Saturday, October 31, 2009
Catholic Charities of Trenton, NJ who matched a returning father with an adopted young man alleged to be his son, only to have them find out AFTER THIRTY YEARS via DNA tests that they are unrelated...now refuses to help, despite admitting to having the all the answers to the resolve the mishap at their fingertips!
"We have them [the records/files of the adoption] in our physical custody," Francis Dolan, director of the Diocese of Trenton's Catholic Charities, said. "We're the custodians, but we don't own them. We're legally not allowed to share any information."
In the most amazing "good cop bad cop" double talk ever, Lisa Thiabult, a spokeswoman for Catholic Charities says: "If there was anything we could do to solve this mystery and to bring healing and closure to these people we would do it. We share their frustration and I can appreciate the incredible suffering this has caused all of them."
While Dolan says: "records from St. Elizabeth's Home has determined that there were six to seven male infants adopted from the facility. Unfortunately, adoption law in New Jersey dictates that unless the individuals reach out to Catholic Charities themselves and consent to allow their records to be opened, they must remain sealed."
ARE YOU KIDDING ME????
They can't pick up a phone and call these six or seven people and ask them if they would be interested in meeting someone who might be their father and is interested in discovering if they are his son???
Adoption agencies act as intermediaries in this fashion all the time! Obviously this agency, like my own dear personal JCCA, fear lawsuits more than being the humanitarians they claim to be.
They'd so anything to prevent suffering? Suffering and loss are their bread and butter!
As an aside, it is interesting that all the news stories about this case revealed the name of the birth mother, with no indication that she either initiated or ever took part in this reunion.
The charity 'Raising Malawi' (PR firm) founded by Madonna AND TWO OTHERS over three years ago held fund raisers for over two years before finally getting registered as a non-profit. In other words, Madonna and the others were free to squander the lion's share of that funding any way they saw fit for those first two years while she pleaded with her fans worldwide for donations along the way.
In the meantime, she toured the world to promote her latest CD and raked in another $280,000,000 gross in just over 12 months. To date, the basic financial info for 'Raising Malawi' still hasn't been posted on the website or anywhere else. The 'progress' page only tells of the collective works by over 20 separate charities, each of which has their own sources of funding and may have received some sort of promotion or support from 'Raising Malawi' in order to be considered 'partners'. But there is no indication is made how much of their funding came from 'Raising Malawi' or how much of their progress if any could be directly attributed to 'Raising Malawi'.
The fans/donors have no clue how many millions of dollars were raised in that first two years, no clue how much Madonna herself chipped in, and no clue how the money was spent before they finally registered as a non-profit. No clue what fraction of funding or works listed on that 'progress' page could be directly attributed to 'Raising Malawi'. Nothing to go on but the vague and very misleading word of Madonna.
For example: She states in her latest promotional video that she will match any contributions made to her charity (PR firm) "dollar for dollar". However, there is a disclaimer posted on the website for 'Raising Malawi' that Madonna's total contribution will not exceed $100,000. And that is not per donation. It's a maximum of $100,000 TOTAL. Less than a single day's pay for Madonna. Also much less then she will surely rake in by promoting her own CDs, DVDs, and 'for profit' merchandise through this massive worldwide publicity stunt.
I called the office of 'Raising Malawi' in an attempt to verify some sort of efficient financial operation (310) 867-2881 or (888) 72-DONOR). These details are ALWAYS made available by legitimate charities to their potential donors. But not in this case. I got nothing but recorded messages and hangups. So I did some research on my own. 'Raising Malawi' still hasn't been given any kind of rating by ANY independent charity watchdog like Charitywatch.org. The vast overwhelming majority of 'celebrity' foundations never are. In general, they are inefficient and riddled with corruption. Like the promotion of CDs, world tours, commercial websites, entire lines of jewelry (not just the single piece from which proceeds are donated), and high end fashion retail flagship stores. Celebrity foundations are also notorious for squandering much of their funding on private jet rides and super high end accommodations for their managers, PR crews, and celebrity figure heads. Such practices are not illegal even for a non-profits but not ethical, noble or efficient by any stretch of the imagination.
In general, 'celebrity' foundations are a twisted inefficient mutant of charity, self-promotion, exotic travel, and PR crap -- or at best poorly managed. Still, they compete for funding with more efficient legitimate charities who do more work with less money. The celebrity figure heads often disregard the primary donors, co-founders, and managers, take personal credit for any collective work done, and seek maximum publicity shortly before or after the release of their own commercial projects. Its a sham. So if its not rated, then don't support it. Instead, support a top rated charity like any of those given high ratings at Charitywatch.org.
Remember Sting's big concert from back in 2006 that was supposedly to help raise money to save the rainforests? According to GreenDaily the concert certainly raised money, but the several million dollar profit made was not given to charity as it should have been.
Charity watchdogs did a review and less than half of the money from that concert ended up going to rainforest saving charities.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Would you steal a drug that your child needs to survive?
If you had to choose between (1) killing one person to save the lives of five others and (2) doing nothing even though you knew that five people would die right before your eyes if you did nothing — what would you do? What would be the right thing to do, Sandel asks us to ponder.
He has authored a book entitled Justice: What's The Right Thing To Do? which is also a PBS series with some videos available online.
I heard him speak at Rutgers the night before last. He basically compares philosophers Jeremy Bentham's theory of utilitarianism with Immanuel Kant.
Utilitarianism believes that what is best for the most is what counts. This is commonly known as cost-benefit analysis such as was used by the Ford company in deciding not to fix the Pinto exploding defect, weighing the cost of law suits when people were killed or injured against the cost of fixing it.
Other examples of utilitarian theory are the rationale for killing or torturing one human being to save the lives of more than one or many.
Kant, however, believed that it is morally wrong to use a human being as a means to an end. Objectification - or putting a dollar value on human life - violates basic human dignity. Kant argues that maximizing happiness is not the only thing that matters, Respect for human rights is primary.
Sandel's work is to stimulate discussion on these issues as they relate to real-life situations. He challenges students and those attending his lectures to "listen more closely and argue more explicitly about moral questions of justice."
Seems a no-brainer to me to adopt these philosophic theories to adoption. Challenging us to think about comparisons to slavery or indenture...or who is the "real parent"...are my way of attempting to stimulate such conversation.
As I stated in my Sept 8 post "Adoption Comparisons": Comparative arguments like these - whether you agree or disagree - create lively and thoughtful discussion and debate.
On Oct. 5 I asked "Is Adoption Natural?" and engendered some 85 comments.
I also compared adoption to kidnapping when several adoptees on Facebook were triggered by the Jaycee Duggard kidnapping.
When we look at these comparisons, of course we are not blind to or ignoring the differences.
And so once again, I revisit the question of the connection between adoption and slavery based on two facts:
- both institutions separate families
- both institutions involuntarily change people's names (as opposed to marriage)
Tobias Hübinette notes that “[b]oth the slaves and the adoptees are separated from their parents, siblings, relatives and significant others at an early age, stripped of their original cultures and languages, reborn at harbours and airports, Christianized, re-baptized; both assume the name of their master/parent and, in the end, only retain a racialised, non-white body that has been branded or given a case number. ... These children were objects of rescue fantasies and relief projects for the European homeland populations and especially feminist and Christian philanthropist and humanist groups.” (“Between European Colonial Trafficking, American Empire-. Building and Nordic Social Engineering: Rethinking International Adoption From a Postcolonial and Feminist Perspective.”)
