Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
(Excerpts from "Keeping The Faith" by Billy Joel)
If it seems like I've been lost In let's remember
If you think I'm feeling older
And missing my younger days
Oh, then you should have known Me much better
Cause my past is something that never
Got in my way, Oh no
You can get just so much
From a good thing
You can linger too long In your dreams
Say goodbye to the Oldies but goodies
Cause the good ole days weren't Always good
And tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems
Now I told you my reasons For the whole revival
Now I'm going outside to have
An ice cold beer in the shade
Oh I'm going to listen to my 45's
Ain't it wonderful to be alive
When the rock 'n' roll plays Yeah
When the memory stays Yeah
I'm keeping the faith Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Keeping the faith
I'm keeping the faith
Yes I am
Sometimes, it gets to be heavy-going in the search and fight for justice. There are too many who think the job is too big, others that think it can't get done and a lot that don't think we should even be trying. We support each other and try to support the ones who fear the limelight. We are giving other women from the EMS encouragement to anonymously submit their stories about coercion and the pain of loss.
Billy Joel's song was about rock and roll and the era but there are a couple of verses in that tune that, to me, speak of us and our battle. To be sure, it's uphill and hard. It was pointed out to me that the history revisionists are already at work, trying to deny that the EMS even happened. But there are too many of us who know it did to let them get away with the lies.
We live in a big country, where money is power and the government is a playground for special interests..especially those that bring in the big bucks. But people have banded together before, spoken up and made a difference. There is a precedence for getting what we are after and it might be rough going, but it is doable! This is just asking all our friends and sister EMS Moms to please, please, keep the faith. Don't give up on us before we even get started.
It is now November and we are wearing our black, red and white "Sad and Mournful Day" ribbons and observing Sad and Mournful Day on the 30th. We are erecting our website and our Wall of Shame. We are keeping the issue alive and out in front of the public. Each mother has her own special talent and we can each use that talent to help in the cause. Help us hang in there.
Help us in keeping the faith.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I don't think that there are many Senior Mothers in reunion who haven't secretly or overtly wished to re-connect with their infants. When we meet our adult child, we stretch out our hopes across an abyss of years...years we missed...events that were observed by others.
Someone else was privy to the first tooth, first steps, first words...all the firsts in a child's life as they grow. The adult child stand before us, and though we feel the connection and, yes, the love, we also are coming to the awareness that our babies are, irretrievably, lost to us. That is why you see mothers in reunion going through such emotional hard times. We are in mourning when that happens. Often, that mourning has been delayed for decades and is choking in its intensity.
So, when we realize that we are building a relationship with an adult child who is our child, but NOT our baby, we stumble a lot and then we get pissed. Some of us make the mistake of directing that anger inwards. Guilt, though, can become so self-absorbing and, if we clear our minds and really look at what happened, we can see that there were forces at work in our lives that left us with no choice and no hope. Too often we see the damage that the years of the abyss have done to our adult children.
There is where our anger needs to be directed. All these forces, combined, form a giant monster whose name is Injustice. We are David, out to take down Goliath, and we are gathering our stones and we will face the giant. But we can't bridge the abyss. It will remain an empty chasm of years for as long as we live. If for no other reason that that one, mothers of the EMS deserve justice in some form. All we have left of our newborns are vague memories or what we were told by those in charge.
Our memories are not enough.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I am certain that there are those who would see these terms as applicable to moi, but I am fast learning that there are those under the broad umbrella of adoption activism that make me look like a model of moderation. I have always thought of myself as an iconoclast and a liberal, but I don't believe in people bringing their dysfunction, paranoia and unrelated, pet movements to this arena.
We have to work with tolerance for our differences if we are to accomplish anything. We are fortunate, in SMAAC, that everyone seems to be more or less on the same page. There might be Democrats and Republicans, Pro and Anti-Choicers, Pagans, Baptists, Jews and Catholics, but we know what we are about in relation to adoption and that is where we are united.
