[Update of July 2012] This post was originally published a year ago, to announce that the Facebook group that was formerly called “Adopting-Back Our Children” changed its name and expanded its focus to become “Adopting-Back Our Children / Adoptees Terminating Adoptions.” As the Facebook group and the accompanying website have both grown and changed over the past year, it is time for an update.
This group has a history dating back to 2002, when it was an MSN Group of the same (old) name hosted by a natural mother named Scarlett West and myself. When MSN shut down its groups, we moved onto Facebook to continue there. I fell out of touch with Scarlett. Once she had adopted back both her stolen twin daughters, I think she was able to finally able to put adoption entirely behind her and focus on the rest of her life. Her family has been healed from adoption separation, and her daughters are back home with their mother again, healing from the abuse they suffered at the hands of a racist, unbalanced woman who should never have been allowed to adopt.
Anyway, back to the topic of the group. For years, the group and the site focused on the legal process of adopting-back, which of course has always been the “second-best” option, because the very best option would be for all adoptees to be able to terminate their own adoptions as they saw fit. But, we were unable to gather much information about this being done — until an adoptee joined our Facebook group and told us all about how she was able to legally terminate her own adoption via a Private Members Bill in Alberta.
So we found out that terminating an adoption is not only possible, but it has been done with some frequency in Alberta. One of these Acts was passed fairly recently in fact, in 2009, the Beverly Anne Cormier Adoption Termination Act. This excerpt from the Standing Committee on Private Bills proceedings gives some details of why a private members bill was used:
“Ms Dean: Certainly, Mr. Chair. As all committee members are aware, a private bill seeks something that’s not available through the general public law. Bill Pr. 1 is seeking the termination of an adoption order because, basically, the petitioner is unable to get recourse in any other way. A person is unable to set aside an adoption order after one year unless it has been procured by fraud. Now, that’s not the case here. There’s been no fraud, so this is the appropriate tool by which one goes about terminating an adoption of this type. It’s a fairly rare type of bill, but these have come before the Assembly before. The most recent one was in 1998.”
Other adoption termination acts have included:
- Tanya Marie Bryant Adoption Termination Act (1998)
- Kenneth Garnet McKay Adoption Termination Act (1997)
- Satnam Parmar Adoption Termination Act (1990)
- David Michael Skakun Adoption Termination Act (1985)
- Dino Alberto Knott Adoption Termination Act (1984)
- Keith Dial Adoption Termination Act (1980)
In addition, Mike Chalek was able to get his adoption terminated in a Florida court. , which provides a different means that adoptees can try. The problem in Mike’s case is that it took the proof of fraud for the judge to grant the petition. It is uncertain what type of proof other judges may deem to be “sufficient grounds.” Also published this year was an E-How article, “How to Nullify an Adoption for an Adult.” I do not know if this article is actually based on real experiences or not, or is (as many E-How articles appear to be) just a “spam page” having the sole purpose of displaying a profuse amount of advertising.
But I cannot think of why anyone would deny that all adoptees should have the option to choose whether they want to remain adopted or not. If they were adopted as an infant or young child, no-one asked them if they wanted to be grafted into a family of genetic strangers. Some adoptees may choose the termination route, and some may be be perfectly happy with how things worked out in their adoptive families. But all adoptees should be able to make that decision, unilaterally, of their own choosing.
Same URL, same blog, same author … but yes, a different name. Of course, i’m waffling on it. What should I name it?
Thank you, dear readers for your suggestions, and I am open to hearing more of them. I have not completely settled on “Adoption Critique” for the name of this blog. There are many other options:
… Adoption Voice?
… Adoption Trauma Survivor?
… Adoption Words?
… Adoption Critic?
So, what do you think? Do you like “Adoption Critique”? Is something else better?
I thought it was better than “Adoption Analysis” (boring?) :)
So, your feedback is always invited.
…. Ten years ago today, our reunion. We hugged for the very first time. I got to touch him for the first time. That right, the right that all other mothers take for granted, the right to hold and hug their babies, had been stripped from me — stolen from me — the moment he was born.
Happy birthday, my precious first-born! I never imagined we’d be reunited for 10 years, 1/3 of your life. Plus i feel far too young to possibly have a son who is 30! Come on, I’m not nearly old enough for that!
