Friday, August 29, 2008

What Are Those Senior Moms Up To Now?

Some people wonder what this SMAAC group is all about. Well, it isn't about reunion. And, while most of us are proudly anti-adoption, it isn't really about that. Nor is it about open records except where those records pertain to the experience of the Senior Mother of adoption loss, pre-surrender. Open records for adopted people is something for them to seek.

Rather, this organization, and any others like it, are about what happened to the mothers in a very significant part of our country's recent history. The EMS/BSE (Era of Mass Surrenders/Baby Scoop Era) was a time of wholesale mistreatment of the young women who dared to become pregnant while young and/or single and/or financially dependent on our parents. As we each waved the white flag, unable to fight the powers against us, and surrendered, our infant children were harvested like ripe grain.

This is not about hating the act of adoption or our own difficulties with those who adopted our children. Those are separate issues. I was the demand that fueled the market, but adopters are still a sidebar in this struggle.

This is about the massive injustice perpetrated on vulnerable young women, often with the aid and blessings of our own parents. This is about being placed in a demeaning category, labelled, judged, isolated from family and friends, made to labor for others while awaiting our own ultimate labor. It's about being harassed by social workers/counselors if we even breathed a thought about wanting to keep our babies. It's about being subjected to sub-standard medical "care" and being treated with disdain by nurses and doctors. It's about having legal documents that no minor should be asked to sign without objective, legal counsel thrust under our noses while still recovering from labor and delivery, often while still under the influence of the drugs they pumped into us.

This is about being denied the right to see and hold our babies or having to fight to do so. And it is about being handed trite, comfortless comfort by those workers/counselors such as "you will forget" and "you can always have more children." This is about the fact that, even for those of us who managed to suppress some of the memories, our emotions and our bodies never forgot. This is all about emerging from the fog of denial and fear and shame and seeing, clearly, the horrible legal crime of which we and our children were the victims.

It's all about righteous anger and determination that our stories will continue to be told and names will be named, wrongs will be revealed and someone will have to step forward and recognize what those in our age group have known, as fact, for decades. We were given no choice in our fates and were more punished than helped by these "homes" and "social workers." Feeding on our flesh and blood, the adoption industry and the field of social work "professionals" became fat and sassy while we, being the compliant, good little girls of our era, kept our secret inside where IT fed on our psyches and what was left of our self-esteem.

Surviving this horror and coming out of the secrecy closet into the light of day has made us much stronger. We are wise to the ways of coercion and emotional bullying. We realize that the brand we thought we would have to wear for life is easily removed, rejected and discarded. We scream for our modern-day sisters to hear us, to stop before they sign those papers. But, too often and sadly, they don't hear us and go their own way and Big Adoption grows fatter and more powerful.

Well, we now know we can't expect our younger sisters or even our own children, in many instances, to understand the historical impact of this era of mass eugenics. If attention is brought to this horror, we are going to have to speak up. We are going to have to let our passion and our determination show and we are going to have to risk being verbally attacked and denigrated. You have to have a backbone of iron to do what we are planning to do. We are going to have to lean on each other when that iron starts to melt from the furnace of reaction to our unpopular stance.

Most of all, we are going to have to keep some things separate...our personal lives and our reunions...from our battle. Those things are our private business and off-limits to attackers. We can share those things on private support-group sites.

The lady Justice holds the scales and there is a definite imbalance which she feels. It is up to us to tell her why there is that imbalance and what can be done to even things out, again. It may never be completely in balance, but we can knock a little weight off the other side of the scale before we pass on.

OK, here we come. Get out your dogs and fire hoses because we are not going to stop.


maybe said...

Hmmmm, this will be interesting. I see how being focused on your particular era will be key to your success.

I just hope the pro-adoption folks don't use this to say, "but it's different now!" Wait a minute, they already say that. Cedar's blog has a great post about the unethical development of methods to increase the supply of infants.

Can't wait to see what the response will be once specific agenices, hospitals, SWs, Drs., etc., are announced. Will they feign ignorance? God's will?

It will be entertaining to see them scurry to offer whatever pathetic excuses they will surely come up with.

Robin said...

We've already been told, maybe, by the younger mothers that this fight is ours, alone. What happens now is up to them to counter.

maybe said...

"We've already been told, maybe, by the younger mothers that this fight is ours, alone."

Can you elaborate on that? What has been done to women in the past is the model for future abuse (even if modified methods are used). Why would younger women not be supportive of your fight? Seems odd to me...

Robin said...

Sorry, maybe, but I don't want to elaborate on it. It has caused many a hard feeling and I just want us to concentrate on what we have to do for the injustices of the EMS.

Unknown said...

Good one, Robin. You say it all, and then some. Can't you just picture the Senior Mom's March on DC? I wouold love to see us all with our grey hair and walkers and replaced hips and knees marching on Washington demanding to have OUR records unsealed to US. The mind boggles at the image that conjures.

Rock on, my sister.

Anonymous said...

I just discovered your blog and read it with a heavy heart. Your story is one that is comming full circle domestically and internationally. Countless of adoption agencies are closing down : Commonwealth, Adoption House, Waiting Angels, etc., because brave people like you dared to step forward and question the ethics of these people.
Countries are closing down their adoptions to America or imposing much more difficult laws: Guatemala, China and more.
Unfortunately, there will always be someone there who will accept $$ money for a child, and some of the adoptive parents fuel this behavior with their money paying upwards of $40,000 for a baby (most want babies, they ignore the older children that so need homes)
Internationally Adoptions were a $6.5 billion industry in the USA is is $2.3 billion with lobbyists, etc. These agencies claim to be "non-profit" which is a laugh. Many of these agencies rake in over $1.5 million a year. There is a website that is FREE where you can check their IRS 990 forms, it will astound you how much salary some of the Exectuive Directors make and what little is given to humanitarian aid (with no proof)
There is a group formed by parents called PEAR (Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform)
Lets give the rights back to the child and birth mother.

