Monday, January 31, 2011

Momentum Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

There is an fable by Aesop that I think of often when I think of the movement to find justice and equality for Natural Mothers and Adoptees. It's the one about "Belling The Cat."

" The Mice once called a meeting to decide on a plan to free themselves of their enemy, the Cat. At least they wished to find some way of knowing when she was coming, so they might have time to run away. Indeed, something had to be done, for they lived in such constant fear of her claws that they hardly dared stir from their dens by night or day. Many plans were discussed, but none of them was thought good enough. At last a very young Mouse got up and said: “I have a plan that seems very simple, but I know it will be successful. All we have to do is to hang a bell about the Cat’s neck. When we hear the bell ringing we will know immediately that our enemy is coming.”

All the Mice were much surprised that they had not thought of such a plan before. But in the midst of the rejoicing over their good fortune, an old Mouse arose and said:

“I will say that the plan of the young Mouse is very good. But let me ask one question: Who will bell the Cat?”

It is one thing to say that something should be done, but quite a different matter to do it."

Since the SMAAC position paper on Equal Access was published, there have been quite a few enthusiastic comments and no small amount of optimism. Not only is everyone excited by the idea that something might get done, it seems everyone has a different idea about how it should be done and then there are those who say it can't be done and we should be placing our focus elsewhere.

There are so many chiefs and so few warriors that it gets top-heavy in activism land. Then there are those that talk and say but don't follow through. I'm ashamed to admit that I've been one of those when it comes to taking my place at events and venues. The problem is that life intervenes. It's sort of like our plans to relocate for our retirement. The housing market bust has put the kibosh on that one for a while. We want to go here and we want to go there but can we afford the journey? Can we be sure that we or a family member doesn't fall ill?

It has been suggested that we take this fight to the streets and to the source. That is a really good suggestion but how many are willing to leave the comfort of the home, many of us in our Golden Years, to stand on hard pavement, holding signs and shouting slogans? How many of us are willing to put our names out there, to be recognized as an Exiled Mother of the EMS? How many of us are ready to spend long, boring hours in the heat or cold, sitting behind a table and giving out flyers? Money is an issue. How many are willing to donate for the cause?

Let's say the Industry, with its lobbyists and government toadies, is the cat and we are the mice. One of us against that behemoth would be news-worthy but foolish. The cat is a light sleeper and just one of us couldn't sneak up on it and place the bell around its neck. But enough of us surrounding the fat cat would certainly distract it and we just might be able to be heard above its yowling.

I have had my share of those who would lead us who delegate, critique the efforts of all their troops and then are nowhere to be found when it's time for a reckoning. I have grown tired of those who are sure they know a better way but no practical methods to achieve their better ideas. I am weary of egos, of people wanting to be the "go-to experts" in this area and who are more concerned with their imagined "legacies" than with justice.

Most of all, I am tired of watching people getting all excited, only to watch that excitement wane, lose substance and swirl down the drain to another repeat of the sound of silence.

I do what I do. I am a writer who pulls from my passions and flow of consciousness. I am a good rabble rouser with the extra advantage of having truth as a subject matter. I can provide a warm body and a fairly eloquent and fervent speech or two. I am willing to put those talents and attributes into this fight. I will be in San Antonio in August (barring death or disease*. I am one mouse who is ready to face the cat.

The question is, who is going to help us bell the cat? Gosh, it just got awfully quiet in here.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cover Me! I'm Going In!!

Thus speaks the hero as he/she takes on all comers, single-handed. In the more cliche action movies, the hero usually lives and all the supporting cast is killed except for one or two "special" friends. This is presented as a realistic picture of combat by the entertainment industry. Real life wars are a whole other proposition. To win the important battles, the warriors cover each other and each life is vital and valued.

We are fighting our own war, a kind of revolution against the social engineers, keepers of the keys, guardians of the status quo and the Industry and its Almighty Dollar. As more and more Natural Mothers and Adult Adopted People from the EMS come together and compare notes, the common enemy is revealed. This enemy worked so hard at pitting us against each other that they disregarded the fact that we had minds, voices and perceptions of our own.

Where there were the rare uncaring NMoms, the anger and hurt of the rejected adoptee was stoked to a fever pitch. Where there was secrecy-burdened family dysfunction, the fear of the mother was encouraged by arrogant assumers and presented as the norm. They ALMOST had us all, but a bunch of us have escaped the stockade and set up a bivouac and are plotting our strategy.

This is not going to be an easy war to win. What we want is HUGE. What the Industry stands to lose if the injustices against us and our children are revealed is HUGE. The legal profession, much of the professional medical community, churches and our own national government are on the side of the secrets, lies and distortions of fact that are the common arsenal of the Industry. Some of us older NMoms know there is a chance that we will not be alive to see the objectives achieved, especially the one of recognition and justice for the BSE mothers. It will be a bloody war and there will be casualties.

Each soldier in this endeavor has their own skill to bring to the fracas. Some are gifted in the areas of research, some can draft organizational and position documents, some know their way around state and national congresses and some of us can write from our passion and emotions, and do some rabble-rousing of our own. What matters is that there are more of us firing our own particular ammo at the same target rather than at each other. Too many have fallen to "friendly fire" and that is something that shouldn't happen.

If the USSR, England, France and the US could come together to defeat Adolph Hitler in WWII, then we, of different perspectives, can use our resources against the same enemy. Cooperate, yes, but accept the role in which you have landed. Not everyone can be a General and many shouldn't be one.

So "Praise the Family Tree and pass the ammunition!" Cover us! We're going in!!

Friday, January 28, 2011


The fact that a bit of history was made, yesterday, has just begun to work itself into my brain. The time for Natural Mothers and Adopted Adults from the EMS to stand together, mutually respectful and equally committed is long past, but better late than never.

The idea of the mother being a mere platform on which the adopted person stood to gain their rights is one that cannot succeed. Working together in mutual support can and will succeed if we follow through. Perhaps we are finally maturing and realizing that, good reunion or bad reunion, all arguments over who was more damaged aside, we need each other. What a concept.

Not all of us are on the same page. Not all of us will be. There are egos and cherished angers and a lot of other dynamics going on. There are some so damaged that their input could be toxic to the goal. No one has said this would be a fairy tale where the records were opened and everyone lived happily ever after.

