Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Politics, Money and Sex


I am having the hardest the time accepting all the shucking, jiving, bobbing and weaving going on in this country. All the different issues seem to have several different factions, some working at cross-purposes to the other, others floundering in a sea of "experts."

So it seems to be with adoption reform, which is, in my mind, an oxymoron. Adoption needs to be scrapped and something more child-centered put in its place. But, to get anywhere, it seems that you have to get past the Big Three conundrums. (1) Is it politically palatable? (2) What's in  it for me$ ? (3) Is it salacious enough to use?

We no longer have Statesmen...we have politicians. And we all know where sex and money enter in to the equation with them. People don't think they really represent the voters, but I think they do watch the trends and go with what they think will keep them in office.

I have also noticed that, among the far right, we have Capitalistic Extremists. "Money makes the world go around," says the song. Although we have socialist programs already in effect in the US, the CE's will scream, "Socialism!!!" if they see any programs suggested that might help the poor, those needing healthcare, senior citizens and those nasty, old unmarried moms. One nutbar is even suggesting sending senior citizens to the front to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now THAT would help knock down that SSI deficit in a big way.

There is also the continued prurient interest of the puritanical in who sleeps with who and when and where and how. The religious right can't be bothered feeding the poor, visiting the imprisoned and tending to the sick. They are too busy sticking their noses in the nation's bedrooms. Along with the government, they would absolutely LOVE to control our sexuality. I could see them lining up to stone unmarried, pregnant women, UNLESS, of course, these sinners were acting as surrogates for the more worthy.

They are really having to put a spin on all this crap since it is no longer politically correct to place the onus of shame and blame on the single mother as it was during our era. Slick and well-worded is the direction they take. But we who have been there and done that just see that the Serpent is back in the garden and it's carrying a Bible. Christianity, American-Style, is the most unloving, intolerant institution I know and it gets its power from money and lobbying politicians so that they can regulate our sex lives. See what a snarled cord we have in place in our society?

I have a big issue with the "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" that have sprung up all over the country. This is just another version of what we went through, minus the incarceration. To be saved, you have to carry your pregnancy to term, then surrender your child. And don't think for a minute that the good people who staff these mommy-traps really care about that mother. If they did, they would be helping her keep her baby. But then, that might mean she has to accept some public assistance, at least for a little while, and we all know that Good Christians don't believe in taking care of the poorer among us because of the occasional person who takes advantage of the welfare system.

Now, isn't it funny how a post that started off about Politics, Money and Sex, found its way to the topic of Religion? No, not really. Just about every major and minor Christian sect, denomination or cult has played at social engineering and been involved in adoption.

Adoption is a big-bucks business (money), dependent upon that "abstinence only" (sex) thing and sanctioned by the government (politics). It's all fueled by the growing number of people who delay childbearing until it's too late to conceive and/or with other infertility issues and who are somehow convinced that they have a right to, are entitled to, and deserve a child more than the woman who bears that child, Adoption has all the big players in place. That "more deserving" thing comes from the religious ideas that permeate our poor nation. Notice I said Religious...not Spiritual.

My sisters and I from the BSE/EMS are fighting something that we know is huge. Sometimes, it feels like we are dragging bags of boulders up a steep hill. The going is rough and slow and frustrating, at times. But, at least we know the enemy. It comes clothed in greenbacks, filled with political corruption, wearing xray glasses to see into bedrooms and it carries a Bible.

And it is everywhere.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

History Dunces

It amazes me how little our younger friends know about recent American history. I am not talking about early colonization and the Revolution, but mid-20th century realities. They tend to keep wanting to view it through the perception of today's  mores.

I think that a friend and I got the biggest laugh from a guy on Craigslist who was very blaming and wanted to know why we didn't use birth control. This was an adult asking this question and I wondered on what planet he had been living.

One more time, in the EMS, and prior, birth control was hit and miss and there was no pill, no IUD, no depo shot...nothing but condoms. Even married people did not have access to birth control until a woman named Margaret Sanger started campaigning for the rights of women to prevent pregnancy. You can read about her on Wikipedia. She died in 1966 when the idea of birth control was really getting started. A single woman, even after the pill was approved, had NO access to birth control at all for years afterwards.

Condoms, when a boy was able to get them without the pharmacist calling his parents and getting him in trouble, were not 100% effective as many of us can attest. No young girl would be caught dead going into a drug store to buy a pack of protection. This shows you just how much things have changed, both socially and scientifically, in 50 to 60 years.

People from today see the 60's as an era of peace, love, sex, drugs and rock and roll. Sorry to bust the bubble, but the "Summer of Love" didn't hit until I had been married and had a 3-year-old kept child. In small towns like mine, "hippies" were scorned and the way of the yuppie was embraced. Virginity was still prized and Doris Day was the archetype of the "wait until you are married" school of thought. I used to wonder if she frustrated Rock Hudson, but then we all know about old Rock. He was battling his own hypocritical demons. Looking back, I ache for him and others like him as I do for us. People were such blue-noses back then.

Young women were not as sophisticated as they are now. Very few of us were given more than the mere basics of sex education and the misinformation that we picked up from our peers. The boys were supposed to try to get us naked and we were supposed to control them and never get naked. It was a man's world.

Roe v Wade changed a lot of things. The right of a woman to choose her own reproductive process was an idea that was revolutionary and scary to the religious community. However, it became the law of the land in January of 1973 and the back-alley butchers were, largely, out of business. Some remained but I daresay they didn't get the business they got prior to that momentous decision. Many parents who could afford the procedure were more than willing to pay for it. By that time, I had been married for five years and we were talking about having another child. I had worn an IUD for 2 years, because I was married and could get one, and didn't have to worry about it until we were ready. I felt like a pioneer.

By the time my daughter was old enough to become pregnant, birth control had been made available to single girls, as well. and the supply of womb-fresh infants for the adoption machine fell even further. By the mid-80's, adult adopted people and mothers who had lost a child to adoption were starting to search for and find each other. I remember falling out of my chair in shock when I saw a reunion story on the Phil Donahue Show.

I was 48 and, unknown to me, a grandmother, when my daughter found me in 1993. By then, searches and reunions were making the news, regularly. My daughter and I were interviewed by the local paper. The closet doors that were shut in the middle of the 20th century were opening as the century drew to a close. Now, those of us that were swept up in that horrible thing called the EMS are fighting. We fight for recognition and justice and our children for equality and access to their own original birth certificates.

That is a short synopsis of the history of reproductive right and the days of my youth. It is a view from someone who lived it. It has all gone by so fast that I feel like I have been in a time machine. When I had my first child, there were no PC's, no cell phones, no microwaves, VCR's, CD's, DVD players or video games. People still communicated via the postal service or the expensive long distance call. Our telephones has dials on them..not buttons, and Barbie was brand-new. The Beatles were playing in cellar clubs in Europe and John Lennon had a DA, not the famous mop-top.

And girls from that time...? Well, they were either the "good (virgin)" girls or the "bad (non-virgin)" girls and never the twain would meet. It gives me great sorrow to see the conservatives and right-wing Christians of our society trying to wind the social clock backwards. The social engineering of adoption is still big business. They just have to work harder and more subtly to get those babies to the "right kind of people." The anti-choicers and the adoption industry are holding hands in the dark and getting downright chummy. It seems that the only thing they have learned from our recent history is how to get around the newest obstacles in their paths.

But, we continue to speak out and, if it makes some people less than comfortable, so be it. If it causes one young woman to change her mind and keep her baby, hooray and hallelujah. If it makes people take a closer look at one of the more shameful periods in our history, then we are doing our job.

We are teaching if anyone is up to learning.

Monday, June 28, 2010

You Can't Go Home Again

Thomas Wolfe said it and I am beginning to understand it. You can go home, but you have to take the bad memories with the good. Too often, you find that not much has changed. So the home you have in your mind and the real thing are not the same.

