Thursday, March 06, 2008

No Room For Diplomacy

With so many factions dividing the original family preservation activism movement, it seems that the old arts of tact and diplomacy have been tossed out the window. This has become such a self-serving society that a lot of people have forgotten that any movements forward in any cause happened when people were able to put aside their differences and work together.

I fear that the integrity of the entire endeavor has been lost in a quagmire of who's right and who's wrong and who wants the spotlight and who can't tolerate whom. Swirling around in this gigantic eddy, trying hard to keep its head above water, the fight for action leading to justice for mothers of adoption loss, especially those of the BSE, is going down and no one is listening to anyone who would throw out a lifeline.

The BSE is a part of all mothers of adoption loss, those from that era and those that came afterwards. During the BSE, the guidelines and strategies were formed that have led to the power the industry holds today and the social mythology and attitude towards adoption as one of the ultimate "good things" and the relegation of mothers to the pit of "birth"motherhood. Unless the injustices of the BSE are addressed, acknowledged and atoned for, we are just in for generations and generations more of the same old shit. At my age, I ain't gonna mince words.

There is no one "voice," no one heroine for the mothers of adoption loss. We are all experts in this field and we all have our voices. There is no rule that says we have to have it all one way or the other. There is no way that what we might present would be totally perfect, every "i" dotted and every "t" crossed, and no one person owns the BSE. We are all capable of doing research and reaching out for an ear in our government. I have written letters to editors and to congressional representatives and senators and even adoption agencies until my fingers are raw. I have begged and pled with young moms not to fall into the trap that was set by the early eugenicists and our silence. Some I have helped and other have fallen into the abyss.

Yes, I'm frustrated, confounded, disappointed, angry, and, increasingly, hopeless. That doesn't mean I am giving up, but it does mean that I don't count on others to do what I have to do myself and I, most surely, won't be enough to get the job done, alone. When it comes to diplomacy, I have failed, miserably. I will do better to back away from that self-appointed position (kinda arrogant of me to try to take it on in the first place) and try to figure out where to go, next. Sisters, I don't love you all, but I do love most of you, like many of you and can tolerate...well...MOST of the rest. The thing is that, unless you are trying to place absolutes on the rest of us, then I can work with any of you. We don't have to be bosom buds to do that.


Suz said...

Robin - I respect your writing, your voice and you commitment. I ask this following question with the utmost respect as I see it (from my perspective as a younger mother) as a source of the problem.

Can you explain to me (again) why the BSE era is "especially". Why is their wound greater, their needs more important, etc.

I seriously dont mean this rudely or with any intent to disrepect or mimimize my BSE sisters. I dont need you to quote numbers, cultural norms, etc. I know those. I am still missing something even with that knowledge.

The reason I ask this is becuase from my perspective it is often the BSE moms that cause that division. Its like a "me first" attitude. Apologize to us BSE first and then we will deal with the rest of the problem. To me, this singles out a group of people and validates them but does not address the real problem. Am I missing something?

Will a blanket apology and recogntion of the BSE horrors change the larger landscape?

Again, please dont shoot me, I am trying to understanding something I clearly dont.

My view is the focus should be on the moms as a whole, the attrocities as a whole (with due mention to the signficance of the BSE era) yet so many seem to put greater important on BSE exclusively.

When faced with a BSE sister who tells me she is more hurt, more woudned, more important than me, I am ass becuase I should have learned from her (well, duh, where were you sister in 1986 when I was locked away, maybe i would have) or than the movement as whole, I am flustered and discouraged.

If we, as mothers, pull rank among each other, and dont respect each other as equals, how will the world ever do that?

Robin said...

It's not a matter of pulling rank or being more hurt or any of that. It is the time factor and the fact that, whether anyone wants to acknowledge it or not, the social climate was much more punitive and, therefore, different. I am afraid that I am going to die before I see any justice for the wholesale flesh trade that was visited on us during that time. It led to what happened to you and to others and I am not on either "side." I just want what all of the other women I know, bar one, want and that is to recognize that there was a form of a eugenics-holocaust during our youth and, as we approach the time of our death, there must be some reckoning. As long as we are not acknowledged, the beat will go on. We are not the Borg and we should not be expected to be absorbed into the collective. A BSE sister that said that to you was not very kind or correct and that reflects badly on the rest of us old gals.

