I Can See the Horizon 

Sleep found me easily and peacefully. I usually suffer from insomnia and will lay awake for hours praying that slumber will come upon me. A peace I’d never known before washed over me as all of my children were under my roof in the same place at the same time. The people I value and love the most in this world. The ONLY people whose opinions about me I care about. I felt complete and whole.

But sad. Sad for what could have been. Sad for the upcoming goodbye. Sad from what my choice had taken from all of my kids without their permission. There had always been a feeling that someone was missing and while she was here that feeling was gone. But it would soon be back. Nevertheless I tried to revel in how lucky I was to even have this moment, this time, at all.

I have three daughters and two sons. Of all of my children, she is the most like me in every way. It’s almost scary how similar we are. Many times people would comment “its like looking at you when you were her age!” Or “She’s JUST like you at that age!”

And she is.

She’s tenacious, she has no filter, she looks like me, she sounds like me, she has the same mannerisms as me. Admittedly she does have my husband’s nose.

Driving to Taco Bell one day we said the exact same thing at the exact same time with the exact same inflection. That happens within families all the time. Families that you share DNA with. “That’s never happened to me before,” she said with surprise. And it kept happening. My sisters and I are always speaking in stereo. It made me think how sad it would be to go through life without ever hearing someone who sounded like you.

And she’s just like her sisters. When a neighbor started up his motorcycle too closely they all screamed, shook, and started crying. All three of them. All at the same time. DNA is some powerful stuff.

But she’s herself too. It was lovely to hear her talk about the things she loves, the places she’s seen, the people in her life she cares about and how they’ve impacted her.

And still there was this thing hanging in the air. All the shared memories we had that she didn’t. My family is big on talking about “Remember when this happened…” and then proceeding to tell a funny or shocking story. So while she was like us in every way, and fit in perfectly, there was always the elephant in the room that reminded us that she had been gone.

So many mixed emotions. So much to untangle.

My husband was smitten. He reminded me of a new father doting over his infant daughter. Except we had already doted on her when she was born. I can read this man better than anyone and the looks on his face said, “I’m in love with this beautiful creature.” As he should be. She’s pretty amazing if I do say so myself.

And here is where I decided that this blog has served its purpose. For now, anyway.

When I was hurting it was here. When I needed to vent it was here. When I was scared, anxious, worried, happy, hopeful, suffering, it was here. You were here. Some of you lifted me with your thoughts and others pissed me off. And that’s okay. Because sometimes I just needed a good fight and you engaged me.

I know this journey is ever evolving and I’m not completely abandoning this space. There may be a time in the future where I need it regularly again. But this journey is no longer just my own. Now that our lives have come together again, and she is again a part of mine, our stories are intertwined and it’s not up to me what to share.

I have let adoption consume my life. That’s not an entirely bad thing. I’ve found sisterhood and courage in this community. I’ve found courage to stand up, stand out, and help make changes. I will always be an activist. Always. But I’m also a mother and wife. I can’t spread myself too thin so I’ve decided to focus my energy on certain endeavors that will allow me to balance things more equally. I lost my grandfather, who helped raise me, and a beloved pet who was my emotional support animal, this year. The wheels of time don’t stop turning for me to sit behind a computer.

So while I’ve already bowed out of this blogging thing pretty much, I thought I’d leave you all with a happy update. I’ll pop in once in a while. But it’s time to take back my life and focus on where I can really make a change, enjoy my family, and still remain a functional member of society.

 

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The Promise

I told myself I wouldn’t cry. I didn’t want to scare her. I didn’t want her to think this stranger was emotionally unstable. Then I worried if I didn’t let myself cry she’d think maybe I was emotionally inept. 

I changed my shirt 3 times. I was about to change it a fourth time when I decided that nothing would be good enough so I may as well save myself the trouble. I spent a great deal of time worrying that she’d find me reprehensible or think, “This lady is ugly. I got handed some bad genes.”

I spent days cleaning the house. I couldn’t seem to get it clean enough. Never mind that teenagers hardly pay attention to details such as clean baseboards, I was sure she would glance down and think, “this house is too dirty. I can’t stay in such filth.”