Don't expect, for instance, to find that minds that were closed have, miraculously, opened. Don't expect that the fundamentalist, intolerant religion that personified your community is gone. It's still there. And be prepared to find that some may not like how you have evolved into a stronger, more opinionated person. For many, that small town mindset is set in stone.

There is a cute little guy (I guess he's not little any more) who used to attend the same church my family attended. He was a teddy bear of a kid. He grew up to become well-educated and an adopter. Another old friend, someone I know went through some questionable times of her own, thinks that adoption is God's Plan. They are oblivious to the pain that causes. I don't think I should try to educate them. I don't think I CAN educate them. Open minds tend to snap shut when precious, pre-conceived notions are challenged.

I have posted about this before...about how the religious use the myth of Moses to justify adoption. They leave out the part where he was basically raised by his own mother, that he never called Ramses his brother, but he did recognize Aaron as his brother, and that he was watched over the entire time that basket floated on the Nile. As an adult, Moses returned to his people and his family and renounced his "adoptive" family and nation.

All the Egyptian princess did was keep him alive so that he could grow up in safety. And Moses' mother was trying to save his physical life. We who were coerced into surrender were not threatened by the slaughter of our babies by a tyrant. It was just shame, blame and a society that...well, basically sucked.

A friend of mine has a reunited daughter who said it best. She told her adopter that, "no matter how much time an orange spends with the apples, it's still an orange." Moses never stopped being an Israelite and the son of his real mother. It's amazing to see the traits of our families in our adult, reunited children. The bond is still there, twisted but not broken. The great experiment is not working out the way the adoption industry and the adopters hoped it would.

Something most Bible pundits ignore in the adoption debate is the fact that a great deal of importance is placed on natural heritage. Why else does anyone think that all those "begats" are in there? Our children have a right to know their heritage just like anyone else. And if it leads to reunion and a renewal of the mother/child bond, so be it.

To think that a young woman should surrender her child just because she is young, single, not well off, etc., so that her child can have "a better life," is to fail to recognize the importance of the most primal bond that was ever created...that of the mother and child. With adoption, that bond is dishonored, the mother is used as breeding stock and another child grows up with confusion. All most mothers needs is a bit of familial support and for the father to step in and take on his responsibilities. He doesn't have to marry her, but he should help support his offspring.

No one was there to help me. Like millions of other girls and young women in the EMS, I was abandoned to the tender mercies of a social experiment. Moses' real mother would have been appalled.

And the Higher Power in whom I believe just isn't that mean.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Myth Of The Heroic Mother

My hands are empty as are my arms,
The years are lost and can never be re-lived.
Memory fades but can become sharp with sad reminders.
I was not brave,
I was terrified and alone,
With no one to see my fear and anguish.
My back was not straight and strong,
My back was against the wall.
My options were to lose my family,
Or to surrender.

And surrender was like death,
With no satisfaction for a good deed done,
Or noble tears for doing "the right thing,"
That wasn't right.
There was just loss and grief,
Smothered under stoic silence.
I did not act out of love,
But out of desperation.
Had I followed the love in my heart,
There would have been no surrender,
No missing pieces of myself,
No nightmares and depression,
No tears on birthdays and Mother's Day,
No self-hatred and no death-wish.
Those who think they know,
Don't know the inner mother.
They only see the outer bad girl.
They only want to see the fairy tale,
They don't want to witness the agony,
They don't want to believe,
That it's not part of God's plan,
For a mother to lose her child,
Just so someone else can be called "Mother."

I was not a heroine or a player in God's Great Plan.
I was a frightened girl, abandoned and alone,
Who was judged by a society,
Whose standards were unjust,
And whose methods were cruel.
God is not cruel.


Robin Westbrook (c) 6/27/2010
                                

Shouting As Fast As I Can

I spent years trying to help the younger mothers coming up behind those of us from the EMS. I posted flyers in schools and campuses offering help for mothers-to-be who wanted to keep their babies. For a while, that was my mission. I felt that, if anyone would be an expert in coercion and loss, it would be my generation. I spent hours posting on forums where a new mom-to-be was considering surrender, trying to get her to think about it and not make such a painful, life-altering decision without giving herself a chance to know her child.

It became a thankless task, to be honest. Most of the younger moms were so convinced that we older ones didn't know what we were talking about that nothing we could say would make a difference. They usually wound up in support groups after it was over and done. It finally became exhausting and was taking away from the focus I wanted to keep firmly on the EMS. That doesn't mean that I won't get my say in if I think it will help a newer mother keep her baby.

After all, the industry got its power and impetus from us, the EMS/BSE mothers, and what is happening today is a direct result of what they were able to get away with in our day. I know that there are some younger moms who are sorry they didn't listen, but, as we know, you can't change history. But, you can learn from it. There was a time when people listened to and respected their elders. They figured they had lived through more and that there might be a related experience that could help them through current condundrums.

That is one of the results I hope will come from re-visiting and outing the excesses and crimes of the EMS. Perhaps, if the industry as it began is given a thorough scrutiny, then the industry as it has become will have to do some big-time fancy dancing with the truth as the tune.

The main issue for me, though, isn't about today's mothers or open records or any of that. It is about us and how what we went through created something abominable. Because we were shut away in secret and told to stay quiet about our ordeals, we now have self-entitled "predadopters," saccharine bee-mommies and a big-bucks, child bartering business. What the industry does now with hype and propaganda, was done to us with overt, punitive and casual cruelty. Why shouldn't we want to cry foul and ask for attention? We were there first.

I care about clean bills for access to open records, especially if they include mothers, but definitely not if they penalize mothers with invasive demands for medical and psycho-social records mandated by the state. I care about the younger mothers, but I also know what I can't do and that is teach those who won't be taught. And, I care a lot more about my peers, those who suffered through the same excrement that I did and who are feeling that righteous indignation that we were treated in this manner. It is our turn.

This is not the official SMAAC site. This is my blog and I decide what I do and don't care about, here. Believe me, it all goes back to the EMS.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tears For My Country

I have always felt, and still feel, that I live in a wonderful country. Notice, I didn't say "the greatest" nor did I say "perfect." There are many things in our history of which we can all be justifiably proud and there are many shameful mistakes from which I wish our government and power structure could learn.

If the USA were a person, I would say she is suffering from OCD and addiction. One of the hallmarks of OCD is repeating behaviors...often destructive and non-productive ones. It's insanity at its most insidious.

I still see the bumper stickers, from time to time, that state "My country, right or wrong." Sometimes I see the old one, "America. Love it or leave it." But that first truncated quote goes on to say that, "when it is right, I will support it. When it is wrong, I will work to change it." It's like the love a mother has for her children. It's unconditional, but a good mother doesn't support or enable bad or destructive behavior. She allows and encourages her children to take responsibility for their mistakes and hasty actions and to learn from the experience. Sometimes, we have to let go and leave it up to whatever Higher Power in which we believe to carry a load that we cannot.

The Serenity Prayer asks for acceptance for the things we can't change, courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference. We can't change the past. Neither I nor any group to which I am affiliated is trying to accomplish the impossible. I'm smart enough to know that, Einstein and his theories aside, time travel is not a luxury we can currently afford ourselves. But to bring attention to a massive mistake in hopes that our government can see the lesson to be learned...that I can do.

As I watch my nation's struggle and the efforts being made by the right wing to establish a state religion, legislate personal sexuality and reproduction, and to keep the power and the money in the hands of the elite, I want to cry for the image I had of America as a child. But I also know that it is good when we no longer see things as we want them to be but as they are and were. From that vision comes something I think of as the strength of America...the activism of its citizenry.

Yesterday, I wrote about Reproductive Predation. The reason so many feel entitled to engage in that behavior is because of a corrupt segment of our society who thinks it is all right to prey on the young, vulnerable and poor for their own needs. This mind-set got its start with the "perfect solution" of the post-WWII era, the BSE/EMS. Because it could be done, back then, legally and with impunity, massive numbers of young women were stripped of all autonomy and their infants. There was no "choice" involved and the methods were so punitive that they would cause gasps of horror if tried in the present day. I'm not talking about just our parents, but an entire society, government and "profession." We were fodder for the onset of a terrible social experiement that has evolved into the slick, sleek, well-funded and government-supported industry of today.