Suz said...

So do you think a public apology, government recognition of the BSE horror will change, stop adoption as it is today or will it address the pain of BSE mothers, make them feel better, but make adoption continue as is?

And thank you for answering me.

Robin said...

Actually, Suz, Yes. I believe that it will raise awareness to such a degree that the general public will be re-thinking adoption as it was and is and will make it easier to place more regulations and restrictions on the industry until it folds or completely changes. And I believe it, wholeheartedly.

Eugenics is something that is done is this country but to which no one want to admit being a party. And the eugenics of the BSE was MASSIVE. This can make people ask a lot of the right questions, questions that have never been asked in a large, public forum. Someone in power is keeping the psychiatric studies of adoptees and the aftermath of surrender on mothers in a low-key milieu and most of the general public doesn't even know that these studies and stats exist.

I believe there is not a BSE Mom still alive that is not praying for justice for herself. If we get that, then future generations will have a better idea of what to avoid and what the consequences of such a repressive society and attitudes can be. This is the kind of society that the far right and the "Christian" Coalition are trying to revive.

And like I said....time is running

This is my conviction and I have debated it enough and argued it enough and nothing anyone has said has or will change that conviction.

And if this had been anyone else but you, Suz, I don't know that I would have bothered to explain myself this thoroughly.

Burfmuggle said...

What is the difference with BSE mothers? Let me find a comparison.. Consider the discriminatory practices against the population of black people prior to the Civil Rights Act and the discriminatory practices against the current population of black people post the Civil Rights Act. Of course discrimination still exists for this population of people in America. But would you not agree that the black population was more severely discriminated against prior to the Civil Rights Act? Maybe not a great comparison..but I think eludes a bit to the discrimination against BSE mothers.

And what was I doing in 1986? Still hiding in the closet of shame, guilt and regret, very involved in a deeply marred marriage, attending therapy twice a week to work thru my own suffering of childhood abuses, attending Al-anon meetings several nights a week, raised daughter pregnant and not married (by the way that wonderful baby boy will soon be 21 yrs of age!), working and trying to keep 2 teen-age sons in line as much as possible, that is what I was doing in 1986. Adoption stuff wasn't even on my radar! I had completely suppressed as deep as I possibly could the memories surrounding the loss of my firstborn to adoption, for basic survival. The Dreamer would begin the first subtle awakenings around 1989-1990. I would then search and find my daugher in 1999, meeting a most angry 34 yr old daughter who was not thanking me for surrendering her to adoption, as I was 'promised' she would do when I was the ripe old age of 18. Life has this nasty little habit of getting in the way of many things...even all things related to adoption. Maybe not for all, but it surely did for me.

I have also read that some older mothers have even taken on this 'guilt trip' for the younger mothers..that we are to blame for the younger moms losing their babies to adoption, because we didn't speak up and out with Full Voice. Well this is one Ole Mom..that definitely will not take that huge burden on. I have enough 'guilt trips' to deal with, of my own making, in my own personal life, for at least 2 more lifetimes. much more are we old mothers to be blamed for?? Anyway...just my very old burfmuggle opinion!! for whatever it's worth.

Robin said...

Good points, barfmuggle. I don't think I am so much on a "guilt trip" as I wish that I had awakened long before I did. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. Like you, I awoke during the late 80's and broke out of that brainwashing with a bang. Up until then, I was coping with deep denial and still struggling with the unearned shame. I was also in a bad marriage, entered into for respectability and "replacement" children.

I don't take the responsibility for mothers who came after us so much as I wish they could hear us NOW.

The fact remains that there are, as you once pointed out, mothers who would have or will surrender anyway. These women are not who we need to reach. It's the average woman, like us, who will wake up, as we did, one day to the fact that they got screwed in more ways than one. They are the ones, along with the general public, who need to see the huge scope of wrong that was done during the BSE.

Anonymous said...