I loaded our little family into the truck and we stopped by the florist. My husband, her father, wanted to have roses for the first time he held his “baby who’s not a baby anymore” in his arms again. 

I handed him the card to fill out and watched him hesitate and struggle for the right words. “Just write ‘Love, J'” I instructed him. Relief washed over his face and he did what I said. 

When we arrived at the airport I thought maybe I was dreaming. There was no way I could be this lucky. In just a few short moments she would be standing face to face with us. It felt as if we were holding the winning lottery ticket. Guilt briefly touched my heart as I thought of my other first mom friends, women I have grown to love, who don’t have what I was about to or who may never will. What did I ever do to deserve to be this lucky?

The text message came. “We’re about to land.” I looked out the window of the airport and saw a plane coming in from the right direction. As it came closer I glanced at my husband. He looked terrified. As it’s wheels touched the ground his eyes became red and the tears could no longer be contained. 

I told myself I wouldn’t cry. He was making this plan harder to stick to. 

People could be seen walking down the long corridor, behind glass doors. A man in a suit, a woman in a dress. They were hard to distinguish until they were closer. 

But I spotted her before anyone would think I could definitively say it was her. I knew it was. I pointed. She came closer. Her gait was as familiar as my own. The way she swung her arms was like looking in a mirror. 

The first moment I saw her


I wanted to run through the gate doors, airport security be damned! Her pace quickened as she saw us all standing and waiting. We were completely oblivious to other passengers as we blocked the way out with our bodies. 

And then she was in my arms. I couldn’t stop the tears and hers flowed freely as well. I momentarily pulled away to put my hands on her face and stare into her striking eyes. She. Is. Amazingly. Beautiful. 

She was in my arms again. She was real. I could feel her. The warmth of her body. The texture of her hair on my face. Could it ever get any better than this? This moment would never happen again. This was it. It was absolute perfection. Divine. 

Over the years a song had always stuck in my head and reminded me of her. I had dreamed of this moment for years. And in my dreams the song would play. I now know how fitting the song is. 

“Together again

It would feel so good to be

In your arms

Where all my journeys end

If you can make a promise

If it’s one that you can keep

I vow to come for you

If you wait for me”

-The Promise, by Tracy Chapman

Operation Matthew 6:25-34

Welcome to one of the most coercive pre-adoptive stories you will ever read. Take a seat and prepare to look through a “story book” that defines coercion and duress in expectant mothers. I almost titled this post “Faces of Adoption Coercion: Level Infinity.”

Meet Tuesday Laine Watson and her husband, Josh. Tuesday is very young, in her 20’s and is hoping to adopt a young woman’s baby when it is born this May. Someone she knew from her past, according to Tuesday’s public Facebook profile. However, Tuesday didn’t get the memo that she is a “hopeful” adoptive parent. She has already bestowed upon herself the title of “mother” to a baby yet to be born. For months now. Complete with parking in expectant mother parking spaces, having an elaborate baby shower, naming the baby, and posting about “her” child all over the inter webs. 

To make matters worse, Tuesday is friends with this expectant mother on Facebook and she sees all these posts. Shoot, Tuesday even tags her in some. Posts about how selfless her “birth” mom is (even though she is not yet a birthmom). Posts about how this emom is giving her this tremendous gift. You know. Posts that would make this emom, we’ll call her Sunday (Keeping in theme with the days of the week), feel a gut wrenching guilt should she decide she would indeed like to parent HER baby. Because Tuesday has already laid claim to this baby and leaves little room for Sunday to do the same. 

Tuesday has made it vehemently clear that SHE is the mother to this child and not Sunday. Sunday is simply the vessel of birth. 

I could go on for ages about the need for adoption education in Tuesday’s life for the sake of this child should she indeed adopt her. But anyone reading this will already know what I mean when I’m done. 

I’ll let Tuesday’s words speak for themselves. 

Fundraising for adoption fees instead of to help a mother keep her child and not face immense heartbreak the rest of her life.

Photo of expectant mother “Sunday”

She “deserves” a baby.

Photo courtesy of Facebook

Photo courtesy of Facebook


Still with me?

