Sunday, January 31, 2010

About That Pregnant Teen....

Now that I have come to the defense of the pregnant teen, I find it necessary to make some distinctions and give some, probably unwanted, advice.

I do not advocate teens having deliberate pregnancies. With those of us from the BSE, stuff happened. The reason stuff happened is that we were woefully undereducated about sex and reproduction and had no access to birth control or safe, legal pregnancy termination. There sure were no morning after pills to be had. That is something the younger generation seems to find unbelievable but it is true. Teens and unmarried women were denied birth control in those days. And, for me, the pill was a couple of years away. All we had were condoms and those were often unreliable and overlooked because young men had problems going into the corner drugstore for a pack of Trojans.

Today's teens are a lot more savvy about sex and much more sophisticated than I was. But they are just as impressionable and impulsive. That hasn't changed. Along come the anti-choice contingient with their horror-story pamphlets and strident chants, add into the mix the inane and unworkable "abstinence only" propaganda, and you have a fertile field for harvesting good, little, adoptable fundies.

Education about the workings of the reproductive systems and how to acquire and use effective birth control seem to be missing from the equation. Some people seem to think that giving this information to our children will encourage them to have premarital sex and we don't want to think our little Suzie or Johnny is allowing anyone to sully their pure little bodies. But think back. Post-puberty is a powerful time in our lives and the hormones flow in rivers through our systems. That can interfere with good decisions and merits protection from lapses in judgment. And a teen CAN be in love, feeling a love just as real to them as it is to those of us in more mature relationships.

I wonder if anyone has connected the reported rise in teen pregnancies to the abstinence-only and anti-choice movements that overwhelmed us in the prior administration? There seems to be a connection to me. And the scary thing is that many of these girls are getting pregnant on purpose and for all the wrong reasons.

To our teens. Yes, have your children while you are young, healthy and energetic. But the optimum age span for really viable pregnancies is ages 18 - 29, NOT 12 and up. If you are going to be sexually active, then use protection against disease, go to the local Department of Public Health and obtain effective birth control and you will be exercising informed choices. And try to exercise good judgment in your partner.

Parents, give your teens this information. It's not automatic permission to have sex, but if they do, then they are protected. And, if it does happen despite it all, and your teen daughter is pregnant and wishes to bear her baby, support her, welcome your grandchild, and make sure the father of that baby takes his responsibility. You are her best resource, comfort and guide. Think love and compassion rather than politics and dogma. Don't jump on the adoption bandwagon. Talk to some adult adoptees in private, where they can speak freely and then think about your grandchild.

Give your child the support we didn't receive and you won't be sorry.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


I love it when a truth is validated by expert scientific research. A study published by the University of St. Andrews and Edinburgh University in Scotland found that women have lost 90 percent of their eggs by the time they are 30 years old, and only have about 3 percent remaining by the time they are 40. Dr. Marie Savard, on Good Morning America, said that when planning to have a child, "The sooner the better."

The research, also reported in this article is the latest to warn women that they must not leave having children on the shelf until it is too late to conceive. This is one more report, verifying that the primary cause of infertility is delayed attempts to conceive. After untold decades of hearing the teen mother villified, this is another plus for those of us that bore children while young.

We women are born with all the eggs we will ever have. According to the study, this number varies but, the loss of viable ova is faster than even first thought. Add to the age factor STD's, obesity, smoking, drug use and other questionable lifestyle choices and the saga of infertility expands.

I can't help but feel a bit vindicated. Too often, we are told that our tragedy was our own fault because we "couldn't keep our panties on." Perhaps our bodies were telling us that it was time to produce children. How can anyone call young women past puberty and well into their teens "Babies?" I have heard the scornful phrase, "Babies having babies," until I want to heave. Our bodies mature at the rate Nature has initiated. We human have the arrogance to think we can control and engineer Nature. Nah, I don't think so.

A whole new industry, infertility research, has sprung up as women have tried to "have it all" and wait until they are over 30 to start families. The adoption industry has had demand begin to increase again as liberated women hear the alarm going off on their biological clock. And, once again the cry is heard through the land, "Alas and woe! Teen pregnancy is a problem!"

