Dear Adoption, Do Not Tell Me How I Feel

As I reblog this by Elle Caurdaigh on Dear Adoption, I must tell you, my readers, that Elle’s words could be my own. Every single word resonates with me.

There are only three lines that describe a situation that do not match my feelings because these don’t match my life:

“When I say I long to connect with my birth family, you say “those people” mean nothing to me.
When I say I miss my original mother, you say I have abandonment issues.
When I say I mourn my bio-father, you say I cannot grieve someone I never met.”

Because I was found by my natural family so very long ago, these statements don’t exactly match up. For me, I was already in reunion (since 1974) when so many of my adoptive family, and so many strangers, told me that “those people mean nothing to me.”

For me, my natural mother died, for real. I spent the first 6 weeks of my life in an incubator. So yes, my abandonment issues are very real, felt on an instinctual, pre-verbal level.

For me, I never met my mother because she died. I only know of her from those 7 months (yes, only 7, not 9) while I grew inside her. And yes, I can, and I do, grieve for someone I have never met.

For me, I met my natural father and had an on-again, off-again relationship with him. Ours was a complicated father-daughter relationship. While many people love to blame him for “giving me away,” I never held that against him. How many times have heard from adopters that I SHOULD hate him for what he did to me?

Dear Adoption and Dear Adopters: Stop telling me how I SHOULD feel and how I SHOULD behave. You were never adopted.

One last thought on one last quote from Elle:

“You do not know my pain, Adoption, because you cannot admit you are the cause of it. You want to think you saved me – that I would have been an abortion statistic without you, that my mother and I would have lived on the streets unless you came along.”

For me, I would not have been an abortion statistic because abortion was not on anyone’s mind at the time my mother was pregnant with me. She was dying, Adoption! My married mother wanted to stay alive to raise her five children with her husband! How dare you, Adoption, assume that every single adopted person was “conceived in sin.” I am an orphan, Adoption, conceived in love. I would not have lived on the streets because I already had a home, a family, a name, and a birth certificate before you came along.

Thank you, Elle, for putting into words what so many of us have been feeling for so long.

IMG_1239Dear Adoption, Do Not Tell Me How I Feel

Dear Adoption, I need you to hear me – without interrupting or forming a response before I finish. I am adopted, not you. I have experienced it, not you. My entire existence has been shaped by the construct of adoption, leaving me incapable of imagining my life otherwise. You cannot imagine, so for once, just shut up and listen.

Dear Adoption, do not tell me how I feel. When I say anything concerning my families or my feelings toward them – or adoption in general – do not contradict me as if you know better. As if you have any idea the complex emotions and psychological mindfuck adoption creates. As if you have any basis of knowledge on the subject. You don’t.

Dear Adoption, you have no idea the harm you did, in the name of A Better Life. You…

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My Response to Jeremy and Jenny Advertising to Adopt in Yard Sales and Trades

Dear Jeremy and Jenny,

I saw your ad on April 24, 2017 posted in Tri-Cities, TN, Yard Sales, Trades & Wanted, with the title “Loving Couple Hoping to Adopt.” So good of you to include your telephone number, your email address, your website and your Facebook page. This is advertising to take another woman’s baby from her. Other words used to describe advertising to adopt are: trolling for children, child trafficking, kidnapping. You are instructed to use coercive language to convince a pregnant teen or young woman that she is not able to parent her own child.

Even though you say you know adoptees and see how they have bonded with their adoptive families, I thought you might want to hear from an adoptee to tell you the other side of adoption, the side you do not want to see.

The both of you may or may not be aware that there is such a thing as the adoption reform movement. We consist of mothers-of-adoption-loss and adoptees, lawyers, doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, clergy and many of us are authors who have been rising up against the established adoption practices of modern America since our movement began in 1953.

But you don’t care, you just want a baby. Any baby will do. And while you are coveting someone else’s baby, these are the words of a friend of mine who posted a link to the following article just last night on Facebook: “So you think this is far-fetched? Does this not describe the adoption and surrogacy industry? To a ‘T’.” She is referring to this article: We Live in the Reproductive Dystopia of “The Handmaid’s Tale”  http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/we-live-in-the-reproductive-dystopia-of-the-handmaids-tale

I suggest you read this article as the both of you have a lot to learn. But I doubt if you will take the time necessary to attempt to comprehend the magnitude of what you want to do to destroy a family so that you could have that baby of your dreams.