In the Old Testament. the phase "I will blot out their names" (to erase their identity...as though they had never existed) is a more powerful threat even than physical death.
--Dr. Rollo May, Man's Search for Himself
About 30,000 to 60,000 children are reported missing every year, but it is hard to estimate how many are involved in child trafficking cases, the Ministry of Public Security told China Daily.
Police have rescued 2,000 children this year since China launch a nationwide anti-trafficking campaign, China Daily reported.
Earlier this week China's state media reported that police arrested dozens in an alleged child trafficking ring that sold at least 52 babies.
The traffickers bought 19 boys and 33 girls from impoverished rural families in Shanxi and Hebei provinces in the past two years, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tomorrow night I will be attending:
FREE HOW TO ADOPT DOMESTICALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY MEETINGS - NY AND NJ
For those looking into adoption: In this time of economic worries and limited adoption options, Ametz rolls back the cost of attending out initial HOW TO ADOPT DOMESTICALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY MEETINGS. Come to these FREE sessions to learn the ins and outs, and possible options of domestic and international adoption, without committing to the process or JCCA. Co-Presenting: Ametz partner agency, Children's Home Society & Family Services.
Kathy Brodsky, LCSW
Director, Ametz Adoption Program/JCCA
120 Wall Street - NYC - NY - 10005
NY and NJ licensed agency
Full Hague Accreditation through 2013
WHY Have I Registered to Attend?
Ametz, aka JCCA which stands for Jewish Child Care Association, was "my" agency.
My daughter, Alicia was born July 15, 1967. I refused to sign papers and Alicia was placed with a foster family while I tried to get my life together - without the help of my parents who wanted me to relnquish. I was able to visit her in a sterile room at the agency -- picture an interrogation room on any CSI show: table, two chairs and a huge two-way mirror occupying almost an entire wall. I knew they were watching to see if I would harm my daughter in any way. It was too awkward and surreal to imagine.
I never saw the foster mom and she never saw me. She handed "the baby" to a social worker and disappeared. Then "the baby" was handed to me in this room.
It being 1967, I was told repeatedly -badgered - that if I did not sign papers by the time she was 6 months old she become "unadoptable." And so on the day she turned 6 months old I finally caved. I have no idea what I signed because the papers were drenched with my tears that blurred my vision and I was never given a copy of what I signed. I left the agency in the same zombie-like state I entered and proceeded to medicinally numb myself for the next year or so...
Fast forward ten or twelve years. Late 70s, early 80's. I co-founded the original Origins. We held monthly support group meetings and as a result I began to see some mothers' relinquishment papers. It became very clear very quickly the wde variation of wording. Some stated that the mother agreed never to have any contact with her child. Some said she agreed not to have any contact during his minor years. Some said nothing about the future or any contact whatsoever.
So...wanting to find my daughter ad planning to initiate a search as soon as humanly possibly, I wrote to "my agency" and told them that having seen these varied agreements, unless I had a copy of what I had agreed to - how would I know if I was in violation of that agreement?
I was seeking a copy of my relinquishment papers - papers that preceded any adoption and had nothing that could identify her new identity or the adoptive family.
I was denied.
I wrote again and again over the years. I was told that the freedom of information did not apply to non-governmental agencies.
In 1982 I learned her new identity and wrote to her parents offering any medical history or anything else they might need. Sometime after meeting her aps and then my daughter, I wrote again to the agency naming her aps and saying that since I already knew who they were, could I now have a copy of my relinquishment papers that do not identify them anyhow. Still no.
In meeting her aps, I also found out that despite the pressure on me to relinquish by the time she was 6 months old, she remained in her foster home until she was a year old and calling her foster mother "Mommy" and then was suddenly removed when an appropriately approved adoptive family - with 3 biological sons - appeared.
In 1995, when I found out accidentally that my daughter took her life at 27 years of age I wrote yet again to JCCA. I was STILL denied even redacted copies - or even a BLANK FORM so that I could see the wording used in 1967 and thus know what I had agreed to or not.
So, why am I going? What do I hope to gain?
I want to pubkically confront Kathy Brodsky who refused me in writing in recent years.
I am VERY OPEN TO SUGGESTIONS. The following plan came to me while presenting at the ARM conference because I was on a panel with mothers who had lost children to death at birth or later. They made the connection and were very receptive to the loss we experience in adoption. So, I thought I would use that connection and empathy...
My plan is to wait until Q & A and then stand up say the following:
Most of us here in this room have experienced loss: loss of the dream of a pregnancy, misscarriage, possibly still birth. We know the pain of loss and want to maintain memories of our lost babies in any way we can. No longer are mothers told not to hold their babies who have not survived. We know now that mothers need remembrances.
Yet, I who have lost my daughter am denied any semblance of any shred of evidence that she was ever born to me and existed. (Not really true, as I DO have both her original and amended BCs). But I will let all in the room know that Kathy Brodsky and JCCA have denied me a copy of a "contract" I signed - something that is unacceptable in any other legal agreement.
What does that say about the ethics of Ametz?
Your thoughts, feedbacks and prayers encouraged...PLEASE!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I personally distinguish this emotion as regret rather than guilt.
Leaving religion out, guilt is a psychological cognitive experience in which a person believes (regardless of the truth of the belief) that they have broken a moral standard and are responsible for the violation.
The question is thus, have I - have any of us - broken a moral standard by surrendering to the powers that be and allowing our children to be taken and placed for adoption?
Were we not instead put in a moral no-win conundrum to do what all authority figures from our parents to our religious leaders to social workers with great knowledge of child welfare all said was right and best, or to defy them and do what we were told was selfish?
Carolyn Bushong says:
The term "selfish" is used by others to manipulate and control us and make us feel guilty. Anytime we're not choosing to do what is best for someone else, that person will accuse us of being selfish to try and convince us to do what he or she wants.
What of those such as myself who did defy them as long as possible and still lost in the end? Was I worng to defy them or wrong to give in?
When we do something morally good, we feel good about ourselves, perhaps proud to have acted well, and when we do something morally bad, we feel guilty to have acted poorly.
Would you steal to provide medicine for a child of yours who would die without it? If you did, would it be morally wrong? Would you feel guilty? Should you?
Would you prostitute yourself to feed your child if you had no other way to earn the necessary money?
Guilt is a control mechanism exploited by religious leaders, politicians, car and baby salesmen. It is perhaps the best and most easily instilled control emotion.
When we were small children, we trusted our thoughts and feelings. We knew when we felt angry or sad, and we expressed these feelings naturally without thinking about whether we should or shouldn't.
When we became mothers we "instinctively" knew what was natural but social mores and pressure to be a "good daughter" pulled at us allowing the "shoulds" rule.
