Monday, December 31, 2007

Wandering Adoption IV


There are people who are gate keepers, and there are people who are enforcers. The Empress is both, and more. She is Crowned Head, Potentate, Supreme Ruler, Baroness, Autocrat, Despot, Killer Queen, Goddess, Ecdysiast, Bearer of the Regal Whip, Grande Poobess, Queen Sneer, Friend and Lover, Respecter of None. She fearsomely berates others for their strong convictions. She will behead a person for an errant thought. All her lines are bright. If you cross one, you risk abuse well-honed by decades of active practice.

Age has not mellowed her.

Everyone, no matter which side of the caterwauling they may be on, fears the Empress. She has no friends but other users.

BUT she is useful. Her abuse is potent, even lethal, to people who are still recovering from past abuses. Her fire breathing has caused relapses on more than one occasion. She is useful to maintain a failing power structure. Once respected, once the last best hope of people who had been ruthlessely exploited, once an oasis in the wasteland that is life after adoption for so many suffering people, it's now rotting at its core. Irrelevant, useless, failed...

Decades ago, she helped build it. Time, technology, and changes in social culture have resulted in obsolesence. Even the rats left long ago. Only a few die hards are left; they are mainly people the system has deeply harmed, who have just become aware of the loss they have suffered; and the professional hangers-on and obscurantists who peddle bogus philosophy, useless books and cheap jewelry.

She is the shock troop to be used against her own, the brownshirt who can be counted upon to infiltrate the places where the newly aware congregate -- to gently guide and instruct them, and failing that, to keep them in their place.

Barb, for myself

Wandering Adoption III

Mondo Cane

Those who can, do ...and the rest slip into pack behavior.

Chasing adoption ambulances is fun. I've done it. I know that inside that careening vehicle with its lights and siren, is another victim of hype, marketing, good intent, desperate longing and sheer abandonment.

She's bleeding to death from the wound in her heart. She's not long for this world. Soon the woman she was will fade into the ether and a new being, a being made of pain, will emerge in her place. It's a death. It is. For once, let's call it what it is.

The sociological causes of this death are poverty, lack of education, weak families.

The political cause of this death is the legacy of centuries of powerlessness.

The psychological causes of this death are misogyny and self loathing.

The economic cause of this death is the bottom line.

(And there's some rebellion, gullibility, denial, mendacity and sheer, stubborn stupidity in the mix as well.)

These are not really problems that can be solved by engaging in pack behavior.

BUT, chasing ambulances is fun. It is. There is a real rush associated with the hunt and that old familiar smell of blood.

AND it can temporarily relieve the stress of unaddressed losses and serious trauma without resorting to booze or drugs. It gives people a chance to feel not quite so powerless. To be someone important instead of someone gullible or rebellious.

AND therapy is expensive, but joining the pack...not so much.

AND every so often you get to hang with the big dogs... maybe even lick the Massa's hand.

SO, hey, it's the end of the year...throw tho$e dog$ $ome bone$.


Barb, for myself

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Wandering Adoption II

The Stick Lady

Sometimes she pokes. Sometimes she stirs. Whatever she does, she does with a smile. She simply does not understand why people snarl at her, since she's smart, kind and always right.

The sincerity of her voice erases any doubt she may have motives of her own. She only wishes to enlighten. Minimization, shallow and incomplete analysis, irrelevant/inapplicable analogies, and sometimes just plain lying are her preferred method of guiding conversations towards the end she seeks. Polymarginalized individuals often have few intellectual options, and little way to combat her learned assuredness.

Polished professsional style can be cultivated with practice: It can hide a multitude of motives. Any resume, even a paltry one, looks like a resplendent battle banner to the peasants who wage war ceaselessely in the fields of her ambition.

Some people call her a troll.

Some people call her a user.

Some people call her a leader.

Some people call her a pirate.

Some people call her a liar.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Wandering Adoption: I


AdoptionLand loves myths, stereotypes and ripping yarns and has spawned a vast catalog of them. The bad seed, the saintly adoptor, the crackwhore *****mother. When AdoptionLand finds an individual gullible and needy enough who also fits the stereotype, that individual may find themselves the center of attention for a season. Which is, of course, the point. Even crackwhores deserve their fifteen minutes of fame.

The crackwhore *****mother is an aging piece of white trailer trash. She's unmarried (but of course!) and has a black tat on her upper arm. Four badly dressed kids cling to her dirty skirt. She dresses like Lucy without realizing the social context of Lucy's times. Her communications are screamed fishwife-style at the kids. She drops cigarette ashes into the baby's cereal, and drinks Schlitz.

