Wednesday, January 26, 2011

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? 


Von said...

Couldn't agree more, great post.

Robin said...

What really bothers me is that Mary Beth said her healing began when she located her relinquished daughter and was able to have a relationship with her. Yet by promoting IA she is denying other first mothers and their children this same opportunity for healing. With IA it is nearly impossible for the first mother and child to ever find each other. It makes me think of the Golden Rule.

And yes, I agree with you that this sounds like a case of acting out the trauma over and over.

Mirah Riben said...

AND, there's a very high likelihood that she separated the child she adopted from siblings!

Anonymous said...

You don't have to worry about posting my comment, because I already voiced it on FB. You are a very sad individual and need to get a life!
Amazing how you can attack a wonderful person like Mary Beth, but won't show the negative comments that you receive! I'm not surprised that you only have 72 followers.

Mirah Riben said...

Anon, never said I would not publish comments that defended Mary Beth...I simply predicted that some WOULD!

More importantly, I never attacked Mary Beth. I merely stated what mothers who relinquish children to adoption know: we feel lifelong pain that often increases with time....or we stay in deep denial. I have desire to attack her ignorance. (NOT stupidity, but ignorance: not knowing or facing the truth). I feel deeply sorry for her. As do the other who commented, Anon. We KNOW, because we have walked a mile in her shoes, Anon. Have YOU?

If you care about Mary Beth you might help her deal with her pain instead of acting out of that pain.

May I suggest:

Christy said...

Most adoptive parents are well aware of their children's loss and grieve it with them. Many also do all they can to maintain contact with foster families and the ones I've met write letters to birth families (through the agency) and hope one day to have a relationship with them - yes, through IA! You also seem to make the assumption that if there weren't adoptive families that birth parents would suddenly start keeping and caring for their children. While there are cases that this may be true, it isn't universal so you're definitely only presenting the side of each issue that works for you.

Anonymous said...

Do you know Mary Beth personally? Just wondering if you have any idea what steps she has taken to deal with any pain/grief that came from her placing her child for adoption?

Mirah Riben said...

- FACT: 90% of children in orphanages worldwide are not orphans but have at least one living parent and/or extended family to reunite their family as was the case with the two children Madonna adopted. These people have no concept of - or desire for - permanent adoption of their children.

- FACT: Many people all over the world are exploited for their ignorance, asked to sign papers they cannot read; told their children are going to the US Europe of an education.

-FACT: In nations that have ceased IA because of corruption, the number of allegedly "abandoned" babies dropped to almost zero. When adoptions were resumed, the number of said "abandoned" babies rose back up again to meet the demand!

-FACT: Children ARE stolen, kidnapped and trafficked for adoption in China, India, Nepal, Vietnam and Guatemala.

-FACT: Children have bene taken at gunpoint from loving mothers to meet a demand for babies to adopt!

-FACT: Children who might benefit from adoption are ignored in US foster care and orphanages around the world because they are older, disabled or sibling groups while children are sought and coerced or stolen to meet the demand!

-FACT: The tens of thousands of dollars paid by westerners to adopt prevent local residents from adopting within many nations because they cannot compete financially with fees set based on demand.

These are FACTS. Not facts to suit just me and thy were not created by me! Take off your rose-colored glasses and read the UN quotes at the top of this page and the additional quotes on the quote TAB. Also read:

Duped by Indian adoption agency, US family cautions couples

Read Julia Rollings story at:

Read also: The Lie We Love by E.J.Graff -

The works of David Smolin on child trafficking:

Re China, read:

Anonymous said...

Get a grip. Seems to me that you have some issues to work out yourself. Maybe focus on your own mental health first. Then perhaps you'll find a more balanced perspective.

Mirah Riben said...

No, Tammy, I do not know this woman personally.