What really makes us look bad and can hit us in our credibility are the few, the disturbed, the ego maniacal, the queen and king bees, the people who are so way out there that they make Timothy Leary look like a preppy. I am talking about people who have hate and/or fear on their agenda, who cannot disagree agreeably and who expect everyone to think just like them. I am talking about the ones who sneak into our spaces with several different, online identities and try to take people down. I am referring to those with actual "hit lists," more concerned about getting the jump on people they don't like or who don't say what they want to hear than making a difference in adoption.
These wing nuts make threats, tell lies, send constant barrages of harassing emails, privately and on lists, blogs and forums. They say hateful and hurtful things to those who choose not to see things their way, they jockey for control, they emote so dramatically that you can hear the blood and tears run and psychotically claim that everyone else is at fault and that they have done nothing wrong. They place themselves out there as superior to all others, either in intelligence, knowledge or pain. They obsess about things and depress all around them.
As it says in the Bible, "Ye shall know them for their works." Those works are all about them. Some of them haunt the Internet and jump from group to group until they have nowhere else to go and then they come back with a new identity and do the same thing all over again. They insert themselves into a topic and start trying to lead everyone through a maze of nonsense. They come from every corner of our globe and tend to use adoption damage, which is a real and painful thing, as an excuse to refrain from behaving as a reasonable adult. There comes a time when we all have to grow up.
As of today, I am declaring myself and my blog off limits to one more nut bar. But Lordy, they keep a-coming, don't they?
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I am going to find a way to get this printed on a tee shirt! If anyone should ever stop to wonder why so many adopted people have that feeling of being a bit "out of place," this should explain it.
You cannot imprint your genetic and family heritage on a child, no matter what your hopes, when adopting, might be. What I wonder is, where is the mother giraffe and what was done to force her to surrender her baby? And I wonder if the cartoonist purposely gave the adopted giraffe that bewildered expression?
I wonder, most of all, if the female kangaroo's name is Angelina? It would make sense. 'Nuff said.
Friday, October 24, 2008
I have divided my dead pigs into three categories. Cleopatras are the ones in denial. They insist they had a choice and that there are no repercussions to be had from the crimes against the mothers of the EMS. They refuse to see the coercion and punitive actions of an unjust society of holocaust proportions as real or comparable. To admit that there was ever a time in their, oh so superior, lives when they were not in control is beyond their ability to understand. These are also the ones who usually have unbalanced reunions where their children run the show.
Quixotes are the tilters at every windmill in the world. Rather than concentrating on one issue at a time, examining it, plotting a course of action and following through, they try to be all things to all people. They lump all their windmills together and dilute their effectiveness trying to justify that move. These are also the people who need a healthy dose of cynicism when it comes to adoption facilitators and adopters. They do not realize their own limitations and keep trying to sell their adoption stew as palatable to all.
Dubyas are the deniers, not to be confused with those in denial. Deniers, aka "deciders," are bullies who are smugly sure that they should be in charge. They are great at pushing emotional buttons and hurting the vulnerable among us. They will summarily dismiss anyone else's experience as invalid and superimpose their idealized version of their own as the only valid truth. There are a lot of adopters, loyal adoptees and good birthmartyrs in the Dubya category. One can be both a Cleopatra and a Dubya in many cases.
Mixed in among these dead pigs, are a few of us still up and running. These are the hopeful, the idealists who still have a modicum of faith in justice. We run into roadblocks and, rather than giving up, we try to chart a course around them. We receive hate mail from the Cleos and the Quixotes and REALLY hateful mail from the Dubyas. But we also have a sisterhood of support that is second to none.
While it is true that most of us are average women (very few of us are the ultimately most savvy swine in the sty) we have very adequate intelligence, years of experience, memories, and the time it took to process those memories and pull out the truth. Not all of us have degrees or prestige among the upper echelons of this upside-down society. No, we are the ones who form the backbone of this nation, and whose work, purchases, family values (the REAL kind) and very lives allow the financially and socially elite to live as well as they do. Even the ones among us who have achieved success tend to be less self-congratulatory than our national elite.
Pigs are very smart animals. While a lot of people will say "ewwwww," the fact is that pigs are every bit as smart as dogs or dolphins. But a dead pig is still a dead pig. You leave it out in the sun to bloat and decompose, and it stinks just like any other dead animal.
