Monday, December 29, 2008
It's official! A Federal Study has concluded that teenage "virginity pledges" are ineffective. An article by Rob Klein of the Washington Post states that the study has shown that teens who take this pledge are just as likely as those who did not "pledge purity" to have sex prior to matrimony. It also shows that these teens are less likely to use condoms or any other form or birth control or protection against STD's. Maybe, just maybe, this study will take our national heads out of our arses and get us cracking on effective sex education, access to birth control and other programs to help our children protect themselves.
For the Federal Government to give funding to these abstinence programs while letting sex education and accessible birth control/STD protection struggle for support is unrealistic and pandering to the far, religious right, as usual. Taking us back, as a nation, to the bad, old days of punitive, sexist attitudes and actions is not going to help things. It did nothing then, of worth, and will do nothing now.
Over the decades, we Senior Mothers of the EMS saw a lot of progress in this area. Information about birth control became more accessible to single women, safe, legal, medical abortion became available and single parenthood became more socially acceptable. Many parents were even providing their teens with an open invitation to talk about it if they became sexually active and supplied protection for their kids. Yes, it's hard to think about our little Susies and Tommys doing the nasty, but remember how those hormones and emotions ran amok in you when you were that age? With all the sexual messages in the media that our children are exposed to on a daily basis, sex education and protection should be a no-brainer.
If I were a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist, I would even think that this abstinence-only program was backed by the adoption industry and social engineers in order to get womb-fresh infants to the "right kind of people" to be raised in a Norman Rockwell, nuclear family. But people in power in our government wouldn't do that, would they?
At least, in the present time frame, we have DNA tests to confirm paternity and laws that will make the sower of wild oats pay for his bread. That is a good thing, if the young woman and her parents take the responsibility for raising the child that Abstinence Only couldn't prevent and the adoption industry doesn't get to her, first. In courting the self-righteous right, our leaders have sold their grandchildren for a mess of pottage, to paraphrase the scriptures. It takes us back to the days of surface virtue and secrets and lies and a fantasy view of life.
To me, this hue and cry for abstinence without education, and the propaganda of the adoption industry is a giant step backwards. The next step would be to regress back to the time when the unmarried, young mother was given no choice at all. At least, for now, anyway, she can choose to keep her baby and even celebrate the new arrival. And, she can also go to the local Department of Public Health and receive birth control and education on how to use it. She can choose not to proceed with the pregnancy and she is not required to explain or apologize to anyone.
Unless we protect these rights, and are realistic about teens, sex and the education needed, we are going to enter into a very nasty replay of the 40's through the early 70's. I cannot see putting my granddaughter and great-granddaughters through that kind of crap. I am writing my congressional representatives and Senator and asking them to support good, solid sex education for all young people and to protect our right to choose. I have also written to our President-Elect and will write to his choice of surgeon general and the cabinet member that heads up the departments having to do with health and human welfare when they are confirmed.
We need to, as well, forge ahead with the demand for a public hearing on the EMS/BSE so that the mistakes of the past will not be the mistakes of today. It is time that we stopped treating our children as eternal infants, especially as they approach adulthood. It is time that the general public learned the truth about the adoption fairy-tale and the helplessness and lack of autonomy of the mothers and their children. It is time for the nation and our government to learn that the "perfect solution" was anything BUT. We can't put more women through this horror of being given no choice in major decisions affecting their own lives.
It is PAST TIME for us, as a nation, to grow up.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Though I'm not what one would call a religious person, I can feel the spirituality of the holiday season. I remember marching down the aisle, singing carols, carrying a lit candle and dressed as an angel, when I was a little girl. The church I attended while I was growing up was small but did Christmas up, really big. I can still feel that wonderful, fluttery, awed feeling that I experienced among the candles and white poinsettias. I learned to associate Christmas, not just with gifts, but with miracles, love, family, peace, and the beauty of lights on a dark, winter night. I am still a sucker for the beautiful music created for this season, from "The Little Drummer Boy" to Vivaldi's "Gloria."
