Monday, May 26, 2008

I Mourn a Once Hero of Mine

I have been an avid fan of Michael Moore since seeing his very first film, Roger and Me" (1989).

I LOVED Fahrenheit 911 and SICKO!!

I have raved and recommended his films to everyone I know and so admired his ability to see the truth and tell it like it is.

And, yet even this icon of the expose and giving us all a window into the corruption of government at the expense of the everyman...even he has been snowed to believe the LIES that adoption RESCUES children!

It's OK for him to admire Madonna's film making abilities. And is even OK that he supports her bringing light to the South African nation of Malawi.

However I am stunned, outraged and in disbelief and EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED to read:

Moore said he was "outraged" by the criticism Madonna received for her efforts to adopt David. Some children's rights groups said it would be better to provide more resources so children could remain in their native countries. Others accused her of using her celebrity status to circumvent Malawian adoption laws, which she denied.

"As one who has seen what the yellow press can and does do, all of that was just one more reminder to me of just how dishonest so much of the media is in this country," Moore said.

He has missed the boat on this one entirely. He is so on the wrong side and sio ignoring the facts.

All of this while Madonna has been publicly speaking - barf bag please - comparing the "pain" she suffered being criticized to labor pains of natural childbirth! A total slap in the fact to her wanna be son David's mother who died in childbirth (or shortly after). So I sort of went through my own kind of birthing pains with dealing with the press on my front doorstep accusing me of kidnapping or whatever you want to call it," she said.

This from the woman too busy to attend and adoption finalization hearing...and not able to bring David to visit his father when she did return to Malawi.

Madonna told a news conference last week at the Cannes film festival that there were no adoption laws in Malawi, and that she was the "template or role model, so to speak, for future adoptions." She has also told reporters she was "happy to be the guinea pig", and expressed hope that her full adoption of David, will make it easier for other people to adopt children in Malawi.

Unfortunately her comments were not appreciated in Malawi:

May 26, 2008 BLANTYRE, Malawi: Malawi's state-sponsored rights group hit out yesterday at recent comments by US pop singer Madonna, saying she was "putting it crudely" when she said the country had no adoption laws.

"If we had no laws, how come she was asked to apply to the court to adopt a child? She used the same laws she is criticising to adopt David," said Dorothy Nyasulu, chairwoman of the state-sponsored Malawi Human Rights Commission.

MICHAEL MOORE: Does Malawi too have "yellow journalism"? Is the human rights commission there NOT speaking for the best interests of their chidlren? Get your head out of your big fat ARSE, Michael! You blew it on this one, dude! You are on the WRONG SIDE and defending a self-interested sensationalist slut. The only thing maternal about her is her name. But the real Madonna never took other people's children away from their family and culture.

Shame on you Michael, You SOLD OUT to hob nob at film festivals! For once - you've been DUPED!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Recently Published Letters RE Adoption Legislaion

Birth parents' rights denied

Asbury Park Press, Thursday, May 22, 2008

Origins-USA is a national nonprofit group advocating for mothers' rights and keeping natural families together. We represent and are the voice of mothers who have lost children to adoption. As such, Origins-USA objects respectfully albeit strongly to the April 22 commentary "Adoption law protects privacy of birth mothers, too."

A Jan. 24 press release on behalf of the NJ Catholic Conference claimed that mothers who lost children to adoption want — and were promised — anonymity and "protection." However, the conference admitted no agreement making a promise of confidentiality exists and points instead to policies regarding privacy from public scrutiny, which is quite different from wanting anonymity from one's own flesh and blood.

Every mother who was persuaded or pressured or lovingly lost a child to adoption suffers lifelong irresolvable grief in sacrifice for all of his or her minor years. Inasmuch as no parental rights extend into one's offspring's adulthood, how can relinquishment of a right to "parent" extend into the majority years of one's offspring?

The only thing promised such mothers was that our children would have a "better life." Being denied equal access to legal, identifying documents, as is taken for granted by all other citizens, was never mentioned as part of any papers signed by any of us or expected.

It is no longer the 1970s. A great deal has changed in terms of gender equality in the ensuing years. Fathers are tracked down to admit their paternity even when it is embarrassing or risks their careers. Origins-USA supports the rights of mothers who neither need nor want "protection." It is a smoke screen for a legalized veil of our shame for us while protecting only those who profit from baby-brokering.

Mirah Riben



Sealed records put adoptees, kin at risk

The writer of a May 16 letter "Family medical history crucial for adoptees'' is of course right. Family medical history is a vital part of everyone's health care. Outdated laws that deny adoptees and their birth families access to each other put all of them and their descendants at risk. I am a mother who lost a child to adoption and I have been working with this population, researching and writing about adoption issues for nearly 40 years. It is a red herring to believe that mothers want anonymity from their own children.

Mothers who lose children to adoption often go on to have subsequent children without any knowledge of genetic health issues affecting their lost child that might change that decision or be important to the health of their other children.

Medical information needs to be constantly updated, and the only way to keep it current and accurate is for people to be allowed to communicate with one another.

Why do New Jersey adoption records remain sealed? Because those who profit from adoption operate better under the cloak of secrecy. It's time to stop supporting baby brokers at the expense of the right of citizens to life, liberty and equality.

Mirah Riben


Add your comment

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What kind of a job is the media doing?

Ann Wilmer of Green Ribbon has put forth an interesting question and suggested some solutions. Please read and see what YOU think, and then read MY REPLY directly below.

Reporting Adoption: What kind of a job is the media doing?

I'm researching how the media reports adoption issues and I could use some research support. I'm trying to identify major areas in which the media does not report well and find specific examples. I'm sticking to legitimate news standards for this exercise. Bias is another investigation.

I have done several email interviews with triad members regarding their impressions of news coverage of adoption and gotten some very good feedback. In order to approach the media with my findings, I need proof (examples). As you read the newspaper and online sources, I know you already evaluate what you read informally. I'd like you to take time to more formally evaluate what you read by comparing it to the criteria journalists use to define good reporting.

Reporting isn't considered "good reporting" unless it meets certain standards:
* Accurate
* Properly attributed
* Complete
* Balanced and fair
* Objective
* Brief and focused
* Well written

For our purposes, I'm only concerned about the four of the standards above. Brevity and style can be fixed in the editing process and probably do not impact the issue of fair and balanced reporting (if you find an exception, let me know). Proper attribution is primarily an issue of accuracy although inexperienced news writers will try to use words other than "said" (e.g. opined, shouted, etc.) to attibute a quotation and that can lead you down a dangerous path. Said is almost ALWAYS the best choice although there are some other neutral ones like "asked" or "replied," you just don't see them in newswriting very often.