But, the sucker's happy.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I used to consider myself a bit of a wimp...a coward who was afraid to rock the boat or make enemies. Then I watched the 'Wizard of Oz' for about the umpteenth time, and I concentrated on the great Bert Lahr's character, The Cowardly Lion.
I realized that, sometimes, wisdom is mistaken for cowardice. When the enemy is too powerful to fight, it's just plain smart to retreat and start looking for another way to meet your goal. I also realized that, as the saying goes, " Courage is not the absence of fear but doing what you must in spite of that fear."
Now I don't know that I and my sisters in SMAAC and in other groups have acquired courage borne of our anger at the injustice done to us, or just reached a time in our lives when we don't give a rat's ass about what people might think of us. I suspect it is a combination of both. But I do know we are up against a powerful enemy and we are still shooting off our collective mouths at them. Sometimes, that makes me feel like Rocky, jogging in step with fists thrown up in the air at the top of the step. "Flying High" feels good.
The Wizard told the lion that the only thing he lacked was a medal commemorating his bravery, because all the other components for courage were in place, inside this dear creature. Our medals are ribbons...black for sorrow, red for passion and action and white for hope and love. We will be wearing our medals next month. We will be telling people who ask just what they mean. We will run afoul of our share of adopters and social workers and just plain people who "know someone" who had an adoption that turned out just frickin' wonderful. And we can stand there and say our piece and not back down because we have been given the gift of courage.
I made a comment, yesterday, that, until women stopped predating on their sisters and taking their babies, we wouldn't get very far as an emancipated gender. There are a lot of male adoption attorneys, facilitators and eugenicists who are banking on that weakness in our ranks. I called it "reproductive cannibalism" and the name fits. Now, if our sisters could stop looking on their less affluent, unmarried sisters as fields ripe for harvest and start helping them be mothers to their own, borne children, then the courage factor would shoot off the scale because we would all be on the same page. If we can put the coveting, the desire for 'motherhood at any cost' off the agenda and start really helping mothers and their children, we would be the ones to inherit the earth...not because we were meek, but because we showed the courage of our convictions, empathy and a united front.
With a united front, we could get between the new mothers-to-be and those that would take her infant for adoption BEFORE she is coerced into signing those papers. But to do that, we all have to stop sleeping with the enemy. The industry and the covetors are not going to do us any good. We have to band together and weave a safety net for these new moms. I envision a crowd of little families, with children growing up, knowing they were wanted by the women who bore them and the family from which they get their natural heritage.
It's a dream, but it's a good one and, we pray, it's doable.
Monday, October 20, 2008
We have long proclaimed that adoption and abortion are two separate issues. Once a women chooses to terminate a pregnancy, then adoption is a moot issue. It is only when a baby is carried to term that adoption rears its ugly, eugenic head. So, here I go, breaking another one of my rules.
The "adoption, a loving option" inanity does not ring true to those of us who have been separated by this institution. It makes me wonder just what is behind these anti-choice protests. Is it a genuine belief that a zygote is life or is it a church/agency wanting to rake in some bucks while pushing its own eugenics program? I suspect the latter. Plus, I get very testy when some religious group tried to impose their dogma on the rest of the country via our national laws.
Separation of church and state is still a part of our constitution, Oh Self-Righteous Ones, and your rights end where mine begin.
This is an issue to which I had sworn I wouldn't give space or credence. But having had a loved one shouted at and called a murderer when she went into a women's clinic, it is hard not to enter the fray. Now, when our reproductive rights are being frantically, and, might I say, desperately challenged, it is time for those of us who really believe in reproductive rights to step forward and have our say.
The National Organization of Women lists adoption as a "reproductive choice." If any of these people have ever been pregnant and had the pressure and coercion laid on them that we mothers of adoption loss have had piled on our backs, they might re-think that word "choice." I should think that it would be a duty for NOW to protect a single and/or poor woman's choice to keep and raise her baby.
So, in its own way, the NOW is in bed with the anti-choicers. Either way, mothers are being guilted by one group into carrying a pregnancy to term, and given no support by the other when that full-term baby is grabbed by the agencies and social workers through coercion and emotional bullying.
