Adoption Questions, Answers, FAQs
1. WHAT IS A "BIRTHMOTHER"?
Why was this term invented?
2. What non-derogatory terms can be used
3. What about the term "birthfather"
4. What about the term "tummy mommy"?
THE PURPOSE OF ADOPTION - Babies for use by emotionally needy
adults or homes for orphans?
5. "Adoption, as we have known it,
is a solution to a social problem: a child is in need of parents.
Need cries out, adoption answers. In so doing, adoption serves
the best interest of children--new lives are entering the world
and without adoption, they would have no one to feed them, change
them, love them, teach them."
THE "DECISION" TO SURRENDER: (Adoptees - you were
probably not "given away" - you were probably TAKEN through
force or coercion!)
6. "Adopted babies have been abandoned.
Our real parents were bad, hateful people that hated US and didn't
want us, so they dumped us."
7. "Some women who are pregnant know
they don't want to have a baby. They may choose not to have an
abortion or may be unable to get one. For these women, giving
the baby up for adoption may be the best choice."
8. "You chose adoption, you gave away
your baby, it was your choice and now you have to live with the
9. "Forget that child. Get on
with your life!"
10. "Women in foreign countries
just money-making baby machines."
11. "Why are you grieving? It isn't
like your child has died or anything."
12. "Shortening revocation periods
may lend itself to helping women decide sooner that they either
are or are not going to plan adoption. Why prolong the agony
when a decision needs to be made sooner or later?" (thank
you, Bill Pierce, for this gem)
13. "When you signed that paper you
gave a gift ,and you can't expect someone to feel good about having
to account for that gift, right?"
14. "I was a 'chosen child' . "
15. The mother has the right to surrender
the child without the father knowing or signing. The mother might
not want to include the father in the decision ...
16. The law gives the mother a chance to
think about her decision, even after she's signed a consent form.
She has time to change her mind after signing the form.
17. The choice to place a child for adoption
is not easy. But neither is raising a child, or having an abortion.
All may have life-long implications.
THE ADOPTION INDUSTRY: Dis-membering Families For Profit
18. "The old coercive adoptive
practices no longer happen. Adoption has changed in the past 20
19. "There are different ways to
[surrender] a place a child for adoption: through a Children's
Aid Society, through a private adoption agency, or through a professional,
licensed to do private adoptions."
20. "Pregnant? There are people who
can help. You can call a Children's Aid Society or ask your doctor
about private adoption agencies."
21. "Our agency can provide counselling
and legal services to both the natural mother and adoptive parents."
"OPEN ADOPTION": The False Promise
22. "The relationship between the
adoptive and natural parents is usually up to the individuals
involved. It can include anything from supplying basic health
information for the adoptive parents, to arranging visits by the
natural parents after the adoption is complete."
PARENTHOOD MYTHS Promoted by the Adoption Industry
23. "My baby needs a two-parent
24. "Giving my baby to a loving
couple is the best thing I can do for my baby"
25. Adoptive families raise children
the same as do natural families
SEARCH AND REUNION
26. "Mothers are responsible for adoption
records being sealed."
27. "I was adopted. I am
now an adult. Why haven't my natural parents searched for me?"
28. "My counsellor told me the biggest
complaint he gets from the adoptees he counsels is that they dislike
the natural mother acting as another "mom/parent"...."
29. Why don't adoption agencies give
adopters accurate information on the natural parents so they can
answer questions adoptees start asking?
30. "First moms who WANT to heal would
do well to look at other grief models and learn from them. You
all aren't totally reinventing the wheel."
31. The Adoption Disclosure Registry ...
can help an adopted child who has reached 18 to find his/her parents"
32. "Reunion counselling and support
are also available from our agency."
1. What is a "BIRTHMOTHER"? Why
was this term invented?
The word "birthmother" was invented about 25 years ago
by the North American adoption industry to refer to women who have
surrendered their babies. Before that time, we were referred to
as natural mothers or real mothers.
Read the article "Birthmother
Means Breeder" by Diane Turski
Why? The term "birthmother" was invented to
limit our role in our children's lives to 1) being production units
("breeders" as social workers also called us) whose sole
purpose was to serve a genital function, and 2) to having only been
parents at the time of birth, but not afterwards. To call a woman
a "birthmother" is another way to call her an incubator.
During the time before we had much of a voice - when we were still
shamed into silence - the “positive adoption language” people moved
in for the kill and stole what rightfully belongs to us and every
other woman who has given birth: the titles of “mother,”
“mom,” “natural mother,” and “real mother.” They have done
their best to outlaw the use of the words “natural” or “real” because
they believe it points out that adopters may be “unnatural or unreal.”
Many women who have lost their children to adoption are now rejecting
the label of "birthmother" which was imposed on
them. As one natural mother stated:
"I am Jill's mother. I am her real mother.
