Tuesday, July 24, 2012

South Australian Apology: Guest Blog

I have been honored to know Evelyn Robinson (see photo in newspaper article below) as a friend and colleague for many years. I first came to know of Evelyn as author of books I read and admired. Evelyn has authored several excellent books on adoption, loss and reunion... books that have helped untold numbers of people whose lives have been touched by adoption.  I was honored when someone I admired so was kind enough to write the Foreword to The Stork Market.

I am exceedingly proud to know THE person at the epicenter of this historic and monumental achievement: a governmental apology for forced adoptions...even as the U$ continues to promote and encourage more of these very same familial separations to redistribute children for profit; where tax benefits encourage adoption, where states continue to receive bonuses to remove children from their families, and where TV exploits the pain of loosing a child to adoption for entertainment.  

No one has worked harder or deserves more appreciation for this accomplishment than my friend, Evelyn Burns Robinson.  

The following is her report of just some of the history-making events that have taken place around this monumental achievement which we hope reverberates and changes the face of adoption practices world-wide:

On the 29th of March this year, the South Australian Parliament announced that they would apologise to all those whose lives had been adversely affected by past adoption policies and practices. They consulted extensively with the community and set up a working group to plan the apology event. I was appointed to the working group as the community representative. 


On Wednesday, the 18th of July, the apology took place. I was invited to a private meeting with the Premier on the day before the apology (you’ll hear him refer to our conversation in his speech when he says, “I was told yesterday”) and I found him to be very willing to listen, learn and understand. I explained to him that I had been involved with educating the community and increasing awareness of adoption separation issues for many years and that I was delighted to know that I had assisted in creating an environment in South Australia in which an event such as this could occur.

It was a great day, attended in South Australia by more than 200 people and shared by many more on-line. There were three venues at which the apology could be viewed live. Places had been booked in advance so that everyone had the opportunity to attend. Some people were seated in the Parliament, some were in another room in the Parliament building, some were at Post Adoption Support Services and some were at a hotel near Parliament House. 

Of course, many others around the world watched the apology live on the internet. I’m so glad that they took up my suggestion to have it streamed live. An information sheet was available to everyone who attended in person, outlining the events of the day ie the availability of counsellors, details of the lunch which was provided afterwards, courtesy of the state government, details for obtaining the DVD of the event, contact details for Post Adoption Support Services and the fact that a parchment copy of the motion, signed by the Premier and Minister Portolesi (see attached) as well as a specially made commemorative badge would be available to all who attended. I think the DVD is an excellent idea and I’m delighted that they have generously agreed to send it free of charge to anywhere in the world and apparently there is no time limit on that.

In my opinion, the speakers captured very well the feelings of those of us who have experienced adoption separation and it was wonderful to have our experiences validated publicly by our parliament. The lunch was excellent and provided an opportunity for people to socialise, share experiences and also talk to the politicians who had spoken in Parliament ie the Premier, the Hon Jay Weatherill, MP, the Minister for Education and Child Development, the Hon Grace Portolesi, MP, the Leader of the Opposition, Isobel Redmond, MP and the Shadow Minister for Families and Communities, the Hon John Gardner, MP. Quite a few media interviews took place during that time also. After the lunch, the Premier made a speech thanking those who had made a particular contribution to the success of the day’s proceedings and this was when he mentioned my assistance and presented me with my flowers. There was a great atmosphere throughout the whole event and everyone who has made contact with me has been very satisfied with the manner in which the apology was conducted and the content of the speeches. I know that there is some contention around the use of the term ‘forced adoption’. Personally I have never claimed that I was ‘forced’ to agree for Stephen to be adopted. The term covers coercion, pressure, lack of choice as well as outright force.

Overall the apology experience was very satisfying and I hope that many more people will share the experience by ordering a copy of the DVD from the Minister’s office  by e-mailing apology@sa.gov.au.

I’ve been asked if the South Australian parliament offered any practical support to accompany the apology. Since 2006, the state government has been funding a professional adoption support and counselling service through Relationships Australia, which is called Post Adoption Support Services (PASS). Because it is funded by the government, there is no cost to clients. We are also hoping that our state government will soon announce a review of our Adoption Act. This was one of the issues that I raised with the Premier at our meeting on Tuesday.