Some questions. 

How is Sunday supposed to back out of this if she decides she wants to parent? She has been reading these things for months. I would speculate that she thinks God doesn’t want her to have her baby and to hurt Tuesday by parenting her child means she would not be doing right by God. 

How can Sunday make an informed decision with no one guiding her or exploring other options with her?

How is this even happening? 

Dear Tuesday,

You deleted the comment I left on your blog. You silenced my voice. How long before you silence Sunday’s? It appears you believe you are entitled to her child. From past experiences I’ve found that usually leads to any kind of open adoption closing since the adoptive mother’s insecurities supersede the needs of the adopted child. Have you even researched how to parent an adopted child?

Since you decided to silence me on YOUR blog, I’ve decided that I will speak my peace on MINE. 

Here is the comment I left that you would not approve. View the blog post this comment was intended for HERE.

Or here:

https://anotherrandomtuesday.wordpress.com/2017/02/28/first-blog-post/

“You’re right. God doesn’t make mistakes. And he certainly doesn’t plan for another woman to suffer lifelong immeasurable pain to fulfill the selfish desires of another woman. No, he doesn’t do that. God makes provisions in the Bible for women who are struggling. He commands others to care for them, not help themselves to their babies. 

Nowhere in the Bible will you find an instance of a woman planning to give her unborn child to another woman because she is poor. Modern day domestic infant adoption doesn’t exist in the Bible. Because God doesn’t facilitate or plan this. 

No, what you should be doing is helping this mother keep her baby. You know, the mother you say you care about so much. But you only care about her if you get her baby. 

Look in the mirror. Bette yet, listen to what God is telling you. Because he isn’t telling you to help this pregnant mother by taking her baby. Gods plan doesn’t involve pain like that for her.

His plan doesn’t involve pain like that for you, either. But while there is nothing you can do to resolve the pain of infertility, there is something you can do to save this mother, and her child, the lifelong pain of separation. 

You worry you won’t be enough. I’ll answer that for you right now. You won’t be. An adopted child will always straddle two worlds, never FULLY belonging to either. They will see the life they should have had and the life they were given. And they will struggle. You can never be enough because every adoption begins with a loss. Every. Single. One. The loss of the adoptees first family and the loss of the child to the first family. 

If you really truly believe in Gods plan you know what he says about taking care of the poor and needy. 

Is this unborn child’s life in danger?

Will this unborn child be a true orphan (both of his parents will be deceased)?

Will this unborn child be in physical danger if she stays with her mother?

If the answer is “no” to these questions this is not Gods plan. 

Help this mother KEEP her baby. 

Or at least admit God has nothing to do with it. You want a baby. You don’t care what God commands you to do. The least you could do is be honest. 

One day you’ll have to answer for it. And when He asks you why you manipulated His word for your own selfish desires what will you answer?”

-——————

So what is Operation Matthew 6:25-34? 

I need all of you for this one and time is running short. Please email me at musingsofabirthmom@gmail.com or visit my Facebook page and send a message:

Musings of a Birthmom

Independent Adoption Center Goes Belly Up Without Warning

Yesterday and today, without warning, hundreds, maybe thousands, of prospective adoptive parents checked their email and found that the adoption agency they had been working with (see: paying) was no longer in business. Some were near the end of the adoption process and already have children in their homes and are just waiting on finalization, some had just began the process and didn’t have too much invested quite yet, and others were somewhere in between. When they went to their website at http://independentadoptioncenter.org/ they found this:

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When you click on the links entitled “News Release” and “To Our Families” you get this:

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Independent Adoption Center boasted 34 years of agency experience helping to facilitate over 4300 adoptions in those 3 and a half decades. They were fully licensed in California, Georgia, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, and Texas. They were HUGE.

There’s a few key sentences you should pay attention to.

“The IAC has worked tirelessly to adapt to this changing environment, but the many efforts we implemented were ultimately unsuccessful.”

