06 March 2018

"Failed adoptions" and "Change of mind" mythology in adoption

“Write hard and clear about what hurts” – Ernest Hemmingway

“She changed her mind” is something we read and hear about often in the world of “failed adoptions”.   This phrase has never sat well with me – primarily due to personal reason and I am willing to believe my experience and feelings around this terminology are not isolated.

I am a mother who supposedly “changed her mind” about adoption.  And yet, even the judge who would eventually help my daughter’s baby thieves successfully steal her from me, could not ascertain the moment in which I had this “change of mind”. 

If anyone through the course of my pregnancy and post birth stage was actually listening to me, they would have heard me, very clearly, utter my strong desire to keep and raise my daughter and that adoption was NOT my choice and never would be.  If my voice was ever heard, that is what everyone around me would have known, including those who stole her.  It was not like I never said it, it was just that I had no voice, therefore no choice and so, acted accordingly.

From the moment I discovered I was carrying my daughter, I was keeping her.  Why would I not?  Adoption certainly was not my decision, and yet, 20 years ago to the day, I signed “consent” forms.  How in the name of all that is sacred in this world, did that happen?

Picture this if you are able, and try to imagine yourself in her shoes.

A young mother has recently given birth.  Due to a criminal amount of stress and pressure on her whilst pregnant to separate herself from her child, she has given birth 6 weeks early and her baby is now in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).  She has hardly had a chance to see her baby daughter, save for a few moments when she refuses to take no for an answer and they wheel her to her daughter’s side.  There she sees her precious infant for the first time – attached to tubes and wires.  She is grunting in an effort to breathe and the nurses in charge of her explain if this grunting continues, she will be moved to a higher level of intensive care.  They show her how to touch her beautiful baby so as not to cause pain to her sensitive skin.  They tell her she will unlikely open her eyes or react for some time as she is struggling and yet, the moment her mother speaks her name and whispers that she is there and loves her, the tiny infant opens her eyes and looks at her.   Only a couple of hours later the medical team inform the mother that her daughter needs to be moved to the higher level of NICU where she is placed on a machine to keep her airways open and clear the fluid gathering in her lungs.

The mother, beside herself with concern for her child, finds herself back in her room barely 7 hours after giving birth, under a barrage of questions from those she thought were her friends but instead wanted to know when she would be signing the consent form and had “they” been contacted yet.  Apparently, they had but the mother had informed the nurses taking care of her that she did not wish to see them. 

The following days were much the same as the mother lived two entirely separate existences.  One where her infant daughter and her existed solely for each other. Where the mother sang, talked, bathed, fed and nurtured her daughter, whilst the daughter responded to her mother and improved under her care, as noted by the medical team and the beautiful bond commented on often.

In the other world, the mother was under attack on a daily basis from interfering church goers, the couple wanting her child (not respecting her wishes to be left alone) and visitors – all asking when she would wrench herself from her child.  When she fought back, she was assaulted all the more – told she was selfish and that if she loved her child she would place her.  That keeping her child would ruin her child’s life, she wasn’t enough for her daughter and keeping her would ensure her daughter hated her once she was grown up.  In one bizarre visiting session, she was bombarded with pro-adoption propaganda in the forms of articles on open adoption and the photocopy of a “lifebook” created by another mother who had placed 5 years earlier. 

Finally, exhausted with the constant pressure but buoyed by the love for her daughter, she mustered enough strength to inform all and sundry that the adoption would NOT be proceeding.  During the following blissful days where she was moved to the nurses’ hostel, she finally felt at peace.  Away from the constant assailment it was just her, her daughter and her mother and for a fleeting moment, peace ruled and everything was as it should be.  Alas, this ephemeral flash of serenity was not to last.

News came her daughter was well enough to be out of NICU which meant the mother moved back into the hospital to care for her, where once again she became vulnerable to the invasion which had only intensified in light of her decision to keep her baby.  However, this time, the assault included something else, a direct threat she would lose her child.

It came time for the mother and child to be discharged from the hospital, however, now the mother had nowhere to go, nowhere safe.  The only places open to her offered by the church were offered on the proviso she would sign a consent.  Given this quandary of having nowhere to go, she was informed (incorrectly as she would discover much later on) that her daughter would be made a ward of the state and she, her mother, would have no say in her daughter’s future.  Placed in this terrifying predicament, the mother requested a meeting with the social workers, her mother and prospective adopters to discuss the option of guardianship.  This was, in her mind, the only way out.  But the baby buyers wanted full ownership and told her flatly it was to be adoption only.  The male adopter seeing her desperation broached an idea of a trial period whereby the mother would sign consent and see how it went but if she still wanted to raise her child, they would give her baby back as they “did not wish to take her child from her”.  Seeing no other options available and trusting their word, the mother agreed naively to this arrangement.  A trial period of 3 days with either herself or her mother communicating what she wished to do would commence following signing of the consent.

