Tuesday, April 30, 2013

OFF TOPIC: Tribute to a Dear Departed Friend

I was 17 or 18, waiting tables at the Cafe Wha and the Why Not on McDougal Street in the Village in 1962-3. Richie Havens was playing these basket houses. After the shows were over, we walked cross town to hang at his crib on Fourth between C and D where he played all night and his "brothers" Dino and Natgoa on the bongos.
"Success is not measured by the position one has reached in life, rather by the obstacles one overcomes while trying to succeed" Booker T. Washington

Richie started out with nothign and reached great heights.
That smoke-filled pad (think Willie Nelson's bus) overflowed with LOVE in its purest form. It radiated from Richie's enormously long hands on his guitar and shined out through his broken-toothed grin. His love for playing and singing was virally contagious!

We lost touch for decades, as friends do. I followed his career from afar in utter awe.

When we met again at a show at the State Theater in New Brunswick, NJ - in the late 80s early 90s? - it was like no time had passed at all. He greeted me with open arms noting that my teenaged son was the spitting image of me at his age!

This post is off my usual topoic of adoption but it is definately about family, because Richie was about the family of man. Back in that lower east side tenement, two little girl babies occasionally toddled about if we hung out into daylight hours.

I saw him again several times over the years after that as he generously performed at fundraisers throughout NJ.  I learned that he was a doting grandpa and living in NJ, albeit without Nan. Nan and I talked. He confirmed that it WAS him on the AmTrack commercials! I KNEW it! No one else could duplicate his voice. 

I am so very sorry that I was unable to be at his viewing in NY on Monday.  I eagerly await word of a memorial concert at Bethel Arts Center. I hope it comes to fruition. I will be there...and so will He. Ashes to ashes, on Yasgurs Farm once again.

He's jammin' with Janis and Jimi!

Rest in Peace. Thank you for leaving so much of yourself for the world. Listen to his music whenever you are doen and will lighten your day!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Brown Versus Capobiancos: Father v Strangers

As the Supreme Court decides the fate of Baby Veronica - now 3-1/2, major newspapers editorials take sides. some asking that the Indian Child Welfare Act be ignored and or done away with.

The comments posted to these editorials and those supporting the rights of Veronica's father, are  VILE and clearly indicate that public opinion on these issues have remained unchanged since the 1970 Olga Scarpetta contested adoption.

The public is firmly entrenched in the perception of adoptive parents ALWAYS being the more deserving party. They are seen as hallowed, selfless saviors who are above reproach. And they are the wounded party in a disputed adoption as they deserve to have what they paid for.

The naural parernts in disputed adoptions are reneggers, forgive me, but what e used to call "Indian givers."

Prevailing belief is that anyone who even THINKS about or considers placing a child or allowing a child to be adopted is contemptuous, despicable and unfit. Societal lepers. Public opinion says once you think about adoption, you do not get a second chance, no change of mind.

The facts of the case are irrelevant to this mob mentality that seeks only to tar and feather the "lowly" natural parents.

Underlying these strong - albeit unreasonable - opinions on the part of the public and some newspapers' editors - is that they can identify with the adopters and not a parent who in any way considers adoption, even for a split second, or under pressure, or forced or coerced, or without full knowledge of what they are signing. No matter. They are sure, they never would!

Signing - under any circumstances - puts us in a category with child abusers.

In addition, in this particular case, you have the racial issue and the Indian Child Welfare Act. Regarding these, I have read comments that outright or subtly suggest “reverse discrimination.”
White, wealthy, married = power and "right."

Sadly the best interest of the child is of little concern, and constitutional right of parents to their own child, less still.

Finally, there is little to no value placed on nature and biological connectedness. Blood relations are meaningless (unless you are researching your own ancestry and roots). Babies are commodities that are bought and manufactured with bought eggs, sperm and rented wombs that use mothers as human incubators -- all for the wealthy who "deserve" them and are entitled to them. Indicitive of this view is a comment that callled Brown a sperm donor.

We are entitled to disdain and disgust.

Pray for Veronica and her DAD!! They need and deserve one another and belong to be together forever after.

Adoption is The Wrong Word!

There is extreme backlash against anything that can be labelled "anti-adoption," even when it is merely speaking FOR the equal rights of those adopted!

After all, how can any sane sensible person say anything negative about the magical, airy-fairy, warm fuzzy, win-win process of an "unwanted,"abandoned or abused, "orphan" being "rescued" and "saved" by loving parents? Shouldn't we all just - gratefully - sing its praises?