The “changing environment” referred to is in reference to the lack of “potential birthmothers” that is cited earlier. Just how did IAC work tirelessly to procure more “potential birthmothers” to meet the demand of the clients they took on.  Apparently WAY too many clients as well. As one birthmom friend said, this being the agency she worked with while pregnant and after giving birth, she was coerced and pressured by IAC beyond belief, ultimately relinquishing her child even though she didn’t want to.

“As everything will be under control of the trustee and the court, IAC will not be involved with determining how any remaining funds in the account are utilized.”

So this wasn’t something that just popped up yesterday. This has been in the works for some time if there is already a trustee for their chapter 7 bankruptcy. Then why weren’t families warned? Why was IAC still accepting PAYMENTS at least FIVE days ago? If you know you’re in the process of filing for bankruptcy, why are you drafting people’s bank accounts for payments of services you know you won’t be rendering because you’re shutting down? ALL THE WAY DOWN.

Calling their lines gives you an automated message pretty much telling you the same thing that is shown here. Emails have gone unanswered. As I said earlier, their website is all but gone, their Facebook page has disappeared.  They’ve gone off the grid as much as one CAN go off the grid, filing bankruptcy and leaving people in the lurch.

(I’m getting to a point, I swear I am)

Hopeful adoptive parents with home studies through IAC are no longer valid. The home studies they paid for are worthless and they have to start again.

Hopeful adoptive parents that have been making payments? Same thing. That money is gone.  Wait for something to come in the mail from the courts to prove your claim against the “estate.” If there’s anything left to claim that is.

Hopeful adoptive parents who already have a child in their home but haven’t finalized? Their states don’t care that their agency went belly up. The law still says a certain number of home visits must be conducted by a licensed agency for a judge to grant finalization.

Adoptive parents and first parents who have already utilized this agency and finalized? The records will probably be sent to the state making it even HARDER for an adoptee to access them.  Making it even harder for a first parent to access them. Furthermore, some adoptions were only open in the capacity that IAC was facilitating all contact as a third-party. Those first parents and adoptive parents have NO WAY TO FIND EACH OTHER TO CONTINUE CONTACT. (So much for that open adoption IAC promised)

Lots of sensitive information and documents are in the hands of IAC and many people are wondering what will be done with that. IAC failed to talk about that in their “News Release.” This isn’t sensitive information like where someone works.  We’re talking FBI background checks and medical records.

Let’s not forget that promised “lifetime support” to first families and adoptive families. Just another way to bring in business, get the goods, and turn a profit. Obviously that “lifetime support” is no longer available to those it was promised to.

Where am I going with all of this?

A couple of days ago I wrote an article about an agency administrator as an admin in an adoption support group.

I received a lot of support and a lot of backlash.  As a matter of fact, I receive a lot of backlash all the time from hopeful adoptive parents and adoptive parents alike. Here’s my point.

The adoption industry SCREWS you too.  They don’t care. If they aren’t making money they DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU. They will leave you in the lurches, close their doors, and tell you to see ’em in court. Do you NOT understand how important reform is? Don’t you know WHY adoption costs what it does? This adoption agency went bankrupt. BANKRUPT. And not a word was spoken until the day before they shut their doors totally cutting off all communication with their clients. They were still collecting payments until days before. They were still going through the motions making their clients believe everything was okay. It’s the same thing they do to expectant moms.

Do you think that an agency that acted as unethically with their bankruptcy as they did acted ETHICALLY when dealing with expectant mothers? Not a chance. There is a HUGE uproar in the adoptive parent/hopeful adoptive parent community over this. Yet, most of you look away when people like me say “Hey! This agency is bad! This industry does this! They aren’t ethical!” I’m just an angry bitter birthmom. But when it happens to you – oh the shame!

You’re fooling yourselves if you think that IAC is an exception. Independent Adoption Center is not an exception. They just happened to be one of the larger ones to conduct themselves this way. Smaller agencies are closing all the time leaving similar destruction in their wake.

Furthermore, with the awakening of those of us who were tricked or coerced, the creation of Saving Our Sisters, and the endless hours dedicated to TRUE reform and protections of expectant parents and their children, agencies like IAC will no longer have a place in today’s society.  We’ll make sure of that.