It is to the industry's and to the Christian Right Wing's advantages to chip away at Roe v Wade. It is probably due to the adopters in their ranks that allows NOW to ignore the predation on women that occurs with adoption. This is why NOW's voice has no more power than it does and why we are having to scream at the top of our lungs. Women are becoming predator and prey..reproductive cannibals...and it is sick, sad and totally unethical.
We have a choice, next month. We can choose to carry on this madness or we can put someone in the White House who, at least, seems to have an open mind. We need to write our letters, we need to use our votes and we need to protect the right to choose whether or not we, our daughters and granddaughters can make our own decisions concerning our own bodies and our babies. It's not just Roe v Wade that is in peril, but also the right of women to safe, effective birth control regardless of age or marital status. That's a biggie and should not be ignored.
Right now, we still have a modicum of choice. While some states have eroded the right to choose, there is still the option to go to a more open state and have a procedure done there. If the adoption industry and the, so-called, "Moral" Majority have their way, we are back to the maternity homes, forced surrender and loss of acess to birth control.
Can we, as women, really afford a giant step backwards?
I might also note that important issues such as the economy and its effect on the middle class and the poor, healthcare and education are Jonahs, at risk of going down the gullets of the big business fish. So use your right and responsibility to vote. It is one of the few things we can do.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Forty-Six years after the fact, I still find this time in my life hard to write about. But, as a Senior Mother and member of SMAAC, these are the things that we want to bring to the public's attention.
I was 15, it was 1961 and I was deeply in love with a boy, one who didn't have the maturity to love me back the way I so desperately desired. Oh, he said he loved me, and, in his own way, I guess he did. But mostly he wanted one thing from me and, in order to keep him, I did what he wanted me to do. Just before my 16th birthday, my daughter was conceived. It was also when his parents decided that he needed to get away from me (he was "too young" to be serious about a girl) and from some other "bad influences" and sent him to visit some relatives in California for a month.
Realizing that I had missed a period was terrifying. I have never felt so alone in my life. I was "one of those girls." I was "in trouble," and there was no one to help me or to make it go away. There was no Roe v Wade or access to birth control for single women. I didn't even know what birth control was except for condoms. I was amazed that this had happened to me because my sex education had been spotty and filled with erroneous ideas. I thought that what my boyfriend and I did was nothing like the sacred thing a married couple did to have children. To say I was confused was an understatement. I spent precious weeks in denial.
One thing sticks out in my mind and that is the fact that, though I gave in to my boyfriend's demands, I was a product of my Bible-Belt upbringing and I never was able to even enjoy the act. There was too much guilt in me. I even remember seeking the help of my minister.
Telling my parents was the most horrible experience imaginable. I had a close friend with me and she had urged me to tell them and promised to stand by me when I told them. We were in our kitchen and I will never forget the look of utter despair and disappointment on their faces. Once my mother stopped crying, I was ordered to keep my condition a complete secret while they figured out what to do. I was so emotionally exhausted from carrying the load all by myself, that I was happy to let them do the thinking for a while.
Little did I know that their plans included isolating me from my community and family, housing me with strangers and the "choice" to either surrender my baby for adoption or be homeless. I became an outcast in my community and shamed by my own family. My boyfriend ran like a rabbit and denied paternity. I was given a false name, treated like a delinquent with mental and emotional problems, challenged with questions about my "fitness" whenever I mentioned keeping my baby and told that I was a bad influence on my younger sisters. I guess they thought they would catch the pregnancy virus. The words "bastard" and "slut" were thrown around like balloons at a party.
I was given medical care, but it, such as it was, was also a humiliating experience. On "clinic day," we lined up in the hall, outside the nurse's office and exam room, wearing skirts with no underwear, as directed. We would be called in, one at a time, and given pelvic examinations, whether we needed one or not, by interns doing their OB/GYN rotations, while other interns and the OB/GYN resident looked on. Often, these exams were rough and painful and always, always embarrassing and demeaning.
When the time came to deliver, I remember hearing the nurses whisper to each other that "this one is from the home." They seemed to hold me in disdain and one even told me that the pain I was experiencing was what I deserved. I had to fight to see and hold and name my baby, but I did that and cherished the time I had with her in the hospital. As soon as I was out, the Social Worker was waiting for me, at the home, with the papers. I was still hormonal from giving birth, taking pain medication and signed the papers in a daze. I also broke down in tears after signing, but was persuaded, by then, what with all the coercion, that I would be a toxic mother to my child. I found out, 33 years later, that I would have been a great mother.
