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"A Bit of Peace"

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Dear Sister,

I don’t know your name, where you live or even what you look like. I don’t know what your voice sounds like or how tall you are and I don’t know what your favorite food is. You and I are, however, as intimately connected as any two women can be. I don’t know those things about you, but I do know that our son has your infectious laugh and killer smile. I suspect he inherited his adorable cheeks from you, too. Maybe his incredible sense of curiosity came from you, and his bravery from his other father. His spark of intelligence and stubborn streak, although mirrored perfectly in both his Daddy AND me, came from you too.

I’ve been thinking about you a lot this week as my precious boy approaches his second birthday, especially since it’s quite possible that in truth that milestone has already passed. The orphanage assigned his birthday as the 26th, but only you know the exact minute that this little miracle came into the world. I know there is so much you want to know about your baby, and I would give everything to be able to tell you all about what a special boy he is. I know your heart is breaking right now on these days surrounding the memories you have of his birth and your decision to give him a chance at something different. My heart is breaking because he will never get a chance to know who he got his “lucky earlobes” from, or who the first person to cuddle and soothe him was.

If I could talk to you, I would tell you that he always chooses the orange circle first when sorting shapes, and he leaves the red heart for last, that he can’t make it through a meal without at least three kisses on the head, that he can’t get enough tomatoes or guacamole but doesn’t like spinach, that he’s learning to count on his fingers, that he loves his dog, he’s learning to sing, he’s ticklish behind his knees, that he’s already worn out one copy of “Goodnight Moon” because we read it every night, and his favorite place on earth is a toss-up between the beach and Mommy and Daddy’s great big bed. He is loved with not only your whole heart, but mine as well.

 
I would try to tell you, too, how incredibly grateful I am for the chance to be this amazing child’s mother, and how unbelievably humbled I am to have received the gifts of not only your son, but of this capacity for love that I never knew I had. There are no words for that kind of gratitude, though, and it sounds hollow to me even as I write it. My gratitude is a tangible, breathing thing.

I can almost see it shining in waves every time I look at our son. I desperately want you to know that he is safe and healthy and happy. It is not the life you hoped for or imagined for him (of that I’m certain), but my promise to you is that I am doing the very best I can to give him the best opportunities for happiness and success. I promise, too, to honor your memory every chance I get. One day in the not-too-distant future he’ll ask about you, and while I won’t be able to tell him anything of significance, I do know that there’s not a day that goes by that you don’t think about him.

You and I will always be connected: the mother that carried him and gave him life and loves him from so far away, and the mother that has been blessed with the unimaginable gift of being called “Mommy” and being here to kiss the boo-boos and chase away the bad dreams. You are my sister, and although I will never meet you, I have more love for you than you will ever know.

On Saturday when we light the candles on his cake, we’ll light one for you, too, sending up a prayer as we blow it out and send the smoke sailing across the seas. I hope with everything in me that you hear it when the wind whispers past bringing my good wishes and a gratitude so huge that I feel like I could collapse under the weight of the joy it brings. I hope the wind carries away some of your grief and leaves you with a bit of peace.

by on Jan. 22, 2013 at 11:37 AM
Replies (41-47):
Cedartrees4
by Silver Member on Jan. 23, 2013 at 9:49 PM



Quoting Ms.KitKat:

 

Quoting onethentwins:



Quoting Ms.KitKat:

 

Quoting Freebairn:

Ms. KitKat, I guess I'm having a little trouble understanding what this post is about, what you are looking for, and what your position is in the adoption triad.  Are you a mom?  If so, are you a mom by having given birth, or did you adopt?  Did you post this letter to see if a birth mother who relinquished her child is okay with it, if the words make it okay?  What is it, exactly, that you are looking for?

 social worker. please read from the beginning- the thread sortof "morphed" I guess I am looking for - understanding.

I think it's wonderful that you, as a social worker, are here looking for understanding. Really wonderful.

welcome 


 Thank you. I'm thinking it's time for a career change though........ I feel that I too am impacted by adoption. I am one of the players. I never thought I was the "bad guy" though. I thought I was doing good. Sometimes I think I am. Most times(lately)- not so much.

