Wednesday, April 29, 2009

We're In The Money, Honey: At the Boutique Baby Booty

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a baby named Jen?
My friends all are pregnant, I must make amends.

Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So Lord, won’t you buy me a a baby boy, Ben?

Everyone's got one...I deserve it...I can buy it lots of THINGS...

April 26, 2009
Cafe Mom Blog Post covers the story of Rebecca Sue Taylor, 19, of West Virginia who tried to sell her 5-month-0old baby for $10,000 because he didn't bond with her. The alleged buyer told her she was going to use a surrogate.

Cafe Mom asks: Is it OK it sell your baby?

Honest to God, REAL selected COMMENTS:
  • - "And really, is that so much different than placing a child for adoption?"
  • - "9 mths she carried that baby and took care of her from the inside, if she wants compensation for all of her hard work then I think that is fine."
  • - "It's not like she was trying to kill her baby. She was trying to give it to somebody who wanted a baby and still take care of herself. I don't think what she did was so bad."
  • - "I really don't think it is wrong for the bio mom to recieve some amount to help her start a new life if she gives up her baby for adoption. Social agencies and lawyers all profit handsomely by the adoption process."
  • - "I think in a difficult living, everyone can do anything, like sell her baby, and it is more better her baby can live health with new parent....."
This is the of the country today, folks! That such a question even had to be asked! But, why not? Surrogacy is role-modeled as being "in" and classy and stylish...

April 30, 2009 Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick announced they are expecting twins - via surrogacy. It is reported that they paid the surrogate $30k and the agency another $100k. It has also been reported that SJP of Sex and the City fame allegedly decided this was good idea after her hubby was rumored to be cheating.

Question: when you hire a surrogate and she delivers twins - do you pay double? Are you committed to keeping both?

April 30, 2009 ( A real busy baby buying day!) AP reports on a 4-year old girl taken into custody because she was sold at birth for $6,000. Born to David, 38, and Angela Schmidt, 33, of Clinton, Mo. Their lawyer says they were "misled" and thought it was a legal surrogacy.

Seems we have succeded in eroding all lines of morality and decency.

Babies for sale - no need to f*ck
Toddlers just...fifty bucks.

Nice house, pool, and pets
I don't smoke no cigarettes
Ah, but..two hours of pushin' broom
Buys me a kid of my own
I'm a man of means by no means
King of the crib.

And then of course the birdman surrogate: Four years after the 58 year old single man left a hospital with twin girls, a bird and no car seats... Stephen Melinger's adoption has been overturned. The girls Melinger he named Karen and Kathy, who were were born in 2005 from a South Carolina surrogate using a sperm donor and delivered in an Indiana hospital and then taken to New Jersey.

The following is a direct, unaltered quote from Child Law:

"the surrogate's attorney, Steven C. Litz (who $olicit$ client$ and $urrogate mother$ on the Internet) completed over 20 adoption$ before the $ame judge in the la$t $everal year$."

Money, money, money
Must be funny
In the rich man's world
Money, money, money
Always sunny
In the rich man's world
All the things I could do
If I had a little money
It's a rich man's world

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The AAC Part II: Rekindling Long Standing Issues...Whose Rights?

The AAC for me, brought me from my safer place in Origins-USA, into a larger arena I had protected myself from, and rekindled much reflection.

Those who have followed my blogging are aware that often repeated themes I have written about are:
  • - building bridges of understanding within the adoption reform/reconstruction movement
  • - overlooking the places we disagree and focus with teamwork on the areas of agreement
  • - overcoming divisiveness and in-fighting that stagnates us and saps our energy from being focused where it needs to be - on our real enemies.
It is sad for me to live through times of discord within, though I am aware it is part and parcel of a grass roots movements growth process -- the splintering of groups and the formation of what appear at first to be extremist factions. If we step back and look at history we see that the radical leftwing of each movement actually help greatly to make the moderate position far more acceptable. The Black Panthers during the civil rights era are a perfect example. I know this intellectually, but it is still painful to be in the midst of emotionally painful struggles of ideologies....specially when for the first many decades of my involvement in adoption issues, there seemed to be more cohesiveness and mutual focus.

When I began my journey, we were "radical" in simply speaking out publicly in the 1970s and 80's as mothers who lost children to adoption. Our main focus was search and reunion - finding our kids and making sure they were safe. As relatively young mothers of young children, that made search a controversial issue. Many within the movement feared we were hurting the entire movement by assisting minor search.