I’ll leave you with Independent Adoption Center’s Form 990 from 2014 tax year. I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out how a “non-profit” with $2,262,074 in NET assets goes belly up in 2 years.

Catelynn & Tyler of MTV’s Teen Mom – A Lesson in Reality

“Bethany was really supportive of me. They helped me answer any questions or any worries that I have, they taught me about grief and how to go through that; just kind of show me that I’m the person who makes my adoption plan. I’m the person that makes it look how I want it to look. They’ve just always been there. I could call them at four o’clock in the morning and they would talk to me and answer my questions.”
-Catelynn, PSA for Bethany Christian Services, April 9, 2014

Just a few short days ago the world looked on as MTV’s Teen Mom stars, Catelynn and Tyler Baltierra, received the news that they would not be getting a yearly visit with the daughter they relinquished to adoption, Carly.  The short video clip shows the Teen Mom stars meeting with their social worker, Dawn Baker, in what looks to be a cafe of sorts, so that she can deliver the bad news. Dawn has worked with the couple as an employee of Bethany Christian Services throughout the duration of Catelynn’s pregnancy, birth, post-birth, post-relinquishment.

In the clip, Dawn has come prepared with a folder of papers to remind Catelynn and Tyler what they agreed upon in their “open adoption contract.” Open adoption contracts are more common, nowadays, than not and usually stipulate what both parties agree to as far as openness after an adoption. However, even in states where open adoption contracts are “legally binding,” these contracts are mostly faith-based and cannot really be enforced. (See more about open adoption contracts here)  It is assumed that all parties will act ethically and hold up their end of the deal.  During part of the clip you get a glimpse at the contract that Catelynn and Tyler signed:

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If you read the paragraph under “communication” you’ll see phrases such as “the first 2 years” or “through the age of 5 years old” and “exchange of these items will take place through Bethany.” Having watched the show you may be wondering why there are age stipulations in this “open” adoption contract.  Surely Catleynn and Tyler have, and always did, want to be a part of Carly’s life for all of her life.

When Catelynn questions why Brandon and Teresa have not answered her texts about a visit, Dawn is quick to remind them what they agreed to in their “contract.”

“I wanna take you guys back to 2009 and I want to show you some things you signed with me. And I made a copy so you guys could have, so… This was the foundation of where you started, yeah you said ‘no’ to ongoing face to face and you could REQUEST visits with the adoptive family in the future to be initiated by Catelynn and Tyler, which is what you’ve been doing, and at the discretion of the adoptive family, as they determine what is in the best interest of Carly…”

Hold the phone.  They said “NO” to ongoing face to face visits? Hmm.  Has anyone watched the show? Can anyone think of any reason that they wouldn’t want to continue to see their daughter? Let me tell you what I think happened here based on my experience.

Catelynn and Tyler are “counseled” by Bethany.  Bethany tells them that the contract they are signing is just a bare bones deal.  They can still see Carly as long as Brendan and Teresa are okay with that, and why wouldn’t they be? As long as your relationship continues the way it has this shouldn’t even be an issue. We’ll just have the contract in writing with the bare minimum.  Yes they could choose to stop ongoing visits but that’s not likely to happen since this is what everyone wants. And, by the way, Bethany suggests that all gifts and letter get filtered through them and that updates three times a year should stop at age 2 and videos of birthdays should stop at age 5 because, ya know, birth parents just kinda start to forget and move on and it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.  Can you taste my sarcasm?

So Catelynn and Tyler agreed to this contract after being counseled by Dawn and Bethany Christian Services. They really did understand that at anytime their visits could be taken away.  Yes, they did.  But they were reassured that wasn’t likely to happen as long as everyone continued this great wonderful relationship that they were promised.  I would also go so far as to assume, because it happened to me, that Catelynn and Tyler didn’t even know they could say “nope, sorry.” Because, ya see, they make you fall “in love” with this adoptive couple.  They make you feel like these are THE people for my child.  If I ask for more they may back out.  And agencies have a great way of making you feel like maybe you WON’T find parents for your baby if you’re too picky.  So they agreed, because asking for any more may mean missing out on this ideal, “perfect” couple for their baby.  And they truly did want what was best for their baby.

