To Preserve & Protect: When the Family Preservation Movement Catches On; Your Voices Have Been Heard

I know that when I first started speaking out in favor of family preservation I felt as if no one would get it, especially not people who adopted, never in a million years. Most other birthmoms didn’t get it. The general public, at large, thinks adoption is beautiful because they’ve seen pictures and videos throughout their lifetime of people adopting babies and “completing their family” presented in some feel good fashion that makes you all weepy eyed and feeling good for the adoptive parents. Those videos don’t show the family that was destroyed to create the happy adoptive family.

How could anyone who benefited from adoption, who sat on the side of smiles and dreams come true, ever advocate for families to stay together if at all possible? How could anyone who benefited from adoption ever advocate for moms in crisis to first be given the resources needed to try to remove obstacles in her way to parenting? How could anyone looking to benefit from a crisis pregnancy take steps to remove the crisis from mom and therefore remove the supply of babies?  Well look into the sky because pigs grew wings and took flight.

This post is going to be a bit complicated and I need people to hear me. I need them to stick with me. I need them to set aside personal experiences and be open to absorb the story I’m about to tell. If you’re not in a good place and don’t feel ready for that please, please, stop reading. Think of this as your trigger warning, if you must.

Let me first start by saying that I don’t advocate for adoption to exist in its current form. I think adoption should be done in the manner its done in Australia. All adoption. Specifically domestic infant adoption. I believe in permanent legal guardianships and letting a child decide, when they’re old enough to be educated about everything (including their birth certificate being permanently changed and amended), if they’d like to be adopted. I believe in open access for all adoptees no matter what or who has a problem with it. I don’t advocate for bills that aren’t 100% clean because these rights have nothing to do with reunion. In my ideal world, birth certificates wouldn’t be changed, children would always go to kinship placements when a parent wasn’t safe or able to parent, and mothers would be given all the resources they need to successfully and safely parent their child and understand that poverty wasn’t the reason to give up your child.

Let’s face it, we are a long ways away from that ideal world of mine but we get closer everyday. When our voices are heard it gets us closer. Unfortunately, birthmoms and adoptees aren’t the power players in legislation here. We don’t have the financial backing to lobby anyone. Adoption agencies and attorneys spend millions every year lobbying for laws to remain how they are or to change to make it easier to adopt infants. They call it “advocacy” or “awareness.” It’s lobbying for laws that favor them and their pocketbook career choice. Our front line can’t be where the laws are being made. We can’t afford it. We aren’t making money off of preserving families. Our front line is the true front line. Educating adoptive parents, educating hopeful adoptive parents, educating expectant mothers, educating birthmothers. I will not presume to be able to educate any adoptee as they are the most privileged voice in this community. But possibly adoptees educating other adoptees to some of the social issues that they may not be aware of.

The fact is, until we have implemented real changes in the laws, our front line will continue to be this and adoption will always exist. There will always be pregnant moms who have grown up seeing the propaganda and have listened to industry speak and truly believe they are giving a better life to their child – no matter how many times you try to educate them. Moms who literally cannot keep their babies safe and need a way out for their child. Moms who don’t believe in terminating their pregnancies. As much as I’d like to change this, its the truth. Adoption, as it is right now in America, exists and will keep happening until we’ve made enough noise and changed as many minds as needed so that their voices are so loud no amount of lobbying will silence them.

But don’t lose faith. Your voices are being heard. People are listening. “Important” voices. Not important in our community (adoptee voices are THE most important voices in our community) but “important” in general society and the adoption industry. The people who line the pocketbooks make careers possible for adoption “professionals.” Hopeful adoptive parents and adoptive parents. While, in my opinion, the majority of them are still driven by their grief of infertility and selfish desires to have a baby, any baby (many even deeming it “divine” and “gods plan”), there is a small group of adoptive parents, in the community, taking adoptionland by storm. Deemed “anti-adoption” by traditional adoptive parent groups and booted out – women shaking things up. Women advocating for family preservation when possible and when not possible making sure that adoptions are done as ethical as possible with current laws (understanding that there are no guarantees in adoption at all). Remember what I said about the sad fact that some women are still going to insist on relinquishing no matter how many facts you throw at them or how many resources you send their way. They want to make sure that those babies, who are going to become adoptees shortly after birth, are given parents who put their adoptee needs first.

But, amazingly, when expectant moms who are set on adoption are sent their way, the first thing they do is encourage them to parent and find resources for them. A few of these moms have started fundraisers for Saving Our Sisters recognizing that every adoption starts with a trauma and loss. Many have directed women to SOS (I receive messages at least three times a week from these adoptive and hopeful adoptive parents asking me to help expectant moms considering adoption).  Lots have donated directly to SOS.

This is not meant to be a “look at how great these adoptive parents are” post. Far from it. But I do want the community to understand their voices are being heard and words are being put into action with players in the adoption community who have the power to influence and make this movement go faster – even if it sucks that their voices have more power.

I also want these adoptive parents to know that we see them and we thank them for the help they are giving. The ones that I know wouldn’t like being publicly acknowledged. But I need to do it anyway. I have to give credit where it is due.

I recently found out there is a super secret adoptive parent group created just to raise money and resources for expectant or birth moms in crisis. There is no stipulation that you need to give up your baby to receive help from them. Kind of like a mini Saving Our Sisters. They have helped with many things like expensive formula for a mom who decided to parent, and medical treatment after a mother was robbed and couldn’t afford to get their child the treatment needed right at that moment. I won’t say how I know all of this, but I know and they need to know that we see them, acknowledge them, and thank them for joining our movement and understanding our cause. For seeing our pain and trying to do what they can to change the laws, change the world, for future generations.

