Targeted For Adoption II

Don’t drive through Texas if you want to keep your kids.

According to the Chicago Tribune that’s the message being sent by a small Texas town, where cops are alleged to have racially profiled motorists, telling them they had to forfeit their cash, possessions, and even their children.

[T]he police seized $6,037 that Boatright [one of the motorists] said the family was carrying to purchase a used car—and then threatened to turn their children, ages 10 and 1, over to Child Protective Services if the couple didn’t agree to sign over their right to their cash.

“It was give them the money or they were taking our kids,” Boatright said. “They suggested that we never bring it up again. We figured we better give them our cash and get the hell out of there.”

Several months later, after Boatright and her husband contacted an attorney, Tenaha officials returned their money but offered no explanation or apology. The couple remain plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit.”

I’ve blogged before about children targeted for adoption by social workers and others in authority. This article makes me wonder if there was some sweet deal between the police and CPS, or if the cops were simply using the time-honored tactic of bullying people by threatening their children. Either way it’s abhorrent. We all know once CPS (or whatever they’re called in your state) gets involved, parents are guilty and have little recourse however wild or unfounded the allegations. Which I’m sure was exactly why those motorists surrendered their money to the cops instead of their kids. Who wouldn’t? I’m just glad they’re taking their case public to demonstrate the sorts of atrocities that too often happen behind the scenes. I also wonder if we are seeing an uptick in this sort of behavior given the economy, the federal funds behind adoption subsidies, and the pretty penny to be made adopting infants. In this case I’m guessing they’d have bunted the 10-year-old to foster care in order to snatch the more marketable 1-year-old sibling. Sounds like Nebraska.

SECA: Stop Encouraging Child Abandonment

I hope you will all take a moment to visit the new SECA web site, and thanks to the folks who put this together.

(Please distribute freely, keeping links intact.)

Last Friday, December 5th, 2008, the SECA web-page finally went live. (http://www.stopdumpingkids.com/)

SECA, short for “Stop Encouraging Child Abandonment,” is a concept that has been a long time coming.

From the first of the legalized child abandonment laws passed in 1999 until now, efforts to repeal and stop the dump laws have suffered from a lack of an alliance dedicated to focusing primarily on the issue.

Before SECA, responses to dump laws had been piecemeal, portions of existing organizations’ broader missions. Over the years numerous organizations have opposed and testified against the legalization of child abandonment, and individuals have contacted legislators and worked against legalized child dumping. But, there had been no one place dedicated to dismantling the evolving child abandonment infrastructure.

Thus, SECA has finally been created.

Stop Encouraging Child Abandonment works toward nothing less than the full and permanent repeal of laws that legalize child abandonment.

We feel it is not the proper role of any government to encourage child abandonment as policy.

We approach this work firmly grounded in a human/civil/identity rights perspective. We support kids, women, and reproductive autonomy.

The need for SECA had become apparent over the past nine years, but the child welfare crisis in Nebraska with its law legalizing the abandonment of older children finally made it clear to the broader public, a formalized response to legalized child dumping is necessary.

Since the beginning, the consequences of such laws have been clear to those of us “in the field.” With bills rushed through state legislatures and policy and legal criticisms by and large dismissed, the general public simply never had reason to even think about the consequences of “safe haven” laws. Most people had never heard the voice of a kid who had been legally dumped. They had never seen the desperation of mothers and families utilizing the legalized abandonment laws.

Nebraska changed everything.

Nebraska’s older kid dumps, and the state’s eventual age down of eligible dumpees from 18-year olds to those 30 days and younger has solved nothing. It has merely attempted to put off dealing with the inevitable consequences “safe haven” laws create until the infants abandoned under the new law grow old enough to speak for themselves.

The child welfare abandonment disaster across the United States, legalized everywhere except Washington DC., is far from over. It is just beginning.

Out of that context, SECA was born, not so much a formal organization, for now more of a collective voice of allies, organizations, bloggers, and individuals among others working together towards the repeal of the dump laws.

If you are interested in working against the legalized child abandonment laws, or already are, SECA can serve as a resource in that work.

We can be contacted through the SECA contact page.

Repeal Nebraska “Safe Haven” Law

Please contact Nebraska legislators and urge them to repeal LB157, the so-called “safe haven” dump law that has allowed over forty non-infant children (including those not counted in the official tally) to be legally abandoned. This bill may be voted upon as early as TOMORROW, so please write asap.

“Safe haven” laws purport to “save” kids, but as the Bastard Nation testimony (pdf) states, abandonment is no solution to the problem of families in need.

I speak as an adoptee and victim of the sort of law they are proposing, one that divides these kids into haves and have-nots based on arbitrary dates. I strongly urge Nebraska lawmakers to repeal LB157 in favor of legislation that provides support for keeping families together instead of more fodder for the adoption machine.