She has the literacy of an elementary grade schooler; the intellectual sophistication of a can of premium sardines. Her psychological profile is written in terms of inferiority and compensation; in her day to day life she walks the ledge but never, ever recognizes the abyss that stretches below. She is Unskilled and Unaware Of It ; she sings her own praises in the most deprecating tones and thus earns the affection of the equally dim, the comparably affected.

And she loves -- loves -- the plantation.

She loves her Massa. She sleeps with Massa Wednesdays at 3 while the Lady Of The Manor is out playing bridge. If she's performed admirably well, Massah feeds her a plate of Blanquete du Veau and a glass of chardonnay from the $15 dollar bottle, then sends her on his way. She goes about his work, in his way, spreading the gospel of the love and largesse of the Massa.

Though she lives for the veal and not the trysts, she realizes it's good to be loved.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Why JUNO Matters

The pro-life crowd is giving Juno rave reviews, since the teen at the center of the story opts for adoption over abortion. I'm not going to link to any of their reviews because I don't want to give them the hits, but they are singing the praises of this movie. In the way we have come to expect, they all praise and all criticize the same aspects of the movie, using almost the same language each time. Perhaps someone blast faxed movie critic talking points to each site owner/blogger. At any rate, the reviews are at once unsurprisingly and remarkably similar.

The movie is reviewed over and over as a fast moving and hip comedy with very appealing characters. Everyone falls in love with the sympathetic pregnant teen who makes an "heroic" sacrifice. BTW, the newest industry meme being hyped in AdoptionLand to sell adoption to teen moms is that it is an "heroic" act, but that's a post for another day. Still, I found it interesting that one of the most conservative prolifer bloggers around (Jill Stanek, blogging on World Net Daily) chose the word "heroic" to describe Juno's act of giving up a child for adoption. It's just not a word that has been used much to describe adoption relinquishment until very recently. More blast faxes?

Why JUNO matters is that teens will see it, most probably fall in love with the characters, and their outlook on adoption may be influenced by this movie. One adoption activist emailed the producer about the movie. She wrote that his response was that he had a "younger sister who was adopted and he hoped I would be as touched by the movie as he was."

I haven't seen the movie, but it's hard to imagine that it addresses the long concealed underbelly of adoption loss. And that matters.

What am I talking about?

Routinely, portrayals of adoption in books, press and other media simply gloss over the sequelae of relinquishment. Adoption is almost always presented as win-win-win, but in reality, in adoption one party experiences an overwhelming loss - the loss of her child. For adoption to survive, the first mother's loss must be either denied, minimized or reframed. (AdoptionLand is busily working to recast adoption as a heroic act, but, again, that's the subject for another diary.)


As we have seen amply demonstrated in other arenas of political life, reframing or recasting an event does nothing to change the hard cold facts that eventually surface. The marketing strategies used to sell a war or sell adoption don't change the realities of dead bodies, or of grief that never ends.

And in adoption, it has been shown over and over that there is great potential for grief that never ends. The research shows (over and over) that such a loss places a woman at high risk for unresolvable grief and its concomitants.

So, when you go out to this movie or meet people who speak of it in glowing terms, I hope you take a moment to remember some of this information about adoption loss. After a period of denial, women who follow in Juno's footsteps can expect the following:

"Existing evidence suggests that the experience of relinquishment renders a woman at high risk of psychological (and possibly physical) disability. Moreover very recent research indicates that actual disability or vulnerability may not diminish even decades after the event.
....Taken overall, the evidence suggests that over half of these women are suffering from severe and disabling grief reactions which are not resolved over the passage of time and which manifest predominantly as depression and psychosomatic illness. "
-- PSYCHOLOGICAL DISABILITY IN WOMEN WHO RELINQUISH A BABY FOR ADOPTION, Dr. John T. Condon (Medical Journal of Australia) Vol. 144 Feb 3, 1986 (Department of Psychiatry, Flinders Medical Centre, Bedford Park, SA 5042, Consultant Psychiatrist)

" A grief reaction unique to the relinquishing mother was identified. Although this reaction consists of features characteristic of the normal grief reaction, these features persist and often lead to chronic, unresolved grief. Conclusions: The relinquishing mother is at risk for long-term physical, psychological, and social repercussions.
Although interventions have been proposed, little is known about their effectiveness in preventing or alleviating these repercussions."
-- “Postadoptive Reactions of the Relinquishing Mother: A Review.” By Holli Ann Askren, MSN, CNM, Kathleen C. Bloom, PhD, CNM. In the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecological and Neonatal Nursing, 1999 Jul-Aug; 28(4):395-400