I still remember that clerk in the furniture store, when we were buying stuff for your/our apartment, referring to you as “my brother” and when i said with a smile that you were my son, she stated in surprise “How old were you when you had him — four?!?” We had a great laugh over that one!
Anyway, happy birthday, honey. I hope we have many more great years together, back together, where we belong. We have come a long long way in only 10 years, restoring everything we could that was taken from us. But we will never get those 20 long years back, and I think we will both always grieve that loss.
I want to share with my readers how you described to a classmate today the reason why you belonged to Origins: “I was adopted, and it was the most painful thing that every happened to me.” Your words are echoed by so many other adoptees I know. I will forever try everything I can to take away your pain.
(Related post, for visitors who have not read how this all began: February 20, 1980)
I have a friend, Rowena, who is a natural mother who lost her son to adoption.
Rowena was only 17 when she gave birth to her son Blaise, and in Grace Hospital in Calgary, they only allowed her to see him sparingly for few days after his birth, and then one day the nurses took him away and refused to let her see him ever again. That was the power that hospitals had over us unwed mothers. The professionals around us, often government social workers, we trusted as no-one else showed any care for us. Little did we know of our rights to our babies – the same as the rights of any older or married mother – or that the hospitals’ actions were illegal. Beaten down emotionally and psychologically, and often cast away into exile by our parents and society, we did not know we had any rights at all.
So, in 1967, Rowena’s son was born. And the government social worker that came with the surrender papers made her believe that her only option was to sign, that an unwed mother could not be a mother at all. The growing list of “waiting parents” was more important to the worker than the emotional trauma she was doing by dismembering this one young family. Rowena wanted to keep her baby, and he was taken from her.
Because of the traumatic loss of her son, Rowena never had another child. She yearned for him for what seemed like unending years, thinking of him every single day, and doing what she could to deal with the PTSD and unrelenting grief.
As soon as Alberta set up an adoption reunion registry, Rowena signed up for it. Her name was on that registry for over twenty years as she waited to hopefully find Blaise again. All she had known was that he was supposedly adopted into a “good home” with a stay-at-home mother and a professional father.
Rowena began coming to our monthly Origins Canada support group meetings early this year, and we offered to help her find her son. Thanks to adoption records opening in Alberta (after a hard-fought campaign by people separated by adoption), she was able to apply for and obtain her son’s full adoptive name.
The search began in March 2009, and forty-two years after Rowena lost her son to adoption, he was found again!
The break came when we found Blaise’s adoptive family’s genealogy listed online, including an adoptive sister, “Alice.” We found her in the phonebook, and Rowena phoned her.
Yes, it was the right Alice. Yes, her adoptive brother was Rowena’s son. But, no, Rowena could not contact him as he was a drug-addicted homeless person living on the streets of a city far away. The sister promised to pass on the message to him, if he eventually got a contact number.
Eventually, when Blaise got a temporary cellphone, Rowena and Blaise were finally able to talk on the phone. He told her how his adoptive parents had divorced when he was young, and his adoptive mother was cold and distant. He had little contact with the adoptive father. No, Blaise had not graduated from high school. Yes, he was doing hard drugs, and when Rowena asked what drugs he used, he told her, “Anything I can get my hands on.” Rowena was shocked that her beloved son had been treated this way and was in this state, as she had been forced to surrender him by a system that had told her that these parents were fit and deserved her son more than she did.
Rowena and Blaise talked on the phone three times, when he was able to temporarily get a phone. By the second call, he was calling her “Mom,” and hoping to travel out to the coast to visit her and even live with her. He wanted to start a new life. Rowena offered to send him the bus fare for him to come out.
Rowena sent letters and photographs to Blaise through Alice. Unfortunately, Alice and her family opened up Rowena’s mail to Blaise, which hurt Rowena a lot.
In her third and tragically last phone call with Blaise, Rowena was happy to find that he had finally received the photographs and letters.
In early October, a phone call came from Alice. Blaise was in hospital with a serious heart infection, and Alice said that if Rowena wanted to see Blaise she had better hurry out to Edmonton fast. Alice offered to put up Rowena at her place. Rowena bought the tickets to travel the 1300 km trip and packed her bags, but 20 minutes before she left the house, the phone rang. It was Alice, who told Rowena in an angry voice that she “couldn’t have Rowena staying there” and that she would have to stay elsewhere.