In high school, one of my close friends was the daughter of our local Rabbi. I experienced Hanukkah through her family and received an education in the differences that make us all the same. I also came to appreciate the efforts that go into a really fine, Jewish holiday meal. Bubbe Goldberg could COOK!
I went next door, last year, to admire the Kwanzaa decorations and African garb and foods that my neighbors had put together. The candles were of special interest since Jean (with the French pronunciation....he's Haitian) had made them, himself. Gina's peanut and yam soup was to die for.
We have neighbors from India who are Hindu, Islamic friends just a block over, and an Asian family who practices Buddhism, all in this tiny subdivision. My Hispanic neighbors have a beautiful lighted creche on their lawn and play their guitars and sing a lot at this time of year.
I wonder why it is that so many different nationalities can co-exist, even enjoy each other, in a town or a neighborhood, but cannot get along on so many other levels. Our soon-to-be former president seems to think that we should force democracy on all other nations. Right here, in the US, there are religious factions that would insert their doctrine into our laws. We have everything from the Klan and Skinhead Nazis to rigid fundamentalists who see their beliefs as the only right beliefs to people who insist that everyone walk in lock-step with their take on different issues in organizations. We experience bigotry, the selfish interests of those who would impress their views on others and outright hate from some.
I wonder how it would feel to have true Peace on Earth? I'm not talking about just the absence of war, but the freedom from hate, resentment, egotism, and the insecurities that breed such things. Who would it hurt for all of us to learn to live and let live...to allow each person the expression of their own beliefs and priorities and to wish each other well and mean it? Why must one person's or one group's stance be right all the time for everyone? What makes people become so threatened by different thoughts, ideas, faiths, ethnicities and cultures?
We have taken a giant step as a nation, by electing a man of mixed race to the highest office in the land. On a smaller scale, we mothers of adoption loss, both of recent times and of the EMS/BSE, have shown the courage of stating our identities and our goals in a public forum. Within this community of mothers, we have many mothers with many different priorities. Why can't each of us work on our own issues without rancor? Why can't we grow up enough to stop the petty bickering and realize that one size does NOT fit all? Nothing anyone can say or do can change the direction of our particular group, so why try? Who has an ego so large and a heart and self-esteem so small that they cannot allow everyone to follow their hearts and minds in peace?
Oh well, I will enjoy my dream of peace on earth on both a large and a smaller scale. It can't hurt to have a little hope for the Holidays. Maybe, even a miracle..........
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Joyful Kwanzaa to all.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Meet Rocket J. (Rocky) Westbrook. Rocky is a six-year-old, Rat Terrier- Chihuahua mix. He is extremely well-behaved, neutered, housebroken and an all around very good dog.
I had been bugging DH about getting a dog (I was angling for a Chihuahua puppy but backed off because of the prices) for a few years. He was ready to give in and to pay $500 to $700 for a purebred puppy, but I decided to see what the annual adoption fair at the animal shelter had to offer. It was one of the best things I ever did.
Rocky had been the companion of an older gentleman whose health became too bad to care for his doggy. His children decided to put Rocky in the shelter after their Dad went into hospice care. Rocky was scheduled for euthanasia this week. He had been in the shelter since February.
He was the first small dog I saw when we walked in and he came right to me. All the dogs were yapping for attention and he was doing his best to yap louder. I didn't have to look any further, although Hubby was looking at a female, long-haired mixed breed of similar size, but I insisted that Rocky has chosen me. I was a "chosen adopter!"
He stopped the yapping the minute the shelter attendant gave me his leash. It cost $11.00 for license and senior citizen adoption fees, we were given a crate, food, collar and leash, medical history and tags which denoted that he had already been given a microchip, as well. We just had to call and register him. He jumped right into the car as if he knew he was going home. He investigated every room, when we walked into the house, and then came back to me and laid his head on my lap for petting, as if to say, "Thank You!"
