Sunday, September 28, 2008

Stop the Blasphemy!

WARNING: The following may be offensive to some. My use of pro-life arguments is not meant to demean their original intent - only to show how they apply equally to argue against adoption and for family preservation.

I found this while shopping for an Adoption Sucks tee - which I didn't find!
It says: "Childbirth is an act of nature.
Adoption is an act of God"

To thee I sayeth:

You formed my inmost being;
You knit me in my mother's womb.
I praise you, so wonderfully you made me;
Wonderful are your works!
Psalms 139:13-16 [New American]

YOU, God, knit me in my mother's womb! What do those words mean? How can anyone who believes in God, or who claims to, not believe that very creation of life and its coimng to fruition at birth are not within His domain? This "nature" and outside the realm of the Almighty? HUH? What bible are these people reading? The Gospel of NCFA?

To thee I sayeth:

  • They claim to know God, but they deny him by their actions. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified to do anything good. Titus 1:16

  • The promises of God are not for us to claim rashly, to protect us while we rush on recklessly into danger, violating the laws of nature or disregarding prudence and the judgment God has given us to use. This would not be genuine faith but presumption. . . . 1MCP 25.1

  • God loves His creatures with a love that is both tender ans strong. He has established the laws of mature, but His are not arbitrary extractions. 2MCP 411.1

  • "It is I who bring both death and life." Deuteronomy 32:39

  • "Did not He who made me in the womb make him? And did not one fashion us in the womb?" Job 31:15

Do Not Take God's Name in Vain!

If you believe in God, then you generally accept God as Omnipotent and Omniscient ruler of the universe, He therefore extends His providence to all things, overseeing them and maintaining them in a condition to fulfill His ultimate purpose. God therefore created the present world as a perfect place to fulfill His purpose, with all nature under His command. Nature is simply the law God established at the time of creation, which regulates the processes of this world in accordance with the principle of cause and effect.

Is not every flower, every rainbow, every baby not proof of God's existence, for those who believe n God? Are WE not all God's creations? Mad in his image? Or does that happen to babies only after they are adopted? If so...why aren't ALL babies adopted?

Adoption is purely LEGAL construct, folks! If God created adoption then he also created divorce, and executions.

Stop this blasphemy! Next you'll be followers of the church of blasphemous Rosie O'Donnell who tells her adopted kid they were born in the "wrong tummy" but God saw his "mistake" and fixed it!

"Yahweh called me when I was in the womb, before my birth he had pronounced my name." Isaiah 49:1

Yet those who separate babies from their mothers and take away their names, have the audacity to call it God's plan!

We need to get back to basics and reality folks and remember the biblical references to adoption are all about maintaining family ties. Read up on Moses before ye use the word of God to justify BUYING BABIES!!

Clearly the Christian pro-life position is that life begins at conception. If all life is scared and it begins at conception - what then is the mother in who's womb it has been planted and grows? A mistake? Interestingly, some Christian pro-life arguments contain the belief that "We can compare the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us to the umbilical cord which connects the unborn baby to its mother. All the nutrients including oxygen to sustain life is furnished to the unborn child through the umbilical cord." How can anyone who believes and preaches this, stand in witness or support those who and physically take a child virtually form its mother's womb without recognizing that they are violating the intent and word of God.

A Catholic pro-life argument proclaims: "our nation has all but lost any claims we could have ever made on 'compassion' because we have allowed lies, innuendo and insanity to circumscribe the parameters of this so-called debate." Indeed we have when we justify baby selling as the will of God. "Denying the fact that life begins the moment a female egg is fertilized is sheer lunacy — or, worse, intentionally misleading....It is patently arrogant that we, as adults, get to decide for the most vulnerable of our society — our unborn children, who cannot speak for themselves..."

We need to press pro-lifers who promote adoption with this question:
If Killing an Unborn Baby is NOT a "Choice" - why is separating it from it's mother not just a choice - but a justified holier-than-thou preference for those who proudly wear their Christianity on their sleeve, and the Christian Coalition which promotes adoption and bemoans the decrease in the number of adoptions?

In Genesis (1:27-28), when God blessed man and woman and called them to "be fruitful and multiply" he did not stipulate that they needed to complete their education first, or be married or employed, or own their own home.

Let us not forget, and please let's revise, this oldie but goodie:

It reminds us that The Virgin Mary was an Unwed Teenage Mother!

And it was said to Mary: blessed is the fruit of your womb! Luke 1:39-44

So, just to keep things in proper perspective...I've decided to bring it back on a tee shirt:

Available at Cafe Press.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

More Nebraska Abandonment

Nebraskan, Gary Staton, Gives Up 9 of His Kids for Adoption

In another example of the harm of legalized abandonment, a man in Nebraska abandoned 9 of his 10 children because he was unemployed and his wife had died! How more obvious can it be that this legislation short-changes families in crisis from receiving the help they need - emotional and other forms of support and resources.

"I was with her [his wife] for 17 years, and then she was gone. What was I going to do?...We raised them together. I didn't think I could do it alone. I fell apart. I couldn't take care of them," Staton said to Omaha TV Station KETV.

No word on the age of the tenth one or whether that child is still living with Staton.

This brings the total in Nebraska, so far, to 16 since the law was enacted in July! And, none of the 16 were in danger of being abused, let alone had been, according to the Associated Press reports today.

Nebraska lawmakers reaction: "If we see another family being left off, then we're going to have to do something immediately," said state Sen. Arnie Stuthman, according to the source.

As for Staton's children, some families have volunteered to take care of them but a judge has yet to decide on permanent custody, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Human Services said.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dumping Teens: Is There A Silver Lining?

A 13-year-old girl, and two boys ages 11 and 15 have been abandoned at hospitals, and a 12-year-old boy was dropped at a police station.

