Excerpt: Nine Months: Gains & Losses

WTF? – Me

Margie and covered quite a bit of material in our presentation and shared condensed versions of our individual adoption stories.

I listened the audio recording after the fact and found myself rather pleased. I was concerned I would violate my daughters privacy, say something she might not like (how I would know what she would like is beyond me and yet I worry), or in general, sound like an idiot.

I did not.

As I cleared my desk at home last night I picked up a printed copy of our presentation. I sat at my desk chair and reflected on the material.

I continue to be struck by certain painfully obvious differences in what Margie was told or prepared for  and what I was.

The following is what I read about adoption, what I signed, what I walked away with.

  • Final & Irrevocable Surrender for Adoption – A single piece of paper  typed in courier font with the agency name and address at the top. The document was not notarized and was witnessed only by my mother and the agency caseworker.

I read nothing in advance of surrendering my daughter. I did not research adoption and its effects. I did not attend a support group. I did not discuss with my family or friends. I never saw a single legal statute or document that explained the legal process.  I read and signed one document and then left my baby girl to strangers.  Society and the church and my parents and the  agency and the prospective adopters applauded this ignorance and stupidity. They blessed it and said it was a good thing. A selfless act. (Um, no. Not in the least bit).

The following is what Margie read about adoption, what she signed and what she kept.

 

  • Application
  • Statement of acceptance
  • Affidavit of support
  • Statement of adoption
  • Statement of acceptance of special medical needs
  • Placement agreement
  • Autobiography
  • Criminal history record request
  • Petition for adoption
  • Order of reference
  • Final order of adoption
  • Naturalization paperwork
  • Checks

Does this seem a bit oh, OFF, to you?

It should be noted that the Margies children were adopted internationally  and my surrender was domestic. Even still, LOOK at the list of documents she read and had prepared and was able to keep in comparison to what I read, signed, kept. I suspect anyone who adopted domestically probably had some semblance of Margie’s experience.

I see a little bit of a problem here, don’t you?  All the information shared, signed and reviewed with Margie was for the expressed purpose of proving her capable of parenting someone elses child.  Nothing was shared with me to parent my own. More importantly, nothing was shared with me regarding the legal process, the emotional trauma or the life long effects adoption would have on me and my first born child, let alone my extended family and future children.

To make this more interesting, lets look at whom Margie, as prospective adoptive parent, had supporting her.

  • Social Worker
  • Support groups
  • Fertility doctors
  • Other families who had adopted
  • Immediate family
  • Extended family
  • Friends
  • Books and magazines

Curious who advised me? Who supported me? Who told me about the adoption process and related information?

  • Caseworker –  Full time employee of agency that would profit from the sale of my child, Credentials unknown, present with me in labor and delivery, the same person who reminded me my parents would be sued if I did not give up my child.

A tad bit wonky, no?

15 Thoughts.

  1. My son’s bio mom signed way more than that. She signed way more than we did. I remember her calling to tell me about it. She also had the option for counseling, which she refused, her own attorney who provided her with a very large packet of names, and contacts for organizations who would give financial help if she decided to parent, met with a social worker who told her all her options for parenting. And, she had 45 days to change her mind once she placed Jack with us.During those 45 days, her mother told her she would help her parent if she decided. We always told her it was her choice and would be there whatever she decided. She could at any point have called and asked for her son back and no one would or could have fought her. We did a domestic adoption. Just so you know no all of them are like the one you experienced.

  2. Nice to know that not all are like mine.
    Howevever, one good one like yours does not make all good. Positive and negative still equals negative. Furthermore, too often, people who have experiences like yours think the worlds is like theirs. They dont realize that ONE good ethical adoption in CT does not negate or erase all the negative unethical ones.
    The good ones dont need help or attention.
    The bad ones do.
    They must stop.
    I wish your sons mother peace in her future.

  3. Hugely wonky. *sigh*
    I wonder — a lot — about the circumstances surrounding my son’s relinquishment, what lead his mother to take him to an orphanage when he was a mere two days old.
    I hope someday we can find out, or at least attempt to ask the question . . . of her, not someone else.
    *hugs*, Suz.
    It was painfully obvious during the presentation what the huge differences were in how you and Margie were treated, the information you were both given, or in your case, not given. And that, I believe, lets you know how incredibly successful your presentation was.

  4. I always wonder, when I hear about the experiences of a first/natural mom who knew all the risks, was given all the support she could have hoped for and was shown she was capable of raising her child, why she still lost her child to adoption.
    I just went through the adoption process with my oldest son (adopting him back) and because in my state it was considered an adoption of a minor since he was not yet 21 at the time, I went through a good percentage of what an adoptive parent would go through adopting an infant or much younger child. The only difference was my son was actually the one who petitioned the court to be adopted by us so there were some standard practices, like a home study, that we were not required to do.
    And yet, even with having less information and requirements to adopt my son back, the amount of paperwork, information and provided sources I receieved was horribly disgusting compared to the single paper I had to sign to lose my son all those years ago. I was especially disgusted by the two page listing of “parenting” resources I was given by the state. Something I was never given twenty-one years ago when I was on the other side of the equation.
    My husband and my son’s first/natural father made a comment while we were in our attorney’s office that it seemed a bit odd that he was never asked to sign anything when he lost his son and yet had to sign all the papers in front of him in order to be recognized again as his father.