This is some of the radio and TV coverage.
ABC TV - http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-07-18/forced-adoptions-parliamentary-apology-south-australia/4137836 (You can see me at the top left in the gallery, wearing my purple jacket. On my left is my friend, Carmel, who travelled all the way from Western Australia for the apology. Carmel was born in South Australia, as was her son who was adopted – her only child. When the politicians had finished speaking, Carmel stood and led the applause. She was quickly followed by many others.)
http://www.thewire.org.au/storyDetail.aspx?ID=9378 – If you have any trouble getting this to play, you can hear it by accessing the attached MP3 file.
This would have been a good interview as the interviewer seemed very interested. Unfortunately they had problems with the ‘phone line and so we weren’t able to complete the interview. He said he might call me back but he hasn’t as yet -https://radioadelaidebreakfast.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/the-premiers-apology-for-forced-adoption/

If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch the parliamentary proceedings of the apology event at http://www.saapology.sa.gov.au(click ‘playback’).
There were lots of newspaper articles as well, both in Australia and in other countries. Stephen and I were interviewed on the apology day by a journalist from The Australian
If anyone spots her article, please let me know.

I should like to thank all those who have supported me around the world for all the years during which I have been working in this area. If anyone would like any further information about the apology, please contact me. I believe that South Australia has set a great example to the world and that our apology has been very effective.

Kind regards,

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sensible Gun Control

Gun control. Not my usual subject. Not at all adoption-related. But in the wake of the horrific massacre in Denver, a very timely ssubject...and isn't saving the lives if innocent people, including chidlren in keeping with protecting and preserving families that gun control?

As we mourn the  senseless, massive loss of life and grieve with the those who lost ones, the recent tragedy has engaged raises many questions. Is mass murder a uniquely American problem? No, especially not with acts of terrorism being carried out worldwide. But gun-related murders are. In one year guns killed: 17 in Finland, 35 in Australia, 39 in England and Wales, 60 in Spain, 194 in Germany, 200 In Canada and 9,484 in the USA.

Of significance is that Finland, the nation with the lowest number of gun-related murders of those listed, ranks fourth in the world for the most firearms per capita (surpassed only by the United States, Yemen, and Switzerland.) Finns own 32 firearms per 100 private citizens. Yet, gun related homicides are rare, comprising 14% of the total number of homicides, as compared to a rate of 68% of murders involving guns in the US.

Why the enormous difference between Americans’ use of guns to commit murder and Finlands’? Guns and other weapons are tightly regulated in Finland with 60% of firearm permits issued for hunting weapons. Firearms can only be obtained with a separate acquisition license for each firearm. Licenses are not issued for "self defense reasons" and even weapons such as pepper sprays are regulated.

Carrying weapons, including guns and knives, in public is not allowed anywhere in Finland. Firearms must be locked up or have vital parts removed and stored separated. Even then, the weapon or any of its separated parts must not be easily stolen. If more than 5 pistols, revolvers or self-loading rifles or other-type firearms are being stored, they must be stored in a certified gun safe or in a secure space inspected and approved by the local police authority. Think of lives of children saved by these regulations! Registered guns may be carried only when they are being transported from storage to a shooting range, or hunting area, etc. and they must be unloaded and concealed or kept in carrying pouches.

Why can we not put similar restrictions on the right to bear arms. Other constitutional rights are not without restrictions. Our most basic right, the First Amendment right to freedom of speech is limited by disallowing speech which provokes violence or incites illegal action, or is slanderous or libelous. If we limit and restrict our right to speak our mind, why can we not put some restriction on gun ownership?

As we learn the details of the number and types of weapons, ammunition and explosives James Holmes amassed over several months, one cannot help but think of the gun lobbyists slogan: Guns don’t kill, people do. Do bullets and rounds of automatic ammo kill? Can we not regulate and restrict the purchase of deadly arsenals while maintaining and protecting the bear to arms?   The Second Amendment states that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  It does not say the right to bear arms and ammunition. Nor does it protect anyone’s right to automatic weapons.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Adoption Outcomes: Is Everybody Happy? Why is there Anger?

An adoptive parent asked if there are any 'happy' adoptees on the MPR 'What are your experiences as an adoptee?' blog, and really struck a nerve!

Lauri Lee's response:

I would be careful not to disrespect the adoptees here by implying that because we have felt pain we are not favourable “outcomes” or have not had favourable “outcomes”. I assume that’s what you meant by asking for “any other outcomes”. Adoption corruption is not about what kind of “outcomes” we have, it is about a fundamentally wrong practice, out of which many outcomes can happen. I am sure you can find many young adoptees who have not questioned how they came to be in the situations they are in whose “outcomes” you would find pleasing in them choosing not to express loss. That is hardly the point when illegal and immoral things are happening. Would you be content if your children were kidnapped and brought up lovingly by good people? Would you feel no wrong had happened to you and your husband? Would you feel appeased if your children were unaware that the privilege they were enjoying was because they were trafficked?