Robin said...

You made two good points, Anon. One is that womb-fresh infants are where the money is and that adopter are the ones who are willing to pay for it (the "as if born to" fantasy). The other thing is giving back autonomy to the mother. She is not a birth-thing until she is snared by an agency and surrenders her child. If or until that happens, she is a child's only true mother and should have a chance to raise her child and receive the support she needs.

Robin said...

I want to add that I don't think adoption can be "reformed." It needs to be done away with, entirely and something more child-centered put in its place such as kinship and legal guardianships.

Anonymous said...

Hi Robin: Having lost a child to adoption in the 1960's, I am very impressed with what you are doing with SMAAC, and I'm very much in agreement with your views. I am concerned, however, that accomplishment of your goals could be compromised by the emphasis on the "senior-ness" of the mothers of the Baby Scoop Era. My own experience, gained particularly in dealing with the needs of older parents, is that, in our culture, "senior" is equated with weakness. When you think about our particular youth-oriented society's general lack of respect for seniors (and I could give dozens of examples), you have to question whether concentrating on being senior is much of an advantage. The last poster's description of a march of gray-haired mothers with walkers may sound inspiring but, in reality, and sadly, might generate more laughter and snickering than respect.
Again, Robin, I greatly admire your work on behalf of all of us, and just wanted to put forward my thoughts on this particular aspect.

Robin said...

Gail, I think you underestimate the power of the fact that we are the majority in the present population and that we were there first. We are the ones on whom the adoption machine grew fat and powerful. We were subjected to a social structer that has not existed for a while and that makes us, whether we like it or not, Seniors. I think the previous poster was just exercising her sense of humor. I also think being preoccupied with maintaining our long lost youth to the point that we cannot respect our own gray hair is what might do us in from within. Look what the AARP has grown into since Sen. Pepper started talking with other seniors. We have numbers, experience, wisdom and truth. I don't think the word "Senior" is going to destroy us. Vanity will.

Robin said...

And that should read "social STRUCTURE" *blush.

Anonymous said...

Hi Robin,

This is Gale just wanted to check in here I am a member of SMACC and very proud. Not sure I like being a senior though, I am getting USED to the idea as there is no going "back" as far as aging goes for any of us!

I want other mother's who are still hiding, or in the closet or so traumatized by the loss of their baby to come out and join us.

1966 mother of loss to EMS

Robin said...

Gale, there is beauty at every age. It is society that has made youth the icon that it is. We have spent years earning self-respect. This is no time to lose our self-esteem over something like age. I take pride in every gray hair on my head and see my life in every line on my face. What a story it has to tell. It is an exciting time of life if we allow it to be.

I, too, wish that other mothers from our era would peek out of their secret rooms and see the courage of their sisters and want to join us. There is NO MORE SHAME!

Robin said...

Besides, I think we all would prefer "Senior" to "Older." We can't use BSEMoms for our org. so we go with what is most descriptive and truthful. We were there first and we are no longer kids.

Unknown said...

I don't think that legislators laugh at AARP, and they didn't think that the Gray Panthers were something to poke fun at either. The walker thing was tongue in cheek, but the Boomers have had hips, knees and and everything else possible replaced.

I believe that if some find us somehow humorous, they will quickly be disavowed of that notion. Let them laugh, let them snigger...but then let them try to counter our claims. They can't counter them, because they are the truth. Nothing too funny about the truth. How hilarious did they find Auschwitz? We can use their hilarity to our advantage. I don't think that they will laugh for very long, since exploitation of women and their infants is just not funny.

The removal of an entire population is cultural genocide and what was done in the US and other English speaking countries of the world was ignored. We will no longer be ignored. And, we will no longer maintain the fiction they forced on us.

Robin said...

Well said, Sandy. In any event, I think that "Senior" also carries with it the idea of dignity, wisdom, experience and, definitely now, strength in numbers. I have had both knees replaced and wear trifocals and my hair, as you can see, is very gray. But I don't see myself as a joke, feeble, elderly or in any way "over the hill" mentally or emotionally.

And, as I said before, I'd rather look my age than have people looking at me lying in a casket. The alternative to aging is not living and we live!

Anonymous said...

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a Senior, or being referred to as one. Most of us Seniors are also some of the older members of the 'Baby Boomer' Bunch...a bunch of people who have been the movers and shakers in our society, in these last several decades. And Robin is correct...AARP is a huge org with lobbyist powers. Let's not be so quick to bury the 'Seniors' Senior Baby Boomers still pack a wallop on many fronts and are still heavily engaged in politics, no matter which way one votes. I believe us Senior Baby Boomers have much more energy and determination than did the generation before us at the ages we are today. It ain't over...not by a long shot!! Soon to be 62 years of age and quite proud of that fact.. I still have energy (though a nap is really refreshing, LOL!), I still have my determination, I remain interested in life outside of myself, I can still mentally focus and I still have a good chunk of Snap! And I believe a cause that one truly believes in, is worth whatever it takes to see it through, no matter ones age!

Senior Chris