And so it was, with the threat hanging over her head of losing her child to the state or getting her back after 3 days, the mother signed a form, not informed of her rights – or rather, lack of rights – under the New Zealand Adoption Act of 1955.  She did not know that once her signature was on that piece of paper, there was no going back.  The Adoption Act of 1955 which governs all adoptions in New Zealand, offers no revocation period and where it might, the practise has been to have none whatsoever.

The moment of signing said consent came in a blur.  The young mother held onto her daughter until her mother was asked by the lawyer taking consent to take the baby out.  The mother was now alone, with a man who had constantly pressured her – afterall, he was an adopter himself and adoption was the only outcome possible in his opinion – which he had made clear.  When it was done, she immediately made to depart but was physically barred from leaving the room so the lawyer could make small talk with her.  This “chit chat” would be used against her at a later date to say she was “calm and composed” as opposed to in shock, traumatised and in a dissociative state which is a more apt descriptor.

The following night, as instructed, the mother dutifully wrote an essay letter, copied in her own words, from the letter in the lifebook.  This was “in case” she didn’t ask for her back.  She has no memory of what she wrote in that letter other than it was words and sentiment borrowed from another.

Of course, the day her daughter was taken from her arms and she had returned to Australia, she informed her parents she would be getting her daughter back and her mother informed the couple on day 3 as had been agreed to.  Of course, this trial period had merely been a ruse to get the mother’s consent and the thing she had been avoiding, losing her daughter, happened.  Not however, before a series of court cases in which the mother did win the first of as there was no reason for the adoption to proceed in light of there being no consent.  Sadly, the baby buyers took the mother back to court – in later years, they would claim they had no choice, it was just the way it went but the truth is, they made the active decision to continue the court cases when they should have walked away. 

And so there it is, in all it’s ugly detail.  At what time did this mother change her mind?  She didn’t.  The problem is, no one was listening to her, to me, because what I was saying wasn’t what they wanted to hear. 

I don’t believe mothers change their minds for the most part.  I believe that once the pressure comes off and the threats are suddenly removed, the mother is able to find her voice and so raises it.  That isn’t changing her mind.  That is just letting her voice finally be heard.  The way mothers are pressured and threatened to sign consent whilst recovering from childbirth in the midst of other difficulties is simply criminal and those involved should be charged with criminal activity.

Any consent that is procured under duress is not consent.  It is merely the bullying and intimidation of a person in a vulnerable time of their life.  It is no different than the procuring of false confessions from women accused of witchcraft or other crimes in days gone by.  A signature on a piece of paper gained through such means is not an informed, confident decision and should never be relied on in the making of such a momentous change to a person’s existence where the mother is expressing her desire to keep her child.

In the cases where mothers do change their minds, I say they have that prerogative – after all, this is HER child and if she changes her mind, so what?  I celebrate every so called “failed adoption”.  Because these are not failures, they are successes.  Every adoption that takes place in the face of a coerced mother is a failure.  A failure of humanity to protect the mother-child dyad as it should be protected.  A failure of women to care for each other.  A failure of man to allow such travesties to occur.  A failure.

Mothers who have changed their minds are talked about as if they are the devil incarnate, like they did the unforgivable thing by saying, “Hey wait, I want to step up and raise my child”.  How can this be a bad thing when research shows that children separated from their mothers suffer trauma at a pre-verbal level which impacts every part of their life – regardless of whether they are aware of this or not?  How could it not impact a child?  The unique bond that is only shared by mother and the child she birthed is engineered in our DNA for survival.  That bond is more than just a sentiment; it is vital for a child to become.  Studies have shown trauma suffered by the mother during her pregnancy impact the growing foetus, especially during the latter part of the pregnancy.  Infants are born already traumatised in cases where the mother has been subject to trauma.  This bond is symbiotic in nature – mother and child are one and to force this separation before a child is ready to process it at the usual age of 18 months to 24 months, causes the infant permanent trauma, which they may never even bring to their consciousness, but impacts everything they do.