That side, "birthmothers" came into the movement - POLITICALLY - as the women's auxiliary. We supported "open records" because that is what our collective "kids" wanted and we, being loving, caring mothers - not to mention mothers filled with GUILT - were there to help in any way we could to support their efforts to assuage that guilt. After all, we had signed on the dotted line and cast them into the abyss.

Only Carole Anderson, past president of CUB dared to suggest that we seek bilateral "open records." So ahead of her time, she got little support and the idea died with her. I am not sure now exactly what Carole had envisioned. It seemed she was seeking total openness for all parties - that they would know their original identity and we would likewise know their current identity. But perhaps I and others misunderstood and she she meant that we all had a right to the oBC - after all, Carole was a mother who lost a child to adoption, a social worker, and an attorney and so would be very cognizant of the legal issues.

I retreated back to the safety of being a cheerleader for adoptees, believing that to oppose a bill that did not include us bilaterally, as Carole wanted us to do, would harm adoptees' chances of ever getting what they sought.

But has it? In preparing my presentation on Equal Access for the AAC two things were clarified for me:

1. I had been preaching the use of the terms "Equal Access" since 1989 when I first presented it at an AAC and made the bright pink buttons I still have on my website

2. Despite mothers politely not seeking parity in regards to the OBC that under non-adoption conditions would be accessible by us as the mother of a child we bore...despite that, how success has the adoptees' quest for their rights been?

FOUR states have achieved total equality in 56 years of seeking openness and equality. Four others have partial access with caveats, conditions, restrictions and compromises.

If it aint equal, it aint equal. You cannot compromise equality! Ask the Gay Rights Movement. They know this and they are very successful - they have just gotten the third state to give full equality since just 2003.

They understand that Civil union is not marriage. Domestic partnership is not marriage. These compromises deny same sex couples benefits such as marriage tax credit

Equal is equal. It cannot be compromised. Separate but equal is not equal. Brown vs Bd of Ed proved that.

Now...back to the AAC. Here am I an equal rights warrior since at the very least 1989, listening to the former Senator of Maine, Paula Benoit, a forthright and very eloquent equal rights activist who has formed the Council for Adoption Reform Education (CARE). In both her plenary session as well as the follow-up workshop, Paula was eager to share with us methods of getting our points across to legislators: use quick bullet points and keep it all FACT focused. Separate STORIES from fact!

Yet, despite this plea to keep equality focused on fact and leave out the "story" aspect, access to medical records gets muddled in with long lists of genetic ailments. Alex Haley is quoted about our "deep hunger to know our heritage." Moving, but isn't that "story" rather than fact?
Do ya hear the gay rights movement talking about how natural homosexuality is? That it has been around since the beginning of recored time? No way!

Paula illustrated her point by reminding us how our Moms got us to eat our green peas when we were little tykes. Her point was totally lost on me as she explained that our mothers did NOT rely on the fact of how healthy the peas were; how nutritious and vital for our health. Instead, they played on our emotions by telling us about kids dying of starvation. Perhaps I missed her saying that this worked on our very young minds but it doesn't work on intelligent adults? Or perhaps her point was that our opposition plays on emotions such as fear?

We need not fight back dirty as the NCFA does because we have FACT on our side and we have morality, equality, transparency, truth, honesty, justice, human rights on our side!

When Paula concluded and opened the mikes for Q & A, I (impromptu, and in hindsight, not in the best prepared statement I've ever made) attempted to point out that true equality meant access for all persons separated by adoption, not just adoptees, as we are denied access to OBC's that under any other non-adoption circumstances would belong to us as the mother of a child we bore.

Having spoken rather spontaneously, I realize in hindsight it may have sounded as if I were suggesting that *Origins-USA - which I mentioned being VP of communications of, and which of course still carries a past reputation of being extremist - would oppose legislation that did not include our right to access, which is NOT the case. And so I opened a big can of of whoop-ass.

Judy Foster followed me to the mike and spoke of COMMUNIST efforts to make everything all equal for everyone. Judy is with NJ-CARE. New Jersey is my home state and NY is where I relinquished. I have written legislators in both states ad nauseam and testified at hearings.

