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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The original description from their website stated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then my favorite part.  Catelynn’s response.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Legally Enforceable Open Adoption Contracts in the United States

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In My Dreams

I obsess. That’s what I do. Fear is something that is always a part of my life and I have struggled long and hard, for so many years, decades really, to not let it control me. Alas, it sometimes wins in the end.

I have waited so many days, months, years, to see her again. To have communication with her. Sometimes I feel like a crazy stalker. I mean, I kind of am, aren’t I?

I wasn’t told her last name, their last name. I wasn’t told what town they lived in. I was given first names and a state. I put my trust into an institution (adoption) that I would get my yearly visits and I’d never be a stranger to her.  Then the visits stopped, before she could form any intellectual memories of me, her father, her siblings. What was I to do?

I did what any mother would do. I began looking for her. I would receive pictures every couple of years and an update about once a year. A far cry from what I was promised, but I took it anyway. I would study the pictures, heed the words, analyze everything.

A picture from the first day of kindergarten. A name tag hangs around her neck and I see it has her first and last name on it but the exposure is so high it’s nearly impossible to make out what it is. I can tell the length of the last name, though. It’s not your average length and that’s a clue I keep. Pictures with license plate numbers in the background, restaurants, anything – I grab it, store it in my mind, search frantically for hours. I just want to know her last name.

Part of me doesn’t believe the narrative that I’m getting in updates. It seems too good to be true. Everything is always rainbows and sunshine. It drives me to search more fervently. I feel like a mad woman. My husband tells me I should leave it alone. He feels guilty. He knows its killing me. He can’t make up for it.

Haunted by the faces of my daughters whenever I look at them. Each of them carries characteristics of her. It’s like I’m haunted by the ghost of someone who is alive but is so very far out of reach.

Sometime around her seventh year I finally get somewhere and make a huge discovery. Her last name. It opens doors. For the years to come I silently watch. When she is old enough to utilize the World Wide Web, herself, I start to find her foot print everywhere. It is amazing to me. She’s real, she exists, she’s not a ghost. A secret peek into her life as she knows it, not through the lens of someone else and what they choose to tell me.

I stalk. Is it stalking? I feel like a stalker. I am silently watching my child, making sure she is okay, and as years go by sensing that things aren’t really that okay. I don’t do it for the reasons that others stalk. I never reach out to her, disturb her world. I do it because I feel like I must protect her, its instinctual, and this is the only way I know how.

The first correspondence that confirms my intuition that something is amiss. Questions about my pregnancy, hinting to some issues. It honestly sounds like everyone in my family. High-spirited, oppositional. Yep, sounds like my girls, sounds like my husband, definitely sounds like me. I implore them to not drug her up. I am reassured everything is fine. Life goes on.

I realize I’m obsessing and for my own sanity take a break. I decide to only check up on her every few months, just to make sure she’s alive, because I honestly don’t know if I’d be told if she wasn’t.

The feeling is overwhelming. The “knowing.” I just know. I can’t explain it. It’s the same feeling from when she was just a week or two old and I knew the people in charge of her care were not treating her right. I awoke my husband very early and told him we needed to go get her that very moment. I knew something was wrong. I was right that time. I didn’t want to be right this time.

A single post, expressing how she was going away. It was made the same day I had the feeling. Now the feeling has changed. I feel betrayed, I feel sick, I feel like I may genuinely go crazy knowing she’s been sent away. A new obsession begins. I must know where they’ve sent her. I must know so I can see if she’ll be treated badly, if she’ll be abused, mistreated, there.

Pictures. I assume they are taken in the place she has been and I look for clues in the background. The name of a little coffee shop and a quick search reveal to me a city and state. Another search reveals the only place it could possibly be. The pictures match.

The waiting for her to come home. Never being outright told she was sent away so never expecting to be informed she was home. Worrying, wondering. More obsessing, more searching. Finding a blog written by a “house mother” who is bragging about sending a child outside in the freezing cold without shoes or a coat because she wouldn’t stop yelling. I wonder if that child is mine. I secretly want to hunt the woman down and hurt her for hurting my baby.

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

And then, confirmation, from her personally. A secret connection between her sister and her. I am overjoyed. I am scared. I don’t know what to do. I’m terrified of her adoptive mother. If she finds out, if I overstep anything she deems “appropriate” then it all crumbles. I know nothing. I have to obsess and search and worry on the Internet. Updates will cease to exist and updates are clues.

