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.

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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. 

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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)

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THIS IS AN EXPECTANT MOTHER CONSIDERING ADOPTION IN THIS GROUP

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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.

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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)

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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.

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

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So I visited this group and found this:

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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.

 

In Loving Memory of Gwendolyn Archard

On August 26, 2016 I heard the news that a dear first mom friend of mine was no longer with us. The previous day, beautiful Gwen had decided that the pain was too much and bowed out of this circus called life. Just before her decision, she deleted dozens of her first mom friends. I am assuming she did not want us to know what had happened. We found out anyway.

Shock, sadness, and despair ripped through our online communities. We searched frantically for an obituary, in the days to come, but none was to be found.

A few days ago, Gwen’s brother, the only family that Gwen really felt she could rely on, posted publicly of her passing. He didn’t indicate any formal funeral, but it was clear other non-traditional arrangements to honor her memory had been made.

Today I write to honor Gwen and her life inside our private world, the world of first moms. Gwen was an activist, a warrior, she dedicated her life to fighting injustices. Gwen had Cerbral Palsy but she didn’t let that stop her. As a practicing criminal defense attorney and disability rights champion, Gwen was thrust into another arena, unexpectedly. And she fought there, too. Side by side, with other first moms, she fought against the injustices and coercion in the world of adoption.

You see, Gwen wanted her son. A beautiful little boy she named Atticus. However, upon his birth, Gwen was threatened with foster care and CPS if she did not relinquish her rights to her child. One particular nurse made it abundantly clear to Gwen that her disability would mean her child being forcibly removed and lingering from foster home to foster home while she fought for her right to parent him.

Because Gwen loved Atticus more than life itself, she was coerced into believing this nurse, and others, and relinquished Atticus for adoption after his birth to spare him the perceived pain of living in foster care.

Gwen believed fighting for her son was not in his best interests because she was not good enough for her son. She was made to believe this.

While Gwen’s case is an extreme, it is the same concept of almost all domestic infant adoptions. It was easy to target Gwen because she had a disability to use against her as an excuse for why she wasn’t good enough. Almost every woman considering adoption has to be made to believe the same thing for a successful adoption to ensue. Maybe they don’t have a visible disability. Maybe they are poor. Maybe they have an anxiety disorder. Maybe they aren’t married. It’s all the same, the message that’s received. You aren’t good enough for your child, they deserve better.

Gwen would have made a fantastic parenting mother. Like everything she did in her life, I imagine she would rock at it. She was an amazing person and the world has suffered a huge loss with her passing. Atticus, her son, has suffered the most tremulous loss.

People say that adoption isn’t trauma. They say it’s a beautiful thing. They don’t recognize the aftermath that can follow for first moms and many adoptees. When presented with stories like Gwen they will say, “See, it’s better her son was adopted. Look what happened. His mom was mentally ill.” To which I say, NO. Nothing in Gwen’s life, prior to the loss of her son, indicates any mental illness. Instead, Gwen’s death can be blamed solely on adoption. She lost her son. A mother LOST HER SON. It’s enough to make anyone not want to live anymore, to throw in the towel, to give up. The pain can be so suffocating, at times, that death seems like the only reprieve.

Atticus last saw his mother as a newborn in the hosptial. Gwen did not get her “open adoption.” She was left to use non-traditional means to get glimpses into his life. I am happy to have been a part of that, to have given her a little bit of comfort in her too short life as a first mom. The pictures brought her great joy, but they also brought her great pain. To see her son, her baby, not living the life she wanted for him, with her. Such is the life of a first mom.

I’m hoping that one day Atticus can find this post and know how much his mother loved him, how hard she fought for him, and how devastated she was without him. I hope he knows how much he was WANTED and loved.

In closing, I will share with you some private thoughts from Gwen that she posted, over the last year or so, in our private group. The admins agreed that Gwen would want this. No one can hurt her anymore so there’s nothing left to lose.

We will be your voice now, Gwen. We will watch over Atticus and make sure he knows your story.

We miss you. We love you. Sleep peacefully and free from the pain of this world.

-Your first mom sisters

“Atticus is 2 today.