Carolyn reports that her female clients have shared feeling guilty for:
guilty for being female
guilty for being smart
guilty for being overweight
guilty for not being organized
guilty for not being a morning person
guilty for taking time for themselves
guilty for ending a relationship with someone who loved them
guilty for not talking to their parents constantly
guilty for not being a perfect parent
guilty for not sacrificing enough with time, money, etc.
guilty for sleeping in late
guilty for eating chocolate or dessert before dinner
guilty for buying things for themselves
guilty for enjoying life
guilty for not saving enough money
guilty for being who she is
Guilt is a dangerous weapon, and it is also a cage, but one we own the key to. Carolyn's suggestions for getting rid of unwarranted guilt:
If you actually did something wrong (according to your own belief system, not someone else’s), right the wrong and then let it go. Clean up your mistake by saying: "I feel terrible about what I've done to you. I really didn't mean to hurt you. I am sorry I hurt you. The reason I did what I did is ___________, but I’m not justifying what I did. What can I do to make it up to you and earn your trust again?"She further suggests that those harboring guilt recognize that as humans we are imperfect and should thus avoid guilt-ridden negative statements to ourselves, i.e. "How could I be so stupid?!" "If only I would have been smart enough to." "I sure screwed that one up!" "I can't believe I did that!"
Bottom line for me: Their "shoulds" and talk of being selfish and doing what was right and constant pressure wore me down. They won. They got my daughter. But I will not allow them to get my soul as well! I will not be guilt-tripped by those who evilly plotted the destruction of my family, or by a society who condoned such violation of motherhood.
In my first book, The Dark Side of Adoption I compare mothers who lost children to adoption to soldiers.
They were young: seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty. Birthmothers are generally young, too.
They were faced with a war—something no one wants or asks for. We were faced with unplanned pregnancies.
They describe themselves now as having been naive. Most didn't even think about what they were getting into. Besides, their alternatives were bleak—leave the country?
Many of us were given no alternatives at all—give up your baby or don't come home.
They went on what they believed to be a noble mission—defending their country. To counteract the fact that killing and maiming are against human nature, they were told that they were killing in the name of peace, freedom and the American way.
We were told that if we really loved our babies and wanted what was best for them, we would give them up to people who could provide better homes for them than we could. Though it is against every act of nature and a violation of our inborn maternal instinct to give away that which we carried and nourished inside our wombs for nearly a year—we were told not to was selfish.
We surrendered. We did the "right" thing.
They returned to find less than a hero's welcome. Far from saviours, they were called killers by many. We are not applauded for our sacrifice either, but looked upon with scorn and disgust by friends and neighbors.
They can never put their experience behind them; some experience flashbacks. Like them, we can never forget; we experience anniversary reaction and delayed grief syndrome.
Like them, no one can truly understand our suffering except another who has lived through it. Like them, we are now ready to come out of our closets and make the world understand us.
They are the men of the sixties. We are the women of the sixties . . . and the seventies and the eighties. Their war is over. Ours still rages on.
Today we support our troops - even though they have a "choice' to enlist today they did not have during Vietnam. But we do not hold them personally responsible for the war or those they are ordered to kill. Instead we offer returning vets as much support to cope with the guilt and return to as normal a life as possible after living in a bizarre world where wrong is right and hate and violence rewarded.
I do not think of myself as "bad" or "evil" or "guilty" for the loss of my daughter to adoption. Nor do I play the victim. Like soldiers who now support peace, I work to right the wrongs.
If feeling guilty comforted me, then perhaps I would. If it comforts any of you, please feel free. But it does not serve me nor suit the facts of what occurred so I will not berate myself or allow anyone else to. I listened to "them" once. I beleived their shoulds. I have grown wiser and stronger and no longer do. I will not let anyone guilt me - least of all myself.
They got my child. They will not get my soul.
Introduced on Oct. 15, the act (H.R. 3827) aims to stop discrimination in adoption and foster care placements based on the sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status of the prospective adoptive/foster parent in question.
The 125,000+ kids in foster care are the crux of the argument, however Stark's introduction to the bill - with no co-sponsor - includes the following preposterous statement"
"There is an acute shortage, however, of adoptive and foster parents."
Stark goes on to say:
"Congress invests over $8 billion in the child welfare system each year and we should not accept policies that use Federal funds to enact barriers to adoption and close the door to thousands of potential homes. Multiple studies have found that adopted and foster children raised by gay and lesbian parents fare just as well as their peers being raised by heterosexual parents.PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, join me in writing to Rep. Stark as well as to your local representative making the following points, or your own. Begin by telling these law makers that you totally agree with and support their concern for assisting children in foster care. Applaud Stark for his humanitarian effort in this regard...HOWEVER, make them aware that:
"When considering a potential placement for a child, the only criteria should be what is in the child’s best interest and whether the prospective parents can provide a safe and nurturing home. Bigotry should play no part in this decision."
- REAL CONCERN FOR CHILDREN would begin with demanding congress to allocate the greatest portion of the $8 billion on programs that work to end discrimination of natural families, such as Michigan’s Families First program modeled on the Homebuilders model (see pp 170-171, The Stork Market). Providing funding and encouragement of child removal instead of working with the family to ameliorate their problems is punitive, permanently harms children by putting them in at-risk foster care, and is the most vile of all discrimination.
- Increasing the possibility of foster care adoption would be made possible by restricting tax benefits to the adoption of these "special needs" children and not giving the majority of them to those who are adopting internationally or privately adopting infants domestically.
According to a Child Trends research summary of the U.S. Treasury Department report, Federal Income Tax Benefits for Adoption: Use by Taxpayers 1999-2005, also printed by the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) (1, 2) the "vast majority" of adoption tax credit recipients adopted infants or younger children via private domestic or foreign adoptions, rather than older children from foster care. Nearly all people adopting children from other countries were supported by the tax credit, but only one in four adopting from U.S. foster care were. (3)
This concern has been shared by North American Council on Adopted Children (NACAC), which in 2007 called adoption tax credits an "ethical dilemma" because, “Today’s reality is that the original intent of the adoption tax credit legislation has been turned upside down." The adoption tax credit is clearly not fulfilling a primary goal that of promoting adoption from foster care. (4)
The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute likewise reports, “The federal government, for example, offers financial incentives in the form of tax credits to families who privately adopt infants (and who are often affluent), yet does not offer the same support to those families who adopt children in foster care (and who usually have the greatest need for such support). Is it ethical that intermediaries and those least in need benefit the most from these tax credits?” (5)
Elizabeth Samuels concurs. “[F]ederal tax benefits for adopters generally provide greater benefits to families involved in more pensive healthy newborn and international adoptions, although the benefits are promoted as a means to increase adoptions of children out of foster care.” (6)
“A tax credit is far more beneficial than a tax deduction… For every child adopted, those who adopt are also entitled to an additional tax credit of $1000 every year the child is a dependent in your home, and an additional $3,300 for each person in your family. Those in a 25% tax bracket, receive a reduction of $825 (25% of $3,300). Many adoptions involve at least part of the cost (often approximately $2000) going to a charitable orphanage. This can be treated as a charitable deduction for tax purposes. An additional $500 for those in the 25% tax bracket. And, some states offer tax incentives for adoption as well.” (7)
Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, told the Associated Press: "That means an even greater incentive for quick-and-dirty, slipshod placements, for placements more likely to disrupt, and for the creation of more legal orphans, as states rush even faster to terminate parental rights."(8)
Numbers tell the story:
According to ChildWelfare.gov, there were approximately 125,000 total adoptions within the U.S. for 2001. Just slightly more than 50,000 of those represent children adopted from state agencies (foster care).