It’s all out in the open now. Most of it, anyway. I still watch my step, stay in my place, because if I don’t get to see her again, don’t get to touch her again, don’t get this visit, only the third since she went with them when it should be the 16th, I just might end up having a nervous breakdown. But now there is another fear, another obsession.

I am a stranger. There is no possible way she could think of me as much as I think of her. I don’t expect her to. This obsession isn’t healthy. I obsess about if she wants to talk to me, I obsess about if I’m coming off too strong, I obsess about if she would rather me just go away but she’s too scared to tell me. I obsess about, well, rejection. I want to talk to her like I do my other children. I want to have funny conversations about gross and inappropriate things. I want to discuss social issues that I am passionate about and teach her about the world, the way I do my other children. I want to know her. I want to hear her voice, see her face in something other than a still picture. I want to soak up every last bit of her. The good, the bad, the pretty, the ugly, the everything.

But I don’t want to scare her. I don’t want to hurt her more. I don’t want to make her feel like she owes me anything.

I don’t know what to say. I’m scared. I want to tell her how her expression in the newest picture is my expression in the picture of me 6 years ago. I want to tell her that her handwriting is the same as mine when I was her age. I want to tell her that her fiery personality and stubbornness comes from her father and I but the undertone of kindness, compassion, and empathy comes from me. I’m hard on the outside, soft on the inside. I want to point out that her voice, in the one video I saw, sounds just like mine. I want to tell her that her sister can’t distinguish, sometimes, while scrolling through her feed if a picture is of me or her, for just a second. I want to tell her that I see her.  I don’t “know” her but I see her.

I want to tell her I believe her. I want to tell her that I can’t say all the things I want to because I have to stay in my place because I don’t hold all the cards. I don’t hold any, actually. I want to tell her that she will always have a home. I want to tell her that she does belong somewhere, she exquisitely belongs, but she doesn’t know it. I want to tell her so many things. Little things, big things. But how much is too much? Where do I walk the line? How do I know? So I say nothing.

And then I obsess that my nothing is too much. Am I sending the message that I’m not interested, don’t care? Nothing could be further from the truth.

She’s hurt. She’s wounded. She’s been through a lot and, ultimately, it’s my fault. I chose this for her when she had no choice. And here comes another obsession. I don’t deserve her kindness, her love. I don’t even deserve her “like.” I had no idea, though. Everything everyone told me was that this was what was best. But I feel guilty claiming that I am a victim, too. At least I had a chance, she never did. How do I make it better? How do I find forgiveness?

These are such deep thoughts and, no doubt, would be hard for anyone to process. I stay quiet. I can’t push too much because if I do and she decides to go away, it would be like giving her up all over again.

There’s no going back. What’s done is done. I can only hope for the future. But how do you dare hope for something so perfect? Just to be a part of her life would be like a piece of heaven. Do I dare hope for that? Am I setting expectations too high?

In my dreams we walk, we laugh, we hug. We tell each other all that needs to be said. We catch up on everything we’ve missed without each other all these years. I catch her up on all my quirks and she let’s me into her private world. We don’t judge each other or push too hard. We just walk. And it’s exquisite.

 

Clara’s Update; A Look at Other Families Saved by SOS; The Evolution of Open Adoption

Today I’m going to cover a few things, but they will all tie together and are all related to one another.

Last week I told you a story about a prospective adoptive parent who started a campaign of harassment, threats, and coercion against a new mother who had opted NOT to relinquish her child and instead parent. I wanted to let you all know that over $1200 was raised in Clara’s name to help her and other expectant mothers to parent their children. I am truly amazed by the generosity of our community and how the efforts of all of us, for family preservation, have been so successful. I would like to share with you the receipt for Clara’s June rent in the name of accountability. Your money, your donations are going for exactly what they should be going for. Not ONE penny is used for anything else. 100% go directly to these families. Finding these moms, traveling, phone calls, fundraising – it is ALL done on a volunteer basis. We do not take ANY money that is donated.

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Obviously we don’t want to show identifying information. We are still in the business of protecting these people since what we do is still considered “controversial.” Get a load of that. Helping mothers to parent their children successfully is what is controversial. When did this ever come to be? We’ll talk some more about that later. For now I would also like to share with you some other families Saving Our Sisters has helped over the past couple of years. To do so I’m going to ask you to click right HERE. Don’t worry, it will open up in a new tab or window so that you can continue to read the rest of this article.

