As a “birth” mother (natural mother), I want society, but more importantly the Church to see into the window of our world.
In the wake of the Heritage Academy graduation refusal and shaming of pregnant senior Maddi Runkles, I feel its an opportune time for society to also see a glimpse of what many other pregnant women are facing in this country. The women who are considering adoption for their unborn child. I want society to see the every day emotional manipulations that occur while some women are at their most vulnerable. This post doesn’t even begin to touch on the shaming or coercion aspects that many of us natural moms have experienced at the hands of adoption professionals, adoptive parents, our families, or our children’s fathers. This post is about the kinder, gentler approach through biblical misteaching, factual omissions, and flattery.
The adoption community was recently set afire with what many considered an intimate moment made public; the very moment a mother became a “birth mom”. There were pictures posted publicly by Circle of Love Maternity Home. Though the intimate pictures were quickly removed due to overwhelming complaints, COL has graciously left an internet trail of stories and pictures presenting what many of us natural moms have experienced firsthand.
My intention is not a malicious one, but it is to draw attention to a cultural norm that is leaving a wake of complicated grief among natural moms and adoptees. Four adoptees have committed suicide in the adoption community just in the last 2 weeks. Natural moms and adoptees face higher rates of addiction, depression, and suicide. These are facts that are omitted in what passes today as adoption “counseling”, if a mother is counseled at all. I am not writing this with the intent to hurt others, but to help. I am not writing to blast any specific individuals, but a twisted worldview that cheapens the intimate bond between mother and child. My hope is that modern day adoption and its machinations can come to the forefront of discussion in the Church. It is a conversation long overdue. Does God definitively ordain the adoption of a poor and/or isolated woman’s baby? Does God consecrate the paper orphan? If the answer is no, then the Church is in a major crisis. If the answer is yes, then many of us are in a major crisis of faith.
If you’re not a “birth” mom, I would like for you to imagine yourself in a state of crisis as you read this.
Maybe your boyfriend broke up with you, or… you’ve recently been evicted, you’re a teenager with a minimum wage job, you’re struggling to feed your 2 toddlers, your husband regularly beats you, you have a court date coming up for your shoplifting charge, you just lost your scholarship, you just lost your job, you were raped, you have been fighting addiction, your family is not supportive, you suffer with bipolar disorder, you just lost your health insurance…Got it? You’re in crisis.
Now imagine yourself pregnant as well.
Let’s say that you’re a Christian. Maybe not the best. Maybe not the worst. Maybe you can quote scripture by heart. Maybe you’ve never read more than a few scriptures at all.
A family member, a friend, or a church peer knows that you are in a state of crisis, pregnant, and a Christian. They know that you’re struggling with “options”. Adoption is something you know very little about, but it seems worth looking in to. That person tells you about Circle of Love Maternity Home after seeing its advertising on social media for women like you, You make that call…
Where is Circle of Love Maternity Home?
The picture below is the former location for Circle of Love Maternity Home. COL is a non-profit run by adoptive mother Julie Samaniego, MS LMFT, in Wichita, KS. It is not licensed in adoption. It has most recently been relocated to 4 apartment units donated by another local non-profit called Carpenter’s Place in Wichita, KS. (This is not an image of Carpenter’s Place. I just thought the former home was really pretty.)
You explain that you’re interested in either learning more about adoption or you’re seemingly determined as of now that adoption is your preferable option. Pregnancy is typically 40 weeks; nearly 10 months. That’s a lot of time to waver on a profound decision. You’re 9 weeks pregnant. (I’m using real scenarios that I have loads of screenshots for, but to save the eye, I’ll mesh them into our hypothetical) If you move in today, that gives you nearly 30 weeks under the tutelage of Circle of Love Maternity Home. Some might call this support, some might call it grooming. I don’t mind leaving that to the eye of the beholder. But you are in crisis and looking for guidance.
You decide that moving into an apartment unit provided by COL by way of Carpenter’s Place is your best option at the time. So let’s recall: Crisis, Pregnant, Christian, Adoption Interest, Maternity Home. Let’s summarize these labels under the heading of: VULNERABLE.
