Why Rent When You Can Own?

Spotted on a phone pole right here in my very own town:

WE ARE A LOVING, MARRIED COUPLE PRAYING TO ADOPT A BABY. PLEASE CALL…

What caught my attention is that it was placed directly outside the local thrift shop that caters to in-need women and children. The underlying message: A well-off married couple is “better” at raising children than a single, in-need mother.

There is a crass elitism in the way adoption takes children from the less fortunate and sells them to the more fortunate. What a heartwarming holiday tale:

“Mommy, Daddy, how did you adopt me?”
“We put a sign on a phone pole.”

Maybe I should put up a sign of my own.

I AM A BITTER ADOPTED BASTARD PRAYING FOR AN END TO INFANT ADOPTION. VISIT MY BLOG AT 73ADOPTEE.BLOGSPOT.COM

The sign came down after only a day or two, removed by whom, I don’t know. What’s really depressing, there is undoubtedly some desperate, pregnant woman out there who will take them up on their offer, with all the unspoken hardships that entails for herself, her child, and the rest of their family–for eternity. Does anyone think a mother who winds up with these people will be objectively counseled on ALL her options? Or that an adoptee in this situation, if he or she is even told about being adopted, will have access to his/her records?

There is an infant adoption agency here in town, and no lack of adoption services in the adjoining area. Which means the people who posted this sign:

a) don’t have enough money for the preferred Healthy White Infant,
b) don’t have the connections for a gray- or black-market adoption,
c) have been rejected from the agencies (with or without cause),
d) all of the above.

So they’re going to take it into their own hands and get a baby by any means necessary. I know this tale because it happened to me. My adoptive parents tried to adopt at a time when Healthy White Infants like yours truly were at a premium. Rejected by the agencies, they went with the Good Ol’ Boy Network, adopting me via my adoptive father’s old college buddy, the delivery doctor. They had the money and influence these people presumably don’t, otherwise maybe the phone-pole tale would have been my “Chosen Child” story.

While I have nothing but sympathy for those who are not blessed with children, parenting is a privilege, not a right. Just because you want a baby doesn’t mean you are entitled to one. And this is why prospective adopters have a reputation in the adoption community for having an entitlement mentality. The scariest part of all is that many people would view these sign-posters as trying to HELP. When are folks going to realize that the way to help is to provide support to mothers, not take their children?

There are plenty of needy kids in this area who would love a mentor or friend. But that doesn’t convey the ownership of adoption, and you could end up with some disgruntled teen straight out of the Nebraska dumping grounds. Why rent when you can own?

Targeted For Adoption

It’s a dirty secret that children are targeted for adoption. This time it’s happening in my own backyard. Check out this story from the Chicago Tribune.

The lawsuit charges that authorities “tore a healthy and happy toddler from her innocent parents.” Then, it alleges, child welfare investigators “held the toddler hostage until the parents agreed to forfeit their constitutional rights to live without unwarranted restrictions.”

Two child welfare investigators and two Tinley Park police officers visited the Evans home and found her “safe and well-cared for,” the lawsuit said. Days later, DCFS social workers took the child from her parents for several hours.

The social workers then, according to the suit, threatened the parents with the continued custody of their daughter and placement in a shelter “unless they signed a so-called safety plan restricting their custodial rights.”

Note that the initial investigation found her “safe and well-cared for,” yet Illinois DCFS shows up days later to take the child. Also note the mention of a “safety plan restricting custodial rights,” because that’s how it begins. Once an allegation is made, no matter how wild, parents are considered guilty and are hard-pressed to prove otherwise.

Why target children for foster care and adoption? Because it’s lucrative, as explained in this article about babysnatching in Britain:

Meanwhile, millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been given to councils to encourage them to meet high Government targets on child adoptions… This sweeping shake-up was designed for all the right reasons: to get difficult-to-place older children in care homes allocated to new parents. But the reforms didn’t work. Encouraged by the promise of extra cash, social workers began to earmark babies and cute toddlers who were most easy to place in adoptive homes, leaving the more difficult-to-place older children in care.

The secrecy surrounding foster care and adoption works to the snatchers’ advantage. From the same article:

Crucially, the courts’ culture of secrecy means that if a social worker lies or fabricates notes or a medical expert giving evidence makes a mistake, no one finds out and there is no retribution… From the time a child is named on a social services care order until the day they are adopted, the parents are breaking the law – a crime punishable by imprisonment – if they tell anyone what is happening to their family. Anything from a chat with a neighbour to a letter sent to a friend can land them in jail. And many have found themselves sent to prison for breaching court orders by talking about their case.

