Monday, January 31, 2011

The Impermanence of Adoption and Rate of Termination

UK telegraph article When adoptions go wrong:

One leading charity estimates that a third of adoptions break down these days. Is it any wonder when so many adoptive parents take their new children home only to find they have a secret history of appalling abuse?

Rachel Humphreys punches in the numbers on her phone. She is calling work, yet again, to tell them she has to take her son, Tom, to an emergency appointment and is going to be in late. She is a management consultant and over the past two years has frequently taken time off at short notice, and occasionally turned up with a black eye or other visible injuries.
'They have been fantastic,’ she says, 'but the last time it happened I also said to them, “If people like me aren’t supported, and this isn’t a success, then these children, children like Tom, are the granny-bashers of the future.” I didn’t need to spell it out.’

If she was going to spell it out, however, it would go something like this: two years ago Rachel adopted a child who, unbeknown to her, had acute emotional and psychological problems. Tom, eight, is frequently violent towards her. He needs psychological support, and Rachel also needs a lot of support. Unfortunately for Rachel, the support and understanding she gets from her employers is about as far as it goes.

Tom first came to live with Rachel and her husband, Richard, in 2008. The social workers had told them that Tom was the youngest of five children who had had a disturbed early life. 'He’d had 27 moves in six years and had been on the at-risk register as an unborn child because of the way the family was and the risk of neglect,’ says Rachel.

'But I didn’t find all that out until quite recently, and we didn’t understand how neglect and abuse can affect a child, so were not at all worried by the little we had been told. We had been trying to adopt for two years and had fallen in love with him on sight. He did swear at his foster carer when we first met him, but we just thought it was the stress of facing another move, and that all he needed was enormous amounts of love and lots of good food.’

It didn’t turn out quite like that. On his second afternoon in his new home Tom told Rachel to 'f— off’. She was rather taken aback. They had visitors so she took him aside quietly, 'but he carried on swearing at me, and hit me. And that was the start… Alarm bells began to ring. A couple of days later something else kicked off, and Richard took Tom upstairs to talk to him and he went for him, saying, “Who the f— do you think you are?” We calmed him down but then he attacked me and that was when Richard said, “I can’t do it.”

'Richard couldn’t cope with seeing Tom being violent and abusive to me all the time. It made him so angry that he was frightened he would hurt Tom, and he wanted us to end the adoption.
I couldn’t contemplate giving up on this child that no one else cared about so soon after he’d come to us, but Richard told me I had to choose: my child or my marriage. Within a week Richard had gone. It was completely out of the blue and it was very hard at the time but we are still great friends.’

Rachel was then left to parent Tom on her own and went on formally to adopt him as a single parent a year later, during which time Tom continued to be violent towards her. 'The social worker had warned me that he sometimes used bad language under stress and showed occasional challenging behaviour. But he used grotesquely sexualised language. I had no understanding that a six-year-old who looks like a four-year-old could talk like that.’

Not knowing what to do and feeling that Tom was, in fact, very frightened by yet another new set of circumstances, Rachel rang social services. 'I said, “This child needs help. We need help.” And they refused.’ Three years later, she says rather grimly, 'We are hanging in there.’

It’s something that, to their deepest regret, Mary and Craig Allen are no longer doing. Eight years ago two sisters from the North West were placed with them, but both girls are now back in care.
Charlotte and Katie were five and six when they were taken into care, and seven and eight when they came to live with Mary and Craig, in Hertfordshire. 'We had been given a reasonable history of the things that had happened in their lives,’ says Mary. 'We knew that they came from a background of extreme neglect and domestic violence, and that their father had been violent to both girls and sexually abused Charlotte. There was a suspicion he’d sexually abused Katie, too.’

But the couple felt that all of the children’s behavioural problems were glossed over. 'It was all about how wonderful they were and how well they’d settled with the foster family. They did say the reports were a bit out of date.’

So Mary and Craig asked for them to be updated and were given the new reports just before the girls came to live with them. 'I was sitting in the hotel room reading Katie’s report when suddenly I saw the words “attachment disorder” [in laymen’s terms, fear of loving] thrown into the long text. It was a worry, but it was 24 hours before we were due to bring them home; we were too far in. We’d fallen in love with them because they are gorgeous, lovely girls; it was too late to turn back.

'This was July 2004 and it had been decided that it was a good idea for the girls to come to us in the summer holidays so we could all get to know each other. Big mistake,’ says Mary. 'Children need routine and structure, and their behaviour was off the rails, extreme. Charlotte was very withdrawn and wetting the bed every night, and Katie was having huge tantrums, hour after hour, day after day.
'If her tantrum was still raging at eight or nine at night, sometimes I’d take her out of the house and walk around the streets to give Charlotte a chance of sleeping. And Katie would try to push me in front of cars, shouting obscenities at me.’

By the end of the holidays Mary and Craig were on their knees and the girls’ social worker referred them to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). 'But we just never got the support we needed,’ says Mary. After three years of struggle the social worker told Mary, 'I think this adoption is about to “disrupt”,’ the formal term for an adoption that is never finalised. 'We had just gone on and on and on – trying, trying, trying,’ recalls Mary. 'To walk away purely because people wouldn’t give us the depth of support we needed? Well, that would have been awful.’

Mary did for a while get some online coaching from the girls’ placing authority. 'One morning I was sobbing down the phone. Katie had hit me so many times and I was trying to get her to go to school and she was whacking me. We had been seriously abused, verbally and physically, for years. We were domestic-violence victims and were falling apart; you can only take so much.’ Meanwhile, they felt powerless to help Charlotte, who, says Mary, had done 'an awful lot of self-harming. She’s cut herself over the years, and threatened suicide.’

As they got into their teens both girls started bunking off school. When she was 14 Charlotte didn’t come home one night. 'And then a week later it happened again for three nights. We knew she was using cannabis and sleeping with unsuitable people – doing horrible, horrible things.

'There was always something new to worry about. The police were frequently called to try to find the girls and get them out of whatever trouble they’d got in. Otherwise it was just me screaming at any professional that would listen, “We can’t keep her safe and we can’t give her an education.” It was all escalating and eventually I called my support worker, sobbing, and said, “I’m not sure I can do this anymore.”’

Mary and Craig asked if Charlotte could go into foster care. A year later they were facing the same situation with Katie: 'She’s in a highly therapeutic unit where she can get an education and where we can still be Mum and Dad. She is still free to come home from time to time.’

It is not known exactly how many families in this country go through the agonising process of having to end an adoption. But the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), estimates that one in five adoptions fall apart before the adoption order is granted, which, if all goes well, happens a year after the child is placed.

Meanwhile the charity Adoption UK estimates that as many as one third of adoptions break down after the adoption order has been granted. Its director, Jonathan Pearce, says, 'Two thirds of adoptive families need significant support to overcome the history of abuse and neglect children bring into their family. Contemporary adoptions are becoming more and more complex; adoptions are at higher levels than they used to be 15 years ago.’

Speak to social workers, child-protection officers, child psychologists and adoptive families and you will hear stories very similar to that of Mary, Craig, Charlotte and Katie. Anecdotally, they will tell you that over the past five years it feels as though there has been an increase in the number of adoptions that disrupt or break down.