But I lost a child to adoption and I was one of the co-founders of one of the first American search ans support groups for such mothers, the original origins, founded in 1980 in NJ. I have counsleled and cosoled mothers who have relinqusihed for more than 30 years and have met and spoken with hundreds! I have also researched all aspects of adoption, including the long term effects of adoption loss for an equal amount of time. As a result, I have been called to testify on legilsation, appeared on national television as an experts, on radio, in documentaries and been keynote and invoted speakers at national and local conferences both academic, legal and adoption-specific. I have authored two internationallu acclaimed books and numerous articles.

While Mary Beth may be an exception, based on my wealth of experience, research and expertise on the subject and I seriously doubt it. It is far more likely that she is deeply imbued in the brainwashing that allows us to sign away children. It is akin to Stockholm Syndrome and creates for may of its victims a very classic need to prove that what they did - which is against all human nature - was right.

Mirah Riben said...

Thanks "Get a Grip." I have been facing head on and working on my issues of loss for more than 30 years...and continue to every day.

Anonymous said...

I agree that there is great loss with adoption. There is great loss and grief in all of our lives, no one is immune to suffering loss at some point in their life. I respect all of your research, work, and personal experience. But I am not sure that you have a full perspective of adoption. Are you an adoptive parent? There are always different perspectives to every story, every life. It also seems sadly that you do not have or maybe have not experienced the healing that true unconditional love can bring into anyone's life. I am sorry that your life and heart is so full of loss, anger, and judgement upon others and upon adoption as a whole.

A true, complete view of adoption as a whole is one that is researched from all perspectives not just one side. That is true of any research on any topic.

I guess my last question is this.....what would you have the world do with all of the children (147 million of them) that do not have families? Whether they are orphans or not by definition, they have no family that takes care of them? What and where should these children be?

Mirah Riben said...


I have researched adoption from all sides. there are half a millionchidlren in US foster care. the first objective for them is for them to reunited with their original families.

There are approx. 120,000of those children in foster care who COULD be adopted but are, for the most part, being ignored by people like Mary Beth who adopt internationally instead.

For more of my views, please click the Family Preservation and FAQ tabs above, or obtain a copy of my book latest and read that.

Anonymous said...

I do understand your research, as you have stated before. The problem is that you only state your research from the point of a person that has placed a child for adoption. Whether you want to believe it or not there are thousands of adoptive families that have considered and know all of the things that you state above and in your book but still choose to open their heart and lives to a child that does not have a family caring for them(children from the US and other countries). I agree, as do most adoptive parents and families, that the ideal situation for a child is to be with their biological family but sadly that isn't happening here in the US or around the world.

Have you traveled to other countries, through orphanages or just through the streets of some of the cities where children are left alone to care for themselves as young as 2 and 3? I have, these children deserve someone to take care of them just like the children in foster care in the US. I have traveled when there is a healthy, good adoption system set up and these children are rarely seen. I have traveled back when the adoptions have been stopped and interfered with and had to step over toddlers dying in the streets. Whether or not people want to believe it or understand, adoption isn't the problem. Are there changes that need to be made in some adoption systems? ABSOLUTELY BUT there will always be children in need, countries/families that can't care for them, so as humans with hearts we have the ability and option to take care and love these children. I can assure you from my own experience and research that a life in the streets or in an institution is not the same as a family. Do these children deserve less because they do not have biological family to care for them or because they aren't in the US foster system?

So what it seems you are saying is that all the 120,000 children in foster care should be adopted first. Have you adopted any children from the foster care system? If all of these children were adopted would you say that international adoption is ok? Would that mean that the other
146,874,000 orphans in the world were legitimately in need of families and since they weren't being cared for by their biological families then US families could adopt them?


Anonymous said...

Please answer these questions. In all of my comments I have asked questions but you don't answer them. I understand all of your "research" but I am asking you about what you are willing to do personally to change this issue instead of just stating research and profiling others.

Have you attempted to adopt in the US? I have, the US gov't makes it nearly impossible, especially children in the foster care system. If there is a problem in this country with the foster care system and adoption, I can assure you it is with our own government. I have, like you, researched this, studied this and experienced it first hand. I can assure you that researching this and trying to adopt through the system are TWO TOTALLY DIFFERENT ISSUES AND EXPERIENCES!!! If you haven't walked through it you can't understand it and I assure you the research means absolutely nothing. I hope that if you haven't experienced it you might consider it one day.