I gave birth to her. If I had been married to her father and
killed in an accident or died in childbirth, would I no longer be
considered her mother? How would people refer to me?
Would I now be called her birthmother? I doubt that.
If I had been killed in an accident or died in childbirth and my
husband remarried, his wife would be my child's stepmother not her
mother. No matter how loving and nurturing the relationship,
no matter if my child called her stepmom, mom, I would still be
her mother. And people would respect that."
The adoption industry is currently trying to place the "birthmother"
label on expectant mothers, to get them to "buy-into"
the idea of relinquishing before they have even given birth!
When she is still the legal mother of her child, to convince her
that she is a "birthmother" primes her to believe that
her sole function is to produce the baby. To label her a "birthmother"
is to deny her any respect as the mother (not incubator) of her
2. What non-derogatory terms can be used instead?
Every group in society has the acknowledged right to choose their
own label. Women who have lost children to the adoption industry
have chosen the labels "natural mothers" and "first"
mothers if we need to be distinguished from parents who have adopted
or who have not had to surrender a child to adoption.
We are MOTHERS, natural, plain and simple. We are not test-tubes
or incubators whose only role was to be a baby-factory. Our
motherhood was not terminated after birth. The love, instincts,
and feelings of motherhood are still there.
In contrast to adopters, we are natural mothers. In contrast
to other natural mothers who did not lose their children to adoption,
we are exiled mothers, first mothers, or mothers-of-adoption-loss.
3. What about the term "birthfather"
"Birthfather" is inaccurate because men don't give birth
and few fathers of surrendered children were present at the births
of their children. It is also offensive because it was a term
created to try to limit the natural father's role to being a sperm-donor
or "former father." The term "natural father"
or "father" or "first father" is far more accurate.
Again, fatherhood does not end with birth or when a man's child
is lost to adoption.
4. What about the term "tummy
"Tummy mommy" is objectionable on several levels. It
creates the picture of a vessel, an incubator, and someone who's
not important after the baby is no longer in her "tummy."
The phrase leads a child to think that all there is to their first
mother was just a tummy--she was just a body part or a thing. The
first mother is so much more than that to the baby -- she is the
It is healthy to be aware that there was a mother before you and
she was more than just a vessel to bring you your child.
"What would the
male equivalent be? 'Dick Daddy'?" - Question from an
5. "Adoption, as we have known it, is a
solution to a social problem: a child is in need of parents. Need
cries out, adoption answers. In so doing, adoption serves the best
interest of children--new lives are entering the world and without
adoption, they would have no one to feed them, change them, love
them, teach them."
TRUTH: Infant adoption is an industry in which young unwed (and
thus powerless) parents are persuaded - through force, coercion
or outright lies - to transfer parental rights of their children
to older, more affluent couples (and sometimes also single people),
and usually strangers.
Adoption exists for several reasons: to keep down the number of
welfare recipients (i.e. single parents on welfare), for the North
American adoption industry to profit (to the tune of $1.4
billion in 1999 alone) from the spending-power of the affluent,
and (formerly) as a way of punishing young unwed mothers for their
"loose and immoral" behaviour.
The adoption system is now virtually a North American phenomena
- most other countries realize how barbaric it is toward mothers
and children. However the North American adoption industry and pro-adoption
lobby is well-financed and out-spoken. Young women and their children
are easy prey for the expert marketing tactics that agencies and
facilitators now use.
6. "Adopted babies have been abandoned.
Our real parents were bad, hateful people that hated US and didn't
want us, so they dumped us." - quote from an adopted person
TRUTH: True abandonment happens in a minority of cases. The
babies left in dumpsters and on doorsteps make for good press, but
the overall incidence of true abandonment is minuscule.
Unfortunately, surrender papers use the word "abandonment"
in order for this fiction to be perpetrated. Most young women who
sign these papers do not even know the word is included. It is usually
discovered years later when the first Mom is trying to search for
her lost child. This is a myth that has been kept alive by adoption
facilitators using the wording in legal surrender agreements.
Most Mothers truly want their babies, but have been coerced into
believing that they are not the fit parents for their own child.
These women, lovingly, wanted only to do what they were talked into
believing was "best" for their baby.
What about the story that we loved our children so much that we
gave them away? What about all the crap we were told to make
us give up our babies? Why don't adoptees hear that? Why are they
not as aware as we are that adoption is "so wonderful,"
two adopters better than one parent, young mothers are bad for their
children . . . why don't adoptees get told this stuff? I knew it
when I was 17. Some young mothers today know it. They've heard
it. They're still giving their babies away. Think of your friends
your age. At least one of them is susceptable to that hype if she
We were told that we must relinquish
our babies if we loved them and wanted them to have good homes
(i.e. not with unwed sluts like ourselves). Our children were then
told that they were unwanted and that we were horrible people for
abandoning them. Why was this lie told to them? So they would not
bother searching for us, and so the adopters would look good and
worthy and we would look evil and irresponsible.