Their parents were not charged with child abandonment.

It's Nebraska, folks!

A clear message has bee sent to all parents dealing with snotty, sarcastic, rebellious, "impossible" teens: Go to Nebraska, drive past a hospital or police station - open the car door, and dump the kid! Then walk away scott free!

No need to spend one more red cent on psychologist, or psychiatrists or treatment centers...or even feeding the ungrateful brat! It's a great solution to put an end to child support, too!

This is of special value to those who "bought" a kid and are dissatisfied! The 11-year-old - by his adoptive mother!!!

Nebraska, the last state to enact legalized abandonment, went far further than all states allowing abandnmet of children up to 19 years of age.

Neb. State Sen. Brad Ashford says, "if the stress level gets to the point where something bad could happen, I'd rather have that child, whether it be ten years old four years old, (or even 15)... to me, the child is safe [being abandoned]."

The Silver Lining?

That it will prevent child abuse? I think not. I think - OK, I hope - that the silver lining will be that this will bring the absurdity of all such alleged "safe haven" laws to the forefront.

The media is having a field day - as well they should.

Let's face one reality: What parent of a teen has NOT felt like just dropping them off somewhere - at least for a moment? Yet what family therapist or child advcoate would encourage acting on that momentary thought without extensive work with the family to try to resolve the issues, or find a suitable, safe TEMPORARY place for either the child or the parent?

The silver lining is that this plan - taken to this ridiculous extreme points out very clearly what is wrong with all such alleged "safe haven" laws:

1. Anyone can dump a child, it might not be the parent - and certainly not BOTH. In fact, the 15-year-old boy was dropped off by his aunt!
2. It prevents any offer of help or resourc s being offered
3. It provides a permanent - irrevocable - solution to a temporary problem that one might regret the very next day!

Nebraska is allowing parents who dump teens to regain custody in court - an option of course not allowed parents who dump infants. It is not clear what the cutoff is on that Hail Mary.

Talk about a disposable culture!! Kids - they're cute and highly sought when they're little, after that - not so much! Dump and run!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

An Honor!!

On Sunday, Sept. 14, an article appeared in my local central jersey newspaper about The Stork Market and my work with

As a result...I am very pleased to announce that I am being nominated for The Citizen of the Year awarded by the National Association of Social Workers, Inc., Washington, D.C. and by its State affiliate, NASW/New Jersey Chapter.

Public Citizen of the Year

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), the largest membership organization of professional social workers, established the Public Citizen of the Year Award to honor an outstanding member of the community whose accomplishments exemplify the values and mission of professional social work. The award recipient is not a social worker.

The NASW-NJ Executive Committee will review all nominations and determine the recipients of the awards. The recipients of the three awards will be personally notified and an announcement of their selection will be published in FOCUS. The awards will be presented at the NASW-NJ Annual Conference.

Last year's recipient was Dr. Daniel Gottlieb.

Dr. Gottlieb, a practicing psychologist and family therapist for more than 35 years, is well known to many through his weekly National Public Radio (NPR) “Voices in the Family” broadcast, which has aired in southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey since 1985. His radio show, and his Philadelphia Inquirer “On Healing” column, cover an exhaustive array of topics, including depression, marital conflict, transgendered youth, multi-racial families, and many others.

His most recent book, Learning From the Heart: Lessons in Living, Loving, and Listening, was published in March 2008.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dear Joni Mitchell

Dear Joni Mitchell,

I write to implore you to use your position to give back. Give back as only you can.

Cancer has Lance Armstrong and Katie Couric, Sheryl Crow, Melissa Ethridge, and so many, many more spokespersons who - out of personal loss - have become heroes; who because of their own pain, work to help reduce the numbers of people who will suffer similar pain and loss of a loved one.

We need you, Joni, because no one speaks for us. Like you, we all suffered alone and in silence. Help us break that silence: speak up and speak out for us. Be the voice of your sisters.

Come full circle Joni. You've suffered the loss, and the years of not knowing. You dealt with being "outed" by the media. You then courageously stepped into the limelight and used that same media power to seek and find your daughter. Now, the scared young women who couldn't afford to raise a child sends a limo to pick her up from her first class flight! You've come a long way, baby.

You and Kilauren could speak for all of us who suffered the same indignities: the fear, the hiding, the not knowing. The worry about who would know and who we should tell; the seeing our counterpart in the crowds; not fitting in; the shock of discovering at 26 that your whole life is a lie...the not knowing.

Sheila Weller who wrote your biography in a trilogy with Carole King and Carly Simon writes of approximately 1.4 million American women who lost their children in maternity homes between 1945 and 1972 and more in Canada. (And that doesn't count the ones like you and I who toughed it out without a maternity home, and the others who stayed hidden in their own homes or their "aunt's" house. Other statisticians quote figures as high as up to four million mothers in the United States surrendered newborn babies to adoption between 1945 and 1970; two million during the 1960s alone.)

Weller quotes Sandra Jarvis of Canadian Birth Mothers: about how social workers "were just promoting the hospitals, counseling girls that it 'wasn't really your baby', that it was in the /best interest of th baby., to have it adopted, and that 'of you love your baby', you'll give it up; the baby will be 'illegitimate' if you keep it." Like all of us, you were traumatized . It caused you, you've said to identify with the women of the Magdelene Laundries, of whom you sang on your 1994 Turbulent Indigo album.

I was an unmarried girl I'd just turned twenty-seven When they sent me to the sisters For the way men looked at me Branded as a jezebel I knew I was not bound for Heaven I'd be cast in shame Into the Magdalene laundries

Most girls come here pregnant Some by their own fathers Bridget got that belly By her parish priest We're trying to get things white as snow All of us woe-begotten-daughters In the steaming stains Of the Magdalene laundries

Prostitutes and destitutes And temptresses like me-- Fallen women-- Sentenced into dreamless drudgery ... Why do they call this heartless place Our Lady of Charity? Oh charity!

