Thursday, February 28, 2008

Time's A'Wastin'

The Baby Scoop Era moms, and I am one, are getting older. While they say that 60 is the "new 40," we all know, with the certainty that comes with reaching or approaching that seventh decade in our lives, that we are in the final quarter of our time on earth. Many of us are retired or getting ready to retire, settling our wills, estates, making plans for the possibility of a need for assisted living...all those things.

And for those of us who lost children during the most heinous era of eugenics and social engineering in our nation's history, the time for justice and redress is slipping away. Many of us have given up any real hope of there being definitive action towards a public hearing and some kind of acknowledgement and apology from those in power.

African-Americans received an apology, Japanese-Americans who were incarcerated during WWII received an apology, the Tuskegee Airmen received an apology....where is ours? We are dismissed with a wave of the hand and the trite observation that "that's just the way things were back then." Yeah right....and slavery was "just the way things were" prior to the 1860's but that doesn't make it just or right.

This is another example of how little motherhood is honored in this nation if there is not a man's name attached to a woman's and if she is not wearing that gold band on the third finger of her left hand. The BSE was a time of no autonomy for females and no honesty about what programs were available to the young mom-to-be. We were warehoused like gravid livestock until the product was delivered and then sent back to our parents with the admonition to forget and sin no more.

Let me give the average American woman a head's up. If the current power structure and the fanatic, religious right have their way, "the way it was back then" will become the way it IS, now. If our tragedies are not addressed in a public forum with proper redress, then our granddaughters and great-granddaughters had better stock up on the birth control and trust no man. Right now, women have some control over their reproductive lives, but that will go bye-bye in a hurry if the eugenicists can make it so. Seeking justice, loud and clear, for the BSE mothers, and we number in the millions, will serve as more than just as a recognition for our pain. It will also serve as a visible and authentic cautionary tale for what might possibly happen if we are not very, very careful with our votes and our opinions.

Those of us who are in the final quarter of our time on earth need to speak up now and speak up loudly. Our sisters who are still in that dark closet of shame are invited to walk out into the sunlight with the rest of us and feel the warmth of truth, honesty and vindication. They took our babies, but they could never take our motherhood. We gave no adopters the "gift" of a child. Rather we were emotionally bullied into thinking that we would be toxic to our own flesh and blood or physically restrained from keeping our babies or even seeing them. We were not "heroines who did the right thing." We were scared kids and young women who were isolated and brainwashed and forced to enter into a most unnatural agreement. Even as minors who couldn't vote or drive or even marry, in some instances, we were still allowed to sign a piece of paper surrendering all our parental rights.

Remember this truism. "The more things change, the more they remain the same." Our time is here and we need to hurry because, time's a'wastin'.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Them As Don't Want To Know

My maternal grandmother was from the hills of Tennessee. She used to call herself a "ridge runner." She had only a grammar-school level education, but she was a smart lady. I remember talking to her about the Civil Rights movement of the 60's (she was a die-hard Democrat) and how it seemed that people couldn't see the injustice right in front of their eyes.

Her words to me were, "There's a lot of wrong that goes on in this world, and most folks turn the other way and don't look. Them as don't want to know, ain't goin' to learn."

I look around me at the people involved in adoption, on either end and see so many of "them as don't want to know." I see mothers cozying up to adopters and facilitators and undoing years of hard work done by many of us older moms as we tried to lay the foundation for protest against this heinous and unnatural practice. I see people who accuse others of "adopter bashing," just because some of us hold adopters responsible for creating the demand that fuels the market for womb-fresh newborns. I see younger moms coming along and booting us BSE moms out of the way and demeaning our years of experience and knowledge. I see adoptees searching just so they can attack their mothers rather than listening to the truth.

At a natural mom's forum, we had the usual adopter post that stated how she was offended by us calling ourselves "natural" mothers because that indicated that her "motherhood" was unnatural and "it would confuse adoptees." I submit that the only things that confuse adoptees are adoption itself and the many mixed messages they get from those who adopt them. It's like the ultra-dogmatic acceptance of one belief without even exploring another. It is the desire to remain ignorant if learning the truth upsets the status-quo and the adoption applecart.