But there are enough of us seeing the big picture to make a noise loud enough to be heard, one that can't be ignored. I am looking into venues where the SMAAC Position on Equal Access can be published in order to reach more people. The help of our adopted friends would go a long way, here. Attaching the position statement to their own sites and publications would help. Some have already done so.

This act of the NMoms stems from a long, frustrating journey. Our displeasure at certain entities in the Industry and those who adopt for presuming to speak FOR us is at a peak. We're mad as Hell and are not going to take it any longer. If you want to know how a mother feels and what a mother thinks, ask a MOTHER, not an adoption lobbyist, an adoption think-tank or an adopter. That should be a no-brainer, yet I see media coverage of the open records debate that either does not include a Natural Mother or only includes one who is sympathetic to adoption. That's like asking a Stepford Wife if she is happy with her life.

Our silence has been too loud and those of us who began to speak out, earlier, had to shout ourselves hoarse to be heard above it. We were told to go and never tell and too many of us took that to heart. Millions of us have hidden in plain sight for decades. I came out of the fog 18 years ago and it was like being able to breathe after being caught in a dust storm.

Those of us who questioned the necessity for adoption, who talked about justice and acknowledgement for the mothers and who felt our issues were also important were described as radical, militant, strident, bitter and angry (like anger is a bad thing?) name it. Sticks and stones will break our bones, but tell the truth and you're a bitch. Well, we're still standing and still saying the same thing. And we have our self-respect...something the industry and all who contributed to our tragedy tried to take from us forever.

The wall is not down. The bastion of adoption  mythology still stands and OBCs and other records are still held hostage. But, after this week, I discern a bit of a crack in the mortar. SMAAC Moms...we done good!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Equal Access; SMAAC's Official Position

We Mothers of SMAAC do support the efforts of our adult children to procure access to their Original Birth Certificates. We also believe that access should be equally available to all those whose identities have been hidden by this legally sanctioned fraud. Too many of us kissed our infants goodbye with a whispered promise that we would see them again. Too many of us were given false promises of reunion when our child reached the magic age of 18 or 21 only to find that this was a lie. The heinous use of the Natural Mother's presumed "confidentiality or anonymity" must stop. Mothers must be allowed to speak for themselves and make their own decisions concerning our relationships with our adult, surrendered children. Here is the official position of SMAAC on this vital issue.


The term “Protection” in adoption has been grossly misused when it comes to the violations of rights of both adoptees and their natural mothers. Protection, as used in Government, means “That benefit or safety which the government affords to the citizens ”, not the protection of one group of citizens from another. As adults, individuals are capable of monitoring and maintaining their relationships with other adults and it is unprecedented under law that protection of one class of adults be protected from another when neither class has committed any crime. The entities using "protection" in an erroneous manner, often those whose incomes depend on increasing adoption, have become increasingly presumptuous in speaking FOR natural mothers who are NOT all of the same mind and are older, experienced women capable of speaking for themselves.

The Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, the 14th Amendment, grants all people equal protection of the laws, which means that “the states must apply the law equally and cannot give preference to one person or class of persons over another ”. In regards to the opening of adoption records, most specifically the Original Birth Certificate, the identity of the natural mother is the one piece of information that is consistently made known. Access to identifying information on one party without providing equal access to identifying information of the other parties violates the Equal Protection intent. Providing the adopted adults with their original birth certificate, with the mother’s identifying information, while not providing the mothers with the amended birth certificate with their adopted child’s new name, is unequal and therefore violates the equal protection clause.

Since the Amended Birth Certificate contains identifying information on the adoptive parents, they also should be provided equal access to the identifying information of all parties to the surrender and adoption process. It has, in fact, been found that often adoptive parents have had identifying information on the mothers of their adopted children from the very beginning, in either the court documents, original birth certificates or social security cards. Some states, including Kansas and Maine, already give the original birth certificates to the adoptive parents, by law. The records were sealed to protect the adoptive parents from the natural parents, not to preserve the anonymity from adult adoptee that was imposed upon mothers.

Anonymity and confidentiality are two separate concepts in the law. Confidential records are almost never confidential to the parties involved. Confidentiality of the medical records, counseling files, and other documents that pertain to the mother are private and should remain confidential. In the early days of the Baby Scoop Era, Mothers were granted confidentiality during their confinements, prior to delivering their infants to protect them from the prying eyes of neighbors and others. Confidentiality in adoption was not intended to be continuous, unasked for, anonymity from the children to whom they gave birth and surrendered. Anonymity refers ONLY to identity. Seldom is mandatory anonymity codified by laws and if not, the promise of perpetual anonymity to (natural*)mothers used as a reason to maintain an unnecessary anonymity hasn’t a precedent.

Medical Updates

Natural Mothers, as all citizens of the United States, are guaranteed “the protection of their privacy of the person and possessions as against unreasonable searches (4th Amendment), and the 5th Amendment's privilege against self-incrimination, which provides protection for the privacy of personal information ,” which would include our and our family’s medical history.

HIPAA laws state, quite simply, that the individual “owns” their medical history. It does not become the property of the physician who treats the person, and that the individual has the right to take their medical history with them when they move to a different physician. That made it possible for the person to avoid unnecessary duplication of testing, x-rays and diagnoses. It also made it possible for people to deny someone else access to their private medical history, including family members.


Natural mothers surrendered their rights to parent their minor children and their responsibilities to their infants, not the right to ever know their children or their welfare.

No one can be compelled to violate their own rights. One cannot waive one’s Constitutional Rights. In fact, laws that violate constitutionally guaranteed rights are not legal and will not withstand a challenge in a court of law. Legislators are aware of this fact, if writers of legislation are not, and do not want to have their names attached to bills that will not withstand a constitutional challenge in court.

In order for a bill to pass, it must be able to withstand a constitutional challenge. It must be fair, equal and just. The ones that are being written that exclude the rights of one party in preference to other parties are not legal. A fair and comprehensive bill would offer equal benefits for all parties involved, including the mother who surrendered.


This is an open message to all those entities who benefit from closed records and adoption. It is past time for you to stand back and allow us to speak our own minds. For too long, you have capitalized on our silence. We are speaking for ourselves and we aren't saying the same things you are. Natural Mothers are not puppets, pawns nor are we still frightened teens hiding from a scornful society. Our surrendered children are no longer defenseless infants and are not the property of those who adopted them. They are their own people. Allow us to seek the answers to our own questions and handle the results as the adults we all are.
In other words, SHUT UP, ALREADY!!
Robin Westbrook (who takes complete responsibility for the paragraph beneath the asterisks)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Back To The Lair Of The Monster

"As I sat I heard a sound in the courtyard without—the agonized cry of a woman. I rushed to the window, and throwing it up, peered out between the bars. There, indeed, was a woman with dishevelled hair, holding her hands over her heart as one distressed with running.

