[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.
I have always said that the theft of my baby was an illegal adoption. No adoption could be legal when it begins with an abduction, a baby being taken from a tied-down mother against her will, withheld from her forever more from that point, the choice to keep her baby robbed from her, the “decision” of adoption made by others but not herself.
So, in Western Australia, exiled mothers are going to receive an apology from the government for exactly the same practices that myself and tens of thousands of young and unwed Canadian mothers endured!
I will include the full article here, because I do not want readers to have to surf over to second site to see what I am talking about.
Of course, an apology does not make up for the fact that criminal acts and human rights violations were committed. For that, IMHO, the perpetrators should be brought to justice. There should be recompense for the victims, and the people who illegally obtained children for adoption purposes (the sole reason WHY these crimes were committed, to supply the market for healthy white infants wanted by infertile people who were deemed to deserve our children more than WE were!) should be treated in the exact same way as anyone in possession of stolen property. But an apology if it is actually an admission of guilt, is a good first step.
Unmarried mums get State apology
DANIEL EMERSON, The West Australian September 1, 2010, 6:32 am
The State’s apology to unmarried mothers illegally separated from their babies under harsh adoption practices is set to happen within weeks.
WA is to become the first State or Federal government worldwide to admit hospital and welfare authorities were wrong to immediately separate mothers from their babies after giving birth out of wedlock. Mothers from around Australia keen to hear the apology have been told it will be delivered in Parliament on October 19.
Experts say tens of thousands of WA babies were adopted illegally when their unmarried mothers were prevented from seeing, touching, naming or bonding with their children immediately after birth between the 1940s and the early 1980s.
Health Minister Kim Hames said the exact format of the apology was still being finalised but it would be “to unmarried mothers of adopted children who were adversely affected by past adoption practices”.
Christine Cole, of the NSW-based Apology Alliance, said it was also important for the Government to say sorry to the children taken. “They were denied their family of origin and the culture of that family,” she said.
This post was inspired by Mei-Ling’s recent post on her blog, where she spoke of a person who adopted who hoped that Mei-Ling would “find closure.” One more adoptee gets patronizingly fed this line, once more.
How many times have we heard that, over and over again?
This continual reiteration to adoptees and natural parents about closure, when i hear it, admittedly pisses me off. it invariably is from someone who has never experienced adoption separation/trauma/loss. someone whose only connection with adoption has been GAIN.
“Closure” is a word thrown around a lot in “adopto-land,” and I sometimes wonder if it is such for one reason: Because if adoptees or natural moms get “closure” then maybe the two parties in the adoption transaction that “gain” from adoption do not have to feel guilty as they would feel if the “losers” in adoption are “still hurting”? No-one with any conscience wants their joy to come at the lifelong expense/pain/torture of another person. So, there is the hope out there that we will get “closure” somehow.
The problem that this ignores is that “closure” is closely tied to such factors as whether a loss is finite or ongoing, simple or complex, ambiguous or complete, sudden or expected, traumatic or voluntary, etc.. I held my father’s hand in the hospital as he died peacefully in his old age — that was a nontraumatic, unambiguous and completed loss with closure, finality, resolution, completeness. But adoption loss is ONGOING and overwhelming. If a loss is continually compounding, how can there be closure? It hasn’t ended yet! Every compounded loss of a day in life lived “elsewhere,” every birthday apart, every moment separated, all the years and minutes apart … and the ties that are not ties, family that is not family, ambiguity of family boundaries in our society that only recognizes “what is on paper” as being valid … and always the hope/chance/dream of eventual “having my child/parent back again” because after all they are still breathing … no closure means unresolved grief, ongoing pain, ongoing loss.
But, if you’re not there in the middle of it, if you’ve never experienced it, then can you truly understand it? That glib line about closure, I just wish they would stop trying to foist it onto us, and then imply that we’ve somehow got some psychopathology if we don’t achieve it.
