Monday, October 27, 2008
Adoption Today Oct/Nov 2008(pages 58-59).
“The Stork Market: America’s multi-billion dollar unregulated adoption industry,” Mirah Riben, Advocate Publications, 2007
The Stork Market is not an easy read, whatever your perspective on adoption. Chances are you will squirm, gasp and shake your head in disbelief (as I did). Then, you will likely come to realize that this book is an important addition to the body of adoption literature — in fact, a must-read for every mother who is considering surrendering a child, every couple seeking to adopt, and every adoption professional and legislator in the United States.
You won’t find a more straightforward account of the adoption industry as it exists today. Concise, well researched and documented, The Stork Market offers a comprehensive history of current adoption practices, including the lack of regulations (no requirements for training, licensing and reporting) for agencies and facilitators in 47 of our 50 states, transgressions committed against both natural mothers and adopting parents (including recognizable names like Georgia Tann and Seymour Kurtz), varying international adoption policies, trends toward rushing mothers into the decision to surrender, unenforceable open adoption agreements, safe havens, foster care, and sealed records.
Mirah Riben’s conclusion (a view shared by Origins-USA, on whose board of directors she serves) is that family preservation is the answer — with kinship adoption and legal guardianship as viable alternatives to adoption by strangers, the end to amended birth certificates, enforcement of open adoption agreements, and a greater focus on finding families for older children in foster care.
“It is far easier for the general public to identify and empathize with the plight of someone who desires to be a parent and cannot, than with expectant mothers needing support,” Riben writes. Many in the media “lament the ‘shame’ of the lack of ‘adoptable’ babies, and describe painfully desperate attempts to adopt and ‘deserving’ couples being forced to endure long waiting periods, traveling overseas and/or paying exorbitant fees, and being victimized by scammers. What is overlooked is that the intended purpose of adoption is not to fix infertility but to find homes for children whose families cannot raise them.”
After reading The Stork Market, I believe family preservation is an aim worthy of our consideration and effort. At the very least, major reforms are in order. Riben (along with Evelyn Robinson, a social worker, author and speaker on the long-term outcomes of adoption separation, who has lived and worked in Australia since 1982 and wrote the book’s foreword) cites Australia’s Children’s Protection Act of 1993, an adoption alternative model based on the best interests of children that might well provide a road map for changes here in America. The act makes private adoption illegal, bans commercial adoption agencies and payments of any kind connected to adoptions, encourages and supports expectant mothers in raising their children, requires counseling after birth at least three days prior to consent for adoption, prohibits consent for adoption until the child is at least fourteen days old, and includes the names of both the natural and adoptive parents on the birth/adoption certificate.
Change of this magnitude takes years. In the meantime, The Stork Market provides vital information on mothers’ and fathers’ rights and how adoptive parents can avoid being victimized by unscrupulous agencies and facilitators.
“Adoption is a very personally and emotionally charged issue for those touched by it,” Riben acknowledges. “Few can think about or discuss it without passion. For that reason, this may be a difficult or painful book for some to read. It may make you sad, it may shock you, or it may make you angry. But it is for just these reasons that you might need to read it.”
I hope you do.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
All the Guy Ritchie/ Madonna divorce rumors have been confirmed. It's official.
So...while in the process of trying to take yet another Malawian child from her family... sweet, pure Kabalah- following songstress who still struts half naked for crowd at 50...
has been committing adultery!
This was Guy Ritchie's first marriage, and it is alleged he requested no pre-nup. He's 40, but even that ten year edge couldn't help him keep up with her veracious appetite for men, things and kids! A-Rod is just 33 and far more athletic -- and darker skinned. Maybe he can keep her happy for a couple o' years.
Maybe... Madonna, but he's got a lot to be compared with. The Diva has been "romantically" linked with: John Kennedy Jr., Warren Beatty, Lenny Kravitz, Sandra Bernhard, Vanilla Ice, Dennis Rodman, and magician David Blaine. Not to mention Guy Ritchie and Sean Penn to whom Madonna - aka Louise Veronica Ciccone: August 16, 1958 in Bay City, Michigan - married in Malibu, California, on August 16, 1985 in a very public wedding. The marriage lasted four years and ended in divorce on September 14, 1989.
Well, this time she made it 8 years...officially...however, in 2005, Madonna revealed that she had thought about divorce, but instead the couple adopted David Banda, from Malawi.
Though the superstar couple's marriage looked finished in the summer when Madonna was spotted with New York Yankees baseball star Alex Rodriguez, Madonna, apparently had wanted to wait until the end of her latest world tour before announcing the split.
And judging from her body-builder looking muscles in photos of her latest tour, she and A-Rod may have been sharing more than bodily fluids - perhaps a steroid cocktail or two?
