Domestic Adoption Support Network; Tim Elder, Melissa Kay Robinson and the Conflict of Interest in Support Groups

*Edit* I am by no means upset by my exclusion from this group. I AM upset that when I questioned the appropriateness of Melissa acting in the capacity of admin and gave my reasons why my comments were deleted and I was blocked (see silenced). I figured if they wouldn’t give me an answer in there (and everyone else who wanted to know) I’d ask them here and let the information be public. I also think the rules should apply to ALL. And they don’t.

I have been a member of a mixed adoption support group for a couple of years by the name of “Domestic Adoption Support Network” on Facebook. The group was apparently created by a man named Tim Elder and recently added an admin by the name of Melissa Kay Robinson (or just Melissa Kay or just Melissa Robinson).

This is the story of why I am no longer a member in this particular group, along with many other adoptive parents, adoptees, and first parents. This is the story of an intricate network to market adoption and mine expectant mothers under the facade of a “support” group. I can quite honestly say that I’ve never seen anything like this during my time in adoptionland.  It’s very cunning yet quite alarming. If you don’t have some time to read I suggest you save this story for another time, but do save it.  It is not only worth the read, it would be negligent if you didn’t.

Hold onto your hats as we pull the curtain on “Domestic Adoption Support Network” and show you what is really going on.

Boasting over 5,000 members on Facebook, Domestic Adoption Support Network describes itself as:

“A community of domestic adoption advocates supporting adoptive families and birth mothers.

Group Admins:
Tim ElderInfantadoptionguide.com
Tawnya McPhetridge

Support”

Within the “FILES” section of this group (if you are a member you can read these, if not you’re out of luck so I’ll share here) you will find the “RULES.”  They read as follows (with my own commentary in italic):

GROUP RULES: This is a domestic adoption support group which is moderated by Tim Elder of InfantAdoptionGuide.com, Tawnya Wallace McPhetridge, Andrew Finch and Melissa Kay Robinson.

Facebook Support Group Rules of Etiquette: We are a community that has come together because of our mutual interest in domestic adoption in the United States. As we all know, adoption is an emotional topic that can bring strong feelings and emotions. This support group is a safe place to share our joys and concerns and to learn from each other. This requires trust and respect, so here are our group rules.

1. This is a closed group. The information in this group should not be shared with others. This includes sharing snapshots of private messages and comments. (whoops, hope they don’t kick me out. Oh! They already did when I discovered what they were doing)
2. Understand that all members of the adoption triad are welcomed and represented here – birth parents, adoptees, and adoptive parents. We also welcome adoption advocates/workers. Please act accordingly. (They mean all members of the triad are welcome as long as they don’t challenge the positive adoption facade)
3. PLEASE OBSERVE positive adoption language (Google the term to learn more). DO NOT use the abbreviation ‘BM’ when talking about birthmothers. While you may not understand or agree, this can be offensive to birthmoms(Except this abbreviation is used a lot in this group and arguments frequently break out by people insisting they should be able to use it if they want and admins don’t do anything about it half the time – I’ve never seen someone booted for consistently violating this rule)
4. No personal attacks. No name calling. Period. It is OK to disagree with someone, but do it respectfully. Remember to re-read your words to make sure they don’t feel like a personal attack. It is NEVER acceptable to put down another person or call someone a name. Ever.
5. Don’t wear your feelings on your sleeve. Someone can disagree with you and it isn’t an attack on you personally. They simply disagree. No need to take offense.
6. Assume people have good intentions first, unless they prove otherwise. If someone is being rude and had bad intentions, report this to the admins.
7. Stick to the facts when posting about an agency or professional. Report only your own experience – no second hand knowledge. (And this is the subject matter of this post.  Remember this rule everyone. It’s totally okay to post second hand knowledge as long as you’re saying something good about an adoption agency, but if you heard something bad about them – even from your best friend who you talk to everyday – LOOK OUT)
8. Group administrators reserve the right to: delete any post they feel is in violation of these guidelines, shut down comments on any post and remove members who do not adhere to the guidelines. (And delete they do. Anything that might make them or an agency or adoption in general look bad.  Even first hand knowledge)
9. Sharing of adoption pages vs direct advertising. While we encourage links to adoption pages and the sharing of personal insights into agencies, useful products, etc. this forum is not to be used for direct advertising of any form. If there are questions or concerns, please notify the admins of this group and we will handle it.