She was leaning against a corner of the gateway. When she saw my face at the window she threw herself forward, and shouted in a voice laden with menace:— ‘Monster, give me my child!’ She threw herself on her knees, and raising up her hands, cried the same words in tones which wrung my heart. Then she tore her hair and beat her breast, and abandoned herself to all the violences of extravagant emotion.

Finally, she threw herself forward, and, though I could not see her, I could hear the beating of her naked hands against the door. Somewhere high overhead, probably on the tower, I heard the voice of the Count calling in his harsh, metallic whisper. His call seemed to be answered from far and wide by the howling of wolves. Before many minutes had passed a pack of them poured, like a pent-up dam when liberated, through the wide entrance into the courtyard.

There was no cry from the woman, and the howling of the wolves was but short. Before long they streamed away singly, licking their lips. I could not pity her, for I knew now what had become of her child, and she was better dead." ( excerpt from Dracula by Bram Stoker)

Of all the monsters of mythology, none seems to have captured the minds and imaginations of more people than the central character in a book written during the reign of Queen Victoria by Bram Stoker. Calling on legend, some historical fact and the stuff of the, then popular, "Penny Dreadfuls," he created a character that has been done and redone and still seems to draw an audience.

I was eleven years old when I read the original book. I have re-read it several times. Even with its stilted, Victorian prose, I couldn't put it down. It didn't scare me and I wasn't "titillated" by the thinly-disguised sexual nature of the book's theme. I was just enthralled with the imagination and vivid imagery that was between those pages. This genre has always been like a thrill ride at the carnival, for me. A fun ride but with the knowledge that there is very little real chance of injury. It bothers me that there are some so damaged that they would take this particular myth seriously and not see the messages, moral instruction and the bit of slap and tickle beneath the horror story.

Little did I realize that five short years later, I would be at the mercy of a man-made Nosferatu that would try to suck all the life from my heart. I never connected the excerpt above to the taking of children for adoption until I re-read it when I was 18. The picture of the woman screaming for her child brought me to tears.

Reading it again after reunion, I was more taken with the images of the brides. How different is the avid coveting of a child from the lust for blood by a vampiress? It seems to be an obsession for both. So I brought the picture together in my mind. The Industry is the source, the 'Wampir,' and the brides are the adopters he chooses to receive the children he takes. And all the cries of "Monster-Give me my child!," were unheeded and we were threatened with the wolves if we dared to even try.

People say that adoption is invulnerable, firmly entrenched and will never go away. That may be, but, even  Dracula had his weaknesses. Daylight was a biggie. If you can translate that into the light of truth, who knows what foundations can be shaken?

Dracula was able to move about in England because no one believed in such a thing. His persona was charming and debonair...even sexy (Frank Langella and Louis Jordan both made me swoon just a bit). The Industry masquerades as a benevolent entity, saving children from a fate worse than exsanguination...mainly being raised by their own mothers.

I've visited this analogy before on this blog. But I have been doing a bit of reading about those who are trying to rescue their children from CPS and the Industry and wannabe adopters who run and hide and I find myself whispering the words.."Monster, give me my child!" "Rebecca's Law" by Rohan McEnor is one book that has brought up the image in my mind.

There are those, I know, who were and are not reluctant to offer their babies to the Industry, but I still hold fast to the belief that these women are very few and not at all representative of Natural Mothers as a group. For those of us from the EMS, we believed that we were turning our infants over to the most benevolent of institutions. We had to believe it or go crazy.

It bothers me, now, to know that there was a monster behind the soft voice and false, sympathetic smile of the social workers. And that monster took my children and then threw me to the wolves.

I think I'll go sharpen a few stakes.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Aw, Ya Done Gone and Got Yerself Pregnant!

I have had it! I am so sick and tired of the careless, uncaring, thoughtless and even nasty things being said about Natural Mothers. When it comes from a member of your own family, it hurts. Even if the thing that was said wasn't directed at you, it can hurt. It gets especially vicious when they go after teen moms, but any young woman who dares to conceive without the dubious benefit of holy deadlock is fair game. Here are a few of the statements, made by those who have no idea what it's like, that set my dentures on edge.

"Babies having babies." RIDICULOUS! I'll admit it isn't the most ideal situation in the world, but most teen moms are not infantile and make great mothers with a bit of support and understanding.

"You've ruined your life!" HOGWASH. The idea that the young, single mom is going to be on welfare for life, will never have a good relationship, career, education or fulfilling events in her life is bullshit of the smelliest variety. I only have to look among my contemporaries to see the erroneous nature of that idea. And I really have to hand it to some of the newer moms who are finishing their schooling, working and raising a child and not complaining. We are a confused and spoiled culture that keeps our children in a state of infancy post-puberty.

"Your baby deserves TWO parents who can give them more." More what? More love? More care? AAH. More MONEY. And the fact that there IS a father who should be contributing to the care of his child is not considered? I wish I had a ten-spot for every adopted adult who has said they would not have minded not having the pony and the toys and the dance lessons if it had meant they could have stayed in their family of origin. I could go on a nice vacation.

"You're the one who spread her legs." Why is it that a girl's sexuality is condemned while a boy's gets a wink and a nudge? I can also tell everyone, from hard experience, that many times those knickers didn't come off without a lot of urging and cajoling from a horny guy along with false protestations of eternal love. And, in a few cases, those horny guys just took what they wanted without permission. It's just sex, for Pete's Sake and it doesn't make a slut out of a girl who gives in to passion. It's the loose talk and the labels and condemnations that do that. How about offering sex education and available birth control instead of unrealistic expectations?

"Haven't you ever heard of birth control?" It's awfully hard to hit the Health Department for the pill or insist on condoms when you have Dad and Mom preaching 'aabstinence only' and believing that their little girl would never let a nasty boy touch her like that. This willful forgetting of their own teen years spells disaster for the sons and daughters who are too human to measure up. AND, condoms fail and even the pill can fail if a dose is missed or if there are certain other factors such as a short illness and other medications in the body.