Judy's comment was loudly applauded, echoed by Fred Greeman, and Paula replied with a soliloquy of why it was the adoptee and only the adoptee who lost their identity. After all, we all knew who we were, and only they do not. Shades of past history for me - for that argument is exactly what Carole Anderson faced and why we retreated.

I am older, wiser, stronger and see things a bit differently from a position of 30 years of hindsight working in adoption reform. The communist comment bit; it stung and it hurt. More importantly, neither that comment, nor the emphasis of adoptees identity - which BTW is S-T-O-R-Y - are conducive to mutuality of support.

Looking at it very pragmatically, adoptees need mothers who lost our children to adoption - POLITICALLY. We are pitted against one another by the opposition.

We need to all be on the same team. We need - not when seeking legislation but between ourselves - recognition that we have all suffered incomprehensible losses...

Mothers who lost the only the child they ever had, lost a major part of their female identity. Are they a mother? How do they answer when asked the very common question - do you have nay children? No matter what they answer there is a knot in their stomach.

We have all lost. Some of us have lost and gotten some "replacement" - another child, other parents. And some of us have just lost.

But we cannot compare and get into who suffers more or totally disregard that we too have suffered a loss - not JUST the adoptee. Because to do so is divisive and shoots the goal in the foot. We need to be all on the same team and help one another - with RESPECT.

Adoptees need us and our support for equal access because we are pitted against them. It is strategically, politically important to work to diminish as much alienation and marginalization of us as possible in order to get and maintain our support.

FACTUALLY - we lost access to the OBC. We will not oppose legislation that does not recognize that, but we will seek recognition of it in all we do to see EQUALITY and restoration of rights abrogated ADOPTION SEPARATED PEOPLE.

Among the arguments I have heard against the principle of equal rights for ALL - is that after all, we signed - no matter how under duress that may have been - adoptees didn't. That kept me filled with guilt enough to step back for many, many years.

But here's the bottom line FACT, folks:

The birth of our children took place - by law - PRIOR To our relinquishment of our rights. Therefore, a right to the OBC was not signed away and should not be denied us.

You need us. Include us. Divided we fall right into the hands of our opposition.

In heartfelt solidarity... and in search of one common goal: Equality for all!

* NOTE: Origins-USA will be issuing a formal position statement on equal access shortly.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Seeking Research Funding

While in Cleveland, I had made arrangements to meet with an old friends - not involved in adoption in any way. My friend's daughter, Jessica, as it turns out, is a Harvard medical school graduate who does research on mother baby bonding and childbirth related issues. She mentioned that NIH has LOTS of $$ and are seeking grant proposals!! (Can you imagine!)

Psyched up and armed with ammunition from the conference I sent my friend the following via email:

"Do you think you could ask Jessica if she thinks NIH would be open to a study on the negative health impact of preventing those are adopted from access to their original birth certificate and the names of their biological progenitors, which thus prevents them from knowing their medical history?

"More than 4,000 diseases are caused by a single defective disease, as I am sure Jessica is well aware. Missing and sketchy health histories put adoptees at risk, especially as they age, yet only 4 states allow uncompromised access to original birth certificates for this stigmatized and discriminated population. Another four states allow some access with caveats and restrictions not applicable to non-adoptees.

"The arguments for keeping these records 'sealed' and secretive (which has only occurred since the 1940's and as late as the 1960's in some states) are fear of increased abortions and the alleged protection of 'promises' of confidentiality made to mothers when they relinquished. Both are false politicized propaganda by those who profit from adoptions, which is a multi-billion dollar industry. Adoption is entrepreneurial and unregulated with few regulations and ethical lines are crossed frequently with no protection for any consumers of adoptions services. Practitioners who arrange adoptions - and that can be ANYONE - work better under the cloak of secrecy.

"Although in theory adoption puts the best interest of the child first, the paying client in adoption is the adoptive parent. It was for their protection from invasion into their lives by a birthparent that the records were sealed in the first place - not the adoptee or the mothers who relinquish. Adoption practitioners still believe people will be less inclined to relinquish and adopt if they records are opened. Neither claim is substantiated. Inasmuch as there are far more people seeking to adopt than babies being relinquished and a demand that is causing kidnappings of children in less developed countries, there is no harm in reducing these numbers except in terms of profit. Kansas and Alaska which never sealed their records have witnessed no decline in adoption with the records remaining open and accessible, nor have they witnessed and increased in abortions. The same is true in England and other countries which never sealed records or have opened them.