In the nine months from April to December 2009 local authorities across Britain saw care applications by social workers rise by an unprecedented 46 per cent, in the wake of the Baby P case, when 17-month-old Peter Connelly was found dead in his cot after suffering months of abuse and neglect. Yet not enough is known about the damage caused by early trauma on the infant brain to be able to help adoptive families to cope.

Professor Stephen Scott, the director of the adoption and fostering team at the Maudsley Hospital in London, says, 'Some adopted children are extremely disruptive. Not only do they fail to learn to regulate their emotions – they were never calmed and comforted by a loving parent – but also it affects their brain function. The slightest frustration can trigger a wave of stress hormones that sends them into an unreachable state of rage.’

Christine Dobson, the director of programmes at the Child Trauma Academy in Houston, Texas, explains that, 'Neuron development is most rapid at the beginning of life, and all of brain development takes place from zero to three. A child who has a loving, nurturing primary care-giver for the first three years of life will get a good start and will walk through the world assuming that people are good until they learn otherwise. But a child who gets scattershot care-giving in the early months or years will assume the world is not a safe, nurturing place.’

And this in a nutshell is the story of Rachel Humphreys’s son: 'Tom doesn’t want to be bad. He is a damaged child,’ she says. 'He has an attachment disorder. He tells me it is easier not having a mum, as it is really scary to love somebody. I have a child who cannot play. The toys disappear; he cannot allow himself to get attached even to them.’

One thing that is known to make a huge difference to the success of adoptions is the speed with which a child is taken from its potentially perilous birth family and placed with what it is hoped will be its 'forever family’. Martin Narey, the former chief executive of Barnardo’s, says, 'The really successful adoptions are when the child starts with the adoptive parents while still a baby. The older a child is when they are adopted the greater the likelihood of a disruption, and the younger the child is the smaller the likelihood of breakdown. It is better at two than three, but best of all when a child is a few weeks old.’

Julie Selwyn, the director of the Hadley Centre for Adoption and Foster Care Studies at the University of Bristol, agrees. Yet across England and Wales, says Selwyn, 'It can commonly take 12 months for the decision to be made. A year in adult terms is not very long, but in the life of a baby it is a long, long time – so much is happening developmentally during that time.’

A new type of adoption called concurrent planning could be the answer. Developed by the children’s charity Coram in 1999 it allows babies at risk to be placed with their putative adoptive families within days of birth. The adoptive family provides foster care for a year, during which time the birth parents are allowed contact with the baby and given every chance to turn their lives around and show that they could parent the child. If they don’t manage that within the 12 months, the child is placed for adoption with the foster family. This way the adults – the potential adoptive parents – have taken the risk rather than the child. 

BAAF would like to see concurrent planning rolled out nationally, and while most local authorities agree that the benefits to children are enormous and say they would like to use the system, most of them also say that it is too expensive and they would have to have smaller caseloads or more social workers to make it work. The disruption figure for Coram is consistently 2.8 per cent – one out of the 60 to 80 placements they make each year – whereas the average disruption rate for local authorities is 16 per cent. So they are obviously on to something.

For Rachel Humphreys, this is small consolation. She lays the blame for the problems she and Tom are struggling with squarely on the social workers who placed Tom with her.

'They weren’t honest with us. I have since been able to get hold of his school records, and there are reports in there that he bit other children, and a letter from one of his foster carers saying that he’d attacked other children in her care and she couldn’t allow him to stay overnight with her anymore because he was so violent. We wouldn’t have touched him with a bargepole if we’d been shown that; we’d have known that we couldn’t handle him.’

On a good day, though, Tom’s adoring mum will say, 'My son is a bright spark, a lovely enthusiastic, football-loving child. There are wonderful times and he is lovely until he is in a muddle and it is all there bubbling up and he will smash a plate or a glass and get abusive. Sometimes he says, “I need to kill you because I want to go back to care.” I say, “You will go somewhere really not nice if you kill me, and you will not get apple crumble there.”’


I'm sorry but adopting any child, other than a newborn, and not being prepared for emotional and behavioral problems is akin to meeting a man in bar, starting a relationship and the complaining that he drinks too much. Does it need to be spelled out for you in a written report or flashing lights: "I am in a bar because I like to drink."  It's like starting a relationship with a married man and being shocked when he cheats on you!  Cheaters cheat. Women do these things all the time....and it is just plain dumb ignoring of obvious red lights!

Children who have been institutionalized or in multiple placements have serious attachment issues!  

The proposed "solution" of enforcing a one year period on natural mothers of NEWBORNS does not apply to these older child placements which are the ones at high risk for termination. 

Putting such a strict time limit is unnecessarily harsh and punitive and does not address the problems of improper expectations and educational preparedness of potential adopters who are so desperate they ignore the obvious!

What help is being given mothers and their families during that year?

Your Support Needed: USA TODAY & Ct Post

Lorraine Dusky has written an excellent OpEd piece that was published in USAToday. She bounced off Orpah Winfrey's reunion news and her mother's reaction.

"I share Oprah's mom's shame and pain" is available at this link.

Lorriane is concerned about the volume of reposnses from 'the antis" and asks for your help in commenting.
Lorraine says: The thoughts expressed in the usa today piece are getting hammered. Your comments are needed. People who agree with the piece are less likely to comment but it looks like I'm out there on a limb, when you all know I'm not!

No need to use your name if you don't want to. ...

By way of explanation: I knew I had to focus on Vernita and why she did not make contact because I've written before on adoptee rights re origins for USA Today  before and was warned this piece had to be quite different. I did include a quote from the Donaldson report on first mothers but that got cut.
Another long-time "trooper" Mom and colleague has an article appearing in the Ct-Post that you would enjoy reading and might likewise want to support with your comments here.   "Milford woman fights to open birth records in adoption cases" - the title reflects Connecticut's 28 year battle for equal access. 

My comment (You must be on the second page of the article and click "View Comments" to see them):

NY and NJ are facing similar battle for as many years. The issue is a simple one: Adopted persons are denied a right that all other non-adopted citizens have - the right to access their own birth certificates. That is discrimination, plain and simple.

There is no right to protection of secrets and lies, so no "competing right." There also never were any promises of privacy or anonymity ever given any mother who relinquished and none could be provided as proven by the number of adoption separated persons who find one another every day depote records being sealed.

Governments need to get out of people's personal lives and their choices to meet one another. There are sufficient laws to protect all citizens from unwanted contact, stalking and harassment.

Laws that apply only to adopted-separated adults are discriminatory and treat adoptees and their birth families like suspects in need of "protection" from one another! This alleged "protection" is in effect PUNISHMENT and a violation of civil rights! It needs to end.

Birth certificates of adopted persons were originally sealed to protect adoptees from the stigma of illegitimacy which no longer exists. They were never sealed to protect the birth mothers nor does unsealing effect abortion rates!

Those who oppose the rights of adoptees do so to keep adoptions secret are misled. Others who lobby against adoptee rights do so because there is more profit to be made under the cloak of secrecy.

The time has come to end this discrimination! How can adoption be promoted as a win-win when people are suffering such injustice under these draconian laws?

Mirah Riben

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Unles you've already seen the 2002 film, Evelyn - and even if you have - consider renting it.

