Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Adoption, Fire and Murder

Within a week - two gruesome cases:

One has made headlines around the nation because it involved a wealthy family in Connecticut...a mother and two teenaged daughters killed in a fire after a home invasion burglary.

It soon surfaced that one of two parolees who committed this atrocity, Joshua Komisarjevsky, 26, was adopted.
While this horror was unfolding and being digested, anther story hit the media:

William E. Wheeler was trapped inside his burning home on March 22, while his 16-year-old adoptive daughter, Codee, allegedly stood outside in the front yard "calmly" talking on her cell phone and waving away potential rescuers.

It has now been reported that in the first case, the adoptee perpetrator first learned he was adopted at the age of fourteen - exactly when his criminal career began. Komisarjevsky became a "cat burglar" breaking into homes close to his own in Cheshire.

If there is any doubt in anyone's mind that the connection between adoption, fire and murder is not as random as one would think, they need to read Adoption: Uncharted Waters by David Kirschner.

Kirschner contends that the most crucial part is the way children are told they are adopted. Obviously 14 was not the optimal time...and one wonders if it was said before or after he started "acting out" and how and why it was said.

Kirschner has appeared as expert witness in a number of murder cases and presented Adopted Child Syndrome on behalf of the defense for the trial and/or sentencing, as detailed in his book. He has intensively interviewed adoptee killers including some of the most notorious serial killers - a disproportionate number of whom wreadopted. They all reported strong feelings of abandonment.

The lits of serial killer adoptees includes: David (Son of Sam) Berkowitz, Joel Rifkin, Ken Bianchi (the Hillside Strangler), Eugene Gerald Stano. A list of adoptee killer, exlcuding the most recent is available at: www.geocities.com/Wellesley/9950/adoption_serialkillers.html

UPDATE 12/10/11: Joshua Komisarjevsky was sentenced to death. His "forever" adoptive parents were not present.  Now another young adopted man, Gabriel Hall is charged with murder and his "forever" adopters are not getting him an attorney or attending any of his hearings. 

Monday, July 23, 2007

Adoption Activism Takes to the Streets

1989: Kate Burke was president, Dirk Brown VP of the AAC and Joe Soll of CERA, which held a national conference in c NYC. Outside the Hotel Roosevelt, I organized street theater: Conference participants wrapped the Hotel Roosevelt (a full city block) in red tape to signify the bureaucracy that separates adoptees and their mothers. We then held a tape cutting ceremony.

That same year the AAC, CERA and Origins (NJ) held the first march to H.E.AL. to promote Honesty and Equality in Adoption Laws. Marchers walked from New York to Washington, D.C., and were joined by more than 500 supporters from all over the nation. The march rally and speak out were covered well by the media and officially began the AAC's existence as "a little known civil rights movement."

Right and above - the troopers who walked from NYC to Washington: Joe Soll (CERA) organizer, Sharon Bell (reunited mother from NJ, subsequently succumbed to cancer), Marilyn Burson (mother from Maryland reunited with a grave of her neglected infant son who fought with her last dying breath to have her son reburied with her, deceased), Judy Taylor (reunited mother from Conn.), Joyce Bahr (mother from NYC)...

They were joined by hundreds who crossed the bridge with them from Maryland into Washington for a Speak Out at the Lincoln memorial. As we marched we chanted: "What do we want? Open records When do want them? Now!"

Above (L to R): Mary Anne Cohen, Sherry Chait and Mirah Riben with the Origins quilt of patches for our kids.

Left: We broke the seal on a huge amended birth certificate.

L: Carol Gustavson, President, Adoptive Parents for Open Records.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

1987 in Adoption Reform History

In 1987 tragedy struck in NYC that reverberated around the world. A six-year-old named Lisa was abused and beaten to death by her attorney adoptive father while her adoptive mother stood by and did nothing. Seasoned NYC police officers said they had never seen a darker, filthier, drug-filled apartment or such horrendous abuse both to the child and the mother – who has multiple broken bones. Lying amidst the squalor was another child of 18 months, named Mitchell, tethered to a table leg with a filthy diaper and a bottle of rancid milk.

As the story of Lisa’s “illegal” adoption unfolded – of a mother betrayed by her obstetrician and a baby handed to two drug addicts, perhaps in exchange for drugs…and the years of abuse suffered by Lisa….the media couldn’t get enough of the story. It was the OJ Simpson case of the 80’s.

I was entranced from the beginning. All I could think of was: but for the grace of God. I knew with all my heart and soul that that could have been my daughter or any of our children who had been relinquished. My heart broke thinking of every mother wondering…and most of all for the one who knew it was her daughter.

I was angered, and anger is a fire that burns in me igniting me into action. I saw in this tragedy the need to scream to the world: "See – this is what secretive, private, unregulated adoptions can lead to!" And so, together with Joe Soll of Adoption Crossroads in NYC, I (with Origins-NJ) initiated a candlelight vigil from Lisa’s home in Greenwhich Village, NY to her public elementary school. We got what we sought: lots of press and TV coverage.

Perhaps more importantly, on a homan scale, I was succesful (details revealed in my book, The Stork Market) in reuniting the boy, named Mitchell with his family. It is the most rewarding search and reunion of thousands I have helped accomplish.

Newspaper coverage of our candlelight vigil.

Right: My then six-year-old daughter at the candlelight vigil. She was the same age as Lisa.

Tomorrow: 1989
Adoption Activism takes to the streets of NYC and Washington DC

The Year Was 1981...

There is a need to retell some adoption reform history that was lost because it was re-Internet...and because I have been asked: "What were 'you people' doing for 30 years? Why are things still so bad or worse?"

