Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Swimming Against the Tide

Dr. Joe Mercola is renegade. He has been called every hateful name: charlatan, snake oil salesman and dangerous.

He is a medical doctor who started as a traditional physician, treating patients by writing prescriptions. After ten years he realized that all he was doing was treating symptoms and not the cause of illness and disease.  He began to study alternative health solutions such a vitamins.  In this sense he is very much like social workers such as Annette Baran who became vocal opponents to the methods they had been taught and were considered the status quo. He and they rebelled against the artificial in favor or nature! Against the money-making methods and for the people-helping ones!

After a decade or so of being an alternative medicine guru - loved and hated - he has become an activist to fight the established pharmaceutical companies and organizations such as the AMA that support the pharmaceuticals. In this sense I directly relate. Unlike Baran or Villardi, I did not come to adoption via professional path. But like Mercola I have made the step from helping individuals to seeking to change the system itself.

I co-founded the original Origins, an Organization for Mothers who lost Children to Adoption in 1980 in New Jersey. I was one of five co-founding mothers who held search and support groups in homes, libraries, etc. Similar groups for mothers and adoptees were held all over the nation, pre Internet. Our focus was SELF-HELP, much as Dr, Mercola's initial focus was helping his patients get healthy.  

Over the years I assisted in hundreds and hundreds of family reunifications and worked with hundreds of others on their post reunion relationships.  Then, like Dr. Mercola, I moved on to fighting the "system", with my first book, shedding light on...The Dark Side of Adoption in 1988.  From there I moved to fighting the INDUSTRY of adoption with my second book in 2007.

Self-help is still needed and will be even if we eliminate all unnecessary adoptions because there will always be a small number of necessary familial separations and replacements in alternative care and those people will need still support in dealing with that tragedy.

I see the analogy of medicine very clearly in these different aspects of adoption reform. Self-help vs reform vs activism mirrors research and treatment. versus is really not the correct term because they are both necessary. If all we did was research cancer or HIV of crippling diseases, we would surely be ignoring those in need.  Likewise, if all we did was treat, we would be treating these diseases treating eternally - good for the pharm cos - but not for people. We need to treat those afflicted, research the causes..AND, fight against those who profit by keeping us dependent upon the "cures" to our woes when they could be eradicated.

My hope for adoption reform is that each adoptee or natural family member who initiates a search or is found, pay it forward by:
  • helping others search 
  • supporting others in reunion or those fearful of a search and reunion
  • speaking out publicly via letters-to-the editor, local news coverage, or at your church and among friend and family. Help "normalize" family reunification after adoption separation.
  • support equal access legislation!
If you are a reformer, involved in search and support and/or working on legislation (or have) I hope you would also work to expose the exploitation and coercion in the adoption industry.  If you are earning any money or even just clout from doing searches but are pro-adoption, you are part of the problem. You are in essence an ambulance at the base of a cliff!

We need to use our experiences to speak out against the industry - against adoption being used to meet a demand instead of the best interest of children and families.

Remember: Smoking was once considered sexy and sophisticated and was glamorized in movie etc.

Remember: It was once OK to on slaves in the US and later it was Ok to segregate schools and other places.  Couples were arrested for dating interracially.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Surrogacy, Adoption and the Commodification of Children

Recently a "news" report - the kind that is more concerned with who in Hollywood is marrying, jailed or breaking up - reported on a celeb couple who had a baby "via surrogacy." It was said as if the baby was born via cesarian. This is how nonchalant we have come about the practice of paying for babies - or for the eggs, or sperm or the "rental' of one's womb.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood is defined as "a dystopian novel, a work of science fiction or speculative fiction." And yet it is very much reality. The book describes a point in time when fertility rates are so low, fertile women are kept as slaves of a sort to bear children for the wealthy and infertile. 

No. Save your fingers commenting.  I am not suggesting that all infertility is a result - directly or indirectly - of delayed childbearing. While a good percentage of it is, many other causes are likewise preventable such as weight (too high or too low), smoking, abortions, STDs, environmental contaminants..... Still, I am not implying it is not  a grievous loss. I am simply stating that it is MEDICAL problem that is being treated with special solutions and that a good deal of it is very preventable. As Vanessa Grigoriadis at New York Magazine wrote:
The fact is that the Pill, while giving women control of their bodies for the first time in history, allowed them to forget about the biological realities of being female until it was, in some cases, too late. It changed the narrative of women’s lives, so that it was much easier to put off having children until all the fun had been had (or financial pressures lessened).  
Bianca Dye admits:
I’m the walking stereotype of the career gal that… I dunno…  just forgot.
I got busy, dated dickheads and didn’t realise my time was REALLY RUNNING OUT!