Set in Ireland in 1953, Desmond Doyle (Pierce Brosnan) plays a father determined to back his daughter (Evelyn) and two sons taken The Catholic Church and the Irish courts after their mother deserts the family. The children suffer at the hands of the punitive Nuns while Desmond battles an impossible case through to the Supreme Court.

You will love the court having to decide on the constitutional and God-given right of a parent!!

Desmond's love interest is played by Julianna Marguiles.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Young Fertile Women -Just Say No.

This should be shown in HS health classes and college Women's Studies classes!!
The infertility industry in the United States has grown to a multi-billion dollar business. 
Its main commodity is human eggs.
February 1 @ 6:15 PM
California Independent Film Festival
Best Documentary Nominee
Zemrak Theatre
Moraga, CA

February 3 @ 12:30 PM*
Fordham Law School
Room 312
New York, NY

February 3 @ 6:30 PM*
Columbia Law School
Jerome Greene Hall
Room 102
New York, NY

February 4 @ Noon*
The King's College
Empire State Building
The City Room, Lower Lobby
New York, NY
Free Registration Required
Email to Register

February 11*
University of Notre Dame
South Bend, IN

February 24 @ 12:30 PM*
Family Research Council
801 G Street NW
Washington, DC
Free Registration Required
Click Here

February 24 @ 7:00 PM
Kenyon College
KAC Theater
Gambier, OH
Free and open to public

March 14*
Loyola Marymount University
Los Angeles, CA

March 15*
Azusa Pacific University
Azusa, CA

April 6*
Boston College
Boston, MA

April 7*
Yale Law School
New Haven, CT

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When There is No "Forever" or "Same As if Born To" in Adoption!

Korean Woman, Adopted as Infant, Facing Deportation in Arizona

A Korean woman in Arizona, who was adopted and brought to the U.S. when she was eight months old, is facing deportation after a second conviction for theft, reports the Korea Times. The 31-year-old mother of three is currently being held in a federal detention center in Arizona.

According to officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Seo (not her real name) was first convicted on theft charges in 2008, for which she served a seven-month sentence. She was arrested on a second theft charge in 2009, and sentenced to a year-and-half in jail. In January, ICE initiated deportation proceedings against her, requesting for a travel certificate from the Korean consulate in Los Angeles.

Officials say the decision to deport the woman was based on the nature of her crimes and on the likelihood of repeat offenses. Current law stipulates that legal residents can be deported if they are convicted for crimes involving drugs, prostitution or other nefarious activities, or if they are sentenced to more than a year in prison.

The Korean consulate, meanwhile, has requested that the deportation decision be withdrawn for humanitarian reasons, citing the fact that the woman has never returned to her country of birth since her adoption, her inability to speak Korean and her three children, all of whom were born in the United States.

According to Korea’s L.A. Consul General Jae-soo Kim, it would be “impossible for the woman to live a normal life in Korea given that she has no contact with relatives or friends there.” That aside, he adds, being a single mother, her deportation would leave her three children at the mercy of government institutions.

“Although [she] was adopted as an infant, she is only a green card holder and not a citizen,” says Kim, adding that adoption laws were changed after 2004, long after Seo’s adoption, to grant adoptees citizenship 45 days after their arrival in the country. “I’m not sure why she never applied for citizenship as an adult,” he says.

According to ICE, a large number of adoptees have been deported in recent years. Many of them said they were unaware of their non-citizen status.

“For the sake of Seo and her three children I hope ICE reconsiders their decision to deport her.”


I would like to know what her adoptive parents are doing on her behalf?? You're going to send this woman back to a country when she likely doesn't speak a word of Korean after promising her a "forever" family and to be loved "the same as if she were born" to them???

I hope this sparks an international outcry as did sending Artyem, the 7 year old, back to Russia alone on a plane!

“Manifest injustice” in adoption case

This is a very exciting and positive follow-up on the case of Bail Romero versus the Mosers reported here on Dec. 21.

The state supreme court says a Jasper County circuit judge’s ruling in an adoption case constituted a “manifest injustice” and has sent the case back to the circuit court for a new trial.

The final footnote of the opinion says:
“Every member of this Court agrees that this case is a travesty in its egregious procedural errors, its long duration, and its impact on Mother, Adoptive Parents, and, most importantly, Child.”

The opinion says the judge in the case failed to comply with state law requiring an investigation of whether the mother had abandoned her son. The ruling orders the circuit judge to order the investigation, and to set a trial date no later than 90 days after it gets reports of the findings.

The natural mother of the child is a Guatemalen citizen illegally in this country. She entrusted the child to family members while she served prison time for her illegal presence here. Testimony before the Supreme Court showed that a minister and his wife who were providing daycare for the boyafter the mother went to prison  contacted members of his congregation who got court approval to adopt the child.

One of the Supreme Court judges says the mother was not given notice of a custody hearing, and says her lawyer was involved in a conflict of interest because the lawyer had been picked by the adoptive parent’s family.

Another member of the court says there is no reason for a new termination hearing because there is no evidence the mother willfully neglected the child before the adoption. But the ruling’s final footnote says, “The dissenting members of this Court rely significantly on information outside the record to find that Mother has been victimized repeatedly and that her rights have been violated. The dissenting members believe passionately that custody of Child should be returned to Mother without further proceedings. That result can be reached only by disregarding the law.

“The majority of this Court, instead, grants relief for the proven errors as permitted by law. Yet, this Court, in fairness, exercised its discretion as allowed by law to ensure that Mother receives her right to a trial on the merits, with effective counsel, that comports with the statutory requirements. This Court was not required by law to allow Mother to file her appeal out of time, nor was this Court required by law to review the Mother’s unpreserved errors by plain error review.

“This Court makes no suggestion as to who will or should prevail on remand. Rather, this opinion ensures that both Mother and Adoptive Parents will have a full and fair trial that respects Mother’s fundamental rights and the best interests of the Child.”

The Cabbage Patch Revisited

Like the Atari, who could forget Cabbage Patch "Kids", a line of dolls created in 1978 that became the "must have" rage and were traded like Ty's.

According to Wikipedia: "The distasteful doll brand of which I wrote in my first book, The Dark Side of Adoption (1988) went on to become one of the most popular toy fads of the 80's and one of the longest-running doll franchises in America."

The rag dolls came with do-it-yourself birth certificates you could falsify yourself and fostered the story of babies being found in cabbage patches where they had been absently tossed.... I lovely tale for adopted children!

Now they have been reincarnated in the form of The Precious Doll Company:
"The dolls and their stories help any child learn the gift of adoption. Each doll comes with a book that tells the story about their country of birth and the love that brought them to a new world. The books that accompany these dolls tell the story of the journey that brought them home- these are stories of love with arms outstretched in two directions, one giving and one receiving. The stories tell how the children were wanted for such a long time and the supreme happiness in finally bringing these babies home to forever live with their new family."

What is sad beyond words is the story of the woman who cerated this company as told on its website:\
The company "was a dream of a woman who experienced first-hand the pain of relinquishing a baby for adoption and the joy of becoming a mother to an adopted daughter. It was her vision to establish a company that would realize the story behind every adoption and breathe life into each by creating stories that celebrated the joy of finally bringing the baby home.
"It was summer, and a young Mary Beth Wells, gave birth to a beautiful daughter, whom she silently and privately named Kimberly Caryn. It was her struggle to relinquish this baby to parents who could provide a home with love and stability. It remains the most painful decision of her life, to love this child enough to place her with a family who would raise her to be their own.