My major areas of concern are these:

An example of inaccuracy that has serious implications for the triad community is when either mother of an adoptee is labled the "real" mother since both women perform actions that make them a mother. Using the term "birth" mother is "subtly pejorative" although if that describes you, you may not think it subtle. We may have to live with this term for a while because it has traction, however, it remains an area that offers us an opportunity to educate reporters, editors and the public as long as we do it in a calm and rational manner. If you find an example of inaccuracy, I'd like to know about it. In fact, I'd like to have a copy and a bibliographic citation of the offending article. (By that I mean only name and date of publication -- if I actually get to the point of needing a footnote, I'll call the newspaper.)

Completeness is a double-edged sword because reporters are loathe to leave out any fact the discover but sometimes the issue of adoption, while not relavant to the story, is included anyway. The typical example is when an adoptee kills his parents. His adoption may or may not have been at the heart of what happened. Early reporting can't tell so if a neighbor happens to mention that the kid being arrested was adopted then it gets into the story. On the other hand, a story about a woman who surrendered a child to adoption and then changed her mind cannot be told without explaining who the child is to her.

Unbalanced or unfair
Balanced and fair is where you will probably find the most problematic reporting. General assignment reporters are usually newbies in the newsroom. They have no specialty so they are sent ont to cover any story that the editor considers not requiring a reporter with specialized skills. At small newspapers, that can be most stories. So in doing his homework -- we are giving this rookie the benefit of the doubt -- he Googles the National Council for Adoption. He doesn't know and NCFA will not point out that they are a lobbyist group rather than a professional association of adoption workers. So, he will get their spin and not realize that he should be getting another side from Child Welfare League of America. Until and unless triad members are listed in the phone book as such -- look in the yellow pages under adoption and you will find agencies, not individuals who've been subjected to the process -- reporters will only think to get our perspective if they know our connection to adoption. To that end, I suggest that every support group out there buy a bunch of Rolodex cards and type them up with the heading "adoption" and list the names of several members from all corners of the triad who are willing and able to speak articulately to adoption issues and send these to local media people. In fact, it would be a great idea for your group to walk into the newsroom -- not as easy as it used to be -- and pass your cards around to everyone in the newsroom during Adoption Awareness Month in November.

Although objective reporting is the goal, news reporting is rarely comepletly objective -- it's a human failing. So we try to be sure a story is fair and balanced. News reporting is unfair if the reporter:
* Omits facts of major significance
* Includes essentially irrelevant information
* Consciously or unconsciously misleads or deceives
* Hides reporter biases or emotions behind subtly pejorative words
* If innocent people are hurt

If you find a news item that falls into the above category, send it to me. You can always email it to me via GRC_Update-owner@ yahoogroups. com. The handfull of people with moderator status will get the clipping and whoever is "on duty" will post it if it includes the URL (which I would need, too).

Be sure that you look at media coverage objectively. It's not easy when the issue is adoption! Here are some guidelines for you.
* Be aware of your own biases
* Do not draw conclusions
* Verify suspicions, feelings or hunches and report the facts that prove them
* Report what people say or do
* Provides context for to help the reader make judgments

I look forward to hearing from you.

Ann Wilmer

REPLY: What Kind of Job Are *WE* Doing?

Reply to What kind of a job is the media doing?

(Edited 5/25) I posted Ann's request about her media project because I know and respect Ann as an impassioned and hard worker for adoptee rights and because I encourage participation in the project.

I, however, firmly believe that the solution rests firmly with US, not the media. If we say it, they will print it! They - the media and the public - don't know it unless WE TEACH THEM!

Origins-USA s doing a number of things in this regard, and we encourage other groups to do so as well:

- we maintain a media information section on our website, including positive adoption language

- we maintain a speakers bureau to present our issues whenever possible

- we ask all members if they are willing to be interviewed locally or nationally and if they are able to use their name.

- we actively pursue PR opportunities and "piggy back" on any story about adoption as an opportunity to get "our side" of th story told.

As a result of our efforts, we have gotten contacted by several newspapers doing stories on adoption, including the Chicago Times or Tribune when they were covering Juno.

In order for anyone interested in changing adoption practices to get equal coverage with the NCFA we need to have viable organizations representing us and our missions. Those organizations need to have active Public Relations people and get their message out at every opportunity. I do not see that happening except by Origins-USA, sorry to say.

The rest remain a losing David fighting Goliath because we STILL spend more time in-fighting than doing enough. As more of us reach retirement age there should be more of us having the time to put our $ where our mouth is, literally and figuratively. It takes money and it takes our time and effort. No one is going to do it for us! We have spent - some of us - 30 to 40 years TALKING about it, complaining about adoption, etc...and getting some legislation passed. We still have the vast MAJORITY of states sealed. We still have not affected great change in social ATTITUDES and BELIEFS! As long as the common belief is that adoption is BEST, we never will.

If we do not begin to change ATTITUDES about adoption, nothing will change in our lifetimes. If we do not each believe that there is far more wrong with adoption than getting your OBC when you are adult, then forget it! How can we expect the media to get it "right" and treat us with respect if we are not demanding it for ourselves? If we are content to live lives as second class citizens and not recognize our mothers as mothers, why would they?

They call us "biomothers" and the like because they are quoting adoptees! How can we fault the media for that? If an adoptee calls one of his mothers his "real" mother and he is quoted whose fault is that?

When adoptees call themselves adopted "children" and state in their interview that they were not searching for another mother, or that they have the only mother they ever need...or that ITS NO BIG DEAL to have been found or whatever...that hurts our cause.Ad the fault lies with lack of EDUCATION, no with the media, IMHO.

We need to do a lot more work on our own image and PR before we can fault the media. The press would still be calling Blacks Negroes if THEY hadn't demanded a change! Likewise, people with disabilities, etc.

We need to change the mindset that adoption is always a good thing, and the end justifies the means -- even now as chidlren are trafficked worldwide to meet a demand! Until we stand united on these issues, of course the press will reflect the confusion and ambivalence we ourselves are putting out there. How can it be otherwise?

There is no earthly reason for adoption as it is currently practiced in this country. Caring for orphans and chidlren who do not have parents capable of caring for them does not require changing their names and hiding their original identity. It is not necessary in other countries and is a relatively new phenomenon here. When adoptees ask for the crumbs of the right to their OBC AS ADULTS they are accepting a lifetime of lies, and in so doing condoning supporting a corrupt industry.

Falsified OBCs serve only those who see children as a commodity to exchange for $$! if you do not think of yourself as a THING, you need to start waking up and speaking out against the redistribution of children for profit - even if it meant you had a wonderful upbringing as a result.

No mother or child should be separated because of poverty or ignorance or powerlessness. No one should be made to TRADE off genetic heritage, family ties, culture and kinship for MATERIAL THINGS! If you think it is justifiable - then why don't we redistribute ALL children of the poor to those who are wealthier,and those of the upper-middle class to wealthier still and so on...

