Thursday, February 26, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The Natural Parents, whose so-called privacy this group is so eager to protect, are those of us from the secret, closed adoption era...the EMS/BSE. Once again, they are telling our adult children, "Don't blame US if you don't know. It's your (Natural)Mother's right to privacy that is the catch."
With absolutely no respect due, BULLSHIT. I am so sick of these spin doctors speaking for me and my sister mothers I could scream. I am not the Charlie McCarthy to either the NCFA's or the EBDI's Edgar Bergen. I am a mature woman of reasonable intelligence and I can speak for myself. To both these entities and to all the legislators (mostly attorneys elected to office with an interest in keeping adoption a going concern), agency owners and social workers across this great nation of ours, here is an open message. NEVER, IN THE PAST WHEN I GAVE BIRTH AND SURRENDERED DUE TO COERCION, NOR NOW, IN THE PRESENT, HAVE I EVER ASKED FOR OR BEEN PROMISED CONFIDENTIALITY WHERE MY OWN CHILDREN ARE CONCERNED. STOP TRYING TO SPEAK FOR ME!!!!! Honestly and frankly, any confidentiality rules were strictly for the benefit of those who adopted our children. They are the geese that layed the golden eggs for the facilitators and they are the ones who really received the privacy protection...not us.
I wish I had a lot of money. I would plaster this truth on huge billboards on every highway in America. Yes, there might be a few, timid women who drank the Kool Aid and still believe that their lives and families are forfeit if the truth came out about their unmarried motherhood. But these women can also speak for themselves. They can say, "No." It's that simple. Meanwhile, the majority, ie., the rest of us who have grown past the secrets and lies are speaking up and these self-appointed, clueless nimrods are not listening.
They also have not noticed the mothers who have braved the dire warnings we received when we were told to go and sin no more, and have searched for and found their adult children, themselves. That doesn't sound like a need for privacy to me. Of course, some of the closed records proponents consider this the action of an emotionally unsound woman. They tried to label us with that one when we became pregnant with our surrendered children. Recommended reading on this factoid, among many other insights into the era, is Rickie Solinger's "Wake Up Little Suzie."
When are these arrogant poseurs going to realize that they are no longer dealing with vulnerable, frightened teens and young women in a socially unbalanced era? We are women in our 50's and 60's and older. We have seen social changes and technological advances that would boggle the mind. We are stronger, wiser and able to handle our own affairs. We can decide and choose, for ourselves, those to whom we will and/or will not open our lives. WE will speak to our adult children. WE will decide how much of a relationship we want on our end. WE will decide what information is too private and what can be shared.
One of the awful side effects of this idea of Natural Parent privacy is the idea that, should records be open, we might be required, by law, to reveal our souls. Besides being unconstitutional, I don't think that such a law could override the HIPAA requirements. This idea is heinous in that it puts us back into the role of a criminal who has committed no real crime. No one, in this country, is required to share intimate information against their will.
Even the timid and reticent among us can spare an hour over a cup of coffee, to share the information that our adult children need. It's not rocket science. It should be clear and simple. In fact, it is the NCFA and the closed-records proponents that have muddied the waters. Our children have the right to know their heritage, to have answers to their questions and to have a relationship with their family of origin if such is their desire. We Natural Mothers have a right to know the fate and welfare of our children, the sacred responsibility to share our heritage and answer questions, and to have a relationship if we wish to have one. I would think that, say, a 63-year-old woman and her 46-year-old daughter could work out those details between them without any outside help.
Our children are no longer helpless infants. They are not possessions nor are they eternal children, never to be allowed adult autonomy. We Mothers are no longer unempowered, vulnerable young women. We can think for ourselves and we can express ourselves. We are adults seeking or being sought by other adults. What about this doesn't the NCFA understand?
For the 10,000th time, Stop Speaking For Us...We Mothers Can Speak For Ourselves!!!!!
Friday, February 13, 2009
Thinking about the issue of our parents and their role in our surrender traumas, I had to point out how the media, network and film censors, and the government presented the image of what we (according to them) SHOULD have been. Lucy and Rickie Arnaz produced Little Ricky while sleeping in separate beds. Mrs. Cleaver kept a spotless house while flawlessly attired in pumps and pearls and a darling, little shirtwaist. Even the movie "bedroom farces" of the early 1960's showed Doris Day and Jim Garner sleeping in the omnipresent twin beds. (And he portrayed an obstetrician in that movie!)
This picture of the ideal family, domesticity and squeaky-clean values was beginning to mix with the sexual and social revolution of the 60's and it seems that all Hell broke loose in real families across our land. I know that I was confused about it all and was not sure why my family was not quite like the model that was presented as the quintessential American family.
George Orwell's "1989" was THE book that spoke of the horror of government control over individual lives. While we read and shivered at the specter of Big Brother and smugly assumed our individual freedoms were in effect, society was already controlling our lives right down to the most personal aspects. Neighbors were watchdogs (what would they think???) of our perceived moral fiber and politicians plotted ultimate solutions.
