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Web Letter

I happened to stumble across this article. As I was reading I had this sense of déjà vu, as I was one of these young girls in 1975 fallen prey to a CPC. Over the years of relinquishment I have come to believe that CPCs exist, as you quoted, to "help themselves to a baby." They didn't care anything about me except as incubator. I'm so glad to see them being exposed for the baby robbers they are. Separation, grief and loss through adoption didn't just damage us moms. It affected our children too. If I could do it all over again, I would've held my baby girl and never let go.

martha hoch

Redmond, WA

Nov 10 2009 - 5:21pm

Web Letter

Thank you so much for this article. I was coerced into relinquishing my son by LDSFS (another religious agency trying to "save" unwed mothers and "prevent abortion"). This was in 1979 and although the number of newborn adoptions have decreased since then, the tactics are often the same, especially with religious organizations. I was 17. This single act changed my life dramatically.

The thing that is most disturbing about adoption is that minors are able to sign their parental rights away without any legal representation. I know of no other legal documents minors can sign. And I know of no other legal document that can so profoundly influence their lives. Where are our priorities?

Debbie Kreitzer

Bowling Green, KY

Sep 23 2009 - 9:55pm

Web Letter

Just to set the record straight: Lifetime Adoption Foundation does not do adoption. They are a non-profit organization that provides scholarships for women who have chosen adoption for their babies. They are awarded to women who have placed children from any organization, including state social services.

I know this because our last birth mom got a scholarship from them and our baby came to us through our state.

Just hoping to clarify. Otherwise, great article!

Missy George

Montgomery, AL

Sep 20 2009 - 4:54pm

Web Letter

I have been doing research for the past four years on the Good Shepherd Sisters and the home for unwed mothers that they have operated since 1940 in Biddeford, Maine, where I grew up, called St. Andre Home. I have also looked at documentation of La Creche (the Cradle) a home for unwed mothers that the Sisters ran in Quebec City, Canada from 1874 until 1972. St. Andre Home now sponsors four group homes in Bangor, Lewiston and Biddeford for pregnant single mothers-to-be and mothers with young children. St. Andre Home has always served as a refuge for girls and women who had been abandoned by their husbands, parents, boyfriends or fiancés in their time of need. Lay people associated with the home stress the kindness of the sisters toward the girls and women in their care.

The home's adoption work consists primarily of conducting home studies for agencies that abide by the Hague Convention for international adoptions. Sister Theresa Therrien, who has been associated with St. Andre for twenty-nine years and whom I interviewed on September 11, 2009, supervises the home studies. Sister Viola Lausier, who has been at St. Andre for forty-two years, is the home's accountant and can be found in her office seven days a week. One sister, a nurse at St. Andre Home from 1953 to 1974 (from 1940 to 1962 St. Andre had its own maternity hospital) summarized the sisters' devotion to their apostolate of operating homes for unwed mothers this way: giving our all as we did had to come from love. The material rewards were at a minimum. We would have never done this work for money.

michael guignard

Alexandria, , VA

Sep 18 2009 - 1:30pm

Web Letter

Finding this article occurred a very relevant time in my life. I am almost five months pregnant and a total pro-life advocate who was until about a week ago considering adoption. Abortion was totally out of the question, as I was very familiar with the pain and repercussions that choice holds for women. My boyfriend of five years did a 180 when he found out I was pregnant, and I felt that adoption was something I needed to consider. I never used a CPC but looked at a few agency websites and adoption information websites. I also spoke to my pastor, who is an adoption facilitator. One thing I did notice in all of these sources was an overwhelming attempt to convince me that adoption was best for the baby and that it was the most unselfish and loving thing to do. My pastor even told me that raising the baby as a single mother was an "extreme situation." No one encouraged raising my child myself, even though that was my stated preference.

Being somewhat repulsed and unsatisfied by the sparkly package in which they tried to wrap the act of giving up my baby, I kept doing more research. I was offended at the notion that some stranger could honestly be a better parent to my son, so I wanted to find out what happens to the children of adoption. While many adoptees do eventually process and deal with their adoption story in a way that isn't self-destructive or cause lifelong issues, the chances of that not happening were too high for my comfort. For example, the US census estimates that adoptees comprise 2-3 percent of the population. However, the Center for Adoptive Families reports that 20 percent of the adolescents in treatment for substance abuse are adoptees. Especially since adolescents make up only a fraction of the 2-3 percent, that is a startlingly high figure!