These bloodless brides of Jesus If they had just once glimpsed their groom Then they'd know, and they'd drop the stones Concealed behind their rosaries They wilt the grass they walk upon They leech the light out of a room They'd like to drive us down the drain At the Magdalene laundries
Peg O'Connell died today She was a cheeky girl A flirt They just stuffed her in a hole! Surely to God you'd think at least some bells should ring! One day I'm going to die here too And they'll plant me in the dirt Like some lame bulb That never blooms come any spring Not any spring
No, not any spring Not any spring

Sing out for ALL of us, Joni! We've been fans of yours since hearing "Little Green" and knowing - really KNOWING - it's meaning! It didn't end when the laundries closed. It didn't end in Canada or the US. Adoption today is a multi-billion dollar a year business worldwide. Every day women are suffering the pressure and coercion you and I suffered...and worse!

Globally, chidlren are being stolen off the streets, kidnapped, or their mothers duped into believing their children are coming to the US or England for an education. Papers are forged and chidlren are being SOLD onto orphanages where orphanage directors turn a blind eye to the corrupt child trafficking in adoption because the fees to obtain a child internationally are enormous.

Sing out for us all, Joni. Help us to help mothers and their chidlren stay together! No one speaks up for them. We are a candle in the wind and we need you, Joni. We are David fighting a huge moneyed baby-brokering industry and we need you Joni. We need your voice, your power and your sense of righteousness, Joni.

All over the world mothers and their babies need you to save them from lives of agony - wondering...from unnecessary and unwarranted separations. Marital status, financial problems, age are all temporary problems that can be fixed and need not be exploited, except for the fact that babies are an in-demand commodity. Help us to stop the carnage, Joni.

You and Kilaruren are two of the lucky ones. You have each other back on your lives. I, and others, are not so lucky. Some of us don't survivie the loss, Joni.

Origins-USA needs you to help us fulfill our mission of advocating for mothers' rights and keeping natural families together. Be the spokeswoman for every young woman still afraid to tell her mother...or being pressured by her mother. Be a spokeswoman for all the babies who suffer a life of not fitting in and/or not knowing they are adopted. For all the adoption separated families who are denied the same human rights as non-adoption separated families to have a copy of their own original birth certificate! read the stories of mothers spanning decades from 1956 right up until 2004, of pressure to permanently surrender their rights to the children they bore. See them and hear them tell their stories.

Or, just donate quietly, without fanfare, as Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam has done, in honor of the sister he lost to adoption when his mother was young and alone...

Yes, listen again to Eddie's "daughter" - written for his sister:

Don't call me daughter, not fit to The picture kept will remind me Don't call me daughter, not fit to The picture kept will remind me Don't call me...

and listen to the live version of "Daughter" he does as a medley with "Rockin' in the Free World":

I see a woman in the night
With a baby in her hand
Under an old street light
Near a garbage can
Now she puts the kid away,
and she's gone to get a hit
She hates her life,
and what she's done to it
There's one more kid
that will never go to school
Never get to fall in love,
never get to be cool.

You, too, have sang it out...but now raise your voice publicly for all of us, Joni. Those who have already lost, need you. The mothers of the world need you! The strruggling expectant mothers; new others...they need you.

Cancer has a multitude of star. Flesh peddlers are spreading adoption spreading like a cancer across the globe, seeking out poverty, war, unrest and strife - any weakness it find - even natural disasters - to exploit for profit! Children are redistributed around the globe in reverse Robinhoddism - taken for the poor and sold to the wealthy! It is happening in South America (particularly Guatemala), Asia (Vietnam and India, are current hot spots), and eastern Europe (Russia and the former Soviet Union) and now Africa (particularly Ethiopia) is the new go-to hot spot for those clamoring for babies - other people's any price!

Here at home women are promised "openness" - more often than not an unfulfilled promise. Help us start a legal fund for mothers fighting to regain custody of chidlren that were taken from them fraudulently with broken promises.

Help us in any way you can....I am begging you!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Girls Like Us: Part II The Aftermath and Reunion

(Part I appeared yesterday.)

Girls Like Us, a 539 page hard cover three-in-one biography, is not just about Carly, Carole and Joni. It's about an era, and about the music. It's about the men in the "girls" lives: James Taylor, Neil Young, David Crosby, Bob Dylan and Graham Nash were all in Joni's life in one capacity or another. Graham Nash wrote "Our House" about his life with Joni. Both had been divorced and gun-shy when they met and Joni was afraid to tell him that she had a daughter who she lost to adoption. When she told him: "she poke of the 'shame and guilt and wanting a life' and of the 'rejection' she knew she would have faced from her parents had they known"...She said it was "devastating for her. It had a tremendous effect on her emotional growth." One of the most goose-bumpy are the two descriptions of her meeting two little girls at her shows. One who little girl said her name was Joni; the other said her name was Kelly. At one point Joni says: "Soon after I'd given up my daughter for adoption, I had a house and a car and I had the means, and I'd become a public figure; the combination of those situations did not sit well. So...I began to go inside, and question who I was. And out of that [the title song of Blue] evolved."
Blue, songs are like tattoos
You know Ive been to sea before
Crown and anchor me
Or let me sail away
Hey blue, here is a song for you
Ink on a pin
Underneath the skin
An empty space to fill in
Well there're so many sinking now
You've got to keep thinking
You can make it thru these waves
Acid, booze, and ass
Needles, guns, and grass
Lots of laughs, lots of laughs
Everybody's saying that hells the hippest way to go
Well I don't think so
But I'm gonna take a look around it though
Blue, I love you