"Years later, Mary Beth found her birth daughter and began to have a relationship with her. Part one of the healing had occurred. Her prayers were answered when she became the mother to Sophia whom she adopted from Guatemala. Sophia became the love of her life. At last, she had two daughters- the circle of adoption to adoption was complete."
Sophia, (above)one of Precious Doll ethnic collections 
each of which comes with a  book to help children learn about "the gift of adoption" and "tells the story about their country of birth and the love that brought them to a new world. . .the journey that brought them home - these are stories of love with arms outstretched in two directions, one giving and one receiving. The stories tell how the children were wanted for such a long time and the supreme happiness in finally bringing these babies home to forever live with their new family.

It is incredibly sad that this woman is working out her trauma and loss first by causing the same loss to another woman and now through her business. Over and over she needs to replicate the horror that she experienced to somehow make it "right" like an abused child who grows into an abuser. 

I am sure she sees it far differently and if she finds this blog post, or her friends do, they will take great offense at my suggestion.

But all I see is someone trying desperately to justify their loss. I have seen this in mothers who lost a child to adoption who became social workers placing children. "What I did was 'right' just like 'they' all told me it was!"

I myself tried to adopt a child at one point, so I know well the subconscious ramifications...the desire to do it "right" to make it "right" to believe it truly WAS the right thing to do as we all were told it was.  To be on the right side of the whole be the respectable "good" mother...without having fully realized that every adoption begins with a tragedy and that by participating you are benefiting from an other's tragic loss.  

It is testament to the long-lasting effects of the brainwashing we all endured and the power of the subconscious to remain in denial of the truth of the exploitation and coercion in adoption....and the lifelong pain and suffering it leaves in its wake.

The doll theme is playing out on Desperate Housewives. One of Gabby's daughter's was discovered to have been switched at birth. At first her husband tried to keep it from her but eventually she meets her real daughter and cannot forget her. Her husband doesn't understand and forbids her to speak of he real daughter ever again because it is causing the daughter they are raising pain.  Gabby becomes attached to a doll he carries with her everywhere...

It is understandable replacement behavior to cope with a loss that is not being coped with and grieved properly.  But then, none of us have been granted any "normal" grieving process for our adoption losses so it is not surprising that some of us find these alternate ways of sublimating our grief.

In extreme and very unhealthy and dangerous forms, the inability to accept a loss, combined with guilt over the way the loss occurred, manifests itself as in the classic Hitchcock thriller Psycho.

Sadly, she is playing out her - and many adoptive parents' - need for justification of the right of taking another's child by confusing children with the notion that were given away in love. How are they supposed to then feel every time they are told they are loved? At risk for being given away yet again? 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Oprah Reunited with Sis Her Mother Relinquished in 1963

You can read about Oprah's reunion here and here.

Winfrey said her mother had a daughter and gave her up for adoption in 1963, when Winfrey herself was living with her father.

Winfrey was born to unmarried teenage parents and raised by both her maternal grandmother in Mississippi and her mother, who moved to Milwaukee. She spent part of her youth with the man she considered her father, Vernon, in Nashville.

Her mother never spoke to her of the half-sister. Winfrey is nine years older.

Winfrey's mother Vernita Lee said she never admitted she had another daughter "because I thought it was a terrible thing for me to do, that I had done — gave up my daughter when she was born."
"I made the decision to give her up because I wasn't able to take care of her," Lee said during a recorded interview that aired Monday.

Orpah's sister Patricia had been bounced from one foster home to another until she was adopted at age seven. She said a Wisconsin adoption agency told her her birthmother had refused to meet with her.
But in 2007, she heard an interview with Lee, who talked about two of her children who had died.
Patricia compared her date of birth with the story of Lee's missing children. She quietly got a DNA test, comparing herself with the daughter of Winfrey's dead sister in Milwaukee.

This presents a wonderful opportunity to write to Oprah here!

My letter to Oprah:

Congratulations on your reunion with your sister!

Orpah, now that you have learned that you are personally touched by adoption loss and separation, I hope and pray you will become a powerful voice to help end state discrimination against adoptees.

In approx. 44 states, adopted persons are denied the same access to their own birth certificates that all other non-adopted citizens take for granted. They are subject to special laws that apply only to adopted separated persons and treated as "suspect" and in ned of special "protection" from one another!  The state falsifies their birth certificates making it possible for adoptive parents to never reveal the truth and causing adoptees to give false medical history.

This persecution needs to end! Please help us!  Host a program about these issues. Animal rights issues have many celebrity spokespersons but adoptee rights have no one.

My second letter to Oprah:

Oprah - your own mother expressed her SHAME at having to place a child for adoption. This is true of the vast majority of such mothers, even those who, like your Mom, relinquished in the 60s. We are not ashamed that we became pregnant outside of marriage, but that we yielded to pressure and lost our children. 

Mothers who lost children to adoption are spoken about and laws created making incorrect assumption that purport to "protect" us when in fact they punish us by keeping our children from having access to their own birth certificates.

Please contact me or Origins-USA and CUB and invite some mothers who have lived this to share their compelling stories and burst the myths that make adopted citizens the silent civil rights issue in the US today!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Exciting New Tools to Assist the Reunification of International Adoptees!

A new kind of internet website provides the means for adopting parents of children adopted from China to discover if their child has a sibling, half-sibling, cousin or other relative adopted anywhere in the world. In addition, birth parents in China will be able to search for their biological child who has been adopted by a family living somewhere in the world. While China adoptions are the largest example of what is now possible, it applies to every adoption in the world today. I don’t think it is an overstatement to say that this is the most startling development in the field of adoption information in the past 25 years.

The two services now available are DNA Adoption Networking aka Zygotic Social Networking and DNA Gene Decoding Sites.  The DNA Networking sites are a combination of online dating/match sites and a high tech 21st century version of ISRR and other post adoption registries  In addition to your profile and photo you also submit a DNA cheek swab. The Gene Decoding Sites help trace unnamed birth fathers and help with medical diagnosis. This leads me to think that far less children with any medical difficulties will be adopted in the first place.

The full story and links to sites can be found here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Society With No Moral Compass

Perhaps it's the rubberneck/train wreck fascination - both associated with human curiosity for the morbid and bizarre -  juxtaposed with reality TV and the Internet. Then add YouTube and any moron can become an instant star and get their 5 minutes of fame, even if by abusing a child.

On the Tyra Banks Show teenage girls told that they would do ANYTHING to be famous. They didn't aspire to be singers and maybe be discovered on American Idol, or dancers on Live to, they sough fame for fame's sake as they had grown up witnessing ala Paris Hilton and the Kardashians. Let ius not forget that paris catapulted into "fame" or at least public recognition, by exposing her own sex tape. The girls are Tyra's panel were willing to do likewise!

Girls Gone Wild!

It has been suggested that some of the girls on MTV's 16 and Pregnant do it intentionally for the "fame" or attention.