The remaining 75,000 consist of between19-20,000 international adoptions, an unspecified but relatively small number of in-family and step parent adoptions. The largest percentage–55,000–are privately arranged adoptions. All benefit from tax incentives equally.
The adoption credit is scheduled to sunset at the end of the year 2010, and revert back to its pre-2001 dollar limit of $5,000, or $6,000 if a special needs child is adopted.
1 Geen, Rob, Child Trends’ Vice President for Public Policy and Director of Child Welfare Research. "The Adoption Tax Credit: Is It An Effective Approach to Promote Foster Care Adoption?"
2 Children's Voice (2008). CWLA, Policy Watch. Jan/ Feb. http://www.cwla.org/voice/0801end.htm
3 Child Trends (2007). "Adoption Tax Credit Not Fulfilling Original Purpose: New Data Show Tax Credit Primarily Supports Private & Foreign Adoptions, Not Foster Care Adoptions," August 8. http://www.childtrends.org/_pressrelease_page.cfm?LID=7D58A49E-E869-41C8-89A20341D318BD16
4 Kroll, Joe. NACAC's Executive Director, (2009). “The Adoption Tax Credit: An Ethical Dilemma” Fall Adoptalk http://www.nacac.org/adoptalk/adoptiontaxcredit.html
Kroll, Joe. NACAC's Executive Director, (2009). “The Adoption Tax Credit: An Ethical Dilemma” Fall Adoptalk http://www.nacac.org/adoptalk/adoptiontaxcredit.html
5 Money, Power and Accountability: The “Business” of Adoption. Evan B. Donaldson Institute Adoption Conference Summary. Anaheim, November 1999.
6 Elizabeth J. Samuels, 2005. Time To Decide? The Laws Governing Mothers’ Consents To The Adoption Of Their Newborn Infants. 72 Tenn. L. Rev. 509, p. 523.
7 The Stork Market: America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry. 2007. Dayton, NJ: Advocate Publications, Page 203
8 The Columbus Dispatch, (2007) “Adjust course: Tax credit meant to help foster children has gone off track” August 22.
When all the kinks are hopefully ironed out, I will make it official.
Also thnaks for your patience in my approving comments here as I have just rerurned from Toronto where my presentation at ARM, York University was well received.
The session - which competed with about four others - was attended by perhaps a dozen women who were very interested and agreeing.
The sister of the star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, was a presenter. She shared how her sister had had multiple (5 or 6) miscarriages and then had a surrogate miscarry because she had used her own egg. She finally adopted. She shared attending the Christening (also attended by Mr & Mrs Tom Hanks) and how her joy for her sister was mingled with sadness for the mother of this child.
The woderful mothers of the Canadian Council of Natural Mothers treated me like royalty, holding an authograph dinner in my honor hosted by Board Member, adoptee Wendy. CCNM Pres. Karen Lynn acted as tour guide for the entire weekend and I had the pleasure of meeting her young son Julian whom she was able to raise as well as her reunited son Doug with whm she has enjoyed a te year plus relationship -- and he calls her MUM!
Toronto contiues to grow in leaps and bounds epscecually at the lake front with huge enormous highrise condos one after another after another...
It was most intersting to get a first had feel of the difference between Canada and here - where records are being opened UNILATERALLY to both adoptees and mothers, something never even attempted here! AAC members can read all about it in the current Decree.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
In the meantime, T will be in Toronto presenting at the Association for Research (ARM) on Mothering's 13th annual conference , October 22-25, 2009 at McLaughlin College, York University, Toronto, Canada
See York media on the conference: http://www.yorku.ca/yfile/archive/index.asp?Article=13426
"Mothering and the Environment: The Natural, The Social, The Built (Oct 22-25, 2009)
with embedded A (M) Other world is Possible: Two Feminist Visions Conference" (Oct 23-25, 2009)
Featuring Over 150 papers and 45 panels, performances and workshops.
I will also be having the pleasure of meeting with several moms from Canadian Natural Mothers, including president Karen Lynn who you may have met at the AAC in Cleveland. Karen has also arranged a meeting with the reporter.
When I return - late Monday - I will make the presentation available online (likely Tuesday, depending on how much email I have to catrch up with).
Please go to: http://www.advocatepublications.com/blog/
And PLEASE post a comment - to test it out and to let me know what you think of it.
Thank you for your continued support.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
The Star Tribune of Minneapolis, MN ran story entitled: Burned by a baby broker
It is a story of sypathy for one sandy Hibbs, a 50-year old single women who "flies all over the world for her job" and who tried to adopt not one, not two, but three young babies from Guatemala.
So sad for Sandy, who spent approx. $170,000 in total for the three (which might include moneys spent for a previous failed attempt from Russia or somewhere) and she cannot get the girls out of the country cause of illegalities in th adoption. Now isn't that a heart breaker that babies are not allowed to be sold illegally?
Turns out the mother of the twins and third girl wa sonly 15 when she gave birth and thus cannot legally sign any relinquihsment papers and so they were forged, Also turs out their grandmother is seeking to raise the, Pity. Poor, poor sandy wallowing in a room with "three empty cribs."
Turns out that there are 17 agencies in Minnesota, the largest importer of babies of all the states.
In the past three years, state regulators began 14 investigations against eight of these firms.
A Family Journey, which handled Hibbs' failed adoption, was cited for 13 licensing violations this year, including overcharging her. Investigators also found that Hibbs paid $9,000 in foreign fees before she fully qualified for adopting.
"Attorney Scott Hillstrom, who represents the agency, said state investigators conducted "a blatantly incompetent investigation," but his 24-page appeal was rejected on every count. Hillstrom said his sister's agency handled 175 adoptions and failed to deliver children in just two cases, including Hibbs'.
"Experts say the willingness of Americans to spend $25,000 or more adopting a child is a big part of the problem and has contributed to illegal activities in such countries as Guatemala, where that kind of money is a fortune.
"The agency was run by Tamara Hillstrom out of her Minneapolis home. Before starting the nonprofit agency in 2005, she was in the clothing business, selling hand-painted goods to retailers and running a Mall of America kiosk. She had no social work experience, but had adopted a child from Guatemala."
The article goes on to report that: "So far, criminal charges regarding Guatemalan adoptions appear to have been filed against just one American, Mary Bonn, an adoption coordinator who worked for A Family Journey and other U.S. agencies. She was arrested while working for a Pennsylvania agency in February 2007 after smuggling a baby out of Guatemala to her home in Florida. She pleaded guilty to harboring an illegal alien and spent 10 months in prison."
Hibbs reportedly became "uneasy," however, when the attorney started demanding more money. In June 2008, the lawyer suggested to Hibbs by e-mail that she come to Guatemala, pay him $33,500 in cash and meet the children's mother and grandmother. Hibbs said she didn't go because paying in cash seemed unsafe, even unethical.
But not to worry, because the reporter reminds us that "most Americans come home with the children they wanted" [despite corruption.] Yes, in fact, even "Hibbs still hopes for a happy ending in which she gets the girls."