Don't look at mothers you found and be glad you weren't there with her - and tell that to the reporter interviewing you - because you don't know how damaged she became as a result of losing you! You do not know how you life - or hers - may have been under different circumstances, had you both been given the support you needed. One thing is for sure -- you would not have spent any amount of time searhcing for her (and yourself).

Every time an adoptee says he/she is glad to have been adopted it fortifies societal myths about adoption.

YOU are part of the problem of why the media has no idea what balance is in regard to this issue. If it's all good, what is there to balance? The only pan that gets reported is the pain of childlessness. it is made out to be worse than having no eyes or needing a heart transplant! And heaven forbid they count on (read pay for) a child and are disappointed! My God! It is reported as the world's greatest tragedy.

Yet EVERY SINGLE adoption leaves a mother with empty arms, drenched in tears - is that EVER COVERED? NO! And it never will be until we change attitudes and beliefs about ENTITLEMENT and expectations.

When an adopter kills a baby, it is covered as an isolated anomaly. No statistics are given, cause none are collected! Sam for adoptees killing their adopters and same for adoptee suicides. As long as we refuse to look at the high number of adoptees in institutions of all kinds we do our cause a disservice....and further he happily-ever-after win-win adoption myths.

The choice is OURS, not the media's! We need to promote more honesty, not just happy reunion stories, open records issues, memoirs and historical accounts of adoption in days gone by -- but hard cold reality!

If we remain afraid to speak about the dark side of adoption - about what is WRONG with it - it at our, why would the media ever know it to report it??? And how on earth will any of it ever get fixed?

When we have people siting on boards of adoption "reform" organizations - who we call the "good guys" that are profiting from baby brokering and/or who use incorrect OFFENSIVE and COERCIVE language in their speech, writing and on their websites -- calling expectant mothers BIRTHMOTHERS - or potential birthmothers - for goodness sake -- how can we expect the press to be more respectful to us than we are to ourselves?

I am not advocating a return to the word police, censorship and banning people - although as nasty as that was it sure did bring attention to the issue, didn't it? I am speaking however of EDUCATING. We must start within our own circle and educate ourselves and one another as to what words help and what words do not help. And people who have been educated and have not changed need to be - shall we say - "D" listed not continued to be treated as starlets who are so "in tune" and so supportive?

Many fine individuals are busting their butts in their states to get legislation passed. Ann does a great deal with legislation and her news list, etc....HOWEVER I regret that I do not see one loud clear representative voice speaking for adoptees and adoptee rights. I find that sad. the AAC has not served that purpose, IMHO. BN once did and I hope they rally, get it together, and become a strong force once again.

Adoption: You are either for it and want to see it go on and on taking babies and changing their names etc....or you think there is a better way to protect and care for chidlren and maintain their rights and those of their mothers and fathers. That better way, IMO, is called Family Preservation - as in the name of this blog.

So let's get behind this and support it - every day in every way! let's BE THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Immoral, But Lawful?

...but what else is new? It's adoption!

As some may know, I have been asking my agency - Jewish Child Care Association (aka JCCA aka Ametz) for a copy of the surrender papers I signed in 1968 for approximately 30 years.

I was told that the NYC agency was not permitted, by law, to reveal that information, despite knowing that I had found my daughter, been reunited, and that she was now deceased.

I asked what law prohibited them from telling me. I was told on April 21, 2008:
  • New York State Social Services Law, Article VI - Children, Title I - Care and Protection of Children, Section 372 - Records and Reports
  • New York State Domestic Relations Law, Article VII - Adoption, Title II - Adoption from an Authorized Agency, Section 114 - Order of Adoption
I am not an attorney. I welcome attorneys to "translate" the text below for me.

However, what I do know is this: I did a search for the word "surrender" since I was asking for was a copy of my surrender or relinquishment of parental rights papers. You can see them highlighted. A search for parental rights yielded nothing.

So, while these regulations may pertain to adoption records, the surrender of parental rights is taken PRIOR to any adoption and these regaulations do not seem yo apply to then, as they are not mentioned therein.
It seems as if when they were written there was absolutely no thought whatsoever given to any "rights" of the surrendering parent. Rights? What rights? Clearly not one thought to our right to papers we signed, or to any alleged "promises" of privacy.

Mothers will be interested in the section in bold about what information is available to aps, however... so much for the "protection" of our confidentiality once again!