Therefore, my only conclusion to all of your research and your opinions is have only experienced the loss and pain from placing a child for adoption. You have spent time "researching" statistics and numbers instead of experiencing the subject yourself. You do not answer questions others ask of you but only accuse other people, that you do not know, of things you yourself are not willing to experience.
For me personally, and a lot of other people I have actually talked to, your numbers and stats mean nothing. We would rather talk to some like this woman, Mary Beth, that you are judging and bashing, because she has personally walked the road of pain and loss as a birth mom that you have experienced. But instead of wallowing in the pain and accusing others of wrong doing and hateful untrue things, she choose a path much different. She choose to not only find her birth child but then turn around and bring children in her life that have experienced the same pain of loss and grief. She choose to reach out to children and actually open her heart and home, give them time, affection, love, make them feel important and wanted when they had been in a place where no unconditional love was available. She did something with her pain to make some good come out of it. If anyone could understand the pain and loss of an adopted child I would think someone that experienced that same pain and loss would be the best parent!!

You have read, studied, and research and live your life all about the negative and what is wrong in this world. Adoption will always be here, it will never be perfect but neither are we. So do we throw the baby out with the bath water so to speak? Just completely do away with the opportunity for some of these children to have families because it isn't absolutely perfect or they don't live in the US? We will never be perfect people on earth but families like this,that desire to give a child a home when their biological families can't, they are the people that are making a difference in children's life. Not institutions and governments.

Robin said...

I do so wish people would stop playing the "unconditional love" card. Adoption is supposed to be about the child. Many adopted children (and adult adoptees) do get unconditional love and yet still feel enormous pain over having been given up and denied a lifelong familial relationship with their biological kin.

Mirah Riben said...


I have given you all the space you've wanted and will give you more. Mi casa su casa: My blog is YOUR PLATFORM for your opinions!

Any questions I have not fully answered here, I have done so by referred you to other sources of my work which do answer them. I simply do not have the time to personally repeat myself at your behest. My views are available and answer every one of your questions, Tammy. Have you read the FAQs and About Family Preservation tabs above as I suggested?

As I said in a previous comment on THIS very post, I thought seriously about adopting after loosing my first child. But alas did not and am glad I did not. I did however foster and I know MANY who have adopted from all different sources including foster care. And i agree with you that the foster-adopt system needs work as well, for one interstate adoptions from foster care are nearly impossible.

Yes, I have travelled outside the US, in particular to Guatemala and met with Ana Escobar whose daughter was stolen from her at gunpoint and was ready to be sent tot he US for adoption.

You said: "Whether or not people want to believe it or understand, adoption isn't the problem."

I say: Whether or not people - like you and others - want to believe it, adoption IS NOT THE SOLUTION!~!!


Mirah Riben said...

Part II


Taking children one at a time from poverty, despair, or drug addicted mothers does NOTHING to ameliorate the problems of the mother, family (including the other siblings still living in the same circumstances), the village, community or nation these people come from!

Are you aware of the old proverb about teaching people to fish instead of giving them one fish to eat? There are deeply rooted problems that adoption simply exploits to meet a demand.

In Guatemala, for instance - just to name on country that exploits mothers and commodifies their children, trafficking them for adoption - one of the root issues in addition to poverty is machismo. Women live in fear of the men in their lives. While in Guat I viststed 2 women's shelters. Women came in secret to obtain birth control injections! Adopting their babies is closing the barn door after the horse is out! it is subjecting these women - and their sister worldwide - in desperate lives, to an additional tragedy of living with the grave loss of a child and feeling the guilt and shame of not being able to care for their child. And they are left behind to go on living in squalor and fear. How has that adoption solved anything except filled oNE ORDER for a child for whom someone was willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars?

