Victoria: A Call To Action for the SOS Network

I’d like to tell you a story. A story about resilience, courage, love, redemption and faith. A story a little bit shocking, a lot sad, a little sensational, but filled with a lot of hope. 

Let me introduce you to Victoria. From the tender age of eight years old, Victoria has been a victim of human trafficking. Taken from her home country in Europe, she spent the next several years of her life in a hell that you can only imagine. 

But Victoria made it out. Refusing to accept her fate, she ran. And then they would beat her. And she would run again. And they would burn her. As she told her story she showed me the scars on her arms. I choked back tears, in awe of this creature before me, this brave young woman. All of my mundane worries of everyday life fell away. Victoria was a warrior. She was a Phoenix. What touched me the most is she didn’t even realize how courageous she was. 

As I reached out to her I said, “I’m so sorry that happened to you. So very sorry.” Her response fit her perfectly and showed just how amazing she is. 

“It’s okay. I’m here. I’m alive,” with a smile on her face. This twenty year old woman had managed to teach me everything I needed to know about resilience in the short hour that I sat with her. I don’t really have heroes, but if I did Victoria is surely one of them. 

We got back to the matter at hand, the reason fate had brought us together. I watch as she lovingly strokes her belly, comforting her little one that safely resides within her. In six weeks or less Victoria will welcome her fourth child into the world. She loves him. She’s named him. She has a pink baby swing in her living room that she managed to obtain from someone feeling charitable. But that’s the only clue you’ll see, besides her obvious impending motherhood, that a new baby will soon be here. 

Victoria has, thus far, been supported by the church in her community. They pay her rent and other bills and supply her little family with food. This support, however, has been contingent on the relinquishment of her baby when he arrives. She’s told them she doesn’t want to give him up. It always ends in an argument. When Victoria came to SOS she didn’t really see any other way. If keeping her baby meant homelessness for her and all of her kids, how could she possibly not go through with an adoption?

There are still so many people in this world who don’t see the U.S. adoption system for what it truly is. They really think they are “helping” by coercing women into giving up their babies. It’s obvious this is also true of the people helping Victoria. 

Victoria is smart. She’s forthcoming, she’s willing to do whatever she has to do to keep her family together. You see, she’s already lost one child to adoption. It was supposed to be an open adoption but it’s been months since she’s received any response from the adoptive parents.  

She has stacks of paperwork already put together when I walk in her door. Immigration papers, the Department of Homeland Security, WIC, and a contract from an attorney she was forced to go see last week. She didn’t sign the contract though. She remembered I told her not to sign ANYTHING when she told me she had the appointment. Even though great pressure was put on her to sign, she resisted. Did I mention Victoria is strong? 

The contract is from a local family law attorney. It’s essentially a contract to do business and a legal agreement to pay a certain amount of money to retain the services of this attorney and what the hourly fees thereafter would be. I ask, “they want YOU to sign this and pay for an attorney to give your baby up for adoption?” She replies, “No, they want me to sign it but said the adoptive parents would pay the fees.”

It becomes obvious why there was such an uproar when she wouldn’t sign it. Sure, if she went through with an adoption I know the adoptive parents would pay the legal fees. But if she changes her mind, it’s just something to hold over her head to coerce her into relinquishment. I feel sick looking at it. 

We end our visit with a group prayer. I thank God for bringing Victoria into my life and ask him to help her stay strong and endure the pressure she is facing. I assure Victoria that God does not make mistakes and that she was the intended mother for her child. 

We hug, we make future plans. When I walk out that door I know there is no turning back. Victoria is now a part of my family. It is done. 

Dear Network,

Victoria needs your help. We CAN do this. She was a victim but doesn’t need to be anymore. Please help us empower her and help her heal. We got this. I know we do. 

For ways to help please visit http://www.facebook.com/adoptionSOS

Or search SAVING OUR SISTERS on Facebook. 

If you make a monetary donation via http://www.cubirthparents.org and choose the “Donate” button and select Saving Our Sisters and in the comment field type “Victoria.”

Thank you all for all that you do. 

