Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Supreme Injusitices

As happy as I am about the Supreme Court decision regarding DOMA, I cannot feel celebratory in the wake of the S.C. gutting the 1965 Voting Rights Act and another very recent racist decision that favored White entitlement: 

This decision is so overshadowed by news of DOMA that no one has heard of it, yet it is a monumental blow to the rights of Native American and the Child Welfare Act that protects their children.
I am supremely happy for the victory of gay rights and the one step forward, and do not want to rain an anyone’s parade, BUT… I am at the same time terribly dismayed at two recent - almost simultaneous - steps backward against equality and the rights of non-white Americans.
We are not free until all are free. We are not equal until all are equal.  I am sad, disappointed and a shamed to be an American when we can so easily stomp on the rights of peoples who have suffered such oppression.
Not to mention the fact that all adoptees are denied equality in terms of access to their own birth certificates – a human and civil rights denial in our own state – that is also ignored not just by the press, but by social justice activists as we focus all of our resources on one group. Read what NJ Senator Diane Allan has to say about this civil and human right issue here: :  

Again, sorry to be a party pooper, but I just can’t dance in the streets with my gay friends while Texas took just two hours to limit voters rights, a child is torn from a loving father, and the rights of adoptees go totally ignored.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Baby Steps in Adoption Education!

The other day, I fell into a slump...feeling what's the sense of it all?

After nearly forty years of working to end the corruption, exploitation, coercion and profiting in adoption and seemed to just keeping worse instead of better. And there were such a precious few of us cared about anything beyond access for adult adoptees!

I’m a HUGE advocate for equal access, but there is so much MORE that needs to be done. And I was feeling hopeless, helpless, useless…

Then, today, in my doc’s waiting room I picked up a copy of a mag you only see in doctor’s waiting rooms. It’s called WebMD and has articles about the latest treatments advertised therein!

I never expected to turn a page and see an article on adoption and still have no idea what it was doing in a medical magazine…but there it was…I looked at the title with dread “What to expectwhen you’re thinking about adoption”

I could not believe my eyes when I read the opening paragraph:
"Adoption is created through loss," says Linda Hageman, executive director of adoption services at The Cradle, an Illinois adoption agency.
That's a statement you don't often see among the pretty pictures of giggling babies and happy families in adoption brochures. But it's true. The child loses his or her first parents. The birth parents face the loss of their child. And the adoptive parents often lose long-cherished dreams and expectations about having biological children.
An amazingly good start!   Unfortunately it went on to ONLY discuss the losses experienced by guess who? You got it…the only paying customer in the transaction!
Good advice is offered on dealing with feelings of loss of fertility, BUT…the idea that the child has also suffered a loss (never mind the original family) is never mentioned again in the short, one page article.
So it is far less than ideal… and it comes from The Cradle so is probably intended to give expectant moms warm fuzzy feelings about them as an agency that "gets it." (I have not gone mad and totally lost my objecgtivity, sense of reality, and even a bit of healthy cynicism)....but, just for today, I choose to take as a BABY STEP in the right direction! 
After all, ten years ago, even five…you would never see an opening line like that in print – or anywhere other than on FB or a blog!
So for today, I choose to see this as a positive step in the right direction and pat us all collectively on the back and say:  We Are Being Heard!!! We are being heard! We are being heard!
“Adoption is created through loss”
Nearly 40 years of saying this and it IS beginning to be heard and spreading to main stream media.

for tgoday I choose to be HOPEFUL.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Raising Awareness in the Struggle for Adoptee Rights

For quite some time I have written here and on FB comparing the adoption rights movement to the gay rights movement in an attempt to discover why they were so much more successful than we are; to learn and replicate strategies for success. I attributed our lack of progress, as compared to theirs, to fear and reluctance of adoptees to come forward in the huge numbers as gays do and say “We won’t take it anymore!” “We demand our rights restored.” I identified Stockholm Syndrome – fear of biting the hand that feeds them; fear of being rejected “again” - as a contributing factors that held adoptees back and made them often, if they did search, do so in secret or only after the death of their adoptive parents. And just search; maybe find out some facts and then close the box. Or, even if they have a reunion that is ongoing, few of those even join in the political activism to create changes for others. It’s kind of a “hooray for me” thing. I did what I needed to do to satisfy my curiosity and that’s that.

I was not wrong about any of that. But I had my eyes really opened recently. After 40 years of deep entrenchment in the adoption community; 40 years of adoption being the central focus of my life... I thought there was nothing really new or surprising. I write today to say I WAS WRONG.

I had my eyes opened to a large segment of the adoptee population I have hitherto only seen and heard tiny snippets from here and there and somehow in my mind had not recognized the enormity of this segment of the adoptee population: The Happy Adoptee!

