5.06.2012

# 29: THE UNSENT LETTERS: DEAR BIRTH MOTHER,


PAGE # 29
Sunday
5/6/12
10:00 pm


Dear Birth Mother,


If you are considering an adoption plan for your unborn child, I sincerely hope you read this blog first.  If anyone is telling you that another couple is more fit to parent your child, because of money, or age, or whatever, please remember that all couples have problems.  


I shared an inside view of what my own marriage looked like a few days before the birth of our prospective adoptive child (see previous two blog posts).  Our marriage is imperfect.  All marriages are.  In fact, a couple may adopt your child, only to get divorced later.  Or worse.  As my husband always says, "No one can see the inside of another couple's marriage."


It's unlikely that the people in your personal life are encouraging you to keep your baby.  If they were, you probably wouldn't be considering the adoption option in the first place.  And the people working in the adoption industry are not going to tell you to try and keep your baby.  They want to make money.


Have faith in yourself to parent your child.  If you are considering placing your child for adoption because you have been told that your child will be better off, think again.  I think this is the worst insult to a woman.  And you deserve to know that you are strong and capable.  There is no power greater than motherhood.


Sincerely,
Jennifer
Former Prospective Adoptive Parent
Now a Concerned Citizen
Who Worries About The Coercion of Vulnerable, Pregnant Women



29 comments:

Myst said...

"Have faith in yourself to parent your child. If you are considering placing your child for adoption because you have been told that your child will be better off, think again. I think this is the worst insult to a woman. And you deserve to know that you are strong and capable. There is no power greater than motherhood."

Amen! Its that "not good enough" which drives so many women to think adoption is a better choice when often it isn't. And mostly, its just a different life they are choosing and diffent does not mean better ad it can mean worse for some poor kids. Adoptive parents are not a guarantee because as you point out, adoptive parents can be divorced, or they can become poor, they can be abusive or become involved in drugs or alcohol because nothing in this world is a guarantee. Sure, there are plenty of (bio) parents out there who are not perfect, who are dreadful but that is because no one in this world is perfect and that means adoption and those who adopt are flawed as well, like anyone. Thank you for this - it really is a great post xxx

Beth said...

Wow! I'm impressed! I hope this gets widely viewed.

Melynda said...

I can't stop crying.

Thank you for this. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I never got to say goodbye said...

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!! As an adult adoptee I am so glad to see this post. thank you for sharing this.

I never got to say goodbye said...

Thank you. thank you. thank you.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer, I hope your marriage does well. If not, I want to marry you. Adoptees spend their lives looking for two things: family and someone who understands. It's much harder to find someone who can understand.
Scott

Jennifer said...

Thanks everyone for reading.
I continue to be touched and moved and educated by your stories as well.
If someone had told me one year ago, that I'd be blogging about adoption, with a newly formed passion for reform and ethics, I would have thought they were crazy. If anything good can come out of my own wild journey, I hope that it does through sharing our story.
It makes me happy to know that what I write is validating for those who have been touched by the trauma of adoption, but I hope people in the more general public (who may try to adopt someday) become more aware of what happens in the adoption industry too.
And Scott--thanks for the marriage proposal! I think we're doing okay, but I'll show him your comment (just to keep him on his toes!)
Best to all,
Jennifer :)

Susie said...

Thank you for this.

Jennifer said...

KT Van:
Thanks for your honest reply. I hate to offend people, and I think that some of my blog may be very triggering for anyone impacted by adoption. But, I hope you (and anyone else who is possibly offended) keep reading.
I do not believe in coercive practices. There is a whole community of birth mothers who have been coerced into placement...their voices fill the blogosphere...it is simply unimaginable. And I have also learned about the trafficking of children in international adoption. Why doesn't the mainstream media report on this more?
So, the fact that I think the coercion of women is utterly immoral and despicable does not mean that I am totally anti-adoption. I am 100% anti-coercion, just to be clear. And I'd like to see a cultural shift that better supported natural families staying together when possible. Obviously, cases of drug abusing mothers, abusive parents, etc. are a totally other issue.
Love you too,
Jennifer

Amanda said...

Jennifer, this is a fantastic post.