  5. Suz,
    I was there and you most assuredly did not sound like an idiot! It was an amazing and effective presentation that is the highlight of the conference for me.
    Thank you.

  6. Cassi – CONGRATULATIONS on adopting your son back. How wonderful for both of you. I wish you the best. That makes me smile.

  7. This is just- I have no words Suz. All I ever signed was that same piece of paper.I don’t even have a copy of it. I wish I could have seen your presentation with Margie. I admire the two of you so much! Do you know if they have made copies of your presentation, and if so where can I get one?
    Love you Chica,
    Mary

  8. Mary. I can email you a copy. I also have the audio on CD. Write me privately with your address and I can send to you.

  9. Cassi – For some reason, this statement of yours reminded me of individuals who admit to crimes they did’t commit. I suppose after hours, days, months of being told something you are likely to agree to it. I suspect many moms that are indeed told all their rights and information, may be convinced by others and the pressure to surrender. I wonder if while told of their legal rights, etc. are they also told of adoptee trauma, primal wound, ptsd? Do they talk to adoptees?
    Telling a mother all the good stuff and all the legal stuff is still very coercive if you are NOT telling her of all the possible very bad stuff too.
    I always wonder, when I hear about the experiences of a first/natural mom who knew all the risks, was given all the support she could have hoped for and was shown she was capable of raising her child, why she still lost her child to adoption.

  10. Suz,
    I had a piece of paper, that had my son’s name that I named him in quotation marks like they were using it temporarily. That was what I got
    in 66. Still to this day, never got any record
    of his adoption.
    I seriously doubt it is much different in 2009.
    The less they give to the mother the safer they
    feel just in case mother decides she has some type of claim to her baby. Also, the agencies, or church run agencies, are protecting their a$$es.
    ps I DID get my son’s original birth certificate, after we reunited, and those quotation marks were not around his name, I named him after his dad, and he has taken back the name.

  11. One of the things that bothers me most about my experience, when I let myself think about it, is something Moonbeam’s aparents once told me. They said that after I went into labor, the caseworker(s) told them that I had a strong support system, loving boyfriend, lot going for me, and I might very well parent.
    None of these things were pointed out to me. So while the aparents were being prepared for the possibility that I’d parent–having it pointed out to them all the reasons why I could–at the same time, those same social workers weren’t pointing out any of those strengths to me.
    It’s a small thing but it’s sort of a microcosm of the whole experience, I think. The different slants APs vs expectant parents are given. Same facts, different interpretations.
    Interesting how it’s possible to be factual and yet not entirely above-board.
    Oh and my surrender paper was also signed by my caseworker and my boyfriend (now hubby) and as far as I can tell not notarized, there’s no notarization on it anyway.

  12. I, too, had one piece of paper in the mid nineties, no notary, no counsel, just the signature of the facilitator and mine. Even then, it was is very rare that the mother was given the information that the above mentioned “bio” mom was given. According to professionals I’ve discussed this with, it is still rare. When I later discovered how much paperwork and financial aide the potential adoptive parents were given, I was surprised to say the least. It is good to know that some agencies now provide information and options to mothers who come or are sent their way.

  13. Mine was bad, too. I had no support. They probably clapped themselves on the back when I said my parents didn’t know I was pregnant.

    The problem, is that adoptions are systemically unethical and filled with coercion and fraud. Open adoptions are not legally enforceable. Many moms who attempt to revoke their consent in the time they are given by law are not approved. There are virtually zero attorneys who represent first moms or dads only. No one to enforce the post adoption agreements. Little independent support (if any) for the first moms & dads placing. I wasn’t given the option or support to parent. And, there is no legal support for women who were coerced, despite the language, because, we don’t have money or lawyers who’ll represent us honestly and with conviction.

    There are some, of course, who are token exceptions, but the fact is that it is systemic, that the system is designed to be unethical and based on fraud and coercion.

    I’m currently in a class action lawsuit (see link) against the attorney that coerced me. This is 13 years after the loss of my daughter. We likely won’t get anything out of it, except acknowledgment (maybe) that what he did was a bad thing. I hope that it will impact other adoption situations, past, present and future, and help to fight against these systemic oppressions.

    Never give up.

  14. Add mine to the terrible experience list. It was back in 1969. The only support I had was from the social worker who spent hours convincing me that I was doing the best thing I could for my child. It was a selfless act I was told. Never, ever was I told anything remotely close to negative in terms of my grief or that of my child’s. In my youth, I bought the whole story hook, line, and sinker. I don’t know what I signed; nor was I given any copy of anything. Thanks for posting this Suz.

    Gail

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