Origins-USA is one of few organizations advocating to stop adoption coercion. In April, we organized a "Blogger Blitz" to build support for Stephanie Bennett, a young mother who was recently coerced into surrendering her daughter for adoption. We also issued two press releases about our support for Stephanie, when no other organizations would support her. Although Stephanie and baby Evelyn are still apart, our efforts helped increase public awareness of coercive adoption practices. As a result, Origins-USA was contacted by People
Magazine about a potential story on the issue.
In September, an Origins-USA press release led directly to Jayni Anderson being reunited with her sons who had been separated by adoption for nearly three decades. Her son Joshua told Origins-USA: “I have to tell you that I am very grateful for organizations like yours, for if this story had never occurred, I would never have met her. Thank you so much.”
During Adoption BEWAREness Month (November), we were especially busy, educating the public about the need to “beware” of family separation and adoption. Five Origins-USA representatives participated in the Adoption Ethics conference in Arlington, Virginia. Before the conference, PR Chair/board member Mirah Riben wrote a letter to the sponsoring organizations that resulted in them revising the language in the conference program and removing terms that were offensive to mothers. Mirah also presented at the conference, speaking about “Alternative Routes to Permanency: Is Adoption Always the Best Option?". Three Origins-USA mothers--Mirah, Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy, and Suz Bednarz--discussed their blogs at the "Meet the Bloggers" reception.
Our intern, Emily Ryan, and I also attended. Throughout the conference sessions, the Origins-USA contingent frequently stood up and voiced our opinions and experiences as mothers who lost children to adoption. Although it was emotional at times, we reminded ourselves of Maggie Kuhn's words, "Speak your mind, even when your voice shakes." We displayed and handed out Origins-USA brochures and membership applications, and four people I met or talked with at the event soon joined as members.
We were pleased to find that conference attendees frequently agreed with our ideas. Subsequently, Ethica wrote a letter of support for the mission and goals of Origins-USA, after board members from the two organizations met and talked at the event. The Adoption Ethics conference was just one of many times that Origins-USA represented the voice of mothers during the year. In July, Vice President Sandy Young gave a one-hour presentation about Origins-USA and our mission to a group of about 20 community activists at a meeting sponsored by St. Mary's University in San Antonio. In February, Claudia appeared as guest on the Montel Williams show, discussing her views as an activist for natural family preservation. Claudia also spoke about "Universal Motherhood, Universal Loss" at the Korean American Adoptive Family Network conference in July. In March, I discussed the results of the recent Origins-USA's study of adoption coercion and the effects of adoption separation on mothers at the American Adoption Congress (AAC) conference.
We also worked to help keep families together. This summer, Sandy assisted in organizing a Teen Mothers' Conference, to show high school students that they CAN continue their education, even with a baby. To provide an alternative to adoption-industry marketing, we produced a booklet for expectant mothers on the “Realities of Adoption” and compiled a growing list of resources on sources of assistance for expectant parents and mothers.
During Adoption BEWAREness Month, we were also busy educating the public and helping families separated by adoption by hosting or co-hosting 8 RegDay sites in 6 states, resulting in four newspaper articles about adoption separation issues and Origins-USA. Sandy exhibited about Origins-USA at the Adoption Knowledge Affiliate’s 15th annual conference on adoption in Austin. We also released our first video on YouTube, "Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss." I was interviewed on two adoption-related radio programs.
Mirah wrote an article on "Adoption and the Role of the Religious Right" that was published on CounterCurrents.org. Claudia wrote an article for DivineCaroline.com titled "The National Council for Adoption: Mothers, Money, Marketing, and Madness." We also had a few letters to the editor published in newspapers. In December, Adoption Today magazine published a cover story article by Claudia about her experiences losing her son to adoption.
2007 was also the year we held our first election and Annual Meeting for members, became incorporated, obtained 501(c)(3) non-profit status, and began our newsletter. We nearly doubled our membership, to over 80 members in 21 states, with a total of nearly 150 people on our email list.
Also this year, we developed our positions on many key issues in Position Papers. We advocated for our positions by sending letters to legislators and issuing press releases and Action Alerts on proposed legislation, including the Kinship Caregivers Support Act and an ill-conceived proposal to honor women who surrender their children to adoption.
To help guide our work for 2008 and beyond, we recently emailed a member survey to all members. Please complete it if you have not already. We will share the results in January. The Board and Committee Chairs will use the results to help plan the future of Origins-USA and ensure that we remain responsive to members.
After a brief break for the holidays, the Board and Committee Chairs will travel, at our own expense, to Texas to meet in person for our very first two-day Retreat and Strategic Planning Meeting. We will come back even more invigorated with even more ideas to grow Origins-USA and further our goals of keeping families together, ending corruption and exploitation in adoption, promoting healing for family members separated by adoption, and seeking justice for those injured by illegal and unscrupulous adoption practices. We will send out a report of our plans and, as always, ask you to dig deep and help us finance all of our projects to help keep mothers and their babies together and support families separated by adoption.
I wish you a wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year.
Yours in family preservation,
Bernadette Wright President, Origins-USA
** What has YOUR adoption related group done recently...or ever? **