7. "Some women who are pregnant know they
don't want to have a baby. They may choose not to have an abortion
or may be unable to get one. For these women, giving the baby up
for adoption may be the best choice."
This is a presumptive statement - no woman can make a decision
about her baby until she actually holds it in her arms, has it in
her life - even then, the transition from pregnancy into motherhood
must be smoothed by wise counsel and the support for all new mothers.
A baby isn't just born to her mother: She is born to her mother,
AND to her family, to her community and to her country - stripped
of the first, she can form no connection and no identity.
No woman chooses to "GIVE" away her own flesh and blood
anymore than she chooses to give away her soul. Rather, she has
been convinced that she cannot be a mother, especially not a good
one and does not deserve to be one.
No one WANTS to be an adoptee. No mother who has lost a child ever
8. "You chose adoption. You gave away your
baby, it was your choice and now you have to live with the consequences."
(thank you to adopter on alt.adoption, for this quote)
We live with consequences every day of our life. Grief and loss
never ends, unless we've walled-it-up inside ourselves, at which
point reunion will break down the walls.
Coercion has always been a factor in surrendering a baby, both
now and 50 years ago. This is the same package in a different wrapper.
The term now is that the mother is "making an adoption
plan" for her baby.
These young women are not given the other side of the story, about
the grief and regret they will suffer. The same old arguments are
being used and adoption is being touted as a way for these young
women to "get on with their lives."
For many teens, the decision is ordered by parents who refuse to
accept the reality of the grandchild that is carried in their daughter's
body. Adoption facilitators and attorneys still spend hours "nudging
and convincing" a young women at one of the most vulnerable
times in her life. In surrenders from earlier times, there was active
and open coercion on a constant basis from Social Workers and parents.
The climate of the times left no real choice to the young, single
"When she renounces her child for its own good, the
unwed mother has learned a lot She has learned an important
human value. She has learned to pay the price for her misdemeanor.
and this alone, if punishment is needed, is punishment enough.
-- Dr. Marion Hilliard. Toronto Telegram (November
The coercion of today is couched in sweeter terms, but is no less
forceful than the coercion of yesterday.
In many cases, the woman is not aware of the coercion involved
until much later, often after reunion has taken place. Until then,
she is convinced that "it was her decision" as this is
what society tells her. Only MUCH later does she realize that she
was NOT given a real choice. If there is only one possible option
presented, if an agency or social worker has taken advantage of
her fear, insecurity, or post-partum depression, or if there is
coercion involved ("If you love your baby you'll sign those
papers"), then she has NOT had a choice.
young woman with poor self-esteem and low assertiveness
might take decades or forever to drop her denial and collusion
with the beliefs pedalled by the agency."
- Dr. Rickarby
9. "Forget that child. Get on with your
TRUTH: The loss of our children to adoption colors our lives from
the moment of surrender. If we are successful at suppressing our
grief and blocking our memories of details, the emotional damage
just surfaces in other, even more destructive ways. This particular
myth is most harmful as it denies the grief of the first Mother.
One support list many of us belong
to is over 800 women strong, either searching or reunited. This
is hardly a picture of women who have "forgotten" and
are "going on with their lives." Something stops
in the clockwork of the surrendering Mother's emotions and is never
Many of us have suffered from secondary infertility as a result
of the surrender we were told we would "forget." Others
have difficulty with relationships and trust issues. Our hearts
10 . "Women in foreign countries are just
money-making baby machines."
Turn the clock back 20, 30, or 40 years and you would have these
same exact remarks being made about unmarried North American women!!!!
We were seen as social aberrations, deviants, misfits who - by the
fact that we were pregnant and not married - had definitely proved
that we were in no way qualified to raise our children. Back
then, as now, only people who were married with money were Truly
Qualified to raise our children. It was all for the “best
interest of the child”. The people who so righteously took
our children from us truly believed that they were saving our children!
And no, we never took money for our children - the money went to
the agencies, lawyers, etc.
It is hard to believe that the mothers overseas hurt any less upon
losing their children than all of us did and still do. A first
mother’s pain is a truly universal pain! By buying their acquired
children from overseas, adoptors supposedly ease their own possible
pain of having to deal with the reality that the children they claim
to be theirs are and will always be the natural children of two
other parents! This, as usual excludes the needs of the children
and their natural parents.
11. "Why are you grieving?
It isn't like your child has died or anything ..."
TRUTH: Losing a child to adoption involves the same type
of grief as losing a child to death or miscarriage. The difference
is that it is FAR worse. There is no closure.
A child lost to miscarriage or death is not taken against the mother's
wishes and given to strangers to raise with the deliberate plan
that the mother would never see her own child again. Joe Soll
in his book Adoption Healing likens adoption grief to psychological
death, which is a very different reality from a physical death because
there is no closure - no support for the feelings of loss, no grieving
and mourning period. With adoption, there is no closure.
