"Birthmothers" Open Adoption Stories
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Married vs. "unmarried" - Pregnancy, Birth and Falling in Love with Your Baby


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'Unwed' Mothers - Common Coercion Tactics Used by 'Professionals' to Get Babies for Adoption

     Below is a list of some common practices used systemically by the adoption industry on unwed mothers (and grandparents-to-be) in English-speaking nations from about 1950-onwards, as means of obtaining babies for adoption. These tactics might variously have been applied by social workers, clergy, "adoption facilitators," nurses, nuns, clergy, doctors or others with a vested interest in obtaining a baby to broker for adoption.

A. Psychological Coercion. Purpose: To convince you that you were unfit as a mother and thus had to give your baby to people "more fit' or "more deserving."

"Adoption Professionals" Techniques:

  1. You were told you that you were unfit to be a mother because you were unwed.
  2. You were told that you would be inadequate as a mother.
  3. You were told that keeping your baby would be selfish.
  4. You were forced to draw up a list comparing what you could give to your baby with what adopters could give.
  5. It was stressed to you that your baby "needed a two-parent family."
  6. It was stressed to you that the needs of your baby came before your own needs and that you could not fulfill your baby's needs.
  7. The doctor who delivered your baby told you that you must sign-over your baby to him for adoption. (Did you later find out that the baby was adopted by friends of the doctor?)
  8. You were told that if you did not surrender your baby, that your baby would be put into foster care until you did sign.
  9. You are told that surrendering your baby is an expression of how much you love your baby (message: if you keep your baby then you don't love your baby).
  10. You are told that adoption is "thinking about what is best for your baby." (message: adoption is best for your baby).
  11. You are told that adoption is "putting your baby's needs first." (i.e., before your own needs. Message: your baby does not need you.)

B. Psychological Coercion. Purpose: To convince you that you have an emotional obligation to surrender your baby.

Methods used by "Adoption Professionals":

  1. You were told to think only of the joy that you'd "give to a couple who could not have children of their own."
  2. You were told that if you changed your mind, you would be disappointing a wonderful mother who was "waiting for her first baby."
  3. You were told that you could not keep your baby as your baby has been promised to someone already.
  4. You were encouraged to have the adopters pay your medical or living expenses such that you felt you "owed" them your baby.
  5. You were encouraged to meet with the adopters and after meeting them felt you could not bear to disappoint them by choosing to keep your baby
  6. You were encouraged to establish a relationship with the adopters, and then "fell in love with" with them prior to surrender.
  7. You were told by your parents that you could come home once you had "disposed of the problem" (i.e. surrendered your baby).
  8. You were encouraged to have the adopters in the labour or delivery room with you, for the birth of "their" baby, and thus you felt you could not bear to disappoint them by "changing your mind."


C. Psychological Coercion. Purpose: To remove from you all personal support systems and make you reliant on adoption professionals for advice, counselling and emotional support. To distance you from any person who might try to provide alternatives to surrender.

Methods used by "Adoption Professionals":

  1. Your family members or boyfriend were discouraged by adoption professionals from helping you..
  2. Your family members and/or boyfriend were prohibited from seeing you.
  3. You were incarcerated by your parents in a maternity home or wage home where adoption was stressed as "the loving option" and/or "the only option."
  4. Contact with your parents, boyfriend, fiance, etc. was restricted by the agency, maternity home, or social worker(s).
  5. Your correspondence in or out of the maternity home or wage home was screened.
  6. Telephone use was restricted in the maternity home or wage home.
  7. Your boyfriend was lied to by adoption professionals that the baby was not his.
  8. You were told that your parents were coercing you by encouraging you to keep your baby, that "they only want to be grandparents."
  9. You were encouraged to distrust anyone who didn't support you surrendering your baby.

D. Psychological Coercion. Purpose: To psychologically and physically distance you from your baby in order to increase the probability that you would surrender. To ensure that surrender of your baby was seen by you a "inevitable."

Methods used by "Adoption Professionals":

  1. Your baby was taken from you at birth by either medical professionals or prospective adopters.
  2. Your access to your baby in the hospital was severely restricted by medical and/or nursing staff.
  3. You were put into a ward other than the maternity ward for recovery, a distance away from your baby.
  4. Your baby was immediately transferred without your consent to a different hospital.
  5. While still pregnant you were labelled a "birthmother," to put you into the mind-set that your only role in the life of your child was to give birth.
  6. You asked for your baby and were told "No!"
  7. You were told that you were not allowed to see your baby unless/until you signed the surrender papers.
  8. You asked for your baby and were told that it was best that you did not see your baby.
  9. You were given general anesthetic for the birth and kept under anesthetic until your baby was removed for adoption.
  10. You were given mind-altering drugs such as scopalamine by medical staff for several days after the birth in order to induce amnesia.
  11. Your signature was obtained while under the influence of mind-altering drugs administered to you by medical staff..
  12. The drug Stilboestrol was administered to you as a lactation suppressant without your consent.
  13. You asked for your baby back and the adopters stalled until the "revocation of consent" period had expired.


E. Psychological Coercion. P urpose: To psychologically traumatize you to decrease the chances of you bonding with your baby.