If, instead of treating a teen's pregnancy as a horrible problem, instead of insisting she is a child when she obviously isn't, why not help those young women? They live in a society that keeps our young people in childhood longer than is natural. Let's help them grow up rather than chastizing them for something that is totally natural.

I was 15 when I became pregnant for the first time....16 when I delivered my daughter. Yes, I was scared and knew I would be given no options, but I can also remember when I felt that first faint flutter in my womb. I became a Mother at that moment.  I did all the things that older mothers do when I delivered. I counted fingers and toes, did a strip-check to make sure all was well with my infant and felt my breasts grow heavy with milk that would never be suckled. And I mourned when they were taken from me.

Now, I am not advocating that teenagers rush out and get pregnant. There is still a lot to be said for thoughtful preparation. But, if today's couples want children, they should have them from the get-go. I know quite a few women who went to college while married and having babies. I know career women with children who do quite well. It can be done. Who knows how far the demand for adoptable infants would fall if women followed the rules of nature rather than the constructs of humans?

So lay off the teen moms. Give them a chance and a little bit of support and quit coveting their babies. Stop with the raids on the children of other cultures, accept what nature has decreed and live with your choices just was we were told we would have to live with ours (except for the fact that we were given no choices).

And, as I have said before, infertility does not entitle anyone to a child.

(Thanks to Musing Mother for bringing this to my attention.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Time's A' Wastin'

I know that most of my contemporaries hate to be defined by their age and that is understandable. However, to deny the fact that we are aging is not the healthiest way to fly, either. Life happens.

The mothers of the Baby Scoop Era are, like me, grandmothers and even great-grandmothers. Many of us are dealing with health issues and the realization that we can't keep up with our old schedules. We have learned the way of the nap and stopping to smell the roses.

My husband turned 70 in November. I will be 65 in July. We are planning a move to our retirement home but struggling to sell our current house. We both know it will be the last move we make. We are making sure this is what we both want because it will be our home for the rest of our lives.

Some of us are fortunate to have husbands and children, raised and reunited, with whom we can share this part of our lives. There are others who are aging alone and reach out to friends to find support in the issues unique to this situation.

Recently, on an Internet group for BSE mothers, we discussed the 14th amendment to the constitution. To summarize, this amendment, adopted in 1868,  protects rights against state infringements, defines citizenship, prohibits states from interfering with privileges and immunities, requires due process and equal protection, punishes states for denying vote, and disqualifies Confederate officials and debts. Coming at the end of the American Civil War, it was the first anti-discrimination amendment to include African Americans. But, women did not come under this umbrella of protected rights until the early part of the 20th century. I sometimes wonder if we ever really made it to that position, even today.

Were our rights not protected? Did we, when being coerced into surrender of our infants, have the advantage of due process and equal protection? NO. We were an odd,  oppressed minority. Middle class and Caucasion, for the most part, we were  disenfranchised due to marital status and/or age and/or financial considerations. Our infants were harvested like ripe wheat and that harvesting was done with arrogant impunity.

If we are ever going to make a case for the crimes against us that took place in that most hypocritical of times, it is now. We are not getting any younger and our time is being used up dealing with the chores and issues of aging. The industry counted on our silence and, for many years, they got it. The question is, do we continue to sit in the closet or do we make ourselves and our cause known?

Because our civil rights were violated, the rights of our children to see their own, true birth certificates is denied them. Information that should be free and open to BOTH mothers and adult children is kept under lock and key by some group of bureaucrats who either enjoy the power or want to cover their culpable asses or both.

Many groups of people who have been the target of discrimination have had the injustices of their pasts addressed and received official apologies. The issues have seen the light of day and society has the opportunity to correct them and not to repeat them. Why can't we get the same consideration? No, an official apology won't make it all better, but the attention to the truth, the airing of the dirty laundry can have an effect on such practices in the present day. And we will know that someone heard us.

But we are not getting any younger (Darn It) and time's a'wasting.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

On The Glide Path

Those turbo-prop engines have a unique sound, not at all like the commercial jet liners that usually land at Sanford/Orlando International. Living in a house built right on the main glide path, we have become familiar with the different sounds and know how a troop transport plane sounds.

Governor Charlie (who?) Crist was on hand, in our small hamlet, yesterday to greet returning Americans who were in Haiti, a few rescued families and about 30 "orphans" to be delivered to the waiting adoption faciltators. A friend who works at SOI said the kids looked "bewildered and scared." I don't blame them.