I don't know if I can do any more than hold up a mirror to our nation and hope that she sees the truth in her reflected image. If it means I need to chain myself to the White House fence, well, it's been done before. We were encouraged by subtle threats to keep silent. For decades, many of us kept our secrets and some of us only told those to whom we were close. Now we are talking, and it seems to upset many people. One would almost think they were afraid for our stories to be told in detail.

Well, the proverbial "can of worms" is opened, but instead of worms, it is releasing a bunch of gray tigers. And we're after the people who took our cubs.

Friday, June 25, 2010

What's A Reproductive Predator?

"There's a man over there, with a look of surprise, as much as to say, 'Well now how about that.'
"Do I actually see, with my own very eyes, a man that's not heard of a
....Jellicle Cat?
"What's a Jellicle Cat????"

This ran through my mind as I was reading on another forum. A woman who had adopted, asked this question in much the same way as did the characters in the musical "Cats." Affronted and disturbed, she took it quite personally. So, I will be more than happy to describe what I believe is a Reproductive Predator.

The Reproductive Predators are usually a couple with the wife mired deeply in the "give me a child lest I die" mentality. These are the PAPs who will post a page on the Internet, with a picture of themselves and all the material goods they can offer a child. They will troll the adoption support boards and will quickly and privately email any mother-to-be who is asking for support, to offer themselves as the right people for her child, before it is even born. They will violate the rules of a forum to troll for babies.

The Reproductive Predator is the nefarious author of "Dear Birthmommie" letters, expressing a desperate need for a child. I swear, if some of these folks shilled for PBS, they would have all the money they needed for programming. They will tear the heart out of you with their pitiful pleas. 

The Reproductive Predators will haunt the so-called "crisis pregnancy centers," hoping to waylay  frightened, vulnerable young women and beat out any other potential adopters. Some have even followed pregnant women they thought might be "too young" and not wearing a wedding ring through stores and malls, stalking them like a tiger, cornering them and offering their card with their attorney's number on it. I have a married, young friend who had this happen to her in, of all places, Wal-Mart.

The Reproductive Predators will love-bomb an expectant mother considering surrender, doing all in their power to make her feel sympathy for them and obligation to them. These are the PAPs that will insist on a pre-birth agreement, demand to be at every OB visit, in the labor room and to catch the baby on delivery. They will refer to the human being who is expecting as "OUR birthmother." They will agree to stipulations they have no intention of honoring in order to get the child, then they will set unreasonable boundaries or close off the agreement altogether.

The Reproductive Predators will never admit that the mother of the child they crave was in any way coerced, suffered pain and grief or should have been given the opportunity and support she needed to raise her own child. All they care about is getting a baby and the mother is nothing to them but a vessel, soon to be toast if they have their way. I have seen some of these RP's get very, very vicious when a mother would come to her senses and back out of the surrender. They honestly see themselves as more deserving. They will harass her and will have to be threatened, in some cases, with restraining orders.

Sadly, most Reproductive Predators haunt the Internet, telling all and sundry how happy and well-adjusted their acquired child is and ignoring the confusion and pain of that child. They will point fingers at natural mothers to give the impression that all of them are dope-heads and sluts, in order to make themselves look like heroic rescuers. They will heatedly insist that THEIR B****mother is "happy" about her decision and the poor kid might have convinced herself of that in order to avoid the pain of loss. And, if they are called on their duplicity, they can get very nasty. I'm talking claws and fangs, here.

So, to anyone who asks, Yes, there are Reproductive Predators. They can be found in every town in every state of the Union. If you are young and/or poor and/or single, watch out! Once they sink their claws in, you are dead meat. And RP's can be medical professionals that get a cut, an agency worker, your local DSS worker, a friendly attorney or anyone who stands to gain by taking your child.

So, mothers-to-be and mothers of infants and toddlers, I call upon you to arm yourselves with self-respect, proper support and knowledge and beware the dreaded Reproductive Predator!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I'm Cranky

This is an "up yours " kinda day. I have a procedure in the morning and I have to prep for it today. That can make a person, who wants her coffee and bagel, cranky from the get-go.

So, while I have a good crank simmering, I will address some of my favorite irritants. "Regionalism" will start me off since that got my back up a little bit, yesterday. I am a southern girl with a northern heritage. My father was from upstate NY but I spent the majority of my growing-up years in the south. I am so tired of people thinking that anyone who lives in the south, especially in the southern Appalachians, is red-necked, inbred and ignorant.

Having traveled a bit and gone to many a Northern state, I can testify that there are many rednecks everywhere in the "more enlightened than thou" states. Vermont could take the place of Georgia in "Deliverance." And go anywhere south of Springfield in Illinois and see where you are and who is there. My home town in SC happens to be home to a college that many refer to as the "Julliard of the South." And that is just one of seven institutions of higher learning.

I have gone to a few meetings and retreats where natural moms got together and a couple where adopted people were in attendance and I heard only a couple of southern drawls other than mine.The person who made up the joke that the only virgin on a southern mill hill was the six-year-old who could run the fastest has never been to MY mill hill.

From that, I will go on to the idiot adopters who answer questions on Yahoo Answers that are directed towards mothers. In fact, I also resent them speaking for us on NPR (recently) and I equally resent the industry speaking for us. We are shouting as loud as we can. Listen to US. We can speak for ourselves! In fact, you might find that many of us, including those of us from the south, are very articulate.

I resent the lies told to our children that lead them to believe that we all are cringing in fear of open records. That is so not the case. The mothers who drank the Kool Aid and are hiding behind their fear are the minority. I hate contact vetoes as much as I hate the idea of mandatory medical history forms. Neither is productive nor equitable. I have the honor of being a mother who was searched for and found by my firstborn. I also like the fact that my son registered with a search group, making it easier to be found. I represent the majority..not those pet beemommies that the industry and the ACLU trot out at every hearing of an open records bill.

I resent people who are ignorant of the era in which we gave birth and surrendered. One such idiot, yesterday, asked why we didn't use birth control. I had to control my laughter to address this one. Even married people were not given access to birth control when I got pregnant. The only thing available was condoms and in a small town, a girl or a boy didn't just walk into the corner drug store and buy a pack of Trojans. Our parents would have known before we made it back home. And abortion was not safely and legally available until the mid '70's. Read your history, Nimrod! We were controlled by our parents...something that the young people of today would find laughable.  But it is the truth.

Most of all, I resent the fact that we EMS moms are aging out of the population of mothers of adoption loss. We have an issue to address and the fact that I am having to undergo a "procedure" and see the doctor every few months for follow-ups shows that real life takes a chunk of my time. With what I have left, I write, blog, send letters to legislators, editors and anyone else I think needs to hear from me. I express my opinions in forums and I obviously scare some people because the defensiveness is rampant. But the rest of the time, I am dealing with a busy, eventful life.

I am frustrated at being so far from my kids and my sisters, especially since my sister has become so ill.

I am mildly annoyed at hit and run trolls on blogs and forums. However, I do get some entertainment from them. Anonymous cowards can be amusing.

I am very annoyed at the economy because we need to sell our house.

I am furious at BP and the likes of Rush Limbaugh and some GOP legislators. Take a look at the beach in Pensacola. This is ridiculous and scary and sickening.

OK, that's it for today. I am sure I can come up with more tirades after tomorrow. Nothing can get the annoyance flowing like a good procedure.

PS: On the upside, I don't have to put my teeth in today. Why should I when I will be inside all day and on clear liquids?  I can really look like Granny Grump.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Girls Like Me

There are worse things I could do,
Than go with a boy or two.
Even though the neighborhood,
Thinks I'm trashy, and no good,
I suppose it could be true,
But there are worse things I could do.

