Friday, May 20, 2016

Swan Song

"Despite your years on this cragged sphere, your many books penned, your many battles fought, and your countless death threats received, your feminism is now a draughty hump of nothing and the best you can do to remain of use is to quietly avoid impeding upon the current agenda.”  “Old Women, Shut the Fuck Up!” 

I believe I've passed the age of consciousness and righteous rage,
I've found that just surviving was a noble fight
I once believed in causes too, had my pointless point of view
Life went on no matter who was wrong or right. 

Angry Young Man, Billy Joel

I have spent all of my adult life, since the 1970’s when I was in my late twenties/early thirties until now, in my seventies - researching, writing, speaking, marching, advocating to reform adoption. I devoted my life to exposing and denouncing abuses, exploitation, coercion, and profiteering in the redistribution of babies and children, and advocating to end antiquated laws that deny adopted citizens equal access to their own original birth certificates.

In all that time the biggest changes I have witnessed in adoption are:

·      Fewer American mothers being pressured to relinquish, while corrupt practices abound deceiving and exploiting indigent mothers in other parts of the word or out and out kidnapping their babies at gunpoint or through trickery. While the vast majority of American adoption reformers will use the phrase “child trafficking for adoption” few, if any, DO or even write anything about issues beyond the borders of the USA (or even beyond the borders of their own state).

·      The method of pressuring mothers domestically changed from shame to promises of openness and the new big lie is that expectant mothers are in “control” cause they get to “pick” their child’s new parents! They are lied to, conned, scammed and duped into believing their adoption would be “open” with no explanation of what exactly that meant and no legal protection to enforce such agreements.

·      Fathers have joined the ranks of the deceived and disenfranchised thanks to Putative Father Registries and little is being done to change laws that so wantonly disregard constitutionally protected parental rights.

·      Despicable practices like pre-birth matching abound, and even pre-birth CONSENTS to adoption in some states!

·      Child protective services continue to overstep and not just remove children from suspected harm, but have them adopted out to strangers even when there are grandparents or other family members willing, able, eager and begging to care for their kin. Families being destroyed instead of assisted through a rough patch.

The bottom line is that the demand for babies has not changed – in fact it has increased.

Adoptees and birth parents always have and continue to “get involved” for help with their own personal search and maybe some advise on reunion, especially if they were found.

Some stick around providing much needed shoulders to cry. Much needed, but in itself changes nothing. Others become search angels. Another much needed and appreciated service provided freely. (I too did my share of searches, facilitating hundreds of reunions all throughout the eighties, risking prison to do so without the aid of public online records).

Then there are those who stick around to tsk tsk and write scathing blog posts or share memes on Facebook about the horrors of adoption trauma, and agree with one another that “Adoption sucks!”

Another group of individuals who I highly respect are those who get involved in state legislation in their state. I greatly admire their tenacity, devotion, knowledge and ability it takes to get a bill introduced, through committees, revised and signed into law. In NJ it took 35 years of dedicated hard work. I have nothing but the highest regard and respect for those who work tirelessly, giving up their own personal time. 

But at the same time, I am disheartened by the lack of unity between the states and of course, the slow progress and the number of states who have compromised on true equality with restrictions.

And then there are outliers, the ones who take off with with grandiose ideas like petitions to the President. Ideas that MIGHT have a chance if they were started from a base of a strong national org that we do not have.

We each do what we can. Together I think we could do a lot more, but that has never seemed to happen.

The tears, the support, feeding the vitriolic anger or facilitating and celebrating search and reunion are all necessary. But alone they are ambulances at the bottom of the cliff, picking up the wounded and commiserating while a never-ending pack of of lemmings jump or are pushed.

We have never in all my years neck deep in this movement – even TRIED to do any collective fund-raising to form a cohesive national organization to support state legislation, educate the public and lawmakers, and prevent future adoption loss. Nor has there been any effort to TRY to raise money for a lawyer to sue any state for falsifying our VITAL records!

The AAC leadership is in trouble – AGAIN – and even at its best it is a self-serving pro-adoption organization that does nothing but USES (exploits?) adoptees and birthparents to speak – without compensation of even registration fees – at their conferences which bring in money from aps. Come! Cry and be angry. Share your stories of grief and shame and loss and hardship and we will charge attendees to listen. We will DO nothing to change the pain from happening in the future, cause then we would cease to exist, not unlike adoption agencies!