Methods used by "Adoption Professionals":

  1. Information about labour and delivery was deliberately kept from you such that you were scared and traumatized by the unfamiliar process once labour began.
  2. You were left isolated and alone during labour.
  3. If there was a hospital attached to the maternity home, were you and other inmates forced to dispose of the placentas?
  4. You were physically assaulted and/or mutilated by hospital personnel during labour and/or birth (see "Catherine's Story")
  5. You were called derogatory names or otherwise derided by doctors, nurses or medical personnel during your pregnancy, labour or birth.
  6. The episiotomy was cut, or sewn-up, without anesthesia.
  7. The episiotomy cut thru ligaments, was cut down your leg, or was otherwise unnecessarily large.

F. Financial Coercion. Purpose: To make you feel financially pressured to surrender. Note: young single mothers are often in a financially-vulnerable situation anyway and thus financial coercion is often a major factor.

  1. You are told, or led to believe, that no social assistance was available that would provide you with the financial support necessary to enable you to keep your baby.
  2. You are told near or after the birth that if you change your mind, you would be liable for paying for medical bills or other costs beyond your ability to pay.
  3. The hospital refused to release your baby to you unless you pay them a large sum of money beyond your ability to pay.


G. Fraud. Purpose: To guarantee the surrender of your child.

Methods used by "Adoption Professionals":

  1. Your baby was taken immediately into foster care with no explanation and kept there with the location kept secret from you until the social worker could use "abandonment" as a basis for revoking your parental rights.
  2. You were told at some point that the adoption was "final" and found out later that it wasn't.
  3. You were told that your baby had died at birth and later found this was false. Note, this is known in the adoption industry as "rapid adoption" - see the article "Rapid Adoptions." ALL single mothers who were told that their baby was stillborn and were not permitted to see the body should demand to see the certificate of death!
  4. You were told that the adoption was "final" and found out later that it wasn't at that point in time.
  5. You were told that there were no other alternatives. (information about social assistance was withheld from you).
  6. You were led to believe that a promise of open adoption was a legally-binding agreement and the adoption later closed.
  7. You were told you would "get over it" and be able to return to your "normal life."
  8. The documents were signed by someone else forging your signature without your knowledge or consent.
  9. You were informed after signing a "pre-birth consent" that it would be held binding in a court-of-law.


H. Withholding information from the mother. Purpose: To you to surrender by withholding known information about risks or negative consequences.

Methods used by "Adoption Professionals":

  1. Information withheld about the known lifelong implications, risks, and emotional consequences of surrender (see www.birthmothers.info for information adoption professionals are aware of but commonly withhold)
  2. Information withheld about options that would enable you to keep your baby (i.e. financial assistance, temporary foster care, foster care for you and your child together, temporary guardianship, or filing through court for child support from your baby's father)
  3. Information withheld about your right to independent legal counsel to explain the legal document you were signing and the legal ramifications of it and to be present in the room to protect your rights as you signed it.
  4. Information withheld about the existence of a "revocation of consent" period.
  5. You were not permitted to read the documents you were signing.
  6. You were not given a copy of the documents you signed.
  7. You were pressured to decide on adoption while still pregnant, or to surrender your infant without being able to first care for your infant for several weeks post-partum in order to make an informed decision about motherhood?
  8. Information withheld from you about your right to take as many days, weeks or months as you needed before deciding on adoption, if you decided on it at all.
  9. Information withheld about your right to care-for and nurture your baby in the hospital.
  10. Information withheld about your right to take your baby home from the hospital with you.

In Contrast: Your Rights as a Mother:

These are some of the rights that may have been denied to you, no matter what your age or social situation was when you gave birth:

  • You had the right to see your baby after he/she was born.
  • You had the right to hold, nurse, and care for your baby.
  • You had the right to be told the sex of your baby.
  • You had the right to independent legal counsel to explain the legal documents were were signing and to be present when you signed them.
  • You had the right to care for your baby without feeling pressured to decide about adoption within ANY certain time period.
  • You had the right to adequate financial support which would have enabled you to keep and raise your baby.

These rights come from application of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html), which has since 1948 guaranteed ALL citizens of Canada, the U.S. and other nations these protections:

  • Article 12. - No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, FAMILY, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

  • Article 16(3) - The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

  • Article 25(1) - Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

    DECISION: The ability to make a fully-informed, non-coerced choice between two or more viable options. Starvation, homelessness, or harm to our children are NOT viable options.


How They Committed a Crime by Taking Our Babies.

Abduction is illegal in most civilized nations. Example: the Criminal Code of Canada (http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/C-46/42433.html) states, "(281) Abduction of Person Under Fourteen - Every one who, not being the parent ... unlawfully takes, entices away, conceals, detains, receives or harbours that person with intent to deprive a parent ... of the possession of that person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years."

" They had no "legal authority" to take our children away from us any more than they would have had the legal authority to do it to an older, married mother. If your baby was taken and withheld from you before you signed any surrender papers, it was abduction.

See A Call to Exiled Natural Mothers


Copyright © 2004
Origins Canada.
Originally published at http://www.originscanada.org/adoption_coercion.html.
Permission to reprint granted as long as this article is reprinted in its entirety and with copyright statement included.

 
 

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