I could flirt with all the guys,
Smile at them and bat my eyes.
Press against them when we dance,
Make them think they stand a chance,
Then refuse to see it through.
                                           That's a thing I'd never do.

I could stay home every night,
Wait around for Mr. Right.
Take cold showers every day,
And throw my life away,
On a dream that won't come true.

I could hurt someone like me,
Out of spite or jealousy.
I don't steal and I don't lie,
But I can feel and I can cry.
A fact I'll bet you never knew.
But to cry in front of you,
That's the worse thing I could do.
 
Rizzo was my hero in "Grease." She made no bones about her passions and predilections and flaunted herself in the face of the judgmental. She kept her tears to herself. She was braver than me and less of a drama queen. I was a good girl with a bad reputation. I was naive, living in a dream world and was honestly astounded when people talked about me. What other kids did that got a fond laugh, got me in deep doo-doo.
 
I was that girl from "Happy Days" with the racy rep. Richie tried his luck with her, only to find out that, while she liked the kissing and closeness, she stopped at the heavy stuff. He ruined it anyway with the clumsy blowing in her ear. I had always loved kissing. I closed my eyes and I was Debra Paget or Elizabeth Taylor being swept away by the most handsome man in the world. I truly didn't know what was being implied when the camera panned away to the flames in the fireplace or fireworks were filling the air outside the balcony.
 
Up until my first real "in love" relationship, I was always able to stop things before they got too uncomfortable. I would always know, not what the making out was leading to, but that, suddenly, that lovely warmth in my belly would become a nervous, sinking feeling and I knew that it was time to sit up and move away. For me, the kissing was an end in itself. I honestly didn't realize that, for the guys, it was a means to an end. I knew there was something "dirty" the boys wanted to do that involved the organs "down there" but I was fortunate, to that point, that they never pushed it.
 
With my daughter's father, everything changed. We were still so wet behind the ears, but our passion was great. I was afraid to stop him because I was afraid I would lose him. I was still so frightened and guilty that I would just lie there and let him do what he wanted. I received no real pleasure from the act. In truth, I was so naive that I could not relate what we were doing to whatever it was that married people did to make babies. My resulting pregnancy came as a shock to me. By then, I was a little less naive and smart enough to be scared.
 
When Rizzo sang "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" in Grease, she was sweating out a late period. Even though she wouldn't admit it, she was terrified. So was I. If there was anything that would turn you into a pariah in my community, it would be an unmarried pregnancy. I already knew, from the casual way the boy I loved was treating me, that there was little help to come from that quarter. He had already gotten me in with a bad bunch that led to me getting in serious trouble with the law and I was labeled a juvenile delinquent when all I had done was sit in the car. Of course, Rizzo was able to announce, loudly, to her boyfriend, at the end of the movie, that she wasn't pregnant. Well, that's a Hollywood happy ending for you.
 
I cried, but I also started withdrawing, seeking out time alone. I finally had to confide in someone and seek some help. We all know what that got me. And, while living in a Home For Unwed Mothers, the tongues were wagging, including that of my boyfriend. If I thought I had a reputation before, I didn't know nuttin'! Friends were no longer allowed by their parents to have anything to do with me. Boys were constantly trying to lure me into their back seats and one wouldn't take no for an answer.
 
Peer pressure is the pits. When you feel unworthy because your peer group has pegged you as a loser, it is hard to outgrow that burden. For a few months, after I lost my second child, I think I tried to live the image I had been given. I hated it, it wasn't me, and I cut it out. Through all of this, there was a voice, deep inside me, screaming, "I Am Not A Slut!" Emotionally messed up? Hell yes. You would be too. But I was a decent person with values and ideals who just wanted someone to love and respect me.
 
It took me many years to learn that I was not what the gossip mongers had labeled me. I stopped judging my insides by everyone else's outsides and learned that there are worse things I could do. I could destroy another human being by spreading gossip, I could sit in a church pew every Sunday and practice casual character assassination outside after the service. I could do what one neighbor, who never missed a service did, and poison the neighborhood pets. I could exclude and ignore someone who really needed a friend. I could torment and tease and get a laugh out of someone who was socially clumsy. Oh yes...there were a whole lot of worse things I could do. I could be the bigot that so many in my era were. The list is endless.
 
I've done a lot of things that I am not proud of, but I am just one out of the entire human race who can say the exact same thing. I have also tried to be the best I could be, once I learned that, damn it, I was as good as anyone else. I learned to accept and even like myself and that was when my inner Rizzo emerged. And I am glad she wasn't pregnant. Many of the girls in my area who were sexually active with their boyfriends escaped the big "P." Unfortunately, they usually went on to become adopters. Rizzo wouldn't do that. I like to think that she went on to marry a man who loved her spunk and fire and lived happily ever after, with the occasional bumps that living brings.
 
Thanks, Rizzo. You give all us bad girls a good name.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Real Life Strikes Again

 
Not everything important that happens does so in the arena of activism for natural mothers or on the Internet. Real life is still going on and people are still being born, living and dying.

The picture at the left could be my sisters and me. We were stairsteps with only 14 months betweem my middle sister and me. Our baby sister came along almost 3 years after her.

We all had our distinct talents and personalities. I was sensitive, the scholar, tended to day-dream, read a lot and backed down from fights for the most part. Susan was a little spitfire, full of common sense, athletic, strong and with the singing voice of an angel. Debbie was our plump little tag-along. She was happy doing her own thing and loved animals and horses. Today, she has one of her own, leads trail rides and works in a very responsible field of healthcare. Oh, and she is no longer heavy.

Because of the disparity in our natures and the hard knocks we endured growing up, Susan and I had our differences and as we got older, the differences became more serious. When I moved to FL, I very seldom talked to her. What the problems were is no longer an issue. She hasn't changed her basic nature, but something HAS changed. Her health.

My youngest sister had been telling me that she was in bad shape but I didn't realize how bad until I spoke to her, yesterday. She couldn't sing a note if she wanted to. That beautiful voice is lost forever. Her COPD is severe. She also has other problems that make her life, as she puts it, "miserable." She is giving up and just waiting for the end.

Everyone always thought that Susan would outlast everyone. She was tough and in control. The problem is, that she was too much in control. To be a survivor, you have to be able to bend a little when a hard wind blows. When you keep standing up, rigid and straight, you break. Now she is in a position that no one who knew her would ever have expected...dependent.

I remember how she defended me against the nasty rumors when I was pregnant. I remember how she was ostracized by some fair-weather friends because of me. But she never complained. She just gave them the finger and moved on. I remember the first time I learned that, behind that "up yours" exterior was a person with feelings that could be hurt. But she was unfailingly loyal to me. I can do no less for her, now.

As we mothers of the EMS continue to age, so do our families. It becomes a juggling act, trying to deal with aging issues, illnesses, retirement plans, and adult children and also staying active in EMS Mothers' issues. It's really a no-brainer as to which should get the lion's share of our attention. The crimes against the mothers of the EMS are always going to be a fact of our history. But we don't know how long we or our family members will last.

With my sister, I am praying for a miracle and preparing for anything. Thank Heavens I remembered how much I love her.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Not To Start The "Daddy" Rumpus Again...

...but this day is a bit on the bitter-sweet side for me. My own dad was no great shakes. He was out of my life from age 5 to age 14 and when he reappeared, it was not exactly the greatest thing that ever happened to us. I have forgiven my Dad a lot and learned to accept what and who he was and there is some love there. I shed a few honest tears when he died.

My two raised children lucked out. My former husband and I did not have a good marriage, but he was a staunch and supportive Dad and remains so to this day, even if he can get a bit curmudgeonly at times. My oldest, reunited daughter has fond memories of the man who raised her, the man she called "Daddy." My reunited son's adopter is still living and I am not really pleased with the father he had or the father he got.