Another example comes from Kentucky, where social worker whistleblowers accused the state’s Child Protective Services of pressuring birth families and staff to boost adoption rates. Further, those in positions of power were actually able to place orders for children:

The high-adoption trend apparently began in 2004, when adoptions in Kentucky ballooned to 724 while the federal bonus money more than doubled from $452,000 the previous year to more than $1 million.

“The Cabinet puts pressure on stats because federal and state money come from statistics,” said another social worker who wants her identity concealed for fear of retaliation against her family. “You get praised. The Cabinet praises you for terminating rights and adopting kids out immediately.”

She said the concerted effort to take children away and put them up for adoption was so brazen, she actually saw someone successfully place an order for children.

“Someone could not have a child and wanted a child so within the community,” the social worker said. “This person saw a family in distress, having a hard time, relayed to workers that they would like those children, and that’s exactly what has happened.”

And a former CPS supervisor, who also wants anonymity for fear of retaliation, said if an order for a child was delayed or denied, her supervisors would overturn local decisions.

“This one family was promised a child, and when it happened that this child was going to be reunified with the parent, they called our regional office, and our regional office came in our county and they harassed the birth parents and that kind of thing because they didn’t agree with our decision,” the former supervisor said.

There’s no guarantee that a child will be protected once in foster care. In a recent case in Georgia, the natural parents were scant weeks away from getting their child back when the foster caregiver let the girl suffocate in a van. One little boy named Donte May from Peoria, Illinois, is remembered only in a scattering of blog posts:

All wars have casualties, and the war against child abuse provides no exception. In the state of Georgia alone, 433 of our children have died while in the hands of the state over a period of some several recent years. Even a cursory review of recent press accounts reveals: In Peoria, Illinois, the state’s child welfare agency “rescues” Donte May from a neglectful and possibly abusive mother, only to place him in a foster home where he dies suspiciously from bleeding in the brain.

Of course, the canonical example of targeting children for adoption is the recent Texas “sect” case, in which officials were clamoring to adopt the kids out practically before they even raided the compound. And, as we all know, Texas was forced to return those kids. That’s the exception, not the rule.

Illinois DCFS has had a boatload of problems in the past, charged with failing to provide basic services and allowing negligence and abuse. And it appears to be common knowledge that Illinois DCFS targets children for adoption. Such targeting is more widespread than is generally believed, so much so that there are web sites and blogs dedicated to helping people fight false allegations and try to reclaim their kids.

I hope this lawsuit sheds light on this reprehensible practice, and that these families can find some healing after such horrific experiences.

“Safe Haven” Laws Destroy Adoptee Identities

Questions are a burden to others. Answers are a prison for oneself.
— The Prisoner

There is a war going on over the identities of adoptees, under the guise of so-called “safe haven” laws. Take a look at this position paper from Bastard Nation, plus this impressive analysis courtesy of Baby Love Child. As Dave Barry says, no, I am not making this up. “Safe haven” laws are designed to destroy kids’ identities in order to fast-track them into the adoption market.

Please go read BLC’s analysis. Here’s what she has to say (from her blog posts on the Nebraska situation):

There is no ‘fixing’ these laws. Even should it be modified to apply only to “newborns” (define and prove that one…) or kids in ‘imminent danger’ (again proving that one will be no end of tricky) it will STILL deny infants their identity, circumvent all best practices in child welfare and adoption, and create a class of kids relinquished in a ‘paperfree’ manner.

After all, how can one have open records when there are no records to get?

(Now these boys [the tweens/teens dumped in Nebraska] being less than desirable adoption fodder, what with being termed ‘unruly juveniles’ and all, odds are pretty slim they’d be finding a new adoptive home within the week. Young, cute, and perhaps less verbal dumplings on the other hand, are in high demand, with phone calls coming in wanting to adopt almost from the first mention on many local newscasts.)

[T]he unseen and often unvoiced full horror of the law is that it intentionally encourages legalizes child abandonment AND effectively works to short circuit the fundamental identity rights of adoptees.

Do you know why international adoption is so popular? Because it’s less likely that adoptive parents will have to deal with the birth family. And what’s happening right now? Foreign countries are closing their doors to U.S. prospective adopters, and the adoption reform movement is making strides in opening records. What to do? Create a domestic subset of legally relinquished, guaranteed tabula-rasa children prime for adoption. Presto! Restock the supply chain, reassure customers, get rid of the nay-sayers, and give the politicans good election-year campaign material, all at the same time. “Safe havens” are a safe bet, politically, because it’s for the children, and you’re not against helping children, are you?