I may have told you this already but the study I read for school years ago that helped change the way I think about adoption and significantly contributed to why I started blogging was about determining the sociodemographic variables of mothers who consider adoption and who place vs. who do not place and also about determining the reasons why the women who placed did so. I have read many studies like it (certainly not all that are available) to this day.

What struck me the most is what they've found: that of women who consider adoption, the ones who place are often better prepared to parent than the ones who decide against it. Surrendering mothers are more likely to come from a home with supportive parents, a higher education level, and a better socioeconomic standard of living than mothers who consider adoption but decide to parent anyway.

I was floored by that! Here I had once thought that all surrendering mothers were immature, drug-addicted, teenagers. Wow...how reading about that changed the way I believed adoption should be approached: unbiased, being ready to help a person in need should they need it in the best way they need it. Not to automatically assume adoption is always best just because a mother is poor or is considering adoption in the first place. Valuing whatever it is someone brings to the table rather than thinking one way is always best.

No one knows better than you, a seasoned helping professional, that not everyone can be helped in the exact same way. There will always be parents in such a bad situation and families that cannot be preserved where adoption would be a good thing. But we can't always assume that nor assume we know better than the person in need. You walk the walk of what you and I have both been taught as advocates--even when you're in a client role. I consider you a role model.

I am sending you a virtual hug! If you should ever adopt or become a guardian to a child in need, you will make a fantastic a-mom.

Myst said...

kt van, I find your comment offensive - gutter rats?! That is who you are comparing mothers to?

And no, adoption is not always the better choice! Children can be sexually abused, physically abused, poverty stricken even if they are adopted. And referring to the author's own parental background is uncalled for.

Jennifer said...

Thanks Amanda :)

ROBYN Chittister said...

"It's unlikely that the people in your personal life are encouraging you to keep your baby."

I can't speak for all expectant moms considering placing, but I can tell you about my children's birthmothers.

DS's birthmother had many, many people try to convince her to parent. Only 3 or 4 of her family members were supportive of the adoption plan. Her friends called her "selfish" for wanting to "get rid of" her child.

DD's birthmother hid her pregnancy, in part because she didn't want to be judged negatively for choosing adoption. She felt that people would pressure her into parenting, and, as a mom with 3 children already, she just didn't feel that she could parent 1 more.

Some women are coerced into parenting. Is that number anywhere near the number of women coerced into placing? I don't know. I just know that coercion comes in many forms, to many ends.

Jennifer said...

I see that some of the discussion here has become sensitive. I hope that my clarifying a few points will be helpful to all. At the same time, I do not want to disclose personal information about others, so I will have to speak generally.
I think that this post is going to be triggering for adoptive parents. I know that adoptive parents who are trying to raise their children well are up against their own dealings with societal prejudice, etc. etc. etc. No one wants to feel that his/her parental role is being invalidated, minimized, or probably an infinite number of possible assaults.
But...that also doesn't mean that we as a society should ignore the fact that terrible injustices go on in the adoption industry. The call for adoption reform and ethical practice does not negate every adoptive parent's role. Moreover, if a birth mother experiences coercion, the adoptive parents will someday have to deal with that trauma too--it's more than likely that the adopted person may find her natural family someday--she may learn of the circumstances of her placement. We cannot simply brush the less attractive aspects of adoption under the rug--it is not good for anyone touched by adoption.
I agree that the comparison to gutter rats was awful. This was the first negative comment I've received on my blog, and knowing KT Van's personal background, I understood why she reacted with such anger. On the other hand, no one else is aware of that background, and since this blog is read by people who have been absolutely traumatized by adoption, I will not publish future remarks that are degrading to any member of the triad.
One last clarification: When KT Van refers to "my mom," I see that it is unclear, but I believe she meant "Kendra."
This was my first negative post. I do not think that I handled it well. I will need to write a comment policy. My sincere apologies to everyone.
Best, Jennifer

Jennifer said...

ROBYN...Thank you for your comment.