I am sure that today will be hard for my daughter. Her natural father, who abandoned me, still refuses to allow her into his life. Her other "Daddy" is deceased. For me,  the fact that I was lied about and abandoned by the boy who was the love of my life at the time, is even more painful than the date rape that followed by virture of those lies. That worthy gentleman also refuses to allow my son access to his paternal heritage. I went behind his back and talked to his mother to get some medical information my son needed. The less I see and hear of him, the better.

My kids are all calling to wish their "Poppy" a Happy Father's Day, today. They are his step-children and I am sure that he will spend a lot of time, today, thinking about his only child, Marcus, who died by his own hands in March of 1996. My kids love him and consider him a parent, but they can't replace his son. He tries to concentrate on the good memories. He decided that his life, how he conducted himself in his work, his marriage and all his other relationships would be a memorial to his son. He has more than accomplished his goal, there.

I miss my Grampa K. who passed away in February of 1969, just 3 months after we lost my mother. He was one of my most favorite men in the whole wide world. At 6', 6" with a huge, barrel chest and a shiny, bald head, he was a gentle giant. My sisters and I, when visiting as teens and getting ready to go out, used to love to kiss his bald head after we put on our lipstick. When we came home, those lip prints would still be on his head.

I am really happy for those of you whose experiences with the fathers of your children lost to adoption were good. However, it is a FACT that, for the majority of us in the EMS, that wasn't the case. All it would have taken would have been an admission that they were the fathers and the agreement to marry the mother of their child, even if in name only and even if it were followed quickly by divorce. Our children would have been raised by the family of their origin and the whole OBC thing would be a moot point. I even try to give them the benefit of the doubt by realizing that many of them were just boys, horny, entitled, males. Nah. I take that back. They were assholes for the most part.

I remember one girl telling me, at the FCH in Savannah where I was incaercerated until the birth of my son, that her beloved told her, "Katy, there are girls you marry and girls you f***. You proved yourself to be one of the latter and I have no way of knowing how many others there have been." Tears were pouring down her face when she told me this. I cried in total empathy. He was the only one she had ever allowed  to even kiss her.

My daughter's sperm donor told her that I was "promiscuous" and that he just couldn't be sure she was his, even as he was looking into his own eyes. She even answers the phone the same way he did, Why, over 30 years later, did he still feel the need to try to diminish me? I am fortunate that she believed me over him. For two decades, I obsessed over a guy who wasn't worth the first tear I ever shed over him. The pain was so sharp that, even though I no longer feel it, I can certainly remember it.  And when I do, I can look at my husband and thank my lucky stars for a real man.

I, and many, many others lost more than our children. It was not just a matter of losing my dreams of love and the approval of my loved ones, but then to have my children taken and being judged as unfit, all because I loved someone who was a jerk, added so much insult to injury. Then to be violently assaulted because of the lies told and believed....Well, you can see why I have to approach Father's Day with a bit of caution. Is there still some residual anger? Well, would I be human if there wasn't? Only now, the anger isn't for me, but for my children.

But, to all the good Dads out there, I wish you a sincerely happy Father's Day. You are to be commended for being there.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Learning To Accept Love

I read an interesting post over at Imaginary Mothers' Blog, written by my friend, Jackie Arias. Jackie is an international adopted person of Hispanic origins and a wonderful spokesperson for her peers who are in the same boat. She and I are not riding the same train,  but she has my respect. I found this to be a most telling passage;

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” Lao Tzu, Father of Taoism


"As the debates on adoption continue, and yet another adoptee is abused (re, Russian adopted boy returned to Moscow..*RW I can’t help but to think about unconditional love. How important is it for a child’s development and emotional stability?
In my experience I have seen many people adopt that offer only conditional love – a love which asks for something in return. My brother and I were told, “If you are a ‘good’ child then you will have a home. If you reciprocate for all that has been given to you, then you will be loved and you will not be sent back to Costa Rica.” It was an extraordinary amount of pressure to place on us. Somehow we had to find a way to fill a void in our adoptive parent’s life."

All I can think, when I have confronted the truth of that, is what a terrible burden to place on the shoulders of a child. What happens when the child fails to fill that void? What messages are given to that child about their lovability and personal value? I can refer to my own two surrendered children on that one. Their pre-verbal grief was never recognized nor addressed. They suffered for it.

My  daughter asked many questions about me which, obviously, threatened the people who adopted her. As a result, my daughter was told a lot of lies. I hate it when they tell the child, "your mother gave you up because she loved you." Now that is nonsense to a child. The better and truer phrase would be, "your mother surrendered because she had no other choice." My son acted out and his adopter was an old proponent of never sparing the rod.

This is something that others mothers and I have discussed, often...the inability of our children to recognize and freely accept unconditional love. Some of our adult children even seem to fear it, mistrust it and reject it as alien. Well, it is alien to their experience.

When the EMS began, it became all about a child for a home rather than a home for a child. We mothers were a "problem" to be solved and our bonds with our children were seen as negligible. The phrase "as if born to" and the idea of tablua rasa, or the infant as a "blank slate" were the order of the day. The social engineering efforts went into high gear and the numbers of infants coerced from their mothers literally exploded. In most states, this high-handed coercion and discrimination was completely legal. What was the norm then, is politically incorrect, now, but don't tell that to the Christian right-wingers and the Good Old Boy conservatives.

Of course, adopters were disappointed when that "as if born to" didn't materialize. They were even more disturbed when the children they adopted evinced personality traits and talents and preferences that didn't fit with their family. The blank slate came with a blood heritage that wouldn't be denied. So, if the child did not do well because they were frightened, confused, angry or grieving, it was all put down to "bad blood." For the child, it was either blend in, pretend to be who they wanted you to be, or lose the love that every child so desperately needs.

Now before any knickers get knotted, I don't think that all who adopted were that deep into the fantasy that they couldn't realize that they were raising a child who was born to a stranger. For those who did realize that and gave the rare, unconditional love and acceptance the child needed, kudos. I wish you were the majority.

But what Jackie wrote about in her blog is important, even if the adoption was domestic. It has helped me see the reasons behind and the validity of the feelings the adoptee has. Too often, those feelings are transferred to the mother (the "abandoner") rather than the reality of the situation. But, if love is conditional, then who would want to test the conditional love of the adopter by blaming adoption and its undercurrents? For better or for worse, that life with those conditions are all the adopted person knew and it is always, as the phrase goes, "better the devil you know than the devil you don't."

So, when put forth in a manner of respect and information, without putting the mother on the defensive and calling names, it can be understood. We might still refuse, and rightly so, to take on the onus of responsibility, especially if our surrender (which has nothing to do with the actual adoption) was coerced or illegal as in Jackie's case. But we can feel for our children. This is not how a child should be raised which brings up the question of why anyone would have a child they didn't want, or adopt a child that cannot fulfill the adopter's fantasies? Neither HAS to happen..not today.

I wanted both my children, desperately. Even my son, whose conception was less than "consensual," was deeply loved and his presence seen as separate from the acts of his father. I know that and my children know that. But I don't think they will ever, 100% believe it because they keep trying to earn my love. They don't have to do that. They have had it ever since they were born and still have it, no matter what they do or don't do. I might not support their bad decisions, but I will support them as my children. That's unconditional love. It isn't indulgence, it isn't being too strict or too lenient, it isn't subjugating our own needs and it isn't something a child should have to earn.

You don't usually see an adult, raised child publish, in a public forum, an impassioned  paean to their natural mothers or show gratitude for us not aborting them. We might get mushy cards and chatty phone calls on Mothers' Day, but no one takes out an ad or hires an orchestra. Nurturing and unconditional love are a child's rights.

Take either from them, and you damage the child.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Whose Opinions Matter?


There are times when it is hard to be an opinionated person. Too often, we come up against those who are not content to let us have our own view of what is or is not important. I am not sure if it is because some people feel threatened when their philosophies are not echoed or that these folks just want control. But I have come to the conclusion that I have allowed myself to be pulled into "shooting from the lip" when encountering this attitude.

