Dear Julie

Dear Julie,

I don’t know what it’s like to live your life and I never truly will. All I know is the words you write that I, in turn, quietly read. Sometimes they hurt me. Sometimes they empower me. Sometimes they make me feel so sad for you. Sometimes I share them with my relinquished daughter and she says, “I didn’t think I thought about adoption much growing up but now I know that’s what it is. I’m sharing this on my Facebook.” She’s newly turned 17, newly thrown into “adoption speak” and is finding her voice. Thank you for helping her with that. 

I’m not here to tell you what to write or how to do it. Even if I may disagree with things you say. I can’t call myself a “champion of adoptee rights” and tell you you’re doing it wrong out of the other side of my cheek. That would be hypocrisy. 

I can’t give you a list of all my “accomplishments” in adoption land or a number of years I’ve been working for reform because that would make me an asshole who thinks I’m better than you. More important than you. And I’m not. No one is better than anyone. I don’t care if you’ve been in it 20 years or 20 days. 

I can’t tell you not to lump all mothers into one category when you write about your feelings because I can’t tell you how to feel. That would be discrediting your experiences and your reality and, well, I think we’ve had just about enough of that already. Don’t you? 

I can apologize for what some of my “sisters” have said to you. I sit in shock reading their words and really don’t know what to say. I could make excuses about how they are hurting and see their children in your words. But I know you know all of this. And it doesn’t excuse bad behavior. Besides, if they see their children in your words isn’t it even more crucial that your words are spoken so they can be what their children need? For them to learn? I know some of them just aren’t ready to get past that guilt and hurt. Me, personally, I own it. It’s the only way I know I can be. Truth is what I’ve always been seeking when I began tiptoeing out of the fog and I can’t reject truths I don’t like to hear. 

Does every adoptee feel like you? Do we really need to ask that question? Are we going to #notall you to death like others have done to us? I’m not. 

You do whatever you need to do, girl. Whatever you think will get you to where you’re going. I’m not taking it personally. And quite honestly I would love to shake your relinquisher myself. Your “relinquisher?” Oh no. Did I say a bad word? I’m a relinquisher. I’ve always been proud that I use HONEST adoption language and not “positive” adoption language. Why should I be a hypocrite just because I don’t like the truth about what I am? I don’t say I “placed” my daughter for adoption. I ALWAYS say I relinquished her. I did. That makes me a relinquisher. It’s definitely not the same thing as the “N” word. Not even close. I won’t even touch that. 

Dear Julie,

Your path and your journey does not need anyone else’s permission to be taken. It is yours and yours alone. But I do want to thank you for sharing it with the world. Not everyone is ready for what you have to say and I’m sad for them. I empathize with them. But you don’t have to. Not that you need my permission not to. 

Sincerely,

A Relinquisher

If you’d like to read Julie’s blog please visit DEEP: Through the Looking Glass; Down the Rabbit Hole

(A word of caution for first mothers – Julie is raw and her words are not always easy to read. If you read anyway, and aren’t capable of handling her honesty, please do not resort to harassing her, shaming her, leaving her nasty comments, etc) 

Advertisements

Dear Hoping to Adopt

I’m sure, by now, I’m loathed by most who have found themselves in my corner of the world wide Web via an innocent Google search about how to adopt a baby. That’s okay. I get it. My writing is blunt and I don’t mince words. I’d like to take some time, however, to speak directly to the aforementioned.

Dear Hoping to Adopt,

For you, achieving motherhood is not an easy row to hoe. For you, perhaps, attaining motherhood, in the traditional sense, is quite literally impossible. I can only imagine the heartbreak of learning that all of your dreams, that were most likely fostered from the time you were able to snuggle with your first baby doll, are now slipping from your grasp and there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it.

The countless negative pregnancy tests, maybe the loss of your children before they even had a chance to be a part of this world, the fertility treatments, the worry, the hope, the anxiety, the tears – I understand. I get it. I’m not heartless. I empathize, maybe sometimes too much, with the millions of hardships that we, as human beings, must face.