As many now know...CUB formed in 1976 by Lee Campbell. This history is available at: The Adoption History Project and is worthwhile recommended reading.

In 1980I was one of five co-founders of the NJ based group Origins: An organization for mothers who had lost children to adoption. Though we were all memebrs and supporters of CUB, we saw adoption as a woman's issue. We were baby-boomers who had lost our children during in the prior decade — the 60's when we were teens and young adults. Our children were now barley teens themselves, some still in grade school and we were filled with overwhelming pain to know there well-being.
Adoptees were searching, but many of us could not wait until our children found us...hearing of the pain not knowing during early adolescence had caused them. Some of us had medical information we wanted very much to give to share. In addition, we heard too often of children who remained in foster care, lived in one parent homes as a result of divorce or death of one of their adoptive parents... were abused or died in infancy. We could not just sit around and wait to be found, and then have them ask: "Why didn't you ever try to find me?"
And so began what came to be known as "minor search." It was very controversial even within the search and support movement. And the concerns were well-funded: it brought heat on all underground search operations. In 1981 Lucy Pare, one of the founders of Origins-NJ was set up by adoptive parents pretending to be birth parents.
This led to a Grand Jury investigation into illegal search and major TV news coverage, including an investigative series on NBC "Whose Child is It?" with promos of children on swings being stalked, by those ready to snatch them away...and repeated images of Lucy receiving money in a school yard like a drug dealer.

Rather than take it lying down and defensively, Origins-NJ called our own press conference and went on the offense telling our — hitherto unknown — side of the story. Joining us at our press conference was attorney Harold Cassidy who had led the battle for Mary Beth Whiteheads and outlawed paid surrogacy in New Jersey.

Just as we seek to have our children the "times" in which we relinquished, we need to all be compassionate of those of us who dared to speak out not long after those same times that deemed us powerless and vulnerable to being pressure to relinquish...no matter what we called ourselves!
We called ourselves birthmothers with "in-your-face" stand-up- and-be-counted pride, just as some adoptees call themselves bastards! It was better than what we had been called - or being ignored and kept totally invisible as had been the case prior. We went public in all our local newspapers for all our neighbors to see because we felt it was importna tto show the world the face of a birthmother...that we were no longer frightened teenagers or crack whores!

The following is the statement I read at the press conference held by Origins, NJ 1981, quoted on NBC and PBS news:

We have chosen to be here in Princeton on this day and at this time because we believe a Grand Jury investigation is about to commence here in the Criminal Justice building as a result of an investigation by the Attorney General's office. ORIGINS believes this investigation to be ill conceived and ill advised. We believe that the Attorney General's Office might make better use of their resources to investigate the inequities of the adoption system and to question whether the system really serves to solve any problems or simply creates new ones. The Attorney General's Office seems only to care that a law MAY have been broken, not about WHY it may have been broken. We hope to explain why at this press conference.
Adoption was originally created to find families for homeless orphans. It has changed over the years to meet the demands of childless married couples who can afford to pay thousands of dollars for healthy infants. ORIGINS believes that both private and public funds that are currently being spent to separate mothers and children sbould be spent instead in trying to find ways to protect and preserve this most precious unit: a mother and her child.
ORIGINS is a nationwide organization for women who have lost children to adoption. We were founded in order to recognize the unique emotional needs of birthmothers and to help them deal with their continuing guilt, anguish and concern for their lost children.
We surrendered our children not because they were unwanted or unloved, but because adoption was presented to us as the ONLY "loving I mature" option a single mother could take. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of birthmothers are neither "bag ladies or princesses" as many adoptees fantasize and the media would oft times have you believe. Rather, we are real, live human beings. We are the lady next door with all the kids, the executive, or your child's first grade school teacher. We did not abuse or abandon our children. We gave up our children as an act of love, believing that we could not provide an adequate home for them at that time and because we were pressured by family, social workers I clergy and society's mores.
Those of us who have continued to love and have concern for our lost children are tired of being presented as women living in shadows who desire protection and anonymity. We are all here today to show the world that we care more about the welfare of our children than our own protection and personal. safety. Those of us who care, likewise resent being presented as selfish threats to our children and their families if we wish to seek them.
While contact by the birthmother can be upsetting to adoptive parents, if such contacts are both made and received in a spirit of forgiveness, love and sensitivity they can present an opportunity for growth for all parties involved. Adoptive parents who are willing to communicate with birthmothers can further cement the loving connections they have established with their children by presenting them with the knowledge of their heritage. Nothing destroy a family built of trust, honesty and love. Birthparents recognize the adoptive parents as the "real" parents in every sense of the word. We are not seeking to regain custody of our children. To our knowledge, there has never been a reported case of a missing child in which a birthparent was even suspected, as has been suggested by notorious media reports such as the recent NBC news coverage of this case.
Birthparents who institute the search process are not intruding into the lives of their children and their families for selfish needs, but rather are making themselves available to alleviate the adoptees' inevitable fear of rejection. We do not regard our children as "property" to be stolen, fought over or owned. Nothing would be more tragic than birthmothers and adoptive parents to be at war with one another, when in fact we share the most precious bond—love and concern for the same child.
There are bad laws and good laws. In a free society, laws are what the people make them. ORIGINS believes that the laws surrounding adoption and sealed records are based on fear and ignorance. It is important to understand WHY people might choose to break bad laws in order to decide how and why the laws should be changed. As long as there are sealed records, adoptees and birthparents will use alternative methods to search for one another.
We believe it is UNCONSCIONABLE to deny ANY child access to his origins, and to ANY mother the right to confirm the well being of her surrendered child.
We admire and support courageous people like Lucy Pare for acting out of moral conviction. For us to face the injustices of adoption takes courage and causes pain to ourselves, but it is the only way to heal the wounds adoption has caused.

