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:
Tawnya McPhetridge


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, Tawnya Wallace McPhetridge, Andrew Finch and Melissa Kay Robinson.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bethany 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)




melissa again.jpg


melissa discussion between 1 and 2.jpg













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.


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)


experience as a birthmom part 1.jpg

Then other admins chimed in.


It just goes on and on and on and on.


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.


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.


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

American Adoptions FB group.jpg

So I visited this group and found this:


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

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.



PRESS RELEASE: Concerned United Birthparents Partners with Saving Our Sisters

sos banner 2

The vision of Saving Our Sisters, founded by Lynn Johansenn, that has garnered overwhelming support from the adoption community, is coming to fruition with the help of Concerned United Birthparents (otherwise known as “CUB”). I am happy to say that, as of today, Saving Our Sisters (otherwise known as “SOS”) is officially partnering with CUB. I am so excited about this new partnership and know that good things are in the future of the adoption community. I’m sure there will be many questions and this post is to help answer them.

How does this partnership change CUB’s vision?

It doesn’t. It enhances it.

CUB’s official mission statement:

“Concerned United Birthparents, Inc. provides support for all family members separated by adoption; resources to help prevent unnecessary family separations; education about the life-long impact on all who are affected by adoption; and advocates for fair and ethical adoption laws, policies, and practices.”

As you can see, SOS will help to enhance this mission. CUB has been, and will continue to do, wonderful work in the adoption community. SOS will provide concrete tools in the prevention of unnecessary family separations via adoption.

What changes are coming to SOS because of this partnership?

There are many things that will be changing, but so much is staying the same. SOS will now have the ability to keep organized in all facets such as accounting and the ability to easily collect tax-deductible donations via the web. Additionally, SOS will gain heavy exposure benefiting from the many relationships that CUB has been able to create, maintain, and evolve over the last nearly 40 years. Part of this exposure includes SOS being launched on the CUB website, whereas, in the past, SOS has had a limited Internet presence relying on Facebook and blog posts to keep members up to date. Because of CUB’s gracious partnership, SOS will be able to continue the great work we do, focusing on moms and families, without worrying about the technicalities of website maintenance, accounting, and other things. All of these things enable SOS to focus on preserving families.


There is now an official SOS membership. If you visit the CUB website and wish to join CUB as a member you will now see “Saving Our Sisters/CUB Membership” as an option. This will give you all of the same benefits and perks of an official CUB membership. The annual membership fee is $40 and, as CUB states, “By becoming a member, you add your voice to the chorus, which seeks to educate the public about the life-long effects of adoption on everyone in the triad. We welcome adopted individuals and their family members, adoptive parents and professionals. Your membership helps us host an annual retreat for learning, healing and drawing strength from one another, and produce our quarterly newsletter, the Communicator.”  We can now add, “Helping families stay together” as one of the perks of a CUB/SOS membership.

Because CUB has taken a huge leap of faith by partnering with SOS, we have to do our best to ensure, when at all possible, that those we come in contact with are aware that all of our members are volunteers and that we are experienced in dealing with the sensitive situations we encounter. Paid SOS members will soon have the choice to go through training and become official Sisters on the Ground or “SOG’s.” These are our “boots on the ground” people who vet new moms, face to face, and stay in contact with them as long as the mother requests while she is making strides to improving her own situation. . The most pertinent part of becoming an SOG is the implication of a “code of conduct” so that you and all members of CUB/SOS can rest assured that we are conducting ourselves ethically and respectfully while representing the CUB/SOS name and reputation. By agreeing to go through CUB/SOS training the risk becomes minimal for our organization which will allow us to keep our non-profit status and continue to help families for years to come.

Just as before, you are not required to become a paid member to donate money or items, refer moms to SOS or participate in other ways. We are all one big community and it is that sentiment that we want to hold onto. Without our donors we would not exist. Without our eyes and ears, that are all of you, we would not know where to find our moms. You are important. The membership is not to exclude anyone.

Online donations of monetary value will now go through the CUB website and you may be able to deduct your donations on your federal taxes. Be sure to indicate, while donating, that you will need a receipt. You should contact your tax adviser for clarification. SOS can also accept monetary donations, by USPS mail, straight to CUB. Just indicate it is a donation for SOS.