10. We want to keep this forum free from fundraising solicitation posts – offers to host parties and links for people to purchase your tshirts, mugs, etc. I will make 2 documents in the files section where you are free to add your services & your fundraisers if you would like. If someone asks a question about fundraising you may, in the comments, like to ideas you’ve done etc – but not as original posts. We don’t want this group to become overrun with these sorts of posts. There are other FB groups that focus on fundraising that you can join.

Let’s start by looking at one of the group “owners,” Tim Elder. According to his LinkedIn page, he doesn’t have any kind of formal adoption training.  He isn’t technically an “adoption professional.” It just states under the “also knows about” section, “adoption.” He got his degree from DeVry University in Chicago.  Being from Chicago, myself, I know that doesn’t mean much and it’s a for-profit technical school that advertised heavily on the television.  My childhood and teenage years were inundated by these cheaply made, annoying commercials. Even by his own admission he isn’t a professional. He has a little “book” called “7 Steps to Domestic Infant Adoption” and in the very beginning he states, “I am not an adoption professional. Any advice or resources given in this guide are based on my opinion, research, and experience.” Yet he feels he is enough of a “professional” to also advertise and conduct his own “podcasts” called “Infant Adoption Guide” and run a “support” group on Facebook with thousands of members representing many different walks of life within the adoption community.

What exactly is Tim’s qualifications in adoption? Oh, he’s an adoptive father.  He’s got some adopted kids that he adopted when they were infants. While he would certainly be a valued opinion to other prospective adoptive parents trying to navigate domestic infant adoption, this hardly qualifies him to coach and navigate the many complex aspects, psychologically and otherwise, aspects of adoption in a support group. He even sells an e-book on Amazon for his “Infant Adoption Guide” that you can buy for 99 cents! In fact, if you head on over to his website you can get his four FREE e-books for subscribing to his mail list as well as get his free videos!

To Tim’s credit, at first glance it doesn’t appear he is making a WHOLE lot of money off of adoption (although I could be very very wrong). But he is making, at least, some. I subscribed to his email list to see what comes through and I’m pretty sure I’m going to get third-party advertisements that he is compensated for.  If I’m wrong then I’ll apologize but considering that Bethany Christian Services pops up as one of his “new” sponsors it’s a safe bet there are several and they are all in the business of profiting or making a living off of domestic infant adoption. And let’s not forget that a “sponsor” is someone who pays you. Tim profits from adoption.

Edited to add: It appears Melissa’s agency, Chosen Child, was or is a sponsor of Tim’s adoption venture. 

bethany-sponsor

Bethany is one of THE largest adoption agencies in the United States

I could go on and on about Tim, and while I take issue with what he’s doing there is a bigger picture.  He is part of that bigger picture and that is why I’ve given you some information about him but we must move forward to get to where I’m taking you.

Let’s talk about new admin, Melissa Kay Robinson.  Melissa is the admin of this mixed group yet she is only connected to adoption in the capacity that she once owned her own FOR PROFIT adoption agency (now defunct, not sure why) and is currently the administrator for the adoption agency Chosen Child Adoption Services. According to her LinkedIn profile she holds a LCPA (social worker). She has no mention of her now defunct FOR PROFIT adoption agency on her LinkedIn page as past experience. I also find it interesting she is a member of the American Pregnancy Association considering she makes a living finding babies for people who want them. It’s also laughable to me that her LinkedIn profile says: Causes Melissa Cares About and “Children” is the only thing listed.  Hmmm. I digress.

In addition to being an adoption agency administrator, Melissa also runs her own business doing home studies for people. In other words, she gets to decide if a home should be approved for adoption or not. This business of hers is called “Texas Adoption Assistance” or “Adoption Family Services” as its official name is known.  Her business completing home studies for hopeful adoptive parents, according to Manta, employees two people, herself and someone else, and has an annual revenue of $83,000. Her bio on the Texas Adoption Assistance website is almost (if not) identical to her bio on the Chosen Child Adoption Services website.  The beginning states:

“Melissa initially became interested in adoption when her best friend became pregnant in college. The friend made an adoption plan and asked Melissa to help her select the adoptive parents. Ultimately, this mom decided to parent when it came time to place the baby in the arms of the adoptive parents. She witnessed the hardship of this mother trying to do the best for her baby by making a responsible life plan, as well as the struggle she endured raising him as a single parent. Her personal encounter with a birth mother inspired Melissa to commit her professional career to assisting those in unplanned pregnancies. This was 25 years ago and Melissa has remained involved in adoption in some way since this time.”

