How True is True?

"Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it."  – Andre Gide

I urge everyone separated by adoption to consider writing MTV to request they provide a BALANCED view of adoption. My fear is that with the NCFA lending a "helping hand", this True Life Documentary will be largely skewed towards the typical adoption myths – its wonderful for all concerned, mothers get over it, kids love being abandoned and adopted, closed records are good things, young single women make great breeders for older infertile woman, etc.

If you are familiar with the NCFA "training" program titled "Birthmother, Good Mother " you should know what I refer to .  (The title of that material alone implies that only a mother who gives away her child is considered  a "good mother").

Write to MTV, share your stories and experiences and perhaps they will show a truly balanced view versus the typical NCFA kool-aid.

The text below was received via email from NCFA.

NCFA Lends a Helping Hand to MTV’s True Life Adoption Documentary

The National Council For Adoption is lending a helping hand to the producers of an adoption documentary for the successful and popular MTV’s True Life series. Previous True Life documentaries have dealt with substantial subjects such as autism, schizophrenia, and war-weary veterans returning from Iraq.

The adoption documentary will follow three or four young unwed birthmothers on video as they go through difficult and emotional decisions in developing adoption plans for their babies.

According to the show’s producers, the goals of the True Life adoption documentary are "to help de-stigmatize the adoption process and to show that adoption is a choice that loving, responsible mothers make when they believe it’s best for their child. We also hope to express the range of emotions birthmothers feel as they go through this process."

These goals coincide with the mission of NCFA’s new iChooseAdoption public awareness campaign to "create a more pro-adoption culture in which everyone, including women facing unplanned pregnancies, can consider adoption freely without fear, bias, or misunderstanding" and to "promote a culture that respects and appreciates birthmothers, honors their decision-making process, and supports their choice of adoption."

MTV is conducting a nationwide search for prospective birthmothers for the True Life adoption documentary.

If you know of any expectant birthmother who you feel would make a good candidate for this documentary, please contact the producers directly at adoption@mtvstaff.com, or by calling 718-422-0705.

We expect the True Life show to bring the adoption process more into the public limelight and provide a viable and important link to the target audience we are trying to reach with our iChooseAdoption message, namely young unwed expectant birthmothers who are facing difficult decisions concerning the future of their babies.

Thank you.

Chuck Johnson

28 Thoughts.

  1. Aren’t these young women who participate going to feel coerced to choose adoption while the world watches? Are they going to be offered other choices? I hope they are of legal age or this explotation is child abuse. And what about their babies?
    Recently I was reading about Joni Mitchell’s reuniting with the child she lost to adoption. What I found most telling was that 3 years later her life had changed and she had a record contract.
    Adoption is a PERMANENT solution to what might be temporary problem. Sorta like suicide.
    I think that I am going to copy this to send to MTV.
    Thanks for posting.
    Angelle

  2. I’m starting to feel a little physically ill whenever I read something from the NCFA.
    Off to write a note to MTV–thanks for the heads up.

  3. I am completely disgusted. I will be emailing MTV. MTV has NO business promoting abandonment.
    Suz if you write a letter, would you consider posting it here?

  4. Angelle – You may a tremendously powerful point.
    Talk about coercion. How does one change their mind and keep their baby when all of America (or any large part of it) is rooting for you to abandon your baby? How do you disregard citizens of the united states applauding you for abandoning your child?
    And what if she changes her mind? Does the world then stone her? Damn her to failure? Does someone swoop from the skies (maybe A Childs Waiting) and suggest she is unfit and take her child anyway?
    Do YOU want to be the kid who was given away on public TV?
    Does the public really want to watch the slaying of the mother child bond?
    I thought I had it rough with maternity homes, baby brokers and such? Yikes.

  5. Angelle’s point about the coercion of video cameras is why I loathed Barbara Walter’s very biased look at an “open adoption process.” Her comments, as an adoptive mother, were also very offensive.
    I’ll be emailing this evening.