Maybe, as you say, it may be time for a career change.  :)  But no matter what you decide, which path you take, please feel welcome to hang around here, and read, and learn, and ask questions.  You are very welcome to be in this group.  We can likely suggest some books as well if you wish to read things off-line.  And the written personal experiences of mothers who even as recently as last year were coerced to surrender (nevermind those 10 or 20 or more years ago).

Ms.KitKat
by Bronze Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 8:31 AM
1 mom liked this

 Some I answered in the body of your quote. other comments I have below.

Quoting Cedartrees4:

 

 

Quoting Ms.KitKat:


 Yes, I see this and understand. But then what am I supposed to do when a woman comes to my adoption agency wanting to see profiles? Wanting to meet the pap?

Explore with her *why* she wants to do this, and why she wants to do it "immediately."  What is she seeing as the benefits to her and to her baby?   What is going on here?   Is she "panicking"?   Who led her to believe that this is a decision to be made during pregnancy as opposed to having recovered from childbirth first?  And ... what benefits of waiting to make this decisino are explained to her?  Does the agency offer cradle-care?

 No- not per-se. The baby is placed with the pap, if the mother choses upon discharge and must wait the required time before she can sign- if she still wants to sign. The thinking is: this will allow the baby to begin to bond to alleviate any potential attachment issues.  

Do you mind me asking what your agency states are the rights a mother has,

 She has full parental rights up untilt he moment she signs. She is told this over and over again. This is her baby and this is her plan for which she is free to change her mind and there is no obligation to go forward with adoption. We are there to assist her to plan as in giving her options. Adoption does not have to be her end decision.

 and what are the emotional consequences of surrender? 

This is always attempted advising them of the expereince of loss. But it is also the social worker's thinking that with openess in their placement, these feelings can be lessened; that there will be loss but knowing they still have a connection to their baby through visits or pictures or letters, it will bring them some peace. We encourage them to seek us out when they need us if they need cousneling which we provide and also referral to therapsits. 

  Because if a mother is not told about these risks  (severe depression, unresolved greif and loss, PTSD, etc) then she cannot give informed consent.  Similarly if the mother has not recovered from childbirth and experienced the first-hand mother-child relationship with her baby - many of us also say she cannot give informed consent either --one reason why consents are not taking until 6 weeks post-birth in the U.K. Then what of the baby?- the child? A baby can not be left in limbo. At what point do the needs of the child get trumped by the rights of the parents?

The surrender decision reminds me of surgery and the issue of informed consent here -- anyone can go to their doctor and ask for some random type of surgery they feel they need. but the doctor will ask them "why" they feel they need this and explain the risks.  The doctor won't go ahead and do the surgery unless it's required.    Or, organ donations as another example:   If someone, for example, is feeling pressured by someone or something else  to donate a kidney, if there is some sort of pressure behind it, a doctor will talk to them about this, and ensure that they're not being pressured.  The doctor will explain the short and long-term risks of the procedure.   If a doctor does not know the risks him/herself, then we call it "professional incompetence," especially if that patient was never told about a risk of a negative consequence and then experiences a negative consequence.   :( 

 I have had to read and re-read your post several times and needed time to think. The part about "professional incompetence" ? That is a very hard pill to swallow- I have to be honest. I have prided myself for being an ethical, competent human being and professional.  

On the topic of open adoption because I think it is important for you to know my perspective. The concept of open-ness was not something us social workers sat around in our think tanks devising ways as to how to increase our surrender quotas. What you may be reading is my guess, all antedotal (sp?)  of how perhaps it has gone wrong.

I entered adoption, as I told you, merely by "accident" and did not know then what I had gotten myself into. This was the world of closed adoption-the very tail end when I entered the field. It was nothing I learned in books. I learned it on the job-in the field; working with parents, working with other social workers- learning by doing. Shortly after I entered the field there came to be talk about how damaging closed adoptions were. The secrecy of adoption for all "triad members" bred shame and guilt and created emotional trauma.

