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

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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.

Dear Aly’s “Birthmom”

Dear Aly’s “Birthmom,”

This is how you are referred to in Aly and Josh Taylor’s blog, but you are not “their” birthmom. You don’t belong to them. You are Genevieve’s first mother. You are also the mother to the little girl you just gave birth to. Please don’t let anyone tell you any different.

I have been scouring the Internet all day trying to figure out who you are, how to extend my hand in support of you and your little girl.

I have seen countless comments about how it is God’s plan for your child not to be with you and instead go to Aly and Josh. I have seen the adoption community, adoptees and birthmoms alike, offer you the help you need to parent your baby.

All those comments were deleted by the Taylors. I can only assume they don’t want you to find the support you need to parent your baby because it would interfere with their desire to have her.

I’ve seen people blasting your personal information all over social media, claiming you are an unfit mother, that your older children are in foster care. Because I have been scouring the Internet all day trying to find you I have also read a good portion of the blog, Aly’s Fight. Because of this I know that your children are not in foster care and there is nothing to suggest you are not a safe and fit mother. Perhaps you have fallen on hard times, but why else would anyone ever consider relinquishing their children?

I cannot find your name and this is my last ditch attempt to get a message to you. (Remember, all our offers of help have been systematically removed on any public forum by Aly & Josh)

I cannot find you quick enough. You wanted to keep Genevieve and were coerced to believe you were not good enough. You found the courage to stand up and say you will not give this baby up and I fear that you will, again, be beaten down.

How hard is it knowing that the people who hold all the power to entirely cut you out of Genevieve’s life want the new baby that you don’t want to give them? I know exactly how hard it is because I was once in your shoes. And I kept that next baby. Because of it I was cut out of my daughter’s life.

But she returned to me. On her own. And she has listened to MY story. The story that was withheld from her. They didn’t get the next baby, and they tried to eliminate me from the first one’s life. They failed.

Please, whatever your name is, whoever you may be, PLEASE contact me. All the support you need is just a click away. I promise you. God’s will is for your daughter to have her mommy and for you to be the mommy as He intended you to be.

No one is entitled to your child. NO ONE. YOU are her mother. You always were, you always will be.

Dear Aly’s “birthmother,”

Please find this post.

Sincerely,

A very concerned first mom.

Legally Enforceable Open Adoption Contracts in the United States

*Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and nothing in this article should be substituted for legal advice. I highly suggest any expectant mother who is considering adoption to retain her own legal representation who understands adoption law in the state that the adoption will be finalized as well as the state she lives in. This is my interpretation of the laws and my opinion based on my own research and the stories I’ve heard from others who have open adoption contracts that are supposed to be legally enforceable.*

Legally enforceable open adoptions are a fairly new thing. There are lots of questions about them from adoptive parents, expectant parents, and birth parents. These “legally enforceable” post-adoption contracts can vary widely from state to state. When an expectant mother hears that she resides in a state that has legally enforceable open adoptions usually she has a sense of security in believing that the adoptive parents of her child will not be able to “trick” or “fool” her into relinquishing her child to them by making promises they don’t intend to keep. She may also feel that if the adoptive parents change their mind about the type of contact they want, she is legally protected. On the surface this is what it appears to be. I’d also assume that adoption agencies, attorneys that represent the prospective adoptive parents, and facilitators would not go into great detail about how exactly the law would work. I’d like to take the time to do that here.

I heard one story of a first mom who lived in a state that had legally enforceable post-adoption contracts. This was just a fact. When she asked about it she was told, “Yes, our state has legally enforceable open adoptions.” However, she had no legal representation of her own and found out, after her open adoption was closed and she sought relief, that the law in her state required the open adoption contract to be entered with the final decree of adoption. Because she wasn’t part of the court hearing for finalization, she had no idea if this had happened. Because she had no legal representation, representing HER ALONE, she was unaware that the law was written this way. She did have a post-adoption contract that had been worked on between her, the agency, their attorney, and the prospective adoptive parents, it just wasn’t legally enforceable in her state because it never went before the court.

I heard another story about a mom who DID have her post-adoption contract entered correctly making it “legally binding.” When visits never happened and communication was cut off as soon as her child was relinquished, she pursued the legal channels put in place to enforce the contract. She put up a lot of money in attorney and court fees to be told, by the judge, that she relinquished all parental rights and if the adoptive parents didn’t feel it was in the best interest of their child to have visits then that was their right. The judge then rewrote the post-adoption contract, taking away all direct contact or communication with her child, and only enforced a yearly update.