Blue, here is a shell for you
Inside you'll hear a sigh
A foggy lullaby
There is your song from me
Girls Like Us is not just about Joni's loss of her daughter, but also about her daughter's adoptive family and their reunification. Joni's daughter, Kelly Dale born Feb. 1965, she was adopted and renamed Kilauren Gibb. She was placed into a family with a biological son and her adoption was kept a secret, though she was a odd fit: The Gibbs were "timid and uncharismatic... bookish...prim and dour" and not especailly attractive. Kilauren was "headstrong and self-possessed...artistic." Friends describe her as "a renegade spirit, a girl who hung out with the band" and "unapproachably beautiful" enough to have been a Ford model. Hanging our with the band had its consequences. In 1991 Kilauren, at 26, became pregnant -- her boyfriend "a local rock-group drummer." Upon telling her parents about her pregnancy, they decide that this is the perfect moment to reveal the truth: that she's adopted! She almost immediately begins to search. Her search is involves the oddest of coincidences that truly make this a small world with six degrees of separation! 1996 Like me, Joni obtains her first photos of her daughter from the foster mother who had her daughter for seven months. Shortly, after Joni went public with the news that she was searching for her daughter. That same year, her daughter, Kilauren - after five years - gets the final piece to her puzzle that began with non-identifying information. Soon Kilauren and her son marlin are flying to meet Joni. Their reunion is what those of us who understand not just mother/adult-daughter relationships, but also reunited ones, is understandably a roller coaster. But they seem to have navigated it well. In her 40's Joni experiences a miscarriage of a much wanted child. Joni dedicated her last album to her two grandchildren, Marlin and Daisy, both Kilauren's. Sheila Weller is tender and kind in relating all of this. Girls Like Us is a reminiscent "trip" into those lazy, crazy days that makes really goo dreading...and also and has an opportunity to get a true life story of loss in the hands of those who would never read a book about adoption.

My thanks to Weller...and my heart goes out to Joni as one mother to another! We love you Joni, we always have! You're one of us... and you have sung for us. You've sung of your loss and your pain, and not with shame! You go girl!

© Mirah Riben, Sept 14, 2008

More again tomorrow...

Girls Like Us

"I do and I don't. Maybe I do. Maybe I know a little. Maybe I don't know anything. I'll tell you by that I think I've done my - people are too possessive about their children, too ego-centric with their children, anyway. I reproduced myself. I made a beautiful child, a girl. When-but at the time I was penniless. There was no way I could take-she would have been - I was not the right person to raise this child. There was no indication that I would-I don't have a good education, I couldn't keep her. It was impossible under the circumstance. I had no money when she was born, none. Imagine, I mean .... We would just have been - I would have been waitressing or something. It wouldn't have been - fate did not design this to occur."
Who said this?

Yes, a mother who lost her only child to adoption. But who?

The answer is revealed in a book you will want to read: Girls Like Us.

Want a hint?

Omitted and replaced with ... is the following: "none of the music could have come out."

YES! It was Joni Mitchell's response to being totally taken off guard and "outed" by an interviewer for Greater London Radio in 1990.

"Do you miss having a close-knit family?" he asked.

"Well, we have cats and also I have lost of godchildren I haven't had children by choice, really," Joni replied.

After falling right into his evil plot, he then pounced and said: "You did have a child, didn't you, when you were very young? Do you know what happened to him or her?" was then Joni, totally stunned, began stammer out the above quotation.

Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and the journey of a generation by New York Times bestselling author, Sheila Weller, does much justice to our "cause." In a very different way than The Girls Who Went Away it places an "out-of wedlock" pregnancy and subsequent surrender into a person's life and the life of every woman who came of age in the 60's, and is far more readable and less academic than Wake up Little Suzie. If, like me, you too are a child of the sixties - a bit of a flower-child, a "folkie" or fan of any of these iconic singers - you would enjoy this book even without this highlight - that I, of course, IMMEDIATELY turned to!

Weller details Joni's pregnancy ("I lost my virginity and got pregnant all in the same act" Joni told a reporter in 2001) and what followed with exquisite sensitivity warmth and caring, interspersed with insights from Sandra Jarvies, president of Canadian Birth Mothers United (though I find no internet presence of this person or such a group) about the multitude of Canadian girls sent 3,000 miles from home to protect their parents' reputations. (She also quotes Gone to Aunt's: Remembering Canada's home for unwed mothers by Anne Petrie, a 1967 alumna, and mentions the millions of US mothers who lost our children during the same time period in a a footnote.)

I found lots to identify with, beginning with the fact that Carole King's "real" name is the same as my maiden name! I totally relate to the author's description of Joni floating back and forth between the "good girl" we all felt we should be and our wilder side.

But, most of all I identified with Joni who was making a name for herself in the Canadian "hootenanny" folk scene in the 60's, while I was a folk "groupie" in Greenwich Village...waiting tables while guitarist Jose Feliciano and such passed the basket at the Cafe Wha, The Why Not?, and the Village Gate. Bob Dylan had just graduated from the village coffee house scene, but it was there I met and hung out with my (still) dear friend Richie Havens. Ironically, Joni - who wrote the song, Woodstock - was slated to perform at Woodstock in 1969 - which Richie Havens opened. Her agent canceled her performance.

Weller reveals how Joni went through her pregnancy and surrender alone - with no help from her family and no maternity home (as did I). Joni kept playing music until her belly became too big, and neither she, nor anyone around her, spoke about it.

Like me, Joni - 21 (I was 22) put her daughter (born in 1965) in foster care and is described as feeling "sort of numb and half-awake". I identify with the fact that Joni was impregnated by one and then let down by another she hoped would help "rescue" her and help her keep and raise her daughter - though she married the second and I was married to the first!

She named her daughter Kelly, and in private Joni sang "Kelly Green" instead of "Little Green" (a song mothers who lost children "knew" the meaning of, long before the truth was revealed - lyrics so telling).