Did you go to the link? Did you see all the smiling, unbroken families? This is why we do what we do. This is what your donations go for. (Right now the link is private but you are free to send Lynn Johansenn a friend request to view or see my collage made from some of the pictures below)

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Where did we get to this place? This place where otherwise fit mothers were forever giving up their babies for financial reasons? We know that during the baby scoop era most women were literally forced to give up their children. Many (most?) came from nice upstanding families. While the women, themselves, did not have an income, their families would have been able to give the proper support for them to finish college and raise their child. This didn’t happen because of the shame a child out-of-wedlock would have branded the family with. So, instead of helping, these parents sent their daughters away to give birth alone and to have those babies taken and given to someone else. Threats and force ran a muck to make sure this happened. This is how we got the name “Baby Scoop Era.” It was literally a scooping of babies. (See more about my comparison on the baby scoop era and coercion era here)

Over time, laws were enacted, pregnancy out-of-wedlock became more socially acceptable and shame slowly became a moot point. No one was giving up their babies based on shame or force anymore, or at least in very rare circumstances. There was a transition period between the baby scoop era and the era of open adoption. This time period is where white newborn infants were slowly in decline while the demand for them continued to rise.

The adoption industry knew it had to do something.

This is where I will take some quotes from a NY Times article that was written on April 5, 1987 about adoption.

The article is entitled:

“ADOPTION MARKET: BIG DEMAND, TIGHT SUPPLY”

To summarize, the article goes into how the supply of healthy white newborns is on the decline while the demand for them is rising. The article cites the legalization of abortion and less stigma on pregnancy out-of-wedlock as the reasons. This is only half right, though. Let’s explore “less stigma,” shall we?

The article states, “According to the National Committee for Adoption, an association of 130 private adoption agencies, adoptions between unrelated people in the United States declined to 50,720, from 82,800, from 1971 through 1982, the last year for which complete data are available.” (Side note: why is there no longer any data kept?) 1971 -1982. The early 1970’s was about the end of the baby scoop era. Seeing as Roe vs. Wade was in 1973 I can see how adoption advocates would like to blame legalized abortion for the decline of infants available. I maintain that it was the END of the baby scoop era that facilitated this decline. My proof is the change of tactics from the industry. WHY did the baby scoop era end? This has nothing to do with legalized abortion. It has EVERYTHING to do with the cultural shift of acceptance of unwed mothers. No stigma, no shame. You are free to parent your child. And ever since this cultural shift there has been a rise in babies being born to unwed mothers. Even WITH legalized abortion.

Yes, less stigma means less women being forced into an adoption, does it not? What was that era called where shame and stigma were used to force a woman to hand over her baby? Oh yeah, the baby scoop era. So what happens when you can no longer shame women into giving up their babies? What do you do? You change the game plan. You offer them an “open adoption.”  Let’s now focus on another article. This one is from the Chicago Tribune and was written December 15, 1985.

The title of this article is:

“When Adopted Children Know Their Roots”

This article focuses on the “radicalism” of open adoption during that time period and interviews one family with two adopted children in “open adoptions.” I use that term loosely, based on the article, because they really aren’t truly open adoptions but rather what would be considered a semi-closed adoption by today’s standards. There is no direct contact between the children and their natural parents.

“We were really worried about the number of children raised in this adoption-lie system, giving rise to adults now saying that it was their birth right to know what their parents looked like, what did they think, what did they feel,“ says Janet Cravens-Garner, the agency`s regional director.” This is a quote from Lutheran Social Services at the time. Let me point out, using today’s standards, that the reason she gives for starting to facilitate open adoption is, in my opinion, a lie. The adoption industry has fought, and is STILL fighting, for sealed records for adoptees. If they were so concerned about the adoptees rights then these agencies would be lobbying Congress for open records everywhere. Instead they fight it. No, the real reason they started offering open adoptions is because they could not get women to hand over their babies without the promise of knowing how they were doing. It was a tactic that began to become employed in an attempt to meet the demand of infertile couples everywhere. The supply wasn’t there and, as we learned earlier, was on a steady decline thanks to a cultural shift.

“By the end of the hour and a half meeting, Susan Dangerfield had charmed her. She was glad that Chris would have a father who would take him fishing.

‘It was kind of like a proud feeling, like I`d chosen the right family for him,’ she says. `I felt I wasn`t losing a son, I was gaining very close friends and some people who were really going to take care of Chris.”

This quote from the article. This one up here? This is the very definition of open adoption coercion. Susan Dangerfield, if you read the article, is the prospective adoptive parent. Chris is the newborn infant. Susan had managed to “charm” her and made the new mother feel, via the open adoption promise, that she could relinquish her son to Susan.

Open adoption coercion. Using the promises of contact to gain a child from a mother.