Given this, it should be celebrated when a mother chooses to raise her child or, if she has had the rare opportunity to make a clear and informed decision free from pressure, changes her mind.  Wherever possible and is right, humanity should be avoiding trauma and not creating it simply to fulfil a desire.  Not being able to have a child is tragic.  But creating a situation where a mother and her child are torn away from each other just to fill an ever-growing demand is much, much worse because it is a deliberate action knowingly causing harm, thus, a form of child abuse.

I did not change my mind.  I made a clear decision – one that is echoed through my diary, at times in block letters, begging someone to step in to stop the madness.  But if I had decided to place and then changed my mind, that would not have been a terrible thing either and I am tired of seeing mothers demonised for wanting their children.  Afterall, it is the most natural thing in the world to want one's own child!

Do not be part of an industry that causes trauma and pain knowingly.  Celebrate children who remain with their mothers and correct those who talk about “failed adoptions” because the only good adoption really is a “failed adoption”.

28 November 2016

I want the world to know...

I have many unwritten posts circulating in my head of late, however, the words are not coming forth to convey what it is I want to say.  So instead, I want to highlight the work of a Facebook page I follow, Is Adoption Trauma? and the fabulous work it has been doing in giving a voice to those in the adoption world who would otherwise be shunned and silenced.

This page is primarily focused on representing the side of adoption the rest of the world would rather not know about, forget and deny: the truth and reality of what adoption causes - trauma.  The voices are those of adopted persons and natural parents.

Whilst there have been many who refuse to acknowledge the very real fact that adoption does cause trauma, the voices here are given freedom to speak up, tell their stories and voice their experiences.  Yes, comments are left to invalidate and at times there can be heated discussion.  But it is so refreshing to have a page dedicated to telling the truth and not supporting the false image perpetuated by the majority of websites run by agencies (who stand to gain financially from purposefully separating mother and child) and the customers (aka prospective adoptive parents).

November is Adoption (Be)Awareness month in the USA where one is inundated with the sickly false ideology of the "wunnerfulness" of adoption - complete with unicorns puking rainbows, aka the Kool Aid drinkers of adoption and instigators who are ramming their propaganda down the public's throat that adoption is wonderful.  The project this month on Is Adoption Trauma? is "I want the world to know..."  Check it out and hear from those who have lived through the realities many want to deny and hide.

There is no excuse anymore not to know the truth about how harmful adoption really is and so those who choose to deny it and try to silence the voices are actively taking part in a system that systematically abuses children and abuses a person's basic right to know who they are and know who their family is and the right to raise their child.

You can start here and be part of an awareness that builds families through preservation of existing families, rather than tearing them apart.