Then I began to discover the debilitating effects that relinquishment has on the mothers in addition to the difficulties that adopted children face. They suffer deep psychological problems from a trauma very few can understand. I've found no stories of any mothers being truly glad they did it. Some have accepted that it was honestly the best choice, but even in cases of chemical dependency and living in abusive homes, they wish that things could have been different. Everyone one of them felt that they had lost something important and hoped to have a future relationship, if they didn't already have one with their child.

The more research I did about adoption and its effects, the more it made me realize that I had one of the most important personal experiences on which to draw. As my son comes from me, I knew I had to consider how my experience as an adoptee affected me and the implications that would have if my own flesh and blood were placed in that situation. Because I was adopted at the age of 10 by my stepfather and lived with him, my mother, and two siblings, many people have felt that my experience with adoption was somehow less valid than someone adopted from birth who never knew their families at all. But the fact that I did know my family was part of what made it so painful.

I don't believe that any adoptive parents consciously intend for adoption to be an act of selfishness and neglect, but I believe that the temptation of "ownership" does cause many well-meaning adoptive parents to behave selfishly and insensitively rather than first considering the special needs of the adopted child. I know that my mom and my stepdad did not have purposefully malevolent intentions, but they were guilty of many of the negative behaviors into which many traditional adoptive parents fall. My father wasn't a saint and did things to deserve my mother and stepdad's mistrust of him in our lives, but they also began to discourage contact with my entire paternal family, saying things like, "Your grandma has other grandchildren now and probably doesn't want to hear from you anymore... that might be why you haven't heard from her in a while. Maybe she's mad, because you know how your father is her favorite." As we lived in the other side of the country and this was before the advent of cell phones, it was very easy to eventually break contact between us and my paternal family with talk like that. When communication stopped flowing, it was mutually assumed by both sides that no one was interested anymore.

Making matters worse, my stepdad's family had no interest in filling the void left behind by the absence of my paternal family. They were opposed to the interracial marriage and didn't think of us as a real part of their family, even though we had been adopted. Consequently, none of my siblings consider anyone in our extended adopted family as "real family."

I also see now that my stepdad suffered and still suffers from the insecurities and unrealistic expectations that prevail in adoptive parents. He became very depressed when I finally renewed contact with my paternal family as an adult and constantly makes disappointed statements about how we don't behave or share interests that he would expect from his "own children." I still have identity issues that I am processing from having my Japanese last name changed to his Anglo-Saxon surname and being expected to act like it was just a normal everyday event that didn't have a profound effect on my perception and understanding of who I am. He has a fantasy that my siblings and I should be more like him because we were adopted and became as if we had been born to him even though he is a southern Caucasian in every sense of the word. He has never felt it important to maintain our knowledge of our cultural languages and customs.

I want my son to grow up able to embrace his culture and heritage. I knew if there was a chance that my son would be made to feel the inadequacies I felt as a child and continue to feel as an adult who could never live up to the ideal of someone's dream children and who wouldn't be allowed to own the pain of separation and identity loss that he may also have that I could never subject him to that. There's no guarantee that as much as an adoptive parent wants a child, he or she is capable of being as loving, accepting and understanding as I could be to my son. I'm 26, have a degree, and am fully capable of finding adequate employment. If adoption is almost guaranteed to bring us both long-term suffering with no guarantee of a truly better life for my son, I'll take my chances with the single parent statistics.

Naomi Deal

Bristol, GA

Sep 16 2009 - 1:45am

Web Letter

After reading this article, I wonder if the same thing happens to women of color or a white woman carrying a child of a different race? Or does this strictly happen to white women because there is a shortage of healthy white infants? Would the same thing happen if the baby ended up being born with Down's syndrome or cerebal palsy?

Crystal Evans

Murfreesboro, TN

Sep 12 2009 - 9:39pm

Web Letter

I lost my gorgeous, perfect baby daughter to adoption in 1970. I felt I had no choice, none, but to surrender her; her father, my boyfriend of three-plus years was "not interested." There were thirty-six years of denial, grief, shame and acute anxiety surrounding breakthrough memories and "outing"--then she found me!

After three years of crying, longing, fear, rage, sadness, extensive therapy and painfully "outing myself," I am arriving near mental health. Being found and facing reunion has been the most profound experience of my life. I have many adoptive-parent friends. Each one is a truly loving caring parent--as were the parents of my daughter. That gave me some solace while I hid, but now my mission is to represent the face of the scary mother--to everyone I tell. It's a person at a time, a mind at a time. It's not nothing to give away your baby. You will suffer in ways unimaginable to you in the beginning--and the beginning is its own special hell. It only gets more painful.