I did manage to find Susan Dangerfield on Facebook and am happy to report she does keep up friendships with both of her sons’ birthmothers (at least from what I can tell on her Facebook friends list). This still does not take away from the fact that open adoption was used to procure more infants that would probably, otherwise, be raised by their original families.

Open adoption coercion, since we are talking about that, leads me to another article. One I read today, a recent one.

“COURT UPHOLDS MOVE TO GIVE BABY TO BIOLOGICAL PARENTS IN OPEN ADOPTION GONE AWRY”

Written May 29, 2015.

The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that promises of an open adoption to a birthmother is a form of coercion.

In other words, if a woman is relinquishing her parental rights based on the promise of continued contact, and that contact is not carried out, or never was intended to be carried out, she has been COERCED out of her child.

I know this case rings particularly true for me. If I had not been promised an open adoption I would never had relinquished. I knew it wasn’t binding in court but I still believed that these were good people who would keep their word.

There it is, in writing. A legal precedent. THE SUPREME COURT OF NEBRASKA JUST RULED OPEN ADOPTION PROMISES, WITHOUT FULFILLMENT, IS COERCION.

And I quote, “Until the Legislature acts to approve of these open adoption arrangements  in a private adoption context, this court will NOT recognize them.”

“Any agreements signed with the promise of an open adoption will remain invalid in the courts eyes.”

Are we finally recognizing that we have moved from forcing women to give up their babies to coercing them out of their babies? This is a BIG first.

How does all of this tie to Clara? Well, Clara didn’t fall for it. Clara was saved from the coercion of an “open adoption agreement.” Clara did not fall victim. The sad thing is that for everyone ONE Clara, there are thousands of other mothers who have no idea what they are about to embark on and believe the coercion. What Clara did was a #bravelove. She is courageous and selfless. I applaud  you, Clara.

clara

Guilt, Coercion, Threats – A New Mom Changes Her Mind – SOS In Action

UPDATE: Almost $1100 was raised for Clara in less than 24 hours! You are all amazing!!

As some of you may know, we are in the process of legitimizing our grassroots organization called Saving Our Sisters (SOS). The goal of SOS is to help vulnerable women avoid adoption relinquishment. Over the past couple of years the organization’s brain child and front-runner, Lynn Johansenn, has helped dozens of women, that had decided to utilize adoption, to keep their babies and successfully parent. SOS offers whatever support is needed to achieve this. Sometimes the support is emotional, sometimes financial, and sometimes legal. Most people who have been helping with this are members of the adoption community themselves. They include birth/first/natural mothers, adoptees, and even a couple of adoptive parents. When the alarm call is sounded, this vast network of people contributes to what is needed and we always end up with enough for the new mom.

Initially, when hearing about an expectant mother who is set on an adoption “plan,” she is approached gently and given the encouragement she needs to know she is worthy of parenting her child and that SOS will do whatever it takes to make that possible. Each reason that a mother has to contemplate adoption is systematically removed with our wonderful network of donors and volunteers. Some harsh realities about the possibilities (probabilities?) in adoption are taught and then the ball is in her court. She is left with contact information, if she declines help at that time, if she changes her mind after the birth of the baby.

If a mother contacts us and needs help we will immediately send out a local contact to be by her side. This contact will go through the needs and even speak on her behalf to the adoption agency, attorney, or prospective adoptive parents so there need not be any awkward moments. We literally do anything we need to do to make the change of mind as easy as possible for the new mother.

More often than not, after the mother has changed her mind and the prospective adoptive parents have been informed, a series of harassment and coercion, coming from selfish people who will do anything to get their hands on the baby they think they have been “promised,” ensues. Prospective adoptive parents, in general, seem to think they are more worthy and more deserving of someone else’s child and will pull out all stops to coerce her, even threaten her, into signing over her rights.

I would like to introduce you to Clara’s* story. Clara is a young mother in Kansas who was expecting a baby within days. Help and information were offered to her. She originally declined but, after the birth of her baby, changed her mind and reached out for help.

Clara had already picked out prospective adoptive parents and was in the process of beginning a private (non-agency) adoption. Since there was no agency the prospective adoptive’s parents’ attorney was pretty much running the legal show. I have no information about how she came about picking this couple or if she was coerced during her pregnancy. I can only speculate. What I do know about Clara is this: She is a hard-working, frugal, single mother who does a kick ass job as a mother. She manages to provide with very little and does damn good with it. She is smart, level-headed, and loving. The father of the baby she just delivered ran out on her with another woman. He wanted nothing to do with the new baby. Clara’s story is so familiar. I’ve heard it time and time again. Are these ideal circumstances to bring a child into the world? Well, no, not really. Does that mean it’s impossible to successfully parent this child? Absolutely not. I’m sure Clara could think of family members or friends that would be willing to be a positive male role model in her child’s life. After deciding to parent she had an outpouring of support from family, friends and her community. Bottom line is this, Clara is worthy of parenting her child and her child is worthy of staying in his original family, of keeping that family intact. When this is a possibility it should always be this way. Adoption should always and only be a last resort.