 More open-ness in adoption seemed to be a wonderful thing. Open-ness threw out the "veil of secracy." Adoptive parents could proudly say we adopted. The child could proudly say, I am adopted and the "Birth mother", first mother would not experience shame for an "out-of-wedlock" child but would be empowered to actually choose the family for her baby and to have contact with her adoptive family so she would have the assurance that her self-less act of placing her baby for adoption was indeed a good one because she would know her child was well and happy. And then the hope one day of reuniting at age 18.

Only as this developed did social workers notice that women were asking for more open-ness. They embraced this new concept. Social workers saw this as a posiitve thing- that women were speaking up for themselves and taking an active role in the planning for their baby. PAP were very hesitant to acept this change for more open-ness. they did not like it (some still don;t). They felt threatened by this other mother. They had concerns that they would not bond with their baby; t hat they were simply "place holders" until the birth mother came back again. Social workers encoraged their PAP that this open-ness was a good thing. It gave a sense of peace and certainy to birth parents. Eventually, the PAP saw too it was a good thing. With a connection, they were able to obtain all sorts of information from the child's birth parents- medical information, most importantly. And personal "silly" stuff like discovering that their child's birthmother likes spicy food just as their child does. It was also a positive for the child because they never had to wonder "who do I look like" because they have a connection to their first mother.

Once the wall of closed adoption was knocked down- it just seemed to crumble like an avalanche. Women coming to adoption agencies were asking to see profiles. They are going to internet sites looking at parent profiles. They are asking to meet with their baby's soon-to-be adoptive parents.

I have worked with numerous families who have regular contact with each other. They visit for anual family reunions and all family members come together- the birthgrandparents and aunts and uncles.....

As a social worker- we see open adoption as a win-win-win. And the feelings of loss of the first mother? so the thinking goes, is greatly alleviated because she is able to maintain a connection with her child.

This is the perspective of a social worker. I understand that what I have said is also your very "hard pill to swallow."

Vikki77
by Silver Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 1:57 PM
I understand completely what you are saying here. And it is great. But, are these women counseled that the open adoption is not legally enforceable? How many of your "birthmoms" have called to complain that the AP's closed an open adoption? And are your new expectant moms given this information?

Quoting Ms.KitKat:

 Some I answered in the body of your quote. other comments I have below.


Quoting Cedartrees4:


 


 


Quoting Ms.KitKat:




 Yes, I see this and understand. But then what am I supposed to do when a woman comes to my adoption agency wanting to see profiles? Wanting to meet the pap?


Explore with her *why* she wants to do this, and why she wants to do it "immediately."  What is she seeing as the benefits to her and to her baby?   What is going on here?   Is she "panicking"?   Who led her to believe that this is a decision to be made during pregnancy as opposed to having recovered from childbirth first?  And ... what benefits of waiting to make this decisino are explained to her?  Does the agency offer cradle-care?


 No- not per-se. The baby is placed with the pap, if the mother choses upon discharge and must wait the required time before she can sign- if she still wants to sign. The thinking is: this will allow the baby to begin to bond to alleviate any potential attachment issues.  


Do you mind me asking what your agency states are the rights a mother has,


 She has full parental rights up untilt he moment she signs. She is told this over and over again. This is her baby and this is her plan for which she is free to change her mind and there is no obligation to go forward with adoption. We are there to assist her to plan as in giving her options. Adoption does not have to be her end decision.


 and what are the emotional consequences of surrender? 


This is always attempted advising them of the expereince of loss. But it is also the social worker's thinking that with openess in their placement, these feelings can be lessened; that there will be loss but knowing they still have a connection to their baby through visits or pictures or letters, it will bring them some peace. We encourage them to seek us out when they need us if they need cousneling which we provide and also referral to therapsits. 


  Because if a mother is not told about these risks  (severe depression, unresolved greif and loss, PTSD, etc) then she cannot give informed consent.  Similarly if the mother has not recovered from childbirth and experienced the first-hand mother-child relationship with her baby - many of us also say she cannot give informed consent either --one reason why consents are not taking until 6 weeks post-birth in the U.K. Then what of the baby?- the child? A baby can not be left in limbo. At what point do the needs of the child get trumped by the rights of the parents?