"The medical community is well aware of the great importance of obtaining and maintaining an updated and as accurate and complete as possible medical history. US Surgeon General, Dr. Benjamin Carmona, for instance, heads the Family History Initiative. Adopted persons are issued a 'birth' certificate that lists their adoptive parents as their parents, and if there is no ethnic difference in their appearance, they may never even know that they are adopted. These people spend their lives giving their health care providers false medical history.

"As Vice President of Communications of Origins-USA, a national organization of such women, I have finger on the pulse of mothers who have relinquished and can testify to the fact that mothers are far more likely to release HIPAA protected medical information information directly to their child than to an agency. Attempts at establishing ways for medical information to be transmitted while still denying an adopted person access to his original birth certificate are not the solution.

"Of course, I would also really love to see $$ put into researching the creation of more family preservation programs to prevent unwarranted family separations via adoption.

"Again, of the money being made and a demand to fill, expectant moms are often pressured to permanently relinquish all rights to their child because of very temporary and easy to ameliorate issues such as youth, marital status, finances --- LACK OF ADEQUATE CHILD CARE - substance abuse.

"Pilot programs that foster mother ands child together have been very successful and cost effective.

"In Australia, when they made family preservation a priority they reduced the need for out-of-family placements almost entirely!

"The United Nations CRC and the Hague Convention on the International Adoption, both state that adoption should always be a last resort after all attempts at keeping the family together have filed. Family preservation should be first the priority, kinship care with extended family second - all before stranger adoption is considered. But because of the privatization of infant adoption and the profiteering in it, this is never done here.

"At-risk mothers are never given any legal counsel nor are there any requirements he is fully informed of her choices and the lifelong impact of her decisions. Often they are taken out of state and removed from any support system they may have otherwise had (the opposite of all family social service practice). Many expectant mothers once they get involved with adoption 'agencies' through ads in newspapers etc. are made to feel obligated to them because of payments made for their support. Some have been coerced by being told if they change their mind and want to keep their baby they would have to replay all their medical costs. They are matched and enmeshed with prospective adopters who call them birthmothers while they are still moms-to-be and who refer to the baby they are carrying as THEIR baby. babies are routinely handed over in the delivery room to prospective adopters who are present for the birth, allowing the new mother absolutely no time alone to bond and make a decision based on her child as a living human being who is related to her. States are routinely REDUCING the time mother shave to change their mind after signing papers that are also often give to them immediately after birth - even a c-section, even while not fully recovered from anesthesia.

"Pat, these are not hysterical undocumented tales. I can refer you or Jessica to professional journal article sources for all of this.

"And, now I promise I will preach no more. I am sorry to have gotten on my soap box, and hope it is not out of line to ask you to possibly as Jess, but I will leave that decsion to you. You can forward this information to her and see what she thinks, or not. I hope I have not over stepped any lines of our friendship in asking you if this is possible. I will understand if you feel it inappropriate to go about in this manner."

Mirah's Reflections of the AAC: Part I

I am utterly exhausted but will try to share my feedback.

My purpose in attending the 39th annual national American Adoption Conference was to share my presentation on equal access which is now available by clicking:

It was sparsely attended to my disappointment, but there were many session at each time slot. I will say that I got rave reviews for professionalism and interesting information by those who did attend.

My other major objective was to meet with our Canadian counterparts: Monica Bryne and Karen Lynn, president of Canadian Council for Natural Mothers. I was very impressed and encouraged. We seem to be totally like-minded on issues and I hope to continue this invaluable networking.

Financial and health restraints limited my time at this very long conference to late Friday arrival until it ended on Sunday. It was large and spread out which made it quite exhausting for me, though I feel guilty complaining - seeing B J Lifton there! Still a trooper after ALL THESE MANY years!

However, as a result I did not attend many sessions. I did hear Marley Greiner's indepth coverage of safe havens. The work she, and Erick Smith, are doing in following up case-by-case is mind boggling.

Also mind-blowing is the attitude of those who support legalized abandonment and cheer every time a baby is left - seeing it as one more baby "saved" from infanticide (as adoption allegedly "saves" unwanted babies, as well). Proponents get so caught up in this cheering squad mentality that they actually are pushing it on mothers in hospitals! With all the money being spent on advertising etc - which of course is money not being spent helping families in crisis remain safely intact - the numbers are miniscule. In counties in Ohio which Marley monitors closely they are zero to single digit. I must get back to Marley on the percentage of those she said were returned to their original parents!