Born with the moon in cancer
Choose her a name she will answer to
Call her green and the winters cannot fade her
Call her green for the children who've made her
Little green, be a gypsy dancer

He went to California
Hearing that everything's warmer there
So you write him a letter and say, her eyes are blue.
He sends you a poem and shes lost to you
Little green, hes a non-conformer


Just a little green
Like the color when the spring is born
There'll be crocuses to bring to school tomorrow
Just a little green
Like the nights when the northern lights perform
There'll be icicles and birthday clothes
And sometimes there'll be sorrow

Child with a child pretending
Weary of lies you are sending home
So you sign all the papers in the family name
You're sad and you're sorry, but you're not ashamed
Little green, have a happy ending

Weller also sees baby hints in "The Circle Game" as well as "Both Sides Now" which speaks to her indecisiveness.

The book is deliciously seasoned with photos, including Joni's reunion.

"The unwanted pregnancy" says Weller, "seems to have spurred Joni to take new creative risks - to write her own songs; she wrote her first, what she called a feeling-sorry-for-myself-song, 'Day by Day,' on the train [leaving to hide her pregnancy]. The closer she got to delivering her baby (in increasingly desperate circumstances), the more her work - singing and startig to write - seemed to preoccupy her...
"In the months after she had her baby...Joni would write a flood of songs so beautiful and original..."
In 1982, while her baby was a still a secret to her own parents, Joni released Wild Things Run Fast which includes "Chinese Cafe/Unchained Melody:"
Caught in the middle
Carol, we're middle class
We're middle aged
We were wild in the old days
Birth of rock 'n roll days
Now your kids are coming up straight
And my child's a stranger
I bore her
But, I could not raise her
Nothing lasts for long--
Nothing lasts for long--
Nothing lasts for long--
Down at the Chinese Cafe
We'd be dreaming on our dimes
We'd be playing--
"Oh my love, my darling"
One more time
Nothing lasts for long--
Nothing lasts for long--
Down at the Chinese Cafe
We'd be dreaming on our dimes
We'd be playing--
"You give your love, so sweetly"
One more time..
This girl of my childhood games
With kids nearly grown and gone
Grown so fast
Like the turn of a page
We look like our mothers did now
When we were those kids' age
Nothing lasts for long--
Nothing lasts for long--
Nothing lasts for long--
Down at the Chinese Cafe
We'd be dreaming on our dimes
We'd be playing--
"Oh my love, my darling
I've hungered for your touch
A long lonely time
And time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?
I need your love
I need your love
God speed your love to me."
(Time goes--where does the time go--
I wonder where the time goes. . .)

© Mirah Riben, Sept 13, 2008

See Part II: The Aftermath and Reunion, tomorrow

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

September 11th: War Orphans?

Political upheaval, strife, poverty, war, epidemics, and natural disasters such as quakes and tsunamis often leave orphans in their wake....and are quickly followed by a rush of flesh peddling baby brokers eager to exploit the situation and fill their pockets with fees eagerly paid by those in stable, Western, affluent, industrialized nations.

1,300 children were orphaned on 9/11.

In fact, the Twin Towers Orphan Fund was founded on Sept. 12, 2001, to help provide tuition and other support for these children.

NOW...imagine if you will, in the wake of the attack on 9/11/01, foreigners rushing in to adopt children orphaned. Exploit the terror, the fear, the confusion and come to their "rescue."

Impossible? Would never happen in the US? COULD never happen?

Think again, the US is perhaps the only country in the world that both IMPORTS and EXPORTS for adoption.
In November, 2000 the British press reported the case of “Baby J”. Adopted at two days old in Texas and immediately taken home to the UK to live with a mar-ried couple and their 15-year-old son in the south of England. Seven months later, instead of having the adoption finalized, the baby was ordered returned to the US.
The court found that the initial social worker's report was completed by an independent operator, reportedly with no qualifications. The residency requirement for adopting couples in the US was waived, ignored or never raised. No follow-up checks were possible because the child was permitted to leave the country. Even if, by some legal loophole, all that was permissible, the adoption agency did not see fit to contact its opposite numbers in the British social services. It was the latter who contacted the agency when Baby J was somehow "brought to their attention" back in Britain. Neither the independent social worker nor the adoption agency had paid any regard to arrangements by the UK Government for inter-country adoptions, the judge said.
Social services in Britain "believed there were compelling reasons why the couple should not be regarded as able to provide a safe and secure home for J". Mr Justice Johnson, one of Britain’s senior Family Division judges, said: "I do not think anybody could begin to believe this was a proper way of deciding the future of a human being."
"This little girl is American and her future should be decided by an American court and by American procedures and by American ways." The court ordered the return of the baby, per the Hague Convention, stating: "It might be that this is a thoroughly bad example of the way things happen in the US."
While unconfirmed, it is likely the Texas agency is The Gladney Center for Adoption. Whether these rumors can be substantiated or not regarding this one specific agency, the fact remains that American children are adopted by the very wealthy class in Mexico who prefer white babies. American infants are also exported to Germany, France and the Netherlands, though few are reported in the media, although one such story of a baby born in Philadelphia and adopted in Germany appears at the website,
According to Thomas DiFilipo, president of the Joint Council on International Children's Services in Virginia. "Approximately 800 American children a year find a home and a family with citizens from other countries such as Canada, Mexico and France," adding that Irish families who wish to adopt privately from the US are also free to do so.
Approximately 18-19 states including Oregon, Washington, California, Texas, Florida, New Hampshire, and Arkansas allow “home state finalization” for the international adoption of US children. Some states require the family to return for the finalization while others do not. In Texas a family can finalize within 90 days and in California it is 6 months. In Oregon the finalization takes place within less than 10 days usually. All families are required to have a home study with FBI cleared fingerprints.
In 2007 another baby exported from the US to Great Britain made headlines. It was the second such adoption for British Foreign Secretary David Milliband and his wife. The second baby they scooped up straight from the delivery room in a little over two years. British press said it revealed the existence of “a much darker side to adopting…in the U.S. that means big business for the thousands of private adoption agencies, which can easily procure a newborn for those prepared to pay up to $40,000.”
Miliband’s wife, 46, said: "It was just like doing it myself without having to go through the whole pregnancy and labour…It was our baby from the word go. It was a perfect scenario - an easy and pleasant experience." It was also, "very, very expensive."
The UK Daily Mail reporting on the case notes, “in the UK, the purpose of adoption is clearly defined as being to help children in need of a secure and stable home. In the U.S., the emphasis has been turned on its head, with many private adoption brokers twisting the procedure into a lucrative way to satisfy the demands of desperate childless couples…. On the rare occasions that a baby is available for adoption in the UK, it cannot be adopted before it is six weeks old.”
"There's a strong imperative in [British] law to sup-port families and keep them together as much as possible and to make decisions for each individual child. The welfare of the child is at the centre of everything,” according to David Holmes, chief executive of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering.
From The Stork Market, revised edition