You are in an unquestionable state of vulnerability.
Let’s take a break to touch on Kansas Adoption Law for a brief moment:
Kansas “strictly prohibit(s) any use of facilitators or intermediaries”- Childwelfare.gov
“No person shall…advertise to find an adoptive home for…no person shall offer to find a home for…as an inducement”
“Advertise means to communicate by…electronic medium.”
“Any person who violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a class C misdemeanor.” -Kansas Law 59-2123
Facilitate Synonyms: aid, ease, expedite, further, help, promote, simplify
Intermediary: a person who acts as a link between people in order to try to bring about an agreement or reconciliation; a mediator.
Now back to your vulnerable crisis pregnancy at a maternity home…
Who stays at Circle of Love Maternity Home?
“We are involved in the adoption process…for women who have chosen adoption for their unborn child.” It isn’t for ALL expectant moms in crisis, but for those who have specifically “chosen” adoption. But many times that choice admittedly isn’t made until after counseling with owner/ operator Julie Samaniego. Expectant mothers are always referred to as “Birth Moms” even while pregnant. Language is an important tool in adoption, remember that.
What can you expect to receive during your extended stay?
According to a letter to RiverWalk Church and additional Facebook and website posts, you can expect to receive: support, therapy services, set up obstetrics appointments, case coordination (to women who have chosen adoption while pregnant), help with housing, furnishings, jobs, educational opportunities, social services, adoption counseling with the owner/operator Julie Samaniego, furnished apartments, paid utilities, cable, internet, security, on-site supervision, casework management, life skills training, life coaching, debt relief, clearing of obstacles, dinner in your honor, a “birth” mother shower while pregnant, pregnancy and labor photo sessions, a beauty night, even in one instance a car, etc.
That’s a lot of help! Someone in crisis would probably feel extremely flattered by the outpouring of concern.
What might be covered during your adoption counseling at Circle of Love Maternity Home?
You will “explore the option of adoption” specifically as a “client” not as a recipient of charity. Client would infer payment, but its not being made by you. That question goes unanswered.
Adoption will be explained “using profiles of adoptive couples” known to the counselor. If you should then choose adoption, “and also show interest in a particular profile”, you and the profile will then be sent to a local attorney or agency to “make a match”. More on how this is handled in the next session.
According to COL ministry, it has been “involved” in 34 adoptions in the last 24 months. Of those, 29 were after adoption counseling through the maternity home. As Samaniego says, “after a birth mom has chosen adoption while counseling with me.” As a side note, the average domestic adoption costs for 2013 was $39,966. (34 x $39,966= $1,358,844)
Samaniego keeps 15-20 hopeful adoptive parent profiles on hand for “counseling” purposes. She invites her facebook and website followers to submit their profile books to COL, but she “doesn’t advertise”. COL has recently removed its star ratings on Facebook, but it had lots of 5 star reviews from adoptive parents who had used its services. Adoptive parents using the services at a maternity home? Interesting. Oddly enough, I didn’t see any reviews from actual residents or former recipients of the non-profit’s charity.
I would be remiss if I didn’t remind the reader that Circle of Love says it does not “facilitate adoption”. “We serve our birth moms and help them complete the adoption plan they have chosen. Our birth moms are matched by attorney and agencies.” At least 5 in the last 24 months were (34-29=5).
What Might Not Be Covered During Your Counseling Sessions?
A fellow adoptive parent and good friend of COL’s started an adoption agency recently in Wichita, KS. This is where COL sends those “matched” expectant moms.
“Open” adoption has been the craze for nearly 2 decades. But its evident by the agency’s website that a few legal facts are omitted.
The agency claims, “Many open adoptions require…”, “You can have…”, “includes 18 years worth…”
The only thing is Kansas Law does not recognize Open Adoption as a legally binding contract. You would have to search elsewhere to find this important legal information. Though Kansas Law states that a judge “expounds” upon this point, it is in rare cases that a mom will actually go before a judge. Kansas allows signing termination papers at 12 hours post-birth without revocation. I’m not sure how long it takes for epidural opioids and pain narcotics to clear a body in order to sign life-altering legal papers with a clear head, but I digress.