It’s really a miracle that they talk to me at all. They trust me with super private information about their families, their lives. I mean, that takes a lot of trust considering the reputation of this blog. They allow us to feel our pain, they don’t silence us, they advocate for us. Without wanting anything in return. They do what the rest of society should be doing for us.

They are human beings, flawed like the rest of us, but they’re trying and as much as I want you to know they’re listening and changing, I want them to know that we see them listening and changing, and helping…helping expectant moms and babies not live this life of pain, even if it costs them having a child to call their “own” because they now know, because of your voices, that being a parent isn’t about ownership of a child. They are being the people I needed when I was younger. How I wish I would have known them 18 years ago.

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9 thoughts on “To Preserve & Protect: When the Family Preservation Movement Catches On; Your Voices Have Been Heard

  1. In 1994 the federal government wrote a program titled the Family Support and Preservation Program, authorizing $930 million dollars in grants to give family preservation priority and to prevent family separation. States could apply for extra funds to send life skills coaches into the homes of distressed families. Unfortunately, with inadequate resources at the state level to hire additional employees to implement, oversee, report and evaluate the outcomes, this grant has been used “ineffectively by social workers, lawyers, judges, and administrators” (Karger, 2014, p. 325). To restate the importance of this program, lawmakers reframed the grant into a bipartisan bill, and the Family First Preservation Services Act was passed in Congress in February of 2018 (Kelly, 2018). This change from the grant program to federal law emphasized the government’s insistence for change in the public social welfare system towards preserving families. A description of the law is found on the Focus First Campaign for Children’s website:
    “The Family First Prevention Services Act was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act on February 9, 2018. This act reforms the federal child welfare financing streams, Title IV-E and Title IV-B of the Social Security Act, to provide services to families who are at risk of entering the child welfare system.
    The bill aims to prevent children from entering foster care by allowing federal reimbursement for mental health services, substance use treatment, and in-home parenting skill training. It also seeks to improve the well-being of children already in foster by incentivizing
    states to reduce placement of children in congregate care” (Combi, 2018).

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Violating Women: Rights Abuses in the Welfare Police State
        Gwendolyn Mink, First Published September 1, 2001,
        Research Article
        https://doi.org/10.1177/000271620157700107

        Abstract
        The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program subordinates recipients to a series of requirements, sanctions, and stacked incentives aimed at rectifying their personal choices and family practices. In exchange for welfare, TANF recipients must surrender or compromise their vocational freedom, sexual privacy, and reproductive choice, as well as the right to make intimate decisions about how to be and raise a family. As TANF’s foremost objective is to restore the patriarchal family, numerous provisions promote marriage and paternal headship while frustrating childbearing and child-raising rights outside of marriage. Implementation decisions and a new wave of welfare reform underscore the centrality of marriage in welfare policy. The current thrust of welfare policy encourages poor mothers to be dependent on men, punishes them for independence, and withholds the material recognition necessary to sustain independence.

        Like

  2. “I think adoption should be done in the manner its done in Australia.”
    Not sure you have your facts right about Adoption in Australia .. it varies according to which State or Territory you are in – every State has it’s own adoption laws and some are more progressive than others. For example, you might be referring to how adoption is done in the State of Victoria or South Australia. They both have learnt immensly from past practices and are very aware of how adoption impacts and so focus alot on family preservation and identity preservation, giving the child when they become an adult the choice for adoption or not. Whereas in comparison, the State of New South Wales is hugely the opposite – very pro adoption and it’s mandate at the moment follows the UK lead of mandating time periods for removing children and pushing them into adoption as the first resort.

    But you are definitely correct to assume Australia is largely further ahead in recognition of “all” people’s rights in the adoption triad in general as compared to the USA which appears in my intercountry adoption experience with many USA members in my group, to be a very pro adoption country but even then, don’t even get adoption right given the number (thousands) of intercountry adoptees who are not given automatic US citizenship.

    In essence though, I love your article and am so glad like you to see that the concept of family preservation is being pushed by many who are impacted and involved. We are slowly come out of the fog to understanding our own issues due to relinquishment and adoption .. then opening up to understand the wider picture of adoption – the stakeholders who make the decisions and drive policy and practice. Slowly slowly people are becoming aware that we must do more to prevent relinquishment for the sake of the child and parents involved! Let’s hope one day adoptions are never necessary nor promoted! http://www.intercountryadopteevoices.com

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank God for those adoptive and prospective adoptive parents who recognize the importance/value of supporting the original family, even if it means they wait longer for a child. They will be blessed….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In 1994 the federal government wrote a program titled the Family Support and Preservation Program, authorizing $930 million dollars in grants to give family preservation priority and to prevent family separation. States could apply for extra funds to send life skills coaches into the homes of distressed families. Unfortunately, with inadequate resources at the state level to hire additional employees to implement, oversee, report and evaluate the outcomes, this grant has been used “ineffectively by social workers, lawyers, judges, and administrators” (Karger, 2014, p. 325). To restate the importance of this program, lawmakers reframed the grant into a bipartisan bill, and the Family First Preservation Services Act was passed in Congress in February of 2018 (Kelly, 2018). This change from the grant program to federal law emphasized the government’s insistence for change in the public social welfare system towards preserving families. A description of the law is found on the Focus First Campaign for Children’s website:
      “The Family First Prevention Services Act was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act on February 9, 2018. This act
      reforms the federal child welfare financing streams, Title IV-E and
      Title IV-B of the Social Security Act, to provide services to families who are at risk of entering the child welfare system. The bill aims to prevent children from entering foster care by allowing federal reimbursement for mental health services, substance use treatment, and in-home parenting skill training. It also seeks to improve the well-being of children already in foster by incentivizing
      states to reduce placement of children in congregate care” (Combi, 2018).

      Like

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