The surrender decision reminds me of surgery and the issue of informed consent here -- anyone can go to their doctor and ask for some random type of surgery they feel they need. but the doctor will ask them "why" they feel they need this and explain the risks.  The doctor won't go ahead and do the surgery unless it's required.    Or, organ donations as another example:   If someone, for example, is feeling pressured by someone or something else  to donate a kidney, if there is some sort of pressure behind it, a doctor will talk to them about this, and ensure that they're not being pressured.  The doctor will explain the short and long-term risks of the procedure.   If a doctor does not know the risks him/herself, then we call it "professional incompetence," especially if that patient was never told about a risk of a negative consequence and then experiences a negative consequence.   :( 


 I have had to read and re-read your post several times and needed time to think. The part about "professional incompetence" ? That is a very hard pill to swallow- I have to be honest. I have prided myself for being an ethical, competent human being and professional.  


On the topic of open adoption because I think it is important for you to know my perspective. The concept of open-ness was not something us social workers sat around in our think tanks devising ways as to how to increase our surrender quotas. What you may be reading is my guess, all antedotal (sp?)  of how perhaps it has gone wrong.


I entered adoption, as I told you, merely by "accident" and did not know then what I had gotten myself into. This was the world of closed adoption-the very tail end when I entered the field. It was nothing I learned in books. I learned it on the job-in the field; working with parents, working with other social workers- learning by doing. Shortly after I entered the field there came to be talk about how damaging closed adoptions were. The secrecy of adoption for all "triad members" bred shame and guilt and created emotional trauma.


 More open-ness in adoption seemed to be a wonderful thing. Open-ness threw out the "veil of secracy." Adoptive parents could proudly say we adopted. The child could proudly say, I am adopted and the "Birth mother", first mother would not experience shame for an "out-of-wedlock" child but would be empowered to actually choose the family for her baby and to have contact with her adoptive family so she would have the assurance that her self-less act of placing her baby for adoption was indeed a good one because she would know her child was well and happy. And then the hope one day of reuniting at age 18.


Only as this developed did social workers notice that women were asking for more open-ness. They embraced this new concept. Social workers saw this as a posiitve thing- that women were speaking up for themselves and taking an active role in the planning for their baby. PAP were very hesitant to acept this change for more open-ness. they did not like it (some still don;t). They felt threatened by this other mother. They had concerns that they would not bond with their baby; t hat they were simply "place holders" until the birth mother came back again. Social workers encoraged their PAP that this open-ness was a good thing. It gave a sense of peace and certainy to birth parents. Eventually, the PAP saw too it was a good thing. With a connection, they were able to obtain all sorts of information from the child's birth parents- medical information, most importantly. And personal "silly" stuff like discovering that their child's birthmother likes spicy food just as their child does. It was also a positive for the child because they never had to wonder "who do I look like" because they have a connection to their first mother.


Once the wall of closed adoption was knocked down- it just seemed to crumble like an avalanche. Women coming to adoption agencies were asking to see profiles. They are going to internet sites looking at parent profiles. They are asking to meet with their baby's soon-to-be adoptive parents.


I have worked with numerous families who have regular contact with each other. They visit for anual family reunions and all family members come together- the birthgrandparents and aunts and uncles.....


As a social worker- we see open adoption as a win-win-win. And the feelings of loss of the first mother? so the thinking goes, is greatly alleviated because she is able to maintain a connection with her child.


This is the perspective of a social worker. I understand that what I have said is also your very "hard pill to swallow."

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Cedartrees4
by Silver Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 2:33 PM


The concept of open-ness was not something us social workers sat around in our think tanks devising ways as to how to increase our surrender quotas.

Actually, depending on what's classified as a think-tank,  it was.  As one example, you must be familiar with the article 1976 "Open Adoption" in the journal Social Work, by adoption industry workers Annette Baran and Reuben Pannor, and social work professor Arthur Sorosky?   They conducted a focus group with single mothers to find out what would persuade them to surrender -- open adoption was the result:

"“Recently one of the authors met with a [focus group] of young unwed mothers … the women talked about their struggles, frustration and feelings of bitterness and anger. They regretted their inability to offer their children the kinds of loving care they had expected to give them. Regarding adoption, the women felt that although they were failing to provide adequately, they could not face the possibility of a final and total separation from their infants .. When they were asked about how they would feel about open adoption, thier attititudes were totally different: They thought they could face and even welcome adoption for their children if they could meet the adoptive parents, help in the separation and move ot a new home, and the maintain some contact with the child.” (Baran, Pannor, & Sorosky, 1976, pp. 98-99)

More researchers in the industry looked at open adoption as a lure:

"Movement to a more open procedure, which provides the birth mothers more choice and more information about the fate of her baby might, indeed, increase the consideration of adoption by pregnancy adolescents.” (Kallen et al., 1990, p. 315).