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Creating a Family: Talk About Infertility and Douche Canoes

I’ve been sitting on this post for several days. I wasn’t quite sure why I wanted so badly to blog about something that happened. In hindsight, it seemed trivial. It seemed like it was just drama-stirring and I couldn’t justify doing it for any other reason except to get revenge. So, this not being a good enough reason to publicly expose something, I sat on it. I stewed. I couldn’t let it go and finally I asked myself why what happened had bothered me so badly. After taking a couple of days to evaluate the “why,” I have come to the conclusion that this post is not about revenge, at all. It is about the bigger picture and the fallacy that “adoption isn’t like that anymore.”

Let me explain.

There exists this group on Facebook. It is the support group for the accompanied website and non-profit. It welcomes all those affected by adoption or those facing infertility. It is a very large group. For some time, when I entered, I just sat back and listened. Mostly adoptive or hopeful adoptive parents post in this group. It intrigued me to hear their thoughts. What I found was that my stereotypes of ALL adoptive parents were wrong. They aren’t all bad eggs. There were some truly awesome adoptive parents in there and it gave me the courage to start sharing my truths and giving my input, when appropriate. Mostly, my input was not met with strong opposition, but sometimes it was. There were some adoptive parents that didn’t like what I had to say. I would make my point, respectfully, and move along. I actually began to have a little bit of faith in the adoption reform movement and it was nice to see a few adoptive parents seeking my honest opinions and truths, taking them to heart, and applying them in their lives AS adoptive parents. How refreshing, right?

Until it wasn’t refreshing anymore. Until many other first moms began to speak up with their truths, their hurts, their opinions. This group that I thought was so progressive and open turned out to be just like the rest. Maybe even worse. It seems a couple of family preservation opinions, from first moms, were easily tolerated, but when there were several many members didn’t like it. Let me be perfectly clear – none of the posts I have ever seen were ever disrespectful to anyone in the group. No name calling, no threats, no dismissiveness. They were simply stating their truths as women who have relinquished children to adoption. A couple of them were also adopted (which should be the loudest voice that anyone is listening to).

One morning I started seeing posts in various support groups that several first mom and first mom/adoptee members had received an odd message from the owner of this support group. They had been informed that they had been removed from the group for their own good. “It’s too triggering for you to be in there so we removed you.” Some didn’t get messages at all, they were just booted.

removal

So, you may be asking yourself why I’m making a blog post about some first moms getting booted from a mixed infertility group….now you see my hesitance to even write this.

Here’s why.

Our truths, our voices, are tolerated as long as they aren’t too loud or don’t make anyone uncomfortable. As soon as those voices become too loud or make the “entitled” or “privileged” (see adoptive and hopeful adoptive parents) feel uncomfortable then our voices are removed. This infuriates me because this is what society has been doing to us for years and years and years.  Now, make that a double whammy for the first moms who were removed that were also adoptees! The little faith I was beginning to gain back, thinking that there really were adoptive parents who “got it,” was, again, gone.

I had not been booted from the group, but didn’t feel like I should really say too much anymore in case I might be. I sat and I watched. Over the next couple days I saw some more first moms speaking their truths. I saw a post by a man named Joe Tipton, in regards to the removal of all those people previously mentioned. He went on and on about how great it was that those “troublemakers” were removed. He even included the hashtag #dontbeadouce and #douchecanoe to his post. In other words, the troublemakers were the first moms and adoptees that were speaking their truths and honestly, respectfully, advising members in the group. The owner of this group gushed about her crush on Joe. Comments began popping up in the thread about how they should make t-shirts for the group saying “Don’t be a douche.”  He made sure to tag his child’s first mom and rave about how great she was. He also made sure everyone was aware that his wife was a moderator of the group. Of course, his child’s first mom commented on the post. She gushed about how great he was and how privileged she was to carry “their” baby and how happy she was to give said baby to them. An adoptee chimed in and warned that if her first mom had said she was HAPPY to give her up that would have hurt really bad.

What ensued afterwards was a shit show, to say the least. Joe threw out many vulgar comments. He called first moms, that were commenting, douches and douche canoes. He did the same to a few adoptees. He felt he was “protecting” his child’s birthmom.  I’m not quite sure what she needed protection from…the thoughts of an adoptee? A warning because the adoptee didn’t want her child to feel hurt if she said the same thing to him? Maybe Joe needed to protect his own interests. His child’s first mom was lovestruck, to say the least, with Joe. The back and forth comments became a little uncomfortable as Joe and his child’s first mom talked to each more like intimate partners than adoptive parent-birth parent. I digress.