The concept of happiness does not exist as a binary whereby all those who have suffered shall have no happiness in their lives. That is absurd. I’m sure you understand the concept of being happy about one’s career but not happy about one’s marriage, or vice versa. Many adoptees can say they are happy about some aspects of their lives but this does not mean that they are happy that they lost their families, nor the failure of ethics which in many cases caused this to occur.

Can you say that you would be happy if some of the money you spent on your adoption went into the in-country partner agency fund that went to pay child finders who then found any number of other children by kidnapping them from their families for the international adoption market? In many adoptions, this is what happens to some of that money adopters pay out. Surely you don’t think all that money went for paperwork, admin, and your homestudies? It only takes a couple of hundred dollars to make it a good deal for a child finder in a poor country. Can you say you can account for where all the money you spent on adoption went? The kidnapped child might not be the child you adopt, but it could be the child the next couple adopts.

Frankly I don’t care how much you assert that your adoption was ethical and that how much you know (which you actually empirically can’t, you can only speculate) that your adoptive son is better off with you, the point is that when you participate in a system with corrupt practices you are a participant in the problem.

I’d guess that you only view what you know about your adoptive son’s original situation against what you provide your son, but don’t look at the alternatives of what could have been done for your son in India if the resources were available. Many agencies in India help children in dire straits without resorting to removing them from their country and culture, unfortunately many are under-resourced.

I can assure you there is much happiness in my life, I married a wonderful man, we are financially comfortable which has afforded us wonderful adventures in life (but this was not gained without many years of struggle nor does this diminish the adventures we had as we were struggling). However there is great sadness in my life for having lost my family and for living life as a racial outsider in a country I call my home and inside the home I grew up in. All this was unnecessary; I could have lived a life with my family. That would have been a life of other struggles and other joys, but just as valid if not more, as I would be living as my legitimate identity in the security of knowing who I was.

My greatest happiness in life is having found my family again. As complex as reunion is, and regardless of all the weirdness and sorrow and loss one re-experiences, part of me was just finally at peace. And I didn’t even realise this part of me was not at peace before I felt that release.

I consider myself to be a pretty fine outcome for all that I’ve been through as well. I’d probably consider myself a pretty fine outcome if I grew up surrounded by my natural family too.

What is profoundly wrong is agencies creating paper orphans to make adoptable children for affluent westerners because westerners want to adopt. What is also wrong is people overlooking what can be done in countries of great poverty to ensure the wellbeing of children in the country and choosing to remove them instead.

BRAVO!!!  Standing ovation!!!

Ji In Lugtu adds:

....I don't wish my (nonadopted) daughter to be unhappy, but I do not wish her to grow up with an unrealistic expectation that she will emerge into adulthood as either (a) happy or (b) other, nor do I expect her to reduce her childhood and upbringing as either (a) positive or (b) negative. Why must adoptees fall into category A, or be dismissed as damaged?
I consider myself privileged to personally know several of the above commenters, and although I cannot -- and would not -- neatly summarize any of them as merely a happy outcome, I can report that they are some of the brightest, most giving, most accepting, supportive individuals I've met. I've witnessed and shared in their joys and heartaches and countless moments in between, just as the rest of the world experiences every day. So it angers me to see their responses disregarded in favor of something "happier" or more "positve." These people have been honest and generous with their thoughts, and as I reread many of them, I'm wondering, how do you read these comments and only see pain and anguish? I see (valid) pain, yes, but I also see passion, patience, integrity, perseverance and resilience.

Much like Lauri, I've found great happiness in my life. I am fortunate to have a comfortable home and a beautiful family with whom to share it, and we share belly laughs every day. I won't downplay the pain and grief I've experienced to make others more comfortable or to make my comment more palatable. My search and reunion changed my entire life and outlook, and brought more questions to light than answers. And although it shouldn't matter, I maintain a relationship with my adoptive family that is just as healthy and simultaneously dysfunctional as almost every other family (adoptive and otherwise) that I've come across. Herein lies one of the greatest adoption myths: Happy adoptees love their adoptive parents, and unhappy/angry/scarred adoptees do not. I apologize that I cannot muster the strength to even begin to outline the fallacy of this notion!

Finally, I'd like to do some dismissing of my own in refuting the idea of an adoption "outcome" in the first place. What is a positive adoption outcome? Is this the same thing as the fabled happy ending? Finding closure? Turning 18 and saying, "Well, that's it. I'm happy I was adopted"? Ideas like these suggest that we as adoptees are expected to "get over" or "move past" our adoptions, yet as far as I can tell, at age 36, I am still an adopted person. A 73-year-old friend of mine, with no surviving adoptive family members, is still adopted. Like most adoptees I know, I define myself neither as having achieved a positive nor negative outcome. Rather, our stories are constantly morphing, shifting, changing with each year, cresting at joyous moments and grieving at the low points. Adoption does not afford us a finish line. 
Adoptive parents who are reading and who have also asked Kathy's question aloud or silently (and I know you number many), please allow your children more than one or two possibilities. If you only look for the fabled happy outcome, your child will never feel comfortable sharing with you their full spectrum of emotions.