This is the Bastard Nation press release. And I’d like to send out a kudos to them for going to bat for these kids, yet another generation of disenfranchised adoptees.

PRESS RELEASE
NOVEMBER 18, 2008

BASTARD NATION TO NEBRASKA:
REPEAL LB 157!
STOP CHILD DUMPING NOW!
AND DON’T BRING IT BACK!

CONTACT: Marley Greiner, 614-571-2999 or MEGreiner@gmail.com

Nebraska had it right the first time. It was the last state to pass a “safe haven” law. Nebraska can be the first to repeal this misbegotten law before any more families are harmed or even destroyed. Nebraska can lead the rest of the country in dragging itself out of this moral quagmire.
Bastard Nation Testimony, Nebraska Judiciary Committee,
November 17, 2009

Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization yesterday called for the permanent repeal of Nebraska’s LB 157, which permits anyone to abandon any child of any age at a licensed hospital in the State of Nebraska. The special session of the Nebraska Unicameral was called this week to revise the age limit on children eligible for abandonment, is looking at two bills, LB 1 and LB 3.

Bastard Nation believes that dumping a child of any age is no solution to social isolation, fear, family dysfunction, and mental illness. The problems of parents, whether they are a frightened 15-year old mom of a newborn or a 55-year old grandpa caring for a mentally ill grandson, are very real, and they cannot and should not be solved by a quick fix, no-muss-no-fuss government–facilitated and promoted child dumping program.

In testimony submitted to the Judiciary Committee, urging repeal and renunciation of child dumping in Nebraska, Bastard Nation said:

Aging down LB 157 does nothing to change the message that it is OK to dump your child. By continuing to promote child abandonment at any age, the message will remain: it’s OK to dump your child.

Rejecting the idea that older child abandonment is traumatic, but newborn and infant abandonment harmless since newborns will have no memory or relationship with their families, Bastard Nation testified:

Apparently memory and articulation is what makes one class of dump “ethical” and “good” and the other not.

“Nine years ago, we warned that once these laws became institutionalized, they would be normalized,” says Bastard Nation executive chair, Marley Greiner. “Bad social policy for newborns and their families has now become bad social policy for all families. Nebraska is the culmination of bad practice.”

Greiner explains that the contemporary baby dump movement is a reaction to ongoing reforms in adoption, including the right of adopted persons to access their original birth records, putative fathers’ rights, and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) which gives tribal rights under certain circumstances, to children being placed for adoption. The conservative adoption trade lobby, the National Council for Adoption, where the ‘safe haven” concept originated, has stated specifically that “safe havens” are a response to the restoration of the right of adoptees to access their original birth records and identities. State facilitated baby dumps,” Bastard Nation says, “are nothing more than a return to secret adoption and sealed records.”

The testimony continues:

In the last few years, baby dumping, encouraged by the government, has become “just another option,” for parents who might otherwise seek out services that would assist them to keep their children, place them in temporary fostercare while they worked out their problems, or place them for adoption in a traditional informed process. Baby dumping, they are told, is easier.

In some states, the age of children eligible for dumping has edged up and drop-off sites have increased to make the process more “convenient” How-to-abandon your baby units are mandated in the curriculum of several states. There has been a steady increase in “drive-by relinquishments” by parents who have no intention of ever harming their children, but are looking for an easy way out or simply don’t know better, while the rate of dangerous discard and neonaticide remain the same.

Testimony cited a 2005 study done by the adoption reform group, California Open, based on a survey of county coroners the group did through pubic records requests that indicated that since the passage of California’s “safe haven” law, the rate of neonaticide has remained a steady 13-15 per year.

Nebraska has no newborn abandonment “crisis” Greiner says. Since 1996, 5 discarded newborns have been found alive (2-3 in relatively safe locations) and 1 found dead from unknown causes

The real problem, she says, is the failure of the state to deliver mental health care and other services to Nebraska families. Although services seem to exist on paper, the parents and guardians of many of the children turned in under LB 157 are vocal about their inability to access them, and see the legal child dumping of LB 157, as the only way that they can get help. “The state is taking broken kids and breaking them some more by tossing them into a safe haven hole. Make them better with repeated abandonments. This absolutely must stop.”

No child should be abandoned. Nebraska’ plan to divvy up children by age, into those worthy and those unworthy of abandonment protection is not acceptable nor best practice. Aging down to 30 days or some other arbitrary age creates a new set of abandoned children and their families who will suffer lifelong consequences.