(Left to right in photo: Me, Karen Lynn, Mary Anne Cohen. Photo credit, Marley Greiner, Bastaredette)

I briefly saw Kathy A, Jean Gartland, Barbara Raymond, Pam Hasagawa, Margie Pershceid, Bobbie Beavers, Robert McDonald, Suz Bednarz, BJ (as I said), Elizabeth Samuels and many, many other new and old faces.

An overall impression is the ongoing lack of cohesiveness in the movement....the failure of the AAC to have ever achieved its goal of being an umbrella organization for those separated by adoption. I find it quite frankly insulting and totally counter-productive that while purporting to be bringing light to the harm of adoptions separation, lies and secrecy, to simultaneously include ways to continue to support an industry which exploits and coerces for profit. But of course, like Donaldson and many other orgs - and individuals - they believe that adoption would be just fine as long as it is "ethical" (with no real definition or goal to work on regulation establishment) and as long as adoptees get their OBC!

To my jaded, radical thinking that is like condoning cigarette smoking at a cancer research conference because its a 'choice' and a profitable just let them smoke and we can then also support the mega bucks pharmaceutical and treatment industry! I mean if we actually stopped any of these hazards, so many would be out of work. Harm and kill for profit - yah!

Those of us working to be more than an ambulance at the bottom of the hill are labeled as "anti-adoption" as if we are wrong not be joining the celebrating of the failure of families to receive the support to remain together. As if adoption were focused on finding homes for the kids in this country or elsewhere who really need homes and not simply filling a demand a filling the pockets of profiteers of misery and family if adoption were at all child-centered or put the interests of children before those of the paying clients. But I digress.

As a result of the lack of focus, new people get involved and decide to take it upon themselves to make a go at opening the records in their state - or simply wanting to go after medical records, as I heard one young woman proclaim to my chagrin - seemingly recreating the wheel with what appears to be little knowledge of the history of what's been done, tried failed, should be tried, and which directions are preferable and not.

I ended my stay with a side trip tot he Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which was great fun but added to my physical exhaustion and pain.

Watch for a follow-up post on a plenary session by Senator Paula Benoit of Maine, entitled "Turning the Legislative Wheels" and reaction to my comments.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Good Beginning...Farther to Go

The current issue of the AAC Decree (Spring 2009, Vol. 26, No 2) is on of the finest I have read in years – maybe decades. The cover story – excerpted from E. J. Graff’s “The Lies We Love” – which echoes everything said in my book, “The Stork Market” was just as good a read the second time around. Lorraine Dusky’s letter to Obama was superb in its passion and inclusiveness.

But what moved me the most – nearly to tears – was the response to Graff’s article by Margie Perscheid, whom I have had the pleasure of meeting as our paths crossed at more than one adoption conference.

Perscheid describes with eloquence her palpable pain of tearing open eyes that are glued shut to avoid the painful truth of the corruption of adoption. After discovering the child she adopted from Korea had “falsified records from the orphanage” Margie now reflects that she and others “were blinded to a good degree by our desire to have kids…” She further recognizes, agonizingly, that “the demand we adoptive parents create for healthy infants has been twisted into false charity, which not only leaves those children who are truly in need…in institutions, but incents the corrupt to obtain healthy infants through any means possible.”

Her heartfelt article concludes: “It’s up to us to stop it…”

That conclusion is not reached without Margie’s bold honesty that guided her pen throughout, revealing: “It’s hard to acknowledge that, through your ignorance, you may have played a role in something that conflicts with your personal standards.”

Margie, in this observation you are far from alone. Mothers who lost our children to adoption, such as myself, also wake up and in hindsight know that we were duped by our ignorance and lack of power and options. All of us were kept in the dark and besieged and battered with lies and myths to get us to play along like well behaved puppets in a game in which money-makers pull all the strings. While adoption practitioners were telling you, the adopters, that adopting is a magnanimous act that rescues “unwanted” children; we were being told how noble and selfless our “decision” to let our children go to and have “better” advantages was.

Those seeking to adopt are assured of the health of the child and that it is “the same as if” you gave birth, while we were told we’ll get over it and have other kids “as if” nothing ever happened. That sales pitch has changed with the times to an holding out the carrot of open adoption “as if” it is the same as being a Sunday parent.