Amanda wrote:
Kathy, you don't allow adoptees the same complexity and individualism you allow for yourself. While you avoid the term "adoptive mother," you are content to delineate all whom you've seen here as "unhappy adoptees."
First and foremost, I am a person. And yes, I am "happy."
My adoption's outcome, my current mood at the moment, and whether or not I am "better off" adopted is no one's concern. What is concerning is the lack of adult adoptees in adoption discourse, corrupt adoption policies, the losses of families and children worldwide, and the fact that when adoptees try to discuss these things, all some people can think to say is "you're just angry."
Angry about injustice? Yep. I think it would be a problem if I wasn't.
"Worldwide issues that impact families (which is really what we are discussing here) are tolerable to me because I look at the bright side {insert adoption cliche here}" is not something I plan on saying any time soon. If that makes me a the derogatory term, "angry adoptee," so be it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Adoption Ripples Color Every Aspect of my Life

The Personal is Political 

It's hard being single. It's harder still when you are single and in your sixties. Add to that extreme political views that become personal and you've got a deadly - and very limiting - mix!

I have dated men who have adopted. Some had no trouble with my position on the subject as they had found it all about money from their vantage point as well. Others were turned off to adoption because the end result (the product) wasn't as great as they had hoped. URGH! Shudder. Occasionally I get lucky and the topic is meaningless to them, but at times it's been a deal breaker.  

So, I "meet" a guy online. He takes the initiative to look up some of my work and notes my deep interest in the subject of adoption and asks if I would be opposed to dating someone who's 23-year-old son was born via surrogacy. I think about it, and reply that it depends on how he feels about it now. He emails back: "I can't say I'm as positive about surrogate parenting as I was."

Have an open mind, I say to myself... and I agree to meet him at a local diner since he lives nearby. He was unattractive in person but I again sing my "have-an-open-mind" mantra and we sail rather easily into a lively political discussion and he impresses me as being well-read, articulate and quite liberal politically, albeit a bit more of a conspiracy theorist than I.  Well a bit over the edge on conspiracy theories for me when it went into belief of extra terrestrials, but....maybe ok for a friendship even if I was still feeling unattracted to him as anything more than a friend.

He says when it came down to the candidates running for presidency, he's a third party guy. OK. That's a position I respect. One of my sons votes third party. I respect him for his conviction and this country is in sore need of more choices that the fire and the deep blue sea. Still ok...

He then goes on to say that given a choice though, he favors democrat/liberals because they support his "family situation" or his "family choices" (I forget his exact choice of words) that he had told me about. Not being quick at remembering the previous emails I ask what he means and he reminds me about the surrogacy.

Now things get really ... shall we say "interesting"?  I ask him what he meant that his views on the subject had changed?  He answers that it resulted in the demise of his marriage. His wife was unable to bond with or accept the child and the fact that she was able to give him what he coveted so dearly.

Now, learning the reason he changed his mind on the subject... I'm sensing this isn't going to end well but  I ask him why he had gone that route and he explains that his wife suffered a myriad infertility problems. I say, so OK.... but why chose surrogacy? He looks totally blank, like I had just asked the most absurd question imaginable. I ask if they considered adoption to which he replies there were no BABIES available, expect maybe from China and the whole international thing was, I don't know, too complicated or whatever... (I'm getting hot now).

I say, well it seems you only considered "baby" adoption and not "child" adoption.

He's again astonished and replies: "An OLDER child?" as if I had just suggested he adopt a leper. He explains that he did not want to deal with all those kinds of problems. I ask if he hears how what he is saying is treating children like commodities and has he considered that adoption was about finding homes for kids in need not about filling orders for healthy, white infants?  He's getting pissed now, and so am I.

He refuses to accept surrogacy as exploitive because "his" surrogate CHOSE to, perfectly willingly. They still keep in touch via Facebook. His son met her - his biological mother, not a gestational surrogate - once when he was two and he has no interest in meeting her again.

He states that 97% of surrogate arrangements are "successful." I don't even bother asking what his definition of success is because I assume by now it means getting what you paid for! I mutter something about those that go wrong go horribly wrong - thinking about separated twins etc. -  however and women risk their lives giving birth.

He now tries putting me on the defensive by saying that he is surprised that as a liberal I do not support a woman's right to earn money as a surrogate if that's her choice. I reply that that's an argument used to defend prostitution, and not one I support because if women could earn decent livings doing safer things, they certainly would.