With miscarriage or death, there is no coercion.
A professional counsellor states: "I know two women who
lost children to adoption, later had another child who they raised
and then the child died. Both of them respond the same to the question
'Which was worse?' They have no trouble stating that losing the
child to adoption was worse, because there is no closure and no
end to the grief."
12. " When you signed that paper you gave
a gift and can't expect someone to feel good about having
to account for that gift." (quote from Phyllis, an
TRUTH: This statement supposes that adopted children were
given as gifts to their adopters by willing natural parents.
In most cases, nothing could be further from reality:
"...When I signed those papers, I was a child myself and
I had no idea the ramifications of adoption and how it would affect
the rest of my life. No one told me that I would never forget
and that I would want to know her and how she is doing always.
I was just told that I could not keep her and that the people that
would adopt her, would give her what I could not. I had to
do it the way the law said I had to do it and I just felt that because
they were wise adults they knew what was best. So I, did not
give anyone agift and I had no idea that in the future I would search
her out. As a matter of fact I was told that it would be against
the law for me to search for her." - Linda
"Never gave my child to anyone. He was stolen. Didn't sign
anything." - Vicki
" Many of did not have a choice to sign or not. I did not
sign away my son.W e are very different than the newer 1st Moms
in many ways. They have more choices, they are not degraded for
becoming pregnant like we were. When I signed those papers I thought
I was giving my son the gift of a complete family. Never for a second
did I consider that I was giving him as a gift to anyone.
" When I signed those papers, I felt as though I was being
given a punishment and my children were being thrown to the fates.
I never thought of my children as "gifts" to anyone. Gifts
are silver candleholders and boxes of candy and sweaters. Babies
are human beings and they are not gifts or merchandise!! When
my daughter's adoptress said to me, "Thank you for Sara..now
this nonsense must cease!", she behaved as though I had given
her a coat I didn't want anymore and then decided I wanted it back!
Adoption is a big money business and our children are the "product."
As long as we continue to treat family members as "interchangeable"
with other families, the farce will continue. " - Robin
" I was told that if I didn't sign that I was going to
be put out in the streets. That I caused my family enough shame
that there was no alternative. Since my reunion, I am
still suffering the post traumatic stress, of my son's birth. I
was tied down, so I couldn't move, I screamed like hell to have
them let me see my son, I wanted to hold him, because his screams
were the same, he wanted me to hold him. All I got was a shot of
Demerol in return, and was told by my doctor, "Kathy, we know
what's best for you, this is to much for you to handle." My
son's life was not a gift, I was raped of my medical and legal rights.
" - Kathy
" I didn't give a gift when I signed the adoption papers.
I was coerced, bullied, drugged to the eyeballs and not allowed
to see my baby in order that I signed those papers.....is that a
gift? No, and it was not legal either, and hopefully soon
something will be done about that. Children are not objects, that
can be "given' to aparents as a "gift"....come on
please! - Lina
"Keeping my baby was a choice that I was never given.
He was taken from me when he was born. My parents told me that I
was not allowed to bring him home from the hospital. I told the
social worker that I wanted to keep him - I was told that I had
no choice by to sign. At 17 I believed the social worker, as I was
never told by anyone that I had the right to keep my own baby.
I NEVER wanted to lose my baby. Twenty-one years later, I
still love him as my son." - Anon
GIFTS ARE NOT TAKEN THROUGH
FORCE AND COERCION!
13. Shortening revocation periods
may lend itself to helping women decide sooner that they either
are or are not going to plan adoption. Why prolong the agony
when a decision needs to be made sooner or later? (thank
you Bill Pierce, for this quote)
TRUTH: As anyone who has given birth knows, with the biological
changes a woman goes through during pregnancy and post-partum it
can take time for the new mother to normalize. This natural
process makes her especially vulnerable to those who tell her she
is unfit to be a mother, such as adoption facilitators and prospective
adopters as they hover over her, waiting to “get” her baby.
No matter what “decision” the new mother made while carrying her
child, it is a whole new ball game once her child is in her arms
as a real live little human being. Relinquishing her child
for adoption will be the most important decision she ever makes
in her life and the life of her child. Cutting the time she
has to think about this enormous life-changing decision from 90
days to 24 hours, not only devalues her as a human being but also
devalues her child. Surely a newborn deserves more consideration!
Shortening revocation periods for adoption only benefits the adoption
industry, including internet and private adoption facilitators.
If they can keep a new mother drugged and keep her away from support
of her family and friends for a mere 24 hours they can snatch her
baby and sell it to the highest bidder. This has happened to many
of us, and still happens in many cases.
14. "I was a 'chosen child'."
TRUTH: You probably weren't chosen - Your adoptors were.