This is a little list i first began drafting a few years ago which has been sitting on my hard drive ever since. These are the promises, guarantees, and blanket statements that the adoption industry (comprised of baby brokers such as adoption agencies, lawyers, and facilitators) routinely promote as being the gospel truth. And they work — the industry now makes over $3 billion a year in profit. Don’t let it fool you.
Lies the Industry tells to Prospective Adopters:
- All families, both adoptive and natural, are the exact same.
- The bond between parents and children in all families are the same. The amended birth certificate will say that you gave birth, so act as though you did. You are now the only mother.
- The child needs only you and not the love of their natural parents.
- Environment is everything – the child is a blank slate (“tabula rasa”) – all the chid’s skills and aspirations will be yours.
- Rest assured that the natural family can never search because the records are sealed tight.
- The natural mom is just an incubator, a “b—-mother” and thus her only purpose is to gestate that child and then hand it over.
- This child is unwanted, the mother will never return.
- If loved enough, this child will never want to search.
- Adoptees will never feel hurt by being taken from their natural parents; love from adoptive parents will solve everything.
- “The Primal Wound” is a myth.
- This is a lifetime guarantee.
Lies the Industry tells to Expectant Mothers:
- Your child will be grateful to be adopted and won’t be angry at you for it. Your child will not be damaged by adoption
- Adoption shows you loved your child enough to give him/her two parents.
- You are not giving him away, you are giving him “more.”
- Children need two married parents.
- You will get over it and forget your child.
- You may feel “a type of grief’ but it will go away.
- Young and Unwed = unfit.
- The grief is resolvable. Only flawed women or those who “cling to the past” can’t resolve the grief.
- It won’t hurt, or won’t hurt for long. The satisfaction of providing a wonderful future for your child will make any “regret” go away.
- Keeping your child will involve more pain, struggle, and sacrifice than surrendering him/her.
Lies that the industry tells to adoptees:
- Your mother chose adoption.
- Your mother “gave you away.”
- Your mother does not love you.
- You only need your adoptive parents.
- You should be loyal and grateful to your adoptive parents for raising you as your natural mother dumped you and who know where you’d be if your adoptive parents weren’t heroes for rescuing you.
- Searching is disloyal and will hurt your adoptive parents
Lies that the industry tells to society:
- Infant adoption is natural (false. it’s a relative recent (last 150 years) social experiment)
- Adoptive families are exactly like natural families, with no problems at all specific to adoption.
- Raising an adopted child is like raising a child of your own.
- Infant adoption has been common since Babylonian types (false. adult adoption was common but NOT infant adoption – infants were fostered but seldom legally adopted)
- Adoption is about finding homes for unwanted babies.
What is is all about? Filling post-WWII consumer demand for infants.
“Because there are many more married couples wanting to adopt newborn white babies than there are babies, it may almost be said that they rather than out of wedlock babies are a social problem. (Sometimes social workers in adoption agencies have facetiously suggested setting up social provisions for more ‘babybreeding’.)” SOCIAL WORK AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS, National Association of Social Workers, (Out-of-print) copyright 1964 (quote provided courtesy of BSERI).
The broker (agency, lawyer, social worker, doctor, or whomever else took the baby for adoption) made promises to the adoptive parents that permeate the entire adoptive relationship and even impact upon reunion. And the promises are lies, nothing but a sales pitch. Brokers knew there was a consumer demand out there from people who wanted newborn babies to adopt. Brokers knew they could make money by meeting this demand — now $25,000 or more per infant. So the brokers give promises that these infants neither knew about nor could keep. And adoptees are expected to live up to these promises, which they had no part in making in the first place! It is all done for money’s sake. It is time to take the profit motive out of adoption.
A Mothers’ Bill of Rights
Expecting? Considering adoption? The adoption agency may not have told you all your rights!
If you are considering surrendering your baby for adoption, remember that you are still the only mother that baby has until you have signed the surrender papers and until any revocation periods have passed (this varies from within 30 days of birth in British Columbia, to no revocation period at all in some states such as Florida and Illinois). Some adoption agencies publish “Birthmother Bills of Rights,” which invariably neglect to inform the “birthmother” that she has rights that every other mother takes for granted – including the right to change her mind.