I think about the hurt you must face every time a friend or relative announces they are expecting or the pain you must feel watching others care for their little ones. I do understand that it must be lonely feeling like the odd man out while others have, what feels like, an exclusive club that only women who are mothers can join. We are women. Most of us, not all, are wired with a natural instinct and yearning to be a mother. I truly understand and empathize.

When you read through my writing you may not think it’s possible for me to empathize with you. But I do. It’s not that hard because I know what it feels like.

I know how deeply it hurts to dream of a child that will never be yours. I know how gut-wrenching it is to grieve a lost child. I have felt lonely as well – lonely when no one else could understand how much pain I was in – lonely when they were praising me for how selfless I was – lonely when I was told that I had given someone a beautiful gift and that I did the right thing. And for the rest of my life I will feel as though I don’t belong with all the other mommies. I surrendered my motherhood to my child and that’s something most don’t truly understand and most are certainly way off base about what that ultimately means.

I empathize because my loss is huge. There was no one there to help me or support me. No one to tell me that I could do it. I was told that adoption was the right choice which, to me, meant I was not the right choice. I was not good for my baby is the message I received and I will forever belong to that lonely club.

Loss is subjective. Some may say the loss of a pregnancy is the same as the loss of a child through adoption. I will always disagree. The path I walk in life, as a first mother, has many layers. I’m sure those who have suffered a miscarriage know what it’s like to blame themselves. The fact is, though, that really there was nothing you willfully did to cause the loss of your unborn baby. As a first mom, however, a good portion of society, as I’m reminded of more and more often, continues to act as if surrendering my child, the loss of my child, was a willful act. Yes, I signed relinquishment papers but there was nothing willful about it. My circumstances forced that hand just as your physical circumstances have forced yours in your journey through infertility.

See, we aren’t all that much different, you and I. We’ve both suffered. We’ve both lost. We’ve both grieved and we’ve both gone through trauma and emotional anguish.

If you ever find yourself asking, “Why is she so angry and bitter?” please think back to everything you’ve gone though in your journey to achieve motherhood. Then ask yourself how you’d feel if the whole of society celebrated it and asked you to be grateful for it, asked you to accept others purposely facilitating it. This is what that feels like to me.

Yes, I have empathy for you, but my empathy stops where your willful ignorance begins. My empathy stops when there are hundreds and thousands of children truly in need of a family but you insist on getting a brand new baby. My empathy stops when I see you begging others for donations to take another mother’s child when the donations that you have rolling in would enable that mother to keep her baby. My empathy ends there. I simply cannot do it anymore. To me, it’s the equivalent of you asking for donations to assure the loss of pregnancy in another woman because, for some odd reason, that’s the only way to ensure your own motherhood.

Facilitating the loss of another’s motherhood so that you may attain your own is where my empathy ends.

It is only a few thousand dollars, usually, to give a home to a child genuinely in need of a family, to become a mother. You seem great at fundraising and that money could be used to help another mother be saved from this life of pain.

I empathize with your loss. Will you empathize with mine? Or will you refuse to because my loss stands in the way of your selfish desires? Look at yourself in the mirror. What does that make you?

“I Gave Her Loss” – Day One: NAAM

Today starts the first day of a dreadful month in my life. Wait, back up. I can’t say it’s entirely dreadful as it is the birth month of one of the most precious gifts – my child. However, I’m not entirely sure if I even have the right to call her my child. My heart says yes but adoption says no. That’s neither here nor there. Today is the first month of the onslaught of images, stories, and propaganda that will be coming across my news feed on Facebook, television set, radio, and pretty much every other outlet you can think of. The onslaught of adoption. The onslaught of how everyone should love adoption and be so grateful and thankful for it. It’s enough to drive a person insane.