Me, I am a 61 year old adopted woman. I was raised as an only child by a father and a mother who did not want me to ever know the truth. They willfully kept me away from my full blood siblings. Yes, they knew the whole truth, but they wanted a child all to themselves. They got what they wanted. I was the innocent child who knew nothing. I loved my parents with every fiber of my being.

Until I was 18 in 1974. That’s when I was found by my full blood siblings: three sisters and a brother. We also had two step brothers, two step sisters, and a baby half-brother. (The add-ons were from our father’s subsequent marriages.) My siblings told me that I was the youngest of five children born to our mother. Our father told me that his wife, my mother, was dying while pregnant with me. Her body tried to survive so I was born early at 32 weeks gestation. My mother died three months later.

A Catholic priest told my father to give the baby (me) to two parents. He did. He kept the other four children, and got married to a woman he knew in high school. I will believe what my father told me the day we met. He said that the priest told him “the baby needs two parents”. My father made the choice to give me to a married couple he chose because he was a very religious man and followed the advice of his parish priest.

I was in the middle of two families. Everyone had their own versions of what happened. To my extended adopted family, most aunts and uncles thought I was disloyal to my adoptive parents. A few of my adoptive relatives were kind and compassionate, comforting me as they could see how traumatized I was at learning the truth in the way it was presented to me. My natural blood family also did not know how to proceed with a reunion as there were no guide books back then. I was the one in the middle, caught in the crossfire. Both sides expected me to be what I was not. I have had absolutely no contact for nearly 40 years with the sisters who found me. I want it that way.  Not because I am against reunion, but because they are cruel, insanely vicious people. Today, there are only a few cousins from both families who truly love me, and I them.

Yes, my childhood was filled with joy, because I was a child. There were times, though, that I felt different. I was alone. Deep down, I knew I was not alone. But I was not allowed to know.

My innocent childhood was over the day I was contacted by my eldest sister who knew where I was for ten years before making that first phone call. I felt violated. I had no privacy. Everyone knew about me but I was the one who was not allowed to know the secret. No one cared how I felt.  They were all too busy telling me how to feel and what I should do.

As a direct result of my reunion and the shock of all the lies my adoptive parents told me, and of all the hate heaped upon me, I became an activist and have been one since 1974. I have fought ever since against the laws that stole my birth certificate. I speak out against social and legal prejudice that marks adoptees as ungrateful and allows people like yourselves to troll for babies to adopt by advertising to lure a pregnant teen or young adult into your clutches.

Jenny and Jeremy, you desire a baby. So what? You have each other. You are both alive. My mother DIED at age 30! My mother DIED so that I could make my adopters HAPPY. I would rather have had my dead mother back to life and my siblings and my father as a family than the life full of lies and deceit, scapegoating, and loneliness I was forced to live because of adoption.

My mother’s name was Genevieve. They called her Gene. (I also see Genetics in her name. How appropriate.) They also called her Genny.

Jenny, how does the similarity in names feel? Kinda gets ya, or at least it should, Jenny. If she had lived, my mother (not my birthmother, my MOTHER, Genny) would be 90 years old now.

And, for the record, with all the fighting my adoptive mother caused between us, she always spoke of my mother as “your mother” as a sign of respect. Never once did my adoptive mother utter the words “birthmother” or “birthfather”. She always addressed my father as “your father”. To me, my adoptive father was also “my father”, just as my adoptive mother was always “my mother”.

How old are you, Jenny? Can you comprehend the losses I had to live through in the first three months of my life to make it possible for me to make my adoptive parents happy? Isn’t that an incredible burden to place upon one tiny premature infant? And to carry that burden throughout my life? Just to fulfill the desires of a childless couple?

No, I didn’t need a new home. I already had one. I needed my family, not a new, fabricated, one. I didn’t need a new name, or a new birth certificate, I already had a name and a birth certificate.