Heaven forbid that the holy adopters might get knocked down off their self-constructed pedestal and be seen as human beings who coveted, didn't care about the pain caused to the mother, and became obsessively possessive when reunion occurred. Nope, let's still see them as the saints the industry and they have painted them to be. That way, the adoptee can feel free to abuse the mother and protect the adopters, regardless of the hostility and demeaning treatment they dished out to the mother.

Nope, we are not going to be able to "educate" a great number of people because they are, as my grandmother said, "them as don't want to know." We need to look to the general public with our educational efforts and stop giving adopters any credit for anything except getting what they wanted.....period.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Veiled Mother

I know it must look like I am awfully lazy in writing blog entries, but I have been the recipient of so many Gems of Great Value of late and this short excerpt is another one. It speaks to and from my heart. Please note that I have edited the "b" word in this piece, but this woman has done a good job of "getting it."

From the author of the Burning of the Marriage Hat:
"Invisible Veil"
by Margaret Benshoof-Holler

She could have been any of the veiled Afghani women that have been written about in the U.S. media since September 11. But the woman I stood listening to one Saturday afternoon last fall in Sacramento, California was an American woman whose veil was invisible, whose story had been silenced and hidden.

Her child had been taken away. It was as if it had died. Except there was no funeral, no wailing wall for her to pound her fists on and cry! The woman was expected to just get on with her life and pretend that she hadn't just given her child away.

With thirty-some years of internalized emotion still causing her voice to quake when she recalled signing her name on the relinquishment papers, the fifty-six-year-old woman in Sacramento spoke of the pain and grief of losing her daughter to adoption. As I listened, I was reminded that here in the U.S. we often deal with loss by covering up our emotions.

I was also reminded that the U.S. was bombing Afghanistan because we lost over 3,000 very dear people. No one, though, ever went to war for these women whose losses were in the millions of newborn lives. The exact number of women who gave children up for adoption during the era of the 60s is not readily obtainable. The numbers jumped from 50,000 in 1944 to 175,000 in 1970, according to one source. Another source estimated the number of women who relinquished children to adoption in the 1960s and 70s reached a peak of 250,000 a year. The stigma associated with getting pregnant out of wedlock then contributed to a need for secrecy.

The need to hide these pregnancies meant complete information was not always gathered. Thus the reason for approximates rather than exact figures. Nonetheless, it is unquestionable that a large number of women gave up children for adoption during the 1960s and reached a peak some time in the 70s.

And, if even half of the women who gave their children up for adoption in the 60s had banded together their voices would surely have been heard, but they had not been taught nor encouraged to use their voices. Societal dictates, including puritanical attitudes about sex, women, and pregnancy, silenced the voices of many women for many years.

When one loses a child, mother, father, or husband to death, there is a funeral and a time of mourning. That hasn't been the case for most of the 6,000,000 (*****rw)mothers in the U.S. who have lost their children to adoption. Relinquishing her child to adoption is looked upon as a single mother's duty for getting herself into that situation to begin with rather than a deeply painful separation of mother and child. In that respect, not much has changed since the 60s. Societal attitudes towards unwed mothers consider adoption a logical consequence to out-of-wedlock pregnancies.

Guilt and shame kept unwed mothers' voices stifled during the McCarthy and post-McCarthy era of the 60s, but a small group of (*****)mothers began, in the 1980s, to find the children they gave up for adoption in the 60s. They began to come to terms with their loss. It is only with the advent of the Internet that more (*****)mothers have begun to come out of the closet. Many still only talk about what happened to them with each other in much the same way that veterans of World War II and Vietnam only talked afterwards with those who understood what they had been through. Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms effect a number of (*****)mothers.