And, we can also take solice in knowing that: As punishment, state officials made the agency's license conditional for one year. Until next August, Tamara Hillstrom must disclose the state's findings to all current and prospective clients. Scott Hillstrom said that could put the agency out of business."
If A Family Journey closes, it would become the second agency effectively forced out of business by the state in recent years. In 2007, the state revoked the license of Reaching Arms International of New Hope after regulators received dozens of complaints about bungled adoptions. Investigators found forgery, false documents and other problems.
What was this single 50-year old who "flies around the world for her job" thinking to consider three babies at nice? The title of the article and THIS accompanying photo (left) put 100% of the focus on the disappointment of the prospective baby buyer.
One is an emotionally expressive video of a 34-year-old man's Facebook reunion.
The second is a reunion of adoptees who were once entrusted to the New York Foundling Home, some were part of the "orphan train."
The New York Times, quotes the director as claiming that the 600 who attended the home's 140th anniversary were returning to their "roots" ??
Your thought? Reactions?
Saturday, October 17, 2009
we are introduced to three birthmothers (as the agency calls them) who have placed through Lutheran. The first is a 17-year old with her father, a kind-hearted bear of a police sergeant. Together, they tell her story -- even the dad gets teary. She’d given birth 4 months before, and is still very sad. She is in touch with her baby's adoptive family and is still coming to terms with her choice. There is much visible pain. It's hard to see.How dare an adoption agency exploit this child's pain like this?
When going to make pre-death funeral arrangements, would you enjoy or benefit in any way from being introduced to a newly grieving widow crying her eyes out while telling you which coffin and service she chose? Would this help you or the new widow in any way whatsoever?
How about days after your possibly terminal cancer diagnosis is confirmed being asked to visit the waiting room of your oncologist to talk to patients awaiting the results of their biopsies to find out if they have cancer? Helpful to either of you?
I can fully understand "using" - in the fullest extent of the word - "happy birthmothers." trotting out the ones who are pleased with their "choice and content with their "decision" - all of course still within the first year "honeymoon." But why this?
Punishment? Is that why her father was implicit in it? To teach her a lesson on what happens to girls who "do it"? To rub her nose in her pain?
And, as if this lacked dignity and purpose, the PAP blogging about all this tells of yet another mother who is "straight out of Jerry Springer. She carries drama around her like a cloud – she’s been a victim of every person in her life. I wonder how I would react if we ended matched with someone so dramatic." This judgment, BTW, by a woman who calls her blog Drama2BMama - no joke! I guess drama is OK when it's you and need to complain to the world about your infertility how hard it is for you to adopt...but those who loose their kids cause life sometimes sux, ought to just shut up already! Indeed, what WILL she do if she is "matched" with someone unpleasant?
What did you expect? A Rhodes scholar with all her ducks in a row? Let's check out compassion at the door, and bring in the clowns and the judgements!
Step right up and see the two-headed woman drop her baby right here on the stage and walk away! See the snake woman hand you her reptile boy as a gift as you shrink back in repulsion! Watch the crippled bearded kid cry as he limps across the stage for your pleasure and delight! And please don't feed the starving Ethiopian children as you stroll pass their cages, they're just here in case you want to bring home a souvenir.
And let us not forget the admission paid by the PAPS for all this fun entertainment and education! Lutheran Family Services gets paid - of that can you can rest assured - but the "actors" donate their services for the good of adoption! To spread the JOY!
URGH! Sorry if I over-reacted but it kinda ummm freaked me out!
Friday, October 16, 2009
Paris tweeted: "So excited for my new piglette to come home to me. I just picked out the cutest piggy from Patty at Royaldandie.com."
PETA – the notorious red paint throwing animal rights organization doesn’t think it’s cute at all. They say Paris is setting a "wretched example" by treating animals like they're "as disposable as her friends and fiancés."
"The Chihuahuas, ferrets, and kinkajous she's paraded through her home in the past were not accessories, and pot-bellied pigs aren't either," they added.
What do you think about Paris purchasing a baby piglet? Is PETA right? Does she treat her pets as if they're disposable? Or do you think Paris makes a great pet owner? These are questions being asked by Hollywood scoop.com
I’ll save my wrath for those who treat human kids that way, though it’s cruel and unfair to treat any living creature as disposable or as an “accessory.” Diff is pets can legally be sold.
Taking a more humorous attitude befitting his satire movies, George Clooney said: "I am planning to adopt. I am going to adopt some of Brad Pitt's kids. I owe him."
Claiming he owes his Ocean's 11 co-star a favor, Clooney who has no kids and has says he wants none, offered to help out with his friend’s six children.
Meanwhile, has Elton John given up on his attempts to adopt? The father of the 15-month-old Ukranian boy whom Sir Elton John wants to adopt has said the singer must also take him along to London with his son. I don’t think he’s joking like George!
“I’m not against the idea of Elton becoming a guardian. I would be willing to meet Elton and talk about it,” the Sun quoted him as saying. Guardian?
- Who do you most feel "owes" you an apology?
- To whom is your anger most focused?
Have your parents apologized to you for their role in your adoption loss, or their lack of support for a parenting option?
If they did apologize, did it change anything for you? Did you accept their apology? Could you? Would you?
Have you been able to forgive those involved in your loss? Could you? Would you?
My parents went to their graves (the same year as my daughter did) never accepting my daughter as their grandchild, never accepting my pain. My sister and only sibling shared their feelings and never even sent a condolence card when Alicia died, stating that she never felt she was her niece. A non acceptable answer since condolences are sent to the living and I surely have always been her full blood sister. It is common practice to send condolence cards to neighbors, co-workers and many who ar enot related and whose love done we never met.
And yet I forgive them because they are simply ignorant people. I forgive them and let go for me which does not mean that I condone anything they did in this regard or that I have much to do at all with the one living member of my immediate family (for this and other reasons) SADLY. I am quite saddened by that because it is yet another loss for me and I have suffered so many...
I would WELCOME an apology from my sister but have accepted, with sadness and disappointment, that it is not to happen.
Acceptance of what cannot be changed and some forgiveness are the cornerstones of living in peace and contentment.
The anger I have not resolved is focused on my agency: Jewish Child Care Assocaition / Ametz of New York. I hold them totally responsible for pressuring me, lying to me and all that ensued to myself and more so to my daughter who has suffered far more than any of us still living. They were not ignorant. They are culpable. And they continue to violate me to this day by refusing to give me - even redacted - copies of anything I signed prior to the adoption.
How about you?
Seems that Origins NSW has put up a news alert about Professor Jones apology to ALAS back dated it to 2007 apparently "trying to give the impression to the international audience that they are in some way responsible for getting the apology." My source felt this: "Very strange when you think they are fighting tooth and nail to stop us from getting one." You can go here to read ALAS' version which is that they not OUSA deserves the credit...if you care. If you want more, download the PDF October newsletter at this link and read the Australian Apology article on page 3.
I was asked to get Origins-USA involved in this melodrama. [UPDATE 10/21/09: Specifically I was asked if Origins-USA would support the apology.]