I wrote a post, yesterday, that I deleted. It was over-kill. And I made a comment about another person that was totally uncalled-for, so I went to the blog where I had made the comment and deleted it. I am sorry I ever wrote it in the first place...not because I differ with some one's philosophy, but because it should be beneath me to describe another person in a vulgar manner. What the other person has or has not done is not important. What is important is how I conduct myself and I am sorry I made that comment. I also know it is not going to kill me or diminish me to admit when I am wrong. But this is the only time for that, as well. I don't want to keep beating a dead horse.

I just came home a little while ago from getting a blood test in preparation for a lovely procedure that most of us senior citizens have to have sooner, or later. Ah yes, the colonoscopy is due again. I am required by my gastroenterologist to have one every three years since I had a polyp removed after my second one. I was really feeling down. I had seen so many negative comments and criticisms that I was wondering what I was thinking in believing that my opinions were as important as anyone else's. But then I was greeted at the door by 29 pounds of wiggling, wagging, panting, prancing "Oh, Boy, Mommy's Home" sweetness and a smile and kiss from 160 pounds of warm hubby.

I realized that I put a whole lot more stock in the opinion these two hold of me than just about anyone else. If I am a good enough person to have the love and respect of hubby, children, friends and my little guy, then I need to get off my pity pot and have at it. This blog is about me, my life, my experience and my opinions. The goals of any organization to which I belong can be addressed by going to that site...not here. If my personal goals coincide, that's just the way it is.

I have a wish more than a goal. I have a wish that people might allow us all to stand up and speak our piece without rancor. I believe there was a BSE/EMS. I believe that we were legion in number and badly mistreated because it was acceptable and legal to do so and I will speak out against that at every opportunity. I believe that sexism was disgustingly prevalent during this era and that a young girl was chattel and her rights were ephemeral chaff being spread by the wind. I wish that others could see the reality of what I and uncountable other young women lived through.

I wish that they could see the changes as I saw them, when I saw them. I researched what I saw and what I experienced and my research upholds my observations. I can only go by what I know. I can't speak for anyone else but myself. I have friends who are of the same mind, but we do not think for each other nor do we speak for each other as individuals. Again, as an organization, go to the organization for information about it. I support it here...I am involved in it, there. And I apologize for neither.

So, I am taking a deep breath, consulting with my common sense and having at it, again. I am going to speak my mind, express my opinions and, to anyone who doesn't like what I have to say, go blog about the subject. It's a free country.

I will be more careful about leaving personalities out of it. The only one that matters, here, anyway, is me.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Off-Topic: Flag Day

It's my country, right or wrong. If it is right, I will support it. If it is wrong, I will use my voice and my vote to fix it. But I will not allow anyone else to denigrate it.

Happy Flag Day!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

An Invitation To A Dance

Just a note to say that this site is temporarily closed in order for me to take some deep breaths and a break. Now, if anyone misses me, terribly, as I am sure you will, you have an invitation to take a little click of the mouse over to the open and unmoderated blog of my friend, MusingMother. There, you can feel free to ask leading questions just because you are "genuinely curious" or engage in "lively debate." We'll see how long THAT lasts.

She is, unlike me, truly curious as to what you all want from us. I will tell you that what SMAAC is or is not doing is no one else's business. I will also say that saying the many men who loved and left us in the lurch were just "products of their time" is a LOUSY excuse for poor behavior and patriarchal inequity. "That's just the way things were," is not an excuse for anything that was unjust, hurtful and wrong. Wrong is wrong.

I'm going to spend a few days with my hubby and my dog and some friends and family.

I also hope to find a guru who will tell me why, if what I have to say is so offensive, do so many people come here? Only the shadow knows.

This is Robin Westbrook, saying "so long for now."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Uh-Oh, Spoke Too Soon

I had thought that the brouhaha had finally begun to wind down and the offers of peace, or rather, "you do your thing and we'll do ours and leave each other alone", had been accepted. From comments received and things being said, it seems I relaxed too soon.

Now, whether this is just a couple of die-hards, one stubborn, self-absorbed, self-appointed expert who cannot let anyone disagree with her, or a group who thinks we need to be assimilated by the Borg, it has gone far enough.

If this is a group of people trying to undermine SMAAC, Wow! You all must think that a few grandmothers have a lot of power. If we scare you, then you must not be very sure of your position. What damage can we do to you? Undermining you is not what we are about. We have no desire to disrupt anything except, and that is only if, there are actions that have the potential to further hurt mothers of the EMS.

If it is one or two disgruntled, hostile trolls, then give it up. You are making yourself look ridiculous.  Grow up.

Okay, here goes, one more time. There is no need for us to get into pissing contests. You see things your way, we see things our way and so the best thing we can do is each take care of our own business and leave the others alone. We're not going away and we are not going to change the way we think. Unless you hire a hit man to take us all out, we are going to continue to share the same air, earth and Internet with you so we might as well keep our distance when talking about issues. None of us really like infighting, but we are not cowards, either. We won't back down and we won't shut up so why waste your energy?

I remember when I could be one of the mean girls, plotting vengeance and carrying out vendettas against whatever other group of mean girls was looking at us sideways. Ladies, that is so middle school! It's past time for us to realize that one issue does not fit all and let it go. Our philosophies differ. So what? Only years and the journey that society takes through those years will decide who is wrong or right. Who knows? It could be that we are all right. I know there are some things on which we do agree and that means it's just possible that we might all get some important things done.

We may succeed, we may not. But can't we at least be left alone to try? Our numbers are dwindling as we age. We have already lost EMS mothers who have passed from this life, and other have reached the age where they don't have the patience for the battle or the energy, anymore. With who we have left, we are trying to, at least, leave a complete record of what happened, how out of proportion to common decency it was and how we managed to learn,  if too late, just what really was behind it all.

This is American history. It is not Canadian, it is not post-1973 or pre-1945, it is our history and it is real and important. One way or another, it will be revealed and recognized. The EMS/BSE WAS.

Advisors and Advisees

I have had my share of advice in my lifetime..some asked for and some volunteered. The good advice seems to stick with me and the rest..well the rest can make for some good stories.

I remember one very good piece of advice that I received from my Aunt Eloise in 1970. My ex and I had decided to have another baby. I had lost two children to adoption, and we had our wonderful little daughter, but I wanted one more experience of becoming a mother. I was also still reeling from the unexpected and early death of my mother, and nothing is more life-affirming than pregnancy and birth.

To say that we were not financially prepared would be an understatement, but we went with the rule that there was always room for one more and I went to my doctor and had my IUD removed. My family, for the most part, was aghast. How on earth, when we were struggling to pay our bills, did we think we could afford another child. I reasoned that, if everyone waited to have a child until all things were perfect, very few children would be born. As my belly grew rounder, I could hear the mutters and see the heads shaking and the heavy sighs whenever the family got together. I spent hours trying to justify our decision to my family and to my ex's as well.

On one occasion, I was alone in my grandmother's kitchen when Aunt Eloise walked in. She came up to me and said that she had a crib my cousin had used if I wanted it and we made arrangements to go get it. Then she said something that has stuck with me all these some 40 years. "Robin," she said, "don't waste your time trying to convince anyone else that what you are doing is right. If you feel, in your heart, that it is the right thing to do, then do it and let the rest of the world stew in their juices." WOW. That was a light-bulb moment for me. I didn't HAVE to explain myself to anyone. It was our decision and we would bear the rewards and the consequences and no one else had a say in the matter. Sam was born on January 15, 1971 and I named him after my late, beloved, paternal grandfather. He's been a joy and he's been a trial but I am so glad that he IS.