"You cannot give your child a good life. They will be messed up and never amount to anything." I have seen numerous people who were adopted by well-meaning, affluent people who turned out to be addicts, thieves, bad with family and relationships, and even murderers. There are no guarantees. You just do your best. On the other hand, there are many people raised by single mothers who had succeeded in making good lives for themselves. And several of those people credit their mother's influence as the reason behind their success. Among them are Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Olympian Michael Phelps. Whereas, among adopted people, we can include, Ted Bundy (adoptee lite), Jeffrey Daimler and David "Son of Sam: Berkowitz. It's not the family structure but the quality of family love and guidance and that can be a crap shoot.

"You can always have babies after you're married, have a home and are settled in a career." OK, this one is the old promise that we can have it all. Yet it has been proven that delayed childbearing is the leading cause of infertility. A study in the UK concluded that women lost 90% of their viable ova by age 30. That doesn't mean you can't become pregnant after 30. It just means it is a lot harder. And a mother in her late teens to early 20's does seem to have a monopoly on the energy it takes to keep up with toddlers and small children. That is hard work. But I know a few young mothers who, while raising small children, pursued their education and a career. One became a cardiologist while raising twins on her own. Don't set limits on those who find themselves pregnant at a young age and single. They take the things you say to heart and you may be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"She went and got herself pregnant." Yeah Buddy. I picture women raiding sperm banks or knocking out young men to procure sperm, then getting out the old turkey baster and doing the deed. What tripe. In most normal pregnancies, it takes two, a male and a female, both equally responsible for the act and the outcome, to make a baby. Has our species not evolved far enough to cease this demonetization of women? Will we always be judged by a two-millenia-old patriarchal myth about our worth and our sexuality?  We have stood on another planet. We take pictures of distant galaxies and have working computers no bigger than our palms, but we still are sexist, racist, ageist and operating from a questionable idea that a certain religion has a lock on morality.

I am a mother who became a mother when it was the worst possible thing a girl could do in the eyes of society. I have managed to grow past the fear and shame and realize what is behind this denigration of the single, young mother. It sickens me, saddens me and, when it comes from a loved one, it gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Even natural families don't seem to get that unconditional love thing.

Yesterday, I got a facetious invitation from Baskin-Robbins to celebrate my "half birthday" (I became 65 & 1/2 on the 14th) with a buy one cone, get one free deal. Time is flying by and I am educated more and more every day. OK, so at the grand old age of 65 & 1/2, I see something very clearly. The problem isn't the pregnant teens. That old chestnut just won't fly anymore. The problem is social engineering and the demand for healthy infants by the "right kind of people." It isn't a "win-win situation" and it isn't caring for the mother or her child. It is bottom-line flesh trading and religious arrogance and manipulation by the self-anointed. It is heartless, covetous, greedy, elitist and painful.

And it stinks to high heaven.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Politics, Religion and Guns, Oh My!

Jared Loughner is a troubled young man. He is mentally unstable in a society that doesn't protect or care for the mentally ill and certainly doesn't protect them from hate rhetoric. Yes, I know what the President said in his wonderful speech, but I cannot negate the fact that this kid came after Rep. Gifford TWICE. The first time was an assault on her local headquarters after she had voted in favor of the health care bill. The second time, he came armed, he killed, wounded and created mayhem.

This picture has been published in every media source in the nation and beyond. With his long hair shaved off, he looks like the personification of evil. But he's not. He's sick and sad and was a perfect breeding ground for the embryos of hate that are being heaped on us, daily. He is another undervalued human being who was pushed by hate rhetoric and his own demons into finding validation in a horrible way. Now his legacy will be a negative one and his name will always be associated with horror, death and hate.

I have maintained, for quite a while now, that the far right, with its ties to ultra-conservative Christianity, and the talking heads that fuel the fire, are the biggest threats to our basic freedoms. They don't have to pull the guns themselves, although Ms. Palin seems to see herself as mighty handy with a weapon. All they have to do is keep spewing the vitriolic bile of their hate and fear-mongering misinformation, and there will be all the Jareds out there who will think they are being charged, personally, with a task. It is a simple matter, unfortunately, to arm themselves with weapons.

This incident didn't turn us against each other. We were already turned. The poison has been seeping into the system for a long time, now. I have watched it in my own family. We have reached the point in our society where we no longer allow anyone a difference of opinion for fear that ours will be wrong. In my own circle, in my own family, I have seen people blocking others from their Facebook pages because of issues of religion, politics or both. I have an old friend who has unfriended me because of my opinions on adoption and organized religion. The stage is set and the fuses are waiting to be lit.

A very conservative young man got into a "debate" with me, stating that I should "lay off" the RushGlenSarahBillPatetc contingent and called me "culpable" in the same manner as the right-wingers. OK, show me that kind of rhetoric, in that amount, followed by that many people, saying exactly the same things and I will concede the point. But, what I have seen thus far does not support that hypothesis. You don't often hear about a disgruntled liberal picking up a gun and blowing a few people away while under the influence of those nasty, leftist, demon commentators, now do you?

I know this post is a departure from my normal subject matter, its connection only very tenuous. But I cannot let it go without saying my piece. With all due respect to our Commander In Chief, I am angry that these people take our precious freedom of speech and use it to inflame and misinform. Taking the high road is good, and I respect those who do. But when you turn the other cheek to these asshats, they just slap that one, too. No, I do not advocate censorship, but I do wonder what would happen if every empty-headed rambling of Palin's was taken apart, piece by piece, by the media? I wonder what would happen if we refused, en masse, to buy the products of the sponsors who keep the inflamers on the air? There used to be a time when people were careful and responsible about how they used freedom of speech.

Would that reduce the volume of broadcast bias and bombasity? Might any who were shown to be as foolish as the charges they level actually be embarrassed by being publicly outed as agitators? Would they finally give up if their protestations started falling on deaf ears?

It would be interesting to see, wouldn't it?

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Nothing Ventured...Nothing Ventured!

To escape criticism - do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. ~Elbert Hubbard

A friend on Facebook posted the little gem above and it got my wheels turning. I am in my 18th year of reunion and 15th year of discovering the Internet community of Natural Mothers. I have watched the ebb and flow of alliances and recombinations as this disparate group gets its bearings.