My neighbor is still in Miami. His attorney is having to jump through numerous hoops to help Jean gain permanent custody of his nephews or, permanent enough for him to bring them home and get them settled. Meanwhile, the adoption pipeline is being greased by bureaucratic lard in order to get the goods to the buyers. It seems that adopters have more rights than blood relatives. Jeez..we already knew that, didn't we?

There have been a few of those planes coming in over our roof since the catastrophe in Haiti. I do know that several missionaries have been evacuated to this particular area. Ah, yes...not only are some Haitian children going to be immersed in our "superior" culture, but the Haitian people get the privilege of being bombarded by our "superior" religions. Well, according to Whacko Robertson, they DID make that pact with Satan...or was it Santa? Only the King of the Fundies knows.

Meanwhile, a women's health organization, that would offer safe delivery of their babies for thousands of pregnant, Haitian women, is the target of the American Life League. They say it is "all about abortion." This is covered in more detail in Bastardette's latest post. Hell, even the Scientologists are trying to reap a few sheaves among the devastated and frightened islanders. It seems John Travolta sent a pack of Scientology "ministers" to bedevil the already overburdened folk of Haiti.

Haiti needs food, clean water, shelter, blankets, medical care and funds with which to operate a clean-up. They DON'T need it served up with a side of religion du jour. And they also need a concentrated effort by everyone to find the living relatives of children affected by this disaster, even if that means searching the globe to find them.

I am beginning to feel deeper and more intense disgust at evangelizing and baby-marketing disguised as "help and rescue." They have a difficult course facing them in Haiti. They have their own corrupt individuals who would steal supplies for profit. Help should be offered without any attached agendas. They are begging for the bare essentials.

Those essentials don't include Americanization, Adoption and Evangelizing.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Heeere We Go, Again/ Orphan Bonanza

My next-door neighbor left for Miami, yesterday. Jean is from Haiti and has learned that his brother and sister-in-law were killed in the earthquake. He has inforrmation from a friend that his two nephews, Alaine and David, survived and he wants to make sure they don't wind up in the adoption pot or foster care. The boys have no living relatives in Haiti, but do have Jean and his wife, here in FL and another uncle and aunt in Paris.

It is only normal that relatives should be the first to be consulted when children are left without their parents due to a tragedy. But the American way is to favor genetic strangers who have passed some agency's home studies over members of the surviving family. What is wrong with this picture? For a culture that exhalts the idea of the nuclear family, there seems to be little regard for family ties in the US.

Jean's nephews, if he is able to locate and intercept them, are among the lucky ones who will, at least, be with their relatives and will be exposed to their own culture. Many more are being looked at with greedy eyes, by those who  are ready to airlift as many as will fit on a jet liner and place them in the adoption system. They may have living relatives still in Haiti, or in the US or elsewhere in the world, but there will probably be little to no effort to find them and give them the opportunity to take in their young kinfolk. The little ones will be picked out like ripe berries by salivating PAPs.

I learned something new, this week, by reading the daily Bastardette. In a repeat of the 1960's "operation Pedro Pan," there are plans afoot to airlift Haitian children to south Florida. Pat Robertson had his usual inane and insane remarks* to make and it seemed to prompt this response in the Miami Herald. Bastardette did a lot of research and came up with some information about this operation that would make any thinking person cringe.

The original "Pedro Pan" operation airlifted children out of Cuba. Mel Martinez, retired Florida politician is a Pedro Pan adoptee. Now there are some questions about whether or not "Pierre Pan" will procede as a full-blown operation or not, but it's a situation worth watching. Bastardette is keeping apace of this situation as it unfolds and it is fascinating reading.

If I had a message for those PAP's who see the tragedy in Haiti as a source of adoptable orphans, it would be that anyone with family living is NOT an orphan. Jean is making the trek, downstate, and contacting immigration and goverment agencies to make sure they know this. CUSTODY BY KIN SHOULD ALWAYS BE THE FIRST RESORT. Did I say that loud enough?

I really wish that some of these PAPs could have honest conversations with adult international adoptees who were taken from their homes and cultures and adopted by arrogant Americans who are so sure our culture is superior to any other.

