Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Rose by Any Other Name

As the country prepares for an historic inauguration, I was reading about the slaves who built the white house. Documents have been revealed, recording payments made to the slave owners for the hiring out of their slaves. The slaves were listed as "Slave John", Slave Tom." None had surnames. A surname makes a man a man; it ties him to his lineage, his clan. Slavery of course, systematically destroyed families.

Their is power of ownership and in naming. Expectant mothers often spend inordinate amount of time reading baby name books and deciding upon a "proper" name for their child - one that expresses what the child means to them and also its family heritage.

Names are carefully recorded in religious and legal documents and generally follow one for life.

Surnames, until recently, tied families together. Womens lib however, seeing it as a symbol of patriarchal "ownership" eschewed the practice of assuming one's husbands name upon becoming married and today many women hyphenate or simply continue to use their maiden name. Yet family or surnames remain important in helping one track his lineage or genealogy - a practice that multitudes of people take great pride in. Squeals of delight to discover one's great, great grand dad!

Prior to the 1940's, when an orphan, or the child of an infirmed or widowed mother needed care, a member of the community of parish came forward and The Smith Family raised the Jone's boy. All knew his rightful heritage and no one questioned his family ties, despite whatever affection the boy and his new family might have likely shared. He connection to his family tree remained unbroken despite care given him or the contributions he made those who raised him. Children were assets, but not possessions.

The days of the orphan train encouraged adoption as way to obtain indentured servants. Still their name was of little consequences - no more than the slave's.

Not until the tables turned and children became more scarce and having one or more, a sign of affluence and were desired as prizes for their own bragging rights: my son is smarter or a better ball player than yours - did naming a ward become important. Children have became possession and thus need to be labeled like one might adhere sticker onto a possession so as to assure its return if lost.

In adoption today the name a mother gives her child is often discarded and naming "rights" ate part and parcel of the transfer of ownership of the child to his or her new parents.

The idea of the child being an individual with any rights - even to his own name or ethnicity) in domestic adoption) - is barely considered. Though it is now becoming fashionably popular to keep some form of an internationally adopted child's name incorporated into his American name. But not as a "right to know."

An adoptees "right to know" is on par with that of slaves.

Yet the simple test of the importance of a name is to call a young child by a name that's not his and watch him get very upset! Or name is weho we are. Our unique identification....or, is it?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Times They Are NOT Changing

Many days I feel as if social attitudes around family and adoption have ground to a halt. Stopped dead in their tracks in the 1950s and not progressed one iota.

Oh there are the politically platitudes about gay rights and a win now and then - then a set back. there is the lip service to "birthmothers" rights - i.e. the right to chose parents to take her child (kind alike the "right" to chose your on firing squad) and promise her the moon and sun and also their right to break those promises...

All those niceties aside, when push comes to shove - women who even THINK about surrendering a child to adoption are, in the real world, not unselfish, honorable, sacrificing, saints.

Take for example 22-year-old Casey Anthony indicted for the murder of her missing 3-year-old daughter. Caylee. Circumstantial evidence such as her not reporting the child missing for a month point very suspiciously at the young mother. But also thrown up is the "fact" that she allegedly had thought about surrendering custody of the child. Maybe she did consider this option as single parenting became more difficult than she had imagined. Are we now tried and found guilty based on our thoughts? If so, every parent in the world would be found guilty of having a momentary wish their kid would simply disappear! How many teens have screamed in anger at a parent: "I wish you were dead!" Do we lock them up bade on that?

In our society, the very worst thing a mother can do, is even engage in the possibility of giving her own child away!

This is as true today as it was in the 1960s, shortly after I lost my daughter, when all I heard every day "at the water cooler" and on the subways and streets of NYC was : "Any dog can give birth!" said with clenched teeth and veins of utter DISGUST and repulsion popping about the sheer AUDACITY of one Helen Scarpetta attempted to regain custody of her daughter, "Baby Jessica" who was illegally adopted by the DeMartinos. Not one shred of sympathy was given this mother as the DeMartinos fled the state and never returned her KIDNAPPED child!

Joel Steinberg, the murderer now free, was never charged with kidnapping Lisa or Mitchell and Dr Sarosi who negotiated the "deals" of both children was given a slap on the wrist for what was called "illegal adoption" and was in fact kidnapping - except for the fact that the mothers involved were led to believe their child was being adopted and would be well cared for.

Dredging up all this ugly past is not just Casey and Caylee Anthony.

It is also reading blogs against the Indian Child Welfare Act (IWCA) - and basically against the sanctity of the family, and those who support and sympathize with the couple de jour who has to return an illegally adopted child. This time it's Clint and Heather Larson returning Talon to his mother, father and siblings.

The pity spewed for the 30 days of "bonding" this unrelated person had with this child just totally override nine months of pregnancy! Her longing, desire, hopes and dreams have been dashed! Often I read of people crying over an empty nursery that never even held "their" child that they planned to adopt! And the sympathy - Oh my God, the sympathy. Yet we mothers who lose our kids get zero, zip, none, nada. We made our beds! Never mind much infertility is preventable - especially when childbirth is delayed into ones forties...but they are blameless and pure and we are evil witches.

Never mind that no adoption is final until it's final stuff happens. People wait and plan to have a baby and have a miscarriage. Children who mothers have held and loved die. Deal with it!

But not only do Casey Anthony's alleged thoughts make her a bad mother - they also go to point put that far more single mother should give their babies to far more deserving waiting couples, because "see what happens." Single mothers are killers - based on one case and in total disregard for the numbers of adopters who longed, and desired, and waited and PAID and thn MURDERED the child entrusted to them!

And let's be clear hereabout this discrimination. this is not discrimination across the board for all single mother. Oh no! If you are single an can AFFORD to adopt - or have IVF or a surrogate - then you have rised above all other criteria and then single parentage will not be an undo strain or your child -- because of course, you can AFFORD a nanny!

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