For more information see Bastard Nation’s testimony at: http://www.bastards.org/bn-nebraska-testimony.pdf

Also see Children of the Corn: Reporting, Theory, and Writing on Nebraska Child Dumping, a one-stop source of information regarding LB 157. http://cornkids.blogspot.com

Bastard Nation is dedicated to the recognition of the full human and civil rights of adult adoptees. Toward that end, we advocate the opening to adoptees, upon request at age of majority, of those government documents which pertain to the adoptee’s historical, genetic, and legal identity, including the unaltered original birth certificate and adoption decree. Bastard Nation asserts that it is the right of people everywhere to have their official original birth records unaltered and free from falsification, and that the adoptive status of any person should not prohibit him or her from choosing to exercise that right. We have reclaimed the badge of bastardy placed on us by those who would attempt to shame us; we see nothing shameful in having been born out of wedlock or in being adopted. Bastard Nation does not support mandated mutual consent registries or intermediary systems in place of unconditional open records, nor any other system that is less than access on demand to the adult adoptee, without condition, and without qualification

Babies Do Remember: Repeal “Safe Haven” Laws

See my Adoption BEWareness Month blog for details on my November mission: exposing the things people don’t want to admit about adoption.

Before we begin, please read both Bastardette’s and Baby Love Child’s ongoing coverage of the Nebraska crisis and “safe haven” laws. They have done an excellent job of sorting through the chaff to find the real nuggets of truth in this crisis.

Later this week, Nebraska plans to age down their “safe haven” law, which has been used to dump at least 30 kids (not infants), some across state lines, some who were adopted and whose adoptive parents couldn’t “handle” it anymore. All trashed like unwanted toasters in their time of need.

Aging down safe haven laws does NOT make them right.

The argument behind limiting Nebraska’s law to newborns is the same as the thinking in other states, as expressed by Nebraska’s Governor:

The Nebraska law has had “serious, unintended consequences,” Gov. Dave Heineman said. “This law needs to be changed to focus on infants.”

And “safe haven” advocate/nutter Tim Jaccard is quoted as saying:

A national expert on safe-haven laws commended Nebraska officials for moving to impose an age limit, but he said action should be taken now to prevent older children from receiving the scars of abandonment.

“It affects children,” said Tim Jaccard, president of the National Safe Haven Alliance. “When children are older they have the ability to understand what’s going on and they’re thinking, ‘Mommy and Daddy don’t want me anymore, so they’re throwing me in a hospital.’ That’s a psychological blow.”

And it’s not for a baby? Somehow, we are still living with the myth that “infants don’t remember.”

Thirty-odd years ago, I was a Healthy White Infant whose mother made what today would be called an “adoption plan.” She sought out a kind doctor who gladly helped her through her pregnancy and birth. (Gladly, I’m sure, for whatever my adoptive parents paid for my gray-market self.) The assumption was, since I was adopted at birth, I would not remember.

The hell I don’t.

My entire life has been overshadowed by the trauma that I experienced when I was an infant. I missed my mother desperately as a child (still do), although I was repeatedly told I didn’t remember her. But my adoptive mother smelled wrong. She acted in ways I couldn’t fathom, and vice versa. My adoptive father said at my christening that “oil and water don’t mix.” I was a month old; presumably I was acting in a way contradictory to good little tabula rasa infants, like pushing away and crying. Nobody bothered to consider that I might have been traumatized by being adopted. Today, I still suffer the consequences.

So do my children. They’re biological, so I know from personal experience what being pregnant is like and the communication that exists pre-birth. My kids and I definitely knew each other at birth–why wouldn’t we? We had been intimately linked for nine months. As newborns, my children could discern me, their mother, from other people. They knew my scent and my voice. If they had been taken from me they damn well would have borne the scars of it. And they, too, have been deprived of their family origins because they have the unfortunate luck to be the offspring of a Bastard.

Adoption is not a one-time event, it has lifelong, generational consequences. So does being abandoned in the name of “safe haven” laws.

There is so much scientific research today about newborns, yet “safe haven” advocates and sealed-records supporters would have you believe that infants don’t remember. I find particularly disturbing the dichotomy between the new-parent materials I received when pregnant (“Play Mozart in the womb for mathematical prowess!”), what I was told as an adoptee (“You were too young to know the difference”), and what we are being told now about safe haven laws (“If they’re babies they won’t feel abandoned”).

Pushing back the age limit on “safe haven” laws does nothing other than render mute those who are most affected by it. Eighteen years will pass before “safe havened” infants can speak their minds. Speaking as someone who quite easily could have been “safe havened” had such laws existed when I was born, I can tell you that abandonment at any age is trauma with no cure.

But why don’t you ask those “safe havened” kids themselves, the ones who are old enough to voice an immediate opinion? One of them posted this on his MySpace page:

**choose me** Im so damn lonley.

We must protect the children who cannot speak for themselves, or whose words are disregarded. Repeal “safe haven” laws!