The same thing happened when Rocky, our little RatCha, developed a Mast Cell Cancer Grade II tumor. We didn't know, until after our vet had removed it and had it biopsied, what it was. The news sent us into a tailspin. Because there were clean margins everywhere except on the underside (he couldn't cut any deeper without cutting into Rocky's urethra), and Rocky's age (7), he advised that we seek the opinion of a veterinary oncologist, which we did. After reviewing the records, Dr. Lurie advised a course of radiation and tests to make sure the Mast Cells had not spread. After much debating and thought, my husband and I gave the go-ahead.

Well, immediately, especially from MY family, we started getting some negative feed-back. "It costs so much and you two are retired," and "maybe it's time to let him go..all you've had is vet bills since you got him" and other like comments. What IS it with these people? I am 64 and my husband is 70. Since when have we lost the capability of making these decisions  for ourselves? I remembered Aunt Eloise (who, bless her, is now in a home with Alzheimer's) and her words to me that day in Grandma's kitchen. Rocky needed the best shot we could give him so it was full steam ahead.

As I sit here with my currently cancer-free little boy by my chair, I can't imagine us doing anything other than what we did. The point is, I also realized that I didn't have to justify it to anyone else. We did what we knew in our hearts was the right thing to do. The naysayers did celebrate with us when the treatments were successful, but reminded us how worried they were that we would completely deplete our retirement funds on a "mere dog."

This is an object lesson in following your own heart and best judgement and letting what others say roll off your back. Since the inception of the movement to bring attention to the EMS/BSE, we have had people, including other mothers, demanding that we explain ourselves, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. We are doing what we think  is the right thing to do. We don't have to explain ourselves or justify ourselves. We are not taking a thing away from anyone else. We are just doing what we know is right for us. We have grown tired of being required to justify our existence. And, according to the wisdom of Aunt Eloise, we don't have to.

Meanwhile, we are writing, talking, reading and planning and doing all we can to bring attention to a time when casual cruelty against young women was not only allowed, but legal...to a time when things were very different from what they were even a decade or two later. People age and pass on, but, if they have recorded important history, then that history lives on. Just like the skewed history of the American past has been researched and studied under the light of truth, so, we feel, will the EMS and all the pain it caused us and our children.

The hypocricy and propaganda of the past deserves a bit of outing. So, Aunt Eloise, thanks  for the reminder. I know it's the right thing to do.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

And What About Those Daddies?

With apologies to Mason Williams, composer of "Classical Gas" and author and performer of "Them Poems About Them People," one of the funniest albums I have every listened to, here is my paean to some of the EMS Dads. Not all were as bad as the ones who fathered my two oldest, but that was definitely an issue of the EMS...the "putative father" denying it all and the father on the OBC and social work records  listed as "unknown." Of course, that made us sound like promiscuous sluts. It was also easier to process the surrender if the father was listed as non-existent. There were lots of immaculate conceptions or "she went and got herself pregnant" going on. Neat trick, huh? I wonder how we managed that one.



How About Them Boy Daddies

How about them boy daddies, off on a run,
Before them girls' dads grab they shot guns?
Goin' to they buddies, gettin' them to lie,
Ain't no DNA yet, so they ain't gonna fry.
Them fast-talkin' boy daddies from way back then,
They had fun and they girls had sin.
Tellin' them whoppers, blamin' they girl,
Boltin' to the trees like a dog-scared squirrel.
How to be a boy daddy? It's a lot of fun,
Get a girl pregnant, take off and run.

Of course, this is a story that is repeated quite often. A girl falls in love and trusts the words of love, so soft and tender, that her beloved whispers in her ear while trying to get his hand up her skirt. Or, during an era when the girl was the one who was supposed to be in charge of saying "no," some would-be stud would refuse to take that for an answer and there was no such thing as date rape back then. Not all the guys were this reprehensible, but a good percentage of them were. The guys got away with a nudge and a wink while we were isolated, and stripped of our self-esteem, any support and, ultimately, our newborns. Along with that, we had to deal with the heartbreak of being abandoned by someone we loved or violated by someone we trusted.

Fast-forward to some reunions and there are some dads who still refuse to acknowledge paternity and/or refuse to even see their adult child. In the case of my daughter's father, his wife gets rabid over anything to do with me, including the child that was born well before she became his girlfriend or his wife. He is still trying to live the lie he tried to tell 49 years ago. I wonder if he realizes how pathetic that is?

The idea that, now, many fathers have no problem taking responsibility for their play times, even to paying child support and being a part of the child's life even if they didn't marry the mother, that fatherhood can be proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, by DNA matching, just boggles the mind. But what really still tears at my serenity from time to time is the fact that boys were just being boys and we were sluts in the minds of the society of the EMS. Anyone thinking that the sexual revolution began in 1960 for all of us is not viewing history as it was but seeing things  from today's perspective.

Now, I know that some of the boy daddies of today still try to exit, stage left, boot-scooting into lies and accusations. But, they can't run very far if the mother wants to prove paternity. That's one of the reasons why I cannot understand anyone who surrenders in the present day because of lack of support of the father. Hey, you can make that asshole pay! All it takes is one, court-ordered DNA test and here comes the child support. An imperfect system, that court-ordered support, but much better than what we had in our day. And if he dumped you, hey, pride doesn't pay the bills but a monthly check helps.

So,to all the fathers of the EMS who did, at least, try to take responsibility and help, kudos to you. You were ahead of your time.

To all the rest, bite me, jerkwads.


PS: I just couldn't let this post go by without showing my favorite MW "them poem."

Them Doodle Dashers

How about them doodle dashers, ain't they jewls?
Jumpin' out o' bushes, waivin' they tools.
Jumpin' out o' palm trees, jumpin' out o' shrubs,
Leapin' out o' flowerbeds, waivin' they nubs.
Look at them doodle dashers, ain't they queer,
flagin' they tally-wacker, then disappear.
Them ever-lovin' doodle dashers, ain't they pearls,
Waivin' they doodle-knobs, at them girls.
How to be a doodle dasher? Well, you don't need a ticket;
Get your doodle rod handy, jump from a thicket!
 
 
Sorry, I couldn't resist. RW

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

One Hand Clapping

One hand, clapping, does not make very much noise. The only things it seems to be good for are stopping traffic, ideas, or saying "me, me, call on me!" Have you ever tried carrying all that you need for a project in one hand? It doesn't work does it?

Yet, we have a multitude of people who want everything carried in one hand when it comes to issues surrounding adoption, surrender, records and reform. While linked, these are all different issues, just as there are different eras, different focuses and different individual situations. This leaves one to wonder how that one hand can be used to accomplish anything in so many areas. To set oneself up as the "go-to expert" in this area is to err on the side of ego. No one person has a lock on this and conversely, no individual group is all wrong no matter how outsiders might see it. When it comes to these issues (and it is not just one issue), each one calls for appropriate attention. No one has the right to decide whose issues are valid and whose aren't.

So let's hear it for the Octopus! This funny looking, multi-limbed creature is one of the most intelligent and effective predators in the ocean. She is flexible, canny and has a grip composed of hundreds of suckers on eight tentacles. It has been noted that she can do one thing with one tentacle while doing something else with another. She is a marvel of efficient design. Think how ineffective (and probably extinct) she would be with only one tentacle.

Yet that is what some people want in the arena of adoption reform. They want to see all united under that one umbrella, then they want to decide whose issues take precedence and whose can be kicked to the curb. For the much maligned Senior Mothers who stand by the precept that the issue of the legal crimes against us in the EMS deserves its share of attention, it doesn't work under that adoption reform parasol. We keep getting pushed into a corner, kicked to the curb or kicked out.

Both BSERI and, later, SMAAC were  formed when the issues of many of the Senior Mothers from that era were basically challenged and dismissed. Objective became generic, dirty bills and baby steps were deemed to be acceptable and personality cults and conflicts basically chopped off one hand, leaving the multi-interest groups either contaminated by the industry and adopters, or trying to please everyone. No one wanted to recognize that there are certain issues exclusive to certain groups and that halfway measures do not do the job.