The following is the statement read by Harold Cassidy, attorney for Origins-NJ:

There is a need for US in society to learn to know the women who have come to call themselves "birthparents." They are women who know that a child is a part of his mother forever. They are women who know that separation can never sever the bond between them. They know what it means to love a child and to place the child's welfare above all else in life. They know the pain of wanting what is best for the child they love while society tells them that what is best is that they never see that child again. They know the ultimate act of love. They know the ultimate sacrifice. They know the neverending grief of being continually denied what every portion of their souls demands: the knowledge that their children are well.
We. as a society have perpetrated the cruelest deception. What we have believed to be altruistic has been, in reality, destructive. We have sought to create without any understanding of hew much we destroy in the process.
Birthparents now know that separating a mother and her child is not in the best interests of either of them. Their enormous sacrifice was based on society 's misconceptions. The adoptees' sense of rejection is the most painful irony of all: what was done out of love is mistaken for a lack of it.
For us to truly learn what a birthparent is, is to learn that we as a society are hypocritical. We urge surrender, then later rebuke it. We make laws that we purport to be for the welfare of our children, then ignore or suppress their pleas to satisfy the most fundamental and compelling need they have: to know their mothers.
What we must understand is that we have held imprisoned an important part of these women. They must be made whole again. This task will not be difficult when we understand who they are.
They are our mothers.
They are our sisters.
They are our daughters.
We have made them a sacrificed minority. We must have the courage to learn to know them and the pain that has been inflicted upon them. When we achieve this, we shall know that they act out of love, and we needn't fear them.

Tomorrow - History Lesson Part II: 1987 and the NYC candlelight vigil for Little Lisa.


Please click image to see it enlarged!

The image is of a collage I put together after copying surrender papers received through The BirthparentProject.org. All names are appropriately blacked out and this was a side project and did not use the original papers submitted - which were submitted for the goal of sharing with legislators to prove that one of our papers ever promised us anonymity. The BirthParentProject is alive and well and has had over 500 respondents to date and i am seeking a statistician to help analyze the results for publication.

Reading through these papers is quite enlightening. I have yet to find any promises made to us in exchange for our rights to ur children...only terms such as agreeing to "never interfere" in the lives of our children.

On our collective surrender papers - ranging from 1965 to 1990 - contain are phrases like "Out-of-Wedlock" "Unwed" and "Not Married; Never Married" making it perfectly clear the importance that legal status held for us in terms of acceptance or not of our being parents. In all of the papers mothers are mothers, while fathers are often "alleged" fathers. An interesting differences, again reflecting the patriarchal marriage law basis that in marriage, there is is never a question, but rather and assumption, that the mother's husband is the father - a situation being changed currently by DNA.

Wording of our "papers" — for those of us fortunate enough to have been given or been able to obtain copies — vary not just over time but also locale, as each state has its own laws and way of wording the relinquishment and consent to adopt. Most contained legal assurances that we "understood" what we were doing, which is in retrospect as accurate as a POW signing a confession of war crimes. How/why would any mother say that in recognition of her single status that she "willingly" preferred to turn her child over to the state or agency to do what it might with her child, "including, but not limited to adoption"? No sane, able mother would ever willingly have done such a thing had any of us truly understand that was what we were in fact signing and had any of us been given any other alternative.

Also interesting is that most recent papers in my possession, from 1990, identify the mother of the child as the "natural mother." Perhaps some pressure to separate her more with language, with an identifying adjective? One can just imagine the discussions that led to the compromise of "natural mother" - with some favoring birthmother or worse on those papers.

Please continue to spread the word about the BirthParentProject survey and encourage mothers to send me their papers!

While I have not seen it but hope to, I am told that one mother has hospital records stamped "OWNK: Out-of-Wedlock; Not-Keeping." I couldn't help thinking how convenient it was of them to come up with an acronym that sound like OINK...the sound of a PIG: Pregnant Indigent Girl. Of course, OWNK also stands for OWN Kid! As such, I think it's a name we should embrace, like adoptees embrace their bastardhood!

Power to the OWNKS!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sodomizing Adoptive Parent of the Year!

In the 1990s Jerry Wayne Love and his wife were named as adoptive parents of the year by the Madison County Department of Human of Resources.

Love, 51, is a minister but is not ordained by any church or religious group. He pleaded guilty in a plea deal Monday to three felony charges of first-degree sodomy in the repeated sexual abuse of three children he and his wife adopted. The boys are now are 13, 14 and 16. All three accused him.

Alabama Circuit Judge Karen Hall sentenced Jerry Wayne Love to 15 years on each charge to be served one after the other. If he had been convicted by a jury, Love could have been sentenced up to life in prison on nine of the felony charges. But she accepted prosecutors' recommendation and ordered Love to spend five years on probation and undergo treatment in a sex-offender program. In exchange, the prosecution dropped 10 counts of sodomy and three counts of sexual abuse against Love. The plea agreement spared the boys from having to testify.

The man ironically named "Love" must complete a sex-offender counseling program. He also must register as a sex offender under the community notification law.

No word of custody of the children.

Boycott Yielding Results!

No, the pro-adoption, pro-marketing adoption to "birthparents" website being boycotted is not folding and probably not likely to. Nor are their advertisers.

But there are baby steps I am happy to report.