§ Section 372. Records and reports. 1. Every court, and every public board,
commission, institution, or officer having powers or charged with duties in relation to abandoned, delinquent, destitute, neglected or dependent children who shall receive, accept or commit any child shall provide and keep a record showing: (a) the full and true name of the child,
(b) his sex and date and place of birth, if ascertainable, or his
apparent age,
(c) the full and true names and places of birth of his parents, and
their actual residence if living, or their latest known residence, if
deceased or whereabouts unknown and the name and actual residence of any other person having custody of the child, as nearly as the same can reasonably be ascertained,
(d) the religious faith of the parents and of the child,
(e) the name and address of any person, agency, institution or other
organization to which the child is committed, placed out, boarded out, or otherwise given into care, custody or control,
(f) the religious faith and occupation of the head or heads of the
family with whom the child is placed out or boarded out and their
relationship, if any, to the child,
(g) if any such child shall die, the date and cause of death and place
of burial,
(h) any further disposition or change in care, custody or control of
the child,
(i) the date or dates of reception and of any subsequent disposition
or change in care, custody or control and, in case of adoption, the name and title of the judge or surrogate making the order of adoption, the date of such order and the date and place of filing of such order,
(j) the reasons for any act performed in reference to such child
herein required to be recorded, together with such further information as the department may require; and shall make to the department upon blanks provided by the department reports of each such child placed out or boarded out, containing the information herein required to be kept; and shall furnish such information to any authorized agency to which any such child shall be committed or otherwise given into custody.
2. Every charitable, eleemosynary, reformatory, or correctional
institution, public or private, incorporated or unincorporated, and
every agency, association, corporation, institution, society or other
organization which shall receive, accept, or admit any child whether or not in receipt of payments from public funds for the support of such child shall provide and keep a record as described in subdivision one, and also showing how, by whom and for what reason such child shall have been given into its custody or committed to it and shall make reports of each such child to the department upon blanks provided by the department giving all the information required by subdivision one to be recorded together with such further information as the department may require. Except as to children placed out, boarded out or surrendered or for whom guardianship is accepted or adoption provided, the requirement of this section shall not apply to hospitals, day nurseries, eleemosynary day schools, and summer and vacation homes and camps, or to institutions for the care of convalescent, anaemic, under-nourished or cardiac children, preventoria, working boys' homes, emergency shelters and schools for the blind and for the deaf, but all such hospitals, homes and institutions shall keep such records and make to the department such reports as the department may require.
3. Such records maintained by the department or an authorized agency, including a local social services district, regarding such children are confidential, provided, however, that such records are subject to the provisions of article thirty-one of the civil practice law and rules. When either the subject foster child, or such child's parent, or such child's guardian if any, is not a party to the action, a copy of the notice or motion for discovery shall be served upon such parent, guardian, and child and, if the child is still a minor, the child's law guardian. Such persons may thereafter appear in the action with regard to such discovery. Where no action is pending, upon application by a parent, relative or legal guardian of such child or by an authorized agency, after due notice to the institution or authorized agency affected and hearing had thereon, the supreme court may by order direct the officers of such institution or authorized agency to furnish to such parent, relative, legal guardian or authorized agency such extracts from the record relating to such child as the court may deem proper. The department through its authorized agents and employees may examine at all reasonable times the records required by this section to be kept.
4. (a) All such records relating to such children shall be open to the
inspection of the board and the department at any reasonable time, and the information called for under this section and such other data as may be required by the department shall be reported to the department, in accordance with the regulations of the department. Such records kept by the department shall be deemed confidential and shall be safeguarded from coming to the knowledge of and from inspection or examination by any person other than one authorized, by the department, by a judge of the court of claims when such records are required for the trial of a claim or other proceeding in such court or by a justice of the supreme court, or by a judge of the family court when such records are required for the trial of a proceeding in such court, after a notice to all interested persons and a hearing, to receive such knowledge or to make such inspection or examination. No person shall divulge the information thus obtained without authorization so to do by the department, or by such judge or justice.
(b)(i) Notwithstanding any inconsistent provision of law to the
contrary, records relating to children kept pursuant to this section
shall be made available to officers and employees of the state comptroller or of the city comptroller of the city of New York, or of the county officer designated by law or charter to perform the auditing function in any county not wholly contained within a city, for the purposes of a duly authorized performance audit, provided that such comptroller shall have certified to the keeper of such records that he or she has instituted procedures developed in consultation with the department to limit access to client-identifiable information to persons requiring such information for purposes of the audit, that such persons shall not use such information in any way except for purposes of the audit and that appropriate controls and prohibitions are imposed on the dissemination of client-identifiable information obtained in the conduct of the audit. Information pertaining to the substance or content of any psychological, psychiatric, therapeutic, clinical or medical reports, evaluations or like materials or information pertaining to such child or the child's family shall not be made available to such officers and employees unless disclosure of such information is absolutely essential to the specific audit activity and the department gives prior written approval.
(ii) Any failure to maintain the confidentiality of client-identifiable information shall subject such comptroller or officer to denial of any further access to records until such time as the audit agency has reviewed its procedures concerning controls and prohibitions imposed on the dissemination of such information and has taken all reasonable and appropriate steps to eliminate such lapses in maintaining confidentiality to the satisfaction of the department. The department shall establish the grounds for denial of access to records contained under this section and shall recommend, as necessary, a plan of remediation to the audit agency. Except as provided in this section, nothing in this paragraph shall be construed as limiting the powers of such comptroller or officer to access records which he is otherwise authorized to audit or obtain under any other applicable provision of law. Any person given access to information pursuant to this paragraph who releases data or information to persons or agencies not authorized to receive such information shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
4-a. Notwithstanding any provisions of law to the contrary, social services districts shall provide a written summary of services rendered to a child upon the request of a probation service conducting an investigation pursuant to the provisions of section 351.1 of the family court act. Information provided to a probation service pursuant to the provisions of this subdivision shall be maintained by such service according to the provisions of subdivision five of section 351.1 of the family court act.
4-b.Notwithstandingany other provision of law, foster care
information governed by this section may be released by the department or an authorized agency to a person, agency or organization for purposes of a bona fide research project. Identifying information shall not be made available, however, unless it is absolutely essential to the research purpose and the department gives prior approval. Information released pursuant to this subdivision shall not be re-disclosed except as otherwise permitted by law and upon the approval of the department.
5. The requirements of this section to keep records and make reports shall not apply to the birth parent or parents, or relatives within the second degree of such parents. The reception of a child, or the power to receive the same, shall not make this section applicable to a humane society, or to a society for the prevention of cruelty to children.
6. The provisions of this section as to records and reports to the
department shall apply also to the placing out, adoption or boarding out of a child and the acceptance of guardianship or of surrender of a child.
7. An authorized agency as defined in paragraphs (a) and (b) of
subdivision ten of section three hundred seventy-one of this chapter or any primary or secondary school or an office of the division for youth, except agencies operating pursuant to article nineteen-H of the executive law, who shall receive, accept, enroll or commit any child under such circumstances as shall reasonably indicate that such child may be a missing person shall make inquiries of each such child to the division of criminal justice services in a manner prescribed by such division; provided that as used in this subdivision a court shall not be included within the definition of an authorized agency. If such child appears to match a child registered with the statewide central register for missing children as described in section eight hundred thirty-seven-e of the executive law, or one registered with the national crime information center register, such agency shall immediately contact the local law enforcement agency.
8. In any case where a child is to be placed with or discharged to a
relative or other person legally responsible pursuant to section ten
hundred seventeen or ten hundred fifty-five of the family court act,
such relative or other person shall be provided with such information by an authorized agency as is provided to foster parents pursuant to this section and applicable regulations of the department.

