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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 (11-20):
Cedartrees4
by Silver Member on Jan. 22, 2013 at 3:15 PM

No, Kitkat, I don't want you to leave this group.   Please stay here, because I can tell your heart is in the right place and you appear to be open-minded.    

There is an unfortunate history of adoptive parents frequently coming to this group and "thanking" us for our "bravery" and telling us to be happy because we "unselfishly" "gave our child a family" and "love."  You have no idea how this is offensive on so many levels.  :( 

But I am curious, if you are a social worker, did you not learn about adoption coercion in your classes?  Isn't this taught in university, about the issues of ethical practice, coercion, social justice, exploitation, etc.? 

onethentwins
by Gold Member on Jan. 22, 2013 at 3:24 PM

I meant "sticky" posts. They're deemed worthy to keep at the top of the list. They are yellow and have little yellow sticky notes on them.


Quoting Ms.KitKat:

 

Quoting onethentwins:



Quoting Ms.KitKat:

  I am a social worker.

And I am willing to listen to the variety of experiences of natural mothers here.

And if I am not so offensive to you (general you) I will support those who were coerced and those who willingly gave up their babies.

IF you wish me to leave this group, I will. 


That's certainly not what I wish. Are you new to the group or have you been around for a while? Have you read many of the posts here? Some of the stick posts are gems. 

 I am sure it is not what you had wished. It's something I keep to myself. I am new to the group (can you see my green status) but I have dabbled in and out of here. I am, what you might say, in the middle of an existenscial(sp?) dilemma right now when it comes to my working with first moms.

I don;t know what stick posts are?



Ms.KitKat
by Bronze Member on Jan. 22, 2013 at 3:25 PM

 

Quoting Cedartrees4:

No, Kitkat, I don't want you to leave this group.   Please stay here, because I can tell your heart is in the right place and you appear to be open-minded.    

There is an unfortunate history of adoptive parents frequently coming to this group and "thanking" us for our "bravery" and telling us to be happy because we "unselfishly" "gave our child a family" and "love."  You have no idea how this is offensive on so many levels.  :( 

But I am curious, if you are a social worker, did you not learn about adoption coercion in your classes?  Isn't this taught in university, about the issues of ethical practice, coercion, social justice, exploitation, etc.? 

 Thank you. I will stay as long as all will have me.

I have been doing adoption work for about half my life. I started when I was only 22 years old and needed a job. Truly- it was by accident. I wanted to do counseling. I never dreamed the job I applied for and hired me was birth parent counseling. I am now 45. You can do the math (social workers are notoriously bad with math). But it translates into God only knows how many women (and some men) I worked with and countless, countless surrenders I have taken. 

And it is only recently,  within this past year, that the idea that women who placed thier children felt coerced. Yes, I learned in graduate school about ethics and social justice. But the idea- just the "idea" of coercion. No.

Hence, my own personal crisis.

Ms.KitKat
by Bronze Member on Jan. 22, 2013 at 3:26 PM

 Oh. IDK. I'm going to have to go back now and look. What makes those sticky notes different from the rest?

Quoting onethentwins:

I meant "sticky" posts. They're deemed worthy to keep at the top of the list. They are yellow and have little yellow sticky notes on them.

 

Quoting Ms.KitKat:

 

Quoting onethentwins:

 

 

Quoting Ms.KitKat:

  I am a social worker.

And I am willing to listen to the variety of experiences of natural mothers here.

And if I am not so offensive to you (general you) I will support those who were coerced and those who willingly gave up their babies.

IF you wish me to leave this group, I will. 

 

That's certainly not what I wish. Are you new to the group or have you been around for a while? Have you read many of the posts here? Some of the stick posts are gems. 

 I am sure it is not what you had wished. It's something I keep to myself. I am new to the group (can you see my green status) but I have dabbled in and out of here. I am, what you might say, in the middle of an existenscial(sp?) dilemma right now when it comes to my working with first moms.

I don;t know what stick posts are?

 

 

 

onethentwins
by Gold Member on Jan. 22, 2013 at 3:38 PM

Most groups have them. The owner or admin puts a sticky on them so they wont disappear with the others. So everyone can still see them.


Quoting Ms.KitKat:

 Oh. IDK. I'm going to have to go back now and look. What makes those sticky notes different from the rest?