Concerned United Birthparents (CUB) apparently received an untold number of "inquiries" as a result of "a question that Mirah Riben posed on her blog" regarding the boycott and the fact that CUB's VP and another board member were paid bloggers on that site. So troubling were these "inquiries" that CUB president, Margy McMorrow felt the need to address and defend them in the long-awaited issue of their newsletter, the Communicator, which became available on July 12, 2007.

The defense stated: "Our words need to be heard by those who are adopting today, those are the people who most need to hear what we have to say. They need to hear our truth, what we have personally experienced in the world of adoption....Change will not occur if we only talk to each other. Keeping it among ourselves isn't the answer. We need to reach out to people who disagree, who haven't a clue about the birthparent experience and that of our children. The messages of Jan and Heather are consistent with CUB's views. We support their activism."

First, I want to thank those who read here and raised the issues with CUB. Collectively our voices were heard!

Unfortunately, Margy did not check with the prime players before releasing this newsletter on 7/12/07 claiming that Jan and Heather were blogging there for higher motivation.

Just four days later - today - July 16, 2007, according to Jan Baker: "Heather is no longer blogging at" that site. Jan apparently "also resigned a few days ago and will blog till the end of the month." Jan is very clear to point out that neither of them left as a result of my raising the issue of conflict of interest. Both Heather and Jan have said that it was a lot of hard work producing the amount required and the pay very low.

I can understand that. While I have no quotas, I - and many others of us - do what we do for free...because we are doing what we believe in. Seems whatever higher values their blogging was intended to achieve was not worth their effort in the end in terms of time versus dollars and cents.

And so, while no one is willing to connect any dots...seems I raised an issue that caused CUB to feel a need to defend its actions, and lo and behold those who once blogged for blood-sucking baby brokers, claiming noble reasons for doing so, are no longer!

I call that a minor success no matter how its couched, and no matter what the stated reasons. Less $$ for the bad guys!

It is often hard to make choices. Sometimes good comes wrapped in evil and vice versa. Sometimes it is hard to step back and seethe bigger picture. In this case, is the good being done in reaching those who might an article placed on that site as opposed to elsewhere worth lining the pockets of baby brokers?

When we seek to decipher what seems a quagmire -- I use a simple rule of thiumb: follow the money! When is a noble cause not so noble, despite all of the protetstations and rationales to the contrary? Whenever money is involved!

I could easily accept advertising from Google on this blog and make a little cash. yes, i know it would likely "how-to-steal-a-baby- sites that would advertise, but according Margy McMorrow's logic, that might introduce "others" to this point of view. I prefer to keep the lines firm between them and us. ad not be an Uncle Tom, supporting those who profit from mothers' losses.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I write to day about the state of Family Preservation today: the good, bad and ugly.

The good news, that I am delighted to report is:
  • I have been invited to be keynote speaker at a conference in Australia, The White Stolen Generation, in Sydney in September 2008. While all plans have not as yet been finalized, I look forward to this opportunity. It has continued to be wonderful to see the international interest in my book, and Family Preservation.
  • I am a nominee to the board of OriginsUSA and look forward to a positive outcome of the elections next month and to working with a fabulous bunch of extremely bright, energetic and very positive women as we bring a new, broader vision to OriginsUSA.
  • Barbabra Basantz Raymond's book, The Baby Thief: The Untold Story Georgia Tann, the baby seller who corrupted adoption has been widely promoted and accepted. Barbara is a wonderful person and her book is an excellent contribution to the literature on adoption, particularly pointing out the roots of exploitation and baby stealing for profit.
The sad news is that:
  • While many "reformers" are reading about the tragic unnecessary separations of the past ala Georgia Tann, the legacy that she set into motion continues unbridled today. People like Maxine Buckmeier, of Adoption Insight, and her partner, Laurie Aragon, seem almost to reincarnate the ghost of Georgia Tann, carrying on the legacy of exploiting mothers and selling their babies for profit, regardless of outcome.
  • Masha was sold to a pedophile, Matthew Mancuso by Jeannene Smith through an Indiana-based agency called Families Thru International Adoption (FTIA). Smith, who has not commented on the case publicly, citing confidentiality laws, has since co-founded a lobbying group called Focus on Adoption, which lobbies on behalf of agencies that facilitate international adoptions.
  • The web site of Loretta Cooper, owner of Heart-Felt Adoption.com says: “I require $4,800 up front and a signed contract. In most occasions there will also be some pregnancy related support for each birthmother.”
  • Diane Hogan. Lil Snell, Ellen Roseman...while not all adoption facilitators are women (i.e. Artie Elgart and Adoption Network Law Center)...often, sadly, it seems to be women pitting rich women against poor and exploiting the poor.
There seems, in adoption, a great deal of woman's inhumanity to woman...and that leads me to "The Ugly." The dirty little secret that I hate to talk about about but must.

As if we didn't have enough cold-hearted "others" exploiting us, and profiting from the pain suffered by those who have their families unnecessarily torn apart, and rights denied...we seem to have no lack of in-fighting, still, within our own ranks.

Nasty power struggles within organizations seem part and parcel of growth of many organizations and adoption related ones are far form immune to this phenomenon, unfortunately. There those among us hell bent on allowing meanness, "bitchiness" and an inability to separate the personal from the "professional" and do what is best for the those issues we do share when there are differences of opinion on particular strategy and approaches to gain more or less the same goals...to stand in the way and take precedent over doing wha is right.