“[Open adoption] was proposed by Baran and her colleagues as a way of encouraging unmarried women (and specifically unmarried white women) to relinquish their babies for adoption at a time when they were increasingly choosing to raise them alone” Yngvasson (1997)

“Adoption practices are changing partly in response to the falling relinquishment rate” (Barth, 1987, p. 323).

"“In a very general way, openness benefits prospective parents because it may increase the pool of adoptable infants. For biological parents to have some continuing knowledge about their relinquished child may help them to choose adoption as an option (Barth, 1987), thus increasing the number of children available and decreasing the wait for an adoptable child.” (Berry, 1991, p. 638)

So, open adoption from the start was an intentionally-planned coercion method.  What I find appalling about the Baran-et-al study is that they were looking to ways to exploit -- not alleviate -- financial coercion.   Mothers in the focus group clearly described financial coercion, and all Baran saw was an opportunity.  :(

As a social worker- we see open adoption as a win-win-win. And the feelings of loss of the first mother? so the thinking goes, is greatly alleviated because she is able to maintain a connection with her child.

But did anyone actually *know* it was allieviated, or was this an assumption? Of course it could never be ethically tested -- One can't randomly assign pregnant mothers to a control group and an experimental group and after one group surrendered, have them take the Texas Revised Inventory of Grief (TRIG) or another test at 5 year intervals over the next 40 years and find results over time.  But what was found out in one correlative study in 1990 by your profession, by Blanton and Deschner in the journal Child Welfare , was that mothers who had lost a child to adoption had worse symptoms than bereaved parents, especially if the adoption was open.   They warned "The question of whether open adoption inhibits a healthy grieving process needs careful consideration before open adoption becomes a standard method of practice."   So why did agencies go ahead and implement it when there was this warning to them?  There have been further studies which show that results are mixed, but none of them have shown that long-term crippling grief or other risks been eliminated by open adoption, and many ignore or dismiss the issue of PTSD.    Would it have hurt to just tell mothers in 1990 (or 1985, or 1975 when overwhelming grief lasting decades was reported in journals), "These are risks you should know about and we do not yet know how to prevent or alleviate them"?  Why, in 1999 when this was published, weren't they being told this by the workers at your agency, for example:

“A grief reaction unique to the relinquishing mother was identified. Although this reaction consists of features characteristic of the normal grief reaction, these features persist and often lead to chronic, unresolved grief. CONCLUSIONS: The relinquishing mother is at risk for long-term physical, psychologic, and social repercussions. Although interventions have been proposed, little is known about their effectiveness in preventing or alleviating these repercussions.” (Askren and Bloom, 1999, p. 395)


I understand that what I have said is also your very "hard pill to swallow."

No. Only that i'm left in disbelief that your university and continuing professional education left students unaware of vital information published in your profession's own literature.  :(  It sounds like it is not just agencies which are withholding vital information from mothers -- by your own account, you were never told either "what we know the professionals knew and didn't tell us" - i.e. http://www.cafemom.com/group/4974/forums/read/11431193/Adoption_Trauma_30_yrs_of_research_on_damage_to_mothers, which is material that we have been certain that professionals knew and should have been telling every expectant mother from the time the results were published, onwards.  :(


Ms.KitKat
by Bronze Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 4:53 PM
1 mom liked this

 Yes, these women (and men) are all counseled that open adoption is not legally enforceable. The words we use are: this is a moral agreement made in good faith and it is not legally binding and it is not enforceable in a  court of law. We even put in that the Ap must contiune to send pics/updates through age 18 to the agency (in the event that they decide to close- with the hope that at least we, the agency will have those updates so we can shrae and pass along to the first moms and dads).