They were probably selected to adopt you from a waiting list of
people who were devastated that they couldn't have a child of their
own. They were the ones who were chosen, not you. You were
probably available because your real parents were: a) brainwashed,
b) bullied, c) poor and offered no real assistance, d) drugged (single
women have had their babies stolen by social workers while they
were still medicated from childbirth), e) stolen some other way,
f) some combination of the above, or g) all of the above.
It is a blatant lie that all adopted children aren't wanted by
their natural families, and then imply that the adopters DO WANT
15. The mother has the right to surrender the
child without the father knowing or signing. The mother might not
want to include the birth father in the decision ...
The father has the right to raise his child. Agencies often advise
women not to get the father involved, because this is one more person
that the agency will have to convince to sign the papers, and if
the father doesn't sign, the adoption can't take place. If the father
does not find out that he has these rights, or find out about the
pregnancy, then the agency can claim ignorance.
16. The law gives the mother a chance to think
about her decision, even after she's signed a consent form. She
has time to change her mind after signing the form.
The waiting period, if there is one, was designed for adopters.
In truth, once her child is out of her hands, the mother will probably
need to fight a horrendous legal battle to get her child back, even
if the law says that she is allowed to change her mind. Once the
adopters have the child and the lawsuit continues, the courts almost
always rule in favor of the adopters. The longer the child stays
with the adopters the most likely the court is to rule against the
natural parent. Time works against natural parents. And "possession
is nine-tenths of the law."
In many states, there is no revokation period. And in other states
it only applies if the child is not yet in the adopters care.
The courts WANT the babies to stay with the adopters and use this
against natural parents. They say the child will be traumatized
by being moved from "the only parents they have ever known."
This is patently false, and most adoptees state that they would
have preferred NOT to have been an adoptee. The child normally WANTS
to be with its natural mother and father, and within a short readjustment
period would be just fine.
As well, the adopters could move any time during this period and
the mother would never be able to find them. This is a frequent
tactic, and agencies have been known to advise adopters to do it.
17. "The choice to place a child for adoption
is not easy. But neither is raising a child, or having an abortion."
No mother "chooses" adoption. Adoption is not a choice,
it is what happens when there is no hope and no help. When a mother
feels that there is no support to allow her to keep her child, or
when she has been convinced that she could not be a good parent.
Only abandoned mothers abandon babies. What befalls the mother befalls
her child. Mother and child are forever linked - we cannot damage
one without damaging the other. Society cannot damn Mother without
damning the Baby. The mother may think she can have her old life
back, the way things were before she became a mother - but she cannot.
She will discover that in losing her child to adoption, she has
also lost her heart and soul.
The difference between adoption and abortion is that the grief
from abortion is resolvable. There is closure. With adoption the
grief intensifies over time. Post-traumatic stress syndrome is frequently
experienced by mothers who have lost their babies to adoption.
The difference between raising a child is losing that child to
adoption is that a woman who loses a child to adoption still has
all the mothering instincts and feelings. She is a mother without
her child. Raising a child is a responsibility and a joy, but losing
a child to adoption is a never-ending loss.
18. "The old coercive adoptive practices
no longer happen. Adoption has changed in the past 20 years"
It is true that adoptions of newborn white babies have drastically
reduced in 2001 from what it was in the 50’s. 60’s, 70’s and even
80’s. But it IS still happening today. And, today
the young mothers are told they are “making an adoption plan” for
their baby. The burden is now ALL on them! Many
of these young mothers are being forced into this by their families,
just as so many of us were. They are being forced to “choose”
the adopters of their children, get to know them, etc, sometimes
even live with them while they wait for their children to be born.
This of course puts even more pressure on them: how could
they possibly disappoint the adopters by changing their minds?
And there is little support from the public for the mother who has
changed her mind…the public is on the side of “what about the adopters”?
So, things haven’t changed for the better except that it is more
socially acceptable for young mothers to keep their babies if they
have the help of those around them.
The basic truth is the same now for young Moms as it was for us
"way back when." Adoption has not really changed.
It's the same old product in a new wrapper. Moms are still given
subtle and constant messages about how much more fit the older,
affluent, married couple is than they to raise their child. They
are promised "open" adoptions which are unenforcable,
and no one urges keeping their baby. What used to be called
relinquishment and surrender is now called "making an adoption
plan for your baby." Same stuff, different day!
Babies are still listed as abandoned after the Mom signs the papers.
States are trying to enforce shorter revocation periods which leaves
the new Mom without any recourse should she come to her senses and
realize what has been taken from her. Things are not moving
forward, but backwards and we are going to see a whole new generation
of women who are living lives of quiet tragedy and young people
who are forced into trying to fit into a family that is not like
19. There are different ways to place a child
for adoption: through a Children's Aid Society, through a private
adoption agency, or through a professional licensed to do private
What is the difference between these last two? Any private baby
broker is out to make a profit and will exploit the mother mercilessly
to sell her child.