Rowena phoned the hospital to find out how her son was doing. The staff there told her that they were not allowed to release any information, other than to people on the visitors list, and she was not on it. The adoptive father was in charge of the list. Even if Rowena had travelled, she would not have been allowed to see her son.
Last week, the final phone call came. Blaise’s adoptive father told Rowena that her son had passed away. When she asked, he stated firmly that, NO, she was not permitted to come to the funeral, as “They had enough people already.”
Thanks to adoption, Rowena never saw her son nor held him in her arms since his birth 42 years ago. Thanks to adoption, she will never have that chance. The adoptive parents had the right to ensure she would never be able to be there in his final days. Rowena is devastated. The hope of reunion with her son, the hope that sustained her for 42 years, has ended.
I write this post in dedication of the love that Rowena and Blaise had for each other, as mother and son. She never forgot her son. I hope that I am not the only one who sees the tragedy here.
If you are a mother considering the surrender of your newborn infant, please realize that you are losing the right to ever see your beloved child again. Even open adoptions may close at any time (they are not legally enforceable), and not only will you not have the right to see your child, but not even the right to know about his or her welfare. That is a right only the adoptive parents have, and even if your child is an adult — as next-of-kin — they have the right to deny all information or contact to others in case of a medical emergency. Adoption loss is a tragedy in so many ways. Please consider if you can live with this loss as well.
In Memory of Blaise
Loved and missed by your natural mother, Rowena,
even since you were born
This is a true story about a natural mother and her son, and how forced adoption separation led to a heartbreaking tragedy. Every time a mother and child are forced apart for adoption purposes, it is a tragedy; but for Rowena, the hope of seeing her son again was forever lost.
See Rowena’s article “Reunion Attempt“
I decided to participate in the “Adoption Carnival III: Photos of Adoption,” presented by the blogging network “Grown In My Heart,” which encourages bloggers to share blog posts related to adoption.
I thought about what photographs to share, and decided that posting photos of people may be a bit more personal than I would like to be. So, I took a photo of a print-out of an “e-card” mounted on the wall of my office. Along with the adoption certificate from when I adopted-back my son, and his original birth registration, this is the most precious adoption-related document I have.
My precious son turned 19 in 1999. Thanks to Open Records and Freedom of Information legislation in BC (which enabled me to obtain his adoptive name plus the adoption case file, and all birth and court records), I found him in November of 1999, and we reunited in-person in February 2000, one day before his 20th birthday. That Mothers’ Day, May 2000, he sent me an unexpected e-card that blew me away. “Here Mom! A Bunch of Love Happy Mothers’ Day” it read:
I was blown away by this card. After twenty years separation, in a closed adoption, I had assumed that perhaps we would be friends, if I was lucky. I knew the bond and love I felt for him, loving him as deeply as I loved my other three children, but I had no idea that he would feel similarly. But he did. Unfortunately, he had to hide his feelings from his then-adoptive parents, and they reacted very negatively (understatement) when he let slip about a year later that he considered me to be his mother, when recounting a story to them about introducing me to one of his friends. They laid down the law that they were his only parents and that he may not consider me to be a mother. In their eyes, i was not a mother to him, only a “birthmother.”
But, this e-card is very precious to me. It shows that the natural mother-child bond can endure through decades of separation, that my son felt this bond very early in our reunion, and that it will last no matter what. It shows that even then in his eyes I was not his “birthmother,” but that he loved me as, and considered me to be, one of his mothers.
An new initiative by the Chinese government to try to find the homes of stolen and trafficked children was in the news this week (see “Chinese crackdown nets thousands of ‘stolen’ children“). The news is about the creation of a website, named “Baby Look For Home.” You can find it at http://www.mps.gov.cn/n16/n983040/n1928424/index.html.
As the newpaper article states:
“Many, if not most cases are not formally listed because local police are unwilling or unable to investigate crimes that usually involve crossing provincial borders. As well, many of the parents think police might be complicit in the kidnappings. It is a lucrative business that can net about $4,000 for each boy sold and about $1,000 per girl… The abducted children are mostly boys and are sold to families who want a son. The girls are often sold into marriage or to agencies that arrange foreign adoptions.”