After what amounted to, for many of us, three or four decades of silence, with some going deeper into the secrecy than others, it has been an effort just to get to the point where we speak out. And, when we came out of the closet, we learned that having a child appropriated for adoption is about the only thing most of us have in common. When it comes to socio-economic status, education, religion and political leanings, we are all across the spectrum. As a friend is fond of saying, we are "every woman."

How we view our trauma and what we feel needs to be done differs from one Mother to another, as well. So we have NMoms working in every area from open records to search and reunion to family preservation to acknowledgement and redress for the EMS. I'm in the latter group and it's fine if there are others in the other groups. I wish us ALL good luck.

What I don't like is the message we get from some detractors that we are spinning our wheels and  nothing will EVER come of our efforts. It's true that adoption is an American institution right up there with apple pie and reality shows. It's true that adoption is a political darling and a money-maker for too many. It's also true that the ones who don't want us to be heard have more in the way of means and influence to use to make us sound like loonies from the fringe. It's an uphill climb and a hard one.

Those of us who are concentrating on the surrender and the abuse mothers suffered during that process are probably facing the biggest mountain of all. There are still intolerant, arrogant and judgmental people who will make the comment that we "didn't have to spread our legs." (And isn't that sweetly said?) So to say that we are not given a lot of hope for success, even by many who totally agree with our POV, is an understatement.

But I think our reward is going to be in the initial effort, in the venturing out and speaking out about our experience. I have a very old afghan here that is unraveling. That started with just a little thread coming loose and over many years with much washing and use, there is now a large hole in it. Soon, it will be damaged far beyond any use. I like to think of us as the ones who loosened the first threads in the fabric of lies and propaganda. I like to picture a future when we and the pain, abasement and loss we were forced to suffer are all revealed by the insistent pulling at those threads.

Sooner or later, and probably later, the general public is going to look at the issue with new vision born of our insistence on speaking out and will see that the emperor is, indeed, naked. Whether I am alive to see it or not, I think that whatever remains of me will know and will smile.

So, for me, the personal satisfaction comes from telling my story and putting my opinions out there. We are only a few decades into some big changes, so we have a ways to go. But not a word we post, not a letter we send to the editor of print media, the producers of television shows and to our elected representatives is wasted or useless because someone, somewhere will read what we have to say and it will make them think.

Some might wonder why I would press on with this issue when I have so little chance of a major reward for my efforts. I guess I could avoid a lot of criticism and wrangling if I just said nothing and I wouldn't have  my widdle feeling hurt as, if I am honest, happens very occasionally. I think of Paul Simon's "I Am A Rock," where he sings of closing himself in his room and not participating in life in order to spare himself any hurt.

It depends on what you might see as a major reward. For me, the reward is in knowing all these wonderful women who survived the indignities and punishment heaped on our heads for a non-crime. The rewards have names like Sandy and Chris and Karen and Gayle. Rewards come from seeing many of our children and some of our neighbors and friends begin to understand and question what they have always believed about us and our plight. And most of all, it is being able to look myself in the face in the mirror and say, "You're doing the right thing," even when the critical messages are flooding in.

THAT'S the real reward.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Door Mats of the Word, Rebel!!

I have really enjoyed seeing the New Year's resolutions of my loved ones. I am impressed by two. My son has resolved to develop more of an empathetic personality. I am so proud that he would make this kind of decision about his own demeanor.

And another loved one, another thinking member of our clan, has resolved to quit being a door mat, to learn how to say no and to not be drawn into things she cannot change. Good for you, Honey!!!

I made the same decision, although not for a New Year's resolution. I don't usually make any resolution on the first of January except to continue to hope, love and do my best to be a good person. This came as I entered my 40's and realized that I needed to be my own advocate and support because I was leaning too much on others.

I can so identify with the scary leap from door-mat-hood to full, autonomous human being. I was a wuss who couldn't say no and who tried to fix things for others. I went along with what others said, even when I disagreed, deep inside myself, with what was being said. Giving myself the right to say "No," to speak up and have my own opinions was the first step in recovering the woman whose personality was ravaged when her two, oldest children were taken from her.

I had to learn that it was more important to respect and like myself that to be liked by everyone. Of course, you have to take the flak from those who liked the devil they knew rather than this new, more assertive and self-confident person. I graduated from meek and easily upset to "shrill, bitter, angry, bitchy" and many other adjectives used by the folks who disagreed and who were used to me bending to their wills. It's part of the bargain. I learned to live with the disappointment.

But I noticed other side effects of this change in my perspective and attitude. I stopped whining and started opining. I stopped the pity parties and put on my smarty pants. I developed the ability to laugh with and at myself. In fact, I laughed a lot more than I had before. I learned to ride the waves of life without going berserk. It was like a curtain, slowly lifting to show a sunlit vista and it is worth facing the fear and entering the struggle. To say I am perfectly there would be a lie. But the work is progressing nicely.

And I learned that I did not deserve what was done to me as a single, teen mother.

Strong women who stand up for themselves, no matter how courteously they do so, will always be called "bitches" by her detractors. Well, a bitch is a female dog and there are some of those noble critters that I respect a lot more than some people I know. So call me a bitch if you have to. I'll take it as a compliment.

I just wish I had been enough of a bitch and less of a door mat in '62 and '63. Of course, back then, NICE girls were career door mats. It was pounded into us at home, in school, at church and in every media presentation of what was the ideal woman.

I have a loved one who went to far in the other direction and was a bit of a belligerent bully when we were growing up. I didn't want to be like that. I would rather be respected than incur fear. I feared all authority figures in my life and let one or two get away with things that no one would get by with, today. It is tragic that I was not where I am today, back then. Things would have been very different.

But spilled milk calls for a clean-up. I think an application of justice and redress would do the job. Meanwhile, I am rooting for my relative and her courageous resolution. May her ovaries grow big and strong!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A Nation Of Sheep

If you have ever watched a dog herding sheep, you know that the dog uses his/her ancient predatory instincts to frighten the sheep into running in certain directions. The sheep, natural prey animals, respond with the natural fear of attack and move as directed. It is unfortunate that I see this tendency towards knee-jerk reactions to fear-mongering in our general populace.

Going back to our Puritan progenitors, run out of the United Kingdom for their zealous excesses, fear of Hell and damnation was used to keep the colony in check. The more ignorant and uninformed the person, the more easily they can become alarmed by the specter of gloom and ruin. The biggest supporters of the status quo, the Tea Party and the rantings of Beck, Riley, Limbaugh and Gingrich are the ones who don't realize they are being robbed blind by the financially elite who propagate this fear-mongering.