As for the lack of paperwork, baby dump advocates call it “non-bureaucratic placement.” And ANY person who has custody of the kid can dump, no questions asked. One of the Nebraska tweens was legally abandoned by his aunt. Imagine this: somebody gets ticked at you, swipes your kid and dumps him/her at a “designated safe haven.” We all know (from the recent Texas “sect” case, and elsewhere) that once a kid is in the foster care system, it’s damn near impossible without money and influence to get that kid back. As a parent, your rights are now zero. And as an adoptee, that child-turned-adult’s rights will also be zero. They won’t have any sealed records to open because no records will exist. How convenient for adopters like these who refuse to acknowledge that adoptees had lives and families prior to adoption.

Baby dump laws should be repealed. They’re not about saving kids, they’re a new twist on perpetuating the same old secretive system. Adoption should be rare and as transparent as possible. If we really want to save kids, we must protect their rights until they are adults and able to speak for themselves.

La La La, I Can’t Hear You!

A colleague recently directed me to a blog by a prospective adoptive parent, containing a post discussing politics and adoption. The author of the blog made the following remark in the comments:

I also think that by feeling that you have a right to know your bio parents you violate the rights of the bio parents who do not want to be named. Why do your rights supercede theirs?

I posted a followup comment, which was not approved for publication:

Why do their rights (or yours, for that matter) supercede ours?

She has moderation for comments turned on (as do I, to avoid spam comments), which is fine. I don’t particularly care that she didn’t post my comment, except I know a couple other people who attempted to post similar opinions, and the next thing you know, this is her next post:

WARNING
IF YOU DO NOT AGREE WITH THIS BLOG THEN STOP READING IT. NO ONE IS FORCING YOU TO READ IT

And this is exactly what we mean when we talk about the entitlement mentality of some adopters and prospective adopters.

There are some people out there who just don’t want to accept that birth relatives and adoptees have their own experiences with adoption, and that those experiences are not always positive. No one wants to admit that birth relatives and adoptees grieve, that adoption isn’t 100% happy-fuzzy. Any attempts to have an actual conversation with such people are pointless. They will immediately put their hands over their ears and refuse to hear a single word.

To the author of the aforementioned blog, I would like to ask what you’re so afraid of. Yes, talking about these aspects of adoption is a yucky business, but if you don’t clean the wound it’s going to fester. And I can GUARANTEE you, if you maintain this attitude after adopting, you will do nothing but alienate the person you adopt. The adorable child you are so eager to hold is going to turn into a damn angry adult or, dare I say, bastard, who will want to know why the people he/she called “parents” refused to acknowledge that grief.

And I’ve had this conversation with adopters before. The best of them say, “Really? I’ve never talked to an adult adoptee/birth relative before. What’s your experience? Why didn’t you like it? What can I do to make things better if I adopt?” They may be afraid, angry, bitter or confused, but the one quality they share is the ability to put aside their own feelings to listen to another’s perspective. And that is a critical quality for anyone thinking of adopting a child.

Here’s a warning of my own. If you don’t want to hear what adoptees and birth relatives really think, don’t blog about adoption–and certainly don’t adopt.

Adoption Stereotypes-Bring Your Twelve-Sided Dice!

I’ve talked before about the stereotypes we find in adoption. Today I’m going to lay them out, Dungeons and Dragons style, so we can see what they really reveal.

  • THE PERPETUAL CHILD

    Strength: None
    Intelligence: None
    Charisma: None
    Weapon: None
    Armor: None

    The Perpetual Child is an NPC (non-player character) that anyone can control. You can easily obtain one at any tavern, inn, or local gnome’s lair. They’re worth a fortune to the seller, but their only power is the Spell Of Assuaging Guilt In Adoptive Families.

  • THE CRAZY ADOPTEE

    Strength: 18
    Intelligence: More than expected
    Charisma: None-adoptees are insignificant
    Weapon: Wand Of Searching
    Armor: Shield Of Origin

    The Crazy Adoptee (also called the Searching Adoptee) lurks inside every Perpetual Child, and emerges when the glow from the Warm Fuzzy Orb Of Adoption fades. Any questions about adoption can bring on the transformation, so if you see an adoptee begin to ask about his or her origins, better run ’em out of town before they turn, like werewolves, into Crazy Adoptees!

  • THE STALKER ADOPTEE

    Strength: 18 (+20 in Berserker mode)
    Intelligence: 18 (-5 when dealing with Reputable Adoption Agencies)
    Charisma: None
    Weapon: Vorpal Sword Of Original Birth Certificate Access
    Armor: Elven Chain Mail Of Ingratitude

    Eventually Crazy Adoptees become Stalker Adoptees, haunting the shady dens of late-night news and made-for-TV movies. Obsessed with search, the Stalker Adoptee pursues any avenue to track down and harass blood relatives. They thirst for birth names, and hunger for unconditional records access. The worst ones (“Bastards”) can be found hunkered behind blogs, screaming their misshapen notions at the world.