There was another mother who lived in a “legally enforceable” state where visits and all communication had stopped after three years. When she sought to enforce her agreement she learned two things. 1) She didn’t have anything near the financial resources to even begin the process (as most first parents don’t) and 2) she couldn’t even start the process if she wanted to because she didn’t know where the adoptive parents now resided since their communication drop coincided with a move to a different state in which they didn’t disclose.

It’s important to remember that post-adoption contracts are a very new area of law and there aren’t a lot of cases to set precedent yet. Really it’s up to the judges or mediators involved to determine the outcome of a contested contract, if the first parent can come up with enough money to begin the process. It’s also important to remember that post-adoption contracts are not the same as “custody” or “visitation” agreements you’d see in traditional family law that involves two parents that are not together. You do not retain any parental rights once you have relinquished a child for adoption. They have been terminated. No amount of legally enforceable open adoption laws can change that. No amount of legislation to make more open adoptions stay open can change that. You will not be fighting in court for your “right” to visit your child. You will be fighting to have a contract enforced. This is contract law mixed with adoption law (like I said, new territory). Almost always, a judge has the right to alter the contract, change things using his best judgment, or void it altogether. So, while “legally enforceable,” they are also “legally voidable.” Since there are no parental rights intact, an adoptive parent could argue that they feel a continued open adoption would not be in the best interest of their child. They could argue they simply feel that the constant “hello” and “goodbye” is not something they feel their child is emotionally prepared for. They’d probably get contact stopped, or greatly reduced, just based on that alone. Their child, their call. If there has been an ongoing relationship between the child and the first parents for a number of years it may not be so easy as a relationship has been established and the courts may find it detrimental to sever that relationship altogether. However, it would have to be a well-established relationship with frequent visits and a solid relationship. A relationship like this is most likely facilitated by adoptive parents who are very open-minded, educated, and “get it.” Those adoptive parents who choose to facilitate an open adoption at that level are probably not likely to break an open adoption contract to begin with.

The majority of adoptive parents aren’t “evil” people who set out to break a first mom’s heart, but rather are ill-advised, ill-prepared, or uneducated. They also don’t care to change these things about themselves and only see adoption in the light they choose to.  The most vulnerable first moms/expectant moms, the ones most at risk of an adoption closing, are the ones in the first 5 years into their journey as a first parent. Relationships aren’t well-established yet.

Many states will require mediation before going to court to seek relief of a violation of your open adoption contract. This means that you (and any other party on the contract, such as a first father), and the adoptive parents will be required to sit through a series of “negotiation,” so to speak. A mediator will play “referee.” You will try to come to an understanding and agreement outside of the courts. Sometimes you’ll be required to pay a fee to the courts for the mediation – which is usually split evenly between both parties. Each state has its own individual laws, but usually after a series of about 3 sessions if no agreement can be settled on it will go to the courts and a judge will decide.

What are the consequences for adoptive parents who violate an open adoption contract? No state says an adoption can be reversed or nullified if the post-adoption agreement is not followed. This means that you cannot challenge an adoption because the “legally enforceable” post-adoption contract has been violated. I can find no codes that specifically state any consequences, punitive or otherwise, for adoptive parents that have been ordered, by a judge, to resume the post-adoption contract as it was entered.

28 states currently have “legally enforceable open adoption contracts.” Many of those are only for in-family adoptions and relate only to grandparents.

For a review of each state’s post-adoption contract laws please CLICK HERE.

If you take the time to read some of these laws, you will see that all of them allow for a judge to use his discretion when it comes to enforcement or challenging the original contract.

There are many things to consider when considering adoption for your child. Regardless of your state’s laws any number of things can arise. Even in states with legally enforceable open adoption laws, the jury is still out, so to speak. There are so many things that have not even been addressed. For instance, what if your child is re-homed? While rare, in domestic infant adoption cases, it can happen. Will your legally enforceable contract be upheld in a court of law if your child is put up for adoption by the original adopting parents? Most likely, not. If you are relying on a legally enforceable open adoption as the terms of being able to go through with relinquishment are you prepared to fight the adoptive parents if they violate the contract? Do you have the financial means to do so?

In review, as stated in the disclaimer, I advise any expectant mother who is thinking of an adoption plan to seek independent representation.  This advice is not limited to post-adoption contracts, but for everything surrounding the legalities of adoption. Don’t rely solely on an adoption agency, attorney representing the prospective adoptive parents, a facilitator, or charitable organization to fully inform you. This is something you must actively seek to do on your own.