Hubby fell in love right after I did. He took off to PetCo and spent about $130 on a new collar, leash, toys, snacks, a doggy jacket that fits him perfectly, a Christmas bandanna and other goodies. Yesterday, I took our new boon companion to the vet for a complete going over, blood and "other" tests, a cortisone injection for an allergy, flea and parasite medications, etc., to the tune of $261.00. I figure this is the most expensive $11.00 dog ever. But he is worth it.
Now, I don't call myself Rocky's "mommy" and he is an adult dog, but I think that this is the area in which adoption belongs. I didn't tear him away from his mother. I kept the name his first owner had given him and I am the grateful beneficiary of the care and training his former owner gave him. Rocky NEEDED rescuing. He deserved a chance to live to a ripe, old doggy age. It is now up to me to be a responsible dog owner. This is a proper adoption.
Children cannot be owned like that and that is what adoption of a child, especially infant adoption, seems to be. I have a friend who refers to her daughter's adopters as her owners because that is how they act. A child, a human being, is not and never should be a possession. To adopters whose adoptees are older, please remember that you took on a responsibility, not a right and not an ownership. If you can think in terms of what is "best" for the child, then try to understand what is best for the adult. Reconnecting with their mother is important for many adoptees and to assert ownership, to demand loyalty and gratitude is not the way real parents behave.
You didn't "rescue" a baby from certain death or destruction or a horrible life. You adopted to fill a need in YOUR life, so put that adult child's needs ahead of your own, this time, and let that relationship with their natural family happen. If you can't love that adoptee enough to do that, then it isn't a very "proper adoption."
To those who believe they MUST adopt, look into the millions of older children in foster care who truly need someone. Take them in and don't change their name or try to alter their identities and heritage. That womb-fresh infant is all about YOUR needs. Taking in an older child is about that child. That could be a proper adoption, although a legal guardianship would be even better.
You can own a dog, but you can't own a person.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
She asked questions about me, constantly, until the people who adopted her, feeling insecure, told her a lie.....that I was dead. For years she searched for a grave. It is still hard for her to admit that the people she calls her parents, now deceased, would actually tell her a lie. She knows they behaved rather badly when we reunited, but she can't go to that place where their needs took priority over hers.
I'm not going to press the issue. Her need to feel safe and grounded in what is familiar to her is also important. I have packed a box with gifts for her, and the great-grands and picked out a "for daughter and her husband" card that doesn't have all the flowery verses about growing up and becoming a credit to her father and I. That's reaching a bit. Her father is a jerk who is removed from her by his own wishes. So, while the card is for "My Daughter," it is safely neutral in content.
What a sticky web the adoption industry and the state agencies during the EMS wove. There is acute pain on both ends...that of the adopted person and that of the mother...that reunion doesn't solve or ease. The only thing reunion does is allow us to face our pain and try to work towards healing. It's a long, arduous process and, sometimes, when we think of things, like that little girl waiting at the door, we slip back into the hurt rather than using it to stoke the anger and determination.
I have cried every Christmas since I lost my daughter and then my son to adoption. Compounding that was the death of my mother on December 22, 1968. But, as I have grown older, I have learned to have my crying jag and then be grateful for what I do have. My husband lost his only child, a son, to suicide. We learned that it was not something that you get over..you just learn to live with it. So it is with loss to adoption for both mother and adoptee. We learn how to live with it
I also have to feel a bit smug in that the old system and all the lies and secrets did not succeed in keeping us from knowing each other and learning the truth, or as much truth as my children can handle. It's sort of like a reunion (which the adopters want to call merely "making contact") is thumbing our noses at the machine. Reunited, we are and they call me "Mom." I am sure that the adopters wouldn't be happy with that, but I am their mother and they cannot change that with a piece of paper signed by a judge.