"Relinquishing mothers have more grief symptoms than women who have lost a child to death, including more denial; despair, atypical responses; and disturbances in sleep, appetite, and vigor." Askren, H., & Bloom, K. (1999) Post-adoptive reactions of the relinquishing mother: A review. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecological and Neonatal Nursing, 1999 Jul-Aug; 28(4):395-400

"Results shown in Table 3 demonstrate that mothers relinquishing a child for adoption tend towards more grief symptoms than bereaved parents ... ." ... "Table 3, comparing natural mothers in both open and closed adoptions with bereaved parents, shows that natural mothers suffer more denial, atypical responses, despair, anger, depersonalization, sleep disturbance, somaticizing, physical symptoms, dependency, vigor." Blanton, T.L., & Deschner, J. (1990). Biological mother's grief: The postadoptive experience in open versus confidential adoption. Child Welfare Journal, 69(6), pp. 525-535.

It very much matters that young women and their families fully understand what can happen in adoption. While JUNO may be hip and comedic and endearing, it matters more for its ommissions regarding adoption than anything else.

Barb, for BSERI

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Little Night Reading

Lately I've been doing some reading as a good friend and Sister-In-Arms shares her research library with me. An NCFA publication came across my screen this week. It is a booklet called "_____MOTHER, GOOD MOTHER, Her Story of Heroic Redemption" published in 2007 by the Family Research Council and the National Council for Adoption and authored by Charles T. Kenny, Ph.D. Page 3 of the booklet has one the most remarkable statements I have read in quite some time. (NB: The B word has been removed from this quote.)

From Page 3 of the booklet:

"Some of the _____mothers who placed their children fifteen or more years before the interviews took place felt extreme pressure and even coercion to do so. Their bitter feelings about their experiences set the stage for understanding the profound importance of involving _____mothers in the process of selecting loving families for their children. Many _____mothers who felt coerced or tricked into placing their children for adoption were not at peace with the adoption. The resentment one _____mother expressed regarding feeling forced into adoption was typical of those who had felt coercion: ‘Coercion, lies, and deceit... That worked on me... The mother-child bond is really strong. I think that’s more important than having two parents. My baby was denied breast milk, knowing his grandparents. I was denied watching him grow and have a life together. Fear is what makes people sign relinquishing papers, fear that it (keeping the baby) will make their life worse than better. (_____ mothers’) fear is taken advantage of... It is deceitful. It (coercive adoption) is not really concerned with the best interest of the mom and baby... It’s concerned with receiving healthy, white babies for people’."

"This _____mother felt that no one was really concerned about her and her child. She felt judged, refer to adoption as an "industry," rather than considering it a social service in the best interests of children. Because she felt forced into adoption, she did not feel the decision was her own and was bitter about her adoption placement. The _____mothers who felt this way were older,generally having placed their children more than 25 years earlier, when the stigma against single-parenting was far greater than it is today. Then, as the _____mothers described, it was also more common for social workers and nurses to pressure women into adoption. Women should never feel forced into adoption, and when they are, the system has failed them."

"Thankfully, such occurrences have become quite rare. The younger _____mothers felt they had made their decisions voluntarily, and as a result, they "owned" their decisions. As they struggled through the process of making decisions, they successfully resisted being pressured by others. One ______mother said: ‘It was eye opening... You need to control yourself, how to handle people and situations. Look, I made, or we made this decision. I’m giving myself back the power. I did something I’m not happy or proud about (getting pregnant), but it’s me that has the power. I’m in control. Nobody was telling me to do XYZ. They are just throwing out suggestions... When you are in control, you know I’m going to do A, then B, then C... Look at me. Yes, this is what happened. Look what I did. Look where I am now’."

Do my eyes deceive me? The NCFA is saying BSE moms were coerced!

Barb, for BSERI

Sunday, December 2, 2007

'The Girl Nobody Loved' Part II

I left off at Part I, with the Man in the Small Office giving me an address to a 'agency', supposedly a place that could 'help' me and my yet to be born baby. But you all must forgive me if I don't remember the conversations we are speaking about conversations that took place 43 years ago. But Thank the Goddesses I have always been blessed (or possibly the misfortune)of having one terrific memory. Hopefully it will continue to serve me well in my 'Golden Years'.