§ Section 114. Order of adoption. 1. If satisfied that the best interests of
the adoptive child will be promoted thereby the judge or surrogate shall make an order approving the adoption and directing that the adoptive child shall thenceforth be regarded and treated in all respects as the child of the adoptive parents or parent. In determining whether the best interests of the adoptive child will be promoted by the adoption, the judge or surrogate shall give due consideration to any assurance by a commissioner of social services that he will provide necessary support and maintenance for the adoptive child pursuant to the social services law. Such order shall contain the full name, date and place of birth and reference to the schedule annexed to the petition containing the medical history of the child in the body thereof and shall direct that the child's medical history, heritage of the parents, which shall include nationality, ethnic background and race; education, which shall be the number of years of school completed by the parents at the time of the birth of the adoptive child; general physical appearance of the parents at the time of the birth of the adoptive child, which shall include height, weight, color of hair, eyes, skin; occupation of the parents at the time of the birth of the adoptive child; health and medical history of the parents at the time of the birth of the adoptive child, including all available information setting forth conditions or diseases believed to be hereditary, any drugs or medication taken during the pregnancy by the child's mother; and any other information which may be a factor influencing the child's present or future health, talents, hobbies and special interests of parents as contained in the petition be furnished to the adoptive parents. If the judge or surrogate is also satisfied that there is no reasonable objection to the change of name proposed, the order shall direct that the name of the adoptive child be changed to the name stated in the agreement of adoption and that henceforth he shall be known by that name. All such orders made by a family court judge of Westchester county since September first nineteen hundred sixty-two, and on file in the office of the county clerk of such county shall be transferred to the clerk of the family court of such county. Such order and all the papers in the proceeding shall be filed in the office of the court granting the adoption and the order shall be entered in books which shall be kept under seal and which shall be indexed by the name of the adoptive parents and by the full original name of the child. Such order, including orders heretofore entered, shall be subject to inspection and examination only as herein after provided. Notwithstanding the fact that adoption records shall be sealed and secret, they may be microfilmed and processed pursuant to an order of the court, provided that such order provides that the confidentiality of such records be maintained. If the confidentiality is violated, the person or company violating it can be found guilty of contempt of court. The fact that the adoptive child was born out of wedlock shall in no case appear in such order. The written report of the investigation together with all other papers pertaining to the adoption shall be kept by the judge or surrogate as a permanent record of his court and such papers must be sealed by him and withheld from inspection. No certified copy of the order of adoption shall issue unless authorized by court order, except that certified copies may issue to the agency or agencies in the proceeding prior to the sealing of the papers. Before the record is sealed, such order may be granted upon written ex parte application on good cause shown and upon such conditions as the court may impose. After the record is sealed, such order may be granted only upon notice as hereinafter provided for disclosure or access and inspection of records. The clerk upon request of a person or agency entitled thereto shall issue certificates of adoption which shall contain only the new name of the child and the date and place of birth of the child, the name of the adoptive parents and the date when and court where the adoption was granted, which certificate as to the facts recited therein shall have the same force and effect as a certified copy of an order of adoption.
2. No person, including the attorney for the adoptive parents shall
disclose the surname of the child directly or indirectly to the adoptive
parents except upon order of the court. No person shall be allowed access to such sealed records and order and any index thereof except upon an order of a judge or surrogate of the court in which the order was made or of a justice of the supreme court. No order for disclosure or access and inspection shall be granted except on good cause shown and on due notice to the adoptive parents and to such additional persons as the court may direct. Nothing contained herein shall be deemed to require the state commissioner of health or his designee to secure a court order authorizing disclosure of information contained in adoption or birth records requested pursuant to the authority of section forty-one hundred thirty-eight-corsection forty-one hundred thirty-eight-d of the public health law; upon the receipt of such request for information, the court shall transmit the information
authorized to be released there under to the state commissioner of health or his designee.
3. In like manner as a court of general jurisdiction exercises such
powers, a judge or surrogate of a court in which the order of adoption was made may open, vacate or set aside such order of adoption for fraud, newly discovered evidence or other sufficient cause.
4. Good cause for disclosure or access to and inspection of sealed
adoption records and orders and any index thereof, hereinafter the "adoption records", under this section may be established on medical grounds as provided herein. Certification from a physician licensed to practice medicine in the state of New York that relief under this subdivision is required to address a serious physical or mental illness shall be prima facie evidence of good cause. Such certification shall indentify the information required to address such illness. Except where there is an immediate medical need for the information sought, in which case the court may grant access to the adoption records directly to the petitioner, the court hearing petition under the subdivision shall appoint a guardian ad litem or other disinterested person, who shall have access to the adoption records for the purpose of obtaining the medical information sought from those records or, where the records are insufficient for such purpose, through contacting the biological parents. The guardian or other disinterested person shall offer a biological parent the option of disclosing the medical information sought by the petitioner pursuant to this subdivision, as well as the option of granting consent to examine the parent's medical records. If the guardian or other disinterested person appointed does not obtain the medical information sought by the petitioner, such guardian or disinterested person shall make a report of his or her efforts to obtain such information to the court. Where further efforts to obtain such information are appropriate, the court may in its discretion authorize direct disclosure or access to and inspection of the adoption records by the petitioner.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Empathy and Kindness

PREFACE: What I say here are my observations and are NOT meant as judgments. What I am sharing is my personal introspective journaling because in the hope it can be read with an open mind and not defensiveness. I am NOT pointing fingers at anyone, or putting myself above anyone else. I HARDLY think I "know it all" or even begin to have all the answers. That is NOT at all my intent. HONESTLY! I am a lowly person struggling my pain as we all are and sharing some insights and observations that have been enlightening for me in the hope they may likewise be for someone else..

I sincerely hope that comments will try to be civil and constructive.
No flaming or bashing will be tolerated. Thank you.

Most writings on anger after loss speak of it as a "stage" in the "grieving process", a process that is expected to last approximately a year or so.

But for those of us who suffer irresolvable grief as a result of trauma and loss, we likewise have to deal with lifelong anger as a recurring theme, or as one mother described it: a dark cloud that hovers every aspect of our life. Some deal with it overtly, some passively, some subdued and dulled because of personal coping skills or learned social behaviors; some because of medication, or therapy, or directing it into socially acceptable constructive solutions.

I believe that anger is grief's twin, or perhaps more exactly, its big protective brother. Grief is quiet, introverted and introspective...tortured, suffering. So big brother ANGER steps in to protect grief from harming itself. Anger is in equal pain, but is far more macho and won't shed a tear cause that's a sign of weakness.

Anger is not quiet at all and often refuses to be quieted. Anger shouts and rants and rages. Anger wants justice, or revenge, or vengeance. Anger feels it is "owed" that much for the hurt it has experienced!

Some of us get very comfortable with the protection anger affords our more vulnerable, grief-stricken little sister. Others fear that our big brother might hurt someone or him(our)self. Many of us are unaccustomed to anger and have been taught its not polite and should always be kept under control - like a dog a tight leash and not let loose.

I experience at varying times grief, sadness, frustration, and anger. Sometimes I find myself reacting to the smallest thing like a car making a very last minute exit cutting me off. The feeling that causes the anger is: "How dare you get in my space like that?" And if someone is in front of me driving too slowly, I get frustrated.

I know that it is a metaphor for those who try to block me, stop me, thwart my those who didn't support me or offer any help or options to keep my daughter. And so in my car, all alone, I curse at the driver: "Get out of my way you $%& jerk!" And then I chuckle to myself, remembering the George Carlin joke:
“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”

And that makes me think about the line in the Rolling Stone song: "He can't be a man 'cause he don't smoke the same cigarettes as me." How prophetic. How we judge people. Those who are slower, those who are faster, those who are louder or one of Jerry Seinfeld's pet peeves about a date - she was a soft talker!

Intolerance of difference. Judgments. We make millions of judgments every day. Having good judgment is an asset, but we are also cautioned not to be too judgmental.