So what does this mean for you? It means that after your COL counseling and referral to the Adoption Agency, you may enter into an agreement with hopeful adoptive parents. You can discuss all the wonderful ways in which the adoption will remain open throughout the years. Your fears of not being apart of your child’s life in any way can be allayed. You can even write it all down and sign it. But you can literally wipe your nose with this contract. Its worthless. Once you sign those TPR papers, as early as 12 hours post-birth, you’ve lost every right you thought you had. And you most likely will sign those papers when everyone is sitting in the room with you, praising your selflessness, and reminding you of the help you’ve received over the last 7 months. After you sign, if the adoptive parents want to disappear never to be heard of again, and believe me it happens, they have the arm of the law protecting them.
Who Will Finalize Your Adoption?
Circle of Love Maternity Home has friends in high places. State Representative and Adoption Attorney, Susan Humphries, has finalized many of COL’s, or rather, St. Nick’s Adoption Agency’s adoptions.
What Happens When You Have Your Baby?
Not choosing adoption after a stay at Circle of Love Maternity Home is so rare, that a public post was made about it. Ironically, it happened to be a non-Christian resident. Adoption is so often chosen by the residents of COL, that it has created its own traditions for the occasion. These traditions include the owner/operator Julie Samaniego being present for births, including C-section deliveries. It includes the gifting of a book called “God Found Us You” which goes into vague detail as to why “God Placed You in Another’s Womb.” Along with the book, there is a “prayer bear” (pictured a few sections above) that appears to first be given to the expectant mother prior to birth in order for her to then gift it to the adoptive couple. COL’s photographer friend is present at birth as well; taking intimate shots of the very moment you become a “birth” mom.
The Moment of “Gifting” Your Baby
Why Do COL Moms Choose Adoption?
Of course, to save them from abortion, right? No, that would be incorrect according to COL. The reasons that COL gives on their website include: non-support from father or family, other children she struggles to provide for, fear of domestic violence and/or drug exposure, current/past legal involvement. Nothing is mentioned about abortion…AT ALL. And its interesting that its “selfless” to place a newborn for adoption, but not older children facing these same circumstances with their mothers. Why are mothers not encouraged to be “selfless” for them as well?
The reasons that COL gives happen to be the exact same reason that study after study finds to be true: Isolation and Poverty.
Let that sink in for a moment Christian friends. Mother and child are being separated because of isolation and poverty. And their loss is being called “loving” and “sacrificial”. What message is that sending to all mothers of less than desirable means? How is that message reflecting on the Church?
COL has posted a video testimonial sharing the story of a former resident/recipient. Doubling-down on the reasons mothers give for separation from their children. Samaniego says, “_________ knew that she could not afford to, or have the resources to raise twins.”
Though it might be conceded on COL’s website and promotional video that adoption is not the alternative to abortion, it is not the picture painted when COL discusses adoption with Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. So women who have come to COL, poor and isolated, are now being used as the reason to promote adoption because of the abortions they never intended to have?
I’m just trying to imagine Jesus in this dilemma. Facing a mother who is distressed about her lack of resources to take care of her children adequately. What might Jesus say on this point? If only scripture said something about how to care for the poor. If only scripture said something about taking a child from his mother’s breast.
What Does God Say About Newborn Adoption?
This was covered in a previous post of mine called “Why Newborn Adoption Isn’t Biblical.” There is no scripture condoning the taking of a woman’s child, making him a paper orphan, and then handing him over to total strangers “as if born to”.
There are plenty of mothers in scripture who were poor and isolated who kept their children: Tamar, Hagar, Jochebed, Mary, etc. There are plenty of women in scripture who faced infertility: Hannah, Rebecca, and Sarah. What suitable times these would have been for God to display the divinity of Newborn Adoption. Yet, scripture never shows adoption as the answer to infertility for one woman and the poverty of another. In fact, Sarah intervened in the matter of her infertility and God scolded her for it. It would be nearly 2,000 years after Christ’s resurrection that the revelation of the divinity of Newborn Adoption would emerge.