The need to be "right" and see "others" as wrong...and to act on hurt feelings to hurt others, and their work (and thus the movement as a whole) for spite or vengeance or jealousies...
Whether it is woman's inhumanity to woman or human nature or both, I am not sure but there always has existed this, competitive, spiteful, ugly side. And no matter how much of it I have witnessed in 40 years is still extrmeely distasteful and a tremendous waste of our energies when we have the NCFA and the likes of new Georgia Tann's every day to battle!

There are many bright, wonderful women crusaders among us and fortunately we far outnumber the few bad apples. We will survive individually and as a whole, as long as we isolate and alienate the bad apples amongst us and give them no power to spread their vile vindictiveness. Like a family unit, we as a movement will only be healthy and grow as long as we set and maintain healthy boundaries and not allow ourselves to be bullied by those who act out like children having temper tantrums because they didn't get "their way" and/or try to hurt or abuse us.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

It's Official!

Announcing the formation of

Parents and Professionals for Family Preservation and Protection


an international coalition of organizations and individuals
concerned with:

* global child trafficking for adoption

* exploitation of mothers and the commodification of children

* profiteering and lack of regulation in international and US domestic adoption

* rights of children and adults who have been adopted or relinquished

* support for mothers, fathers, emerging families, blood kin, and expectant mothers in crisis

* issues of family members separated by adoption

Monday, July 9, 2007


A Nashville based adoptive mothers group called Moms Alive, formed in 2002, in conjunction with Bethany Christian, has taken to the schools of Tennessee for the purpose of baby procurement..and has been doing so for the past five years. The group now visits 35 high schools in Middle Tennessee with its presentation.

Reported in the Tennessean on Feb. 23, 07 (available through their archives after registering and paying, not via link) the group quotes statistics of teen pregnancies and the "shocking" number of them who parent to get their foot in the door.

From their website:
Outside functions include Adoption Awareness Presentations, called the Adoption Option, at area high schools, colleges, universities, crisis pregnancy centers, etc., Please contact us if your organization is interested in learning more about The Adoption Option.
Their school presentations allegedly address "parenting and abortion, it's a third choice — adoption — they particularly stress in an attempt to clear away the stigma and misinformation they say have plagued it"....the "it" being adoption, which just coincidently benefits them and their friends and relatives. I am also curious how they are allowed to discuss abortion int he schools?

"Tammy Delle, executive director of Bethany Christian Services of Nashville, is effusive about the outreach efforts of Moms ALIVE. The adoption agency frequently partners with Moms ALIVE by providing an adoption counselor at many of the presentations." Tammy says: "It is awesome that they do that. There is so much information out there about abortion. There's information about how to get resources to parents, but these teenagers have no information about adoption."

Also presenting with them is one of their prime examples of a teen who "chose" adoption after hearing them speak.

"I would not have chosen adoption if it had not been for the Moms ALIVE presentation," Christine Bowersox says. "I know that for a fact because I didn't know anyone else that had chosen adoption or even that had adopted. I thought adoption was an orphanage, and I could never do that." Christine got to "handpick" the parents of hr child and has the "opportunity" "to pursue direct contact."

I sure hope we can find a mother from Tennessee to tell a different side of the story...or get them banned from the schools entirely.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Boycott Clarification and Update

The following clarifies, updates and supersedes the post of

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Parents and Professionals for Family Preservation and Protection supports a boycott of adoption.com and any and all websites, agencies, organizations, businesses, polices and practices that promote and encourage family separation for profit.

Owned and operated by Natahan Gwillaim, this website operates and supports advertisers that promote and encourage family separations and which "aggressively market" to expectant mothers they refer to as "birthmothers."

Just like legalized abandonment via so-called "Safe Havens" and Putative Father Registries, the above named website operates in a manner that is in direct opposition to, and violates all principles of family preservation and ethical adoption practices.

We are are not "joining with" potentialparents.com or any other website, organization, business, or agency whose policies or practices we are opposed to.

We hope that all who honor the rights of children and families will join in putting an end to practices which exist not to protect interest of families and children, but to exploit their resourcelessness and powerlessness for profit.

Thursday, July 5, 2007


by Mirah Riben

Rickie Solinger’s Wake Up Little Susie helped many a mother who surrender a child to adoptio, such as myself, put our personal experiences into larger historical and sociological backdrop, lightening for many of us the heavy burden of guilt, shame and personal responsibility we carried was lightened.
Beggars and Choosers gave us yet a stronger voice, allowing mother after mother to speak in her own voice, as well as her scathing views on the exploitation of poor women in foreign countries to supply the demands of American and European adopters…continue to endear her to the mothers for whom she speaks. It is no wonder this historian of adoption (as it relates to parenting “choices”) has been an honored keynote speaker at several adoption conference.

Yet, interestingly, online reviewers of Beggars and Choosers focused solely on Solinger’s choice vs. rights argument nearly ignoring the adoption aspect leaving questions regarding where Solinger stands on: adoptee rights, which are being stymied by the alleged right of mothers to privacy.
Solinger graciously accepted my invitation to interview her on these issues and I am very appreciative for her taking the time and for being very frank and forthcoming in her answers, a transcript of which follows.