The BSE was about a , "systematic removal" , of babies and the , "number of babies" , through horrific means.
Clearly, post-BSE does not parallel the BSE's , "organized routine"., Post-BSE's distinction is in the industry's revised approach to achieve "the same goal" by less obvious means.

I don't know why it is so hard to comprehend that it's not about pulling rank over who hurts more. The "systematic removal" is important in that it set a dangerous presedence for a time in the future to make ALL pregnancy's be registered and ALL babies distributed to only the most fit holding a license to parent.
That's eugenics my dear. Now does that sound like a BSE mother pulling rank?


Martha said...

The difference is that mothers post-BSE had a choice. They had access to contraception. They had access to abortion.

"The approval of a board of hospital physicians was necessary to obtain a therapeutic abortion and 53 percent of teaching hospitals and 40% of all U.s. hospitals, and thus, their boards, required that women accept simultaneous sterilization to prevent a future unplanned pregnancy ... given these constraints, the majority (85-95% of single, white middle-class women, who either could not or would not procure an illegal or therapeutic abortion, were encouraged, and at times coerced, to adopt away their child". (Ellison, 2003 in "Medical Anthropology Quarterly).

That is a huge difference.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,
I don't believe it gets any clearer then that. Thank you so much for summing it up in such an articulate manner that perhaps the rest can understand.
Another BSE mother.
We are everywhere.

Burfmuggle said...

""So do you think a public apology, government recognition of the BSE horror will change, stop adoption as it is today or will it address the pain of BSE mothers, make them feel better, but make adoption continue as is?""

I will answer your question in all honesty as a woman/mother who lost her newborn in 1964. My desire to see an investigation into past surrendering practices (the BSE), for me has nothing to do with adoption today. For me it is all about recognition and acknowledgement by government officials that crimes were commited against an extraordinary amount of young white unmarried mothers during the BSE. The extraordinary amounts of babies taken from young white unmarried mothers was an 'historical' event in American History. This was a singular event that happened in our nation. Not before nor after the BSE were these numbers duplicated. Why is it so wrong for us older mothers to desire a...wrong to be righted? Our numbers alone dictate a horrendous, discriminatory practice that was heaved upon the back of young mothers/women and their newborns.
I find your statement of 'make them feel better', belittling of BSE mothers in general. Feel better?? Just having the 'truth' out there for all to see, yes would make me 'feel better', in that secrets and lies would be uncovered in the light of day. Feel better? what in that my now 43 year old found daughter hates my guts for having surrendered her to the control of an adoption agency, when at the age of 18 I had no other choice, no advocacy, no support? If abortion had been legally available to me..I can say to any and all, before God Him or Herself...I definitely would have had an abortion...and I would not have to be sitting here, once again, engaging in this BSE subject...that it would appear so many younger mothers like yourself are a bit too eager to disrespect, denounce and 'belittle' with such comments as 'make them feel better'. If I have a headache, aspirin makes me 'feel better'. Ya got any home-remedies that will make a broken heart..'feel better'??

Anonymous said...

I don't believe that the future will hold out quite that way, and I think the comments here (by anon) justify this exactly.

I believe, that IF a public apology did come to BSE moms, that it would be stated as such, a bad time, I'm so sorry, we won't do it again.

And, see here, we are so much more civilized, because mothers now do have a choice(as stated by anon)... we have great PR work to put the responsibility onto the weak / poor / vulnerable woman to make her think it is her choice, and thus... we don't do that anymore.

And, so then, we will continue on as we are.

HeatherRainbow said...

oops... that last comment was from me. Didn't realize I was logged out.

Robin said...

I think that would depend, Heather, on how it is presented, what kind of backing we have and exactly what we ask for. If we get a voice in the public arena, then we can bring attention to the fact that it still happens and is even happening to married couples who have a dirty kitchen or are among the working poor, etc. I, personally, have done a lot of work with the mothers of today and one thing that I have noticed is that, in this society, adoption is seen as some kind of win-win, happy scenario. It isn't until the "motherhood" hormones kick in that some moms realize what they are about to do. Some, unfortunately, realize it too late. Yeah....I think it can work out that way, if we ever get the freaking chance. Open records sure isn't going to make a big dent.