I think coercion can come in many forms. But ultimately, if a woman is coerced into parenting, I wonder if she would really regret it years later? People fall in love with their children, even when unplanned. On the flip side, to lose a child, I think this is the worst thing. I'd rather err on the side of caution and see greater encouragement of parenting vs. coercion for placement. Also, I think a woman who is thinking she does not want to parent, should be shown the cons of adoption too--for both herself and her child. So she can at least make an informed decision.

I also think that a pregnant woman, who is in crisis, may experience opposite forms of coercion during the same pregnancy. I know Kendra received opposite feedback from those around her--and that made it difficult for me to ascertain whether she was being coerced or not.

On the one hand, I did not want to offend her. On the other hand, I did not want to take home a baby if she was getting coerced into placement.

Ultimately, I think that the effects of trauma are probably largely underestimated in the birth mother's plight. People in crisis, by definition, are dealing with some level of trauma. I suspect that many birth mothers dissociate during relinquishment. I realize the casual reader is probably not well versed in trauma literature, and at some point I will have to speak of trauma, bc this story cannot be told without acknowledging how my own personal trauma history intersected with this adoption.

Ultimately, I think the topic of birth mothers and dissociation is an area that calls for greater study.
Best,
Jennifer

kt van said...

im sorry if i offended anyone with my gutter rat example, it was not my intent. i am a birth mom as well as an adoptive mom and my point i tried badly to make was that all living things can reproduce but that does not automatically imply that being a parent is a given. i would never have attacked Jens family, it was the birth mom involved i was referring to. jen, as always writes with feeling and intelligence and a blog is about the sharing of these feelings. as a reader and being provoked to my own feelings by her writings is a sign of her success in touching people. i apologize if i was misinterpreted as i am not the writer she is but in saying this, blogs are about emotions and i reacted with my own emotions based on my own circumstances. we all come to the table with different circumstances, we should all be allowed to share from our point of view, otherwise it is simply a contrived environment with the expectations that only those opinions, feelings etc are to be valued if they are the same. not that you are in any way contrived jen!!! i love your passion when you take a stand!

Jennifer said...

KT VAN...

Thanks for the apology.

I published your comment w/out really thinking through the consequences. It was the first negative comment I have received. I had not dealt with this prior, but now I see why people put comment rules. I regret publishing it not bc it offered a different viewpoint, but bc it used language that was really offensive. I take full responsibility for my mistake. You got triggered for personal reasons, and I should have filtered to prevent others getting hurt too.

I will always publish if the comments are done in good taste.
I have chosen to delete your initial comment.
Again...my apologies to all who were triggered/upset by my publication of the offensive comment. I promise to use better judgment in the future.

Best,
Jennifer :)

ROBYN Chittister said...

"But ultimately, if a woman is coerced into parenting, I wonder if she would really regret it years later? "

How many parents, even if they do regret parenting, are going to admit it, even to themselves?

Also, there's more at work here than just the expectant/birth parents' feelings. I know what would have happened to my son if his birthmother had caved to the pressure to parent. It's not pretty. (You'll just have to trust me on this one, as I try not to share really personal details.)

I do think that all people experiencing unplanned pregnancies should explore *all* of the options available to them, list the pros and cons, and make an informed choice. I believe they should have a choice and not be pressured one way or the other.

I was just responding to the "people aren't encouraging you to keep your baby" statement. I know that in some communities, pressure to parent is far greater than the pressure to place, and if a person isn't ready to parent, or can't parent, that can be just as harmful as pressure to place, especially for the children involved.

I never got to say goodbye said...

Jennifer- Please keep writing.... Your blog is wonderful and a window into the industry that is so desperately needed. I am awaiting future posts! I am glad that I came upon yours.

I was young and unmarried when I got pregnant unplanned and totally unexpected with my first child and got married to the father. We later divorced. Do I regret having my children- No. Not for a day.

Carlynne Hershberger, CPSA said...

Thank you Jennifer! Another wonderful post. I'm going to share and share and share. We need more people like you.

Cassi said...

Jennifer,

Have I mentioned how grateful I am that you found my blog and ultimately led me to yours? I've been on vacation for the last week and a half and one of the first things I have done this morning to catch up is read the posts here that I have missed.

Thank you so much for this "letter" and for this . . .