Quoting onethentwins:

I meant "sticky" posts. They're deemed worthy to keep at the top of the list. They are yellow and have little yellow sticky notes on them.


Quoting Ms.KitKat:

 

Quoting onethentwins:



Quoting Ms.KitKat:

  I am a social worker.

And I am willing to listen to the variety of experiences of natural mothers here.

And if I am not so offensive to you (general you) I will support those who were coerced and those who willingly gave up their babies.

IF you wish me to leave this group, I will. 


That's certainly not what I wish. Are you new to the group or have you been around for a while? Have you read many of the posts here? Some of the stick posts are gems. 

 I am sure it is not what you had wished. It's something I keep to myself. I am new to the group (can you see my green status) but I have dabbled in and out of here. I am, what you might say, in the middle of an existenscial(sp?) dilemma right now when it comes to my working with first moms.

I don;t know what stick posts are?



 



PortAngeles1969
by Group Owner on Jan. 22, 2013 at 3:40 PM
1 mom liked this

KitKat - thanks for sharing your connection to adoption. Take your time, you are going to be exposed to a completely different lens than what you have experienced professionally.

The voices and stories of first mothers and adoptees are the ones society has been reluctant to hear and forums such as these provide a place for us to find our voices and get our stories out - sometimes in pretty raw ways. I've just returned to CM after a significant time away and went back and read some of my own posts from 5 years ago and BOY were they raw.

It's absolutely an education and a lifelong journey.

BTW, I'm also in the child welfare / family preservation field - going on 24 years. My career choice was primarily due to my own journey of both an adoptee and first mother.

Cedartrees4
by Silver Member on Jan. 22, 2013 at 3:41 PM

I guess for a brief introduction to the subject of coercion, I recommend the collection of article at http://www.cafemom.com/group/4974/forums/178415/Published_Articles_Research_Information_MORE .  The thing is that coercion entered adoption procedure as an intentional practice in the "Baby Scoop Era" (Forced Adoption Era in Australia and elsewhere)  when the demand for infants began to out-strip the supply, and agencies (and maternity home) began to force Caucasian mothers to surrender and encourage African American mothers to keep their infants (historian Rickie Solinger covers this in her book "Wake Up Little Susie").  BSERI has a lot on the BSE - http://babyscoopera.com/.  But then in the 1970s mothers began keeping their babies as single parenting lost its stigma, and many agencies faced bankruptcy.   So in order to stay in business, open adoption was developed as an intentional means to obtain more babies for adoption (http://adoptioncritic.com/2008/08/21/open-adoption-they-knew-it-would-work/).  One of the huge problems is that adoption agencies rely on the proceeds from adoptive parents in order to stay in business.   So, counsellors there are in conflict-of-interest -- they have to ensure a minimum number of surrenders per year.  Differs from South Australia where the adoption counsellor is paid the same no matter if she produces 0 surrenders or 500 per year, as her wage is paid by the state government, so there is no pressure on her to get mothers to surrender, and there are even laws against coercion.  

There are many blogs by mothers who were coerced (persuaded, forced, convinced, manipulated, etc.) into surrendering ... who often found out much later that this was done to them, because when you're going through the process, you don't realize that what's being done to you is done intentionally to increase surrender rates. :(   You only realize later on that you surrendered because you were promised an open adoption, because there were no financial support, because your baby was taken at birth by hospital staff, because you were told you didn't deserve your baby, etc. :(

Ms.KitKat
by Bronze Member on Jan. 22, 2013 at 4:02 PM

 I remember doing the first open adoption for me- I was still in my early 20's. Here is my perspective, this was not a program originating from the agency I was working for. This was at the request of the young woman and man. They both came to the agency- I remember it like yesterday- with their own parents along and asked if they could pick the adoptive parents themselves. This was unheard of! at that time and not something us social workers ever heard of before. This was about 1992-1993. Us workers had great debate if we should even do this. This was breaking ground for all of us. This was all of our first steps into open adoption without any of us ever really recognizing it.

I have only worked for 2 agencies. I can tell you from my experience- I was (am)paid a salary and not expected to get parents to surrender. There is no quota. Never was. Sometimes we have no parents surrendering- for years- and then we have very many. It comes in cycles with no rythm or reason. At least not for us.