I am not currently on the board of Origins-USA and so can only reply in a personal manner and this was/is my reply:
Without knowing the full details this does not seem necessarily to be a contradiction. They may well have spearheaded efforts to obtain an apology and at the same time feel the one given does not go far enough.
As for getting any US support one way or the other, most here see it all as a non-issue either way. Myself for one - I am much more focused on the present and future than the past.
I understand full well the concept that an apology brings attention to the pain of loss, however it also enables most to see such adoption coercion and uanessacry losses as historic issues when dates are put on it.
An apology that ONLY applies to mothers who lost children between this year and that year is something I would never support inasmuch as mothers are STILL being coerced. Why put limitations, time constraints and restrictions on it? Such time limits ignore and further victimize people who have suffered the exact same losses before and after. It is also geographically limiting. What effect does a governmental apology for what what was done to a segment of its society in a contained time period do for mother in Korea or elsewhere whose babies were also taken from them during that very same time period?
Some contend that there were practices in the past related to labor and delivery, for instance, that no longer exist. This is true. But it also true that many of those practices applied to all mothers, not just mothers in maternity homes. Childbirth practices have changed over time, becoming more gentle and more humane. In the 1950's it was common practice not to allow a mother whose child had died to see that child and say goodbye. It was the commonly held belief that it was easier that way - less painful. And so that belief and practice was carried over into adoption. Nuns were cruel to mothers in their charge. yes, and they were also cruel to school kids - using rulers across knuckles and other forms of corporal punishment no longer permitted in classrooms.
An apology for all that was wrong with maternity homes, labor and delivery, and adoption during a specific period, complicates, clouds and defuses the major issue of coercive adoptions. Most importantly, an apology for practices such as those which have virtually disappeared from use anyway, simply dodges the main issue of coercion and exploitation to obtain a child as a commodity and not necessarily in that child's best interest. I prefer to stick closer to the issues I see as the root of the problem and seek to stop the current and future insanity.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Sept 16th reported that People Magazine featured their story, but it wasn't available online until TODAY!
Click here to access story and great photos!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
It seems that some (many?) who adopt internationally, after living with their child do recoginze the need to help their chld reconnect with family and culture. However, those in the process of adopting, still operate in fear and have no counsling requred to help them get past it prior to adopting.
How very sad for the children being adopted while these people are in a state of fear. For those who do evolve beyond it, it is often far too late and the trail far too cold...perhaps it is knowing that that that helps them to act noble and help in their child's search then?
How particularly sad for this family that the only way this woman found to connect with her heritage and to have a family member who looked like her was to repeat what had been done to her...
And so round and round it goes and where (or when) it will stop no one knows...
LA VERNE - When Marci Rienstra went to South Korea in August to meet her adopted daughter, Lily, for the first time, it was a special visit for a number of reasons.
Marci and her husband, Ryan, residents of La Verne, already had one child, 5-year-old Lindsay, but were unsuccessful in trying to conceive a second child. From there they decided to go the adoption route.
Months of applications and review processes later, the married couple of 11 years were on their way to pick up their new child.
When the couple arrived in Seoul, South Korea, it was the culminating moment in a long effort to add to their family.
Marci Rienstra, 36, was born in South Korea and adopted by her parents as a young child. Her mother was a missionary and her father a pastor. The pair had always wanted to adopt a child from Korea, and after a long delay, piles of paperwork and three missed air flights, her father finally went to Korea and brought Marci home.
That was the last time Marci was in the country before adopting a daughter of her own.
"We are Christian, and I just think this is the way God had everything planned for us," Marci Rienstra said. "She has brought a lot of joy to our lives."
While growing up with two Caucasian parents, Rienstra missed out on a lot of Korean culture as a child. While she doesn't regret that, she hopes to bring some insight to her daughter's growth while they both build on their heritage.
"I think it will help her to know I am Korean and she is Korean, I was adopted and she was adopted," Marci Rienstra said.
While there, Rienstra made a surprise visit to her caretakers as a child. As one of the few infants they cared for, it took a picture only to bring the memories back for the caretakers.
"They were so worried," Rienstra said. "They had no idea how things went for me."
The transition for Lily to her new family and home has been smooth, both Rienstras said.
"It was very exciting," said Ryan Rienstra, a teacher at Northview High School. "We were anxious and excited to meet her on that first day. Her foster mom took such good care of her. That attachment carried over right away."
Lindsay has immediately taken to her new sister.
"I like to take care of her," she said, holding her sister as they both flipped
through picture books.
Besides the significance of the adoption for families, choosing Korea for adoption has its appeal to many families, said Dillon Adoption coordinator Hedy Lee, who worked with the Rienstras.
"There are virtually no Korean children up for adoption in the U.S.," said Lee, who has two adopted children from Korea herself. "Plus, families fear birth
In order to adopt from South Korea right now, not only does a couple have to meet Dillon's and United States requirements, but Korea's as well. While Ryan Rienstra is Caucasian, Marci is Korean American, which South Korea requires in their adoptions, Lee said.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
If it does not clear up shortly on its own, as it did once before, I will have to move this blog to another venue - something I hope not to have to resort to.
Please bear with me during this technically challenging period.
Solo describes her growth in dealing with these painfully difficult questions and comments. Well worth the read!
Adoptive parents want to be recognized as real parents but they suspect they might not be.
That is the crux of it. No one gets that crazy when they’re 100% sure of something. Assuredness is a soft blanket; doubt is a bed of nails.
It made me think that in general “we” all find it easier somehow to compartmentalize things into neat little black and white boxes. People are all either good or bad. Liberal or conservative. Gay or straight. Things are healthy or unhealthy. Shades of gray, nuances, overlapping realities (this is true, but so is that) are far more difficult and require more explanation and understanding. But that’s how life is. It’s messy and its fuzzy and fluid, not so clearly defined as we’d somehow like it to be.
That's what I like so very much about the concept of dual parenting. It doesn't dichotomize or stratify or create a competition. It recognizes exactly what O Solo says:
It’s a shame the way real has been hijacked by both pro- and anti-adoption camps with an axe to grind. The word has no meaning when used in a contest of parenthood. Both of sets of parents are real; neither set is imaginary. Of course, amended birth certificates do not mirror that truth in any authentic way. They actually say that what is not real is, and that not defensible.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Phil Bloete, 33. knew he was adopted and had come to learn the story of Ron Ryba and Kathy Butler - high school sweethearts who made the difficult decsion to let him be adopted.
Meanwhile Rob Ryba received updates and photos.
Four years after the agency facilitated their 2004 "reunion", genetic testing revealed last year that none of them are related.
Full story here. Thanks to MaryAnne Cohen for making me aware of this horror story.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Biological ties to get legal nod
Adoption rules in Quebec will be overhauled to allow continuing links between adopted children and their biological parents.
In presenting a draft bill yesterday to amend Quebec's Civil Code, Justice Minister Kathleen Weil said the changes will affect a large number of Quebec families.
Most of the changes have been enacted in other jurisdictions of Canada and in the United States, she added, but some proposed changes were borrowed from France.
At present, adoption in Quebec is confidential, meaning the adoptive and birth parents often don't know each other.
Weil said the draft proposal would bring into law what many Quebecers are already doing with regard to closer contact between children and biological parents.