So what I’m seeing here, reading between the lines, is that Melissa’s friend got pregnant at an inconvenient time and almost bought into the whole “your baby deserves better” thing and at the last minute came to her senses, breaking those poor PROSPECTIVE (Melissa fails to use the word “prospective” when telling her story.  They are already adoptive parents in her eyes) adoptive parents’ hearts. Melissa then watched a single mother struggle so she decided to dedicate her life to “assisting” those with unplanned pregnancies (but I see “convincing them adoption is best”). Notice Melissa also calls her “friend” in this story a “birthmother” when she isn’t and never was. She makes no effort, whatsoever, to avoid language that could possibly be considered coercion, when counseling expectant moms considering adoption, but she’s the administrator of an adoption agency. Anyway, this is just what I’m seeing when I read this. It isn’t very well written so perhaps that’s not what it means but given her lack of education in today’s world of adoption about coercion and using correct labels for people (expectant mother vs. birthmother, hopeful adoptive parents vs. adoptive parents) to avoid coercion I will say that I think my gut is right. Melissa doesn’t advocate for what’s best for families.  She advocates for what’s best for her pocket-book. Melissa doesn’t pay her bills without adoption. Adoption doesn’t exist without healthy infants to give to people willing to pay tens and thousands of dollars for them. You do the math.

Let’s take a closer look at the adoption agency Melissa heads. Chosen Child Adoption Services is a non-profit adoption agency that is under the umbrella (for non-profit status) Promiseland Ministries who run the Hannah House Maternity Home in Texas. Their website states:

“Promiseland Ministries, Inc., exists to reach out in love to women, mothers, unborn children and families in need, providing a safe place to live, meeting physical and emotional needs, offering educational and financial opportunities, and working to build and strengthen families according to God’s word and for His glory.  Our organization was started in 1999 by Glennis and Gary Woodall, who have 20 years of experience in helping pregnant women in need.  We now operate Hannah House Maternity Home, which houses up to five women at a time, and Maryhannah House Aftercare Home, which houses up to four women at a time. In August of 2008 we opened The Chosen Child Adoption Services in Allen, Texas.”

How convenient. A “maternity home” that functions as a residence to “help” pregnant girls and also opened up their own adoption agency to sell adopt out infants for tens and thousands of dollars. And Melissa Kay Robinson heads the adoption agency as the administrator (remember this is in addition to her $83,000 dollar a year personal business selling home studies to hopeful adoptive parents).

Now, here’s the kicker. I don’t know exactly how much Melissa makes with Chosen Child since they are under Promiseland Ministries as a non-profit. Her specific salary isn’t listed on the Form 990 because of this.  Again, how convenient. Feel free to visit the hyperlink to view the Form 990 yourself to see how much Promiseland has in assets and what their profit margin is.

Just a thought.  I wonder if Melissa recommends her own business conducting home studies to hopeful adoptive parents that come to Chosen Child. Did I mention she admins a group of over 5,000 people connected to adoption that has many expectant mothers considering adoption within the group and controls the content of what is shared in that group by silencing those who dare say anything bad about adoption?

That might explain why Melissa advertises her adoption agency on multiple Facebook pages.

Oh, and I almost forgot how Chosen Child Adoption Services had a case that went already to the Supreme Court (against them) for (surprise surprise) adopting a baby out without the father’s permission.  READ THAT HERE.

Where was I? Oh there’s just so much to tell you.

So the other night someone asked how American Adoptions was as an adoption agency in that support group, Domestic Adoption Support Network. Lots of comments came in. Many from people who adopted using their services and had great things to say about them. Some adoptive parents chimed in about a friend who did not have a good experience as an expectant mother when she changed her mind about adoption. Melissa was sure to chime in and let everyone know that ONLY FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE IS ALLOWED WHEN TALKING ABOUT ADOPTION PROFESSIONALS. Yet, when people were saying “my friend used them and said they were great” Melissa had nothing to say. Apparently that was allowed. And asking her to clarify the rules or enforce them equally ended with people getting kicked out of the group or chastised. When I pointed out that Melissa was adminning a support group where her only connection was as the former owner of a for-profit adoption agency and the agency administrator of Chosen Child my comments were deleted and I was removed and blocked from the group.  Enjoy some screen shots of what Melissa, the “adoption professional” has to say within this group.

(Remember, this was in response to someone asking about American Adoptions. An adoptee who is also an adoptive parent responded telling the story of a friend whose child was almost lost to them because of American Adoptions)

original-question

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THIS IS AN EXPECTANT MOTHER CONSIDERING ADOPTION IN THIS GROUP

melissa-argueresponder-1-and-melissa

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And here is an example of a totally different thread, a “positive” second hand review of an agency and nothing was “policed” and this comment remains to this day.