The one agency I worked for closed. This agency now is constantly on the verge of closing. I do agree- the adoptive parents do fuel the program. If not for them, I would not be able to do the work I do with pregnant and expecting parents.

But the idea of coercion? The idea that I was responsible for coercing parents to surrender their baby?! I have worked with so very many (mostly only) women from the ages of 14 to 40. Some place. most don;t. But those who do place I am left to wonder; how many of thsoe did I coerce and not even know what I was doing?

Quoting Cedartrees4:

I guess for a brief introduction to the subject of coercion, I recommend the collection of article at http://www.cafemom.com/group/4974/forums/178415/Published_Articles_Research_Information_MORE .  The thing is that coercion entered adoption procedure as an intentional practice in the "Baby Scoop Era" (Forced Adoption Era in Australia and elsewhere)  when the demand for infants began to out-strip the supply, and agencies (and maternity home) began to force Caucasian mothers to surrender and encourage African American mothers to keep their infants (historian Rickie Solinger covers this in her book "Wake Up Little Susie").  BSERI has a lot on the BSE - http://babyscoopera.com//.  But then in the 1970s mothers began keeping their babies as single parenting lost its stigma, and many agencies faced bankruptcy.   So in order to stay in business, open adoption was developed as an intentional means to obtain more babies for adoption (http://adoptioncritic.com/2008/08/21/open-adoption-they-knew-it-would-work/k/).  One of the huge problems is that adoption agencies rely on the proceeds from adoptive parents in order to stay in business.   So, counsellors there are in conflict-of-interest -- they have to ensure a minimum number of surrenders per year.  Differs from South Australia where the adoption counsellor is paid the same no matter if she produces 0 surrenders or 500 per year, as her wage is paid by the state government, so there is no pressure on her to get mothers to surrender, and there are even laws against coercion.  

There are many blogs by mothers who were coerced (persuaded, forced, convinced, manipulated, etc.) into surrendering ... who often found out much later that this was done to them, because when you're going through the process, you don't realize that what's being done to you is done intentionally to increase surrender rates. :(   You only realize later on that you surrendered because you were promised an open adoption, because there were no financial support, because your baby was taken at birth by hospital staff, because you were told you didn't deserve your baby, etc. :(

 

Cedartrees4
by Silver Member on Jan. 22, 2013 at 4:41 PM



Quoting Ms.KitKat:

 I remember doing the first open adoption for me- I was still in my early 20's. Here is my perspective, this was not a program originating from the agency I was working for. This was at the request of the young woman and man. They both came to the agency- I remember it like yesterday- with their own parents along and asked if they could pick the adoptive parents themselves. This was unheard of! at that time and not something us social workers ever heard of before. This was about 1992-1993. Us workers had great debate if we should even do this. This was breaking ground for all of us. This was all of our first steps into open adoption without any of us ever really recognizing it.

I wold be curious ...  I wonder if the young couple would still have "chosen adoption" had their only choice been a closed adoption?   Or if they'd been able to nurture their baby and the mother recover first from childbirth (which takes weeks)?  If they'd had all the support and assistance they needed (as is their human right under Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)  in order to raise their child?  It's so hard to know where to begin in analyzing a situation, and each one is individual.  But it's scary to read the journal articles discussing how to increase surrender rates -- much of the funding for research of this type began in the Reagan era  when they wanted to promote adoption as an alternative to abortion and single motherhood.  :(   I can provide you with a list if you want. 

I have only worked for 2 agencies. I can tell you from my experience- I was (am)paid a salary and not expected to get parents to surrender. There is no quota. Never was. Sometimes we have no parents surrendering- for years- and then we have very many. It comes in cycles with no rythm or reason. At least not for us


What would happen if no woman surrendered and thus no adoptive parents were providing money?  How would the funding come to keep your agency goes, to pay the rent and the utility bills?   Would the agency close or face financial problems?   You see, that's where the conflict of interest is, and we have had ex-agency workers express how they knew they had to get mothers to "place" to keep the agency open. :(   In order to keep their jobs, they often had to go against their conscience.  Some have rebelled -- I'll look for the blog of one of them because it is poinient -- she went through the same journey, asking herself the same questions that you have.