Merry Christmas, little girl and little boy. Mommy has come to get you.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
I hate it when other people, with an interest in maintaining adoption as a thriving concern, try to speak for mothers. I hate it even more when what they say "in our name" is cunningly used to deflect the ire of the adopted person to the mothers rather than taking the responsibility upon those who pursue this specious argument.
Such is the ongoing "reasoning" being used by agencies, governments, social workers and any pro-adoption faction that the reason records, such as the adoptee's original birth certificate, are kept closed is due to the requirement of "anonymity" and "privacy" for the mothers. OK, here we go, one more time....I don't EVER remember anyone promising ME any kind of privacy. What I do remember was being told that if I ever tried to find my children, I would be breaking the law and would hurt them. Anonymity was for the ADOPTERS, NOT the mothers!
For most of us from the EMS whose children were surrendered and then placed, by agencies or social workers, for adoption, our fondest wish was to have our children know us, know we loved them and that we would have kept them had we been given just a modicum of support. I did not request anonymity and it was not in anything I signed as a guarantee, promise or suggestion. I was told, by the social workers, to never speak of my loss to anyone, but I broke that rule right off the bat.
Now, to cover their cowardly arses, the agencies and those that lobby for them are trying to insert, into some open record bills, a requirement that any mother who refuses contact must provide personal medical and other information. WHOA!!!! First, I am pretty darn sure that this violates my rights under HIPAA stipulations. And, to be practical, there are things that are my private business that I haven't shared with the children I raised. These arrogant social engineers took my children and now they want me to be a mere vessel of information just like I was a mere birth machine? I THINK NOT.
One of the things we are striving for in SMAAC and elsewhere is the respect and human dignity that was taken from us when we were young, pregnant and vulnerable. For many of us, self-respect is not a problem, but I, for one, refuse to be considered a convenience for others in any way just because of the tragedy of losing my children when I was a teen.
Hell yes, let's get those records open for adopted adults AND mothers of adoption loss, but don't demand that I dance to a tune that was written by someone else. I'm a mother, not an object nor a lackey. I have shared with my adult reunited children what they needed to know just as I have with their younger sister and brother. As a family, there are things we all share. But my personal business will remain that way. Sorry agencies and others. I am not bailing you out when adopters sue you for "lack of important information."
Deal with it.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
I have stood in many a circle in Overeater's Anonymous and Alanon groups, reciting those words and hoping to be able to live up to them. I learned, a long time ago that I have little power over anything anyone else has ever or will ever say or do. The only thing I can change is me and what I do and how I respond to others. I also learned the grace of acceptance as being healing. I cannot undo what was done to me many years ago. What was, was and what is, is.
Where the courage comes in was coming out of the "good birthmartyr" closet, facing the truth and realizing that, together, we, as mothers, could do something that might bring about change on a bigger scale or, at least, remove the scales from the eyes of the population. That is the main thrust of groups like SMAAC and BSERI and Bastard Nation among others. We each approach it from the vantage point of our own experience, but there is something we all have in common. Thanks to a sister on the Origins Canada support group, I have the perfect words for it. We all have stopped "farting rainbows" about the supposed beauty of adoption. Comical but apt and real.
I wore my "Strange and Mournful" ribbon with pride, last month (Thank God/dess, November is over) and several people, out of the many who asked me about it, seemed to have some warm, fuzzy story about someone they knew who adopted/was adopted/surrendered. I grew weary of politely but firmly disagreeing and tired of hearing these folks fart rainbows. You know what? Those suckers might have pretty colors, but they stink.
By facing reality and accepting what has happened, understanding why and how it happened and gaining strength from each other, many of us have achieved healing and hope. Absolutely, the best support and understanding I have received has been from other mothers of the EMS. We are finally speaking for ourselves rather than allowing the industry and its talking heads and adopters to speak for us. We want the truth told...not fairy tales and rigged statistics.