This list below is provided so that expectant mothers considering adoption can take this to adoption agencies and potential adopters and ask right-off-the-bat if they’ll honour these rights. And if they refuse to, then mothers go to a different agency or different potential adopters that will. According to an article (“Love for Sale”) in Adoptive Families Magazine, there may be up to forty couples vying for every baby available, so there is no lack of choice if one couple says “no” to you. And in fact, the best parent for your baby may well be you!
As a mother, maybe being called a “birthmother,” these are your rights.
~ Your Rights as an Expectant and New Mother ~
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO:
- … see your baby after he/she is born.
- … choose to hold, nurse, and care for your baby in the hospital.
- … decide if the potential adopters can be in the labour or delivery room, and the right to change your mind and ask them to leave at any time.
- … have independent legal counsel (i.e not also representing the potential adopters, known as “dual-representation”) to explain the surrender papers and to be present when you sign them.
- … choose to care for your baby without feeling pressured to decide about adoption within ANY certain time period.
- … choose to take your baby home from the hospital if that is what you want to do.
- … say “No” to adoption at any point before or after the birth without fear of hurting or disappointing the potential adopters.
- … adequate financial support from the state which would enable you to keep and raise your baby.
- … expect child support from the father of your baby, and take him to court for enforcement if this is not provided.
- … be free of any monetary obligation, such as repaying living or medical expenses, should you choose to keep your baby (potential adopters can buy insurance to cover all costs if a mother changes her mind, it is a risk they knowingly take).
- … choose to decide on adoption after recovering from birth and any post-partum depression.
- … be treated as the mother and a parent of your baby until and unless papers are signed, and to be thus treated with the respect granted any other mother.
- … be a mother. No matter if you’re unmarried, young, or financially strained, you still have the right to be a mother.
These rights come from the application of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (at http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html), which since 1948 has guaranteed these protections to ALL citizens of the U.S., Canada and all other nations that signed it. Articles 12, 16 and 25 of the Declaration specifically guarantee protection and social support to mothers and families:
- Article 12. – No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, FAMILY, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
- Article 16(3) – The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
- Article 25(1) – Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
Copyright © B. Lake 2004. This article may be reprinted on other not-for-profit websites as long as it is reprinted in its entirety with copyright statement included.
Reprinted with Permission of the Author
“What is coercion?” This question was asked recently in an adoption-related forum, by someone unfamiliar with the idea that mothers may not want to surrender their babies for adoption. Someone who has meekly accepted adoption industry brainwashing and never questioned the notion that mothers’ don’t willingly abandon their children hither, thither, and yon.
Ever since the Post World-War II demand for newborn infants arose, and the social work profession decided to meet that demand by taking the babies of vulnerable mothers, coercion has formed a large part of adoption practice. You can read all about it in many pages on the internet. Origins Canada has a collection of articles about coercion, including the coercion checklist I created from the true experiences of mothers I had got to know in support groups. You can also read about Baby Scoop Era practices in the U.S. and what excuses baby brokers used for their abuse of mothers and abduction of infants. You can pick up a copy of Ann Fessler’s book The Girls Who Went Away and read first-hand accounts from the mothers incarcerated in maternity prisons, which were little more than baby farms, who knew they would never be allowed to leave with their babies. Or you can read mothers’ stories on the Exiled Mothers and Origins Canada sites. You can look at the many years of research, the millions of dollars in federal tax money, put towards inventing new methods to separate mothers from their beloved newborn infants: techniques such as open adoption, taking mothers away from their support system and putting them into maternity homes because it will more than double the rate of surrender (Namerow, Kalmuss, & Cushman, 1993), and research in which blindfolded regressed “volunteers” were forced to relive the trauma of their surrender in order to find out what coercion worked best. One of these volunteers committed suicide after her experience.
But what is a good one or two sentence definition that sums of what constitutes coercion in adoption practice? I thought it may be useful to invite feedback on one such possible definition:
“Coercion” includes any practice specifically designed and intended to either ensure — or significantly increase the odds – that a mother will surrender her baby for adoption.