When President Bush proclaimed November as National Adoption Month in 2001, he did not mention or honor the large group of American women who have lost their children to adoption. He did not present a plan of prevention for unplanned pregnancies or a way to provide free daycare to help financially-strapped mothers keep, rather than give up their babies to the adoption industry. His strong adoption stance appears to fall closely in line with one of his apparent supporters-the Edna Gladney Home in Fort Worth, Texas, which was one of the biggest contributors to the National Council for Adoption in their effort to keep birth records closed. President Bush didn't address the issue of opening birth records either. Closed birth records cut adoptees off from knowing who they are and do not protect (*****)mothers because the majority of them want to be found.

Even though U.S. women have progressed since the 60s in the areas of education and upward economic mobility and many single women are raising children on their own today, there is still a stigma about anything related to a woman having a baby outside of the confines of marriage. I see it in the way that stories about single mothers are reported in the media. Young mothers are made to sound like criminals if they want to keep their children.

One-hundred and forty million people in the U.S. have an adoption in their immediate families. Engrained views and practices pertaining to loss, sex, and adoption help keep many, like the (*****)mother in Sacramento, veiled and hidden. In this respect, the U.S. tends to fall behind every other industrialized country, most of which have stopped separating the natural mother from her child after it is born except in extreme situations.

The woman that I stood listening to in Sacramento was coerced into giving her child up for adoption in the 60s. She was then encouraged to keep the whole thing hidden. Her story stayed that way for over thirty years. It is time that we recognize and honor her motherhood.

"Invisible Veil" © copyright 2002 by Margaret Benshoof-Holler

Friday, February 22, 2008

From The Heart Of An Adoptee

Celeste has asked us to post this where people might read it. I am very moved by her words.

What If?
©2008 Celeste Billhartz

I used to be for adopting. That’s what happened to me. My single mother gave birth to me and I was adopted. Just like millions of other kids. Most of us went to good homes and had good lives.
Many of us think otherwise, now. I guess the biggest reason is this: our mothers never got over losing their babies.

Why is it still socially acceptable to take babies from young mothers when we know, now, they will never get over the loss?

Think back to your first pregnancy. What if you were constantly badgered and told you had no business keeping your baby because you were single, and too young, and too poor to provide for him/her, that a married couple is waiting to provide him/her a much better life, and you are selfish for wanting to keep your baby?

What if, in that 9 months of psychological duress and brain-washing, you began to doubt your natural instincts to be a good mother? What if you believed that all the adults in your life knew best -- so, you signed an agreement to surrender your baby?

Remember how you felt about your baby, after giving birth? Would you have wanted to keep him/her – no matter what agreement you signed months, or weeks, or days before?
Today, as in our mothers’ day, most girl/mothers change their minds, after giving birth, but everyone around them demands that they honor that agreement. The young mothers want to keep their babies! Nobody listens, nobody cares, because adopters -- checks in hand and names picked out -- are waiting for their babies.

I urge single young women to keep their babies. DON’T SIGN ANY AGREEMENTS, and read everything you do sign at every agency, health center or religious organization.
I urge /grandmothers/aunts/cousins to help young mothers keep their babies within their families. If your daughter, niece or cousin is very young -- or irresponsible, step in and file for Kinship Care or Legal Guardianship. Don’t give her baby away! Please, don’t do that to her. She won’t be young and poor, forever.

I urge mature women to form support groups to help mothers and babies get a good start in life, together. Don’t hurt young mothers by separating them from their babies.
Finally, I urge women to NOT adopt, no matter how much you want a baby of your own. Adopting is legal, of course, and it is immensely profitable for brokers and agencies -- but it is terribly unfair to young mothers at the most vulnerable time in their lives.
Please, don’t be part of that treachery and covert theft.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Talking About Coercion

It seems that there are a few people coming out of the woodwork who are, seemingly, willing to listen to those of us who want to tell the stories of how we were coerced into surrendering parental rights to our children. I just finished sending off an account of the methods used to talk me out of my child.

It's funny that most people and even some of our children don't understand that there are more ways of forcing someone to one's will than just holding a gun to their heads. Although there are many mothers who were restrained, placed in prison-like environments or mental hospitals and who were forced to signed papers while drugged, never allowed to see their children or, in some cases, to even know if they had a boy or a girl, there are also stories like mine.

