the last one. “Ask any of us who have had to actually pay for them.” Again, the insecurity coming out but at this point I’m starting to think Carri is a bit risky for these other cases and I’m wondering what she is saying to people privately, especially if this is what she’s saying publicly. Could she purposely be trying to take these cases out of the lime light? I didn’t think so but I decided to watch. Especially given her public denouncement of SOS.
Then, just a couple of weeks ago, a new case popped up. The one of Colby Nielsen whose daughter was legally kidnapped from him in the state of Utah. This was another case to take the focus away from Carri’s. At first there were some comments about supporting ALL the parents’ fights. The following post was made in the public group, Birthmothers United, run by Wesley D. Hutchins. Wes had been posting a lot about Colby’s case and Carri had commented something to the affect of it being too much and that it was a group for birthmothers. I can’t find the comment now. I am thinking it was maybe deleted.
And this post made on her own personal page. You will notice, if you care to look, some passive aggressive posts here and there in different forums eluding to the need for everyone to share everyone else’s story. This, I believe, is to give the appearance that she is all about the support while she is publicly and privately saying the things I have posted thus far.
And then, the most recent comment Carri made on a comment of support on Get Baby Kaylee Back to Her Daddy (Colby’s page)
So now she is questioning Colby because he’s not sharing her story? Or others? He was kind of thrown into the adoption community and all that comes with it right before Thanksgiving less than 2 weeks ago.
Some of you may be reading and thinking, well, a lot of this sounds like someone who has been REALLY wronged and it’s just all coming to a head. I won’t disagree with that. However, there is more and it is the catalyst that made me decide to finally call a spade a spade. I didn’t want to and it wasn’t a decision I came to lightly.
Today there was a situation brought to the attention of Carri and Lynn as they were both tagged in a post that featured a GoFundMe account of a mother whose child was trying to be illegally adopted. Here is a screen shot of the post:
And here was Carri’s comment (since Lynn was tagged)
THIS. THIS. To all those who work for reform and family preservation THIS is dangerous. This is Carri directly messaging a mother in crisis to “warn” her about Lynn and Saving Our Sisters. This is the comment Carri left underneath Lynn’s on the GoFundMe page:
Again, do mothers need to be warned about Lynn and Saving Our Sisters? Does Carri realize the magnitude of what she is doing? She is privately messaging people to steer them away from SOS? Why? Could it be my earlier theory that she didn’t want others in the limelight as it took attention away from her and Camden’s case? Only she can answer that question but I have my theories. Lynn, upon seeing this, messaged a mutual contact and later a new comment popped up with Carri “supporting” Lynn…yet, I’m going to assume this was all for show. What she says in private messages is another matter altogether.
This was the catalyst of this post. We have gone from insecure and hurting to dangerous. Dangerous for any moms that may need this network.
Like I said in the beginning, some may hate me for putting this out here. I really don’t care to be honest. I’ve already told you my passion is to prevent others from this hurt, this suffering. My reasons are not self-centered. When I see someone, no matter who that someone is, sabotaging this and putting others at risk I cannot sit and twiddle my thumbs and not say anything.
Take it for what it’s worth and do what you wish with it. I will always support Carri’s fight for Camden, but I will have to do so from afar from now on. I cannot let my relationship with Carri affect my work with SOS. Not just “affect” my work but actively working to achieve the exact opposite of what so many people are trying to achieve. Discouraging mothers from seeking help, slyly offering to “help” by giving advice and steering them away from Lynn and SOS.
In case you were wondering, the mom mentioned above is in contact with Lynn, has retained counsel, and we are now actively working to get her baby back. That’s a post for tomorrow.
I’m sorry, Carri. We are all mothers who have been hurt, but you’ve taken it too far.