I ask what ever happened to simply accepting infertility as people did in previous generations? He says that's not true, that surrogacy is as old as the bible and he makes the grave mistake of using Hagar as an example.  (Of course, he's unaware that Hagar was a handmaid - aka slave - so, so much for his argument of it being willing and not exploitive.)

Now, the crowing moment: I ask the question: "Why do you think selling organs is illegal?"  Red in the face, he sputters: "That's a bad analogy. Surrogacy creates life. It creates families."

"Yes," I agree, "and selling organs can SAVE a life! If you want, need and can afford to buy an organ to save your life, why is it illegal to do so?" He refuses to answer but now decides that I have been being very RUDE to him by using the word exploitation.

I gathered my purse and car keys and without saying another word to him, walk to the register and ask to pay for what I had ordered. "A separate check" the cashier asks. "Yes" I reply. I paid and as I went to leave, he approached the register. I turn and say: "Goodnight, Jim" and leave.


I wonder if he is holding onto his position dearly for fear (subconsciously?) that if he accepts that there was anything wrong with it - if he has a change of heart, a change of political, philosophical ideology on the subject of surrogacy - that that would in some way mean he rejected his son. That if his son's conception was somehow "wrong" than having his son was wrong. That to even think about the possibility that there might be something wrong with paying someone to have your child and hand it over to you is wrong, means you're sorry you had you son. I could totally get that.  And I wonder if that's not why he holds to it so tenaciously. You know, in the way that some mothers who lost a child to adoption hold onto the belief that it was "right" and "good' as if their very life depended upon them holding onto that defensive lifeboat of justification. The ones who will proselytize for adoption agencies. Maybe even more so because he lost his wife over his decision. Lost the "family" he had paid to create.

I find it interesting that surrogacy caused the breakup of his marriage. I wonder how common that is. Do women feel that their husbands had to outside the marriage for satisfaction, as in having an affair? Had a child with another woman? Is the child a constant reminder of their failure as a woman and wife to "be fruitful" to give their husbands all they want? To not simply be accepted and loved for themselves - "flaws" and all.

And then there is his pseudo liberalism that defends the entitlement of "if I can afford to have it, I deserve to have it" even when the "it" is a human being you are contracting to create and purchase. ! ! ! 
Guess I assume too much to think that being progressive or liberal means having social consciousness?  It's like being a Hummer-driving liberal!  Or worse - a private jet flying liberal like some celebs.  The "do-as-I-say-not-as-do" liberals. But this is even worse to me because he is totally denying that there is anything wrong with what he did - expcet he did admit that he was aware there are those who are opposed to it. I mean that he even asked me beforehand if I would consider dating someone who did "it" shows that he is aware it is not without its controversy and opposition. Not totally welcomed with open arms or looked upon with the nobility or as a charitable act, as adoption so often is.

At one point, when I asked him a second time why organ selling was illegal and he refused to answer... I actually felt sad for him. He looked defeated at having no answer to that question. Like a deflated balloon with al the wind knocked out of him. And I knew in that instant that it was surely not the first time he'd heard that argument, and still he had no defense except to repeat that it was a bad analogy.

Clearly if we protect the poor from being exploited by allowing to "willingly" make money selling their organs to save lives by those eager to buy them... surely we should likewise protect women from selling their bodies in what could also cause their demise. But he was right, too. It is a bad analogy becaue selling a human being is far, far WORSE than selling some tissue and cells who don't grow up to wonder or care who they came from. The MOTHER of his child sold her child. And she no doubt justifies it as helping a husband and wife to create a 'family' too - even though it destroyed a family.

Bottom Line for Me:

I'm glad if my experiences with adoption heightened my sensitivities and awareness to the exploitation of women. In fact I'm grateful.  If it's true that everything happens for a purpose, then that was the purpose of my loss, grief, pain and suffering: To be more aware and work to help others be spared similar unnecessary losses and exploitation.

If my heightened sensitivity keeps me from dating men that are oblivious to how women  - or any human beings - are being exploiting and children commodified, then I am also grateful for that. I'd much rather be alone for the remainder of my life - surrounded and blessed with the great friends I have - than in a relationship with anyone I lacked respect for. Been there, done that, thank you very much!

An let's not forget that commercial surrogacy - any such arrangement involving payment - is illegal in most every industrialized national with the exception of the U$. That speaks volumes!

Monday, July 16, 2012

“Avengers” of Adoption

When Marvel Comics released The Avengers, adoption community went to a tizzy about an offensive  joke in the blockbuster movie that suggests that being adopted explains being a serial killer.