  6. Mine:
    Chuck;
    I am writing concerning your True Life episode concerning adoption. I am a birth mother myself, having placed my firstborn in 2003. Considering that the NCFA is involved, I am worried that you will not be providing your viewers with a real and balanced look at adoption. Will you be addressing the life long grief and loss that birth mothers endure? Will you be featuring the fight for adoption reform, both in the pre-placement stages (forcing agencies to provide unbiased counseling and separate attorneys) and in the reunion stages (the opening of records which the majority of birth parents do NOT oppose)? Will you be letting these expectant parents considering relinquishment talk with other parents who have placed? Are you going to secure an attorney for the expectant parents? (An attorney should never, ever represent both the potential adoptive parents and the expectant parents considering relinquishment. It presents a huge conflict of interest as one party pays and the other does not.) Are you going to provide third party, unbiased counseling for these parents? Are you going to tell them, over and over, that if they decide to parent, at any time, you will not coerce them in any way? Are you aware that the simple presence of a camera is a coercive tactic? Are you going to follow up with these parents? Not just in six months and not just on the first birthday but five years down the road when life is hard and there are no books about what to do. Are you going to make sure that the potential birth father is provided with equal opportunity; to counsel him on options, to inform him of his rights and to explain the grief and loss associated with relinquishment?
    Or will you be like every other unethical party to adoption?
    You stand at a threshold to make a difference. We’ll speak out, for or against you. It’s your decision. Do the right thing.

  7. Fabulous letter.
    As a “child” who surrendered my child, I feel that the ethics of exploiting defenseless pregnant young women can be likened to the Romans sending Christians into the dens of lions.
    It is despicable.
    Thankfully I am a secure adult in a reunion with a secure child. (I think, I think.)
    Angelle

  8. FireMom – BRAVO. Your letter is perfect. Suz, thanks for writing about this. It’s making me sick to my stomach. I will write Chuck a letter when I calm down.

  9. Dear Chuck and staff,
    I am deeply concerned by the proposed TrueLife program which MTV proposes to make arm in arm with the NCFA. Trawling for prospective “birth-mothers” is unethical and exploitative. Adoption is not about free choice; it is about removing choices from young women and using emotional and economic coercion to persuade a young and vulnerable mother-to-be that she couldn’t possibly be the best mother for her soon to be born child. No mother freely chooses to give her child away. Surrendering a child is an act of desperation.
    I am an adult adoptee. My mother lost me to adoption back in 1969. She was alone and without family support. There was very little social support out there for young unwed mothers. But there was plenty of arm twisting to make sure they “did the right thing” and surrendered their children to waiting adoption agencies.
    A far more interesting, validating and empowering TrueLife project would be to follow the lives of young single mothers living to together to help one another with child-care and living expenses.
    What you propose to do with the NCFA is to keep the cameras rolling while a young mother is worn down and manipulated into believing she “should” relinquish all her parental rights and responsibilities to waiting strangers.
    Turn it around, and do the right thing, Chuck. Show young women helping each other and keeping their young families together! That’s a story your viewers will really find inspiring.
    -mk
    (reunited adoptee)

  10. I would like to offer a brief yet incredibly important perspective on your upcoming documentary on adoption.
    First, an expectant mother is not a birthmother. An expectant mother is simply a mother. Branding her with the title before she even gives birth IS a form of coersion in and of itself. Relinquishing your child is not a hero’s journey but with the NCFA’s assistance it will surely be promoted as such. Try interviewing mothers who have relinquished say five, ten years down the road. Your story of “selfless love” and “doing the right thing” could be vastly different and could easily be filled with sadness and regret. These are risks that a young expectant mother considering adoption rarely hears.
    Second, as an adult adoptee I would urge MTV to consider that by creating this show with the assistance of an organization such as the NCFA you are contributing to the ongoing discrimination of thousands if not millions of YOUR viewers. The NCFA consistently stands in the way of adoptees receiving equal treatment under the law by fighting to keep our original birth certificates sealed. Please reconsider assisting them in this mission. They are not what they portray themselves to be.
    Thank You,

  11. I am not a first mother, an adoptive mother or an adoptee. I began reading adoption blogs of all kinds because I learned I have a low ovarian reserve and was interested, before saying “We’ll just adopt”, in what that really meant.
    I used to believe in the myth of the win-win-win. I no longer do. I have posted a note at my blog and will be writing an email to Chuck and his cohorts. I believe that, even from the outside, it’s apparent that something is deeply wrong with the system as it is and that MTV’s new show plans are disgusting.
    Thank you for this entry.