IMAGINE...imagine OUR children being grabbed up and taken away...

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Soul of Family Preservation

Oh the joys of cleaning my bookshelves! I recently came across a GEM.

The Soul of Family Preservation* is a 100 page booklet written i1996 by Dr. Randolph W. Severson, author (Adoption: Philosophy and Experience**) , psychologist, theologian, and self described “Christian existentialist and romantic in child welfare.”

I never met Randy, though we did correspond and he published some of my articles when he edited Adoption Therapist***, for Hope Cottage. Among his many contributions to changing the complexion of adoption practices was writing the foreword to Ethics in American Adoption by Babb, in which Severson, always eloquent, states:

"Adoption isn't about building families at all. It's about tearing them apart. It's about poverty and exploitation, incredible pain and need....

"My hope is this: change the adoption myth, change the adoption culture. Change the adoption culture, change adoption policy, procedures and practice. Change practice, change lives for the better."

The following are excerpted from Severson's The Soul of Family Preservation, written far ahead of its time:

“Open adoption and open records are important byways. But they are not the most compelling route. Family preservation is.

“To urge family preservation within the adoption field abounds with risks because if you’ve been touched by adoption or as a professional work in the field your soul is inevitably so implicated in the institution that a defense of family preservation may very well be experienced as a personal attack...”

...judgments about how birthparents appear now, “long years after losing their child…would be like describing Bosnia today ignoring the fact there had ever been a war. You simply can’t know what might have been. The damage done to any single personality or family by losing a child to adoption mocks measure. The event shrivels the heart, shames the ghosts, turns the soul from what should have been a radiant fountain into a hollow cup."
In giving their child a “better life they may have undone their own.” Pp 10-11
"Adoption" says Severson, can add to child’s well being…adding “the love and kindness of strangers...opportunity...stability....Adoption can be all these things; in fact often is. But with these ‘gains’ are associated grave and irreparable losses, so much so that I sometimes wonder if adoption is like trying to fill an empty glass after the bottom has dropped out. No matter how pure the milk of human kindness that cup will never over flow.” P 39
* HeartWorks, Dallas Texas
** House of Tomorrow Productions, 1994. ISBN 1880856093
*** Open Adoption: Optimim or Oxymoron , Adoption Therapist, Dallas, TX: Hope Cottage, Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall, 1995, pp. 13-16.
Dealing With Death, Adoption Therapist, Dallas, TX: Hope Cottage, Vol. 6, No. 4, Fall, 1994, pp. 5-8.
For more on Family Preservation:

- See the right hand panel of this blog
- See Baran and Panor on Family Preservation
- See Carole Anderson on Family Preservation

NOTE: Both of the articles above refer to guardianship as an alternative to adoption. Permanent Legal Guardianship varies from adoption only that it does not begin with a termination of the rights of the original/natural parents and a “birth certificate” that falsely claims a child was born to his entrusted caretakers. It provides guardians ALL rights to make decisions re education, medical care etc. It is NOT joint custody or foster care.

What Can Be Learned?

Bristol Palin, 17, is having a baby. Shocking? Not so much. She is one of approximately 750,000 teens who become pregnant in the U.S. each year, keeping it among the highest rates of teem pregnancies in industrialized nations. The U.S. likewise has one of the worlds highest rate of teens with STDs.

Bristol was raised with strong conservative, pro-life values, yet she did not "just say no" to her boyfriend. Surprising? No so much.

Proponents of abstinence-only sex education say it "is the only 100-percent-certain way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)." This depends first on the definition of sexual abstinence. Does it mean, as many define it - avoiding intercourse? Even so...

1. No method of birth control is 100% effective as along as rape exists
2. No method of birth control is any more effective than it's proper use
3. Pregnancy can take place without vaginal penetration
3. STDS can be spread by actions of other than intercourse, and totally non-sexual activities, such as IV drug use and blood transfusion. In fact, despite sex education, teens in the United States continue to suffer from the highest birth rate

Yet, included in the 1996 Personal Responsibility & Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act, or "welfare reform" was the provision, later set out in Section 510(b) of Title V of the Social Security Act, appropriating $250 million dollars over five years for state initiatives promoting sexual abstinence outside of marriage as the only acceptable standard of behavior for young people.

One of the tools of the abstinence programs are virginity (including secondary virginity) pledges, and no sex until marriage pledges.

* Research on virginity pledges found that for a select group of young people, pledges did delay the onset of sexual intercourse for an average of 18 months (a goal still far short of the average age of marriage).1 However, the same study also found that young people who took a pledge were one-third less likely to use contraception when they did become sexually active than their peers who had not pledged.2 In other words, pledging can create harm by undermining contraceptive use when young people who take them become sexually active.

