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.

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