Myths and lies all created and perpetuated by “the industry” and all those who rely on the separation of families and redistribution of children for their livelihoods.

We have finally begun to look behind the wizard’s curtain and admit the King has no clothes. However, Graff’s excellent article falls short when she says that: “Poor, illiterate birthparents in the developing world simply have fewer protections than their counterparts in the United States…” It is far easier to recognize and openly speak of exploitive practices when we can cast blame on “foreign” unscrupulous baby brokers “over there.” Yet we must see that infant adoption in this country is just as viral, albeit in far smaller numbers, the coercion more subtle; the children not outright stolen or kidnapped.

My hope is that as more adoptive parents join Margie – good people such as David and Desiree Smolin, Elizabeth Larsen, The Hemsleys - bravely speak out, we do not wear blinders that limit the problems to outside the borders of the U.S.A., but see it as one that is just as insidious in every small town and city. We must not fail to recognize that the supply and demand for healthy infants is here, as well as “there” and that America exports as well as imports baby’s for adoption – anything that makes a buck.

We need only to look at the opposition to open records in California to see social workers and adoption agencies and the organizations which represent them. Those who know better are still seeking to keep control of the key that locks the records, and keeps their secrets in tact. We must accept the ugly truth that not only are corrupt international adoptions not the anomalies we are told to believe, but neither are adoption brokers like Bessy Bernard, Georgia Tann and Seymour Kurtz.

Let us not forget that when we speak about falsified documents – such as those of Margie’s Korean born children - that our government creates a falsified birth certificate for every adoption and does it openly and above board.

Finally, we must go beyond verbalizing and writing about a need for “ethics” in adoption practices. Ethics is as subjective and vague as the word “nice.” We need to insist upon training and certification especially in child welfare for all who are involved in child placement. We need regulations to protect expectant mothers within our 50 states in terms of representation, option counseling, ample time to make an informed decision after the birth of their child.

We have a new role model other than Australia for prioritizing family preservation and kinship care before allowing adoptions…Guatemala! Shame on us when they are less corrupt than we are right here at home.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Toronto Mothering Conference

I am pleased to report that I will be presenting at “Mothering and the Environment: The Natural, The Social, and The Built” October 22-25, 2009, York University, Toronto, Canada.

It is an opportunity to share our issues and exciting that feminists are beginning to listen.

The conference is presented by the ASSOCIATION for RESEARCH on MOTHERING.

The Association for Research on Mothering (ARM), founded in 1998, is the first international feminist organization devoted specifically to the topic of mothering-motherhood. Our mandate is to provide a forum for the discussion and dissemination of research on motherhood and to establish a community of individuals and institutions working and researching in the area of mothering and motherhood.

ARM, first and foremost, seeks to promote maternal scholarship, both at the university and community level, by bringing together interested individuals to share their insights, experiences, ideas, stories, studies and concerns about mothering and motherhood. ARM is concerned in both membership and research, to the inclusion of all mothers including First Nations mothers, immigrant and refugee mothers, working-class mothers, lesbian mothers, mothers with disabilities, mothers of colour, and mothers of other marginalized groups.

We now have more than 500 members in 20 plus countries. Members include scholars, writers, activists, social workers, midwives, nurses, therapists, lawyers, teachers, politicians, parents, students and artists. ARM hosts an annual conference in October, as well as other events, including the feminist mothers’ group, Mother Outlaws. ARM houses the Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering and Demeter Press. We welcome memberships to ARM and submissions to the Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering, our biannual publication, from all individuals.

My proposed presentation ABSTRACT:

The Empowerment of American Mothers who Have Lost Children to Adoption.

A brief history of American societal and political judgments of women post World War II to the present which deem who is and who is not “deserving” of being a mother based on age, race, marital and financial status will be presented.

Discussion will follow of the societal marginalization of vulnerable mothers and expectant mothers, their exploitation and the commodification of their children by a loosely regulated supply and demand multi-billion dollar adoption industry.

“Wake up Little Susie” and “Beggars and Choosers” by feminist and historian Rickie Solinger will be used to illustrate how women are pitted against women, casting some in roles like those of the fictional handmaidens described in Margaret Atwood’s novel “The Handmaidens Tale”. Gifting economy theorists Susan Petrilli and Allison V. Scott’s explanations of “forced giving” likewise impact on mothers and create subtle pressure by being persuaded that it is unselfish and loving to give away their child to others who are more deserving.