And yet, there is another side of adoption that is far less pretty and thus hidden away and unspoken: loss, separation, grief, feelings of rejection and unworthiness.

Paul Sunderland an addiction and relationship counselor at LifeWorks community hits the nail on the head when he says: "Adoption is the wrong word." When we are talking about the difficulties adoptees have that cause them to be over-represented in all sorts of mental health facilities and particularly in addiction treatment, it is not "adoption" that is at the root of their dilemma, it is RELINQUISHMENT! Watch his lecture!

At the very heart of every child being "chosen" - rescued, saved - is a child who knows - who senses on a cellular preverbal level - he has been rejected, unwanted, unworthy of being loved by the one person in the world who is supposed to love him unconditionally: his Mother.  This creates the shame that is at the cure of all addictive and all self-destructive behavior.

There is loss, separation anxiety; there is untold, denied grief... and there is SHAME in the act of relinquishment and being relinquished.

Sunderland argues that the same is true for all parties in adoption. Adoptive parents who have struggled with infertility suppress their grief over the disappointment of not being able to create their own child, and of course mothers and fathers who loose children to adoption have gaping holes of grief that has no formal ritual or allowable expression in any public or familial way....no condolences cards, no one saying the simple "I'm sorry for your loss"; no help to properly grieve. In fact, mothers often experience societal shunning and continued, lifelong shaming. How can any mother let her child go?

The pain of relinquishment cuts very deep down to our core, our essence as a human being.

Sunderland says:
"It's not so much what happens to you in life that throws you, it's actually how secure your beginnings are. It's a bit like the storm analogy. In a storm, the trees don't blow down just because the wind is strong. The ones that blow down blow down because the roots aren't strong enough to hold them up."
What an apt metaphor!  For indeed adoption severs one at their very roots. Uprooted from heritage, lineage, all who look and sound - and smell - like you. How utterly and totally disorienting!

We need to speak about this albeit with the proper words: the relinquishment that underlies and underpins every adoption. Yet too often adoptive parents want to think of the process only from their perspective. And why not? The word adopt means "to take as one's own." Nothing in the word adoption expresses the loss necessary for the taking. Thus, as Sunderland notes, it is often the wrong word. It is not so much adoption that is being opposed by reformers, but the destruction of the family of origins that underpins it.

Many who adopt admit not consciously wanting think of the all-too-often unseen foreign mother. many in fact admit choosing International adoption to prevent any contact with a mother who represents great fear of coming between adoptive mother and child in a very real sense of changing her mind, snatching the child back, or reuniting with later.  Out of sight is out of mind, for too many whop adopt today, though the fears remain deep in the unconscious psyche and are unseen elephants the whole family lives with, as are the ghosts of the "real" children the adopters never saw come to pass and the adoptee's job is to compete with.

Like a plant cutting, sometimes the uprooted child takes root well where it is transplanted, and sometimes not so well. And often an adoption looks and feels like a banana growing on a cherry tree.

Sunderland speaks of the many who experience multiple relinquishments - multiple separations and loss - and recognizes that transnational adoptions present, by far, the most difficult adjustments.

And yet all too often we judge the "success" of such placements by resilience of the adoptee, his survival mechanism, her ability to put on a happy face in order to please and be accepted and not experience yet another relinquishment.

We have all encountered adoptees who are experts at internalizing their happy face and convincing themselves that they are "fine." They need to know nothing of that painful time of relinquishment and prefer to keep it deeply buried where it is safe from causing any harm.

The pain of relinquishment is lifelong for mothers. Yet they - the mothers who loose their children - too, often believe if they never talk about, face, or deal with their loss it will somehow hurt less. Many are so deep in denial they are unable to accept any attempt at reunification. They know that seeing their child as an adult will just open that wound they have worked so hard to conceal. Once opened that scarred-over wound will be an unstoppable floodgate of pain, grief, sorrow, guilt and shame.

Yet, out of the mouths of babes, comes the uncensored truth: "I wish I'd been in your tummy." I wish I was born to and rauised by the same person. I wish I hadn't been taken away, separated, experienced such a grievous loss.  So says a 4-year-old grappling with understanding the unexplainable. 

Adoption - nay, relinquishment - is a pain no one would intentionally wish to happen. Yet the pro-adoptionsists want more, more, more. Read Kathryn Joyce's latest article on where the babies are being taken from and which mothers in which nations exploited. And be sure to check out her latest book about the evangelical adoption movement. 