I will watch while people “celebrate” that children could not remain with their families, for whatever reason. I will watch as they rejoice that some other mother wasn’t able to keep her child with her. I will watch as they ignore the reasons for adoption and the pain it has caused so many people. When you point it out most will acknowledge that it’s sad but then follow up with “But look how wonderful this family turned out! What a great gift that was given to this couple!” This negate’s my feelings and sends the message that we aren’t allowed to feel our pain or complain because, well, we wouldn’t want to taint some other people’s great gain of a child by reminding them of our tremendous loss.

the-giver-book-cover“I gave her the memory of a child, a child taken from her mother. I gave her loss. Too soon. The light went from her eyes. The next morning, without telling me, she went to the Chief Elder and asked to be released.”

-The Giver (2014 film)

Anyone who has read, “The Giver” or seen the film knows the pre-text of this quote. Let me clarify for those who don’t. The Giver gives his memories to a receiver in order to be carried on since we all live in a “perfect” and “orderly” society now. A society where women are selected to be “birthmothers” and the babies they bear are handed off to the family the elders find fit for them. The first receiver only lasted five weeks after the memory, above, was given to her.

This hits the nail on the head. If anyone truly had to live through this, had this memory, this feeling, passed onto them, it isn’t something they would be celebrating.

I’m reminded of another quote:

“Another woman’s child calls me mom. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me.”

This is an adoptive mother who gets it.

The fact is, NAAM (National Adoption Awareness Month) was not created for people to celebrate adoption. It was created to raise awareness to the thousands of kids who are sitting in the foster care system without families. It was not intended to be what it is today. Even those “orphans” in the system probably wouldn’t appreciate the loss of their family, no matter the reason, being celebrated. They may appreciate that they are in a loving family now, but you cannot celebrate one without ignoring the other. Ignoring why adoption was possible is wrong. We need to focus on ways to ensure that there are no losses, that families can stay together and that parents have the resources and tools they need to successfully and safely parent their children.

Today is day one of a month I have to endure. I wish that I could sit here and contemplate the birth of my fourth child without all this static and fuzz called NAAM. I wish I could think about those stolen moments we had together the first few weeks of her life. I wish I could cry when I needed to cry, smile when I needed to smile, and not have to have how “great” my loss is rubbed in my face at every click of my mouse or push of the button on my TV.

Before you go celebrating how great adoption has been in your life, remember our loss.

“I gave her the memory of a child, a child taken from her mother. I gave her loss. Too soon. The light went from her eyes.”

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.

NEW THINGS

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

http://www.cubirthparents.org

http://facebook.com/adoptionSOS

**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.**

Killing Them With Their Love

IMG_9514303055617

“Had I loved him any less – one ounce less – he would be with me now! My love for him was the only thing that could enable me to break my own heart.”

I saw this picture floating around social media the other day. I was bothered by it immediately. On the surface it looks nice, pleasant, loving, and the epitome of what a mother is. A mother breaks her own heart for the good of her own child because her love is so great for that child. If her love was any less – one ounce less – she wouldn’t dare break her own heart in order for her child to be okay. This is a true statement. Certainly not of all mothers, but biology says us mothers are wired to protect our young, because of our immense love for them, even if it means great personal cost or pain. This is precisely why the picture above bothered me. I found it manipulative of the strong instinct a mother has for her child. This picture says, “It was only because I loved my son so much that I gave him up. Those who choose to parent their child in less than ideal circumstances do not love their child as much as I do. As much as the world says a mother should.”

This is the message being portrayed to expectant mothers everywhere. If you love your child you will not let them be parented by you. You are harmful. You are detrimental. You are not good enough. You must give him up or you don’t really love him as much as you should. There is a demand for newborn babies to be adopted. It’s just reality. While pictures such as this don’t seem like all out coercion, it is a subtle manipulation which, to me, is just as bad. There is a psychology behind all of this. Not every agency, attorney, or facilitator will use manipulation or coercion to convince a mother that adoption is what’s best for her baby and she is NOT what’s best. A great deal of them do, however. This manipulation plays on the most important thing given to mothers. The maternal instinct that will drive a woman to sacrifice her life for her child. This instinct is used against expectant mothers who don’t have nearly as much as a prospective adoptive parent to offer their unborn child. If you are able to manipulate a mother into believing that keeping her child means she doesn’t love them as much as she should, you have struck the jackpot, in regards to securing the relinquishment of her parental rights to fulfill part of the demand I mentioned above. I will affirm, once again, that adoption should never be about finding children for homes that want them and should always be about finding homes for children who need them. There is a huge difference between the two.