Somehow, with one click of my mouse I found myself in a FB Adoption Reunion Stories group where it is commonplace and very much acceptable to use the term BIO and talk about “my bios” who, like stray dogs, had been found…given a pat on the head and…whatever. Some were allowed to remain for differing periods of time. When I suggested it was a hurtful word, I was accused of bashing them and their opinions.

For the first time I had real insight into the mindset of this population who desperately cling to their blindfolds and earplugs to ward off any aspect of adoption they judge as negative. Fingers firmly implanted in ears its lalala all the time! Sunshine and rainbows.

The adoptees I encountered needed to demean their “bios” in order to maintain their good adoptee status and not shatter the myths and lies they were told about “those people” and why they were placed. When you live in a house of cards built on a foundation of lies, stereotypes and misperceptions… one slight breath of fresh – true air - could destroy your whole world. The fear of shattering the illusion is enormous because it threatens their very identities and fragile egos; who they are. If I am not the me I have always known, who then am I? If all my life is a lie and not reality, what is real? Therefore, “they” and the life the adoptee might have had, must remain at arm’s length. Other. Separated by cold dispassionate language. Never a warm fuzzy term of endearment that is reserved for the protectors who rescued me from abandonment.

This of course is the happy female adoptee. The angry male adoptee is another manifestation of the same fears.

And unlike the closted gay alone in his shame, they form groups and feed off one another's right to steadfastly stay ensconced in their bliss.
I made the grave mistake of trying to explain that the phrase “adoption sucks” is both a personal reality for some adoptees as well as a commentary on the INDUSTRY and adoption PRACTICES which have nothing to do with, and does not negate the fact that any particular adoption – theirs or any other - or perhaps even that most adoptions are happy and loving.

I tried to tell them that things like denied access to their original birth certificate SUCK; that the corruption, coercion and exploitation of adoption including kidnapping and child trafficking SUCKS.

I was dismissed as a raving lunatic who was “bashing” them and their opinions, an unwelcome guest crashing their happy little party.


If we as activists are to get anywhere and move this movement forward we need to look at our role models and begin the educational process within. We need to all watch the stirring movie MILK and see how one man, Harvey Milk, stirred up the content and “accepting of the status quo” gay community of San Francisco and sowed the seeds of the gay rights movement by reaching his people and getting them angry and motivated enough to come out and speak out for their rights.  

In the 1970s, second wave feminism began with Consciousness Raising Groups designed to help complacent, happy housewives see their plight as oppressed women. If you are unaware of the difference in pay scale – that still exists – between the genders, you won’t write or call a legislator or sign a petition to change it. Until you know that there is a problem and what the problem is, you are not about to combat it!
If you don’t know that a man speaking to you as trash is abuse, you stay and take it. When abused women are asked why they stayed as long as she did, the answer is always the same. At first they hoped it would change and then they stayed because the fear of leaving was greater than staying and enduring the abuse. And think about the language used by domestic abusers: “Where will you go?” “No one else will ever love you or want you.”  For the adoptee the fear of hurting their rescuers is great. The fear of rejection and abandonment strikes deep into their foundation, the very life core of their being, and so is  well guarded.

This is where we are at and the challenge that faces us.  Until we awaken those who see no problem with their own lot in life, we will never have a viable and visible movement. We will instead remain as we are now viewed: a handful of malcontents. This is where we’ve been stuck for more than 40 years since Jean Paton first spoke out. A handful of bitter, unhappy, ungrateful adoptees and moms who the media and public can easily dismiss.

Until we get the masses among us to understand the issues of the laws that discriminate against them, we will never get the public to know, understand or care about it either. No one is interested in or needs to help people who see nothing wrong with their lives and are not seeking any help! It would be like “helping” an old lady across the street when she wanted to stay where she was or teaching a pig to fly.

We need to do internal education and consciousness raising.  The good news is that we can simultaneously educate within and without: adoptees and the public. But we need to put focus on education and awareness that there is a problem, before we can seek to change the problem. The average American, including the average adoptee has no clue, and worse still some don’t want to know.

We need a national organization focused on education. But let us not ignore that the 1970s consciousness raising groups were held in living rooms. Our search and support groups – in person and online – have a captive audience who along with search and reunion help need to have their eyes opened to the political issue here. We, who they come to for help, are in a posiiton to help them also see the bigger picture: that denied access is a violation of their civil and human rights as per the fourteenth amendment. They need help in developing some righteous indignation about the injustice, not just resolving their own personal search!
Those of us in search and reunion roles have the golden opportunity to begin that process by using the langauge of civil and human rights injustice when spekaing with those who seek our help. Bloggers who share their personal reunions likewise need to do likewise. Alll of us who are a part of the post adoption community play a role in awakening the sleeping, raising awareness, and stirring some righteous indignation.

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