And our society has stooped to exploiting the worst of the worst and GIVING them their five seconds of fame.  Jerry Springer made a career of it, and much of World's Funniest Videos look very staged and dangerous situations involving children that verge on abuse. Steve Wilkos follows in Springer's footsteps, but at least he berated a mother for living her infant son by one arm and possibly breaking his arm in so doing. He made no joke of it!

Now a Comedy Central show called Tosh.0 joins the fray and while they aired the notorious Double rainbow video, that also showed an extremely disturbing video of child abuse. See this mother toss around her infant if you have a strong stomach.  It's described as: A woman flinging a naked baby around like a rag doll claiming that it is “Baby Yoga”. It has viewers cringing hoping that it is fake.

YouTube pulled it, but it is still available here.

While the above mentioned video lasts only 5-1/2 minutes, many said it felt like forever watching it.
If you can stand more...try this one. allegedly of a father and his 9-month-old son, goes on and on for what seems an interminable amount of time.  I was so dizzy just watching I cannot imagine the harm to the babies brain in addition to his arms and legs!

Shows that air this should be taken off the air for inciting others to commit similar stunts or to go further still...because that's what it's all about isn't it? Can you top this?  What's next, video of people throwing babies off roofs?  And people will watch and LAUGH!  This is the level of humor in the world today!

By the time you finish reading this article 3-4 children will have suffered abuse in the United States. Within the next hour 166 children will have suffered abuse or neglect. By the time you go to bed tonight, this number will have reached close to 4000. Out of those 4000, 4 children will die at the hands of their abusers. These statistics are outrageous, but show that we need to be the voices for these children. If you suspect child abuse, please report it. Protect our children!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love

Journalist Xinran has collected the stories of Chinese mothers who have lost their baby daughters.
Many of these girls have been adopted overseas, by around 120-thousand families in 27 countries, including Australia, but others have suffered a worse fate.

The 'One Child' policy is just one of the reasons for unwanted babies, but negative attitudes to girls go back to ancient times.

Xinran, a radio broadcaster who moved from China to London in 1997, is the author of the bestseller The Good Women of China.

Now she's written Message from an unknown Chinese mother, a project she began in Sydney two years ago.
An extraordinarily powerful follow-up to her bestselling The Good Women of China -- heartbreaking, shocking stories, including Xinran's own experience, of Chinese mothers who have lost or had to abandon their daughters and are still searching.

Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother is made up of the stories of Chinese mothers whose daughters have been wrenched from them, and also brings us the voices of some adoptive mothers from different parts of the world. These are stories which Xinran could not bring herself to tell previously -- because they were too painful and close to home. In the footsteps of Xinran's Good Women of China, this is personal, immediate, full of harrowing, tragic detail but also uplifting, tender moments.

Ten chapters, ten women and many stories of heartbreak, including her own: Xinran once again takes us right into the lives of Chinese women -- students, successful business women, midwives, peasants, all with memories which have stained their lives. Whether as a consequence of the single-child policy, destructive age-old traditions or hideous economic necessity... these women had to give up their daughters for adoption, others were forced to abandon them -- on city streets, outside hospitals, orphanages or on station platforms -- and others even had to watch their baby daughters being taken away at birth, and drowned. Here are the 'extra-birth guerrillas' who travel the roads and the railways, evading the system, trying to hold onto more than one baby; naive young student girls who have made life-wrecking mistakes; the 'pebble mother' on the banks of the Yangzte still looking into the depths for her stolen daughter; peasant women rejected by their families because they can't produce a male heir; and finally there is Little Snow, the orphaned baby fostered by Xinran but 'confiscated' by the state.

The book sends a heartrending message from their birth mothers to all those Chinese girls who have been adopted overseas (at the end of 2006 there were over 120,000 registered adoptive families for Chinese orphans, almost all girls, in 27 countries), to show them how things really were for their mothers, and to tell them they were loved and will never be forgotten.

About the Author

Born in Beijing in 1958, XINRAN was a journalist and radio presenter in China. In 1997 she moved to London, where she wrote her bestselling book The Good Women of China. Since then she has written a regular column for the Guardian, appeared frequently on radio and TV and published Sky Burial, What the Chinese Don't Eat, a novel (Miss Chopsticks), and a groundbreaking work of oral history, China Witness. Her charity, The Mothers' Bridge of Love, was founded to help disadvantaged Chinese children and to build a bridge of understanding between the West and China.

Adoption & Choice: God's Plan or Man's Plan?

Yoon's Blur blog explores the issue of Adoption and Choice: God's Plan or Man's Plan? stating:
"I understand a God who gives people free will even though he is often pained and grieved by their choices in how they exercise that free will....referring to 'luck' or 'God’s plan' is such a cop-out to me that frees people from taking personal responsibility for their actions and their role, not only in adoption, but in life."

The author then makes these excellent points: 
  • "As long as adoption is “God’s work” or “God’s plan” people will not feel compelled to reform it or to address the root causes of poverty and social and economic injustice that often serve as its substrate." 
  • "And how many nut jobs have claimed the same thing–-that they were God’s tool to execute God’s plan or have used the Bible or other religious texts to justify heinous and unjust acts?"

I replied:

I totally agree that God does not orchestrate poverty or any other tragedy that lead to a family being torn apart by adoption and mothers suffering lifelong grief...I find it sanctimonious to claim that your child was "ordained" or "meant" to be offensive as Rosie O'Donnell allegedly telling one of hr adopted children that God had placed him in the "wrong" belly, as if God make mistakes!

HOWEVER, I am also uncomfortable with any assumption that relinquishing a child for adoption - or having one's parental rights terminated - is a "choice." I think you have set up and unrealistic either/or dichotomy and in doing do eradicated the most common scenario: coercion and exploitation.

Both domestically and internationally people's hardships are exploited in order to commodify their children to meet a demand for adoption. This is neither God plan, nor is it their choice...any more than being a victim of any crime if a choice or God's plan.

As for Biblical references to adoption, please see this blog post and this one.

Add your comments here or at the original site, here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kidnapped Infant Reunited With Family After 24 years!

Cold case over: Carlina White, kidnapped as infant from hospital 24 years ago, reunites with family

An infant kidnapped 24 years ago from a city hospital improbably resurfaced this month to reunite with her family, resolving one of the NYPD's most perplexing cold cases.

Carlina White - last seen by her biological parents as a feverish 3-week-old infant - met her mother, father and other now-ecstatic relatives over the weekend.

"We ate and talked and got to know each other ... I feel great," said her mother, Joy White, who also met her granddaughter for the first time.

"I can sleep! I can definitely sleep now because this has been on my mind for so many years."

A DNA match revealed the connection between the adult woman living in Georgia under a different name and her New York relatives.

The girl's kidnapper - a drug-user who once beat Carlina with a shoe - remained the target of a police search, according to Joy White.

"She didn't really raise her," the irate mother said. "She neglected her and let other people raise her."

The family's anger toward the missing suspect was overwhelmed by their elation about the discovery of the now 23-year-old woman.

"Carlina came home!" said her grandmother, Elizabeth White, 71, of Manhattan. "She came up from Atlanta and we were all here. Oh, what a beautiful girl."

Carlina White - raised in Bridgeport, Conn., under an alias, Nejdra Nance - suspected since her 16th birthday that her "family" wasn't flesh and blood, according to Joy White.