You ask if I believe that every child in the US who needs a home and who COULD be adopted should be before we adopt from overseas. I see absolutely nothing wrong with that idea. I am very much in favor of limiting the adoption tax benefit to the adoption of US children in state care, especially since it is the numbers of such foster kids who are used each year to get legislators to keep renewing and increasing that dividends and then it issued to adopt from overseas or in some cases domestic newborns....but little is spent on what single mothers need to keep their families safe such as day care.


Mirah Riben said...

Part III


AGAIN I remind you that my ideas are not mine alone nor dot they even originate with me. I am a journalist, a messenger (and a whistle blower). I did not create the FACTS I listed above! The idea of IA as a LAST RESORT begins with the Un and other NGOs on the ground working with peoples in third world countries. they see it as exploitation, not help!

SOS Village, Save the Children, Christian Children's Fund, UNICEF...all of these experts say that IA should be a LAST RESORT!

Yet people like Mary Beth did it and promote it! I find that reprehensible. I am fully cognizant that she and you and many others see it as rescuing and altruistic etc. But it is misguided and wrong.

Finally, you ask me about the children that will always need alternate care. yes, there will always be some. And adoption as we have come to know it since the 1940s (a relatively short time in history) and as it is practiced today in the Us is not the only remedy for children in need and is in fact base don secrets and lies. Every UAS adoption begins with the adopted child's birth certificate hidden away from him 9forever in aspprox 44 of 50 states) and a new falsified birth certificate issued listing his adoptive parents as his parents OF BIRTH. The new false BC may also change his date and place of birth and in at least one case I know of, his race. Adoptees as they grow into adults are discriminated against by virtue of being held under laws that apply only to adopted persons and no others! And yet no one can say that any of this is in the best interest of the child or adopted adult.

Alternative care for children who need does not have to look like that. It could provide care without the trade off of taking away their name, heritage, lineage, roots and identity. It could look more like PERMANENT legal guardianship or simple adoption - adoption prior to the 1940s. It could LOOK like "open adoption" only without a permanent relinquishment of all parental rights at its base and with enforcement of contact agreements (baring good cause to end them).

read the quotes at the top of this page and the on the QUOTE tab. Adoption today has bene turned upside down. it is not serving the kids who need it most. it is serving adults who want children and are willing to pay for it - and willing to pay enough to create an industry that traffics kids to meet their demand. And that industry in turn creates cottage industries like Mary Beth's "precious" dolls! But none of it is helping the families who need assistance.

Mirah Riben said...


In conclusion (at least for now), Tammy...I am NOT speaking just for the mothers who experience great taruma of loss in adoption but for the BEST INTEREST OF CHILDREN!!! Do you not think it is in the best interest of the kids in US foster care that they get first dibs chance at a loving home (espcially when US tax dollars are in part supportng their adoptios)n? Do you think it unfair to leave other countries to resolve their issues within their nation and stop adding high priced competition that thwarts their domestic adoption program? Do you not think it preferable for every child to remain with kin, or at least know that there was at least one perosbn in their own country who cared aboty them and wanted to help them instea dof casting them away.

Have YOu ever spoken to or read the writing of adult IAs??? Do you know what it feels like to be cast away and sent to live in a foreign look difefrent and be teased because of your differences? I highly recommebnd you read two books by Jane Jeong Trenka and get a glimpse of life from THAT side and that perspective before you accuse me of having slanted opinion.

Do you know that because adoption is private and entrepenaurial in the US that kids are adopted to pedophiles who can afford the fee? Do you know that US kids are sent for adoption OUT of the US? Yes, ma'am...the US of A imports and EXPORTS kids for adoption - anything that makes a buck! God old free enetrprise!

And you think adoption isn't the problem? The demand surely IS the problem!!

Mirah Riben said...

“Regrettably, in many cases, the emphasis has changed from the desire to provide a needy child with a home, to that of providing a needy parent with a child. As a result, a whole industry has grown, generating millions of dollars of revenues each year . . .”
The Special Rapporteur, United Nations, Commission on Human Rights, 2003.