The sale of children within China has made the news as far back as 2001 (see “China’s Baby Traffickers“) and kidnapping since 2006 (see “Stealing Babies for Adoption“) Despite this sordid history,China is lauded as having an “ethical” international adoption system that prospective adopters can have confidence in:
“For a family looking to adopt from the most ethical country, China is the best choice. They are highly regulated and have increasingly good orphanage conditions” (Thome, 2007)
But, given China’s history of not enforcing laws against the sale of children within China, how is any Westerner able to guarantee that the child they are adopting from China is not stolen? From the above quote, it appears that little girls in China, those same girls that are supposedly abandoned, are selling for up to $1000: not exactly a price that would be charged if there were a surplus of “product” on the market.
But agencies and orphanages stand to make a lot of money on each transaction, so unfortunately they have a financial incentive to hide this information from “clients.” (Perhap more “ethical” adoptions ( an oxymoron?) will only occur once no-one’s paycheque depends upon the transaction being made, where there is no financial incentive to kidnap, abduct, or coerce.)
“Mr. Peng … said some of the girls were sold to orphanages. They … often end up in the United States or Europe after adoptive parents pay fees to orphanages that average $5,000.” (New York Times, April 4, 2009).
Anyway, I wonder if this new website may be able to serve those who have adopted a child from China and wonder if that child has been abducted? Many people adopted children from China, trusting in the assurances of baby brokers whom they now realize may have been lying or omitting the truth, and some of them now want to search, to find their child’s natural parents and discover if that child really was abandoned, or whether the child was kidnapped or the parents were coerced to surrender. Maybe a photo-listing of that child on “Baby Look for Home” may be at least provide a small chance of finding the child’s natural parents and the truth? I wonder if the Chinese government would cooperate?
Recently, the world recoiled in shock when a young woman named Jaycee Dugard, age 29, was rescued from a filthy back yard where she was held captive for 18 years, imprisoned by a convicted sex offender, and forced to bear two of his children.
When the story broke, all I could think (and feel) besides relief that Jaycee had been found, was: I know exactly how her mother feels. That crushing feeling of hopelessness, a soul-destroying grief that has no end and no resolution, a feeling of being entirely helpless when you cannot find your child — even to find out if they are alive or dead — and no-one can help you. Physically and emotionally, reading her story, I felt an a echo of the long years of living these emotions.
The world sympathized with her parents — even more when it was revealed that Jaycee had bonded with her abductors and had even worked for them. She was introduced by her abductor as “his daughter,” and he even stated that she was part of his family and that her story of abduction was even “heartwarming.”
“The abduction also destroyed Terry’s life. Carl said that every year after Jaycee was taken, she would stay away from work on the anniversary of the kidnapping and spend the day at home, in tears.”
Jaycee was kidnapped at age 11, before she could give any consent to leaving her family (much like an infant taken for adoption), and before she could speak out to anyone against it (ditto). No minor can make this type of decision.
Eighteen years … not much shorter than the 20 years I remained in limbo, not knowing where my son was, if he was alive or dead.
Not that I didn’t try finding him, as as Jaycee’s parents must have. I scoured major B.C. newspapers, searching for “birth” announcements that may have been placed by people adopting. I found an adoption reunion registry, which I applied to in hopes that the people who had adopted him would have a heart and conscience and also apply while he was still a minor — I could not imagine anyone would intentionally or even inadvertently be so heartless as to put me through that torture willingly. I placed “happy birthday” greetings in newspapers, hoping he or his adoptive family would see them and contact me. When he was about 9, I spent several hundred dollars on a retainer for a private investigator … who found nothing. I studied the faces of every male child I saw who would be of his age, throughout the years. He was never absent from my mind — not a day went past without him being in my thoughts. How could it be otherwise?
I am certain that Jaycee’s parents felt exactly the same way. Except they had police to help them … not that it helped much.
So, tell me … why is our loss considered any less — any less tragic, any less traumatic, any less involuntary — than the loss experienced by Jaycee’s parents? Why are we expected to shut up about it? Why are we written off as nothing more than an incubators? Why do people willingly and happily adopt the babies of women who have had just as much choice as Jaycee’s mother, Terry? I am certain that these same people would feel for Terry, and meanwhile tell me that I have no right to talk
Why is the pain considered to be any less?