I’m not sure where this quote originated from, but a quick search brings me to an adoption agency website with a more thorough version of this quote. It wouldn’t surprise me if this is where it originated. The quote, in its entirety, is attributed to “Tamra” and is featured on America Adopts.

“I once heard a girl who had decided to parent her child say, “My baby’s the best thing that ever happened to me.” I believed her. But I wanted to ask, “Are you the best thing that could’ve happened to your baby?”…Had I loved (my son) any less—one ounce less—he would be with me now! My love for him was the only thing that could enable me to break my own heart. I didn’t just feel love; I did what love dictated.”

I once heard a girl….sure you did. I don’t believe that for a minute. The above quote was carefully configured to play on the heart strings of worried expectant mothers everywhere. It was created with the hope that it would help secure more babies to meet the demand.

There are many other similarly manipulative quotes on their webpage entitled “Inspirational Adoption Quotes.” 

I pondered this quote for a few hours. A few things came to mind. I’m an avid reader and a huge fan of Stephen King. Even if you aren’t a reader, I’m sure most of you have probably seen the movie “The Green Mile” based off of a short story by Stephen King. If you haven’t, I won’t spoil it all the way for you, but you may want to stop reading (and miss the point of my post). There’s an inmate, John Coffey, who is accused of committing a heinous crime. Two young sisters have been murdered. John was found with both girls in his hands. He is crying and says, “I tried to take it back but it was too late.” He is arrested for the crime and sent to death row. We learn, later in the movie, that Mr. Coffey has an amazing gift of healing. He is also a bit cognitively delayed so he doesn’t understand many things. He is a huge man, and African-American during a time where the color of your skin could automatically implicate you in any crime. We learn that John Coffey is a gentle giant who was trying to “take back” the murder of the girls with his healing power. At the end of the movie we are shown who the true assailant is; a man named Wild Bill, who takes the girls and keeps them both quiet so he can commit his crime, by telling each of them that he will kill the other girl if she is not quiet. He says, “You love your sister? You make any noise, you know what happens. I’m gonna kill her instead of you. Understand?” Wild Bill relies on the love the sisters have for each other. A love that is willing to sacrifice their selves to protect the other. A love like that of a love a mother has for her child. With this threat, Wild Bill is able to keep both of the girls quiet long enough to assault and brutally murder the girls. He manipulates them both with their love for each other.

John Coffey sums it up perfectly. He says, “He kill them wi’ their love. Wi’ their love fo’ each other. That’s how it is, every day, all over the world.” Some of the wisest words ever spoken. While no one is being physically killed in adoption, an emotional death does occur for many people. Especially people who start to realize, sometimes years later, that they were manipulated out of their child, that they were good enough (even if they were not well off financially), and that keeping their child didn’t mean they didn’t love them or loved them less. They become angry when they realized their loved was used against them in order for someone else to gain their child.

And then they find their voices. And then, sometimes, adoptees find theirs and become angry as well. Is it so hard to ask people involved in facilitating adoption to act ethically, responsibly? Let’s make this clear, for those who aren’t aware – legal and ethical are not always the same thing. What’s legal is not always ethical and vice versa.

Is it right to use subtle manipulation to convince a mother to give up her child? It is ethical? Is it right to convey the message the mothers who decide to parent, regardless of their circumstances, love their child less? Is that ethical?

He kill them wi’ their love. Wi’ their love fo’ each other. That’s how it is, every day, all over the world.