It disturbs me to realize that our power structure is comprised of the wealthy, the social engineers and the dogmatic. Back when I was a pregnant teen, I was as unaware as anyone else of what was being done to the general citizenry. Religion and psychology joined forces to make a perceived threat out of unmarried mothers and their children. We were doomed to poverty, reliance upon the taxpayers and to raised damaged young or so they said. We were also, in the male-dominated society in which we still, unfortunately, live, damaged goods, unworthy of a "good man" or a normal life.

Our parents, families, communities, preening, newly-professional social workers and the general public saw nothing wrong in using us for breeding stock for the more deserving, wage-earning, married infertile couples. The sheep ran as the dogs directed and it was seen as a win-win situation all around. As sad as it is, that is still often the case with the unmarried mothers of today, especially with that stupid idea of "born-again virginity."

People fear things that they don't understand or that are not part of their life experience. I look at the Tea Party and the Christian Conservative Machine and see them using every fear card in the deck: racism, sexism, homophobia, radical name it. Just like the BSE, I am hearing the sheep bleat in terror as they run in the direction the powerful wish them to go. The ability to think for oneself is not valued in the areas of religion or politics. There lies danger and sedition in the eyes of the herders.

I am a sheep that morphed into a person when I learned that I was sold a bill of goods when I was young enough, dependent enough, ignorant enough and vulnerable enough to buy into it. Once I questioned the nature of what was done to me and to my children, it led me to question a lot of other things, among them the Capitalistic nature of the adoption industry in the "free" world. What I have seen in my quest for answers has frightened me a lot more than any barking pundit. The arrogance of the shepherds is starting to cause quite a few cases of morphing from sheep to real people.

I was raised to love my country, to be loyal to my government and to adhere to certain standards of "acceptable" behavior. I love my country. If questioning the efficacy and honesty of my government is disloyal, so be it. And while I still have standards, I am not the blue-nosed prude I was, even towards myself. Talk about your split personalities. I did have sex with my boyfriend and felt guilty as Hell about it, every time. No wonder I never enjoyed it.

I hope that more and more Americans will get tired of being herded, marked, shorn and scared. I don't have HIGH hopes, but I still have hope. A human mind should never take on ovine characteristics. It defeats the definition of human.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Privatizing Our National Conscience

CANYON LAKE, Texas -- A Canyon Lake homeowner told News 4 WOAI he was shocked to find out  six foster children were sleeping in the garage of a home he was renting out to a couple.

Charlie White showed News 4 WOAI's Jozannah Quintanilla the 2-car garage where he says the couple had the grade school-age foster children sleeping. White said they had no air conditioning or heat in the garage, and the children were sleeping on homemade bunk beds in the crowded room. White believes three other foster children were living inside the two bedroom home.

"They had a wall built across the garage under this beam, and a wall across here," said White.

A neighbor who lives next door sent White a letter, letting him know how concerned the neighborhood was for the children.
"I showed up the next day to ask them what was going on and where they were keeping all these kids," White told us. "They told me my house was a therapeutic foster home."

White walked into the garage and told the foster parents it was no place for the young girls to be sleeping. That's when he also found out there was a 30-year-old mentally challenged man living in the garage with the girls.

"I told them they needed to get the kids in the house and tear these walls down," White said.

When asked why he told them that, he explained. "Because a fire could break out in here, and these kids would have no way of getting out.

Soon after White and his neighbors reached out for answers.

"All of the neighbors were concerned. Several have called CPS," explained White. "They couldn't understand how nine children could be living in the home."

"Thirteen people using the toilet," White added. "The ceiling is caving in. It's got mold in it."

With more than a dozen people living in the home, White said every room in the house was damaged. He immediately went to court.

"They refused to take the walls down and to move the kids in," White told us. "That's when I told them they have to go."

A judge evicted the family last month. Since then, White has contacted the agency responsible for the children.

"Because they allowed this many people in the home, they've done this much damage," added White. "They're not concerned and seem to be covering it up."

White says he and the other neighbors are concerned about where the children are living now, but he is also thousands of dollars in debt from the damage done to his home.
News 4 WOAI found the family living in a home a few miles just down the road. We knocked on the door but got no answer. We then contacted Child Protective Services.

Thanks to Sandy Young, who lives in Texas, for putting this story out for the rest of us to read. I felt it was an appropriate follow-up to my previous post. It seems that, for many adults, the welfare of children is forfeit when it comes to the bottom line. I would love to hear from the CPS in Canyon Lake and hear what they have to say about this execrable situation.

Why do we decry orphanages and yet allow this kind of cruelty in the name of a "family home?" A clean, warm, well-run children's home would, in my mind, be head and shoulders above foster care as it is, now, in our nation. While there are many who provide decent and caring foster care, the system is too top-heavy and overloaded and corrupt to avoid situations like this and many others.

Unfortunately, our profit-based culture puts the funds into the pockets of the already wealthy, big business, "defense" contracts and perks for elected officials while the most vulnerable among us go begging.

Not only did we Natural Mothers get sucked into the system because we were not legally the chattel of a husband, but also because too many of us were financially dependent on our parents or unable to make enough money, due to the inequity in pay scales between men and women, to provide for a child. The bottom line, here, is tragedy.

Note that a wealthy woman, such as a famous actress, etc., can raise a child as a single woman without an eyebrow anywhere being raised. Many women who have reached an age when the biological clock is ticking loudly, will quietly opt for single motherhood because they can afford it. They can usually fly under the radar of the agencies and the coercers because they are financially comfortable.

This concept is attributed to many different sources, but the fact remains that the might of a nation is judged by how it treats the weakest of its citizens. The US scores low on this one.

Now, I don't hate the rich. I look at Warren Buffett and Bill Gates who are giving away huge portions of their personal fortunes. Then I look at Pat Robertson who is very wealthy in his own right and he is not putting his money where his loud mouth is. He professes to be both a Christian and a patriot. Neither Gates nor Buffett make any comments about their religion or lack of it. I wonder if Robertson would be willing to provide a safe and comfortable home for needy children without requiring indoctrination into his brand of religion? Naw, I didn't think so.

But the drive to have money = power = control has reached a new low when a CPS agency allows little girls to live in an unheated, non-air-conditioned garage with mold, dirt and a 30-year-old man.