To young women in a difficult situation, talking about options, then talking with people, family, about why you are going to surrender your child, talking with mothers who have had that experience, will help you make the best choice for you. Do not allow yourself to be shamed or to be told that someone else will be a better mother. Your baby is not a gift to someone else.

My one request to adoptive parents: try not to forget that your child is actually related to other people. Your child will long to know about himself. Allow your adopted child to ask you a lot of questions, often. Don't shut down or tell them how much you love them, they know that--it's outside of your relationship. You are their parent, but they have other people that they are "related" to--and they have a mother who most likely grieves for and wants to know her chid someday.

If you have an open-adoption arrangement, honor it. Honor yourself and your child by honoring your promises. It's hard, because "ownership" takes over. But gratitude should be your constant companion. Try and remember how you felt when you "got" that baby, and then help your child fit into her skin and make sense of her world and know that if her mother had to relinquish her, she still loved and loves her with her whole entire heart. Your child was entrusted to you, you don't own her or him. Keep the door open to understanding your child's loss, and your gain. Someday reunion might happen, and here's the good thing: most likely your relationship with your adopted child, after reunion, will be even better.

cathy white

N. Palm Beach, FL

Sep 6 2009 - 3:17pm

Web Letter

Ms. Joyce writes a very thorough, well researched article and I'm sure she is right about the many abuses in such a system--vulnerable women, people desperate to have children, a society with no safety net for people caught by unexpected crises--how would there not be abuse? But is this all there is to it? Aren't some of these organizations motivated by a sincere desire to help girls out of difficult situations? Or motivated by a desire to save the lives of unborn children? As well as helping couples who want to have children do so? If I were a young woman in that situation, with an unplanned pregnancy and no support, whether family or husband, I would certainly be thankful to find aid and a way to get on with my life.

I am not defending agencies that coerce women and make money by "selling" babies! Certainly, a woman who wants to keep her baby should be assisted, but she should be counseled as to the difficulties: how to raise a child and work, how to find good daycare that she can afford etc. I'm assuming the women who come to these places are not independently wealthy! I'm thinking they come to find a way out of their problem. Would they be happier if they were just given an abortion and sent on their way? No guilt, no regrets such as bedevil women who give up their children? At least those children are still alive. The article, while not saying as much, certainly implies that abortion would be a better option.

Carolyn Wensman

White Bear Lake, MN

Sep 3 2009 - 6:04pm

Web Letter

It was so sad to hear that there are women being coerced to choose adoption for their children when they prefer to parent. The agencies doing this are clearly corrupt. As an adoptive parent, and member of an adoptive parent support group, I know that none of us would ever want to have any part in a situation like that. We desire to be parents, but not at the cost of a woman being coerced. Sadly, this article goes beyond reporting on the agencies, and proceeds to portray adoptive parents as nasty, self-aggrandizing, money-waving elites ready to fight over the next baby. Perhaps there are, somewhere, people like that--but I certainly don't know any.

Sarah Hamersma

Gainesville, FL

Sep 2 2009 - 8:06pm

Web Letter

In 1962 my then-21-year-old mother gave birth to a baby boy, whom she lost to black-market adoption and never saw again. In 1962 her options as a single parent were nonexistent--she had no family to speak of.

In 1969, my mother gave birth to a baby girl: me. The father was the same man who fathered her first child--that's right, seven-and-a-half years later, she got pregnant with me and they wed. They went on to have two more children. My father died in a VA hospital in 1975, never knowing my mother had given their first child up for adoption.

In an attmpt to prevent herself from becoming a single parent of one child, she ended up a single parent of three children. She drank herself to death before I was 17.

My older brother found us in 1995, because he had become a private investigator for a state agency in New Jersey. It was only a lucky break, he really had nothing to go on, except the fact that he was born in Miami, and his mother's maiden name, I think.

In any case, he wasn't aborted. Too bad for my mom, her grief and heartbreak for her first-born child. Ridiculous to think her grief and loss would have been lessened by the action of abortion over adoption. Ridiculous and shameful.

I am a feminist who believes women are being socially coerced to believe that abortion is without consequence and is the responsible thing to do. It is time men in our society were the ones to be indoctrinated into the idea that if you do not want to get a woman pregnant, you should have a vasectomy. That will end the adoption/abortion debate tootfuckingsweet. That's what I want to see. Men taught responsibility for their penises. It's what I will teach my son when it is time for him to understand that women don't make babies on their own, but they alone bear society's mantle of shame for being pregnant.

Jessica Sager

St Petersburg, Fl

Sep 2 2009 - 4:37pm