Though I feel sorry for her kids (for so many reasons), I for one have prayed for this announcement in the hopes it will put an end to her quest to take yet another child away from her family and add it to this circus. Can anyone translate adulterous slut into Malawian and get them the word? David Banda's father had said he beleived her to be a "good Christian" woman. Yeah right!
Why in heaven's name would a child be taken from family - and given to strangers of another race - when there is extended family begging to care for them?
Why is CAROLLYNN SMITH, 63, a grandmother who has proven herself a more than capable of parenting of five of their siblings having to battle to even SEE two of her grandchildren?
This is sheer insanity on the part of state bureaucrats who punch some formula into a computer and decide that Smith is too old and single instead of seeing the humanity and common sense involved.
As a result of Smith's persistence and picketing, community organizers and neighborhood activists have now joined her in her pursuit of justice for Kofi and C'Lynn.
Jan Meskimen, a retired Portland Public Schools teacher who was among the first in Oregon to adopt inter-racially. Having raised an African American daughter and granddaughter through adoption (Meskimen is white), she said she knows how difficult it is for African American kids adopted by white families.
"She needs to get her grandkids," said Meskimen. "Because you can love other people's children, love them all you want, but that biological connection, the heritage and culture, it binds them all together. The other kids need to be part of that."Smith agrees saying she not prejudiced, but "I feel like family should be with family. Blood should be with blood."
That families should be with families - who want them and can care fr them should be the first LAW of good social work! It is a moral imperative! To not do so in unconscionable as stated by Garren, a family therapist who worked as a children's social worker in South Central Los Angeles for three years before coming to Portland in 2005, is concerned about Smith's situation and is hoping to draw attention to it.
"If you want to create homeless people and drug addicts, you cause this kind of trauma in their early childhood," says Garren. "The kids are already living with strangers, and wondering why they can't see grandma. The fact that the department could not only arrange but basically encourage and support a situation like this is unconscionable."
Time is running out
If you live in Oregon please join the campaign by writing letters to the editor in your state to bring Kofi and C'Lynn's HOME to their loving, caring FAMILY!
Sunday, October 12, 2008
It's a new movie based on a true story of a missing child in th 1920s. Synopsis: “A mother’s prayer for her kidnapped son to return home is answered, though it doesn’t take long for her to suspect the boy who comes back is not hers.”
"To find her son, she did what no one else dared."
Changeling is directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Angelina Jolie...the woman who "collects" children.
Watch the preview and hear Angelina Jolie scream: "I want my son back!"
Hear her say: "I know my son my son is out there...I can still feel him."
I understand that acting is acting...but does she make no connection whatsoever between the emotions she is portraying in this distraught mother and the mothers of the children she has "bought"?
Sunday, October 5, 2008
When two children -- two adopted children -- end up dead in a block of ice hidden in their mother's freezer, the entire child welfare apparatus flies into a panic.
Almost immediately after the news broke about the gruesome case of Renee Bowman and her children, D.C. social workers braced for another round of outraged cries for heads to roll. called a news conference to say that the city had done no wrong (the family lived in , but the children had been adopted in the District). The Baltimore-based agency that cleared to adopt dropped into a defensive crouch from which it has yet to emerge. And
It sure looks like someone messed up. You might think that the people charged with investigating Bowman before she adopted one child in 2001 and two others in 2004 should have known and raised alarms about facts such as these: Bowman was convicted of threatening bodily harm to a 72-year-old motorist just two years before the first adoption; she may have had an abusive mate; she filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001; she described her childhood to friends as akin to that of "an abused dog"; and her own mother had been a homeless wanderer of the city's streets.
Now we learn that Maryland's got a complaint accusing Bowman of last January, sent a caseworker to the house and concluded that everything was fine -- "clean and appropriately furnished," though with a funky smell that was attributed to mildew.
Still, it is possible, as Fenty and some adoption advocates argue, that everyone did their jobs, that Bowman passed every screening, and that whatever went horribly wrong in her life happened only after she had adopted the children.
The problem is, we can't know. And the fact is, it is our business.
In the reflexively privacy-obsessed world of adoptions, it is somehow an imposition if the public wants to know where the state's wards end up, who is collecting the stipends taxpayers shell out to encourage adoption and how all that money is being spent. We know best, social workers say.
But anytime public money is involved, it's the public's job to demand oversight and accountability, and the only road to that goal is transparency.
I met Adam Pertman many years ago when he was a foreign correspondent for the Boston Globe. After experiencing the joys and frustrations of adoption, he left the news business to advocate for those who give that loving gift of parenthood. Now, as director of the Adoption Institute, he understands both instincts: the newsman's passionate belief that sunshine is the best medicine, and the adoption world's embrace of secrecy to protect children and grant the same rights birth parents enjoy.