M.R.: In saying that “adoption only exists on the backs of resourceless women” regarding adoption’s exploitation of women…would you say that it pits women against one another? The haves and the have-nots? Takers and losers?
R.S.: When I say that adoption exists on the backs of resourceless women, I am underscoring the class dimension of adoption, and also the racial and gender aspects – the conditions which make groups of women, some in this country and many others around the world, profoundly vulnerable to losing their children. I want to underscore that adoption, as a social practice, absolutely depends on the existence of groups of women rendered deeply vulnerable most essentially today because of their poverty.
When adoption first emerged as a legitimate social practice in the postwar era, it was constructed on the backs of white, American girls and women rendered fatally vulnerability by their publicly visible association with premarital sex and pregnancy. The association defined this group of girls and women as resourceless –that is, defined them as lacking resources females needed at that time to claim maternity, such as the protection and recognition of relatives and community authorities as well as the right to decide for themselves whether or not to be the mothers of the children they gave birth to.
The experiences of white “unwed mothers” in the postwar era illuminates a mechanism for defining a source of babies that can be transferred from resourceless women to women with resources, that is, identifying a source for babies who can be adopted. The basis of resourcelessness for girls and women in the U.S. and around the world has changed since the postwar decades, but the necessary conditions for adoption have remained the same. For adoption to take place, there must be groups of women who are so profoundly resourceless that they cannot claim or protect their status as mothers of their own children.

M.R.: How has positing this position affected your relationships with other feminists and peers?
R.S.: Asserting this position has been central to establishing my status as a prominent feminist historian. My books and articles, which make this argument regarding adoption – and other matters related to the class and racialized qualifications for “legitimate” maternity in the US – are regularly assigned in Women’s History and Women’s Studies courses in colleges and universities around the country. I am invited to speak on a number of campuses each year. I have curated related exhibitions (“Wake Up Little Susie: Pregnancy and Power before Roe v. Wade” and “Beggars and Choosers: Motherhood is Not a Class Privilege in America”) that together have been hosted by over 70 college and university galleries. Each year I encounter a richer and heftier body of legal and scholarly literature that comports with – and extends – this fundamentally feminist perspective on adoption and related issues.
For example, a major academic/legal/activist conference called “Reproductive Justice for All,” was held at Smith College in November 2005. The participants from all over the country at this huge conference, many of them prominent academics and others, generally accepted the proposition that adoption is a feminist issue, that is, an issue that engages fundamental issues about reproductive rights, reproductive dignity, the right to be a mother, and related matters.

M.R.: If you, as a feminist, see adoption as exploitive to women, why do you think this position is not more widely supported by the majority of feminists? And, how do you suggest the tide could turn to get more support from feminists to see that adoption exploits resourceless women?
R.S.: As I have said many times, I do not accept the proposition that “most” “feminists” do not believe that adoption is a feminist issue. This is not to say that I disbelieve the experiences that many “birthmothers” report, in which “feminists” and other women dismiss the horrors of adoption and deny adoption as a women’s or feminist issue, deny the exploitative nature of adoption, and so forth. I believe those stories.
But I am personally aware of many feminists – prominent feminists – who “get it.” I absolutely believe that, for a number of reasons, since the emergence of adoption as a “solution” to problems of female un-chastity and family formation, the practice has been presented to and received by the public as a matter of “child rescue.” The source of “adoptable” babies – resourceless women – has always been eclipsed or effaced. The media and public policy and other opinion-builders have invariably/relentlessly conditioned Americans to “see” the baby and “overlook” the woman who gives birth to this baby. It will surely take a couple of generations to change this picture, foregrounding the woman, and making the right to be a mother – even for poor and otherwise resourceless women, here and abroad—a legitimate reproductive right.
Reproductive rights, including the right to be a mother, the right not to be a mother, the right to prevent pregnancy, and other forms of reproductive self-determination, have been very hard for women to secure in the United States. I humbly recommend my new book Pregnancy and Power: A Short History of Reproductive Politics in America (2005), for those who want to understand the complex meanings of “reproductive rights,” why the right to be a mother – and to right of women to command the resources they need to resist adoption— must be counted as one of those rights, and why these rights have been so profoundly difficult to secure.

M.R.: Feeling as you do about adoption being exploitive, would you classify yourself as “anti-adoption”? Or, do you think the corruption and commercialization of adoption can be remedied, and if so, what do you suggest to accomplish that?
R.S.: As long as the really vast majority of adoptions in the U.S. and in other rich countries depend on transferring babies away from the poorest women in the United States and around the world to much richer women or families, I am “anti-adoption” because adoption is a damaging and dangerous social practice. Most fundamentally, adoption justifies the idea – and justifies supporting public policies ensuring – that motherhood should be a class privilege, reserved for women who have enough money, an attitude that endangers the maternity of millions of women, here and around the world. The practice of adoption depends on a perspective regarding maternity that says, motherhood is not a biological status. Motherhood is not an affective status. Motherhood is an economic status, or a status defined by “adequate resources.” Who decides what’s “adequate”? How does this attitude toward “Who is a legitimate mother?” comport with the values of a democracy?

M.R.: Since the publication of “Wake Up”, you have become a fairly regular speaker at adoption reform conferences, where the major theme is the unsealing of adoption records and restoration the rights of adult adoptees. Yet, you have been criticized for not taking into account the feelings of adoptees:

The birth parents profiled in the adoption chapter had given up their children mostly in the 50’s and 60’s when being a single mother was not acceptable. Many of these women tried to find their birth children through private detectives. Solinger interviewed them to find out how the reunion went, but did not interview a single child. The children’s desires and rights were not even mentioned. She continues this indifference throughout the last two sections.
Jessa Crispin, BookSlut reviewing Beggars and Choosers