As opposed to American “bastards” who believe adoption is A-OK as long as they get their records at the age of majority, foreign born adoptees, in largest numbers from Korea, have formed a very strong adoptee community that is actually doing family preservation work.

In Australia, too, family preservation is a major focus. Yet here in the USA the very term “family preservation” is negatively labeled “anti-adoption” as if being against tearing families apart unnecessarily to meet a demand for their children is a bad thing.  The only real adoption reform “work” being done here is the state by state efforts to reclaim birth certificates.

In the end little has changed in all my years. Seven states according to BN have unrestricted access. AAC lists eight because they include Colorado which became an access state in 2014, which BN does not (not sure why not). Two of these access states – Alaska and Kansas - never sealed adoption records, so really the adoption reform movement achieved unrestricted access in five states in my lifetime - about 70 years since Jean Paton started the movement in the 1940s. Another 11 states have partial or restricted access. Not equality.  And all the rest are exactly where they were all those many decades ago.

I cannot help find it depressing.

Even if we were seeing more accelerated progress in terms of access – which we are NOT - so what?  NO ONE has ever challenged the fact that adoptee birth certificates continue to be FALSIFIED! And little more than lip service is given to the continuation of child trafficking for adoption.

The public remains convinced that adoption is a good thing that rescues orphans and continues to promote and encourage it despite evidence to the contrary. Obtaining kids by ANY means – adoption, surrogacy, purchased anonymous eggs and sperm are all considered “choices” or even rights with no regard for rights the children being produced or purchased.

The demand is not about to go away. Not in my lifetime because same sex couples have have now joined hetero infertiles vying for their “right” to buy or create a child of unknown heritage, or with some of their own genetic material.

Th future seems to be on of children with little or no biological connection to immediate, much less extended, family or the human race. Yet, ironically, money will continue to be made by providing DNA testing for those who want to find their biological progenitors. Back to square one.  The self-indulgent who find their OWN kin and do nothing to stop the proliferation of others being separated or created and denied their truth.

I’m DONE!  Burnt out. Finished. Done everything I can. Written every word I can write. It’s changed precious little. I cannot keep spinning my wheels watching more families destroyed to “build” new ones; children treated as objects to be bought and sold or created from purchased genetics and rented body parts.

The Bigger Picture

It's not just adoption. 

I see so many of the social justice causes I have put my life – my heart, soul and so much time and effort into - getting worse not better and I feel my candle burning out in despair. 

For Goodness sake there are still segregated schools! A Mississippi school district is still fight integration. IT'S 2016!!!  Something as simple as being able to breastfeed in public, that I protested 40 years, is STILL an issue!

I’m too tired to go on beating my tired, worn out drum. I feel the toll physically of carrying around the angry passion that drove my life’s works – be it small, local issues or the insurmountable world terrorism and climate change ones. 

I struggle now with how to “let go” and wonder who am I if I am no longer the hippie, rebel fighter of injustice and the voice for the poor, the marginalized and stigmatized, the mothers and babies in crisis.

I thought what I was experiencing was burn-out but I see it now as more like mellowing and fading out. We are often cautioned to pick our battles.  I now find it more productive for myself and my body and soul to put into deeper practice the wisdom of knowing that the only thing I can change is myself and accepting all rest that I cannot change.  I gave it my all and I know that I changed many lives, reuniting families and supporting mothers in crisis.

I am not dropping out, or losing my ideals … just stepping down and accepting gracefully and graciously that I am not indispensable in any of my areas of service.  I step aside and make room for the next generation, while still here to add my two cents. But, who I if I am no longer an activist being passionate about the injustices of the world?

My life is in transition and transitions are seldom easy.  I don’t know what lies ahead for me. Time will tell. I feel no urgency – no burning need to do anything right now. The wind is out of my sails and I am adrift. A rebel without a cause... Just relaxing and enjoying this next level of retirement. 

I don’t know what will fill the void in my life. Like a person retiring from a lifelong career or a mother facing an empty nest, I don’t know what the future holds. Who am I if not a lifelong adoption activist?  Yet to be determined. All I know is I am no longer – CAN no longer be - that.  I can no longer beat my head against the wall.  I am not any more indispensable than any other. Neither I nor my input will likely be missed. 

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