How to Donate Online Online

Visit the CUB website and click on the “DONATE” tab.  You will have the option to click on Saving Our Sisters to have 100% of your donation allocated to SOS.

In Summary

I know this all seems so technical. By organizing, dotting our “i’s” and crossing our “t’s” we assure that we can help as many families as possible and that no mistakes are made that would risk the organization altogether.

These last few years have given SOS valuable lessons on how to best help mothers and the varying situations they may be in. We have learned so much. We have made mistakes, we have trusted when we shouldn’t have. Everything that is happening today is a direct result from those very important lessons. We want to protect our community, our donors, our organization, and, of course, the families we are helping.

This is an exciting time for Saving Our Sisters and Concerned United Birthparents. Together we are a force to be reckoned with. Together we can change our culture, our society, and work to fulfill our mission statement, together. Please join us in this exciting endeavor!

If you wish to become an official SOS member, and have a possibility of becoming a Sister On the Ground, please click on this link: Cubirthparents Sign Up

If you wish to donate to SOS please click on this link: Donate to SOS

If you wish to be part of the discussion and/or offer support in other ways, please visit: SOS Facebook page

**If you are reading this post on Musings of the Lame, it is a syndicated post. To visit the links please scroll to the top of the page and click on “Beemom” to see the original post with hyperlinks included.**

Search Angels – Assistance For Your Adoption Search & Reunion

Finding people can be hard. Throw in adoption and it can be even harder, or seem impossible. Many times adoptees or their families are at a total loss on how to even begin. I would like to talk to everyone today about search angels. I have had the privilege of learning so much, over the years, from these wonderful people. They have taught me so much about not only becoming a search angel, but helping others navigate search and reunion.

What is a search angel?

A search angel is someone who, free of charge to you, uses their own resources and time to find someone you are looking for, typically in an adoption situation. Many times search angels have had their lives touched by adoption in one way or another and this is what is the driving force to do what they do. Each search angel has their own resources. Some of these are in the form of paid databases and some of these are in the form of hard to get birth indexes. Utilizing just one search angel can definitely lead to a successful reunion, but I would like to point out the “new” way of doing searches.

Search angels that work WITH each other, combining resources and talents, to give the greatest chance of a successful search. I have seen, time and time again, through Facebook groups made specifically for this reason, the magic of search angels working together.

Before I end this article I will give you the links to a new search angel group that a very good friend of mine runs. She is probably one of the best there are out there and I have learned a lot from her.

Upon entering one of these groups, you will need to keep some things in mind.

Typically, search angel groups will not search for someone under the age of 21 without prior approval from an admin and then only under unique circumstances. Search angel groups will not search, in most circumstances, for an adoptee that was removed from the home under CPS. Search angel groups do not have magical access to hidden date of birth registries for everyone born in this country. They use intuition and the resources they have to paint a picture and connect the dots. Why is this important to know? Because you need to have a few things in place if you want your search to have the greatest chance of being successful.

Non-identifying Information

Non-identifying information, and how it is obtained, will vary from state to state. Typically it will include details about birth parents, or adoptive parents, such as what they do for a living, things they enjoy, what their health is like, and possibly way more stuff. What makes one search successful over the other? It’s in the details. In other words, the non-ID. Before initiating a search it is imperative that you look up your state’s laws on non-ID and what you are able to get and then get it. If you are unable, for some reason such as money, to do this then you should definitely still start your search but try to save, over time, the money required for this information. I do find it deplorable that any agency would charge hundreds of dollars for this information, but it is such important information to have. Some states or agencies won’t charge anything or will only charge a very small fee to cover their ink and paper used to print it. I’ve seen others charge upwards of $800. Which leads me to my last point.

Search angel groups can also be a valuable resource for finding out exactly what you will need to do and the steps to go ahead to get more information. Be sure to read any group’s rules before posting as there are usually specific requirements that are needed to proceed. This isn’t to be mean but, rather, to make sure your search has the BEST chance of success.

For any search in any state I would like to introduce you to Research & Reunion Team. You can find your way there by clicking their name in this post. It will open in a new tab.

If you or the person you are looking for was born in California, however, you are asked to join California Search Group. You can find your way there by clicking on their name in this post. It will open in a new tab.

Finally, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to comment. I wish you the best in your search!