“Coercion” describes any practice designed to remove a mother’s freedom of choice by the use of influence, persuasion, fraud, or duress. A coerced “choice’ is not a “choice” at all.
Update: This article, from March 2010, ends with a proposed possible definition of coercion. This short description was taken and expanded upon in a later article: “The Definition of Adoption Coercion.“
- Adoption “Choice” – A Response to a Mother
- Adoption Coercion in Black and White
- Adoption: “Studies on How to Take Babies”
- An “Apology” for Abduction
- The Basic Facts of Pre-Birth Adoption Matching
- They admit it was illegal!
- This is what it’s like.
- “What Constitutes Coercion?“ (By “Write-A-Holic”)
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 recently responded on another blog to a mother (I consider her to be a mother, but she calls herself a “birthmother“ i.e. a non-mother) who expressed that the loss of her two children to adoption had brought guilt, grief and self hatred to her — and yet she was convinced it was her choice and she was not “bitter*” about adoption.
As she spoke about pain, guilt, grief, self hatred and tears — my heart went out to her, as those are the same words of many mothers who were forced to surrender against their will, yet who considered it to be a “choice” that they willingly and happily made.
My sincere belief is that the concept of “choice” is one that a mother internalizes from being given repeated social messages about adoption, social attitudes, and the refusal of Western culture to even consider the possibility of coerced surrender. Why? Because the dominant discourse about adoption is controlled by the adoption industry and it’s customers. And, the repeated message in this discourse as unquestioningly accepted by society is that women choose to give away unwanted babies, right? Half-right. Adoption WAS created to find new homes for orphans and unwanted children. However, exceedingly rarely were our children even unwanted, As we held them in our arms, or saw them after their birth, and fell in love with them — how many of us actually emphatically phoned up the adoption agency weeks after birth to demand “Take away this bastard — I feel nothing for her! I have no interest in keeping her!” You see, that is the situation that adoption is actually intended for.
The mother-child bond and relationship is so important that there are recognized rights that all mothers inherently possess, for the sole reason that we are human beings. One of these is the right to all the support you need in order to raise your child without fear of an “unstable life’ (i.e. missing support system). Check out Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Coercion takes many forms: It can take the form of agencies, family members, clergy, hospital staff, etc. pressuring the mother to surrender her baby or telling her that adoption is a fantastic option (making her feel she would be selfish for wanting to keep her baby). It can take the form of carefully-researched methods being applied to mothers to increase the chance they will surrender. It can also be systemic financial coercion when governments withhold vital financial support from mothers which leave them in fear of dire poverty with no guaranteed income, housing, etc. The latter is, yes, intentional, and according to adoption researcher Reuben Pannor is the leading cause of surrender. It is also preventable. Why does Australia have a mere handful of surrenders each year while the U.S. has tens of thousands? Because Australia protects mothers against ALL these types of coercion.
There is a checklist of common coercion methods here, but human rights violations including poverty also count as coercion. So does open adoption practices where mothers meet or “bond with” adopters prior to birth or prior to signing surrender documents. That has a huge risk of emotional coercion. And again, a coerced surrender is not a “choice’ at all. The choice of adoption not only must involve (1) informed consent (obtainable only once the mother has taken home her baby and found out first-hand what she will be sacrificing and with having been given full disclosure regarding the psychological risks (unresolved grief and loss, depression, PTSD, secondary infertility, future relatioship and parenting difficulties) but (2) as it is such an important decision also must be freedom of any form of coercion as this nullified freedom of choice.
Ignoring the fact that abortion and adoption are NOT related events in the slightest, the fact that this mother states regarding surrender that she “did not want to do it” and yet considers it to be a “choice,” is a huge contradiction. Only in adoption is the phrase “forced to choose” considered logical.
Let’s follow the logic: You wanted to keep your baby, you did not want to surrender: So what made you do it? Something made you surrender against you will. That “something” is called coercion. A coerced “choice” is not a choice at all, the coercion by the fact of existing has eliminated all freedom of choice. So, in essence, you did not “choose” to surrender your babies.