There is now a group calling itself a grassroots movement for the benefit of those who adopt and potential adopters...protecting what this group calls their "rights." The following is the truth so I hope these folks listen and listen well. PAPs have NO rights to the child inside another woman's body and that woman has every right to change her mind and say "NO!" Just as a woman has a right to call a halt when petting gets out of hand, so does the woman who is in an unexpected pregnancy. Not being allowed to say no or to change her mind is the same thing as rape....rape of the heart and soul. How can women predate on other women this way? In our circle, we support each other. We don't prey on each other.
We who have stood in the Circle of Hope and Healing have come a long way. We don't want to see any more women joining our ranks. Trading in human flesh for the benefit of the self-entitled infertiles and/or wannabe saints puts a wound on the soul of both mother and child. Having a child is NOT a "right," but a God/dess-given gift and responsibility. That gift is given to the woman who bears that child. Adoption is not God/dess-ordained. If a child is born into poverty, then help the family. Don't help yourself to the child.
It is time that we brought to the attention of the general public exactly what coercion was and how badly and painfully we were used. That Circle of Hope and Healing is turning into a circle of warriors.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
"Reformers who are always compromising, have not yet grasped the idea that truth is the only safe ground to stand upon." Elizabeth Cady Stanton
"We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal"and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal."
Martin Luther King, Jr., "Letter from Birmingham Jail," Why We Can't Wait, 1963
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
I grew up in the Methodist Church, precursor of the United Methodist Church, in the south. Christmas was always full of church activities and our Sunday School teachers were always teaching us about the Christmas stories in the books of Luke and Matthew.
One Sunday, my teacher decided to go past the visit of the Magi and into what was the most horrible thing I had ever heard in my young life...The Slaughter of the Innocents in Matthew 2:13-23.
The story goes that the Magi went to King Herod to ask if he knew the location of the "new king" for whom they were searching, guided by a star. Herod was unable to give them any information, but he was instantly on alert for a challenge to his position. He sent the Magi on their way with a request that they return to him and let him know where to find this child so that he could "worship him, also." The Magi were on to him and didn't return to Herod.
Since he didn't have the exact location, Matthew goes on to write, Herod sent out an order to slay all the new born males in the kingdom. This most poignant passage still causes tears:
"A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."
From that point on, Christmas was never quite the same for me. I question, now, the wisdom of an adult telling that particular story to eight and nine-year old children. The joy and the excitement, music, smells and anticipation was always tinged with sadness. I think it was an omen for me, that, like Rachel, I would, one day, weep for my children and find no comfort.
Because I was only an hour away from home when I was pregnant with my daughter, my parents asked and were allowed to bring me home on Christmas day. A couple of loyal friends also came over, and, at the end of the day, I was taken back to the maternity prison. I would be there another four months before I came home again.
It was on that Christmas visit home, that I learned of all the nasty things, the lies, my boyfriend, the father of my oldest child, and his friends were saying about me. While it hurt, I decided I needed to ignore it and put it behind me. What I didn't count on was the vicious nature of this kind of character assassination. I started getting calls from young men that I barely knew, asking for dates....most of them turned into wrestling matches and the others, when I said "NO," were just short dates where I was taken home and never called again. One of these wrestling matches, I lost. My son was conceived in pain and violence.
Oh, I wanted him, too, but I was still a minor and my parents and the system were still in charge. I was coerced into surrendering him as I was coerced into surrendering my daughter.
My Sunday School lesson came home to me, that first Christmas without either of my babies. I could feel the pain and horror of those mothers and wept with them. I secretly called myself "Rachel." For those of us from the EMS/BSE, we not only lost our children, we lost our innocence, our autonomy, our self-esteem....ourselves...in massive numbers. We were deprived of our children, abandoned by the fathers of these children (for the most part) and abandoned by our families until we could return home, scrubbed free of our shame by virtue of the punishment of losing our children. For some of us, the shame would stay with us, internalized, for years. I know I even blamed myself for being raped, even though I fought, and fought hard (which only earned me some scratches and bruises).