Whatever one thinks about the necessity or lack thereof in Newborn Adoption, it should be an act that all Christians can agree is not scripturally founded. COL mentions “God’s Will” quite often in its adoption narrative, but provides very little scripture to back it up. And the scripture that is provided is taken out of context. The word “orphan” has a meaning. One that isn’t up for debate. Encouraging a living woman’s child to be adopted because she is poor and/or isolated does not make her child an “orphan”. Unless the true intention is to pretend that she is dead. As a natural mother, sometimes I wonder if that was the intention of those involved in my story. The hope that I would just disappear and die.
The Church was never told to manufacture orphans!
What is the Future For Newborn Adoption?
In Kansas, the future is bright. Circle of Love Maternity Home has the hopes of expanding its ministry throughout the State.
According to an article titled, “Scott County Couple, Wichita Organization Helps Birth Moms Get Back on Their Feet” , Samaniego is hoping to expand into Southwest Kansas. She even gives out her number in the piece to contact her about opportunities to adopt, but this is “not” advertising. The adoptive couple highlighted in the article, state that they adopted twins from a mother who was a “victim of domestic violence” and “she was pretty much homeless because the father of the child kicked her out for not having an abortion.”
DERP? Please reread that paragraph.
A mother gets kicked out of her home for NOT having an abortion. What is the Adoption Narrative again? Adoption Saves Lives? What are we doing Church?!?!?!
US Congressman and adoptive father of four,Tim Huelskamp, awarded the couple with an “Angels in Adoption Award” for their efforts in adopting the twins. Ok. This is seriously starting to feel like a satire piece. I assure you, its not.
In a letter written by Huelskamp titled “Thankful for a Forever Family”, a board member of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), he complains about the money and paperwork involved in the adoption process. He describes Circle of Love Maternity Home as a “place of refuge for birthmothers.” Again, they are referred to as “birth” mothers while pregnant. Language is an important tool!
Hueslkamp vows to work hard to “simplify the financial burden of the adoption process.” So, we have women too poor to keep their babies and we answer that with women too poor to adopt the babies. Dear Lord, come back soon. So not only do we have State Representatives legislating easier adoption processes rather than help for disadvantaged mothers, but we also have National Representatives doing the same.
Back to Circle of Love Maternity Home’s future plans for expansion. COL has partnered with a local adoption agency, St. Nick’s, and State Representative, Susan Humphries, in hopes to expand their adoption “program” to the entire State, not just Wichita. Women will come to COL, they will be given profile books and “counseling” to be matched and sent to the agency, and then finalized by Humphries. I’m certain there are absolutely no conflicts of interest that could result in the unnecessary and heart-wrenching separation of mothers from their children.
Circle of Love Maternity Home has been given access to pregnant women in the local Detention Center as well.
Yes, It is Lost On You
Anyone that can in one moment speak of the mourning of one mother and in the next speak of the “adventure” of another mother doesn’t “get it”. It is lost on you.
It is something I will never understand and frankly I don’t care to. I literally have frequent nightmares of the moment I became a “birth” mom. I sat in a room full of people, splayed out half-alive from a 36 hour labor, and they had the audacity to smile and laugh in my presence. They were witnessing the death of a mother and could only think of the “adventure” that a perfect stranger to me was about to embark on with my baby. I was told this was “God’s Plan” for my daughter and me. After years of my secret war with God and later doing Bible studies on motherhood, I cannot find the evidence for “God’s Plan” in blessing me with a child only for me to re-gift that blessing to strangers. The Lord blesses us with children. He does not qualify the circumstances. Who are we as a Church to be so cavalier about the sacred bond that He creates between a mother and her child?
What if the Church truly saw the separation of Mother and Child as a Tragedy? A deep tragedy? One of grave magnitude? I like to think we’d have a completely different approach to helping mothers and their babies in their greatest hour of need.
Thank you for taking a moment to wear a natural mother’s skin. I wish I could so easily escape it.
30 thoughts on “Kansas and the Gospel of Adoption”
Reblogged this on elle cuardaigh.
Reblogged this on Musings of a Birthmom and commented:
So much THIS.