That’s why i’m saying that mothers who love their babies don’t “choose” to surrender them. Adoption was created in 1851 as a disposal mechanism for unloved and unwanted children, not for children were were loved and wanted. It’s the rise of the adoption industry, convincing mothers to surrender babies, that has made it into such.
You had the right to keep your baby. Your babies had the right to the support they needed in order to keep YOU.
Post-script: I have also realized that although the grief from the loss of my son has been crippling, I have never felt guilt, regret, anger at myself, or self-hatred from it. I think that this freedom has come with knowing that it was not my ‘decision’ as I had never been given a choice. A coerced ‘choice’ is not a choice at all. No decision can be made when there is only one viable option given. I wish that every women who has unwillingly surrendered a child they loved to adoption could also be free from these emotions.
* I am not “bitter.” Never have been. “Bitter” is a derogatory term used by society to describe someone they considered to be unjustifiably angry at themselves or because they did or did not do something. On so many levels this is just totally unapplicable to how many natural mothers feel: justifiably angry at the adoption industry for taking their babies via coercive adoption practices and working to end unnecessary adoptions and coercive adoption practices. If it were not for righteous anger at injustice, civil rights, human rights, campaigns against genocide, and the vote for women would not exist.
Shortlink to this post: http://wp.me/p9tLn-f0
This question was asked on “Yahoo Answers” a number of months ago:
“Do a lot of people believe that women give their children up for adoption and then in the future “change” their version of the facts/or their way of thinking, to reflect that their child was stolen or they were viciously coerced rather than truly relinquished due to whatever circumstances there may have been?”
Various people on Yahoo Answers had been posting comments calling into question the integrity of natural mothers (“birthmothers”) who had recounted their stories of having lost children to adoption against their will, of feeling they had no choice but to surrender. This person asked whether mothers had actually changed their stories.
I found this question to be interesting for several reasons, as it showed how “general society” might still be ignorant of what happens when a mother loses a child to adoption, the trauma that occurs, or that she may be in a far different position later in life as far as knowledge of the processes of the adoption industry. (Also interesting was that this question was asked in the first place: Perhaps the questioner was trying to wrap his/her mind around the very concept that coerced surrender could exist?).
Firstly, this question assumes that women don’t block out the memories of what happened to them — a common symptom of PTSD: you dissociate as the trauma is too difficult to face. I know women who can’t even remember their child’s birth date or signing papers, until much later, at which point the memories come flooding back, often in the form of flashbacks and nightmares. It is often with reunion or beginning their search that moms begin to remember details of what happened.
PTSD Criterion C: Avoidance/Numbing
3. Inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma
Secondly, a young or otherwise vulnerable mother may be forced to surrender by various means, and it is only when she is much older — when she has far more information on what her rights were at the time — that she realizes that those rights were violated. Rights that the adoption industry never informed her that she had rights.
“The first thing the unmarried mother is likely to lose is her right to make important decisions. The agency or community tells her what she must do if she is to receive the services she needs . . . In most instances the plan for the baby is pre-determined. Often these matters are decided without her being able to state her own preferences.” Helping Unmarried Mothers, by Rose Bernstein, copyright 1971*
Or the natural mother realizes only much later that she was coerced, not realizing it at the time, when she finds out that carefully-researched methods were used on her that would increase the likelihood she would sign those papers. An expectant mother, labouring mother, or new mother may not realize at the time that various practices were being done to her in order to ensure she would surrender her baby. Thousands if not millions of dollars in federal money in the U.S. and Canada has gone into studies researching how to get more mothers to surrender. These adoption studies do not hide their purpose. Even open adoption was designed for this purpose, to get more babies to market.
Why was this done? In part, because of the post-WWII consumer demand for healthy white infants:
“… the tendency growing out of the demand for babies is to regard unmarried mothers as breeding machines…(by people intent) upon securing babies for quick adoptions.” – Leontine Young, “Is Money Our Trouble?” (paper presented at the National Conference of Social Workers, Cleveland, 1953*)
“For every healthy newborn available, there are now almost forty potential parents searching.” – (“Love for Sale” by Nelson Handel, Adoptive Families Magazine, 2000).