There is no historical proof that the Slaughter of the Innocents really happened. While there is a record of this Herod's reign, there is no record of any kind of an edict of genocide or its execution. I would be willing to see it as a metaphor, but, real or not, I can still hear those mothers wailing in the most severe pain. I can still remember my pain and, though I have found healing through support and activism, there will always be a bit of sadness for me at Christmas when I remember Rachel weeping for her children.
The good news is that I am, now, blessed with a husband and children who love and respect me, good family and friends and the ability to love and comfort the confused girl I was. Most of all, I have reached a wonderful time in my life when I am able to overlook, forgive and go on with things that need to be done. I make jokes about being toothless, body parts sagging, the agony of arthritis and all that, but it has become, truly, the best part of my life.
You can feel badly for the ornament that fell and shattered on the floor, but you can also be cheered by the gleam of those that remain on the tree.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008
Give a nasty, self-involved, emotional bully someone to rail at and you can't shut her/him up. Give that same character a computer, and you have the emotional cyber-bully.
The bully is suffering from Hostility, a condition well described in this article from which I take these characteristics of the hostile person.
1. A person construes human nature in his (her) own way.
2. He makes social predictions on the basis of this constructions.
3. To set the stage they must be crucial predictions; that is to say, he must have wagered more on them than he can afford to lose - more of his construct system, that is.
4. He turns up invalidating evidence. It is clear that he was wrong about people. He can no longer ignore the fact.
5. Moreover, he(she) was overwhelmingly wrong - basically wrong.
6. In the face of the harsh facts he can, of course, revise his outlook. But the revision would shake him so deeply that he is reluctant to undertake it.
7. Alternatively, he could let matters ride - say to himself, "So I just don't understand people very well." But this too is an alternative he is reluctant to choose.
8. Finally, he (she) can close his eyes to reality and attempt to make people fit the construct bed his system provides. This is the hostile choice.
With a computer, this hostile person becomes a Cyber-Bully. This is the beginning of the explanation of what a cyber-bully is and does.
A cyber-bully is someone who uses technology to harass, embarrass, intimidate, or stalk someone else. The methods used can include emails, instant messaging, text messages sent via cell phones, digital photos and all other means of electronic communications. The cyber-bully can send:
angry and vulgar argumentative messages
cruel, offensive, and insulting messages
threats and false promises
It has been my observation that these messages can often come in a barrage of emails, thinly disguised as "explanations" and "attempts to reach an agreement." For the emotional cyber-bully (ECB), the only agreement that can be reached is that her way is the only way. Unable to integrate the spiritual value of humility into her persona, the ECB cannot take contradiction, confrontation or disagreement with her edicts and self-assumed expertise. Stand your ground with the ECB and be prepared to block and bounce because she will pursue her agenda to the end of time.
I can't help but think of the Lori Drew case in Los Angeles, where a woman, her daughter and a friend used the Internet to reel in and then cruelly taunt a 13-year-old who eventually committed suicide. When ECBs pick on a person who is having problems and is very vulnerable, they are, in my mind, guilty of a real crime. When they try to push someone who has the guts to push back, then they are in over their hateful heads, whether they want to admit it or not. When a bully pushes and you push back, you find the coward who retreats and hides in the anonymity of the Internet in order to continue his/her bullying.
Most of the EMS/BSE mothers have chosen, rightly, to ignore the attempts at bullying, jabbing and blustering us into feeling threatened or insulted. I choose to tell the perpetrators and their adherents that we know who you are and we think you are one very sad, bent bunch. I'll offer you a deal...You do your thing for your cause, we will do ours and we will leave you alone. Are you mature, sensible and decent enough to do the same thing?
This is your chance to disagree agreeably and acquire some class and grace. I'm all for what you are for, but I am more for what I am for, as well. The two are not mixable, so why not just let us do our thing while you do yours? Or, or you not having much luck, doing it your way?
I thought so.