It's frustrating, but my question is, it is fixable?


It is very convenient and coincidental that WOAI pulled this story from their website at the same time that it was announced that the Texas state legislature would be addressing the expansion of privatized foster care in the state. This particular case was a privatized foster arrangement through the Baptist Children's Home. Curious, isn't it? Calls to the station have resulted in less than full disclosure other than impugning the veracity of a source. BTW...the landlord and the neighbors DID call CPS and CPS investigated and said they couldn't see any problem. Now isn't that strange? Of course, would it really be in the best interests of the CPS to have verified the complaints? And why is the Baptist Children's Home also investigating if there is no reason to doubt the findings of the CPS? Just asking...........

Monday, January 03, 2011

Do We Need To Change More Than Just Adoption?

I am looking at my country and its foibles with a loving but critical eye and I have detected a huge web with a big, fat spider sitting there, just waiting to feed on anyone and everyone it can. Arachnus Americanus is a creature born of greed and arrogance. She carries the venom of financial elitism and a vicious nature born of the assumption of her own superiority. She was crafted by the hands of patriarchal control freaks. She is very good at being a predator.

At the command of her male creators, she has enshrouded both Lady Liberty and Miss Justice in copious cobwebs. A once-proud eagle is ensnared in her web. Her victims are the poor, the weak, and the disenfranchised which includes the single mother and her infant. She injects the mother with hopelessness and shame and keeps the child a child forever. Her many legs manipulate and spin and obfuscate. She is one busy arachnid.

Our nation is ill. And the American Way of adoption is just one symptom. There had to be something very wrong at the start for this system of human bondage and opportunistic baby-theft to exist. Our supposedly "Free" country has those in power, the wealthy, who exercise an amount of control that is obscene. Using spin doctors, smoke, mirrors and erosion of the educational system, these spider-makers assure their places at the top of the heap, their weight pressing down on those at the bottom. The venom of the nasty creepy-crawlie even makes some walk, willingly, into the web. These are the victims that have fallen prey to the dumbing down of our culture and citizenry. The best way to control is to keep intelligence and free thought in check.

In other countries, this has led to revolutions. Here, it leads to filibusters, sound bites, arguments and ignorance while Ms. Spider spins away, catching more and more of our rights, opportunities and our social conscience in her massive web. Motherhood is dishonored and the weakest among us are disregarded or prey or both.

To say I have become disenchanted with our power structure would be understating it. I fear the sneaky and falsely pious intrusion of the Christian Right. I abhor the pundits who fill the airwaves with fear-mongering lies and rabble rousing of the gullible. I look at the "Tea Party" and see eight, gleaming, black eyes staring back at me with venom dripping from sharp mandibles. I see the in-fighting between the parties and the mud being slung with abandon and I want to cry. I see the gross, racist, juvenile disrespect being shown our President and I hang my head and try not to watch.

It's no accident that the spider is female. In the arachnid world, the female is the web-spinner and the one with venom. She is the hunter and the killer. The patriarchy has managed to use human women in this way, turning us against each other, allowing some to prey on their sisters for coveted children and still managing to use us as chattel and sex objects despite all the best efforts of feminists and those with just plain common sense. Have you ever noticed, when stupid girls get into physical altercations over a boy, what the boys do? They watch and laugh. The patriarchy has no compunction against using us against each other in order to maintain the status quo.

Just like everything else, this nation has its good points. There are those who escape the web and the effects of the poison and let their voices be heard. There are those who can keep an open mind and question the dichotomous, scare-tactic rantings of the pundits. There are still those who believe in civil and human rights and the quality of real justice. There is beauty in our nation, from mountains to seas. There is a plethora of possibilities if only they could be pursued.

But I fear that, before any possibilities are pursued, before our social conscience is restored and before the real glory of our nation is returned to us, its people, we have a big spider to exterminate. If you don't vote, if you don't talk to our elected leaders and let them know that we know what has happened to the US and if you don't speak out, nothing, including restructuring of adoption, open records and redress, is going to happen. It's going to still be the same old, same old.

I'm ashamed of what America has become. As for our spider, I am ready to put the Raid to the bitch.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Lunacy Is In The Fringe

My friend, Sandy, received this comment on one of her blog posts, with the author carrying on about freedom of speech meaning that she could come on any one's personal blog, page or site whenever she wished and could  post whatever she wished. My friend, wisely, deleted her but saved the posts. This is not the first time that this has happened nor the only person to do this kind of thing. This same person has stalked, harassed and posted insults to me, and to some other friends...not just online, but to personal and work snail-mail addresses. This is her latest act of aberrant behavior. Please note the spelling and sentence structure.

"LOL sandy young!! hate to burst your hopeful delusional bubble; but naw, an awful lot of people all over the globe now know exactly what the TRUTH is, you can scream and holler in your pathetic tantrum versions all ya want; but you arent the last word or god like you think you are; heh, ya , you and the major bullshitters with your fancy blogs that sound all pro caring; many people, now, thanx to ME, can see write threw your narcassistic ego, and threats and intimidations....IP address!! LMAO!!! help!! police!!! LOL!!! authorities!!!! gemme!! gemme!!! i live write next door to em, all, but not one has come ta "GET" me? why? cuz they all know now, the crimes YOU all have committed against ME, and we keep repeating FREE SPEECH just like you have but i am not alloweed,,, YAWN!!!! see ya in court sandy young, however long it takes, keep on bitcin and hollering and screaming about IP ADRESSES and police and everything else; lol, its what scared, guilty people do, anyway, who have alot to hide; but we all know the powerful evil force behind your intimidations and, keep posting on craiglist adoption forum too, it was quite amusing, to say that people all think i am "nuts" or, quite the contrary..

happy new year, goodluck working on your delusions, and narcissm and guilty conscience...whew!! what an ego and control freak...i believe in Karma,

and oh, that crap about the post office "taking action against who? me? for free speech against the crimes against ME??? dream on, deary, that never happened, oh!! but i will defenately be there to look them right in the face and LMAO ; cuz THEY are the ones who are in a shit load of trouble; again, oh my, did someone rain on your lil tantrum parade? again?? lol, now, you keep posting and bitching and whining and moaning about police, and authorities, and IP ADRESSES, and any other THANG you can drum up, you appear and sound more desperate and delusional everyday,

i know i told your narcisstic ass, (oh my i said ass didnt i) maybe someone should call the POLICE and slap it or something, cant handle the truth;

oh, I did tell you that i worked for the postal service etc, for many years, didnt i dear sandy? so, instead, of patronizing and condescending down to people as if you know it all, ; you might wanna pull out your Bible for once, instead of waking up in the morning to hope and pray for the last worrd in everything you do;