  • THE STALKER BIRTH RELATIVE

    Strength: None-birth relatives have no power
    Intelligence: Not as much as Kind Social Workers
    Charisma: -1
    Weapon: Crossbow Of Determination
    Armor: Blood Ties

    Like the Stalker Adoptee, the Stalker Birth Relative can be found seeking the dark recesses of reality television and horror movies. Stalker Birth Relatives prey primarily on Loving Adoptive Families, eagerly awaiting a chance to snatch away a Perpetual Child (or at least turn them into Crazy Adoptees).

  • THE BIRTH MOTHER PROMISED “CONFIDENTIALITY”

    Strength: -1
    Intelligence: None (or so the Reputable Adoption Agencies assume)
    Charisma: -1
    Weapon: The Mother-Child Bond
    Armor: Shield of Ablative Motherhood, rusted

    The Birth Mother desires privacy at all costs, and will immediately hide in her shell should a Perpetual Child or Crazy Adoptee appear. At the sight of a Stalker Adoptee she will scream, siren-like: “I was promised confidentiality!” to every legislator and Reputable Adoption Agency within hearing. She has never regretted her decision and has been able to move forward with her life just as the Kind Social Workers promised.

  • THE SLACKER BIRTH FATHER

    Strength: 20
    Intelligence: Neanderthal
    Charisma: 12 (+30 to Birth Mothers)
    Weapon: Broadsword Of Virility
    Armor: A Wink And A Nudge

    All Birth Fathers are Slackers. They abandon Birth Mothers and could care less about the Perpetual Children they sire. None of them ever offered support, and none of them wish to know adoptees, crazy, stalker, or otherwise.

  • THE KIND SOCIAL WORKER

    Strength: 18
    Intelligence: 10
    Charisma: 18 (+20 with Reputable Adoption Agency)
    Weapon: Rogue’s Dagger Of Half-Truths
    Armor: Cloak Of Concealment

    The Kind Social Worker will gladly take that Perpetual Child off your hands. She is smiling, cheerful, and full of wise sayings, like “Most birth mothers forget” and “Children deserve two-parent homes.” Like the eyestalk of a Dalek, the Kind Social Worker has one weakness: she is vulnerable in the face of Pregnant Women Who Educate Themselves About Adoption. But if you give her your Perpetual Child, she’ll disappear in a blink.

  • THE REPUTABLE ADOPTION AGENCY

    Strength: 50
    Intelligence: Less than estimated
    Charisma: 50
    Weapon: Adoption Stereotypes
    Armor: Gauntlets Of Wealth

    The Reputable Adoption Agency has everyone’s best interests at heart. They’re a charity, in case you can’t tell from the gold-painted walls, and they would never do anything so horrible as deal with known baby brokers or offer children whose parental rights were terminated illegally.

  • THE LOVING ADOPTIVE FAMILY

    Strength: Taken by infertility
    Intelligence: Minimal near Kind Social Workers and Reputable Adoption Agencies
    Charisma: See Strength
    Weapon: The Promise Of A Better Life
    Armor: Plate Mail Of Public Opinion

    All adoptive families are Loving, if you missed the brochure. Adoptive parents are screened to make sure they aren’t pedophiles or murderers. They always tell Perpetual Children and Crazy Adoptees the truth about adoption, even when it conflicts with their own desires.

See, isn’t it fun playing the Adoption Game? Let’s keep playing before the Thought Police come to take away our Player’s Handbooks and painted miniatures.

Adoptee Is Not In My Spell Checker

Whenever I write about adoption, my computer reminds me that adoptees do not exist.

According to my spell checker, that is. As I write this I can see three wavy red lines telling me that two instances of “adoptee” are unknown. Oops, there’s a third. I know, I could add the word to my spell checker, but that’s not the point. Adoptees are so disenfranchised by our society that the only word that describes us does not exist in spell check software.

Adoption language is loaded. Considering how adoptees are not societally permitted to mourn what we have lost, we sure get a lot of grief from people who have no idea what it’s like. While we’re still young and cute we are “gifts,” or as they said in my era, “chosen children”. As teenagers we become “troublesome,” “rebellious,” “bad seeds.” Or maybe we’re “quiet,” “reserved,” perhaps “antisocial.” It’s hard to be social when all your social clues are stolen, when you’re an untethered ship floating at random across hostile seas. While we are “chosen,” we are also expected to be “perfect” – the perfect solution to someone else’s desires. If we search for our roots, we are deemed “in need of therapy.” And if we express outrage at the systems which have sealed our records and denied our existence, we are lashed with the word “ungrateful.”