So now I have this 'address' and I would enlist my mother to accompany me to this 'agency'. (BTW..Mom was only 38 years of age, newly widowed with 6 children, I being the oldest at 17). We would take a few buses to get to this 'agency'. Was a very nice looking brick building, surrounded with many lush green trees and shrubbery. Very pleasant looking to the eye. We would be greeted by a fairly young woman with brown hair and brown eyes with a big smile on her face. I would guess her age to be in her early 30's, if my visual memory isn't failing me. Mom and I would sit in front of her desk..the agency woman sitting behind her desk and still with this big smile on her face, almost glowing. Now here I have to be honest is where my memory does fade a bit and does injustice to this writing. She would tell me with no uncertainty in her voice or demeanor..that I had nothing to offer to 'the baby'. Nothing! Rather I should not think of myself, but should only think of what is best for 'the baby'. I should not be selfish, afterall you are poor, what could you possibly offer 'this baby'. Of course Mom sat there very quiet..Mom and I had our own shared secret..that no one was to know about, less she feel any more ashamed than she has already been feeling for 17 years. My Mom, once upon a time, was also an unmarried mother in 1946, the year of my birth. And she carried that secret for many years...especially the first 15 years of my life when I finally would be told the truth about mom's 'secret', but no one else should never know. Difference was my Mom was 'allowed' to keep me, Thank the Goddesses!

So Ms. Brown-Eyes kept pushing her adoption as the best option (the only option) for me and my baby. Of course she already knew what hospital I was having my baby doubt the SW in the hospital had informed her, before I ever made the biggest mistake of my life..that of crossing the Threshold into Adoption Agency Hell! I only ever visited that agency one time only and the agency today from it's records have verified I only ever visited that agency one time. Still when it came time to have my baby..immediately after opening my eyes after the birth of my child and asking what did I have..a boy or a girl? I was told in no uncertain terms.. "You don't need to know..'the baby' is up for adoption!"

The Moral of this True-Life Story... Didn't matter if you were in a maternity home, or contacted an adoption agency, hidden in your home, sent away to visit 'relatives', a patient of a doctor who was trolling for newborns for his infertile patients.. as a young unmarried mother in those were 'fair-game'and so was your baby. You were afforded no protection for your own person and that of your newborn, your own motherhood was put in full jeapordy simply because you were young, unmarried and pregnant. And if real-life legal protection and rights were out there for you..they made damn sure you never knew about it, by shaming and guilting me/us into silence. Maybe I shouldn't say 'us' as there are BSE Mothers out there that say they were never 'ashamed' or felt 'guilty'. But I did. I was forever ashamed of losing my firstborn to adoption and felt extremely guilty about that. BUT! Education is a wonderful thing.. when you learn 'The Truth' about the BSE and how millions of mothers were separated from their newly born infants.

**I would wanted to share some quotes from Rickie Solinger's "The Girl Nobody Loved", but I have to honestly admit, I am a novice at 'blogging' and can't seem to find a way to share some quotes. But I will learn how to in the very near future!


"The Girl Nobody Loved" Part One

It would seem so many unmarried mothers from the Baby Scoop Era…truly were ‘The Girl Nobody Loved’(credit to Rickie Solinger). That is not said as some pitiful statement, but rather a truth felt and known by so many young unmarried mothers who would be forced or at the very least…led to believe that they had ‘voluntarily’ surrendered their newborn baby for the express purpose of being adopted by stranger people.

I, myself, for many years after signing the surrender document from my hospital bed just a day or 2 after giving birth, would truly believe that I had totally ‘voluntarily’ surrendered ‘control to said agency’ of my infant daughter. I was not in a maternity home, I was not incarcerated in one of these institutions that were solely created after WWII, with the express purpose and mission of separating the mother from her own child…with the end-result express purpose, that of the newborn being given, or bought to/by strangers for adoption.

Rather I was ‘free’, not incarcerated in any institution. I still hung around with my friends, my impending Motherhood blossoming right in front of everyone’s eyes. I was not ashamed of being pregnant, nor in how that pregnancy came to be. I was having a baby! Was I jumping for joy? I would be lying to you if I said I did. I would also be lying to you if I said I had no conflicted emotions and/or thoughts about raising a child on my own. I had many! But still I had Hope for my baby and me, the Hope that yes I could make this work. I was already self-supporting at the young age of 17, pretty much already an independent young woman with many independent ways of thinking about life in general. But I was also terribly naïve and not educated about the ways of social engineering and the politics of unmarried motherhood in the year 1964. I had no idea of the powerful practices of the social worker, the adoption agencies, the maternity homes, the adoption lawyers, the doctors, the nurses, the psychiatrists.. that already had their Master Plan up and working…to take infants from their unmarried mothers. I had no knowledge of the books and articles that had already been written and were being written, about the “Deviant Mother”…that young unmarried woman who dared to defy social mores and have sex outside of marriage, culminating in a pregnancy.