After several people were called douches (or some other form of the word), their thoughts dismissed, and voices squashed, by Joe (remember, these are first moms and adoptees), posts began popping up for a moderator to stop him. It was really a long tirade of vulgarity, to say the least. He just kept going. Eventually the thread was closed.

For first moms and adoptees to get booted for sharing their opinions and truths, respectfully, without calling anyone names, because the group was “too triggering” was one thing. For this guy to go on a disrespectful, vulgar tirade, and NOT get removed was another thing.

I waited to see if he would be removed. After the mass exodus of my friends and acquaintances in adoption land new rules were posted there. One of them specifically stated to show respect and not call names. Joe was clearly in violation of this rule. Yet, he remained in the group for hours after his tirade…as well as all his douche-y posts and comments.

I had enough. It made me sick to my stomach that all of these first moms and adoptees had been victimized by this group of people. I was not going to allow myself to become a victim with them. Society has done enough to us already, we don’t need some infertility and adoption group carrying the torch.

Before I left I posted a goodbye letter. I know, I know…I hate when people do that too. I couldn’t help myself. The hypocrisy was driving me insane!!

After I left, Joe WAS removed. But, it was temporary. Today they let him back in.

I guess its okay to call people douche bags, douche canoes, and other names when you don’t like their truths or their opinions in that group. Especially if the owner has a crush on the dude doing it and his wife is a moderator. I guess its NOT okay to share your truths as an adoptee or first mom if it makes too many adoptive or hopeful adoptive parents uncomfortable. So much for this great progressive group, huh?

I am SO sick and fucking tired of adopters controlling the narrative. This is how they do it! Every. Single. Fucking. Time. This is why I was outraged. It wasn’t really about making their group “safe” or removing people who were being too triggered. If that was the case the guy who called multiple people horribly nasty misogynist names would have been removed as well. Permanently.

Before Joe’s removal he even made ANOTHER post about his name-calling. It was a “sorry not sorry” post in which he continues to call those he disagrees with douches again. It remained up in the group for quite some time – until they purged everything. In the comments of this post, another moderator tells him that he may get booted from the group but “it will only be temporary.” Because, you know, they all love him so much.

Even more interesting is a post on Joe’s personal facebook page directed at a very young woman’s boyfriend. Apparently the boyfriend became very uncomfortable with Joe’s contact with the young woman and told him to stop talking to her. Joe decided to call him a douche too.

Pot meet kettle.

I’m debating on whether to show the screen shots of the entire conversation here. I have no problem with it. It’s not like I give two flying fucks about the privacy of anyone in there after the shit show that went down and how my friends were treated.

Fuck it.

Here’s a few.

joe1

(Degrading and spiteful?? Degrading is, apparently to Joe, an adoptee saying they would be hurt to hear their first mom was happy they couldn’t parent them)

joe2

joe3

AND HERE’S ONE OF THE GOOD ONES (adoptive parent) POINTING OUT HOW OBVIOUSLY WRONG JOE WAS.

joe4

joe5joe6

joe7

(And apparently you’re a douche if you say anything about adoption is unhappy)

joe8

Oh I have so many more….I could tell a story if I want, but I trust that you trust me.

 

 

You Are Invited: 2016 Saving Our Sisters Summit

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We have been frantically excitedly planning the Saving Our Sisters Summit since the beginning of the year and are ready for you all to register!

Consider this your official invitation!

REGISTER TODAY!

SOS SUMMIT May 12th – 15th, 2016

Hilton Airport Kansas City

Review the registration form and tentative agenda at:  www.cubirthparents.org

What is the Summit?

A gathering of “family preservation first” supporters to come together to connect face to face to learn, grow and understand how we are going to continue to support mothers and fathers to successfully be the parents that they want to be and to make a bigger and better impact in the movement to reform adoption and eliminate coercive persuasion used by many unethical adoption “professionals.”

What if I can’t afford the registration fee?

Well, we have a couple of options for you!

