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It was very well planned and organized and ran like clock-work showing LOTS and LOTS of hard work and effort that went into every details of it.
It was very well attended – more than 300 people and lots of press coverage including, I was told the NY Times. The majority of attendees appeared to be social workers and other adoption professionals, a good number of adoptive parents, Marley (photo), Pam Hasegawa, and a contingent of other “bastards,” Bobby Beavers and others from AAC, and the five of us from OriginsUSA (Claudia, Suz, Bernadette, in photo, and I) along with other mothers such as Brenda Romanchick who was on two panels, Anne Cauman, and a mother whose presentation I will describe, and a few others.
OriginsUSA got three new members on the spot! The first was the first person I met after registering: Rick Boas. Dr. Richard Boas, you might recall is an adoptive father who has made it his mission to help Korean women keep their babies. Dr. Boas was the recipient of the fist annual Family Preservation award. It was such a pleasure to meet this most compassion humanitarian! (Photo: Rick Boas and I)
I also met, for the first time in person, David Smolin, his wife Deseree, and the youngest of their eight children! They are on the same plane as Rick Boas – true humanitarians who are working to fight the corruption in adoption. There were several adoptive parents like the Smolins and Rick who discovered after adopting that their children had in fact been obtained through coercion or kidnapping and were horrified and are bound and determined to put an end to the wholesale selling of children to supply a demand. This was pretty much an accepted premise of all who attended.
The entire conference – from start to finish – was predicted on a very strong emphasis on FAMILY PRESERVATION and ADOPTION AS A LAST RESORT!!! Hearing Adam Pertman emphasize things like: “Poverty is NOT a reason for adoption” and every child deserves the right to remain in his/her original family and that family has a right to all of the resources and services possible to remain intact…was for me astonishing, empowering, almost dream-like! Ethica and Donaldson are on the exact same track as we are in OriginsUSA!
We made excellent contacts and did an enormous amount of networking. The Ethica folks are wonderful and eager to partner with us. We were told that the only complaints they got were that the conference was too “anti-adoption”!! Ethica and Donaldson board members were all very careful NOT to call expectant mothers birthmothers, and corrected those few speakers who were not up to speed on that explaining how coercive it is to use it in that way. They’ve come a long way, baby!!
There were many touching moments throughout the event, but the last general session and final keynote was one of the most moving. A mother in a contested custody case presented the story of how she signed a paragraph long statement giving a couple temporary custody of her son – and has been in litigation for three years while he remains with them! The audience got to hear and see the impact of bad domestic “adoption” practices first hand. It brought home the very real the fact that coercion is not just an international issue. A former school teacher, bright and articulate and shared her pain and agony, holding back tears, as she told of the courts violating the law because the “abducters” are related to the judge. She is well-spoken, courageous and our prayers are with her as she now has visitation with her precious son.
The only negative session was the one added the last minute – I think to attract the press. Representatives of UNICEF were subjected to an angry “crowd” of Guatemalan adopters whose prospective children were caught in the pipeline when Guatemala put a moratorium on adoptions. The self-righteousness palpable and the air thick with “entitlement” in that room as they spoke about “their” children needing to ‘come home’ and be “united” with their families.
The four of us: Bernadette, Claudia, Suz and I, spread out so that we covered almost every workshop. So even the ones that focused on the rights of adopters got our input! The worst one I attended was about APS right to medical information in which a physician gave a glimpse of the scientific future of adoption: DNA testing for all relinquishing mothers and from that they could predict all medical risks, thus not need us for that anymore. Also cord blood storing for stem cell regeneration in case of a need for bone marrow transplant or such. The goal is to make us totally unnecessary after birthing!
The closing round table session asked us to explore the following questions:
- If we could change thing one thing about adoption, what would it be
- If we could make one new law what would it be
- If we had unlimited funding what would we do with it
- How do we envision adoption in 2020
The consensus of everyone there was pretty much this:
- Open the records in all states (Adam P said that Donaldson has a big plan that will be announced soon in this regard)
- Get all corruption out of adoption – get out all the “bad apple” facilitators, and basically get all the money out of adoption
- Lots if education programs for EVERYONE about what adoption is REALLY like – dispelling ALL the myths about adoption and the people whose lives it touches
- Work toward finding homes for all children currently in foster care
- Prevent all future family disintegrations
- Eliminating falsified birth certificates and parental terminations
Basically – it sounded an awful lot like the conclusion to my book! Donaldson is going to take these suggestions as their road map for future planning.
Needless to say we all left feeling hopeful. Someone said it feels as if we have reached critical mass: the tipping point! I am still floating.
Oh, yes...and the piece de resistance for me: I was told that Sandra Hanks Benoiton, who slandered me on a.com, requested to attend the conference as a blogger and was refused because commercial bloggers were not allowed!!!
Watch these pages for MORE conference follow ups!