"Ultimately, I think that the effects of trauma are probably largely underestimated in the birth mother's plight. People in crisis, by definition, are dealing with some level of trauma. I suspect that many birth mothers dissociate during relinquishment. I realize the casual reader is probably not well versed in trauma literature, and at some point I will have to speak of trauma, bc this story cannot be told without acknowledging how my own personal trauma history intersected with this adoption."

When I realized I had to get professional help for everything I was going through, one of the first things I expressed to my psychologist was my constant question of, "Why?"

Why did I give up my baby? Why did I believe them that it would be the best thing? Why did I even consider adoption when I had supporting parents and friends who would have helped me?

Her answer was clear - during my pregnancy I was in a crisis and deserved true crisis counseling and that the "options" counseling I, and most all other pregnant women are given instead is actually damaging because it's main goal is to force a decision before ever helping pregnant mothers find solutions and answers to their situation to empower them to be in control of whatever decisions they make. As she put it to me, in what she admitted was a "drastic" example (but also fitting in that losing our children can so often feel like the ending of our life) . . .

"If someone states that they just aren't good enough and have decided that ending their life is the "best" decision, you don't counsel them by agreeing with their feelings of "worthlessness" and helping them to decide the "best" gun to use to end their life."

Jennifer said...

Cassi...
I did notice your blog has been inactive for awhile so welcome back! Hope you had a great vacation!

Jennifer :)

Dana Seilhan said...

This first part's directed at certain commenters here, not at the original post-writer, who is brilliant by the way (thank you so much!):

Every time someone says, "what about a woman who's coerced into parenting?", I realize I am looking at A FOOL WHO HAS BEEN SUCKERED BY ADOPTION INDUSTRY PROPAGANDA.

Seriously. That's where you got it, whether you know it or not. You all say it the exact same way, you're parroting some propagandist's talking points. FOOL.

I know. Harsh. But I am FED UP with this crap. SHUT IT.

Meanwhile...

I got fed the "you are not good enough" party line. I had already parented my child for nearly three years and then fell on hard times. I got blamed for him not being "on time" with his verbal skills. Three years later, his adopters (my former in-laws) FINALLY got him in to see a speech pathologist. Central auditory processing deficit. Totally not my fault. And NO ONE had caught it who was in a position to do so--no doctor, no daycare worker, not his own father, nothing. But I got all the blame.

Then, on top of that, I was horrible for being poor, I was horrible for being depressed (gee, my marriage had just ended), and I was horrible for not being Christian. Meanwhile, all this time, my son has been raised by a crazy woman and a drunk.

There's always a "but" and always a "what if" and always a "what about ___ situation." How about you just wait to see what happens and deal with the situation IF it arises. Kids are remarkably resilient. Solve the problem when it is a problem. If it's not a problem, LEAVE. IT. ALONE.

Children are hurt a lot worse by unnecessary removal from their parents than they are by being rescued from abuse. Period.

Anonymous said...

I am 25wks pregnant and I have been told since the beginning of my pregnancy by my family to place this baby for adoption. Yes, I have 3 children that I parent alone already. Yes, I have struggled alot as a single parent because the 2 DNA donors of my 3 children are deadbeats/junkies but first and foremost I love my children and they come first in my world. I love this child inside of me even though I have yet to see or hold him but he is a part of me and I believe I have the right to try and parent this child. I have spoken with an adoption agency and when I asked for help from them they said they responded with "Oh, you have to speak with a councilor who won't have time to speak with you for several weeks then you have to pick a family which you can't do until after you speak with our legal advisor. We are a nonprofit agency so we can't help you financially in anyway." So I asked what happens if I was to lose my housing in the mean time between waiting for them to have time to speak with me and picking a family (which I won't get to meet because they don't have a represntative that has time to come to me and introduce me to any families) they responded with I could come to their birthmother housing and stay there in Utah till the baby is born but if I do that I wouldn't recieve any financial support from the would be adoptive parents because it would all go to the agency as payment for my staying there and I could have whatever hand-me-downs they had as far as maternity clothes. All I was asking for was a little help with getting maternity clothes because they are so expensive and when I buy larger size clothes instead of maternity clothes they don't fit right and are too heavy for the summer. I just wanted to get a few shirts not pants or shoes or anything major just a few shirts but the way they spoke to me you would have thought I asked for the keys to fort knocks. I did a little research and found out that the agency I was speaking with does a tv show on TLC called Birthmoms and that for adoptive parents to work with them it costs between $60,000-$100,000 that dosen't include the legal fees, conciling, medical checks, fees for the birthmom for anything that she might need, or the inspections. That money goes soley to the agency so how they call themselves non-profit I have no idea.