I consider my coercion a conspiracy by three parties; my parents/family, the social workers for the home and the state agency and the Bible-Belt society in which I lived. People see the 60's as an era of "free love" and open-mindedness, but that was only in more, shall we say, advanced locales. Hippies were a small portion of the population. Where I came from, you at least pretended to be a virgin until you were married, birth control was unavailable and the only safe, medical abortions available were out of the reach, financially, of the rank and file. Back-alley abortions were too scary to risk for most of us.

My family was adamant that I would surrender. My father made the statement that I would not be "bringing any bastard babies into his home." I look back at that and see that my father, a serial philanderer, had no room to talk, but remember that I was 16. My mother was also wanting me to return to her a "born-again virgin" and to fulfill her dreams for me. I was told I would have no place to go with my baby and that we would eventually starve to death. I wasn't the most sophisticated person in the world and I believed that.

None of the social workers that "counseled" me ever mentioned that there were programs provided that would have helped me. No one told be about the fact that teens could be emancipated if their parents were not supportive. Nope, all they wanted was to get their hands on those babies as fast as they could. All they told me was that I would never be able to handle parenthood at my age and that I would be destitute and place my children in danger. By the time they got through with me, I felt lower that a snail's trail. I was told to go and sin no more and went home like a zombie with two holes in my heart that never, never healed. The scars will always be there, because, even if I am reunited, my babies are gone, forever, enjoyed by other women who felt more entitled to them than me.

To all you adopted people out there, please listen to your mothers when they tell you what happened and read about what society was like in the time that your mother went through her ordeal. And remember, too, that, for most of us, pregnancy was unexpected, but YOU were wanted and loved.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thanks, But No Thanks

I have noticed a disturbing trend in the community of those affected by adoption...a trend to "soften the message" and to "compromise." While I think that a lot of us can meet in the middle in areas where we agree and put aside the areas where we don't agree, there is such a thing as asking too much.

Such an impasse, where too much has been asked of some of us old broads who have been there and done that, has recently been reached and we have had to stand our ground. What I would love to ask everyone in adoption activism and natural family preservation is, when is enough, enough? Where can we draw a line and say, "this is as far as we are willing to go?"

How can we be anti-adoption, yet pro-adopters? That just doesn't make sense to us. Those who adopt or who wish to adopt are the ones who are fuelling the industry that continues to enforce a social myth, has a huge congressional lobby and is part of the misleadingly named Child Welfare network. Many good, but financially disadvantaged people are having their children taken from them for little to no good reason, and many of us older moms, now reunited, are having people the age of our children demand that we pay ultra-respect to the people who adopted them by forcing us to call them "parents." Yet, these same adopted people will refer to us as "b****mothers."

We are being corrected by "professionals" half our age who have no idea of the reality of the experience of the mother of adoption loss, especially those of us from the BSE. We are tough old birds. We have been through the worst that our families, social workers, uncaring medical professionals and our own children can put us through and we have survived with our self-esteem and zest for life intact. Still, we are having our hands slapped by very young adoptees who erroneously think that, if we use the term, "adopters," we are disrespecting their feelings for their adopters. How can we make them understand that we respect their feelings but hate the self-serving act of adoption?

I have a friend at the YMCA. She is in her late 70's and adopted two children, now adults. She and I have been around the block, a couple of times, over this. She knows I respect her as a fellow human being... Heck, I even like her...but that I don't respect her feelings for the mothers of her adoptees (they are her "worst nightmare") or her act of adopting. She told me that women like me scared her to death because we don't allow her to maintain her fantasy of being the superior woman to "parent" the children she adopted. She is, if nothing else, honest.

The bottom line is that we moms cannot operate where we are not allowed to be honest and where we are not respected as the original and true parents of the children we had taken for adoption.