The birth announcement I never got to make:

Atticus Kitwana Mulupi, Born July 9, 2013 at 2:51 pm.  4 lb 1 oz, 17′ long.  I love you, baby boy.”

“Happy 3rd birthday, Atticus Kitwana Mulupi.  I love you more than you will ever know.  I am more proud of you every day.”

“I think my issue is that my son’s adoption was very coercive.  I “picked” the AP’s, but only because I was told he would risk being taken into foster care if I didn’t have a family for him when I left the hospital.  I’ve always sensed that they look down on me because I have a physical disability.”

“I had been threatened with foster care right after birth, simply because I have cerebral palsy.  That is the ONLY reason why I got involved with the adoption lawyers in the first place.”

“Been feeling isolated lately.  Dealing with crap about how my disability made me feel like I had no right to ask for any help with Atticus….I’ve been to like 4 different counselors since relinquishment and none of them really understand that aspect.  I just want to be told I have the same rights as others and that nobody’s judging me for what I can and cannot do.  I don’t want to burden anybody but a counselor with this crap.  Not sure who else to talk to.”

-Gwendolyn Archard

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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.

My Adoption Memoir – Whispers of Grace

A little over a year ago I began to write the first book in a series of memoirs that I intended to release. I entitled this series, “Whispers of Grace.” The first draft was pretty horrible. I wanted to gain honest feedback and constructive criticism so I released the draft for a few short days and listened to everyone’s thoughts. Since then I have been working to polish this my story and today I can finally say it has been re-released.

What’s different about this version compared to the last version?

It has been heavily edited so grammar and typos are obsolete. Whereas the first draft consisted of about 27,000 words, the final publication has just about 42,000. There were moments in the book that needed to be expanded on and explained in greater detail and that is what I have done.

What is it about?

I’ll include the synopsis here for you:

How do you hold onto a whisper? How do you carve out a path through the echo of what could have been? These are the questions that haunt Julia’s life. Take a heart-wrenching journey with Julia as she shares the memories of her pregnancy, birth and subsequent relinquishment of her child.

“Whispers of Grace” is one woman’s true experience in modern day adoption. When Julia finds herself pregnant for the fourth time she feels as if the world is closing in on her. With no options Julia and her boyfriend, Justin, decide to give their baby up for adoption. Unlike the movies Julia has seen, however, her personal experience, in today’s world, is not what she expected at all.

Walk in Julia’s shoes through the pages of this haunting memoir. From the decision to pursue adoption to terminating her parental rights and the aftermath that follows, Whispers of Grace will put you inside the mind, heart, and soul of an expectant mother left with no choice but to give her child a life where she will never be her daughter’s mother.

“Whispers of Grace” is the first in an upcoming series that follows Julia in her experiences in living life as a birthmother. Book one focuses on the pregnancy, birth, and relinquishment. It answers questions many may wonder but are too scared to ask. How does a woman choose adoption? What plays into that decision? What is it like to work with an adoption agency? How are adoptive parents chosen? Unlike the many books written about the notorious “baby scoop era,” this memoir is an intriguing look into a new generation of birthmothers that ushered in a new generation of so-called “open adoptions.”

While names and certain details have been changed to protect identities, this is my story as I remember it.

How can I read Whispers of Grace?

The good news is it’s free. Yes, FREE. Well, kind of. It will be offered exclusively through Amazon for the next 90 days and if you have a Kindle Unlimited account you can read for free. If you don’t have a Kindle Unlimited account don’t worry. Amazon offers a free 30 day trial. Just remember to cancel it before your 30 days are up! This book should not take you 30 days to read. It is a novella, coming in at just around 172 pages in e-book format. If you don’t care to sign up for Kindle Unlimited you can always purchase, and own, Whispers of Grace for $3.99 – yours to keep.

Right now I’m watching to see how well this book does. It’s my hope that proceeds will be substantial enough to contribute a portion of the earnings to family preservation efforts and SOS.  And by substantial I mean more than 5 people read it. (My expectation of “substantial” isn’t too high).

If you’d like to read or purchase a copy of Whispers of Grace you can head on over to Amazon by clicking here: Whispers of Grace

If you’d like to show support on this memoir’s Facebook page, and get updates when new books are released in the series, go ahead and click here: Whispers of Grace Facebook Page