First, Clean & Care Laundry Detergent has offered a way for your to pay for your entire registration fee!

SOS-page-001 This is all explained on the registration form as well on the 2nd page.

Second, if you would like to be added to a sponsorship list, a form is being developed that you will need to complete to be considered.

You can get some of your registration fee paid for from the first option, and then the difference could be made up from donations.

Sponsorship is not guaranteed, as they will be granted based solely on the donations made for them.

Want to sponsor someone else to attend?

Many people have asked about being able to help someone else pay for their registration fee.

We have made this possible!  On the registration form you will see a Sponsorship section.

You may designate someone, or you may make a monetary donation to be applied to someone who has applied for a Summit Scholarship.

In order to make a monetary donation, (remember, it can be any amount!), please donate via the standard process by going to the CUB website and donating to SOS or, you can click here.

There is also a way for you to pay online with your debit/credit card, just be sure to select the correct ‘package’ when registering online!

Travel arrangements

Flying?  Check out Frontier Airlines Discount Den.  If Frontier flies out of an airport near you, it is a way that you can save BIG!

Just watch the per bag fee!

Someone else also mentioned Megabus as another means of cheap travel.

Please review the Summit agenda so you are sure not to miss any of the events!

 

3rd Annual SOS Sponsor a Saved Family for the Holidays Thank You!

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Wow! I cannot even begin to express the gratitude that I feel for those who were able to help with the 3rd Annual SOS Sponsor a Saved Family for the Holidays this year. It truly was amazing what you all have done.

This Christmas there were 12 families that we sponsored and 28 kids in total. These are families who trusted SOS when we stepped in and said, “You are what’s best for your baby, regardless of your temporary situation. You are deserving of your baby and your baby deserves you.” Our entire network makes a commitment to these moms when they decide to let us help and it continues to amaze me what this network is able to do. The show of love, support, monetary donations, and giving is nothing short of awesome. You all rock!

Because of you, 28 children were able to snuggle up in some new jammies on Christmas Eve, with a bucket of popcorn and snacks, and watch a movie after making their gingerbread houses. Because of you, 28 children awoke on Christmas morning to the joy that all kids should feel – Santa Claus had made his rounds. Because of you, 12 families gathered, in love, together, their families in tact, on Christmas day, and feasted on a holiday dinner of ham, turkey, and all the fixings. Because of you, 12 parents didn’t have to worry about their children being disappointed or forgotten about on the most magical day of a child’s life. Because of you, the spirit of Christmas and giving was alive and well in these homes.

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In honor of making this possible, we would like to share with you some of the joy those families were able to have this holiday season. With permission from a few of the families assisted, we would like to present the 2015 SOS Sponsor a Saved Family for the Holidays photo album.

For many of us, the holidays are a trying time. I hope that these photos can brighten your day and provide some comfort. We are all making a difference.

Without further ado, the Christmas miracles you are helping put into action.

(If you are reading this post on Musings of the Lame, please click on “Astrid Beemom” at the beginning of the post to go to the original source and view the album)

Happy Holidays!!

(and don’t forget to read some thoughts from our families under the slideshow)

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From our families:

Thank you so much lynn and sos.”

They love the PJs! They fit perfect.”

Thank you SOS for sending these care packages to our family. Our gingerbread house was done by the boys “All Their Idea” I applied frosting to help out but they did the rest. Lily, Mom, Wade & Chris all In the same gingerbread house this Christmas. We are so grateful to all you lovely ladies #WeHaveOurLilyGirl #BestGiftEver

“I want to wish Lynn Johansenn a very Merry Christmas, with out her an her group we wouldn’t have Kylie,they have made us so happy, this is a very special. Christmas. Thanks to you all an Merry Christmas.”

“To everyone who made this happen for my babies I thank you so much!! Without yall this year there wouldn’t be much of a Christmas for my family but thanks to yall there is 🙂 and to sos I’d like to give a big thanks to all you ladies out there because without yall I wouldn’t have my e man with me for his first of many Christmas with his family. Or many days to come for that matter.”

“Santa came a little early here tonight from the amazing ladies at SOS! With special thanks to colleen and Lynn you guys and appreciate all you guys do for us!”