Unfortunately I can not give you a count of just how many close an open adoption- I just am not a numbers person. I can say, not many close. We really try to cousnel the AP the benefits for them and their child to keep it open. We couch it in terms of: it's best for the child. A majority are very good. I'm sad (and angered ) to say that the number is not 100%.  

But, ALL expectant parents are informed of this- those who request an open adoption that is. There are still the rare few who prefer it be closed.

 

Quoting Vikki77:

I understand completely what you are saying here. And it is great. But, are these women counseled that the open adoption is not legally enforceable? How many of your "birthmoms" have called to complain that the AP's closed an open adoption? And are your new expectant moms given this information?

Quoting Ms.KitKat:

 Some I answered in the body of your quote. other comments I have below.


Quoting Cedartrees4:


 


 


Quoting Ms.KitKat:




 Yes, I see this and understand. But then what am I supposed to do when a woman comes to my adoption agency wanting to see profiles? Wanting to meet the pap?


Explore with her *why* she wants to do this, and why she wants to do it "immediately."  What is she seeing as the benefits to her and to her baby?   What is going on here?   Is she "panicking"?   Who led her to believe that this is a decision to be made during pregnancy as opposed to having recovered from childbirth first?  And ... what benefits of waiting to make this decisino are explained to her?  Does the agency offer cradle-care?


 No- not per-se. The baby is placed with the pap, if the mother choses upon discharge and must wait the required time before she can sign- if she still wants to sign. The thinking is: this will allow the baby to begin to bond to alleviate any potential attachment issues.  


Do you mind me asking what your agency states are the rights a mother has,


 She has full parental rights up untilt he moment she signs. She is told this over and over again. This is her baby and this is her plan for which she is free to change her mind and there is no obligation to go forward with adoption. We are there to assist her to plan as in giving her options. Adoption does not have to be her end decision.


 and what are the emotional consequences of surrender? 


This is always attempted advising them of the expereince of loss. But it is also the social worker's thinking that with openess in their placement, these feelings can be lessened; that there will be loss but knowing they still have a connection to their baby through visits or pictures or letters, it will bring them some peace. We encourage them to seek us out when they need us if they need cousneling which we provide and also referral to therapsits. 


  Because if a mother is not told about these risks  (severe depression, unresolved greif and loss, PTSD, etc) then she cannot give informed consent.  Similarly if the mother has not recovered from childbirth and experienced the first-hand mother-child relationship with her baby - many of us also say she cannot give informed consent either --one reason why consents are not taking until 6 weeks post-birth in the U.K. Then what of the baby?- the child? A baby can not be left in limbo. At what point do the needs of the child get trumped by the rights of the parents?


The surrender decision reminds me of surgery and the issue of informed consent here -- anyone can go to their doctor and ask for some random type of surgery they feel they need. but the doctor will ask them "why" they feel they need this and explain the risks.  The doctor won't go ahead and do the surgery unless it's required.    Or, organ donations as another example:   If someone, for example, is feeling pressured by someone or something else  to donate a kidney, if there is some sort of pressure behind it, a doctor will talk to them about this, and ensure that they're not being pressured.  The doctor will explain the short and long-term risks of the procedure.   If a doctor does not know the risks him/herself, then we call it "professional incompetence," especially if that patient was never told about a risk of a negative consequence and then experiences a negative consequence.   :( 


 I have had to read and re-read your post several times and needed time to think. The part about "professional incompetence" ? That is a very hard pill to swallow- I have to be honest. I have prided myself for being an ethical, competent human being and professional.  


On the topic of open adoption because I think it is important for you to know my perspective. The concept of open-ness was not something us social workers sat around in our think tanks devising ways as to how to increase our surrender quotas. What you may be reading is my guess, all antedotal (sp?)  of how perhaps it has gone wrong.


I entered adoption, as I told you, merely by "accident" and did not know then what I had gotten myself into. This was the world of closed adoption-the very tail end when I entered the field. It was nothing I learned in books. I learned it on the job-in the field; working with parents, working with other social workers- learning by doing. Shortly after I entered the field there came to be talk about how damaging closed adoptions were. The secrecy of adoption for all "triad members" bred shame and guilt and created emotional trauma.