So incensed were those who are or have adopted by the “joke” – which apparently audiences thought uproariously funny – that a petition was set up to encourage movie maker Marvel to issue an apology. Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute issued a statement making it clear that the joke was discriminatory, tweeting: “Avengers has a ‘joke’ line that the villain kills because he was adopted. What if it said ‘because he was Asian or Jewish or Black?’ Gasp.”

Adoptees are aghast and – rightly and deservedly - indignant at the suggestion that being adopted is a mark of being suspect of any inherently bad or violent behavior, and especially a propensity to murder. Others worry that such stereotyping comments and references will scare off prospective adopters, who already steer clear – for the most part – from adopting foster children in need of permanent families. The label “special needs” is too often translated as “damaged” and incites fear already perpetuated in movies such as Orphan, which play on the “bad blood” theories despite the plot twist that reveals the “child” is not the orphan they thought her to be.  Orphan was boycotted by the adoption community.

Adopted persons have every right to be offended and voice their disapproval at being labeled serial killers or prospective murderers. Abbie Goldberg, however, writing for Psychology Today blog about The Avengers attempt at adoption humor decries the issue from the eyes of those who adopt. She uses the excuse of the movie to express a common complaint of adopters: the difficulty of dealing with comments and questions about their child’s “real” family.

Who are the “Real” Avengers of Adoption?

To avenge means to inflict harm in return for an injury or wrong done to oneself or another. To seek revenge or “justice” via retaliation.

It seems to me that this is a case of adoptive parents seeking to avenge those who think less of them for adopting. Goldberg writes of the anger and frustration of adoptive parents having to face such questions over and over and their need to defend “the notion that adoption is a ‘second-rate’ route to parenthood and that others are their children’s “real” parents.

Perhaps some of her – and others’ – anger and frustration is mis-directed. Much of the public perception of adoption as “second-rate” comes from the fact that many who are adopting today share their entire start-to-finish "adoption journey" online via blogs etc.  Adopters detail their struggles with infertility every painful and expensive treatment they endure and the pain of accepting that they cannot have a child of "their own." How hard it is to come to terms with that. Were read all the time, on blogs and in magazine and newspaper articles how those "struggling with infertility" consider other options like surrogacy or embryo adoption to either have a pregnancy experience if that's possible or at least still have a child that is blood related to one of them.

It's perfectly clear to the public - and adoptees - that adoption is, in fact, very much a last resort for most adopters. It's a "choice" made in most cases only after all else fails and sometimes one spouse accepts adoption as an option sooner than the other.

Adoption "journey" blogs will often then detail the choices and the costs of each type of adoption versus the timeframe, etc. What nationality should we choose?  What disability/problems are we willing to handle?  How difficult or easy is each country to deal with, etc., etc. And no one thinks that their children and other adopted children are reading all of this and seeing how they are chosen like selecting what make, model and color CAR to BUY?  When the public is made blatantly aware how often adoption is NOT a first choice but rather a last resort - how can you expect it to be seen as otherwise???  Adoptive parents, in so many ways, want their cake and to eat it too. They want sympathy for their plight and yet then for it to be ignored? They want kudos for adopting, yet they want the media not to mention a child is the "adopted child of…"

What of the teen adoptees who read those "adoption journey" blogs?  Does anyone consider their feelings as you do the feelings of adopted children watching the Avengers?

Adoption IS a last resort for ALL of the parties to it. Parents would prefer to have children who are related to them. Children would prefer living in families they are related to. And mothers and fathers would prefer never to have to loose a child to adoption for any reason. Adoption is a last resort, a second best choice for all. You cannot get kudos for "rescuing" a child without recognizing that it would have been preferable for that child and his family not to have faced a tragedy that needed rescuing, can you??

And, I am sorry to say, adoption is not natural.  It is a social construct to protect and help children whose family is unable or unwilling to care for them. ... and a way to create a family for those not able to have one NATURALLY. So why should the public not ask about their child's "real" family - and why should that be insulting??  Healthy, evolved adoptive parents recognize and embrace that they are raising a child who already has a family. Their child did not sprout from a cabbage patch. Adoptive parents today no longer play the pretense games of yesteryear that the child "is the same as if" he were born to them, in some cases in the past never even telling the child he was adopted, as was encouraged by social workers of past decades.