20. "Pregnant? There are people who can
help. You can call a Children's Aid Society or ask your doctor about
private adoption agencies."
Do NOT ever advise a young innocent pregnant woman to seek 'help'
from one of these private baby brokers! You'll be sending her straight
Asking an adoption agency for advice on whether or not you should
surrender your baby for adoption is the same as going to a car dealership
and asking the salesperson whether or not you should buy a car -
of course they will say "Yes!".
21. "Our agency can provide counselling
and legal services to both the birth mother and adoptive parents.
This is pure conflict of interest. There is no private,
unbiased, independant legal counsel for the mother (if she could
afford such a thing, she could afford motherhood) from an agency
which will make money if she surrenders. In many places, it is perfectly
legal for the same lawyer to represent both the natural parents
and the adopters. As the lawyer gets paid a fee by the adopters
for the adoption, this conflict-of-interest means the lawyer has
no incentive to provide fair counsel to the natural parents. Also,
the lawyer might be paid by the adoption agency, which profits from
the parents surrendering their child.
Nor is there any counselling available to the mother regarding
the consequences of losing her firstborn child. Agency counsellors
are there to convince the young woman to surrender (now called "making
an adoption plan"). There is profit to be made because infertile
couples may often do anything and pay anything to obtain a child
(look at the case of the "Internet Twins"). They've been
convinced that adoption will cure their infertility. It will not.
22. In Open Adoption, the relationship between
the adoptive and natural parents is usually up to the individuals
TRUTH: Any relationship is up to the adopters, who have total say
and total control over who sees the child.
"Open adoption" is not a legally enforcable contract
in any state or province. The worst penalty that can be incurred
by adopters if they reneg on an "openness agreement" is
to pay a fine in some states. However, they are still under no obligation
to honour the agreement after paying the fine. As well, they could
easily move to a different state.
Adoption agencies have been known to advise adopters to "close"
the adoption once they get the child. Even "Dr. Laura"
has advised this in her radio broadcasts, telling a caller to promise
the natural mother anything but give her nothing.
The promise of "open adoption" is used to bait naive,
poor pregnant girls into thinking they'll be getting help to raise
their child. The adopters can up-and-leave the state or country
(and may well disappear before the ink is dry on the adoption document).
Likely the mother will never have any true information, but she
is led to believe she will be able to see her child grow up. She
will learn too late that she has been duped.
Once you have signed the relinquishment papers, you are a legal
stranger to your child, and have no more right to see your child
than any other stranger does.
Advice from an adopter who heads an open adoption organization
"Open adoption is NOT "adoption lite." Natural parents
MUST still forfeit ALL rights and entitlements to the children they
surrender and adopters *STILL* become the "legal" parents
of the children, assuming all responsibilities and benefits parenthood
entails. Adopters do have the right to deny ANYONE access to their
children. Any parent contemplating placing (surrendering) a child
for adoption with the express desire to continue ongoing contact
should think again, IMO.
" Placing (surrendering) a child for adoption means losing
ALL entitlements. .... there is NO guarantee of ANY particular degree
of openness (aside from some contracts in some states that are,
allegedly, enforceable in a court of law). Live with this reality
or don't place a child for adoption is my free advice. "
23. My baby needs a two-parent family
TRUTH: If this is true, then why are so many adopters
single? What about a widow or widower or divorced person
who never remarries, yet manages to raise emotionally healthy, achieving
children? How many of you were raised in a single parent family
and managed to turn out OK? Case closed!
Besides, what is your guarantee that the adopters will not divorce
or that both will live until the child reaches adulthood.
Your child may well end up being raised by a single parent.
NY Attorney Catherine Manrango passes along the following census
stats from The Adoption Activism Press:
"Less adopted kids have two parents than kids at large! The
study points out that only 16% of adopted children are being raised
in 2-parent families, as compared to 25% of all children being in
2 parent homes. The 25% figure hit the papers today -
but not the 16% for adopted kids."
24. "Giving my baby to a loving couple
is the best thing I can do for my baby"
TRUTH: The best thing you can do for your baby is to keep that
child in its family of origin. Infants have already bonded with
their mothers in-utero. They are traumatized by the loss of the
one person they associate with security.
The most recent scientific research show that a fetus bonds with
the mother early on in gestation and that, when born, recognizes
the scent, voice and heartbeat of its mother. The child's genetic
heritage is important. This is not a problem that "open adoption"
can solve, since open adoption is unenforceable by law and still
separates the infant from the mother during a crucial period. The
damage here, is TO THE CHILD.
As well, your child probably will resent you for "doing the
" My adopted daughter has views on her birth mother that
I never encouraged her to have, she very much resents being given
up, and she is very angry with her birthmother, even though I've
told her that the woman would probably have kept her if she could.