When he trains social workers, Pertman tells them: "Your secrets don't do you any good. The only time you get in the news is when someone dies, and it's because you won't give out any information. "
The roots of that secrecy lie in the not-so-distant past, when adoption carried a powerful stigma. "This is a whole institution built on stigma and secrecy and shame," Pertman says, "on people being told to lie for the rest of their lives. You didn't tell your children they were adopted. Amazingly, we got to the other side, and adoption is no longer anything to be ashamed or embarrassed about. But the remnants of that era of secrecy are profound."
Executives at the Board of Child Care, the Methodist church-affiliated agency that investigated Bowman's suitability for adoption, would not talk to me. The top boss didn't even return my call. The reflex is to circle the wagons and board up the windows.
Luckily, some see that public trust is essential. Janice Goldwater, who runs Adoptions Together, a private agency in Silver Spring not connected to the Bowman case, opened her files so I could see how exhaustively her social workers investigate families being considered as adoptive parents.
Adoptive parents tell me they feel as if they've had a colonic irrigation of their finances, family history and even their sex lives. Social workers interview friends, relatives and co-workers; examine tax, criminal and credit records; and ask about religion, guns, drugs and . Families are rejected if they are likely to spank the child, keep unlocked guns in the house or put the child to sleep on a bunk bed or sofa bed.
And somehow a Renee Bowman gets through. How? The pathetic truth is that people inside the system already know that answer, but the rest of us might never know.
The legacy of secrecy lives on. Goldwater, who has an adopted child as well as three birth children, was appalled to see that her adopted child's birth certificate was rewritten to show Goldwater and her husband as the birth parents, a deception that fools no one.
Goldwater and Pertman are both wary of making adoption records public, even in a case that ends in an awful crime. Once an adoption has been completed, they argue, the parents should have the same rights as a birth parent.
But the public has an obligation to children who were placed by the government. Bowman, for example, received $2,400 a month in federal money to defray the cost of raising her three children. In the current system, there is no way to see if that money is being spent as intended.
"There are sound, competent professionals doing this work," Goldwater says. "We have to show people that, not hide anytime something bad happens."
UPDATE (11 A.M.): Matthew Fraidin, a law professor at the University of the District of Columbia law school, this morning passes along an email by Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, arguing for opening up adoption hearings, as 15 states have already done:
Even journalists who disagree with my organization on everything else usually find common ground with us on one point: The enormous harm done to children by the secrecy that permeates child welfare - the closed and .
So I'm surprised the Post hasn't done what many other newspapers have in the wake of child abuse tragedies - demanded, over and over, that, at a minimum, the court hearings be opened.
One of the reasons the in Allegheny County, Pa. is, relatively speaking, a national model, is that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette crusaded to get the courts opened, and then followed up with outstanding reporting on what was going on there.
Since 1980 about 15 states have truly opened these hearings. And even though many of these began as pilot projects with sunset dates, not one of these states has closed them again. And in state after state onetime opponents of openness became converts. It's been harder to get records open, but there has been some progress there as well.
How might that have helped in the most recent tragedy? Here's an excerpt from an e-mail that Prof. [Matthew] Fraidin of UDC Law School sent yesterday to Petula Dvorak [The Post's reporter who's been covering the Bowman case]:
"Petula, don't you want to open up the court's file of the adoption cases to see what is in there? Don't you want to listen to the tape of the adoption proceedings, or read a transcript? The neglect case files of the children would tell you when Ms. Bowman entered the children's lives, what their condition was when they went to live with her, whether the social worker and GAL and judge really gave Ms. Bowman any scrutiny: did the s/w or GAL visit the children regularly before the adoptions were granted? CFSA (and the Board of Child Care, the private agency that licensed Ms. Bowman) have files, too, showing what Ms. Bowman told them, whether they checked it out, how well they knew her, whether they watched her with the children, whether they wondered why her employment ended in 2000, whether they explored her bankruptcy filings in 2000 and 2001. Etc., etc. and so on and so forth.
There is a WORLD of information in the court files and in CFSA's files, and a puzzle in there that, if put together thoughtfully, could save children's lives. What happened? How? Why? Were there shortcuts? What assumptions were made? What pressures were the social worker and GAL (who probably was carrying 75 to 100 cases at the time) under? ..."
In New York State, Family Courts were opened by order of Judith Kaye, Chief Judge of New York's highest court, the . No one has made the case better. Said Judge Kaye: "Sunshine is good for children."
Isn't it time to demand that the courts in D.C. let the sunshine in?