I probably shouldn’t blog when there’s a fire lit underneath me, but I can’t contain my thoughts.
Firstly, I want to say to those who have shared my blog about newborn adoption not being biblical, THANK YOU. Keep on sharing. I welcome any argument, for which I’m certain there is none. I hope that it has reached far and wide. I hope that it body slams modern day adoption on its ear for many readers- preferably those in the Church where the heresy of today’s adoption is championed the most.
Secondly, I also had some regrets with that blog because I forgot 2 other very important scripturally based adoption-related accounts. Please bear with me before I get to the meat of “The Adoptionland Defensive”. Or just skip below Jack Black’s image…
Truth Bomb #1) Job 24:9 “They pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge of the poor.” How many of us first moms made a choice based solely or primarily on our financial situation? I can say that mine was 100% made by that issue alone. If I had had the money to keep my daughter, those involved in her placement would have never seen me again. How often are mothers shamed into placing their children for adoption due to their finances? It seems to be a question on nearly every adoption agency site. “Are you financially capable…blah, blah, blah”? That should speak VOLUMES about how our society views poor mothers and their relationship with their children; Expendable. Maybe those in the industry and PAPs should ask mothers “If you had endless financial resources, would you still be making this decision?” If her answer is “no”…then question why you are still speaking to her about the “blessings” of adoption? Question why you aren’t referencing and acting upon the hundreds of scriptures about helping the poor rather than preying upon the poor.
and Truth Bomb #2) Esther- she truly was orphaned (that means her mom and dad were DEAD) yet she remained within her family being raised by her cousin Mordecai. In scripture, when there is something “similar” to modern day adoption, its done because of the reality of true orphanhood. It didn’t involve sending Esther off with strangers, but “adoption” into her own family and roots. Esther was orphaned, yet still raised within her bloodline. But…those are things you sometimes forget when writing in a frenzy at 4 am.
Now to my blazing thought fire on The Adoptionland Defensive. A frenzy at 4 pm.
I have recently made a point to post links to charitable sites whenever I see adoption agency ads. I’ve seen other first moms do it, and thought it might be a great way to reach the vulnerable. I figure if a mom is considering adoption, then it wouldn’t hurt to know she has other options…like an entire shadow world of veteran first moms who would want nothing more than to help her keep her child. Ya know, the small victories can give some sense of vindication for our loss. This is a club were I really don’t want any more members! I want to burn this club to the ground!!!
I don’t include any commentary- simply a link. Not even a “hey, if you want another option, check this out…”Today was the first time I received backlash for offering charity. Yes, backlash for offering charity. BACKLASH FOR OFFERING CHARITY. Let that sink in. I too am dumbfounded, flabbergasted, taken aback, you name it. Might I add the backlash came from “Christians”?! Those people who have a charity for EVERYTHING.
Back up a few weeks, there were some crazy goings-on in the first mom world of a seemingly overzealous adopter in Kentucky by way of Louisiana. Efforts, from what I understand, were made to reach the first mom. I’m not privy to details, but according to the blog of said OZA (overzealous adopter), the adoption was indeed finalized. There was a frenzy of first moms trying to reach out and make their case against this obvious coercion, but I watched as a silent outsider as comment after comment was quickly deleted. I read a few of the OZA’s posts and coming from the perspective of a first mom; I was horrified. I was horrified with the preoccupation of her “needs” and “wants”. I was horrified by the acceptable commenters’ cavalier attitude towards separating a mother from her child. All of it left a horrifying taste in my mouth. Hold on to this, because it isn’t an anomaly. It is a microcosm of Adoptionland.
Forward to my story on charitable attack. I was accosted today by two adopters and one hopeful that found personal offense to my non-commentary link to charity. I let them know that I was indeed a first mom and it was a very painful life to lead. Surprisingly, no “selfless” award was handed out to me today.
I challenged the narrative. I stepped out of my “Birth Mom Box”. I offered that we, as Christians, should celebrate charity and that they shouldn’t find fault with offering a woman who wants to keep her child a little extra ability and encouragement. This literally received a “LOL” from one of the adopters. That was her sole response to me. A retort she gleaned from her Savior, I’m sure. Somehow, in the adopters’ eyes, my charitable offer morphed into me “shaming mothers out of adoption”. I never placed a moral mantle on the situation. My posting, in and of itself, was amoral. I have to say this interaction really opened my eyes today about my acceptable role as a “birth mom”. I experienced for the first time today what it feels like to step out of this legendary “Birth Mom Box” I’ve read so often about. Today, I came face to face with the defense mechanism of Adoptionland.