  12. I am not a first mother, an adoptive mother or an adoptee. I began reading adoption blogs of all kinds because I learned I have a low ovarian reserve and was interested, before saying “We’ll just adopt”, in what that really meant.
    I used to believe in the myth of the win-win-win. I no longer do. I have posted a note at my blog and will be writing an email to Chuck and his cohorts. I believe that, even from the outside, it’s apparent that something is deeply wrong with the system as it is and that MTV’s new show plans are disgusting.
    Thank you for this entry.

  13. Just a heads up, if I’m reading the post right I don’t believe Chuck Johnson is the person in production at MTV. I believe he is the writer of the NCFA memo.

  14. Ok. I just left them a message telling them that I am concerned as an adult adoptee of them getting advice from the NCFA and that I hope they really consider what they are doing and show both sides of the equation in their documentary. I told them that my mother grieved the loss of me for 35 years until we finally reunited. I sounded lame but at least I said something.

  15. When is it ok to put a child up for adoption? It seems NEVER…
    I came to take an interest in this when I found out that my dad had fathered a child before me and my sister were born, and he was given up for adoption. So; same father, different mothers.
    In the ‘olden days’ when someone could not look after a child, the child was usually taken in by some other member of the (extended) family; no secrets. So also in my family, and among my grandmother’s siblings of which there were 8 children, 2 had been ‘added’ from the outside. However, they knew where they came from and the reason for their adoption. And I hasten to add that it was all quite informal; no big adoption agencies involved, simply registered with the local minister.
    But things have changed. Is it better now, or worse? When an unexpected pregnancy is a fact, what is the best solution in the cases where the mother really is unable to look after the baby?
    I seem to have more questions than answers.

  16. The “managed” approach to maintaining the supply line is nauseating.
    This is advertising masquerading as a documentary.

  17. It took me a full day of heavy breathing to get over this. I post something that hopefully will rally “the troops.”
    Here’s my letter to MTV. Will they listen… who knows?
    ***
    Do you not realize the impact MTV has on teens and young adults?
    Well, of course you do. No doubt you’ve seen the influence the movie, “Juno,” has had. So cool; if I get pregnant, I’ll just hand the baby over to a grown-up, no questions asked, no sweat, no emotional aftermath.
    I beg you not to join forces with the NCFA. They have but one agenda and that is to find babies for couples who want to adopt — as opposed finding homes for children who need families. There is a HUGE difference!
    The NCFA pointed to “Juno” as an opportunity to promote adoption, to revive infant adoption — “ripe for growth,” they said.
    Promote? As if reviving the trend of relinquishing babies for adoption, status quo during the forties, fifties and sixties (pre-Roe v. Wade) is a trifle, not unlike reintroducing mini-skirts and platform shoes. They can’t use the unwed-mother shame of yesteryear, so they’ve come with the guilt-trip scenario. “You’re too young/poor/uneducated/whatever to raise a child. Better they be raised by people of means. That is being a good mother.”
    Why are we not supporting mothers (and fathers) to keep their children, when all they need is a little help? The same kind of help that, through our welfare system, we provide to families who are down on their luck after the fact. Have you researched the wound to adoptees and birthmothers that is caused by this bizarre practice of separating families? Don’t take my word — as a troubled mother in reunion with a severely damaged son. Check it out. There’s lots of evidence.
    This is clearly too deep a subject for MTV. Unless you research what happens later. How, despite their adoptive parents insistence that they were chosen, adoptive children feel “unchosen” by their birth families. How mothers live with the pain, remorse and guilt for years to come.
    If you can’t do it right — as in a BALANCED look at adoption, which will not happen with the NCFA involved — then please don’t do it. Don’t do another “Juno” or a Barbara Walters “skim over the real issues” report.