* The researchers also found that pledgers have the same rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as their peers who had not pledged. In fact, not only were pledgers less likely to use condoms to prevent STDs, they were less likely to seek medical testing and treatment, thereby increasing the possibility of transmission.3

* Further research found that, among those young people who have not had vaginal intercourse, pledgers were more likely to have engaged in both oral and anal sex than their non-pledging peers . In fact, among virgins, male and female pledgers were six times more likely to have had oral sex than non-pledgers, and male pledgers were four times more likely to have had anal sex than those who had not pledged.

* According to the researchers, in communities where there are a higher proportion of pledgers, overall STD rates were significantly higher than in other settings. Specifically, in communities where more than 20% of young adults had taken virginity pledges, STD rates were 8.9% compared to 5.5% in communities with few pledgers.4

After five years the programs showed few short-term benefits and no lasting, positive impact. A few programs showed mild success at improving attitudes and intentions to abstain. No program was able to demonstrate a positive impact on sexual behavior over time.

The most demonstrable argument of abstinence-only lack of success is the 3 percent rise in the birth rate between 2005 and 2006 among 15-to-19-year-old girls.

"The United States is facing a teen-pregnancy health-care crisis, and the national policy of abstinence-only programs just isn't working," said Cecile Richard, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "It is time for everyone who cares about teenagers to start focusing on the common-sense solutions that will help solve this problem."

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Exploitation in Adoption

I recently saw a Discovery channel program called Half Man Half Tree about a man with horrible wort-like deformities in Romania and the US doctor who traveled their to help him. This young man was a member of a troupe -- a freak show that traveled with the circus. It was humiliating, but earned him a living the only way he could to help support his family including two children he was raising after his wife left him.

Is it exploitation if it benefits - even coincidentally - the "victim"? Is it exploitation if it is done "voluntarily"?

Those of us who were exploited by adoption practices know all too well that guns or threats of life and death hanging in the balance are not needed to exploit someone. So what does constitutive exploitation?

All of these questions began swirling through my head after hearing about "The Locater" premiering Sept 6 on WeTV:

"Half of the world is looking for the other half." Troy Dunn

Troy Dunn is a true phenomenon: From finding birth parents to organ donors, his brilliant investigative skills are a marvel to all who see him in action. His impressive track record for locating people means that he and his staff are routinely inundated with dozens of new cases to solve on a weekly basis.

Tony Dunn, I am told, was (perhaps still is?) VP with and has received mixed reviews, shall we say, as an ethical searcher.

I myself have always found publicized reunions - especially when they tape the actual original moment of contact - extremely exploitive. I have also long been aware that for many it is a way of funding a search and/or a long-distant reunion that they might not otherwise be able to afford.

Such televised heart-wrenching reunions are also "good for the cause'"of unsealing adoptions and removing secrecy as they show to what lengths those living under the seal have to go, to enjoy what all others take for granted. Reunions generally show that neither party is a deranged stalker, but simply an ordinary and caring human being.

And yet, ordinary folk do not meet their mothers, fathers, sons or daughters on television - unless they opt to have their birth broadcast! Neither do "ordinary" family reunions make for TV ratings - BORING!

And so such dramatization of our interpersonal moments both exploit us and our issues - our pain, our loss - while bringing attention to adoption-related issues, hopefully...if we are not seen as Jerry Springer-type entertainment.

Is it exploitation or help - can something be one and the same?

America Heritage:
  1. To employ to the greatest possible advantage: exploit one's talents.
  2. To make use of selfishly or unethically: a country that exploited peasant labor. See Synonyms at manipulate.
  3. To advertise; promote.

This is a confusing a contradictory definition. It brings into play a character judgment of "selfish:" devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.

"Regardless of others": There's the rub! I believe that something becomes ruthlessly exploitive when the benefit to one's self outweighs any possible benefit to the other. But it also seems clear that there are degrees of exploitation and it depends who is making the judgment call and how.

Once upon a time, adoption was supposed to be a preferred alternative because it provided a child who might start out with a single mother with two parents - a mother and a father. It recreated Ozzie and Harriet instead of Murphy Brown! Adoption spared the child the "stigma of illegitimacy" and spared the mother the burden and possible scorn of being a sinful woman. All alleged "benefits" traded off for the loss and pain of permanent separation.

Today those benefits no longer - or barely - exist, so marketers of adoption create new pseudo benefits, each of course with an ounce of truth.

The majority of adoptions move children from lower to higher socio-economic living conditions - both internationally and domestically (at least allegedly, and at least at the time of the adoption, and not taking into account the finances and resources of extended family members). So there is a modicum of "benefit" in the removal of a child from his natural family to be placed with others. In cases of abuse of neglect, there is likewise a benefit involved.

However, the benefit is always a trade-off for a loss. A loss of connectivity, heredity, truth.

Today - adoption has become more and more about filling a demand for children. When adoption starts from this perspective, and those who work in the field put their efforts into searching out and finding children to meet a demand - where is the justification - the trade off - the benefit? And for whom? What about the livelihoods that rely on the redistrubition of children? Does the end justify the means?

Let's look back at the Romanain man, Dede, in the traveling circus. The circus owners spoke very proudly of how they were helping these deformed performers who had no other way to make a living. They were proud to say they were "helping" them, albeit while helping themselves far more!

Can one profit and help at the same time? SURELY! Doctors do, as do many others. But who are doctors "exploiting" while they earn a living helping?

These are questions each individual has to live with for him or herself. I, personally, could not sleep at night knowing that the food on my table was bought at the expense of the pain of another and salted with their tears. I could thus never be a baby matter how hard I tried to convince and others that I was "one of the best in the filed" and that i provided a service and helped people, no more than I could be a "kind" pimp or madam, and pat myself on the back for not beating my prostitutes physically or financially!