Pride goeth before a fall...ya, its in the bible,, think about it, i know you dont...cuz u have such a fantastic way with wordplay that u sound really believable and credible....

you or anyone else in the "adoption support " (cough cough) community, are not above the law...none of you like the fact that SOME of us have the brains to think for ourselves and challenge a few of you attention whores and control freaks, by intimidation and threats ; oh!! keep on using the word and fraze, "STALKER" too!!! it gets more and more entertaining and amusing...the more you all holler and scream and intimidate and threaten, the MORE the TRUTH comes out!!! truth is, ya all are so unsettled and scared that the more i talk, and post anywhere about the crimes you all have committed against ME, the more you know it will lead, oh, you know where, you and your s hands , right in the lil coookie (kookie) jar!!

people that whine and moan and groan and accuse people of being stalkers, etc, when they are just exercising their own freee speech rites /justice/ just like you all claim you are, ; then deny others, victims, that same right, HAVE ALOT TO HIDE, and you know it; big deal, i am verbose, tonite; waaaaa,,,theres only ONE GOD sandy, and its JESUS CHRIST, so get off your high horse, you arent GOD, he is the one to be worshipped, NOT YOU; this new year it might feel good finally to turn over a new leaf and learn humility and apologetics; narcisstic people have a hard time with that i supppose; sad but true; MY blog? funny you should mention that,lol; to your own demise!!! (O

Posted by Anonymous to Musing Mother at 8:10 PM " ("Verbose? I suppose so, but you are not very articulate. And, if this is how a Christian responds, then I'll be a happy pagan. RW)

Just a few days ago, I received a comment on one of my blog entries which was long, rambling and really had nothing to do with anything but this woman's private battle. It seems she believes she should have received a personal response from me. Although this person DID, at least, have the courage to give her name and location, she still has me a bit befuddled as to what her complaint actually is. I am not publishing her name to spare her any embarrassment.

"December 30, 2010

Briefly here would like to comment on the blog entitled "Motherhood Deleted" which it seems was written by Robin Westbrook OR someone claiming this name. How interesting it is, after I sent the person identified by this name an email, that I've been ignored. The blog aforenamed was refreshing.

On the other hand it seems the person, who's now raised questions about her actually being a first mother, in fact may NOT be a natural mother at all. (Actually, I am not a first mother...I am a Natural mother or, just a mother. RW)

Too many times I've been ignored when I've contacted women who claimed to be a first mother. They thus are proven to be a hypocrite, which is what the current situation now stands as, which is to say the supposed first mother of the blog "Motherhood Deleted" is a hypocrite. First natural mothers claim they support their fellow first mothers on the one hand but then whenever I contact such a mother she then ignores me on the other hand.

Something's very wrong here, especially since it's now been going on for about 15 years consistently. Who is tracking and stealing email correspondence so that it either doesn't reach the intended recipient of the natural mother or bribes her to ignore me? This all seems surreptitious!

Therefore I'd like a response Robin Westbrook."

Well, not wanting to seem "surreptitious," I'll come right out with it. When people start seeing you as threatening or pull away from you, and do so on a continuous basis, it might be time for you to look into your own words and actions. Psychotics believe that they are right and every one else is wrong.

We want the Natural Mother to sound like the majority of us...sensible, responsible and sane. We have already been labeled "the lunatic fringe" by the adoption industry and people like these aren't helping themselves or Natural Mothers in general.

I feel sad for these women, but I also resent the fact that they present themselves as representatives of the Natural Mothers of our country. When someone sounds vicious, argumentative, paranoid and even delusional, the industry and its minions and customers can point these folks out and say, "See? They are a bunch of wing nuts." Those of us who are sticking our necks out, using our real names and saying things that the Industry doesn't want the public to hear don't appreciate being identified with people like the ones who wrote the posts above. We have enough savvy to know that we are not going to get anywhere with incoherent ramblings and rantings.

Those are just two examples. We get tons of such nonsense and that is why I keep my comment moderation turned "ON." The Internet has loads of places where anyone can start a free blog. If anyone has issues with the message I purvey or who I am or who my friends are, then go get yourself a blog space and have at it. Let's see you talk about "freedom of speech" and "hypocrites" when you get comments on YOUR blogs trying to rake you over the coals. I just thought it might be time to let anyone who reads my blog see what you are writing. Not everyone reads the comments so I am giving you both, and any others like you, center stage on Motherhood Deleted. My magnanimity knows no bounds.

Oh, and spell check and vocabulary skills just might come in handy for you.

Counting the Blossoms On My Tree

My coffee was cold, my wallet was slim,
It all looked so very sad to me.
So I went outside to the end of the garden,
And counted the blossoms on my tree.

With colors rich for the hummingbirds,
No blossom there was exactly the same.
I treasured each as I counted them,
And to each one, I gave a name.

For in my life, these blossoms grew,
People, places and memories.
They grew in my heart like the sweet miracles.
That grew in my garden on my tree.

No matter the clime, the cause or the curse,
Or life's rough stones that are thrown at me,
It's just a short walk down the garden path,
Where I can find a lovely tree.

I'll sit in its shade, I'll roll in Fall's leaves,
I'll watch the snow gather with serenity,
And when Spring comes to my garden fair,
I'll go count the blossoms on my tree.

Robin Westbrook (c) 01/01/2011

This year is a blank slate, with 364 days of possibilities for ourselves and our causes. I don't make resolutions like most do. I just remind myself, on the first of each year, to hope and to care and to try to learn. This is my 65th New Year. I have seen over a half century of rapid change and horrors and tragedies. I have also seen heroism of the best kind, watched people learn the importance of being able to laugh at and with themselves, and found that age brings, not so much wisdom, as an increase in perspicacity.

I don't know where we will be with our search for acknowledgement and justice this time next year or if it will even advance very much. But one of the blossoms on my tree is the deep and abiding knowledge of the righteousness of our cause. I no longer have to justify it to anyone.

And that, in and of itself, is progress.