 More open-ness in adoption seemed to be a wonderful thing. Open-ness threw out the "veil of secracy." Adoptive parents could proudly say we adopted. The child could proudly say, I am adopted and the "Birth mother", first mother would not experience shame for an "out-of-wedlock" child but would be empowered to actually choose the family for her baby and to have contact with her adoptive family so she would have the assurance that her self-less act of placing her baby for adoption was indeed a good one because she would know her child was well and happy. And then the hope one day of reuniting at age 18.


Only as this developed did social workers notice that women were asking for more open-ness. They embraced this new concept. Social workers saw this as a posiitve thing- that women were speaking up for themselves and taking an active role in the planning for their baby. PAP were very hesitant to acept this change for more open-ness. they did not like it (some still don;t). They felt threatened by this other mother. They had concerns that they would not bond with their baby; t hat they were simply "place holders" until the birth mother came back again. Social workers encoraged their PAP that this open-ness was a good thing. It gave a sense of peace and certainy to birth parents. Eventually, the PAP saw too it was a good thing. With a connection, they were able to obtain all sorts of information from the child's birth parents- medical information, most importantly. And personal "silly" stuff like discovering that their child's birthmother likes spicy food just as their child does. It was also a positive for the child because they never had to wonder "who do I look like" because they have a connection to their first mother.


Once the wall of closed adoption was knocked down- it just seemed to crumble like an avalanche. Women coming to adoption agencies were asking to see profiles. They are going to internet sites looking at parent profiles. They are asking to meet with their baby's soon-to-be adoptive parents.


I have worked with numerous families who have regular contact with each other. They visit for anual family reunions and all family members come together- the birthgrandparents and aunts and uncles.....


As a social worker- we see open adoption as a win-win-win. And the feelings of loss of the first mother? so the thinking goes, is greatly alleviated because she is able to maintain a connection with her child.


This is the perspective of a social worker. I understand that what I have said is also your very "hard pill to swallow."

 

Ms.KitKat
by Bronze Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 5:15 PM

 

Quoting Cedartrees4:

 

The concept of open-ness was not something us social workers sat around in our think tanks devising ways as to how to increase our surrender quotas.

Actually, depending on what's classified as a think-tank,  it was.  As one example, you must be familiar with the article 1976 "Open Adoption" in the journal Social Work, by adoption industry workers Annette Baran and Reuben Pannor, and social work professor Arthur Sorosky?   They conducted a focus group with single mothers to find out what would persuade them to surrender -- open adoption was the result:

"“Recently one of the authors met with a [focus group] of young unwed mothers … the women talked about their struggles, frustration and feelings of bitterness and anger. They regretted their inability to offer their children the kinds of loving care they had expected to give them. Regarding adoption, the women felt that although they were failing to provide adequately, they could not face the possibility of a final and total separation from their infants .. When they were asked about how they would feel about open adoption, thier attititudes were totally different: They thought they could face and even welcome adoption for their children if they could meet the adoptive parents, help in the separation and move ot a new home, and the maintain some contact with the child.” (Baran, Pannor, & Sorosky, 1976, pp. 98-99)

More researchers in the industry looked at open adoption as a lure:

"Movement to a more open procedure, which provides the birth mothers more choice and more information about the fate of her baby might, indeed, increase the consideration of adoption by pregnancy adolescents.” (Kallen et al., 1990, p. 315).

“[Open adoption] was proposed by Baran and her colleagues as a way of encouraging unmarried women (and specifically unmarried white women) to relinquish their babies for adoption at a time when they were increasingly choosing to raise them alone” Yngvasson (1997)

“Adoption practices are changing partly in response to the falling relinquishment rate” (Barth, 1987, p. 323).