Adoption was not a thought in my head for the first 5 months of my pregnancy, just never occurred to me. I knew nothing about adoption nor anyone who adopted or anyone who was adopted (maybe they just didn’t know). But upon my first visit to the clinic in the hospital…I would be summarily remanded (after the first internal exam) down the hall to this small office with a man sitting at a desk. Today I know this was an ‘in-house’ resident social worker. I would also learn just in the last few years that hospitals back then began staffing themselves with ‘in-house’ social workers. But I didn’t know that then.

Back to the Man in the Small Office….Immediately I was confronted with what I most assuredly already knew….that I was not married! And therefore I had better start thinking about adoption! HUH?! I then got the propaganda swill about my ‘illegit’ baby being called a ‘bastard’ on the playground…that no man would marry me with another man’s child….that I and my child would live alone and that no one would associate with us…that I had nothing to offer my own child (i.e. a house, money, or a father). **Note here…. That’s really what it was all about…the adoption propagandaists could have cared less about the PAP mother, she afterall was still a female…and these social workers already knew the child had a mother…they believed having a ‘father’…any ‘father’, was most important to the child. Isn’t it grand living in a Paternalistic Society! The Man in the Small Office would then question me on my religion (I was baptized Lutheran), and began writing down an address for me to visit..that the people there at this ‘agency’ could help me and my baby. That was the Beginning of the End, for me and my yet to be born baby.

This is Part I…in part II I will quote from the below writings of Rickie Solinger.

The Girl Nobody Loved: Psychological Explanations for White Single Pregnancy in
the Pre-Roe v. Wade Era, 1945-1965
Rickie Solinger
Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, Vol. 11, No. 2/3, Spirituality, Values, and Ethics. (1990),
pp. 45-54.
Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies is currently published by University of Nebraska Press

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Prayer for Truth

Young Woman's Blues

Young Woman's Blues

Did you ever wonder

how much money flows through a non-profit?

Here is the 2005 IRS Form 990 for the NCFA.


Half their 2005 income of almost 2.6M came from government grants. 1.6M in public monies went to finance Program Service expenses, ie, education and research regarding the Infant Awareness Adoption Training Act.

If you'd like to know where your tax money is going, well....some of it is going to permanently separate mothers and babies.

Barb, for BSERI

New Organization to Probe Adoption Abuses

An organization has been formed to investigate what is known as the “Baby Scoop Era.” This was the period between 1945 – 1972, when unprecedented numbers of unmarried mothers surrendered babies for adoption, often against their will.

The Baby Scoop Era Research Initiative, also known as BSERI, was founded in October 2007 by two mothers, Karen Wilson-Buterbaugh and Barbara Franks-Morra. Both lost newborns to adoption during this period.

Franks-Morra explained that maternity homes radically changed after 1945. As social workers took over management from altruistic religious organizations, homes that had once sheltered single mothers and prepared them to raise their children began instead to promote closed, stranger adoption.

Wilson-Buterbaugh stated, “The social work profession brought a psychological bias to their work with single mothers. They introduced the untested notion that single mothers were ‘neurotic’ and could be cured by taking their babies. This idea radically altered the outcomes for single mothers during this period. These practices persisted through 1972, when the number of domestic adoptions began to drop dramatically.”

“These homes, which were sometimes little more than reformatories, often used coercive practices such as shaming, blaming, and removing or withholding babies from new mothers to force adoptions. Mothers were then told to ‘go on with their lives’ as if nothing had happened. Obviously this was impossible for most of them.”

Franks-Morra said, “We demand acknowledgement of the historical truth surrounding past adoption practices in the United States. We demand recognition for the millions of women who were systematically denied their inalienable right to raise their infant sons and daughters.”

“The Baby Scoop Era has become a footnote in American social history, except to the mothers who survived these practices. These women have carried into their adult lives burdens of worry, grief, pain and a corrosive secret. The lifelong consequences of these forced adoptions are still operating in the lives of millions of American women.”

For more information, or email