And let me make one other observation. When a person who is, admittedly, neither a true adoptee nor a mother, comes on a support list and starts asking leading and intrusive questions that sound like an interview, it isn't paranoid to suspect that person of ulterior motives. I am no one's lab rat. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and swims like a duck, it has to be a duck. I doubt that many of us will go back to a place where there is this kind of atmosphere. Thanks, but no thanks.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Exploration of Exploitation

I am wondering if the government and pro-adoptionsts, at large, will ever cease using and exploiting the mothers who had children taken for adoption? It would seem we are still of some use after being harvested for our desirable, healthy infants. I was watching a History Channel segment of "Modern Marvels," last night. The subject was edible nuts, and I noticed how they used every part of the nut..not just the tasty kernel, but the shells and other by-products, as well. Nothing was wasted and that is the good, old US of A way, to squeeze every last penny out of a "product." I think that the industry has seen our babies as the "nuts" and us as the "shells."

The adoption industry is doing its best to recruit mothers of adoption loss to work with them, telling new moms how wonderful it is to give these usurers their babies. That seems to work with the more naive, those addicted to the pats on the back the industry and adopters give them, and those that just have to believe that it was "for the best" or the grief and anger will overwhelm them, ie., those in denial.

There have been moms recruited for "studies" only to find their words and thoughts used in pro-adoption literature and by the industry to see how they can use these bits of info to make adoption look better to the unsuspecting, upcoming mothers-to-be. That's how the so-called "open adoption option" came into being, a carrot to dangle in front of the mother's nose. One such mother, a friend to many on the Internet Mothers' Support circuit, had just that terrible thing happen to her. She recently passed at the young age of 63, of ovarian cancer. I didn't know her, but many did and loved her and, I am told, her story is a sad one. What was done with her most traumatic experience is criminal. I can't say enough horrible things about any entity that would do such a thing.

Then there are the poseurs, who haunt the support group boards, asking leading questions about the mothers' feelings and experiences. These people, who don't let you know what they are really all about, are carrion crows. They feather their "nests" (ie., books, master's theses, studies for social work and adoption agencies) with our pain and anger and are doing so without our knowledge and/or permission. Some of these are also potential adopters who want to know all about the thoughts and feelings of the mothers so that she can use the information to her advantage when she acquires her adoptee.

All in all, it seems like the facilitators, exploiters and adopters are going to use our poor, abused carcases until they are all used up. We are the food for the vampires of adoption and eugenics, and their fangs are firmly embedded in our jugular veins. We moms from the BSE have struggled for years to regain our voices and our autonomy, and they want us to lose even that, again. Our language is censored and our opinions are scorned. For other, younger moms, the realities of how they were used are just now hitting them and the shock is only beginning to wear off and turn into righteous anger.

The underlying beliefs of the mavens of adoption come out in the open, every so often, when someone lets something slip or when someone sticks their wingtips down past their tonsils. There is our current chief executive who would return us to the days of maternity prisons and wholesale baby-snatching and then there is someone like Rep. Larry Liston, R-CO, who just outright called any teen, past or present, who becomes pregnant while unmarried, a "slut." I don't think this elected jackass will hear the last of that one for a while.

We have to be more on guard, now, than ever, and that is not paranoia. They really ARE out to get whatever they can from us to further their own aims...increasing infant adoption and keeping us silent and submissive. Sorry all you eugenicists, adopters, wannabe adopters, agencies, social wreckers and other facilitators...NO CAN DO. Our days of hiding in shame and allowing our sisters to turn their babies over to you without a struggle or in an uninformed daze are over. We are respectable, caring, decent, empowered women and we will not "go silently into that good night (Oh how I love a dramatic phrase)" without drawing blood and shouting out our cause.

So, users of mothers, beware. We're on to you.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

No Words Needed

Today, I turn my blog over to ...another blog! Someone did their homework and put it into a very readable format. This is a timeline for the way adoption as we know it, today, has developed and infiltrated the rights of natural families throughout this nation.