"To take somebody else's baby and neglect it and and not take care of it - you have to be a sick person," Joy White said. "(Carlina) told me she never said someone to say 'I love you,' or hug her."
Carlina contacted an organization for missing and exploited children to follow up on her suspicions.

The girl's mother learned her daughter was still alive Jan. 4, when she received photos of the missing girl. A DNA match last night confirmed their ties, she said.

"I was screaming, I was so excited," said Joy White. "As soon as I saw those pictures I said, 'That's my daughter.' I saw myself in her."

Nejdra is the mother of a 5-year-old daughter, Samani, who came north with her.

"She's so beautiful," said Joy White. "She was like, 'I love you grandma.' Everything is grandma, grandma!"

Dad Carl Tyson said he didn't need any tests to know the young woman was his child.

"I already knew in my heart that this was my daughter," said Tyson, who was 22 when the girl disappeared. "All I could do is shed tears."

When a detective told Tyson the test results were a match, Tyson said he cried more tears of joy.
The grandmother and mom said they never gave up hope.

Five years ago, a weepy Joy White told the Daily News that she still prayed daily for the return of her daughter - and believed Carlina would one day return.

It was August 1987 when the little girl's abduction - the only known hospital kidnapping in New York history - stunned the city. It stumped investigators for more than two decades.

The three-week-old girl, just 21 inches long and weighing eight pounds, was rushed to Harlem Hospital by her parents with a 104-degree temperature.

A woman dressed as a nurse approached 16-year-old Joy White in the emergency room, offering soothing words to the worried mother.

"Don't cry," she said. "Everything's going to be all right."

But everything instead went wrong. The compassion was actually a cover-up, and the woman brazenly snatched the infant before disappearing.

Authorities said the white-clad woman was hanging around the hospital for several weeks before the kidnapping.

Police managed to track one suspect to Baltimore, but were never able to bring charges in what became one of the NYPD's coldest cases.

White and father Carl Tyson received a $750,000 settlement from the city after filing a lawsuit. The couple split up about a year after their daughter's disappearance.

Both went on to raise separate families while wondering about the fate of their first born.

UPDATE 1/24/11:

Ann Pettway turned herself in for the kidnapping.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan alleged Monday that Annugetta "Ann" Pettway admitted to federal agents Sunday that she took 19-day-old Carlina White from Harlem Hospital Center in August 1987 without consent. Ms. White was suffering from a fever and had been brought to her hospital by her parents, prosecutors said.

Ms. Pettway, who had difficulty having her own children and had several miscarriages, raised Ms. White as her own child, prosecutors said.

Ms. Pettway, who also has a teenage son, "understands the gravity of the charges."


Ms. Pettway told agents that she "is sorry and knows that she has caused a lot of pain," according to the complaint.
In a written statement, Ms. Pettway said taking Ms. White from her family was "totally unacceptable" and she is "truly sorry," according to the complaint.


Adoption Growing among Evangelical Christians

Southern Indiana's Courier-Journal artilce quote Kathryn Joyce and I:

David and Tera Melber always knew they wanted a large family, but they didn't expect it to grow the way it did.

The southern Jefferson County couple already had three biological children when David's overseas visit several years ago to a crowded, seedy orphanage convinced the couple that there were too many children in need of a home to ignore.

In 2005, they adopted a daughter, Maritess, from the Philippines, followed by two sons from Ethiopia, Jonas in 2007 and Isaac in 2010. Their six children now range in age from 4 to 16.

“We believe that's part of our mandate as believers, to be able to go and help those who are in need,” said Tera Melber.

The Melbers are part of a growing adoption movement among evangelical Christians. They see taking in children — whether locally or from different countries — as fulfilling biblical mandates to help the needy and to evangelize children.

Religious groups such as the Southern Baptist Convention and Focus on the Family, a prominent Colorado-based evangelical organization, have made a strong push in recent years for adoptions.

Christianity Today, the flagship evangelical journal, published a cover story in July promoting adoption, authored by Russell Moore, a dean at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.

The movement does have critics, who see it as severing adoptees from their culture and religion, particularly in the case of foreign adoptions.

Such criticism was further stoked in early 2010 after the arrest of a Southern Baptist church team suspected of child smuggling after the Haiti earthquake.
But evangelicals say adoption is simply a way to spread their religious message and provide orphaned children a loving home.

Researchers into evangelical family trends say the adoption movement is too new to have been studied or to count how many adoptions it has inspired. But nationally, adoptions grew 22 percent to 57,466 between 1999 and 2009, according to U.S. figures.

But adoption has unquestionably risen as a major focus of evangelical churches and organizations through sermons, conferences, support groups, subsidies and orphan-awareness Sun

Tera Melber coordinates an adoption ministry at Highview Baptist Church, where 95 families have adopted 140 children — the majority since the ministry started five years ago, she said.

At least 13 families have adopted or cared for foster children, she said. “We have various people who are adopting little babies from right here in Louisville, Ky., or going overseas and adopting a sibling group of three children,” said Tera Melber.
Other church members volunteer their time to care for orphans or donate money.

“We don't really believe every Christian is called to adopt, but we do believe every Christian is called to do something,” Melber said.

A gentler message

The trend partly “reflects a desire of evangelical Protestants to pursue family-related goals that are softer, less divisive” than confrontations over volatile cultural issues such as abortion, said Brad Wilcox, a University of Virginia researcher into evangelical families.

Evangelicals say they want to put their anti-abortion words into deeds by providing an alternative. [Excuse me, but WTF does that have to do with all their international adoptions?  Are they preventing Ethiopians from aborting?!?]

“Being pro-life is not simply holding to certain legislative goals about abortion,” Southern Seminary's Moore said.

Evangelicals also depict adoption in theological terms — as a real-life parable of biblical texts describing salvation as adoption into God's family. [News flash: Real life is NOT a parable, it's REAL LIFE!]

Christians who are adopting “get a new sense of the Gospel that they've already embraced,” said Moore, who adopted two sons from Russia and authored the book, “Adopted for Life.”  [So they play God with the lives of others, taking them from their REAL families.]

A 2009 Southern Baptist Convention resolution called on churches to “be concerned for the evangelism of children — including those who have no parents … (who) will never otherwise hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The message behind the movement

But critics warn there deeper subtexts to the push for adoption.

Mirah Riben, author of books calling for ethical reform of adoption practices, said the evangelical push “satisfies several right wing fundamental Christian agendas,” from evangelism to opposing abortion.

Writing on the blog “Dissident Voice,” she warned of unregulated international adoptions and the potential for birth parents being shamed into giving up children. [I am quite sure I did not say that was POTENTIAL!!]

Kathryn Joyce, author of “Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement,” warned of a “strong taint of colonialism” in the evangelical adoption movement. It is casting Americans “as saviors and focusing on adoption as a solution for impoverished communities,” she wrote in a Daily Beast blog post.

But Terry Singer, dean of the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville, said that he isn't as concerned about a possible goal of building “an army of converts” if “some of these kids can be given some permanency and consistency in their lives and some love.”

And Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, said, “The option for any of these kids is not a good one if they're not adopted. It's pretty difficult for me to have concerns about folks taking kids in and loving them.”