The same is true of anger. Too little anger and you could become a doormat and allow yourself to be abused. (And far too many of us - simply because we are female - have experienced abuse in our lives.) Too much anger, however, and you might become violent or burn a bridge; lose a friend.

And then there is the all important issue of where and how to direct one's anger "properly" and more importantly - effectively!

The less effectively we project our anger, the more angry we feel. Now on top of the original cause of our anger we are angry at ourselves for screaming and shouting and getting no where, getting nothing done, and things remaining the same. We feel impudent (and that angers us still more) and our frustration level rises and more anger brims forth and spills all over everyone that gets anywhere near us, and especially anyone we feel is in our way....even those who are there to help us.

And so we lash out at those closest to us, finding any difference to separate us from them - to see them as "other." People in extreme emotional pain often cannot imagine anyone else's pain could possibly be as severe as their own.

A friend who is a psychotherapist told me that is very common in self-help support groups of all kinds - those for people dealing with physical ailments, or substance abuse, or issues such as incest or the death of a loved one. It is common I was told to try to compare, judge and try to "one-up" others in the group because some cannot believe that anyone else is in as much pain or has suffered as much as they have.

Sadly, but not too surprisingly, we find this among mothers who have lost children to adoption. One recently wrote to me that someone told her she had "luxuries" that they didn't, referring to some option or other at the time she lost her child. I was told that my situation was not as "oppressive" as others. Judgments are being made as to who suffers more and people coming for compassion and understanding are feeling hurt and ostracized.

If we were old ladies in a nursing home comparing our surgery histories it would be almost comical to hear us saying: "My scar is bigger than yours" "Yeah but I lost more blood" "That's nothing. I was declared dead!"

Suffering and surviving earns a badge of courage that each of us deserves no matter how big or small or suffering. It is human nature to compare and judge every car and passerby. But it's a cruel and fruitless habit. Each of us is here reading this blog, in our groups, on our list for SUPPORT and camaraderie with others of like-minds and/or to band together to fight the real enemies, not each other. None of us is here to be judged, We are marginalized and judged enough by society at large. Compassion is not a limited resource. There's enough for all of us. Like love, the more you give, the more you will receive. Next time you find yourself writing something judgmental - stop before hitting send and try it a little empathy and kindness instead.

When I'm in a better, calmer place and a car cuts me off to make a last minute turn from the wrong lane, or is driving ten miles under the speed limit in the left lane, I ask myself what's my rush. I also remember that it is said that we judge and are angry at people when we are judgmental and angry with ourselves, and when we see something of ourselves that we are not fond of in them. Have I not also had to turn quicker than I would have liked to? Perhaps waved an "I'm sorry" at the car I cut off accidentally 'cause I didn't see it in my blind spot?

And then I think of all the reasons he or she might be driving ten miles below the speed limit in the left lane. Maybe the driver is very old, or a brand new driver. Maybe there's something wrong with their car. I don't know because I haven't walked a mile in that persons shoes but just for once I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and just for today, give them kindness instead of my anger 'cause my anger is only going to hurt me, not them! It's amazing how much better I feel when I do that then when I huff and puff and curse alone in my car!

And so while grief has a big bad brother...I leave you with this thought:

"Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage: anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they don’t remain the way they are."
St. Augustine

May we all find the courage to be the change we want to see!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Family medical history crucial for mothers too

My Reply to a NJ Letter:

Peter Franklin (Family medical history crucial for adoptees is of course right: Family medical history is a vital part of everyone’s health care.

Outdated laws that disallow adoptees and their original families access from one another put all of them and their decedents at risk.

I am a mother who lost a child to adoption and I have been working with this population, researching and writing about adoption issues for nearly 40 years. It is a red herring to believe that mothers want anonymity from their own children.

Mothers who lose children to adoption often go on to have subsequent children without any knowledge of genetic health issues effecting their lost child that might change that decision or be important to the health of their other children.

Medical information needs to be constantly updated and the only way to keep it current and accurate is for people to be allowed to communicate with one another. There is no other circumstances where adults are prevented from doing this, without having violated a law regarding harassment. Yet even convicted felons are not denied knowing their own birth names, ethnicity, correct date and place of birth as many adopted persons are because they are issued falsified birth certificates and denied access to their original one.

Why then do NJ adoption records remain sealed? Because those who profit from adoption operate better under the cloak of secrecy. It’s time to stop supporting baby brokers at the expense of the right of citizens to life, liberty and equality.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


ABC has been running a series of articles on adoption corruption, kidnapping and exploitation in Guatemala, China...and now an article focused on David Smolin’s case.

I suggest a thank you letter to ABC for the courage to expose this scourge and using it as an opp to speak about domestic coercion and exploitation.

Comments can be posted; below is mine:

I wish to thank ABC News for this entire series on corruption on the multi-billion dollar adoption industry.

With all due respect for my colleague Adam Pertman, his quote herein seems to downplay the seriousness of this.

The Smolins story is indicative of the fact that no matter how much diligence intelligent, well-meaning adopters use, there is an invisible line between the small number ethical, reputable agencies and the less scrupulous, all the way to baby brokers at the other end of the spectrum.

One can deal with an ethical agency (or one they believe to be) that has been lied to by the foreign agency or orphanage. This is what led Davd Smolin to research the subject extensively and coin the phrase "child laundering." Children are often passed through many hands and the end agency has no idea of the truth.

THIS MUST BE STOPPED. It is not going to be stopped by chalking it off as an anomaly. We are currently looking like very ugly Americans in Guatemala, China and worldwide for our participation in the trafficking of kidnapped children.

Again, thanks to ABC! I hope you will follow up with a story on coercion in domestic adoptions and US baby brokers who move from state to state, and the total lack of regulation of the industry. I also hope that Pertman uses his resources and influence to do the same. Police the industry and stop the profiteering in all adoption.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Adoptee Survey

I am completing my honours in Psychology this year and am lucky enough
to have secured a supervisor who is allowing me to conduct research on
adoption!! As you can imagine, I am extremely passionate about
advancing what known about the outcomes of adoption (such as those on
our adult relationships and self-esteem) , primarily to bring about
awareness and insight within human service professionals, but also
wider society. However, I need help from adoptees to fill out a short
survey (should take no longer than 30 minutes), as I am having huge
difficulties finding adoptees willing to take part.

Please help if you can!! And read this statement if you are interested:

A study is being conducted by researchers from the School of
Psychology (Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia) to investigate
the broad relationships that exist between individual's experiences in
close relationships, intimate experiences and aesthetic preferences.
Furthermore, we seek to investigate the effects that people's
experience of being adopted at an early age has on psycho-social
outcomes that influence adoptees' later life and development.
Therefore, you may choose to participate in this research as either an
adoptee or a non-adopted person who will form a comparison group.
Secondly, we are interested in understanding the broad relationship
between psychosocial variables, namely an individual's childhood
relationships with parents, close relationships as adults, self-esteem
and aesthetic preferences.