How much reading have you done on adoption psychology, Jenny and Jeremy? Do you know who Jean Paton was? She was my friend. Do you know who Annette Baron and Ruben Pannor were? They were my friends and colleagues. Look them up. Do you know who Betty Jean Lifton was? She was also my friend and colleague.

Do you know who Joe Soll is? Do you know who Carol Schaefer is? Do you know who Lorraine Dusky is? Do you know who Lori Carangelo is? Why not? Do you know what Americans For Open Records is? Why Not? Do you know who Sandy Musser is? Why not? Do you know who Lee Campbell is? Have you seen her historical videos on YouTube when she appeared on Teh Phil Donahue Show talking about Concerned Untied Birthparents? You don’t? Why Not? Do you know who Mirah Riben is?  Why not? Look up her articles on Huffington Post. You will get a valuable education.

In fact, look up all of these names and you will see that they are authors. Some are adoptees, some are mothers of adoption loss. All of them are pioneers in adoption reform. And there are many, many others who have had the courage to speak out against the discriminatory system of adoption.

If you don’t know who these pioneers in adoption reform were, and are, then you know nothing about adoption. NOTHING.

Have you even been to an International adoption reform conference held by the American Adoption Conference? NO? How about Bastard Nation? NO?

I’ve been attending local and regional adoption support meetings for adoptees since 1975. How about you? I’ve been attending adoption reform conferences since 1976. How about you?

I know thousands of adoptees, mothers-of-adoption-loss from around the world. How about you?

Do you what the Baby Scoop was? Why not?

Do you know what the Stolen Generation was? Why not?

Do you know about the Magdalene Laundries? Why not? I know women who gave birth there, and women and men who were born there, survived, and are looking for their mothers. Do you?

Have you ever read any books on adoption social work and psychology? Adoption law? Have you read any books written by mothers-of-adoption-loss? By adoptees? By fathers? By therapists? NO? Why not?

Oh, yes, this is an important edit I am adding 24 hours after this post was published. Jenny and Jeremy, add this book to your reading list: The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption by Kathryn Joyce. You will really like that one!

Jenny and Jeremy, have you ever really talked with women who have lost their infants at birth through forced adoption? They describe the event of birth and the immediate taking of their womb-fresh newborns as being “de-babbied” and “raped of baby at birth.”

Have you ever thought about what it feels like to an adoptee to celebrate the day they were born by feeling a tremendous sense of loss? Do you know how it feels to know that the day you were born was the day you were removed from the only mother you ever knew as you grew inside her? This thing called adoption prevents the natural order of life itself.

Will the adoption you choose be opened or closed? Open adoptions close all the time because once the adopters get the baby, they run. All the legal papers say the baby is theirs now, by birth, no less, so they close the adoption and leave no forwarding address.

And the child’s birth certificate is changed.

Do you want to start your relationship with someone else’s child you will call your own based on dishonesty, deception, and lies?

Jeremy, you will have nothing to do with siring the child. Jenny, you will not participate in the conception, or pregnancy, or the birth. Therefore, neither one of your names belongs on a birth certificate. But, adoption will provide you that privilege of having your names on a birth certificate for a baby you did not create, but hope to adopt.

Why do you want to participate in government-sanctioned lies?

Does your church promote lies? Is lying a sin?

If you are both honest people, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves for contemplating placing false facts on a birth certificate of a child you did not create.

Jeremy and Jenny, please, turn your desire for someone else’s baby into kindness and sympathy as to what young parents are going though when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Do they need help to keep their family together? Do you really need to pry them apart? Can you help out by being there as friends, as care givers? As legal guardians for a child while the parents figure out what they need to do to pull their lives back together? You can love a child without legally changing the child’s name and birth certificate, or without forcing a child to give up their entire family so that you can have the experience of parenting.

You are pleading for a mother to give up her baby to you. And for a father to be unknown to his child. That is selfish and cruel of you.

Stop. Are you Christian? Would Jesus want you to ask a mother to give up her baby? What kind of people are you? Are you people of faith or are you predators?

Adoptees and mothers-of-adoption-loss have no choice but to accept what was done to us. We work tirelessly, without pay, to make sure not one more mother or father loses their child to predators like you. We work tirelessly, without pay, to change the laws so that we may access the truth of our births that was taken from us.