Statements Made By Adoptive And Hopeful Adoptive Parents – More Education Is Still Needed

“As an adoptive mom, I honestly think that there is nothing worse that one mother can do to another mother than withholding promised contact with a child.”

As a member of the adoption community I come across many comments from adoptive parents through various outlets on the Internet. My blog has always focused on the unethical side of adoption as that is what needs addressing. Over the past several months I have been collecting statements made by adoptive parents online and wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them. When I decided to start compiling these statements, as I have run into so many horrid ones, I started to run across adoptive parents that blew me away, and not in the negative way you may be thinking. Sadly, the ignorant, cruel, and selfish statements no longer surprise me. They still enrage me but they don’t surprise me. It is sad that I am surprised by statements that are the opposite of the ignorant ones. However, to be well-rounded, I needed to get a platform for both.

The opening statement of this article is powerful. Not only is the adoptive mother acknowledging that breaking promises in regards to contact is one of the most horrible betrayals, she is also acknowledging the motherhood of first moms. That statement was the one that started to give me hope. It was the one that blew me away. I would still like to point out that I believe in family preservation first. However, we have to face the reality that family preservation is not always possible and there are some circumstances in which a child would be safer not being raised by their first parents. In these cases, it is nice to see adoptive parents who have taken the time to educate themselves and think not only about the adoptee but also the parents of that child and how they may be feeling.

So, without further ado, some of the most inspiring comments made by adoptive parents that I have run into online, over the months. Be sure to stay tuned until the end for a stark contrast to these statements.

“What you are giving him and his mom is priceless.” At first glance you would think this statement would be directed at an expectant mother or birth parents. It isn’t. This statement was made in regards to a foster child about to be successfully reunited with his family.

“My family and friends have questioned our openness for a long time, but everyone has learned we view first/birth/bio family members of our children as family regardless. They can accept it or not, but all family is welcome in our home, hearts, and lives.” Many times I hear of adoptive parents cutting off or greatly diminishing contact because of pressures from their family. Sometimes it is because their families have validated their irrational fears or insecurities and all they needed was that affirmation that they should probably not be so open. It takes courage to go against those irrational fears and insecurities and, especially, go against your family not understanding to do what is best by your child as well as that child’s first parents. Kudos to you.

“I was weirded out when my son’s amended birth certificate arrived. I expected happiness or maybe relief but instead I felt like an impostor.” Here is an adoptive parent being honest with herself. Like most adoptees, she felt there was something “not right” about the lie that listed her as having given birth to her son. Birth certificates are NOT parent certificates. An accurate record of one’s birth should be the most fundamental of human rights. For adoptees that is not the reality.

“it’s better to call it and write it as “expectant mom” not “birth mom” because that isn’t the title she has yet.”  Yes! Yes! Yes! She is not a birthmother. She is an expectant mother. To call her anything else is a subtle form of coercion. It plants the seed that she has already given up her child.

“It’s not a bad thing that mom takes baby home. She’s feeling out what she wants to do.”  This statement was made in regards to a new mom who had considered adoption. The hopeful adoptive parent was concerned that the new mom had decided to bring the baby home before making a final adoption decision. This statement made me smile. This adoptive parent is advocating for a mother to at least TRY parenting first before deciding on adoption, even if it means no baby for a hopeful adoptive parent. How refreshing.

And now for the bad. I wish I had found more of the types of statements that I posted above. It’s just a reality, though, that most adoptive parents don’t get it. They don’t want to get it. They are too absorbed in what they want and cannot realize that adopting a child is totally different from having a child that is biologically yours. A baby will not cure infertility. That is something you need to deal with on your own accord separate from adoption. These statements, as you will see, also show that, when it comes down to it, a pregnant mother facing less than ideal circumstances in her life are looked at as a means to procure a baby and not much more.

“Is there any chance that he may not go back to mom?” This is a foster parent hoping for the mother of the child she is fostering to fail what the courts have required to get her child back. If you are fostering to adopt and have not accepted that the ultimate goal of fostering is to reunite families then you should not be fostering at all, in my opinion.

“The agency that we are planning to start the infant adoption process with encourages adoptive families to search for birthmothers on their own…How do we advertise/market ourselves effectively and affordably?”  Anytime I hear “advertising” or “marketing” in regards to adoption I cringe. First of all, advertising and marketing are a means to persuade someone to pick your product over someone else’s or to purchase your product in the first place. Persuasion is the power of marketing. Persuasion is another word for coercion when it comes to adoption. No. No. No.