I’ve discussed coercion, guilt trips, and all sorts of other fun stuff that goes on behind the scenes in adoption land. I often hear new birthmoms say “that doesn’t happen anymore” or “that didn’t happen to me.” Let this stand as a testament that it does indeed still happen, and often. Ask yourself how your child’s adoptive parents would have behaved if you changed your mind?

I did, indeed, make an adoption plan for my youngest daughter (the daughter that was born after my relinquished daughter). I asked the adoptive parents of IKL to adopt her. I changed my mind. When they learned of this change of mind they said, “You will never see IKL again.” Visits were stopped. That was 12 years ago. I have not seen her since. Initially they tried to talk me into giving the baby up. Telling me how it would be selfless and I would be giving her all sorts of things that she wouldn’t get with me. When that didn’t work they resorted to threats. Threatening to take IKL out of my life. When I didn’t relent they made good on their promise.

Meet Becky, prospective adoptive parent. This is her text message to Clara after learning she had changed her mind.

Screen shot number one.

Screen shot number one.

Screen shot number two.

Screen shot number two.

Guilt and coercion. “Look how upset we are. Please still consider adoption. We can give your baby what you can’t. We are more deserving. We’ll let you pick the middle name! See how great and open we are!” That is the message I’m getting from this text message. Notice she mentions Tom. This is the father of the baby. She is using Clara’s fear of a court battle (which she knows full and well would never really get to the point of “fighting” just based on custody laws) with Tom to attempt to sway her into handing over her baby. Pretty disgusting. But it get’s better.

Screen shot number three.

Screen shot number three.

When Becky’s attempt to coerce and scare Clara didn’t work, she resorted to having her sister text message Clara. More guilt. She even goes so far to call her selfish for parenting her child. Do these people not understand this baby is not and never was theirs? This is just more of the same, trying to get her to sign over rights via guilt and making her feel like a bad person – selfish – for parenting HER child.

Screen shot number four.

Screen shot number four. He meant to say, “if you are NOT willing to let the child be adopted.”

So here’s where things get “Are you kidding me?!” This is the bio father’s text message to Clara. Here’s what you need to remember. Clara did NOT give her contact information to Tom (the bio father). He attained this message through the adoptive parents somehow, most likely their attorney. As you’ll remember from the first text message, Becky was trying to convince Clara to give up her baby to protect the baby from Tom (bio dad). If Becky was truly concerned about the baby’s safety would she be giving out Clara’s contact information to Tom? Even if it was through a third-party such as her attorney? Of course not. This is, yet again, another tactic to scare Clara. This time with direct threats from the bio dad. When Becky’s text message didn’t work, and then her sister’s didn’t either, she now tried FORCE. Coercion and guilt wasn’t working, right? Let’s FORCE her hand into giving us her baby. Let’s scare her…even if it really does put the baby at risk. Who cares. We want what we want and we’ll do anything to get it.

This is the face of adoption. Expectant mothers heed this warning. The same people who are nice to you, that you feel “connected” to, that you LOVE SO MUCH, I would estimate 90% of them would turn into this if you changed your mind. They have one goal in mind – to get a baby. They are shameless and will stop at nothing to do it.

Dear Becky,

Go fuck yourself you entitled piece of shit.

Dear Becky’s sister,

Noneya.

Dear Tom,

Go ahead and try. I dare you.

Where does this leave Clara? Well, none of this is working on her, thank God. The ONLY thing Clara needs right now is her rent of $500 paid since she was not able to scrape that together being at the end of her pregnancy. We don’t usually ask for monetary donations straight up but, in this case, it is needed greatly. Her rent is due on the 1st. As of now we do NOT have tax exempt status so your donation would not be tax-deductible. However, if you would like to donate to the PayPal account that is being used to help Clara with rent next month (and if we get enough rent NEXT month as well) it would be greatly appreciated.

To donate to Clara please message Lynn Johansenn on facebook HERE.

What Clara is doing is #bravelove.

Adoption is #notabravelove

*Name changed to protect new mother