“[Mr Garrido] told us up-front he works with his daughter.”
Jaycee Dugard was abducted, and then treated as both a sex slave and an adopted daughter by her abductors. Let’s call it what it is: A do-it-yourself adoption. And when there is no choice on the part of the mother, how is either situation anything less than abduction?
“(281) Abduction of Person Under Fourteen – Every one who, not being the parent … unlawfully takes, entices away, conceals, detains, receives or harbours that person with intent to deprive a parent … of the possession of that person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.” – Criminal Code of Canada
ETA: A person who had adopted made the comment on another blog, “Regardless, signing ‘sealed the deal’.” Well, in B.C., I have heard many stories first-hand of what was done to single mothers who refused to sign while “customers” waited. Their babies were put into foster homes, and government social workers then went to court to terminate the mother’s rights on grounds that her baby’s best interest was to be with a married, stable, 2-parent family. Also, 3 months of your baby in a foster home you cannot find, and your rights could be automatically terminated on grounds of “abandonment.” Signatures were moot, especially when given while one is medicated to the gills. If one level of coercion did not work, a stronger level was applied until it did.
Taking babies right at birth while the mother was medicated and tied down was abduction. This happened across Canada.
This is the first time i have “come out” about this on-line. Last summer, one year ago in 2007, i adopted-back the son who was stolen at birth for adoption from me when I was 17.
I say ‘stolen’ because the coercion that was used on me left me with no choice at all but to surrender him — it is not a “choice” or a “decision” if there is only one viable option given or allowed. To say i “placed” him denies the reality that keeping him was NOT an option I was given and thus there was NO choice. I loved him, I wanted to keep him, and i never wanted to lose him. I was NOT unfit! But unwed mothers where i lived, in 1980, had babies removed at birth by hospital staff if they were unwed minors with no family support for keeping their babies (I have plenty of testimony from other mothers that it was done to them as well). It was truly a form of rape — just as traumatic.
Looking back, I felt so powerless at the time, so much without choice, that I had no way of fighting what they were doing to me. Plus I was entirely naive. I had no idea that nurses taking and withholding my baby from me was not what was done to all mothers. It was only when I “woke up” from the medicine-induced fog I was in, several days later, that I realized they had not brought my baby to me, and that this was not right. I was allowed to see him (but not touch) for about 5 minutes, under the gaze of hawk-like nurses (but I found out much later that they then moved him to another hospital to prevent me from finding him — he told me he had been picked up from the Jubilee, when I had given birth in St. Joseph’s). And I now now first-hand that only when a mother has given birth, has fully recovered from birth without her baby being taken from her or coercion being applied, can she make any decision about adoption.
My 62-yr-old Fundamentalist parents made it clear that they considered it rightful punishment for the sin of fornication, and the social worker had a waiting list of clients she was under pressure to provide babies for — i was forced to sign papers in her office under blackmail that unless i did, my baby would be indefinitely held in foster care. I was not told about welfare or any other resources and my abusive parents (they would use the belt on me if i so much as “talked back” to them) made it clear that i was not allowed to bring my baby home.
After 19 years of searching, i found my son again, and we hugged for the first time one day before his 20th birthday. It was the first time I was allowed to touch him.
His adoptive parents first told him that they supported our reunion — but he found out as time went on that their view was that “reunion” meant a one-time or limited-time event, that his curiosity would be satisfied and he would say “thanks and bye” to me. Their attempts to control him, to force him to end contact with me, escalated into abuse — culminating in 4 hours of confinement and torture (his words) one night when he was 21 yrs old. He eventually left their house one New Years Day on the advice of the Victim Services units of two police departments. He was so traumatized by this that he could not speak at all until one year later.
We began talking about me adopting him back. After several years of discussion, and after the complete breakdown and ending of the relationship between him and the people who raised him, we decided to go ahead with it.
So we did it. And we have not looked back. It is a dream come true for both of us.
Reunion can go places beyond what one first expects. It can restore a family which has been involutarily torn apart.
But separated families reuniting again shows that the bond between mother and child can endure past the worst of separations. And it also proves that anyone who is promised by an agency or other adoption business that adopting an infant will provide them with a “life-time guarantee” of “a child of their own” should sue their broker for making false promises. No-one can make promises on behalf of another human being, especially an infant who cannot speak for themselves.