I’ve read other first mom accounts of us having to “stay in our box”. When we first moms are cooperative and meek…we are “selfless” and saintly. Oh, the gushing never ends. I’ve taken into account warnings from first moms that you better be careful stepping out of your powerless role; flexing any muscle. This recent KY/LA adoption fiasco was my first real taste of the vitriol that society has towards first moms who don’t come to heel. As I said, I watched as an outsider. I saw first mom after first mom commenting on her blog only to be deleted. I watched the continuous excuse of these first moms being told by the accepted commenters “well, maybe you were coerced, but not every first mom feels that way.” Oh, how often have I read that over the last year of my defogging? Pure defense mechanism.
I’ve had thoughts lately about the “fog” I fell into as a first mom. A month or so after my daughter’s adoption was finalized, my agent contacted me for the first and last time post-adoption. She wanted me to do a story in the nearly defunct Ladies Home Journal. Basically, I was supposed to write an article from the perspective of a “birth mom” and speak glowingly about my experience with the agency and the general process. Of course, I am ashamed to say today, at the time I was excited to do it. I’m telling you, when you’re in the process of surrendering your child, that agency is blowing so much smoke up your tail about “selfless”….”saint”….”hero”….”blessing”,etc. There was also this aching abyss in my soul that somehow my writing a piece about the beauty of adoption would help ease my pain. The adoration from agencies and adopters would continue to fuel my needed self-respect tank that was sitting below E. I seriously NEEDED that kind of superficial petting at the time. Fortunately, the opportunity never presented itself. There is no immortal account of my adoption fog in print. I never heard from my agent again…life went on in an ever-thickening fog.
Now that the fog is lifting, I have noticed certain features in Adoptionland that shield it from assault. My experience, the case in Kentucky, and today’s attack on charity are examples. Adoptionland is a REAL place with REAL defenses. It has layers of protection and that is what I want to focus on in this blog.
The glowing affirmation for Adoptionland written by a “birth mom”
A month post-adoption, I seriously had no business writing about my adoption experience. BUT…they have to get you while they can before the confusion wears off and the ugly sets in. I was nearly made a pawn of Defense #1. I have noticed over the last year from scouring agency sites and birth mom blogs that the greenest “birth moms” play a major role in Adoptionland’s preservation. An agency will post a blog, article, snippet of a “birth mom” regaling the wonders of adoption; these days specifically “open” adoption. I’ve followed some of these birth moms out of curiosity; many of whom no longer blog. They seem to have simply vanished into thin air. Their blogs sit dormant for months if not years. The agencies still use their blog posts that may be as old as 5 or 10 years. I’ve found a few on Facebook because I wanted to see for myself that they were “real” people and not some kind of Adoptionland plant. I notice that the “wonders” of adoption seem to wear off with these first moms within about 5 years. Many of them, as I said, just vanish. I think that’s when reality sinks in for many of us. Perhaps, they’ve simply moved on with life and they’re doing swimmingly. But it is hard-pressed to find an agency touting the wonders of adoption with first moms that have at least 10 years or more experience. That says a lot in and of itself.
Lifelong praising of the cooperative “birth mom”
It feels good to be admired by strangers; welcomed into a circle. Just from my own experience, a mention is made about my daughter being adopted, and society’s knee-jerk response seems to be “oh, you’re so selfless”. It felt ok for the first few years. It gave me some sense of moral achievement, but after years it mostly stung like a punch to the gut. A bizarre, perverted sense of heroism. You mean, I was cornered, “gave away” my child, and I’m now being praised for it?! Maybe people should give away their children more often. We’d all have amazing self-respect! I have noticed the first moms (generally with less than 5 years experience) who tow the line, keep the narrative, and praise the industry; in turn get their fair share of moral high-fives. The titles of Adoptionland royalty are still bestowed upon these moms. If I truly wanted to be hyperbolic, I guess I could make some comparison of their being house-moms and field-moms on Adoptionland Plantation…but I won’t go there today. Bottom line is that I’ve noticed as long as you stay in your place, you get all the adoration you could want.