Facts are facts. It is the job of adoptive parents to face them and do so with as much grace as possible.  You cannot consider and try multiple options before adopting and then expect the world to accept your choice as anything other than a last resort. Accept it as that yourself and accept that your child is not naturally yours. You and your child will live happier, healthier lives when you remove all the pretenses and start dealing with what is. You can love a child who is not naturally, genetically, biologically "yours" as Goldberg suggests. Accept and embrace that. Adopted youngsters they are not related to their adoptive family. Why should either adoptive parents or they take offense when someone inquires about an adopted child's roots or heritage? Adopted children's heritage should be something adoptive parents are open about and proud of, so their children can be. If you make such questions an issue and relate feelings of shame, embarrassment or discomfort over theme, that is the message you are sending to your adopted children: their past is shameful and should be a secret. It’s impolite to ask questions about it.

Adoptive parents need to deal with their own insecurities of being labeled not their child's "real" parents. They need to deal with those insecurities and feelings of loss of the child they "might" have had in therapy -- preferably prior to adopting --  and not put their fears and doubts of blood being ticker than water on your children anymore than anyone should think or perpetuate the myth that all adoptees are products of “bad blood.”

To avenge is to inflict harm in return for an injury or wrong done to oneself or another. Adoptive parents have not been wronged by negative stereotyping comments about adoptees. The place of adoptive parents in these debates is to support their children from being maligned, not to play victim and seek public empathy and support for their struggles.

The only other parties harmed by such assumptions are the original families into which adopted persons were born; their genetic kin who are being equally defamed by suppositions that all people who loose children to adoption – often simply for financial reasons – are somehow inferior or worse, deviant.  Yet even the “adoption community” in their petition omits them, and calling upon Marvel Comics to apologize to “adopted children, adult adoptees, and adoptive parents.”

Alicia: July 15, 1967 - Feb. 27, 1995 IN LOVING MEMORY

Sunday, July 15 was my darling daughter's 45th birthday - or would have been. She is eternally 27.

As my followers know, I lost my beloved daughter twice.  As some of you also know, a few years back I created a Facebook memorial page for her.

At some point in time, shortly after the page was up and friends were eagerly posting...one of her adopted brothers threatened to have it removed. Perhaps he tried, but it never came to pass.

Yesterday - on my daughter's birthday - in addition to MANY loving wishes, the following was posted to her FB page:
"Alicia is dead 17 years. Maybe it's time to remember her privately and take this page down. It might give her family some peace."
Her "family"??? What am I, chopped liver?

I replied:  I am deeply sorry for those who find a loving memorial painful. We memorialize loved ones. It's what is done. That's why there are markers on graves and statues memorializing war heroes and other public figures who have passed. It gives gives Alicia's mother peace and comfort to the memory of her beloved daughter alive and it gives Alicia's friends joy to share their memories of her, some who never knew that she has passed. Many who lovingly shared their fond memories and photos of her. To those for whom her memory is painful, i say please avoid coming to this website as I do not with anyone any harm.

She wrote yet again and the following are my final words to this interloper:


I thought it more respectful to ALL for us to carry on this conversation in private. I am sure you, of all people, would respect that and agree. I deleted the conversation from Alicia's page - as I did the ONE "friend" who didn't seem to know Alicia at all. One out of many.

You want me to take her page down. In essence you are asking to take all I have of my beloved child away. Make her disappear as if she never existed. I cannot do that.

My child was taken from me - against my wishes, shortly after she was born.  I tried for six months to get the help I needed to keep her and I failed. I was helpless then - deemed so by now out-dated social mores that said I was too young, too poor and could not provide a mother and a father for Alicia.  And so she was taken from me. Gone. Disappeared. I knew not where.

Until you have lost a living child into a void of not knowing, you have no idea what that is like - to look at every child and wonder if she is yours. To wonder if your child is well taken care of; if she was ever adopted or not. if she is healthy - even alive.

I spent 13 years NOT KNOWING and every day was excruciatingly painful! Until you've walked a mile in my shoes...

I cannot and will not LOOSE her yet again. Twice is more than enough for a mother loose her child. This is all I have of her and I will NOT loose it! Not you nor anyone else can take away this precious piece of Alicia I hold dear.

YOU got to celebrated her birthdays with her while I cried. YOU spent every weekend with her, not me.   YOU have memories of her to pull out....ALLL I have is her grave and this page. You have photos and cards and memories. I do not attempt to take them from you or begrudge you having them. I am not jealous nor are they threatening to me. I'm happy for you and happy for anything that keeps Leehs's memory alive! I don't begrudge you yours, why do you want to take this from me?

You cannot and will not take anymore of her away from me. Do you understand?

Did you understand my first response to you that memorializing people honors them? Why else do we put markers on gravestones, Phylisse? We do not put them in the ground and forget them.  Our loved ones live on in our memories of them. You have yours. this is mine. There is nothing disrespectful or exploitative about any memorial honoring anyone!

I do not understand why it bothers you or any of her adoptive family. I am sorry for them and respect their right to grieve privately. This page does not disallow them that right nor does it disrespect them in any way. All they and you have to do is NOT LOOK AT IT if it bothers you!  You have choice - I never did!