Ungrateful: every adoptee’s favorite loaded word.

No, I am NOT grateful I was adopted. I hate being adopted. (Oooh, collective gasp from the unsuspecting! But the adoptees saw it coming.) I hated growing up looking in the mirror at a face that had no reflection in the world around me. I despise the fact that my children are the only biological relatives I have ever met. Think about that for a minute – the first and only birth kin I know are my own kids. Do you get how utterly whacked that is? Yet adoptees are expected to suffer in silence, without even a single word to describe who we are.

Let’s not leave out our blood relatives. “Birth mother” is in the spell checker only as separate words – “birth” being an unnecessary adjective to describe “mother.” Our society, thanks to the adoption industry, places a modifer on mothers who surrender as a way of de-humanizing these women, making it harder to empathize with their experiences. There are other terms – first mother, natural mother, bio-mother – but the truth is, these women are mothers. That they do not raise their children (and many were not given a choice) is irrelevant. You wouldn’t catch most adoptive parents referring to themselves as adoptive parents – in fact most of them are insistent to the point of hysteria that they are parents, no modifier. Loaded language saps the strength of surrendering parents, and completely dismisses their trauma and grief.

Loaded language applies to adoptive parents, too. They are showered with praise – “rescuers,” “good Christians” – implying that they are somehow doing us adoptees a favor. As I said before, there wouldn’t be a market for infants if there weren’t willing consumers, and what child wants to be raised apart from his or her parents? Why did I need rescuing from a mother whose only fault was being pregnant and unwed during the Baby Scoop Era? Now there’s a phrase you won’t find in common dictionaries. Worst of all, adoptive parents use loaded language on their adopted children. “You’re Mommy and Daddy’s gift” puts enormous pressure on an adopted child, who is all too aware that unwanted gifts get returned. To be a “chosen child,” one must first be un-chosen.

Some of us have “chosen” (ha!) to load our own language. “Bastard” is a badge I’m happy to wear. I’d rather be an honest bastard than a brainwashed perpetual adopted “child,” though it took me years to realize the brainwashing had even occurred. Now I know adoption is, as Douglas Adams might put it, one great big joojooflop situation. Adoptees don’t have to be grateful, and we sure as hell don’t need therapy.

What needs therapy is the adoption industry itself. Give it a shot of Ritalyn and a couple of Prozac pills, then pat it on the head and let it sleep. Maybe when it wakes up, it will have founds its moral backbone.

If You Think Baby Selling Doesn’t Happen

This latest news from the AP only confirms what we’ve known has been going on in Guatemala and other countries for years, if not decades. And no, this is not an isolated incident – the only thing isolated about it is the fact that it’s being reported.

This article might be better titled, “Stolen Baby Linked To U.S. Adoption Market,” but that doesn’t go over so well with editorial boards, advertisers, and readers. After all, to say that there is anything wrong with the U.S. adoption system is tantamount to treason.

But nothing like this could happen domestically, right? Sorry, but the game is played everywhere. Check out this story from Kentucky last year.

Yum, nothing like terminating a parent’s rights without cause in order to grab those juicy federal adoption subsidies. How do these people sleep at night? There are similar cases occuring in Britain as we speak.

Then, you might want to read what a self-proclaimed Senior Mother (what others might call a “birth mother”) has to say about it.

And while we’re at it, let’s ask some adoptees, particularly transracial adoptees who might have just a bit to say about the impact of removing a child from his/her country of origin. (You think?! How come nobody ever asks the adoptees?)

Somewhere in the world, right now, a baby is being stolen, leaving a family in grief. All infant adoption is stealing – from the family of origin, and from the adoptee. Instead of promoting this twisted scheme, we should focus on supporting all mothers, regardless of social level or ethnicity.

If you’re considering adoption, ask yourself if you really want to continue the flesh trade of infant adoption. There wouldn’t be a market for it if there weren’t willing consumers. Mentor a child or volunteer – but please don’t expect that adopting a juvenile, but nonetheless human, being is going to solve your problems. And recognize that infant adoption is very, very different from foster care adoption, when parental rights have (one hopes) been terminated only because no other choice remains.

I hope you’ll remember:

Adoption is about finding a home for a child who needs one, not finding a child for parents who want one.
and

Parenting is a privilege, not a right.