Troy Dunn and the idea of televised reunions brought all this to the forefront for me. Where do we do we draw the line? What constitutes exploitation? Can exploitation ever a good thing?

I have far more question than answers, but this idealist wishes that people could avoid all kinds of exploitation...that it just wasn't necessary. Wouldn't it be preferable if all the Dedes of the world could receive the financial support they needed without having to humiliate themselves for it? And not see a better still - if they had access to healthcare to cure their deformities!

Likewise, I dream of a world where no mother's poverty father's inability to provide for his family...are exploited by adoption, but rather those who truly care work to provide for families, not exploit or profit from, their neediness.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Classic Adoption Book - Out of print


Advocate Publications announces that “shedding light on...The Dark Side of Adoption” by M. Riben (1988) is no longer available for sale commercially on Amazon or any other outlets. It is officially out-of-print. The few remaining copies will be available for researchers and the like, on loan with a refundable deposit, or you can look for used copies online. Contact for loan details.

Riben, who more recently authored The Stork Market: America's Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry (2007) was recipient of “Outstanding Achievement Award to an Author” 1989 from People Searching News for "Dark Side", her first groundbreaking expose earned. It was excerpted in Utne Reader, Social Issues Review Series, and Macrocosm USA and hailed by all the experts in the field and.

"Riben's presentation of the facts of the experience of parents by birth of children given to adoption is important reading. For such a book to be written requires first obtaining the confidence of such parents, and then to present their experience in valid form. This Riben has been able to accomplish. It is an impressive achievement. Though painful to some to read, it is truth, rather than the pretense we are accustomed to relative to this complex subject."
Jean Paton, Founder and Coordinator, Orphan Voyage, and author of Orphan Voyage and Breaking Silence

"...a must read."
The American Adoption Congress

"A rare book that combines an authentic voice with a synthesis of facts and attitudes to further illuminate the complex world of adoption. Riben is sensitive, mature, realistic -- and a good writer."
Annette Baron, MSW, LCSW, co-author, The Adoption Triangle

"...challenges the commonly held idea that adoption is a winning solution for everyone...this book is to be recommended as one of the few available which balances the more usual happy-ending adoption stories with a birthparent's is recommended for those who prefer the truth, even if unpleasant, to unquestioned adoption mythology."
RESOLVE Newsletter

"A terrific is dynamic! I will be asking my members to...purchase your book...I am constantly rereading sections."
Parent Finders, Ontario

"Although not an easy book for an adoptive parent to read, this is certainly an important book for anyone striving to understand all sides of the adoption triangle. The good news (for adoptive parents) is that Riben is not slamming adoptive parents...her really big guns are leveled at The System. I recommend that adoptive parents read this book."
Gigi Wirtz, Families Adopting Children Everywhere (FACE)

"Very thoughtful because of deep commitment to preventing future agony...a powerful argument against sealed records."
Penny Partridge, Adoption Forum

"...painful, uncomfortable reading: The price we must pay to redeem all these little Lisas [Steinberg] out there."
Father Daniel Egan, author, The Junkie Priest

"Required reading for anyone who is serious about understanding all aspects of adoption and how we...can work together to effect positive change."
May Boyden, Adoption Resource Center of Children's Home Society of Washington

"Now at last, a book devoted to exploding the glowing NewSpeak myths in adoption and exposing its dark side to public view. Movement activists will undoubtedly find the book to be a useful resource..."
Carol Anderson, Concerned United Birthparents

"Without a doubt (shedding light on, . . The Dark Side of Adoption} has accomplished what (it) set out to do in revealing some little known, and often hidden sides of the adoption experience . . . We need adoption reform. We need to face this huge social issue. We need to be thought provoking even though it can be a painful process. Thank you for having the courage to spell it out in your clear-cut approach to the problems."
Carol F. Gustavson, Founder and President, Adoptive Parents for Open Records, Inc. (APFOR)

"shedding light on . . . The Dark Side of Adoption by Marsha Riben is a book long overdue. I commend the author for her stance and courage. .. If we as the adoption community are to humanize adoption and place it in its proper perspective we must unite in shedding light on... The Dark Side of Adoption.”
Emma May Vilardi, Founder and Director of International Soundex Reunion Registry.

"Is there really a 'dark side' to adoption? Marsha Riben's book very powerfully reveals the atrocities done in the name of adoption. Shedding light on . . .the Dark Side of Adoption will shock you, but when you’re through reading; you'll know you've. been given an honest account of the other side of adoption! A must for those working in the adoption field." ...” "A wonderful job of compiling the facts... a great resource tool...a MUST for those working in the adoption field."
Sandra Musser, Musser Foundation Director, Adoption Triangle Ministry and ALARM. Author of I Would Have Searched Forever and What Kind of Love is This?

"Inspiring...powerful...This book is a must."
Joe Soll, Council on Equal Rights in Adoption (CERA)

"Impressive piece of work -- reflects serious language and a format that is easy to read, enticing and interesting; informative and stunningly realistic."
Rachel Rivers, OASIS

"This book should be required reading for anyone who wishes to know the whole truth about adoption. The research is well-done, and the facts are presented in a clear yet passionate journalistic style that illuminates the complex and controversial issues of adoption abuses it explores. Adoption does have a dark side--that for too long has been hidden behind sentimentality, lies, mindless stereotypes, and the travesty of sealed adoption records. I love this book--for the courage of its birthmother author in writing it, and for the honest picture it gives of the less lovely side of one of our last "sacred cows", sealed record adoption. This is an excellent piece of scholarship and investigative journalism that deserves a much wider readership than it has had, both within and outside of the adoption reform movement. I am glad to see it here, and recommend it to all."
MaryAnne Cohen,



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