  18. The very fact that they improperly use “birthmother” and even worse, “expectant birthmother” throughout the communication tells me exactly what kind of show this will be with the NCFA’s involvement.
    Just what I needed to start of my weekend; skyrocketing blood pressure and nausea!

  19. Charlotte – You ask good questions. I will answer in another post from my own perspective. Also, it would make perfect sense (since you are not a US citizen) that the USA adoption industry tactics would be confusing to you.

  20. Hi .. thankyou for raising your concerns. As an intercountry adoptee, I couldn’t agree more on the importance of balanced media portrayals of adoption. I have written my concerns to MTV and hope that with enough people writing in, they may reconsider their show and how it’s done. The last show I saw from the US of a domestic adoption made me cringe – again with young adults giving away their babies because they were told “if you love them, the best thing to do is give them to someone who can love and provide for them when you can’t”. Yet what struck me as wrong was the fact that not one of the grandparents offered to help the young mother raise the child instead of giving it up for adoption. How angry are these adoptees going to be when they grow up and realise that even tho’ they were born into the wealthiest nation on earth, they were still given up for adoption because their mothers were not given better options or advice! I hope we don’t continue to see more of these unbalanced portrayals of “adoption”!

  21. My email to MTV as follows:
    I would like to add my comments to those you will already have received concerning your proposed program.
    As a mother who was coerced into relinquishing her child in the ‘60s because’ I was the ‘bad’ girl and if I loved my baby I would be unselfish and give him a home with a married couple who could give him a good education’ I know only too well that the persuasive myths and advice in support of adoption handed to vulnerable pregnant single girls are a lie. In the past, that lie could have been attributed to ignorance. Communication was poor, research into the long term effect of life long decisions was negligible and there was a general belief of society that children were better off with a stable married married couple than a single woman even if that woman was the child’s mother. Today, we cannot hide behind ignorance in trying to justify a barbaric practice. With a very small amount of research, anyone can find out the overwhelming effect of adoption on adoptees and their mothers who relinquished them.
    I read that : the goals of the True Life adoption documentary are “to help de-stigmatize the adoption process and to show that adoption is a choice that loving, responsible mothers make when they believe it’s best for their child.”
    The comment was: These goals coincide with the mission of NCFA’s new iChooseAdoption public awareness campaign to “create a more pro-adoption culture in which everyone, including women facing unplanned pregnancies, can consider adoption freely without fear, bias, or misunderstanding” and to “promote a culture that respects and appreciates birthmothers, honors their decision-making process, and supports their choice of adoption.”
    Adoption is sometimes the best outcome for a child who is orphaned or abandoned or who cannot, for medical or other overwhelming reasons, be bought up by his or her mother – when all other alternatives of father, grandparents or other family members bringing up the child, have been exhausted.
    It is never the best outcome for a child who could, with some help and support, be bought up by his or her natural mother.
    Any plan to ‘ create a more pro-adoption culture’ misses the point entirely. The only people who stand to gain by this are prospective adoptive parents. Deeming the interests of the child (and in most cases the mother of that child) as less important than the interests of prospective adoptive parents, ignores all the knowledge gained over the past 50 years or so. And if prospective adoptive parents are really intending to be good parents, they should fully understand the undeniable fact that their gain necessarily means a loss to the child they intend to do their best by.
    Vivienne