Jennifer said...

Dear Anon,
You sound like you want to keep your baby but that your family is pressuring you toward placement. Without knowing the circumstances of your relationship with these family members, I wonder if there is anyone in your family who does demonstrate support for you and your unborn child?
Please be wary of any adoption agencies if you have not made up your mind--bc they use coercive tactics. And Utah is notorious for its unethical adoption practices.
If you check out some of the first mother blogs listed on my page, they link to resources to help you. If you are already raising three children, there is no doubt you are capable and able.
Please visit those blogs. The first mother community is very strong and will likely provide you with much support and guidance toward helping you find the resources to keep your baby.
I wish you and all your children only the best.
Warmly,
Jennifer

Jennifer said...

Dana,
It sounds like you have been through a lot of hard times. You didn't mention whether you have a relationship with your son now or not--I certainly hope that you do.
Best,
Jennifer

mandajane32 said...

I absolutely adore this. For a million different reasons. 11 years ago, I lost my daughter to a coerced adoption. It was unethical beyond words. I was young, ignorant of things that were out there to help me parent. The attorney I had was provided through the apar's attorney. I was fed the lines, if you do this you're a saint, if you don't you will fail as a mother. You have little money, how could you ever be a good mom? IF you fight this with the 30 day grace period, you will get laughed out of court. Don't do it, and you will be a saint. "part of our family" (Which of course, as in most heavily coerced adoptions, turns out to be the absentee relative nobody wants to talk to) It's sickening to be older, wiser, realize what was done to me, to my child. Young, and poor does NOT EQUAL BAD PARENT. I am always touched when someone on your side of things (apar_/prospective apar) takes this approach, so thank you. And to those that make blanketed references to "birthmoms" and how it would have turned out if they had kept, let me ask you this...What if we as a society had provided them with the same level of resources to parent (ie classes, orgs to get them on their feet, whatever the case may be) perhaps they wouldn't have been so "bad" Not to mention the trauma that might be fueling their life now. Jussayin.

Anyways..long story short..thank you for this blog!! Will be checking in often.

Jennifer said...

Welcome Amanda...

I see you recently started a blog. You will be in great company here in the blogosphere--there are tons of first mothers going through the same as you. Cassi at Adoption Truth has a blog list on her site...you can find her on my blog list.

Sorry to learn of your loss and hope you find peace and comfort in the online support.

Best,
Jennifer

noturtypicalmomma said...

Wow as a mother who has contemplated adoption twice, this is just perfect! I was 17 when I got pregnant with my daughter and considered it because I was so young. I was told how hard it would be to complete school, hold a job, and ever have a happy marriage. I worried that she wouldn't get everything she needed worried that I wouldn't be able to deal with it emotionally, and just plain worried. Then I was told that "it's a mother's job to worry" and realized that whether I gave her up or not, she'd always be my daughter and knew it would be too hard. Her father left us and I was a single mom who worked like crazy to support her, but was so happy to see her smile that I knew I'd made the right decision. Then one of the few relationships I had following ended right before I found out I was pregnant and I debated again. I thought that as hard as I was struggling for one, there was no way I could support 2 and everyone backed me up on that so I thought it was the right decision. Then I had major panic attacks and nightmares and decided I couldn't do it. And now my children are 10 and 6 and idk what I'd do without them! I'm married to an amazing man who accepts them as his own and even confuses people by calling his kids:-D We recently had a new baby girl together and he made sure that they were included in every aspect possible. I couldn't imagine having to tell this wonderful man that I had other kids out there that he would never get to enjoy. Although I never made it to actually filing paperwork or picking a family, I do somewhat know how hard of a decision it can be and I'm so glad someone is speaking out.