Ahh, but Bethany has a history.  They even wrote a book.  It’s called “A Case For Adoption.”

The original description from their website stated:

“This manual is written for those who counsel women experiencing unplanned pregnancies. Its purpose is to show how adoption can be presented as a positive, life-giving choice. 

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Basically, Bethany wrote a manual in 1985 about how to convince women to give their children up for adoption.  And this manual is still being used today.

Where were we? Oh yes.  Dawn presents “legal” documents to remind Catelynn and Tyler that they aren’t fitting into the perfect little birth parent box they were supposed to stay in. When Catelynn expresses frustration that Carly’s adoptive parents would not answer her directly when she asks about a visit Dawn is quick to “counsel” them with this answer:

“If the conversation is kinda shut down about the visit, let’s move on to another converstaion…”

Catelynn again expresses frustration, “I hate not having an answer.”

Dawn, being the great counselor that she is to help them through this difficult time replies with, “I know you do but you’re not getting it right now, you’re not getting an answer right now. I know this is hard you guys.”

Here’s what I heard – I know you don’t like it but tough shit.  You aren’t getting what you want so move the fuck on.  I’m only hear to make Bethany look good.  I’m only here because Brandon and Teresa were too chicken shit to tell you themselves.  I really don’t give a shit about how you feel. I get my paycheck regardless and I have you and all the other hundreds of girls just like you, to thank for that.

That’s what I heard.  Not what she said, but what I heard.

And then my favorite part.  Catelynn’s response.

“No its just fucking frustrating because I was fucking 16 years old when I made these decisions.”  And there it is. Almost like an epiphany.  How can a coup of sixteen year olds be expected to understand the depth and magnitude of what they are doing? How can anyone, really? Unless you’ve lived it you have no idea. Unless you have had the door slammed shut in your face, you DON’T KNOW. You CAN’T know.  You believe everything the counselors tell you.  You believe that you will doom your child to a lifetime of pain and unhappiness.  You believe you aren’t good enough.  And I’m here to tell you, it’s all lies. The people telling you this are the people who profit from your loss.

Bethany Christian Services paid almost 5.5 MILLION dollars in employee salaries and wages in 2014 – the year Catelynn and Tyler recorded that PSA for them. Their total net assets were over 34 MILLION dollars.  Their total liabilities and net assets were almost 45 MILLION dollars. William Blacquere, CEO and President of Bethany Christian Services in 2014 had a salary of $210,812,  Over TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS a year as a salary for being the President of an adoption agency.  A “non profit” one at that.

I’m the person who makes my adoption plan. I’m the person that makes it look how I want it to look.”

“No its just fucking frustrating because I was fucking 16 years old when I made these decisions.”

I really really feel for Catelynn and Tyler.  They are in the public eye which means every misstep is recorded for all to see. Yes, they made a choice to be in the public eye, but there will never be any going back for them in that decision as well.  As far as their views on adoption and how they feel about being denied their yearly visit, well, as all of us first parents know, any vocalization against the adoptive parents of our kids or adoption as an institute puts us at grave risk of being totally cut off from our children – until they are of age to decide for themselves. I can see it in their faces when I watch the show.  The fear. One wrong move and it all crumbles down and how are we supposed to continue living life if that happens?

Tyler seems more outspoken, but he still can’t say what he wants, if he wants.

But Catelynn, Tyler, they do grow up.  They do have minds of their own. And sometimes they do come calling.  And sometimes they’re FUCKING PISSED about what’s happened. I’m learning this first hand.

I don’t care if you smoke pot.  I don’t care if you’re depressed because having another baby made you realize the enormity of what you lost.  I don’t care if you have a beer now and again.  You aren’t unsafe for your daughter to visit once a year.  There is absolutely no excuse for it. None.  You may not be able to say it, but I will. Carly loves you, she’s had a relationship with you, and now it has been, at the least, interrupted.  At the most, ended. How will they explain that to her? How will that hurt her? Has anyone stopped to think about that?

Family preservation. It has been my only life line. It is what helps me heal.  Catelynn, Tyler, please reach out. Even if under an alias. There’s a whole community waiting for you.