I know you think you know what Alicia would have wanted. But I have been in close touch with several of her closest friends who totally support this page and think she'd LOVE being remembered fondly by all her friends.

As for my respect for her adoptive family - I try very hard to be as respectful as I can. But let me tell you this:  THEY knew the trials and tribulations that tortured Leesh. THEY knew of her drinking and her ED ...and they knew that she came home from college and had no home to come home to. She was left to feel abandoned yet again, in her vulnerable, delicate, wounded state. They knew and did nothing. NOTHING! I was totally in the dark about all of it.

I am sure neither you not anyone else knows that Alicia's loving, caring adoptive family refused my offer to provide them her medical history! Information that may have saved her life!  I could have told them that she inherited substance abuse including alcoholism on her father's side. I could have told her that there is a history of ED, depression and suicide on my side. But they refused to hear any of it.. just as they refused photos of her from her first year of life I had and offered to share with them. What kind of love is that that is so possessive it puts fear and control before the best interest of an innocent child's welfare??? You tell me. What kind of love is that? And now, once again, you want to dispute who has a right of possession of her memory?!? Hasn't Leesh been fought over and torn into pieces enough in life?

Loving, enlightened adoptive parents today welcome the original family of the child they care for and about as part of their child - just as a mother welcomes the family of her child's spouse. Enlightened - secure and healthy adoptive parents today are choosing OPEN ADOPTIONS - maintaining healthy open, honest relationships throughout the life of their child. It's often difficult or painful, but parents who love their children do what is best for them, even if it hurts. Putting a child in the crossfire and making them choose or take sides is awful in divorce and equally harmful, destructive and uncaring in adoption. All schools of family therapy will tell you that.

I am sure not even her brothers know that I offered medical history and they refused it. But I SWEAR to you it is true. I sat face to face with Barabara and Stanley in a Howard Johnsons on Rt 22 somewhere halfway between Parsiappny and where I lived in Old Bridge at the time. The two of them and my husband I. I sat there and to her face I asked her if she wanted to know how Alicia's father had died at the tender age of 39 and she said NO. She didn't know and didn't care! I offered medical history that MIGHT have saved Leesh's life and it was REFUSED. Barbara wanted not a photo of baby Alicia or any part of her past!

Did you know that a year before she passed I wrote to Barbara and asked her if out of the kindness of her heart she could keep me apprised of major life events, such as if and when Alicia married? Did you know that?  And did you know that at Temple Beth Am in Parsippany - where friends of MINE attended - she was overheard in the days following Alicia's passing, as friends offered her condolences.  One of her friends asked if she would notify Leehs's birth mother and she said: "No" and went on to say that she'd keep any obit out of the newspapers so that I would not know of the funeral.

How could anyone be so cruel and heartless? What threat was I to her at that point - or ever?

I have been treated like a pariah by the Hirsch family. Alicia has suffered because of Barbara's choices, her fears, her insecurities. NO MORE!  All those years I had no control whatsoever. My child was taken from me and then taken from her beloved foster family without my knowledge...I had no say in the matters that might have directly caused her demise. I will NOT let go of what I have left of her!

You said: "I completely respect the relationship she wanted to have with you." DO YOU REALLY?????  If you respected the relationship she wanted to have with me why on earth would you try to sever what is left of it???  This tiny shred of her I have?  If it bothers you or any of her family, simply don't look at it!!

And no, I did not know they would react like this when I put it up. If I knew why would I have invited her brother Eric to be a friend?

** Alicia's memorial page is not about them, or you, Phylisse. *** it is about Alicia and the family she was BORN INTO and it is our way to memorialize her.

You also have no idea - nor do you or they care - how any of her blood siblings feel. Do you know - of course you don't - that she has a blood-related SISTER who was suicidal over Alicia's death? A sister who shared her genetic predispositions to depression, ED and suicide and was - like Leesh - in ED treatment???

You have no idea the pain my youngest child has suffered over the loss of her sister and how it came very close to taking her life as well and the fear I had to live with knowing i might loose yet another child. And you want me to loose what we have?

We've suffered enough. Let us have our peace, please!

My flesh and blood lies in that grave in Iselin NJ - the one you do not visit. You also did not know - nor do any of her adopted brothers know - that in 1995 I lost Alicia and my mother and father within nine months. As I said, until you've walked a mile in my shoes...until you've lost a child...please do not tell me what to do or not do.

PS Her foster family who had her from the day she was born until she was year old - a woman she called "Mommy" and sisters and brothers who loved her and wanted to adopt her - also LOVE having this memorial for her! 

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