[I would like to interject here that it is hard to believe that Ms. Crispin, or anyone else who holds this position, actually read Beggars and Coosers: How politics of choice shapes adoption, abortion and welfare in the United States. The title alone makes it obvious this is a book that focuses – as does all of Solinger’s work – on mothers and motherhood, rather than the “rights and desires” of their children. Yet, Solbner speaks of Florence Fisher and the pain she felt reading about the “Baby Lenore” DeMartino/Scarpetta case of the 70’s, and goes into ALMA’s mission and how its membership grew to a national registry of 340,000 by 1982. Does this not say something about the independent rights of our adopted children to their roots?]
R.S.: I’m not aware that I’m criticized very much for this aspect of my work. I am a historian of women, of reproductive politics. I never claim to be a historian of other subjects, including the full arena of adoption, including the experiences of adoptees.
It’s tempting for a reader to want the writer to address “her” issue, but I feel totally committed to my subjects – women, motherhood, reproductive politics, poverty, poverty policy – and confident about my consistent attention to the issues that I set out to explore.
I am not, by the way, a “fairly regular speaker” at adoption-related forums. For some years after “Wake Up Little Susie” was published, I was often asked to participate in these conference, especially CUB-related meetings. When I decided to include two chapters about CUB in “Beggars and Choosers” because I thought some CUB members were brilliantly able to articulate the reproductive-politics aspects of their adoption-related exploitation, and because I thought that the foundational principles of that organization, as I understood them, really captured the issues, I continued to attend that group’s meetings. Since “Beggars and Choosers” was published, however, I have rarely attended adoption-related meetings, and I don’t actually think of myself as a scholar of adoption-related matters.

M.R.: Where do you stand on the issue of open records for adult adoptees?
R.S.: I don’t really have an “official” position, nor have I adequately followed the various ideological and public policy debates – but, having said that, I support open records.

M.R.: Do you believe that mothers have a right to privacy and if so, do their rights supersede the rights of adoptees to their birth records? Do you feel that a woman’s reproductive rights or choices extend long after pregnancy and delivery and thus she has a right to protect herself from discovery, and hide her “shameful” past?
R.S.: Again, we are moving here outside of my areas of expertise. I don’t want to position myself as an authority in this area. Again, having said that, my interest is in women’s history and women’s issues. I have not personally encountered women who want to hide their “shameful” past. The women I’ve been exposed to are claiming a right to dignity and to self-determination, and a right to their past, including the right to know the children they lost because of their vulnerability and resourcelessness. I haven’t met women who use the concept of “privacy” as a synonym for “secrecy,” although I am aware that some organizations and individuals are attempting, mostly for reasons I don’t understand, to conflate these terms. I suspect that the bogus “privacy” argument is an often unrecognized attempt to keep the notion of female “shame”— associated with sexual “misbehavior” – vibrant and meaningful.

M.R.: Do you believe that the majority of women want to raise the child they carry to term or abort it, and that women only “chose” adoption when they have no other choices and/or are pressured or coerced overtly or covertly? What of women who are unfit or unable to raise their children?
R.S.: I am completely convinced that most women who lose to adoption today do so because of poverty and/or other forms of profound social resourcelessness. If transferred babies came, roughly equally, from women of all or most socio-economic classes, then I am sure I would have a different attitude toward adoption. As it is, the very high correlation between adoption and maternal poverty forces me to understand this practice as a form of class exploitation.
There are women in every social/economic class who are “unfit” to be mothers. The only ones who lose their children today because of their “unfitness” are the poor ones.

M.R.: What are your opinions on international adoption? Should it banned totally? Banded until, if ever, the US ratifies the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?
R.S.: I am a historian. I feel much more comfortable writing and thinking about the past than I feel about making contemporary public policy recommendations. I have indicated, in answers to almost all the questions here, that I deeply disapprove of the practice of taking babies from the poorest women on earth so that people in the richer countries can make “families.” This will be a very, very difficult practice to alter because Americans are largely convinced that international adoption is generally a perfect example of “child rescue.” Most Americans are comfortable believing that there is no contest – a white professional couple in Boston, for example, will surely make better parents and give a Columbian child a vastly better life than the child’s destitute mother in Bogata. And so on. Again, the practice of international adoption reinforces the idea that motherhood should be a class – and race – and national privilege, and the best mothers are the rich ones in North American and Western Europe. And again, this idea spells danger for women around the globe.

M.R.: Anything else you’d like to add?
R.S.: I'm going to tell you one more thing, Mirah, for your "readers": as long as your constituency sees its particular traumatic experience -- adoption -- as singular and unique, and refuses to imagine connections and associations with other women whose reproductive autonomy has been differently but also profoundly compromised, then people in the adoption arena will continue to be isolated among themselves and their distance from "feminist" and other women and people concerned about a woman's right to be a mother will stay in place.
Which is more awful and traumatic -- a "coerced adoption," managed by adult authorities against the expressed intentions of a woman who has just given birth? Or the sale of an enslaved baby away from its enslaved mother in 19th century America? Are these events similar? comparable? Does the 20th or 21st century mother have something to learn by thinking about the 19th century mother? Why have I never heard a person in the adoption arena raise this comparison?
Have "feminists" been narrow-minded alone? Or is the person harmed by adoption often fatally narrow-minded as well ? I have never ever thought to ask that question before. But your questions and their singular perspective have pushed me to ask it….. I hope you think this question above is productive.

Solinger’s point is well-meaning and well taken, and I think she has done an excellent job of placing our issues in this broader context for us, and that is welcome help. In going back and re-reading Beggars Solinger selected quotes from Lee Campbell, and Carole Anderson (founder and early president of CUB, respectively) in which they compare themselves to the women’s rights and civil rights movement. While single parenthood and adoption/relinquishment issues go hand in hand, our other hand is also grasping adoptee rights issues. I see myself, as a crusader following in the footsteps of mothers’ movements such as The Mothers of the Disappeared, or Gold Star Mothers for Peace, in that these are mothers who loss children and didn’t want others to suffer the same loss. We, and our issues, seem to overlap several paradigms and gratefully welcome support from any and all, such as that which comes from Ms. Solinger, as our issues fall clearly within the realm of her area of expertise. Subsequent to this interview, Ms. Solinger added in an email to me: "I do favor open records, as I think I wrote to you."