For adoptees and mothers of loss, we must Radically Accept that adoption has negatively affected us.

Now I am asking YOU to take on what we are told by our therapists: you must meditate and go into full Radical Acceptance of your situation. You must Radically Accept that you cannot have children because of a medical condition. Grabbing up someone else’s child will not cure your medical condition.

Radical Acceptance might cure you of your emotional need to take someone else’s child and pretend that child is yours. You are infertile. Adoption does not cure infertility. Neither does a false birth certificate that declares you sired and gave birth to a child you know you didn’t.

Jeremy and Jenny, the two of you are married. You have each other. You love each other. Be grateful for what you have. Radically Accept your lot in life and face reality. Hold on to each other for the true joy that you have, and then you would not cause others multitudes of lifelong emotional pain. To covet another woman’s child and another man’s child is a sin. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife….

Think about it.

Change your ways.

Repent your sins.

Daniel, Ibn Bahija.

https://danielibnzayd.wordpress.com/2016/06/01/daniel-ibn-bahija/

“To those who arrogantly propose the “win-win” of adoption, I ask you now: Do you feel no duty, no compulsion, to take on this, the grief of a mother for the child she hardly knew? Now compounded by that of her son, grieving the one he never met? I will visit her grave on Friday, inch’allah, and I will place this crime on your shoulders as I place flowers at her resting place. Will you, at long last, include us in your horrid calculus of valid humanity? Do you imagine, after all this, I will continue to suffer gladly your sidewise glances, your sneers, your judgments, your backstabbings, your underminings, your euthanizing musings? “Paradise lies at the feet of mothers”: a succinct condemnation of your arrogance and disdain.”

 

 

Source: Daniel, Ibn Bahija.

The First Two Christmases of My Life

Today, two days after Christmas 60 years ago, my pregnant mother was taken by bus (my parents did not own a car) to the hospital. She was so sick that she was admitted. Tests were done and, though the doctors knew she was pregnant, they x-rayed her abdomen (so I received a full body dose of x-ray radiation). There, next to me, was a massive tumor. Mom gave birth to me on January 7, 1956, two months prematurely. Mom died on March 28, 1956.

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The following year, just a few weeks before Christmas 1956 and just before my adoption became final, the husband and wife who had custody of me since that April (and who would become my adoptive “parents”) felt sorry for my father and for my four older siblings. “We bought a Christmas tree and presents and drove them over to your father’s house when the kids were asleep, so they would not see us. We wanted them to have a Christmas,” my 89 year old adoptive mother said to me in 2005.

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When I heard this story for the first time in my life, I was seething with rage. While my adoptive “parents” thought they were being kind by giving these charity gifts to a family who was “less fortunate,” what they actually did was give gifts to ease the pain of taking away the baby to keep for their very own.

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Yes, my father relinquished me to adoption, but no one ever offered him help. No one ever thought that the baby might miss her family, or that the siblings might miss their baby sister. Just give the baby a new home and new name and be done with it. What counted most was to provide me with two parents, a new home, and a new life. And to provide a child for a childless married couple who desperately wanted a baby.

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I lived a sheltered life as an only child.

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To say that I felt betrayed when the truth was revealed, is an understatement.

Joan Mary Wheeler

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00X520CGW?ie=UTF8&tag=forbifamil01-20

 

Bless My Homeland Forever

This song,  Edelweiss, has many meanings for me. First, it is a bittersweet memory from my childhood. My adoptive parents frequently took me to local theater performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical plays. This song is from The Sound of Music. As a child, yes, this song made me sad.

But now, decades later, I am struck with sentimental feelings of longing to go back into time, a time when I loved my parents with the innocence of the child I was, long before I knew the level of betrayal that my adoptive parents – and most of my adoptive family – inflicted upon me. They knew the truth of my origins and willfully kept it all a secret.

I am also feeling nostalgic for the Homeland (one of many) of my German-Swiss ancestors, places I have never seen, and may never get the chance to see. I am homesick to know where my blood feels at home.