"Over the past 30 years, the number of families from wealthy countries wanting to adopt children from other countries has grown substantially. At the same time, lack of regulation and oversight, particularly in the countries of origin, coupled with the potential for financial gain, has spurred the growth of an industry around adoption, where profit, rather than the best interests of children, takes centre stage. Abuses include the sale and abduction of children, coercion of parents, and bribery."
UNICEF's position on Inter-country adoption.

Anonymous said...

I don't disagree with any of what you have stated about knowledge, education, and helping the people living in poverty, those addicted to drugs, and so on but what is being done is not taking care of the children in need RIGHT NOW!!!!!!! That is a great idea, philosophy, goal to reach for but those children do not have care or families NOW!!!!!!

Families all over the world need assistance ABSOLUTELY TRUE but there are also cases of birth mothers that DO NOT WANT THEIR CHILDREN!!!!!!! Period, that will never be changed because we are a selfish, human nature. There are bad birth moms in this world, there are children that need saving just like there are adults that need saving. What you are suggesting is to ignore the needs of the children in the mean time while we are trying to teach the adults to fish!!!!!!!

I don't disagree with your ideas and desires but these issues together can be a great thing for people in all countries. Adoption is not always the answer but it is not the problem!!!!!!! What you have basically stated is that adoption is good for the kids in the US foster system that need families but not for children of other countries if it means removing them from their country. I say show me how long it will take you to set up a system of education that will provide PERMANENT legal guardianship for these children. I will show you how many children will die alone in the mean time while that system is being set up. It doesn't have to be one or the other at all. Both can work together to make every country a better place for all of these children and families.

You are so dead set against adoption that you can see the forest for the trees. Adoption is the evil one here. Education is always the best possible way to increase a village, country, etc. That education doesn't happen overnight and thus children die without food, shelter and love. That is totally unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

Yes I have talked to adult IA. Yes I have read books on the issue. What you refuse to acknowledge is that there is as much good as there is bad in this world. There are terrible things that happen all over the world. There is good that comes from adoption.

It amazes me that it upsets you that I accuse you of having a slanted opinion but you accuse others, like Mary Beth, of things you do not know!!So you can cast judgement on her along with other adoptive families but you don't think it is right for others to have an opinion of you or your work??? That seems quite unfair and slanted in itself!!
You obviously do not want others to hold you to the standard that you use!! I am very sad for you in many aspects. I hope you can find some peace and happiness in your own life. Blessings

Mirah Riben said...

"...but there are also cases of birth mothers that DO NOT WANT THEIR CHILDREN!!!!!!! Period, that will never be changed because we are a selfish, human nature. There are bad birth moms in this world, there are children that need saving just like there are adults that need saving. What you are suggesting is to ignore the needs of the children in the mean time while we are trying to teach the adults to fish!!!!!!!"

Where there is birth control available, there will be a very, very minute percent of pathologically disturbed mothers who carry children to term and do not want them. The first step is getting birth control more universally available.

For these children, care cna be provided AS I HAVE STAED without taking away their names etc.

At the same time, Western women need to receive infertility prevention education in sex ed classes. You cannot just delay childbirth forever and expect it to work properly! Environmental hazards (some job related, eight, STDS, abortions...are all PREVENTABLE causes of infertility which creates demand for adoption. We need to work to slow that down.

Mirah Riben said...

"show me how long it will take you to set up a system of education that will provide PERMANENT legal guardianship for these children. I will show you how many children will die alone in the mean time while that system is being set up."

Tammy that thinking is very back and white/ either or. I agree with you totally that "it doesn't have to be one or the other" meaning no children have to DIE while adoption practices are changed! That's absolutely absurd! The current practices would continue WHILE PLG was put into effect - which in the US would be state by state....the same way the current sealed adoption practice came to be.

How long would it take? Forever if we don't ever gets started! The first step is removing rose-colored glasses and admitting the problems with adoption. The next is working to fix them.

RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

Russi Today: America television Interview 4/16/10 Regarding the Return of Artyem, 7, to Russia alone

RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

Korean Birthmothers Protest to End Adoption

Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss

Who Am I?

Bitter Winds

Adoption and Truth Video

Adoption Truth

Birthparents Never Forget