But the idea of coercion? The idea that I was responsible for coercing parents to surrender their baby?! I have worked with so very many (mostly only) women from the ages of 14 to 40. Some place. most don;t. But those who do place I am left to wonder; how many of thsoe did I coerce and not even know what I was doing?

I'm glad that you are asking these questions of yourself, because the main impression that many of us have here of "the industry" is that industry employess know they are coercing, and are taught coercion methods because it increases surrender rates.  :(   But of course, it's very likely that many are just "following procedure" not knowing the intention of "why" these practices were developed.    These are very good questions you are asking and considering.  Please stick around.


Ms.KitKat
by Bronze Member on Jan. 22, 2013 at 5:01 PM

 

Quoting Cedartrees4:

 

 

Quoting Ms.KitKat:

 I remember doing the first open adoption for me- I was still in my early 20's. Here is my perspective, this was not a program originating from the agency I was working for. This was at the request of the young woman and man. They both came to the agency- I remember it like yesterday- with their own parents along and asked if they could pick the adoptive parents themselves. This was unheard of! at that time and not something us social workers ever heard of before. This was about 1992-1993. Us workers had great debate if we should even do this. This was breaking ground for all of us. This was all of our first steps into open adoption without any of us ever really recognizing it.

I wold be curious ...  I wonder if the young couple would still have "chosen adoption" had their only choice been a closed adoption?   Or if they'd been able to nurture their baby and the mother recover first from childbirth (which takes weeks)?  If they'd had all the support and assistance they needed (as is their human right under Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)  in order to raise their child?  It's so hard to know where to begin in analyzing a situation, and each one is individual.  But it's scary to read the journal articles discussing how to increase surrender rates -- much of the funding for research of this type began in the Reagan era  when they wanted to promote adoption as an alternative to abortion and single motherhood.  :(   I can provide you with a list if you want. 

I was taught to meet the client where they are. They came to me (not personally mind you) seeking adoption. I honestly do not know what they would have done if we said no to open adoption. I would have to think, because of religious reasons, they would have contiuned to place. But I really do not know. I wish I could go back in time.


 

I have only worked for 2 agencies. I can tell you from my experience- I was (am)paid a salary and not expected to get parents to surrender. There is no quota. Never was. Sometimes we have no parents surrendering- for years- and then we have very many. It comes in cycles with no rythm or reason. At least not for us


What would happen if no woman surrendered and thus no adoptive parents were providing money?  How would the funding come to keep your agency goes, to pay the rent and the utility bills?   Would the agency close or face financial problems?   You see, that's where the conflict of interest is, and we have had ex-agency workers express how they knew they had to get mothers to "place" to keep the agency open. :(   In order to keep their jobs, they often had to go against their conscience.  Some have rebelled -- I'll look for the blog of one of them because it is poinient -- she went through the same journey, asking herself the same questions that you have.

The agency does not rely on placements that is for sure! The social workers on staff do home studies and the PAP  receive placements outside of my state. With home studies good for only 12 months- there is a constant cycle of PAP star ting home studies or in some phase of updating. But yes, the agency will close- and very many have in my state. It seems like only the "big ones" are left but since Russia closed and other international programs, even the "big ones" are down sizing and closing.

 

But the idea of coercion? The idea that I was responsible for coercing parents to surrender their baby?! I have worked with so very many (mostly only) women from the ages of 14 to 40. Some place. most don;t. But those who do place I am left to wonder; how many of thsoe did I coerce and not even know what I was doing?

I'm glad that you are asking these questions of yourself, because the main impression that many of us have here of "the industry" is that industry employess know they are coercing, and are taught coercion methods because it increases surrender rates.  :(   But of course, it's very likely that many are just "following procedure" not knowing the intention of "why" these practices were developed.    These are very good questions you are asking and considering.  Please stick around.

 I can honestly say, hand to Bible that I did not know I was coercing or being coercive. I was never taught coercive methods- to my knowledge- never! ever! MaYBE i WAS; AND i DID NOT KNOW IT. Every single parent who surrenders her child, a little piece of my heart breaks away. I tell them their rights and the rights they are losing if they sign. I follow their lead/ They tell me what they want and they need and I tell them their rights and how what they want and need are in conflict to what adoption is and still- they forge ahead. Why? Can I share a story?

 

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