Character assassination of the uncooperative “birth mom”
Heh heh. This is the one that I’ve most recently encountered and no where near the extreme of other first moms that I’ve read or talked with. Cooperative; meaning you keep the narrative that adoption is beautiful, a win-win-win situation, glowing praises and as mentioned previously, you will become Adoptionland royalty. I have to admit it feels pretty good considering its the strained lifeline that may be keeping you from blowing your brains out. Uncooperative; you step out of line….just a hair. You give ANY indication that the veneer is paper thin and BAM! Welcome to Slutsville you druggie whore. Now you’re thrown into the druggie-slut group of moms that Adoptionland is “saving” children from. “Oh, thaaaat birth mom. Yeah, well, she didn’t “deserve” her kid.” Ya know, there are so many of these moms that are strung out and slutty. Good luck first mom disagreeing with a thread of Adoptionland psych ops, because you’re going to be preoccupied with saving your character, as well as every other first mom’s, before you can ever make a point about how adoption isn’t rainbows and unicorns. Dammit! It IS rainbows and unicorns. Its literally unicorns farting rainbows. You’re a druggie slut undeserving of children if you believe otherwise.
You’re the exception, not the rule
This is the protective shield that I encounter most often. Your experience must be marginalized by the protectors of Adoptionland. Its easier to make one first mom feel crazy and alone, hell its been done long enough, than to admit the foundation of adoption is faulty. This is the defense mechanism I encountered today and it set a fire underneath me. What exactly is the exception, not the rule defense?
Prime example was today:
Adoption agency ad pops up. It has space for comments. I paste a link to a charitable group that helps mothers keep their children. No commentary. Simply a charitable link. If a mother in a compromising situation comes across that ad, she may read the comments, find the link, and pursue help in keeping her child. If she isn’t interested, she can keep on trucking. Seemingly innocuous? Absolutely.
Ah, but this is no ordinary land, this is Adoptionland. The beautiful, yet exceedingly fragile and emotionally sensitive place, where the mere breath of resistance must be immediately extinguished. Within 2 hours, I had 3 sentries battening down the hatches against me. My response to them was 1) I post the link any/every time I see an adoption ad 2) Women are capable of scrolling past the link if they aren’t interested 3) There was no “wrong” or “right” implied with posting the link 4) Coercion is real and still happens 5) You’re literally attacking charity. You’re literally attacking charity?!
And there comes in the exception, not the rule defense. My experience, of nearly 18 years, was marginalized by 3 women; 1 who has less than a year’s worth of experience after adopting, one who is admittedly an adoption agent and adoptive mom, and one who is in the process of adopting. It isn’t the first, it won’t be the last. But we have to be made to feel crazy; we have to be told that our experience, though “sad”, is incredibly rare. Adoption “isn’t like that anymore”. Yeah, that’s why in the birth mom forums, I’m seeing moms coming in with less than a year’s experience behind them. Because something something exception, not the rule.
If an agency is still using the tired lines of “selfless”, “blessing”, “hero”, etc then intentional or not- that’s coercion. If they’re promising a fairytale land of “open” adoption without the realities of how quickly those “open” adoptions get slammed shut and/or studies of birth moms’ mental health; then that’s coercion. Keep trying to fool yourselves ladies, not happening with this ol’ timer.
So, I’m told by these 3 Adoptionland soldiers today, that society is over run with moms who simply “don’t feel like parenting”. Two of the women actually argued with one another about whether or not coercion still exists…the infighting was an interesting and humorous twist for me. But, I was told there are scores of women choosing adoption these days because they simply “don’t want to parent.” Its not an issue of temporary problems, relationship drama, finances, etc- just a majority of moms foregoing abortion in order to carry and bond with a child for 9 months, risking possible health issues, and laboring for 20 or so hours…because they “don’t feel like parenting.” Two of these moms insisted that their adoptions of course had NO coercion whatsoever. Yet, one of the moms has pictures posted of her in the hospital at the birth of the baby. Yeah….that’s not coercive….at all. Gotcha. No cognitive dissonance to speak of there.
There are certainly more subtle and nuanced defensive plays at work in Adoptionland, but I’ve noticed these seem to be the 4 most used and most effective.
These 3 women took personal offense that I would reach out to help moms stay with their children.
That’s a sentence that speaks volumes about The Adoptionland Defensive.