This is the time that we, at SMAAC, want to present to the nation. This is the time when helpless, vulnerable young women were subjected to a grave injustice. The fact that I was sexually assaulted when my daughter was four months old, by a guy who knew my boyfriend and believed his tales of my "easy manner" means that I went through this horror, not once, but twice. That is one time in my life when I would have loved to have been a bit less fertile. But I loved my son, regardless of the means of his conception, and wanted him as desperately as I wanted his older sister.
This lack of choice, autonomy, support and comfort was part and parcel of the Era of Mass Surrenders. My story is not unique. There are minor differences in some of our stories, but the injustice, mistreatment and ultimate pain of loss are all constants. Add to that the fact that our families and others disregarded our grief and did not want to witness our mourning. So that grief, we stuffed along with all the rest of the pain, until the days of our awakening.
We know, now, that a burgeoning industry that catered to infertile couples of the "right kind" was forming around our tragedies. We were the supply conduits to meet the demands for healthy infants. It makes me wonder why our babies were in such high demand when we were characterized as morally, psychologically and socially delinquent. (*see "Wake Up Little Suzie" by Rickie Solinger)
Most of us are in our late 40's, 50's and 60's and up. Many of us have been in reunion for quite a while. I have been reunited with both my children for 15 years. Once we got past the recurrence of grief, learned a few painful, home truths about what had happened to our children and how they saw us, we began to talk to each other and that is how we learned that we are numbered in the millions. We were ordered to keep our "dirty secret," even from the men we eventually married. Many of us felt that was not appropriate and told and it was amazing that there were men who loved us for ourselves and felt that we were good enough to marry. That was NOT what we were told would happen. We were told that "no decent man would have us" if he knew.
When I became engaged to my first husband, I was even told that I would not be allowed to wear white, have music, flowers or attendants because I was no longer a virgin. So, we eloped. Since then, I have learned how many non-virgins made that trip down the aisle in their pure white and, when I married my current, wonderful husband, I WORE WHITE!
The full story of the injustices against the Senior Mothers of the EMS would take ten blogs and still not tell it all. I can only give you the summary of my punishment and pain. It's time for someone to answer to this. If they can apologize to other minorities for unfair treatment, then they can do the same for us. If they can investigate other injustices with an eye to future prevention, then they can do the same for ours. It's not just something that is right and proper..it is no less than what we deserve. We have earned justice.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Thursday, October 09, 2008
I had promised myself that I would not get too political in this blog, but the endorsement of S. Palin, moose-hunting, uber-conservative and the Republican candidate for veep by the L.A. leader of that city's chapter of NOW just blew all my good intentions out the window. Here it is as reported by Fox News; ""Speaking as an individual and not for her organization, Shelley Mandell, who is the President of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization for Women and a self-described lifelong Democrat, has endorsed Sarah Palin.
Please Note*, it is on record that the National Organization for Women, as an entity, endorses the Barack-Biden ticket because they are our best bet for protection of our reproductive rights as far as birth control and Roe v Wade is concerned. Palin is an evangelical, anti-choice Tweedle Dum to McCain's Tweedle Dee. Mandell has lost her perspective somewhere along the line and is endorsing with her vagina. This is what I was afraid might happen when Hillary Clinton lost the nomination and McCain's machine dusted off Palin and pulled her in. Sorry, Ms. Mandell, but Palin's gender does not qualify her for the big ticket.
When I vote, and I don't vote in every election, (I'm not big, for instance, on who sits on the school boards in FL. This state is sunk, anyway.) I try to use my head. When I do exercise that right and privilege that was hard-won for me by sister militants from an earlier age, I vote with my brain, not my genitals or my race. While both sides of the aisle are fairly adoption-friendly, I know where our best chances lie to keep our personal freedoms as women and it isn't with Perky Palin and Mr. McCain. I also know where the best chance lies of finding an open mind to hear our stories and it isn't in the direction of the GOP.