Adoption is now North America’s largest multi-billion dollar unregulated industry. Agencies, lawyers, and facilitators exist as “baby brokers,” practicing adoption as a commercial transaction where people pay tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for an unrelated baby (In many other nations, this is known as human trafficking).
When I found the book “Death by Adoption” back in 1982, I discovered other socio-political reasons for what had been done to me, and why adoption was an issue of discrimination against women:
“Adoption is a violent act, a political act of aggression towards a woman who has supposedly offended the sexual mores by committing the unforgivable act of not suppressing her sexuality, and therefore not keeping it for trading purposes through traditional marriage. The crime is a grave one, for she threatens the very fabric of our society. The penalty is severe. She is stripped of her child by a variety of subtle and not so subtle manoeuvres and then brutally abandoned.” – Joss Shawyer, Death by Adoption, Cicada Press (1979)
For example: My baby was taken right at birth for adoption, by hospital staff. I had never told them that I wanted to surrender my baby. I wanted to keep my baby (but no-one ever asked me about this or gave me this as an option). They put me in a room far from the maternity ward to keep us separated, and kept me drugged for days. I was finally allowed to see him for about 5 minutes, but bulldog nurses kept a hawk-like watch on me to ensure I could not even pick him up. I was not welcome in that nursery. I found out later from my son that they even transfered him over to another hospital to keep him from me! Then I learned two decades later, by reading articles in nursing journals and the government inquiry testimony of hospital administrators — and through hearing the stories of dozens of other natural mothers across Canada — that taking babies at birth was routine, and done specifically to prevent a mother from keeping her baby, to prevent all contact in the intent that she would be prevented from “bonding with” her baby, to prevent her from “changing her mind (i.e. preventing her from making ANY real decision about adoption, as that can be made only post-recovery.) At age 17, I had no idea that this was why my baby was taken. I also did not know that it violated my parental rights, discriminated on the basis of marital status (in treating me different from married mothers), and constituted abduction under the Criminal Code of Canada:
“(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.”
A mother may also “come out of the fog” when she discovers that other mothers “not on the adoption treadmill’ were treated differently. An example is when an agency/lawyer or parents tell(s) you: “You are 17. There is no way you can to go college and get a job with a baby — you’ll be in poverty on welfare for the rest of your life. Besides, children raised by single mothers turn into criminals and if you don’t sign he’ll sit in foster care until you finally do!” You are not told about welfare and your parents are firm that you are NOT allowed to bring your baby home (after all, they already shut you away in (or you were shamed into “turning yourself in” to) a maternity facility, wage home, etc. so that relatives and neighbours would never find out).
A mother won’t realize at the time that this is coercion as she whole-heartedly believes the lies that the adoption worker told her — and no-one tells her differently. Then years later you meet someone your age who DID keep her baby, went to college (where there was an on-campus daycare), and works at a better or equal job, and her baby didn’t starve — you realize that at age 17 you were lied to and surrendered your baby because you believed this lie. Nevermind finding out that the paycheque of the person or agency who told you this depending on them “making enough sales”! This equates to legal conflict of interest.
For me, another wake-up call came when I met my friend Pashta back in 1990. She was a few years older than me, but also had her first baby when she was 17, also in Canada. I asked her how it could be that the hospital allowed her to keep her baby and did not take her baby at birth. Her answer: The difference was that she was married!
Does this mean I “changed my story”? No, not at all. But it means I did not realize at age 16 and 17 how coercion worked. All I knew at the time I lost my baby was that I wanted to keep my baby and that I had no choice but to sign those papers in a state of numbness and shock. At age 17 I thought it was “normal” and legal and that somehow I did not deserve or have a right to my baby. Only years later did I find out how it was done such that I had no chance or choice, why it was done, and that it had been done to thousands of other women across Canada.