21 October 2016

Lessons from the lap of Adoption

2016 has not been a year I will recall with fondness.  If anything, it will go down as one of the worst years of my life.  I have learned a lot about people, who I can trust and mostly, who I cannot.  
What I have learned this year, adds to the many other lessons I have learned over the years, about life through (infant) adoption/baby buying and so I am sharing those lessons here as a warning for any other expectant mothers who might be forced to face the monster of adoption.
  1. Adoption has taught me that words are empty.  Love has no value.  Those pushing adoption on terrified/unsupported women who need support and compassion, will tell a mother if she loves her child she will give/abandon/tear her bond apart with her child – all for the sake of strangers.  They will lead her to believe she is doing the right, loving thing.  That she is a hero and will be gaining a family.  But these words are empty.  They are lies. What no one bothers to tell her, is that she does not matter.  The agency and couple DO NOT care about her.  She is disposable.  If it were legal to cut her baby out of her womb and leave her for dead, they would.  This is apparent in the vitriol adopters spew across the internet through various blogs, forums and Facebook pages if a mother dares take control and does the unthinkable: take responsibility and KEEP her baby.  Even my first-born’s adopters would tell me they cared about me while taking me to court to outright steal the child from me.  Vultures.  Evil.  Predators.  Liars – they are all the same.
  2. Integrity is a joke.  People with integrity lose in the long run.  Morality, ethics – adoption has no room for these qualities I was raised to believe in.
  3. Compassion is to be mocked.  There are amazing women out there putting actions behind their words and doing everything they can to prevent unnecessary adoptions taking place.  Yet, I have also seen those who dare to stand up and do the right thing, mocked.  Ridiculed.  I have seen adopters openly brag about swooping on vulnerable women to take their children.  I am sure hell is filled with many people just like them. Or perhaps I am already in hell? 
  4. Empathy is unacceptable.  One must not empathise or one might do the right thing.
  5. Love is conditional.  As in restrictive and depends on how you behave. 
  6. That sacred bond spoken about in scientific research magically disappears and does not exist when adoption comes onto the scene.  Mothers become expendable and children are suddenly mindless, blank slates that are waiting to be saved and grafted into another family.
  7. Evil is real.  Oh so real.  In fact, it is common and if anything, prevalent.  It is harder to find the good and genuine people today.
  8. Religion, particularly Christianity, is used to condone the evil of adoption.  Apparently, it is okay to pray for a mother to relinquish her baby.  Wait, what??  Who prays for a child to be PURPOSEFULLY separated from their mother unnecessarily?  Seriously, WHO DOES THAT??  Oh yes, those who feel they have a right to another mother’s child.  If you cannot see the perverseness of this, then your moral compass needs replacing asap!  There are a number of other things I have seen and heard from those would profess to be Christian that is just vomit inducing. 
  9. Entitlement wins.  Adoption has introduced me to the most entitled humans I have ever had the unpleasant experience of coming into contact with.  It oozes out of their every pore and every word they speak.  I have read many messages, posts and comments in shock that there are even people who exist in our world like that.  Right up there are the people who stole my child – no one without entitlement would dream of taking a mother back to court to take her child away from her despite a report by a leading international adoption specialist finding her child’s best interests and welfare would be best promoted by me, her mother.  Yes, I still have that report.
  10. Human rights abuses are allowed as long as those with money get what they want.  To be honest, I have been privy to other experiences that have violated my basic human rights and witnessed enough without adoption needing to reinforce this.  But, in adoption, these human rights abuses are denied and invalidated for the sake of the customer.  Cannot have those poor adopters feeling bad for breaking up families now, can we?!
  11. Mothers are the bashing post.  From adopters, pro-adoptionists/anti-abortionists, adoptees and mothers sucking down the Kool Aid or intent on staying down in the gutter, mothers of loss are bashed, kicked and betrayed by those she thought she could trust – usually right at her most vulnerable point. 
  12. Exploiting the vulnerable and needy is just fine.  Hey, that’s their choice, right?  To be poor?  To be raped?  To be left and abandoned by their partner/family/support network?  To be frightened and alone?  To be in a situation where they just need a hand?  Because adopters are simply perfect?  Yeah, what a joke.  I cannot keep a track now of the number of condemnations and comments made about mothers who have lost a child to adoption.  It goes back to the entitled nature of the West.   As long as you have the money, you can do what you want and get away with it.  Who cares about those you destroy in your wake.  Who cares about the lives you destroy – as long as YOU get what you want, right?  RIGHT??  No wonder this world is in the way it is. 
Of course, you can write these off and me, the writer, as x, y, z but do so at your own peril.  Adoption is a permanent fixture.  The pain never goes away and the impact carries on waves through generations.  Just look at the television shows that focus on those who hope to reunite with those usually lost through adoption.  And not just children and parents but grandchildren, siblings, and so on.  Adoption as it is currently practiced right now, is not right.  The damage and trauma it causes has been shown through the thousands of mothers the world over dating from the 1950’s until today, sharing their horrific stories.  From the countless adoptees who are speaking up and exposing the reality, that, despite the fact some of them had happy, fantastic lives with their adoptive families, they still felt the trauma of losing their mothers, fathers and families and  the trauma effects them for a lifetime.  Meanwhile, others speak of a horrific life, abused and discarded - the promise of adoption proving oh so false.   Adoption is not the answer. It never has been and it never will be - especially while it is all about the entitled exploiting those in a moment of powerlessness and vulnerability.  These moments are chances for humanity to shine, to show kindness, to embrace vulnerability and honour it with compassion - but these chances are abandoned in favour of looking out for selfish and lustful desires, disregarding the abject misery and a lifetime of pain left in their wake. 

These are some of the lessons adoption has imprinted on me.  I would not wish this journey, these lessons, on anyone.  There is no good that comes out of it.  In fact, it is impossible for good to flourish in an institution that is founded on dishonesty and misery.  It does not matter that there are some that say adoption was good for them.  They are incredibly fortunate if that is the case (and they are being honest with themselves), but that does not make adoption good.  For example, there were slave owners that were not as bad as others and Nazis that helped Jews escape the massacre during World War 2 but that does not mean slavery or Nazism was inherently good.   All it means is there were some who defied the norm and chose to do what was right.   The same with adoption.  There are a handful of adoptive families who get it and some whose adoption experiences were positive all around BUT that does not excuse the evil and the rotten core of adoption.  It does not mean adoption as a system, as an institution is good.  And it isn't. It can't be.  It won't ever be.