“Ohh trust me, she didn’t plan him, didn’t want him, and there’s no regrets what so ever! I know that. I’m glad. it’s all good.” This statement was made in regards to a birthmom pulling away from an open adoption. Instead of wondering how she must be feeling the adoptive parent makes these statements. Honestly, just based on this statement alone, I would make an educated guess that the adoptive parent didn’t it make it easy to want to take part in the open adoption. Even if the above was true – she’s GLAD? She’s glad her child’s first mom wouldn’t want anything to do with him. How about the emotional health of her child? How about all those adoptees that face rejection and the emotional turmoil that comes with it? She’s GLAD! Why? Because her child is her property. She owns him.

And here are her follow-up comments when other adoptive parents held her accountable for her statements (go other adoptive parents!!):

“Okay I understand. It might sound bad but I really am glad she doesn’t care. It’s easier. Yes in 15 years my child might feel differently but I would never explain it to him like this. It’s easier to vent and get my feelings out on here. I wouldn’t ever look at my son and tell him he wasn’t planned or wanted or cared about by his birth mother. Even though I know the truth.”  <——— Not much better.

“She cannot legally smoke, drink alcohol, consent to sex, get married, drive a car, vote, work full-time, or adopt a child … but simply because she is pregnant, she can decide the fate of another human being. In the eyes of the law, she isn’t old enough & mature enough to handle any of those other things, yet she can legally make the choice to parent a child. To me, there is something really wrong with that and it speaks to how our society views children as property.” This hopeful adoptive parent was pissed that pregnant teens didn’t have their babies taken from them and given to more “competent” parents, you know, like her since she wants one. I really like the “property” comment, though. I found it ironic since she was, essentially, talking about distributing children to the most worthy parents….like property.

And a follow-up comment:

“There used to be a commercial for insurance that pointed out that a teenager’s brain isn’t fully formed yet. But we’re still allowing these children to parent children.”  We’re ALLOWING them to parent children? Do these people really advocate for stealing a woman’s child simply because she’s a teenager? I cannot believe there are people who think this way! These are the hopeful adoptive parents of the future! How can you be sure which one you’re going to get? One from the first section of this article or one from this section.

“Apparently [sic] the children’s former foster mom is somehow lurking on my FB page and told them (the biological parents) we were changing the babies names. I stumbled a bit and denied it. I know stupid. I’m careful to always select friends only when I post and she is not a friend.” She admits it was a stupid move. However, the stupid move wasn’t lying to the parents of the children she hopes to adopt. She is saying making the post about changing their names view-able by anyone was stupid. This is, most likely, a case of CPS removal but the courts have given the parents the chance to choose adoptive parents. In order to be the “chosen” one she has lied to the parents. How despicable is that?

And HER follow-up comment:

“Is it bad that I want to plant fake posts about moving over seas once the adoptions are finalized?” Does she think this is a game? Does she like causing heartache?

“My husband and I are starting the adoption process on 2 baby girls, They are turning 1 & 2 next month. We need to get on the same page about whether or not we are going to tell them up front they are adopted….I personally don’t want to force it on them but if they ever ask they will then find out the truth. He wants to raise them letting them know they are adopted.” Are we seriously still having this conversation in 2015? If they ever ask? Why would someone ask if they were adopted if nothing led them to believe that they were?

“Tell them to take some time to regroup. That is a traumatic loss.” What I find so funny about this comment is that it is directed to a friend of a hopeful adoptive parent. The mother of the child decided to parent once the baby was born. So, let me get this straight, it is a traumatic loss to the hopeful adoptive parent (who did not carry that baby for 9 months, feel it move, give birth to it) but it ISN’T a traumatic loss to the mother of that child? Isn’t that what the adoption industry tells us? It isn’t trauma?

“Is there a movie that we can watch about telling our daughter she’s adopted?” So, not only have you not been having the “adoption” conversation since birth, you now want to play a movie to let her know? Parents of the year, folks.

What have I learned? I have learned that most hopeful adoptive parents or adoptive parents, in this day and age, still don’t truly get it. They haven’t taken the time to look beyond their own nose. But I kind of already knew that. I have been able to truly accept that not ALL adoptive parents are ignorant. They are listening. Like I said, that gives me just the tiniest bit more hope.