But the best thing of all is that we are back together again, and both of us have reclaimed what was taken from us
I read a post today on proving one’s love to the child one lost to adoption. Suz describes how some natural moms have approaches to reunion — to try to show their love to their found child — that don’t work at all and in many cases can actually do damage to any post-reunion relationship. Some of these approaches that Suz describes include smothering our children with love or presents, acting like a doormat, and having a double-standard such that we will put up with being treated badly in ways we would never dream of treating another person. I would also lob in there: “letting the adoptee make ALL the decisions.”
I have a theory, based on what I have heard many natural mothers state in support groups, and what I read in their blogs: Many of these unhealthy approaches to reunion are based on guilt.
If a mother is to want a healthy reunion, then perhaps part of the preparation is to work on any guilt, shame, or self-blame she may be feeling regarding the surrender/loss of her baby. As long as she has no idea about the dynamics of coercion, she may always carry a ball-and-chain of guilt and self-blame that will damage her chance of a healthy post-reunion relationship.
That is a whole huge issue: Why do mothers blame themselves? Why do they take this burden onto their shoulders instead of placing it firmly at the feet of the baby brokers? And if you surrendered a baby for adoption post-1955, and still blame yourself, you may wish to look into what systemic methods were used on you to “persuade” you to surrender your baby.
Many mothers are reconsidering the idea that they “had a choice.” Especially in light of information found by mothers who have turned the tables, putting the adoption industry under a microscope in the same way that they studied us to find out how to get us to surrender our babies. Perhaps in the majority of cases, surrender was not by choice. Read the stories of other mothers who may have experienced the same thing.
Read up on some things that adoption industry “professionals” did and said to us to get us to surrender our babies, and remember that a coerced decision is not a decision at all. After women began keeping their babies post-BSE and agencies were faced with going out of business, they even engaged in research to ensure that open adoption would get more mothers to surrender their babies. Other research was aimed at getting teen mothers to surrender.
Ask yourself: Did you love your baby and want to keep him/her? If so, then somehow, something was done to you to ensure that this was not going to happen. And it was NOT your fault. Check out how social workers even in the 1950s thought they could “play God” with us. And, did you know that it was because white babies were “marketable” that they only pressured white mothers to surrender, not African-American mothers? If not, check out Solinger’s book “Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race Before Roe v. Wade.“
“By the early 1940′s, social workers became convinced that adoption was preferable to”keeping mother and child together” . . . Rejecting the idea that all women who had borne children were suitable mothers, social workers maintained that they must individualize each case . . . and decide which women should or should not put their infants up for adoption.” And Sin No More: Social Policy and Unwed Mothers in Cleaveland 1855 to 1990, by Marian J. Morton, Historian, 1993 (quote from the BSERI website)
“An agency has a responsibility of pointing out to the unmarried mother the extreme difficulty, if not the impossibility, if she remains unmarried, of raising her child successfully in our culture without damage to the child and to herself …. The concept that the unmarried mother and her child constitute a family is to me unsupportable. There is no family in any real sense of the word.” – Principles, Values, and Assumptions Underlying Adoption Practice, by Joseph H. Reid, 1956 Nation Convention for Social Work (quote from the BSERI website)
We need not feel guilt.
We need not take the blame.
We loved our children and wanted to keep them.
We had no choice.
The blame is with the baby brokers, not with us.
Once we shed this guilt and stop blaming ourselves for being pressured to surrender our babies (and if you don’t believe that a pregnant/birthing woman is seriously affected by hormones in such a way that she’s left vulnerable to coercion, then you have never given birth) then we can work on a reunion that won’t consist of years of hopelessly trying to “prove” our love for our children.
And as long as we continue to feel guilt and take the blame for having “given away” our babies, we cannot expect those rejected children to believe that we love them. People do NOT give away those they love (See “Andy and Marcie” for an allegory about this). The fact is that 99% of us did not “give away” our children — but our children will not believe this as long as we feel guilt or act as though we did (example: did you apologize to your child for not keeping them?)
Shed the self-blame and the guilt, for your own sake, not only in reunion but to be free to live to the fullest in other parts of your life as well. Do not blame yourself or feel you have to “make up for” something you had no control over at the time, no way to prevent. You do not need to bear that burden. You do not deserve to carry that pain.