I get a lot of flack, especially from adopted people who defend their adopters even though they know what part they played in the tragedy of their adoption, and those who think we can "educate adopters" about the fact that there is NO such thing as a "Triad." Someone else described it best as a lop-sided the larger end, there are the adopters and the army of facilitators that make adoption possible. At the smaller end are us moms and our children. Needless to say, we definitely are on the "loser" end and adopters and facilitators are on the "winner" end.

So read the blog above and see what a methodical and determined bunch the adoption "professionals" and the eugenicists and adopters really are.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Every so often, I get my eyes really opened to the fact that our surrendered children were put through a massive mind-f***. It is most apparent on the groups where adopted people and moms post together. Those of us who haven't had to confront much hostility in our reunited children get a full dose of it on some of these groups.

We are not talking about very young reunitees with post-adolescent hormones and angst still a-blooming. We are talking about adults who have held on to the idea of the careless, abandoning mother or who is in a bad reunion and decides that all us moms are demons from the underworld, here on earth just to give them a hard time. It amazes me that, when confronted with documented history, personal stories and the examples of what really happened to the majority of us, they still bring out that old "you have to take responsibility for your part in the adoption" bit. We can thank the adopter, Nancy Verrier, author of "The Primal Wound," for that one. Just when it seemed that an adopter was going to support what we had known all along, she slips that "mothers should apologize" zinger in and we are off to the races again, us against adoptee infantile rage.

Sorry, my collective babies...NO CAN DO. If you are desiring of an abasing apology and a blood sacrifice, then try to hang your own mother on that cross (although, if she is smart, she is probably keeping her distance from you), but don't tar us all with the same brush, for two reasons. One is that it is neither right nor fair and the second is that we aren't going to allow it.

Since the Hostile adopted people in question are at the ages that shows their mothers were of the Baby Scoop Era when they were coerced into surrender, we will address just that time frame. It's something that adopted people and even younger mothers can't even begin to understand. That complete lack of autonomy, choice and self-determination is an alien concept and one that many don't want to accept. Why? Well, because that might mean that their adopters lied to them and society lied to them and they would much rather believe the lies than accept the truth because the truth comes from US, the mothers who lived it and there are not words horrible enough to describe it. They want to punish mommy and punish they will if they can find a way. Luckily, not all are of that mindset, but enough are to let me know that there were some major lies being told to vulnerable, adopted children by the people who were supposed to have their "best interests" at heart. Some of the most heinous, horrific lies were told during the BSE and adopters and social workers told them with impunity.

Things have changed so drastically in such a short time, that younger women, including some of our sister mothers, cannot conceive of such a situation, therefore, it suits them to believe that it wasn't so or isn't important in the allover scheme of things. That's a pity because addressing the BSE would be one of our strongest arguments against adoption. Opening our children's eyes to the truth would be a wonderful side benefit and maybe, just maybe, they could purge themselves of some of that hateful anger.

Why haven't these mature, adopted men and women in their 30's and 40's who think mommy should beg their forgiveness and take their attitudes with meek submission been taught simple courtesy and respect? These are people who need a lesson in compassion and old-fashioned manners. And heaven forbid you intimate that the ones who adopted them might have swayed their thinking against moms for their own benefit. Where do we all learn the most where our own behavior is concerned? That's Right!!! At HOME.

This is why I cannot begin to say enough about how the BSE and the young, now much older, mothers caught up in that heinous time needs to be addressed, and given redress in a public forum and adoption condemned for the nasty social experiement it was. It still is nasty, but they hide that nasty behind the pink bow of so-called "open" adoption and offer young women "scholarships" and then turn around and call us all crack-whores and unfit. SOMETHING has got to change and we old bats with the flabby arms and the holes in our hearts seem to be the ones who need to get on our ponies and ride into the fray.

It just makes me wonder, with some of the more hostile, angrier adopted people, what that is going to leave for them to use as a target. Here's an about the industry and those who fuel that industry with their demands for healthy infants and toddlers to "cure" their infertility? Stop shooting at the wrong targets, my children. We're survivors and, even if you draw blood, you're not going to get us kneeling in front of you and begging your pardon. Mea AIN'T culpa!