2nd-hand-knowledge-unrelated-to-thread

And when I say POLICING I mean POLICING.  Every since Melissa was promoted to an admin in this group she spends her free time commenting warnings to any person who dare say anything negative about adoption.  She also sends you messages. Here is what I wrote in regards to the original thread in question. (It’s also what got me booted and blocked by Melissa)

me-about-melissa

experience as a birthmom part 1.jpg

Then other admins chimed in.

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It just goes on and on and on and on.

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And then she blocked me so I just logged into my other account and messaged her what I really thought.  Don’t say I didn’t give her the chance to defend herself.

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But what does Melissa think about the discrepancy in the enforcement of the group rules? You know, policing people who share negative second hand knowledge but not “positive” second hand knowledge? I would dig through hundreds of screen shots but just trust me when I tell you that she feels that only second hand positive knowledge should be allowed because it doesn’t “hurt” any adoption professionals. Negative second hand knowledge should NOT be allowed as it may hurt adoption professionals.  Seriously.  That’s what she said. I’m not joking. But I thought she was just “going by the rules.” And as you can see, because I shared the group’s rules, nowhere does it distinguish between negative second hand reviews of adoption “professionals” and positive reviews of adoption “professionals.” You’re just not allowed to do it.

To some people this may seem petty. But it points to a larger picture. It points to a picture of being censored from telling the stories, even if you know the person personally that they happened to, that shows the tactics adoption agencies and attorneys will go to in order to facilitate an adoption. There are women in there who are considering putting their babies up for adoption and comments are being deleted and the ugly side of adoption, and which agencies to avoid quite frankly, are is being censored. Is that really giving someone an “informed” choice? Of course it isn’t.  What in the world would these admins in this “support” group have to gain by not allowing these stories to be told? Well, I think I’ve made it very clear why Melissa has a problem with it. I’ve never seen policing like she has done in that group. It’s quite Gestapo.

Remember Tim? We talked about him a little bit in the beginning. In another thread totally unrelated to the subject of this post he talks about his podcast. Notice the reference to American Adoptions. The subject matter of this post and the extreme censorship of anyone saying anything bad about them or their ethics.

podcast-tim-elder

Hmm. In another comment someone talks about how American Adoptions has their own Facebook group.

American Adoptions FB group.jpg

So I visited this group and found this:

aa

And I quote:

If you have adopted or are adopting through another agency or are just beginning the research phase, I would suggest joining the Domestic Adoption Support group.

Well, this explains a lot more why no one was allowed to talk about the horrible things American Adoptions have done. Is American Adoptions a sponsor of Tim Elder’s Infant Adoption Guide? Are the two groups working with each other? What exactly is going on here?

Where does this leave us? In a TERRIBLE breach of confidentiality and trust. Support groups should be for support. Not for adoption professionals to police. Not for people to potentially mine expectant mothers to exploit them to make money in their adoption profiting business. Not for adoption professionals to snoop and change tactics in order to better coerce mothers based on the stories shared in these support groups.

Anyone who chooses to remain within this group should be warned. Everything you say, every story you share, every detail you divulge about yourself can  be used against YOU or someone else. Someone very vulnerable.

I always get so irritated when I hear hopeful or adoptive parents complain that there are too many “bitter” first moms or adoptees out there. Can you understand WHY after reading this? These people don’t care about kids or families. They care about making a living off of adoption. They care about helping other people get what they want – a new baby – even if it hurts someone else. These people SHOULD NOT be adminning or running any kind of support group that involves expectant mothers or adoptees AT ALL. These people should NOT be guiding hopeful adoptive parents. These people are the epitome of everything that is wrong in the land of adoption. The reform that is greatly needed is because of people like this. If you can, in good conscience, remain active or supportive to this group you are only encouraging this behavior.

May I suggest a different mixed group? One that welcomes EVERYONE’S experiences?

Try Adoption Perspectives: A Triad Community

https://www.facebook.com/groups/663901877106383/

There’s even a former admin from Domestic Adoption Support Network as an admin in here. She left after noticing many of the things I pointed out in this blog.

In the meantime, I implore you to share this so others are aware. Shoot, even try to join it on principle alone to seek out those expectant mothers who are being told half-truths. That is the only possible reason I could ever see to stay within this horrid group.