What list would you belong in as a hopeful or adoptive parent?

Saints and Sinners

In the name of transparency for newsworthy events I bring you a case of an adoptive mother seeking out a birthmother via unsolicited messages and attempting to shame that birthmother and make her feel bad about herself.

Tina Hammer is a natural and adoptive mother. According to an article published in the Burlington County Times Tina and her husband took on a set of twins (brother and sister) from the foster care system with the intention of giving these children another chance at a good life. The intention was never to adopt these children, in the beginning, but that is what ended up happening.  Let me first start by saying that I appreciate that there are people in this world that have a place in their hearts for children such as the one’s Tina has adopted. I know, from experience, that it takes a special kind of person to work with children with special needs. I, myself, have worked with special needs children in the foster care system. It is heartbreaking and tragic to see what some of these kids have been through. All of them deserve to find a family that loves and cares for them. Unfortunately these children do not have a high success rate of this actually becoming a reality. Many age out of the system or are institutionalized.

As you may know, from my previous posts, I am pretty pro-family-preservation. However, I did make a post about when I thought adoption was okay and outlined the circumstances that I thought would be appropriate and good for a child to be adopted. It seems that Tina’s adoption of her twins fits that mold. On one hand I applaud Tina for seeking out children who already needed homes and not turning to domestic infant adoption. Adoption should always be about finding homes for children who need them and not about finding children for homes who want them. Regrettably, our country has become a nation of the latter. More and more young women have to be convinced they are not good enough to parent their children in order to meet the demand for babies to be placed into homes that have none nor have any means of reproducing on their own. As much as we would like to deny it, I must say it. There is a distinct difference between the mother who is drug addicted, abusive, or any other dangerous capacity and the mother who has been convinced that the most loving thing she can do is to give her baby away. This is important to remember while reading this article. But even with this distinction, a child’s first family, first parents, should always be honored. No matter what. Not for their sake, but for the children’s.

As I was saying, the article written in the Burlington County Times is a lovely story of these twins finding a forever home. However, I would like to point out that much of the article focuses on the adoptive parents, Tina and her husband, and how awesome they are to have done such a wonderful thing which takes away from the very cool story of this brother and sister.

I read a wonderful blog post some months ago written by an adoptive mother who had utilized the foster care system to adopt her children. I cannot remember where I found it or who it was by and for that I apologize. Perhaps this article will find its way around and someone can direct me to it again. This adoptive mother talked about the “saint-hood” of adoptive parents who have taken children out of the foster care system. The gist of it was, if you are looking to adopt because you want a pat on the back and to be told how great you are for “saving” a child then don’t adopt at all. As a Christian woman (and I do believe the poster was basing her article on her Christian faith) I am reminded of these verses in Matthew chapter 6.

“When you do good deeds, don’t try to show off. If you do, you won’t get a reward from your Father in heaven.

When you give to the poor, don’t blow a loud horn. That’s what show-offs do in the meeting places and on the street corners, because they are always looking for praise. I can assure you that they already have their reward.

When you give to the poor, don’t let anyone know about it  Then your gift will be given in secret. Your Father knows what is done in secret, and he will reward you.”

When I see adoptive parents bragging, boasting, or tooting their own horn about how great they are I often wonder if their rewards in heaven will be withheld. The article about Tina, in and of itself, is not really Tina tooting her own horn, but it borders on it. One could not simply make that assumption by reading the article by itself. But if we could hear what Tina thinks of birthmothers everywhere, in comparison to herself, you will see a stark contrast to the woman portrayed in this media article.

For the purposes of this article, and to protect my sources and their privacy, I will call this birthmom Andrea. Andrea is a member of different groups on Facebook. Some time ago Andrea had commented in a group, totally unrelated to adoption, about the term “gotcha day” that someone had used in reference to the child she had adopted. She had also made vague comments about how it made her feel. Andrea decided to check her “other” folder on Facebook tonight. That is the folder that most people are unaware of. Facebook will send almost all messages from people you don’t know to this folder. You can only check this folder via the desktop site. Anyhow, Andrea checked her “other folder” and found an unsolicited message from Tina in regards to her comments in that other group. The comments Andrea has made are no longer able to be found as it was some time ago. I will trust that Andrea has been forthcoming to me in regards to the nature of the comments. There was no name-calling, no big scene. Just her personal thoughts as a birthmother and how that made her feel. I feel it is important to emphasize, for clarification purposes, that Andrea did not lose her children to the foster care system and  “voluntarily” relinquished rights to her child shortly after birth with an adoptive couple picked out prior to birth. Andrea has a good relationship with her child’s adoptive parents.