Presentation will place the United States in context with other nations regarding motherhood, rights of natural mothers, kinship care, family preservation, and adoption. This will include a discussion of organizations that offer support to mothers who have suffered the loss of their children and that provide activism to educate and change attitudes and policies, empowering women, and advocate for mothers’ rights and preventing unwarranted family separations.

Presenter’s full biography, including Curriculum Vitae and links to publications, is available at:

Presenter’s Biography:

Mirah Riben is Vice President of Communications,, and author of “The Dark Side of Adoption”, “The Stork Market” and many articles. For over 30 years, Riben has been researching/ writing about American adoption practices. She has presented on radio, national television, adoption conferences, academic and feminist venues.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

California's AB 372: Let's CARE about Equality

California reformers are struggling with the age-old question of whether to support legislation with restrictions, such as a proposed amendment requiring that notice be sent to the last known address of the mother – which could likely be the unwed mothers’ home she stayed at during her pregnancy and delivery. If there is no response within 6 months, the adoptee is denied their rights.

I understand the long suffering reformers, like those in my home state of New Jersey, and cannot even begin to imagine the level of frustration seeing bills be defeated in committee year after year, decade after decade…but we must stand strong and committed to our cause and stay on track, united.

An interesting irony of N.J. is the recent judicial decision in the divorce case in which Bruce Springsteen is named in which Ocean County Superior Court Judge Patricia B. Roe, cited New Jersey's "tradition of open public courts," refused to grant Ann Kelly's motion to have the case sealed. Yes, divorce records with all the lies, innuendos and mud-slinging are open to the public!

Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records passed a Right-to-Know law in 2008, with a mission “to serve as a resource for citizens, public officials and members of the media in obtaining public records of their government." Dominic Pileggi, Executive Director of this independent office, pledged to “work tirelessly to ensure compliance with the law and to help citizens, government officials and members of the media better understand their rights and obligations. My goal is to apply this law fairly and evenly and, through this law, alter what I call the ‘culture of closedness’ that permeates government.” Unless, that is, you’re separated by adopted.

These examples make it abundantly clear that the issue is EQUAL RIGHTS. It is NOT about search and reunion. Not about emotional need to know. Not about heritage or any other feel-good issue. It is not even about medical records (which are protected by HIPAA Laws and cannot be obtained without personal request).

IT IS ABOUT EQUALITY. EQUAL RIGHTS. It is about ending discriminatory restriction that applies only to adoption separated persons, and RESTORING rights that were abrogated against all the best advise of adoption experts.

Focusing on search and reunion and medical need makes it an issue that pits one person’s rights against another’s because it effects more than one person. Equal rights is about the rights of each individual to be equal to that of every other individual.

The idea of "protecting" the alleged rights of persons who "voluntarily" relinquished ALL of their rights regarding another person, or had them terminated, is a bald-faced lie perpetrated by the adoption industry which works better under the cloak of secrecy and fears transparency, openness, and honesty in adoption practices. Freeing slaves hurt the economy - especially plantation owners whose livelihoods depended on it.

There is not one shred of evidence that any mother was ever promised anonymity. And, in fact, if her child were to remain in foster care and never be adopted, no rcords wopuld be selaed, no false, so-called "amended" birth certifcate issued. Even when an adoption takes place, in the vast majority of cases, those adoption - along with attorneys, social workers, court clerks etc. - all have access to the names of the relinquishing parents. Most adoptive parents have - on the adoption finalization papers, at the very least, the name of the baby they are adopting.

There is not one shred of evidence that the records were sealed in the first place to protect anyone other than adoptive mothers, and possibly the adoptee, no more than there is any evidence that unsealing adoption records increases abortions. All are lies and propaganda that - even IF they were true - have no place in a discussion of the HUMAN RIGHTS of persons separated by adoption.

The equal rights of those separated by adoption is an issue of family preservation because it is about preserving the rights of family members separated by adoption. Family preservation (definition in the column to the right) is about continuity of family connections and ending practices and policies that severe, dissolve, destroy, eradicate those ties or place any barrier on reunification.

Note, too, that I speak of the rights of "those separated by adoption" not just the adoptee. This is an issue of family preservationists and mothers' rights activists because mothers who lose their children to adoption also lose the right to see a birth certificate that applies to THEM as the party who gave birth! Hospital records of the birth, as well as agency records, social worker notes, judgements and evaluations of us - even some of what is given out liberally as "non-identifying information" - are OURS.