And finally, I want to send this song out to my many adopted friends who were taken from their homelands and brought here to America. I have grown up: Edelweiss now is a symbol of oppression of adopted people.

‪#‎NationalAdoptionMonth2015‬ ‪#‎NationalAbductionMonth2015‬ ‪#‎FlipTheScript‬ ‪#‎Adoption‬

If you think more positively you may find happiness

Earlier this morning, a dear older friend of mine slipped a note in my hand, saying that she had to leave church early but wanted to give me the note after reading the introductory papers to my memoir that I gave her last week.

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After reading her note, I wrote her the following letter:

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January 4, 2015

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Hi L,

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Thank you for your sweet note.

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Please continue to call me “Joan” since that is how you know me! “Doris” is the name I had at birth, and I use it to make the point that all adoptees lose the name they were given at birth. I know it confused you, for that, I am sorry. My legal name, Joan, has been the name I’ve had for 58 of my 59 years of life.

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Thank you for expressing condolences for my plight in life.

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However, I’m not bitter. I’m bitter for what happened to me, but I am neither angry nor bitter now. My writings express it to get the points across, but no, I am quite happy.

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In the last 4 years, I’ve been the happiest I’ve ever been because I no longer have to interact with hateful relatives. The last two of my parents died in 2011 and with that came relief – relief that their suffering was over, and relief that the negativity of the relatives associated with my adoptive mother and with my natural father was over for me. I no longer am forced to deal with people who have been cruel to me.

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There are positive relatives whom I miss, some I let go because I don’t want to interact with the rest of the relatives, and others are still in my life. Believe me, there are adoptive relatives who have never treated me cruelly, and there are a few cousins from my natural mother’s family who also have not treated me with cruelty.

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I surround myself with positive people. I have good friends at church, at the YMCA where I exercise daily, and at various live music venues where my musician friends perform.

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So, the papers I gave you explaining my life were meant to share with you why I joined the United Nations Envoy Team – where you and I met last year. With my knowledge, I want to join forces with existing programs to help make the world a better place for women and children, particularly poor women and poor children, especially women persecuted for giving birth to illegitimate children, and widows and orphans. I want to stop the trafficking of poor children in international adoption and to protect our own vulnerable pregnant women and their children.

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Yes, I’ve lived through unbearable trauma. But being in touch with adoptees worldwide through email and Facebook on the Internet, and with mothers (and fathers) who lost their children to adoption, I am contributing to make the world a better place. I am living our UU Principles of social justice! Networking with others to foster understanding of what each of us (adoptees and parents of loss) has lived through is energizing for me. We create legislation to change laws statewide, and we write books, we appear on TV and radio to talk about our lives with the goal of raising awareness of the realities of adoption. So you see, I am not alone in writing about my life.

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Yes, I do see the truth in your statement: “Who knows, behind every turn, life holds treasures that you can’t foresee at the present.” In what you perceive as bitterness in my papers on my life, please keep in mind that writing these specific pieces: “About the Author” and “About the Book”, are meant to be brief highlights of what my memoir is about and a short bit of what happened to me. It all happened in the past – being transferred from one family to another, I lost my family, and my name at birth and my true birth certificate.  Yes, the first years of reunion were filled with confusion and anxiety for me. But please do not believe I am not happy today. I am. It makes me happy to explain my life so that no other child – no other person – has to go through what I did. There are lessons to be learned – that is why I wrote my memoir. And as I said, it is currently being professionally edited and formatted and will be re-published this year.

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It’s amusing to me that you think I don’t accept the things I cannot change. See, I have been the only one doing just that: accepting all of my life. It is the rest of the people in my families (adoptive and natural) who have not dealt with the realities that created the trauma of all of our lives where my adoption is concerned. It is also the general public who does not want to hear the realities of adoption; they’d rather believe in the myths of adoption.

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It makes me happy to do the things I do. While you may not realize this, I am one of the pioneers in the field of adoption reform. I’ve been writing about adoption since 1975. I am one of about 500 to 1,000 activists around America and thousands throughout the world.

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It may seem to you that I am not happy since my story is tragic. I am, in fact, very happy inside myself, knowing that I am trying to change what I can to make this a better world.

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Blessed Be,

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Joan