I don't think they would like what they hear.

(*According to Robertson, the earthquake is the result of Haiti's "pact with Satan." tee hee, chortle and LOL)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mother Knows Best?

 Have you ever noticed that the people with the most knowledge about child-rearing are those who never had a child of their own? I had a maiden aunt and a childless aunt who always were telling my mother what to do about me and my sisters. While raising my two kept children,, my ex-husband's maiden aunt was the reigning expert. It gives meaning to the old insult/adage; "Those that can, do. Those that can't, teach."

While that statement is a bit broad and shouldn't be regarded as true in every situation, it is applicable for many  of us. I notice that those of us who have raised children and those who haven't also have different approaches to reunion.

I had someone object to my previous post where I explained that reunion doesn't fix the damage done to us. That doesn't mean that I think reunion is useless or shouldn't happen. It just means that only an adult human being can "fix" themselves. Looking to a relationship with lost and reunited mothers and children to resolve our issues is unfair on both ends. These relationships have to be built and the blood bond is only the foundation.  I, personally, am glad to learn what happened, even the bad parts, to my children. Living in a fog of conjecture and assumptions planted by the social workers who "counseled" me (many of them, single and childless) was singularly unhealthy. I just don't put all my emotional eggs in the reunion basket.

And for those mothers who were "guided" to surrender by the good sisters of Catholic Charities, have you ever wondered where they got THEIR expertise? I doubt that a group of professional virgins who never walked in our shoes could even begin to understand our experiences and situations. 

I have to stand by my statement, that we have a right to be happy and should never place the responsibility for our happiness on the shoulders of our reunited children or mothers. I don't do that with my raised children, for Pete's sake.

When I was in the giddy first throes of falling in love with my current and forever husband, I had a friend tell me something that applies to this, as well. She said, "Robin, if you were going to embroider a beautiful pillowcase as a wedding gift for someone special, you would choose the pillowcase  made of the finest material possible. You are that pillowcase, beautiful on your own. D******  is the embroidery that adds to the beauty. He does not make you beautiful."

Relationships that place the burden of one's emotional well-being on the acceptance or affection of the other is a co-dependency and unhealthy. If we lean into each other, when one steps back, the other falls. Better to stand upright and hold out your hand to the other. Reunion is rife with the co-dependency landmines, laid there by our own expectations. I know, because I stepped on a few of my own.

So, by all means, pursue a reunion.  In and of themselves, they are a good thing. Just keep a firm rein on your expectations and, if you have raised children, use your instincts.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

No Happily Ever After

When we read a fairy tale or watch movies with upbeat endings, it is easy to pretend that life is really
like that. Of course, those of us who have lived more than a few decades know that sometimes IT
doesn't turn out OK, but, if we work at it, WE will be OK. Nothing guarantees anyone a happily ever after. We can only work at attaining peace of mind.

Yet, when we tell our stories to others, we often hear, "Well, you did get to reunite and everything is better, now." I do believe that many of the people who say that actually  believe it. It's very difficult for them to understand the impact that separation of mother from infant had on us all. They honestly believe that reunion fixes it all.

We mothers get a lot of "you did the right thing," or, "you didn't have to raise your skirt!" We're either heroines or whores. Adoptees get called ungrateful and greedy. Here we are, two generations, seniors and middle-aged people, and very few seem to understand what we are saying. Or, they just don't want to think that a tearful reunion doesn't fix it and wrap it all up with a big, red bow.

It is even more important that we keep talking thrugh the misconceptions. We are the ones keeping the light burning in the lighthouse that could guide society to learn the truth about the era of secrets and lies and filling the demands of a market for human infants. If we don't learn from and address our sorry past when it comes to the social experiement of adoption, we are, indeed, doomed to repeat and repeat and repeat it.

American writer David McCullough once said, "“History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.” Examining the errors of our past helps us learn what we need to do to change the present and save many mothers and children from suffering the same fate. Natural family preservation only makes sense if we know WHY we need to guard this most basic of human bonds. As long as adoption separation is seen as a happily ever after scenario, with reunion as some kind of reward for the mangling of our family ties, there will never be real, effective reform.

People just love their happy endings. Too bad that this story doesn't have one.