Sunderland knows the root of the issue is the relinquishment. Add to that forced relinquishments, coerced and pressured relinquishments, relinquishments obtained under false prestences, not to mention adoptions that occur with no signed consent from one or both parents, or forged.

And, make no mistake about it: there is NOTHING altruistic or Godly about paying tens of thousands of dollars to "rescue" ONE child and leaving his family behind in the same horrid conditions, with now the addition of a painful loss to grieve!  Every adoption begins with a tragedy, a loss, a separation.  Most the result of poverty.

Each person who spends tens of thousands to procure just one child from overses could have used that same money to have a well dug, or a school built, books purchased, medical supplies to save the lives of the entire village...instead of snatching one child and leaving the rest behind. Imagine multiplying that by thousands and thousands of relinquishments and adoptions! We could feed the world and prevent so much loss. Or, at the very least better care foir our half million foster kids, more that 100,000 of whom cannot be reunified with family, and could be adopted were they not being ignored by those who God is allegedly pointing overseas to adopt.

Not only is adoption not serving the highest good, but in far too many cases it is supporting criminals, baby brokers, and child traffickers.  Taking children who have been kidnapped or stolen from loving, caring mothers! In these cases, adoption is most asuredly the wrong word. Abduction is a far better fit for what is taking place.

But the word adoption is such a soothing feel-good salve of a word. It so perfectly sugar coats all the pain on which it was created.  So we cloak the pain, the shame, the loss and the horror it leaves in its wake and give all parties to adoption a bright shiny smiley mask to wear. And we expect - demand - those who were relinquished and then adopted to not only look happy but to be grateful they were not aborted or left to languish in an orphanage. And to never bite the hand that rescued and fed them by talking about, or questing for, their severed roots. Just grateful obedience.... on a foundation of and buried pain and shame.

So when we speak out against adoption, we are speaking FOR PREVENTION of family devasation, we are speaking against loss, separation and shame, especially when unncessary....and there are better ways to resolve the poverty that causes the loss and separation rather than exploting it to meet a demand.

"A dangerous disease requires a desperate remedy." Gay Fawkes

In this case the "desperate renmedy" is perevention in the form of Family Preservation.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

God Made Me Do it!

In 2007, I wrote, "Adoption And The Role of the Religious Right" making the connection between the evangelical push from the pulpits to adopt, in part to recruit Christian soldiers, and the NCFA lobbyists for the mega-billion dollar adoption industry.

Now, award winning journalist Kathryn Joyce, author of Quiverfull gives us Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption. The book description follows:
When Jessie Hawkins' adopted daughter told her she had another mom back in Ethiopia, Jessie didn't, at first, know what to think. She'd wanted her adoption to be great story about a child who needed a home and got one, and a family led by God to adopt. Instead, she felt like she'd done something wrong.

...adoption has lately become even more entangled in the conservative Christian agenda.
To tens of millions of evangelicals, adoption is a new front in the culture wars: a test of "pro-life" bona fides, a way for born again Christians to reinvent compassionate conservatism on the global stage, and a means to fulfill the "Great Commission" mandate to evangelize the nations. Influential leaders fervently promote a new "orphan theology," urging followers to adopt en masse, with little thought for the families these "orphans" may already have.

Conservative evangelicals control much of that industry through an infrastructure of adoption agencies, ministries, political lobbying groups, and publicly-supported "crisis pregnancy centers," which convince women not just to "choose life," but to choose adoption. Overseas, conservative Christians preside over a spiraling boom-bust adoption market in countries where people are poor and regulations weak, and where hefty adoption fees provide lots of incentive to increase the "supply" of adoptable children, recruiting "orphans" from intact but vulnerable families.
"The Child Catchers" is a shocking expose of what the adoption industry has become and how it got there, told through deep investigative reporting and the heartbreaking stories of individuals who became collateral damage in a market driven by profit and, now, pulpt command.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Adoption Ghosts and Unlived Lives

Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.   ~ Carl Jung
While Jung did not have adoption in mind when he said these profound words, how interesting to explore the concept within the framework of adoption.

The unlived life of most who adopt is evident and is carried with them forever: the ghost of the child they might have had. It is much of what creates what has become known as the pseudo "postpartum" depression, blues or letdown. The reality, the disappointment and the eternal wonder what a child "of my own" may have looked like, smelled like, sounded like, behaved like.
 That shadow ghost child remains a constant comparison.  I wonder if my child would have liked sports more, as I do; would my child have acted this way or that.

What, they are left to wonder would my life - our lives - have been like had i not been afflicted with infertility, not spent years undergoing painful and expensive tretments, facing disappointment after disappointment, and made to undergo the scrutiny of adoption. 