Too greedy looking at what else was on the menu, I suppose. I never really committed to that: “must find hot, successful guy, must marry him, must buy house, must have baby.”
These rather simplistic views of the forgetfulness of women are countered on Feminsiste, with:
...yes, it is true that many women have trouble conceiving as they age. It is something that women have to think about — fertility isn’t forever, and if you want to birth your own babies, you have to make sure you fit that in . A lot of women don’t want to be pregnant until they’re in their 30s, when their fertility is declining. That’s not nothing.
So, it's not so much 'forgetting' as 'choosing' to delay. And then one has other 'choices' one can make.  Today, we have a mega billion dollar industry to provide eggs, sperm, wombs, frozen embryos and living children...a veritable shopping mall of choices for those who were simply too busy to think about childbearing, or wanted to avoid stretch marks or whatever reason.  It's as simple as forgetting to thaw something out for dinner and calling a take-out!  You simply have to decide if you want Chinese, Ethiopian, or something you can pass off as home-made.

As in Handmaid's Tale, women are very much divided by class: Haves and have-nots. The Haves have "rights" granted them by their wealth to "have" anything they want, including the eggs, sperm, embryos or children of others. And they can play it any way they choose. They can play martyr like Sandra Bullock who after being burned by her bad-boy husband (as much of a shock as being burned by fire) went on to adopt a little Black baby alone, granting her status second only to Mother Theresa. Her one alone trumps Madonna's two and whatever number Angelina the collector is up to now.

For the most part the Haves are admired.  But what of the have-nots? They are looked at with a combination of varying and alternating amounts of pity, contempt, disgust, unselfishness, admiration (even if solicitous at best), and/or bravery (even if insincere)....not unlike what one might say aloud as stepping over a homeless person lying in a puddle in a doorway, who one might even toss soem loose change to.

It's interesting to note that women profit, or are thought to profit, from a service other women need or want and are unable or unwilling to provide it is often deemed illegal or immoral. The same service given freely - or with more subtle exchange of payment - is often highly regarded. Sex for instance is expected of a married woman and a disgrace for a "woman of the night", hooker, call-girl, prostitute or "loose woman." Cleaning one's house, shopping. walking one's dog, cooking, and "minding the children" can all be bought for a meager wage. So why not carrying the pregnancy?  Not only are women who hire women superior to their employees, but "Johns" are far less legally or morally punished for their participation in the hiring and paying for sexual favors. In many parts of the world it is considered part of male "privilege" despite the exploitation of the service provider. The celeb couple who had their baby 'via surrogacy' was simply availing themselves of a service as one might hire a limo and driver for a special night out on the town, or keep one on staff if one was in the income range to do so....despite the fact that a surrogate mother risks her life in the endeavor.

Oprah missed the boat totally on this one as she sat laughing about a petite 4foot Indian woman carrying a child for a 6foot+ American man and his wife. She thought it hysterically to think about that big baby coming out of that tiny woman, without a thought to the fact that it could literally tear her part or kill her. Nor did the fact that the indian surrogate mothers interviewed were shunned by their communities bother her one iota. She saw it as a win-win because the indian woman were able to buy homes with the money earned risking their lives - homes they may not be able to afford the upkeep of.

While the motives of the have-nots are questionable -- maybe she's doing it for the money or maybe she just really loves being pregnant and helping others have babies -- the motives of the haves are never in question. Their want of a child is normal, natural and not at all selfish (as a younger women wanting to keep her own baby is). Whatever means they choose is their choice to make and is perfectly justifiable without question.  They are looked on with total understanding, compassion, a tiny tad of pity but in a very empathetic way and many of their choices are admired, exalted, praised as altruistic and humanitarian.

All this despite the fact that surrogacy is far more about narcissism than about wanting "a child."

She (or he) who is "deserving" to be a mother (or father) is she (or he) who can afford to choose her time, and means of doing so. If you can afford a Rolls Royce it is your privilege to own one. If all you cna afford is a used Ford, so be it. others, take the bus or walk. Children are status symbols. If you are in a class with Jay Leno then being a collector is perfectly acceptable as are Jolie's children. It's also OK if you flaunt religion as your reason, as for instance the Duggars do. But don't try to compete with the big boys if you are poor or unwed like in infamous "OctoMom." 

DESERVING to be a parent in the US today is judged by one and only one standard is all about what you can AFFORD and doing it without being a "burden" on society.

Yet here's the big IRONY to that argument:  Adoption in the U.S. is subsidized by your tax dollars.  And not just adoptiosn that woudl remove children from foster care and thus decrease tax payers burdenes. No, ALL adoptions are entitled to a tax credit of $13,360 ( This tax credit is payable to the adoptive family if they have no other tax burden, which essentially means they get PAID to adopt a baby. Additionally, they are then able to claim the child as a dependent, EIC, and deduct child care expenses, if incurred.