It doesn't matter to my child, she hates hearing about her birthmother
and anything related to her." - ad adoptive mother on
the "RBM" list.
"I was told that if I loved my child I would surrender
her to adoption. I was told that there was a lovely couple who could
give her so much that I never could, and that it was selfish of
me to even imagine I could keep her. I was made to feel worthless
as a person and a mother, and having no options, I signed the adoption
papers. The trauma of losing my daughter to adoption has life-long
repercussions and has made mothering my other children difficult.
The daughter I lost to adoption has had everything that money can
buy, but she was never happy and her adoption issues have scarred
her deeply. She tells me that if I really loved her I would never
have given her up for adoption, and she doesn’t believe there were
no other options. It's a no win situation." - Lina
25. Adoptive families raise children the same
as do natural families.
TRUTH: The fact is that adoption is different and will always be
different. The child is usually told at an early age and will feel
their difference from other children. Those not told, usually suspect.
The very fact of adoption makes parenting a different proposition
from natural parenting. The genetic bond is just not there.
If you "place" your child for adoption, he or she will
grow up in a family of strangers, who dont look or act like he or
she does. Your child will always wonder why they "weren't good
enough" for you to keep. "Open adoption" hasn't been
around for long enough for any studies to show that it is less harmful
to adopted people than is "closed adoption."
26. Natural mothers are responsible
for governments keeping adoption records sealed.
TRUTH: It was never mothers who asked for closed records.
Minnesota was the first state to close records in l9l7. In
1938 the Child Welfare League of America recommended ALL states
seal records because of the "stigma" issue and the fact
birth certificates of children of unmarried parents were routinely
stamped "illigitimate." Between 1938 and 1948 most
states followed the CWLA recommendation.
Based on longitudinal studies which were begun in the 1950's, the
CWLA reversed this position in 1986 (unanimously) recommending "open
adoption as standard practice." During this same time,
the AAC also passed a similar resolution.
In Canada, legal adoption began in Ontario in 1921 and secrecy
in adoption was enshrined in 1927 at the urging of a lobby group
Because NO ONE was trained to deal with grief and loss, natural
parents were told they would "forget" and to "get
on with their lives." Adoptors were told the new baby
would erase the pain of infertility. Everyone believed the
child would never know the difference ... just a clean slate ("tabula
rasa") with no genetic heritage.
There are many natural mothers out there searching for their children
who are actively helping to open the sealed records. Some mothers
are afraid to face the past because they never thought that they
would have to. These few are the ones who don't want the records
open, but they are a very small percentage.
27. "I was adopted. I am now an adult.
Why haven't my natural parents searched for me?"
We in FIRST MOTHERS ACTION are working hard for open records and
the reunion movement. We believe that reuniting families is the
first step towards repairing the damage done by the adoption industry.
We encourage all natural parents and adoptees to search for their
lost family members.
There are several more adoptees searching for their natural parents
than the other way around. This does NOT mean that fewer natural
parents want a reunion! There are several reasons why
fewer natural parents search for their children:
- Many of us don't think we have the right to search for our children,
and quite a few of us were told when we surrendered that we had
NO right to search for them. Professional social
workers wrote: "No good is ever accomplished, and much
heartbreak and disillusion for everyone [is] caused by leaving
open any avenue by which a natural parent can reappear, uninvited
and unwanted . . ." pg. 48 - "How to Adopt A Child"
- Ernest and Frances Cady, 1956
- Being an unwed parent, especially decades years ago, was a very shameful
thing. We were told to "put it behind us" and not
to tell our future husbands, children, etc. We obeyed this edict,
and having to tell our families about our shameful past is difficult.
But admiting the past and no longer being ashamed of it is a necessary
part of healing.
- Your natural parents may not be aware of the search and reunion movements.
They may have separated themselves from the past so completely
that they just don't know that they might be able to search.
- Also, they might think that after this long, their lost children may
not want to know them if the children haven't searched for them
- Many natural parents still feel too ashamed and guilt-ridden to search.
Society told us that we were "doing the best thing for our
children" by surrendering them. Then, after we had
surrendered, we felt guilty and shameful for surrendering.
Many feel that they are "not worthy enough" to search.
A natural mother put it this way: "That's why
I never told anyone, including my husband. I was so ashamed of
giving my flesh & blood away that I didn't want anyone to
know I was the kind of person who would do such a thing. I was
ashamed of adoption, not my baby or the pregnancy, adoption itself
was my shame."
- Not every reason for not searching is a good one. One of the more HYPOCRITICAL
reasons for not searching is one we heard from a natural mother
who also adopted later on: She said that she is afraid to reunite
with her son because she is ashamed to admit to her adopted daughter
that she is not the SAINTLY adopter that she has portrayed herself
as, but is actually no different than her adopted daughter's natural
mother because she's ALSO a natural mother! This tells you
a bit about what adopters think of natural parents, even adopters
who have also lost children to adoption. It is still okay to hate
and despise us.