Bastard Nation, who has long been seeking the simple right of the adult adoptee to their Original Birth Certificate, is finding its goals undermined by the efforts of those who think that any bill will do and that progress is a dirty bill. Senior Mothers object to the same thing but on different grounds. Contact vetoes and mandatory medical and psycho-social forms are not how adults handle things. This is Big Brother running the show. Just open all the records for all of us, already! It's really simple but you can bet that it will be complicated by the time the legislators, bill writers (with the help of adopters and the industry) and others stick their two cents' worth into the mix.

So, even though BN and SMAAC want the same thing, it is for different reasons. That's why all these different organizations might just be a good thing. If we each concentrate on getting our jobs done and quit with the attempts to put everyone in one niche, there might be some real progress. Maybe we could get to the place where, rather than trying to undermine each other, we could be supporting each other. Hey, hope springs eternal.

We watch the History Channel, quite often, and they have had a series called "BC Battles" where military strategies of the ancient generals were studied. The successful generals did not leave it up to one horde, front-on, to win the day. They divided their soldiers, gave each one a particular job to do, and out-flanked the enemy resulting in victory. It sounds simple, but they had to take into account the weather conditions, the terrain, the strengths of the enemy as well as the weaknesses. So there were often many officers in charge of all these different units, mapping out the strategy.

Each battle was not an end in and of itself, but a means to an end. Each individual victory built up to the big victory, each battle led to the winning of the war. Xerxes and his Persian horde were delayed and frustrated by a small group of 300 Spartans guarding a pass, entrenched, not just in an advantageous locale, but in their belief in their goals. Their bold and presumptive strategy allowed the Athenians time to come in behind the Persians and strike. Whether we like it or not, this is also a war and our enemy is well-funded, well-publicized and smart. They are used to being the Big Boys on the block so they might just sneer at our individual groups.

But didn't Goliath laugh at David?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

1945

These two could be my parents..well they were off by a few months, and my father was an Army Sergeant and my mother was a office clerk in SC. They were married in 1942, right before my father was shipped out to Europe, where he was wounded in action. I was born on July 14, 1945, after the victory in Europe and a month before the surrender of the Japanese in the war in the Pacific.

As this picture illustrates, these boys came home glad to be alive and lusty as most young bucks are. Prior to that time, most unmarried mothers found havens in places like the Florence Crittendon Homes which were founded to help give these young mothers and their infants a better start in life, together. Adoptions did happen, but not on a large scale. Only later, as the numbers of unwed pregnancies began to rise and social work became a "profession," did Flo Crit and other such establishments morph into adoption-oriented clearinghouses.

With the emergence of the field of social work on  that scale, came the concept of adoption as we know it now. It was the "perfect solution" for the perceived problem of teen/unwed pregnancy and the increasing numbers of couples wanting to adopt. In many cases, hubby came home from the war with infertility issues due to a "case of the mumps." The mumps were not always what caused the problem for these fellows. But it seems that, by that time, rather than dealing with and accepting the fact of their childlessness, more childless couples wanted to adopt. Thus the rising numbers on both ends began the burgeoning adoption industry and the adoption-minded response from state agencies. Looking at it from this end of the time scale, it was cause and effect and the attitude that human beings could engineer anything. The good, old American way of supply and demand went into high gear.

Adoption, which was not the way most mothers before had handled pregnancies while unmarried, became, more and more, the Idea Whose Time Had Come. It was supposedly a win-win situation. The parents of the pregnant girl got their shameful secret swept under the rug, childless couples got an adorable infant and all was well. If the mother got a bit stubborn and wanted to keep her baby, well, she's the one who lifted her skirts and it was perfectly legal to mistreat these wanton girls to "rehabilitate them." We were isolated and treated like criminals, sneered at by medical professionals and sent home, broken-hearted, with the advice to say nothing to anyone about our terrible secret.

The numbers spiked as the war babies and post-war boomers started growing into nubile young girls and randy young boys. The hypocrisy of the times was ubiquitous and the autonomy of women was not even a spoken concept. The popular theory of the mental health profession at the time was that girls who became pregnant (i.e., had sexual activity) prior to marriage were psychologically defective, even delinquent, and gestating, laboring,delivering and surrendering their child in secrecy was a way to cure that emotional and psychological defect. The religious leaders saw the loss of our children as our way to redemption for our sin of fornication. The reason we were singled out is because we were the only ones whose fornication bore fruit. So it was either a shotgun wedding...hard to do if the father denied paternity and the burden of proof was on the head of the frightened mother...or a trip out of town to "visit an aunt," during which time, the "problem" would go away and the family honor would remain untarnished.

As the sixties progressed into the latter years of that decade, women started looking askance at the double standards and outmoded attitudes towards us, our contributions to society, our abilities and our sexuality. By the early 1970's, things started to change. Women became more outspoken, more in control of their own destinies and less inclined to allow others to make decisions for them. With the legalization of safe, medical pregnancy termination and the increasing availability of birth control for even the single woman, there were more choices for women. In 1976, 13 years after I had been coerced into surrendering my second child, I was invited to a baby shower for the daughter of a friend at work. She was single, in her freshman year of college, and had the loving support of her parents in HER decision to keep her child. The father had reluctantly signed an agreement to help support the baby. I attended for a short while, then went home and wept bitter tears, holed up in the bathroom so that my two raised children couldn't hear me. Keeping and raising a child by a single mother was no longer a horror and a shame to the majority of people.

As these new choices started appearing, the number of adoptable infants started declining. From what was a bounty of baby-flesh for the facilitators to market, it dropped to around one infant for every 40 potential adoptive couples. In pockets of backwardness and for parents who were still trying to present themselves as the progenitors of perfection, there was still pressure on young women to surrender and agencies and attorneys who made their daily bread from this were not about to let these isolated cases know their options.  It was also another way of after-the-fact birth control. For those who complain about abortion being used in this manner, this was seen as more "acceptable." For the religious, thus was born the adoption rather than abortion campaign and more social engineering to be had by all. Hooray. A lot of the newer mothers who "made the decision" to surrender are now in support groups, dealing with their grief.

A lot has come down the pike in the 65 years since that sailor smooched that pretty nurse in the middle of that huge celebration. Most of the women of my daughter's and granddaughter's generations would no more put up with what was imposed on my generation than they would shoot themselves in the foot. I have gotten a good bit of my information for this post from reading some books about the times, most notably Rickie Solinger's "Wake Up Little Susie" and Anne Fessler's "The Girls Who Went Away." I also have been able to read a lot of the articles written by Karen B. W. Buterbaugh who has done extensive and exhaustive research into the subject. But, more importantly, I lived it. I watched it happen. I saw the effects of repression and change, first hand. And I believe the evidence of my own eyes and ears.

I saw a president assassinated and another chased out of office for his own arrogance. I saw the first steps of a human being on the moon. I went from "My Little Margie" to the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" to "Murphy Brown." I was delivered by a woman doctor and always thought that was something unusual. Now, three women who have specialized in the OB field are delivering babies on TV. To anyone who says that women who came after us had no choices, I have to say, not knowing their family situation, horse feathers! I, myself, have helped mothers-to-be avail themselves of social programs to help them until they could get on their feet. I have also gone with one to the Department of Local Health to obtain birth control after she terminated her pregnancy. That was also more than 15 years ago.

I am not here to argue any of these points, what I know, I know. What I have seen, I have seen and what I have learned, I have learned. I cannot be forced to defend my position by leading questions with an eye to debate. As far as I am concerned, the issue is non-debatable. It happened...call it the EMS or the BSE or just "those days," it still happened and within those time frames.

So here you have it, as I have witnessed it. I won't argue it and it needs no defense. It is not our duty to justify or prove our facts to anyone. Most people can look this stuff up  for themselves. The truth stands up to anything anyone else might want to say. Again, I wish all people in this battle success in the areas they have chosen for activism.

Me, I'm all about us EMS mothers, aged into grandmothers and AARP members, who went away and came home, changed forever.