Adoptive parents live with the uncertainties of not being their child's "real" parents; fear of blood being thicker than water. They often live reactively to the threat of loosing the love and affection of their child to the ghost of the birth parent.

When we morphed gradually from the days of adoptive parents being encouraged not to reveal to their child that they were adopted to more openness and honesty, it was with a belief that telling a child they were 'chosen' would make them feel special and wanted.  How lacking in understanding of the psyche - how indicative of adoption as a social experiment - not to have anticipated that most every adoptee would figure out that being chosen meant having first been given away, unwanted, rejected, abandoned and that that in turn meant there was something inherently wrong with them.  Add to that the constant - very real -  feeling of being constantly compared to the child that did not grow in their mother's tummy...the adoptive parents' "real" child, their ghost child...and you have a whopping dose of feeling unworthy, never good enough.

The adoptee also has the unlived, "fantasy" life they might have had, had they not been placed for adoption.  Who would they be had their original parents found a way to provide a safe home for them to be nurtured in?

And then there is the unlived life of the mothers who loose a child to adoption? The ghost we live with forever...the "what ifs." How would life have been had we received the support we needed not to have had our child amputated from us? That ghost hovers over our every action and reaction, it haunts all of our relationships and it howls at our subsequent children as they wonder if they live up to our yearnings for the missing puzzle piece in our family portrait.

Unlived lives are powerful. Ghosts are daunting and can be relentless and demanding in their haunting and howling to be heard.

Jung knew the power, the influence of the ghosts of unlived lives we live with every day.

Today, we are trying yet another pendulum swing of an experiment with the lives of adopted children: open adoption. In this scenario, when it is done to the fullest and truest extent and not just "identified" adoption called open, where the openness extends beyond a knowing of the two sets of parents to the child.... children grow not with total fantasy unlived lives, 
but are exposed to them.  How will introducing the ghosts, inviting them to sit at our dinner tables play our for this new generation of experimental rat children? 

How will being invited to your ghost mom's wedding be internalized? Witnessing the addition of subsequent children - KEPT children - do to the psyches of these new world adopto-kids? Only time will tell.

We do know that for many mothers involved in these experiments it has meant deceit and betrayal as promises are broken. For others it has meant pain too excruciating to endure...playing our a scene from Thorton Wilder's play "Our Town" where you are the ghost present yet unseen and your child is calling another "Mommy."  Seeing, witnessing, being right there in the center of your unlived life.  Watching the parents who have more to offer and deserved your flesh and blood more than you did. How are they doing, the parents you CHOSE? 

Unlived lives are ghosts that haunt us and effect us in myriad ways - all of us - even when we live in a trance of denial and believe it doesn't matter at all. Our beliefs create a "reality" that can be shattered at any time by the truth. 
Because, what is real is never necessarily true.

You are really my mother; I am really your child.  In this life. In this reality that has been created by the stroke of a pen on a piece of paper. But not in our unlived lives that haunt us and shape us and influence everything we do.

And we wonder why reunification is so fraught with difficulties, when there are four of us reuniting - you and your ghost me and mine....and perhaps the adoptive parents ghosts as well....  

A poem I wrote back in the 80s..... for alicia, my eternal ghost child.... 


Before you were whole
and really alive
I dreamt of you and I

That dream was shattered
by a tugging too real to be imagined
they were taking you
            from me
tearing my insides out
I tried to hold on to you
but they pulled you
            from me

I closed my eyes
thinking you'd still be there
where you've always been
            in my dreams

In my dreams where
            I hold you
            rock you and
            comfort you

In my dreams where
I watch you
as you grow into
            a happy child
             gorgeous child
            a brilliant child

A child who laughs
and plays and throws
            kisses to me
because I am always with you
Hush now,
            mamma's here

In my dreams where
you grow taller
and more beautiful
            than ever

In my dreams where
            I am at graduations and
            Engagement parties

In my dreams where
            I am your proud mother…

But then
in my dream
your mother turns
and she's
            not me.

I waken with
            a start
to a nightmare
of emptiness and
soaked with tears
            and sweat

I can recall your
with vivid sweet pain
but, the rest
the rest
            is it all
            just a dream?

Once I saw you
we spoke
we touched
we broke the cardinal rule:
one mustn't touch
            a dream.

I tried to bring you
            back with me
to my reality
and almost lost you

Hush now,
            mamma's gone
I will not scare you

You needn't run away
I'll go back
and content myself
with my beautiful
dream of you
in which you are
my child

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