"Love was not the issue. I loved her the second I knew she was there. I loved her the whole time she grew in my tummy. Because I loved her so much I had to give her a better life. I had to give her a chance. She deserved it."Her story is beautifully told and for once with all the empathy and compassion focused on the mother for whom adoption is not a joy, not an answer to years of prayers and a celebration....but a lifelong loss and eternal pain and heartbreak.
I look at everything adoption through eyes and ears that have seen, heard and shared this pain with hundreds and hundreds over the course more than 40 years. For more than 50 years - since adoptions became secretive, records sealed, and birth certificates falsified by states to maintain the secrets...adoptees such as Jean Paton and Florence fisher have spoken out seeking their rights and equality.
In the late 70's they were joined by Lee Campbell standing up and becoming the first public face for mothers who lost children to adoption. Campbell founded Concerned United Birthparents. I was there at some of the earliest meetings. Annette Baran, who once followed the dictates of her chosen profession - social work - and helped separate mothers and babies, became a whistle blower for the industry and called for changes, calling mothers who relinquished the silent, voiceless, marginalized members of the adoption process. Annette and Campbell led the battle and soon others of us followed...
I was among the first group of mothers who followed Lee in going public. I did TV shows in the 80s saying: This is what a mother who looses a child to adoption looks like. We are mothers, school teachers, housewives, doctors and layers. We are your sisters, your mothers, your wives. We are not whores and drug addicts. We LOVE our children and were forced by our parents or pressured by societal norms that deemed us "too young" and undeserving for being "unwed."
And here we are all these decades later and this mother, Dove, was not "allowed" to hold her own child at the time of birth, before signing any relinquishment papers! Whisked away by a doctor.
Dove's local newspaper covered her story with empathy and compassion for her and her loss without the need to "balance" it. This is a oddity in a world in which so much press and public sympathy is cast upon the "plight" of these who struggle with infertility and then the "agony" of the long and expensive adoption process - as if they are so "deserving" of a child and so "entitled" to one, it should just be handed to them, and we should all feel sorry for them that it is not so easy... As if adoption is all about meeting THEIR needs!! And a great deal of publicity is likewise focused on the joys of celebrities who adopt with never a mention of those for whom their gain is a horrific, life-altering, heart-wrenching, grievous, tragic loss. Such falsely one dimensional media coverage repeats over and over a message to the public of the joyous side of adoption, ignoring the pain and loss.
I am thus glad that as Mothers Day is quickly approaching this one story has been published that refocuses the public's compassion for those for whom adoption represents a tragedy, a lifelong loss and eternal pain. Far too often that a side of the story is still swept under the carpets as adoption is applauded, promoted, encouraged and celebrated as win-win when it very much a win-LOOSE.
Even in the happiest. most loving and caring of adoptions, the adopted person LOOSES their identity, their original birth records, their name, their family, their lineage, their heritage, their medical history, their genealogy, and in some cases their culture and language. They loose their TRUTH and they loose the right to be treated as equal US citizens - forever denied (in most all states) access to their own birth certificate that is hidden from them, having been confiscated by the state and replaced with a falsified state document claiming they were "born to" those who adopt and care for them.
My eyes and ears have seen and heard some progress over the past 40+ some odd years. A scattering of states have begrudgingly given back some crumbs to those who are adopted. In the majority of states that have given adopted persons any rights at all, they are still far less than equal, having hoops to jump through to obtain their own birth certificate - hoops that do not exist for those not adopted.
I've also witnessed Open Adoption become a viable option for a small percent of domestic infant adoptions - a small percent of adoptions to begin with. Openness is given lots of lip service as the way adoption 'should' be. It was a forced conclusion as with so many international and inter-racial adoptions its pretty hard to keep them secret anymore and pretend the child was 'born to' their adoptive parents. And yet, the "as if" pretense still exist in all but two states which never sealed the original records in adoptions to begin with: Kansas and Alaska. Openness is how it should be - everyone knows that, everyone says that -and yet every adoption (with the exception of those two lone states) every adoption to this day still begins with a falsified birth certificate denying the truth of adopted person's creation.
And, at the same time baby steps of progress are being made to restore adoptee right...children are being stolen and kidnapped worldwide to meet a demand. Now that single motherhood is acceptable (for those who can afford private nannies etc.) and birth control is more readily available than it was in past decades....far less American mothers can be pressured top part with their babies. The supply has dwindled as infertility steadily rises with more women delaying childbirth for graduate school and careers. This increased demand coupled with decrease supply has created the perfect storm for unscrupulous bay brokers and child traffickers to operate within an industry with virtually no controls!
Adopters open admit and document (as in the documentary Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy) to paying bribes with o consequence whatsoever. She counts out the cash in the film and comments that some might think it wrong but "it's how things are done." And that's that. No shame. No guilt. No fear of recriminations by having that filmed and shown all over the world - she glibly pays off whomever needs to be paid off in order to whisk her new 'daughter' home to America! She has bought herself what she wanted and is happy and proud and the world applauds this as altruism, turning a blind eye to the exploitation and corruption her US dollars have supported.
The book Finding Fernanda likewise documents adopters and those hoping to adopt blatantly choosing to ignore "irregularities" like seeing the same child's photo with different names, or different names on the same photo of a child being "offered" for adoption. They hold their tongues and report no such obvious red flashing lights for fear of being black-balled and never obtaining the prize they so desperately seek.
We read about missionaries swooping in on places like Haiti and in their over zealous religious fury not carting if the children they are grabbing for redistribution in the US are actually orphans or have family who are searching the rubble for them.
And still the public is able to ignore all of this - call them 'anomolies' and remain focused on the joy adoption brings and how it 'rescues' children in need - while more than 100,000 children in US foster who COULD be adopted are IGNORED as too old, or 'too dmamaged' as if any child being taken from the only language they've heard since their conception and in an orphanage for any length of time is not equally "damaged." Ad out government supports all such adoption equally with the same tax benefits - benefits that were created originally to serve ONLY 'special needs' children in US foster care that now are used instead to supply more "appealing" to those with the money to pick and choose.
With nary a thought of the mothers and families left behind...in the same impoverished conditions...having still more babies, still lacking proper pre-natal care, proper nutrition and medical supplies. Still without schools. While wealthy Americans and Europeans pay $40k and more per child. And all of this is labeled noble and charitable, despite the pleas of the UN, UNICEF and other NGOs on the ground who plead for the money to be better spent to help these people instead of exploiting them to meet a demand.
This Mothers Day let us hold in our hearts all the mothers who have needlessly lost their children to corruption and poverty and social pressure. All the children unnecessarily torn from their loving arms. And let us reach out and help mothers and families in need her and abroad.