This was the heyday of the social worker, the nun, the attorney, the OB/GYN and the adopters. These people worked, in collusion with agencies, maternity homes and our own parents to warehouse us, coerce us and break our spirits for daring to go against the social norm. The unmarried mother was the unsightly dust to be swept away and out of sight before the ladies dropped by for tea. I know of one mother who was kept inside until time for her to go to the maternity home, and was led out, in the dead of night, to her brother's car to be taken away while no one was watching.
I know how hurt I was that my mother feared my influence on my two younger sisters. It was as if we had some kind of communicable disease. Watch out for that pregnancy germ! We were supposed to be stronger than the forces of Nature and in control at a time in our lives when our formative libidos were in Perfect Storm Mode. I think the worst part of my experience, back then, was learning that my shame would be shared by my entire family, unfair as that seems, if my terrible secret were to be made known. It became my responsibility, young, scared and hormonal though I was, to protect the entire clan from social disgrace. God/dess help me, I loved my mother, my sisters, my entire family and I didn't want to hurt them.
My motherhood and my two oldest children were sacrificed at the altar of the almighty SOCIETY. It is recognizing this and knowing my mother truly loved me that has enabled me to forgive her for her fear and her part in the surrender of my children. We trusted these invisible forces that decreed what was acceptable and what was not. We were caught up in the post-war naivete' and the strict, asexual mores of the Bible Belt South. It took me years to realize that any group, society or entity that had that many rules governing a simple, natural function of the body, must be obsessed with it. Sex must have been on their minds 24/7.
Some parents were less loving and more appalled than others. They can't all be lumped together as the lead monsters in the horror movie that was the EMS. But I would like to think that the parents of today are less conditional in their love for their children and stronger in supporting them. We all trip and fall at sometime in our lives. In the final analysis, shouldn't family be there to pick us up, tend our wounds and help us deal with the outcome?
My mother truly and sincerely thought she was doing just that. She thought she was protecting my future. She was mistaken. I can't hate her or put all the blame on her shoulders. I cannot withhold forgiveness for her mistake. But I can and will continue to hold the real monsters culpable and call on them to answer for what was done.
And I always thought Wally and the Beaver were Nerds!
Saturday, February 07, 2009
At the same time, I have to acknowledge that there were little pockets of backwards thinking in different areas of the country or in individual families which means that there was a bit of the same treatment of a few mothers into the 1980's. However, one has to admit that the public nature of this information should have reached just about everyone and, for many, after the EMS, the mythology and misinformation about the repercussions of surrender were the only weapon the industry had.
There is one younger mother whose honesty I admire. Believe it or not, she is not threatened by the truth about the differences between my era and hers. She stated that she was making a decision based on not having to depend, in any way, on the father of her child, that she fell for the "loving option" hype and refused to listen to older mothers when they tried to warn her about how painful surrender is for both the mother and the child. Now, years later, she understands what she didn't back then and is an active advocate for natural family preservation.
Another thing that she and I have discussed is how important it is that the young people of today have a better understanding of birth control and safe sex. The Puritanical attitudes of our nation have, thus far, prevented really effective sex education in our schools. The lucky kids are the ones whose parents are realistic and open about the subject. The rest get their information the way those of my generation did...from their peers. Such information is often faulty or incomplete or both (especially if it is panted in a girl's ear by a testosterone-driven boyfriend).
Sometimes, I really have to wonder if this hue and cry by the religious right against sex education and access to birth control is because they have a stake in procuring infants to be raised by what they consider to be "the right kind of people." The desire to be a driving force in social engineering is right up the fundies' alley. They know that Abstinence Only and Purity Pledges are not very effective.
A recent study showed that those teens who made the Purity Pledges were not only as likely to wind up having sex, but were more likely to have unprotected sex. Along comes a big-money industry to tell these wide-eyed kids that they will be the next thing to Joan of Arc if they surrender their babies for adoption. I think I will gag if I hear the term, "making an adoption plan" one more time. It is supposed to make the mother feel empowered but its end result is just the opposite. It's right up there with the nasty comments from the ignorant about "babies having babies."
How I wish that we had been given the options and freedoms that are now in place. I could have finished school with my classmates. I could have raised my two oldest children and their fathers would have had to contribute to their support. I could have prosecuted my son's father for date-rape and been heard with, at least, some sympathy. I could have protected myself from further unplanned pregnancies and no one could have denied me jobs or housing. I would have been less shamed and had more self-esteem. Perhaps, just perhaps, I could have really had the support that I needed from my parents.
We can't go back and change what happened. SMAAC and the activism of the Senior Mother is not about trying to change the past. It is about shining the light of truth on the injustices of that time and we are doing it for US. We were the victims of a horrible, social inequality and punitive actions of that society. None of us, whether we are active with this group, BSERI or any other, have come out of our experience unscathed. We have worked our butts off to become emotionally, spiritually and mentally more healthy and have made lives for ourselves. We are not just about the loss of our children taken for adoption. But we all bear the scars.
We are not going to conceal these scars any longer. We are already working to get the message across to the social workers and mental health care professionals. We are not "pitting ourselves against" ANYONE.
We are helping ourselves.