Weil proposed a "dual parenting" option, which comes from France, in which a child would be a full member of the adoptive family but continue to have contact with the birth family. The birth parents' names could even be included on the child's birth certificate along with those of the adoptive parents.
Weil is also proposing the concept of open adoption, which means that before an adoption, the birth family and the adoptive family agree to stay in touch afterward.
This option could include the exchange of information about the child, and provides for mediation if there are disagreements between adoptive and birth parents.
Such adoptions, recognizing both sets of parents, would be optional and would be possible only when the adoption takes place in Quebec, Weil said, but a committee is looking into how the concept might apply to international adoptions.
The new rules would also apply to "mono-parental" and "homo-parental" families, Weil said.
The draft bill allows for consultation, with public hearings in January, Weil said.
The new rules would not be retroactive, and current confidentiality rules would apply to adoptions concluded before the changes take place.
"Leave the past alone," Weil said.
But the exception is that children adopted either before or after the changes would have the right to obtain information about medical family history. A court could order such information to be forwarded to medical authorities without disclosing the identity of the birth parents.
Other changes proposed yesterday by Weil would give all adoptive children the formal right to know the identity of their birth parents, unless the birth parents veto it.
Children over age 14 who are wondering if they were adopted would be able to ask Youth Protection.
Youth Protection could also contact the biological parents to determine whether they want to get in touch. But a child over age 18 would have the right to register a veto to prevent such contact.
Mona Propst, manager for adoption services at Batshaw Youth and Family Centres, said yesterday there are advantages and disadvantages to bringing biological parents into the picture; she had not read the draft bill, however.
Macklin's advisor Tracey Mackey phoned Origins NSW coordinator Lily Arthur the next day, asking whether Origins would reconsider accepting their offer of an apology. They declined a second time. But get this: the apology may still go ahead in November. As if it were an afterthought, the Government plans to tack this apology onto the apology to the "Forgotten Australians", those half-million Australians abused as children in institutions. The Forgotten Australians are also upset about this, as they want their apology to be their own — and fair enough. However, it seems the Government is determined to kill two birds with one stone.
Far from being a well-meaning gesture, the offer of an apology is an insulting and deeply disappointing outcome for Origins, who have waited nearly 10 years for a Government response on this issue. They have been campaigning for a national inquiry for even longer, and not once have they asked for an apology. According to the group, it is only through a national inquiry that Australians will learn of the nationwide extent of the crimes acknowledged as "kidnapping" by Family Court Justice Richard Chisholm in evidence he gave at the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into past adoption practices in 1999.
That inquiry only served to reveal the extent of criminal and unethical adoption practices committed in NSW. Origins fears that until all states are held accountable in a national inquiry, Australians forcibly removed from their unmarried mothers in other states will remain in the dark about the circumstances surrounding their adoption. A national inquiry will also provide an opportunity for mothers from all states to tell their stories. Origins says it is very unlikely that any of this will happen if the Government goes ahead with the apology, because such a move would look to many as if some degree of recompense had been made.
It makes no sense at all for the Government to insist on making an apology before Australians even know of the nationwide extent of the crimes to which such an apology would correspond. The Indigenous Stolen Generations had their national inquiry first, and it demonstrated very clearly just what was being apologised for. Why not use the same process for mothers forcibly separated from their children through adoption? Is this offer of an apology an attempt at an easy way out of actually doing something to address the damage caused by Australia's adoption practices? Perhaps, worse still, it is an attempt at a cover-up of the extent of the crimes perpetrated against these women and their babies.
Lily Arthur believes it is. "The reason why they want us to accept an apology is [so that they can] continue to hide the unlawful practices." She says that the Government is trying to cover for the states who are afraid of what a national inquiry could reveal, and in turn, how much it could end up costing them in terms of redress and litigation.
It's not hard to see why the many victims of these criminal adoptions are deeply sceptical of government bona fides on this issue. Beyond failing to fully investigate and acknowledge what happened to these women, the federal and state governments are still misinforming people about the bumper adoption era that occurred from the 1950s to the 1980s and even trivialising what happened. The Victorian Government, for one, attributes the decline in adoptions from the mid-70s to "... a number of interrelated factors: the introduction of government benefits for single parents, increasingly tolerant community attitudes toward exnuptual births and single parenthood, improved contraception [and] the widespread availability of pregnancy terminations".
In fact, while the Supporting Mother's Benefit for single mothers was not introduced until 1973 under the Whitlam Government (and it did not extend to fathers until 1977 under the Fraser Government), financial assistance was actually available to single mothers well before the 1970s, as outlined in a 1956 government publication titled Children in Need by Donald McLean: "To avoid any misunderstanding or any suggestion that the mother was misled or misinformed, District Officers are instructed to explain fully to the mother, before taking the consent, the facilities which are available to help her keep her child. These include...financial assistance to unmarried mothers under section 27 of the Child Welfare Act ..." However, as documented in the transcripts of the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry this fact was largely concealed from mothers.
While that inquiry has put on the public record much that needs to be better understood, there is still much more that needs to see the light of day. An apology, therefore, would be an irresponsibly premature step on an issue already so marked by institutional culpability. Origins want full acknowledgement and accountability first — which they believe a national inquiry would ensure — then suitable redress, and then perhaps an apology.
The other point about government apologies is that they must be done properly, and at the right time — that is, when people want them — otherwise they become devalued. As Arthur also points out, in their eagerness to issue an apology, the Government is reducing the significance of the apology to the Stolen Generations of Indigenous people. "If they are prepared to offer an apology to people who don't want one, what kind of substance does the original apology to the Stolen Generations have?"
So, what were some of the unethical and illegal practices perpetrated against these women? Well, as documented in the transcripts of the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into past adoption practices, they include: the detainment of unmarried women during pregnancy; the immediate separation of mothers and babies following births (many mothers were not allowed to see their babies until they signed adoption forms and many others never met their babies); the use of coercion to solicit adoption consents from mothers (in some cases, mothers were told the adoption papers were discharge forms); the use of mind altering drugs (not administered to married mothers) following births and preceding consents; promises of a 30-day cooling off period to get mothers to give consents when the rights to revoke consent during this period were rarely observed; the absence of any counselling prior to and following adoptions, and the failure to notify mothers of alternative options to adoption (as noted above, many mothers did not know that financial support was available).
It is not surprising then that these mothers suffer a number of mental health conditions ranging from depression to post-traumatic stress disorder. Half of these mothers did not go on to have more children, while the female suicide rate was highest between 1962-72, reaching an all-time high of 13 per 100,000 women in 1967, compared to 4.3 today. This period coincided with the peak in adoptions — nearly 10,000 in 1971-2. Taken together, these facts represent an appalling and poorly understood blemish on our human rights record.
In a press release on the Sunday following the meeting at Jenny Macklin's office, the minister said that she had "begun a dialogue" with mothers separated from their babies. However, when asked whether this means a national inquiry is on the cards, a spokesperson from Macklin's office would not say, sending instead this vague response: "This dialogue will explore what sort of acknowledgement of their experiences would assist their healing process."
Clearly the Federal Government wants this issue to go away, but that isn't about to happen any time soon. Arthur says that mothers like her won't go away until the so-called past adoption practices — or, as she calls them "abduction practices" — are seen for what they were.