"“In a very general way, openness benefits prospective parents because it may increase the pool of adoptable infants. For biological parents to have some continuing knowledge about their relinquished child may help them to choose adoption as an option (Barth, 1987), thus increasing the number of children available and decreasing the wait for an adoptable child.” (Berry, 1991, p. 638)

So, open adoption from the start was an intentionally-planned coercion method.  What I find appalling about the Baran-et-al study is that they were looking to ways to exploit -- not alleviate -- financial coercion.   Mothers in the focus group clearly described financial coercion, and all Baran saw was an opportunity.  :(

As a social worker- we see open adoption as a win-win-win. And the feelings of loss of the first mother? so the thinking goes, is greatly alleviated because she is able to maintain a connection with her child.

But did anyone actually *know* it was allieviated, or was this an assumption? Of course it could never be ethically tested -- One can't randomly assign pregnant mothers to a control group and an experimental group and after one group surrendered, have them take the Texas Revised Inventory of Grief (TRIG) or another test at 5 year intervals over the next 40 years and find results over time.  But what was found out in one correlative study in 1990 by your profession, by Blanton and Deschner in the journal Child Welfare , was that mothers who had lost a child to adoption had worse symptoms than bereaved parents, especially if the adoption was open.   They warned "The question of whether open adoption inhibits a healthy grieving process needs careful consideration before open adoption becomes a standard method of practice."   So why did agencies go ahead and implement it when there was this warning to them?  There have been further studies which show that results are mixed, but none of them have shown that long-term crippling grief or other risks been eliminated by open adoption, and many ignore or dismiss the issue of PTSD.    Would it have hurt to just tell mothers in 1990 (or 1985, or 1975 when overwhelming grief lasting decades was reported in journals), "These are risks you should know about and we do not yet know how to prevent or alleviate them"?  Why, in 1999 when this was published, weren't they being told this by the workers at your agency, for example:

“A grief reaction unique to the relinquishing mother was identified. Although this reaction consists of features characteristic of the normal grief reaction, these features persist and often lead to chronic, unresolved grief. CONCLUSIONS: The relinquishing mother is at risk for long-term physical, psychologic, and social repercussions. Although interventions have been proposed, little is known about their effectiveness in preventing or alleviating these repercussions.” (Askren and Bloom, 1999, p. 395)


I understand that what I have said is also your very "hard pill to swallow."

No. Only that i'm left in disbelief that your university and continuing professional education left students unaware of vital information published in your profession's own literature.  :(  It sounds like it is not just agencies which are withholding vital information from mothers -- by your own account, you were never told either "what we know the professionals knew and didn't tell us" - i.e. http://www.cafemom.com/group/4974/forums/read/11431193/Adoption_Trauma_30_yrs_of_research_on_damage_to_mothers, which is material that we have been certain that professionals knew and should have been telling every expectant mother from the time the results were published, onwards.  :(

 

 I do not know what to say. A lot lends itself to interpretation for sure. What is that saying? "You can't see the forest through the trees."

PortAngeles1969
by Group Admin on Jan. 24, 2013 at 5:51 PM
1 mom liked this

Hi Cedar - you may already know this about the "field" of social work but working now at two Universities with social work programs and being up close with their curricula I can tell you that it's very broad and generic to the whole scope of social work. You have social workers who work in schools, in hospitals, in nursing homes, in the military, etc. Some specialize their focus in Child Welfare or Mental Health, or other areas but most states provide a pretty sparse training academy only 3-6 weeks long and it is a heavy emphasis on how to complete paperwork, how to prepare court reports, what the timelines are to do such and such.

Social work as a field has not received the same "professionalization" as it's brothers and sisters in the medical and legal fields. The University curricula assumes that the future employers of social workers will provide them with the specificity that they will need & the employers assume that since individuals have degrees in "social work" that they MUST be coming in with things they actually don't have.

I'm actually pretty psyched up about this right now as my new job is to work with a University school of social work and the state Child Welfare office to improve this disconnect.

To top it all off, very few child welfare case managers have social work education as their background so they come with even less of a base. Most of the learning is on-the-job and from fellow colleagues. There isn't a strong committment to conducting strong research in the social sciences and certainly isn't a push for the workforce to encourage them to increase their own skills. It's really sad.

Many of my close friends are or have been CPS workers. They were young, good-hearted and smart people who desperately wanted to do the right thing for children and families but found that they were not equipped with what they needed to feel sure about the decisions they were being asked to make.

It's so very sad.

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