 

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Women That Relinquish To The Famous or Prominent

Every time you turn on the news or stand in line next to a tabloid it seems you cannot avoid being told about how this celebrity or that celebrity has just adopted a baby. A quick search on Google will bring up famous adoptive parents, famous adoptees, even famous birth parents. Some part of me had always wondered about the other side, the side that you cannot Google and come up with a list…or a single name at all. At least not without some serious digging. What about the women who have relinquished to the famous or prominent?

Certainly being a first mom to a child adopted by celebrities would present its own unique feelings and challenges. Typical support groups, while I’m sure are helpful, would always leave out that one issue not covered for these women. Their children and/or their children’s adoptive parents are in the lime light. Some days I want to avoid adoption altogether and I have that luxury. What if you logged onto Facebook and in your news feed was an article about your child or their parents. What if your child’s adoptive parents were very open about their adoption experience and you find they are relaying how they interpreted your feelings in an article by People Magazine? They have spoken for you and you have no voice. How do you avoid things like this? How do you handle it when it comes up? How do you find others that can relate on that level to what you are feeling?

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of meeting, and have now become close friends with, a woman in an online support group who had relinquished her son to two pretty famous people. This couple have adopted other kids as well and one of her greatest wants is to find the other first moms….just for support. Just to talk to someone who truly knows and understands what it is like to be the person who relinquished a child to a celebrity. I wondered what makes these first moms not seek each other out. I have asked this dear friend to help me with this post and I hope I can do her justice.

Fear

The most obvious reason for not going public about who you are is fear. With fame comes lots of money and that means the possibility of being sued for defamation if you tell your side of the story. Another thing to fear greatly is the relationship with your child. What if you are in reunion with this child? What if it was an open adoption? What if speaking out and revealing yourself put all of it at risk? What if the adoptive parents became angry with you for going public and cut you off? All you wanted was to find others like you. All you wanted was a type of support only a handful of other women can give you. Once again, the adoptive parents hold all the cards.

Another reason that these women do not have each other is purely numbers. When compared to all other first mothers, the number of women who have relinquished to famous or prominent people are quite low. Most have the fear we spoke of earlier and finding them is seemingly impossible. One of the reasons I am writing this blog is to call these women. You need each other and I know my dear friend needs you as well.

Birthmothers who are public…

We all know who Angelina Jolie is (if you don’t you’re living under a rock). The birthmother to her daughter, Mentewab Dawit Lebiso, went public and countered a story that she had died of AIDS. And then there is the birthmother of her son, Pax. She came forward about how she wanted her son back. Admittedly, she had a heroin problem and fled the hospital after her son was born because she couldn’t pay the bill (this isn’t the US, it’s Vietnam..not paying your bill will get more than the collection agencies after you). But, she is unaware that her son has been adopted. As is Zahara’s birthmother. They think their children are simply living abroad. Because of the cultural differences it makes me wonder if their naivety about the possible outcomes of going public work to their advantage in having the confidence to do so.

And let’s take a look at Madonna. Again, an international adoption, and again, the birth family coming forward in the same naivety as we previously talked about. They thought they had more rights than they really did. Madonna closed the adoption.

Another very famous adoptive parent is Hugh Jackman. Because of the very sad ending to her story, everyone knows who his child’s birthmother is. She is no longer with us after committing suicide. She was promised an open adoption and it was closed on her. Some claim she had drug and depression issue beforehand and others claim it was directly related to the pain suffered from relinquishing her child, but I can’t imagine having her child removed completely from her life helped matters any. As a matter of fact, there is a blog post about mother’s who have lost their life to adoption as well as a Facebook page dedicated to those who have lost their lives by their own hand because of adoption.  I can’t help but think, “What if she had been connected with other mothers like her?”

Ladies, if you are or know someone who is a first mom who has relinquished to celebrities, we are looking for you. You need each other. Private, confidential and secure. But you need each other. I know I have one friend that needs you desperately.

If you would like to be added to a secret birthmother support group and you are a first mom that has relinquished to famous or prominent adoptive parents please send me an email at: musingsofabirthmom@gmail.com

Birth Moms Today

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.

Example 1

Example 1

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.

The only 3 comments that sat all evening and overnight, and then Kim's comment.

The only 3 comments that sat all evening and overnight, and then Kim’s comment.

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Kim keeps the conversation engaged and going.

Kim keeps the conversation engaged and going.

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.

From "cohort #3" to Kim

From “cohort #3” to Kim

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Kim references the expectant mother I talk about in the beginning. Who would have terminated her parental rights if we wouldn't have stepped in thanks to Kim.

Kim references the expectant mother I talk about in the beginning. Who would have terminated her parental rights if we wouldn’t have stepped in thanks to Kim.

*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.