Next year will mark 10 years since the Final Report into past adoption practices in NSW, titled Releasing the Past, labelled those practices "unethical" and "unlawful". It will also mark 15 years since Origins was founded and first started campaigning for a national inquiry. It is time that the Federal Government allowed the country to face the reality of this part of Australian history and set up a national inquiry. National inquiries have been instigated for much less serious reasons than the theft of over 100,000 children.
These mothers want their children to know the full truth. They are not asking for much.
No social change was ever made without changing attitudes and preconceived notions. I am changing things. People ARE starting to "get it" and that is because some of us have dared to be "radical" enough to stand up and speak out. It is the ONLY way that the oppressed have ever made changes to their condition. I am proud to be a stand-up radical!
I am presenting to a feminists organization, Assoc. of Research on Mothering (ARM), at York University, Toronto on the 23rd of this month and again in Puerto Rico in February. Getting feminists to hear the pain of adoption loss and understand that adoption pits women against women: rich against poor - is bIG! And they ARE listening!
Every time I get an article published as I recently did in Conducive Magazine and being considered for publication in Mothering - it's getting the news out there to people who may never have thought of adoption as anything but a win-win.
Another article - based on my trip to Guatemala and the kidnapping of children there for adoption was just been accepted for publication in Adoption Today magazine (a very pro-adoption venue) for the Dec. issue.
I was also INVITED to present at the PLI Adoption Law Conference. I will be on a panel discussing fees and ethics presenting to attorneys and law students interested in adoption law.
I - and others - are speaking out and SOME are listening.
Everyone of us can do the same on a one-to-one. Every time we share our story with a neighbor or new acquaintance we are educating and enlightening and changing attitudes.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.... And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ~Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles," 1992 (commonly misattributed to Nelson Mandela, 1994 inauguration speech.
Well behaved women rarely make history. Laurel Thatcher Urlich
(more powerful women wisdom quotes at this link)
Thursday, October 8, 2009
SEOUL, South Korea — Four years ago, when she found that she was pregnant by her former boyfriend, Choi Hyong-sook considered abortion. But after she saw the little blip of her baby’s heartbeat on ultrasound images, she could not go through with it.
As her pregnancy advanced, she confided in her elder brother. His reaction would sound familiar to unwed mothers in South Korea. She said he tried to drag her to an abortion clinic. Later, she said, he pressed her to give the child up for adoption.
“My brother said: ‘How can you be so selfish? You can’t do this to our parents,’ ” said Ms. Choi, 37, a hairdresser in Seoul. “But when the adoption agency took my baby away, I felt as if I had thrown him into the trash. It felt as if the earth had stopped turning. I persuaded them to let me reclaim my baby after five days.”
Now, Ms. Choi and other women in her situation are trying to set up the country’s first unwed mothers association to defend their right to raise their own children. It is a small but unusual first step in a society that ostracizes unmarried mothers to such an extent that Koreans often describe things as outrageous by comparing them to “an unmarried woman seeking an excuse to give birth.”
The fledgling group of women — only 40 are involved so far — is striking at one of the great ironies of South Korea. The government and commentators fret over the country’s birthrate, one of the world’s lowest, and deplore South Korea’s international reputation as a baby exporter for foreign adoptions.
Yet each year, social pressure drives thousands of unmarried women to choose between abortion, which is illegal but rampant, and adoption, which is considered socially shameful but is encouraged by the government. The few women who decide to raise a child alone risk a life of poverty and disgrace.
Nearly 90 percent of the 1,250 South Korean children adopted abroad last year, most of them by American couples, were born to unmarried women, according to the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs.
In their campaign, Ms. Choi and the other women have attracted unusual allies. Korean-born adoptees and their foreign families have been returning here in recent years to speak out for the women, who face the same difficulties in today’s South Korea as the adoptees’ birth mothers did decades ago.
One such supporter, Richard Boas [recipient of the Family Preservation Hero of the Year Award, 2007] an ophthalmologist from Connecticut who adopted a Korean girl in 1988, said he was helping other Americans adopt foreign children when he visited a social service agency in South Korea in 2006 and began rethinking his “rescue and savior mentality.” There, he encountered a roomful of pregnant women, all unmarried and around 20 years old.
“I looked around and asked myself why these mothers were all giving up their kids,” Dr. Boas said.
He started the Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network, which lobbies for better welfare services from the state.
“What we see in South Korea today is discrimination against natural mothers and favoring of adoption at the government level,” said Jane Jeong Trenka, 37, a Korean-born adoptee who grew up in Minnesota and now leads Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea, one of two groups organized by Korean adoptees who have returned to their homeland to advocate for the rights of adoptees and unwed mothers. “Culture is not an excuse to abuse human rights.”
In 2007, 7,774 babies were born out of wedlock in South Korea, 1.6 percent of all births. (In the United States, nearly 40 percent of babies born in 2007 had unmarried mothers, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.) Nearly 96 percent of unwed pregnant women in South Korea choose abortion, according to the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs.
Of unmarried women who give birth, about 70 percent are believed to give up their babies for adoption, according to a government-financed survey. In the United States, the figure is 1 percent, the Health and Human Services Department reports.
For years, the South Korean government has worked to reduce overseas adoptions, which peaked at 8,837 in 1985. To increase adoptions at home, it provides subsidies and extra health care benefits for families that adopt, and it designated May 11 as Adoption Day.
It also spends billions of dollars a year to try to reverse the declining birthrate, subsidizing fertility treatments for married couples, for example.
“But we don’t see a campaign for unmarried mothers to raise our own children,” said Lee Mee-kyong, a 33-year-old unwed mother. “Once you become an unwed mom, you’re branded as immoral and a failure. People treat you as if you had committed a crime. You fall to the bottom rung of society.”
The government pays a monthly allowance of $85 per child to those who adopt children. It offers half that for single mothers of dependent children.
The government is trying to increase payments to help unwed mothers and to add more facilities to provide care for unmarried pregnant women, said Baek Su-hyun, an official at the Health Ministry. But the social stigma discourages women from coming forward.
Chang Ji-young, 27, who gave birth to a boy last month, said: “My former boyfriend’s sister screamed at me over the phone demanding that I get an abortion. His mother and sister said it was up to them to decide what to do with my baby because it was their family’s seed.”
Families whose unmarried daughters become pregnant sometimes move to conceal the pregnancy. Unwed mothers often lie about their marital status for fear they will be evicted by landlords and their children ostracized at school. Only about a quarter of South Koreans are willing to have a close relationship with an unwed mother as a coworker or neighbor, according to a recent survey by the government-financed Korean Women’s Development Institute.
“I was turned down eight times in job applications,” Ms. Lee said. “Each time a company learned that I was an unwed mom, it accused me of dishonesty.”
Ms. Choi, the hairdresser, said her family changed its phone number to avoid contact with her. When her father was hospitalized and she went to see him with her baby, she said, her sister blocked them from entering his room. When she wrote to him, she said, her father burned the letters. Last year, about three years after the birth, he finally accepted Ms. Choi back into his home.
“That day, I saw him in the bathroom, crying over one of my letters,” she said. “I realized how hard it must have been for him as well.”