A version of this interview appeared in the CUB Communicator, Spring 2006

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Adoption Network Law Center

Adoption Network Law Center is one of the largest adoption.com advertisers.

They proudly boast:
Aggressive Birthmother Outreach Helping You Find A Beautiful Newborn Baby..."

We are results driven!

Unlike many state-regulated adoption agencies, we are not confined by stringent state-mandated budget restrictions. This means we can advertise and market more aggressively to find the right child for you quicker.

In fact, on average we are able to match families for you within 4 months when, according to National Adoption Information Clearinghouse the industry-standard for adoptions is anywhere from 1 to 5 years!!! Click here to view our adoption testimonials.

Looking for your perfect baby?

We can help you find and adopt a newborn baby to fulfill your dreams of parenting.

Here Is How We will Help You Find A Baby To Adopt:

  • Maternity Homes
  • Family Planning Clinics
  • Crisis Pregnancy Clinics
  • Hospitals and Medical Clinics
  • Teen Pregnancy Programs
  • Church Groups
  • Chat Rooms
  • Civic Organizations
  • Abortion Clinics
  • Bulletin Boards
  • Pregnancy Hotlines
  • Physicians
  • Community Referrals
  • Social Workers
  • High Schools, Colleges and Universities

Building strong relationships with birthmothers to ensure that both parties involved in the adoption are completely aware of their options and obligations.

With a track record like that, it is no wonder hundreds of families turn to us each year to help realize their adoption dreams.

Get assistance with your adoption plan with a free no obligation consultation. Contact us today by calling toll free 1-800-367-2367 or click here to use our convenient contact form.

CALL FOR ACTION: Help Masha Allen


You may recall the horrible case of Masha, adopted from Russia and placed in the home of pedophile, Matthew Mancuso - who never even has a room for her.

She suffered years of sexual abuse at his hands and was rescued in an FBI sting that tracked videos of her on the Internet.

Masha has bravely spoken out to help children tell someone of their abuse even as she continues to be abused because her pictures remain on the Internet.

But it doesn't end there. Now anther prevert and notorious child pornographer Peter Sotos is releasing a book called Show Adult.

According to Defeat Judge Cheryl Allen:

Sotos, who is the first person in the United States convicted of child pornography, advertises the book as "a violent new work which goes beyond pornography to investigate the very experience of pornography itself."
Show Adult is composed of two film-scripts, the first about editing and content, the second concerned with acting, direction, and instructions/vanity. Sotos, who considers Masha Allen "a child porn star," reportedly devotes a large portion of the book to her past, present and future exploitation.
Masha Allen is the only living victim of child pornography Sotos has written about. The author is silent about whether or not he obtained the legal rights to Masha Allen's story or the use of her name and likeness in advertising the book. Such unauthorized use is actionable under the New York Civil Rights law which permits an injunction on publication and monetary damages.
Also explored in his book according to Sotos' own description are: "murder victim Carlie Brucie and her prostitute mother Susan Schorpen, and the infant-raping babysitters Alan Webster and Tanya French."

Amazon and Barnes and Noble are accepting pre-orders for this book. You are urged to contact both sites and encourage them to boycott sales of this book.

Additionally, please contact Judge
Cheryl Allen, 305 Courthouse
436 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, Phone 412.350.0277

Since 2004, Judge Allen has sat in Criminal Court and is currently a Republican candidate for the Pennsylvania Superior Court. Judge Allen helped to create programs such as the Birth Parent Mentoring Program which helps young single mothers manage their children and families, avoiding involvement in the Juvenile Court system, but has also been hard on mothers custody.

Most relevant is that Judge Allen is Masha's adoptive grandmother via her second placement, and as such should be in the forefront of efforts to boycott sales of this book.

The connection is through a woman named Faith. Judge Allen, who had taken in foster children, learned of Faith in through her church. The 21-year-old woman had stopped eating, dropping to 70 pounds before getting treatment for anorexia at the Peniel Center in Johnstown. Her childhood had been destroyed by an alcoholic and physically abusive mother and a sexually predatory step-father, followed by four foster homes at least one of which was also abusive.

Some months after moving in with the Judge, the woman changed her name to Faith Allen and follow in the Judge's footsteps taking in foster children. Faith seemed to be recovering. "Still, Allen worried when Faith decided to get certified as a foster parent because so many abused children end up as abusers."

Yet she did go on to foster children and one was 11-year-old Masha, after her removal from Mancuso, who Faith renamed Mea and adopted. Mea is Masha Elizabeth Allen. Faith has appeared on Oprah and ABC News and everywhere with Masha/Mea and spoken about Judge Allen. Masha also appeared on WESH in Orlando.

Masha's Law to triple civil penalties for anyone who downloads child pornography off the Internet, raising it from $50,000 to $150,000 has been passed. The penalty for downloading child pornography is nowat least equal the penalty for illegally downloading a song from the Internet and allows victims to receive damages once they become adults even if their childhood images are still being downloaded. Masha aka Mea Allen helped this to happen...

MASHA needs our help to stop being abused!

RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

Russi Today: America television Interview 4/16/10 Regarding the Return of Artyem, 7, to Russia alone

RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

Korean Birthmothers Protest to End Adoption

Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss

Who Am I?

Bitter Winds

Adoption and Truth Video

Adoption Truth

Birthparents Never Forget