Your participation will assist us in our attempts to extend existing
literature and heighten knowledge and awareness of Psychology and
Human Services professionals.

Participation involves the completion of four survey tasks, followed
by a demographic questionnaire. If you are an adoptee, this involves
some additional questions regarding your unique adoption experience.
It is estimated that your participation will take approximately half
an hour and your time and assistance would be greatly valued.

To demonstrate your interest and/or willingness to participate, please
email the researcher listed below, who is receiving supervision for
her research in Psychology Honours from the Chief Investigator Dr
Penelope Davis. You will then be forwarded an information sheet and
survey package, to be received by you and returned to us via. email.

Jane Sliwka
BPsychScience Honours Student
Griffith University, Mt Gravatt
School of Psychology

jane.sliwka@ student.griffith

Thanks to all of those who have sent this around to other forums and
adoptee support groups!! Please everybody else feel free to do

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Blame Game

Blame bl-bl-blah-blah blame

written two years ago, it seemed to bear repeating...

What a lovely little game
It’s often quite inane
Spread blame; deflect the shame
With excuses that are lame

Take responsibility?
Create liability?

Blame bl-bl-blah-blah blame
Blame you mother
(but not your father!)
Blame your boss
Take a toss

Everyone sins
No one wins

Blame bl-bl-blah-blah blame
Blame a friend
(though the friendship
well may end)
Blame the booze
(You’ve nothing more to lose)

You can lick it…
That’s the ticket!

Blame bl-bl-blah-blah blame
Till there’s nothing left to gain
And no one left to blame
Just a trail of blood and pain
Are you insane? Or just immensely vain?

There’s just one answer to it…
The devil made ya’ do it!

Blame bl-bl-blah-blah blame
Blame the rich (they’re so greedy)
Blame the poor (they’re so needy)
Blame the enemy for
Our war

Pass the buck
What the fuck!

M. Riben (August 05)

Lead, Follow, or Get out of the Damn Way!

Why is it human nature that in every organization from PTA, to HOA's to Church's, to national non-profits there are small groups of "doers" and a loud, albeit small group of complainers.

You know? The ones who will bitch that there weren't enough signs posted about the cake sale. But ask them if they'd volunteer to post signs next years and they're always "too busy" or sick.

The one's that tell you you ran the flea market all wrong and spent to much on advertising. Ask them to be on the committee next year and they simply can't.

They are all over - the do-nothing complainers. They do nothing to help, but they sure bitch about the way others do the things they don't or "can't." They even complain about when the doers receive any credit for what they did! I've known of cases where the do-nothing complainers go so far as to call the doers "divas" who are attention seekers or show-offs!

Complain, bitch, moan, groan, complain... but DO NOTHING!

Some volunteer and then, somehow magically get sick, or get stuck at work and never make it to committee meetings and never come through in the end. their computers break, phones get disconnected, dogs eat their to-do list. But they complain plenty about what others did or didn't do. Some commit to do a specific job and simply don't do it! And still they complain. Or they do it so poorly it needs to be done over entirely!

Others come to the committee meetings, but spend the whole time complaining and being so disruptive that nothing can get done. That is why the saying came about: Lead, Follow, or get out of the way! If you can't do anything positive at least shut up and let those who can, do it.

If you cannot contribute in a constructive, positive manner to a group or organization why spend your time wasting everyone else's???

There is yet another odd group I've come across lately. They have an issue they feel strongly about but have no idea how to fix it. They have no plan, no strategy...But they are angry that YOU have done nothing to fix their pet peeve problem. I am sure local and even national politicians are faced with this a great deal:

"Why have you done nothing to end world hunger?"
"What do you suggest I do as mayor of your town to help that?"
Reply: "I don't know, it's your job to find out how to solve it."
Mayor: "Would you like to organize a committee to see what our town could do to help end hunger? You could meet in the town hall and I could advertise it for you. maybe get the library to set aside room for food donations"
"No, too busy. Sick. My dog has fleas."

Next day - an angry letter to the editor that the mayor doesn't care about the hungry. Or worse, that the mayor threw the guy out of his office; was rude to him; disrespected him...

Those who can, do. Those who can't: SCAPEGOAT, blame, and project their shortcomings on others. Jealousy? Envy? Frustration?

If you sit home and hibernate you offend no one. You play it safe by doing nothing and make no enemies. “No one ever achieved greatness by playing it safe.” Harry Gray

Doers do, not because of the rewards but because of their passion. “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion” (Hebbel). But, ironically, the "doers" not only do - they often also get hated, and must bear in mind these words of Rabbi Boteach to his son: "Never fear being hated:"

"Small men want to be loved. But big men are prepared to be hated. Small men tailor their actions to suit the multitude. But big men will do the right thing no matter how much it inflames the masses.

"Abraham Lincoln was detested by both South and North as he fought for the highly unpopular cause of emancipation. Winston Churchill was loathed in Britain for speaking out against Chamberlain's fictitious peace with Hitler. And Martin Luther King Jr. was cut down by an assassin's bullet as he pointed out the injustices practiced against black Americans. No great man or woman has ever lived who was not prepared to be hated….Do what's right even it costs you friendship. Do what's virtuous even if it leaves you lonely."

Will you chose to be a brave - albeit possibly lonely and maybe even hated "doer" - or will chose to complain and bitch? Shaw said: “Forget about likes and dislikes. They are of no consequence. Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness but it is greatness.” Mark Twain shared the Rabbi's conclusion saying: “Be good and you will be lonely.”

I dislike loneliness, and would rather be happy, but I have no choice. My passion drives me to DO! I want to know at the end of the day, and at the end of my life that I did everything I could do, I left no stone unturned.

Those whose passion drives us to do, though lonely, must keep in mind the words of Rudyard Kipling:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

I try hard to follow this advise because I want to live up to the meaning of success defined by Ralph Wald Emerson:

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty,
to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

Somehow bitching and complaining, criticizing, projecting, making excuses, being angry, nasty, mean or sarcastic appear no where in the list of goals for my life...Are they on yours?

I will keep on keeping on... knowing that: “Everything I did [and will continue to do] in my life that was [and is] worthwhile I caught [and will continue to catch] hell for.” Earl Warren

My goal is not greatness or "success" for myself personally. My goal is to be a part of accomplishing a great and successful end to corruption in adoption. I know to do that I must lead or follow. I cannot and will not stand in anyone's way - nor will I let anyone stand in my way or the way of other doers.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

What Gets You Through?

Chocolate ice cream and Kaluah have become my drug of choice? Red wine, sometimes.