So as not to be accused of portraying anyone in false light, I will have to show the conversation that ensued between Tina and Andrea in its entirety. In my opinion, Tina was baiting Andrea. She was trying to invoke a strong emotional response from her. She was bullying her. Andrea did a pretty good job of keeping a level head, I think. Sometimes you can only be pushed so far and cut down so much before you must say something, though. I believe the purpose of Tina’s interactions with Andrea was to make her feel bad about herself. To make her feel low and to remind Andrea how much better Tina is than her because she saved children from the foster care system. Tina may have been angry that someone in a group may question something about adoption that she believed in and to “get back” at that person she thought she would use her words to hurt her. I can’t say for sure since I am not Tina, but from my social experiences in life (and having been in Tina’s shoes and done the same thing – albeit probably not since I was in my early 20’s) this is the opinion and conclusion I draw.

I will let the messages speak for themselves and you can draw your own conclusions, form your own opinions.

Note: I am publishing these messages with the permission of Andrea. In both of our opinions this was unsolicited hate mail with the intent to humiliate, intimidate and shame. Because a news story had been formerly run about how great Tina was, how unselfish and giving she was, I would like to build on that story and show a different side of Tina in the name of public interest. Early into these messages Andrea does say that she will be giving the communication to a third party for publishing. I assume that further messages from Tina mean her implied consent was given for this.

Please click to enlarge.

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I am not sure if Tina was aware that Andrea was not a mother who had abused or neglected her child and, therefore, had her rights terminated. I don’t really think it matters. Even if that had been the case, anyone who would go this far to make someone feel bad about themselves, in my opinion, must have some serious underlying insecurities that need to be addressed. Maybe Tina doesn’t have any insecurities and she is projecting her feelings of anger for her children’s birthmother onto Andrea because she has been unable to resolve this within herself. I can’t really say for sure. Only Tina knows the answer to that question.

But I will say this.

I mentioned above that even in abuse and neglect cases the child’s birth parents must be honored. Not for the sake of the birthmother but for the sake of the child. A child removed from the care of their natural parents, even if they do not remember those parents, can be compared to a child of divorce. Even if you are not vocally expressing bad things about those other parents, children are very intuitive. They pick up on these things. Since a child, genetically, is a part of their natural mother and natural father, when they feel (or hear) that the other parent (or adoptive parent) thinks unkindly of them, they will use that as a reflection of self. They will internalize it. The thought process is, “I am a part of Mom A and Dad A. If Mom B and Dad B think Mom A and Dad A are bad then maybe I am bad too because I am a part of them.” This i how a child reasons things. Even as adults, who know better, those feelings never truly go away. Their brain says “that’s not true” but their hearts say “maybe it is.” A great read on this type of stuff is by Marina Sbrochi of the Huffington Post and can be found here.

I truly feel bad that Tina has not yet been able to come to terms with what the natural parents of her twins have done to put those children in the position they were in. I feel even worse for her kids if she never does come to terms with it. However, it could be a great teaching opportunity. Compassion, empathy, forgiveness. No one ever says when they are a child, “I want to grow up to be a drug addict, abuse my kids, neglect my kids, have my kids taken away from me.” There are circumstances in these people’s lives that have led to this. While it is horrific to see what these children have gone through, it should be explained to them that their parents are not inherently evil. They have made huge mistakes and have battled sicknesses but have not been able to overcome them. They should be given permission to feel angry while at the same time be given permission to love their parents. It is natural for them to feel love for these people, no matter how many bad things they were exposed to because of them. Like I said, it isn’t about the parents, it’s about the child.

The messages that I have posted did not reflect compassion, empathy or forgiveness. They reflected anger. Definitely directed at the wrong person but I can’t help but think, if this is the way Tina feels about the woman who gave life to her children, how might that make these children feel about themselves.