Yes, “Dear Lord, come back soon”! Any church, or religious based organization, or any family that sees taking an infant away from their disadvantaged mother instead of providing for her and her child and keeping them together for the health, welfare and benefit of both is NOT a Righteous God based church, organization or family. They may be “the god of this world” based, but they are not following the Holy Righteous One.
Orphan and fatherless in the bible according to the Hebrew and Greek has a definition of =bereaved, lonely, etc. Folks really need to look things up. Maybe they would develop a better /right understanding.
How many bereaved mothers have they ripped infants away from? How many mothers and their children have they left bereaved for life!? Godly huh?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am not a first mom, I am not an adoptee, and I am not an adoptive parent. I have always had serious concerns with domestic newborn adoption and the idea of it has always made me sick. Even when battling severe infertility, we had chosen not to do domestic newborn adoption to grow our family because it felt dirty to us. The night we finally had our baby, I looked at my husband with tears in my eyes and asked, “can you imagine expecting someone to give us their baby? Can you imagine removing a baby from his mom’s arms forever?”
I wish more people like me (who have never been involved in an adoption) were even slightly interested in how it works because if they were reading words like yours, they would rethink the “beauty of adoption.”
Thank you for this post. It resonates with everything I think of newborn adoption… And I’m not even a practicing Christian!
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Thank you Courtney. As an 18 year old, I thought the same. To me, only psychopaths could “give away” their child or encourage another mom to do it. Unfortunately, I succumbed to the pressure from my own mom. It’s so insidious how the adoption community can tear down a biological mother as selfish and unworthy and build up a complete straanger to that baby as some kind of hero.
You have good instincts. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, like I did.
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I’m so sorry you were pressured by your mom. My parents would have done the same, but would have forced abortion on us as teenagers.
So you know, I never think negatively of moms who place their children – I know they’re severely pressured to, “do what’s right for the baby.”. I place judgement with the agencies, lawyers, and sometimes even the adoptive families who claim ownership of a child before babies are even born. I have a blog friend who did adopt a newborn and they handled it as best as I’ve seen. I know that there will always be some babies who are better off being placed for adoption, but I think most babies would be better off with their families with support from extended family.
Again, I’m very sorry for your loss. It really is a deep loss… One of the deepest.
I wish more people would think about that. May God bless your kind heart.
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This is a marvelously well-written and well-researched piece. All religions have done harm to unwed and poor mothers and their babies. Ask the moms who have been in Jewish homes for unwed mothers in the past, as well as Catholic and Protestant ones.
It is horrible to see this kind of coercion still going on under religious auspices. If they are telling moms they will get over it, they are really lying. My “baby” will be 50 next year, and we are happily reunited and I have three other sons, but there are scars that will never heal, and a huge detrimental impact on my life and emotional health.
My oldest son and his wife are adoptive parents, but of two older African American siblings who were bouncing around in foster care. They did not even want to look at the infant adoption market, knowing how corrupt it is.
The only rationale for most infant adoptions is to make money for the adoption provider. It is obscene to pay many thousands of dollars for a child when there are older kids who actually do need homes due to serious breakdown of their original family, not just mom being unmarried or poor. Adopting a healthy white newborn today is about adoptive parents buying the product they want, not about the needs of the child or the natural mother.
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Thank you for your comment. I wish this was a subject churches were willing to discuss.
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Well done. I am a foster mom and see this mindset in foster care. Sometimes a new family is truly needed, but often, we should send the kids home, trust the parents, and support them. We are working on dismantling this mindset and helping foster parents truly become family-focused.
There is SO much room for corruption and upper class supremacy in adoption.
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It is disgusting how they refer to pregnant women as “birth mothers.” A pregnant woman is not a birth mother. She is an expectant mother. And then she is the new mom.
I also don’t like how they write “birthmother” as one word, but that is another issue.
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It is a method of conditioning and brainwashing. And it is indeed disgusting.
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So much truth. And Courtney, thank you for those words – “I’m sorry for your loss”. The pain never goes away.