  22. NCFA is going for their targets directly with the most powerful weapon they can find.

  23. When did pregnant women become pregnant ‘birthmother’s’. Your labelling of women as a birthmother WHILST STILL PREGNANT exposes how ‘unbalanced’ and ‘unfair’ your programme will be. You have already destined these women to be breeders for the billion dollar adoption industry. Unfortunately for us here in Australia, all your pro-adoption, anti-family rubbish will not remain in the United States, but this trite will be exported globally and we don’t want young expectant mothers in Australia getting the idea, that doing something as unnatural as giving away part of themselves, to strangers, is easily gotten over, or even resolvable: IT IS NOT – Why don’t you interview women, like I have, who are still suffering irresolvable grief 40 and 50 years after they were separated from their child by adoption. Their bonding with subsequent children, in fact all their relationships are made difficult, if not impossible, by the trauma of losing their first child to adoption – particularly when they were coerced out of their babies by being told they had to make the supreme sacrifice and give their baby up, to save it. Many of these women have considered or tried to commit suicide because of their pathological grief and pain. Not knowing where there child is, or who it is with, or even whether it is dead or alive, is akin to having one’s baby kidnapped. Just because a person in the business of procuring babies tells expectant mothers’ their baby is better of without them doesn’t mean it is, and doesn’t mean that assurance can assuage frustrated maternal instinct: we are biologically primed to nurture our young, eugenic, social engineering experiments like adoption, are man-made social constructs and deny completely the naturalness of the birthing and nursing processes – to say the least!.
    Adoption workers knew from the 1930s of the ‘wound’ babies suffer when separated from their mothers at the birth. They knew from at least 1954 that adoptees were over-represented in private psychiatric clinics and as private psychiatric patients. But because here, in Australia, infertile couples were demanding healthy, white newborns to adopt the coercion and duress placed on young women was immense. They were introduced to an ‘adoption plan’ whilst still pregnant and it was promoted during the whole of the pregnancy. No woman should be expected to make any ‘adoption plan’ prior to her child’s birth. The way a woman feels and thinks prior to birth is totally different from how she thinks and feels after the birth. Research indicates that a woman’s brain is totally rewired, re-organised by the flow of hormones in the 3rd trimester, but particularly at the birth, for the purpose of intuiting her baby’s needs. By the time the baby is born she is already bonded to it, so getting young women to formulate adoption plans whilst still pregnant is at best, not allowing her the opportunity of making an informed consent and at worse criminal: it is also gaining a consent using duress and coercion – maybe putting pressure on a person to enter into a contract whilst vulnerable or where the power balance is tipped totally in the other’s person favour, is legal in the States!
    The National Council for Adoption has set up the Infant Adoption Awareness Training Programme for professionals working with single, expectant mothers, based on the research of Edmund Mech. Mech’s methods can be likened to a form of mind control that was used on mothers here to gain babies for infertile couples, during most of the 20th century. Professor Mech’s system of counselling has one agenda: to increase the supply of healthy white newborns for the billion dollar adoption trade in the States. According to Mech’s guidelines the way to ‘counsel’ young women out of their babies relies on adoption workers introducing and promoting something as ‘artificial as adoption’ – whilst she is pregnant, and of convincing her that she must give up her baby for its own good. An expectant mother is vulnerable to this kind of brainwashing because she IS PREGNANT and her body and mind is being biologically primed to ensure the best outcome for her child when born.
    The commodification of mother and baby is most easily seen in the American practice of having adoptive parents wait at the birth to receive the product of another women’s genes and labour. Effectively, using her body as a ‘breeding machine’. This is nothing more than reproductive slavery.
    I hope you are going to warn young parents and their families, just the way Big Tobacco was forced to, with respect to its product, that adoption causes life-long debilitating physical and mental health problems. I believe it is only a matter of time, before a class action is initiated by individuals, who because of the ‘Pollyanna’ style of promoting adoption, without adequate warnings of the serious side effects it poses, ‘choose’ adoption and either themselves and/or their children, are adversely effected. There is now copious independent research (not done by adoption agencies) that exposes the lifelong pathological grief and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome caused to the mother and the over representation of adoptees in gaols and in psychiatric clinics. So the defence of scientific ignorance about this damage, is a card, adoption promoters, can no longer play.
    Christine A. Cole
    Bachelor of Science (Psychology) Sociology Honours
    LLB Graduate Diploma of Law
    PhD Candidate
    School of Social Sciences
    University of Western Sydney NSW Australia

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