Just as there are the "Birthmartyrs" who betray their sister mothers with their attitudes and philosophies, there are also members of our own gender who are NOT in it to help out their sisters. My view of Palin is of a power-greedy hypocrite. There are enough scandals in her background and that of her hubby to merit a vote against her if you want to think like her party does, but her platform and views are all it takes for me. Her pregnant daughter is not in that list. Let's just hope that expected grandchild of this inexperienced fish from a sparsely-populated pond doesn't wind up surrendered for adoption.
I don't watch the debates. I read them, later. But make no mistake...I keep myself informed. There is no such thing as the perfect candidate for anyone, but an anti-choice adopter and an anti-choice evangelical on the same ticket gives me the creeps. I will be throwing my support behind Obama and Biden and pray that I don't have to move out of the country if they don't win. I don't believe we can trust McCain/Palin, either financially, with foreign policy or with our personal rights. It would be just a continuation of the lame duck disaster now sitting in Washington, enjoying the down time.
Call me crazy, but voting for a veep candidate just because she is a woman is like choosing a school for your child just because the principal has blue eyes. Vagina voting is knee-jerk and unbecoming for thinking women.
Please remember, Sisters. It's not what's between the legs but what is in the platform that counts.
Monday, October 06, 2008
In the adoption support arena, the main thrust has been obtaining and maintaining reunion between the mothers who lost to adoption and their adult adopted children. Sometimes it works and sometimes, the stress of the stigma and the separation throws the whole thing into a cocked hat. It is what it is and we try to learn to live with it.
But for Senior Mothers from the EMS (Era of Mass Surrenders), it is no longer about reunion. Some of us have been reunited with our children for nearly 20 years. My own reunions are 15 years old. Once the pink cloud cleared and we stopped listening to the destructive, demeaning tapes that were planted in our brains, we started thinking for ourselves (what a concept!) and coming to some startling conclusions.
We have found ourselves remembering and confronting the horror of our tragedy that was intermingled with the joy of giving life. We have noted and compared notes on how we were treated by family, clergy, social workers, extended family and the community at large. We are gathering our medical data and case records and finding that there were many things that were done that were very, very wrong.
The birth and subsequent loss to adoption of our newborns was not, for us, the beginning of the story. Our stories began with the realization that we were pregnant, with the horror of confronting our parents, with, for many of us, the abandonment by the fathers of our babies, with shaming, stigmatizing, and emotional manipulation. There was the isolation that was the maternity prisons. Being sent away from home, from all we held close, and put into an environment that was, in many instances, totally punitive is a common thread in our stories.
Being used by the people who were responsible for our medical care as "practice patients" for interns, given medications we should not have been given, and laboring under the disdainful eyes of morally offended nurses were parts and parcels of the punishment we had to endure. The best reading for this era is Rickie Solinger's "Wake Up Little Suzie" and Ann Fessler's "The Girls Who Went Away." Both these books give insight into the attitude towards the unwed, usually white and middle-class, mothers of our day.
During this horrible period of isolation, most of us were doing what most pregnant moms-to-be do...we were falling in love with our babies and having to deal with the fact that we might never see our child after she or he was born. Some of us looked out windows and daydreamed of the fathers coming to rescue us and our child. The fact that it didn't happen or wasn't allowed to happen is evident by our sheer numbers.
In SMAAC, we look only at the mistreatment, the emotional and mental manipulation, the injustices that would let a minor sign away her child while refusing her jobs, an education, or even a place to live. People could treat human beings like that back then because of "moral reasons." We also look at the life-long damage that this treatment caused and that reunion could not repair.
Reunion was just the beginning of our awakening. It was the spring-board, for many of us, to self-esteem, strength and renewed sense of purpose. The isolating, shaming, manipulation, punishment and ultimate harvesting of our infants, indiscriminately and with no thought to our grief and pain was wrong then as it is wrong today. This is a women's issue, even if our silent sisters at NOW don't include this. Men were the ones who created this atmosphere of the scarlet letter. Our boyfriends were the ones who walked away with a wink and a nudge while we hid, labored and bled.
THAT is what SMAAC is about...it is about injustice, it is about acknowledgement and, above all, Sister Senior Mothers, for a change, it is about US.