I hate holidays. All holidays.

I am the anti-Valentine. I hate Christmas, my birthday and every Hallmark occasion.

I hate The Waltons and Martha Stewart, too.

But most of all...I hate Mothers' Day.

Even if I were NOT a mother of a twice lost child with the three kids I raised all out of state or out of the country...I would still hate the day that mothers use to brag about how great their kids are and seek to top one another with glowing tales of what their darling offspring got them to celebrate their undying love for, and appreciation of, them.

Barf bag, please!

I hated the holiday growing up. Couldn't stand the mushy cards that talked about Moms who were there to wipe your every tear. Just didn't seem quite right for the Mom who could care less, who blamed you for "making your bed now sleep in it." No cards for Moms who caused more tears than they wiped, or stood silently by while you received harm that caused those tears.

Maybe if we stopped glamorizing Mothers' Day -- and in doing so, romanticizing motherhood -- we wouldn't have people thinking that being another was worth anything...after they had everything else!

For those of you who might be enjoying the day with your long lost child I am happy for you. For those of us who will not, I share your pain.

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh

Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible. ~ Marion C. Garretty, quoted in A Little Spoonful of Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul

As I sip my Kaluah float, what gets you through the tough times?

Some people:

- take baths (bubbles or slats?)
- breathe deeply/meditate
- long walks
- shopping
- message
- play music
- dance
- paint/sculpt
- call a friend

Most of all, find one thing that you can DO to make a change. Write a letter, whatever! Doing an act of activism is so EMPOWERING it will get you out of dulldrum!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

We are ALL Mothers on Mothers' Day...and every day.

With Mothers' Day approaching and all of us who have suffered a loss through adoption feeling tense and not our best...I hope that we can get be extra supportive of one another through this difficult time.

For some of us it will be a wonderful and very exciting day with a cloud over it as always, and for others a totally sad one that will require our full strength to get through.

Let's put aside differences and ALL be there for one another!

Since the late 70s I have met and networked with, "known," and helped thousands of mothers who lost children to adoption find their children since completing my own search in 1977 or 8.

Based on my experience women are not all of one mind based on the era they lost their child. If we were all of one mind, we wouldn't have as much discord among mothers who lost their children during the very same period in history. Some might say that those who do not feel their child was "kidnapped" or "stolen" are in denial or deluding themselves, and perhaps so...the fact remains that not all mothers share the same feelings about their experience and feel the same as all other mothers based on the era of their loss.

There are many varying factors that go into how mothers feel about their loss. Many variables other than the year the loss took place. We all come into the experience with baggage: good supportive parents who want the best for us, abusive parents, etc. For some of us it was a first love, for some it was rape, others may have had many sexual encounters and/or abortions or children, prior to their loss to adoption.

And each of us came to the experience with our own individual coping skills. Some of us went into long periods of denial, or waited patiently to be found. Thousands of others did not.

Some mothers lost more than one child, some had subsequent children and some did not. Most all have been reunited but some were never able to actually connect and meet their child for one reason or another.

Some are convinced to this day that they made the right decision. Some have gone on to become social workers and some have adopted themselves because they see nothing wrong with adoption.

If you speak to adoptees who have searched you learn that there are totally cold-hearted mothers who lost children to adoption who do not want to be found. Some have hired lawyers when found and gotten restraining orders on their own children.

YES...the social mores of past decades were different than they are now. No one denies that. But we cannot make hard fast rules with dated demarcation lines or arbitrary generalizations that during that period there were less options. I know of MANY mothers from the BSE whose mothers offered to help and they refused. So SOME had options, others did not.

Conversely, if an expectant mother today is very young, or from a religious family - particularly a fundamental religion or Mormon - for her it is still 1955! She has zero choices!

There are now many VERY ANGRY mothers of the second wave of mothers who lost their children to so-called open adoption and were duped! Many of them are far more angry than some mothers of the BSE….and for good reason! Their hatred for adoption is based on the way things are today. They were lied to and duped – not told they’d forget as we were…but COERCED with a new sales pitch that was designed to meet the social climate of today. Origins-USA advocates for mothers’ rights and keeping families together. That is our mission. That means we stand for the rights of ALL mothers and treat them all with the same support, no matter if they lost their child(ren) 50 years ago or yesterday.

Most importantly, it is a slippery slope of inferring - or outright saying - that some mothers had it "worse" or "suffered more" (as was said to me in email this week) because of the era.

We are a DIVERSE group. Diversity honors differences, while not making any individual or group superior or another inferior. Otherwise we get into many “pissing contests”: Is someone who has “other” kids is “luckier” than someone who doesn’t or couldn't? Do those who have been rejected suffering more than someone who has a good reunion?

It’s just kinder not to go there and to embrace all of us as mothers in pain than to make distinctions.

A loss is a loss and any mother who feels that loss and seeks our help deserves to be treated equally and not made to feel that her loss was any lesser because she did not suffer the trials and tribulations of the BSE.

The circumstances were different. The pressures and coercion was DIFFERENT. But different does not imply that either was WORSE, nor do all mothers in a similar situation share the same thoughts or feelings about it.

We need to accept, respect and honor those differences without question. We have all suffered being asked: "Why did you give away your child?" with a judgmental tone of "How COULD you?!" We cannot allow ourselves to ask those kinds of judgmental questions to one another.

We need not - and dare I say must not - ostracize those that do not fit neatly into a generalized stereotype of a mother who lost a child to adoption: a teenager forced by parents with no options, as those of us who were not teens need not feel extra shame or "shoulds" - as in "we should have known better" or been more able to resist the pressure. We are marginalized enough - let's not do it to one another!

We are all MOTHERS with no prefix!
For me - a mother who lost my firstborn to adoption in 1968 - that includes not using an era defining and limiting designation prefix either.

* "Diversity" means more than just acknowledging and/or tolerating difference. Diversity is a set of conscious practices that involve:

- Practicing mutual respect for qualities and experiences that are different from our own.

- Understanding that diversity includes not only ways of being but also ways of knowing;

- Recognizing that personal, cultural and institutionalized discrimination creates and sustains privileges for some while creating and sustaining disadvantages for others;

- Building alliances across differences so that we can work together to eradicate all forms of discrimination.

Diversity includes, therefore, knowing how to relate to those qualities and conditions that are different from our own and outside the groups to which we belong, yet are present in other individuals and groups. These include but are not limited to age, ethnicity, class, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, as well as religious status, gender expression, educational background, geographical location, income, marital status, parental status, and work experiences. Finally, we acknowledge that categories of difference are not always fixed but also can be fluid, we respect individual rights to self-identification, and we recognize that no one culture is intrinsically superior to another.

Wishing you ALL the best POSSIBLE Mothers' Day - or the least miserable one!

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