- If you do search for your natural parents,
remember that you will be opening a very painful door to their
past. Are you willing to treat them as family, or possibly
compound their pain and treat them as "just friends."
If they reject you, remember that sometimes rejection is temporary,
and means that they need time to adjust. Also see the article
"Why Won't My Natural Mother Meet Me?"
28. "My counsellor, an adoptee, told
me the biggest complaints he gets from the adoptees he counsels
is that they dislike when the natural mom steps in as another "mom/parent"...."
The problem lies in that reality of reunion conflicts with the
messages that the adopters and the industry have been giving the
adoptee all his/her life, about the adopters being the ONLY parents.
However, the truth conflicts with industry propaganda.
Just because we have lost our children does not mean that we are
no longer our children's mothers. Our bodies were programmed for
nine months for motherhood. The love is still there. The instincts
are still there. When our children were born, we were reborn as
parents. Asking us not to be "parents" is like asking
for us not to breathe.
There is also, however, the matter that many adoptees have grown
up with the concept that being a parent implies ownership and control.
This concept is foreign to many natural parents who see parenthood
as being a loving, nurturing, supportive, caring relationship with
Counsellors and social workers are usually trained that "adoption
is wonderful." Adoption has given many of them lucrative careers
for decades now. Has your counsellor questioned industry propaganda?
The adoption industry calls us "pushy" when we are not
willing to settle for being second-class citizens, when we are not
"content with the crumbs we are given." The adoption industry
does this to keep us "in our place" - after all, adopters
paid the industry for a "child of their own" and not a
"shared child." Perhaps your counsellor has bought-into
It may take time for adopted persons to realize that there are
two other people besides their adopters who are also equally their
parents. Some adopted persons experience "Mom at first
sight" in reunions. For others, it takes a while for a relationship
to heal and renew itself after many years of separation. But many
of us in long-term reunions are called "Mom" and "Dad"
by our reunited sons and daughters. The truth wins out. We and our
children experience the bonding that was delayed from infancy. And
the truth we and our children experience is that the natural parent/child
bond cannot be suppressed by ourselves, them, the adopters, or by
When we were young, we were punished for our "promiscuity"
by losing our children. But does pre-marital pregnancy really warrant
a life sentence?
29. Why don't adoption agencies give adopters
accurate information on the natural mothers so they can intelligently
answer questions the adoptees start asking?
In closed adoptions, agencies do not give the adopters information
on the natural mothers because the adopters paid for a baby to
call their own. They did not pay for someone else's baby,
they paid for their own baby. When they took your baby
home the caseworkers said it was the adopters' baby. Caseworkers
tell adopters, "You are now this baby's real mom. Go
home and start a new life. From this day forward this is your
To acknowledge the details about you, the mother, would have made
you a real person with real feelings. How could adopters be
happy if they knew that taking your baby from you caused you pain?
We mothers are easy to ignore if we are just a ghost, not a real,
thinking, feeling, hurting human being. If they don't know
the details they don't have to deal with the REALITY. And
did they really plan for that cute little baby to ever really grow
up and know that there was someone else that our child would be
drawn to, need to reconnect with - their mother?
30. "First moms who WANT to heal would
do well to look at other grief models and learn from them:
you all aren't totally reinventing the wheel." (quote from
an non-reunited first-mom on alt.adoption)
FALSE: The problem being that (in closed adoptions anyway),
first mother healing can only really take place after-reunion.
There is no "closure" until that point. Until
reunion, a first mother can only bury the emotions OR try to escape
from them somehow. Over-and-over again this theme is heard
in first mother support groups.
Reunion is the start of healing, and yes, many first mothers can
then benefit from grief-counselling. But then the trick is
finding a counsellor that understands the first mother experience.
Many counsellors have no experience with this, and don't see the
"Forget your child
and move on."
"You can have other
"Your child is in
a good loving home."
None of these phrases work, either post-relinquishment or post-reunion.
It can take YEARS post-reunion in this process until the pain goes
away. Some first mothers "end the reunion" because
they can't deal with the amount of pain that has resurfaced, or
the adoptee is not interested in re-establishing a loving family
relationship that can heal the pain.
31. "The Adoption Disclosure Registry in
Ontario ... can help an adopted child who has reached 18 to contact
the natural parents."
TRUTH: This registry has thousands and thousands of
names... and three staff people. Callers in October 2002 were told
there is a three-year wait.
32. "Reunion counselling and support are
also available at our agency."
The "counselling" provided by adoption advocates is highly
damaging - and only adds confusion and pain. Adoption advocates
have a vested interest in keeping the mother out of the life of
her child as a parent, even in reunion. After all, their primarily
loyalty is to the customers they sold the baby to, who paid for
a child "to call their own."