Blake Ring, an adoptive father and a minister at Ninth and O Baptist Church, said his church unapologetically sees adoption as “a gospel witness to these children” in deed as well as word. Church families have adopted about 15 children in recent years, with 11 families now in the adoption process, he said

Keeping perspective

The evangelical initiative is also showing practicality, warning against adopting because it's trendy.

Parents should be prepared to deal with children with potential health problems or with distress over separation from birth parents and homelands, they said.

Parents adopting cross-racially may learn “who the bigots are in their extended families,” Moore added. “That can be quite painful.” [Yet never as nearly painful to those adopting, as it is to those they adopt!]

For the Melbers, where the children are home-schooled together and cooperate on child care and other chores, the adoption experience has broadened the perspectives of both parents and children.

“It's given me more thought about more countries,” said Jonathan. He said “we're so blessed” to live in this country, but he realizes the world is “not just America.” [Could have found that out by reading.]

David Melber agreed with those who say crises of poverty and child welfare can't be solved by trying to “adopt every orphan in every country.” He cited church mission teams that work alongside locals to improve conditions for everyone in a country, including its orphans.

Oldest son Alex Melber, 16, for example, has already volunteered to work with orphans in Haiti and plans to do so again.

“Having siblings that didn't speak English, it helped me communicate with kids down there,” he said. “I had already done it here.”

Comment here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Artyom Savelyev Update

Boy Sent to Russia Can't Be Adopted- Very Odd...IF True

A U.S. mother who sent her adopted son back to Russia unaccompanied on a plane last April is holding up the boy's re-adoption by refusing to give up her parental rights, children's ombudsman Pavel Astakhov said Tuesday.

Torry Hansen, 33, told a Tennessee court that she only put Artyom Savelyev, now 8, on a plane because "he asked to see his [biological] mother and she let him go," Astakhov wrote on Twitter.
Hansen sent the boy with a note saying he was psychologically unfit and asking that the adoption be cancelled.

But Astakhov called Hansen's court testimony "cynic slyness" that aimed to avoid making child support payments.

Savelyev cannot be re-adopted by another family until Hansen gives up her parental rights.
Astakhov said he would send documents to the Tennessee court to support an attempt by U.S. prosecutors to collect child support payments from Hansen and deprive her of her parental rights. He did not specify how much she is expected to pay.

Savelyev's return angered the Foreign Ministry and prompted calls for a freeze of foreign adoptions until the signing of a bilateral deal with the United States on child adoptions.

Astakhov said last week that other countries will also have to sign similar agreements with Russia in order for their citizens to adopt Russian children, RIA-Novosti reported.

The pact with the United States and one with France will be signed this year, Astakhov said, without elaborating on the time frame.

The Moscow City Court approved 179 of 180 requests by foreign parents to adopt Russian children last year, Astakhov said Tuesday.

U.S. families have adopted more than 14,000 children from Russia over the past five years, including 1,500 in 2009. Another 3,500 Russian children are awaiting adoption by U.S. parents after the adoption process essentially halted in May, according to the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, which represents many U.S. adoption agencies.

About 120,000 Russian children are placed in orphanages every year.

When Vanity Meets Excessive Finances

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban spark debate on surrogacy

Country musician Keith Urban and his wife, actress Nicole Kidman, have sparked debate on the term "gestational carrier."

Country musician Keith Urban and his wife, actress Nicole Kidman, have ignited debate about surrogacy, specifically their use of the term "gestational carrier."

The couple's announcement Monday of the birth in Nashville, Tenn., of their second daughter, prompted widespread reaction from newspaper commentators, bloggers and Twitter users worldwide.
And speculation over whether Urban and Kidman paid the surrogate to carry the child had a serious note in Australia, where it is illegal to do so — over and above reasonable costs of the pregnancy — unlike the situation in the United States. Urban is Australian, while Kidman has dual Australian-American citizenship.

A press release issued by the couple on the birth of Faith Margaret Kidman Urban to a surrogate mother on Dec. 28 at the Centennial Medical Centre in Nashville, read: "No words can adequately convey the incredible gratitude that we feel for everyone who was so supportive throughout this process, in particular our gestational carrier."

The release came a day after the Golden Globe Awards, controversially hosted by Ricky Gervais,  which both attended without revealing the news.

A Twitter search at 10 a.m. Tuesday produced these results:
@sarahmagnetic Ha!!! that is brilliant - when i was pregnant I didn't look human at all, gestational carrier is a perfect description!
@mamalaw New PC term for surrogate mother: Gestational Carrier!
@Greathutnick When did surrogates become "gestational carriers"? Sounds like a piece of luggage. Gestational Carrier, room for all your embryonic needs.
@cathythompson the term "gestational carrier" is just a little to PC for me...I think I prefer the ubiquitous "Baby Mama" for my familial descriptions
@andyheeps I'm off to tell the midwives to change the notes: Gestational carrier admitted at 1548hrs
@shabamalam Is a toaster a gestational carrier for bread?
NorthPacific Are gestational carriers allowed on this plane or do they go in the belly?

One commentator, Melinda Tankard Reist, wrote in a comment piece in The Australian newspaper that the term "stripped of humanity" the woman who carried the baby to term.

"The objectification of women's bodies and commodification of childbirth came together yesterday in a single antiseptic phrase contained in the announcement of a second child for actress Nicole Kidman and her musician husband Keith Urban," Reist wrote. The phrase was "reminiscent of other terms popular in the global baby-production industry, such as suitcase, baby capsule, oven and incubator," she added.

Kidman and Urban, who are both 43, are Faith Margaret's biological parents. The couple themselves did not detail why and under what circumstances they needed a surrogate.

According to The Australian newspaper, Kidman has a long history of fertility problems and is known to have previously undergone in-vitro fertilization. She successfully carried their first child, Sunday Rose.

Kidman carried and gave birth to Sunday Rose in 2008. She also has two adopted children from her marriage to Tom Cruise, although she has said recently that she's sorry that she doesn't see the kids, both teenagers, very often. They live with Cruise and his wife Katie Holmes.

"It all sounds like terms from a lawyer-drafted contract — ghastly," the Australian quoted one person as tweeting, adding that the fact that the surrogate was  likely to have been paid did little to foster support.

It is illegal to pay for surrogacy in Australia, although "altruistic" surrogacy is now legal throughout country, after being decriminalized in the state of Queensland in 2010.
Recent reforms that allow the "intended parents" to gain legal guardianship in Australia do not apply if the surrogacy was paid for overseas.

In the state of New South Wales, the penalty for paying for surrogacy anywhere in the world will be a $100,000 fine and up to two years in jail after legislation is finalized.

Elton John and his partner, David Furnish, are another celebrity couple to have announced recently the use of surrogacy. The couple used a surrogate mother to deliver their son Zachary, who was born over the Christmas period.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pennsylvania Enforcing Open Adoption Contact Agreements

Open Adoptions are now Legally Enforceable in Pennsylvania

On October 27, 2010, Governor Ed Rendell signed into law Act 101 of 2010, which makes several amendments to Pennsylvania's Adoption Act. The most significant change is that Pennsylvania will now enforce open adoptions, or voluntary agreements for continuing contact or communication, for the first time in Pennsylvania.