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I am a Birth Mom. After reading the line that a woman/girl is called a birth mom before the baby is born is both cruel and disgusting. I also have a HUGE issue for the thought this is only for a woman/girl who chooses adoption prior to the birth. Adoption is not something to enter into lightly. Adoption is a gut wrenching, mind altering, life changing and heart breaking experience at the time of the adoption. To say this is for woman who CHOOSE adoption, this cannot be CHOSEN until AFTER the baby is born. This makes it seem that if you CHOOSE prior to the baby being born there is NO OTHER CHOICE. That to me is pressure on the birth mom that should NEVER enter into the picture.
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Exactly, Nancy. It puts further emotional burden on an expectant mother to have the perceived well-being of total strangers placed at her feet. If “birth” mothers are selfless, there certainly is a selfish party at work. I would argue that’s anyone benefiting from separation by actively placing their potential happiness on a woman in her most vulnerable circumstance.
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This is just like Utah. I had a place to live, but the agency routinely took women from other states or who were homeless, housed them and spoiled them with similar amenities, then put them right on a plane ride after they were separated from their baby and discharged from the hospital. How absolutely disgusting and the furthest thing from a Christian I can imagine.
And yeah, they tried to take all sorts of pictures of me in the hospital “gifting” my baby too. Nothing is too shameless and low for them.
I am so terribly sorry. I cannot fathom how one can see the love of Christ by treating young, scared women as broodmares and an income source.
My childhood and teen years were soaked in Catholicism. I learned about saints who sacrificed their lives as proof of their faith. I had a little book (with an imprimatur) that told how we must strive for perfection in our daily lives. Years later, I looked at it and realized the message was seductive and harmful. Why not promote acceptance of our imperfections! Why not promote more realism?
When I became pregnant in my early twenties, the authority figures told me to go to the Catholic adoption agency; “give your baby up for adoption.” In hindsight, I realized these Catholic people did not care about me at all! Their concern from the start was to get the ball rolling for my baby to be given to a wonderful, Catholic married couple. The adoption machine went into full gear and I listened to these authorities because I had been *programmed* to view Catholicism and religion as the answer to life’s questions. After all, it was the one true faith; my mom even discouraged her children from associating with those who were not Catholic. (Full disclosure: I have forgiven my mom because she, too had been programmed.)
What is my point in this reply? Losing my son was the most painful occurrence in my life. After relinquishment, I WOKE UP. While I did have my subsequent children baptized, my religious armor fell away, as I realized its impact on my decision. “Be selfless; be brave; listen to these faith-filled people who know the answers — No…that was a lie.
I wonder how many other women lost their faith when eventually confronted with the reality of unnecessary child loss. What kind of G-d would support this?…maybe he doesn’t even exist.
Religion likes to talk about Natural Law. Isn’t relinquishment of a baby grown inside you for 10 lunar months — an act against Nature? I would like to hear from other women about the effect of child surrender on their faith? How many felt abandoned and subsequently abandoned their childhood programming?
*Your place is valueble for me. Thanks!?
This brings back so many memories. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one besides my first daughter who truly understands my baby was taken away. I believe my husband is starting to get it and my other mommy daughters somewhat, although they are quicker to have the attitude what’s done is done. I know I can’t change the past, I know God is in control, and He is healing, but the grief is real and will probably be with me until I walk into His presence in heaven!
I still feel like if I say anything negative about adoption that I’m perceived as bitter. I have even been told by well wishers after learning of our reunion that I could not hope to be her mother. I wanted to but did not say-I’ve always been her mother! And besides she wants me to be her mother-she now has two. I’ll be whatever kind of mother she needs me to be and honored to be so.
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People can say some of the most ignorant things. You are her mother, absolutely. I’m so happy that you have reconnected.
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She just sent me a meme that says “The most painful thing about being an adoptee or birthparent is that no acknowledges the loss. Nothing is more painful than feeling obligated to pretend you are not sad. I feel denied the basic human emotion that everyone else is allowed to have.” I replied to her that they can’t understand what they haven’t experienced and at least when we are together we don’t have to pretend anything.
I think my daughter and I have come to the same place. We know what we lost and we can validate one another in those feelings.
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Thanks for sharing