I have been addressing this issue since 1989 when I presented it at an AAC. I am presenting these issues again at the upcoming AAC on April 25 in Cleveland. I hope to see you there. If you cannot attend, watch these pages for a link to the presentation immediately following the conference. The presentation contains important strategizes for all working on "open records" and those who support the issue.

Friday, April 10, 2009

An Appeal for Mercy

Fifty-year-old, divorcee, superstar Madonna reportedly “broke down” and was an “emotional wreck”, though some reporters thought that her daughter Lourdes the rejection harder than the material Mom.

Not used to not getting her way or being told no, Madonna’s attorney who was shocked at the outcome, has already filed an appeal of the judge’s decision.

The Diva is reportedly “ready to do battle” saying: "I can't believe I'm leaving my beautiful baby behind. It's not right. I love that baby girl ... she needs to be with me."

This, as a man came forward claiming to be Mercy’s father determined that four-year-old Mercy will “be staying in Malawi” with him.

Security guard James Kambew, 24, lives in a remote village 100 miles from the orphanage. Some reports claim he was told Mercy had died in childbirth alongside her mother. Other reports claim he was told by his family and his in-laws to leave town because of getting Mercy’s mother pregnant when she was only 14.

Kambew wants to undergo a DNA test to prove he is the child's biological father. “I bear no grudge against Madonna. But I am Mercy's father and I want her to stay with me.”

It seems that Madonna, who relishes controversy in her real life as much as on stage, simply ignored and learned nothing from the negative publicity surrounding her adoption of David Banda, who also has a father in Malawi. It's called arrogance of privilege. Yet she fired back with indignation claiming it was not true that the laws were bent for her the first time around when the 18 month residency rule most certainly was.

The residency rule, which another judged waived in Madonna’s previous adoption, is important to protect against child traffickers.

She’s not just a material girl, she’s a downright spoiled immature brat who wants what she wants when she wants it and has hissy fits if she doesn’t get it. And after all, she can well afford anything she wants so why should she be deprived this sibling for David? Why should something like a blood bond stand in her way of taking what she wants? She’s only following in Angelina Jolie’s footsteps.

Jolie who adopted Cambodian born Maddox through convicted child trafficker Lauryn Galindo, reportedly said, “I will never give my little boy back. I’ve given him a home, I’ve given him love and he’s mine.” When she found out that he was not a orphan but was stolen form his mother.

Malawi must stay strong and committed to protecting the rights of its children and families. Her appeal must be denied just as she has denied to accept the appeals of experts and humanitarian organizations who work closely with African nations in these areas.

Madonna, please...if you have any charity whatsoever, please listen to the words of your own song, Papa Don't Preach. Think of what inspired those lyrics. Think f the pain of families torn apart by adoption loss and separation. You took David from his father, who he now doesn't even recognize. Haven't you destroyed enough lives?

If James Kambew, who was subjected to societies criticism, proves to truly be mercy's father, can you not see that these words apply to him:

Papa I know you're going to be upset
'Cause I was always your little girl
But you should know by now
I'm not a baby

You always taught me right from wrong
I need your help, daddy please be strong
I may be young at heart
But I know what I'm saying

The one you warned me all about
The one you said I could do without
We're in an awful mess, and I don't mean maybe - please


Papa don't preach, I'm in trouble deep
Papa don't preach, I've been losing sleep
But I made up my mind, I'm keeping my baby, oh
I'm gonna keep my baby, mmm...

He says that he's going to marry me
We can raise a little family
Maybe we'll be all right
It's a sacrifice

But my friends keep telling me to give it up
Saying I'm too young, I ought to live it up
What I need right now is some good advice, please


Daddy, daddy if you could only see
Just how good he's been treating me
You'd give us your blessing right now
'Cause we are in love, we are in love, so please


Papa don't preach, I'm in trouble deep
Papa don't preach, I've been losing sleep

Oh, I'm gonna keep my baby, ooh
Don't you stop loving me daddy
I know, I'm keeping my baby

Madonna is beyond being a stubborn brat. But I hope that the criticisms and issues raised by this very high profule adoption case serve to bring to light the many complex issues of adoption today - not the least of which is the money aspect. I hope if it does not ever reach Madonna's heart and brain it hits others and makes them think twice.

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