Currently, adoptive and biological parents can make their own agreements about continuing contact or communication after the adoption, but unlike 23 other states with open adoptions, the contracts were not legally enforceable. The change to the current law now allows these agreements to be enforceable. If an agreement between the adoptive parents and birth relatives to allow continuing contact or communication between the parents or between the child and parents is breached, then the birth relatives can petition the court to enforce the agreement. The Act also requires parties to an adoption, including a child who is old enough to understand, to be notified about the right to have an open adoption.

Our firm has several attorneys who work regularly with adoptive parents and provide guidance with regard to open adoptions so we want to take this opportunity to address some frequently asked questions regarding this new law:
Q.  Who can make an agreement?
A.  A birth relative of the child to be adopted and the adopted parents. This includes the biological grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives.
Q.  What steps need to be taken to make the agreement enforceable?
A.  The parties must submit the agreement to the court where the adoption will be finalized and have the agreement approved. The court will determine if the agreement was entered into knowingly and voluntarily and is the best interest of the child or children who are being adopted. If the prospective adoptive child is twelve years old or older, the child must also consent to the agreement.
Q.  What happens if the agreement is breached?
A.  If an agreement is approved by the court then the birth relative or adoptive child or children can petition the court that approved the agreement to enforce the continuing contact or communication. The court will order specific performance, meaning the court will order the adoptive parents to comply with the agreement. The court will not set aside the adoption.
Q.  Can the agreement be changed after the court approves it?
A.  Yes. The court can change the agreement if either the adoptive child who is twelve years of age or older or the adoptive parents petition the court. The court will modify the agreement if doing so is in the best interest of the child.

The agreement will also automatically be terminated upon the child reaching eighteen years of age, unless the agreement states that it will end earlier. A party to an agreement or a child that is at least twelve years of age may seek to discontinue the agreement by filing an action in the court that finalized the adoption. The standard for discontinuance is also best interest of the child.
If you have questions about the Act or are interested in an open adoption agreement, you should consult an attorney with experience in Adoption Law. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Jared Loughner: What can we learn?

This post is totally off the topic of Family Preservation and adoption. But it is about family and parenting.

I have just finished reading details of the behavior of the Arizona shooter who killed six people, Jared Loughner during the last year or two, here which describe outburst after outburst in his classrooms and ramblings which made no sense at all such as:

"My instructor said he called a number 6 and I said 'I call it 18.'"

And this police report:

"He very slowly began telling me in a low and mumbled voice that under the Constitution, which had been written on the wall for all to see, he had the right to his 'freedom of thought' and whatever he thought in his head he could also put on paper. ... His teacher 'must be required to accept it' as a passing grade," the officer wrote.

Friends of Jared Loughner told The New York Times that his behavior had become increasingly erratic over the past year. He feared that two of his closest friends were planning to kill him, one of those friends told the Times on Tuesday.

“He did not have many friends,” Zane Gutierrez, 21, told the newspaper. “We stopped talking to him in March of 2010. He started getting weird.”
He said Loughner would call at 2 a.m. and ask, “Are you hanging out in front of the house, stalking me?”

“He thought we were plotting to kill him or steal his car or something,” Gutierrez said. “It got worse over time.”

I don't think anyone needs a psych degree to conclude that this was a classic case of a 22-year-old man becoming schizophrenic - out of touch with reality. It is a not uncommon occurrence at that age.

What is sad is that his parents did not recognize this for what it was and get him institutionalized. It's all to reminiscent of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot up Columbine High School more than a decade ago. Their parents failed to notice the pipe bomb construction going on in the family garage. Is it because as parents we do not want to think evil of our children? is there still a stigma on mental health issues that prevents us from seeking treatment for our loved ones as we would if they broke a bone or were bleeding from an open wound? Is it lack of health insurance coverage for mental health issues that prevents us from seeking help?

Susan Reimer, in The Baltimore Sun, asks:

"It could be that complex mental diseases such as those that surely afflicted Cho and Loughner are beyond the scope of these parents to comprehend or manage. Or that the mental health care system is too complex to navigate or too fraught with cultural taboos to be of any use to them....And finally, it could be that parents do not see the damage in their children because they are damaged themselves."

Loughner's relationship with his parents, with whom he lived, was described as "strained." He clashed with co-workers and police. And he couldn't follow the rules at an animal shelter where he spent some time.

In a written statement, his parents said:

"We don't understand why this happened. We care very deeply about the victims and their families. We are so very sorry for their loss."

Randy and Amy Loughner, the parents of Jared Lee Loughner, who is accused of shooting Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killing six others, are described as distraught with grief and shame. A neighbor says Randy Loughner idolized his 22-year-old son and that Amy Loughner is so devastated that she cannot speak without weeping and might need to be hospitalized.

Reimer writes that we shouldn't rush to blame the parents. It's the easy way out, she says.  I am not blaming, I am stating that it is sad that they ignored cries for help. and likewise hold equally culpable teachers, school officials and police.

Reimer reminds us:
When Seung Hui Cho killed 32 students and teachers and then himself at Virginia Tech, and we learned that his Korean immigrant parents considered their troubled son odd and therefore a failure and likely telegraphed that message to him, we knew who to blame for his frustration and his rage.

The journal of Wayne Harris reflects the fact that he believed his son Eric did not commit a series of vandalisms and was, in fact, being scapegoated.

An essay by Dylan Klebold's mother, Susan, in O magazine cast her son, the mastermind of the Columbine rampage, as a victim of suicide and offered suicide warning signs to other parents. A suicide? Really?
Despite pointing out the beer drinking of Mrs Loughner, Reimer ends her piece by saying:  "Sometimes good people have evil children" and tells us the parents are no more to blame than weak gun laws or political rhetoric.

If blame needs to be cast, I put it on the medical/psychological community for failing to properly educate the public on the signs and symptoms of serious mental disorders that can possibly lead to dangerous behaviors of self harm to harm to others. I think the public needs to be far more aware of signs and symptoms of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, and the fact that it often affects young adults who have been perfectly normal up until then.

We also need full medical coverage for young adult children over 18 still living at home.

We educate parents that sudden changes in behavior could indicate drug use, but we are ignoring this issue entirely. Let's remove the stigmas and fight mental health as we do cancer!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A New Book by Evelyn Robinson

Adoption Separation - Then and Now

For the first time, Evelyn Robinson has produced a book which includes the work of others. Forty-five parents who have lost children to adoption in seven different countries were generous enough to allow her to publish their narratives. Their stories make poignant and, at times, harrowing reading.

Their contributions represent adoption as it was then (ie between 1958 and 1989) and she has added some information and some of her own opinions on adoption as it is now.

Evelyn writes: "I believe that together they provide compelling and thought-provoking reading and will contribute in a very positive way to validating the feelings of those who have experienced adoption separation and educating the community around those experiences and the resulting outcomes.

"I have a limited number of copies available for $15.00 each (no charge for postage in Australia).
You may order copies by sending a cheque/money order to:
Clova Publications
PO Box 328
Christies Beach
South Australia 5165
or contact for other payment options."

Adoption Separation - Then and now will soon be available for purchase on-line through Amazon.

For further information please visit the Clova Publications web site at
If you are able to advertise my book and/or produce a review, I would appreciate it greatly. I am also available as a presenter and am always willing to talk about my work.

Please pass this information on to anyone who may be interested.

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