Two corrections to the comparison chart above. regarding "fees" - while it is illegal to pay a mother directly in an adoption, the massive loophole is calling it paying he medical expenses despite the fact that any expectant mother would be entitle to Medicare.  The second correction is that while NJ challenged surrogacy and put some limitations on it, it is not illegal in the state.
The major difference between surrogacy and adoption, from the standpoint of the natural/original mother, is intent.  For the adopting parents the intent is the same. they want a child. But for the mother bearing the child the intent is extremely different and important to bear in mind.

Only a paid surrogate conceives a child with the INTENT to let it go to others. It is a conscious CHOICE she makes, though financial pressures are likely involved, especially for foreign surrogates. The word "choice" is erroniously used to describe a woman who finds herself uninentionally pregnant and conidered adoption.  It was not her chpoice to become pregnant nor was it her choice to have a child she is unable to care for and MUST let go to another. She is not giving someone a 'gift" - she is entrusting them with the care of her child, which unfortunately means forever under current US law. It means forever and it requires the eradication of the original mother and father and all connections to the child. Even so-called open-adoption begins with relinquishment of ALL rights and a falsified birth certificate listing the adopters as the parents of birth. State committed fraud.

And the biggest problem with both is inadequate informed information about the consequences to the woman and her child.

Why is it, I wonder, that it's "a baby, not a choice" when pr-lifers are talking about the possibility of terminating a pregnancy - ending the "life" of an unsustainable fetus...but it's a "choice" to buy ovum and sperm...the basis of human life, and it's a "choice" to rent a womb and contract - pre-birth - to buy the baby?  Why are these simple "choices" that we report as if someone chose a blue car over a red one? 

Monday, January 2, 2012


Kate Middleton is among the latest to express an interest in adoption as an ac of altruistic humanitarianism. But is it?  Are there really thousands of "orphans" "languishing" in institutions in need of care or is it all propagandized hype produced by lobbyists for the mega billion dollar adoption industry?
Bookmark this page and send a link to it to any and all who have consumed the Kool-Aid and are under mesmerized by the glamour and mythology of adoption ignoring the reality.
First off, let us ask why is it that someone like Pastor Kim Do-hyun, director of KoRoo, an organization that helps supports Korean adoptees returning to their homeland, says:

"...overseas adoption is a kind of child abuse by the state. ....Overseas adoption is the forced expulsion of children from the society where they are supposed to live. In this sense, overseas adoption is a social violence against children. As humans, we exist as part of a gigantic ecosystem. The existence of the biological parents of adoptees can never be annihilated nor denied.

"Overseas adoption is a forced separation of children from their natural ecosystems, as well as a way of forcing them into compulsory unity with settings different from and unnatural to their genetic and original social systems. Through this forced separation and compulsory unity, not only the adoptees, but also their biological parents, adoptive parents and their family members suffer trauma." 

Has his thinking been swayed too heavily by bitter, unhappy discontent adoptees when in fact what he says applies to ALL adoptions, including domestic which annihilate, delete, erases, redacts, eliminates, hides, and keeps secret, natural family connections?

There are those like Elizabeth Bartholet who bemoan decreasing numbers of International Adoptions (IA)and adoption agencies closing feigning concern for the children left unserved. Truth is that she represents attorneys and other partitioners who make their living redistributing children into and out of the US!

- FACT: 90% of children in orphanages worldwide are not orphans but have at least one living parent and/or extended family planning to reunite their family as was the case with the two children Madonna adopted. All over the world orphanages are used to provide temporary care and provide food, medical care and education parents cannot afford. Many such people have no concept of 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: Children are kidnapped, stolen and trafficked all over the world - South & Central America, eastern Europe, Asia, Africa - to meet a demand for younger children while older and physically challenged children are ignored in orphanages as are the 120,000 US children in foster care who COULD be adopted! 

- FACT: Many caring people wanting to adopt for purely altruistic reasons chose reputable agencies, and have inadvertently adopted children who were stolen or kidnapped. Child traffickers label kidnapped children abandoned and it is virtually impossible to verify otherwise.

- 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: The tens of thousands of dollars paid by westerners to adopt would be far better spent building schools, digging wells or buying medical supplies. Such high fees instead support traffickers and prevent local residents from adopting within many nations because they cannot compete financially with fees set based on demand.
When listening to the pros and cons of adoption arguments look at the SOURCES and follow the money! 
Listen to what non-profits who work on the ground with children and family in need have to say:

“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.

Regarding adoption from China, specifically read:

Regarding Ethiopia:

Human trafficking for adoption:

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